Bosch spark plugs

A spark plug is a vital element of your car’s ignition system. Its purpose is to ignite the air/fuel mixture in an internal combustion engine. The combustion begins when a spark moves between the two electrodes of the plug, hence the name.

A spark plug is composed of a central electrode and an insulated wire, both placed in an electrically isolated shell. The wire connects the plug with the output terminal of the elements of the ignition system: an ignition coil or magneto. The central electrode is usually the cathode of the spark plug. Nowadays, the central electrode is made using two metals: the interior is made of copper and the exterior is made of steel. The outer steel part heats almost immediately providing a fast and reliable engine start, and a steady functioning.

Bosch spark plugs

In order to increase the durability of the spark plug, Bosch uses alloys of steel and noble metals (such as tungsten, iridium, palladium, rhodium and platinum) to make the central electrode. This allows reduction of the effects of corrosion and electrochemical destruction. The usage of those metals also makes the central electrode thinner. This has a positive impact on the efficiency of the ignition of the air/fuel mixture.

A lifespan of a spark plug is somewhere between thirty and one hundred thousand kilometers. After that you have to replace it with a new one. It is a fast and simple process, but it is always better to buy a spark plug that lasts longer and is more reliable. Bosch spark plugs are produced using the best materials and a manufacturing process tested for decades. When you buy their production you make sure that your car will function properly for many years to come.

Don’t forget that replacing the spark plugs in time is one of the basic rules that every car owner should know.

JC Premium air filters

The air injection system of a car provides air for proper fuel combustion. Therefore it needs an efficient cleaning method. That is why air filters exist. They entrap dust and debris present in the air before it enters the engine.

A dirty air filter creates a barrier that prevents the air from entering the combustion chamber in large enough quantities. That has a direct influence on your vehicle’s power and consequently, fuel consumption. The micro particles of the polluted air have an extremely negative effect on the electronic system that controls the air injection into the combustion chamber. This can damage the flow meter, and you will have to buy a new one. Those particles can also deteriorate the combustion chamber itself, leaving fissures on its interior walls. In that case you may even have to replace the entire engine.

air filters for cars

Car manufacturers usually recommend replacing your air filter after 30-40 thousand kilometers. This would be accurate for ideal conditions. However, big amounts of dust in cities’ air, sudden temperature drops, low quality of the roadway, among many others, can reduce the lifetime of the air filter. So a more realistic figure would be around 10-15 thousand kilometers.

Remember that you have to replace the air filter before it gets so dirty that it starts to obstruct the air flow into the combustion chamber. Don’t buy cheap air filters to try to save some pennies. It is much better to opt for a high-quality filter that will protect your car’s engine well. JC Premium air filters can entrap up to 99.97% of harmful particles, offering more stable filtration efficiency than cheap air filters.

It is not difficult to replace the air filter yourself. The plastic frame where the filter should go is usually located in the upper part of the engine. Just open the hood, remove the old filter and place the new one in the plastic frame.

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Jaguar XK 150 Tow Car

The car started life in 1959 as a standard 3.8 XK 150 S coupe (chassis No. S. 825043 DN). The original engine (VA 1219-8) was later swapped (LB 2049 according the logbook.)

Handwritten records of the car seem to indicate that the original color was Cream with a Maroon interior. The logbook shows that the first two owners lived in Cheshire, UK

The car’s colorful life began on the 14th June 1964 when Douglas Hull Ltd. from Finmere, Buckingham, UK, bought it. Mr. Hull owned a garage not far from the Silverstone race track and needed a fast practical car which would also be good for towing. He asked Douglas Wilson Spratt, who was well known at the time for fettling, racing and building fast Sprites, to transform the XK 150 S.

Jaguar XK 150 Tow Car

In 1968 Wilson Spratt sent the XK to PEELS of Kingston upon Thames, Surrey UK. There, coachbuilders Alec Goldie and Les Faulkner grafted on a Shooting Brake body and – very important – a towing hook (see photo nbr. 1 in the picture gallery). It was then that the car was first painted metallic grey or gunmetal. There’s a rumor that Frank Feeley of Aston Martin fame had something to do with the swooping design of the rear wings. At any rate this is probably the best looking station wagon conversion of a Jaguar XK.

While the body was being converted, Wilson Spratt modified the engine to a full blown 3.8 E-type race engine. Soon the XK with registration 6797 N got attention within the amateur racing circles in the UK and was surnamed the ‘tow car’. It was frequently used by the late Hon. Patrick Lindsay for towing his famous ex-Bira ERA Remus to its racing successes. Continue reading “Jaguar XK 150 Tow Car”

Bugatti Type 35 – the winning type

It was behind the wheel of a Type 35 that Ettore Bugatti wrote racing history. Between 1924 and 1931 Bugatti notched up more victories than any other manufacturer. Today, this record-making Bugatti ranks amongst the stars of any classic car event…

It was in 1924 that Ettore Bugatti first presented the car at the “Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France” in Lyon that was later to become the Bugatti, namely the Type 35. The success of this legendary car is partly due to its 8 cylinders, 24 valves with overhead camshaft, 2000 cc displacement, light alloy wheels and a simple but effective body.

Bugatti Type 35
The Type 35 was built in a number of different versions, these being fitted with a range of engines from a 1.5 l version without a compressor up to a 2.3 l version with a compressor.

Within the space of 3 years drivers such as Louis Alexandre Chiron and Tazio Nuvolari and their numerous racing successes behind the wheel of the Type 35 laid the foundation for the legendary reputation of the “most beautiful racing car” of its day. It is said that the Type 35 won 2,000 races, including regional mountain races.

In addition to what was in those days outstanding engineering, the Type 35 also stood out due to its external appearance. Ettore Bugatti wanted to build a “beautiful” racing car. Starting with the cooler, which, as in numerous other models, symbolised the shape of a “delicate bow of a slim boat”, Bugatti presented his most successful racing car with eight broad aluminium spokes. Even from today’s viewpoint, the Type 35 is a technical and stylistic masterpiece by Ettore Bugatti.

Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe

All of his life Ettore Bugatti was swimming against the tide. At the beginning of the 30’s – while the impacts of the stock market crash were still perceptible – Bugatti was already planning a big coup. He wanted to conquer the prestigious British market with an unsurpassable luxurious automobile. To implement this coup, Bugatti instructed the famous French coachbuilder Kellner who had worked for Hispano Suiza and Duesenberg. The result of their cooperation: the Kellner Coupe – based on the Royale chassis-nr. 41 141. On the Olympia Show in London, the unique vehicle was by far most expensive car in the world.

Kellner Coupe

The Royale Kellner Coupe was celebrated for its nobility and timeless elegance that – with it’s dimensions of a total length of six metres – seemed to be art or an illusion rather than an automobile. Eventually, it was never sold. Together with another Royale, it remained the property of the Bugatti family. During WWII, the family struggled hard to move the automotive monument on the way from one hiding-place to another.

In 1950, Ettore Bugatti’s daughters sold the Kellner Coupe to Briggs Cunningham, whose collection, The Cunningham Museum, was literally crowned by the Royale. In 1987, Robert Brooks sold the Kellner Coupe during a sensational auction at Royal Albert Hall in London. It was purchased by a Swedish investor, paying more than 4.830.000 Pounds. A record – the famous Coupe became the world’s most expensive car. Three years later the record was beaten by a Ferrari 250 GTO that was sold for more than 5 million Pounds by Sothebys.

Lately, the current owner of the Kellner Coupe instructed Bonhams & Brooks London to sell the royal automobile. Simon Kidston – President of Bonhams & Brooks Europe – will take care of the discrete sale. Not open to public. A price of around an eight-figure-sum – US Dollars, of course…

BMW – The products

The Motorcycle for the Die-Hard Rider

It is said with pride that for a long time, BMW motorcycles were more famous than the automobiles and that they were compared to Triumph, BSA, Norton and Harley Davidson after the war. But oh, then came the Japanese flood causing the demise of most of the European manufacturers.

All except a few Italian ones … and BMW. Why?

In France, the motorcycle patrols of the Garde Nationale (National Guard) ride BMWs and are imitated in that in more than a hundred countries. But the orders of these “die-hard” riders cannot explain the production volume. At the end of the 70’s, BMW decides to develop the GS 800, a recreational machine to participate in the Paris-Dakar Rally. Success comes and proves that BMW has glamorously made the switch from a utility to a recreational motorcycle. The company is soon going to celebrate 80 years of motorcycle production.

GS 800 bmw

Incidentally, this longevity is explained very well in Munich. The motorcycle has twice allowed BMW a rebirth. It is logical that the car had to push the motorcycle somewhat, too.

The motorcycle department has attacked the Japanese on their favourite ground – the cycle for young people – and BMW has produced the F 650, the first “European” motorcycle (the engine is by Rotax; Aprilia is responsible for the assembly). This machine shows that the brand is able to compete in all areas.

F 650

Production of the F 650 can barely keep up with the demand, which proves that the goal has been reached: The motorcycle pays for itself and supports the image of BMW.

In 1999, the appearance of the C 1 hits like a rocket. This two-wheeler provides a roof (or: a survival cell) that protects against bad weather, and a seat belt. In other words, the advantages of a motorcycle without its disadvantages. All that for less than DM 13,000.

Once again, this hits the jackpot, and the order books are full.

A One-in-a-Million Car Mechanic

At BMW, the engine cult goes back to the first days of the company in 1917. The 30’s were rocking with the sound of the six-cylinders. Ten years ago, the company re-introduced the V 12 after 50 years’ absence. Not to mention the two-cylinder boxer and the current turbo diesel with direct injection.

Before BMW became a design engineer, it was an excellent metalworking shop. The style and the aesthetics of the characteristic engines contribute to the success of the models.

However, instead of racing to the bitter end which often leads to excess, the people from Munich bank on refinement. The buyer of a BMW demands an engine with a generous torque, to be sure, but it should also be quiet, pleasant and sporty. Primarily, however, it needs to be beautiful. BMW wins first prize here in every aspect, and the whole world cherishes the typical “Old World” engines.

The group accepts any technological challenges: The 750i (V12) uses no more than a six-cylinder of 1992, and the extremely abstemious 330d and 530d are at the same time the most powerful on the market for turbo diesels with direct injection. Continue reading “BMW – The products”

BMW Saga

Acquiring an engine factory on the eve of the 1929 crash could lead you to fear the worst.

Fortunately, in the 20s, Eisenach had bought from Austin the licence for a small English car: the Seven in England, the Bantam in the USA, Datsun in Japan and Rosengart in France. Germany christens it Dixi. It will be the first BMW.


In 1927, the launch of the Dixi is perfect timing to save BMW’s independence.

But Emil Georg von Strauss, director of Deutsche Bank, dreams of merging BMW and Daimler-Benz. This is natural, since he is Daimler-Benz’s Chairman of the Board, BMW’s as well!

On April 15, 1926, a merger agreement is signed, defining the companies’ activities: BMW will build airplane and motorcycle engines, as well as a small-engine car. Daimler-Benz will make airplane engines, and Mercedes brand sedans. The wedding seems inevitable.

In 1929 Daimler-Benz dealerships showcase the Dixi and Mercedes side by side.

But the engagement goes on and on. At the end of six years, the parties get cold feet, and BMW launches its 6-cylinder 303 model. Daimler-Benz does not appreciate this breach in the contract.

In 1933, they both decide to regain their freedom. The divorce is announced before the wedding takes place!

The Reich über alles!

The 303 is launched in 1933, 11 days after the elections placing Hitler in power. BMW counts on the 303 to consolidate its technological advances, and to demonstrate its ambition.

The 303 bmw

This requires a distinctive mark. The “double kidney” logo appears for the first time in 1933; 70 years (and several evolutions) later, it still adorns each BMW’s bonnet. Produced in small batches, the 303 is elegant and prestigious, but its price rather steep. But it captures 5% of the German market in one year.

The company continues with its offensive. The 303 becomes the 309, then the 315 in various models: coupe, convertible, and roadster.

In 1937, the 328 is launched

On April 28, 1940, two men drive the 2-litre 328 Coupe Sport into the history books, by winning the most prestigious of road tests: the Mille Miglia. These men are baron Fritz Huschke von Hanstein (29 years old), nicknamed “the Racing Baron” and Walter Bäumer (32 years old). Their “Mille Miglia” Coupe 328 bearing number 70 follows all the racing stars, but in Brescia it stuns everyone by crossing the finishing line barely 9 hours later, having covered 1600 km with a remarkable average of 170 km/h! Although Hanstein (1911-1996 ) was able to rest on his laurels for a lengthy period, Bäumer died tragically at the wheel one year later, in his own driveway!

For BMW, these 1940 Mille Miglia races are a complete triumph, with 3 other 328 roadsters taking respectively 3rd, 5th and 6th places!

The 328 record list is impressive. It wins the German Grand Prix and the Coupe des Alpes in 1938, the Brookland Speed Trials in 1939 and the Australian Grand Prix in 1948! Continue reading “BMW Saga”

BMW Art Car Collection

Counting myself as a fully paid-up philistine who believes that the perfect BMW comes in perfect, pure white paint, the BMW Art Cars present a challenge. That, I must accept, is exactly what they are meant to do.

It all started when art auctioneer, Herve Poulain, arranged a commission for Alexander Calder to treat his 1975 Le Mans 24hrs race car as a kind of three dimensional metal ‘canvas’. Poulain’s BMW 3.0CSL race car may not have figured strongly in the race but it has found immortality of another kind. Impressed by the striking, colourful result of Calder’s work, BMW has continued the tradition ever since and there are now 15 cars in the Collection, all by different artists.

BMW 3.0CSL race car

The Collection is said to express BMW’s “commitment to cultural activities”, being a “promotion of dialogue between art and technology”. To the untrained eye some of the work can seem overly primitive. Yet others, such as Frank Stella’s 1976 “blueprint transferred to the bodywork”, are obviously outstanding and accessible even to diehard petrolheads.

Alexander Calder bmw

Back in 1979, Andy Warhol’s attempt to “portray speed pictorially” on a Group 4 BMW M1 was also one of the more successful works in the Collection. At any rate, the idea has been much-copied by many race teams ever since, if not always quite so well. David Hockney’s 850CSi of 1995 is completely beyond me, I have to admit, and his description of the work only puzzles me more: “The car has wonderful contours and I followed them”. In a brochure on this car, it states: “He admits to having playfully ‘destroyed’ the outer surfaces of the car, whilst at the same time he respected the overall design”. Hockney added: “Driving and design go hand in hand in a way. Travelling around in a car means experiencing landscapes – which is one of the reasons why I chose green as a colour.” Continue reading “BMW Art Car Collection”

The sad story of the Cisitalia CIS 360

My father’s famous CIS models lie in chains, but the racing wildcats, as they were called, will soon roar again… My mother – who by the way was one of the most beautiful women in Turin – has sold her glorious town house at least to partially satisfy my father’s creditors… I am just returning from negotiations with our many good friends… Cisitalia will reconquer its world fame, the car with the fastest times will not be defeated by its competitor Mammon and will again earn the victory laurels.”

Somehow you can sense and feel the confused emptiness of these words – quotes from an interview that journalist Pitt Schultes conducted in the 1950s with Carletto, the son of industrial magnate and sportsman Piero Dusio. The conversation appeared at the end of a long and promising story about Porsche’s most unfortunate (but from today’s perspective, most valuable) Grand Prix car, the Type 360.

Cisitalia CIS 360

Among its potential opponents in the post-war era (Mercedes, Ferrari, Maserati and the Alfas!) it represented the peak of racing car development, though relaxed and completely in step with the company’s trim style; a brilliant Porsche design through and through:

with the horizontally opposed 12-cylinder mid-engine set deeply in the frame (competitors were still driving cars with the power units up front)

with four-wheel drive, and the ability to disconnect the drive to the front wheels while in motion

with a five-speed synchromesh transmission that had only two gate planes – like a motorcycle gear shift

with four independently suspended wheels, based in the front on the parallel trailing-arm layout from Auto Union’s racing cars (a Porsche design!). In the rear there was a double swing axle in accordance with the principle seen on the early Volkswagen

with an aluminium body over a chrome-molybdenum steel frame and a weight of just 630 kg.

Ideally it would have been possible to obtain a power to weight ratio of 1.4 kg/bhp – provided that the engine produced the 450 bhp at 10,500 revs that it was calculated as developing when in top form. Something to keep in mind:

At that time there was a 1.5-liter displacement limit, but mechanical supercharging was allowed (Porsche used Roots or Centrik superchargers at boost pressures of approximately 1.8 bar). The fuel question was dealt with liberally, which is why a racing fuel mixture with an octane level of 150 was assumed to be available.

The fact that the quoted power ratings (theoretical, practical, on the testing rig, or idealized) are so far apart is in the nature of the matter. 280 bhp, 363 bhp, 385 bhp, 450 bhp with an option for 500 – the figure was of little significance. The car was never really able to demonstrate its abilities.

Its long, unfullfilled story began when businessman Piero Dusio from Turin gained some respectable sports successes with his own Cisitalia marque. The little CIS with a Fiat 1,100-cc engine, something of a post-war Formula Junior race car, was driven successfully by people like Nuvolari, Taruffi, Stuck, and above all, Bonetto. Cisitalia’s rise to the Grand Prix league seemed to be a natural development.

Co-operation with the Porsche design office came about-through the engineers’ grapevine, members of which were the two Austrians Rudolf Hruschka (later to develop the Alfasud) and Carlo Abarth. Later they were joined by Eberan von Eberhorst, the man with Auto Union Grand Prix experience, (who later fell out with Carlo Abarth). Nuvolari and Millanta, an Italian automotive journalist, established important contacts, but only the top man, Ferdinand Porsche, was still unreachable in French custody. On December 20, 1946 Dusio met with Porsche’s people in Kitzbühel: Ferry (Ferdinand’s son), his sister Louise Piëch, and chief designer Karl Rabe. Continue reading “The sad story of the Cisitalia CIS 360”

A brief history of racing on ovals

The first ever banked ‘oval’ racing track, indeed the first ever motor racing circuit in the world was Brooklands, built by Mr. H. F. Locke King on his estate near Weybridge in Surrey.

Up till that point, most motor racing had taken place on the continent, with road races between cities. As these were banned for safety reasons in Britain, Locke King decided that a purpose-made motor racing track was the solution.

Brooklands napier

Brooklands opened on the 28th June 1907 with a 24-hour distance record attempt by S. F. Edge on his Napier. It’s first motor race on July 6th 1907 was also won by a Napier, driven by H. C. Tyron. The race was organised by the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club, today known as the British Automobile Racing Club.

Speeds rapidly increased as cars became larger and more powerful. The first 100+ mile per hour lap of the track was set by the Italien Felice Nazzaro on his giant 21-litre Fiat Mephistopheles in 1908. Was he really as fast? As the time measuring instruments were not too precise at that time the controversy still continues after more than 90 years!

As Brooklands developed as a major sporting and social venue, British racing drivers such as Henry Seagrave, Malcolm Campbell and John Cobb became celebrities for the first time and races were broadcast on the ‘wireless’ for the very first time.

It was Cobb, who set the fastest-ever lap of Brooklands in 1935, averaging 143.44 mph in a 24-litre Napier Railton. Cobb’s record marked a swansong for British oval racing. Already Grand Prix racing had become established on a road circuit at Donington Park and with the outbreak of war, Brooklands became an aircraft factory and part of the banking was torn down. It would never reopen again.

In America, oval racing originally began on dirt tracks as a side-show at county fairs. As early 1905 tracks such as Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Harlem were staging races every few weeks through the year, aimed at giving entertainment to paying spectators and sponsors. It was this commercial impetus that initiated the construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909. The oval was conceived and built by businessmen to pay for itself both as a test track for the industry and as a race track for spectators at weekends. Continue reading “A brief history of racing on ovals”