Continental Notes, November 1973

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Ferrari Dino 308 GT4

Anyone who has driven, or even ridden in, a Dino Ferrari 246 G will know that it is a truly outstanding motorcar especially as regards cornering and handling, while the 2.4-litre V6 engine runs like a dynamo and propels the little coupe along pretty rapidly. In addition to the way it goes the Dino is a real eye-catcher for looks, being very sleek and ciirvatious. Now, with very little advance warning Ferrari has produced a new Dino, the 308 GT4 described as a 4-seater coupe, and not a 2 – 2. This new Dino follows the general conception ot its smaller brother in having its engine mounted transversely amidships and in unit with the 5-speed gearbox and the linal drive, but other than that the 308 is all new. As the model number implies it is a 3-litre iightcylinder, the formation being 90-degree vee, with twin-ohc on each bank of four cylinders, the camshafts .driven by toothed-belts. With a bore and stroke of 81 x 71 mm., giving a capacity of 2,926c.c., this new Ferrari engine develops 255 Italian horsepower at 7,700 r.p.m., on an 8.8:1 compression ratio and its smoothness and liveliness can be imagined. Four Weber 40DCNF carburetters are mounted in the tee of the engine and twin Marelli distributors teed the eight sparking plugs.

Whereas the two-seater coupe Dino 246 GT is one of the most elegant looking little cars, its big brother is an odd looking shape, squat and angular with rather a funny face and one gets the feeling that the stylists have gone out of their way to produce a shape that will never be confused with the smaller Dino. Fite bodywork is by Bertone and in time it will probably become acceptable, but on first acquaintance the reaction is the complete opposite to that on the looks of the earlier Dino. A nominal 250 k.p.h., at 7,000 r.p.m. in 5th gear is quoted for this brand new Dino and if it follows the little Dino’s lead in handling and cornering it should be quite a motorcar, the shapely Dino 246 GT coupe and GTS Spider continue in production along with the 4.4-litre “Boxer” flat 12 mid-engine coupe, the 365 GT4 4 in 2 – 2 form and the popular 365 GTB4 Daytona coupe. fins new addition to the Ferrari range is the first V8 production engine to come from Maranello, though the Commendatore has dabbled in this cylinder layout in competition cars.

German Vintage

Recently I commented on the Le Mans “retrospective” and said that I hoped the Vintage Sports Car Club would assist any European organisers who wanteu to run a vintage or II storie car race. Shortly after this an I listorie race meeting was organised at the Nurborgring in conjunction with a Speed and Sport Festival. the Germans have a distressing habit of referring to any car no longer in production as an “Old-tinter” but apart from that they are keen and ready to learn, so when the staff of an “old— car” magazine called Automobile Cronik persuaded the Festival organisers to include some races for old cars, they vlsited England to see how the VSCC ran their Silverstone meeting, and to whip up some entries. As it was all organised in a bit of a rush they waited to see what cars actually arrived before deciding on the groupings or categories!

the Festival was held over a long weekend, fortunately with the Nurburgring and the Eifel Mountains bathed in hot sunshine, and races were held over what is called the “pits loop” in Grand Prix circles, which means down the starting area, round the South Curve, back up behind the pits, round the left-hander of the North Curve and then right-handed onto the loop return road to the starting area; a short, but eminently suitable circuit for “old car races”. Among the British entries was Christopher Mann, who took his Monza Alfa Romeo, and kindly wrote 10 us about the affair. After short races for numerous categories, ranging from Morgan 3-wheelers to all-corners over 2,000c.c. there was a “Grosser Preis fur Veteranrennwagen” which was won by Peter Waller with his well-known tvhite ERA. In order to get things on the right lines the organisers “imported” Bill Morris, the driver of ERA “Hanuman”, to advise and help as “Technischerfuhrer” and the whole weekend was voted a great success by competitors and organisers alike and it all finished up with a formal prize-giving, making for a Grand Occasion.

As more countries get interested in Historic car races as a light-hearted diversion from the serious business of modern racing, such sorties by members of the VSCC will no doubt increase and while the knowledge and experience Of the VSCC !mist he made available it is hoped that local individualistic styles and methods will not be overcome by efficiency, so that each event will retain its own particular character and not become a featureless RAC-format race meeting.

French Vintage

It has already been mentioned that the Automobile Club of France is celebrating its tioth anniversary next year, and part of the acti.. ales are :entred -around the Grand Prix of France which is being held on the new autodrome of Dijon-Prenois on July 7th. the intention of the ACF is to hold a demonstration parade of as many’ cars as they can gather together that have won the Grand Prix of the ACF from its inception in 1906 as the first Grand Prix race, to its demise in 1967, when France underwent a bloodless revolution and the newly-formed Federation Francais du Sport Automobile took control and started the new series of races known as the Grand Prix of France. Anyone with a car known to have won a Grand Prix of the ACF would do well to write to the club at 6, Place de la Concorde 75008 Paris for I ant sure they will be delighted to hear from such owners. The Marlboro cigarette firm have got themselves involved in this historic jollification, and Dijon is its a nice part of France and not too far front the English Channel.

Porsche

If you admire sound engineering then you cannot help but admire everything that the firm of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG do, especially if it arises out of activity at the Weissach experimental research and development centre. When the Porsche factory stopped running a works team in long-distance racing, and when the 917 Porsche was outlawed by new CSI rules the factory did not give up or lose interest in development and the turbocharged 917 for Can-Am racing was produced, with shattering results and a complete annihilation of the American V8-engined behemoths. Meanwhile the 911 series sired the hottest Porsche yet in the GT Category in the form of a 3-litre Carrera RSR. Now the Can-Am project and the GT project have come together in the form of a turbocharged Carrera RSR, ready for any category of racing the CSI might dream up in the near future.

However. competition is not the only subject being studied at Wetssach, for a lot of pure research is carried on there, and the latest to come out is a research project entitled “Longlife Automobile”. In a recent paper “The limits to growth” by Dennis L. Meadows, delivered in Rome, the author points out that the raw materials and energy reserves of the world will not permit a longlife Continuation of our current openhandedness in production and consumption of motorcars. Porsche say “With the development of the Volkswagen in the nineteen thirties Professor Ferdinand Porsche gave decisive impetus to individual transport in Germany. Today the Porsche Development Centre seeks ways and means of adjusting changing environmental conditions”. Among their studies are design measures which reduce ‘wear -and the consequent selection of materials, the object being to reduce the consumption of raw materials by designing things to last longer. In addition the-study is working on the re-cycling of materials, to increase the proportion of re-usable aaterials and to lower the throwaway factor. In practical form these studies are tackling the problems of etarrosion in bodywork, -Ionglife bushes in :suspensions etc., special alloy brake discs and scratch-proof windows. It is Porsche’s hope that the car industry will work together on this problem as they have already done on the problem of making cars safer.

The future of racing

As the Can-Am race season drew to a close the Sports Car Club of America who set the rules announced a new format for their races. This suggested that events would consist of a preliminary race of 75-miles for qualification purposes, and a main event of 125 miles, with a minimum period of 1.1/2 hours between the two races. Can-Am events used to be of 200 miles length. which seemed a bit short by European standards sothe years ago, but is now the norm or Grand Prix raging. hardly had the ink dried on these new proposals than the organisers of the last three races in the I973 Can-Am series opted to run their events to the new format.

D.S.J.

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