Monday, 30 November 2015

1967 Ducati MR348 – Café Canadiano

Thanks to Kevin Brown from Canada for sending us these fantastic images of his Café Racer creation, which started out as a 350 cc Ducati Sebring. Kevin renamed it a 348 to align with Ducati’s current naming practices.

The MR stands for “Modern Retro” because of some modern enhancements as well as maintaining some of the “old” technology. The Retro also refers to the bullet-shaped brake lighting system.

Photographs courtesy Kurtis Kristianson (Spindrift Photography).

Interested in Café Racers? Check out Italian Café Racers by Uli Cloesen.

Thursday, 19 November 2015


Superstition becomes super performance ...

The history of the Quadrifoglio dates back to the 1923 Targa Florio, one of the oldest and most famous racing events of all time – a dangerous and thrilling open road endurance race held in the Mountains of Sicily.

Leading up to the 1923 racing season, Ugo Sivocci – an incredibly superstitious driver – was a perennial second-place finisher, more often than not behind one of his Alfa teammates. So going into the Targa Florio race, and in an effort to banish his bad luck, the superstitious Sivocci decided to paint a four-leaf clover on the side of his 1923 Targa Florio RL. Sure enough, in his first race with the green four-leaf clover, or Quadrifoglio, on his car Sivocci won.

However, a few weeks after the Targa Florio victory, Sivocci was testing a new Alfa car at the legendary Monza race track. There had been no time to paint Ugo’s good luck symbol on the car and tragically he crashed and lost his life – and a legend was born.

The four leaf clover on Sivocci’s car was encased in a square box, while all future clovers were encased in a triangle, with the missing point symbolizing the loss of Ugo Sivocci.

From that day forward, the four-leaf clover became the symbol of all Alfa Romeo race cars and later the mark of Alfa’s high performance street vehicles.

Monday, 26 October 2015


Legendary personalities from the days of the famous Ford Cosworth DFV engine joined Veloce at the Cosworth factory in Northampton yesterday to launch a new book Grand Prix Ford – Ford, Cosworth and the DFV.

Authored by experienced motoring historian Graham Robson, the book is the only book of its kind on the DFV engine, which powered 13 Formula 1 World Championships between 1967 and 1983.

The book contains a detailed and superbly illustrated account of all DFV-powered cars, providing an insight into a fascinating period of motor racing history. With a limited edition print run of just 1500 copies, the book is expected to become a must-buy for fans of motorsport and automotive history.

The launch of Grand Prix Ford coincided with the 50th anniversary of Ford’s decision to join forces with Cosworth on an engine that would revolutionise Formula 1 and become one of the sport’s most successful pieces of engineering.

Author Graham Robson, third right, with Veloce’s Rod Grainger, Paul Castle and Kim Phillips – Photo courtesy Peter Baker (Retro Speed).

Cosworth’s renowned engineering facility on St. James Mill Road in Northampton, birthplace of the DFV, also celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this year, which adds to the poignancy of the event. Cosworth opened its doors, so that visiting guests could see the original dyno cells where the DFV engines were tested, Graham Hill’s Lotus 49, with the DFV on display, kindly on loan from Classic Team Lotus & Beaulieu Motor Museum and Keith's original drawing board and drawings.

Amongst the guests were surviving Cosworth staff from the DFV era, who were delighted to share their memories of that period.

Mike Costin – Photo courtesy Peter Baker (Retro Speed).

Ford (Cosworth) DFV engine – Photo courtesy Peter Baker (Retro Speed)

Author Graham Robson said he was delighted to meet again famous characters like Mike Costin, co-founder of Cosworth, and Mike Hall; also current Technical Director, Bruce Wood, at a reception where the legendary Lotus 49 was on display alongside a DFV engine and many more modern examples of Cosworth’s engineering expertise.

Publisher, Rod Grainger, said that he was very grateful to Cosworth for making available their facilities to launch Graham’s new book, for a fascinating factory tour, and for allowing us to see their state of the art automated production facility. He also said that it was a great pleasure to meet so many interesting characters from the DFV era, and to hear their stories. Rod also thanked Classic Team Lotus for loaning their Lotus 49 for the day.

Grand Prix Ford – Ford, Cosworth and the DFV by Graham Robson is available now! Click HERE for more information about the book.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


Last Thursday, Bournemouth-based author and former Anglican Priest, Bryan Apps, launched his new book at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.

Laced with fascinating anecdotes, Raymond Mays’ Magnificent Obsession reveals a pivotal figure in motor sport history and describes the author’s enthusiasm for BRM, detailing his visit to Raymond Mays in Eastgate House, Bourne, in 1963.

An intimate congregation of friends and motor racing enthusiasts gathered around the National Motor Museum’s Mk1 BRM for a talk by the author, followed by a presentation of the book to Beaulieu's Chief Executive, Russell Bowman, and a signing session.

Bryan Apps with Russell Bowman.

Bryan Apps said: “I was given a very warm welcome at Beaulieu by Russell Bowman and Museum Manager, Doug Hill and was delighted to give a signed copy of Raymond Mays’ Magnificent Obsession for the Museum Library, which is an essential resource for any student researching the history of motor racing. The National Motor Museum is currently undertaking a re-build of the car`s engine, preserving its legendary sound and keeping alive an important link to Britain’s motorsport history.”


Paul Castle and Kim Phillips representing Veloce.

Bryan Apps is a lifelong motor racing enthusiast; he created a BRM scrapbook at the age of thirteen, with Raymond Mays writing its foreword. Mays continued corresponding with Bryan for many years, keeping him informed of the latest developments.

The retired reverend from Bournemouth was an Anglican priest for nearly 50 years, but away from clerical duties he enjoys nothing more than painting scenes from motor racing. He explains: “I paint famous drivers and famous races and once the painting’s complete, I’ll send it to the driver, often starting a correspondence.”

The National Motor Museum Trust’s Mk 1 BRM, which was built with racing chassis number one, was famously driven by racing aces Reg Parnell and Juan Manuel Fangio. Only five examples of this pioneering British design were built, which means that preserving the sights and sounds of this BRM Type 15 is vital to keeping alive an important link to Britain’s motorsport history.

The Trust’s ambition to set in motion the raising of funds for long needed work to the 1950 racing car received a boost when it was nominated as the 2014 Goodwood Revival Beneficiary Charity. The assistance of the Goodwood Revival, generous donations and fundraising activities have now brought the total of the BRM Preservation Appeal to just over £50,000.

Skilled restoration is required in order to keep it in fully-functioning condition, including a rebuild of its supercharged 1.5-litre V16 engine. While the initial target of £50,000 has been reached it is possible that, due to its complex design, more may be needed to fund the BRM’s renovation, depending upon what the Museum technicians uncover when work begins.

Raymond Mays' Magnificent Obsession by Bryan Apps is available now! Click here for more information about the book.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


Last month we visited the prolific motoring historian Graham Robson, at his home in deepest Dorset. Here is a trailer of the interview we recorded ...

In 1965, Colin Chapman persuaded Ford to underwrite development of a V8 for the new 3000cc Grand Prix formula. Built by Cosworth, the new DFV engine won Lotus four World Championship Grands Prix in 1967. A year later, and now available to other constructors, the engine began its domination of Grand Prix racing.

This book is based on a concept placed with Veloce by Anthony Pritchard shortly before his death in 2013. Graham Robson has written a detailed and superbly illustrated account of the Formula 1 cars powered by the Ford DFV V8 engine. This all-conquering power unit was the result of discussions between Colin Chapman, boss of the Lotus car company, and the UK Ford Motor Company. Design, development and manufacture was entrusted to the Cosworth company in Northampton, in response to Lotus' desperate need for an engine for the 3000cc Formula 1 regulations that came into force for 1966. Lotus had exclusive use of the DFV in 1967, its first season, when Jim Clark drove the DFV-powered Lotus 49 to four World Championship victories.
     Becoming available to other Formula 1 teams in 1968, adopters included McLaren and Matra. Graham Hill won the Drivers' Championship with DFV-powered Lotus cars in 1968, and drivers of DFV-powered cars won the Championship in 13 out of 16 years. Year by year, the power of the DFV engine increased; new companies were set up to overhaul the DFV; and engines prepared by these companies were more powerful than those emanating from the factory.
     Robson's narrative starts with a look at Ford's strategy of entering F1, a description of the design and development of this engine, and details the successes – and failures – of every Formula 1 car powered by the DFV engine. During these years the only manufacturer to successfully challenge DFV power was Ferrari, with drivers Lauda and Scheckter winning the Drivers' Championship on three occasions. Because the DFV later gave rise to successful derivatives, such as the turbocharged DFX, and the DFY, DFZ and DFR evolutions, these are also analysed.
This important book is illustrated with more than 300 photographs, most of which come from the UK Ford Motor Company’s own archives.

Graham Robson is one of the most experienced, prolific and versatile motoring historians in the world, and is recognised as one of the authorities on anything concerning Ford in motorsport. He watched his first F1 GP – at Aintree – in 1955, and has never lost touch with the cars, the technical trends, and – most importantly – the personalities connected with placing Ford, and Cosworth, at the pinnacle of F1. He was close to Cosworth, both as a working historian, and as a personal friend of the company's senior personalities, throughout the lengthy period covered by the DFV – and considers it an honour to have been entrusted with the compilation of this amazing story.

Grand Prix Ford – Ford, Cosworth and the DFV by Graham Robson is published next month. Click here for more information about the book.

Monday, 21 September 2015


Chris Carter has been a journalist, broadcaster, commentator and friend of the star names of international motorcycle sport for more than 60 years.

We asked Chris a few questions about his career ahead of the publication of his forthcoming book.

High/low points of your career?

My good friend, former Motocross World Champion, Jeff Smith, told me over half a century ago that he was a very fortunate man, because he was paid to do his hobby. He was right.

People have paid me for over 60 years to travel the world and watch the world’s top motorcycle competitors in action. Fans would have had to spend a fortune to do just a small amount of what I have done.

The high points have been witnessing the triumphs of my many friends in different branches of the sport. The lows have been the heartbreaks and tears those friends and their families have suffered over the years. Road racing, in particular, can be a very cruel sport.

Best rider/race featured in the book?

It is so difficult to compare competitors in different eras. Road racing has had Geoff Duke, Mike Hailwood, Jarno Saarinen, Kenny Roberts, Valentino Rossi and now Marc Martinez. They raced at different times, on different bikes against different opposition.

It’s the same in motocross. Jeff Smith, Dave Bickers, Joel Robert, Roger de Coster, Graham Noyce, Ricky Johnson, Stefan Everts, Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael were supreme at times.

Who was the best? You take your pick.

The best race? I have seen thousands, ranging from club races to GPs. Impossible to pick any out.

Best/worst travel experiences?

Easily the worst trip I ever made was my first trip to Macau in the mid-70s. The Pan Am flight was cancelled and we all had to return to Heathrow 24 hours later.

The plane landed at Frankfurt, and we were kept on board for four hours before being allowed back in the terminal. After another four hours, we took off for Hong Kong. On arrival, however, we found we had missed our jet foil, and had to take the slow ferry to Macau.

At the hotel everyone in the group was allocated a room … except me and French road racer Bernard Fau. “Very sorry. All rooms gone,” said the elderly, Chinese night porter. But when Bernard and I grabbed him by his shirt and lifted him bodily over the counter, he suddenly remembered one!

The whole nightmare took well over 24 hours from leaving Heathrow. The flight was Pan Am 004 – renamed Pan Am 007, and definitely licensed to kill!

Many years later, a first class trip with Emirates to Hong Kong and then on to Thailand was easily the best.

Several people come in for a bit of a drubbing (eg Barry Sheene) – was the book an opportunity to get things off your chest?

There are many Barry Sheene fans, some of whom will not agree with what I have written, but that’s just tough. Sometimes you discover another side of someone’s character when you get to know them well.

I criticize other riders, too. Maybe it is a case of getting things off my chest, but perhaps it is more taking the opportunity to telling the truth.

Having done print, radio and TV work, which would you say was your preferred medium?

TV can give you an audience of millions, but for me all the radio work I did with the BBC was the most rewarding. The listener, perhaps out driving his car, cannot see anything. Your skill with words will give them the story, or not.

You must talk all the time. If people are flicking through stations and find silence they will move on!

The book largely concerns incidents from your professional life – was it by design or coincidence that you omitted more personal anecdotes?

Motorcycle sport is my life. The stories, all of them, are personal.

Do you still follow motorcycle racing? Who are the ones to watch?

I am still very much a racing fan.

No one is indispensable, and that is particularly true in motorcycle sport. Superstars come and go, but there is always someone to replace them. The Italian, Marc Martinez, has been a breath of fresh air in the sport, but Valentino Rossi, now a veteran of 36 years of age can still beat him.

Watch out for the young British crop: Danny Kent, Bradley Smith, Scott Redding and the Lowes twins, Sam and Alex. 

Any regrets?

No regrets at all. I have had the good fortune to have be on the inside for many, many years. I have had all the excitement, but none of the danger.

This book is a wonderful collection of anecdotes – some tragic, but mostly humorous – documenting Chris Carter’s fascinating and unique life spent at the heart of motorcycle sport.

Chris Carter at Large – Stories from a lifetime in motorcycle racing by Chris Carter and Richard Skelton is published next month. Click here for more information about the book.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


She may have famously sung “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz”, but legendary singer Janis Joplin personally drove an unmistakably wild 1965 Porsche 365C 1600 Cabriolet. This December, Joplin’s iconic Porsche will be offered as a star attraction at RM Sotheby’s exclusive Driven by Disruption sale in New York City – just in time for the holidays!

“Janis Joplin’s 356C is without question one of the most important Porsches of all time,” says Ian Kelleher, Managing Director of RM Sotheby’s West Coast Division. “It’s a fantastic automobile that transcends art, pop culture and social movements, and is as groundbreaking and stunning as the renowned singer was herself.”

Joplin purchased the Porsche in September 1968 and decided that the original Pearl White finish was slightly too conservative for the Queen of Rock and Roll. She engaged Dave Richards, a friend and roadie with her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, to customize the car with a kaleidoscopic mural. Described by Richards to represent ‘The History of the Universe’, the dramatic artwork included such graphics as butterflies and jellyfish, as well as a portrait of Joplin with members of the band. The finished product was as colorful as the singer’s personality and certainly representative of the era - a one-of-a-kind flamboyant symbol of San Francisco’s psychedelic rock age. The car quickly became identified with Joplin, who was frequently seen driving it in period.

As Janis’s sister and biographer, Laura Joplin recalls, “Janis drove the car everywhere, all around San Francisco and down to Los Angeles when she was recording there. Wherever Janis went in the car, her fans recognized it. When she parked it and returned, there was always at least one fan note under the wipers.”

Following Joplin’s untimely death in 1970, the Porsche has remained in her family’s ownership, and was enjoyed by her manager, Albert Grossman, who drove it for several years, lending it to visiting family and friends. By the early 1990s, the car was treated to a meticulous restoration, preserving the integrity of the Porsche and presenting the car precisely as it was customized in period.

The Janis Joplin Porsche went on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 1995, where it remained a permanent and popular display up until this week. Offered for sale by the Joplin Family, it is expected to bring in excess of $400,000 when it crosses RM Sotheby’s New York podium in December.

Michael Joplin comments, “Besides Janis's music and legacy, her Porsche is the most visual and important piece of memorabilia that exists. Like most people and their car of choice, her Porsche is a direct link to Janis. She drove it everywhere - and with everyone that was anyone in the San Francisco music scene - with the top down and her feathers flying. Her music, life and car are a part of rock and roll history.”

Kelleher adds, “As a titan of the creative movement of the late 1960s, Janis Joplin remains one of the music industry’s brightest stars. It is an honor to be working with her family in the sale of this magnificent Porsche and even more so to have the opportunity to showcase such an important woman’s ownership of a classic car.”

The Joplin Porsche will be joined at RM Sotheby’s December 10 sale by a carefully curated selection of some 30 creatively-styled and pioneering motor cars, and select automotive-themed artwork. The second iteration of the company’s Art of the Automobile event, the December auction has been entitled Driven by Disruption. Much like the Porsche’s groundbreaking artwork, each of the cars in the auction showcases the extremes of motoring history and the molds that were broken by engineers and designers in pushing the automotive envelope. Previously slated for November, the new December date was strategically chosen to coincide with one of the most spectacular times of the year in New York City.

“Whether it be a stunningly beautiful coachbuilt automobile, a wild, untraditional design, or a marvel of high performance engineering, the auction will present cars that break with the conventional morals of car design and production. We are delighted to showcase this exhibit during a time in New York that is truly magical,” states Kelleher.

The new sale date is perfectly suited to the tastes and interests of RM’s collector car clients, providing opportunity for them to not only spend a few days in New York during the electric holiday season, but to also enjoy other events taking place during the same period, including Sotheby’s Important Watches and Magnificent Jewels sales. As a prelude to the Driven by Disruption sale, an exclusive six-day exhibition will open over the weekend of December 5 in Sotheby’s 10th floor galleries.

More information: RM Sotheby's

Available from Veloce!
The Book of the Porsche 356
by Brian Long.

The story of the most successful sports car manufacturers first car, detailing the full and fascinating story of the Porsche 356 and the racing and rallying cars which sprang from it. With over 240 pictures and extensive, well researched text, this book is a must for any Porsche fanatic. More info.