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EscortOneMexico car’s incredible life story

Quentin Gullwing rescue How genius craftsmen saved Willson On future classics a nightmare and what to buy now

ALL

NEW

Mercedes 300 SL

FREE 32-PAGE

SAMPLER STARS OF 1973

NEW FEATURES NEW LOOK NEW BUYING SECTION

SUPERTEST OF THE BEST FROM £2-40K Ferrari 308 De Tomaso Pantera Jag XJ 4.2 BMW 520 Merc SEL Dolomite Sprint Alfa Alfetta Escort RS2000

PLUS

MUST-SEE 38-CAR COLLECTION

A family journey from Jaguar XJ220 to Messerschmitt KR200

LAMBORGHINI COUNTACH

One lucky reader puts his dream car to the test


CONTENTS WELCOME TO YOUR FREE SAMPLER ISSUE OF CLASSIC CARS.

C OV E R S TO RY

It’s just a taste of the full 260-page issue, but its 32 pages are packed with all of the exciting new series that start in the October edition.

Our new and expanded markets section, headed up by Quentin Willson, will help you make the best of buying opportunities in 2013 and beyond, covering everything from well-established classics to the ageing modern cars that are about to go up in value. The other new series will animate the powerful human stories that make classic cars so compelling. In Life Cycle past owners of a car recall their remarkable experiences with it; in The List a lucky reader puts his dream car to the test; in Epic Restorations brilliant craftsmen reveal the drama of bringing a forlorn car back to life; and in The Collectors classic car hoarders reveal how their passion for cars took over their garages, homes and lives. It’s also 40 years since Classic Cars first introduced a new type of magazine to the news stands. I hope you enjoy our special celebration issue, and all of the new additions we’ve introduced with it.

Phil Bell, editor

Quentin Willson on cars to buy now p22

C OV E R S TO RY

C OV E R S TO RY

From microcars to supercars – inside an eccentric 38-car collection p104

I N T H E F U L L I S S U E | Oc tober 2013 | Issue 483

F E AT U R E S

S TA RT E R

SUPERCARS Ferrari 308 GT4 vs De Tomaso Pantera GTS

12 Lamborghini Countach NEW We make a reader’s LP400S dream drive come true

20 Markets 10 pages of insight and expert buying advice kicks off with an ultra-rare longnose works Jaguar D-type

36 Discovered Nigel Boothman looks at the latest barn finds and restoration dreams

22 Quentin Willson NEW On the classics to buy now

40 Events The best shows and the most exciting motor sport

26 Russ Smith On the key sale results

57 Books and models Latest releases rated

76 Ford Escort Mexico NEW From commuter wheels to rally car to show star – and all in one family

31 Coming up for sale Exciting cars on the market

59 Classic Talk Hot opinion and treasured memories from Quentin Willson (p59); Tom Tjaarda (p61); Letters (p63); Simon Kidston (p65)

80 Hottest cars of 1973 SPICY SALOONS Escort RS2000 vs Dolomite Sprint vs Alfa Alfetta £5k LUXURY BMW 520 vs Jag XJ6 vs Merc 280 SEL

34 Next month’s issue Seven good reasons to buy the November issue

2

S A M P L E R F E AT U R E S H I G H L I G H T E D I N R E D

66 AC Cobra Unleashed: a 12k-mile 289

CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER

100 Le Mans Veteran Claude Dubois The Belgian ace reveals his life in cars, from a Triumph TR2 to a Ferrari 250 GTO

NEW

104 Inside an eccentric NEW 38-car collection It makes no sense until the Weitzmanns explain why 110 1907 Berliet racer 8.2 litres! Chain drive! Virtually no brakes!


Escort Mexico

Quentin Gullw ing rescue How genius Willson craftsm en saved On future classic

One car’s incred ible life story

and what to buy now

s

a nightmare Mercedes 300 SL

ALL

NE W NEW FEATURES NEW LOOK NEW BUYING SECTION

1973-20 13 CELE B R AT I N G 40 YEAR S

STARS OF 1973 SUPERTEST

OF THE BES T FROM £2-4 0K Ferrari 308 De Tomaso BMW 520 Merc Pantera Jag XJ 4.2 SEL Dolom Alfa Alfetta Escor ite Sprint t RS2000

PLUS

Taming a wild 1907 Berliet race r

8.2 litres! Chain

drive! Virtually

no brakes!

11,700-mile AC Cobra 289 driv en MUST-SEE

38-CAR COLLE A family journe y from Jaguar XJ220 to MesseCTION rchmitt KR20 0

LAMBOR

One lucky readGHINI COUNTA er puts his drea m car to theCH test


the list

‘i MeT one of MY

heRoes ToDaY, anD i Wasn’T DisappoinTeD’

Every month, we give a reader the chance to drive a car from their list of all-time favourite classics. here, simon Clarke is handed the keys to a lamborghini Countach

Words SAM DAWSON Photography GEORGE WILLIAMS


the list

‘The steering has this incredible physicality, like a Caterham’

T

Simon Clarke

Simon’s automotive tastes vary wildly between luxury classics and hardcore high-performance cars. A Jaguar XJS and XJ6 led to a Bentley Mulsanne Turbo before an education in Porsches resulted in the ½rst of two 928s.‘V-Max’ air½eld days steered him towards a string of tuned 911s, punctuated by a Lotus Elise, a TVR Cerbera and a Caterham Seven. He currently drives a BMW M5 (E39).

014

his wishlist

• Jensen Interceptor • Lamborghini Countach • Monteverdi Hai • Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer • Aston Martin V8 • De Tomaso Pantera • Maserati Bora • Panther Six • Lister Storm • Ferrari F50

he sense of anTiCipaTion is palpable. i’m with Classic Cars reader simon Clarke in the car park of panshanger aerodrome in hertfordshire, at the end of an asphalt drive hemmed in by grassy banks. every sound – from the drone of Cessnas on final approach, to cars passing the entrance gate – is amplified by the banks and causes us to keep looking down the road. We await the arrival of an icon. a Lamborghini Countach. ‘it’s hard to define precisely why the Countach is so great,’ says simon, ‘but i want to drive one because it seems to be the very zenith of that culture that began in the fifties, of motoring for pleasure, a concentration of the Curtis-and-Moore Persuaders era. it’s from a time when life could be made more romantic, dramatic and exciting just by driving. Crucially, though, the Countach isn’t flash in a “bling” sense. it’s cavalier, radical beyond all constraints of normality. it’s a fantasy; that delightful era taken to extremes, and now you’ve arranged for me to drive one.’ after 20 minutes and countless false alarms, the acute angles of a 1980 Lp400s amble over the speed hump at the end of the avenue and bear down on us. The trapezoidal bonnet and windscreen flowing into each other, wide-set knife-sharp swage lines and extreme-angled side windows are pure boundary-pushing seventies sci-fi, but the rear of the car is all arcane theatrical menace.

CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER


Those air scoops – one of the few changes made to Marcello Gandini’s original prototype to cure overheating – resemble some futuristic soldier’s shoulder-mounted weaponry, and the enormous delta-wing, the car’s highest point, seems to hover above it like a lowflying condor. as the battering-ram exhaust note pounds the earth and a flock of terrified starlings depart a nearby tree, i look over to see simon’s response. he’s transfixed. ‘There’s hardly anything else that comes close to its visual impact,’ he says. ‘not just cars, but all objects. a lot of cars try to look organic, but nothing in nature looks like that, let alone sounds like it.’ he’s mesmerised once more as the Countach stops and the driver’s door rises vertically on a hydraulic ram. The doors are one feature that was inspired by nature – a beetle’s wing-case – but the angles they form are alien. ‘it’s like a Ufo’s just landed,’ he adds. after greeting the owner, simon explains how his obsession with the Countach began. ‘as a child in the seventies, i had a poster of one on my bedroom wall, but you never saw them on the road back then. in fact, i didn’t see one for well over ten years after it was launched. Then one night i was driving down an a-road near Bolton in my 928 and this thing shot past me. i was hooked. ‘i chased it and practically pulled the guy over, like a policeman, and said, “please, please take me for a drive!” he was completely nonplussed but let me sit in the passenger seat. i haven’t been as close to one since.’

Yellow-tinted headlights betray Countach’s French upbringing

simon settles in behind the wheel and gets a feel for the gearchange while the engine’s switched off. ‘Look at this,’ he says, surprised. ‘i was expecting the clutch to be impossibly heavy, but it’s actually quite light.’ he turns the ignition key and guns the V12. ‘Good god – listen to that!’ he exclaims, unable to resist giving the accelerator a couple of pokes with the gears in neutral. ‘it sounds a bit like my old TVR Cerbera.’ it’s not a bad comparison, as both the Lamborghini V12 and the TVR aJp8 were inspired by formula

CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER

015


the list

one – designed for power and high revs rather than refinement, with threshing timing chains and barely silenced wide-bore exhaust pipes. into gear, simon tentatively lifts the pedal. ‘it may not be heavy,’ he says, ‘but it bites quite high, and i imagine flooring it while the clutch is only half-in would get expensive. Right – let’s find a B-road.’ he turns on to the B1000 – a wide, sweeping country lane hemmed in by trees – and properly indulges the Countach’s throttle for the first time. The angry, bassy growl erupts into a shriek beyond 4000rpm, and by 6000 it’s screaming like a gang of tomcats fighting inside a megaphone. simon keeps his right foot planted in third gear, and concentrates intently on the road’s vanishing point as the horizon hurtles beneath the enormous tyres – 225/50 R15 at the front, 345/35 R15 at the rear. he attacks a series of narrow s-bends. ‘i was not expecting that!’ he exclaims. ‘it corners flat, like a Lotus elise, but the steering has this incredible physicality to it that i can only really compare to a Caterham’s. it’s most definitely a racer underneath; the steering is pure but has a brutal, uncorrupted edge to it that most car companies would only trust racing drivers with. ‘i must confess, before i got in it i was nervous.’ he says, ‘i’ve heard horror stories about what pigs they are to drive, but it’s surprised me with its friendliness. admittedly the rear visibility is terrifying – you need a co-pilot when pulling out of narrow lanes – but it combines the “jump in and drive” nature of a Lotus with the racing rawness of a Caterham and the ballistic engine of a TVR.’ it’s my turn. We swap seats and, urged by the owner to push it beyond 6000rpm to get the best of it, i go hunting for a long straight. i find the perfect stretch running towards Digswell, and leave the Lp400s in second gear. full-bore acceleration in a Countach is otherworldly, especially on a narrow lane. With my backside lower than my feet and the steering wheel almost in my line of sight, i’m sat as i would be in a singleseater, staring at a vanishing point that becomes increasingly hard to focus on as the engine’s force drains the blood from my forehead and causes my eyes to water. i long for an endless runway to see how close it’ll get to the 200mph marked on the speedometer. in truth, no one worked out how fast a Countach Lp400s actually went because everyone ran out of runway. Lamborghini claimed 190mph was possible. Autosport’s Richard feast fleetingly managed 160mph in one, while an in-depth 1978 test in Road & Track estimated a potential 164mph in fifth gear at 7500rpm. however, sit on its peak torque curve around 4000-5000rpm rather than searching for maximum power, and it’s an altogether more friendly machine. simon’s right – steering and cornering are more British track-day car than fearsome beast. The wheel lightens the second you start moving, and although the huge tyres rob it of true tactility, the massive grip gives me the confidence to corner it hard, and the torque thumps the car out of bends at the command of Redline it in second or hurtle along at 4000rpm. ‘It’s like a TVR’

thE EVOlUtiON

C OU N tAC h protot y p e 1971

Gandini’s shape followed Alfa 33/2-based Bertone Carabo concept of 1968.

C OU N tAC h l P40 0 1973 -78

Following a three-year development, the car still wasn’t ready but ½nancial woes forced launch. Overheating necessitated ducts and scoops.

C OU N tAC h l P40 0 s 1978 - 83

After F1 team boss Walter Wolf seeks to address high-speed stability issues in his LP400 with a racingstyle rear wing and wider tyres covered by wheelarch extensions, Lamborghini does similar with the LP400S.

C OU N tAC h l P50 0 s 1983 - 84 With a 4754cc version of the Lamborghini V12 ½nally ready, the LP500S emerges. Tuned for mid-range torque rather than top-end power, the car accelerates itself into the records: 0-60mph in 4.8sec leaves rivals trailing.

C OU N tAC h 50 0 0 Q u at t rova lvole 1985- 89

After it takes a kicking from the new Ferrari Testarossa, Giulio Al½eri tweaks the Countach engine to 445bhp, endowing the now-5167cc V12 with a 48-valve cylinder head and Weber 44 DCNF downdraught carburettors, blocking rear visibility. The rear wing is now optional, to reduce drag.

C OU N tAC h 25t h A n n ive r sa r y 1989 -199 0

The Horacio Pagani-directed swansong is covered in low-drag aerodynamics. Anniversary is of Lamborghini itself, not the Countach – which is replaced by the new Diablo in mid-1990.

016

CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER


That extreme interior belies user-friendly and tactile controls

‘the car encapsulates in one joyous burst all that is wonderful about italy’

For Simon, the huge performance dazzled as much as the looks


‘its ability to intimidate is due mainly to its extraterrestrial coachwork’

False promises of 200mph but the Countach LP400S is still crushingly fast

an instantly responsive throttle. Delivered at 5500rpm, the 260lb ft of peak torque comes 2000rpm lower than peak power, making the engine extremely tractable so you never need to push it too hard to make progress. The brakes inspire confidence – there’s no aBs, but the discs reel in 1438kg without drama. no matter what you might expect of such a flamboyant supercar, it’s this characteristic that defines the Countach. its ability to intimidate comes mainly from its reputation and its extra-terrestrial coachwork. The chassis is partly the work of Gian paolo Dallara – a man responsible for countless successful single-seater racing cars. so it’s hardly surprising it feels so benign on the road: an overpowered piece of lunacy with murderous handling would be useless in a race. it’s unfortunate that ferruccio Lamborghini never let his cars

018

compete. With its seventies f1-style tyres, high-downforce shape, low-set driving position and such competition-derived measures as double-wishbone front suspension and doubled-up, diagonal quad rear coil spring/damper configuration, the Countach feels more like a racer for the road than its ferrari Testarossa arch-rival. While the transverse-engined, separate-chassis Lamborghini Miura always had a reputation for instability which undermined its high-performance credibility, the longitudinally engined, spaceframed Countach’s specification wouldn’t seem out of place among the front-running prototypes on the grid at Le Mans in 1980. ‘i’ve met one of my heroes today, and it didn’t disappoint me,’ says simon as he gazes longingly at the Marshall-amp dashboard. ‘The only thing i could really compare it to is going to see some imaginary best-of-everything supergroup.’ it transcends that. ‘Countach’ is perfect – its origin is as a piedmontese expletive for a beautiful woman – because it encapsulates, in one joyous expressive burst, everything that is wonderful about italy. it’s an uncompromising, challenging piece of artwork. Certain things may seem shoddy and crude, but these are initiation rituals that you must learn to accept and love, because once you do you can appreciate its unbridled operatic rawness. ‘on reflection, driving a Countach hasn’t necessarily enhanced my appreciation of it, but it’s focused it,’ says simon. ‘it’s demystified now, but this has added another layer of desire, as now i know i can drive it. Before i drove it i’d always had this sense of it being a nightmare, but it isn’t the dog many road testers would have you believe. even the woeful visibility just seems to enforce the italian law of driving – that is, what’s behind you doesn’t matter. ‘if i had the money, i’d buy one without question.’

CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER


the list

Body addenda allowed Countach to be a much more approachable car

THE COUNTACH GOES GLOBAL

the car’s future was uncertain – until an F1-inspired makeover by walter wolf and chassis guru Gian Paolo Dallara

ABOUt thE CAR

1980 lAMBORGhiNi COUNtACh lP400s

• Engine 3929cc, V12 dohc per bank, six Weber 45 DCoe carburettors • Power 353bhp @ 7500rpm, 260lb ft @ 5500rpm • transmission five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive • Brakes Vented discs front and rear, vacuum servo • steering Rack and pinion • suspension front: independent, unequal-length double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar. Rear: independent, upper lateral links, lower wishbones, upper and lower trailing arms, dual coil springs, dual telescopic dampers, antiroll bar • weight 3170lb (1438kg) • Performance Top speed 165mph; 0-60mph 5.9sec • Cost new £30,000 • Value now £150,000

WANT TO DRIVE YOUR DREAM CAR ? Classic Cars will make it happen for one reader in every issue. All you need to do to be in the reckoning is to send us your list of the ten cars you dream most of driving, plus a ‘CV’ of the classic cars you’ve owned, then fire it off to classic.cars@ bauermedia.co.uk. You’ll need to be prepared for the possibility of long-distance travel and an early-morning start, but the experience will be unforgettable.

DESPITE A THREE-YEAR gestation period, the LP400 was still underdeveloped when it went in sale in late 1973, not least in terms of tyres. According to development engineer Bob Wallace, the Countach was designed around the tolerances of the prototype Pirelli P7 but because they weren’t available when the car ½rst went on sale, Lamborghini used Michelin XWXs – 205/70 on the front, 215/70 at the rear. This necessitated 14-inch wheels rather than the desired 15-inch, which meant smaller brakes than Wallace felt necessary to cope with the power of the V12 engine. Sadly the ½rm, recently offloaded by Ferruccio Lamborghini and struggling for funds, had to accept the compromises in order to get the car on sale. But the Countach had an influential fan in the form of flamboyant Canadian oil millionaire Walter Wolf. In 1974 Wolf became the ½rst person to own one and he urged chassis engineering supremo Gian Paolo Dallara to evolve the car along Seventies Formula One lines. When the Pirelli P7s became available, Dallara modi½ed the car with glass½bre wheelarch extensions to accommodate bigger tyres.With the 225/50 front and massive 345/35 rears on 15-inch wheels, huge gains could be made in grip and braking, as larger vented brake discs could now be accommodated.The car was topped by a rear wing, also F1-derived, to aid downforce. The increased drag brought about by the mods harmed the top speed, although given the LP400 had been claimed to deliver 190mph by Lamborghini, this wasn’t considered to be a hindrance.

CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER

Best buddies: for Dallara (left) and Wolf the Countach assignment marked the beginning of a long relationship

Wolf took delivery of his special DallaraCountach – the ½rst of three – in 1976. It became a regular ½xture in F1 paddocks.The following year, having acquired the assets of the Hesketh team,Walter Wolf Racing entered F1. In his debut year, with Jody Scheckter at the helm of the WR1,Wolf won three races and Scheckter ½nished second to Niki Lauda in the drivers’ championship. The publicity generated for Lamborghini by Wolf’s car was enormous.The introduction of the similar factory-designed LP400S was delayed as they struggled to keep up with orders placed for the existing LP400. Eventually, the ‘Countach S’ received its of½cial launch at the 1978 Geneva show. Lamborghini raised the roofline slightly and was more honest about the engine’s 353bhp rather than the LP400’s quoted 375. Lamborghini had arguably been saved from ruin by the LP400S and publicity brought by Wolf and his Countach. Wolf’s relationship with Dallara flourished, resulting in the WD1 (Wolf-Dallara 1).This singleseater was raced by Chris Amon and Gilles Villeneuve in the 1977 Can-Am season, although reliability woes saw it retire from all but one race.

019


MARKETS

Quentin Willson ... ON THE CLASSICS TO BUY NOW

The Jensen CV8, Facel Vega HK500 and Porsche 930 Turbo have one thing is common: they’re all underpriced, says Quentin. But it won’t last – so act now

Jensen CV8

I drove to London and back in a borrowed Jensen CV8 this week and loved every mile. It actually felt much better than I remember CV8s back in the day. Wuffling imperiously round Kensington I was struck that the glassfibre Jensen is the classic market’s most undervalued performance GT. There’s a whiff of the specialist coachbuilder and an Aston-esque feel to them. Solid, quick and manly, with a soft leather cabin, white-onblack gauges and a natty column shift. And here’s the thing: if an Aston Martin DB5 can make £350k, a good CV8 at £25k is insanely underpriced. Newport Pagnell churned out more than 1000 DB5s, but in 1962-66 the Birmingham Jensen factory managed only 499 CV8s. But today nobody seems to want them. H&H Auctions had two in its July sale, one a minter. Yet neither sold, even though either would have cost less than £25k. Compared to an Aston they’re much cheaper to fix and rebuild. The Chrysler V8 and Torqueflite gearbox are straightforward, the suspension and steering are low-tech and only the twin-tube chassis can rot. A downside is the temperatures the cast iron engine can generate, but cooling system upgrades can stop them steaming. A lovely 1964 MkIII sold earlier this year for £29k. That’s a fraction of what you’d pay to rebuild a CV8 from scratch, so the value is there in spades. After all, we’re talking 136mph, 60mph in less than seven seconds, four hide seats and a glorious drumbeat from the twin exhausts. Plus you get serious exclusivity: Jensen made only three CV8s a week and charged more than twice the price of the contemporary Jaguar Mk2.

The CV8: rare, special and a teeny bit wicked

The owners were ritzy too – architects, surgeons, showbiz types and tycoons chose the CV8 because it was rare, special and a teeny bit wicked. That double-headlight snout may not be to everyone’s tastes but it has a wonderfully menacing quality. Get one in dark blue, silver or dark green, keep it on the original hubcaps and rimbellishers and a CV8 looks hugely dignified and distinctive with a splendidly sinister road presence. I can’t understand why prices aren’t higher, because the CV8 ticks all the usual specialist British GT boxes and then some. I think they’re more special than Interceptors, wilder than Bristols, just as quick as Astons and more fun to drive than an AC Aceca or Greyhound. Is it just me or is the market really missing a trick here? Surely they

CV8s tick all the British GT ‘boxes and are more special than

Interceptors, wilder than Bristols, as quick as Astons and more fun than an AC Aceca or Greyhound

can’t stay at a piffling £30k for a really fine example for much longer.

Facel Vega HK500

Another GT that’s selling for half what it should be is the Facel Vega HK500. I looked at a concours-condition, totally restored car recently up at £100k and thought it looked very reasonable money. Again, the ‘Aston effect’ has to pull up cars like the Facel because they’re just as pretty, just as fast and made in even tinier numbers. Think of it this way: to buy a rusty 500 and do a mega restoration would cost £150k-plus. And that’s before you source rare parts such as the handmade bumpers. So at £100k you’re not even paying the seller’s restoration bills. Current prices are far too low: I reckon a good HK500 will go above £175k in the next couple of years. Word is that when the ex-Ringo Starr HK comes

Facel Vega HK500: achingly stylish

£120k £100k

The rarity and sheer class of the HK500 is finally appreciated

Facels in general proved strangely immune to last boom This reflects UK and bust cycle market; on continent the pick-up started sooner

£80k £60k £40k £20k £0 1985

22

1990

1995

2000

2005

2013

CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER


STARTER

Jensen CV8: still too cheap

£40k £35k

Unusual second peak came as most classic values were falling

£30k £25k

MARKET TRENDS

TRADING HIGH

The CV8, like most Jensens, was slow to take off in the current boom

The ‘Millennium dip’ – it was a good time to buy

When cars consistently exceed auction estimates, it’s a sign they’re on the up – if you want one, it makes sense to move fast. Here are cars – such as the Volvo P1800 – that sold above estimate at this month’s auctions.

£20k £15k £10k £5k £0 1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

out of restoration next year the price will be about £400k. If that sounds a lot, just look at the 500’s lines. No wonder Ava Gardner, Tony Curtis and Picasso chose them. They were the Sixties equivalent of the Bugatti Veyron: achingly stylish with that luscious tapering roof and dainty tailfins. The first of the Euro-US hybrid GTs, the HK could crack 147mph, was the fastest four-seater in the world and the first car you could order with a radio-phone. Well-restored examples are the ones to go for, but projects need careful number crunching. Parts are very difficult to find and that delicious bodywork rusts easily. They’re heavy at 1814kg, but the 5408cc Chrysler Hemi V8 is a gem and easy to mend. A nicely patinated 1960 example is currently on sale in California for £70k, which even with shipping would be a cheap car. Hard to believe that in September last year Bonhams sold a rare manual righthand-drive example for just £40k. That means they’re already climbing in value, and I expect that to carry on.* * Ten-page Markets section, including more Quentin Willson insight, in the full 260-page October issue.

2013

The first of the Euro-US hybrid GTs, the HK could crack 147mph, was the fastest four-seater in the world and the first car you could order with a radio-phone

Year

Make/Model

Estimate

Sold for

1961

Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider

35,000

39,483

Above est % above 4483

12.8

1963

Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider

48,000

55,750

7750

16.1

1962

Amphicar

26,300

37,200

10,900

41.4

1947

Armstrong Siddeley Hurricane

9500

10,528

1028

10.8

1965

Aston Martin DB5

325,000

373,750

48,750

15

1966

Aston Martin DB6

120,000

147,200

27,200

22.7

1980

Aston Martin V8

25,000

28,175

3175

12.7

1960

Austin Mini

8000

8950

950

11.9

1960

BMW Isetta 250

16,000

19,550

3550

22.2

1959

Borgward Isabella

14,900

18,000

3100

20.8

1971

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

17,500

19,700

2200

12.6

1971

Citroën DS19

8770

11,425

2655

30.3

1971

Datsun 240Z

10,500

15,585

5085

48.4

1987

Ferrari Testarossa

48,000

51,750

3750

7.8

1991

Ferrari Testarossa

65,000

74,750

9750

15

1923

Ford Model T sedan

8500

9520

1020

12

1966

Ford Mustang 289 convertible

15,790

17,664

1874

11.9

1968

Jaguar 420

8000

8736

736

9.2

1968

Jaguar E-type 4.2 roadster

45,000

54,880

9880

22

1972

Jaguar E-type coupé

18,000

26,880

8880

49.3

1973

Jaguar E-type S3 roadster

48,000

56,750

8750

18.2

1976

Jaguar 4.2 XJC

5000

6944

1944

38.8

1967

Lotus Cortina MkI

22,000

38,525

16,525

75.1

1965

Mercedes-Benz 300SE Coupé

17,500

24,900

7400

42.3

1972

Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 3.5

17,500

23,300

5800

33.1

1980

Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC

8000

16,675

8675

108.4

1956

MGA 1500 Roadster

17,500

23,300

5800

33.1

1964

Mini Cooper 1071S

16,000

19,040

3040

19

1988

Morgan +8

24,000

30,500

6500

27.1

1968

Morris Minor Convertible

3500

4144

644

18.4

1971

Porsche 911E Targa

35,000

40,250

5250

15

1969

Porsche 912

22,000

23,575

1575

7.2

1971

Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible

26,300

29,000

2700

10.3

1964

Rover P4 110

5000

6440

1440

28.8

1937

Singer Nine Le Mans Special

26,000

30,240

4240

16.3

1961

Volvo P1800

8770

14,500

5730

65.3

1947

Wolseley 10

12,000

14,560

2560

21.3

Facel Vega HK500: parts are hard to get, so go for an example that’s already been restored to a high standard

TRADING LOW It’s been a bad month for Mercedes R107 SLs, with all those offered selling below estimate. Here are the other cars that have fared badly. Year

Make/Model

Estimate

Sold for

1978

Aston Martin V8

45,000

36,960

8040

17.9

1960

Bentley S2

16,000

11,872

4128

25.8

1986

BMW 628CSi

4250

3696

554

13.1

1973

Daimler Double Six

7000

6440

560

8

1971

Fiat 500 L

4500

3920

580

12.9

1995

Jaguar 4.0 convertible

13.000

11,760

1240

9.5

1989

Jaguar V12 convertible

5500

5152

348

6.3

1985

Jaguar XJS-C 3.6

9500

7560

1940

20.4

1973

Jensen Interceptor

8000

6720

1280

16

1972

Lancia Fulvia Berlina

4385

3635

750

17.1

1960

MGA Roadster

22,000

21,000

1000

4.5

1934

Singer Nine Sports

23,000

21,280

1720

7.5

1956

Sunbeam MkIII

5000

3136

1864

37.3

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Below est % below

23


life cycle

2013

new era: now owned by peter’s son

1975: Peter Williams ¾at-out in KNK 8L during an autotest. Over the next 38 years the optionedup Mexico would be rallied, commuted, stored, showed and – ½nally – bequeathed to Peter’s son 76

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The extraordinary life story of one special car

Ford eScorT

MeXIco

1972

brand-new. raLLied and commuted

BOUGHT BY: Peter Williams LOCATION: Chingford, London VALUE: £1641 new WheN ThIS escort Mexico rolled off Ford’s advanced Vehicle operations production line in 1972, new owner Peter Williams had very particular plans for it. he not only wanted to rally KNK 8L, but use it as his family car too. The seeds of his cunning plan were sewn in 1970, when Britain was looking at a brave new motoring world. The range rover and Triumph Stag had just been launched and hannu Mikkola’s 1834cc pushrod escort stormed from London to Mexico to win the World cup rally. Ford, not slow to exploit the win’s marketing success, launched the roadgoing 1598cc version and the coke-bottle-shaped family saloons soon started winning every rally going. driving a Singer chamois in rallies at the time, Peter found himself thinking unfaithful thoughts about escorts. amazingly, he then got to drive a works escort at a family weekend run by his local car club. Peter sadly passed away in 2007 but his thoughts on the car were reported

TIMelINe

19 7 2

Mexico was ½tted with four Cibié spotlights at AVO factory. Night stages were a doddle CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER

by the aVo owners’ club magazine at the time, ‘To drive, it was a pig – albeit a flash, dented pig. The clutch was very much of the “go, no-go” variety; and the ZF gearbox was nice but notchy. But after what that car had done, it was entitled to be tired.’ It was enough to whet his appetite, though not for a Mexico. he spoke to his friend alan Grout, who was sales manager of Leaford Motors in hertford, about an rS1600. ‘alan put me off because the rS I could afford would be bog-standard with vinyl seats and soft suspension, not suited to the rallying I had in mind,’ he said. ‘alan also warned of unreliability and high running costs.’ an optioned-up Mexico at £1641 was the recommended choice. Peter’s son Gareth – who now owns the car – takes up the story. ‘Mum worked in the city of London and was given a bonus, so she bought my dad the car as a present.’ Peter wanted his car equipped with custom, clubman and rally option packs, but this apparently created problems with Ford. alan Grout sorted it out: he got in touch with the aVo plant and the escort became a special-build car. With delivery due in November, Peter went to the earls court Motor Show, where

19 75

water colour: specially commissioned oil painting con½rms Kinky as a work of art 77


life cycle

‘dad got a rally seat harness so I could sit in the back. all I could see was the car and the sky’ he crawled over the Mexico on the Ford stand. on discovering that he had a car on order, the salesman gave him a shock by asking, ‘are you Mr Williams? We’re building your car in ten days’ time.’ When Peter finally took delivery, his Mexico’s registration made him smile. ‘NK was the letter series for hertfordshire and alan Grout knew my pet cat was called Kinky, plus my lucky number is 8,’ he reported. a month later he began campaigning the car – which had inevitably been named ‘Kinky’ – at weekends in rallies, sprints, autotests and the odd autocross. during the week he drove it to work on its knobbly dunlop tyres. In 1973 Kinky took part in the Motoring News Servais rally, where Peter was the second novice driver over the line in 41st place out of 120. But his competition fun was short-lived. The 1972 oil crisis saw fuel prices rocket, petrol ration coupons issued (but never used), and a new 50mph motorway speed limit. By the mid-Seventies, with petrol at 50p a gallon (11p a litre), Peter was forced to give up rallying. ‘When the shovel-nose rS2000 came out I considered switching,’ he reported, but Kinky’s competition past made her difficult to sell, and he’d need another £2000 for an rS. Kinky was sidelined and consigned to the garage.

19 79

Part of KNK 8L’s 100% history ½le. This 1979 bill for front suspension ½x and rebuild: £19 78

with its rally career over, KNK 8L spent years sitting in Peter’s heated garage until he realised it would make an eyecatching show car

1980

middLe age. from racer to sHow star

LOCATION: Newark, Notts ESTIMATEd VALUE: £2000 USEd fOR: shows and runs WhILe KNK 8L patiently waited in the family garage, a succession of newer – and less extreme – Fords took over commuting duties in the late Seventies. Then in 1980 (the year Ford switched to front-wheel drive with the escort MkIII), Peter visited the enfield Pageant of Motoring and was shocked to find that the show cars were in little better condition than Kinky. enthusiasm for the Mexico was rekindled and phase two of its life began. The car scrubbed up well: Peter joined the Ford aVo owners’ club and took the

19 8 2

ford boss walter Hayes writes to Peter to accept honorary membership of the AVO Club CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER

car to its events. By then the couple had moved to Newark. ‘They bought a house with a double garage especially for the Mexico,’ said son Gareth. ‘In fact, dad had central heating plumbed into the garage to make sure it didn’t rot. We went to a lot of shows around derbyshire, and the big Ford events at Silverstone. dad did some Scarborough to Blackpool runs too.’ aVo club member Graham Mitchell remembers the impact it had. ‘In the early eighties the Mexico was an interesting but hardly über-classic old car. Breakers were teeming with bog-standard escort MkIs, and that’s how owners got hold of bits for Mexicos.’ The scrupulously maintained Williams car stood out even then. By the time Peter’s son Gareth was born in 1986, Mexicos were seen as modern-

19 8 6

KNK 8L leads a row of AVO Escorts at a summer club meet in derbyshire


Peter’s son Gareth now owns the car: ‘I’ll never sell it’

2011 new era. but near 100% originaL

but-affordable classics, and Kinky was well known among aVo fans. cars were reasonably priced and parts were cheap. as Gareth grew up, the Mexico’s provenance and status increased, thanks to its unmolested state and complete history, and its value drifted up during the late 1990s. By 2000, pristine Mexicos like KNK 8L were selling for £5500 and Kinky had become a hardy perennial at the aVo club’s annual get-togethers – it’s the only car to have been to every single one. Since 2005 values have soared, fuelled by the growth in classic rallying. When Gareth eventually inherited the car in 2011 (it was then worth around £11,000) his fate was sealed. Surrounded by a network of enthusiasts, he started the Mexico’s next chapter.

19 8 7

It’s father’s day and Peter, Sheila and baby Gareth pose with KNK 8L at an AVO meet

LOCATION: Nottingham ESTIMATEd VALUE: £20,000 OwNEd fOR: two years Today The car is both an heirloom and a much-loved family member for Gareth, his wife clare and their 18-monthold son Peter. ‘This isn’t just Gareth and the car,’ says clare. ‘It’s us and the car.’ despite the pressures of a young family Gareth has made time to look after the Mexico and take it to shows. ‘I haven’t needed to do anything mechanical to it, so everything is still original – even the wings,’ he says. ‘all I’ve ever done is routine maintenance to keep it on the road. I really value its originality because of what it meant to my dad, and what he achieved

2 013

Mexico is now owned by Peter’s son, Gareth, who has kept all of its original features CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER

in the car. If a seat splits or something, I’ll repair, not replace.’ The response to the car has taken Gareth by surprise. ‘We took it to the annual aVo event and Nec show and loads of people loved the car. It was great. Lots were surprised that it’s owned by a young lad [Gareth is 27] and that all the extras are factory-fitted, just as Ford made them. It even featured on the TV coverage of the Nec show!’ For Gareth, the car’s sentimental value is so high it can hardly be quantified. But what it does matters too. ‘It’s the most fun car I’ve ever driven,’ says Gareth. ‘No modern car feels like it. There’s none of the power-assisted technology that makes today’s cars so bland and boring. you really feel like it’s a part of you.’ So, despite the car soaring in value since 2010 when all Mexico prices started climbing, Gareth has no intention of letting KNK 8L go. ‘There’s no way I’d sell it. In fact, we’ve just moved house and got a place especially because of the garage. I would have been happy with a singlebedroom flat provided there was a decent garage for Kinky. Ultimately, I want to look after the car well enough so I can pass it on to my son so he can enjoy.’

next month

1964 Lancia fLaminia Bought new, used hard and sold. forty years on, it’s bought by the ½rst owner’s son.

79


Iso GrIfo This has the 5.4-litre Corvette V8 and is the 1968 London Motor Show car that John Lennon sat in ferrarI V12-enGIned Vanwall A 2003 roadgoing tribute to the Fifties grand prix original

MesserschMItt Kr200 Jane has a penchant for microcars – a BMW 600 is on her hitlist

JaGuar XJ220 Bought from an Irish millionaire who put only 400 miles on it from new. ‘It sounds like a diesel until it warms up,’ says Max

aston MartIn laGonda Here shown barely ½tting into a standard single garage

trIuMph fury A surprisingly usable one-off prototype with styling by Michelotti and a straight-six


the coLLecTors

laMBorGhInI MIura s The heart of the collection; once owned by Twiggy’s manager

datsun 240ZG Rare coupé was one of the ½rst cars in the Weitzmanns’ collection

Jane Weitzmann and her son Max share a love of ‘rare and quirky’ cars

‘My one-in, one-out policy

hasn’t been entirely successful... This month’s buying addicts are a mother and son team who choose with their hearts and sell with great difficulty. The result is a brilliantly eclectic collection Words MARTIN GURDON Photography LAURENS PARSONS


Max and the Miura – it’s the one car he and his mother would never sell Miura V12 loves to catch ½re

Fury’s cockpit is stylish and comfy Jane bought the Triumph Fury for the shape. ‘It’s a grown-up Spit½re’

Triumph’s torque perfect for touring


the coLLecTors

Miura was previously owned by Bernie Ecclestone. It’s not clear how he saw over the wheel

‘I spent most of my youth looking forward to driving the Miura’

JANE WEITZMANN and her son Max are drinking coffee in Jane’s kitchen, discussing their favourite cars, when she says, ‘I had wondered about converting all the downstairs rooms into garage space and moving upstairs.’ Max isn’t surprised – he’s clearly used to his mother’s dedication to an extraordinarily mixed collection of cars, ranging from the sublime and super-valuable Lamborghini Miura S to an Isetta bubble car and a tiny Honda N600 Hondamatic. In 1996 Jane and her late husband Henry bought the Hertfordshire home I’m now visiting because it was car-friendly. She guides me outside to a courtyard flanked by an array of linked, L-shaped garages. We walk past the covered hardstanding that shelters the Isetta and find more buildings containing a workshop and further garaging. With storage for 27 cars this is an enthusiast’s equivalent of Disneyland, but it started with an NG kit car built by Henry in the late Eighties, followed by the Jaguar-based Ronart W152. When the Weitzmanns first began collecting cars, financed by their successful family-owned property business, it was Jaguars that dominated. ‘I’m a career car nut, and my husband Henry and I had a common love of cars. By this time we also had a Datsun 240ZG and a Jaguar XJS, but we wanted more of them, so we moved here,’ says Jane. ‘Initially there was a car port and a triple garage,’ Max adds, ‘but my father quickly extended that to provide another five garages, followed in 2001 by another garage with room for four. Since then, various bits of the garden have been turned into hardstanding to provide more space. We also

moved the gate inwards from the main road by a car length so we can drive in off the road safely before getting out of the car to open it, as well as putting in a hard mesh underneath the grass to make sure it doesn’t get churned up when being driven over after rain.’ Max has happy childhood memories of being ‘dragged around’ classic car shows and car-themed European holidays in their various cars, including a Jaguar 420G. It isn’t Jaguar’s best-loved creation but Jane had one because she liked the shape. ‘Actually, I like big cars,’ she says. ‘As you’ve probably noticed,’ smiles Max. As we stand in the courtyard, with a tiny Messerschmitt KR200 to the right and a Jaguar XJ220 to our left, I admit that I’m struggling to spot a theme – but Jane is quick to offer me one. ‘I like anything rare and quirky,’ she says with relish.

Lamborghini miura s Henry Weitzmann’s predilections were more minimalist, and his taste lives on in the microcars. Although, according to Max, his father’s favourite car was the lime green Miura S behind us. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2000, Henry sold some shares and bought his fantasy car. ‘Like most kids who were into cars, he had posters on his bedroom wall, and the Miura was his dream. He achieved his dream of owning one,’ says Jane. ‘I spent most of my youth looking forward to being able to drive it,’ adds Max. Jane explains that part of its appeal is an interesting back-story. ‘Twiggy’s manager, Justin de Villeneuve, bought it when it was fairly new. He’s the first documented owner. ‘He’d often drive it along the King’s Road in London and, if you see a photograph of Twiggy in or on a Miura, it’s this very car.’ In the Sixties it was white and left-hand drive and started life as a P400. During de Villeneuve’s ownership (born the far more prosaic-sounding Nigel Davies) the car was dispatched to Lamborghini’s Saint’Agata factory, where it was upgraded to S-specification – which added 20bhp and some cosmetic changes. It was later owned by Bernie Ecclestone during the Eighties. This one caught fire (not entirely unheardof with Miuras) during the early Nineties, before the Weitzmanns bought it. ‘If there’s a fuel line fault, the hot engine gets sprayed with petrol – but that’s not actually what happened with this one,’ explains Jane. ‘It

was parked in a garage when something else in there caught light. I think the repair bill was £180,000 to £200,000.’ After too much low-speed posing, the Miura needed re-tuning. Max isn’t surprised. ‘I’ve driven it in London a couple of times but it really doesn’t enjoy sitting in traffic, and you have to watch out for idiots who slam the brakes on right in front of you just to get a photo,’ he says.

Triumph Fury To show me something more user-friendly Jane turns to a powder-blue roadster with ‘Triumph’ spelled out in chrome letters across its nose. It looks a little like an overgrown Spitfire, but in fact it’s a one-off prototype, styled by Giovanni Michelotti and created to trial moncoque construction for the Canley marque. It was the Spitfire resemblance that attracted Jane when she saw it for sale at the Bonhams Goodwood Revival auction in 2009; they bought it via private treaty. ‘My very first car was a primrose yellow Spitfire, which I adored. I thought I’d be disappointed if I had another,’ she says. ‘But this looked like a grown-up Spitfire. In fact, we thought it looked gorgeous.’ Like all the Weitzmanns’ cars, it gets regular, serious use. In fact, the rapid, torquey sports tourer uses running gear from the 2000 saloon, including its 2.0-litre straight-six engine, and has been used on a 1000-mile European trip. Beyond items like the sump gasket and a throttle cable needing replacement, it’s proved strong and reliable. ‘We both agree that it’s wonderful to drive,’ says Jane. ‘That’s important. Any car we don’t enjoy driving gets sold.’ Fast nightdriving is not the Fury’s forte, however. ‘The pop-up lights are vacuum-operated, so as you accelerate they start to droop. You have to back off to see where you’re going.’

messerschmiTT Kr200 ‘It doesn’t have to be fast but it needs to be fun,’ is a family mantra. The Messerschmitt KR200, with its fighter plane-style canopy

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maintenance by numbers

Local mechanic Bernard Eamer has looked after the collection for 35 years. Each year he has to: • Change 150 litres of coolant • Replace 38 oil ½lters • Buy 200 litres of oil • Spend 76 hours giving them routine checkovers, on top of annual servicing • Make 38 trips to the local MoT station • Replace the rubber hoses and seals on a ½fth of the collection • Change a ‘few’ handbrake cables, bulbs, wheel bearings and more

107


It’s not all sportscar grunt. Here Jane samples the Messerschmitt’s charms – note matching trailer

Jaguar XJ220: heady driving experience, but doesn’t suffer fools gladly Jane and Max bought their 5.4-litre Iso Grifo sight unseen in 2002. Fortunately it turned out to be ‘glorious’


the coLLecTors

and tandem driving position, makes just that point. Jane and Max seem captivated by the extreme utility of this and their BMW Isetta. Despite the Isetta’s vague steering and strange weight distribution (it’s conceived for left-hand drive – but in this one you sit on the same side as the single-cylinder 300cc engine), Max enjoys driving it. Jane is more taken by the Messerschmitt and specially fabricated single-wheel trailer, although after one motorway trip she vowed to stick to minor roads. ‘It’s so light I was almost blown on to the hard shoulder and up the grass verge by the trucks.’ In 2010 the Weitzmanns became the car’s third owners: its first hung on to it for 35 years. It was then bought by a UK-based German Embassy employee who’d done a lot of re-commissioning work, although lack of use meant it needed a lot more. ‘The owners’ club has a massive amount of spares – new canopies, everything,’ says Jane, who loves this microcar’s singular eccentricity. ‘To reverse, you depress the key and it starts the engine spinning backwards. So you have four reverse gears.’

‘I thought it sounded dreadful,’ says Jane. ‘Like an old diesel,’ adds Max. Warmed and opened up, the twin-turbocharged V6 powering the most spectacular road car in Jaguar’s CV no longer sounded like a very expensive bag of nails. ‘It made a gorgeous noise,’ recalls Jane, ‘I was sold.’ Their XJ220’s history is typical of a model conceived before the early Nineties’ ���nancial crash but launched in the teeth of it, when droves of suddenly-poor customers cancelled their deposits. XJ220s plunged in value and most ended up barely turning a wheel. This one sat in an Irish showroom for a couple of years, and was eventually bought by a local multi-millionaire who parked it in a hangar next to his helicopter. His chauffeur would occasionally take it out for a run, which explains the 400 miles on the clock when the Weitzmanns took the keys in 2008. They had the car recommissioned with new oil seals, fuel lines and collapsible, honeycomb fuel bag, whose location just behind the passenger cell gives Max pause for thought. Jane is undeterred. ‘There are no driver aids,’ she says. ‘It’s down to you. Get it wrong and the car will bite.’ Max isn’t keen. ‘It sounds interesting when it gets going and it handles okay, although there are other cars that are better. My mother likes it, but I’m not overly fussed.’ Cars whose dynamics don’t match their looks are quickly sold on. ‘My husband bought a DB6 Volante for my 50th birthday, but that was a huge disappointment. It didn’t handle very well,’ says Jane.

Jaguar XJ220

iso griFo

The Messerschmitt is dwarfed by the menacing form of the XJ220. This car is more Jane’s thing than Max’s, although when the pair first heard it being started from cold they were very nearly put off.

Surely the Iso Grifo – in between a Vanwall and an Aston Martin Lagonda – is a contradiction? ‘I love the Iso. It’s one of my favourites to drive and I don’t know why,’ says Jane. ‘The gearstick is positioned for lefthand drive, so it’s a long stretch. I suppose I’m the right shape, and it’s glorious.’ This was Iso’s 1968 London Motor Show car, and has a celebrity backside connection, as John Lennon sat in it at the show. The Weitzmanns bought it in 2002. ‘It looked fab and drove beautifully,’ she says. ‘The interior is original, and the car had been resprayed. So when the roof paint began cracking this spelled trouble. The chassis sidewalls had rotted away, so she was flexing. We had a large chunk of metal welded into the chassis and the car is perfect again.’ The plans don’t stop there. Says Max, ‘One idea is for a car storage facility/ museum, where owners could store their vehicles and work on them, but this is still a pipe dream. We’re restructuring at the moment. I’ve been after an Aerial Atom for a while and my mother is keen on a GT40.’ You get the impression that the Weitzmanns are never happier than when making an acquisition – even if it does mean parting with another car to make room.

‘There are no driver aids on the XJ220. Get it wrong and it’ll bite’

Jane loves the Grifo, despite its peculiar driving position

CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER

all the cars

The Weitzmann collection includes a glorious mixture of the exotic and eccentric

All prices listed are Classic Cars estimates. AC 428 Frua £135,000 Amphicar £50,000 Aston Martin Lagonda £30,000 Radford Mini £12,500 BMW Isetta £16,500 BMW Grinnall trike £15,000 Boss Hoss 57 Chevy trike £30,000 Carver One £30,000 Daihatsu Copen £8000 Datsun 240ZG £20,000 DeLorean DMC12 £27,500 Ferrari 365 GTC/4 £105,000 Fiat Gamine £20,000 Ford F150 Lightning £10,000 Honda N600 Hondamatic £7000 Honda monkey bike £4000 Lexus Hybrid GS450h £15,000 Mini Hustler 6 £5000 Mini (1989 Radford) £9000 Iso Grifo £125,000 Jaguar E-type 3.8 FHC £90,000 Jaguar XJ13 replica £60-150,000 Jaguar XJ220 £140,000 Lamborghini LM002 4x4 £80,000 Lamborghini Miura S £450,000 Mazda Cosmo £6000 Mazda Luce R130 coupé £20,000 Mercedes SLK55 £35,000 Messerschmitt KR200 £25,000 Mini Moke £12,000 Nissan Cube £9000 Ronart W152 £20-40,000 Suzuki LF50 £12,000 Toyota 2000GT £600,000 Toyota Landcruiser £20,000 Triumph Fury £40,000 Ferrari V12 Vanwall replica £50,000

Cars that failed Jane and Max’s driving test and had to go Maserati Ghibli ‘Drove like a tractor’ Aston Martin DB6 Volante ‘Not bad to drive, just not really exciting – despite its gorgeous exterior!’ Maserati Bora ‘Truly horrible brakes’ Fiat Topolino ‘You could run faster’ The Weitzmanns hire out some of the collection for ½lm and TV work through their company JHW Classics. See jhwclassics.com.

next month You’ve bought a nice German castle but what do you do with the vast orangery? We meet the man who ½lled his with classics – including a Mercedes 500K – and hired 19 staff to look after them.

109


E p i c r E s t o r at i o n s

1955 mercedes 300 sL gullwing The road-going 300 SL evolved from the 1952 Le Mans-winning racing car. Its complex construction makes renovation tricky


‘YOU DOn’t reaLLY eXPect a

£211,000

MerceDes gULLwIng tO Be a DeatH traP’

Words NIGEL BOOTHMAN Photography LAURENS PARSONS

wHen tIM JOnes (left) bought this 1955 Mercedes 300 sL coupé unseen at auction he had few worries. the car was described as roadworthy and in nice condition, and it did indeed look tidy. But all was not well underneath that luscious steel shell. In fact the ‘nice’ gullwing ended up needing a full and exhaustive restoration. ‘after the second or third breakdown I thought it was time to get it sorted properly,’ says tim, from London. ‘I was given Mototechnique’s name by a friend soon after I bought the car, and I think I fell on my feet there.’ kevin O’rourke of Mototechnique sent one of his team to bring the car back to the workshop in May 2010. He took it easy, but at one point had to brake hard in heavy traffic. ‘the gullwing shot across the road,’ says kevin. ‘the brakes were effectively working only on one side and he had to correct like mad to avoid an accident. the thing was a death trap.’ the mechanic also heard a suspicious noise from the transmission so, after rebuilding the brakes, Mototechnique removed the gearbox, revealing that the flywheel was cracked and the gearset and gearbox bearings needed replacement. shortly afterwards they discovered a silted-up fuel tank and a failed injector pump. kevin O’rourke phoned tim to relay the news and soon realised he’d reached a tipping point: ‘enough is enough,’ said tim. ‘Just go through the car and do it properly.’ He also discovered the car’s original colour was black not silver [see below]. ‘so I went for a repaint and retrim too.’ and so began a full restoration. as tim says, ‘It’s such a great car that it deserved to be done right.’

As bought, the 300 SL looked deceptively good

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E p i c r E s t o r at i o n s

ch assis & body work

‘a lack of structural integrity will spell catastrophe’ ‘It was a nerve-wrackIng moment when the gullwing’s bodyshell had to come off,’ says Mototechnique boss kevin O’rourke (left). ‘It had to be lifted at the rear and then moved forward to “unhook” from the end of the chassis, which tucks inside the nose section. any lack of structural integrity in the shell could have spelt catastrophe. Luckily it came apart without drama and we tack-welded the shell to a specially constructed frame, ready to be transported to the blasting firm.’ gullwings are susceptible to coats of teutonic-looking silver paint in the same way that Ferraris often pick up layers of ‘re-sale red’ as they pass from one owner to the next. as tim Jones’s car had originally been black, the team wondered how many re-sprays had been done since then, and what they would conceal. ‘this is usually the point in a project where even our worst fears are exceeded and budgets for the finished job shoot upwards,’ says kevin. ‘In this case tim got lucky, perhaps deservedly, considering that he thought he’d bought a nice roadworthy example. ‘the chassis also turned out to be in surprisingly good condition, with none of the narrow tubes needing replacement. But because it forms the basis for the car’s dimensional accuracy we checked it in-house for straightness on our 3D jig. ‘we chose soda-blasting to remove the paint and rust from the bodywork. I don’t trust chemical dipping because it can be harsh and too much material gets removed. also, the chemicals get into every seam, and I don’t believe you can ever remove it all, so it could compromise the paint finish in years to come. with the paint off, all we found was a sill section and a rear wheelarch that needed tidying; beyond that, it wasn’t a rusty car.’ Body and chassis specialist richard lead-loaded the wheelarch repair, ‘Polyester filler can shrink and crack, and it also tends to soak up atmospheric moisture before the paint goes on,’ he says. ‘Lead loading is authentic – it’s the method used on new car bodies back in the days when the gullwing was originally built. ‘You apply paste-like flux to the steel surface, then heat it with a gas flame to melt the lead content. this gives the lead filler rod [a 95 per cent tin solder much like that used by plumbers] something to stick to when you soften it with the flame. You can then warm it and spread it around with a wooden paddle, before filing it to shape when cool.’ Hours taken: 320

One of the riskiest operations was lifting the bodyshell off the tubular chassis. If the body was rotten, there was a risk it would bend under its own weight. Fortunately it didn’t...

expert advice ‘Lead solder is often poor quality these days, so I melt it in a steel pot and skim off the impurities before using it. It’s not something we do much of now except to seal welded seams, which it’s perfect for. Modern body ½llers are better for ½nishing hand-made panels, but they’re not a substitute for talent.’

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CLASSIC CARS MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE SAMPLER

With the chassis and body reunited, the ½ddly tasks began. Foil-coated insulation keeps heat and noise out of the cabin and moisture away from the underside of the ¾oors


Retrimming the interior involved making correct ½tted luggage from scratch using a an original set from a Gullwing as a pattern

intErior trim

Filling imperfections using lead solder is an art form – it’s easy to distort the panel with heat, or end up with all the lead on the workshop ¾oor

The sill section was one of the few areas needing repair. Exposed chassis reveals why the SL’s sills are so deep

‘Hides have different properties – choosing the right one is crucial’ ‘tHe DasHBOarD was an awkward shape, and had to be covered with one piece of leather – that’s how they were done originally,’ says kevin’s son rob, who runs O’rourke coachtrimmers. ‘It needs to be able to stretch, and some leather stretches more than others. You can use water to make it stretch and hot air to shrink it, but you need to start with the right piece. ‘generally, grainy leather stretches more than smooth leather but the area from the belly of the cow has more give in it, so that’s what I used. You can spend as little as £60 on a hide but six months after completion it will stretch and start to look terrible. ‘the going rate for a hide from a top-quality source is about £350, but you can pay up to £850 if it’s received a special wash or treatment. this car needed five hides in the correct 1060 cream colour. ‘Fortunately the interior turned out to be highly original and un-messed-with so it went through the workshop quite nicely. Unlike so many cars of this age it hadn’t been repeatedly taken apart and re-made with new holes drilled each time, so we could pay close attention to how everything was done originally and work to those standards. the seats didn’t require anything more than re-covering. ‘the other unusual job was the fitted luggage, which we made from scratch. we managed to borrow a set of original cases from another Mercedes gullwing and made paper patterns of all the important profiles from that, then spent many hours researching so we could source the correct rivets, locks and hinges. ‘For the body of the cases we used thin plywood to make them sturdier than the originals. ‘we found the correct pattern tartan material for the lining in scotland, appropriately enough, and used the same hide as the seats and dash to cover the exterior.’ Hours taken: 200

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E p i c r E s t o r at i o n s

Painting was the easy bit. Preparing the Gullwing’s complex body surfaces was far more labour-intensive

pa i n t wor k

‘we sand by hand using 80-grit, then 180-grit, then 400...’ ‘FIrst we aDD a skIM of filler wherever it’s needed,’ says Mototechnique’s painter James. ‘It’s a micro-layer of fine polyester and is always needed in certain areas – not to fill holes or build up profile, but to achieve a faultlessly smooth surface texture. ‘then we sand that by hand, first with 80-grit paper, then 180-grit. next we apply high-build primer, then sand again, using 180-grit followed by 400-grit. when that’s done, we repeat the high-build primer, and sand with 240, then 400, then 500.’ this laborious process is called blocking, after the rubber blocks used to mount the paper and give the tired painter something to grip. James rolls his eyes when asked how long the whole process of preparation takes, but says it’s far longer for a car like the gullwing, with its wheelarch ‘eyebrows’ and other unusual contours. Finally, after hundreds of hours of preparation, the painting process starts. ‘we use an epoxy primer that acidetches to the bare metal it comes into contact with and forms a protective moisture barrier in case the paint is ever scratched,’ says James. after this comes a solvent-based primer that’s hand-sanded when dry with 500 grit. It’s now ready for the paint itself. Mototechnique uses PPg’s water-based paint, in this case DB40 Black. ‘we don’t use two-pack for the same reason you didn’t travel here on a unicycle… there are better ways to do it. there are no solvents to react and evaporate over time, so you don’t get any pinching or dropping in the finish – as you can with two-pack.’ James applied three coats of base coat followed by three of clear lacquer. Unlike the old days of cellulose paint, countless coats and hand-flatting between each one aren’t needed if the preparation is done properly. From here, more arm-aching labour sees the whole car wet-flatted in 1200-grit, then 1500, then 2000. Finally, a machine polisher is allowed near the car to apply one treatment of 3M’s Fastcut and one of Fine. Hours taken: 350

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Straight-six engine comes from the 300 saloon, canted over to ½t inside a sports car engine bay and brought to life with mechanical fuel injection. It’s an inherently tough motor

Re½tting the new and restored parts to the painted body offers a multitude of ways to ding that perfect ½nish, even when it’s mummi½ed in bubble wrap


EnginE & running gEar

‘You can’t assume that any one item will be okay’

Gearbox fresh from the car before being rebuilt using gear clusters from the Roadster, giving taller ratios for more relaxed cruising

‘tHese are BIg, strOng OLD MOtOrs,’ says Mototechnique’s all-purpose mechanic, technician and electrician colin. ‘But even so, thorough inspection of each component for condition is crucial. You can’t assume that any one item will be okay.’ this is particularly true on a car where the fuel system, transmission and brakes were found to be in such a sub-standard condition. the state of the fuel filter, which was found to be clogged with rusty silt, (see photo bottom right) meant the Mototechnique team feared the gullwing’s 3.0-litre straight-six would hide some nasty surprises. However, thankfully, the inherently tough overhead-cam design passed most of colin’s tests so the rebuild process was straightforward. to check the camshaft lobes he uses a micrometer capable of recording differences as small as one hundredth of a millimetre to see if there is any variation from the original manufacturing tolerances. ‘If the lobe heights are reduced, it can mean the hardened finish is no longer effective, so future wear will occur considerably faster, making replacement a priority,’ says colin. ‘there was no detectable wear on the gullwing’s camshaft so it could be retained, along with the connecting rods, crankshaft, engine block and cylinder head casting.’ colin stripped the block bare and gave it a hot caustic clean to remove any deposits that could cause restrictions or blockages in the oilways and coolant passages. He decided there was enough wear in the cylinders to demand a rebore, which called for new pistons too. ‘I fitted new valves and unleaded fuel-compatible hardened valve seats, and the crankshaft just needed new shell bearings,’ says colin. getting it right on the inside isn’t the end of the job. what sets apart a truly top-class restoration can be the detail and effort put into the finish, and the engine bay illustrates this well. the large aluminium casting for the inlet manifold has a smooth and long-lasting finish that’s not quite shiny. It’s achieved by vapour-blasting with small particles suspended in water. colin then had to deal with the failed fuel injector pump that had kicked off the whole restoration in the first place. ‘we sent this one away to a trusted source,’ he says. ‘they measure and adjust the pump’s metering with a special flowmeter and without this they can never be properly set-up.’ Finally, he moved on to the rear axle. ‘It had survived well,’ says colin. ‘I just had to replace a few bearings.’ Hours taken: 1136 (all mechanical work)

expert advice

When you discover a fuel ½lter this badly clogged you naturally fear the worst. It’s amazing the car ran at all

‘You don’t always need high-tech equipment to assess the condition of components. For example, I checked the Gullwing’s connecting rods for straightness simply by putting them against a decent straight edge, where any twist or distortion would have become visible in a way it sometimes isn’t at ½rst glance.’

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The ½nal re½t took Kevin Brown 167 hours

The 300 SL was easier to rebuild than a ’50s Ferrari

Correct door ½t depends on shims inside the struts. It took days to sort

FittEr

‘Just getting the doors to fit properly took days and days’ ‘tHOse gULLwIng DOOrs were very time-consuming,’ says Mototechnique’s body fitter kevin. ‘But you just have to be methodical. those struts are preloaded, and that preload affects how they shut. they’re made up of one chromed steel tube inside another with a spring inside. the preload is created by shims, so you fit the shims, assemble everything, try the doors, realise which strut needs adjusting which way and try again until it’s right. It took days of fiddling.’ there’s more to it than this, even. kevin describes how the door rubber’s crossprofile must be exactly right to seal without pushing the door out of the aperture, and how the leather of the interior trim must be seated in such a way that the door rubber can rest over it. Despite the oceanic patience required to go about each job in the right way, repeatedly, until the result is perfect, kevin has found things to enjoy about working on the complex gullwing. ‘the fit is better than on old Italian cars. everything is pretty well made and it goes together nicely when you do it all in the right order,’ he says.

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In this sense body fitting is the most important restoration role; after all, kevin builds the car. and back when the initial stripdown takes place, it’s his job to take exhaustive photos and notes, which are used both as a documentary record of what was done and also a procedural guidebook for the refitting process. this means every connector, every cable and every wire in the loom must be labelled as they’re disconnected. It’s kevin’s job to assess even the smallest items, and decide on replacement or refurbishment. He had to find stickers for the underbonnet area that use the correct font and wording for the car’s year of manufacture as well as nuts and bolts of the appropriate period size, shape and finish. this approach is sometimes altered to allow treatment to preserve the restoration work. For instance, the cadmium-plated parts receive an invisible coating of wax, sprayed fine to prevent them tarnishing. But when asked about the biggest challenge he faced with the gullwing, kevin doesn’t have to speak. He just frowns a little and gazes at those doors… Hours taken: 167 (final refit)

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QuEntin’s ViEw

‘never take a car seller’s description at face value’ There are far too many rubbish repairs and dodgy descriptions in our hobby. Selling a £200k classic that’s not even roadworthy, even at auction, shouldn’t be allowed to happen. I could lecture Tim Jones on the lunacy of buying any classic, never mind a Mercedes Gullwing, unseen under the hammer. But I won’t – because you have to admire the bloke’s unbridled passion. The brutal fact of the matter is that very few classics for sale are as good as the seller claims. Unless the car has been maintained by a reputable and meticulous specialist, that ‘original and mint’ motor will, in reality, just be held together by a string of unconnected and sometimes hasty old car repairs. To keep a classic in perfect nick requires enormously specialist knowledge, lots of hours, months of running about and lots of cash. So find who has actually done that alleged resto, what sort of reputation they have and never take a seller’s description at face value. The reason why beautifully restored cars make so much money is that the real deal costs absolute bundles. Anything else is just bodgery and corner cutting. Sad, but true. Thanks to: Tim Jones; Mototechnique Ltd (mototechnique.com, 020 8941 3510). Staff surnames were omitted to avoid them being poached by rivals. O’Rourke Coachtrimmers (coachtrimmers.com, 01403 824220)

Next MONtH

B M W 3. 0 C S L

It should have been easy – the owner runs a BMW specialist garage. But its handmade construction created headaches only cured by a long search for artisan suppliers.


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