Around and About, May 1975

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Around and About

Silverstone sidelines

SATURDAY, the day before the Doily Express International Trophy at Silverstone, was entertaining for one of our number who was able to take a ride round the GP circuit with three-times World Champion, Mr. J. Stewart driving, following that experience with an attempt to beat James Hunt’s times around an Aurora slot-car re-creation of the Northampton circuit.

The ride with Stewart was interesting to one brought up on driving modified saloon cars, for the chosen mount was an Elf-sponsored 3-litre Capri G-r, complete with capacious wheel arch extensions and spoilers. Sounding very impressive through a racing exhaust system, the Capri swung out onto the circuit at Woodcote, with a very careful look to sec if the hard-trying Patrick Depailler was about to annihilate us in the Renault 170 companion ‘journalist jolly wagon”. We were immediately the subject of commentary that was typical of Jackie Stewart’s thorough approach to these occasions. Formula One lines and problems were discussed as we approached each corner, and taped for eventual transmission the following day, via the circuit’s public address.

I doubt that we went over 100 m.p.h. during the ride, but all the curves of Silverstone, which features only two lefthanders, were approached and driven through with the Capri gently sliding round in a style (and probably a time) that could have qualified our three-up saloon respectably in the supporting race for production saloon cars.

The tremendous part of Stewart’s driving is the smoothness and anticipation. The brakes go on hard, but the car is rarely jerked out of balance, unless it is to deliberately cancel OW some of the Capri’s understeer on sharp corners like Copse.

The Aurora slot cars provided useful exercise in concentration when aiming to stay secured to the track. The Matchbox-sized single-seaters (they will offer sports cars too, when sets are marketed for Britain in July) accelerate quicker than the reflexes can cope, but with practice it is possible to flick the tiny car’s rear wheels out in power slides that don’t end in multiple rolls or lurid spins.

Both cars, and track, offer more realism than we remember from our Scalectric youth –a wheel-spinning standing-start block adding to the spectacle—but we expect the price to be higher than the sets currently on sale in Britain.

It’s the good life etc. .

etc. .

D-S-.1.’5 habit of arriving promptly and unflustered at international race meetings via one of his motorcycle stable called for retaliation if our press schedules were to be met over Easter.

So, purely in the interests of increased business efliciency, the writer volunteered for a double hop between Elstree and Thruxton in the Piper Warrior. This single 150-b.h.p.engined aeroplane is currently on offer as the first prize in a competition running in Britain through Martini.

Feeling anything but one of those trendy people in the “It’s the Right One” TV commercialls, I found it ironic that we had to wait a couple of hours for the take-off, because you can only get into Thruxton at certain times during a race meeting.

The journey itself was a treat. The flat four-cylinder engine creates more noise than any but Lotus Seven drivers are used to these days, providing 135 m.p.h. at maximum rpm. of 2,700, or cruising just 2 m.p.h. slower and using fuel at a rate said to equal 20 m.pg. On a clear Bank Holiday Monday the Warrior dawdled down at around 2,000 ft. and 120 m.p.h. or so. The journey takes only 25 minutes or so: I was even allowed to view a prospective new house from the air, which could be a useful throwaway line when confronted by house-hunting snobs in future, “but we insist an aerial viewing”.

The return trip was even more satisfactory as there were the traffic queues to view as I sped toward London, saving the best part of two hours on some of my unfortunate colleagues, even including the drive to the office.

Chevette at Silverstone

VAUXHALL extended the opportunity of trying the new Chevette (on sale May 2nd) over several hundred road and track miles recently. C. R. has already commented at length on the car last month. However, it is worthwhile reporting our tests at Silverstone, in pouring rain, which did nothing but prove that this is one of the best-handling small cars on sale in this country.

As a personal note, perhaps the austere interior, even of the L model, might be profitably exploited by a plushicr version with a larger pushrod engine (1,400-1,600-c.c.) to match the Vauxhall’s excellent road-holding. It is posalle that the Chevette will go down as the turning point in Vauxhall for

tunes in Britain, especially as the three-door versatility is combined to simplicity that appeals to fleet car operators.

Lamborghini contortions

IN 1963 Ferruccio Lamborghini, millionaire tractor producer and ardent motoring enthusiast, decided to produce a luxury super car to compete with Ferrari and Maserati. We all know that he succeeded in establishing a team to make just such cars, the Miura really putting the company’s charging bull symbol on the shopping-list of the wealthy. Last year Lamborghini at St. Agata Bolognese were formally taken over by two wealthy Swiss businessmen, and a large number of management changes were made. Ferruccio Larnborghini has lived in quiet semi-retirement for some years. Majority shareholder and head of the Italian company today is construction company owner, Rene Leimer: his partner is Georges Henri Rosettri.

In Britain there was a dramatic change in the Lamborghini marketing approach at last year’s Motor Show, resulting in the dispatch of Roger Phillips, who had founded the British Lamborghini concession. Over Easter this year Leimer and a returned from the wilderness Phillips (who is only 27 years old now) came to an agreement whereby Phillips is now back in charge of a company known as Berlinetta Italia Ltd., PO Box 6, Sutton, Surrey. This company are directly responsible to the Swiss-owned Italian factory for the UK Lamborghini concession. If you managed to follow all that, and it is a saga that would apparently have amused even the Borgia family at its zenith, then you are ready to comprehend that Phillips is now offering these vehicles at discount prices. However, that means that the Counrach costs a mere £18,295 inclusive of all taxes, whereas it was apparently listed before at £20,428. Lamborghini UK pricing for the

cheap end of the market was earnestly described to our reporter as “remarkable, we’re cheaper than some of the BMWs, you know”. For example the new Urraco 3-litre is listed at a mere £9,975, but that is without £299 air conditioning, £163 electric windows and tinted glass, or the £220 leather interior and £124.50 metallic paint.

Those unable to resist the lure of such cut-price offers, and Phillips reckons that he is saving Countach customers £1,753 apiece, should remember that specialised service for the cars is available in London (Lancia Dealers, Portman Garages at Portman Sq., W1) and Yorkshire, served by Hollyhouse Performance Motors at Dewsbury.

The world would he a dull place without the “Supercar” genre, especially now that there are smaller machines like the •Urraco, Dino 308 and Merak, but these telephone number prices are often followed up by rapid depreciation if the car is not of genuinely superior design.

In Great Britain the concessionaires plan to market Countach, Jarama, Urraco and Espada: all are powered by the 3,929-c.c. V12, except the V8-engined Urracos.

Cave Jaguarem

REMEMBER the furore when the MI police patrols took to using an unmarked Jaguar E-type a few years ago. Well, they’re at it again, this time with a completely unmarked, M-registered, maroon Jaguar XJI2. Our

informants report that the car appears to be based upon Toddington service area and to hunt between there and Newport Pagnell services. We hope that the rate-payers of Bedfordshire take note of this abuse of their escalating payments; when considering their “sponsorship”, they would do well to remember that MOTOR SPORT’s road test XJ12 gave 12.1 m.p.g. in normal driving, “but press it hard and consumption rises alarmingly”.

This is yet another example of an increasing use of Q-cars by the police; MG-B GT V8s seem to be particularly popular, in “fuel economy” 50 limits as well as on motorways. As a driver can lose his licence and his livelihood for doing 51 m.p.h. we find such tactics objectionable (as is the new VASCAR average speed computer, which is susceptible to errors of human eyesight and reaction). If readers would care to advise us about the use of Q-cars and other devices in specific police areas, we shall try to publish warnings in future issues.

We were pleased to see that Nottinghamshire Constabulary have properly marked the first six of their proposed eighteen Triumph Dolomite Sprint patrol cars. We hope that West Yorkshire and Essex police authorities will mark the Sprints they have ordered, too.

That Elite Chassis

KEEN-EYED readers may have noticed a discrepancy between the photograph of an Elite chassis and the caption on page 348 of April’s MOTOR SPORT. Certainly Fred Nicklin, Development Engineer of Jensen Motors Ltd. (and formerly of Triumph) noticed and brought it to our attention. The caption refers to an emission chassis equipped with Stromberg carburetters and lacking power steering, while the photograph is of—a non-emission chassis equipped with Dellortos and power steering. It transpires that the original photograph, which agreed with C.R.’s caption, was mislaid, so the printers sent an urgent call to our photographic department for a replacement photograph of “an Elite chassis”, which they provided. Unfortunately they chose the wrong one.

Miscellany

Chrysler-UK have issued a catalogue covering their full range of private cars— Imp, Avenger, Hunter, Sceptre, Sunbeam and Chrysler—with colour plates of the

various models showing famous scenic backgrounds. It could become quite a collector’s piece.

The Banbury Run organised by the Vintage MCC takes place this year on Sunday, June 15th, starting from Castle Gardens Car Park, Banbury, near Oxford, at 10.00 hours. • •

To commemorate 25 years of racing at Brands Hatch a fine 80-page souvenir book has been published, obtainable from Brands Hatch circuit for 50p, or by post for 65p.