Thursday, 24 May 2018

Lotus 72

Lotus 72
Lotus led the way with the Cosworth DFV.  Literally!  The 'Double Four Valve' V8 would be legendary within F1.  Unfortunately for Lotus, the DFV was also available to their rivals ... who were quick to seize upon the source of their success.  By the end of the '60s, it seemed like every car in the paddock had a DFV!  That was great for the sport, since it fostered close, competitive racing.  It was not entirely to Lotus' liking, however!  They had acquired a taste for leading the F1 pack - and the ubiquity of the DFV was eroding that lead.  Something needed to be done!

There was much about the Lotus '72' that was new.  For starters, cigar-shaped bodywork had morphed into a wedge.  Inboard suspension and brakes made the new car yet more aerodynamic.  They also served to reduce unsprung weight.  The springing itself was via torsion-bar.  High grip levels were the much-coveted result of all this technical innovation.  Oil and water radiators were laterally positioned ... thus centralising weight distribution, and improving the handling.

Lotus had their lead back!  The great Jochen Rindt won four races on the spin.  Tragically, that was before crashing in qualifying for the Italian GP.  Fatally injured, he still went on to win the World Championship!  Team-mate Emerson Fittipaldi also took the drivers' title - though, mercifully, he was still around to enjoy the plaudits.  Also in a Lotus, Ronnie Peterson would amass a record-breaking nine pole positions in a season.  From '70 to '75, Lotus ruled the F1 roost!  Their early adoption of the Cosworth DFV had, indeed, changed motor-racing history.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Alfa Romeo Montreal

Alfa Romeo Montreal
Montreal - in Quebec, Canada - hosted the 1967 'Expo' show.  It was there that the Alfa Romeo Montreal made its d├ębut.  Designed by Marcello Gandini, there was little doubt that the car would turn heads.  Especially, once Gandini's employer - coach-builders Bertone - had worked their magic!  Saying that, the Montreal did not sell in shedloads.  But it did give Alfa a much-needed publicity boost.  The Montreal stayed in production for seven years - following its 1970 launch.  Ironically, Montreal itself was off-limits, so far as sales were concerned - due to the city's strict emissions regulations!

Performance-wise, the new Alfa lived up to the hype.  Its fuel-injected V8 gave 132mph.  That was quick - particularly, since the car was no lightweight.  Its motor was taken from the Tipo 33/2 race-car ... suitably de-tuned for the roadster!  It still made 200bhp - revving to 6,500rpm.  Torque was terrific!  Engine-wise, the Montreal was hard to fault.

The same could not be said, though, of every component!  The Montreal's live axle rear suspension was softly sprung ... too softly sprung! Cornering could be compromised.  Steering, too, was suspect, at speed!  Its gearing was set up for a more sedate pace!  The Montreal's brakes, at least, were not an issue - the ventilated discs being well up to snuff.  All in all, though - as a Grand Tourer - the Montreal passed muster.  That gave Alfa a shot at a new market.  One thing was for sure - few complained about the car's looks.  Styling-wise, the Montreal was all-Italian!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Suzuki GS1000 S

Suzuki GS1000 S
The Suzuki GS1000 S is possibly not the most exotic machine to flow from a stylist's pen.  Its looks are straight out of the 'old skool' studio.  For what the GS lacked visually, it more than made up for technically.

At the heart of the bike's performance was the classic Japanese in-line four-cylinder engine.  The GS soared to a top speed of 135mph.  Cornering was solid and stable.  Its frame was robust, its suspension adjustable, and its tyres wider than the norm.  The dual front disc brakes were more than capable.

And anyway, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  For many, the GS 1000 is beautiful because it is big and basic, not despite the fact.  The way a motorcycle ought to look, they would say!  Something of a wolf in sheep's clothing, then, the Suzuki GS 1000 S seemed a placid beast ... until you twisted its throttle!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Benelli Sei 750

Benelli SEI 750
It is a given that the Italians are design masters.  In engineering terms, too, they have often been ahead of the game. Whether that held true for the Benelli Sei, though, is a moot point.  The Sei was visually impressive, certainly.  But the jury was out, when it came to performance.

The Sei's six-cylinder engine - sei is Italian for six - looks superb.  As do its twin sets of stacked pipes.  Horsepower, however, is another story.  Even by 1975 standards, the Sei's top speed stat of 118mph was hardly earth-shattering!  In the '70s superbike surge, Benelli's rivals - Ducati, Moto Guzzi and Laverda - all supplied quicker machines.

It was not as if Benelli did not know a thing or two about fast bikes.  They were GP 250cc world champions in 1950 - and again in 1969.  In the case of the Sei, though, the racing success did not trickle down to the roadster.  Saying that, the sleek contours of its sturdy 'six-pack' went a long way towards mitigating what deficiencies the Benelli Sei 750 had in the 'go' department.

The World's Greatest Car Collection / Classic Remise, Berlin - Mashley Media

Lotus 72

Lotus led the way with the Cosworth DFV.  Literally!  The 'Double Four Valve' V8 would be legendary within F1.  Unfortunately for ...