Foreign cars at Silverstone

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

The Michelin International Car Test Day has rapidly established itself over the past few years as a Good Thing. The organisation, supervised by Michelin’s Alan Powell, is excellent and the weather usually superb, helps of course. The selection of cars is not quite up to the organisation (which is fair enough to allow lesser known writers to try their hand at pretty well anything, if they keep smiling!), consisting primarily of European machinery sprinkled with well organised forays from the Japanese Mazda Datsun and Toyota concerns. American cars are conspicuous by their absence—but purveyors of such powerful cars might take comfort from the fact that none of the cars were damaged at all this year.

The fastest cars at Silverstone on that hot April Wednesday were the Maseratis, headed by the Bora Gran Turisimo. The influence of Group 1 racing and its importance to manufacturers was emphasised by the presence of the Citroën and BMW entries in this category (staying firmly static in company along with the Gp 2 Broadspeed/Cooper CS tested in this issue), while Opel had a 2-door Ascona minus some of the good things that make the John Rhodes’ model such an effective machine. However we accepted the chance of driving it as, at a saving of £300 over the Manta, it offers such desirable enthusiast features as a limited-slip differential, 1.9-litre cam-in-head engine, laminated windscreen, 5 1/2J sports wheels with appropriate wide section radial ply tyres and slightly better weight distribution than the sleek coupé. In fact 18 such Asconas have been ordered for importation into Britain and Opel representatives in North London are quite excited at the prospect of infiltrating Ford’s Mexico market, for the German vehicle is not a lot more expensive at £1,297 retail.

On the track the yellow Opel handled beautifully, but with only 900 miles on the clock one couldn’t really expect it to exceed 95 m.p.h. The 1.9 Ascona was certainly one of the fastest cars round Silverstone GP circuit though, despite the power handicap and lack of the promised limited slip, for one soon learnt the neutral handling and accurate steering which make up any time lost in a straight line.

Because the reporter’s experience of Japanese cars in the UK is somewhat limited, he had a go in a Toyota Corolla 1200 coupé SL and a Datsun Bluebird 180 SSS. The Toyota went like a rocket—with appropriate hard working noises and wails of anguish from the Dunlops —showing 95 m.p.h. on the Hangar straight and understeering vigorously until the accelerator was eased. The Datsun 180 proved very plush in the American manner and very fully equipped, but the brakes faded out within three laps (it felt as though the pads were glazed) and the rocking understeer demonstrated that this is a car that should be road, not track tested.

Keeping clear of the exotica I steered out of the Paddock next in an Opel straight six Commodore GS. Reflecting how impressed the Ford people were with the restyled Rekord/Commodore range (“our” example costing just over £2,000, right in the Granada GXL range) I didn’t spare the car. I came back after a greedy 10 laps thoroughly impressed—the GS is extremely rapid, smoothly engineered and endowed with road holding and braking that must be amongst the best in the class throughout the World: truly Adam Opel lives!

The little DAF Marathon coupé again provided a lot of fun as its elastic bands and humming Renault engine consorted to keep the car at a pretty steady 85 m.p.h., virtually regardless of corners. However, the most enjoyable car of the day was an Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider with the hood firmly down. Alfas show up extremely well on this circuit, that dark blue model whipping firmly up to 110 m.p.h. at 6,000 r.p.m. in fourth before Woodcote, or relaxing its way into the same corner at 105 m.p.h. in fifth. The limited-slip differential and properly located live axle allow the Spider to be set up almost tail first if required, while the driver is comfortably protected from severe buffeting with the windows wound up. — J. W.