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Phil Hill’s ATS 100 enters the Curva Parabolica during the 1963 Italian Grand Prix, Monza 8 September…

The expression on the great American’s face is probably indicative of the joy he is deriving from the car. He is on his way to 11th place, a finish at last in the third race meeting for Carlo Chiti’s little spaceframe 1.5 litre V8 engined racer.

ATS was born as a result of a confluence of events; Ferrari’s senior management ‘Maranello Palace Revolution’ of late 1961 and the eagerness of 24 year old Venetian Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata to part with a swag of his inheritance…

Doug Nye describes Laura Ferrari, as a ‘spitfire wife’, she was famous for her interfering ways in the family business which seems to have been rather well run by Enzo down the decades if in a somewhat imperious, autocratic manner.

The senior team at Ferrari eventually tired of Laura’s incessant interference, she had always been a Scuderia Ferrari shareholder but became a regular visitor to the factory and to the races in 1960. One not shy in providing direction to said chiefs where she felt it warranted.

Her intrusions and interference grew so bad that after Taffy Von Trips funeral in late 1961 a letter was written to Ferrari signed by various of his senior managers requesting she stay clear of the factory. During the following regular weekly meeting with the Commendatore he gave those miscreants as he saw them, their marching orders, eight ultimately departing.

Ferrari, in time honoured Italian fashion, was a bit of a scallywag with the signoritas and was always under a certain amount of pressure from the chief. A believer in the ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life’ dictum he gave the boys their parting cheques, keeping wifey on side was more important than them. He rated the depth of talent he had within the factory gates. What he lost and didn’t have he could hire, Ferrari was a place people wanted to work after all?

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The boys before the falling out, first test of the 120 degree V6 engined 156 at Modena in April 1961. Phil Hill leans against the bosses Ferrari 250GT with Ferrari to his right. Richie Ginther in the car, leaning forward over the front of the car is Luigi Bazzi, senior technician, the big guy to his left is Medardo Fantuzzi who built the car’s bodies. Chiti is in the suit jacket leaning over Richie and the fellow in the hat behind the car is Romulo Tavoni, team manager (Klemantaski)

In fact he survived rather well of course but trashed the 1962 season in the process.

Their simply was not the depth of engineering talent to turn the championship winning 156 of 1961 into something suitably evolved, a 156B if you will, in response to the much greater British threat of 1962. The Lotus 25 and 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FWMV and BRM P56 V8’s great examples of progress in big leaps over the winter of 1961/2 in the UK.

Volpi on the other hand was an adherent of another dictum; ‘The best way to make a bit of money in motor racing is to start with a lot of money…’ The Italian had just come into his inheritance and formed a racing team ‘Scuderia Serennisima di Venezia ‘Serenity of Venice’ team, to start churning through it. Mind you Volpi was not the big loser in the A.T.S. (ATS) mix as we shall see.

The Palace Revolution was good for quite a few who went on to bigger and better things; Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarini to name two, and it rather created a wonderful opportunity for Mauro Forghieri to step up into the engineering vacuum created at Maranello. It was one he took with open arms influencing in a very positive sense the engineering direction, design and speed of Ferrari racing cars for a couple of decades or thereabouts. For Chiti, Tavoni and Bizzarini though ATS was a thoroughly forgettable experience- their 1963 was worse than Ferrari’s 1962.

Scuderia Serenissima raced customer Porsche and Maserati sports and GP cars but the young Italian Count wanted to become a manufacturer in his own right…

He wasn’t silly though, in terms of funding, he had the support of both a Bolivian tin billionaire, Jaime Ortiz Patino and Italian businessman/industrialist Giorgio Billi. Volpi hired Ferrari departees Carlo Chiti, Giotto Bizzarini, Romolo Tavoni and Girolamo Gardini to design, build, develop and race a sports and F1 car. These staffing choices were all excellent, however much the Ferrari 156 bombed in 1962, Chiti’s design won the 1961 title in Phil Hill’s hands.

Both Chiti and Bizzarini were also no-nonsense kind of folk; they were quick, efficient and ‘mucked in’-important attributes in a nascent business devoid of significant engineering and construction resources.

The Serennissima partners soon fell out over the project though, so the enterprise took on the ‘Automobili Turismo e Sport’ or ATS name. The team was based at Sasso Marconi near Potecchio Marconi, a depressed area south of Bologna. A place which the Serennisima partners thought would attract some government funds, such grants not ultimately forthcoming.

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Hill, Spa 9 June 1963. What to change next? ATS 100. No point wanting a quick engine change, at this stage of the cars development the engine was impossible to remove without removal by hacksaw or torch of a chassis tube or three (Getty)

The Lotus 25 made its debut at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1962, many of the F1 paddock’s designers were in the process of knocking together their version of a monocoque chassis somewhat in the Chapman idiom.

There was plenty of life in the multi-tubular spaceframe yet though. Ron Tauranac’s Brabhams won two GP’s in 1969 so equipped, it was only the bag tank regs of 1970 which rained on Ron’s spaceframe parade. Carlo worked away on a spaceframe chassis, key elements of which were a relatively long wheelbase and extreme lowness partially made possible by the use of a new Colotti T34 six-speed gearbox which was to be ‘underslung’ between the main upper and lower chassis members at the rear.

The chassis, to Chiti’s design, was assembled in Palermo by Aeronautica Sicula. It had conventional upper rocker and lower wishbones and inboard coil spring/damper units at the front and multi-link rear suspension comprising upper and lower wishbones and a single lower radius rod providing lateral location. Again coil spring/dampers were fitted with adjustable roll bars front and rear.

Uprights were cast magnesium and disc brakes outboard at the front, and inboard beside the transaxle at rear. This approach was advanced, it helped get the masses low in the frame contributing greatly to a low centre of gravity. The ‘box ended up being a problem in terms of its reliability and difficulties in changing gear ratios ‘in the field’ but of itself the design made sense in search of Mark Donohue’s ‘Unfair Advantage’.

The body was styled by Alfonso Galvani in collaboration with Chiti, Alfonso was ex-Stanguellini. Nye recounts that the ’…F1 chassis was assembled in a farmhouse standing on the new factory building site (Pontecchio Marconi) which the company had just acquired. When the the car was completed a wall had to be demolished to get it out!’

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Rear view of one of Baghetti’s ATS, alighting the car, at Spa. Rear suspension as per text, you can also see the top rockers and lower wishbones at the front. Body beautifully faired at the rear to aid airflow over the low rear deck, but you can see the messy, last minute nature of the above engine section caused by the need for late body changes as a consequence of adding in various additional chassis members to the frame as designed to get required levels of torsional rigidity. The engine could not be removed without ‘Louis The Torch’ to perform necessary surgery to said chassis members…(Getty)

The first chassis was completed by late 1962 and was powered by a new all alloy, quad cam, 2 valve, 4 Weber carbed 1494cc 90 degree V8. 190 bhp was claimed for the engine upon debut, the optimism of Ferrari dyno’s seemed shared by those of ATS! The engine built upon Chiti’s learnings at Ferrari, he was convinced the V8 route was the way to go to keep the package compact but obtain greater piston area to squeeze more power than had been possible with the various incarnations of the Ferrari V6 he knew so well.

The ATS people sought to ‘serve it up to Ferrari’ and on the face of it the car was a sensible mix of engineering choices, with a dash of innovation and was acclaimed upon its launch.

The first testing of the car was done on the roads near Pontecchio Marconi, with Teodoro Zeccoli ‘ starting from Pila St along straight stretches and muddy paths and on a straight stretch for 300 metres on the Porrettana under the curious gaze of passers by…’ only in Italy, bless em!

Roberto Businello and Mario Cabral, also like Zeccoli, Serenissima drivers, also drove the car in these sessions with alterations to spring/shocks early tweaks

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ATS 100, race debut Belgian GP, Spa 9 June 1963. Starting fron the rear is the dry sump tank, rear suspension as per text, note the inboard discs and calipers beside the Colotti transaxle. Note its ‘underslung’ between the main chassis members location; good for weight distribution but problematic in terms of ratio changes. Remember they did not have computer simulations to get the ratios right before arrival at the circuit, with a brand spankers new car ratio changes were a dead cert. Engine; Weber carbs, DOHC, 2 valve, twin plug, see the distributors driven off the end of each inlet camshaft (Getty)

Whilst Romulo Tavoni worked upon securing the services of 1961 World Champion Phil Hill, he did so on 8 January 1963 and that of 1961 prodigy, Giancarlo Baghetti, late of Ferrari, the new car was further tested before its unveiling at the Baglioni Hotel, Bologna on 15 December 1962.

Before the ATS 100 launch, by mid November 1962, the partners in the project had fallen out however…

Volpi was ‘rattled’ by the death of his good friend Ricardo Rodriguez in a Lotus 24 Climax during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend and was questioning whether the firm should be involved in racing. Volpi made these pronouncements to the press and whilst he made it clear he had partners whose views he had to consider, fissures between the parties were opening.

Billi expressed the view that the nearly completed ATS 100 F1 car was important to promote the 2500 GT car. Others have observed that both Volpi and Billi wanted to be President but in the end Billi bought both Volpi and Patino out.

Billi’s woes were added to in buying out his business partner in a machinery manufacturing business which was the primary source of his wealth and then the failure of government financing or a grant to help establish Pontecchio Marconi facility.

At the cars launch in December Billi announced the name of the project as ‘Automobili Turismo e Sport’ (ATS) and at the same time, 30 November 1962 in fact, the return of the rights to the name and mark ‘Serenissima’ to Volpi.

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The Baghetti/Frescobaldi ATS 2500 GTS before the start of Targa 1964. ATS 2500 GT/GTS. A mid-engined road car was being designed by Chiti before he left Ferrari to be powered by a V8. Ferrari built the V12 powered 250LM if you call it a road car! The 2500GT was Chiti’s concept finalised and launched at the 1963 Geneva Show. Engineering by Giotto Bizzarini and Carlo Chiti, styled by Bertone’s Franco Scaglione and built by Turin’s Serafino Allemano the cars had a multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, all independent suspension by wishbones and coil springs, disc brakes all round and a 2500cc all alloy 90 degree V8, the GTS a Colotti ‘box, weighed 750Kg and developed around 250bhp. 12 chassis were built but only 8 cars completed

Rather than focus exclusively on F1 the company was also developing a sports car, a project pushed by one of ‘The Maranello Eight’ Girolamo Gardini. Along the way Giotto Bizzarini left the company, ending up very soon thereafter at Iso, as he felt his views were not being listened to by Chiti.

This GT car was unveiled at the March 1963 Geneva Motor Show. The car was fitted with a 2467cc alloy 90 degree V8 giving circa 220/250bhp @ 7500rpm for the GT/GTS variants. As a consequence of the mixed priorities of the engineering team the F1 car lacked development and missed the early races in 1963, despite Billi announcing the planned debut of the ATS 100 at the Syracuse GP in April..

Testing progressed at Modena and Monza in April with Baghetti and Jack Fairmanwho had been recommended to ATS by Dunlop’s Dick Jeffrey. Issues included ignition, gearbox and rear suspension, although the wonderful if unusually translated Lazzari  ATS book does not make clear the precise nature of the issues. In the weeks before Monaco Phil Hill returned to the factory to test the car but the Monaco date was also missed.

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ATS 100 upon its debut on 15 December 1962. As initially raced the car looked quite different as a result of testing changes, cohesive nature of the design was received to optimistic critical acclaim, especially in Italy! (unattributed)

Belgian GP 1963, ATS 100 debut, June 1963…

Whilst the cars were not race ready Billi insisted, it was his money after all, that the cars contest the Belgian GP at Spa.

The majestic Ardennes circuit is one of the toughest on both engines and of high speed handling so it was a supreme test of an under-developed new car. During that weekend Tony Settember’s Scirocco-BRM was also making its debut.

The ATS boys missed first Friday practice, with Tavoni reporting to Denis Jenkinson that the team transporter was delayed on the road.

As the second session neared its end with Brabham setting the pace in his Brabham BT7 Climax, the ATS team arrived on the other side of the pits and unloaded the cars in time for two exploratory laps for both Hill and Baghetti.

Denis Jenkinson’s Belgian GP report says after Saturday practice that ‘Phil Hill (was) being delighted, if not surprised by, the handling and roadholding but feeling he needed more bhp as the rpm would fall off peak all too easily’.There were whole seconds of difference in performance between the front runners let alone Baghetti and poor Phil, whose best lap was 11.6 seconds slower than pole, he was 17th and Baghetti 20th on the grid.

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ATS Spa 1963. You can see the ‘tack on’ additional auxiliary fuel tank referred to in the text which allowed the car to complete a race of GP distance, the messy front bodywork is the result of this late change. Note the steering rack, messy quality of fabrication and finish, and sheet aluminium riveted to the chassis tubes to help stiffen the chassis (Getty)

During the race Phil could sense a problem early, due to lack of heat in his cars cockpit, which indicated to him the cooling water was not circulating forwards to the radiator, he stopped to have a vapour lock diagnosed and rectified. But he was still not happy as the single throttle return spring was broken and the pedal was not returning rapidly. Then the car coasted to a halt, the gearbox had silently broken. The race was won by Clark’s Lotus 25 with Hill retiring on lap 17 and Baghetti who also had gearbox problems on lap 7. Lack of proper testing miles was already indicating the new gearbox was an ongoing weakness.

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ATS 100 1963, cutaway drawing and profile shot, specifications as per text (unattributed)

Whilst Jenkinson’s report didn’t comment on the engineering of the cars Nye writes ‘ The two cars presented…were a disgrace, with ill-fitting unfinished body panels, looking as if they had been sprayed from a spud gun, while the hastily installed engines were actually imprisoned by welded on additional chassis stiffening tubes which would have to be sawed through to permit engine removal…’ The Colotti designed inboard mounted gearboxes and carburetion were weak points as identified by Hill.

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Hill, ATS 100, Spa 1963 (Getty)

These sort of problems should not have been present given the six months between unveiling of the well finished prototype and the Belgian GP. There seems little doubt that the distraction of the GT car and management problems caused in part by the departure of two of the projects original partners resulted in the company/team not being well run on a day to day basis. Billi’s other equipment manufacturing business occupied most of his time.

The differences in appearance of the car between its launch and appearance at Spa are due, according to Lazzari’s book ‘to a hump between the driver, built to cover a new part of the chassis. This comprises tubular members to increase the rigidity of the crib of the motor. The additional tube had been settled on the existing chassis, so that it resulted (in being) impossible to remove the propeller (engine) without resorting to the oxy-hydrogen flame, whilst waiting to prepare a definitive version (of the chassis) endowed with a system of bolts’! I’m sure the Italian text is eloquent but the translation is amusing, to say the least. ‘The bodywork has been shortened and strengthened just before the steering wheel; in that zone an additional (fuel) tank has been inserted’.

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Top; Hill at the top of Raidillon, botton pitlane, body as per text, note Dunlop knock on magnesium wheels, Spa 1963 (Getty)

The team attended the Dutch GP  two weeks later on 23 June…

It was at Zandvoort in 1962 that Colin Chapman produced his ‘monocoque’ bombshell into Grand Prix racing. Clark lead the race until clutch trouble intervened, he proceeded to dominate the event in 1963, winning from pole, the Lotus 25 had none of the reliability issues in 1963 which prevented Colin Chapman and his merry men winning the title the previous year.

Denis Jenkinson reported on the progress made at Bologna ‘The A.T.S. team had tidied up the bodywork of their cars since Spa, but they were still not very elegant, and the tubular structure over the engines had been cut and jointed with threaded muff-joints that would have done credit to a plumber! Similar joints had been incorporated in one of the cross-members above the gearbox/axle assembly. Phil Hill’s car had the four exhaust pipes on each bank fed into single tail pipes and Baghetti’s car had separate pipes from each cylinder, ending in small megaphones’.

As practice got underway on the Friday  the ATS team were soon in strife with Jenkinson reporting that Baghetti’s car broke a distributor and developed a fault in the brake master-cylinder and ‘Phil Hill was not in the running’.

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Giancarlo Baghetti’s ATS 100, Zandvoort 1963, shot shows pretty lines of the car and evolution of the bodywork since Spa. Note rear brake duct to inboard disc (Schlegelmilch)

‘The opening lap ended with Clark leading Graham Hill and McLaren, but the Cooper driver was waving Brabham by into third place, as his gearbox had gone wrong again and he had only 5th and 6th gears available. Sure enough he pulled into the pits at the end of the second lap and his mechanics took the gearbox selector mechanism apart. On lap 3 there was a semblance of order, Clark always in front, hotly pursued by Graham Hill and Brabham, but the BRM engine was running a high water temperature. In fourth place was Maggs in the second Cooper and after a short pause came a truly impressive crowd of cars getting involved in some pretty serious motor racing in the best tradition. This included Ginther (BRM), Surtees (Ferrari), Bonnier (Cooper), Amon (Lola), Phil Hill (ATS), Ireland (BRP), Taylor (Lotus), Scarfiotti (Ferrari), and Gurney (Brabham), the rest of the runners being spaced out behind’.

Baghetti retired with ignition trouble on his ATS on lap 16 the other car went out in a cloud of sand as Phil Hill spun off the road due to the left-hand rear axle stub breaking off.

Jenkinson concluded his race report thus ‘As at Spa, Clark had led from the first corner to the chequered flag, the Lotus Climax V8 performing perfectly in the sort of race that must soon label Jimmy Clark as a second Stirling Moss. Not as fast, but equally praiseworthy was the performance of Dan Gurney, who started last, had a pit-stop and yet finished second.’

ATS then sensibly missed the French and British GP’s won by Clark to get some sort of resolved specification and levels of base line preparation and reliability to the two cars prior to their home event, the Italian GP at Monza on September 8th.

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Hill Dutch GP 1963, ATS 100 (Getty)

Looked at objectively the choice of the drivers to join ATS makes complete sense.

The engineering team were ex-Ferrari and won a title in 1961, financial backing was solid. It made sense to jojn a team comprised of senior people Phil and Giancarlo knew well, and had won races with in ’61. Phil’s Ferrari history of course went way back to his days driving Ferrari customer sportscars for team owners in the ‘States.

By the Nurburgring in 1963 they must have wondered what the hell they had gotten themselves into! The team truck did not make it to the Eifel Mountains mind you, it crashed en-route, so the cars did not start, nothing was going right! Next the Italian GP.

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Car quite beautiful in profile with its all enveloping, evolved bodywork and discs over the Dunlop alloys to eke out a few more rpm on Monza’s long straights. Phil Hill, Italian GP ’63 (Getty)

Off to Monza it was important for all the obvious reasons they do well; the cars did finish with Hill 11th and Baghetti 15th. The little red single-seaters were also looking like GP cars rather than lash-ups, better finished with neat enveloping bodywork and drag reducing wheel fairing discs fitted for the usual high speed Monza slipstreaming.

Jenkinson observed ‘The Bolognese cars were looking a lot tidier and clearly the design is becoming settled and parts are being made in a more permanent manner. Carburettors are still used although experiments have been carried out with Lucas fuel injection, and the rubber-ring universals in the drive shafts were replaced by normal Hardy Spicer joints.

During practice Phil was going better, at one point matching Brabham’s times, with Denis noting he was amongst the preofessional teams such as B.R.P. and Parnell. Baghetti only made the cut after Cabral, in front of him on times, withdrew after some pursuasion was applied!

Hill raced in company with Siffert and Jim Hall but began to lose ground, then pitted for fuel, the difficulty of topping up clear in the photo earlier in the article. Fuel was slopped into the cockpit in the process adding to Phil’s woes. Baghetti had pitted with electrical dramas but both were still in the race and running getting valuable race miles.

Clark won the race and the titles for he and Lotus with wins at Zandvoort, Spa, Reims, Silverstone and Monza. Progress was being made at ATS, it seemed.

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Phil Hill looking hopefully over his shoulder at the experimental Lucas injected variant of the little ATS V8, Watkins Glen 1963 (Lyons)

No doubt it was with some trepidation that the little team from Bologna loaded its car up for the ‘away races’ at Watkins Glen and Mexico City on 6 October and 27 October respectively…

As Jenkinson looked at the cars in the upstate New York paddock he observed that whilst Baghetti’s car was of  the same specifications as at Monza Hills had been quite heavily modified, ‘…the gearbox (was) now behind the axle. This had been done by turning the whole gearbox axle unit around and putting a spacer between the engine and axle to keep the wheelbase the same without moving the engine back. Both cars had a short radius arm from the top link to the chassis halfway along the engine. This radius rod was approximately half the length of the lower one, and was as used at Monza’.

Hill, Clark and Surtees were soon down to quick times with plenty of drams in the ATS pits, the meeting had started badly when an oil plug blew out of a scavenge pump coating the circuit with oil. ‘What was wrong at ATS was not easily definable as the mechanics were tearing both cars to pieces. In Hill’s car they rather foolishy fitted the experimental injection engine for the next day…The injection ATS engine was losing a lot of oil and Hill said he had no power at the top end, which was disappointing after the way he went the day before with the carburettor engine’, said Jenkinson.

Hill’s car started the race, as did Baghetti’s with the carburettor engine, the two BRM”s initially led from Surtees and Gurney. Baghetti’s ATS completed half a lap and retired with a broken oil pump. As Brabham moved into second place behind G Hill’s BRM his namesake retired from the race, again with a broken oil pump. Hill and Surtees diced for the lead at the 30 lap mark, with Surtees seemingly in command of the race, then his engine started to lose power leaving the win to Graham Hill’s BRM P578.

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ATS 100 cockpit shot, Spa 1963, Baghetti up. Rough as guts body clear, as is radiator pipe to engine and Veglia Borletti instruments (GP Library)

Mexican Grand Prix…

Jim Clark ran away from pole and hid, his Lotus 25 won the race by a minute and a half from Brabham’s BT7 Climax and the BRM twins Hill G and Ginther in BRM P578’s.

It was the first championship GP in Mexico, a non-championship event was run the prior year. The high altitude of Mexico City, 7400 feet above sea level, always played havoc with the fuel systems/mixture of the cars back then, another variable for the poor over-worked ATS technicians to deal with! Jenkinson observed ‘Last year when all the entries were on carburettors (the ’62 non-championship GP) it was fairly simple to change jets until by a ‘suck it and see’ method a correct mixture was determined. This year, most cars were using fuel injection and to weaken the mixture it was necessary to reshape the metering cam…’

Between the ‘Glen and Mexico ‘The two engines had been sent back to Italy and arrived on the eve of practice, necessitating a night session before practice for the whole team. The engine fitting was made more difficult by the fact that a tremendous thunderstorm had cut off the electricity and the whole job had to be performed by torch and headlights’, MotorSport reported. ‘All a great pity as the race report starts by complimenting the organisers on the 600 acre sports arena in which the circuit is located, particularly the pits facilities and lockable pit garages themselves. Not a lot of use without power mind you! The two chassis were as at Watkins Glen.

The weekend went from bad to worse for ATS. In the first session Hill’s car was not revving very well but changing the jets improved things albeit when the engine did rev it sprayed Phil with hot oil from the breather. After few laps for which no times were given, Hills car was moved away to be worked on, soonish Baghetti’s car also followed with oil circulation troubles. Clark was setting the pace, just for something different!

The ATS boys did another all-nighter ‘…tearing the cars to pieces. They found that in the few laps Hill had done the bearings were beginning to break up. The same trouble was found on Giancarlo’s ATS. After Monza two extra scavenge pumps were fitted because excess oil in the sump was losing power. The sump was also dropped 8mm. Since this modification was done there had been consistent trouble with bearings and oil pressure pumps. Overnight the two extra pumps were removed in the hope that the cars would keep going’.

The ATS was sounding crisper on the Saturday morning but Hill was now having gear selection problems, having to jiggle the lever between 3rd and 2nd…

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Phil Hill’s car in the Mexican GP pits 1963, dramas as per text (Friedman)

The ATS’ both took the start but as Clark lead Baghetti’s car was misfiring visiting the pits on lap 3 and again on lap 8 when it was pushed into the paddock for attention. He retired on lap 11 having been told he could not return to the race after going to the paddock.

In the meantime Phil’s car popped and banged its way around the track, the poor ATS mechanics had been dealing with much more fundamental engineering issues and had simply run out of time to get the mixtures right for Mexico’s altitude challenges. He didn’t appear for the 41st lap, a lower rear wishbone mount broke away from the chassis, a similar problem to the one which outed him at Zandvoort.

The end to a weekend from hell for the team- the oil circulation problem seemed solved though given the large number of laps completed by Hill. Jim Clark won the race from Jack’s Brabham BT7, Ginther’s BRM P578 and Hill G’s similar BRM.

South African Grand Prix…

Two months after the Mexican round, the final event of the 1963 World Championship was held at East London, on the south-east coast of the countries Eastern Cape province on 28 December. Jim Clark won the race in his Lotus 25 Climax, of course he and Lotus had wrapped up the drivers and manufacturers titles at Monza some months before.

The ATS team were amongst a group of cars not invited to the event. With the high cost of transporting drivers, cars and mechanics to South Africa, the R.A.C. of S.A. invited two cars from each of the main teams, with one European private entry, the rest all being local boys.

And with that, or more precisely the two cars that raced in Mexico City, the short life of ATS was effectively over.

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15 December 1962, the ATS presentation at the Hotel Baglioni, Bologna. Romolo Tavoni shakes Giancarlo Baghetti’s hand in the drivers seat, ATS owner Giorgio Billi kneeling right. Twelve months later it was all over (unattributed)

The End of The Beginning…

Chiti had progressed design of a new car for 1964 which featured an overhung gearbox instead of the inboard Colotti type used in 1963.

At the end of 1963 the ATS project got into financial difficulties, Billi had over extended himself as outlined earlier. Patino and Billi opted for closure, but Volpi decided to pick up some of the assets. The GP project was shelved, several 2.5 litre mid-engined GT Coupes were built, two of which raced at the 1964 Targa Florio (ATS 2500 GTS Coupe-Baghetti/Frescobaldi DNF 3 laps ignition and Zeccoli/Gardi DNF 1 lap ignition) with the car building factory facilities split into three; a foundry doing contract work, a machine shop similarly contracting out and finally ATS Racing comprising the GP cars, components and spares.

Alf Francis and Vic Derrington formed a partnership to continue racing the two ATS cars.

One chassis ‘100-02’ was refashioned in the ilk of a Lotus 24 or Brabham BT3 with the wheelbase shortened by 6.5 inches, the Colotti box attached directly to the engine in conventional style. Componentry of the original chassis used comprised the front cross member, upper front wishbones and inboard springs, uprights, wheels and brakes. At the rear bits of the original car used included the uprights, wheels, brakes and Colotti box. Water was shifted between engine and front mounted radiator via the top left side frame tube, returning via an external pipe. The nose cowl was tidied up and the V8 engine developed over the winter, the focus its lubrication system and adaption of Lucas fuel injection. 200bhp @ 11000rpm was claimed.

The Derrington Francis ATS raced on into 1964 driven initially by Portuguese driver Mario Cabral. The plan was to run one car in GP racing and to develop the engine for sale to interested constructors, to build engines for future racing with a 3 litre version of the Grand Turismo engine already underway’ MotorSport reported in October 1964.

The car was reviewed very favourably but the development of ATS 100 chassis ‘02’ raced only once at Monza in 1964 where Cabral diced at the back of the field with Peter Revson and Maurice Trintignant before retiring on lap 24 with ignition problems.

John Surtees won the race in a Ferrari 158, on his way to the 1964 World Title. Resilient chap, that Ferrari…

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Italian GP 1964. The #50 Derrington-Francis ATS with driver Mario Cabral in black and Alf Francis looking across the car from the nearside in short sleeved shirt, DNF lap 24 Q19. The other car is Maurice Trintignat’s BRM P578 DNF fuel injection. John Surtees won in a Ferrari 158 (unattributed)

The Serenissima Wheel Turns…

Volpi established his short lived Serenissima marque, with some of the assets acquired above, in the small town of Formigine, half way between Modena and Marnello.

The CEO and team manager was Nello Ugolini with Alf Francis as technical head and Bruce MacIntosh as chief mechanic. They decided to build a mid-engined, spaceframe chassis sportscar. The Jungla GT or 308V was first tested at Modena on December 20 1964. It was powered by a 3 litre 90 degree V8 designed by former Maserati engineer Alberto Massimino, he also designed the chassis.

It was this engine, which contrary to some views has no resemblance to the ATS V8 it was a clean sheet road car design according to Volpi, which McLaren used in F1 races in 1966. The ‘Tipo M166’ was a 2996cc all alloy 90 degree, DOHC, 2 valve, Weber carbed, 305 bhp @ 8500rpm engine which was fitted, personally by Bruce to his F1 McLaren M2B.  Bruce McLaren used it three times in his , click on the link at the end of this article to read about that episode, one of several engines Bruce used in 1966. Finally click here for an interesting article by racer Jonathon Williams who raced for Serenissima in the late 1960’s , its fascinating and fleshes out the end of this story in the nicest possible way; http://www.motorsportsmarketingresources.com/short-stories/jonathan-williams/serenissima.html

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Jonathon Williams and Alf Francis at Modena, Serenissima 3 litre V8 Coupe, circa 1968 (unattributed)

ATS Postscript…

The old adage, speaking again of such things, ‘If ‘Yer Aunty Had Balls She’d Be Yer Uncle’ springs to mind in relation to this venture. I think this saying is attributed to Frank Gardner but it’s a part of Australian vernacular, witty and pithy as Francis G was I don’t think he ‘owns’ that one.

Had ATS focussed on the GP car exclusively from December 1962 until when it should have first raced, pick a non-championship F1 event prior to the Monaco GP, rather than also building the very tasty 2500 GT/GTS, the problems with the ATS 100 engine and gearbox should have been sorted away from the harsh glaze of race weekends.

Maybe Chiti’s ATS first design should have been more conservative? Perhaps he should have foreseen the difficulties just getting a new engine right, the Colotti box however much it made conceptual sense was one step too far and these things always took time to get raceworthy, read competitive and reliable.

IF Volpi, and Billi and Patino stayed together as partners the venture would probably have continued, the combination of pockets and egos was deep.

IF Billi had not over extended himself buying out the other fellas- and his partner in his primary business he probably would have continued.

IF the government funds the venture sought to defray their capital costs were forthcoming the financial equation would have been stronger.

The ATS boys did not cover themselves in glory during 1963 but they are far from ‘the biggest F1 debut clusterfucks’ of all time. BAR springs to mind and all they did was build a chassis.  How bout Toyota too, how could so much money be wasted so fast by a company who knew a thing or three about motor-racing?

The scale of the ATS venture was heroic in terms of ‘taking on Ferrari’, how stupid it was to do that kind of posturing though? By building engines as well as chassis the ATS lads were not seeking to be mere garagistes but rather create something of enduring scale- a marque which produced wonderful road cars as well as racers. They were lofty but noble aims.

But of course none of that happened, so the design Chiti laid down for 1964 never saw the light of day and the whole venture went out with a whimper in the form of the Derrington-Francis ATS in the 1964 Italian Grand Prix.

Enzo and Laura Ferrari certainly had the last laugh!?

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Phil Hill aboard his ATS 100 and simultaneously wondering what to change and what will go wrong next! Circuit unknown. Inboard front suspension as per text (unattributed)

ATS 100 Build…

The prototype car, ‘100-01’ was Phil Hill’s 1963 race chassis, it was sold to Tom Wheatcroft in 1970 and formed part of his Donington Collection until sold to Philip Walker in 1999.

Chassis ‘100-02’ was Baghetti’s race chassis in 1963 and built into the Derrington Francis ATS as described above, Walker also acquired this car in 1998/9. The MotorSport November 2000 article on which this paragraph is based states that ‘Philip has acquired a second chassis…’, which rather suggests, three, at least, chassis were built.

Bibliography…

‘The History of The Grand Prix’ Car Doug Nye, The GP Encyclopaedia, 8w.forix.com, ‘A.T.S. – The Team That Challenged Ferrari’ Michael Lazzari

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, The Cahier Archive, Pete Lyons, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Dave Friedman Archive

Tailpiece: Giancarlo Baghetti, ATS 100, Dutch GP, Zandvoort 23 June 1963…

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The big F3  field gets away on the first lap of of the 1967 ‘Coupes de Vitesse’ on 2 April. Pau such a spectacular race locale…

The race was won by Jean-Pierre Jaussaud from Roby Weber both in works Matra MS6 Ford Cosworth’s, Peter Gethin was third in a Brabham BT21 Cosworth. The field had plenty of talent including Derek Bell, Patrick Depailler and Tico Martini. Amongst the non-qualifiers were Patrick Depailler and Jean-Pierre Jabouille. Their speed would improve!

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The shot above shows green helmeted Henri Pescarolo in another works Matra MS6 having a territorial dispute with Mauro Bianchi in a works Alpine A310 Renault. Henri won the French F3 Championship that season from Jaussaud.

Credits…

Jean Tesseyre

Tailpiece: Frantic Pau…

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Weber from Jausaud, Gethin, Chris Williams and the nose of Pescarolo. Matra MS6 x 2, Brabham BT21 x 2 and Matra MS6 (Tesseyre)

 

 

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(Allan Fearnley)

Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins looking confident with the speed of their Ferrari Dinos prior to the Silverstone start…

Into 1958 the relationship between Enzo Ferrari and Peter Collins had soured a bit as the chief felt the Brit was not as competitive as he had been, he was dropped to the F2 team at the French GP. Mike Hawthorn’s intervention and Luigi Musso’s death at Reims made his position more secure. Nevertheless he was feeling plenty of pressure at the time…

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Peter Collins takes his last win, Silverstone 1958, Ferrari Dino 246 (unattributed)

Collins started the British GP from 6th on the grid, with Moss’ Vanwall on pole, but Collins blasted through from the second row to lead Moss, Hawthorn, Schell’s BRM P25, Brooks Vanwall VW57 and Salvadori, Cooper T45 Climax.

Collins increased the lead steadily with Moss and Hawthorn comprising the lead group. Stirling’s engine blew on lap 26 leaving Peter leading from Hawthorn. Stuart Lewis-Evans was 3rd but was soon passed by Salvadori. Collins won from Hawthorn, Salvadori and Lewis-Evans’ Vanwall VW57, four Brits!

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Peter Collins being congratulated aboard his Dino after the event. Its July 19, he was dead 3 weeks later, Nurburgring on 3 August (Hutton)

Credit…

Allan Fearnley, Hutton Deutsch

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(Popperfoto)

Engineers building a production run of these very successful T20/23 series of cars which were important in helping launch the careers of Mike Hawthorn and Jack Brabham amongst others. And positioning Cooper as just not builders of 500’s…

The photos were taken in Cooper’s Surbiton workhop in early 1953, the cars are the CB Mk2 or T23.

The essential difference (there were other improvements as well) between the T20/23 is that the latter used a spaceframe chassis, clear in shot, the earlier car a more traditional box section frame. Note the stack of frames, not yet stove-enamelled on the lower right of the shot.

I wrote an article about the T20 a while back so I won’t repeat myself, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/02/10/stirling-moss-cumberland-park-speedway-sydney-cooper-t20-wm-holden-1956/

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Australian Gold Star Champion 1959, Len Lukey’s Cooper T23 Bristol (chassis CBR/2/9/53)  pictured at Mt Druitt, a circuit west of Sydney on 25 May 1958, the car did a 13.53 seconds standing quarter to take FTD. Shot shows the handsome lines of these cars to rather good effect as the gent looking on would attest. Later fitted with a Holden 6 cylinder engine, restored, for a time part of the Donington Collection and still extant (John Ellacott)

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The workshop shots are great, the unclothed cars show the Bristol engine, the chassis and the suspension mix of wishbones and transverse leaf springs front and rear.

Cooper were somewhat maligned over the years about their ‘curvy spaceframes’ by engineering purists but in comparison with other cars of this period, the Cooper is a paragon of modernity if not a perfect example of triangulation!

Doug Nye credits Dante Giacosa’s design of the 1946 Cisitalia D46 for Piero Dusio, as the first modern customer spaceframe car ‘the production racing car trendsetter for an entire generation of designers’.

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Cisitalia factory drawing of the D46 voiturette and its lovely, stiff spaceframe chassis, Fiat 1100cc 62bhp OHV engine. Suspension F/R lower arms/live axle with transverse semi-elliptic springs front and rear, hydraulic drum brakes. Drivers of the cars included the elite, Tazio Nuvolari and down

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Robert Manzon’s 14th placed Cisitalia D46 during the 330Km GP du Comminges, St Gaudens 0n 10 August 1947. Race won by Louis Chiron’s Talbot Lago ’39. The caption with this shot simply says ‘1947 French GP’, which it is not. I have arrived at the above driver/car/event by elimination, some French readers will be familiar with the background, the other hint is the ‘team badge’ on the cars side, let me know if i am wrong or right for that matter! (GP Library)

As stated above the Cooper Bristol Mk1 (T20) used a simple fabricated box-section single plane-ladder frame with tacked on body supports and was very successful.

John Cooper and Owen Maddock’s (Cooper designer/engineer/draughtsman) 1953 Mk2/T23 used a multi-tubular frame which took advantage of the entire cross-sectional area available inside the body ‘and looked more like what would become known as a ‘spaceframe’ design though still sparsely triangulated…this new welded-up chassis frame employed all the same sized round section tube, and it was effectively the forerunner of many more British GP cars ‘spaceframes’ to follow’ Nye said.

So, if the car isn’t the trendsetter Giacosa’s was the Cooper lads were certainly spaceframe ‘early adopters’, very successfully so.

Note the beautiful light alloy Cooper wheels, rudimentary independent rear suspension set up of lower wishbones and top transverse leaf spring which would serve Cooper well till the end of the decade. Double wishbones and coil springs at the front appeared a bit earlier but the transverse top leaf is in use here.

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New Cooper T23 on what is perhaps its first test at Goodwood in late ’52 or early 1953, triple Solex fed 1971cc circa 155bhp spec engine as per text. Frame, neat throttle linkage and beautiful hand formed aluminium body also clear in shot (Popperfoto)

The Bristol/BMW engine develops around 155bhp from its 1971cc in BS4A spec, the engine is worth a paragraph or two. What follows is a summary in relation to the engines race application, not a chronology of the many variants fitted to road cars.

As demand for aircraft and engines eased towards the end of WW2 the Bristol Aeroplane Company decided to diversify into cars. The history of this great company is interesting, click here to read about it; http://www.bristolaero.org/bristol-built/

One of its directors, HJ Aldington, had impeccable BMW connections, another of his companies, AFN Ltd were both the constructors of Frazer Nash cars and the pre-War importers of BMW. The 2 litre engine the subject of this article, was fitted to BMW’s superb 328 sports car, famously the winner of the 1940 Mille Miglia in Huschke von Hanstein’s hands..

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BMW 328 on Avus’ North Curve, Germany on 19 May 1938, driver and event unrecorded (Ullstein Bild)

In the post-war German mess, der Deutschlanders were keener for their technology to be shared with the ‘goodies rather than the baddies’ (the Ruskies), Aldington did a deal via the War Reparation Board which gave the engine technology to Bristol. The Brits fitted the engine to a 326 chassis and dressed the lot in an aerodynamic body similar to the 327 ‘Autenreith’ Coupe.

The first Bristol built engine was fired up on their dyno on 22 May 1946 and was soon fitted to its prototype ‘400’ car.

The engine was tall, slim and short despite its long stroke. The bores were cleverly siamesed within the cast iron block to allow the use of 4, rather than the 7 main bearings considered normal for a straight-six. The head had hemispherical combustion chambers with valves inclined at an included angle of 80 degrees with downdraught inlet ports between them.

Rather than twin overhead camshafts the valves were operated by 18! inclined cross-pushrods. For its success it demanded great engineering precision in its build, something Bristol had in spades. A steel crank ran in Vandervell ‘ThinWall’ lead indium bearings. Dry cylinder liners were of Brivadium alloy-steel so hard that for racing Bristol didn’t consider them run in until the engine had done 8000 miles!

After fitment of three downdraught SU carbs the ’85A’ engine developed 80bhp. The ’85C’ was fitted with three Solexes.

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Bristols; Type 171 Sycamore helicopter and 401 Coupe in 1950 (Hutton Archive)

In 1948/9 Aldington asked Bristol to develop a high performance variant for Frazer Nash, this ‘FNS’ (Frazer Nash Specification) unit with 0.15 larger inlet ports, improved crank counter weights, Delco-Remy distributor rather than the Lucas unit developed 126bhp @ 5500rpm. In the FN Le Mans Rep the engines were very successful.

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The 8th placed Bristol engined Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica of Dickie Stoop and Peter Wilson about to be swallowed by the winning Aston Martin DB3S with Reg Parnell at the wheel, he shared with Eric Thompson, during the Goodwood 9 Hours 22 August 1953 (GP Library)

Encouraged by the Frazer Nash success, Bristol built a new ‘Bristol Sport’ (BS) engine based on the ‘403’ Type 100 spec engine. These had blocks cast in chrome alloy steel. With a 66mm bore and 96mm stroke they displaced 1971cc.

The head was aluminium alloy with inlet valves made of chrome-nickel steel, exhaust valves of austentic-chrome steel. All of the valve gear was very light and polished. The crank was in aviation spec nitriding steel still running in 4 main bearings. A short duplex chain drove from the cranks nose to the high camshaft which ran in four bearings and carried a skew gear driving the distributor and oil pump shafts. High pressure lubrication was used but a wet sump retained. On ‘BS Series’ engines the head was ‘ported and polished’.

These engines, the Mark 2 version used by Mike Hawthorn’s Lavant Cup winning Cooper T20 at the Goodwood Easter 1952 meeting developed 149.8bhp@5550rpm on the Filton dyno before Leslie Hawthorn deployed his secret ‘witches brew’ of nitro-methane to produce more power still.

The ‘BS4A Mk1’ engines  developed 155bhp@6000rpm and 148lb/ft of torque at 5000rpm.

Ultimate versions of the German/British engines were Cooper Bristol driver/engineer Bob Gerard’s de-siamesed port 2.2 litre variants running nitro-methane which developed 180bhp@7000rpm. Bristol’s own de-siamesed engine which ran at Le Mans in its Coupes developed a reliable 160bhp. By that time the 2 litre F2 racing for which these engines were developed was over.

The Cooper Bristols were important cars in the rise of the Surbiton marque and formidable weapons in the right hands if not Ferrari Tipo 500 beaters…

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Cooper T23 Bristol being unloaded from its trailer on a bleak, winter Goodwood day in late 1952 or early 1953. 85km trip from Cooper’s Surbiton ‘shop to Goodwood. These shots (of the mechanics fettling the engine above and the two below) are undated other than 1 January 1953 which will be an approximation, there are no details of the mechanics or driver. My guess is that its a Cooper instigated press shoot, as are the workshop ones above, probably of the cars first test, the ‘stub exhausts’, these engines not usually raced as such, indicative of a ‘quick fix’ overnight to run the car for the first time. If any of you have the details please provide them and i will update the text (Popperfoto)

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Bibliography…

Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car’, Automobile Year, John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia

Photo Credits…

Popperfoto, John Ellacott, GP Library

Tailpiece: John Cooper, but its just a guess…

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Bob Wollek with no time for the fun park during the Le Mans classic, 17 June 1984…

The aluminium monocoque car was powered by a Ferrari 308C V8 and finished in 8th place, his co-driver Sandro Nannini, the best placed of the Lancias 34 laps behind the winning Porsche 956B of Klaus Ludwig and Henri Pescarolo. The  dominance of the 956/962 extended into the early 1990’s.  

After the 1955 grand prix season Lancia couldn’t afford its motor racing program, in fact Gianni Lancia lost control of the family company as a result of his profligacy! He and Vittorio Jano built some of the most fabulous racing racers ever built, he just couldn’t afford to do so! Lancia competed with great success in rallying with its Fulvia and later fabulous Stratos’ in the 1960 and 1970’s.

Lancia re-entered road racing with the 1982 Group C LC1, a spyder bodied car powered by a 1.4 litre turbo-charged 4 cylinder engine, it was eligible under the equivalence rules for the 2 litre class, which it won at World Championship level in 1979-81

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For 1982 Lancia decided to contest the outright class getting Gianpaulo Dallara to design a ground-effect, aluminium monocoque racer powered by a race variant of Ferrari’s 308QV engine, the 4 valve V8 fitted to its Dino road car.

Fitted with 2 KKK turbo’s and Marelli fuel injection the Abarth developed 84X68mm, 3014cc V8 developed circa 800bhp @ 8800rpm. Suspension was conventional wishbones, coil spring/dampers and adjustable roll bar front and rear. Brakes were cast iron discs, the gearbox a Hewland 5 speed.

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Wollek’s Lancia LC2-84 chassis ‘005’ during 1984 Le Mans scrutineering (Harmeyer)

Porsche developed a stranglehold on Group C with a combination of the speed of its works 956/962’s and a vast array of customers, Porsche masters of the ‘customer racing car art’ won with the 956 from ’82-85, with the 962 in 1986/7 and then with the Dauer 962 in 1994. Quite a run of success.

Lancia’s best chance at Le Mans during the three years they raced the cars was in 1984; Porsche was having a spat with the ACO over fuel regulations and boycotted the race but 7 private 956’ were in front of the Lancias at the finish… Wollek set the fastest race lap but he and Nannini had gearbox troubles during the race which slowed them significantly.

The LC2, 9 of which were built, warrant a feature article, for now this is a quickie, in 3 years of competition the team won 3 races of championship status.

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Wollek/ Nannini LC2 during the race, aero treatment and lines of the car in contrast to the Porsche 956/962 (Martin Lee)

Etcetera: LC2-84 ‘005’ in scrutineering and during its race to 8th place, behind seven 956’s of varying spec…

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lancia side

Credits…

silhouet.com, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Bob Harmeyer, Martin Lee, Dale Kistemaker

Tailpiece: Wollek rockets his Lancia away from pole, behind is teammate Paolo Barilla, speed of these cars seldom in question, longevity a different thing…

le mans start

 

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Jack Brabham willingly takes his go-faster pill from the lovely Goodyear fräulein…

It’s just before the 1966 German Grand Prix, Jack won the race in his Brabham BT19 Repco on 7 August from John Surtees and Jochen Rindt aboard Cooper T81 Masers.

Jack was right in the middle of the mid-season purple patch which gave him the title; from 3 July to 7 August he won the French, British, Dutch and German GP’s on the trot.

Goodyear were a very important part of Brabham Repco’s win that year. Jack was in F1 with them from their start in F1, 1965, and was still winning races with them in 1971.

Brabham’s last race win was aboard a Goodyear RR12 shod Bowin P4X Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ victory at Calder, Australia…

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Bob Jane was always a clever promoter, the champion racer/entrepreneur and Calder circuit owner decided upon a ‘Race of Champions’ amongst the Australian aces of the day to get a few more bums on seats at his 15 August 1971, cold and chilly winter meeting. Look at the crowd!

The just retired, for a while anyway, Jack Brabham was happy to accept the invitation to compete. It just so happened his Ford Dealership in Sydney sponsored Bob Beasley in a Bowin P4 in that years ‘TAA Driver to Europe Series’, the national Formula Ford championship.

The field included Kevin Bartlett, Alan Hamilton, Allan Moffat. Pictured here is Bib Stillwell in the car in which Larry Perkins won the 1971 Driver to Europe title, then Jack and Frank Matich in Elfin 600, Bowin P4X and Aztec FF respectively.

Whether or not Jack did a few laps in the Bowin at Warwick Farm in Sydney before the car was popped onto the trailer for Melbourne is unclear, ditto Bib, the owner of the Perkins Elfin 600! It was a fun race but their were plenty of guys keen to win, Jack prevailed in the short scrap, Goodyear shod of course…

Credits…

ullstein Bild, Classic FF FB page

Ps: ‘Drink it Freddy!’…

Was the catchy slogan or tagline of a popular sweet drink called ‘Quik’, the notion being that the additive made cows milk more drinkable at a time such milk was a good thing. I think it still is, but who knows? Anyway, the line was stuck in the back of my head, which is full of useless shite and popped out when i saw Jack and his Goodyear friend…

Pps: Love the neato Repco Brabham sticker on the cockpit screen of Jack’s car!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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George Eaton, BRM P153 in gorgeous pre-Yardley, traditional livery. Monaco 1970 (GP Library)

George Eaton navigates the tricky Monaco circuit in an unsuccessful attempt to qualify his new BRM P153 at the principality in 1970…

Tony Southgate’s new design was a very competitive machine, after the teams disastrous 1969.  Pedro Rodriguez won a classic Spa duel in the P153 with Chris Amon in 1970 but Eaton, the Canadian racer struggled to get the best from it in his only fullish F1 year.

Looking objectively at his results in Grand Prix racing, the wealthy young heir to the Eatons Department Stores empire didn’t appear to have what it takes at the absolute elite level, but comparing his and Pedro’s performances in the Can Am BRM P154 Chev later in 1970 perhaps puts things in a slightly different perspective.

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Eaton’s BRM P153 DNF oil tank, buzzes past the works McLaren M14D Alfa and M14A Ford of Andrea de Adamich DNQ and Peter Gethin DNF prang, respectively in the Zandvoort pitlane, 1970 (Schlegelmilch)

Eaton started racing in a Shelby Cobra in 1966. He raced a Chev Camaro at Daytona in 1967 and soon bought a McLaren Elva Mk3 Chev Can Am car in which he contested the USRRC and the Can Am Series in 1967. In 1968 he bought a McLaren M1C Chev, his best result was a 3rd place at Laguna Seca, in the wet, in 1968.

In 1969 he took a big step up contesting both the Can Am with a McLaren M12 Chev and the US Formula A, nee F5000 Championship in a McLaren M10A Chev, the ‘ducks guts’ chassis to have that year.

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Eaton, McLaren M10A Chev, Mosport 1969, DNF transmission in the race won  by John Cannon’s Eagle Mk5 Chev (ORC)

His best Can Am races in the M12 were a 2nd at Texas and 3rd at Edmonton but he was quick, consistently qualifying in the top six all year. In FA, in fields of some depth he raced in most of the US rounds, 6th at the Shaefer GP his best. He contested only four of the Canadian rounds taking a good win at Mont Tremblant in May.

Off the back of these results he was offered drives in the F1 BRM P138, a ‘roughy’ of a car, in the US and Mexican GP’s in late 1969, retiring from both after qualifying last in both. Hardly the basis upon which to extend a contract for the following season, but that’s exactly what Lou Stanley offered George for 1970- a drive alongside the quick, unlucky Jackie Oliver and the blindingly fast Pedro Rodriguez.

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Dutch GP, BRM P153, Q18, DNF. Rindt won in a Lotus 72 Ford (Schlegelmilch)

Eaton had a terrible F1 season, Pedro made the P153 sing. Oliver was quick but seemed to have all the engine unreliability, whilst George, probably not getting the best of equipment, was slow on the circuits which were unfamiliar to him and the car unreliable.

He qualified best in his home, Mosport event, 9th, outpacing Oliver and finished 10th. He qualified 14th at Watkins Glen and again retired but otherwise didn’t qualify higher than 14th with DNQ’s in Spain and Monaco.

His speed in the Can Am series was a bit different though…

1970 BRM P154 Can Am Season…

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George Eaton with the BRM P154 Chev, 11 June 1970 (Dick Darrell)

Eaton’s pace was put into better perspective when compared with Pedro Rodriguez, his team leader and undoubtedly one of the fastest five blokes on the planet at the time, in Can Am cars.

Rodriguez contested the Donnybrooke, Laguna Seca and Riverside events, the last three of the series races from late September to 1 November. The ‘head to head’ comparison in identical P154 chassis on circuits upon which both had competed before is as follows;

Donnybrooke; Pedro Q7 P9 George Q5, DNF rocker

Laguna Seca; Pedro Q9 P5 George Q8 crash on lap 11

Riverside; Pedro Q7 P3 George Q 1.5 secs quicker than Pedro in practice but boofed the car and DNS

So, George appears to have had Pedro’s speed if not consistency in Can Am cars noting there was a veritable gulf between the pair in F1. Nobody ever suggested these 700bhp Can Am roller-skates were easy-peasey to drive, interesting innit?! Maybe Eaton should be given a little more credit for outright pace than he is usually accorded. He was not just a rich pretty-boy.

Before Pedro arrived to drive the other P154 chassis Eaton started the season at Mosport with Q7 and DNF with oil leak and transmission problems.

At St Jovite he was 3rd having  qualified 9th. To Watkins Glen Q13 and brake failure, Edmonton Q6 with a wheel bearing failure. The car had little pre-season testing some of these problems are indicative of that. At Mid Ohio he had fuel pressure problems which outed him, the dramas resulted in Q25. His results for the last three races are listed above in the comparison with Pedro.

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Eaton P154 Laguna Seca 1970, Q8 and crashed (The Enthusiast Network)

Further perspective on Eaton’s performance is provided by Pedro’s opinion of the car, the Mexican had been ‘around the block’ in terms of experience of big cars since his ‘teens and driven some horrid ones, the Ferrari’s he raced in 1968 and the BRM’s in 1969 prime examples.

Pedro visited Tony Southgate after racing the P154, Southgate recorded in his book ‘Pedro raced the car later in the season and afterwards came to see me in my office at Bourne to talk about the experience and told me in its present form the car was horrible to drive.

I had great admiration for Pedro, so I knew it must be really bad. I was very embarrassed and immediately set about re-engineering it and fixing all the problems. The revised car, the P167 went on to be very good in 1971 but it was still a low budget operation’.

The BRM Can Am program was minimal in 1971, two events plus Interserie races for Pedro at Zolder and wins for Brian Redman at Imola and Hockemheim, after Pedro’s death at the Norisring in a Herbert Muller owned Ferrari 512M.

In terrible irony Pedro took the Muller ride only after a testing engine failure in the P167 meant he could not race the BRM and therefore took the Ferrari drive.

Brian Redman raced the P167 at Laguna to 4th, and Howden Ganley the same chassis at Riverside to 3rd, proof positive that progress had been made.

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George Eaton in the BRM P154 Chev, Q6 DNF wheel bearing in front of Gary Wilson’s Lola T163 Chev 6th, at Edmonton on 26 July 1970. Denny Hulme won in a McLaren M8D Chev. Lots of available wheel arch a function of the P154 being designed for 19 inch wide wheels but only 17’s available- unsuitable suspension geometry one of the cars many issues (John Denniston)

But Bourne were not in a budgetary position to offer George another Can Am season in 1971, one he deserved.

Another season in F1 was a different thing, he had not done enough to keep that seat. As it was BRM were very competitive in F1 in 1971, Siffert and Rodriguez both taking a win apiece before their untimely deaths. Peter Gethin took another at Monza in the drive of his life in one of THE great GP finishes.

Into 1971 and 1972 George raced in endurance events although he was invited to guest drive a P160 BRM in the ’71 Canadian Grand Prix, qualifying 21st, slowest of the four BRM’s entered, he finished 15th.

George Eaton was a very fine driver and quicker than he is given credit for in Can Am cars at least. He extracted more from the very ordinary BRM P154, in qualifying in three consecutive events than an ace like Pedro Rodriguez could produce from the same chassis, a pretty ordinary one at that…

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George in the ‘Klondike 200’, Edmonton pits awaiting chassis changes in 1970. BRM P154 Chev, Q6 and DNF, wheel bearing. Fundamental issues with the car were the late decision on doing the program, one forced upon designer Tony Southgate- and lack of testing miles and development before it left the UK for the US. George did the development miles in the races, lots of stuff breaking as a consequence. Article on the P154 and P167 coming soon (Denniston)

Credits…

GP Library, The Enthusiast Network, classiccars.com, John Denniston, Dick Darrell

Tailpiece: Monaco 1970, this time from above. The BRM P153/P160 are wonderful cars, in reality the great Bourne marques last really consistently competitive hurrahs…

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Such beautiful and fast cars, one of the surprises of 1970, Tony Southgate’s BRM P153, Eaton at Monaco, DNQ (Schlegelmilch)

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Glemser/Fitzpatrick Ford Capri RS2600 ahead of a Ferrari 312PB and a Porsche 911RSR, Le Mans 1973 (Schlegelmilch)

Ford’s battles with BMW in 1970’s touring car racing are legendary as both manufacturers battled for supremacy. The adage ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’ was reflected in big marketing spends in the European Touring Car Championship at the time…

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Chris Amon in the CSL he shared with Hans Stuck, Le Mans ’73 DNF lap 162 with accident damage (Schlegelmilch)

In 1973 the protagonists in the big car class were the RS2600 Capri and 3.0CSL, the title that year won by Toine Hezeman’s BMW with wins at the Spa, Zandvoort and Paul Ricard rounds.

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Toine Hezemans/Dieter Quester CSL winning the class at LeMans in 1973 (unattributed)

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Jackie Stewart and Jochen Mass, Monza ETCC round 25 March 1973 (Schlegelmilch)

Such were the number of GeePee drivers involved one could have mistaken the paddocks for F1 events rather than touring cars; Stewart, Amon, Stuck, Hunt, Lauda, Ickx, Pescarolo and Emerson Fittipaldi all had a steer during the ETCC that year.

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Jean Claude Andruet/Richard Bond Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona 20th, Dieter Glemser/John Fitzpatrick Capri, out in the 20th hour with a broken rod (Schlegelmilch)

Whilst Le Mans was not part of the ETCC, Ford and BMW slugged it out in the 24 Hour Classic although only one of the factory cars went the distance; the Dieter Quester/Toine Hezemans BMW was 11th overall with 307 laps.

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The race was won by the superb 3 litre V12 Matra MS670B piloted by Henri Pescarolo/Gerard Larrousse, the rapid sports-prototype covering 355 laps. The best placed Ferrari 312PB was 6 laps adrift of the Matra, Art Merzario and Carlos Pace were second with another Matra 670B driven by the two Jean-Pierre’s, Jabouille and Jaussaud in third place.

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#53 Koinigg/Vinatier/Birrell and #55 Glemser/Fitzpatrick (Schlegelmilch)

As to the rest of the factory touring car entries; the Dieter Glemser/John Fitzpatrick RS2600 schnapped a conrod on lap 239, the Chris Amon/Hans Stuck BMW had an accident on lap 162.

The woe continued with the Helmut Koinigg/Jean Vinatier/Gerry Birrell Ford having valve gear trouble on lap 152, Gerry Birrell swapped into this car after his own Capri had ignition problems. Hans Heyer co-drove that entry.

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Mike Kranefuss, keeps an eye on proceedings, ‘the boss’ as the cap suggests (Schlegelmilch)

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Glemser/Fitzpatrick RS2600 at Le Mans, DNF with a broken rod (unattributed)

I guess the cars weren’t stressed for 24 hours so perhaps the results are not too surprising, I posted an article about the fabulous Cologne Capri’s which may be of interest to those who have not read it; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/09/australias-cologne-capris/

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Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: Glemser/Fitz in the pits…

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‘If she would just ease her grip a smidge it really would be perfect’…

Seems to be the look on Jackie Oliver’s face. He and the delightful young lady are aboard Jackie’s ’74 Can Am Championship winning Shadow DN4 Chev. It’s the London Olympia ‘Speedshow’ on 2 January 1975.

By 1974 the heyday of the greatest motor racing spectacle on the planet was over, the Porsche roller-coaster effectively did that in 1972/3 as well as some poor decision making by officialdom which drove the likes of Jim Hall from the series. Sans Chaparral the show was never quite the same.

Longtime Don Nichols driver Oliver didn’t have an easy time of it in 1974 though, his teammate and ’72 Can Am champ George Follmer gave him a serious run for his money. Oliver won 4 rounds, George followed him home in 3 of them. Scooter Patrick won the other round in an old McLaren M20 Chev.

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Road America 1973. Oliver DNS in the championship race after an engine failure in the sprint event. Compare and contrast the 1973 DN2 with the 1974 DN4 below. Donohue won in a Porsche 917/30. #47 is Ed Felter McLaren M8E Chev DNF and #51 is not on the results data-base i have if anyone can assist (unattributed)

New cars for 1974, the DN4 design (below) was fundamentally smaller than the ’73 DN2 (above) and built around fuel cells of only 45 gallons, the legislators reaction to the oil crisis of the time. Track, wheelbase and overall width were less than the DN2. Southgate used some DN3 F1 hardware in the DN4, ‘the last great CanAm car’, but the layout-aluminium monocoque, Hewland LG ‘box and ally-block Chev, which still gave a reputed 800bhp were all CanAm standard issue. Albeit a brilliantly executed one which was driven mighty well by a couple of Group 7 veterans in Ollie and George…

Credits…

J Wilds, nwmaracing

Tailpiece: The ole DN4 one-two. Oliver from Follmer at Mosport on 16 June 1974, they finished in that order with Scooter Patrick 3rd in a McLaren M20 Chev…

ollie-mosport

(nwmaracing)

 

 

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Iso Grifo A3/C Chevrolet at rest. Piero Drogo’s Carrozzeria Sports Cars, Modena, Italy December 1964…

Renzo Rivolta was an ingenious Italian entrepreneur in postwar Italy.

He owned the Isothermos heater and refrigeration company and postwar decided to build cars, his passion. He started with motorcycles and then introduced the Isetta, an incredibly successful economy car he subsequently and very profitably  licensed to BMW and others.

Into the early sixties he formed Iso Automobili and introduced the Iso Rivolta GT to rave reviews at the 1962 Turin Auto Salon.

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The Iso Rivolta GT being driven the way it’s creators intended on the roads outside LA in August 1966 during this road test (Darryl Norenberg)

One of Rivolta’s key players in his nascent enterprise was Giotto Bizzarrini, the gifted engineer who played a key role in the development of the Ferrari Testa Rossa and 250 GTO. After the so-called ‘Palace Revolution’ of 1962, Bizzarrini left Maranello with Carlo Chiti and others and soon found work as a freelance engineer, then with with Iso. There, Bizzarrini worked with Iso’s chief technician Pierluigi Raggi to develop the sophisticated platform type chassis which formed the basis of the 2+2 Iso Rivolta GT.

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Berney/Noblet Iso Grifo A3/C on its way to 14th place at Le Mans 22 June 1964. Car behind the Dumay/von Ophem Ferrari 250LM 16th (Getty)

Bizzarrini, Bertone and others encouraged Rivolta to build a sports car to enhance sales of the Rivolta, which were flagging, partly due, its said, to the failure of the US importer to meet its contractual obligations. The result was the Iso Grifo two seater GT built on a shortened Rivolta chassis.

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Grifo Lusso on Bertone’s stand at the 1963 Turin Salon, and doesn’t it look just so sweet in a brutal kinda way. The alloy wheels are Borrani’s (GP Library)

The chassis had a fabricated sheet steel platform as a base with tubular ‘space frame’ upper sections clearly shown in the photographs below. Two Iso Grifo versions were built and shown at the Turin show in November 1963. The luxury touring ‘Stradale’ A3/L (Lusso) was displayed on coachbuilder Bertone’s stand, while Bizzarrini’s race-prepped A3/C (Corsa) was long, low and lean on Iso’s stand.

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Chassis as per text; platform type lower sections and cockpit bulkhead with tubular steel spaceframe otherwise, December 1964 (Klemantaski)

 

Wearing lightweight aluminum coachwork penned by Bertone’s great and immaculately credentialled Giorgietto Giugiaro, and built by Piero Drogo’s Carrozzeria Sports Cars in Modena, the A3/C ‘was a spectacular vision with aerodynamic flair. The result was an impossibly low and wide car that was exotically curved from every angle’. Some regard the car as one of the most beautiful shapes Giugiaro ever created.

In an effort to avoid the cost, time and complications of engine construction, Iso specified a 5.3 litre Chev V8 engine which was highly tuned for racing in the A3/C. Depending upon specification the famous Chevy 90 degree, cast iron, push-rod OHV ‘small block’ V8 produced between 350 and 420 bhp. The latter spec involved steel internals, roller-rocker valve gear, 4 Webers and the rest, the car good for circa 180mph down the Mulsanne. In addition the engine was placed far behind the front axle, giving the car a very racey front but mid-engined layout that plonked all the masses right where they needed to be. The engine was mounted so far back in the chassis that the Chevy’s distributor, famously, had to be accessed through a removable panel in the top of the dashboard!

The gearbox was a 4 speed Borg Warner T4.

According to some historians, Bizzarrini described the A3/C as the second coming of his GTO, a more refined one at that.

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Carozzeria Sports Cars May 1965, note the full race Chevy topped by four side draft 58mm Webers on crossover manifold (Klemantaski)

Suspension of the car was conventional upper and lower wishbones up front with coil spring/damper units and an adjustable roll bar. At the rear a de Dion rear axle was located by twin radius rods and a Watts linkage,  again with coil spring/dampers.

Burmann recirculating ball steering, 4 wheel disc brakes and lightweight magnesium alloy wheels (7X15inch/9X15inch wheels) completed a beautifully specified and integrated package.

The car was 4369mm long, 1730mm wide, 1135mm high, had a wheelbase of 2451mm, a track of 1410/1435mm front/rear and weighed circa 1000Kg

Bizzarrini provided full build execution for the AC/3 at his Autostar Works factory in Livorno, for 18 months Giotto built the car under agreement with Iso. Iso and Bertone produced the Grifo A3/L road car.

To Rivolta the Grifo was a tool to promote his GT car, but Bizzarrini was a racer to the core so fissures developed in the relationship between the two men as to where the primary focus should be. After about 20 examples of the Drogo-bodied A3/C’s were made, in the summer of 1965, Bizzarrini left Iso and produced the model under his own name, in both Strada and Corsa forms. As few as 115 examples of the cars were made under both names.

Most of the cars pictured in this article are some of the 20 A3/C coupes built using very lightweight, riveted (over 7000 of them were utilised in each body) aluminium bodies fabricated by Piero Drogo’s Carozzeria Sports Auto, the photos were taken in Drogo’s workshop in Modena in December 1964 and early 1965.

Part of the A3/C’s transition from an Iso to a Bizzarrini involved a change of coachbuilders from Drogo to Salvatore Diomante and his Carbondio concern, which was eventually reborn as Autocostruzione SD of Torino.

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The Pierre Noblet/Edgar Berney Grifo ahead of the #5 Dan Gurney/Bob Bondurant Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe 4th with the nose of the #24 Lucien Bianchi/Jean Blaton Ferrari 250GTO 5th during Le Mans 1964 (Getty)

From a racing perspective amongst the cars best international results are 14th outright and 4th in class at Le Mans in 1964, 5th in the Monza 1000Km and 19th at the Nurburgring 1000Km in 1965 a season which started badly with one car destroyed at Sebring and then another at Daytona.

Given the cars low build numbers it raced as a prototype against outright class mid-engined sports-prototypes rather than amongst the GT cars more akin to the Grifo in specification.

Credits…

Bonhams, Sotheby’s, Getty Images, Klemantaski Collection. Darryl Norenberg/The Enthusiast Network, The GP Library, F2 Register

Etcetera…

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The Getty caption describes this car as a Lusso, outside Drogo’s workshop in December 1964, same chassis as the opening photo (Klemantaski)

Tailpiece: A car fit for a King. John Lennon susses the interior of his new Iso Fidia S4 at Earls Court in October 1967…

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