30 September 2011

Drag Racing History - the Bushwacker

1964 Tognotti Speed Shop A/A Fuel Dragster

Don Tognotti was a well-known name in the world of street rods. His Avenger Deuce coupe and Green Voodoo ’55 Thunderbird were popular on both the show circuit and in the magazines. At the Oakland Roadster Show in 1964, his teal and chrome King T was crowned America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. The King T’s place in hot rod history was secured the following year when it was released as a 1/25 scale model from AMT.

Tognotti actually took two cars to the Roadster Show that year. The King T and an AA/Fuel Dragster he’d built to promote his speed shop in Sacramento. Dubbed Goldfinger, it was displayed next to George Barris’ Munster Coach. As expected, the Munster Coach was a hit with the masses, but Goldfinger stopped real rodders dead in their tracks. It was unlike anything seen before. In the early 60’s most dragsters were still being built out of exhaust tubing, but Tognotti built the streamlined, aluminium-bodied Goldfinger the way he built his street rods; Beautifully designed, expertly crafted, and stunning in its fit and finish. Years later this meticulous craftsmanship would lead to its rescue and full restoration.

Goldfinger’s build team read like a who’s who of drag racing. The chassis was designed and fabricated by Pete Ogden, while the aluminium body panels were massaged to perfection by metal man Arnie Roberts. Tognotti himself was a professional showman and Goldfinger’s paint and graphics were show-car quality, but the name and number 007 were only to last one year. In 1965 the car was repainted and re-launched as the Bushwhacker. Painter Don Honstein was tapped to do the new colours and graphics. 40 years later he would return for an encore performance, painting the car once again in its pearl-yellow and lime Bushwhacker livery.

Like many cars of that era, the Bushwhacker became a celebrity at shows and drag strips — then fell off the face of the earth. The car didn’t resurface until 2006, when it was discovered, rough but surprisingly intact, behind a barn in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was purchased by a vintage drag racer who planned to run it with a blown flathead. Upon stripping down the car its level of craftsmanship became quickly apparent. Realising he could be sitting on something significant, he slammed on the brakes and turned to the internet. Within 24 hours he discovered the slippery-looking dragster in his garage was the Tognotti streamliner.

The car was sold to collector Larry Crossan who, with experienced craftsmen like Honstein, restored it to its 60’s era show-car glory. Original-style American mags were fitted, along with a Simpson drag ‘chute. The paint, including graphics, panels, fogging and pin stripes, were re-created just as they were when the Bushwacker was unveiled in 1965.

Tune in next time for the patter of Little Mouse feet…

Morning Glory

28 September 2011

She Sure Is

Holden HZ Overlander

In 1976, Arthur Haywood, a Tasmanian engineer and off-road enthusiast, developed a prototype for a four-wheel drive car based on the H-series Holden Kingswood. His prototype used a Holden Sandman utility chassis, and featured GM’s standard 5-litre V8 engine and auto 'box. While receiving consultative services from GM, the project was funded and developed by Haywood’s Launceston based company, Vehicle Engineering and Modifications.

Based on the normal Holden HJ/HX/HZ models, Haywood completely reconfigured the running gear. A substantial subframe at the front made a chassis frame strong enough to support the new leaf-spring front suspension; the original Holden suspension being double wishbones with coil springs which could of course not be adapted to a live axle. A Dana M20 transfer case was sourced from America, while those axles front and rear are Dana 44 and 60 items respectively.

Over a three-year production period between 1976 and 1980 around 80 Overlanders were produced, despite the capacity to turn out many more. Ill health forced Haywood to close down operations for some time, but  production restarted in 1982, concentrating on Overlander station wagons. The last of these was built in 1989. During the 14 year production run the they produced 120 Overlander 4WDs.

This particularly example is for sale; the actual press car from 1978, has the 5-litre V8 attached to a Turbo 400 transmission and the Dana axles; yours for AUD $48,000 (approx. £32k). Only problem is that its in Australia...
You could drive it back; there not much that will stop it...
More Overlander history here.

For when normal 4WD is not enough; this completely mental snowmobile conversion. Great for the school run in December.

26 September 2011

New Class Meets New School

The year is 1965; The Rolling Stones tune Satisfaction is in the German pop charts (Ich Erhalten Keine Zufriedenheit just doesn't have the same ring to it y'know?), the birth control pill is introduced, and the German federal government lowers the wage tax. On the route between Augsburg and Munich, the first express train with a top speed of 120mph is introduced. At the same time, BMW unveil a sports cars in the guise of a saloon.

OK, the Alfa Romeo Giulia TI was introduced a little earlier, but for BMW, the Neu Klasse came of age when those wily Bavarians introduced the 1800 TI - for Touring International.
The TI, with 110bhp tickled from its 1.8-litre four-cylinder M10 engine, this unassuming saloon car became the terror of the motoring establishment. Only the more expensive Mercedes six-cylinder cars and a handful of track-ready Porsches were faster in real terms off the shelf. On the track, the TI quickly became rivals with the Alfa GTA and the Lotus Cortina. Hubert Hahne in the 1800 TI delivered spectacular duels in German tin-top racing; against Andrea de Adamich the Alfa and John Whitmore in the Lotus, racing masterpieces of the classic drift angle kind. A veritable wolf in sheep's clothing, Hahnemann gains a reputation for wringing the TI's neck around a circuit like there was no tomorrow.

The next logical step was an even hotter version; BMW unsheath a sharper version of the TI. The TI / SA (Te-I-Es-A) officially, but everyone affectionately calls it Tisa. The letters SA (sports version) appear nowhere on the car, the TI / SA is the classic wolf in sheep's clothing. BMW used traditional engine medication: bigger capacity (2 litres), higher compression, larger Weber carburettors instead of the standard Solex units, a hot camshaft  coupled with a big valve head. Add to that, a close-ratio five-speed gearbox, wider wheels and thicker anti-roll bars - that surely is a 'sport' version. "Guaranteed Performance at 130 hp as standard exhaust system," promises the werks, the racing engines with the to-noisy-for-the-road sports exhaust from the list of accessories bumped power up to 160bhp.

Powerful enough for Hahne, during a support race for the German Grand Prix on 6 August 1966, to become the first man to lap the Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit in under ten minutes in a touring car. Indeed, his lap time of 9.58 minutes caused a genuine sensation at the time.
The E90 M3 you see in the pictures, and indeed every BMW since, owes it's very existence to the New Class and the new beginning it gave the Bayerische Motoren Werke.

From here (hope your German is good) mostly, with my creaky German translation and some of my own words.