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    Jeroen Vladimirovich Booij
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    Road to Daytona Ferrari Daytona Prototype. As Daytona model was a milestone for Ferrari so it was this car - the very first prototype of what became the 365 GTB / 4 "Daytona" - that started the process. Now it has regained its former glory after a ten-year restoration. Text: Jeroen Booij. Photo: Pieter E. Kamp.

    Leonardo Fioravanti, the man who created the name Pininfarina Ferrari Daytona. Even today, he considers it to be one of his masterpieces. Something that becomes particularly clear when trying to interview him about other things - and he still insists on talking about Daytonan.

    It was born more or less by accident. I saw a 275 GTS chassis, the open version of the 275 GTB, get on a truck. It was on the way to be fitted with a body, but the chassis was complete with wheels, engine, seats and steering wheel, albeit still quite naked. When I saw it I thought, "we are doing wrong - completely wrong." I started sketching and came up with a proposal for a new car.

    The boss said it was impossible to replace the 275 GTB already, the model was too new. But he liked what he saw and we showed it to Enzo Ferrari who fell for the profile and rear, but did not like the front. I had taken into account the very long wheel base of 275, something that had been done to the car felt like it had a little "too much" body. We changed the front and asked Ferrari once again - it was unusual that you had to do it - and now it was okay, he really liked it.

    So it was that 275 received a replacement after just over 800 built, but it was only after they felled a few prototypes to substitute. In fact, the very first of the six test series a completely different front than the Daytona we know, something Fioravanti had not told earlier. Neither he nor I had not any idea that the very unique car was about to be restored to original condition, and it is not far from my home in Holland. But you can not know everything. Something that also applies to the owner of the prototype. His name is Gerard van Bergen, is a 73-year-old car salesman who bought it in 2003 without knowing that it was a prototype! How can that be possible?

    Well, when is it going sometimes so fast that you do not have time to check the details, he says with a happy smile. Van Bergen has bought and sold the most during the greater part of his life, he started as a 17-year-old with dealing with livestock. When foot and mouth disease broke out operations in the second half of the 60s, he decided to switch to cars. Half a century later the Dutchman runs a small leasing company, has some properties and is still active as a car salesman, now with one of his sons. As a hobby, he has renovated several classics along with a friend, mostly Mercedes cars.

    We fixed a 300 SL Roadster, a brace, a pagoda and a 190 SL, which we turned into a 190 SLR. Slowly I became more and more interested in the Ferrari, too, he says. I bought a Testarossa, had a F512M and has repaired a crashed F40. But my dream was a GT-car from the 1960s. Then I came across this in Switzerland, it was in a sorry state but I managed to get it started and participated in a club rally in 2003.
    Do you have any idea about what it is? Asked one of the older members. Well, one item that needs an awful lot of work, I replied. Slowly it dawned on me that it really was a very special car and I had to find out its entire history. It took a year to sort out it.

    It was during the inquiries that van Bergen came in contact with the Ferrari expert Marcel Massini, who confirmed its prototype status. With chassis number 10287 proved to be the first of the six test cars, a 275 GTB-based creation that came into being in the spring of 1967. Scaglietti was commissioned to build the prototype of the Pininfarina and did so under the code name "Study 109". After it is mostly unclear. In fact, the car used for the test around the old aerodrome Modena, although it was never published.

    Since it was sold to an unknown owners even before the 365 GTB / 4 Daytona was unveiled in 1968. It then cost eight million lire (about the same price as for a new 275 GTB) and was recorded in Rome. The next owner, Gianpaolo Salgarella in Bologna, paid three million lira in 1972, but as the car is said to have been injured. Shortly thereafter, was exported to the US and found new homes, first in Georgia, then in Mississippi and Illinois, and finally in southern California.

    Somewhere in the chain got it a facelift, the colour changed from grey to red and headlights changed to some taken from a 275 GTB. Van Bergen believe it was to make the car more easily sold. - That it was a prototype did not mean much at the time. But the 275 GTB had been coveted for some time, so maybe it had something to do with it, he says.

    Rebuilt yet again, this time to Daytona with the hood over the headlights, the car was found in 1988 a new owner of Dutchman Henk van de Meene. He put it in his Swiss garage and sold it since the beginning of the 1990s to another man in Switzerland. Then it took another ten years before Van Bergen became the ninth owner. Shortly after he bought decided he decided to start a thorough restoration. The first idea was to do it in-house, along with his friend, but it soon became apparent that the job demanded specialists. - With lots of patience, we manufactured a manifold but when a Ferrari club member came to take a look, he said "what on earth are you doing? I know you like Mercedes, but this is totally wrong, and it must be easier. "

    It was only to begin anew. Of the few photographs we had revealed that the whole body changed slightly. And of the right headlamp, we had just left the house, but sat on the left side! The rear fenders were also bad and needed lots of new material. At the same time began to hunt for the headlights of the correct type. - Fiat 850 Spider have similar lights, but the glass on them are ribbed and the pictures we had we could see that Ferraris was not. It took me two years to find out what they were, Carello number so and so. Then I found a couple in the US and the guy wanted 1250 dollars for them. Sure, I could have let manufacture new but what it did not cost! In addition, I wanted the real thing, no copies. I always thought that it is worth the price in the end.

    Judging by the results, it is just as when it left Maranello. The leather-wrapped instrument panel, aluminium, paper mill used as insulation behind the door panels, the primer is applied to the body to a year before it had the grey colour - a cellulose lacquer to the original factory specifications ...

    Then it was the engine. If perchance thought that the body was the oddest of this unique car, it's time to reconsider. Under the bonnet sits namely the world's only #Lampredi-V12 engine of the "243-type". There is an experimental machine with dry sump, two spark plugs per cylinder and three instead of four valves per cylinder. The foundation is a 330 GT-block taken up to 4380 cc, yet it is the cylinder heads, which is the most unique of the machine. Engine Builder Alex Jansen of Forza Service claims that the engine is experimental and probably made the competition department.

    The cylinder heads are completely flat, which means that the combustion chambers located in the piston tops. That, and the tight angle between the valves, makes the dual camshafts can fit in a single cam housing. To fit the dual plugs has moved to the outside of the peaks. The only thing unchanged is the assembly of the six dual Weber 40 DCN carburettors, but the characteristic air filter box is missing and instead sits six pairs of open intake trumpets on Ferrari racing cars. The only engine I've seen that, in addition to the spark plug placement, similar to this is the race car 330 P4! And as it sounds! Van Bergen hit at the gas pump and turn on the small key. The starter motor turns slowly and it takes a few laps before the twelve cylinders filled and the engine slams started with a characteristic metallic sound. - This is hardly the perfect car for the winding back roads, he says, trying to drown out the rumbling V12. It needs a little turns and thrives best if you wait to switch to at about 7000 revolutions ... First he warms up gently. When the temperature reading is 90 degrees his pedal and the prototype as well as lifts, starts dancing back and leave everyday traffic in the rear-view mirror. At lower speeds it spits a little, "camshafts" said engine builder Jansen and refers to machine racing shield.

    But as soon as a straight pop up, things happen. As the lap increases the beast begins to breathe properly and it is then, when the needle on the tachometer suddenly shoots up, you get goose bumps. Compared with all modern sports and GT cars is its position in the leather, contoured seat remarkably high. That, along with the narrow A-pillars, gives a great overview. The long hood stretches out along the way and the main four instruments are all gathered behind Nardiratten. The large tachometer graduated up to 8000, but the red mark begins in 7000, meaning that van Bergen is not afraid to use the unique machine and he revving happily past the 7000.

    The instrument panel itself is simpler than in the later production cars that had the eight instruments combined. Here are some conditioned place in the middle along with six toggle switches. Moreover, there is a very Italian cigarette lighter - no longer will be used ...

    The odometer shows 32,400 kilometres - have resisted the temptation to set it back to zero and van Bergen has only driven a few mil since the car's restoration was completed.

    Ferrari, however, has been traveling back and forth to Italy a few times, but then in a covered trailer. First, it was taken to the manicured lawns of the Villa d'Este. From van Bergen made a small detour to Maranello on the way back to see the car for Marco Arrighi at Ferrari Classiche.

    The only thing missing was the car namely the coveted Classic. There appeared, however, up an unexpected problem, namely Arrighi found some sketchy pictures of the car, but they were still clear enough to show that it originally had three instead of two tail lights! After an eye Spirit showed it to be true, and Van Bergen looked forced and compelled to cut new holes in the stern of the newly restored car!

    When offered Ferrari Classiche to help him, they had even hired an old retired guy from Scaglietti bodywork which once installed these light units!

    It was great, but even if it was #Ferrari-Classic felt nervous. It was like handing over one of my children to an unknown surgeon. It was almost as if I persisted in getting to sleep next to the car...

    Finally, after seven sorrows and eight afflictions almost ten years, is the van Bergen pleased with the end result. And it is also the Ferrari, which is well proven to be borrowed car over the summer and put it in his museum in Maranello.

    The question is what Gerard van Bergen dream car now, when this is done? He thinks, and shines up: - A Daytona Competizione - a standard Daytona is just too "normal" for this project...

    TECHNICAL DATA #Ferrari-Daytona-Prototype / #1967 / #Ferrari-Daytona / #Ferrari
    Engine: V12, 3 valves per cylinder, dual ignition, dry sump, capacity 4380cc
    Maximum power DIN 352 hp at 7500rpm
    Maximum torque DIN 300 Nm at 5000rpm
    Transmission: Five-speed, manual gearbox fitted together with the diff - transaxle-type
    Body and Chassis: Steel Body on steel frame, double wishbone and coil springs and anti-roll bars front and rear.
    Dunlop disc brakes all around.
    Tyres Michelin XWX 205/70 VR14
    Weight 1,350kg.
    0-62 MPH 0-100 kph about 6.5 seconds.
    Top speed of about 280 kph
    Price: New 1968 8 000 000 lire.
    Today, it is invaluable.

    Probably only gone as little as 3240 miles, but in that time it has had a number of different fronts.

    Ferrari Daytona #Prototype #V12

    With two tight overhead camshafts under the same cover is unique cylinder heads. Furthermore, the plugs located on the exterior and the entire combustion chamber can fit in plunger tips when the tips are completely flat underside. According to the experts, the engine is based on a 330-drilled block and reminiscent of the one in the racing car 330 P4, even if it is not quite like. Probably, it is built as an experiment.

    Under the bonnet will we as expected V12 machine.
    But this time it is completely unique to this copy.
    Decor is your own mix of different Ferrari models of time. Dashboard is quite different from the one that came in Daytona.
    Front remind me of the 275 GTB, but my party is definitely Daytona. And the three rear lights is only remarkable.
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    My obsession with #Alfa-Romeo-8C s stems from a copy of #Autocar published in November #1967 (inset below). Covers of motoring weeklies were generally dull in the ’60s, but I was transfixed by the dramatic action shot of the Hon Patrick Lindsay gunning his ex-John Cobb Monza down the Hangar Straight. Better still was the feature inside, which combined the talents of writer Ronald ‘Steady’ Barker with ace photographer Michael Cooper. Atmospheric monochrome on-board shots perfectly captured the stirring, damp blast alongside Lindsay around Silverstone while Steady’s prose passionately described the great car’s history. This famous Monza, Donald Healey later claimed, was the very car that became the template for the fabulous Triumph Dolomite.

    Cobb was Steady’s hero as a schoolboy, and the highlight of the shoot was Lindsay digging out the #Napier-Railton before the Christie’s director took his visitors in turn for tours around the estate aboard the 24-litre Brooklands giant.

    Lindsay, Cooper and Steady were all heroes of mine, but sadly the last of these great characters has gone with the passing of the popular journalist aged 94. I was lucky to enjoy many adventures with him in a fantastic variety of machinery, ranging from #Cadillac-V16 to the treasured #NSU-Ro80 that he never tired of demonstrating. The advanced Wankel-powered wonder was even entered in the VSCC’s Pomeroy Trophy, where it cornered at dramatic angles of roll while out-handling much more exotic machinery. “The faster you go,” he enthused, “the smoother the engine gets.”

    Be it leading a Mini race for journalists at Goodwood or chasing GP Bugattis over the Alps on his #Yamaha XV1100 ’bike, Steady enjoyed every mile. Our shortest journey was aboard a vintage Lafitte Type D in which the whole engine swivelled to give variable ratios via its novel friction drive, but frustratingly the transmission started to slip not far from his home. We made it back, pushed it into the barn and headed off in his grand 8.5-litre, straight-six Edwardian Renault 45hp – the commanding view from its long, lofty cockpit being the total opposite to the cramped, sluggish Lafitte. The contrast was typical of Steady, who would get as animated about a Peugeot Quadrilette cyclecar as a new Audi quattro.

    But our most memorable exploits were on his exposed #1908 #Napier 60hp, particularly over routes he knew well that allowed him to confidently illustrate both its effortless torque and its impressive acceleration. His smooth technique – “Never surprise a car,” he always maintained – was vindicated by a moment that caused us both to turn white. With a lesser helmsman, the consequences are unimaginable.

    En route to Cefntilla Court on Welsh border backroads to visit his chum Lord Raglan, we crested a brow at speed… On the clear descent we spotted a huge stretch of mud where cows had left a wide 50ft-long trail crossing from farm to milking yard. Early morning rain had turned the road at the valley bottom into a treacherous, slippery mess.

    There was no chance of braking before the muck started, so Steady kept his cool and relaxed his hands on the wheel. As the Napier’s skinny beaded-edge tyres scythed through, I could feel the chassis develop a gentle snaking movement before we reached the tarmac and grip again. Steady knew that it was a close call, but I was full of awe for his remarkable ability.

    Along with the constant puns and limericks, the joy of long road trips were his vivid stories about childhood in Much Hadham, living in Germany during the ’30s, and motor show visits with his hero Laurence Pomeroy of the rival weekly The Motor. Steady never married, a situation he blamed on his father who once read aloud a “silly” love letter he wrote from school to a local girl, but his bachelor retreat at Shorncote was a car enthusiast’s dream.

    The spiral staircase – its walls plastered with colourful motoring posters from his continental travels – was much admired, but the spectacular decoration was sadly lost when arthritis forced him to move into a bungalow.

    Although Steady always reckoned that writing was a struggle, his wonderful stories came as naturally as his driving skills. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate his life than searching out old copies of Car and settling down with a smooth glass of Pinot Noir.

    ‘Along with a constant stream of limericks and puns, the joy of road trips were Steady’s vivid yarns’

    Fully exposed to the elements, Walsh records a trip on Steady’s Napier.
    Cooper’s striking shot of riding with Lindsay in the Monza.
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    An exclusive visit to the Queen’s own collection. Hidden away at Sandringham is a certain Windsor family’s own collection of cars. Octane was granted exclusive access into the royal grounds. Words Giles Chapman // Photography Matthew Howell.

    By any measure, it must have seemed a baffling request to the craftsmen at Hooper & Co, the Royal Family's favoured coachbuilders for decades. Queen Mary had paid extraordinarily close attention to the specification of her new #Daimler-DE27 . The driver's compartment, she decreed, was too wide, compromising the dignity of the vehicle, and a more seemly front profile was demanded.

    It was 1947, and this was to be her personal car, finished in her favourite dark green and taking four months to build. The narrowing process meant the steering column had to be kinked 2.5in towards the centre, and poked out of a truncated dashboard. Widened wings also needed to be handmade. How her chauffeur felt about his custom-cramped driving posture would, of course, never be disclosed.

    Her Majesty's other requests were more fathomable. Because the 80-year-old Queen Mary had trouble bending her neck, she requested 57in of headroom, which made this the tallest car Hooper bodied after the Second World War. The drop-down bootlid revealed a bespoke picnic case, and the rear compartment was a snug of green leather and walnut, with notebook, pencil, ashtray and matchbox built into the armrest. Spring-loaded silk blinds gave privacy, although Her Royal Highness couldn't countenance life on the road without gold monograms on doors and boot. Queen Mary proudly called it her 'shopping Daimler'.

    The VIP customer proclaimed herself delighted with her 'shopping Daimler' and Queen Elizabeth II's grandmother used it almost daily until her death in 1953 .

    Although this unique limousine now belongs to the National Trust, it's found its circuitous way to a resting place at the Sandringham Estate. And it's not alone. The Queen's rural retreat in north Norfolk, at the centre of its stunning 20,0-acre estate, has an extraordinary car collection.

    Despite Sandringham Museum being open to members of the visiting public, it's largely unknown. Sandringham House first welcomed visitors in #1977 , and you can ramble through the estate's tranquil woodland free of charge all year round. But the car collection? Even the estate's website mentions only a highly polished #1939 Merryweather fire engine in the outbuildings. Yet there's much more...

    You might never have guessed that Sandringham is home to some of Britain's most important and interesting royal cars. Until, that is, #Drive-My was granted unprecedented access to this most august of classic fleets. There are usually between 20 and 25 cars hidden away there.

    When the 21-year-old Prince of Wales - later King Edward VII - was gifted Sandringham in #1862 by his mother Queen Victoria, he received an 18th Century, stucco-fronted country pile that he quickly found too cramped. The builders were soon shipped in and, by #1870 , the new main house was completed. Or, nearly. Additions were constant, including a ballroom and a guest wing, and a stable block that included carpentry and sewing schools for the estate's youngsters.

    The Prince was a dedicated techie, with a penchant for cutting-edge machinery. Hence, in #1901 , he installed an electricity generator for the house in an extension to the stable (soon obsolete when mains power reached Sandringham). Likewise, the Prince was fascinated by the earliest cars. The contemporary Lord Montagu introduced him to the motoring exhilaration in 1899 on a New Forest outing aboard his 12hp Daimler; the Prince was smitten, and ordered a 6hp Model A example for himself the following year. It had all the latest features, such as an accelerator pedal instead of a hand throttle, raked steering column, and elaborate electric ignition. Hooper & Co were entrusted with the bodywork for this first British royal car, done in four-seater mail phaeton style with separate hoods for front and back seats. A spacious new garage was soon added to Sandringham's stables to meet its needs.

    That very car is treasured here today. It's somewhat changed from its original condition - although the alterations all took place in 1902! A Mr S Letzer, the first royal chauffeur and referred to as the Prince of Wales's 'mechanician', sometimes wound it up to 20mph-plus, but it frequently overheated. Moving the radiator from the back to the front cured that but required a bulky bonnet. At about the same time, new and more comfortable tonneau bodywork was built. A frilled Surrey top was added and the pneumatic rear tyres were changed for solid ones, as the lack of a differential made them prone to peeling off.

    The lofty veteran is resplendent in paintwork of royal claret over black, picked out in a bright red that's more respectfully termed vermillion. This livery was adopted from one of Queen Victoria's horse- drawn carriages, and remains the colour scheme for the monarch's official transport today. Not that you'd necessarily spot it. The claret often looks like black from a distance and in certain light.

    This is one of the most influential single cars in British motoring history. Edward VII's enthusiasm for it quelled hostility towards cars from landowners and the gentry. Before, mass upper-crust opinion was that they were noisy and dangerous affronts to a horse-drawn world. But the moment the King adopted the new motor car, the mindset rapidly switched.

    The pairing of Daimler chassis and Hooper bodywork became the royal staple, and there are two magnificent examples of such later limos at Sandringham. The 45hp Brougham dates from 1914 and its Double Six replacement is a 1929 car. These maroon monsters were fixtures of British public life, the King easily visible behind the towering side windows. The newer car has the unusual feature of headlights that can be swivelled to the left, but both cars have the royal quirk of a black- painted radiator grille surround. A bright shiny thing on the front of the car, a rolling advert for Daimler, might have distracted attention away from the occupants of the back seat.

    By the mid-1950s, Daimler's grip on the Royal Household's patronage went limp. For two years between #1953 and #1955 , it didn't even build limousines, and Rolls-Royce stepped in, capping the flow of some 80 Daimlers over five decades with a Phantom IV Hooper Landaulette for Elizabeth II in 1954.

    The second of the Queen's official Rollers was a special Phantom V in #1961 . It was retired to Sandringham in 2002 where, in this very low-key car museum, it's the most recognisable one to most visitors.

    The #Rolls-Royce developed this car in secret under the 'Canberra' codename, to give the impression it was for the Australian Government (the Australians had followed the Royal Family's switch in allegiance to Rolls-Royce in the late 1950s). The coachwork was entrusted to Park Ward, cutting Hooper out of the loop and hastening its decision to quit coachbuilding altogether, and two near-identical examples were built.

    Its most distinctive feature was the cover that could be slipped off the rear roof section, revealing a Perspex dome through which to admire the head of state on her travels. And this car really did go round the world - usually in its own garage on board Britannia. This three-ton behemoth would be craned delicately on and off the royal yacht and rolled carefully into its berth, into which it would just fit, thanks to specially designed demountable bumpers.

    Another Buckingham Palace workhorse with dramatic history has also come to rest at Sandringham. The #1969 Vanden Plas Princess limousine is mundane apart from one thing. In March #1974 , the car was ambushed on The Mall by a gun-toting madman intent on kidnapping its key occupant: Princess Anne. Although he shot a bodyguard, the chauffeur and two passers-by, the attempt was thwarted and she was unscathed and, indeed, unbowed. But it did reveal two worrying omissions in Royal cars: bulletproofing and radio contact with the security services - both remedied soon afterwards.

    Formality is one thing for the Windsor clan, but at certain times of the year Sandringham is all about the great outdoors. And proper shooting brakes have for decades been as regular a feature of estate life as beaters, gun dogs and hip flasks. Hooper's awe-inspiring shooting brake body on a 57hp Daimler chassis must represent a pinnacle in 1920s sporting life. It was delivered in August #1924 to George V, and an excellent day's shooting would be in prospect with 12 guns in its varnished rack. Roll-up side curtains guaranteed lungfuls of bracing Norfolk air for the ten occupants... and four-wheel brakes added welcome retardation on slippery tracks.

    Guides at Sandringham today are accustomed to the huge pull this one has on viewers. It's the paintwork. The rear section is timber- panelled but the thoroughly rural theme continues with the woody effect on scuttle, bonnet and wings. It's called a 'scumble' paintjob: the darker base layer was allowed to dry to the tacky stage and then a lighter paint colour was brushed on artfully with a toothed comb to give the woodgrain look, which was sealed in under three layers of lacquer. The stags and pheasants would never know you're lurking among the trees.

    Altogether more modest is George IV's #1951 #Ford V8 Pilot with a Garner woody body. The wheelbase was stretched by 12in and the windscreen height raised by 3in, so it was uncommonly roomy, with the gun rack on the roof. Yet another interesting modification was a floor-mounted gearlever, as the King hated column changes. Yet his untimely death in 1952 meant he barely drove it. The family kept it for sentimental reasons, and it was still burbling around the estate in the '60s.

    By then it had been joined by an upstart newcomer, a Ford Zephyr Mkll the like of which you'll see nowhere else. Hardly the most elegant of vehicles, with its hearse-like contours relieved with wood panel inserts, eight people could cram in with Prince Philip at the wheel, and it was custom-made for Sandringham shooting parties.

    Yet another category of automotive resident here is the Royal Family's personal cars from years gone by. You can see Prince Charles's 21st birthday present from his parents - a blue #MGC-GT . You can also get up close to several wonderful children's cars. We loved the Imperial 1 midget racing car, a gift for Prince Charles in #1955 from America and, with a two-stroke engine, capable of a hairy 40mph. How many scars can the heir to the throne attribute to spills in this one, we wonder? There's also an #Aston-Martin-Volante Junior that a grateful Victor Gauntlett presented to valued customer Charles in #1988 (to pass on to his sons, Princes William and Harry), and a working replica of the 007 #DB5 given to the Queen on an Aston factory visit in #1966 , as a gift for lucky toddler Prince Andrew.

    The Queen's own Rover 3.0-litre has a patina that includes small dents and a cracked windscreen. The Duke of Edinburgh's #Alvis-TD21 , meanwhile, is crammed with unusual features: Prince Philip ordered a taller windscreen, electric soft-top and a leather dashboard instead of polished walnut. #Alvis later fortified the car with five-speed gearbox, disc brake conversion and a power-boosting TE cylinder head to withstand the relentless use the Prince put it to: over 60,000 hard-driving miles to Germany and back, commuting to polo fixtures, and frequently picking up Princess Anne from school.

    These days, a Vauxhall Cresta PAis a car to admire rather than disdain, and the rare #1961 Friary wagon at Sandringham was an estate runabout. The Queen liked driving this relaxed old barge, and it carries a jocular MYT 1 personal plate. Indeed, Her Majesty pretty much started the craze for 'private plates' after receiving a #Daimler-DE27 as a gift in #1948 registered HRH 1. Who could be more appropriate for either?

    'Her Majesty started the craze for private plates with a Daimler, received as a gift and registered HRH 1’

    Space is at a premium in Sandringham's garage block. Spare capacity is taken up by interesting vehicles on loan from non-royal owners, including the ex-Earl Mountbatten #1924 #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Ghost (used by him in India during his spell as Viceroy and later Governor-General in #1947 - #1948 ). There's also a #1929 Armstrong Siddeley 30hp shooting brake originally built for George Vi's use at Balmoral.

    When the family is in residence at Christmas, though, the garage is needed for the current fleet of limousines and Range Rovers. Cars such as the #Princess , #Zephyr , #Alvis and #Rover are turfed out into heated storage nearby as the retinue of chauffeurs and security staff arrive.

    However, the old cars do not depart under their own steam. The Sandringham collection cannot be faulted for polished spotlessness, but many are non-runners and, indeed, some of the pre-war Daimlers would require much more than a mechanical overhaul to get their sleeve-valve engines purring again. Seizures are a near-certainty. The #1900 #Daimler has tackled the London-Brighton a few times but its last mechanical breakage on the #2005 event has kept it indoors ever since. Nonetheless, all these cars are preserved in a secluded atmosphere that, in itself, couldn't really be any more authentic.

    VISIT SANDRINGHAM MUSEUM www. sandringhamestate. co. uk/visiting-sandringham/
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    Willie Green teaches Robert Coucher a thing or two. Robert Coucher meets racer Willie Green at Silverstone to learn how to handle some very hairy #Ford Capris.

    Northamptonshire, England. And it's winter. I'm driving towards Silverstone Motor Circuit, 'The Home of British Motorsport', and feel distinctly ill. It's down to nerves, for two specific reasons. First, heavy black clouds are billowing in and rain is most definitely on the way. Second, I'm due to meet up with race ace Willie Green, who has promised to show me the way around Silverstone in his trackday car. I feel the strong need for a cigarette, even though I gave up smoking years ago.

    As you probably know, Willie Green is a racing driver of the first order. He's competed in more than 1500 races and has won about 600 or 700 of them, not that he keeps an accurate tally. Hailing from a wealthy textile family in Derbyshire, Willie has been racing since the 1960s and has driven everything from a Daytona at Le Mans to numerous D-types, #Ferrari GTOs, GT40s and Maserati 250Fs (he's a maestro in any of those), and he really made his name winning in the JCB 512M Ferrari in the wet at #Silverstone in #1972 , besting a #Porsche-917 . He's an extremely competitive racing driver, who, no doubt, does not suffer fools. At all. Maybe I shouldn't mention the fact that the last time I raced at Silverstone, I crashed at Becketts Comer...

    I arrive at the old pits and the circuit is bustling and busy. This is an RMA Trackday and the garages are full of exciting cars, ranging from Porsche 911s and a bunch of Audi R8s to track-focussed Radicals and Ariel Atoms as well as pure racers. I'm looking out for Peter Whelan and his brace of racing Capris: the Hermetite Group 1 car and a Group 2 RS2600. Peter has also invited me to join the shakedown of his Capris with Willie. How generous.


    Above and right. Racer Willie Green has long been a Capri advocate. This one is lighter, lower, more stiffly sprung and features twin-cam 24-valve Cosworth V6 in place of the old 2.8 OHV. Oversteer aplenty for those who can handle it.

    In the 1960s, the only vaguely sporting Ford on sale in Britain was the #Cortina . Affectionately known as the Dagenham Dustbin, it was very popular but Ford realised that a more stylish, money-spinning sidekick was due. In America the Ford Mustang was launched in April #1964 . It was a hit with younger drivers thanks to its sporting appeal and went on to sell two million examples in two years and set a sales record that stood for 20 years. In #1965 Project Colt was initiated for the British market: the #Ford-Capri .

    Led by John Hitchman, a team of British engineers had prototypes running by #1966 in Boreham, Essex, using prosaic 1.3- and 1.6-litre engines and gearboxes from the Cortina. Launched on 24 January 1969, the #Capri was billed as 'The car you always promised yourself'. And it proved to be an immediate sensation. Over the next 18 years nearly two million Capris were sold in the UK, Europe and America, and it remained in the top ten best-selling cars 11 years after launch.

    It was even popular in Germany, where it became known as the #Maurer-Porsche : the 'bricklayer's Porsche'. In Britain it became infamous for its habit of leaving the road at speed thanks to its supposedly wayward live rear axle, though that reputation was likely due more to over-enthusiastic young drivers.

    'I love Capris and have had plenty of them. They are brilliant on a circuit,' says a slightly prickly Willie Green when I mention the oversteer issue. 'The idea that they don't handle is nonsense. This one is a #1982 2.8 and is fantastic. I have fitted a 2.9-litre 24-valve Granada Cosworth engine, which puts out more than 200bhp, and dropped it all-round on stiffer springs at the front with shorter dampers and de-cambered rear leaf springs. I've fitted uprated front discs, a limited-slip diff, cage and safety fuel cell, and that's about it. It's done 27,0 miles of trackdays and all I have done is change the plugs. Oh good, it's started raining. Put on a helmet and let's go!'

    With me strapped firmly into the suicide seat, Willie fires up his standard-looking British Racing Green - or should that be BRDC Green - Capri and we head out onto the circuit. He winds the car up for a sighting lap, then switches into full tuition mode over the headphones.

    'Silverstone is a great circuit but it is fast and technical,' he says. Going extremely swiftly indeed, Willie then says: 'I tend to enter corners more slowly. If you go in too fast you can end up coming out too slow. Historic cars with limited brakes and unsophisticated chassis need to be sorted out before the corner... You want to get the car turned in and then feed in as much power as it will transmit at the apex... Don't forget, if you make a fast exit you carry the speed all the way up the next straight.'

    All sounds bleedin' obvious but Willie's idea of 'slow in' is somewhat different to mine. Yet I'm amazed at his smoothness and how he then absolutely powers the Capri through on the exits. 'I like to get the car onto the edge and keep it there so I know where I am. In that way there are no surprises.'

    Suddenly we are into Copse Comer, which he says is 'interesting. You want to turn in early... the apex is on the way to the corner at the end of the pitlane and then it opens out. Now we are coming into Becketts, where you can do a Scandinavian flick [at this point I forget what happens next: think there was a rumble strip involved, sideways], then down the Hangar Straight to Stowe, which is fast and enjoyable. Take a late entry and don't turn until you have run completely out of road. Club Corner has changed... be careful... the concrete wall is magnetic! Abbey is great, I love it... really fast. Now, get the silly hairpins out of the way and coming into Brooklands you don't want to be too far right, you have to get it back for Luffield which has twice as much grip on the outside in the wet. OK, flat out through Woodcote, which can be a bit bumpy...'

    With apologies to Willie Green, this is an approximation of Silverstone from the passenger seat of his Ford Capri at racing speed. Well, what I remember with my eyes wide shut. But it's not entirely what I'm expecting. Searing speed, yes. Perfect car control, sure. But a good degree of gentleness and patience, some waiting time to allow the car to gather itself up, with light, minutely judged fingertip inputs? No. And the sheer mechanical grip from the Capri's Toyo 888 tyres and communicative balance from that simple, leaf-sprung chassis? Definitely not.

    This is a lesson in dancing a car around a wet circuit in total control, on the edge, but never over the ragged edge. Certainly Willie is the master of the controlled slide but he does not showboat just for the sake of it, because that's never the fastest way.

    Willie has retired from top-line single-seater racing but he is still on-it. I forgot to mention how we went past a track-missile Atom on the outside of one of the wet corners, hovered up numerous M-badged BMWs and other fast racing cars, and were about to lunch a 6.3 #AMG #Mercedes until the red flag came out because someone had gone off (again) in the rain.

    'What I really enjoy these days is teaching. I love to see people improve. Right: now it's your turn,' says Willie. I strap into the firm driver's bucket seat; the Capri starts with a growl, but it is not noisy. The clutch is light and the five-speed gearshift is pleasant, even though the earlier four-speed is supposed to be better. As the rain abates, I'm out on the circuit with Willie telling me what to do over the headphones. I start tentatively, feeling like a kid learning to ride a bicycle as he eggs me on.

    'Come on, it will take it. Turn in and now add the power on the apex. Now more speed. Keep it flat here, good, now brake gently. Wait, wait, wait, now throttle and let it run wide, it can take more; come on, more speed, that's it...'

    Still going less-than-quickly, a few laps with Willie improve my overall performance significantly. He doesn't bully or harass but remains calm and encouraging all the way. He's patient and gets more excited than me when I get a few of the comers just right. Issuing terse but accurate instructions, the man is an excellent teacher. 'You need to learn the circuit but at least you listen and you've improved a good deal,' he says.
    I'm more than happy with that.

    Back in the garage, it's time to recover and let the pulse rate subside. I pull up a chair for coffee with owner Peter Whelan, racer Mark Waghom and author/historian Peter Darley. Mark raced Peter's Group 1 Capri at last year's Goodwood Member's Meeting, where the tin-tops proved a real hit. 'The Hermetite Recreation Group 1 car is a #1978 model driven in period by Holman Blackburn, who was the sponsor,' says Peter.

    It, too, looks pretty stock apart from the nicely presented racing colours. It has a 3.0-litre Essex V6 engine, uprated to 200bhp thanks to a huge twin-choke Weber carburettor and better breathing. The black alloys are shod with slightly wider 205/15 tyres and the interior is fully stripped, but equipped with a cage and large fire extinguisher.

    Peter suggests I take it out next. The racing bucket is set low and doesn't adjust. The Weber carb needs a bit of a tickle before the engine will start but as soon as it fires the Essex V6 is abundantly rev-happy, which is unusual because they are normally somewhat short of breath. Again the clutch is light but the gearshift is not particularly precise. Get past the carb's fluffiness and the recalcitrance of the high-lift cam and the engine properly ignites. On the track it is noisier than Willie's track car, with sharper reactions thanks to its full race set-up. And the handling is a delight.

    Following Willie's advice I go into corners none-too-quickly but power though the apexes. The Capri is on-side and benign. Through the hairpins the track is very wet and at one point the car begins to slide, so I just lift off, let it come together, then ease on the power again, gently. This is the obedient sort of front-engined, rear-wheel-drive car we would all like to race because of its friendly nature.

    Above and top left This is the real deal, a full-on racebred Capri rather than a road car adapted for track use: one of Ford’s own homologation replicas of the 1972 works Le Manscar.

    The rain is coming down hard now so really it's pros only for Peter Whelan's ferocious-looking #RS2600 - 319bhp on slick tyres! It is an original 1972 RS2600, built as an exact replica of the 1972 works Le Mans car, number 53, that was raced by Jochen Mass and Hans Stuck. It has an original, authenticated, fuel-injected Weslake engine, which was found in Spain, as bought by its then-owner as a spare, directly from Ford via Peter Ashcroft, Ford's competitions manager.

    The ever-energetic Willie dashes over and instructs me to get into the passenger seat of the Weslake monster, never mind the bucketing rain. He jumps in and guns the ferocious- sounding V6. Then the 900kg lightweight is off and attacking Silverstone. Willie's arms are whirling around at speed and his foot is playing the reactive throttle pedal as he tries to throw all 319bhp at the greasy track. The racer is flying even though the angle of attack into some of the comers is a full 45° to the direction of travel, but he's careful to keep off the painted and slippery rumble strips.

    As the line dries, Willie applies the horses ever more firmly and the thoroughbred racer hooks up and comes on song. The stonking Weslake engine is on an entirely different level to the two previous Capri V6s. And yes, it's shod with (gradually warming) fat slicks, but it's obvious that the multi-link rear suspension offers so much more grip than a standard live axle can muster, and the high- revving engine allows a top speed of 170mph. Silverstone disappears below us at an astonishing rate of glorious speed.

    No wonder that, in 1972, the RS2600 won eight of the nine rounds of the European Championships, with Jochen Mass taking the European Drivers' title and Hans Stuck the German Championship. With a proper racing driver at the wheel, I now understand exactly how it was done.

    Above and below Pukka RS2600 flanked by 3.0-litre (on left) and Willie Green’s own 2.9-litre-engined Capri Injection; the man himself, in his element in tuition mode.

    THANKS TO owner Peter Whelan, RMA Trackdays, www. rmatrackdays. com; Peter Darley, historian; Willie Green, racer/instructor, tel: +UU (0)1773 550339, email: williegreenderby@aol.com

    Car #1972 #Ford-Capri-RS2600
    ENGINE 2995cc V6, OHV, alloy Weslake cylinder head, #Kugelfischer fuel injection
    POWER 319bhp @ 7000rpm
    TORQUE n/a
    TRANSMISSION Five-speed #ZF manual, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
    STEERING Rack and pinion
    Front: MacPherson struts, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar.
    Rear: live axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs, radius arms, anti-roll bar.
    BRAKES Discs
    WEIGHT 900kg
    PERFORMANCE Top speed 170mph. 0-60mph 4.6sec (depending on gearing)


    Above and left. Even a big, old, simple engine like Ford’s 3.0-litre Essex V6 can be coaxed into producing gobfuls of trackday power: witness 200bhp at fully 6500rpm, as here; livery makes it look purposeful outside while interior is, er, functional.

    Car #1978 #Ford-Capri-3000
    ENGINE 2994cc V6, 0HV, #Weber carburettor
    POWER 200bhp @ 6500rpm
    TORQUE 180ft lb @ 3800rpm
    TRANSMISSION Four-speed manual. rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
    STEERING Rack and pinion
    Front: MacPherson struts, coilsprings, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar.
    Rear: live axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs, telescopic dampers, radius rods.
    WEIGHT 1000kg
    PERFORMANCE Top speed 135mph. 0-60mph 6.5sec (est)


    Car #1982 #Ford-Capri-Injection-2.9
    ENGINE 2935cc V6, DOHC, 24-valve, #Bosch fuel injection
    POWER 206bhp @ 5800rpm
    TORQUE 203lb ft @ 4500rpm
    TRANSMISSION Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
    STEERING Rack and pinion
    Front: MacPherson struts, coilsprings, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar.
    Rear: live axle, semi- elliptic leaf springs, telescopic dampers, radius rods.
    BRAKES Discs
    WEIGHT 1150kg
    PERFORMANCE Top speed 130mph. 0-60mph 7sec (est)
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    Jeroen Vladimirovich Booij

    Ford Capri Open

    Ford Capri PRICE RANGE £3000-22,500

    Increasingly popular with a new generation of enthusiasts captivated by the Capri’s image and user-friendliness, there’s a good selection to be had. Yet despite that availability, prices are on the rise not only for the late 2.8 injection and earlier 3.0-litre cars, but the four-pot models, too. I...n particular, the Series Two model in all forms is highly prized by aficionados. ACA sold two 1974 3.0-litre Ghias for £11,235 and £11,550, while Silverstone auctioned a beautifully-restored 1980 3.0S for a highly commendable £22,500 and a low-mileage 1978 3.0S for £23,625. Ample evidence that four cylinder models are on the up came again from ACA with a 1973 1600XL that was hammered away for £10,815. ‘The Car You Always Promised Yourself ’ was the advertising line, but if you want to fulfil that youthful promise for a reasonable price, then you’d better get a move on. More

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    Boano’s dream car for the #1955-Turin-Motor-Show .

    In the fifties America was enjoying a post-war bonanza thanks to its industry, which had burgeoned by supplying the international military machine. More jobs meant more money and a booming economy. But while the US was rich and vigorous, Europe, and especially Britain, was not faring as well - Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally paid the Americans back the British war debt as recently as #2006 - so the whole 'export or die' notion was in full swing.

    Before World War Two, Italian styling houses had established themselves as the pre-eminent designers and coachbuilders and, by the 1950s, they were keen to offer their services to the ever-expanding American auto industry behemoths. Motown could churn out vast numbers of automobiles at affordable prices to satisfy the local market and, while some American styling was very adventurous and even outrageous, US manufacturers were keen to draw upon the Italians' skill for their show cars. You can just imagine the Big Swingers in their boardrooms showing off to their alter-egos down the road at the next vast manufacturing plant. Like Cuban cigars, Swiss wristwatches, English suits and French furniture, the auto industry bosses just had to have a littl' ol' Italian styling house jumping to their demands.

    And so it was: Chrysler had #Ghia , #Packard had #Bertone and #Hudson landed #Carrozzeria-Touring . On top of that Chevrolet was doing exciting things with its swanky Motorama events, with the original #Corvette first seen in 1953. As for Ford, its pug-ugly Edsel series was a dismal failure thanks to boss Henry Ford II's styling interference, particularly with its very peculiar nose treatment. Although Ford was well-known for his taste in European design, he had a unique sense of automotive styling, so it is no real surprise he chose the somewhat obscure and avant-garde Carrozzeria Boano Torino to add a halo effect to #Ford 's upmarket #Lincoln range. The result was rolled out onto the turntable of the #1955 Turin motor show - and this is it!

    In 1955 young #Gian-Paolo-Boano was in his early 20s but had been designing cars alongside his father Felice Mario Boano for several years, first at Ghia, then at Carrozzeria Boano Torino. By all accounts Gian Paolo was a bit of a playboy and enjoyed life to the full. As he later said, 'I have always lived with enthusiasm. I was able to fulfil all my desires.'

    Sounds like he had life waxed, so having the chutzpah to produce a design concept for Henry Ford II was never going to faze the young Italian.

    A friend of Boano had worked with the Ford Motor Company and he suggested that Carrozzeria Boano produce a car based in a Lincoln chassis for the Turin motor show. The Boanos were accustomed to working with overseas clients. When at Ghia they had enjoyed considerable success building show cars for #Chrysler .

    In 1955 Boano took delivery of Lincoln chassis number 58WA10902, and was charged with the task of producing a complete showcar in time for that year's Turin international motor show - the pre-eminent showcase for Italian coachbuilders.

    The running chassis featured a 225bhp 341ci pushrod V8 with a single four-barrel carburettor, four-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs and dampers and a live rear axle with leaf springs and four-wheel drum brakes. What you might call a cooking specification, then... but not for long!

    Named the Indianapolis, the project was typical of Italian coachbuilders of the era. It began with little more than large-scale sketches, sheet metal and tubing and that unsuspecting chassis. Clearly the jet-set age had an influence on the outcome. The finished styling includes an extended drooping nose, which has no visible cooling air intake, and is flanked by vertical quad headlights and features a large chrome bumper. The front wings extend back into the doors and end with three shrouded chrome faux-tailpipes, balanced by tall air intakes in the forward edges of the rear wings with five chrome supporting strips.

    The chrome wheels are half-covered by the curved wings and are shod with the obligatory whitewall tyres. The Indianapolis's stance is rakish, helped by the neat lowline hardtop roofline, with radically curved front and rear windscreens and even more chrome finishing strips.

    Finished in correct and original nuclear orange, the coachwork is liberally covered in badges: the name LINCOLN adorns the nose, there are chequered flags on the front wings, and script on the hardtop proudly announces 'Exclusive Study by Boano Torino'. If you miss those, there are more #Carrozzeria-Boano #Torino badges elsewhere, as well as others that proclaim simply Boano. Just in case.

    The interior is a riot of colours, featuring the original-looking cream and black upholstery (another nod to racing's chequered flag), and the dashboard features a clever body-coloured cover that can be closed to hide the sci-fi instruments. The slim steering wheel is huge in diameter and the gearshift lever is located on the steering column.
    While not exactly beautiful or elegantly discreet, the Indianapolis is certainly striking and extremely futuristic for 1955. As a one-off show car it does its thing dramatically. The startling orange hue helps but this is one very arresting piece of kit. The Boano even made the cover of the November 1955 edition of Auto Age magazine, which asked the question: 'Is this the Next Lincoln?' These days, top-line concours events are well over-subscribed but, with the Lincoln Indianapolis Boano, entry has never been a problem.

    Following its successful showing at the Turin show, the Indianapolis was then shipped to America and delivered directly to Henry Ford II. The urban myth is that he gave it to his friend, the famous actor Errol Flynn, but that cannot be substantiated. It passed through several hands before going into the 20-year ownership of well-respected Packard collector Thomas Kerr. He remains the Indianapolis's longest-term owner and was responsible for its resurrection after the car suffered fire damage and was partly dismantled following an incomplete restoration attempt.

    Thomas Kerr finally got around to thinking about restoring the Indianapolis and, as is his wont, decided to do it properly, because he recognised the car's significance. Kerr handed the project to his favoured restorer Jim Cox of Sussex Motor and Coachworks in Pennsylvania, the brief being to return the Indianapolis, '...to the way Gian Paolo Boano would (should) have built it in 1955, had he had the time.'

    As you will understand, show-cars were built to last for the duration of a show. While they weren't thrown together as such, they were hurriedly assembled to perform a singular, immobile function: looking good. Jim Cox's task was made difficult because the Indianapolis was a one-off, so he had no frame of reference. It was also a very rushed job by Boano to get the car completed in double-quick time. The car had then been fire- damaged and a good deal of it arrived at his workshop in boxes. A serious challenge.

    Two years later Cox had the Indianapolis restored to a better state than ever. Originally it had its bonnet release clamps constructed of Quaker State oil cans that were bent to fit and painted. The driver's side wing was an inch- and-a-half longer than the passenger's, the roof was askew and the bonnet misaligned. And lashings of lead-loading had been used to make everything line up. Half a 55-gallon drum's worth, in fact! Jim Cox did a superb restoration and now the Lincoln Indianapolis Boano is correct and on the button.

    Under normal circumstances, you probably don't really want to drive a show car, an automobile whose function is to park itself in prime position and look amazing. But this Lincoln was so improved, it took part in and completed the Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance in 2001 and went on to collect top honours in the Post-War Custom Coachwork class. It won more awards at the Amelia Island Concours as well as the Greenwich Concours in 2003, where it received the Most Outstanding Lincoln award.

    In the ownership of collectors Paul and Chris Andrews, the Indianapolis completed the 2013 Tour d'Elegance and was awarded the prestigious Lincoln Trophy when Lincoln was the featured marque at #Pebble-Beach .

    Gian Paolo Boano had only five months to construct this car and he did a superb job of creating a fanciful, outlandish, exuberant and flamboyant showpiece. But the Indianapolis today is more that that. It is now a properly engineered and restored automobile that will be welcome at every great concours event. And you can even drive it there and back. The dilettante showgirl is now also a domestic goddess. Ah, of this dreams are made.

    BUY IT YOURSELF! #Lincoln-Indianapolis Boano

    The Lincoln is part of a collection for sale by RM Sotheby’s.

    This Lincoln Indianapolis by Boano is part of the Andrews Collection to be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s on 2 May in Fort Worth, Texas. Well-known auto enthusiast and collector Paul Andrews and his son Chris have amassed a superb collection of concours cars over the years. Their museum houses 100, all in excellent condition. But the Andrews have now decided that the maintenance of so many cars is too much and that it is time to slim the collection down to about 15 or 20.

    ‘When you get down to it, the most fun you can have in a car is using it how it's meant to be used... on the road,' says Paul. ‘We want to get down to a smaller number of cars that we very much enjoy driving and that we can take on events with the family. There are many events we'd like to try and, in order to do that, we need to focus on a more manageable collection.'

    In total some 75 cars from the Andrews Collection will be auctioned, as well as a wide assortment of automobilia. Highlights of the sale include the famous Ethel Mars #1935 #Duesenberg Model SJ Town car, a #1962 #Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet and an authentic #1963 #Shelby 289 Competition Cobra. See www. rmauctions. com

    Car 1955 - #Lincoln-Indianapolis-Boano
    ENGINE 5588cc ‘Y-block’ V8, OHV, four-barrel carburettor
    POWER 225bhp @ 5000rpm
    TORQUE 260lb ft @ 3500rpm
    TRANSMISSION Four-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
    STEERING Recirculating ball
    Front: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers.
    Rear: live axle, leaf springs, telescopic dampers.
    BRAKES Drums
    WEIGHT c1600kg
    PERFORMANCE Top speed c90mph
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    Jeroen Vladimirovich Booij
    Jeroen Vladimirovich Booij joined the group Detroit Barocco
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    Historical reinterpretation Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso

    In the finest tradition of Italian coachbuilding, Touring Superleggera has unveiled a stunning rebodied version of Ferrari’s mighty F12 supercar. Dale Drinnon drives it. Photography Martyn Goddard.

    Funny thing about secrets: after you know them, they seem obvious, and it's hard to understand why the people so mesmerised as we motor sublimely past can't identify what it is they're coveting. Surely the classic eggcrate grille, the signature character lines highlighting the graceful flanks, and that feral V12 yowl could mean only one thing: Italy's most illustrious manufacturer and the design house that shaped its first real series-made automobile are back together. Unofficially, at least, and in limited numbers for the lucky few.

    The manufacturer, of course, is Ferrari, the design house is #Carrozzeria-Touring , coachbuilder for the seminal #Tipo-166MM of #1948 , and the car we're driving is called the #Berlinetta-Lusso , produced by Touring on the awe-inspiring #Ferrari-F12 platform. And the reason for the hush-hush is that we're hustling this as-of-yet one-of-a-kind objet d'art round the public roads of Northern Italy, bold as thunder and twice as loud, more than a week before its world debut at the Geneva international motor show. Life just doesn't get no more Old School Italian than this.

    Then again, the whole project is pretty Old School Italian. Carrozzeria Touring, now formally called #Carrozzeria #Touring #Superleggera , was among the pioneers of what we now consider quintessential Italian automotive style. Founded in 1926, it set trends throughout the era when owners of taste and distinction had their machinery custom-tailored as readily as their clothing. Touring had the inside line on competition bodywork, thanks to its trademark Superleggera, or 'super-light' construction, which is why #Enzo-Ferrari , familiar with its work from his #Alfa-Romeo experience, turned that way for the heavily race-oriented #166MM .

    Touring had some spectacularly hard times in the post-1950s, going inactive for decades (though not quite bankrupt, thanks to the heroic efforts of long-time CEO and co-founder's son, Carlo Anderloni), but since its acquisition in 2006 by Dutch concern Zeta Europe BV, also owners of Borrani, it has successfully reapplied the early company principles. They concentrate on one-off and short production runs of singular designs for a discerning clientele, manufacturer's concept studies, niche production of contract specialist jobs: the full repertoire of the typical small- manufacturer business model. Dedicated Italian car enthusiasts will doubtless be familiar with its critically acclaimed #Alfa-8C -based Disco Volante.

    'From any angle the final shape is cleaner than the original car’s, and extremely well balanced’

    It was indeed such handiwork that enticed an anonymous but prominent Ferrari collector to approach Touring Superleggera for a private commission: translating the intensely high-performance and aggressively styled F12 supercar into a more elegant, more Lusso idiom. In addition, he wanted it configured in the three-box architecture now rare among performance coupes, with visually separate volumes for motor, interior and boot. It would be, in essence, an updated version of the great front-engined Ferrari uber-GTs of old, such as the exclusive and potent 500 Superfast.

    That collector must have been slightly puzzled, however, when Louis de Fabribeckers, Touring's head of design, seemed already way ahead of him. 'I was dreaming about this car for years and years and years,' he says, 'since I first started designing cars, certainly; a three- volume car, simple, very classic, with the long bonnet and small greenhouse. It's one of my favourite themes of all time, so it was very natural, very satisfying, to finally build it.'

    Louis also says the F12 was eminently adaptable to this composition although, as per his usual practice, extensive time and effort went into reaching optimum proportions before any other elements were even seriously considered ('If you start with the wrong proportions, nothing else you do can ever make up for them'). The roofline curvature in particular required significant attention, and from every direction, to reach exactly the effect he wanted, due to the conversion from two- box to three-box profile. Integrating the rear overhang was, not surprisingly, another delicate issue when adding a boot volume, while also critically 'finishing' the car's lines, instead of merely ending them.

    Viewed from any angle, the final shape is noticeably cleaner than the original car's, and extremely well balanced. The surface treatments and detailing (what Louis calls the styling, as opposed to the design) are simpler, too. There is little in the way of added excitement or extraneous flourishes, and both the nose and tail are underplayed compared with the fashion of racer-rep grittiness.

    The grille, narrower and taller than the F12's squat, wall-to-wall rendition, also gently evokes that feature of the 166MM, as does the creased swage line sweeping back along the waist. It's a Carlo Anderloni touch that has recurred on several Touring designs, from the 166 through the #Lamborghini-350GT to the #BMW Mini Vision concept car produced last year. Overall, de Fabribeckers displays a lightness of hand suited to the objective of creating a latter-day Italian luxury express.

    Primary body panels are executed in aluminium formed manually over styling bucks in the traditional manner, which is really the only way to achieve that lovely, long body crease and still have doors that open without shut lines bigger than a politician's expense account. Such non-structural panels as bonnet, skirts and splitters are carbonfibre, and the alloy door handles, exhaust tips and forged wheels are bespoke. Touring poetically refers to this blue metallic paint as Azzurro Nioulargue, alluding to the shifting shades of the Mediterranean, and it genuinely does amazing things in changing light.

    Interior mods seem minor beside the body revamp; the dash is basically the F12's but look closer and you spot instances where carbonfibre has been replaced with brushed aluminium or leather, and discreet niceties such as the colour-coded air con vents, and the Berlinetta Lusso badge below the main triplevent grouping that turns them into a cockpit focal point. Seat facings in cream leather and a matching slash across the door panels and parcel shelf lighten and enrich the atmosphere.

    With multi-way power adjustment for driver's seat and steering column, it's almost impossible not to find a driving position that fits, and the interior is comfortable and surprisingly roomy, reportedly a Ferrari priority with the F12. The new roofline still leaves adequate headroom, assuming you replicate the passably average dimensions of this correspondent. Personal opinions on paddle shifting, automatic parking brakes and similar modernisms put aside, they're exactly the same here as in the F12, and admittedly just as flawless in operation.

    Road performance is also exactly the same, as the mechanical package remains just as #Ferrari made it. Which is to say the whopping normally aspirated V12 will leave you breathless, and that's no half-arsed figure of speech: after the first couple of solid blasts through the gears you'll realise you've actually forgotten to suck any air, and your face has gone all tingly. Although that last symptom might be strictly down to g-forces. Touring also says it tests religiously to ensure the chassis dynamics don't suffer from possible weight re-distribution, and real world driving substantiates that.

    When it comes to pure, raw speed numbers, however, it's hardly worth speculating beyond official factory specs; each #Berlinetta-Lusso could differ in weight, since each will be built to the customer's wishes - and Touring will accommodate a wide variety of those. Flexibility being a company credo, some detailing changes are even in discussion before our subject car goes to Geneva. Consequently, Touring won't quote prices, but it's safe to assume the 5000 hours of various labours required for every unit won't be cheap, and that's on top of the roughly quarter-million pounds' worth of Ferrari stripped down to begin the process.

    Touring Superleggera's agreement with the commissioning client for series production extends at this point to a mere five examples, and completion time is projected as six months from delivery of the donor Ferrari to its workshops in Milan. The car is EU type-approved, and Touring won't rule out having a go at different regs in other parts of the world, such as North America. Small companies can often be extremely flexible.

    From a solely rationalist, functionalist perspective, there will be many who don't understand the Berlinetta Lusso, granted, and anyone who judges a car by its merits as a mechanical device alone must find this a bewildering exercise. But if you appreciate some extra style, grace and sophistication, and oceans of artistry with your high velocity, you'll twig its special place in the automotive cosmos straight away. After all, there were those who preferred the 500 Superfast, and those who preferred the #Ferrari-250GTO . There are also those who think the perfect compromise would be one of each. Individuals of taste and distinction should have more than one suit in their wardrobe, shouldn't they?

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION on the Berlinetta Lusso visit www. touringsuperleggera. eu

    Car #2015 #Carrozzeria-Touring-Superleggera-Berlinetta-Lusso

    ENGINE 6262CC V12, DOHC, 48-valve, direct fuel injection
    POWER 730bhp @ 8250rpm
    TRANSMISSION Seven-speed dual-clutch sequential transaxle, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
    STEERING Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
    Front: double wishbones, coilsprings, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar.
    Rear: multi-link, coilsprings, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar.
    BRAKES Carbon-ceramic discs, #ABS
    PERFORMANCE Top speed 211mph. 0-62mph 3.1sec
    • Touring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso This year’s Geneva Motorshow must have set a new record in terms of sports-, super-, and hyper-car unveilings oTouring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso

      This year’s Geneva Motorshow must have set a new record in terms of sports-, super-, and hyper-car unveilings of any motorshow to date, with nearly every brand wanting to take advantage of the surplus disposable cash, floating around globally and itching to be spent. #Carrozzeria-Touring – founded in #1926 in Milan and inventor of the ‘Superleggera’ coachbuilding technique was no exception, and the small Italian coachbuilder arguably presented the most beautiful highlight of the show.

      To brand Carrozzeria Touring’s ‘Touring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso’ a ‘Ferrari’ would arguably precede great legal implications – primarily for the manufacturing coachbuilder – yet the origins of the Ferrari F12 berlinetta as a basis of this transformation can neither be hidden nor denied, even if all prancing horses were removed prior to its official debut.

      Let’s make this very clear: the Touring (Ferrari) Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso is one beautiful, if not divine, automobile. It is ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ of Louis de Fabribeckers’ design team following the successful Alfa Romeo Disco Volante. One can only but shake one’s head why Maranello has not granted this fiveoff hyper niche product its official seal of approval; certainly more ‘questionable’ beauties have rolled-out Ferrari’s own SP department in recent years.

      The (Ferrari) Berlinetta Lusso is based on Ferrari’s class-slaughtering #F12 #berlinetta and despite 5000 man-hours of craftsmanship and six months of ageing, none of the donor’s benchmark performance figures are compromised in the process. The very subtle modifications include a bonnet, boot-lid and apron in hand-beaten aluminium using the same traditional coachbuilding techniques as once applied pre-1966 by the original Carrozzeria Touring founders Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni and Gaetano Ponzoni.

      Design wise one cannot resist appreciating the old-school design approach, trading Italian Upper-Class feel for the ‘Playstation Design’ of its ‘mass –produced’ siblings leaving Maranello’s official factory gates. Could the (Ferrari) Berlinetta Lusso be criticised for being one panel-beat to stale and boring? Possibly, but then again, it only needs five conservative Ultra High Net Worth Individual (UHNWI) collectors, all dreaming of still living in 1950s Dolce Vita, to sellout production; and that must seem realistic, even for the most pessimistic of investors.

      Carrozzeria Touring have done a fantastic job. Would I rather own a Touring ( #Ferrari ) Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso than a #Ferrari-F60 America? Possibly. One thing I am certain of is that every single one of the five very lucky owners will – even before removing the protection film or fuelling – add the badges that Carrozzeria Touring so cavalierly removed, back on where they truly belong.
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    Jeroen Vladimirovich Booij
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