30 April 2012

British F3 Championship, Silverstone, 19th March 1983

Ayrton Senna da Silva (he had yet to shorten his name), patiently waits in scrutineering in his BANERJ-sponsored West Surrey Racing Ralt RT3/83. His only year in Formula 3, he was already showing the speed that would be his trademark; the only person that could realistically mount a challenge to him that year was Martin Brundle in the Eddie Jordan-run RT3/83. The title was finally decided in Senna's favour at the last race of the year, when they met again at Silverstone.
The following year, Formula 1 beckoned...

World Karting Championship, Kalmar, Sweden, 1980.

Senna finished second, the same as he had done in 1979. The championship was won by Peter De Bruijn.

Vacant Crown

27 April 2012

McLaren F1 - Designing A Supercar

"The Bugatti Veyron is a giant waste of time"

Thought that would get your attention. before you accuse us of being certifiable, we didn't say that (certainly thought it a coupla times to be sure, but hey). Gordon Murray did. And if anyone has a right to utter those words, he does, as he designed the McLaren F1.

Dear Veyron, Up Yours. Sincerely, McLaren F1
To be honest, we know where he's coming from. Sure the latest iteration of the Veyron (the 268mph Super Sport) is the fastest production car on the planet and will probably hold that title for the foreseeable future, but the effort in getting that extra few mph over the McLaren F1 (242.95mph with the rev limiter off, 231mph with it on) meant that the original 16.4 version (253.81mph) was held back in development for several years while VAG engineers (remember, Volkswagen own Bugatti) added myriad detail improvements - and a whole lotta complexity - to the package; the end result which while being an incredible feat of engineering, doesn't have the purity of design that the F1 does, almost 20 years on.
But don't take our amateur word for it; watch the documentary below about the making of the F1. An hour long, it is a must watch for any disciple of the wonder from Woking.
It may have been surpassed, but the McLaren F1 is still king of the supercars, in our opinion. And unlike the Veyron, doesn't share parts with a VW Golf...


Ride To Oblivion

25 April 2012

Shabby Chic - Faux-Patina'd 1937 Ford Three-Window Coupé

A patina'd car like no other - it's a fibreglass body. Powered by an Ardun-headed flathead V8 - nope, dummy covers on an LS1 lump. and it's a 1937 Ford three-window coupé, a body style Ford never made. A veritable opinion-divider; Street Rodder magazine staff got - wait for it - death threats after featuring it in their November 2006 issue. Now thats just a tad harsh.
So whats so controversial about it? Apparently the fact it's not a car dragged out of a barn, it's GRP, the patina's fake, there's not a flathead in it or a tube axle holding the front up. Hoo boy, some people need to take a quick reality check. Heres's the AE opinion - it's bloody fantastic. Its got the 'look' with turn-key reliabilty; it's had a ton of effort put into it to make that roughness look so authentic, and the fact it's a 'phantom' on two different levels - you can just imagine that this was a '37 three-window, dragged out of some old barn and bought back to life. It's a fraud, but a legitimate one, if you see what we mean.
More here.

Not a real Ardun-headed flathead V8  - these are fibreglass covers on an LS1

'rust' on a fibreglass car - all done by drilling holes and some water-based epoxy to 'corrode' the finish
And thats real metal let into a fibreglass door to give the illusion of a bare metal repair

Here's how the car used to look - just another Boydster clone before it went through the hot rodding time machine

An Uncertain Road

23 April 2012

Race Car Of The Day: 1979 BMW M1 Group 4 Le Mans Car (aka Art Car 04)

The name Andy Warhol is nowadays almost synonymous with Pop Art, with only Roy Lichenstien being able to also lay claim to that status. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1928, he studied from 1945 to 1949 at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and immediately after this started a career as a successful graphic artist in advertising. He went on to become a central figure in the Pop Art movement, finding fame worldwide for his work as a painter, an avant-garde filmmaker, a record producer, an author and a public figure known for his presence in wildly diverse social circles that included bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats.

His work went on display as early as 1952 in New York. In 1956 he received the coveted “Art Directors Club Award.” At his legendary “Factory,” at which he employed a whole team of workers, classic art concepts were negated and overturned in an unprecedented manner.
His “mass productions” of prominent faces became well known, as well as painted trivialities such as soup tins and Coca-Cola bottles. A controversial figure during his lifetime (his work was often derided by critics as hoaxs), Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books and documentary films since his death in 1987. He is generally acknowledged as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.

Warhol set about work in an typically unabashed manner after being commissioned to transform an M1 Group 4 race car into a BMW Art Car as he thought best. All the other artists who had previously decorated BMW racing cars had done so by painting a draft version on a scaled-down model; this was then transposed to the actual car by assistants under the artist’s supervision. Warhol, however, was the first to paint everything himself. By transferring his ideas to the car in this spontaneous and direct manner, he could clearly stamp his own character on it. It reportedly took him all of 23 minuted to fully paint the car from first brushstroke to signing his signature on the rear bumper.

The first and only time this rolling work of art took part in a race was at the '79 Le Mans race. It was driven by Manfred Winkelhock, team owner Herve Poulain (who also commissioned Warhol to paint the car) and Marcel Mignot. They finished second in their class and sixth overall, impressive given the dominance of the Porsche 934/935s and the sole non-Porsche to finish above them, the Cosworth DFV-powered Rondeau M379.

And now some footage of Warhol painting the car. If you or I painted a BMW M1 with a decorating brush we'd be declared insane; when an artist does it it's genius. That's modern art for you.

Raw info courtesy BMW AG.

Strakes Are High

20 April 2012

A 2012 '57 Chevy - Cloning Without The Side Effects

A 2012 Tri-Chevy? A brand new Bel Air you can drive straight off the showroom floor?
Well, not quite. Let Mr Fabulous (sitting in for Amazo-san and keeping those unruly whelps known as Team Amazo in check) extrapolate. Or Is that interpolate?
In the US, you can get brand new '55-'57 Chevy bodies and chassis; no poncing about with rusty old tin and 40-odd years of eveyone else's' bodges, just add engine, running gear, paint and interior. This particularly fine gasser example has a 396ci big-block Chevy V8 and Muncie four-speed 'box (hope you've done your gymwork before changing gear, they ain't called 'rock crusher' boxes for nothing); even the straight tube front end is all brand-new off the shelf goodness.
I know, I know, some of you will mutter that it's cheating and its not how the game should be played, but I'd rather be cruising over Chelsea Bridge yonder on a balmy Saturday night in this mean machine than be up to my neck in welding rods and ferrous oxide in a one-bulb garage.
See some hot cloning action with not a sheep in sight, here.

For Work, For Play

18 April 2012

Louis Malle - Humain, trop humain

A fascinating time capsule to view today, especially if you're a fan of 1970's Citroëns.Be advised, they are not strictly car-specifc, but fascinating viewing nonetheless.
Humain, Trop Humain (Too Human, All Too Human) is a French documentary directed by Louis Malle which was released in 1974 .
The shooting of the film was conducted at a Citroën automobile assembly plant in Rennes (where among the various models worked on were the 2CV and the GS) and at the Paris auto show, where Citroëns were among the vehicles on display to the general public.
Throughout the film there is no narrative voiceover and very little recorded dialogue - no explanations concerning what is happening onscreen are provided. The emphasis is not on the product, but on the people performing the work.

"  Human, All Too Human is my only documentary in which there is no comment. The purpose of the film was simply to spend a week in this factory from Citroen, which was difficult because of mistrust of management. "
- Louis Malle

The film’s structure comprises three principal sections, although there are no boundaries or clear-cut transitions between them.

1. The Auto Assembly Process

2. The Auto Show

3. Monotonous.Work

The Gathering Storm

16 April 2012

1970 Ford Torino - Fried Green Tomato

Like the First-gen Charger in the previous post, another criminally overlooked shape thanks to the exploits of a certain red-with-white-stripe '74 model car in Starsky & Hutch (from the ugly '73-'76 range). The 1970 range was arguably the best-looking of the breed; the coupés and convertibles are fabulous-looking devices in particular with the droolworthy Cobra models the stuff of idle daydreams (the Talledega models, developed for NASCAR, are a subject for another day).
Mark Bowler's fine example started life as a GT, a two-owner car with 61,000 miles. The car was given a Pro Touring makeover, but with a twist - an automatic gearbox. Y'see, Mark runs Bowler Performance Transmissions, a company dedicated to custom-built, performance-oriented Ford auto gearboxes for the person who doesn't want to 'row his own', so to speak. And like with the Charger, this car gets used, as the pictures attest; no wonder the paintwork was kept all original.
Learn more about this grand Torino (sic) here.