Monty Python, old fashioned pubs and The Beatles are just some of the gifts offered to the world by Britain. However with the good comes the bad, and Britain is also responsible for Bovril, The Spice Girls and some frankly terrible comedies on the ABC. And so it was with the All British Day; a show completely unique for featuring some of my all-time favorite cars, and some of my least, all in one place.
And come they did. Traditionally held on the Uraidla oval, the All British Day has become so big that it has outgrown that venue. For 2013 the show moved to its new home on the Echunga oval, just a further 20 minutes down some of the nicest hills roads in the state.
Whilst I still think the old venue at Uraidla is a more scenic location, Echunga provides a nice Aussie gumtree backdrop for the show, and plenty of space for all who come. I can’t remember the last time I had to line up to get into a classic car show in Adelaide!
The only problem with the All British Day is that there is just so much to see that it is not really possible to properly take it all in. Taking this into consideration, for my coverage this year I’ve decided to take a more detailed look at the cars that really stood out to me – an Any Given Reason ‘best of show’, if you will.
Wot iz it? It’s a Noble M12 GTO! These are a bit of an underground cult car in the UK, and are known for being a (semi) affordable way to get into supercar performance levels. Built in the early 2000’s, the Poms are very proud of how the Noble was significantly quicker than its rival from Marenello!
In all honesty it’s still a bit of a kit car. But all is forgiven when you discover the performance: 352hp, 0-100 in just 3.5 seconds, a top speed of 298km/h and the ability to pull over 1.2 lateral g’s.
All that performance comes from the twin turbocharged Ford Duratec V6 engine. It has a steel tube chassis with integrated roll cage, and is all wrapped up in a fibreglass body. Apparently Noble’s are famous for performing duel duties as excellent track cars and smooth, accessible road cars, with suspension tuning that belies their almost kit built nature. As Evo magazine said, “if you like cars, then you like Noble”.
And this particular example was fitted with Nitrous Oxide injection! One shudders to think about how brutally quick this thing must be – 0-100 in 3.5 seconds in stock trim from the factory is damn quick, but then with the addition of NOS and god knows what else? Crazy!
The Port Adelaide Aircraft Museum had a Rolls Royce Merlin V12 aircraft engine on display, and were starting it up on the hour. What a machine! There’s one ticked off the bucket list – heard a Merlin in person.
There was plenty to keep an eye on and fiddle with just to get the Merlin started. It had the most complex and intricate dry sump pump setup you could imagine – I guess you need something pretty sizeable to keep a V12 supplied with oil during barrel rolls, nose dives and flying upside down.
And on the other end of the scale is the Austin Allegro. Maybe it’s the brown paintwork or the car itself, but for some reason it just reminded me of Thatcherism. Sensible, conservative and conformist. Although I guess it has a bit of charm, right?
This TR3 was most definitely a highlight of the show, and would have easily won as the Any Given Reason Car of Show were it not for another highly unexpected surpise. But back to the TR3 – I’ve always like old Triumph’s but they’ve never really been at the very top of my list. But it’s the detailing on this example that is absolutely sublime, and made me fall in love with it. Every single accessory and modification made is oh-so period, and perfectly fits with the theme of the car.
First off, it’s impossible to go past the classic British racing green/tan leather combination. Mazda tried it with the MX5, but this is how it’s meant to be done. The slightly lower stance and body coloured wire wheels add to the vintage race theme, as do the perfectly chosen Brooklands screens.
The car was capped off by a period helmet, goggles and leather driving gloves resting on the passengers seat. I’d be very grateful if anyone could put me in touch with the owner of this vehicle – I think it would make an excellent feature story!
So what could possible top this as the Any Given Reason Car of Show?
In the 1958 season Graham Hill raced it in the BRDC International at Silverstone, and the Monaco, Dutch and Belgian Grands Prix. It was imported to Australia by Frank Gardner in 1959, and it survives today with its original chassis, bodywork and gearbox.
The 1960cc twin overhead cam Coventry Climax FPF four is good for 170bhp in Formula 1 trim, which with just 290kg in weight makes for sparkling performance. Yes, you read that right – it weighs just 290kg, incidentally making it the lightest Lotus ever. No wonder Colin Chapman was known for his fanatical attention to weight.
The Lotus 12 is from a time we’ll never see again – look at its diminutive proportions and attention to safety, and then consider the performance – at the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix, Hill averaged 220km/h for the race, with a top speed of 280km/h! At its first testing outing at Goodwood, the little Lotus matched the lap record previously held by Stirling Moss in a Maserati 250F!
The LSD transaxle sits directly below the drivers bum. The 5 speed ZF dog engagement gears are in constant mesh, and are kept safe with a seperate oil tank with twin oil pumps inside the gearbox. The entire magnesium cased assembly weighs just 20kg!
The steel tailshaft spins at engine speed, and sits just 1 inch below the drivers seat! The potential for a failure would be catastrophic!
The owner fired the old girl up for the huge crowd that had gathered, and it was a very lucky sight to witness. With big Weber carbies and a 12.5:1 compression ratio the Coventry Climax was very hard to start from cold, with a lot of old fashioned hand choking required. But once she cleared her throat, the sound was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a race engine sound quite so angry!
So in all, a successful day that just further highlights the popularity of British cars in Adelaide. I think the move to Echunga has been a good one, with more room for future expansion as the event grows. Jolly good, old chap!