Around and about, August 1974

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Opel Commodore GS/E for Britain

C.R.’s regret that the Opel Commodore 2.8 GS/E is not imported into Great Britain (Road Impressions of the Opel Commodore 2.8 GS and Granada Ghia on page 844 of this issue) is fortunately short-lived. The model is to be marketed in the UK in the autumn. Tony Fall and Peter Hanson turned out on the Avon Motor Tour of Britain with a brace of right-hand-drive versions of this fuel-injected, 160 b.h.p. Opel, in their cases entered by Dealer Team Opel and with engines producing well over 200 b.h.p. as blue-printed by Broadspeed. Indeed Hanson, with co-driver Robin Turley, finished 10th overall in spite of rolling on the Epynt stages and he and Fall, who was delayed by electrical problems, proved two of the quickest cars in the event.

Big Engine for the Seven?

Caterham Cars, who took over production of the Lotus Seven when Lotus ended manufacture over eighteen months ago, are contemplating dropping the new 2-litre, 16-valve, twin overhead camshaft Lotus engine into some future versions of the Super Seven. It would appear that supplies of the existing Lotus-Ford big-valve twin-cam engines are drying up and with a claimed 160 b.h.p. in Elite tune or 140 h.h.p. in Jensen-Healey form, the Seven should command a formidable power to weight ratio for unbeatable road performance. Graham Nearn, Managing Director of Caterham Cars, says that the Seven continues to sell at a steady rate.

What’s on in August

In addition to any other events of which you are reminded elsewhere in this issue, we are reminded of a few more by subsequent postal deliveries. That incredible Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden Aerodrome, two miles from the A1 near Biggleswade, Beds., will be the place to be on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26th, when a special display is to be held. Among the selection of interesting sights likely to be seen in the air should be a hot-air balloon, a Spitfire, a vintage sailplane, aerobatics to world competitive standard in a Pitts biplane, and several of the famous historic aeroplanes owned by the Shuttleworth Collection. A later event, on Sunday September 29th, should you keep your diaries well in advance, will include demonstrations by five historic RAF aeroplanes (Lancaster, Hurricane, Spitfire, Meteor and Vampire) and early road vehicles provided by the Transport Trust. For both events the gates will open at 11 a.m, and flying will begin at 2.30 p.m.

***

On Sunday, August 25th, the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club (South Midlands Centre) is organising a Rally at the Cotswold Wild Life Park, on the A361 between Burford and Lechlade. All types of vintage, veteran and historic vehicles will be on show including cars, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, cycles and farm machinery. It starts at 12 noon, and admission is covered by normal admission charges for the Park.

***

For those with a nautical bent, there’s the Embassy/Daily Express World Championship Powerboat Race, August 24th. Everything from family cruisers to 80-m.p.h. pure racing boats will tackle the route along the South Coast, from Cowes on the Isle of Wight to Torbay in Devon and back again, a total of 256 miles, passing plenty of coastal spectator vantage points.

***

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Bentley Drivers’ Club annual Silverstone Race Meeting a special Silver Jubilee Handicap Race is being incorporated in the programme, with sponsorship from Pace Petroleum. Following the lines of a similar race in 1949 it will he split into three divisions: 3-litre Bentleys and 3-litre Sunbeams/4-1/2-litre Bentleys and 30/98 Vauxhals/4-1/2-litre supercharged,6-1/2-litre and 8-litre Bentleys and 36/220 and 38/250 Mercedes-Benz. There will also be incorporated a team race for two-car teams of Bentleys from the same region. The Club says that handicapping will be arranged to give as many non-special Vintage Bentleys as possible, including novice entrants, the opportunity and encouragement to participate. Among the interesting entries anticipated are: the TT team car Bentley recently restored by Cyril Wadsworth, believed to be the chassis in which W. O. Bentley performed his epic “floor-boardless” drive over the Isle of Man circuit to win second place; Peter Morley in the Bentley Napier; the Pacey Hassan Bentley in the hands of its new owner, Mr. Majzub Fuad; and Rusty Russ-Turner’s Birkin Bentley.

Hispano Suiza wins the 1974 Monte Carlo Rally !

No we are not dreaming. The above really is true. The famous old name has not been revived, for this particular example of the Spanish marque was of 1926 vintage, at which point we should hasten to add that this was the Rallye Monte Carlo des Voitures Anciennes, a special event helping to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Prince Rainier of Monaco’s accession to the throne. Thus the Hispano and its intrepid French pilot Modeste Trechin did not have to contend with flying Porsches and Alpines over the icy Col de Turini — but they did have the pleasure of beating one of contemporary rallying’s genuine “Flying Finns”, for Hannu Mikkola was driving a Peugeot 302DS, the first time this car had made a public appearance since it gained a Le Mans class victory in 1938. The best-placed British competitor was Peter Rae, of Edinburgh, who finished 10th overall; driving a 1925 Bentley from the John O’Groats starting point (Trechin started from Athens). The event, sponsored by the Chesterfield cigarette company, attracted 107 starters from 17 different points in Europe, and the cars, which had to conform to original specification, spanned the years from 1923 to 1939. Second was E. Koux of Denmark, driving a 1926 Bugatti Type 37, from Stockholm, and third was P. Vernholes, of France, driving a 1929 Bugatti Type 44 from Athens.

Maserati takes over Ligier

Automobiles Ligier, Guy Ligier’s small firm from Vichy which has had some encouraging racing results with its JS2 GT car powered by the Maserati engine and transmission unit from the Citroen SM, has been amalgamated into the Societe Maserati, itself a branch of Citroen SA. Automobiles Ligier will carry on with the manufacture and development of the JS2, while marketing and after-sales will be carried out in France by the Maserati network as well as Ligier’s. A competitions programme has been set up for Ligier-Maserati cars to compete in national and international events.

Yet another Renault 45

Renault 45’s seem to be right in the news this month (see elsewhere in this issue). Jackie Pichon sent over his magnificent replica of the world-record-breaking 45 from his collection at the Pichon Automobile Museum, Cleres, near Rouen, for the Rothmans Cavalcade at the National Motor Museum earlier in July. This vast machine, constructed by Jackie and his late father Roger, a mechanic on the original car when it averaged 106.53 m.p.h. for 24 hours at Montlhery in 1926, was entrusted to the hands of Ted Woolley, whose own White Elephant is caged on page 866.

Miscellanea

The RAC has signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Lombard North Central for the RAC International Rally of Great Britain. We hope that Lombard will allow this great British rally to retain that title, even if they do tag on their own name at one end or the other… John Miles (not the John Miles or the other John Miles), the former police driving instructor who latterly has been in charge of the High Performance Course at Brands Hatch, has been appointed the RAC Road Safety Officer. . . The young Marcos Owners’ Club has published a most excellently produced and interesting magazine. The first issue contains technical information, the first part of a history of Marcos, reprints of road tests (including one from Motor Sport by D.S. J.) and much more useful reading. Details front Colin Feyerabend, 61, Middle Road, Higher Denham, Near Uxbridge, Middlesex… The 38th International RAC Tourist Trophy Race will reach its all-time low on Sunday, September 22nd : it has become a 3-1/2 -hour endurance race for Group 1 touring cars. . . At Mondello Park in June Gerry Marshall notched up a fiftieth outright win for the DTV Firenza special saloon which he first campaigned at the end of 1971… Mike Mather, in his Aldon Mini-Cooper, was in the lead of the Castrol-BARC Hill-Climb Championship at the time of going to press, just over nine marks ahead of Peter Voigt in his Voigt Renwick Special.—C.R.

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