The Diamond Jubilee Motor Show



The Diamond Jubilee Motor Show

FOR THE 60th Diamond Jubilee edition of the Motor Show, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders increased the finance for staging the Earls Court annual by £75,000 to a total of £350,000. Last year the regulations controlling the way in which the vehicles were displayed were relaxed to allow a little more imagination. The same rules applied this year, so that we could enjoy the underside view of some unfortunate cars dive-bombing stands at suicidal angles. The drift back toward more female flesh seemed needed chiefly by TVR this year, which was a bit of a shame as their Broadspeed turbocharged V6 looked interesting enough without the lady. The general mood of the British exhibitors was one of determination to try to maintain a lower level of imported cars in the home market. Sir William “Bill” Batty said that he thought we ought to aim for importers to take 25%, or less, in the long term. The general feeling in the Industry seems to be that the British manufacturers would be doing well to hold imports back to 30%. The forecasts of next year’s sales from the heads of the British mass-producers all seem to agree on sales slightly in excess of 1 million next year. That’s the same or less than this year’s UK totals. It is relevant to note at this point that the European car market now seems to be recovering well from the Arab oil price effects

in Europe. Especially Germany, where big producers like VW, Ford and Opel are almost at the point of re-hiring all those people they had to send back to Turkey at such great expense! Our personal favourite was the Ferrari stand . on press day. There was the Grand Prix 312B3 (T), displayed in our cutaway this month, proudly proclaiming the World Championship titles it had wrested from the British-based Ford Cosvvorth brigade. The stand bulged with personalities like Nilo Lauda, John Watson, Mike Hailwood (hanging on the rail outside); while Max Moseley and Robin Herd were presumably deeply engrossed in discussing with Niki his days as 3 March Rent-a-Driver. No Ferrari ought to be labelled mundane, but the plain 308 four seater did look a little like a Cortina compared with the glorious blood-red 308 GTB (glass

fibre body gleaming) alongside, and the flat 12 Berlinetta I3oxer lurking not far away. Of the bigger producers Ford still didn’t have a price appended to the 2-litre RS2000 (which carries a beak-nose more like the Lancia Beta saloon than Vauxhall’s Firenza) and there was no sign of the impending 1600 s.o.h.c. Mexico. Value for Money was Ford’s theme. Leyland provided interest with the first British public display of the TR7. The green show car was roughly finished around the doors, but American customers are

apparently happy enough with the very competitive price. Current production is around 600TR7s a week, and we were told by a Leyland tie-wearing stand official that TR6 output had definitely ceased. He should have done his homework: later, Leyland PR Director Tony Spalding confirmed that production of the TR6 would continue at the rate of 150 a week until next June. We were impressed with the comfortable seating position and grippy steering wheel. Also impressive was the Show-time presence of rally driver. Ton’ Pond, the young Briton who is to conduct a four-valveper-cylinder version of the TR7 next season, as you can read elsewhere in this issue.

Vauxhall and Opel are both marketing a Coupe Mama under different badges, Vauxhall’s called a cavalier, but in a similar price bracket. Vauxhall’s version extends downward into Cavaliers that carry the Mama front on the Ascona body, making the Victors and Vivas all look a little uneasily old-fashioned on the same Stand. If the “Opelisation” of Vauxhall is to continue, let’s hope we get a cheaper Commodore model soon.

“Maserati—Drive A Legend”, says the sales motto on top of the current price list for the Khamsin, Bora and Mcrak. It seems likely that the motto may well be more truthful than intended, and that the current batch of Trident-badged cars may not be succeeded by any further shipments, unless the De Tomas° rescue attempt succeeds. A Bora, -Merak and a Khamsin decorated Maserati’s stillCitrtien-sponsored stand.

On the BMW stand there were canaries and music from a live group and a general air of confidence reflected by factories working double shifts in the Fatherland. Now the old 2002 shell starts the range off with a 1502 designation, while the prices of the new 3 series are a pleasant surprise, at around kW() more than the equivalent luxury model in the previous 2002 series. Next year .BMW should have a really exotic mid-engine coupe on offer. On the Alfa Romeo stand we looked for the coffin in the miniature hearse-like Alfasud estate, coveted the Alfasud Ti as a second car, and drooled over one of the 1950151 Formula One Championship-winning Alfa “Alfetta” 159s and this year’s World Championship for Makes-winning 33TT12. It was pleasing to

see that the attractive 2000 Spyder remains in production, one of the dwindling breed of open Sports cars. With due deference to Anthony Crook and our high regard for his products, we must sadly say that the new Bristol convertible on the stand looked a bit too much like a whitepainted brick privvy for our liking. On the other hand, the Jensen Interceptor convertible ott the adjacent Stand was most attractive, but we don’t quite see the point of the new fixed

A new classic ‘Ferrari. Taking over from the Dino 246GT as “the most beautifid dream machine” is the two-seater 308GTB, bodied in glass-fibre—the ,first lime on a production Ferrari—by Scaglietti.

Chassis (shortened by 3 in.) and running gear is from the 308GT4 2 The mid-mounted 2,926 c.c. V8 develops 255 b.h.p. and the quoted maximum speed is 156.6 m.p.h. it coSts 4;11,992.

head Interceptor coupe, created fOr Jensen by Bob Jankers Panther West Winds concern, based upon the conventional-booted convertible body and with a smoked-glass section let into its roof panel. Announced, ironically, by the Official Receiver on Motor Show Press Day, the coupe is rather more expensive than the normal Interceptor, at k11,758. Flourished too, in the face of Kell Qvale’s abrupt ditching of this admirable company, was the new Jensen GT, based upon the Jensen-Healey. Incidentally, in spite of what Kjell Qvale announced to the Press at the GT’s introduction some months ago, the Jensen-Flealey convertible has not gone, and was never intended to go, out of production. Lancia GB have been laughing all the way

to the bank since the introduction Of the Beta saloons and more especially the beautifullyStyled Beta _coupe, now in tremendous demand. Their Sales should boom even further with the HPE, the estate-car version of the coupe, which appeared at Earls Court for the first time as did the Beta Spider, a fresh-air development of the coupe. Demand for the Spider is such—not surprisingly at a price of £3,195 for its rare and attractive facilities—that there is now a three to fourmonth waiting list. Especially good news from Lancia for British enthusiasts was that right-hand-drive versions of the mid-engined Beta Monte-Carlo will be available here next year. A price of 4;4 ,500 to £5,000 is expected for this surprisingly practical I18-m.p.h., 2-litre, I 20b. h. p., twirl overhead -camshaft7 engined car, displayed at Earls Court on the Stand of its designer, Pininfarina.

Giorgio Giugiaro, who seems to have had a hand in the design of a remarkable number of cars at the Show, including the Lotus Esprit, has even spread his wings to the Eastern Bloc, displayed in the very neat, luxurious, Tatra saloon. This new model for top-brass Commies is powered by a highly-interesting (as is likely to be the car’s handling), rearmounted, north-south, air-cooled V8 with two overhead camshafts per bank. We were forced to express our disappointment to the talented Bob Jank.el in spite of the glittering, exotic display of Panther De Vile, Panther Rio and Panther J72 on the Panther West Winds Stand: we’d expected to see there Panther’s latest creation, the most exciting-sounding road car we can recall, based on a Daytona Ferrari, but the bird had flown to its owner in the States. The said owner is Luigi Chinetti of the North American Racing Team, who commissioned this ultimate of ultimate GT ears, a sumptuously appointed, rebodied Daytona with its V12 engine turbocharged to produce 600 h.h.p. and give a theoretical top speed of 230 m.p.h. Whatever will Jankel think of next? Well, as you asked, it’s the Panther BMRV, an -armoured car, plated in the latest aluminium armour alloy, designed for carrying Heads of State, Chrysler had their new front-wheel-drive Alpine, designed in Whitley, Coventry. manufactured in Poissy, Paris. This roomy, fivedoor, five-seater is powered by either a 1,294c.c., 68 b.h.p., or 1,442-C.c., 85 b.h.p. version Of the Simca 1100 pushrod, four-cylinder engine. It’s attractive, comfortable, very wellappointed, handles well and has exceptional stability., as we discovered in France a couple of weeks ago. Prices should be around

£2,100 for the small-engined GL and £2,300 for the 1,442-c.c. S when they are launched in Britain at the end of the year.

From Peugeot and Renault came their two contributions powered by the co-operative V6, the 604 and the 30TS respectively. The 604 is a luxurious, conservatively but beautifullystyled, conventional rear-wheel-drive car, the 30TS a front-wheel-drive machine. Volvo showed the third, and now well established, recipient of the engine on their stand.

Other features in what was the most interesting Earls Court Show for years included the Lamborghini Countach and Bravo, some exciting design exercises, including one built on a 512S Ferrari and a splendid display of cars from the National Motor Museum. When this was being written we were still trying to find the time to browse round the multiplicity of trade and accessory stands. We had meant to take a closer look at the SMM and T’s Diamond Jubilee exhibition of cars through the ages, including an XK 120, once the Star of the Show, just as the XJ-S was one of this year’s Stars, until credibility disappeared when we saw that the prominent descriptive notice alongside an Issigonis Mini described it as being of 1958 vintage. The Mini was announced in late 1959 . . .

This Diamond Jubilee Show, upon which we congratulate the SMM and T, was the next to the last to be held at Earls Court, at least in the immediate future. There will be no Show in 1977 and the 1978 Show is planned to be held in the new Birmingham Exhibition Hall.—C.R./J.W.