Triumph TR2, TR3 and TR4

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The response to our recent post featuring the Triumph Stag – see our previous post here – Triumph Stag was phenomenal. Whilst watching a film set in the 1950’s that featured a dashing young chap arriving to pick up his lady love in an early Triumph sports model, I decided to dig deeper into the Triumph Stags’ ancestry. I discovered that the star of the TV show was a Triumph TR2 – quite a stunner.

I have never suited the image of cordouroys, a flat cap and a pipe-smoker but these seem almost compulsory for the devotees of the sprightly, iconic and classic English sports cars.

A model described as the 20TS (unofficially the TR1) was shown at the London Motor Show in October 1952 – see below a rare photo of this prototype – to a mixed reception. The then Chairman of Standard-Triumph, Sir John Black, requested the assessment of the 20TS from BRM’s development engineer and test driver, Ken Richardson. It was so damning – a slow, poor handling death-trap – that Sir John sought Black’s help to redesign the car.

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Black’s efforts resulted in substantial improvements and in March 1953, at the Geneva Motor Show, the TR2 debuted. It benefitted from a parts pool culled from the Standard Motors range that gave the TR2 excellent reliability, albeit with rather basic handling and an uncomfortable ride. It sold between 1953 and 1955.

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In 1955, the TR2, as a result of minor styling changes and an upgraded engine became the TR3 – “Small Mouth”.

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In 1956 Girling Disc brakes on the front were added exponentially improving the braking. Styling changes alone to the TR3 in 1957 resulted in the TR3A – as it is often described – was, for me, the nadir of good design for this series. Although far from “modern”, the TR3As were appreciated in both Europe and the US with annual production exceeding 10,000 vehicles.

In 1962 TR3B entered production and look virtually identical to the TR3A but with engine and carburetor upgrade. It was offered concurrently with the new TR4 in response to dealers concerns about the TR4 being regarded by the core audience as being too modern.

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Realizing that the TR3 needed a significant facelift in 1961 Triumph engaged Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti – already well known for his work with Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and BMW – to design the TR4. His boxier body looked much more modern with a larger cabin, although under the skin it was largely a TR3 with upgraded steering. Michelotti designed extensively for Triumph, his work included the Triumph Stag.

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In 1965, the TR4 became TR4A with a much improved ride, a more tuned engine and quieter exhaust.

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For me the TR4 with its wire wheels and elegant lines is the definitive small English sports car.

The TR3 and TR4 saw production runs in the region of 70,000 cars each so there’s lots of potential examples out there both those that are Concours ready and those that could benefit from a significant re-build. Checking sites like http://www.hemmings.com or http://www.erclassics.com will demonstrate that a price range – depending on condition between £5,000 and £30,000.

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You’ve been promising yourself that you’ll find a classic sports car to rebuild – perhaps now’s the right time.

Would a Buyer’s Guide to the TR2 and TR3’s assistant you in your quest? If so, published in July 2018 is an Essential Buyers Guide –  click the AMAZON link below the image to order your copy

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Triumph TR2, & TR3 – All models (including 3A & 3B) 1953 to 1962: Essential Buyer’s Guide

If a TR4 is more your thing then there is also and Essential Buyer’s Guide for this model – click the AMAZON link below the image to get your copy

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Triumph TR4/4A & TR5/250 – All models 1961 to 1968 (Essential Buyer’s Guide)

You’ll, of course need a trusty Haynes Owner’s Worshop Manual – get a copy here that covers the TR2 to TR4A – please click on the AMAZON link below the image

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Haynes 0028 Car Maintenance Service Repair Manual

I do appreciate that your enthusiasm may only stretch to wearing the T shirt – in this case a personalised vehicle registration plate – if so, please click on the AMAZON link below the image

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Triumph TR2, TR3, TR4, TR5, TR6, TR7 Chassis Plate T-Shirt *PERSONALISED* Model & Reg Plate (M, Charcoal)

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Photo Credits – with grateful thnaks – Hemings.com, Standard-Triumph

Porsche 912

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Such are the concerns of a young company, intent on not completely destroying its core and growing market, by the introduction of a product that may take its already loyal audience too far, too quickly. This was the issue that faced the engineering and design teams at the Porsche business in 1963/4.

In 1963 Porsche’s plan was to launch the Type 911 – see our earlier post here Porsche 911 Targa  with its flat opposed six cylinder engine to succeed the very successful four cylinder 356 range that had been selling well for over a decade – see our earlier post here – Porsche 356 B Cabriolet Concerned that the hike in sales prices between the last 356 model and the incoming 911 – $5,500 in the US at launch – would prove too much for the developing market, an idea was mooted to widen the brand appeal by introducing of an entry level car with a body shell substantially similar to the 911 but with a low weight 1.6 litre four cylinder engine based  substantially on that of the 356 and a commensurately lower price tag.

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The bright, compact and hugely iconic Porsche 912 was overseen by Dan Schwartz and was, as a coupe, launched on 5th April 1965. The 912 was introduced to the US market at the New York Auto-Show in September 1965. At launch, the 912 coupe cost $4,000 in the US. It initially outsold the 911 by a margin of two-to-one!

The 912 was discontinued in 1969 as sales of the 911 seemed assured – yet the 912 returned to the US in 1976. The total production run of the 912 coupe was just under 30,000.

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Between 1966 and 1968 Porsche produced 2500 Targa body versions of the 912  – an absolute favorite of mine. The Version I was available until 1967 and had a zipper fixed rear window – hence its nickname, the “soft-window Targa”.

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From January 1968, the Version II became the “hard-window Targa” effectively giving the car a removeable roof.

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On 21st December 1966, 100,000th Porsche built was a 912 designed to be used by the German autobahn Polizei!

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In 1969, the 912 was succeeded by the 914 that was produced as a result of a joint venture with Volkeswagen – and never a favourite. In turn the 914 was discontinued in 1976 and the 912 was re-introduced to North America and styled the 912E.

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Although it shared the 911’s “G-Series” bodywork it had a 2.0 litre VW air-cooled engine – a true combination of Porsche flair and VW reliability. Total production of the re-introduced 912E was 2,100 with the majority sold in the USA.

First things first – you are definitely going to need an Owner’s Manual! Click the link below the image

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Porsche 912 Workshop Manual 1965-1968

Sometimes it pays to do your homework – what better place to start that this excellent 50th anniversary celebration of the iconic Porsche 912. Click the link below the image

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Porsche 912: 50 Years

Fancy a Visit to the Porsche Museum In Stuttgart? Access to the Porsche Museum can be seen here – via the Porsche Website here – Porsche Museum

Just in case you are not ready for the real thing, these scale and beautifully executed models – imported from Japan – are just perfect? In classic Irish Green or Red – Click the link below the image

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Tomica Limited Vintage Tlv-93b Porsche 912 (Green)

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Tomica Limited Vintage NEO TLV-93a Porsche 912 (red) 1965 formula

STOP PRESS

Our friends at Classic Driver – with grateful thanks for the add – and Designer Carl Gustav Magnusson have just added the following piece to the wealth of knowledge concerning Porsche 912 – enjoy!

CG Magnusson Re-imagines Porsche 912

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Images by courtesy of Porsche AG and RM Sotheby

Porsche 356 B Cabriolet

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The 911 captured me as an impressionable teenager in the mid-1970’s – and as many know the Porsche Targa – please see my previous posts here Porsche 911 Targa – including, specifically, its most recent incarnation, is firmly my favourite car of all time. When considering an iconic design classic it’s a fault to overlook its antecedents.

Now that the Porsche 911 is firmly over fifty years old its predecessor – acknowledging the role played by the smaller engined entry model Porsche 912 introduced in 1965 – from which it draws many clear styling cues, was the Porsche 356.

I was looking at an auction by those nice people at Gooding and Company upcoming in March 2018 at their Amelia Island location in Florida. They are hosting the sale of a collection of Mr James G. Hascall, the former CEO of Primex Technologies – a specialist in aerospace technology – and clearly a Porsche fanatic, who died in August 2016. Of the twelve Porsches being sold two are Porsche 356 in two differing body styles – both by Ruetter – including our featured image a 1960 356 B Cabriolet and below, a 1965 365 C Cabriolet. I think you’ll agree they are both way more than very appealing.

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The first fifty cars of the Porsche 356 – Porsches’ first production car – were built in Gmünd, Austria by Porsche Konstruktionen GesmbH in 1948/9. A prototype 356 called “No1” was created in 1948, designed by Irwin Komenda and has the accolade of being Porshce’s first car.

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The son of the company’s founder, Ferry Porsche and his sister Louise, based the light, tubular steel, hand-crafted aluminum bodies and rear engined 356 on a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine that Ferry owned early post war. The air-cooled pushrod OHV flat-four engine as developed by Porsche’s designers was based on the Volkswagen engine case.

In Kärnten (Austria) seventy years ago, on 8th June 1948, the first 356 was road certified.

In 1950 production moved to Zuffenhausen in Germany and was operated by newly formed German company Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH. Production continued there until 1965 with around 76,000 cars being made of which, it is believed around 50% have survived.

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On moving to Germany, steel bodies built by Reutter were used. Later, in 1963 when acquired by Porsche, Reutter continued to make car seats and changed its name to Recaro. Karmann also made bodies including the “Notchback” so called because the car’s profile derived from adding a hard roof onto a Cabriolet body.

A growing reputation for build-quality caused the 356 to appeal to an increasingly international audience. A win at Le Man in 1951 exponentially assisted the marketing. In late 1954, the Carrera engine developed by and for Porsche cars increased orders.

Porsche 356 models primarily included the coupe, roadster and cabriolet.

The Porsche 356 A Speedster built at the behest of US importer, Max Hoffman was a huge success with the West Coast audience.

The production stats – for those interested are as follows: Model 356 (1948–1955) 7,627 – the earlier models having split screen windscreens; Model 356 A (1955–1959) 21,045; Model 356 B (1959–1963) 30,963 and Model 356 C (1963–1965/66) 16,678. In 1964 the first 911’s were produced – in parallel with the 912 that initially outsold the early 911 – and later superseded the 356.

Above Janis Joplin’s psychedelic 1964 Porsche 356 C Cabriolet.

If you get the chance to restore a classic Porsche 356 – it would be worth investing in an owner’s workshop manual to aid your endeavors – click below the image to pick up a copy

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Porsche 356 Owners Workshop Manual 1957-1965 (Brooklands Books)

Whilst your barn find/restoration project is underway remind yourself of the finished article with these two wonderful die-cast models – you chose silver or black? Click on the image below each image.

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Porsche 356 B Cabrio silber Modellauto Welly 1:24

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Porsche 356 B Cabriolet, schwarz , 1961, Modellauto, Fertigmodell, Bburago 1:24

As I say in our post – seventy years on and still going strong – enjoy this excellent retrospective book – click on the link below the image. 

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Porsche 70 Years: There Is No Substitute

Just for a bit of fun – as you like me are clearly a Petrol Head – why not wear the 356 on this stylish graphic shirt – click on the link below the image

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356 Speedster Petrol Head T-Shirt (white/print large)

Image Credits courtesy of Gooding and Company – James G. Hascall Collection Sales Amelia Island, Florida March 9th 2018 Hascall Collection Sale

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Ferrari 330 GTS

 

 

 

 

 

So you all know that I am a Porsche nut! That said, simply because a vehicle is not German designed and Stuttgart built doesn’t exclude it from being simply a breathtaking icon.

The limited run of only one hundred examples is not just the most special thing about the Ferrari 330 GTS, though it does, of course, influence its value. To me many  classic convertibles don’t look that amazing with their hoods up. Their “rag roofs” are often too peaked, ribbed in chrome or are otherwise a bit clumsy. This car is the exception. With its hood up or down the Ferrari 330 GTS is just stunning.

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The 330 GTS was designed by the legendary Torino based “Pininfarina” – founded in 1928 by Battista Farina who acquired the Piedmontese nickname “Pinin” – meaning the youngest brother – and later in 1961 changed his surname to “Pininfarina”. The last car that Sr. Pininfarina is credited with personally designing was the Alfa Romeo Duetto – see our pervious post here – Alfa Romeo Spider  There is an umistakable common heritage in Pininfarina’s signature between the 1966 Alfa Romeo Duetto and the 330 GTS.

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The Ferrari 330 GTS was one of a series of cars, V12 300 bhp – based on the Superamerica 4.0L Colombo engine – that were produced by Ferrari between 1963 and 1968 when it was superseded by the 365 models.

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The Ferrari 330 GTS debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1966.

In January 2016, a genuine “barn find” Ferrari 330 GTS with a mere 23,000 miles on the clock sold at the Scottsdale Arizona sale of Gooding & Company for a tad over $2m.

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A yellow GTS sold at the same sale a year earlier for $2.4m.

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The guys at Morris and Welford at Newport Beach, California in January 2018 have a stunning 1968 blue GTS for sale for $2.4m. Yes please……

 

If that is stretching the budget a little – and it certainly is for me – I am going to console myself by adding a die cast model of a Ferrari 330 GTS to my mantelpiece! You can do the same by clicking the AMAZON link below

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BEST BT9315 FERRARI 330 GTS 1968 BLUE MET.1:43 MODELLINO DIE CAST MODEL

STOP PRESS: At Gooding & Co’s January 2018 Scottsdale Auction, Lot 138, a stunning black 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS reached a winning bid at $2.53m – exceeding the pre-auction  estimate of between $2.00m – $2.4m.

See images of this fine car here – Ferrari 330 GTS at Goodings

 

Image Credits with grateful thanks Wikipedia, Gooding & Co, Morris and Welford, The Legendary Motor Company, http://www.Talacrest.com and RM Sotherby.

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Austin Healey 3000 Mark III

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Austin Healey to a younger generation may be the name of a rugby player, for me its the name of an iconic British sports car – one of the ultimate convertibles.

A pal, Hugo, had a 1966 white Healey 3000 Mark III with red leather and white piping that had been imported from the US and when combined with his apartment  off London’s King’s Road made for a very cool guy with many cool friends.

Austin Healey was a long term cooperation, initiated in 1952, between British Motor Corporation (the forerunner to British Leyland) and the well known engineering and car design firm headed by Donald Healey.

Early cars included the compact and uber cute,  “Frogeye” aka “Austin Healey Sprite” first built between 1958-61. Not sure why “Frogeye”? Check out those round chrome headlights – get it?

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A staple of club motoracing for many years and featured in this remarkable – though seemingly silent Pathe footage from 1958/9 at Silverstone Austin Healey Sprite – and the deerstalker driver….

Between 1959-67 the Austin-Healey 3000 – “big Healey” – complete with Jensen Motors built coach work were produced in Abingdon – alongside MG – by BMC. Initially, a two-seater the 3000 became a 2+2.

By 1963 91.5% of all 3000’s were exported, in the main to the USA.

In 1964 the 3000 Mark III BJ8 was launched with an engine overhaul adding a new camshaft resulting in an increased horse power up to 150 bhp. Production of the 3000 Mark III ceased at the end of 1967 – which saw the end of all Austin-Healey production. During its production run over 17,000 3000 Mark III’s were made.

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A definitive British convertible sports car, the Mark III with its distinctive lines, timeless styling and elegance has made this fabulous car one of the most collectible of all the mid-1960’s classics.

Given the extent of the numbers exported it is not usual to access good quality Austin Healeys from the US – particularly those dryer States where the local climate has favoured the storage of 3000’s and other classics. That said they are valuable –  a 3000 Mark III in great condition will currently cost circa £75,000 but that is perhaps fifty percent cheaper than the equivalent Porsche and significantly cheaper than similar Aston Martin models from the same era.

Donald Healey joined Jensen Motors and later to become Chairman.

It seems that the name Austin Healey may be owned by SAIC Motors a Ch

If you are tempted to buy a “Big Healey” why not get a little advice first – check this guide to Austin Healey’s on AMAZON

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Austin-Healey Big Healeys: The Essential Buyer’s Guide (Essential Buyer’s Guide Series)

Whenever you do decide to take the plunge and add an Austin Healey to your stable of classic cars you are surely going to need the definitive Haynes Manual on your precious purchase…..

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Austin Healey 100/6 & 3000 (56 – 68) Haynes Repair Manual (Haynes Service and Repair Manuals)

Personally, I am buying one of these cool Cafe Press long sleeved T shirt with a Austin Healey 3000 design on it – check this AMAZON link

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CafePress Healey 3000 – Unisex Cotton Long Sleeve T-Shirt

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Photo credits – with thanks to Haynes, Hemmings and Austin Healey.

AesthetIcons – Happy New Year

Targa 2018

For this, my 250th AesthetIcons’ post and first of the New Year, I am going to be a little self indulgent, introspective and, perhaps, somewhat overly analytical. Many of you will have read my praises of the “aesthetic” and the “iconic” – often both – but I want to regroup in order to further develop Aestheticons.com.

What may be aesthetic and/or iconic, is probably in the eye of the beholder. Clearly, it’s primarily subjective. Indeed, I am happy that not all of us with love the same designs. Conversely, it is entirely possible to appreciate something that we don’t particularly like. The Toyota Prius, whilst I recognise it may be iconic – in a curiously evolutionary way – it’s just not particularly aesthetic!

Not all will appreciate my almost clinical devotion to the products produced for over seventy years by the Stuttgart based Porsche AG, from the earliest incarnations of the 1950’s with 356 to the most recent iterations of the Porsche Targa. To me, Porsche cars are the very definition of what is both Aesthetic and Iconic.

Porsche 356

The use over many hundreds of years of Icons by the Russian Orthodox religion gives us much of the substance to our present day usage of the expression – although the etymological root of the word itself comes from the Greek “eikōn” meaning “image”. Whether worship of icons is entirely sound is a matter of personal faith but they do present a focus for devotion.

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The word “iconic” is often used in the media as short-hand for “famous”. Is David Beckham an “icon” – possibly – he was certainly was an amazing footballer who is now using his brand equity for commercial and philanthropic purposes. Coco Chanel, the originator of the Little Black Dress and the wonderful No. 5 perfume, is often described as an icon and her creations are equally titled. She also very ably ticks the box that spells ”Aesthetic”.

Kim Kardashian is described as having her own “Aesthetic” aside from her charms I struggle to see this as being more than “style”. This may result from the relationship between the host of a Twitter or Instagram account and their legion of followers, who, sadly, are unlikely to ever see yet alone meet their icon! For me Aesthetic is adjacent to “Art”. Essentially, the viewer’s reaction that confirming the objects status – again entirely subjective.

It seems that an adopted definition of an “Icon” is that the subject acquires its title through familiarity, use and enjoyment, especially, over a number of years.

Whilst New York’s Chrysler Building – see our previous post here Chrysler Building, New York City– or the Guggenheim Museum – see our previous post here Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and London’s Battersea Power Station – see our previous post here Battersea Power Station are undisputed icons of world architecture and they enjoy substantial praise for their aesthetic values. Is it time alone that has cemented these giants into the public’s consciousness, appreciation and nostalgia? Can London’s The Shard by Renzo Piano, The Gherkin by Foster and Shuttleworth or Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao see our previous post here Guggenheim Museum Bilbao hope to stand shoulder to shoulder with these masterpieces? Obviously yes, but it is much more than a question of  merely adding time.

It seems that there are certain icons that are loved and cherished that fail, taking their brand equity with them. Some of the familiar brands that have disappeared recently include: The US airline, once the emblem of the “Jet Set” international travel, Pan Am collapsed into bankruptcy in 1994. Hummer, once the Schwarzenegger of SUVs, in 2008 General Motors sensing the end of the road for conspicuous consumption tried to sell the brand but due to a lack of commercial interest in 2010 the doors were shut. Woolworths, the Home of Pic’N’Mix, largely due to the 2007 Credit Crunch, filed for Administration in November 2008, closing all stores within a couple of months. Athenasee our previous post here – Tennis Girl and Friends – founded in 1964, the home of student poster decoration, entered administration in 1995.

Some truly iconic brands have been saved and thrive, evolving into new markets whilst ensuring the continued affection of fans. These include: Falcon Enamel Wear see our previous post here – Falcon Enamelware Bugatti was founded in 1909 by Ettore Bugatti, following years at the leading edge of motor racing the factory was bombed in WWII and with Bugatti’s death the business was eventually acquired by Volkswagen in 1990s today producing £2.0m supercars. Moleskinesee our previous post here – Moleskine Notebook the original manufacturer, a France-based family, ceased production in 1986 following the death of its principal. The brand was very successfully revived eleven years later by Italian publisher Modo & Modo.

I am particularly determined to revive – see our previous post here – Woods & Sons “Beryl Ware” crockery – quite simply the most familiar crockery that you have known for years, as used in all manner of cafes and, I suspect, you’d love to own. Do you remember the Husky Quilted Jackets? Loved by English Princesses and Milanese businessmen – with the corduroy collar and cuffs that came in fire-engine red, marine blue and Hunter welly’s green – see our previous post here – Hunter Green Wellington Boots My research has shown the brand was acquired in a corporate buy-out but I challenge you to find a new Husky jacket.

My interests in the Aesthetic and Iconic are unlimited by genre, item or product type. There are the new and old, the familiar and less familiar. As we evolve, our core philosophy remains constant – to celebrate beautiful things. We will continue to curate and to introduce our audience to iconic designs. I relish the journey!

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Image Credits with thanks: Porsche AG, Volkswagen, Falcon Enamel Wear, Hunter Wellingtons, Moleskine, Tudor Watches, Chanel.

Sunbeam Alpine – Bond’s first car

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My son and I are huge fans of the British produced magazine “Classic & Sports Car” – said to be the “World’s Best-Selling Classic Car Magazine”. It’s a monthly romp through some of the glorious cars built over the last, say, 75 years, with “barn finds” and restoration stories returning classic cars to pristine condition. This month it featured the Sunbeam Tiger – in its “Case Histories – We Test The Classics That You Can Buy” section – the predecessor to the ever cute, wire wheeled, two seater Sunbeam Alpine.

The Sunbeam Alpine was first launched in 1953 by the Rootes Group – featuring names acquired from take overs of other motoring marques – but in 1956 it was substantially redesigned by Kenneth Howes and Jeff Crompton, as a sports car aimed at the US market where it was a hit.

The total production run of the Sunbeam Alpine, which ended in 1968 following the takeover of Rootes Group by Chrysler, was around 70,000 vehicles.

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Its movie star good looks saw the Sunbeam Alpine take a leading role in several movies:  In 1955 a metallic green Sunbeam Alpine Mk I – a more bulky coach-built Grand Tourer version of the parred down post 1956 “Series” models – was seen driven by the beautiful and white gloved, Grace Kelly in “To Catch A Thief” with Cary Grant;

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In 1962 a white walled tyre, lake blue Sunbeam Alpine Series II was seen as a first “Bond Car” when in the story it was rented and driven by James Bond in “Dr No” – it is said that it was the only suitable vehicle for such a movie to be found on the island of Jamaica. It’s said to be the “first” Bond car as it was the first car Bond drove that was neither supplied by his superiors/Q or commandeered from an unsuspecting bystander;

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In the 1971 film “Get Carter” starring Michael Caine a 1968 Sunbeam Alpine was driven by an dark haired accomplice who rescued Caine’s character.

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Finally, in the 1966 film “The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery”, George Cole’s character “Flash Harry” drove a crimson Sunbeam Alpine.

Would a Kindle subscription to Classic and Sports Car be a fantastic gift for yourself or someone close to you? If so, if you live in the UK, click the following link and add at least 12 months of huge pleasure to any Petrol Head! Classic & Sports Car

Ok so a fully restored, Concourse Condition Sunbeam Alpine may be a bit pricey, so why not “Get the T shirt” by clicking the following AMAZON link CafePress – Sunbeam Alpine V – 100% Cotton T-Shirt or add a die cast model of James Bond’s Sunbeam Alpine to your collection by clicking the following AMAZON link Sunbeam Alpine, blau, James Bond 007, 1962, Modellauto, Fertigmodell, SpecialC.-007 1:43

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Fiat 500 – 1957-2017

Old Fiat 500

Like many well designed iconic products a sixtieth anniversary not only surpasses the all too frequent 50th – recent milestones include The Beatles “Sgt Pepper” – please see here our previous post Peter Blake and Jann Haworth – “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” , BBC’s Radios 1 and 2, the first ATM (cash machine) and the launch of McDonalds in Canada – but the longevity of a product with sixty years under its belt truly says something about its core appeal and durability. Even if it is re-imagined in the process.

Such is the accolade that the fabulous Fiat 500 celebrated in July this summer when the the stunning Dante Giacosa designed first iteration the Nuova 500 was launched, succeeding the Topolino and, in an 18 year total production run, sold over 4 million cars.

 

At under ten feet (less than 3m) long, with “suicide doors” and a roll-back roof its minute 479cc two-cylinder engine produced just 13 horsepower. I can bear testimony to the power of this sprightly little vehicle to whisk a car load of not small people and too much luggage – shooting too many red lights in the process – around the melting tarmac of Rome’s streets.

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Roberto Giolito’s 2004 concept, the Fiat Trepiuno, paved the way for design guru, Frank Stephenson – who also designed the iconic new Mini – to re-imagine the Fiat 500. The new car was launched on 4th July 2007 to great acclaim, winning Car’s “Car of the Year 2007”.

new Fiat 500 blue

Both the original 500 and its later incarnation have appeared in a number of guises including as Abarth special editions. The later model, which underwent some restyling in 2016, has also been styled as a Riva version – after the eponymous boat-yard – please see here our previous post Fiat 500 Riva.

 

Images courtesy of Fiat

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Scalextric

Scalextric 1

My Dad really liked Hornby “00” gauge electric train sets. The level crossings, the stations complete with milk churns, uniformed Porters with trolleys and passengers in tweeds with brown suitcases. He bought me a Hornby “00” set as soon as he could assure himself that I was old enough not to be electrocuted myself. I played along as he enjoyed it so much mounting endless lengths of track onto a huge board and creating a village and hillside scenes.

What I really wanted was an iconic Scalextric set. Like all good parents they usually obliged the reasonable requests of their offspring and for my tenth birthday I got my first set.

As kids we lived in the village of Silverstone (Northamptonshire, UK) a home of the British Grand Prix. The circuit is owned the British Racing Drivers Club and is the home of the Jim Russell racing school.

My Dad’s gift was a Scalextric Grand Prix circuit and one of the many combinations of the track set up was a reproduction of the Silverstone circuit with Woodcote, Stowe and Copse Corners and Hangar Straight.

Scalextric 2

It was an era when club racing with Minis and Porsches was as much fun as the more serious and competitive Formula 1, so I decided to build the shorter Silverstone Club Circuit. I had four slot cars that I really liked to race, a green Mini, a Red Mini Mini – the best selling car in Britain and two Porsches in red and white Porsche 911 Targa and One Millionth Porsche 911.

I had two gun trigger controls in red and blue – as opposed to older palm held thumb plunger type of control – that gathered dust like a magnet and heated quickly filling the rooms over which I arranged my track with a electrical smell that I remember to this day.

Over the years my usual birthday and Christmas requests were for more track, cars, an automatic lap counter – that proved hazardous to some cars as the slot connection often derailed it if hit the lap counter too hard  – armco barriers, banking and track buildings – the pits etc. Pieces of track were ostensibly rather boring presents but straight and curved pieces with their interlocking electrical elements and black press studs could create a difficult chicane or a straight for breakneck speed.

Scalextric was first made in 1956 by British inventor, Fred Francis. He first made “Scalex” small model clockwork cars made of tin.

Facing a downturn in demand for his Scalex cars, Francis added a small motor to his cars and a slot with electric brushes that provided contact to the track’s power supply from concealed batteries. Scalextric was launched at the 1957 Harrogate Toy Fair “Scalextric” was a huge hit. “Scalextric” is now owned by Hornby Hobbies of England.

In 2009 Top Gear’s James May announced the re-creation of the original Brooklands track – in situ – using Scalextric. He broke the Guiness Book of Records record for the World’s longest Scalextric track – 2.95 miles/4.75 km. My late Dad was a Trustee of the Brooklands Trust – that owns the Circuit. He would have loved the very idea!

Images Courtesy of Scalextric/Hornby/Daily Telegraph and the Brooklands Trust

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Ferrari Dino

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May be it’s the recent sad loss of the charmer Sir Roger Moore Volvo P1800– aka Lord Brett Sinclair in the early 1970’s caper ‘The Pursuaders!” with Tony Curtis – aka Bernard Schwartz/”Daniel” Danny Wilde as his gritty, wealthy, upstart crime co-fighter  – who drove one in the series – but I have recently been re-admiring the beguiling lines of the iconic Ferrari Dino.

The epic title sequence from “The Pursuaders!” – with an amazing John Barry soundtrack – can be seen here – enjoy! The Pursuaders! Titles

The Ferrari Dino was a brand of mid-engined, rear-drive sports cars produced by Ferrari from 1968 to 1976. It may be that the Dino first appeared during an era in my life typified by raging hormones but even forty years on I am humbled by the staggering beauty of this feat of Italian engineering.

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“Dino” – comes from founder, Enzo’s son and heir, “Alfredo” – nicknamed “Alfredino”- who, sadly, died in 1956 aged just twenty four suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

As used by Ferrari “Dino” was what they call in the fashion business a “diffusion line”, not the full-priced product but one basking in the shadow of the senior brand. During this era the Ferrari name was reserved for the 12 cylinder versions of the marque and “Dino” was used to support a range of more realistically priced versions of this classic sports car. Similarly to the use of the models “Boxster” and “Cayman” in the Porsche range today.

Enzo was initially doubtful about the safety of a mid-engined car but after some persuasion – get the connection….- he agree to allow Sergio Pininfarina to build a mid-engined concept car for the 1965 Paris Motor Show which carried only the “Dino” badge. By the 1966 Turin Show  a further prototype was shown and was very well received. Enzo was finally willing to green light production with the 206 GT. Only 152 Dino 206 GT were built.

The Dino range was described by three digits such as the 206 – being a 2 litre 6-cylinder (containing the signature V6 – designed by legendary Vittorio Jano – Alfredo actually had a hand in its design), 246 – being a 2.4-litre 6-cylinder and the 308 – being a 3.0-litre 8-cylinder.

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In 1969 the 206 GT was superseded by the more powerful steel bodied Dino 246 GT, initially only available as a fixed-top GT coupé,

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A targa topped GTS was launched in 1971 – our example shown has been Federalised for the US market by the addition of more bumpering and side indicators.

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The Dino 246 GT designed by Leonardo Fioravanti at Pininfarina was the first Ferrari to be produced in reasonably high numbers. Dino 246 production numbered 2,295 GTs and 1,274 GTSs, for a total production run of 3,569.

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Initially the Bertone designed 308 GT4 2+2, with its V8 engine was given a “Dino” badge between 1973 and 1976 when it was “upgraded” to a Ferrari. Not one of my favorite Ferraris but it did spawn a later model, the beautiful 308 GTB, the car that succeeded the Dino – and included the “Magnum PA” 308 GTS – but that’s another story!

Get you own die cast Dino by clicking the following AMAZON link Bburago Ferrari Dino 246 GTB 1:24

Get a Red Dino T shirt by clicking the following AMAZON link Ferrari 246 Dino legendary road icon mens T-Shirt (Large, Red)

Images courtesy of ITC Entertainment, Ferrari/Fiat and Bburago

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