Automobilia Posts

Auto-Archives Image of the Month — Remembering Daytona

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Last year’s Daytona 500 Grand National Winner, Marvin Panch, who copped first place in the automobile racing classic with a record 149.601 miles per hour poses with 1962 Dodge Dart which he will drive in this year’s race February 18th.

Watching the Daytona 500 last weekend got us thinking about past Daytona 500 races and some of the stars of the day that we have forgotten. A delve into the archive produced this image of NASCAR legend Marvin Panch alongside a rather ‘stock’ looking Pontiac.

“Pancho,” most well known for his 1961 Daytona 500 victory driving for Smokey Yunick, scored 17 victories in his 15 years of racing in the NASCAR series. Driving for Wood Brothers Racing from 1962-66, Panch also had 21 poles and 126 top ten finishes in his Cup Series racing career. He finished his career driving for Petty Enterprises.

Panch’s 1961 Daytona 500 win was his first victory in NASCAR’s top division since 1957, establishing what was then a speed record for a 500-mile race at 149.601 mph. This record pace was no doubt helped by the fact that, incredibly, the entire 500-mile race was run without a single caution flag period. The caution free event was one of only three times that the iconic race ran the entire distance under green, with 1959 and 1962 being the only other two times it occurred.

“I was just setting a steady pace,” Panch modestly explained to the Daytona Beach paper, hours after his victory in a year-old Pontiac Catalina, the only non-1962 car in the field. Marvin took the lead on lap 187 of the 200 lap race when pole sitter and race leader ‘Fireball’ Roberts suffered a blown engine, and completed the race on just one change of tires. This would be the first of just three victories for Pontiac in the legendary Daytona 500, Fireball Roberts took a much deserved win for Pontiac in 1962 and Cale Yarborough the only other victory for the marque in 1983.

Just two years after his historic victory, on February 14th, 1963 at Daytona International Speedway, Panch escaped death in a fiery crash, driving an experimental Ford-powered Maserati in a test session. He suffered serious internal injuries and severe burns to his back, neck and hands. Among his rescuers was a South Carolinian racer named Tiny Lund, who won the Carnegie Medal for heroism for his actions. “We just jumped in and gave him a hand,” Lund told the Daytona Beach News-Journal shortly after the crash. “Marvin would have done the same for us.” Just ten days later, Lund drove the Wood Brothers No. 21 entry earmarked for Panch, to his first premier series victory in the 1963 Daytona 500.

After a hospital stay of several weeks, Panch announced in late April that he would return from his injuries in June at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s annual 600-mile race. He closed the 1963 season with three pole positions, a victory at North Wilkesboro Speedway in September, and top-10 finishes in all 12 of his starts for the remainder of the year.

Panch concluded his final year of competition for a variety of car owners, scoring his final victory in the World 600 at Charlotte. He announced his retirement from the sport on Dec. 6, 1966 at age 40, telling The Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald that his only regret was not winning at Darlington Raceway, NASCAR’s first superspeedway. Panch ruled out a comeback attempt, even though he declared his health the best it had been since claiming his lone Daytona 500 triumph. “I don’t have much more to gain by racing,” he told the Spartanburg paper. “Actually, I’ve been thinking about quitting for about a year. Just waiting for the right time.”

In 1963 Panch was presented the Myers Brothers Award to honor his outstanding contributions to the sport of stock-car racing, in 1987 was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and in 1998 he was named one of the top 50 drivers by NASCAR.

On Dec 31st 2015, following Panch’s death at the age of 89, NASCAR released the following statement. “For more than 60 years, Marvin Panch was a familiar and friendly face around NASCAR and Daytona Beach. He was one of the true pioneers of the sport, winning races across several NASCAR divisions, including the 1961 Daytona 500. As one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, he represented the sport with class both on and off the track. Marvin will be missed dearly, especially as we approach Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, where he was a fixture.”

Auto-Archives Car of the Month — 1975 Porsche 911 RSR

Throughout the late 1960s and early 70s, the factory Porsche race team was extremely successful with their 908, 917, 917/10 and 917/30 models. However, these larger capacity prototypes were extremely expensive for the small Porsche factory team to build and develop, and, as a result, Porsche did not have a competitive car ready for the new, 1973 endurance championship class being run for 3.0-litre cars.

Up against the prototypes such the Ferrari 312, the Matra-Simca MS670, and the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33, the old Porsche 908 and the aerodynamically handicapped 911 had no real chance, so Porsche Racing concentrated it’s efforts on the next generation 911, and it’s development for the upcoming world endurance championship for Group 5 cars. Amazingly, 1973 would however, see two outright victories for a 2.8-litre Porsche RSR in the World Championship for Makes. Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood took victory at the Daytona 24-hours, and later in the year, the pairing of Herbert Müller and Gijs van Lennep scored an historic win at the Targa Florio race, held on the tortuous, 45-mile circuit that wound its way round the mountains of Sicily.

 

 

For 1974 Porsche developed a 3.0-litre version of the RSR, and in 1974 and 1975 they built 59 examples of the Carrera RSR racecar that would be sold to privateer race teams while the works were developing the new Group 4 and 5 racecars, the 934 and 935. The car on display here is RSR chassis no. 005 0005 (1975, fifth car), amongst the most successful of the RSRs built and raced in that two year period. The bright-orange, Jägermeister sponsored car, designated an RSK (K for Kremer) by the team, may look like any one of those 59 RSRs, but it is actually a very special chassis, one of two cars developed for the 1975 racing season by the famous Kremer brothers, Manfred and Erwin of Porsche Kremer in Cologne, Germany. Built to race in the German Rennsport DRM Championship the three main drivers of the instantly recognisable, bright-orange car were Helmut Kelleners, Hans Heyer, and Bob Wollek. Kelleners drove in all but three of the 19 races the car competed in during 1975, taking one race victory, two second place finishes and three third places. All three drivers were in the car for a hugely significant class win at the Nürburgring 1000km in June, and Heyer also took second at the Nürburgring Super-Sprint race in September. Josef Brambring, who drove the car just the once during 1975, finished third at the final race of the season at Hockenheim.

For the 1976 season, 0005 was sold to Edgar Doren, repainted white with red and blue striping, and driven by him throughout the year. He finished the 1976 DRM season in 15th place with 55 points. The car then passed through the hands of several other European teams before being sold and shipped to a US-based owner Charles Slater in 1994. After having owned and raced the car for 18 years, in 2011 Slater decided to end a long and successful relationship and the car moved to a new owner and underwent a full, bare-shell restoration. In 2014 this significantly historic, and now highly-valuable car passed into the ownership of Colorado based collector Andrew Larson. He has raced the car at several Vintage events throughout the country and in September of 2015 the car was seen at Rennsport V with none other than works Porsche driver and winner of the 1977 Le Mans 24-hours, Jürgen Barth behind the wheel.

 

 

 

 

 

Auto-Archives Image of the Month — Raybestos Brake Pad

4/15/1971
News Release from Raybestos

RAYBESTOS Disc Brake Pads taken from Al Unser’s winning car (ABOVE) in the 1970 Indy 500 are contrasted with a new and unused Raybestos disc brake pad. Note the very slight wear on the pads which braked Unser’s Johnny Lightning Special as it raced 500 miles to victory in the 1970 Classic. The minimal amount of wear is attributed to Raybestos’ wonder compound R-4528-19M, a special formulation designed to work more efficiently at the high braking temperatures (as high as 1200 degrees) experienced in Indianapolis type racing. Raybestos disc bake pads have been on the winning Indy 500 car for the last 14 years.

indy500_ticket_1971

Sam Hanks, 1957 Indy 500 winner and a Raybestos consultant, says, “the pads used on my car wouldn’t last ten laps at today’s speeds.” Hanks drove his 350 horsepower car to victory at an average speed of 135.60 compared to last year’s winning average speed of 155.749.

indy_500_1970-05-30

More conservative Warren Jensen, Raybestos Research Director, figures pads made from R-4528-19M perform better and wear about five times longer at today’s speeds than would pads made from the previously used material.

Auto-Archives Car of the Month — 1958 Packard Hawk

The Packard Hawk was the sportiest of the four Packard-badged Studebakers produced in 1958, the final year of Packard production. In 1956, the Studebaker-Packard company was in financial trouble and the Curtiss Wright Corporation was put in charge of management. Everything was consolidated to the Studebaker plants in South Bend, Indiana. The 1957-1958 Packard models were essentially rebadged and retrimmed Studebakers. With a top speed of 125mph, the fastest Packard ever built, the 1958 Hawk was constructed around the 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk 400, with a re-styled fiberglass front hood and nose, bonded to the stock steel fenders.

Instead of the Studebaker Hawk’s upright Mercedes-style grille, the Packard Hawk had a wide, low opening just above the front bumper covering the whole width of the car. Above this, a smoothly sloping nose, and hood—reminiscent of the 1953 Studebakers, but with a bulge as on the Golden Hawk—accommodated the engine’s McCulloch supercharger that gave the Studebaker 289in (4,700cc) V8 a total of 275bhp. At the rear, the sides of the fins were coated in metallized PET (Mylar) film, giving them a shiny metallic gold appearance and a fake spare-tire cover adorned the 1953-style, Studebaker deck lid.Widely spaced PACKARD lettering appeared across the lower section of the nose, and a gold Packard emblem in script—along with a Hawk badge—on the trunk lid and enormous tailfins. The interior was fully equipped with a striking leather design, and a full compliment of instruments was installed in an turned-aluminum dash. A swept-spoke Packard-branded wheel was also fitted. As on early aircraft and custom boats, padded armrests were mounted outside the windows, a rare touch.

The styling which was definitely controversial, and often described as ‘vacuum-cleaner’ or ‘catfish’ by detractors has come to be appreciated much more today, than on its debut. Only 588 examples of the 1958 Hawk were built, with Packard’s impending demise a likely contributing factor, rather than a lack of interest from the buying public. Most examples were equipped with the Borg-Warner three-speed automatic transmission, but something approaching 28 cars were produced with the B-WT85 3-speed w/overdrive manual transmission.

Studebaker-Packard was the first manufacturer to popularize the limited slip differential, which they termed Twin-Traction, and most Packard Hawks came with TT. It was certainly the fastest Packard ever sold, since it shared the majority of its components with Studebaker’s Golden Hawk. The list price with taxes and delivery was $3995, about $700 higher than the Studebaker model, but certainly value for money considering the more luxurious interior. Electric window-lifts and power seats (fitted on the car you see here) were optional extras.

Its rarity and status as the best-regarded of the ‘Packardbaker’ final-year cars have in recent years certainly made the Packard Hawk a highly sought after collectible classic. Values are roughly double those of the equivalent Studebaker, and because a Studebaker drivetrain was used, the mechanical parts needed to keep a Hawk on the road are more readily available. The Hawk is now a realistic car to put serious money into a restoration, and without doubt, is a unique car, worthy of a place in any significant collection of 50s vehicles.

 

Presenting...Portrait of Craftsmanship in Action

 

The stunning 1958 Packard Hawk on display here is owned by Carey and Peggy Dietz of Arvada, Colorado. They have been caretakers of the car since 2007 when Carey’s father, who had owned the car since late 2000 decided it was too much of a responsibility for him to drive his “Baby” any more. Carey tells us the story of how his father came to own such an unusual car. “Back in 1982 my roommate showed me a magazine called Car Collector and Car Classics that featured a beautiful Packard Caribbean Classic on the cover. An eternal optimist, he went on to tell me “That’s what my car is going to look like when it is done.” Considering his car had rust holes everywhere I was somewhat skeptical to say the least. Well he did do it, eventually, and it really is beautiful!

Moving forward to 2000, my father called me and told me he was looking for a classic car to keep at his Florida residence for 6-months a year, and, since Packard had always been his favorite car, that is what he wanted. I pictured him driving a stylish 1930s open car, but before you knew it he had bought the one-owner Hawk from a widow in Las Vegas! The partly restored car needed to be painted and have the chrome re-fitted, but needed little else to bring it up to the sleek, stylish, show standard car you see here. On a visit to Denver my dad happened to stop in an antique store and find a copy of that very same magazine. It features a Packard Hawk on page 19!

 

 

 

 

 

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.