Around and about , April 1991

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New Historic Racing Championship

1991 sees the birth of the Historic Formula Racing Car Championship which caters for Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula Atlantic and Formula 5000 cars that were manufactured and raced up to 1971. This exciting championship will be contested over 7 rounds at all major circuits in Britain, and invitation races are planned at Mondello, Spa, Paul Ricard, Le Mans, Nürburgring and Monza.

The HFRCC has developed from the successful Pre ’71 series, which, under the banner of the HSCC, has grown steadily in numbers and variety of machinery to an all time record of competitors in 1990. These exciting and powerful single-seater cars of the Sixties have been rebuilt and restored by their owners to near concours presentation, most of them retaining the colour scheme and livery of their original drivers and teams. The grids will be full this year with marques such as Brabham, Lotus, Tecno, March, McLaren, Chevron, Lola, Surtees and Cooper being represented, along with smaller makes such as Merlyn, Palliser and Kitchiner.

The first championship round will be on the weekend of May 5/6 at Donington, and this, together with the remaining rounds, will be at HSCC meetings and under the Club’s auspices. More than 50 entrants are expected this year.

Regulations are available from the HSCC office, Coldharbour, Kington Langley, Wiltshire SN15 5LY and all interested parties should contact either the Club direct on 0249 758175, Lincoln Small on 081-540 9991 or Ted Walker on 0453 546255.

The classes are as follows:

Class A: Racing cars 1966-1971 over 1600cc

Class B: Racing cars 1966-1971 with wings; up to 1600cc

Class C: Racing cars 1966-1971 without wings; up to 1600cc

Class D: Racing cars from 1960-1965 incl 1500cc and over, rear engine only.

***

HC Hunter

Hugh Curling Hunter, who recently died at the age of 79, had competeted in motoring events from an early age, but it was in 1937 that his serious motor racing began in earnest when he bought a single-seater Alta and a Frazer Nash-BMW 328.

He took part in all types of motor events, racing at Brooklands, Donington and Crystal Palace, speed hillclimbs like Shelsley Walsh, and Prescott, the Welsh and Scottish Rallies and the Monte Carlo Rally in 1937 in a 4-1/4-litre Bentley.

He is perhaps best remembered in racing circles for his ownership of a famous 2.9-litre twin supercharged Alfa Romeo car in which the Alfa Romeo team driver Clemente Biondetti had won the gruelling Mille Miglia road race in Italy in 1938. It had been brought over to the 1938 Motor Show at Olympia to publicise the road cars and although it was not for sale, Hugh pestered Thompson & Taylor (the main Alfa distributors at that time) so much that finally they sold it to him.

In September 1938 he lapped Brooklands with the car at over 122 mph and in July 1939 on the JCC Member’s Day he won all but one of the eight events. It featured in the BARC Fastest Road Car contest at Brooklands on Whit Monday 1939, but developed gearbox trouble forcing him to coast to a standstill in the finishing straight. So the controversy raging over which model was the Fastest Road car still was not settled on the track, but dragged on in the motor press until the outbreak of World War II.

During the war Hugh worked in Stevenage with Hollis ESA and was to be seen charging about on a very large and lethal motor cycle, but by the time hostilities had ceased, Hugh’s interest in competing had lessened, although in 1950 he went as co-driver to HSF Hay in the Le Mans 24-hours in the Embiricos 4-1/4-litre Bentley. A great character, very kind and generous to all he met, he continued to own and drive classic cars, mostly Bentleys and E-types, until finally forced to give up due to ill-health, but he never lost his enthusiasm. — DCO

***

Kenneth Best

Ken Best who died recently will be remembered among his motortrade friends as the ever-jolly companion whose endless stream of stories, tactfully described in another obituary notice as “often sailing close to the wind”, passed the hours on the kind of endurance runs which Ken organized with great efficiency for his clients, among them National Benzole, etc. I recall the time we went to Scotland in some BMC saloons of Austin Cambridge persuasion, to test the economy of National Benzole. At a small garage en route, where Ken had persuaded the awed owner to lay on sandwiches for the elite Pressmen, we had to top up the cars and Ken showed how genuine his PR work was when, sniffing professionally at a can, he castigated the luckless garage-man for putting another brand of petrol into the tanks. A very costly exercise had been ruined, Best told him! Memory suggests that after a sample had been requested in a sterilized bottle, we continued, and nothing more was heard of the incident.

That was the trip when we had dinner at the top bracket Gleneagles Hotel and there were maggots in the pheasant. Ken was fully able to take such things in his stride. He was a memorable rally driver of Austin cars for the BMC works teams, having gone first as Jack Sears’ navigator on the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally. His passing severs another irreplaceable link with the enjoyable past. — WB

***

From Saddam Hussein to Toothbrush

On page 345 will be found Motor Sport’s unique way of assessing a car in graphic form. It deals principally with the four convertibles we have recently driven, but we have included some other models, such as the Fiat 126 and Ford Sapphire Cosworth, as benchmarks.

What marks our graph out so differently from what might have been published before are the parameters. Don’t look for acceleration and mpg figures, top speeds, engine specifications, etc, for you won’t find them here. We have used a purely subjective method to assess a car’s character against practicality, but in terms easily understood by even the least mechanically minded.

We would be interested to know your thoughts on what cars should be included, what should be in the optimum circle and which cars are nearer Saddam Hussein in character and closer to a toothbrush in practicality.

***

The Aston Martin OC are organising a display of cars at Brooklands on April 7, including some Aston Martins which competed there before the war.

At least 36 pre-war Aston Martins have affirmed that they will be there along with Neil Murray’s well-known Grand Prix car “Green Pea”, and possibly the famous “Razor Blade” and the “Halford Special”. A separate display of post-war Aston Martins will be assembled for public viewing. There is also the promise of 20 Lagondas from the Lagonda Owners Club turning up on the day as well.

Brooklands will open at 10.00arn on Sunday April 7, and the fee for public entry to the site is set at £3.00 per head. This includes parking, viewing of all the attractions and the opportunity of watching the pre-war cars ascending the famous “Test Hill” in a demonstration.

***

30 years ago Jaguar stole the limelight at the Geneva Motor Show with the launch of the E-type. In the intervening years there have been precious few times when a British manufacturer has made any sort of impact at all in this most prestigious of Shows. 1991, though, will be remembered as the year when Bentley stole the headlines from under the noses of Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

It is even longer since a Bentley had a body style of its own, for it has traditionally been a clone of Rolls-Royce. The new two-door, four-light body on the Continental R is, however, unique to Bentley and harks back to the design theme last used on a Continental 35 years ago.

Powered by a turbocharged 6.75-litre V8 engine, the Continental R has a regulated top speed of 145 mph and a 0-60 mph performance of 6.6 seconds. The interior is naturally sumptuous, spacious even for four people and trimmed in leather.

Only 70 models per major market and a price tag of £160,000 will ensure these cars will be a rare sight on the road.