Nicely in tune
Once a grass-roots staple, Special Saloon racing is flourishing again – and this year welcomes…
Two-litre engine for Lancia’s Beta
Lancia are offering a new 2-litre version of the Beta saloon, HPE, Coupé and Spider. Torque, flexibility and driveability are all claimed to benefit considerably from this longer-stroke version of Fiat’s twin-cam engine, borrowed directly from the mid-engined Lancia Beta Monte Carlo. These 2000 models replace the 1800 versions of the complete range; only the 1800 saloon has been available in Britain, coupé derivative imports previously being restricted to the 1600 version, but the complete 2000 range will be available in the UK alongside the entire 1600 range and the 1300 Beta saloon.
This new engine is just one of a wealth of changes made to this best-selling range. Most important are the styling and appointment details which enhance the 2nd Series saloon and the introduction of power steering as optional equipment. But the 1600 Coupé loses eight of its 108 b.h.p., the 100 b.h.p. saloon engine now being fitted in an effort at rationalisation. Thus all 1600 models share a common engine as do the new 2-litre models. Although one brake-horsepower is lost compared with the old 1800 Coupé engine, the 1,995-c.c. (84 mm. bore x 90 mm. stroke), iron-block, alloy-cylinder head power unit produces its 119 b.h.p. at only 5,500 r.p.m. as against 6,200 r.p.m., and shows a 20% gain in torque to 171 Kg.M. at 2,800 r.p.m. Fuel is fed through a twin-choke downdraught carburetter, either Weber 34 DATR 2/200 or Spica C34 TC1C/1. An automatic bypass device meets the new European emission standards. The improved engine characteristics have enabled the use of a higher final drive ratio, 3.785 to 1, in place of the old 1800’s 3.920 to 1 and the 1600’s continuing 4.07 to 1.
The 2000 versions of the Coupé, Spider and HPE are distinguished by a wide, sloping power-bulge in the bonnet and a new halogen headlamp arrangement, twin reflectors being hidden behind a common lens; 1600 versions retain conventional, round, twin headlamps. Their interiors remain unchanged.
Lancia claim to have changed so many things on the saloon that it becomes almost a different car, inside and out. The most evident development has been to the rear styling: the angle of the rear window has been altered and the window recessed to improve rear vision from the driving seat. Two trailing fins result and the overall effect, coupled with a change to vertically styled rear light lenses, is to make the rear end look much less “heavy”. Side styling changes are considerable, but equally subtle. The waistline has been lowered by increasing the depth of the windows and has ”grown” a rubber moulding as protection. The third windows have been enlarged to improve rear three-quarter vision. There’s a new linear grille, the headlights are enclosed behind a rectangular glass surround and even the bonnet is slightly changed in shape. Inside, the facia, seats and steering wheel have all been redesigned.
We tried the new 2000 series saloon and Coupé recently along the Italian Riviera, based upon the beautiful little town of Santa Margarita Ligure, near Portofino. The most immediate impression was of the much improved apearance of the saloon, so subtly restyled by Pininfarina that we were unable to appreciate the actual changes until we saw a new model parked alongside the old. We drove the saloon first and commented kindly upon the improved seating and less harsh facia. Once on the move our appreciation became much more positive; the steering made astonishingly light work of negotiating the narrow, twisting drive of the Imperial Palace Hotel, thanks to the ZF power-steering. Our Rally Correspondent had surprised us with a tale of the works Beta Coupés on the San Remo rally appearing with power-steering and it transpires that the system incorporated in production so soon afterwards is absolutely identical. The extra torque of the bigger engines in these front-wheel-drive Lancias gives rise to a not very pleasant torque reaction at the wheels, producing a tendency for the front end to attempt to snake, say when accelerating hard out of a tight corner. Quite considerable effort at the wheel is needed to counteract this effect; the more power the greater the problem, hence the adoption of power-steering on the rally cars. The power-steering not only reduces the effort required, it also seems to damp down the cause, even though the front-end geometry and driveshaft arrangement are unchanged. Consequently we found both the saloon and Coupé considerably smoother and easier to drive round some of the twisting, mountainous parts of our route. In both models, the steering ratio. has been raised, that of the Coupé now especially improved, that of the saloon continuing to be a little bit low-geared.
Apart from these side effects from power-steering adoption, the system itself is quite superb, variable assistance ensuring that its effort is reserved for low and moderate speeds; Lancia claim that it cuts out completely at high speed, though we remained slightly (perhaps merely psychologically) aware of it when cruising at an indicated 180 k.p.h. (saloon) and 190 k.p.h. (Coupé) on the autostrada.
Lancia’s claims for better driveability with the 2-litre engine cannot be argued with: in town both models proved smoother and less fussy, capable of pottering along at low speeds in fourth or fifth; the extra torque certainly improved hill-climbing ability, reducing the “sag” between upward changes; on the autostradas, the legs felt much longer, yet the higher gearing hadn’t impaired the ability to accelerate rapidly to maximum speed.
But that old Beta bugbear of excessive engine noise under hard acceleration remained, and though wind-noise was acceptable, engine noise at high cruising speeds, particularly in the Coupé, was still disappointing. Nor has the Coupé driving position improved: this 5 ft. 7 in. writer needed the seat in the furthest rearwards position and the back-rest well-inclined; his 6 ft. 3 in. companion was understandably a little cramped in the same position.
This improved Beta range becomes more attractive than ever and we’re sure that they’ll increase Lancia’s share in the UK market—as well as snatch a share in the Italian 2-litre market, of which imports currently account for 70%—but are they as good as they look? A staffman has found the glitter a little tarnished on his 1600 Coupé, as you can read on page 1367.
Yet another superb Calendar has been produced by the Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Co: Ltd. Size 24 in. x 17 in., it contains 85 separate full colour photographs, with detachable pages for each month, and no motor racing enthusiast should be without one. This Calendar is well printed, and up to the standard we have come to expect from Goodyear. To obtain one of these Calendars, mention MOTOR SPORT and send £1.50 to the Advertising Department, Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Co. Ltd., Wolverhampton, WV10 6DH.
Goodyear also present a set of six silver plated Drinks Mats, which are individually etched with one of the 1975 champions in action. This set would make an excellent and acceptable gift for any enthusiast and can be obtained, price £3.00 (inc. VAT and postage) from the same address.
A Racing XJ Coupé
According to the grapevine of drivers and sponsors who dropped in at the MOTOR SPORT Earls Court stand, there seems little doubt that a 5.3-litre Jaguar XJ Coupé is presently residing at a preparation specialist, and will be developed for European racing next year. However, it is expected that the project will he extremely expensive, and it seems unlikely that Leyland would be able to authorise a go-ahead, even if the Jaguar shows the expected ability to outpace European opponents. Mind you, waiting lists aren’t what they once were at Coventry, production capacity has been substantially increased, and there is that BMW example of what competitions can do for a quality producer of high performance vehicles . . .
Further to last month’s nostalgic reacquaintance with the Mini, we learn that every Mini is to have the front seat safety catches; that the seat frames have been modified on 850 and 1000 models; and that the 1275 GT is to have the reclining seat backs we asked for, as standard equipment. Other changes to the range include adoption of the 1098-c.c. on all Clubman saloons and estates, except the automatic, which is apparently so puny that the 998-c.c. engine has to be retained! No price increases are expected, and dealers should have the improved models in stock now.
It’s a pleasure to report that Leyland Cars won six of the eight SCCA Championship final races at Road Atlanta, USA, recently. This prestigious end-of-season finale has always produced some extremely entertaining and hard-fought races for an invited entry, who qualify from the SCCA’s seven regional Championship events. Amongst the winning combinations were a Triumph TR6, Spitfire 1150 and 1500, an Austin-Healey Sprite, and an MG-B. Special praise should go to the Group 44 Jaguar V12 E-type, driven by Bob Tullius, which finally took the victory it just missed last year against the Corvettes.
Next year only the Snell Foundation (1970) and BS2495 standards will be acceptable in RAC-sanctioned motor car competition. It is particularly easy to overlook this requirement when preparing for the first event of a season, so make sure you are not the one who suddenly has to buy a new helmet on a Sunday, because the scrutineers can accept no other standards.
A New British International Rally
Yorkshire will host the first ever Mintex International Rally next February 20th/21st. The “International” status has been well-earned by an event previously renowned as one of the best “Nationals” in the country, for most of its life under the better-known name of “The Seven Dales” Rally. In fact it’s the event’s 21st anniversary and as always it will be promoted and organised by the De Lacy Motor Club of Pontefract. Among the many special stages planned are Oliver’s Mount and the Marine Drive in Scarborough and Castle Howard Hill climb. Some 200 miles of special stages are planned over the two days of the event, the whole of which will take place in daylight, to minimise public inconvenience, as will the ratio of stage to road miles of 2 : 1. Cash awards will total £3,250, including a first prize of £1,000. This Mintex-sponsored rally will be a qualifying event tbr the 1976 RAC Rally Championship and the Castrol/Autosport Championship.
Oil on Troubled Waters ?
The message of Castrol and Dealer Team Vauxhall will be carried round the country this winter in a 14-series “DTV/Castrol Roadshow”. Each of these free motoring snort evenings held in your friendly neighbourhood Vauxhall dealer’s showroom will include: three ten-minute talks by Chris Coburn of DTV, Roger Willis, Castrol’s UK Competitions Manager, and John Horton. Dunlop’s rally executive; a new 30-minute Castrol/ DTV film, “Winning Ain’t Easy”; an audiovisual quiz for the audience—with prizes; a teach-in by well-known Vauxhall motor sporting celebrities; and a second Vauxhall or Castrol motor sporting film. There’ll also be a mobile exhibition of Vauxhall Sportparts, graphic displays and actual Vauxhall competition cars. Maidstone and Southampton dealers will host Roadshows in December.
We’d recommend going along if only to see ”Winning Ain’t Easy”, all about DTV’s motor sporting activities in 1975, featuring Clive Skilton’s dragster, Gerry Marshall’s “Baby Bertha” V8. Firenza Super Saloon, and DTV in rallying. There’s no commentary—just interviews and on-the-spot comments by the personalities. Highlights of the film are some splendid “in-car” sequences, which take the viewer to 200 m.p.h. in Clive Skilton’s “Funny Car”, round Oulton Park with Marshall in Baby Bertha and over some of the Manx Rally stages with Will Sparrow. United Motion Pictures Director Barrie Hinchliffe can notch up another good motoring film to his credit, which is available to clubs and organisations from the Vauxhall Film Library, 6-7 Great Chapel Street, London, W1V 3AG or the Castrol Film Library, Castrol Ltd., Athena Avenue, Elgin Trading Estate, Swindon, SN2 6EQ.
If you have purchased this issue promptly, and are interested in the American-inspired Customising art, then there’s still time to visit the International Custom Car Show. Admission is 75p for adults (50p children) from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. between December 2nd and 7th. Some of the exhibits will be in the realms of art, especially in terms of paint and chrome finish, others will faithfully reproduce the state of the drag-racing in Europe, but be prepared for some horrors as well!
The former Triumph Razor-Edge Register has been reformed as the Triumph Razor-Edge Owners Club. Those stolid and comfortable 1800s, 2000s and Renowns, built, in that order of sequence; between September 1946 and July 1954, are catered for by this small, but growing club, whose Chairman is Bob Peters, of 133, Carnation Road, Strood, Rochester, Kent. Full membership (husband and wife) is £3, own membership £2 and Associate membership £1.50. Included is a newsletter full of practical hints on history, spares and repairs. A national rally is planned, to be held at Burford in Oxfordshire on a date to be fixed.
Somewhat larger in the range of cars it draws from and consequent membership is the MG Owners’ Club, which boasts over 1,000 members spread through 14 centres. Run very professionally—though as a hobby—by Roche Bentley (now there’s a name for vintage enthusiasts to conjure with!). the Secretary, of 108, Pomfret Avenue, Luton, Bedfordshire, and Michael Bentley, the MGOC caters for spares, accessories and information, though a social side is gathering momentum. A Club magazine, “Enjoying MG”, is published quarterly and contains details of special offers, trade lists, recommended suppliers, second-hand parts and so on, as well as MG-orientated articles and members’ free sales and wants. There’s a monthly bulletin, too. The majority of members own later models, from MG-A onwards. Among parts available through the Club are new MG-A steel body panels and, interesting in view of our recent correspondence about MG-C Spares, reconditioned gearboxes for that model at £65. The Club is arranging the manufacture of MG-C kingpins–perhaps they’ll be able to sell some to British Leyland to enable them to provide some sort of reasonable service for disgruntled MG-C owners. Membership is £4 p.a.
Jaguar E-Type, Aston Martin and MG-B owners are all catered for in the latest alloy sports wheels from Tech-Del Ltd., 32-36 Telford Way, London, W3. Available in 13, 14 and 15 in. diameters, the latest Minilites carry the usual multi-spoke styling, but have a splined centre and single-nut locking.
Once a grass-roots staple, Special Saloon racing is flourishing again – and this year welcomes…
A section devoted to old car matters Talbots in London At the instigation of Stephen…
Sir, WB's excellent account of the Brooklands gathering of Alvis Owners Club and Alvis Register…
Jody Scheckter celebrated the 25th anniversary of his Formula One world championship at Kyalami recently…
"Motor Sport" Samples the Unicar Model-T IN an age when the Continent is a breeding…
The Mercedes-Benz 450SE One of the world's better cars, though not entirely free from shortcomings.…