Competition Notes and News

News from Ford

The Ford Advanced Vehicles establishment at Slough has been getting on so well with the production of the GT40 model, in both competition and road-going versions, that it has already been homologated by the F.I.A.. under Category A, Group 4. This is for sports cars of which at least 50 have been produced in 12 consecutive months. Production of the GT40 has gone so well that already plans are well advanced for building a further batch of 50 cars, and with a handful of experimental ones as well, a total of 105 cars altogether is envisaged. The road-going version is to all intents and purposes the same as the competition one, except that the cockpit is finished more luxuriously, with leather covering, a more silent exhaust system, a cockpit heating system and other detail modifications to make the car more suitable for living in, while the chassis parts are covered with a protective coating against the weather. The 4.7-litre Ford V8 engine still uses four downdraught double-choke Weber carburetters, but a single 4-choke Holley carburetter is optional.

Ford must be getting rather muddled by F.I.A. thinking, as a lot of other people often are, for having named their ”hot” family saloon the Cortina GT, whereas it is in truth a Cortina TI in accordance with the standards of Alfa Romeo and B.M.W. and the F.I.A. category, they then produced a real GT car in the 4.7-litre V8 GT40. They got this name more or less right, except that during 1965 it was a Prototype, not a GT car, but now that they have made sufficient numbers to demote it from the Prototype category to the GT category, the F.I.A. call the category Sports Cars, so that the GT40 is now a sports car in Group 4. It is all a bit confusing, but it still does not make the Cortina GT a GT car, for Group 3, which is Grand Touring Cars, is for cars made to a minimum of 500 and a maximum of 1,000, at which point you move into the Touring Car section of Recognised Production Cars. It would seem that Ford will never get in step, or else someone doesn’t want them in step.

Nor are their troubles confined to Europe, for they have come up against opposition in their home country, the United States of America. Some while ago Ford (U.S.A.) produced a competition V8 engine with single overhead camshafts on each bank of cylinders, which was very much a racing-type engine, but not such a pure racing unit as the four-camshaft Indianapolis engine. This o.h.c. 7-litre engine has been used very successfully in dragsters in America, and this year Ford said they intended to use this engine in their racing saloons, such as run at Daytona-and in other N.A.S.C.A.R. oval track events. Hardly had they made this announcement than N.A.S.C.A.R. and U.S.A.C., the organising clubs, said “Oh no you will not,”— and they specifically banned the 427 o.h.c. engine, saying : “We are simply following our rules which state that the engine must be representative of volume production, readily available to the public through normal trade channels. Eventually overhead camshaft engines probably will become part of the Americas production automobile, and thus will meet the requirements. Until that time, however, it is our feeling that in announcing their overhead camshaft engine for stock racing in 1966, the Ford Motor Company has put the cart before the horse. At this time their proposed overhead camshaft engine is strictly a race engine and as such does not meet the spirit of the rules.” And that is that; no question of being stock when a certain number have been built, or sufficient parts are made available, or other shallow regulations such as we get from the F.I.A. Good strong stuff telling the mighty manufacturer what he can do and what he cannot do, and I love the remark that the o.h.c. Ford V8 does not meet the spirit of the rules. After all, if you specified that 1,000 engines must be made and a manufacturer was determined to get his engine into racing, he could easily make the required number and throw them on the junk heap if no one wanted them, and if you say they must be sold, it is the easiest thing in the world to “arrange” suitable buyers.

The Ford four-camshaft Indianapolis engine is to continue in track single-seaters, and will no doubt monopolise the annual 5oo-Mile Race once more, but this year there will be no Lotus-Ford tie-up between Dearborn and Lotus Cars. In buying Colin Chapman, Jimmy Clark and Team Lotus in order to achieve their objective Ford did a sensible thing, and in the overall scene did a fantastic job to win Indianapolis at their third attempt, but having achieved the objective the partnership is now ended. However, the general principles are likely to continue, for the Gurney/Shelby syndicate are making a serious onslaught on Indianapolis with their “Eagle” cars of the All American Racers Team, using Ford Indianapolis engines in chassis designed by Len Terry, who did the 1965 Lotus for Colin Chapman.

While Ford have got their GT (sports car) project into production and their Indianapolis engines in a similar state, they have not dropped development, and the Alan Mann Racing Team will be running Prototype Ford GT40 cars in the major long-distance events, while Dearborn have already produced a new, lower and sleeker version of the mid-engined coupe which is designated a GT/P and will compete in Category B (special cars), Group 6. Prototype-sports cars. The Slough branch of Ford Competition will look after any official Category A racing, while Alan Mann looks after the Category B cars, which is a reversal of 1965. Then John Wyer and his team were trying for an outright win with experimental cars and Alan Mann was aiming for a class win. this being sufficient to achieve the objective desired by Ford. This year Alan Mann’s team have got to win outright, whereas Wyer can be content with a class win with a production car. Alan Mann has already got himself a master card in signing on Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart to drive one of his GT Prototypes,

News from Porsche

Last year Porsche were very successful with the GTS 904 coupe, running them in their own team as well as selling them to numerous private owners who also achieved a great deal of success. More than 100 of these fibreglass coupes with the flat-four o.h.c. engine were built, and it was homologated as a produetion GT car. During the year the works ran some experimental 904 ears fitted with flat-six engines as used in the production 911 model, with a greater power output and more racing characteristics. These were prototype cars for an entirely new model that has now been announced, which will be built in a batch of 50 to qualify as a Group 4 Sports Car. Known as the Carrera 6, this new car has a tubular space-frame, independent suspension all round by coil-springs, the 2-litre 6-cylinder engine and 5-speed gearbox mounted behind the driver, and a fibreglass body with gull-wing doors. The engine will develop 210 b.h.p. (DIN) at 8,000 r.p.m., with a maximum of 8,200 r.p.m. The bodywork is a most unusual shape and extremely functional rather than aesthetic, and is a mere 3 ft. 2 1/2 in. in overall height; while the dry weight is a bit over 11 cwt. The production run on this new model is-expected to be completed in time for it to be homologated before the beginning of the European season, and if the speed of production of the 904 was anything to go by, the 50 Carrera is models should present no difficulty to the Porsche factory.

The British Concessionaires, which means the Aldington brothers, intend to return to active racing with a Carrera 6 run by their own works in conjunction with the factory, and Mike de Udy will be the driver. The Aldingtons have formed a new comnany—Porsche Cars Great Britain Ltd.—who will handle Porsche activities in Britain, and this firm will enter the Carrera in suitable races. A.F.N. Ltd., who used to build and market the Frazer Nash and have been handling Porsches in this country, will still exist, but for purposes other than Porsche. They have also have a second Carrera 6 as a spare, and another one will be coming to this country for sale. Of the production batch of this new model, many of the regular 904 drivers and teams have already placed orders for the Carrera 6, and it will undoubtedly carry on the competition name of Porsche as worthily as its predecessors.

After a run of some fourteen years the 356 production model Porsche, which stemmed from the original prototypes built by Porsche around 1950. came to a complete stop last summer, and all production turned over to the 911 and 912 series. The little fat beetle-like Porsche that grew up from the first 356 through 356A, 356B, 356C and 356SC, will live forever in motoring history as a conception that was so right that it outlived even its designer’s wildest dreams. Over the years there are few cars that remain virtually unchanged over a span of more than 10 years and at the same time remain competitive with all their rivals, both as regards performance and looks. The beetle-Porsche, looked right and was right when it first appeared, and was still looking right 10 years later, like the original F.W.D. Citroen of the mid-‘thirties, or the DS series Citroens of 1955. Many cars begin to look dated after a few years, and most of them really are dated in performance after a few years. An 1,100-c.c. Cisitalia coupe that was a revolutionary standard in the immediate postwar years of new cars, now looks big and gormless, and simple cars like the upright Ford Popular and Morris Minor 1000, that were all right when they were conceived, lived on too long and illustrated a depressing lack of knowledge and taste in the buying public. Some cars have a long production run for good reasons and others for the wrong reasons, and I feel the E-type Jaguar coupe will have a long life, because it will not “date” quickly in looks or performance. The 356 Porsche was a fine example of this category of car, and will presumably become accepted as a classic in the world of automobile production engineering. The Lotus Elite is a car that should have come in this category, but fate seemed to be against it. There must have been many workers at the Porsche factory who wept a silent tear as the last 356 model left the assembly line. Let us hope that it was specially marked so that in many years’ time some ardent collector can scoop it up and display it proudly, that is if Porsche themselves have not already put it in their own museum.

While motoring in Germany this summer you may well see a special Volkswagen van on English number-plates plying between England and Stuttgart. It will be unusual in that it will be covered in locks, bolts, bars, wire mesh and all manner of other devices to stop anyone getting into the goods-carrying part. Porsche Cars Great Britain Ltd. have had this van modified to comply with a multitude of H.M. Customs regulations, and it now makes flat-out trips from Isleworth to Stuttgart and back once a month to collect a load of spare parts and service material or Porsche cars. The normal commercial lines of communication between a concessionaire and a parent factory in a foreign country have proved so laborious and inefficient that the Aldington brothers have made the bold step of sending their own van to collect things from the Porsche factory. Members of the firm’s staff do the driving, thereby benefiting from a personal visit to the Porsche factory, instead of dealing with paperwork names and personalities, and the round trip is done in five days, over a week-end. This means that any spare can be guaranteed delivery in a maximum of one month if it is not already in stock, and if you happen to want something that is not in stock just as the van is leaving it can be with you in five days. Thanks to the TIR organisation (Transports Internationaux Routier) frontiers are crossed with little delay, providing the seals affixed at the beginning of each run are unbroken, the formalities of customs duty and import licences, etc. being dealt with directly by Porsche Cars Great Britain Ltd., instead of having to wait for numerous agents and handlers to fit it into their run of business. This must surely be a feather in the cap of private enterprise. as well as a boon to Porsche owners in Great Britain.

News from Ferrari

After the numerous ups and downs and battles with the F.I.A., Ferrari has at last got the 275LM homologated, as a Group 4 sports-car, (50 off) and it is to continue in production during 1966, so that it can be in direct competition with the. Ford GT40 in the major races that have a production category, which means most of them. Oddly enough. the front-engined 275 GTB has been homologated as a GT car, which is Group 3 (500 off), with little or no discussion. Admittedly the GTB and the open version, the GTS, are being made in profusion and are quite a common sight even in England, but I feel sure the F.I.A. did not bother to go out and count all 500. Perhaps they feel they have been sufficiently beastly to Ferrari for the time being, and are saving their spleen for when he offers the Dino coupe for homologation under the 50-off category.

Serious testing has been going on recently at Monza with the latest version of the Prototype cars, in readiness for the long distance races such as Sebring and Le Mans. Among the drivers that were at Monza, in addition to those who drove in 1965, Were Bob Bondurant and Mario Casoni. Bondurant needs no introduction to the racing world and Ferrari could hardly have failed to be conscious of his ability during 1965, for it was often his Shelby-Cobra Daytona coupe that was in front of the best GT Ferraris. Mario Casoni is a spirited young Italian driver who seems to shine in mountain-type racing as well as circuit racing, winning the arduous Mugello Circuit race and the high-speed Enna race last year with a 275LM, as well as putting up numerous other worthy performances. Among the regulars doing the testing were Parkes, Scarfiotti, Vaccarella, Biscaldi and Baghetti. but oddly enough not Bandini. Latest news of Ferrari’s number-one driver, John Surtees, is that he is up and about on sticks, and at home and making good progress.—D. S. J.