Shortly before his untimely death, as a result of the accident in practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, Mark Donohue had engraved his name in the records book by covering a lap of the Taladega Superspeedway at 221.03 m.p.h. This constituted an all-time highest average speed for a closed-circuit race track, the previous best being 217 m.p.h. by A. J. Foyt. Donohue was driving a Can-Am Porsche 917 with exhaust turbo-charging, specially developed by the Porsche experimental department with inlet tract intercoolers as the standard system was found to have a short limit at full throttle, when more than 1,000 b.h.p. is developed.
No doubt we shall soon see Foyt having a go to improve on this with his Coyote-Ford V8 USAC car, and these record attempts are to be applauded for we now know how fast a turbo Porsche 917 can be made to go. It puts into perspective the fatuous speeds of 230 to 240 m.p.h. quoted by drivers and the Le Mans organisers for an unblown Porsche 917 down the Mulsanne straight some years ago. An officially timed record run is the only sure way of settling maximum speed discussions. When is someone going to prepare a Formula One car for a record run and settle maximum speed arguments? How about it March Engineering or the Hesketh Motor Company?
VW to race in Britain?
The announcement of the 110 b.h.p. Golf GTI at the Frankfurt Show could well forewarn of an immensely strong challenger in British saloon car racing. With a kerb weight of 1,719 lb. and 103 ft. lb. of torque the GTI can be expected to manage 113 m.p.h. and 60 m.p.h. in less than 9 seconds. It’s obvious that German manufacturers, thanks to their Government’s attitude to speed limits, are still very much interested in the performance world.
This very fast new VW comes with Bosch K-Jetronic injection and this feature has contributed a great deal to the 57 per cent power boost over the old Golf 1500LS. Maximum torque is at 5,000 r.p.m. and it seems as though the big engine formula has paid off in terms of fuel consumption too, for VW in England are talking in terms of 35 m.p.g. average. 113 m.p.h. and over 30 m.p.g., we thought only Colin Chapman was interested in those sort of figures, but now we have got a mass-producer proving that necessity (in the form of imported Arab oil) really is the mother of invention.
After all those years of Wolfsburg trying every twist to the Beetles theme, the World’s largest selling car is to revert to a single model for British customers. This will be the 1,200 c.c. 34 b.h.p. derivative which has been in production over the last 30 years, though it has been modified considerably in that time.
While the Frankfurt Motor Show entertained the Germans and Earls Court loomed ahead, the manufacturers decided to tell us all about the changes they have been making in the hope of attracting the cash that hasn’t been sucked away to meet the price of oil-based products.
By far the most interesting package, for those that can afford it, came from Porsche, who now “claim to make the most practical luxury car available”. They refer to a number of really worthwhile changes in the UK range, including a softer 3-litre Carrera and a cheaper (£7,799) 911 N model, to begin a range that stretches to £15,497 for the virtually unchanged 260 h.p. Turbo model.
At £10,997 the Carrera 3 is available at the same price with a fixed head and electric sunroof, or as a Targa convertible: either five-speed or three-speed Sportomatic can be specified without further charge. All Carrera 3s now come without the former sporting aggression — spoilers and firmly set Bilsteins — but with Bosch K-Jetronic injected 3-litre motor to replace the earlier 2.7-litre six. Peak power is down from 210 b.h.p. to 200, but extra torque from the larger engine and injection changes is said to leave top speed and 0-60 m.p.h. times unaffected, while top gear flexibility is improved. Included in the standard equipment will be automatic heat control system, headlamp washers, heated and remote control door mirror and a good choice of interior trims. Those that want the spoilers of the old Carrera can opt for the Carrera 3 Sport specification, which includes the new comfort approach and engine, but adds the sporting Bilsteins, wide alloy wheels (7 in. front, 8 in. rear), and Recaro sports seats. All that costs approximately £500 more than the basic Carrera 3.
The old 911S and 911 series with 175 and 150 b.h.p. engines have been replaced by the 911L Coupé (£8,498) and Targa (£8,898) models, both with the 165 b.h.p. level of tune, which is shared by the latest 911N. To reduce the price of Porsche motoring below £8,000 the N loses items like tinted glass, electric windows, rear wiper, oil pressure gauge, anti-roll bars and even the fifth gear.
Welcome for all customers are the provision of a six year rust warranty on the body, and unlimited mileage first year guarantee, instead of the previous 12 months/12,000 miles.
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A minor inaccuracy in our story about Bristol cars in the August issue of Motor Sport has mildly embarrassed The DeVilbiss Co. Ltd., of Ringwood Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, purveyors of the infra-red arch used by Bristol in their painting process. Their Mr. Drew points out that their arch does not “bake” the paint, as we have it. In fact, Bristol specifically avoid the need for baking by the use of air-drying synthetic paints, the drying process of which is accelerated by the DeVilbiss arch from about 24 hours to 35 to 40 minutes. “Baking” takes place only with low-bake paints, not used by Bristol, when the car is placed in a low-bake oven to give a stove finish. There are considerably more than the three DeVilbiss arches we suggested were in the country, Jaguar, for example, having installed eight recently.
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It is the fact that the body of the TVR is symmetrical, not asymmetrical as the type or the typewriter has it on page 1163 that makes the TVR easy to produce in right or left-hand-drive forms.
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As we go to Press, Jensen have just appointed a Receiver, Aston Martin have announced plans to be back in full production by the end of the year with the V8 and the four-door Lagonda and a nation-wide steel strike seems imminent, yet another threat to the country and particularly to its tottering motor industry. Gloom or no gloom Motor Show time is here again and as ever Motor Sport will have a stand on the ground floor at Earls Court. See us there from October 15th to 25th.
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British Leyland said “thank you” for our favourable road test of the Wolseley 2200 in the September issue — by dropping the model. In future all the 18/22 series cars will have the name Princess. There will be four models: the 1800, the 1800HL, the 2200HL and the 2200HLS, the direct replacement for the Wolseley. No doubt owners of Austin-Morris/Wolseley 18/22s will be most grateful to British Leyland for making their cars obsolete just eight months after the model’s introduction. All in the interests of corporate identity, you understand. Or confusion. The decision means the end of the road for the Wolseley name, 79 years after Herbert Austin built the first prototype based on a Léon Bollée.