Letters:

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116

Adios amigo?

Sir,

I am the owner of a Costin Amigo, the interesting wooden-chassis, aerodynamic GT designed and built by Frank Costin between 1968 and 1972. I have made contact with the owners of another six of these cars but am unable to trace the fate of the one or possibly two outstanding vehicles.

Chassis numbers were suffixed zero and so the second chassis built was 020. Photographic evidence shows it was painted silver, had Minilite wheels and was registered JCC 202H. Costin data is hazy but it is believed that the car had an accident early in its life and may have been rebuilt as chassis 040 for which I have no information.

I telephoned the Vehicle Enquiry Unit of the DVLC at Swansea to ask for their procedures and they advised me to apply to them in writing, enclosing a search fee of £3.50. During the conversation, the registration number was fed into the DVLC computer and I was told there was no record of the number. In view of previous comments about the DVLC, I didn’t give up, hoping that the archives would produce something. I sent off the search fee, explaining my reasons and giving my Historic Sports Car Club membership details as further evidence of bona fide interest.

My fee was subsequently returned with standard reply which advised that information in DVLC records was only released in a very limited number of circumstances in order to protect the privacy of the individual and meet the provisions of the Data Protection Act. Whilst I have a healthy respect for privacy and the law this seems cursory treatment. I understand that the DVLC does not wish to become a mailing agency but surely simple information on whether a vehicle has been written off or was ever registered is not confidential. Possibly a search fee could cover the DVLC contacting current owners with the request for information, or vehicle transfer forms could include space for new owners to indicate their willingness to be approached by the DVLC in this way.

Help from Motor Sport readers would be appreciated. as would any information about Amigo body moulds, parts, production and racing history.

Richard Whittlesea, Clay Coton, Northamptonshire

Another definition

Sir,

Peter Fawcett’s sentiments (Motor Sport, June 1987), especially about letting owners of TT Replica and Le Mans Replica Frazer Nashes enjoy peaceful and un-debased use of the word replica, are absolutely right.

But at the risk of turning Motor Sport into a branch of Roget’s Thesaurus, I must point out he still hasn’t got the right word, which is “pastiche”. Maybe some day the competition scene could be enlivened by pastiche car racing. I guess it would fit in about where banger racing does today.

TJ Tarring, Captain, Frazer Nash section, VSCC       

 

Affording a Ford

Sir,

Reading DSJ’s article “Motoring with a Capital M” (Motor Sport, April 1987) his questioning the price of a second-hand GT40 brought out a point I think of from time to time. It is a pleasure to leam that someone else is available to commiserate with.

Reflecting back on a mid-1960’s Trans-Am sedan race at Bryan Motorsport Park, New Hampshire, there were Donohue, Jones, Revson and others. There was also a GT40 in sparkling red livery which a nearby Ford Dealer was displaying with a list price of £12,000. In the mid-sixties, the value of a single dollar could acquire a young person the fortune of twenty candy bars. Today, it is a bargain to purchase three candy bars for a dollar; just recently a shop was offering two candy bars for a dollar. On the candy bar currency, then, it now takes ten dollars to purchase the equivalent of what a single 1960s dollar purchased.

If we go with that exchange rate, for which read devaluation of the dollar, then in 1960s dollars the GT40 should cost about £12,000 now to break even with its original purchase price. Any price above £120,000 would then be profit, would it not?

Bruce Philbrick, Sheffield, Massachusetts, USA

 

The Conan Doyles’ Ford

Sir,

I came across a photograph in my 1929 album showing Denis Conan Doyle in a Frontenac Ford owned by him and his brother Adrian.

I was taken up the road in it and was impressed by its acceleration as it spun its rear wheels and left rubber on the road. Other than an ohv head I cannot remember any mechanical details, nor can I recall any mention of these rare Model T specials in all the years

I have been reading your interesting journal. I believe the cars originated and were raced in America. I don’t think the Conan Doyles raced their car in England.

Modified T Fords must have been of considerable interest. Do you or any readers know anymore about them?

JB Altham, Cambridge

The Conan Doyles did use this Frontenac Ford in speed-trials and we have at times referred to such very fast Fords, notably the one raced at Brooklands by Stirling Moss’ father. WB

Southport Leidart

Sir,

Your interesting article on the Leidart-8 (Motor Sport, May 1987) reminded me that AWY 817, or possibly a sister car, appeared in the last ever 100-mile race on the beach at Southport on August 14, 1937. Works-entered by AC Leith, it was driven by Sir Ronald Gunter, who was obviously impressed by its 1936 performance at Wetherby. At 3622cc it had the fourth-largest capacity in the race, behind AL Baker’s 5954cc Minerva and the twin 4234cc Vauxhalls of Tony Brooke and Dick Whitworth. Handicapped to cover 56 laps, Gunter managed a mere five before No 12 succumbed to overheating caused by a cracked cylinder head, while Billy Cotton’s supercharged MG went on to win.

Leith himself said that only one car was built, which seems likely.

Martyn Flower, Yarm, Cleveland