IT HAS been disappointing just how few interesting and reasonably priced models of modern racing cars there have been in recent years. It is therefore a paradox that the model and toy market is now quite literally flooded with miniature versions of the latest racing exotica in all scales, suiting every pocket and taste. This is obviously due to the heightened public awareness of motorsport in general, and Nigel Mansell in particular. Currently there is a wide range of Grand Prix, SportsPrototype and Groups A and B machines, ready-built and in kit form, motorised and static. The market is overburdened, so much so that it has become bewildering.
With this abundance of topical models, it comes as a pleasant surprise to discover the issue of a classic racing car model. Described by the kit-maker, the Milan-based ESCI concern as the “Ferrari SW8 Racing” — what is actually in the box is a 1/24 representation of the immediate predecessor of the famous and much worshipped 250 GTO — the Scaglietti-bodied Tipo 61 250 GT Berlinetta. In fact it is chassis number 2689GT, the car which finished third at Le Mans in 1961 in the hands of the French duo Pierre and Jean Guichet (see panel to the right).
The kit is at first sight rather a disappointment, as it really is a bit of a throwback to the moulding standards of 10 years ago — long since surpassed by the skill and technology applied by the Japanese. The mouldings are crude and lack detail and need a lot of work with file and sandpaper to remove ‘flash’. The detail of the Borrani wire wheels is particularly poor and toy-like. It is also a mystery as to why the ESCI should have chosen to cast the body in white and then instruct the builder to paint it metallic grey, when it would have been much more sensible to use the same grey plastic mix as used for the engine and running gear parts.
However, the rubber tyres are nicely done even if they do lack any sidewall detail. Included are a fine set of transfers with the correct numbers and markings. The overall shape of the shell captures the line and feel of the original well, so that with a little work you can build a very nice and and original model of this infrequently visited car. The final clincher is that all you are asked to fork out is a mere £6.95 — so all the above criticisms become a bit churlish — good value for money. Later in the year ESCI have promised the same car, but chassis number 273GT, in its better known dark blue and white livery of Rob Walker. This car was originally the personal property of Stirling Moss before passing to British Racing Partnership/UDT Laystall and a succession of private owners. Another worthwhile addition to the collection then, but one hopes they can have the foresight to get the body colour correct. IB
Ferrari 250 GT Tipo 61 Berlinetta — Chassis No. 26861 —
Sold to Pierre Noblet on June 3rd 1961 and prepared at the factory specially for the owner and his co-driver Guichet to run in that year’s Le Mans 24 hour race.
Equipped with an alumimium bodyshell (painted silver-grey with a mid-blue central strip) on a type 539 spaceframe chassis and fitted with a type 61 2953cc V12. Competition engine with triple Weber 46 DCF Carbs delivering approximately 280 bhp through the Ferrari 4-speed box and Dunlop 16 inch rubber. Considering that this was its first race — it could hardly have done better, finishing third overall at an average speed of 100.242 mph — behind two prototype stablemates and winning the GT category outright.
A win by the same drivers followed by Monza in the Coppa Inter Europa, with an eighth in the Monthlhery 100 kms later that year and a retirement with a blown engine at the same circuit in the Coupes du Salon.
During the winter of 1961 the car was completely overhauled at the factory before its return to the racetrack in ’62 and despite the sleeker and faster 250 GTOs appearing on the scene, Noblet scored a number of notable placings throughout the year, climaxing with a win and fastest lap in the Coupe de Bruxelles. Willy Mairesse practiced the machine
during the Le Mans test day, reaching a top speed on the Mulsanne of 265 kph and a fastest lap of 186.13 kph. 2689 did not appear for the race itself however, Noblet having obtained a GTO in the meantime, which he drove into second place overall.
From 1965 onwards the car passed through a number of private hands, including Harley Cluxton’s, before undergoing a total restoration in 1975 whilst in the hands of one J R Upton.
Whilst on the subject of vintage kits and racing machines, it is not too late to point out to readers that Humbrol are currently involved in re-issuing some of the classic Airfix 1/32 kits of the late Sixties and early Seventies. These models were first class productions in their time — and even now belie the age of the original mouldings. A bonus of the kits includes drivers!
However all the issues are cast in one colour, so some careful work has to be done on the wheels and tyres in particular. Already on shelves are the Bugatti 35B, the 3-litre Bentley, and AlfaRomeo 8C Le Mans. Newly released is the MGB Roadster and coming soon is the E-Type Jaguar, hopefully with the option of drop-head or hard-top as with the original kit. £2.50 buys you your Bentley or Jag. and it is to be hoped that Humbrol can be prevailed upon to re-issue my personal favourite of the range — the Porsche 91K. 10