Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Amongst the profusion of competitors that year, one car stood out. This car resembled no other. Unmistakeably emblazoned with a swirling green and violet paint scheme, the hippie car as it became known, appeared to have been decorated by a mob of acid fueled signwriters. Looking for all the world like it ran on pure L.S.D, the Martini and Rossi sponsored Porsche 917 was a psychedelic slingshot capable of a mind bending 385 km/h. For a few short years psychedelia and motor sport met head on and this was their most outrageous descendant. Who cares that it came second that year, as its spectacular technicolor form is indelibly etched into history.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
What hasn't been going on for the last four decades ? I may be totally mistaken but I cannot recall anything this revolutionary being created in the interim. Imagine the stunned responses when Ferrari's Modulo was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1970. Absolutely nothing this audacious had been attempted until progressive thinker Paolo Martin decided to unsettle the automotive establishment with this ground breaking design.
It is now 2009 and any unconstrained concepts appear to have been covertly deposited into a state of constant suspension.
Where are they ?
"Holy Italian sports cars Batman."
Long before the George Barris restyled Lincoln Futura was secreted deep beneath Wayne Manor, Alfa Romeo had been busy in Turin building not one but three of their own batmobiles. Between 1953 and 1955 Alfa and their stylistic collaborators Bertone constructed three wildly futuristic concepts based on aerodynamic principles.
Named the Berlinetta Aerodynamica Technica or more simply B.A.T. their shapes were reminiscent of a bat, with the tail suggesting two tucked-in wings. Originally conceived to explore the effects of streamlining, these surrealistic sensations were the brainchild of Franco Scaglione who incorporated both aeronautical theories and jet design.
Introduced consecutively to great acclaim at the Turin Motor Show they were the manifestation of the future. With most early post-war automobiles exhibiting all the panache of a double breasted grey flannel suit, these visionary marvels appeared entirely capable of transporting their occupants into another dimension.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
How is it possible that a car as beautiful as this Ferrari 250 GT Lusso was conceived without the aid of a computer ? Perhaps computers should be banished from automotive concept studios immediately as most modern vehicles look to have taken their inspiration from the world of designer sneakers.
The De Tomaso Mangusta still cuts a menacing figure over 40 years after it was introduced. I don't know what Giorgio Guigiaro and his contemporaries were drinking but I wish some of today's designers would take a couple of shots of vino instead of saki.
Viva Mangusta !!
Friday, June 12, 2009
For many years the concept of a high performance Volkswagen seemed totally contradictory. To the uneducated, the suggestion that the lowly Volkswagen Beetle may be able to humiliate both European and American machinery over the quarter mile would appear to be sheer nonsense. The sight of the humble "people's car" standing on its rear wheels like some untamed stallion is totally incongruous to the average driver. Yet this is exactly the sight that greeted many an unsuspecting opponent both on and off the track.
Eliciting extensive reserves of horsepower from motors of small capacity has long been the domain of those who championed the Beetle. Volkswagen afficionados have always been the underdog, having much less to work with than many of their adversaries. The VW was never designed with racing in mind. Perhaps this was the force that drove those deranged owners to embarass their rivals. Whatever the reasoning behind their dedication, it is always a delight to see a dark horse upset the favourite.
Long Live The Underdog.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The hot rodders of post war America, young men fresh home from the front line, were able to extract incredible amounts of speed from the discarded surplus of the U.S. Government's war effort. Southern California's dry lakes and later the vast salt flats of Bonneville were the perfect environs for this band of mechanical mavericks to test their homebuilt projectiles. With newly learned skills, acquired whilst serving in the military, they were able to register previously unheard of speeds in their flat out runs across the lake beds. There were no stylistic preconceptions or overbearing sanctioning bodies to hinder them as they wringed every last drop of horsepower out of their recycled missiles. Limited finances and resources only fuelled their imaginations and they adapted whatever was readily available, in their quest to be the fastest. Without access to wind tunnels or an acute understanding of drag coefficients, they recognised a silhouette of speed in the disposable excess of battle.
Their weapon of choice was the long range fuel tank from the Lockheed P-38 fighter plane. Here was an aerodynamic aluminium skin perfectly suited to their intended high speed missions. All manner of military componentry was scavenged from squadrons of obsolete warbirds, providing the necessary elements for an all out assault on the record books. In reality, the designers of these war machines played just as an important role in the burgeoning post war hot rod industry as did the constructors of these screaming teardrops. To an observer at one of these competitions, the image of these ovoid forms hurtling toward the horizon must have resembled a four wheeled invasion from outer space. Personally, the appeal of these bellytanks lies in their utilitarian construction, the paradox being that those abandoned relics of war were also objects of great beauty and ultimately speed.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Funny cars aren't so funny any more. Drag racing was once a marvelous visual feast until corporate sponsorship strangled the last breath of individuality out of the sport. Dragstrips were choked with kandy koated beasts, cackling impatiently, ready to unleash their fury in a frenzied exhibition of smoke and fire, like maniacal fibreglass dragons.The cars had names as exciting as the show itself. Pandemonium, Rambunctious, Malfunction, Assasination, Brutus, Trojan Horse, Pure Hell, The Melrose Missile, Speed Freak, Mental Cruelty and the list goes on. Drivers were individuals with names to match. The Snake, The Mongoose, The Flying Dutchman, Mr Norm and The Hawaiian all vied for the winner's cheque. It was pure theatre. The spectacle has long since lost its lustre. Today's cars are virtually indistinguishable, their generic body shapes having all the visual appeal of a melted plastic spoon. Metalflake and magnesium have long since departed the dragstrip, driven to extinction by mechanised billboards. Yesterday's nitro trailblazers may not have been as quick as their modern counterparts but they looked a hell of a lot better burning down the strip.