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…

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”