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Monday, October 15, 2018

The B.R.M. Saga: Learning From History, Or Not

This is a racing car named Old Faithful.  She logged over 20,000 racing miles from 1962, when she helped Graham Hill win the Formula 1 World Championship, through 1965, when she finished her career with a team of Italian privateers. That's a long life for any racer, especially one with a highly-tuned 4-cam V8 engine designed to run routinely at 10,000 rpm. Her record of running, winning and generally not falling apart makes her the Volvo station wagon of Formula 1 cars...
Surprisingly, Old Faithful is a BRM (British Racing Motors) product, a P578 designed for the 1.5 liter Formula 1 and racing a first full season in 1962. The choice of a V8 for a normally-aspirated engine of only around 90 cubic inches displacement looked a bit risky at the time; Ferrari had won the Championship the previous year with a V6.  The Lucas fuel injected engine was good for 11,000 rpm and sent its 193 hp through a 6-speed Colotti transaxle, eventually replaced with a more reliable BRM-designed 5 speed.


In fact, the hallmark of the P578 was reliability.  During the 1962 racing season, Graham Hill's BRM dueled with Jim Clark's fast but relatively fragile Lotus.  His BRM finished every race, and won 3 out of the last 4.  The result was Hill's first Championship of two, and the only Constructor's Championship for BRM.  Racing fans and journalists amazed themselves by using the words "reliable" and "BRM" in the same sentence, because the BRM had been born under a different sign... 

...when driver Raymond Mays, who had built the ERA (English Racing Automobile) road racers based on Riley engines before the war, teamed with Peter Berthon to dream up a GP car. Inspired by the prewar Mercedes (gearbox, rear suspension) and Auto Union (front suspension) racers, they apparently decided that if some complexity was good, more was better. For the new postwar GP formula, limiting normally-aspirated engines to 4.5 liters and supercharged ones to 1.5, they decided on a supercharged, 4-cam,1.5 liter V16 which was built like tandem V8s with the cam drives in the middle... 

Design started in 1947 and production of parts was outsourced to different firms, with Rolls Royce famously handling the superchargers. This method of production led to breaks in the supply chain, and the stunning complexity of the engine in an era long before electronic engine controls led to broken pistons and connecting rods.  When running, the engine could produce up to 600 hp at 12,000 rpm, but its torque band was so narrow and high in the rev range that drivers broke axles, universal joints and transmissions. These issues were never sorted out in the car's Formula 1 career, and it rarely finished any GP races, winning none. BRM's withdrawal in the early part of the 1952 season left Ferrari unopposed with its big, reliable 4.5 liter V12s, and race organizers ran the rest of that season's Grand Prix events, and also the 1953 season, to Formula 2 rules.

When a new Formula 1 was announced for 1954, limiting unsupercharged engines to 2.5 liters, BRM engineers prioritized simplicity over complexity.  They weren't alone. In fact, while Mercedes-Benz developed a desmodromic-valve straight 8 and Lancia* a V8, BRM, their English competitor Connaught* and even Ferrari pursued the classic engine architecture of an inline 4 cylinder with twin overhead cams.  BRM, however, took this newfound urge to simplify to an extreme, by giving their new P25 only 3 disc brakes.  The third brake was mounted at the rear of the new car's rear-mounted transmission, and drivers, who were suspicious of a racing car with only 3 brakes, called it the "ham slicer." The single rear brake reduced unsprung weight, but gave mixed results at stopping the car. Despite this, Jo Bonnier won the Dutch Grand Prix in 1959, a first for BRM.

By 1960, Cooper had shown the future belonged to mid-engined cars by winning the 1959 Championship with their 4 cylinder Climax-powered car for Jack Brabham.  BRM followed suit by placing their engine between the driver's seat and the transaxle on their new P48. Drivers liked the handling, but were disappointed to see the 'ham slicer" on the back of the transmission. Eventually, the Series 2 P48 would revert to 4 wheel brakes...but only after Dan Gurney broke his arm when the brakes failed on his BRM at Spa in Belgium.*

The year after the P48, Formula 1 changed to a 1.5 liter limit, and BRM went back to the drawing board, hitting the sweet spot with the 1,200 pound P57 which made do with a Climax 4 while the new V8 was being readied which would turn it into the Old Faithful P578. But the world of Grand Prix racing is a world of "never leave well enough alone", and after Old Faithful's final year at the races in 1965, the FIA issued a new Formula One with a 3 liter limit for 1966.

Complexity came back.  Ferrari readied V12s, Jack Brabham an adaptation of the aluminum GM V8 with which he won the first year's title, and Ford financed Cosworth's long-running DFV. Tony Rudd at BRM decided that 16 cylinders was not such a bad idea after all, and came up with the H-16, which was two flat-8s stacked with crankshafts geared together. BRM management had wanted a simpler, V12 design... Power was good but the engine was heavy, so by 1968 a 64-valve version used magnesium castings. 
Was it the most complex racing engine ever?  With its 8 cams, 16 cylinders and 64 valves, it's got to be a contender.  It scored one F1 victory, but mounted in the engine bay of a Lotus.  BRM management eventually got their V12, and it inspired the engine that powered the French Matra sports racers.  The V12 may have been the greatest-sounding engine ever, but that's a story for another day...

Photo Credits:

Top and 3rd from top:  Ian Avery-DeWitt
2nd from top:  the author
4th:  wikimedia
5th:  thedrive.com
6th &  7th:  wikimedia
8th:  hallandhall.com
9th & 10th:  wikimedia

*Footnotes:

The Connaught saga is recounted in "Celtic Rainmaker" from 7/24/16, while the Lancia D50 is depicted in "Prancing Elephants", our post for 10-8-16.  Finally, Dan Gurney's career, and the effect of that accident in Belgium, is reviewed on 6-20-18 in "Graceful Winners."  Many thanks to the Revs Institute in Naples, Florida for letting us have a look at Old Faithful.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Born from Refrigerators: Iso Rivolta

The car pictured below may seem somehow lodged in memory and unfamiliar all at once, like a tune you can't quite name that brings up some pleasant associations.  A passing photographer wondered if it was some kind of Aston Martin.  No, Zagato bodied a few handfuls of those, but this car was bodied by Bertone, echoing the proportions of some other cars (Jaguar E-types, a Ferrari or two), but with forms and details that were distinct from any of those.  Familiar chords and rhythms, maybe, but a tune you just cannot place...



I pointed out the script on the deck lid: Iso Grifo.  The Griffin (Grifo in Italian) is a mythical flying beast, part eagle and part lion.  And the flowing, carefully tailored contours came from Giorgetto Giugiaro as he settled into a job as Bertone's chief designer.  He'd already delivered the series-produced ASA 1000* and two Ferrari 250 SWB show cars, each sadly a one-off. Those cars, especially the second of the Ferraris, had similar proportions and harmonious curves, but nothing else quite looked like the Grifo A3/L prototype when it appeared in 1963.  As for the Iso part of the name, we'll get to that soon enough...

When it went into production in 1965, it was the second of Renzo Rivolta's efforts to enact revenge in the marketplace for a Ferrari that had displeased him.  This seems to be a Latin pattern. If you're unhappy with a product and cannot get the maker to deliver on that warranty, well, you start a factory and make your own.  The Iso wasn't the first make of car to be issued as a rebuke to Enzo Ferrari. You may not have heard of the A.T.S., the Serenissima* or the Swiss Monteverdi, but the name Lamborghini may ring a bell…
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Lamborghini made tractors before V12-powered GT cars, and you've probably guessed from our title that Renzo Rivolta made refrigerators. So now if you've jumped to the conclusion that Iso stood for Isotherm, you'd be correct.  There was a need for fridges (and just about every other kind of consumer product) in Italy right after WWII, and Renzo Rivolta's firm endeavored to meet the demand.  Soon enough, he decided to address the demand for economical transport, and his 1953 Isetta bridged the gap betwixt scooters and the Fiat Topolino.  Against the original Topolino's 569 cc four-stroke four, the tiny Isetta featured a two-stroke 236 cc split single, an engine with paired cylinders sharing the same combustion chamber.  The engine worked like this...


The car's exterior sported an instantly recognizable shape, launching a tide of bubble-car imitators. Prototypes had just 3 wheels, but the design was changed for production to feature two closely-spaced rear wheels for added stability.  It was so successful (Iso built about 20,000) that other manufacturers built the design under license, BMW being the most famous of these.  They used their own engine, and produced around eight times as many cars, with many detail differences. They kept the signature single front-opening door, however.  Many remarked upon the similarity of that door to a refrigerator door to which a windshield and wiper had been added.  And of course, there was a handle inside as well...



After selling the Isetta license to BMW, Renzo Rivolta had his unhappy Ferrari experinence and eventually hired Giotto Bizzarrini, designer of the Ferrari GTO chassis and later the Lamborghini V12 engine (for another unhappy Ferrari owner), to design a chassis for a sporting four-seater. It featured four wheel disc brakes (inboard at the rear), a De Dion rear suspension, and a body design by Giugiaro at Bertone.  The svelte proportions and glassy roof, first seen in 1962, show that Giugiaro was warming up to the task of sketching out the upcoming Alfa GTV.  They also echo the lines of his Alfa 2000 Sprint and the British Gordon Keeble from a couple years earlier.  The canted eyebrows over the headlights are the only  design idea that has not aged well; they (along with the grille shape) recall the Rambler American from the previous year...


Under the hood, though, the Iso Rivolta IR300 had something else in common with the Gordon Keeble: a Chevrolet engine.  Bizzarrini decided that the most cost-effective way to obtain the kind of power needed for the new line of GT cars would be to adopt the small-block Chevy, in this case a 327.  In IR-300 and IR-340 forms (numbers reflecting hp), this first car produced under the Iso Rivolta name would be made in nearly 800 examples; production stopped in 1969.


Bizzarrini wanted Iso to make a race car too, and the alloy-bodied A3/C (for competition) competed at Le Mans.  It featured a similar chassis layout to the A3/L Grifo, a body shape recalling the Ferrari GTO, and a Chevy 327 set so far back it was essentially a front mid-engined scheme.

After Renzo Rivolta decided to concentrate on the road cars, Bizzarrini started his own factory to make his version of the A3/C/. Most of his production cars had fiberglass bodies, but looked much like the Iso version.


By autumn of 1967 the IR300 was looking a bit dated, so Iso displayed an Iso Rivolta S4 sedan, its first and only four-door car.  Design was again by Giugiaro, now at Ghia, and the car went into production in early 1969 as the Fidia. Body design reflected Giugiaro's increasing interest in creased forms defined by crisp edgles and angles.  The car was not a commercial success owing to production costs and the oil crisis of 1973; only 192 were produced.




The Lele, named after Renzo's wife, also appeared in 1969, just in time to take over the 4-seater GT slot in the line from the departed IR300. The wedge-themed body with dropped window sills echoing the S4 was the work of Marcello Gandini at Bertone.  The following year, the Series 2 version of the Grifo appeared with lower nose, hidden headlights and raised air intake allowing the option of a Chevy 454 power unit.  By 1972, Iso had switched to Ford V8 power units for its cars owing to supply issues.  By 1975, the last Iso had left the factory, a victim of the 1973 oil shock.  Production figures for the Grifo reflect this, with less than 70 of the Series 2 cars in the overall total of 412 Grifos built.  They still stop traffic at car shows, and on those rare occasions you find one parked on the street...



Photo credits:
Exterior shots of Iso Grifo Series 1 and Series 2:  the author.
Interior of Iso Grifo and both shots of Iso Rivolta IR300:  LT Jonathan D. Asbury, USN.
Alloy-bodied A3/C competition car photo by DK Engineering.
All other shots:  wikimedia

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Tomorrow's Vintage Race Cars


At the recent historic race weekend at Laguna Seca, I got into a discussion about what age limits still applied to vintage racers.  Vintage race cars, that is…many of the drivers already looked kind of vintage, and most of the cars seemed culled from the late 1920s (fast enough to be scary on those narrow tires and mechanical brakes) up through the early 1970s.  Last year an article appeared in Road & Track noting the arrival of the Mazda Miata (the first version, 1.6 liters, 1990-93) in a category recognized by the Sportcar Vintage Racing Association.  R & T noted that the original Miata was about as old at that point (27 years) as the MGB, introduced in 1963, was when the Miata first appeared…


Acceptance of those early Miatas would seem to bring back the idea (more of a recurring dream, really) of racing on a budget. Curiousity piqued, I took a look at the SVRA categories updated in January of this year.  Cars produced through 1972 are generally approved, while production cars made after that time need specific approval.  Those specific approvals have already been granted for lots of cars made after '72, including the Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 and GTB, all Fiat 2000 spiders (1978-85), the early Toyota MR2, all Alfa Romeo 2000 spiders (made until 1993) and the Triumph TR7 and TR8.  Lotus 7s have long been approved, but the Caterham version started production in 1973, and I didn't see a separate listing for those.  They'd seem a natural fit, though



As would another car which grew out of the Lotus 7 design, the Caterham 21.  Made from 1994-99 with the same 1.8 liter Rover inline 4 that appeared a couple of years later in the first Lotus Elise, the lightweight 21 offers a bit more space than the 7, but the removable side windows hark back to early dual-purpose road car / weekend racers like the Lotus Elite.The first year will be eligible for US import under the 25 year limit next year, but all cars are right hand drive, and there were only just over 4 dozen built.

As we've already mentioned Lotus a couple times (hard to avoid when you're on this subject), it seems inevitable that the SVRA will eventually recognize that Rover-engined Series 1 Elise (1996-2001) pictured below, and the Toyota-engined Series 2 which was the first Elise sold by Lotus for road use in the USA.


Though the last Elise Series 2 shown below disappeared from the US market after 2011, the similar Series 3 is still in production, so that means a reasonable supply of parts.  That would also apply to the hardtop Exige version.



Another car with virtually the same potential as the Elise is the Opel Speedster and its right hand drive sister car, the Vauxhall VX220, offered by GM from 2001 through 2005. There's a good reason I suspect these cars might behave much like the Elise on a track: they have the same basic extruded-aluminum chassis as the Elise, and were all built at the Lotus plant in Hethel, UK. Two versions of the Opel Astra inline 4 were mounted amidships, both with aluminum blocks and 16 valves: a 2.2 liter version with 145 hp and a turbo 2 liter with 200 hp.  Even the base version had more power and torque than the Series 1 Elise, and GM sold over 7,000 of these cars, so there are parts.  



The Vauxhall version offered the same features with right hand drive.  Body panels are not interchangeable with the Elise, and GM claimed that there were many differences in chassis details as well, though the construction system and materials were the same.  An intrigiung little roadster that most Americans have never seen, let alone considered as a racer,  the Speedster / VX220 was replaced two years after stopping production with an Opel version of the Pontiac Solstice  / Saturn Sky twins, which was in turn followed by the GM collapse.



But not all born-talented weekend dual purpose road / race cars came from Lotus, and one of my favorites is the Renault Sport Spider, built at the Alpine plant like the storied A110 rally cars and the mid-engined Le Mans V8s of the late 1960s and early 1970s.  It was conceived to generate the same kind of interest that the Renault 5-based, mid-engined Turbo did in the early 1980s, and designed for a one-make racing series.  The engine was a 2 liter, 16 valve inline 4 with 148 hp, and the aluminum chassis with composite panels weighed about the same as the later Opel Speedster.  Though it was supposed to be a dual purpose car, when it appeared in 1996, the car was only offered with the "wind deflector" shown below. And of course, no top.  A helmet came with the car; somehow, this was very philosophical and French

In 1997 the Renault people shrugged and decided to offer a windshield with wipers, but still no top, never a top.  You were expected to go faster to keep the rain off your head. Perhaps this was to maintain conceptual purity…or possibly to avoid having to figure out where to put the top.  About 1,800 Sport Spiders had been built when production ended after 1999. I've seen a few in Europe, and they're even more intriguing up close than in pictures, having as much detail purity, perhaps, as philosophical purity.


Photo credits

Top photo:  windingroad.com
All others:  wikimedia


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sand Castle Magic: Carmel's 58th Annual Competition

At the dawn on the 1960s, the Monterey Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects held a competition for designing and building sand castles on the beach in Carmel.  It was free and open to people of all ages.  It still is, and this year's event was the 58th annual session on the beach.   There's always a theme, and this year it was "Rooms in the Dunes."


To get started, contestants trudge down the one of several stairways leading from Scenic Avenue to the white sandy expanse between the iceplant-covered dunes and the endless lapping of the surf.  Contestants usually arrive early in the morning, and it was foggy and cool at 7:30, when many of them started their work. This year's contest was held on Saturday, September 8.  While the contest is always held at this general time of year and proceeds rain or shine, some allowances are made for predicted tides, and this year's date was selected to avoid washouts. Rules stipulate that only items found at the beach can be incorporated into the construction. Tools such as shovels and buckets can be brought from the outside world.  Items which can be easily found include twigs, shells, kelp, and rocks...


Kelp was employed by this team of adults and kids to form numbers on their race cars, and the theme was gently warped into "Vrooms at the Dunes."  As Monterey Car Week had ended only a couple weeks before, there were still echoes of Car Week events here... 


Including this sculpture of a split-window Volkswagen Beetle which has been uprated with alloy wheels from a Porsche...


Not sure how the Beetle fit into this year's theme, except that it had finally found a parking space, never easy in Carmel, a sort of room at the dunes.  In any case, among the many awards given was one for "Best Bribe."  I was shocked, absolutely shocked, that the VW team was able to secure that prize with offers of beer, fried chicken and waffles, potato salad, parfait desserts and chocolate chasers.


A generously-scaled effort which drew a crowd, "Runes in the Dunes" featured a runic inscription and a dragon. The source of this work was a misunderstanding.  The artist thought he'd heard "runes" instead of "rooms"  on a recorded message.  No matter; the work added to the variety and flavor of forms on the beach.


This effort emphasized the dunes rather than the oceanic aspect, with a camel nosing up to the nomad's tent.  By the time the judging began at noon (it ran until two), the sun had burst forth and warmed the participants, some of whom were still at work as the judges pursued their deliberations...


Criteria for judging the castles included the first impression or "wow factor", originality of concept, artistic approaches to form, flow and visual balance, technical difficulty, and the quality of carving.


The popular "Otter's Den" shown above and below formed a people-scaled room at the edge of the surf, and had to be repaired after judges sat on the furniture, which after all, was just made of sand.  It featured carved "stone" battlements, a bas relief facing the ocean, and a top-hatted otter seated on a lounge.  It won this year's Golden Shovel award, First Prize.


The artist who created the richly imagined and tidily executed townscape sculpture below did so with the aid of his two daughters.  It was thus eligible for works created with the help of children, and won in its class.


In the first century BC, the Roman architect Vitruvius identified the characteristics of good architecture as "firmness, commodity and delight."   This modestly-sized, adventuresome, exuberant work certainly has those features.


The work below was entitled "It Takes a Village".  It too, evoked a townscape of turrets, rambling stairways and spires.  As with the work shown above, it substituted complexity for size.


And the name was a reminder that with twenty teams working on Carmel Beach, there was a village full of artists, visionaries and comedians at work.  It took a lot of individuals working together to make the day a success.  And a whole lot of sand...


Photo Credit + Acknowledgements:   All photos are by the author, who wants to thank Alfred Seccombe of Northstar Construction and the Monterey Bay Chapter of the AIA for inviting him to be on the panel of judges for the event.



Friday, August 31, 2018

Concorso Italiano 2018 Review: Going for the Gold Package

The Concorso Italiano was once the bargain-priced upstart of what is now called Monterey Car Week.  If you were lucky enough to attend one of the earlier ones, you may remember seeing all kinds of prototypes, racers, one-off show cars, and arcane etceterini, and being treated to stories of racing, repairing and rebuilding these cars by their longtime owners.



Well, the Concorso is still happening, but now the price of admission is $180, not far behind the $250 you get charged for the Pebble Beach Concours.  How does it compare to the free show on Ocean Avenue*, or to the variety of cars you might see by spending $60 or $70 for a day of historic race-watching at Laguna Seca?  You do get to see some fairly uncommon machinery at the Concorso.  The 1936 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 racer was a prime example, but the postwar 6C 2500 road car in the background (engine shown below) was featured at the free show on Ocean Avenue. 


There were a few one-off cars, but some of the most compelling cars at this year's Concorso were production cars rarely seen in the US.  One example was this lovely Fiat 2300S coupe, with body styled by Ghia and built by OSI in the early 1960s.  The owner had bought the car recently on the Bring a Trailer auction website, and was delighted with the car.


The 2300 and 2300S Ghia coupes were built from 1961 to 1968, when the Dino Fiats took over their place in the Fiat lineup. This example shows the glassy proportions and clean lines reminiscent of the Dual Ghia L6.4 designed around the same time by Sergio Sartorelli. The car is almost exactly the same size as the later BMW 2800CS, wheelbase and all


The 1961 Maserati 3500 shown below looks like a "standard" Vignale Spyder, but it's actually a unique body built to order with different grille, lighting details, vents and trim than the production model, which was rare enough anyway, with just over 240 built.


The Frua-bodied Mistral which followed the 3500 in Maserati chronology was represented by this well-used example, complete with parking lot dings (I loved it) and a pristine show car in gray.  Both had the Lucas fuel injection, which was often replaced in use by Weber carbs.
The Ghia-bodied Ghibli, penned by Giugiaro, was the next Maserati in the line of 2-seaters, appearing in 1967. It was one of the first production cars to use the maestro's "fold and crease" design theme.  Engines were 4-cam, dry-sump alloy-block V8s of 4.7 or 4.9 liters, in contrast to the 3.7 and 4.0 liter inline sixes in the Mistrals which preceded them.

Giugiaro also designed this ASA 1000* coupe when he worked for Bertone; the first one appeared in 1960. One of Ferrari's first efforts get what is now called an "entry-level" car into production, it was produced with a single overhead cam inline four which was essentially 4 cylinders of the Ferrari 250 V12. Potential buyers were not thrilled with paying twice the price of an Alfa Giuietta for a car with less power, so the De Nora family which built the cars took quite a long time to sell not many more than a hundred. 

The ASA's rounded contours have more in common with the Iso Grifo pictured at the end of this piece, also a Giugiaro design, than with the more sharply defined planes of the Ghibil.  

Any early-1950s Ferrari is a rarity, and any Ghia-bodied Ferrari is a scarce treat to encounter.  This car is both.  A few of these bodies were built by Ghia on the Ferrari 195S chassis (2.3 liters) which came after the famed 166.  At least one car competed in the Carrera Panamericana, the road race across Mexico.  The grille is interesting, as designers had not yet made the oval egg-crate design pioneered by Touring and Vignale a universal feature on Ferraris.


My selection of favorite Ferraris concludes with 275GTB4 below, a sister car to the immaculate example found at the Hillsborough Concours* in July, featuring the first 4-cam V12 to appear in a production Ferrari Berlinetta.  The car was in what is now called "barn-find" condition by show-goers.  What that really means is that it looks like a used car, complete with cracked and chipped paint. 

Here's that engine.  If the owner keeps driving the car and refuses to restore it, he or she will have decisively avoided what Jean Jennings at Car and Driver once called the "dead car in a plastic box syndrome."  The happy guy in the photo below has been avoiding that syndrome since 1961 with his 1951 Siata 1400 Spider.
He seemed glad to talk with me about driving and working on the car over all those years.  This 1400 spider is likely the only Siata 1400 still running its original engine.  When I asked why, he told me that the Siata-modified inline fours were "powder kegs."  After 57 years with this car, he's turning it over to his son this year.  The alloy body is by Stablimenti Farina, a sister (or really, brother) company to Pinin Farina.  Like the maroon Alfa in the top photo, this car was also featured in the Ocean Avenue show on Aug. 21.  Other than a couple of Abarths, this Siata was the only species of etceterini on the field…

That scarcity, along with a scarcity of owners who knew as much about their cars as this guy, is another measure of the changes in the Concorso.  The owner of the 1924 Lancia Lambda Series 4 below had a similar long-term commitment to his car, and was ready to show some of its unusual features. The Lambda was the first production car to feature unit body construction.  It also featured a narrow-angle V4, another first.  In the photo below, the owner demonstrates the clever spotlight, which can be removed from its mounting to double as an under-hood trouble light.





The Lancia Aprilia pictured above and below was mobbed, despite its scruffy, well-used condition…another escapee from the "car in plastic box" syndrome.  And what a car it was.  Unit construction, narrow-angle V4, and what became a signature Lancia feature, the suicide doors opening to reveal the whole interior, with no B-pillar.  Along with the Citroen Traction Avant which also appeared in 1934, it pointed the way to the modern car.


The Superleggera Touring-bodied Flaminia below brings back memories of similar coupe I once owned.  Close examination revealed details I failed to remember, like the tiny crease formed into the alloy door skin that fades away two-thirds of the way across the window sill.The whole car was full of those kinds of expensive details.  Like the Aurelia, it had an alloy 60 degree V6 and a four-speed transaxle…

Rounding out the survey of Lancia design history is this Fulvia Zagato I found not in the show, but in the parking lot. Narrow angle V4, front wheel drive, teardrop shape formed in alloy on early models and steel later on…

And below is a not-quite-Lancia, the New Stratos, which is not coming to a dealer near you anytime soon. For the story of the New Stratos, you may want to refer to the post called "Lost Cause Lancias" from 2/15/18.
The Concurs afforded a chance to see some of the Lamborghinis I missed at their feature  event in Hillsborough last month.  But really, there were more of them here, including the two Isleros shown below. These updated versions of the 400 GT were built by Marazzi when  Superleggera Touring closed.  Note that the later car in green has vent windows in the doors, while the earlier one doe not.


No Lambo review would be complete without a Miura*, and you might as well have a lime yellow one with bright blue interior, right?  


There were many reasons I enjoyed the free show on Ocean Avenue more than this one, and one of them is that there was no thumping techno music, no fashion show, and there was a greater diversity of cars. That's also true of comparisons with earlier Concorsos.  Yes, I know the early concours in Europe had fashion shows too, but when there is a transverse-mounted V12 sharing its oil with the transmission to discuss (see above), it seems fashion is a distraction.  A photographer (perhaps from some lifestyle journal, not from a car mag) asked me about the car below, and wanted to know if it was some kind of "Austin Martin".  I had not the heart to tell him there never were any Austin Martins.  He was amazed to find out that the Iso Rivolta and the Grifo pictured were made by the same people who designed the egg-like Isetta 300 later built by BMW.  "Iso as in Isotherm", I pronounced.  "They actually made refrigerators before they made cars." It is really irresponsible to distract guys trying to have a serious discussion about refrigerators with a parade of supermodels pirouetting across a manicured fairway to booming electronic dance music. The best way to enjoy Monterey Car Week, unless you want to buy a car at auction, is to check out the free show Tuesday on Ocean Avenue, and then spend the weekend at the races.

*Footnotes: The Hillsborough Concours was featured in two parts  on July 26 and  29, 2018.
The saga of the ASA cars appeared in our Etceterini Files for 2/2/16.  The design story of the Miura was recounted briefly in our post for 7/11/17, and the free car show on Ocean Avenue in Carmel appeared in two parts on August 21 and 25, 2018.  These overviews of Monterey Car Week 2018 mark the third anniversary of this blog, which has only a few intrepid subscribers but has had over 73,500 visits over the years. Thanks for having a look.

Photo credits:  All photos are by the author, including the blurry impressionistic ones.

Errata:  The first version of this account reported that just over 100 Maserati 3500 Spyders were built; the real number was 245.