Fried On Saturday, Frozen On Sunday
Craig David lyric? Noooo – just a meteorological description of my two days at Silverstone Classic.
High Summer weather in the frozen tundra of rural Northamptonshire ebbed & flowed from cold & extremely wet on Friday, warm and sunny on Saturday and back again to cold and wet on Sunday.
It was a real shame for the competitors who struggled to have any meaningful practice/qualifying runs on Friday, then had to switch to dry set-up on Saturday and back to decidedly-soggy set-up on Sunday. Less than ideal conditions but not bad enough to deter stoic participants and spectators!
OBIFSs Parking Porsches
Car Park Attendant has never featured highly on my career wish list but Porsche Club GB allowed me to try it out over Sat/Sun marshalling club members and their precious Porsches into the designated PCGB club area.
Despite the mixed weather – the turn out was very good with a nice mix of cars ranging from 356, through early 911 to more modern and exotic cars including a 959 and a Carrera GT. My car was strategically placed among a small gaggle of brightly coloured Early 911s next to the PCG marquee and what a nice sight they made!
PCGB parking also provided a good opportunity to meet up with what my mate Kirk terms as “fellow OBIFs” i.e. Old Blokes In Fields. Thanks to Sunday’s weather – we could more accurately be described as SOBIFs i.e. Soggy Old Blokes In Fields!
Just across the bridge from the PCGB area – Porsche GB laid on a very nice infield display of special cars – some owned by them and some on loan from the Porsche Museum.
My particular favourite was the 917K driven to victory in the 1971 Le Mans race by Gijs van Lennep and Helmut Marko (yes – the same Helmut Marko who acts as technical advisor to Red Bull). In its white and Martini striped livery it didn’t look at all outdated next to the bang-up-to-date 919.
A very special 904 was also on display. This sublimely pretty little sports car on loan from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart is one of just 2 fitted with a flat-8 engine instead of the more common 4 cylinder Fuhrmann 4-cam or flat 6 engines.
The 505 Spider has a wonderfully purposeful simplicity and the very first Gmund manufactured pre-A 356 imported into the UK by AFN (Aldington Frazer Nash which later became Porsche GB) had some features which were interestingly different to the A, B and C models that followed.
Classic car club members are encouraged turn out in force for Silverstone Classic and I have to say there were some pretty fantastic marque gatherings on show – large and small.
At one end of the spectrum there were massive (if sometimes dull) collections of relatively modern Astons, BMWs, Mercedes, Ferraris and even Honda NSXs.
At the other end of the spectrum however there was the small but fantastic Piper Owners Club who must have managed to cajole virtually all of the running cars in the UK to turn out. (I almost bought a Piper once but went for a TVR Vixen instead. Speaking to one of the helpful Piper Club members it was a good call as the little Piper’s fixed side windows and big front and rear windscreens apparently make it a bit of an unventilated greenhouse.) Pretty little car all the same!
On the true-Brit front – the Allard Owners Club had a nice little display of various models to complement the J2 that was out on track. Sydney Allard who created these cars was a major innovator in exploring the benefits of mating European (British) designed body/chassis with big American (mainly V8) engines. His work directly influenced the career path of 2 of his drivers namely Carrol Shelby (of Shelby Mustang & Cobra fame) and Zora Arkus Duntov (father of the Corvette). Sydney Allard also introduced drag racing to the UK.
See new posts coming soon – “A is for Allard” and “H is for Hybrid (the Euro/US Variety)”.
It’s always good to see the early Bristols with their Bristol Aircraft influenced aerodynamic bodywork and their war-reparation BMW 328 engines. There were also a number of the later rather eccentric but imposing V8 engined models.
The wider Italian car contingent provided some interesting examples from Alfa, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, Lancia, Maserati etc. which was nice to see – especially in contrast to the mainly modern Ferrari turn-out. I’ve always liked the Marcello Gandini (for Bertone) designed Lamborghini Uracco. A handsome car unlike its steroid injected Jalpa replacement.
There were also some nice old (and newer) Jags perched up on the banking along the side of the track. Seeing an XJ220 in the flesh really gets across the sheer size of the beast. It must be a pain to park in the supermarket car park!
In the Jaguar Club area – I came across this rather imposing Mk10 Jag. Whilst I’ve never been a fan of this massive motor – it does have a certain elegance thanks to the acres of wood veneer and luxurious leather upholstery gracing it’s Gentleman’s Club interior.
When new – I think each Mk10 purchase should have included it’s own chauffeur/butler to waft the lucky owner through the English countryside pausing occasionally to pour him a stiff brandy and light his missile sized cigar.
This very smart 2-tone example had one other special feature – a “5.3 V12” badge on the boot lid which I sincerely hope meant that it had the said V12 lump under the bonnet. Interestingly this car was never sold with a V12 engine – it normally came with Jaguars brilliant 4.2 L twin cam straight 6. Jaguar did however fit the V12 into a Mk10 as a test bed for the engine prior to it being fitted to the MkIII E-type and then the later XJ Saloon.
I’m guessing this car is a one-off conversion. Hat’s off to whoever did it!
There was a great turn-out of pre-war race cars with such venerable marques as Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Frazer Nash, Lagonda and others well represented.
In amongst these household names were some more rare and less commonly seen cars such as a lovely Alta Sports and a Delahaye 135S.
The Bugatti Type 35 and Alfa 8C Muletto parked next to each other in the National Paddock just oozed patina and originality to the extent that it would be a tragedy if they were ever fully restored to better than showroom condition.
Post War Sports Cars
Rather than categorise these – here’s selection of post-war racers that caught my eye.
The Mini based Ogle SX 1000 was quite a rare sight. Ogle Design are probably best known for creating the Reliant Scimitar GTE but other eclectic Ogle creations included the Raleigh Chopper, BSA Rocket 3, Bond Bug, Reliant Robin, Luke Skywalker’s XP-34 Landspeeder and the Anodol A1. My good friend Ahmed successfully drove a Turkish manufactured fibre-glass, Ford Cortina engined Anodol in the Peking-Paris rally a few years back.
It was nice to see a Jowett Jupiter on track until it literally lost its spark on Sunday. Doctor Eberan von Eberhorst (protégé of Ferdinand Porsche at Auto Union and designer of the Auto Union D-Type) worked for Jowett just after WWII. He also did stints at ERA and Aston Martin (where he contributed to the design of the new DB3 race car). Best not to mention the brief period he spent prior to that testing V1 and V2 rockets.
I have to thank Steve and Claire Winter at Jaz Porsche for brightening up my wet Sunday afternoon by allowing me to help out in the the pits during the race involving the early 911’s they’d prepared. I think it’s fair to say that I’m not quite ready to be a F1 Lollipop Release Man but I’ll keep practising!