The London Racing Car Show achieved full international status in 1967 and in doing so managed to fill the big National Hall at Olympia with little room to spare. Logically, the opening ceremony was performed by Sir Patrick Hennessy, English Ford's Boss, not because of any personal competition exploits on Sir Patrick's part but because the racing fraternity knows only too well on which side its bread is buttered.
Pride of place in the hall went to the championship winning Brabham-Repco V-8, which was supported by a number of the more interesting and successful of recent competition cars. These included the Le Mans winning Ford GT, Graham Hill's Indianapolis Lola and a really superb BRM H-16 prepared specially for exhibition at the Montreal Fair later in the year. The opportunity to inspect cars of this type in detail undoubtedly accounts in large part for (the success of the show because most enthusiasts never see them except from a distance and when they are traveling at upwards of 100 mph.
Among the race cars available for sale were examples of the latest Cooper and Brabham F3 cars, and a revised Lotus 41 which was shown powered by a Free Formula 1600-cc twin-carb engine. Both the Cooper and Brabham are new for 1967 although this is not apparent at first glance. The Brabham is slimmer with changes to the space frame, the Cooper has a new frame with the brake discs front and rear mounted inside the hub carriers, and Brabham, Cooper and Lotus have all had to alter their suspensions to make way for the continuing trend toward obesity in racing tires. The Cooper relationship with BMC continues and Cooper was showing a special Min with interior by Bertone and a luxurious Mini Traveller which is priced at $4200 with all the trimmings.
A newcomer among the pure race cars was the Formula 1 Pearce-Martin. Some Cooper parts are used in the suspension and the construction is monocoque. Although the car was well presented, it did not look as though it would frighten Colin Chapman very much. The Martin engine is a 3-liter V-8 on which we commented last year when it was exhibited on the V.IW. Derrington stand, but we have not seen it in competition during the ensuing season. Apart from the Martin 4-cyl and V-8 engines, Derrington was showing an ATS V-8 similar to the Serenissima used in 1966 by Bruce McLaren.
Several new and interesting engines were exhibited, with the Aston Martin 5-liter V-8 on John Surtees stand drawing the biggest crowds. This engine will power the Lola 70’s at Le Mans this year, although the new Mk 3 version of the Lola exhibited at the show was not Aston powered. The engine looks exceptionally clean externally. It is an alloy unit with a bore and stroke at 98 x 83 mm with two chain-driven overhead cams for each head and it is' said to weigh within a few pounds of the old six.
Among the exhibits which helped to give the show an international flavor was a new V-8 engine from Giannini. Older members of SCCA will remember the fast and neat 750 cc Giaurs of the early '50s which were built by and named after Giannini and Urania. In conversation with Attilio Giannini, he said that the new engine has been designed for sports prototype and GT racing and it will be built in 1000and 1600-cc forms. The block is aluminum alloy with wet liners, the four overhead camshafts are gear driven, lubrication is by dry sump, and the output claimed is 170 bhp for the 1600 ,and 110 bhp for the 1000. No price has been set but the word from Giannini himself was that it would be about $4200.
For those who are intrigued by small, high-revving machinery, the twin-carb conversion of the Imp engine displayed by Roger Nathan Racing Ltd. would seem to be the answer. This engine will be sold in both 850 and 1000-cc capacities, and the price complete with cutch, Tecalemit Jackson fuel injection, and everything ready to go is $2100. One of the sensations of last year's show was the Costin Nathan Imp powered sports racer. This has now been followed up by a coupe version designed by Frank Costin which will sell for $6000 with the sirigle-cam Nathan racing engine, but the twin-cam unit could be substituted for an extra $1000.
An interesting feature of the 1967 show is the adoption of Tealemit-Jackson fuel injection on many of the smaller competition engines. This system is of the continuous flow type but it is much more refined than the Hilborn-Travers arrangement which was developed for the on /off conditions of American track racing. The price for a 4-cyl layout is $210 which compares favorably with Webers in England. Another engine equipped with Tecalemit-Jackson is the Lawrence Tune crossflow head TR-4. This conversion has hemispherical combustion chambers obtained by using very long crossover rockers to the exhaust valves. These rockers are of diesel dimensions but apparently the intake valve still bounces before the exhaust because of its weight. Anyway, the TR-4 engine isn't much pf a screamer and Lawrence Tune has concentrated the power in the middle range and the engine is claimed to give 182 bhp at 5800 rpm with the version using liners to give 2500-cc displacement.
Those owners of Climax engines who feel they have been orphaned by the factory can now take heart because Racing Preparations Ltd. has acquired the manufacturing rights for the FPF engine and the entire stock of parts.
The Mini-Marcos, which was the only British car to finish at Le Mans in 1966, is the mainstay of the Marcos operation and their stand featured one that was being assembled and torn apart throughout the show. A new model is the 1600 which replaces the old 1800 model, although the appearance remains very much the same. The major change is from the Volvo engine to the Ford 4;.cyl, which in this case is in 1650cc form and puts out 120 bhp at 5400 rpm. The engine switch is no reflection on Volvo, although it eliminates the import duty and procedure, but it does reflect on Ford's willingness, to cooperate in any worthwhile project, however small. Unfortunately Jem Marsh, the Marcos man, gets no cooperation at an from BMC for his Minis, and is obliged to buy new Mini vans in dozen Jots, which he strips for the running gear and then seIls the remains to wrecking yards.
The Racing Car Show would not be the same without its oddities, eccentricities and lost causes. In the latter category was a midget, exhibited by a newly formed midget racing group, that didn't look as though it would ,have made the semi-main at Ascot back in 1937. For reasons presumably not unconnected with his sense of humor, Rob Walker was exhibiting a device caned an Opus-HRF, which is nothing more than a Kalifornia Kustom based on English Ford parts and offered in kit form. The blurb says you can build it for $600 and in swinging London, where old school ties and that sort of thing are at a low ebb, it should do weIl being equaIly kinky and not nearly as useless as the Mini-Moke.
WITH ALL the other racing activity, Formula Vee has never got off the ground in England. To remedy the situation, Volkswagen was exhibiting Vees and the display included a Beach, a Belgian Apal, and the South African Peco. Contrary to their American counterparts, British enthusiasts have never reaIly favored any form of racing that severely limits the amount of modification and tuning permitted, and for cheap racing Formula 4 would appear to suit the British taste better. Formula 4 covers race cars powered by production motorcycle engines up to 250 cc, and there nas been. sufficient interest to warrant the introduction of two sub-classes for cars with production motorcycle engines up to 650 cc. and production car engines up to 875 cc.
The major F4 manufacturer is Johnny Walker (no relation) who was showing examples of each class of car including an Imp-powered machine. Other builders complying with the formula are Evad and Briham. To bridge the gap between the pedal car and the H-16 BRM is the object of yet another formula car the Barnard Formula 6. The Barnard is a race car in miniature powered by a choice of lawnmower engines giving it a maximum of anywhere between 15 and 60 mph. Although it is designed for children, there is sufficient seat and pedal adjustment for the old man to drive it. A full program of track testing has just been completed by Tom Barnard, who is seven, and the price in kit form is $420.
A major part of the Racing Car Show is taken up by the stands of the accessory and speed equipment companies. The majority of the speed equipment is aimed at the Mini owner, and there appears to be a bottomless market for boIt-on goodies. Les Leston still seems to be the kingpin of the accessory trade, and we noticed him driving off in his Ferrari fitted presumably with one of his steering wheels, which are original equipment on Ferraris anyway. The Leston stand featured three blondes wearing checkered flag miniskirts, and we are pleased to report that matching underwear is being worn with within.
For those who are not satisfied with just looking at cars but like to read about them as well, the Chater and Scott stand was the place to go. Not only do they stock all the current motoring books in their London store, but they can often supply rare and out-of-print volumes as well, and they give special prices on books that have been remaindered. Aircraft enthusiasts are catered for in the same way.
Compared to the London Motor Show, the Racing Car Show used to be pretty small beer. But it has gained vastly in popularity among enthusiasts because it contains everything that the stuffy old Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders specifically does not allow to be exhibited at the Motor Show. Apart from the items we have mentioned, the show included slot racing, a fine display of older race cars, racing simulators, a drag racing section, and movies presented by British Petroleum. So, anyone who is planning to face the rigors of swinging London in January should not pass up the opportunity of attending, and anyway it's warmer inside.