Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline January 2017

books The Library Muse

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, it’s a good time to settle down with a good book. But before we do that let me pull out my soap box for a moment. Some things in this world are just not right. In fact they are a crime against nature. Ketchup on a hot dog. Lite beer. Trunk mounted wings on Japanese sedans. And automatic transmissions in sports cars.

Recently Cowboy and I were discussing an article that we had seen in the November 27th issue of the Chicago Tribune’s auto section. It stated that real gearboxes are almost extinct. Ferrari, the epitome of sport cars, doesn’t offer a manual in any of their street cars. For shame! Jaguars are all auto except for their entry level (for a Jag) F type V6. Even Formula 1 uses paddle shifters. Can you picture Fangio or Phil Hill using a slush box? At least Mazda still sells 60% of its Maita's with a gear box.

Automatics will out preform the best of drivers, and with no risk of missing a shift and over-revving the engine. But at what cost? Where’s the fun of not having a well-timed power shift or an expertly executed heel and toe? Unless you use your sports car as a daily driver in Chicago traffic, or if you have a bum left leg, stay true to sport. Do you want to drive your car, or let it drive you?
Now about that book………

The Limit
Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit
Michael Cannell, 2011, 285 pages, hard bound

“In The Limit, Michael Channell tells the enthralling story of Phil Hill, a lowly mechanic who would become the first American born driver to win the Grand Prix Championship. … It brings readers up close to the remarkable men who surrounded Hill on the circuit, men like Hill’s teammate and rival, the soigne and cool-headed German count Wolfgang Von Tripps (nicknamed Count Von Crash) and Enzo Ferrari, the reclusive and monomaniacal padrone of the Ferrari racing empire.”

-- ~~ Bill Mennell

by Facia Nearside

There was a time when the number of automobile manufacturers in Great Britain were far too numerous to count. Through mergers and liquidations, we are down to a precious few, and even many of those are no longer owned here at home. But a few survivors are keeping the British end up, and we should certainly be proud of their efforts. Bristol Cars of Bristol, England traces its roots back more than 100 years. As a manufacturer of aircraft and aircraft engines, the armistice of 1918 ending the world war left the company with a large work force but little production. To fill the gap Bristol began making car bodies for Armstrong Snidely. Twenty years later, with WWII on the horizon, Sir George White was determined to avoid a repetition of that work force situation. Bristol created an alliance with AFN, Ltd., the makers of Frazier Nash, who were also importers of BMW at the time.

Preplanning and luck combined to place Bristol in an advantageous position following hostilities. By 1946 they owned Frazer Nash and the rights to manufacture three BMW models as well as the BMW 328 engine. Bristol Cars Ltd. separated from the aircraft division in 1960 and has had a long, if inconsistent, list of successful automobiles ever since.

Today Bristol continues to be a low volume manufacturer of hand-built luxury cars. Their latest offering made its public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June 2016. Named the Bristol Bullet it is a two-seat roadster of carbon fiber construction boasting 370 bop. With a planned production of only 70 vehicles (priced at £250,000 each) you should get your order in early to secure an example.

Reprinted from British Boots & Bonnets Chronicle—November 2016 issue.

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