✨ “Take it easy driving – the life you save may be mine.”
― James Dean


Friday, 28 June 2013

What makes a classic?

There are few, if any, pieces of hardware as emotive as the car. The story of classic and dream cars charts the progress of our own history and experience.

Everyone knows a classic car when they see one, even if they can't actually tell you what makes a car a "classic". Most people associate advancing age with classic credentials, but that ignores the existence of "living classics" and future classics.

"Without a certain amount of snobbery, efforts would be hopeless... A motor car must be designed and built that is a little different from and a little better than the product of the big quantity manufacturer."

 1961 Aston Martin DB4 

Cecil Kimber, founder of MG, had it right. He sensed a need and virtually invented the concept of the classic - but MGs have never been particularly special or mechanically innovative. What they do have, however, is that little extra desirability, so that owners and onlookers alike see them as classics. MG's are instantly recognizable, even to many non-enthusiasts, in much the same way that Jaguars, Ferraris and Bentleys are - all of them true classics.

Most enthusiasts would categorise a classic car as one whose design is inalienably right: it must look good, handle well, probably be possessed of higher performance or equipment levels than were normal for its day - but overall it must be desirable.

Age alone cannot make a classic, even though a common definition given today is "any car more than 20 years old". Those who use that definition would say that Avengers and Marinas are classics; most enthusiasts with other criteria would not.

 1973 Aston Martin V8

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there is no disputing the beauty of a real classic. Who cannot be moved by the shape and form of a Bugatti Type 35, Alfa Monza, Duesenberg, Jaguar XK120 or an early E-Type, Ferrari 2250 GT, AC Ace, Citroën DS and Mercedes Gullwing, by the stark efficiency of an early Porsche 911 or the simplicity of the Austin Seven or Mini?

 Austin Healey 

Then there were the "firsts", each with its claim to classicdom: Colin Chapman's Lotus Seven, a racer for the road; the Mini Cooper 'S', which further defined the small car and was the first "pocket rocket"; the Hispano-Suiza and Pegaso, Spain's only, exquisitely made super cars from the 20's and 50's respectively; the Reliant Scimitar GTE which introduced a new concept - the sporting estate car; the Golf Gti, which spawned a whole new breed of enthusiasts' car.

Each of these counts as a classic for defining a new niche in car-lovers' hearts. That each of these cars - and many more like them - is notable in its own field helps reinforce its claim to be a true classic.
- Excerpt from "The World Encyclopedia of Cars" by Martin Buckley and Chris Rees

Austin Healey and Triumph TR2 

Class A Veteran -- Built prior to December 31, 1904
Class B Edwardian -- Built between January 1905 & December 31, 1918 Generally the above classes are rallied together under the banner of Veteran
Class C Vintage -- Built between January 1919 & December 31, 1930
Class D Post Vintage -- Built between January 1931 & December 31, 1945
Class E Post '45 -- Built between January 1946 & December 31, 1960
Class F Post 1960 -- Built between January 1961 & December 31, 1980
Info from SAVVA

Antique -- Prior to December 31st 1904
Veteran -- Between January 1905 & December 31st 1918
Vintage --  Between January 1919 & December 31st 1930
Post Vintage -- Between January 1931 & December 31st 1945
Post 1945 -- Between January 1946 & December 31st 1960
Post 1960 -- Between January 1961 & December 31st 1980


Thursday, 27 June 2013

1971 Aston Martin V8 OSCAR INDIA Series Four - Automatic

The Aston Martin was built in many guises over its 21-year career. The shape, styled by William Towns and fashioned in alloy, was first seen in 1967 as the DBS, but with the old four-litre six-cylinder engine because the V8 was still not ready for production. With it's new DeDion rear suspension, the wide, wedge-shaped four-seater DBS handled well, but was really a little heavy for its engine, especially when fitted with the power-sapping automatic gearbox.

The quad-cam all-alloy 375bhp V8 was thus much welcomed when it arrived in 1969, catapulting the top speed up to a Ferrari-challenging 160mph (257kph), although early misgivings about the reliability - and thirst - of the Lucas fuel injection caused Aston to change to Webers in 1973. By then, the shape had already had its first make-over with a new grille and single lamps on either side. Five-speed manual was the standard transmission, but many cars came with the Chrysler-automatic 'Torque-flite' gearbox.

ASTON MARTIN - 1969-1990
POWER : 340-436bhp
TRANSMISSION : 5-speed manual/3-speed auto
TOP SPEED : 160mph (257kph) NO.
BUILT : about 1,600

A Vantage version of the V8 gave Aston a challenger in the supercar stakes with its 170mph (273kph) top speed and shattering acceleration, while the elegant Volante convertible proved to be a top seller for this British company. The dramatic Lagonda four-door of 1976 was pure Aston V8 under the skin and appealed to Arab oil sheiks.

The last V8 was made in 1990. By then, the engine had reverted to injection. Large, thirsty, very expensive and fast, the V8 was viewed as a dinosaur, yet it had enormous appeal as a traditionally-built high-speed express. It's spirit survives in today's Virage.
Excerpt from 'The World Encyclopedia of Cars" by Martin Buckley & Chris Rees

The standard "saloon" V8 Oscar India specification of the late 70's. By this time, many Astons were being built with automatic transmission.

 BELOW : The cabin featured acres of the finest leather, electric windows and air conditioning. 

(All images Copyright Clarkson's Classics)


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Classic Era

These days we are hooked on nostalgia. As hopeless escapists, nothing feeds our need better than an old car - a CLASSIC car. After the Second World War, the motorcar came of age. As more and more people around the world took to the road, manufacturers began to stretch the boundaries. The makers set styling, engineering and safety trends in an increasingly competitive market: speeds increased; styling and engineering became more adventurous; and many devices we take for granted today, like disc brakes, four-wheel drive (4-WD) and automatic transmission, became widely used. The 1950's, 1960's and to an extent the 1970's were the most fertile period for the motorcar, a classic era and a perfect breeding ground for the classic car we cherish today, be it limousine or economy runabout, sports car or apparently humdrum saloon.
More than 80 000 Jaguar MK.II's were sold and the model inspired a whole raft of more expensive variations on the same theme : The S-Type, the 420 and even a Daimler with its own special V8 engine. It is the pure original MK.II, however, that has won the hearts of enthusiasts and collectors. The sight of a Jaguar MK.II inspires a misty-eyed emotional response like no other 60's saloon. For a decade from 1959, the year of Britain's first motorway, the compact Jaguar was the bread and butter of Browns Lane, Coventry. It was the last proper sports saloon the company ever made.

Classic Culture 
The first flickerings of interest in classic motor cars made after the Second World War began nearly three decades ago. Now, that interest has grown into an all-consuming passion for millions of men and women all over the world. Some use their classics daily, others just on high days. Some preen them like beauty queens in the concours d'élegance , parades of vehicles to the most elegant, best designed or best turned-out of which prizes are awarded. Many owners are driven by nostalgia, a need to own or recreate a piece of their past; others by simple love of old machinery.

As modern cars become ever more amorphous and as image-conscious individuals wear their classics like designer suits, as a statement, the classic is no longer the preserve of bearded, middle-aged men. To own an old car has become trendy. For some, the word classic has become debased down the years, seeming to embrace any number of awful machines. To them, classics, derided by many in their prime, are now dignified merely by rarity.

The Growth of an Industry
Today the motor industry is essential to the commercial prosperity of almost all the world's industrialized nations, with production dominated by a handful of massive multi-nationals. Hundreds of individual marques have fallen by the wayside sine the first motor cars were hand-built at the turn of the century and the post-war classic period of mergers and take-overs saw the eclipse of many once famous names. It was in 1908 that this process began, when Henry Ford pioneered mass-production, with his Model-T, while over in Europe, a few years later, cars like the Austin Seven and Bullnose Morris began to be produced in sufficient numbers to bring motoring within the reach of the middle classes. Since the late 1970's, robots have replaced some of the manual jobs on the production lines, but there will always be a place for hand-crafted super cars and luxury cars from companies such as Aston Martin and Rolls Royce.

 Mercedes W154 "Silver Arrow GP racer

MOTOR RACING in all forms has been a consuming passion of each successive generation of car enthusiasts since the first organised competition. The pioneers, by pitching car against car and driver against driver, learned not only about their own skills and how well their vehicles performed at the limit, but also about the durability of components. In those days, racing really did improve the breed. In the years after the Second World War, technological discoveries made in competition, including better tyres, oil and fuel, filtered down gradually o the ordinary family saloon.

 Here's to another good motoring season!

"Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears." 
 - Barbara Johnson, best selling writer
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