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A Racer Returns

A Racer Returns

The Sports Car Club of America was founded in 1944 by a group of car-mad youngsters with a taste for speed. It remained the easiest way into ‘proper’ grass-roots motor sport until 1962, when a rule allowing factory-supported cars to compete radically changed the playing field. The trouble, in those early days, was that few off-the-shelf American cars were appropriate for spirited competition.

European sports cars were the obvious choice, and hundreds of MGs, Alfa Romeos and Porsches were stripped-out and hopped-up by keen amateur racers throughout the States. The car that made perhaps the biggest splash of all was the AC Ace Bristol. By no means a thoroughbred, the Ace was the product of happenstance: John Tojeiro’s clever tubular chassis frame, fitted with an already long-in-the tooth AC six-cylinder engine, was exactly what the failing Thames Ditton firm needed to boost sales. A Bristol-engined version soon followed, and of the 463 built more than half of them went Stateside. Between 1956 and ’62 the Ace dominated SCCA events, and it was only the rule change that truly ended its reign.

 

The 1958 Ace Bristol seen here spent its whole life in the USA, campaigned enthusiastically in SCCA events by its three careful owners. It has never been restored, just maintained to a high standard, and it still proudly wears battle scars earned in its wild youth. The car has now returned to the UK for the first time in 60 years, and The Automobile magazine was lucky enough to get behind the wheel – you can read the full story in the November issue, which is out now.

 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

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Triggered by Hunting cars

Amelia announces classes 2018
  
Somehow we missed a press release from the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance when they announced their special classes for the 2018 event some time ago. And there's one that triggers us in particular. From the total of eleven classes, attractive ones seem to be 'The cars of 'Big Daddy' Ed Roth', with a star appearance of his famous Beatnick Bandit; 'The cars of Martini Racing' with ex-Le Mans-, ex-Monte Carlo- and ex-F1 vehicles attending and 'NART at 70' with some of Chinetti's commissioned Ferrari Grand Touring cars.

But there is one class that lures even more - to us at least - and that is 'Hunting cars'. From the press release: "Among the rarest of the custom coachwork cars none are more specialized, exotic and hardworking than the cars created especially for hunters and owners of large estates. Assembled under the term "hunting cars" the class is an uncommon look at extraordinarily rare custom cars that are seldom seen outside their specialized work environments. The centerpiece of The Amelia's hunting car class is the King Ranch Buick." To be honest it's one we'd never heard of before. It's a 1949 Buick Eight based Special built for Richard Mifflin Kleberg senior, who was both a US representative for Texas as well as the heir to the King Ranch fortune at the time. He had a Ford-based huntsman car in 1946, but recognized that his homebuilt efforts left a lot to be desired. That led to Buick and the GM styling department in the commission of a purpose-built Ranch off-roader hunting vehicle. It featured a much modified and reinforced frame and an extended boot. There are multiple gun mounts, including one for a pistol under the hood. Up front there are, alternately, a spotter’s seat and game mount plus a winch hidden behind the big Buick grille. Inside there’s a two-way radio, compass and cow-hide floor mats. Power came from a 152-bhp Fireball straight eight. It's fascinating.

We now really wonder what the other cars in this class will look like. We can only think of Range Rovers and a few Rolls-Royces that can wear the 'Hunting Car' moniker, but there are no doubt more of them. Do you know of any?

(Words editor, picture Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance)

Monday, 30 October 2017

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Tough to crack car puzzle #170

Tough to crack car puzzle #170
Oof, this is a pretty one! We snapped it some time ago somewhere in Europe in the autumn sun and fell in love. Oozing everything from what we consider to be the golden period of sports car styling, this car has it all. Well, the styling in the first place. With a grand old name attached to it, it’s prett well known. Although the actual design of this model was trusted to a perhaps not so well known draughtsman. We’d like to hear from you who he was, of course. And, speaking about its styling, there is one car in particular that has much in common with this car. Was it linked? Some sources say it was; others say it wasn’t.

Know more? Send us your answers and make sure they have some nice-to-know-knowledge in order to score those much-wanted points. We'll show you its prett side next week, together with your answers of course. Let us know by writing your answer in the box below. First, please do read our rules. Have a good and safe weekend for now and don’t worry if you wish to spend the weekend as a tourist.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

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Prettiest sisters of the swish 'sixties?

Prettiest sisters of the swish sixties?
This picture is a bit of a bonus, which we gratefully received by Thomas Shaffer. It features not only two gorgeous Friday Ladies in beautiful 1960s spheres (paris, no doubt), but hides a few questions for you, too. To get ready for tomorrow’s new TTCCP (Tough to crack car puzzle) we ask you: who are the two girls, seen here sitting in the little convertible. Only hint we give you is that they are sisters - perhaps the best known in cinema circles in the swish sixties, so they shouldn’t prove too difficult to find. But while you’re here wondering who those familiar faces may be, let’s take this one step further and ask you for the car in question, too. That, perhaps, is not quite as easy. Over to you!

Friday, 27 October 2017

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