Targa, Targa, burning bright

Someone has just given me your May issue — what a wonderful surprise to find the article on the last Targa Florio, mentioning our Lotus Europa. I was a Lotus dealer and we took a car off the floor, swapped the four-speed for a five-speed (waste of time), re-needled the Strombergs and took out the anti-smog pre-heater on the manifold. I thought the speedo was optimistic after putting on those Kleber tyres, but it turned out to be accurate — 140-something mph down that marvellous three-mile straight along the coast, with the tacho at the yellow line but without the twin Webers I’d figured we might need. Our brake problems developed because at the start the emergency brake wasn’t completely released, and the partition in the master cylinder reservoir let fluid slosh over under braking into the front part, which supplied the rear brakes; as the rear drums wore the shoes down, a seal on the slave cylinder gave out. Had the mechanic only put the wheel back on before crimping off the brake line (with a pit steward watching the repair) we could have finished that last-ever Targa Florio. I drove the car back to Genova (via the Palermo ferry) and took it home with me on the Michelangelo.

Under heavy braking the car would very gently pull to the left; after all, how much proportional braking force do the rear wheels provide?

It was a wonderful car and from year to year I ask people if they’ve seen a white twin-cam Europa with the obvious clue of twin dry-break fuel fillers on the deck. It had a rollbar too, of course, but without peering into the car it would be hard to see. I ran the ’63 Targa in the Flaminia Zagato 3C I still have, and also had a sole-class-survivor finish (without enough laps to be classified) in a lightweight SWB Ferrari. I gave that away a few years later — another rather long story!

Anatoly Arutunoff, Tulsa, Oklahoma