Continental notes, July 1965

WITHOUT question the event of past weeks was Jim Clark winning the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in a Lotus 38-Ford V8, beating the American track specialists at their own game, fairly and squarely. As he has beaten the Grand Prix world fairly and squarely on numerous occasions, he must surely be accepted as the best in the world. Certainly the best of today, if not of all time, for when you start adding up all the great accomplishments he has achieved he gets a remarkable score, and I am not counting first places, nor seconds or thirds, but individual driving feats. To my mind there are only two things that Clark has still to achieve and they are a resounding win at the Nürburgring and an impressive performance in an open-road race like the Targa Florio. He has made impressive performances at the Nürburgring, as anyone will agree who saw him driving the original Lotus 2 in the 1,000-kilometre race, when he ran away from the opposition, or earlier when he drove the Aston Martin DBR1 of the Border Rievers. If you look back to Le Mans races, when he was driving a Lotus Elite, you will find that it wasn’t Stirling Moss who was first away in the Le Mans start, it was Jim Clark, but it usually went unnoticed for in those days Moss was at the top of the line of cars, with the works cars, where everyone’s eyes were focussed, while Clark was down among the rabbits.

Clark’s victories can all be found in the record books and there are a lot of them, including seven Grand Prix events in a row in 1963, remember, but the outstanding things about his driving are those that don’t get in the history books. Like Moss, Fangio, Ascari and Nuvolari (before that time is out of my knowledge), he seems to excel in doing the impossible and is seldom beaten until the finishing flag falls. And how many times has he been leading a Grand Prix race when his Lotus-Climax has let him down and brought about his retirement from a race. I have long been a Clark fan, and I still get letters from readers who write to disparage him and his driving, but I know there are many more who do not need to write, for like me they are sure in their knowledge that he is the best driver in the world. The weekend after the Indianapolis race he won a Formula Two race and the weekend after that he won a Formula One race. Three assorted victories in a row and in each event the opposition was the best possible. No one can dispute the fact that Clark is a good driver, even his rivals don’t do that, but it is a personal matter of opinion as to whether he is the best that motor racing has ever seen. I haven’t overlooked the fact that Colin Chapman supplies Clark with cars, and Coventry-Climax, Cosworth and Ford supply him with engines, while ZF and Hewland supply him with gearboxes and Dunlop and Firestone supply him with tyres. All those people supply their goods to other drivers as well, but it is Clark that gets the results.

Before leaving Indianapolis it is interesting to review the results as they affect Lotus, from information supplied by the Lotus Press office. First was Clark driving a Lotus 38, designed and built this year. Eighth was Bobby Johns driving a similar car, and the third 1965 car was driven by Dan Gurney, but his Ford V8 engine broke. Second was Parnelli-Jones driving a Lotus 34, this being the basic car driven by Clark last year. It was sold by Ford of Detroit to J. C. Agajanian and called the Agajanian-Hurst Special, Hurst being a firm who make automotive parts and sponsor a lot of different types of racing. Fifth was a Lotus 29, one of the first attempts at an Indianapolis car by Colin Chapman, and was driven in the 1963 race by Dan Gurney, then using a push-rod Ford V8 engine, but this year using a 4-overhead camshaft Ford Vs engine like all the other Lotus cars; it was entered as the Jerry Alderman Ford-Lotus. It was rather nice that the winning car was entered as a Lotus-Ford by Team Lotus, but with the financial backing of Detroit there was hardly any need for additional sponsorship. It is reported that the winning car has been put in the Ford museum in America. Do I hear cries from the V.S.C.C. of “so soon, it has only done one race.” That is true, but it is now an historical piece of machinery, for it is the first rear-engined car to win Indianapolis, the first Ford-engined car to win Indianapolis, it took the first British driver to victory (not English, nor European!), it was the first car to beat the Offenhauser Meyer-Drake-engined cars since 1946, and it was built last winter for just that purpose. A truly classic piece of machinery that some people will not recognise for another ten or twenty years.

Another mechanical advent of recent weeks that might well set a new standard was the appearance of the Ferrari Dino 166 in Prototype GT form. Its performance at the Nürburgring was outstanding and made one realise that design and development in this category has been a bit slow and retarded. The basic idea behind the Dino is that it will be put into production by Fiat so that vast numbers can be built and thus the engine will be homologated for use in the proposed new Formula Two. Whether this comes about remains to be seen but the Prototype car has certainly made people sit up and take notice. It is in effect an early 1961 Ferrari Grand Prix car with a 2-seater coupé body. The chassis is a tubular space frame and suspension is almost identical to the current Grand Prix cars. The engine is a 65-degree V6 of 77 x 57 mm. bore and stroke giving 1,592 c.c., and it has four overhead camshafts, and with a 9.8-to-1 compression it is said to give 190 b.h.p. at 9,000 r.p.m., running on petrol. This engine is in unit with a 5-speed gearbox and the whole assembly is mounted behind the cockpit, as in a G.P. car, while there are disc brakes mounted inboard at the rear, and normally at the front. Most GT type engines of 1,600 c.c. are lucky to develop 150 b.h.p., so it is not surprising that the Dino t66 makes them all look obsolete and even causes trouble to 2-litre Prototype cars. Even if it never sees the light of day as a production car, or even if it is entirely different when it does, the first Dino 166, the true Prototype car, is a very interesting technical exercise and may well start a fashion. I have always thought that the Mark I and II Coventry-Climax V8 engines would make splendid small GT car engines. Perhaps if Lotus do not get a Ford Grand Prix engine for 1966, they might get interested in GT Prototype racing with a miniature Lotus 30 coupé in the 1,600-c.c. class, for I am sure that if Cosworth were given permission by CoventryClimax to develop the V8 as a production unit they could do so very easily.

To return to Ferrari and GT racing, the controversial 275LM seems to have been suspended for a while and all production efforts have gone into the front-engined 275GTB Berlinetta. It is produced in two forms, touring and competition, the main difference being that the touring one has a steel body and the competition one an aluminium body, and at Sergio Scaglietti’s body-building works there is a long production line with anything up to 25 or 30 cars completed and on their way to Maranello to receive the engines and gearboxes, any time you call in. Many years ago Ferrari made it clear that the number in front of any model designation was the capacity in c.c. of one cylinder of the engine, e.g., 250GT was a 12-cylinder 3,000 c.c. When he started building the mid-engined LM coupe (Le Mans) it had a 3,000-c.c. engine, so the car was called 250LM, but later the engine was enlarged to 3,300 c.c., so the name should have been 275LM. However, at the time he was trying to convince the F.I.A. that he had built 100 examples of this car, and he was having trouble proving more than 20 or 30, so he insisted that they were all the same and called 250LM, hoping that people would forget that the first half-dozen or so were 3-litres and not 3.3-litres. Some people have fallen for this and still refer to the car as a 250LM, but personally I refuse to bow down to the whims of a bad-tempered, but brilliant, Italian, and abide by his original ruling of cylinder capacity; hence 275LM and shortly there will be a 330LM, which will have a 4-litre engine. All the foregoing will account for the discrepancies in last month’s MOTOR SPORT, where eagle-eyed readers, and we have a lot of them, will have noticed that David Piper’s car was referred to as a 250LM in captions and a 275LM in the text. The photographic and production staff occasionally have a dabble at caption-writing and they made a nonsense of it.

On a similar subject there is the Porsche GT which used to be called the 904, was changed to 914, and is now back to 904. This is the very functional fibreglass-bodied coupé with the long-developed 4-camshaft Carrera engine behind the cockpit, but in front of the rear wheels, unlike production road-going Porsches in which the engine is still way out the back. The original conception was the 904GTS along with the 901, which was the 6-cylinder production car, but the latter had to be changed to 911, at the request of Peugeot who reckoned to have a monopoly on car numbering with a zero in the middle, vide Peugeot 404, 204 etc. It was reasonable to assume that the 904 should be changed to 914 and the new competition 6-cylinder version to 916, but it seems that Peugeot are only excited about production cars, not competition cars, so as from now the fibreglass competition coupé, which finished second in the snow of the Monte Carlo Rally, can be called a Porsche 904 once again, and the new one, when it reaches private hands will be a 906.

Porsche do have trouble, for some time ago they called one of their models the “Continental” and got into difficulties with Lincoln Cars the name being synonymous with the American firm, or so they said. The only satisfaction the Stuttgart firm can have is that the name Porsche is so well known that even the giants of the industry have heard of them. If a small and unknown firm were to call a model “Phantom” I don’t suppose anyone would care, but if a significant firm were to do so there would be a scream. Porsche are very significant and it is a name that is respected the world over.—D. S. J.