The East London junk shop and its Grand Prix film canisters

Written by Kurt | Sunday, 07 April 2013 14:19

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Last night I happened to pass a junk shop last night in East London in a rather intoxicated condition, which is, of course, nothing particularly exciting. Though, looking through the crazy paraphernalia generally displayed in the shop window, I couldn't help noticing several stacks of 16mm film canisters. It has to be noted that such things always attract my attention, since I happen to be one of those people who tend to collect just about anything that could possibly have some creative value. Ogling these canisters I noticed that they happened to have such tags as 'Grand Prix Belgium 1982' 'Ferrari F1 reel' 'Grand Prix 1971' 'House of Stewart' and 'Manx TT'. You can probably imagine my surprise, excitement and disbelief at the same time. Had the pints I had earlier had such a devastating effect on my mind that I was now imagining film canisters apparently containing the holy grail of any serious motorsport collector; original film footage from the most exciting eras of motorsport, or could it actually, possibly, be reality?

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Spotted: Triumph Herald 13/60

Written by Kurt | Wednesday, 27 March 2013 00:15

Northchurch-Terrace-London-Sometimes one finds oneself navigating pointlessly through Google Street View for no reason other than 'getting lost' after searching for a particular address. On these strolls through digitalised reality one bumps into a variety of strange and wonderful elements that make up our world, occasionally one bumps into rather awkward scenes; people in silly costumes (or just daily outfits), fires and so on. But, once in a while, one bumps into a nice old car by chance, just today I bumped into a lovely red Triumph Herald 13/60 parked in front of a delightful sort of semi-detached house in Dalston, London. The Herald 13/60 was the last in a series of Heralds, built from 1967 to 1971 and featured an updated front-end and a new 1296cc engine. According to records a total of 82,650 cars were built, quite a substantial amount, though not many remain today, or at least in the UK the Department for Transport lists about 1300 licensed examples. This red one is one of them, let's hope it stays that way.

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Video: Le Mans 1956 onboard with Mike Hawthorn

Written by Super User | Saturday, 16 March 2013 16:31

hawthorn1956lemansOnboard at Le Mans is always a special thing to witness, the long sweeping straights, the tight corners, the images of dusk and dawn and the more often than not insane speed differences between the cars on the track make it a firm favourite among motorsport fans. The video in this post (see below) should be no different, it should be even more special really since it was filmed on one of the days before the 1956 Le Mans 24 hours race, and significantly, features Jaguar D-Type driver Mike Hawthorn. Hawthorn has come to be known over the years as the instigator of the horrific crash of the 1955 race. More than 83 were killed after Hawthorn violently braked just before the main straight to get into the pits just after overtaking an Austin-Healey, the Healey, driven by Lance Macklin, had no other opportunity than swerving across the track and into the path of the charging Mercedes 300 SLR of Pierre Levegh who in turn stormed into the grandstand with the dreadful consequences mentioned before. In this light this onboard video from 1956 takes on another dimension, especially if we take into account the commentary he gives in this video: "Just up here on the left where the terrible accident occured last year," then a surprisingly long moment of silence follows. Was he contemplating, reflecting his own actions of 1955 at this point? On that note one should perhaps ask the question; if he cared about accident, why on earth did he choose to take the completely pointless and raucous act of overtaking a car moments before going into the pits himself? Sadly it is a question that cannot be answered anymore, one thing we do know is that Hawthorn was disliked intensely by a part of the motorsport fraternity at the time (the rivalry with Luigi Musso is well documented), and known for being a reckless, arrogant and unpleasant character. Perhaps though, that was a prerequisite for some to cope with looking death into the face each time you got into a race car?

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Photography: Sachsenring 1953 - Greifzu Eigenbau

Written by Super User | Thursday, 21 February 2013 19:53

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As a follow-up to formfreu.de's excellent blog on a motor museum in Suhl, Germany I have dug out a photo of the Greifzu Eigenbau which features prominently in the museum's collection. This photo was most certainly taken at the Sachsenring in the Eastern part of then divided Germany in 1953, purely on the basis that I acquired a batch of photos from this event in a box marked 'Sachsenring 1953'. Though, result sheets and the numbers on the cars point to an altogether different race. What is certain though is that the car on the photo was built by Paul Greifzu on the basis of a tired pre-war BMW 328 according to Formula 2 'regulations' of the time. Greifzu, after a couple of incredibly succesful seasons, he was seen as a national hero taking on the capitalist West-German opposition, died in 1952 at a race in Dessau in this car. The car miraculously survived though and was rebuilt. It ran a couple of races in 1953 driven by Rudolf Krause including a race at the Sachsenring on 6 September. Sadly it is intensly difficult to verify my claim as official result lists are very difficult to find, bear with me, there's more to come.

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Video: Designing the 1983 Lotus 93T

Written by Kurt | Thursday, 07 February 2013 01:32

lotus-deangelisCream-coloured shirts, check. Ties with fantastical patterns, check. Subtly flared trousers, check. Huge glasses, check. Cue cheesy synthesizer music and there we go, a documentary from the early 1980s (see below). A documentary on the production of the 1983 Lotus 93T F1 car. Lotus at the time was doing badly in Grand Prix racing, although it did not achieve the success they had in the past; so, a new weapon was needed. As the video shows, Lotus for the 1983 season focused on a radically new design to incorporate the immensely powerful Renault EF1 V6 Turbo engine. The party piece really. The video mentions 100 extra horsepower over a DFV, which is questionable since other sources speak of at least 700 horsepower by 1983. The new design did not stop there though, much attention was directed to improving the Lotus F1 car as a whole. More sophisticated chassis made out of kevlar and baked in autoclaves meant another new dimension for Lotus racing cars.

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