Around and About, March 1975

Riding the Turbo

As we wafted along at a gentle 155 m.p.h., the writer and his chauffeur, one Nick Faure, racer of Porsches various, conversed in normal tones about this and that and in particular about the ex-Motor Show exhibit Porsche Turbo which was responsible for such uncannily quiet and stable progress at this gross speed. Usually we don’t write impressions of production road cars from the passenger seat, but this was something else. Even though we knew the Turbo to be acclaimed “the world’s fastest accelerating production car” (details were published in last November’s MOTOR SPORT) the performance staggered us: the remarkable spread of torque ensured a consistent thrust in the back all the way up to maximum speed, with no tailing off and little effort required by the driver, who had only four gears to change instead of other Porsches’ five. It would trickle along at tickover speed in fourth and accelerate cleanly up to its maximum. Faure has timed this example from 0-130 m.p.h. (reached in 3rd gear) on its electronic speedometer in 15 seconds; Porsche claim 0-60 m.p.h. in under 5 sec. and 0-100 m.p.h. in 11.2 sec. But it’s not so much the figures as the way in which they are achieved; the turbocharger installation in the exhaust system strangles the exhaust note so that engine noise is much more subdued than that of “lesser” Porsches. There is excellent general sound deadening and low wind noise and the overall effect is one of sublime effortlessness – which is real enough.

Suspension improvements make this Porsche handle and hold the road vastly better than any other production Porsche. It corners flatter, rides better, is much more stable, is no longer prone to wander over bumpy surfaces and holds the road superbly.

Indeed, it may look like a Porsche, but its behaviour and performance is unique, which is why it will cost £14,750. Production starts this month and of the twenty to be imported to Britain in this model year, 17 have been sold in advance.

Whats on in 1975

ShellSPORT have taken over the Formula 5000 European Championship from Rothmans, who announced their withdrawal from motor racing at the end of last year. Twenty rounds in the UK and Europe (with non-Championship F1/F5000 races at the Race of Champions and the Daily Express International meetings) will have points awarded on the Can-Am scale. New-model Escort Sports will replace Mexicos in the ShellSPORT Celebrity races. Other ShelISPORT backing will go towards Ford and Chrysler racing and rallying programmes, Dave Brodie’s 24-valve Superloon Capri, Tom Walkinshaw’s F5000 Modus and 1974 Rally Champion Billy Coleman.

BP Motorsport is putting its share of oil revenue into the BARC’s Formula Three Championship. This BP Super Visco British Formula Three Championship looks like being the only F3 Championship in the country and will have 14 rounds – three of them at Continental Grand Prix.

The British Touring Car Championship has found backing from S. W. J. Miller’s Southern Organs International Ltd. Regulations for the competing Group 1 cars will be the same as in 1974 except for the banning of some optional equipment. British Leyland have announced that they intend to defend their manufacturer’s title (there’ll be a driver’s title too) with a team of two Broadspeed Dolomite Sprints for Andy Rouse and Roger Bell and a Bill Shaw-prepared car for John Hine.

The two popular Group 1 production saloon-car championships continue. Britax will support one – for the fourth consecutive year – and the other will carry the Radio One banner. A Penthouse magazine-sponsored Ford Escort Sport Championship replaces the old Motorcraft Mexico Challenge, which has been killed by the arrival of the new Escort range.

JCB and Speed Merchants are again sponsoring a six-race Historic Sports and Racing Car Championship and for machinery from a similar era the Classic Saloon Car Championship has been created. This plans to re-enact the exciting (if slow) saloon-car racing of the fifties, allows only saloons built before March 1957, bans bodywork modifications, but allows restricted modifications to engines, transmissions and brakes. Six rounds are planned, the first at the JDC Silverstone meeting on March 22nd.


Racing virtually unmodified production sports cars has not, as yet, received the same support from drivers and spectators that has been enjoyed by Group 1 production saloon cars. However, there is a national series of 12 races in 1975, not sponsored at all at present, and organised via the BRSCC. At least one company is showing stout support for the series, the Burgess exhaust silencer outfit, who are to back a Jaguar V12 E-type and a Ford V6-powered TVR 3000M. Burgess have two local drivers from their base at Hinckley in Leicestershire, Rodney Gretton and Colin Blower. Both are 26 years of age and experienced production sports car racers, for they competed in the 1974 series with a pair of Lotus Europas.

Castrol’s Plans

Despite the troubles that beset the Burmah associate, Castrol recently announced their firm motor sport plans for this season. The emphasis has switched away from last year’s support of championships into backing individual teams. A major link is that with Dealer Team Vauxhall, both in racing and rallying. On the race tracks DTV will initially contest the Tricentrol Super Saloon Car Championship with the faithful 2.3-litre, 16-valve Firenza. Later in the season a second Firenza will appear utilising the Repco GM 5-litre V8 unit of the kind that appeared in last year’s exciting and expensive Ventora project. Gerry Marshall will continue to lead the racing team while rallying pilots will be Will Sparrow (Group 2 Magnum 16-valve) and former private Escort exponent Paul Faulkner, who will appear in the team’s Group 1 Magnum. Fast Finn Pentti Airikkala will also drive a Vauxhall on some major UK rallies.
Throughout the rest of the production saloon car racing fields, Castrol will be well represented as well, their colours appearing on Chevrolet Camaros, Mazda RX3s, Triumph Dolomite Sprints and the Ford Capri II of BBC Radio One’s Noel Edmonds, the latter contesting the series his employers are to sponsor in 1975.
Aside from the Vauxhall rally effort, Castrol will be linked with Leyland, who are running Brian Culcheth in a Group 2 Dolomite Sprint for major home events. Also of rally interest is Castrol’s support of a national championship and further backing for Andrew Cowan (Vauxhall Magnum), 1974 Castrol-Autosport Rally Champion Tony Drummond (Ford Escort RS) and Jean Denton (Lancia Beta coupé).
Castrol are to pursue their support of drag racing and autocross, but the above notes should deceive none of our readers into thinking that Castrol could hope to carry on their thorough and efficient sport support programmes completely unruffled by the major crisis currently inflicted on Burmah.

Sporting Trials Championship

Semperit tyres and motor sports may not be linked in your mind at all, unless you follow trialing. For the third year in succession Semperit will back the British Trial and Rally Drivers’ Association Sporting Trials Championship, a series that makes extensive use of the tyre company’s M401 steel braced radials.

RAC Technical Commission

Scrutineering queries for British race meetings can be raised in advance, following the formation of the RAC’s six-member Technical Commission. Each of the Formulae listed has a member of the Commission to act as a technical liaison link between competitors and the RAC Motor Sport Division at 31 Belgrave Sq., London SW1X 8QH. Queries are requested in writing only and addressed to the gentlemen listed for the Formula you are interested in. The formulae and individuals are as follows: Formulae 1, 2 and 3 for the attention of C.A.A.D. Mitchell; Group 1, P. F. Jowitt; Formulae Ford, Ford 2000 and Escort, H.P. Mason; Atlantic, B. L. Morris, Renault 5, A. D. Bewley; Vee, B. L. Goodge.

Fabergé Back Graham

Further to C.R.’s recent article on former racing motorcyclist-turned-saloon-car racer Stuart Graham, we are pleased to note that Graham has Fabergé sponsorship for 1975. Coupled with the sale of his immaculate “old” Chevrolet the Fabergé backing (the car will race as the Brut 33 Camaro) will ensure that Graham contests this year’s British Championship with a new Camaro. Graham is also expected to appear in Europe at the wheel of Adrian Chambers’ Group 2 SCA Freight Camaro.

Return of the TVR 1600

The combination of Ford 1600 GT (nee Escort Mexico) engine and TVR’s sleek two-seater sports coupé has proved popular in the past, and in these straightened times could prove equally successful in the future. The combination has been re-introduced as the TVR 1600M and it shares the same chassis as the big brother 3000M. A full list of options is promised, but standard specification includes electric screenwashers, alloy wheels, leather rim steering wheel, two-speed wipers and a cigar lighter (perhaps you can afford to keep it supplied with Havanas after avoiding the 3-litre’s fuel bill?) but no retail price was quoted at press-time. Meanwhile the Blackpool factory is just about recovering from a disastrous fire in January

Fiat Changes

Price increases and slight changes in the 127-range are announced by Fiat. Retail cost of purchasing a new Fiat has increased by up to 8 per cent, the 50 m.p.g. 126 now closing on the £1,000 barrier at £924. Most expensive Fiat, the 130 coupe, now sells for £7,455. Changes to the 1-litre 127 range comprise the addition of a Special model now available in three as well as two-door form. The Fiat 1.3 litre engine is now offered as an option on the 128 models: performance should be brisk from the 60-b.h.p. power plant. The sad times in which the motor industry lives are emphasised by Fiat’s admission that they lost 13 per cent in sales, but this is a fact that they can almost be pleased about as overall the UK car market declined some 24 per cent.

Prolific Awards

Awards of the Car of the Year genre have certainly proliferated in recent years. Winner of the Car of the Year trophy for 1974 was the Citroen CX while the previous year’s victor (the Mercedes 450 saloons) showed how many of these awards there are today by picking up a further five magazine commendations during the year. Mercedes appeal is obviously at its strongest in the USA, where three of those titles were presented.

Steam Fair

Steam power devotees might like to attend this year’s Great Yorkshire Steam Fair at Castle Howard (on the A64 York to Scarborough road) to be held on August 9th and 10th.