28 February 2014

T.W.O. - Café-Inspired German CB750

Words: Amasozan (from raw info here)
Photos: Sabine Welte

An "Old School Freestyle Cafe-Racer" was the theme Michael Stamm originally had in mind in the construction of his Honda CB 750 Four, which the motorbike technician from Ahlen, (a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) had bought in original condition. The bike was intended to be a low-buck 'in-between' project are at the beginning; after all, customer bikes had to take precedent at his Motorradshop Ahlen business roll before he could even deal with their own project. But perseverance paid off, and the attention to detail shown is testament to his skill.

But we have to ask: whitewall tyres on a CB750? "Because I came across a pair of Coker Classic whitewall tyres and I thought they would look great on the bike." With new stainless steel rims spoked to fit the original Honda hubs and beefed up front forks, it was on to find the appropriate counterpart for the handlebar mount The specially developed triple clamp, designed in a 3D modelling programme and milled from EN AW7075 aluminium, was then blasted and anodised. So much for the low-buck approach. The rear suspension utilises Suzuki GS1100 parts to keep up with the upgraded front.

The fuel tank is a work of art on it's own. "I modified the petrol tank, to add to the café racer look", explains Stamm. A bit of an understatement, its an amalgamation of two Honda CB350 Four tanks, extended eleven inches, sectioned 1&1/2 inches and narrowed 1&1/2 inches. The last third of the fuel tank is a dummy; as it houses a Stamm-designed engine oil tank, again 3D designed and made from stainless.

The original 750 four cylinder lump has been completely revised, with 0.75 mm oversize pistons, a modified cylinder head, with bigger valves, porting and polishing, new conrods, main bearings and gears. All this together with a K & N air Filter push power past 80bhp. An owner made 4-into-2 exhaust system is ceramic coated. The ignition has been changed too, with Boyer Bransden electronic ignition, while a brand new custom-made wiring harness was made to accommodate the electrical upgrades and incorporate a trick Motogadget M-Unit electronic control box. Its a digital relay system used for switching of all necessary electrical components that doubles as fuse panel and is operated by push-button controls on the handlebars. That CB350 also provided its rev-counter, housed in a lovely brass housing. Stamm-made? You betcha.

With more power from the engine, Stamm upgraded the brakes to suit; the front was converted from single to double discs, with revised original brake calipers from a '78 CB750, with a cable operated 16mm radial master cylinder from a Yamaha R1 living under the fuel tank. ABM steel braided brake lines are used, while the brake reservoirs are owner-made of carbon fibre.

The all-metal self-made seat compliments the fuel tank, with a owner made rear cover housing the tiny rear light from a 1938 Tornax bike. The frame surprisingly has only minimal changes to the rear,to help tighten up the look from the bulkier look of the original and to account for the lack of pillion eat, and is gold painted.

While no doubt the original premise of a cheap build has well and truly been blown out of the water, we'll think you'll agree that Michael Stamm's attention to detail has created a café racer with a unique twist; you won't mistake this CB750 Four with any other.

Die Augen Haben Es

24 February 2014

1982 Fiat 131 Volumetrico Abarth - Hard Blown Rally Ace

Words: Amazosan
Photos: Michael Ward

In hindsight, the Fiat 131's utilisation as a championship winning rally car may not seem unusual, but analyse the situation at the time of its genesis and suddenly it does seem a bit odd. Here you had sister marque Lancia with the fire-breathing Stratos, a mid-engine Ferrari V6-powered beast of a car, which then is replaced with a fundamentally dull family saloon. Sure, Ford (among many others) had made using their cooking saloons for rallying the norm, but even they had a flirtation with a purpose built mid-engined car in the shape of the GT70, but this turned out to be a dead end for Ford.

There was actually a mid -engined Stratos replacement on the cards at Fiat, the Prototipo X1/9, but more conservative elements within Fiat decided to go with the 131 Mirafiori range, launched in September 1974 as the replacement for the 124 saloon. The 131 didn't even have the 124 Sport's twin cam engines, just carry-over pushrod four-cylinder engines and four-speed gearboxes; hardly the stuff of rallying world-beaters. But there was sense in Fiat's approach; in the real world, potential car buyers were still reeling from the twin blows of the 1973 oil crisis and the resulting 1973-1974 stock market crash. Petrol prices were still sky-high and frankly, another exotic mid-engine car that the everyday car buyer couldn't relate to seemed inappropriate; a rally version of the 131 would also be great for sales, as Ford had proved with the Escort (internal politics within the Fiat group played a part too, as they later withdrew factory support for the Stratos, placing full rallying responsibility on the then fully competitive 131 Abarth).

So, the dowdy Fiat was given to Abarth, a company with a history of rallying Fiats, to prepare the 131 for battle. The mechanical layout was completely conventional, with front-mounted engine and gearbox, RWD, independent front suspension and a live rear axle. It was nothing earth shattering then; in fact a product light years away from a competition car. But Abarth turned the 131 into a world-beater.

A more in-depth history of the 131 Abarth's rallying exploits can be read here , but lets fast forward the story to June 1981, when a new road version, the Volumetrico Abarth, was introduced, with a supercharged version of the familiar Aurelio Lampredi-designed 2 litre twin cam. This car, also known as the 2000 TC Compressore, was based on prototypes revealed to the European motoring press in 1980. These were based around versions of the earlier 131 Racing/ Sport having supercharged 1300cc and 2000cc engines producing 115 and 142 bhp respectively. The Abarth designed, positive displacement supercharger was belt driven and operated via a special Weber carburettor. This is a similar design to the supercharged versions of the 124 Spidereuropa and Lancia Beta Volumex but with a larger blower.

With two other Abarths from the Auto Italia article
The Volumetrico Abarths were toned down a little for road manners and to improve torque; equipped with 7.6:1 compression engines, oil coolers, an electric fuel pump, special exhaust and a completely upgraded suspension and brake package; power output was 138bhp and 158 ft/lb at 3000rpm. Other than the slightly lower ride height and rear ‘Volumetrico’ badges, there was little external difference to the standard SuperMirafiori series 3; the Pirelli ‘Plus One’ wheels and oval exhaust tail pipe were similar to the early 130TC Strada Abarth.  Approximately 200 were built, all were assembled and prepared at Abarth's Corso Marche factory between 1980 to 1983.
The lovely example here is no. 156 of 200 and was imported from Italy in 2004 and has been featured in several UK magazines.
A car I really, dearly wish there were more of, just so I could have the chance to own one.

- Amazosan

'A' Rise, My Child

21 February 2014

RIP Massimo Giordani

RIP Massimo Giordani.
You won't who he is, for he wasn't famous; he was a personal friend of mine for over twenty years and a man I considered a brother. he had charisma to burn, and could get a laugh out of even the stoniest of faces.
And as an Italian, he was not only a huge football fan (Lazio and Everton) but a MASSIVE F1 fan. Given that we were both Scuderia Ferrari and Michael Schumacher fans, we could go on for hours about the minutiae of Formula one, past and present. The latest aero package this, qualifying performances that, or even just goofing around the office making pretend engine sounds or doing Murray Walker impersonations. Its fair to say that no-one was on our level of communication when it came to F1, and now alas never will be.
Forza Scuderia Massimo. Lei non potrà mai, mai essere dimenticato.

- Amazosan

Cross Road Blues

17 February 2014

Cars And Music: Rover 25/Life In Mono

Anyone remember this advert? I dread to think what the ad men were on in the year 2000 to connect a roulette wheel to a Rover; I suspect they were still hungover from new millennium celebrations, but you can't deny that its a memorable advert, greatly helped by the music choice.

The track in question is Life in Mono, by UK band Mono, which consisted of Siobhan de Maré and Martin Virgo. It was released on the band's first EP in 1996 which contained various remixes, most notably two by the Propellerheads. It was released again in 1997 on the band's only album, Formica Blues. As well as being used for the launch television advert for the then-new Rover 25, the song was used as the theme to the 1998 movie version of Great Expectations, reportedly chosen by lead actor Robert De Niro.

Now, there is a magazine version of the casino advert, but alas I can't find a copy of it yet, so to fill some space up, heres another Rover 25 advert from 2000, this time for the German market. Now the German ad agency went straight to the point; don't confuse people with cars driving around giant roulette wheels, get their attention with several pictures of womens cleavages and then show the car.
Now, I could translate the text of the advert, but I suspect though that you won't be concentrating on the prose...

- Amazosan

Beast Of Burden

13 February 2014

T.W.O. - 2004 Harley-Davidson Fatboy: Ramzzee

A custom Harley 'Fatboy' built by a guy called Ramsey Snape Jr; the details about the bike are here, but I'm keeping the words brief as he passed away in June of last year and I think I'll let the bike speak for itself. Thats one cool hog that you built, Ramsey.

- Amasozan