Friday, 27 February 2015

Dauer EB110 Super Sport

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Blah blah Veyron blah. The connoisseur's Bugatti is unquestionably the EB110 of the early 1990s. Named to celebrate what would have been Ettore Bugatti's 110th birthday - the 1991 launch date, by a clever bit of planning - this was an almost unbelievably ambitious supercar. The money poured into development was staggering, with a new factory built to produce the EB110 (architecturally intelligent, to maximise natural light and thus stimulate the thought processes of the people inside) while the machine itself was an exercise in bespoke engineering and unique detail. The carbon-fibre chassis was built by Aérospatiale, the French state-owned aerospace company, and the 3.5-litre V12 produced its howling peak of 560bhp thanks to no less than four turbos. This is a car that emerged almost a quarter of a century ago, yet happily boasts thoroughly modern performance figures: try 0-62mph in 4.2s and a top whack of 213mph for size.

In 1992, the EB110 Super Sport arrived. As well as being more powerful, the SS was lighter, shaving a whole second off the 0-62mph time and increasing top speed to 216mph. And it's that model that we're looking at here... kind of. But not really.

You see, this hugely expensive venture was rather less than a fairytale. Bugatti were struggling financially, and by 1995 they were facing bankruptcy - thanks in no small part to the development of the mooted EB112 four-door as well as an overly ambitious plan to buy Lotus. The remaining five half-finished EB110s were snapped up by Dauer Sportwagen (previously well known for their work with Porsche 962s among much else), and so the very latest EB110s were built by this world-class engineering and racing outfit rather than at the fabled Bugatti factory. Dauer EB110s weighed 1,480kg - a whopping 400kg less than Bugatti EB110s - and the engine was rated at a monstrous 865bhp. Top speed increased to 230mph.
Dauer themselves went bankrupt in 2008, and these later EBs are commanding astonishing figures now; the one you're looking at here was recently sold by Joe Macari for £795,000. Still, it's cheaper than a Veyron...

More photos from Joe Macari here.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Ferrari F12 TRS

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Ferrari love to build one-off specials. It helps to tie their contemporary models into a long and distinguished tradition of coachbuilding, exemplary client relations, and just creating beautiful things for the sake of it. And so it was that in June of last year they debuted the F12 TRS at the Ferrari Cavalcade in Sicily.
Based on the already astonishing F12berlinetta - a car that offers innovative aero and 730bhp - the TRS exists to fulfil the whims of a customer who envisaged the F12 as a racy barchetta. The Ferrari Styling Centre, headed by Flavio Manzoni, took the 1957 250 Testa Rossa as inspiration (hence the TRS moniker), and the V12's red heads are clearly visible through the bonnet in tribute. It's stripped out to be racier than the production model, which means no stereo, no glovebox, minimal aircon, no window controls... it's basically just a taut mass of carbon-fibre and Alcantara wrapped around a sodding great engine. And it looks pretty fabulous, doesn't it?

Spotted at Salon Privé 2014 - click here for more photos.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Sebring Sprite Coupé

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

What do you get when you cross the perky little Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite with the Healey Speed Equipment Division to create an FIA-recognised homologation special for endurance racing? Er, this - the Sebring Sprite.
This particular one is a recent replica, built by Motobuild and featuring a tweaked 1,380cc engine and straight-cut 'box. The colour scheme was inspired by James Hunt's motif of running his cars in his old school colours; the Sebring's Speedwell Blue with Old English White nose are the boarding house colours of the owner's son.

You can read all about the rebuild here. SuckSqueezeBangBlow spotted the car at Goodwood's 72MM, where it was eagerly guarding the main entrance; more photos here.

Monday, 23 February 2015

1987 Ferrari F40

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

There's not a lot to say about the F40 that hasn't been said a million times before. The archetypal 1980s supercar poster-boy, it was Enzo's last sign-off - a celebration of the 40th anniversary of his first car, and a boisterous 90th birthday present to himself. The 2.9-litre engine with its twin IHI turbos produced 478bhp, which was all channeled entirely without electronic intervention through those fat rear tyres. It was a real contender in the late-eighties supercar wars, able to hit 60mph in 3.9s and top the mythical double-ton, and it looked like a full-on race car. (Despite, er, not actually being designed to race.) It's a legend. Everyone wants one, and anyone who says otherwise is a filthy liar.
This particular one is rather special, as it's an early '87 model - production ran from 1987-92 - and is one of just a smattering that were sold with sliding Lexan windows. It's up for sale at £975,000 which, although eye-watering, is probably one of the last times you'll see one of these without a seven-figure price tag.

Spotted at Joe Macari - more photos here.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

SSBB Interview: Jochen Mass

With Goodwood's 73rd Members' Meeting rapidly approaching, here's another look at my interview with Jochen Mass at last year's 72MM. (This originally appeared in Retro Ford magazine, hence the slight Ford bias...!)

As motorsport icons go, they don’t come a lot more prolific than Jochen Mass. He’s raced in more series and disciplines than you’ve had hot dinners (possibly, depending on your own individual keenness for hot dinners); from his early days competing in sprints and hillclimbs in an Alfa Romeo Giulia, he moved into the ETCC in the early 1970s driving Ford Capris, before moving into F2 single-seaters and graduating to Formula One. He debuted with Surtees F1 in 1973, then switched to McLaren in late ’74, going on to become team-mate to Emerson Fittipaldi and, later, James Hunt. In the late seventies he drove for ATS and Arrows. In 1982 he left Formula One, focusing more on the endurance racing he’d been competing in with Porsche, and these days he’s a stalwart of the classic racing scene. He’s also a thoroughly nice bloke, so we caught up with him at the Goodwood 72nd Members’ Meeting to fire a few questions through that mop of tousled hair.

We’d prefer to see you in a Capri, of course, but you’re here driving a BMW 2002 this weekend. How do you think you’ll fare against the competition?
‘Well, it’s a good car, you know, but it always takes a while to get used to driving a new machine. The driving standards here are always excellent though, a lot of very considerate and talented drivers. But there are a lot of Capris on the grid and I’m in the only BMW, so we’ll see! I might have to get a bit aggressive.’

Tell us about how you came to be driving the Capri RS2600 back in the early 1970s.
‘I began racing in an Alfa Romeo, and ultimately came up against some Fords back in 1969. Ford seemed to like my style and invited me for some tests along with a number of other drivers, and I was consistently the quickest in the group. The rest is history!’

You took the RS2600 to victory in the Spa 24hr of 1972. How did that kind of tin-top endurance racing compare to the frantic sprints of Formula One?
‘The tin-tops are much less intense! You have to preserve the car, pace yourself – it’s not all peaky-peaky like F1. That’s a totally different mindset; in Formula One it’s a mad scramble for the finish, whereas endurance racing in a saloon car is more of a mental challenge. In any form of racing the car evolves over time as the tyres degrade, the fuel burns off and means the car’s lighter and the weight balance shifts, all of this kind of thing. But when you’re driving something like the Capri at Spa, all of this evolution happens over a longer timescale, you know? The handling was very good, there was never a concern about the car’s ability, it was all about keeping your head in order.’

In 1980, as well as driving the Arrows A3 in F1, you also raced the Kremer Porsche 935 and the Zakspeed Capri Turbo. Which was the most fun?
‘Ha ha, you want me to say the Capri, don’t you? But honestly, I only actually drove it once, and I’m afraid it wasn’t so good. Well, it was a good car, but not very exciting for me – too much aerodynamic assistance, so the margins between it and its competitors were small, there was little room for driver flair. And it wasn’t as responsive as the Porsche, I’m afraid! But you can’t really compare the Zakspeed with the old RS2600 either, they’re totally different cars – the older one was much more tactile, more involving. I enjoyed driving the RS very much.’

As an ex-F1 driver of the 1970s, what do you make of Formula One today?
‘Ah, they can’t be compared. One is unrecognisable from the other. I don’t want to bitch, but… it could certainly be simplified today without harming the sport. It’s a money game, always has been, but when it gets out of control, the sport pays the price.
'I think the modern cars are too sophisticated, too much focus on aerodynamics, although they’ve clearly reacted to that this year by making the wings smaller and encouraging a bit of oversteer! Ultimately, the sport is for the spectators, and you need a full house. They require noise, smells, thrills, jeopardy!’

Your old McLaren team-mate James Hunt has become known to a new generation of fans recently. Does today’s perception of him match up with your own memories?
[deadpan] ‘Who? Oh, Hunt? Yeah, he was a great philanderer, not overly sophisticated, whatever you’ve heard…
'You know what I remember? He wasn’t strictly quicker than me, just hungrier. He’d lost his Hesketh drive, he’d sniffed success, and he saw McLaren as the springboard. And he naturally fell into the no.1 driver role, got the better engines… that was the way it was. But he was always fun to be around. A circus, you know?’

If you could go for a beer with any of your old racing contemporaries, who would it be?
[thinks deeply] ‘Oooh… Patrese, Lafitte, Stewart, any of them really. I can’t pick a favourite, I’ve always got on well with my peers and contemporaries. Life’s short, and mine has been well-lived so far. I have no regrets. I like and respect everyone I’ve raced with. Well, with a few exceptions…!’

Of all the many races you’ve competed in, do you have a favourite?
‘Ha! I often get asked this – I’m still around! My racing days are not over yet… my best race could be today. But I’d say the 1975 and ’76 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring were the most memorable. In ’75 I crashed out heavily when I lost a wheel at the Fuchsrohre, and of course ’76 was the year that Niki [Lauda] had his crash. Before that I was in first place and had a 30-second lead, but that was lost after the restart. I still feel that I should have won that race.’

Jochen’s enthusiasm is infectious; he can remember every last detail of each car and every race, and the towering legend that precedes him immediately dissipates as you realise that he’s just a regular guy, a genuinely nice bloke with a cheeky grin and youthful twinkle in his eye. As he gets up to continue with his whirlwind social extravaganza in the Goodwood paddocks (it’s incredible to watch, seriously, he knows everyone) he leaves us with a poignant parting shot: ‘You know, a lot of people focus too much on dividing everything in their life into two boxes – these things are shit, and these things are great. But that’s bullshit. Why can’t people accept that it’s OK for everything to be OK? Life’s too short for such extremes, you’ve got to keep everything in proportion and just enjoy yourself. You only get to do it once.’ From a man who’s lived such a full and rich life, it’s impossible to disagree.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Fiat Dino Spider 2400

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Fiat's Dino sub-brand was a stepping stone towards the Ferrari Dino models, which sometimes leads to a little confusion among the classic car fraternity (and, as in this case, opportunities to glue on spurious Ferrari badges). In essence, the initial purpose of the exotic Fiat was to homologate Alfredo 'Dino' Ferrari's 2.0-litre V6 engine for Formula 2 racing, although the gorgeous Bertone coupe and Pininfarina spider were far, far more than just shrouds for a race motor. They were sublimely realised and gorgeously finished handbuilt exotics, genuinely deserving of the Ferrari badge that so many enthusiasts feel it necessary to implement themselves.

The initial corporate plan was for all Ferrari-built cars that were powered by V6 engines to be badged 'Dino' rather than 'Ferrari', in tribute to Enzo's son who died at the age of 24 and supposedly gave inspiration for the engine - it was a sort of entry-level model concept. It was the US market, however, that killed the idea - dealers thought that a whole new brand would be difficult to shift, so they had them badged as Fiats.
Later cars, such as this one, had the 2.0-litre, 158bhp motor replaced by a 178bhp 2.4, and also swapped the leaf-sprung live axle for the IRS setup from the Fiat 130. It had the same Girling brakes as the Lamborghini Miura, the same ZF gearbox that Aston Martin liked to use and, paradoxically, while the 2.0-litre cars were assembled by Fiat, the 2.4 cars were built by Ferrari alongside the Dino 246GT. So it's an incorrectly Ferrari-badged Fiat, that was actually built by Ferrari. Confused? Don't worry, it probably doesn't matter. Just keep drinking in those sublime curves, you'll find that quite a lot of things don't matter any more.

Spotted at Joe Macari - click here for more photos.