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Auto-Archives Car of the Month — 1959 MG EX186 Prototype LeMans Car

Like the majority of British automobile producers, the MG Car Company developed experimental models which often, but occasionally not, became production models. The founder of MG Cars, Cecil Kimber, realized at an early time, that properly set up and successful experimental cars could provide a great deal of free advertising, and he was happy to supply factory assistance to any MG speed or endurance record attempt. Between 1929 and 1959 MG established 43 international class speed records with factory-supported EX vehicles, and several EX cars were the precursors of well-known production models.

From the very beginning, the EX designation was used for prototype MG projects and cars, but the first of the EX line to be revealed to the public as a prospective ‘record-breaker’ was EX120. It evolved from a collaboration with Captain George Eyston who attempted to establish the first 100mph speed for Class H cars (750cc) cars, using the diminutive 1929 MG Midget. His MG broke six international records on the way to becoming the first 750cc car to go 100 miles in one hour. Designed with the express purpose of smashing every Class H record, and completed late in 1931, the evolution of EX120 was EX127. In its illustrious career EX127 car set numerous records, and was the first car in its class to surpass 120mph.

 

EX186 is pushed out of the Abingdon factory for a first test run

 

The next car for Captain Eyston was the legendary EX135, based on a K3 chassis with both racing and record breaking bodies and built to assault Class G (1100cc) records. The original streamlined body was painted in cream and chocolate stripes, and earned the nickname “Humbug”. In 1934 it re-wrote the record books for its class, and two years later broke both Class G and F records by becoming the first 1100cc car to exceed 200mph. Following World War II, EX135 re-surfaced in a number of different configurations and took many class records before, in 1951, and sporting a TD engine, the car ran on the Utah salt flats to take more records in Class F. In its long career, and wearing an assortment of bodies and engines, the venerable EX135 broke the world record ten times in eight different classes, a tribute to both the builders and the driver. The next significant creation, EX179 was based on an MGA chassis and closely resembled EX135. With it, Eyston and Ken Miles took seven Class F and 25 American records. Using the Wolseley Twin-cam engine, the car took nine Class G records. The final record breaker from MG was EX181, a mid-engine car nicknamed the “Roaring Raindrop” for its unique streamlined body shape. In 1957, with Stirling Moss at the wheel, this model took the Class F record at 245.6mph. Two years later Phil Hill drove the car to an amazing 254.9mph. This was the end of factory supported MG speed cars except one you may never have heard of before today!

Whetted by a three-car entry in the 1955 Le Mans 24-hour race where the brand new MGA EX182, had finished 12th overall and 5th in class, Managing Director of MG John Thornley and Chief Designer Syd Enever laid plans to develop an MGA-based ‘prototype’ for the express purpose of winning the 1961 LeMans 24-hour race outright. They intended to utilize the then-new dual-overhead cam version of BMC B-Series engine, but recognizing that the engine wouldn’t give them a performance edge, (other cars would have more power), they planned to compensate with a specially built, lightweight, and extremely aerodynamic aluminum body. ‘EX186’ is the racecar that resulted from these plans. The car was built and test driven on the road, and by all accounts its performance was impressive, but sadly the Le Mans MG project was cancelled before EX186 was ever raced.

It was normal MG practice to destroy racing prototypes after retiring them, but in 1960 John Thornley managed to dispatch EX186 to US dealer Kjell Qvale, invoiced as “auto parts.” Qvale kept EX186 stored until 1966, after which it was sold and driven on public roads for about a year until its engine required overhaul. At that time, overhaul costs were prohibitive and the car was removed from service, parted from its engine, and stored in a barn on a walnut farm in Red Bluff, CA. Luckily, most of the car including the hand-built aluminum body and unique DeDion rear suspension survived virtually intact and, in 1982, having seen it advertised in Road & Track magazine, MG enthusiasts Joe and Cathy Gunderson and Steve Willis of Denver, Colorado, purchased the car. Since then, they have carefully and painstakingly restored it to the virtually original specification you see here. Tracking down missing original parts such as the gearbox has been one of the special challenges of the unique 30+ year restoration of EX186 which was on display at the Hagerty offices in Golden, Colorado.

 

 

 

Car of the Month — 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 (Ferrari Daytona)

Introduced to replace the 275 GTB/4, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4, two-seat grand tourer was, like so many new Ferrari models of the period, revealed to a surprised public at the 1968 Paris Auto Salon. The sleek and stylish Pininfarina designed front-engined car featured a heavily revised version of the Colombo-designed V12 power-unit fromthe 275 GTB/4model, bored out to 4.4-litres (4,390cc), and was the only production Ferrari at that time use a high-performance dry-sump lubrication system on its engine. Although a Pininfarina design, as with many previous Ferrari road cars styled by Leonardo Fioravanti, the new 365 GTB/4 was radically different to the model it replaced.Many people felt that its sharp-edged styling resembled a Lamborghini rather than a traditional Pininfarina Ferrari.

The Ferrari 365 GTB/4, is more commonly know to most people as the Ferrari Daytona. This unofficial name is reported to have been applied by the media rather than Ferrari themselves, and was reputedly named to commemorate a Ferrari 1-2-3 finish in the February 1967 24-Hours of Daytona. The unofficial name was quickly adopted by everyone and continues to be widely used today, however, to this day, Ferrari itself only rarely refers to the 365 GTB/4 as the “Daytona”.

Unlike Lamborghini’s then-new, mid-engined Miura, the Daytona was a traditional front-engined, rear-wheel drive car. The engine, known as the Tipo 251 was a two-vales per cylinder, Double-Over-Head-Cam (DOHC) V12 with a 60° bank angle, 365cc per cylinder, a 3.2-inch bore diameter and 2.8-inch stroke, featuring six Weber 40DCN20 twin-choke down-draught carburettors (40mm Solex twin-choke carburettors were used on some versions). With a compression ratio of 9.3:1, the Tipo 251 unit produced 352bhp and the car could reach a top speed of 174mph, and accelerate from zero to 60mph in just 5.4 seconds. For the American version, slight modifications were made – the compression ratio was reduced to 8.8:1 and the exhaust system was equipped with a large central silencer, necessitating visible alterations to the primary pipes. Early Daytonas featured fixed headlights behind an acrylic glass cover, but in 1971 a new U.S. safety regulation banning headlights behind covers resulted in the adoption of retractable, pop-up twin headlights.

The five-speed manual transmission transaxle was mounted in the rear for optimal weight distribution, and a race-derived four-wheel independent suspension featured wishbones and coil springs. The excellent weight distribution provided by the rear gearbox transaxle produced a front-engined car of rare balance. The generally accepted total number of Daytonas built is 1,406. This figure includes 122 factory-made spyders and 15 competition cars. All bodies except the very first Pininfarina prototype were produced by Italian coachbuilder Scaglietti. The first racing version of the 365GTB/4 appeared in 1969 when a prototype aluminium bodied car was built and entered in the Le Mans 24-hour race. The subsequent fifteen official racecarswere built in three batches of five in 1970-1, 1972 and 1973. Each featured a lightweight body (by as much as 400lbs) that used aluminium and fibreglass panels, along with plexiglas windows. In the first batch of competition cars the engine was unchanged from the road car, but the five 1972 cars had revised powerunits with around 400bhp. By 1973, the last five ‘race’ cars built had a little over 450bhp. The cars were raced by a range of private entrants and enjoyed particular success in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, including a 5th overall in 1971, followed by GT class wins in 1972, 1973 and 1974. The final major success for the Daytona was in 1979 (five years after production had ended), when a 1973 car achieved a class victory and and incredible second overall in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

Auto-Archives Car of the Month

Bocar – Bob Carnes’ Short Lived 50s Racing Cars Brand

Bocar… what is a Bocar you may be thinking? It’s no ordinary vehicle, it’s quite a speed machine.

Thweb-factory1960e Bocars were created and produced by BOb CARnes (do you get where he came up with the name from?) during the late 1950s and early 1960s in Lakewood, Colorado. The vehicles were available in both kit or assembled form. The majority of Bocars were intended for track and competition use, but they could also be driven on the road.

Bob’s first creation was the Bocar X-1, which was built using Jaguar suspension and brakes at the front and a Lincoln live axle at the rear. The powerplant was a 283 cubic-inch Chevy V8 engine. The body was made of lightweight fiberglass.

The X-1 was entered in the 1958 Pikes Peak Hill Climb where it finished in fifth place in the sports car class. The car was promising, but needed more refinement and power. After several iterations, the XP-4 was born (P for ‘production). These were available near the close of 1958 and offered as a kit car or as a complete package.

The fiberglass body sat on a 90-inch wheelbase chassis to which Volkswagen or Porsche suspension could be found in the front, of course given extra modifications by Carnes. At the back was an Oldsmobile live axle with torsion bars. One Bocar was given a set of the latest Jaguar disc brakes, but most were fitted with either Chevrolet or Buick drums. Engines were mostly eight-cylinder units from either Pontiac or Chevrolet and matted to a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual gearbox. A completely assembled example would set the buyer back about $6450.

The Bocar XP-5 (white car above) was very similar to the XP-4. Main changes were to the brakes which now incorporated Buick Alfin drums. Weight distribution was improved; the XP-5 had a 44% of its weight in the front and the remaining in the rear. This was achieved by moving the engine back into the frame and offset to the right. This improved weigh distribution enhancing the vehicles balance and giving it better traction. Several XP-5 Bocars competed in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and proved very competitive in the sportscar class. Bob Carnes himself raced a number of times, competing against local racer Frank Peterson (see image below) for several years.

The Bocar XP-6 (darker car above) incorporated a supercharged version of a Chevrolet V8. The chassis was enlarged by 14-inches to accommodate the supercharger unit. Horsepower was around 400bhp which required changes to the suspension. The suspension was beefed up to include a solid axle with torsion bars in the front and a live axle with torsion bars in the rear. The car was quick, but never really gained much national attention. It seems only one example was ever created.

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The Bocar XP-7 was the next evolution of the Bocar racers. It was very similar to the car it replaced and had a Volkswagen front end. At a price tag of nearly $9000, the cars were produced in very low numbers.

Bocar’s last racer built was for the 1960 season, the longer, more streamlined Bocar Stiletto. It would appear that less than four were created and carried a price tag of about $13,000. The car was intended to race during the 1960 season. Power was again from a supercharged Chevrolet V8 engine mated to a four-speed Borg-Warner T-10 transmission, and once again it had a space frame chassis and a fiberglass body.

The early Bocar Stiletto was raced at Pikes Peak by Carnes himself, but it encountered problems. A second example was built and sold to Tom Butz for driver Graham Shaw. This second car had a Hillborn-injected small-block engine. A third example is believed to have been built.