Issue No 1 – Winter 2017

Published early October, contents include a rare, highly revealing interview with the late and usually taciturn Enzo Ferrari, Richard Williams’ account of re-tracing the tyre-tracks of the epic 1956 Mille Miglia, Joe Moran’s story of how Britain got its roads, Steve Cropley’s account of delivering the first Lamborghini Jalpa from Modena to Britain in 1983, Douglas Blain’s memories of the late, great automotive designer Tom Tjaarda, Miranda Seymour on Hélène Delangle, the ‘Bugatti Queen’, L.J.K. Setright ruminating on the industry’s scapegoats and idols, Gavin Green’s account of crossing Australia in a Mini, Peter Wright’s fascinating memories of working at BRM and Lotus, Richard Hough recalling Fangio’s drive of his life at the Nürburgring and much, much more…

Make sure you see the fascinating and exciting new film, Ferrari: the Race To Immortality which adds further resonance to Enzo’s legend and features much, previously unseen race footage!

Watch the trailer now

The Pride and Passion of Enzo Ferrari

This defining interview from 1977, the Old Man’s 80th year, reveals not so much about the cars or the races, but more the thinking, the ascetic impulses, the trials of life and the curious appeal of death. By Keith Botsford

Enzo Ferrari is a big man. Big, fleshy nose. Big, loose mouth. Big, solid body. A man who bears as close a resemblance to most car makers and the rest of motor racing’s constructors as an aging lion does to a 24-hour mayfly. Next, the realisation that he’s a profoundly lonely, solitary, disabused and thoughtful figure to whom death is perhaps the most meaningful event in life. Indeed, it feels eerily likely that this life, which began in 1898 in Modena, is well nigh run.

And one death, besides his own, has been its dominant theme: that of his beloved son Dino, dead now these 25 years. It was for Dino’s birth that Ferrari gave up his career as a racing driver; it was with his death that he became a virtual recluse. Apart from written replies to questionnaires and the annual press conference, in which he deals with routine questions as if he were Socrates being consulted in the agora, he remains stubbornly private. Television has never captured him and few indeed are those who have had access to his inner thoughts. And he who could now be feted throughout the world almost never leaves his home, his office at Maranello a few miles down the road from Modena, or his testing circuit a short drive further on.

I spent two-and-a-half hours with him in his office – that spare, bare, barrack of a room, with its empty desk, glass sculpture of the hallmark prancing horse and illuminated portrait of Dino – and another two hours over a modest lunch across the road: pasta, roast veal and succulent Italian fruit washed down with a local rosé. Throughout our conversations, I was struck most by: first, his eloquence, his devotion to clarity of expression and self-examination; second, the candour of his self-revelations; and finally as I watched an extraordinary mind at work, its breadth of vision, broad terms of reference, and ultimate {i}quality, a quality that really only dawns on you fully as you depart and think back over the hours you’ve spent together. It’s the clarity, I guess, that marvellous calm and control, that is so inspiring. You come away knowing why headstrong, brave and brilliant men have so often given their all for this man. You understand what his presence has brought to motor sport, and what his dignity and purity of thought have done for the road car.

‘I am a man who has lived an adventure’

Most of my life, I have concealed myself. It is a mistake to look for my life. Most people think I am hard, but that is because I do not want people to know me. I consider myself weak and so I put on a kind of mask. I put it on to hide.

I didn’t study much as a child, so my cultural patrimony is a small one. At most I have acquired a small erudition, but I don’t think it is to be confused with culture. I am careful to have those around who do have the culture.

…continued in Issue One

The Champion’s Greatest Drive

Richard Hough recalls a sunny afternoon at the Nürburgring when an aging Juan Manuel Fangio performed undreamt of miracles.

For four straight years, from 1954 to 1957, and competing for three different teams, Juan Manuel Fangio ruled as Formula 1 World Champion, a stretch of years that remained unequalled until Michael Schumacher’s exploits in the 21st century. Much has been written about this small, sturdy, self-contained Argentine driver, and there have been many theories to explain his astonishing supremacy behind the wheel. His reactions were razor-sharp, his timing and sense of balance as beautifully finessed as those of a circus trapeze artist or high-wire walker. But, above all, he had boundless stamina, courage and determination, qualities that were perfectly expressed in 1957 – his final full year as a grand prix driver – when he claimed his fifth world crown (his first was in 1951).

By then, of course, a new generation of young drivers, most of them British, were hot on his heels, all determined to wrest the laurels from ‘the old man’. Fangio faced up to the challenge from these youngsters with equanimity. He had fought them many times already, and defeated them on almost every circuit in Europe. Now it was time to defeat them again. And yet, in 1957, in what had been an undeniably spectacular racing career, Fangio had to reach ever deeper to hold off such talents as Collins, Moss and Hawthorn from Britain, Behra from France and the Italian, Castellotti.

This is the story of one such triumph, one of his last but probably his greatest race, an outcome that no one believed possible, in which he surpassed even himself in his Maserati on the treacherous 14-mile Nürburgring circuit through the Eifel mountains. His victory marked the triumph of courage and experience over the handicaps of age, driving a slower machine than those of his closest rivals’, and a pit stop for tyres and fuel that lost him nearly a full minute (and which other teams did not need to make).

There had been murmurs among those in the know that Fangio was past it, that age was at last beginning to tell, and that a man of 46 – whatever his capabilities – could not continue to hold off the brilliant new generation from Britain, Italy, Germany and America. ‘Poppa’ Fangio’s days were surely numbered. He might be World Champion, but like an aging, battered boxer, he was due to go down for the count. Look at what had happened at the British Grand Prix at Aintree only a few weeks earlier. He hadn’t even got onto the front row of the grid, and youngsters like Brooks, Moss and Musso had led him with ease.

If this sort of talk reached Juan Manuel Fangio’s ears, he didn’t show it. But then, he was never a driver to show his feelings or express his thoughts, in public or in private. No one will ever know whether, before the start of the 1957 German Grand Prix, the World Champion had already decided to retire at the end of the season but had nonetheless determined to go out fighting, and as the unsurpassed master of his art.

…continued in Issue One

Jalpa Hallelujah

After a sometimes frightening 1000-mile day-and-night drive across Europe, ex-CAR magazine editor Steve Cropley delivers the first Lamborghini Jalpa to Britain.

The day had begun well; it was ending otherwise. I’d arrived at Sant’ Agata on the dot of 8.30am, as advised. Hoping to get my hands on one of the first two right-hand-drive Lamborghini Jalpas to be built, screw on the plate, fill it with fuel – and drive back to Britain. The matter was urgent; we had rather a lot of empty pages – and a cover slot – to fill.

Ubaldo Sgarzi made it clear, when he arrived an hour later, that there would be paperwork to deal with in Bologna (50 miles away) and paperwork to follow that in Modena (25 miles in the other direction). Departure time was estimated at 3pm.

If you’ve dealt with Italian makers of fast cars in the past, you’re probably used to delays. On the other hand, you do know that things that are promised to happen, eventually will happen. In the company of John Winfield, Birmingham-based buyer of the other RHD Jalpa scheduled to leave the factory that day, I spent the morning wandering about the place, watching the artisans assemble the vastly complex array of tubes into Countach-S chassis, surveying the beginnings of a real, live Jalpa assembly line, peeping behind sheet steel curtains and the latest LMA off-roader prototype – and enthusing about the fact that this roomy factory in northern Italy has become nothing less that the world headquarters of low volume car manufacture. Indeed it is so. Maserati’s cars are either made in too great a number or are too outmoded to be regarded with the same awe as Lamborghini’s; Ferrari’s (though still brilliant) are manufactured these days, not hand-built. As traditional crafters of cars, Aston are the only long-lived rival to Lamborghini although their designs seem rather more brutish, less scientific than the Bull’s machinery, even if they’re still as fast as the fastest.

At lunch, as we ate macaroni in the works canteen, Ingegnere Giulio Alfieri, chief designer as well as works boss, told us how the workforce had expanded to 215 people and would grow some more before the LMA ‘jeep’ was in full-noise production in 1985. After that, he told us, Lamborghini would build ‘another car’. A man who drinks mineral water with his lunch, he refused to be drawn on its specification.

Things started to go downhill when we learned that the Modenese customs people couldn’t even see us until 3.30pm. In the event, we didn’t leave the works until then, and when we did, it was to begin a chase in and out of the trucks behind sales director Ubaldo Sgarzi’s assistant, Enzo, in his Fiat Panda. At last, at 4pm, we drew up behind a shipping agent’s on the Modena ring road, right next to a bar called Emilio’s from which the customs man is rumoured to conduct business.

I had been told soon after lunch, that my silver car, destined to be the demonstrator for Britain’s Lamborghini concessionaires, Portman Garages of London W1, would have to be limited to 4000rpm, with bursts of 5000rpm permitted now and again – that compared with an occasional redline of a run-in Jalpa (they pronounce it ‘Halpa’ at the factory) of 7500rpm. The cars need at least 1000 miles on them before you can see full noise, even for a burst. This one had precisely 240 miles up. So at that rate, with a 900-mile trip ahead, I’d not be able to open the car up before northern France, just about the spot where the Lille/Calais autoroute crosses the River Somme.

…continued in Issue One


Richard Bremner laments the decline of scrapyards and relives the pleasures of plundering other drivers’ motoring grief

A FEW MONTHS AGO, I WAS SCRABBLING AROUND THE interior of a condemned Citroën AX, wielding a screwdriver and socket set. It was somewhat demanding, physically. The AX’s seats, no longer tethered to the fl oor, had been pushed into its rear half, the entire car was listing, and simply getting into it was a challenge because an equally immobile Peugeot 306 was languishing inconveniently close by. The temperature inside was rising because it was high summer and the Citroën’s windows were shut fi rm, their winders buried somewhere, lost in its wasted interior. Even so this was a happy experience because it was a rare chance to indulge in a spot of hands-on scrapyard scavenging. Rare, because so few scrapyards allow their customers in, doubtless for EU-dictated health and safety, eco-regulation and pilferage reasons.

Most people have little appetite for such activity, of course, but there are others, I know, who enjoy this grubby-fingered pursuit. I’m not entirely sure why, even in my own case, but a huge part of the appeal is the fascination of discovery, of unearthing what a scrapyard  has to offer and wondering why the car in question is in there. I might be looking at a yard filled with much the same everyday cars that you’ll find in a supermarket car park, except that they’re now dead, semi-ruined and destined for the crusher. And the sight of these selfsame cars stored, unwheeled and forlorn, in a breaker’s yard suddenly makes them a whole lot more interesting than they would be intact. It must be the same thought process that makes an unrestored and battered car more intriguing than a pristine original. I first experienced the appeal of scrap when I was seven. We lived near Cranleigh, in Surrey, where there were plenty of picturesque country walks, but my favourite (though not my dad’s) took us past the dump, basically a pit in the woods that anyone could tip an old car into if they could get it there. I remember seeing a neighbour’s Austin A40 pick-up dragged away one day (it was sagging in the middle, so its time had probably come) then finding it in the pit a few weeks later.

Hands-on experience came in the late 1970s when I was a habitué of Hunters of Wembley, a scrapyard that’s still there. I liked to take my time wandering past the stacked rows of cars, checking their mileages and the inevitable rust that had earned them an MoT failure and a trip to this knacker’s yard. Models of virtually any make were vulnerable to a felling by rust, but by far the most common were Austin-Morris 1100/1300s and Ford Cortinas and Escorts. That’s partly because they were Britain’s most popular motors, but also because they were highly susceptible to corrosion, the Austin-Morris machines (and their snootier wood-furnished Wolseley, Riley and Vanden Plas brothers), killed by cratered sills, crunchy rear subframe mountings and quite often the collapse of the subframe itself. Ford sills dissolved, too, but more serious was corrosion around the MacPherson strut top-mounts.

Whole industries developed around the structural failings of these cars, and others. Who remembers the ‘Ford Owners – Don’t Let This Happen To You!’ ad for welding repairs often found in Exchange and Mart, accompanied by a drawing of struts bursting explosively through the inner wings? Or endless box ads offering to repair 1100/1300 sills, flitches, sub-frame mounts and more?

…continued in Issue One


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