11 December 2015

Le Mans 24 Hours, 17-18 June 1995.

The monstrous Honda NSX LM GT2s driven by legendary drivers Keiichi Tsuchiya, Akira Iida & Kunimitsu Takahashi. They raced at Le Mans from 1994 to 1996 their best result was in '95 when they finished 1st in the GT2 class.
The 1995 race was won by a McLaren F1 GTR in the GT1 category. The F1 was already well known for dominating the BPR Global GT Series with customer teams, but the car that won was actually the initial GTR prototype that was on loan to Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing. Mario Andretti's Courage finished second, having been the sentimental favourite of many in the run-up to the race. However the reliability of the production-based McLaren helped it defeat the much faster Le Mans prototypes.

2 December 2015

World Superbike Championship Round 9, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 14 July 2002

The 2002 Superbike World Championshipis always remembered as the season in which Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards fought in classic style for the title. Round 9 at Laguna Seca reflected this, as the duo shared the two wins. While Edwards set pole (and Noriyuki Haga the fastest lap), Bayliss on the Ducati Infostrada won the first race, with Edwards on the Castrol Honda winning race 2.
Edwards did have the last laugh, as he won the championship that year.

Photo by Tom Hnatiw

30 November 2015

United States GP, Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course, October 8, 1972

Jackie Stewart completed the 1972 World Championship with one of the most convincing wins of his career. Driving the Derek Gardner-designed Tyrrell he was in a class of his own and led from start to finish. 
Fran├žois Cevert finished second in the sister Tyrrell 006, while Denny Hulme rounded out the podium in the McLaren M19A.

Photo by Motor Sport magazine

13 November 2015

United States GP West, Circuit Long Beach, April 3, 1977

An already tragic Formula One season received exactly what it needed to chase away the despair when the brilliant Mario Andretti became the first American to win a Grand Prix on his home soil. After the deaths of Tom Pryce in the South African race and Carlos Pace in a plane crash, the United States Grand Prix West was a glorious triumph for Andretti. It was the start of his two-year march to the World Championship, and the first win for the car that would usher in the ground-effects era, Colin Chapman's Lotus 78.
The picture shows Patrick Depailler in the Tyrrell P34B; he would go on to finish 4th in the race

9 November 2015

Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, August 26, 1984

Rene Arnox in the Ferrari 126C4 at the Dutch Grand Prix, held at Zandvoort. He retired on lap 66 with electrical problems; Alain Prost in the extremely successful McLaren MP4/2 car won the race.
As an aside, the McLaren was far more effective than the 126C4 and dominated the season. The 126C4 won only once in 1984 at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, driven by Alboreto who won his first race for the team.

6 November 2015

RIP George Barris 1925-2015

In 1962 George took home the America's Most Beautiful Roadster Award with his Metalflaked Twister T
The custom car world has lost a colossus; as I’m sure many of you have heard, George Barris passed away yesterday.
his impact was widespread. He carried the custom car into the public consciousness in a way that was often imitated and never duplicated. George was a master of ideas and a man of action who created a unique identity that jutted out in all directions, flowed through numerous channels and always managed to stay anchored - even if in some small way - to his customising roots. Chopped Mercs, Hovercars, vans, rockets, boats, you name it - he was incessantly building, shaping and redefining how Americas saw vehicles big and small.

George Barris' first custom, a 1942 Cadillac
George (left) with brother Sam, who died in 1967 from cancer
He and his late brother Sam were responsible for some iconic custom cars; the two built designs for private buyers, and George also built and raced his own cars briefly. Sam had customised a new Mercury coupe for himself, and a customer who saw it ordered a similar car. This vehicle, known as the Hirohata Merc for its owner, Bob Hirohata, was shown at the 1952 GM Motorama auto show and was so popular it overshadowed the best work of Detroit's top designers. It also established the early '50s Mercury as a popular basis for custom car design.

In addition, Sam built Ala Kart, a 1929 Ford Model A roadster pickup. After taking two AMBR (America's Most Beautiful Roadster) wins in a row; the car made numerous film and television appearances, usually in the background of diner scenes. Further work followed, and they were soon asked to create cars both for personal use by the studio executives and stars and as props for films.

Kopper Kart, built by George. Long since disappeared, a replica has since been built

1956 Lincoln Continental Mild custom, built by George
 Fred Rowe's '51 Mercury
Other Barris-built film cars included a modified Dodge Charger for Thunder Alley, a Plymouth Barracuda for Fireball 500, a 1921 Oldsmobile touring car turned into a truck for The Beverly Hillbillies, the fictional "1928 Porter" for the NBC comedy My Mother the Car, a gadget-filled Mercury station wagon for The Silencers and a sinister rework of a Lincoln Continental Mark III for The Car.

In the 1960s, the Barris firm became heavily involved in vehicle design for television production. At the beginning of the decade, Barris, who loved extravagant design, had bought the Lincoln Futura concept car of the mid-1950s which had been built by Ghia of Italy, from Ford for $1. It remained in his collection for several years, until he was rather unexpectedly asked by ABC Television to create a signature vehicle for their upcoming Batman TV series. Time was very short, as filming would begin in a few weeks, leaving insufficient time for a new design from scratch. Instead, Barris decided the Futura was a perfect base on which to create the Batmobile. Barris hired custom builder Gene Cushenberry to modify the car, which was ready in three weeks. The show was of course a hit, and the car gained notoriety for Barris. Barris retained ownership of the Batmobile until an auction in, 2013, when he sold it for $4.6 million.

Other television cars built by Barris Kustom Industries include the Munster Koach and casket turned dragster (the "Drag-U-La") for The Munsters, an Oldsmobile Toronado turned into a roadster used in the first season of Mannix, the futuristic Supervan for a film of the same name, and the convertible and 'Super 'pursuit KITTs for the later series of Knight Rider.

George has built many, many more customs than we've mentioned here; its an impressive body of work by any standards. While there are many other custom car builders, many others that have arguably done better work and the flack that George has had over the years for taking credit for cars he built but didn't design, our hobby would not be what it is if it weren't for his photography, magazine articles and promotion of customs in the beginning.
We owe you a huge debt Mr. Barris, you will be missed.

Mr Fabulous, Joey Ukrop

Photos from here and many other sources

4 November 2015

Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, August 13–16 2015

Photo by TM Hill

The angry eyes of the 1975 Shadow DN6 F5000 car accelerating out of Turn 11 from this past year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca.

2 November 2015

Circuit Unknown, Formula Ford 1600 Championship, 1979

Photo by Alan Cox.

James Weaver four wheel drifting a Tiga Formula Ford car in the 1979 season.
He moved on to European F3 and in 1982 he was the Eddie Jordan Racing team's primary driver. He debuted in the British Touring Car Championship in 1988 and in 1989, he finished second in the overall championship that year behind the winner John Cleland, but did win Class B.
In 1987, Weaver joined Dyson Racing, for whom he drove for twenty years. He was IMSA GT Championship runner-up in 1995, won the 1998 United States Road Racing Championship and the 2000 and 2001 Rolex Sports Car Series, and collected two vice-championships in the 2004 and 2006 American Le Mans Series.
Among his wins, he triumphed at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1997, 2000 and 2002 6 Hours of Watkins Glen. He also finished second at the 1985 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1999 12 Hours of Sebring.
Weaver officially retired after the 2006 ALMS season.

28 October 2015

Jag Mark X With XJR Engine - Ultimate X

Two Jags in a month on The Effect? Don't worry, I'm not about to turn into that dastardly Browns Lane hoarder, John Prescott. But having said that, if these two Jags were parked in my garage, the prospect of that horrifying thought becoming reality would be a whole lot more palatable. Now this feline hot rod doesn't display it charms in quite such an overt way as that rather outre XJS; not for this car a Jimmy-blown small-block and rear wheels the size of weather balloons, oh no. Now I'm a sucker for that Pro-Street look, but the way this 1966 Mark X keeps its muscle discreet is probably more to my liking.
The big, luxurious Jaguar Mark X saloon debuted in 1961 and was the company's largest and best equipped car to date. It was fitted with the XK straight six (taken to 3.8 litres), four-wheel disc brakes and was the first Jaguar saloon with fully independent rear suspension. The body styling was long, low and wide, and sported the now-familiar four headlight design theme that would evolve into to the XJ6 and go on to become the face of every Jaguar saloon for almost 50 years.
The Mark X wears its girth amazingly well; larger than the XJ6 that replaced it and until the XJ220's arrival in 1992, stood as the widest production Jaguar ever built. Rumoured at one point to have been designed to take the V12, it had to make do with that classic 1949 XK engine; classic but struggling to propel a two ton car in a manner that its looks deserved, not helped by sitting awkwardly on 14" wheels and a relatively narrow track.
But someone corrected that with this Mark X by installing the complete drivetrain from a 1996 Jaguar XJR; that means the suspension, ABS brakes, four-speed automatic transmission and of course its Eaton M90 supercharged 4 litre AJ16 inline six, with 322bhp and 378lbs/ft of torque.
This particular car was a solid but tired example ready for a restoration and judging by the pictures, the quality of the finish is up to the same standard as the engineering; brightwork have been restored to show quality levels while panel fit looks outstanding, and laser-straight paint cloaks the curvy body, accentuated by Aston Martin DB7 alloys filling the wheel arches.
In spite of the standard Mark X's performance, one thing it need have no excuses made for was the limousine-like interior. This was the last regular production Jaguar with a fully hand made wood, leather and wool drawing room in the manner that a contemporary Bentley or Alvis driver would appreciate. Large picnic trays have book-matched veneer, the dash is a solid expanse of polished timber and even the radio and analogue clock are trimmed in wood. One could even order it with an optional divider window for the true aristocratic experience. Suitably, it has been restored to the same standard as the interior; the seats have been recovered in gorgeous burgundy leather, the woodwork is exquisite and has been returned to original specification, with only the centre console being modified to fit the XJR's climate control panel and J-gate shifter.
The price for such a machine? Well this car cost the equivalent of just just over £50,000 which to be honest seems cheap; thats cheaper than a brand new XJ6 LWB (about £62,000 at time of writing). No contest when its worded like that, huh?

- Amazosan

J-gate shifter and 
A conservative estimate now?

The Sharp End

26 October 2015

The Cutaway Diagram Files -

Le Mans Testing Session, Paul Ricard Circuit , December 1997

Toyota TS020 GT-One Testing the Paul Ricard circuit; the car in question is chassis LM802, the no.29 car raced at the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans, then later used as a test car. Early testing and development was handled by Martin Brundle, but later all nine drivers of the Toyota LeMans team were given opportunities to put the car through its paces.