Classics by the Beach: Sunday the 4th of February, 2018
Classics by the Beach: when too many magnificent classic, exotic and historic cars are barely enough! And this month's installment, held on a mild, sunny summer's day, was no exception.
UMPH tries very, very hard not to have favourites. But, if he did, either of Philip Blake's awesome rear-engined Fiat Abarth replicas would be right up there amongst them!
It was a toss-up as to whose car would lead this post but, when it came down to it, the striking yellow livery of the Fiat won out. There are, however, a trio of other cars - a lovely Mercedes coupe, a Ford GT40 replica and a genuine E30 M Series BMW - that will feature quite heavily, too (it's reasonable to say that these vehicles are actually better for not being bright yellow, as you will see!).
The car shown here is Phil's Targa class- and Platinum Trophy-winning 600 that, as can be seen above, was campaigned in Tasmania's - if not Australia's and arguably the southern hemisphere's - best tarmac rally series from 2002 to 2009. Such is the car's success that it's also been raced in Luxembourg, Germany and Italy, as well as having picked up numerous local awards.
In its current form, the 600 is running a Fiat 850 motor with a single down-draft Weber carbie, a set of serpentine extractors and, interestingly, a modified Holden (Isuzu) Gemini distributor. The motor has been reconfigured so that it effectively runs (revolves) backwards, which presumably maintains a normal four forward, one reverse gear configuration and not the rather less useful variant of four reverses and one forward gear that it would if left to spin in its original direction! It also has front disc brakes from a Fiat 850, as well as other modifications too various to mention (or, more accurately, for this author to remember with any reliability!),
|That part of the exhaust that can be seen from inside the engine bay.|
|The majority of the car's exhaust is actually out of regular sight, ice-berg style, beneath the car.|
UMPH has a strict policy of not rabbiting on about things he knows nothing about or at least hasn't had explained to him. Therefore, he's not going to even attempt to say anything about this awesome Ford GT40 replica. Please do understand, however, that the very sight of it caused him to make inarticulate sounds of appreciation that may have counted as declarations of love in the pre-linguistic caveman era. If you want actual facts about GT40s, Wikipedia's probably your best bet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_GT40).
The 'box-flared' mudguards, accommodating bigger wheels and a wider track, of this pristine E30 pointed to it being an M (for motorsport) edition (the rego plates were a bit of a hint, too!). However, it wasn't until its owner, Shane, pointed out a few other features that UMPH became properly aware of the vast differences between an M and a garden-variety E30.
Although both versions' basic shapes are the same, there are actually very few panels in common, explained Shane. Only the bonnet (and possibly the doors?) are shared; the previously mentioned 'guards, roof, rear window and boot are all M-specific, designed to improve the car's aerodynamics and / or to bestow it a weight advantage. The M also packs a high-performance four-cylinder engine, coupled to a five-speed Getrag gearbox, and hugely upgraded suspension and brakes.
Shane's M, which he bought in Germany and had converted to right hand drive there by a BMW technician, is in mint condition. There are other E30 Ms in Tasmania. However, E30 Ms were never produced as right-hookers, says Shane, meaning that all such vehicles in Australia are also imports, although his is the only one known to have been converted in its country of manufacture.
Wrapping up February's post is this truly elegant Mercedes 280 SE coupe, fitted with a 3.5 litre V8 engine. According to a knowledgeable and helpful Merc aficionado who was present at the time, this particular car is an example of a transition model straddling Mercedes' design as it evolved from its 1960s to 1970s aesthetic. The V8 was an upgrade to keep the car desirable towards the end of the model run, along with some subtle styling tweaks.
|Where else, other than a Porsche festival, might you expects to see four 356s all lined up like this?|
U M P H