The Optimistic Ones

In the face of looming austerity at least some manufacturers announced new cars in the months before Earls Court

Since new car announcements are no longer saved up as eve-of-Motor Show surprises a stand-by-stand description of Earls Court has become meaningless. Instead there follows a description of most of the new cars, all of which we have yet to drive, which have been announced in the last couple of months. The new Fiat 131 Mirafiori, the replacement for the 124, which we drove recently in Italy, will be described in more detail next month.

In fact there was probably more of interest at Earls Court this year than for some time, but we are not really excited by static exhibitions. Press Day was less chaotic than usual, no strikes had delayed construction of the stands (though that doesn’t mean to say they were all completed—Motor Sport’s certainly wasn’t) and there seemed to be a dearth of scantilyor un-clad girls. BMW’s usual Bavarian band had been transformed into a pop-group this year, Will Sparrow’s Group I Rally Magnum looked delicately perched on top of the Vauxhall stand, Ford relied on the aesthetics of a Roman theatre to display their wares, and Jaguars hid theirs within a completely enclosed room which did nothing to help the general look of the Show.

Lagonda—Revival of a Famous Name

Aston Martin have revived the name of Lagonda for a four-door limousine version of their V8 sports car, announced at Earls Court. The Aston Martin Lagonda shares the same mechanical specification as the V8: the 5.3litre, four-overhead-camshaft, all-alloy V8 engine fitted with four twin-choke Weber carburetters, for which Aston refuse to quote power figures, but continue to claim that it is probably the most powerful production engine in the World; de Dion rear suspension located by parallel trailing arms and Watts kinkage; independent front suspension incorporating unequal length wishbones and an anti-roll bar; and a choice of five-speed ZF manual gearbox or three-speed Chrysler Torqueflite automatic gearbox.

The wheelbase has been increased by 12 in., the overall length by 101 in. and the height by I in., while the weight has risen from 3,800 lb. to 4,400 lb. As a personal opinion we feel the stretching of the car has enhanced its appearance. As with the V8, the body is constructed of aluminium panels on a rigid steel superstructure, mounted upon a platform chassis.

Standard appointments include air-conditioning, a Philips stereo radio/ cassette player, Connolly hide upholstery and Wilton carpeting. This Lagonda’s price is £14,040.

This is not the first time an Aston Martin V8 has been stretched into a four-door. In 1970 the company produced a one-off DBS V8 four-door for Sir David Brown and endowed it with a Lagonda badge. The last previous Lagonda was the DB4-engined Rapide, introduced in 1961.

A Latter-day Royale

If you’re a very, very wealthy extrovert who likes to be chauffeured in unadulterated comfort and opulence, yet cannot find a suitable alternative to the Rolls-Royces which all your friends own, then Bob Jankel can provide the answer. One of the most eye-catching—and most expensive—stars at the London Motor Show was the Panther De Ville, produced by Jankel’s Panther West Winds company at Byfleet. Jankel’s inspiration for this magnificent monster was the Bugatti Royale, but in spite of the horseshoe-shaped radiator grille the De Ville is not intended to be a replica of the Molsheim product. Underneath its 6 ft. long bonnet is a V12 Jaguar engine and attached to the massive steel chassis is Jaguar XJ suspension. The De Ville will survive a 30-m.p.h. head-on crash with minimal damage thanks to the impactabsorbing, hydraulic struts supporting the front bumper, the interior is trimmed almost entirely in leather, optional equipment includes an electric sliding roof, television, radio/ cassette player, telephone and cocktail cabinet. The price—wait for it—£17,650.

A Production Turbo Porsche

If there was an air of gloom and despondency over the Motor Show, the impression was relieved on the Porsche stand by the World’s fastest accelerating production car,

the new 3-litre Porsche Turbo. Thank goodness for the optimism of Porsche and Panther, who still believe in motorists having fun, if they can afford it. Acceleration times for the Turbo are 0-60 m.p.h. in under 5 sec. and 0-100 m.p.h. in 11.2 sec., with a maximum speed of 155 m.p.h. Yet the Turbo is offered as a luxury road-going car, not a stripped “racer”, with tremendous mid-range torque for tractability, low compression to provide longevity and permit the use of two-star fuel. This turbocharged car has been developed from the Martini-Porsche Carrera RSR, produces 260 b.h.p. from its lightly stressed 2,992-c.c. flat-six engine (a current 2,140-c.c. racing Porsche engine produces 500 b.h.p.), and maximum torque of 253 lb. ft. at 4,000 to 5,000 r.p.m. Minimum torque between 2,250 r.p.m. and 6,000 r.p.m. is 188 lb. ft., the same figure produced as a maximum at 5,100 r.p.m. by the 2.7-litre Carrera. The flexibility is such that the 911 series 5-speed gearbox has been replaced by a 4-speed Porsche gearbox, in the highest ratio of which the Turbo will accelerate from 25 m.p.h. to 100 m.p.h. in 26 sec. The Turbo joins the 911 and 91IS in using the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection systems making this the first turbocharged car with a continuous flow fuel system. The bodywork shares the same flared arches and front and rear spoilers as the 3-litre Carrera, along with that rare model’s 7-in, front and 8-in, rear wheels and internally ventilated, axially drilled disc brakes and increased front and rear track. The torsion bars and anti-roll bars have been modified and a Bosch contactless distributor is fitted to the engine.

Luxury features of this estimated £14,000 car include automatic interior heating sensors and regulators, leather trim, special carpeting, electronic speedometer, stereo cassette/radio with electric aerial, headlamp washers, tinted glass, electric windows, heated front laminated screen and so on. We have little doubt that the Porsche Turbo should he the most covetable road car in the World.

General improvements to the Porsche range include a hot-air blower to permit constant air supply to the cockpit, irrespective of engine Speed, hopefully correcting one of our few criticisms of the 911 we tested earlier this year, individual heater controls for driver and passenger, an improved and lighter clutchoperating system, improved silencing and sound deadening, higher output alternator, stainless door sills, new wheel arch protection surrounds, modified gear ratios for the 911 S, a new front spoiler for the Carrera and the fitting of a rear screen wiper (previously standard only on the 911S) to the 911 and Carrera. All Porsche models sold in the UK now have a 12-month/20,000-mile warranty.

Opel’s Turbo Manta

Turbocharging was a theme of Opel’s Show stand too, in the shape of one of the 100-off, black DOT Turbo Mamas, developed by Broadspeed and Tony Fall Automotive for the Dealer Opel Team and sold through DOT Sports Parts Dealers only. A maximum Speed of 125 m.p.h. and acceleration in the region of 0-60 m.p.h. in 7.6 sec., 0-100 m.p.h. in 21.6 sec. and 70 to 90 m.p.h. in top gear in 6.7 sec. are claimed for this most attractive little car. Ralph Broad has fitted the Turbo Manta with a similar Holset turbocharger system to the one we have tried in the Past on his Turbo Bullitt Capri. He has incorporated also his patented valve for disposing of the throttle lag problem most turbocharger systems suffer from. His engine

work, which includes the fitting of special lower-compression pistons, a heavy-duty clutch, heavy-duty valve springs, a special head gasket and the enclosing of the Solex carburetter in a cast aluminium plenum chamber, has produced 156 b.h.p. net at 5,500 r.p.m. from the 1,897-c.c. four-cylinder unit, an increase of 75% on the standard engine.

Torque has gone up by to 174 lb. ft. at 4,000 r.p.m. The standard suspension and brakes are considered adequate to cope with the conversion, for which an automatic gearbox is offered as an option in place of the normal 4-speed gearbox. A limited-slip differential is optional too. Modifications include a front spoiler and 63 alloy wheels, while the all-black paintwork with vinyl roof and burgundy corded cloth trim is unique to the Turbo Manta. Standard equipment includes tinted front and rear screens, sun-roof, headlamp wash and wiper units, front-seat head restraints and inertia reel seat belts. The total price of the car is £3,429.

As mentioned previously in Motor Sport, General Motors have begun to import the fuel-injected, 160 b.h.p., 120m.p.h. Opel Commodore GS/E. The interior appears to be even more luxurious than the 2.8 GS we tested several months ago, and additional performance modifications include the fitting of a front-end spoiler, four-wheel, power-assisted disc brakes and progressive coil springs. A metal sun-roof and Z.F’s excellent power steering are standard equipment. Although it is offered in the UK with automatic transmission only (a surprising decision), the GS/E rates as one of the cars this writer would like to own, not too far down his list, which is now headed by the Porsche Turbo! Somewhat cheaper than the Porsche, it is nevertheless expensiveat £4,394 for the coupe and £4,288 for the saloon.

They’ve Got to Be Joking!

“Surely, this must be some sort of prototype ESV car—they wouldn’t dare to put that on the market”, we thought when British Leyland’s Press release about the 1975 MG range arrived in this office. It isn’t and they have dared: the latest MGs have become hideous caricatures of their former, familiar and popular selves. Whatever British Leyland’s intentions were about maintaining the MG-B and Midget breed, they might as well forget them, because the nasty-looking, energyabsorbing bumpers developed to meet American impact requirements and thrust unnecessarily upon the European MG market too, will surely kill off the models prematurely. We will say no more about appearance—the photographs speak for themselves. Suffice to say that associated Heath Robinson modifications include raising the ride height to meet bumper height requirements, by 1 in. in the case of the Midget, 11 in. for the four-cylinder MG-B and in. for the MG-B V8, which had already a I in. higher ride height than the ordinary MG-B, albeit partially accounted for by the larger diameter wheels. The increased ride height must have worked perverse wonders on already dating roadholding and handling.

To rub salt into the wounds of reeling MG aficionados, British Leyland proceed to tell us that the trusty A-series engine has been relieved from Midget-propelling duties in favour of—wait for it—a 1,500;.c.c. version of the Spitfire engine! The MG, Triumph and Spitfire one-make clubs will be thrown into a dilemma. The 65 b.h.p. DIN at 5,500 r.p.m. output of the twin-carburetter Triumph engine is about the same as that of its 1,275-c,c. A-series predecessor, though there is an improvement in torque. There is also an increase in weight, most of which fallS on the front wheels. That lovely little gearbox which accompanied the A-series engine has been replaced by the all-synchromesh Marina gearbox, although the rear axle is unchanged.

A Four-door Maserati

The name “Quattroporte” returns to the Maserati model range (but not to Earls Court) after an absence of several years. The Quattroporte II’s neat Bertone body shrouds very Citron influenced machinery, including the 2,965-c.c. version of the SM’s engine, on triple Weber carburetters rather than fuel injection, front-wheel-drive, hydropneumatic suspension and hydraulic servo controls for the brakes and steering. A 5-speed gearbox is fitted and the luxurious specification includes air-conditioning, radio/cassette system, electric windows and single point door locking. Maximum speed is reputed to be 125 m.p.h., somewhat slower than the SM, and a righthand-drive version will be available in the UK late in 1975.

Four-in-line Consul

Ford’s cheapest version of the Consul is now powered by the 2-litre, straight-four, overhead camshaft Pinto engine. The official reason for this final removal of the 2-litre V4 from the saloon car range is that in its Consul application it would not meet the forthcoming more stringent European Emission regulations. Transit vans, in which these regulations can be met, will continue to be powered by the V4. Further Ford news is the introduction of an estate-car version of the 2000E, but apart from this and the recently introduced Granada Ghia coupe, there was nothing else new on Ford’s Roman temple Motor Show stand.

Twin-Cam Celica

For some time our Rallies Editor has been expounding to us his enthusiastic views on the twin-cam versions of the Toyota Celica GT in which he has been fortunate enough to co-drive alongside Ove Andersson in several International rallies. Now a production version of this car has been added to Toyota’s range in the UK, to complement the existing 1,600-c.c. push-rod-engined Celica. The 1.6-litre, twin-overhead camshaft engine, driving the rear wheels of this two-door, pillarless coupe, develops 124 b.h.p. (SAE). A 5-speed gearbox and limited-slip differential are standard in the total price of £3,345.

The Colt Arrives …

Mitsubishi Colt cars have been introduced to the UK for the first time by a Cirencesterbased company headed by David Blackburn, former Chairman of BMW Concessionaires. His Colt Car Company will be importing a range which starts at about £1,400 for the Standard Lancer and is led by the 2000 Galant coupe at about £2,200. New to this country may be, but the Mitsubishi company is almost as large as General Motors and proved the Colt’s ruggedness by winning this year’s Safari Rally with a 1600 Lancer. Apparently Chrysler, who have contra-marketing agreements with Mitsubishi in certain World markets, aren’t too happy about them setting up in opposition on home territory.

. . . and the Force 7 departs

. . . That mystery car of which a photograph appeared in the September issue of Motor Sport and which in the October issue we divulged to be Leyland Australia’s P76-based Force 7, is no more. According to the Daily Telegraph, this 4.4-litre V8-engined coupe will be one of the sad victims of Leyland’s closure of one of its two major Australian plants. Of the 50 Force 7s manufactured, 47 will be put through a car crusher and three kept as museum pieces. We wonder what will happen to the example our photograph captured at Silverstone and which has been spotted outside Lord Stoke’s South Coast weekend flat.

The Show marked a second appearance too for the AC 3000, this time in running form and with numerous improvements resulting from comments made at last year’s Show, including the addition of electric windows, wider wheels and a stainless steel silencer. Production of this interesting sports car, powered by a mid-mounted Ford V6 engine driving through a 5-speed, AC-designed and built, Hei,vland-geared, transverse gearbox, is expected to start in the middle of next year.

A new mid-engined, Mexico-powered sports car, the Strada, was exhibited at Earls Court by Strada Cars from Saxmundham, Norfolk. This two-seater coupe is expensive at £3,450.

Chrysler have announced estate-car versions of the Avenger GL and the Humber Sceptre. Detail changes to other cars in the range include new grilles and tail panels for the Hunter range and slightly more power and tinted glass for the Sunbeam fastbacks. On the Pininfarina stand at Earls Court, Peugeot showed a 504 coupe fitted with the new Volvo/ Renault/Peugeot, etc., European V6 engine.

The Jaguar XJ coupe made its second Earls Court appearance, though it probably won’t be marketed before the end of next year. C.R.

High Speed

Last year Mario Andretti put in a lap of the Texas Speedway at 214.158 m.p.h. driving the USAC Pamelli Viceroy Special powered by an exhaust-turbo charged 2.8-litre Offenhauser-Drake engine. This car was exhibited at the Castrol 75th Anniversary Extravaganza and is now on display in the Donington Park racing car collection. This year this record for a closed circuit has been improved upon by A. J. Foyt driving his USAC Coyote with turbo-charged 4-cam Ford engine. 14e put in a lap of the Talladega Speedway at 217.315 m.p.h.

No one will argue that the USAC racing cars are the fastest in the world, although suggestions that a Can-Am Porsche 917/30 is faster have yet to be proved. The fastest laps at Brooklands, Montlhery and Monza, on the banked circuits, were 143 m.p.h., 147 m.p.h. and 177 m.p.h., respectively. Nice to know someone is progressing forwards.—D.S.J.

Carburetter Maintenance Books

The Zenith Carburetter Company Ltd., whose wares include Zenith, Stromberg and Solex carburetters, have published a number of booklets invaluable to the professional or do-it-yourself mechanic or performance enthusiast working on cars using their products. Both the Zenith and Stromberg Service, Function and Testing books provide an explanation of the basic principles of carburation and describe engine fuel requirements for various phases of engine operation such as cold starting, idling acceleration and cruising, before launching into the specifics of the individual carburetters. There are sectioned and cutaway diagrams, sets of exploded views and carburetter application lists and the Stromberg book also includes a full chart of metering needle types and dimensions.

Similar comprehensive maintenance and overhaul handbooks are being prepared for British and Continental Solex ranges. Already available for tuning enthusiasts is Tuning Solcx Carburetters for Performance, by R. C. Pack and Charles Wheeler. As a tuning manual, this book is a straight-forward stepby-step guide, starting at a basic level and progressing through to practical information on how to arrive at efficient carburation settings for non-standard engines. The various types of Solex downdraught and horizontal twin-choke carburetters are included.

The first two books are published by Interauto in collaboration with Zenith and cost £1.15p each and the tuning manual, published by Speedsport (part of Interauto) and prepared with the assistance of one of Zenith’s senior engineers, retails for £1.30p. All are available direct from the Zenith Carburetter Company Ltd., Honeypot Lane, Stanmore, Middlesex.—C.R.

William noddy, Editor of Motor Sport, has been awarded the C. T. Hoe/suer Trophy donated by BMW Concessionaires GB Limited in memory of the late Carl Hoepner, International Press Manager of BMW Munich. The Trophy is awarded annually to the British motoring journalist who, in the opinion of att independent panel of judges, has done most through . his or her published work to further, Anglo-Saxon understanding for motoring and the motor industry.