Matters of Moment, August 1964

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AT LAST!

Out in Australia, Donald Campbell has at long last broken the motor-car speed record, by a few m.p.h. His Bristol Proteus gas-turbine Bluebird is the first car officially to exceed 400 m.p.h. But, in view of the enormous expenditure and the time which has elapsed since Bluebird was publicly demonstrated at Goodwood, the speed is unsatisfactory. It is disappointing that the 5,000-H.p. monster didn’t go faster than Breedlove’s American jet-thrust tricycle and settle the controversy as to who is entitled to Land Speed Record laurels.

Early reports quote Campbell as blaming the Dunlop tyres, which, if true, is poor repayment to a vital Sponsor.

This long-drawn-out record bid heightens our admiration for John Cobb, who so nearly did 400 m.p.h. in his comparatively inexpensive piston-engined Railton Mobil eighteen years ago, and for Segrave, who broke the record in 1927 and again in 1929 with a minimum of delay and fuss.

 

OIL RESEARCH

Anyone who agrees that research is a vital tool in any progressive industry will be deeply impressed by Castrol’s new laboratories, which were opened at Bracknell in Berkshire on July 17th. We confess to being blinded by science on our conducted tour, but clearly better lubricating oils and greases must stem from this ultra-modern, efficiently-executed, £1/2-million project.

The opening ceremony was performed by the Rt. Hon. The Lord Kindersley, C.B.E., M.C., who arrived in the 1907 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost at the precise moment that a B.A.C. One-Eleven air-liner, also R.-R. powered (and Castrol lubricated), dipped in salute overhead – sleek timing, at which Laurie Sultan no doubt heaved a sigh for a job well organised. Guests travelled from Castrol House, N.W.1, in a posse of Rolls-Royces to see Lord Kindersley unveil a bust of the late Sir Henry Royce and declare the research centre open (the Editor, who did not know of this because of the perfidious postmen’s go-slow, came in a Ford). The close link between Castrol and Rolls-Royce is reflected in the evolution of Castrol 98, the synthetic aviation gas-turbine lubricant with which Castrol succeeded in breaking a World monopoly in this type of oil held previously by an American owned company, and which now lubricates more than half the Rolls-Royce,engined civil aeroplanes in Europe, as well as the jets of the R.A.F. and other NATO air forces.

We do not run a Rolls-Royce but we always use Castrol. Although we are entirely satisfied with it as it is, we are glad to know that it can hardly fail to get better and better, whether used in the tiniest wristwatch or the most forceful aero, marine or racing-car engine.

 

GT HOMOLOGATION

In anwering the query “What has happened to the rear-engined 250LM Berlinetta Ferrari?”, the Continental Correspondent raises an important aspect of the homologatiun of GT cars. Last autumn the 250LM Berlinetta was announced, catalogues issued, orders taken. The jigs for the GTO model were dismantled. Now the GTO is in production again, upholding Ferrari fortunes in GT racing. The fact is Ferrari has been too busy with normal production and racing, his 4-litre 330GT selling well, that it is more sensible to sell these than build 100 specialised rear-engined V12s for a market which could probably not absorb more than about 50% straight away. However, production has commenced, the engine size now 3.3-litres and the designation 275LM Berlinetta.

Porsche is a complete contrast, their fibreglass 904 GTS Carrera competition coupé and 901 fiat-six “touring car” being announced simultaneously, but the 904 being produced first, as it was clearly a best-seller, so that it was soon homologated, whereas the 901 is still not in production.

This raises the point, says D.S.J., that the F.I.A. homologation or GT cars is due for revision. For whereas Mercedes-Benz, Ford or General Motors can build the required 100 models quickly at negligible cost relative to their gross output, this represents a large percentage of total output for the smaller concerns. There is also the case of the Shelby-A.C. Cobra in Daytona coupé form, recognised although only three have been built, the theory being that it is basically the same as the production open 2-seater A.C. Cobra.

 

THE AMPOL TRIAL

Following up their Safari Rally victory, a Ford Cortina GT has won the 14-day, 7,000-mile Australian Ampol Trial, eliminated 101 of the 147 starters. Ford took four of the first nine places.

A lesser Ford success was winning the Commander’s Cup, previously held by a Reliant Sabre Six GT, fobr a 24-hour run at Snetterton circuit. A Cortina GT driven by Hennessy, McKee and Chambers averaged 70.48 m.p.h.

American these Fords may be, finance-wise, but they rely on many all-British components. Incidentally, Ford of Dagenham have issued a well-illustrated book about the Cortina’s 1963 competition successes, a copy of which should be obtainable if you apply in writing, mentioning MOTOR SPORT.

 

BATH CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE

Results (received too late for inclusion with report on page 640. due to retardation of Britain’s postal service) :-

Veterans: D.S. Inchley and I.S. Williamson (1899 2 1/2-h.p. Beeston).

Edwardians: G.E. Milligen (1914 15.9-h.p. Delage).

Vintage Saloons: Dr. R. O. Barnard (1929 Rolls-Royce Twenty).

Vintage Open: Mrs. I. R. Cardy (1923 12/40 Alvis)

P.V.T: W. A. L. Cook (1936, Rolls-Royce P.III).

Special Award: A. A. M. Brash (1929 M-type M.G.)

 

EUROPEAN HILL-CLIMB CHAMPIONSHIP

At the time of going to press three further events have taken place in the European Hill-Climb Championship, these being Mont Ventoux (France), June 14th; Gaisberg (Austria), June 28th; and Trento Bondone (Italy), July 12th; making with the Rossfeld (Germany) meeting, reported in last month’s issue, a total of four rounds out of the series of seven. Mont Ventoux is the longest event in the Championship curriculum, measuring 22 kilometres (13 miles), and incorporates the most gruelling road surfaces imaginable. Current Champion Edgar Barth, who won the first event with a flat-8-engined 2-litre Elva-Porsche, switched to last year’s Championship-winning flat-8 Porsche Prototype (somebody obviously pointed out that he was scoring points for Elva and not Porsche!), and had little difficulty in winning the Championship class from Anton Fischaber’s Lotus 23-B.M.W.

Jose Greger in the 4-cylinder Elva-Porsche was third, with Heini Walter’s Porsche 904 GT fourth. The outright record fell to Maurice Trintignant’s ex-works 1.5-litre B.R.M. in 11 min. 17.2 sec., just 7.4 sec. faster than Barth. Herbert Muller, who took over the Barth Elva-Porsche, suffered a broken suspension arm which caused him to collide with a tree, damaging the car considerably but escaping unscathed. Both Britain’s Peter Westbury (Lotus 23-B.R.M.) and Arthur Owen (4-cylinder Brabham-Climax) suffered mechanical breakdowns near the start. Thus Barth scored another nine points, bringing his total to 18.

Gaisberg, like Rossfeld, required competitors to score on an aggregate of two runs. Barth once more set the pace and scored his hat-trick, and Muller, with the hurriedly-prepared Elva-Porsche, was placed second. The meeting was full of incidents, most of which could be blamed on the poor crowd control. Both Harry Zweifel (Lotus 23-Ferrari V6) and Anton Fischaber (Lotus 23-B.M.W.) left the road, the latter to miss a crowd of spectators who had rushed onto the track to look at Zweifel’s mishap. Peter Westbury suffered a severe baulking as a result of the above nonsense but was placed seventh. Barth’s best time of 4 min. 11.54 sec. for the 8.5-kilometre hill constituted a new outright record.

The sinuous 17 1/2-kilometre Trento Bondone Hill-Climb in Northern Italy was the scene of Barth’s fourth consecutive win which clinched for him the 1964 European title (although there are three further qualifying events), despite a really serious challenge by Peter Westbury in practice (4 sec. slower than Barth!), which fell through when Westbury left the road in his official ascent. Surprisingly, all the other regulars were beaten by the local Abarth Simcas of Hans Herrmann and H. Demetz, and the best that Muller’s Elva-Porsche could manage was fourth place. Barth’s time of 12 min. 17.8 sec. bettered his old record by 0.08 of a second. At the time of going to press, Edgar Barth has 36 points to Herbert Muller’s 15 and Jose Greger’s 9. – E.L.W.

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