Thursday, 14 June 2018

Driving in Europe: do you know?

Summer is officially here – although the weather is taking it's time to decide – and for many of us, our summer holidays are just around the corner. Have you got a Euro-trip planned? Do you know the road laws on the Continent? If the answer is no, you're not alone ...


Many Brits are left baffled when driving around the continent, as four in five struggle to correctly identify foreign road signs whilst driving abroad, according to a new study conducted by easyjet and Europcar. Other common aspects holidaymakers find challenging are: driving on the right-hand side of the road (59), identifying foreign traffic signs (44%), understanding foreign rules and regulations (51%), and knowing the difference between kilometres and miles per hour also stresses a quarter of Brits out. 



The majority (89%) of those surveyed admit to having little to no understanding of foreign regulations and road signs, and 87% conduct no research into a foreign country's Highway Code before taking to the roads. 

A lack of knowledge discourages Brits to take to the road, as 72% of Brits admit to feeling apprehensive when driving abroad and over half of Brits (58%) admit to have driven on the wrong side of the road. In addition, eight in ten admitted that they would be unlikely to pass a driving test in another country. 

This new research also revealed some of the quirky road laws. Of those surveyed, Brits weren't aware of the following European driving rules and regulations: 

  • Filling your tank while your radio is still on in Spain could lead to a €91 fine
  • Legally, you cannot wash you car on a Sunday in Switzerland
  • In Romania, you'll be fined if you're driving a dirty car
  • In Germany, you can legally drive nude as your car is considered a private space
  • Drivers in Denmark must check for sleeping children underneath their cars before they set off

It's estimated that 35% of Brits are planning on driving abroad this summer, and it's quite shocking to find that most of us aren't as clued up as we should be. Luckily, we may have just the answer. Julian Parish's The Essential Guide to Driving in Europe has recently been revised and updated, just in time for the summer season! Better still, its compact size means that it can easily fit into your glovebox, so there's no excuse not to get a copy!

Whether you're planning a long touring holiday in your own car, or hiring a car locally on a business trip or holiday, this guide will give you all the information you require. Whatever your destination in Europe, you'll find everything you need to prepare for your trip and to cope with the unfamiliar. There are sections on dealing with everything from winter driving, to towing a caravan, from travelling with pets, to taking a classic car overseas. And – should the worst happen – there's also a clear guidance on what to do in the case of a breakdown or accident. 



With chapters covering Western Europe (including France), Southern Europe, Northern Europe, and Central & Eastern Europe – 50 individual countries – all the information is based on extensive local research, and includes comprehensive details on speed limits, drink/driving rules, motorway tolls, mountain passes, and other local regulations. Extensive illustrations help you recognise and understand unfamiliar signs, whilst more that 25 port maps guide you safely to and from terminals in the UK and on the Continent.

So, before you head out on your European travels, make sure that you pick up a copy of The Essential Guide to Driving in Europe!


Thursday, 7 June 2018

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – March, April, and May

Can you believe that we've been following Oliver Winterbottom's promotional run for A Life In Car Design for a year already?  Momentum is still going strong for this insightful book, and in today's blog we'll be getting you up to speed.


1 March – Upon my snowy return from Leicestershire, I am delighted to receive the Veloce Publishing Catalogue Spring 2018. Very much appreciated is that my book is featured on the Contents page. It also is the first book listed under Biographies – but having a title beginning with "A" helps! Thank you, Veloce.

2 March – Amazon email me again, offering me my book for £21.91. Generous of them!

4 March – Write to renew my membership of the Bourne Motor Racing Club, and attached the background to my BRM connections. I also offer to give the club a talk centred around my book, if they desire. 

6 March – Three copies of my book arrive from Amazon – the price was too good!

8 March – I receive a response from the Bourne Motor Racing Club to my offer to give a talk based on my book. A possible date exists in November if the planned speaker is unable to make it, or it will be after March 2019. I am told the audience always likes the opportunity to buy speakers' books.

13 March – Delighted to see a new advertising idea when washing my hands at Hethersett Queens Head. A copy of my book flyer is posted directly above the hand dryer where you cannot avoid seeing it. It had been in the pub foyer – and still is – but folk don't linger there.

15 March Absolute Lotus magazine due today. On 13 February, I gave permission for a review in this new publication and the first issue of this new magazine (six per year) was due 15 March. However, just like my book, it has been delayed until 11 May.

16 March – Google at it again: Free Download A Life in Car Design.

A quick look at the web shows Amazon UK have 13 books left with more on the way. WH Smith have two in stock. 

19 March – It's a Monday, and the Google download has been removed.

20 March – Car goes in for a Service, so I visit Norwich. Jarrold's book shop recognise my book, and have it on the shelf. I slightly rearrange it to a more prominent position, alongside some Lotus books. Jarrold's motoring book selection is far larger than rival shops. Waterstones have a tiny Transport section despite being a huge shop; a few railway books, plus half a dozen motoring ones. WH Smith have a good motor sport selection, but no road car books at all, however, they have a fairly small shop in Gentleman's Walk.

22 March – A welcome email from the Authors; Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), and a small payment in my bank. 

23 March – Cannot help but check out Amazon UK. The price now £24.34 (£2.43 increase) and they have 12 left – so they have sold one! Meanwhile, Amazon Japan have it for 3470 Yen (an 11 yen increase) – a 7.4 English pence increase!

26 March – Siân of Veloce asks if there is any news on the potential programme for Only Motors TV. I tell her "not yet."

27 March – I email Only Motors TV to ask if they have any more details of when they may wish to film for their show, #Petrolheads.
Reply: We would still love to feature you on #Petrolheads. Unfortunately, at the moment, we have difficulty getting crew that can travel to Wymondham, but I believe this may change so I can keep you updated when it does. 

28 March – Bruce Kirkham, a past colleague in the USA, writes to say he is getting my book. I wish him every enjoyment reading it!

I see on the internet that the book is on Pinterest, whatever that is. To get any information, I would have to sign up to an organisation that I would not personally agree with. As a result, I don't know what they think!

I find Amazon Germany has a review of the book, which seems very positive. This is the Google online translation:

A life for the automobile led Oliver Winterbottom in many different companies and countries of the world. It was the wish of the Young Oliver reality to take care of the design of automobiles. From time to time some of the side-war scenes also played a role, which he filled with just as much devotion. The biography is a great and interesting journey through the history of the automobile, especially English, of course. Most of the lyrics are very entertaining and you almost feel like talking directly to Winterbottom. In addition, some barely published drawings and pictures are shown, which underline the work with emphasis. Again and again, the people around him are presented and the financial situation is assessed.  For the equivalent of just over 40 euros, the reader can travel through the past with Winterbottom and clearly understand his or her way of doing business. The working title of the automotive designer provides a great template for a book and is very worth reading, especially since it is always first-hand information that makes it all the more valuable. 

29 March – Visit Wymondham Public Library, and I am delighted that Norwich Millennium Library have a copy of my book listed on their stock computer. A quick search suggest Norfolk is possibly unique in stocking it. Thank you Norwich and Norfolk.

30 March – Good Friday: Classic & Sports Car online Newsletter features a reprint of the 2009 article "Designers pick the most beautiful classics ever." I am happy to be reminded that I was listed with the Maserati Boomerang as my choice. The 21 designers are featured including most of the household names of the time.

5 April – Message from Veloce Publishers: We received a message to our Facebook page, requesting a signed copy of your book. I reply directly to the woman asking for the signed copy; we arranged a date to meet.

Amazon ask me, as a previous customer, to review my book!
"5.0 out of 5.0 stars. In-depth story inside the business. I think this is an absolutely brilliant book from inside the motor industry. I wholeheartedly recommend it."

Amazon now only have six left in stock – six gone since 23 March!

8 April – Amazon only have five left, keep it up!

9 April – Hear the sad news that John Miles has passed away after a stroke. I have great respect for John, and all our dealings were a pleasure. Definitely a gifted driver and engineer.

12 April – Breakfast at Elevden Courtyard to sign my book for Terry Hunter, as organised with his ex-secretary from the Facebook message on 5 April. He is about to turn 80, and this reminder is a good memory for me. Terry was a formidable rally competitor in Porsche and as a works Triumph driver about 48 years ago. I hope he enjoys the book – and yes, he is in it!
Meeting his secretary after a gap of about 45 years, I was flattered (well, I think I was) to be told "I had not changed a bit!" – apart from some hair loss! It was interesting to learn that the lady found a reference to my book when reading a magazine in the dentists waiting room. She then remembered me.

14 April – Bruce Kirkham enjoying my book, good! It's interesting because the USA does not have the Aprentice system I started with. Bruce was a senior manager at GM Inland Division when we first put airbags into Lotus. A great help and enthusiast.

17 April – Go to the BRM Association Test Day at Blyton Park. At least four strangers said they looked forward to my talk to Bourne Motor Racing Club. I explained I had agreed to talk but there is no date yet. Most had read the book and enjoyed it. It was talked about a lot! Sold one copy as well.

A special day: one year since I stopped smoking!

18 April – Email from a TVR Tasmin owner in New Zealand. Enjoyed the book and asked some tech questions. Will point them at TVR Club. Its nice to know that it is around the world.

19 April – Amazon UK now have 10 books – more coming, so thats at least another five gone. Amazon USA have four left.

22 April – Visit the VSCC Historic race at Silverstone. Recognised by a VSCC member from the BRM event one week ago. A club official Hamish McNinch, with whom I had a long chat, also knows the book.

Evening meet with Stuart Elliot, who organises the Hinckley Classic Motorshow (16 September). Discuss possibility of having a stand to sell and sign books.

24 April – Write to Lotus and TVR Clubs about the Hinckley Classic Car Motorshow: I have had an idea, that would possibly be of me more good than anyone else – but that seems a good reason to support it! Sunday 16 September 2018, Hinckley, Leicestershire are holding their 8th Classic Motorshow. I know that some LotusExcel.net members attended last year and I hope that TVR "Wedge" cars could be put alongside the Lotus models. As I had a hand in the creation of both vehicles, it has been suggested that the organisers could provide a "tent thing" so that I could sell and sign copies of my book. I know many of you have already purchased it – for which I am ever grateful, but have I reached absolutely everyone? I circulate you all for your comments.

Response from Angus Marshall at LotusExcel.net: Well, I know at least one Lotus Wedge owner who also owns a TVR and is fairly local to Hinckley. Unfortunately, neither of his cars are in a drivable state at the moment, but I know that none of the Lotus owners would object to being located close to our NW cousins.

25 April – Following the meeting with Terry Hunter's ex-secretary, I have received this message from her as she had brought her grandson to the book signing: On returning to school after the Easter holiday, my grandson's class were asked if they did anything exciting over Easter. He replied that he went to meet (and have breakfast with) a "real live author" for a private book signing.

26 April – Response from Andy Hutcheson, re TVR at Hinckley: I will pass on the event details to the relevant person in the TVRCC who covers that area, etc. I will also publish the event in the TVR Wedge Owners and Enthusiast UK Facebook group, so maybe some of my fellow wedge owners may go along.

The 26th of April, 2017 was the day my book arrived at Veloce Publishers.



29 April – Richard Heseltine sends a message to say the first edition of the new magazine Absolute Lotus has gone to press. It should be with the publisher around 6 May. As it contains a review of my book, I await a copy with excitement!

Sunday 30 April, 2017, I was at the Donington Historic race meeting with LotusExcel.net to sign the first copies of my book. This year it is due 4-6 May; lets hope the weather stays fine.

30 April – Mike Taylor contacts me regarding the VARI moulding process used on Colin Chapman's boats. He is researching this for a magazine feature. I reply that I am happy to help, although I was not involved with the boats in the latter part of their production life. It's nice to be reminded of things so long ago! This all dates back to the mid/late 1970s.

Amazon UK celebrate the first anniversary of the publication of my book by suddenly increasing its price from £21.91 to the publishers full £37.50. They also appear to have sold another one since 19 April.


You can purchase your own copy of A Life in Car Design here, and make sure to check back on the Veloce blog for the next instalment! 


Wednesday, 30 May 2018

BTCC 2018 at Thruxton

This year, the MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) celebrates its 60th anniversary. The last event took place at Thruxton on the weekend of the 19th-20th of May, and our director Jude went along to take in some of the action!

Thruxton held its first BTCC race back in 1968, and with 11 corners over 2.36 miles, this track sees the highest average speed of any circuit visited by the BTCC. 2018 saw new records set for the circuit, with Matt Neal setting a new fastest qualifying lap with a time of 1min 15.612s (112.17mph), and Tom Ingram setting a new fastest race lap with a time of 1min 17.060s (110.06mph) – beating Yvan Muller's 2002 longest standing lap record recorded on the BTCC calendar. 



Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport's Adam Morgan moved to the summit of the BTCC standings with victory in the final race in front of a record crowd, following on from points scoring finishes in the first two bouts in Hampshire. 

Matt Neal claimed the early bragging rights as he converted pole position into a race win, before Josh Cook scored his second victory in as many meetings with victory in the next contest. Halford Yuasa Racing's Neal produced a commanding lights-to-flag performance in the opening race, after seeing off race-long pressure from team BMW's Colin Tarkington.

Despite the season so far largely being dominated by a number of young drivers, it was the multiple BTCC champion duo of Neal and Turkington that fought back at the UK's fastest circuit. Neal took a maiden pole position for the all-new Honda Civic Type R during qualifying on Saturday, and he duly converted that advantage into a 62nd career victory. Turkington pulled his BMW 125i M Sport alongside the Honda off the line, but Neal hung in at the Complex as all 32-cars made it through for the first time. Turkington kept Neal honest throughout the 16-lap duration, but their positions remained the same until the finish. 

The Team GardX Racing with Motorbase Ford Focus of Sam Tordoff hounded down Dan Commish's Honda for the final place on the podium, but the latter fended off every advance, and grabbed the second outright rostrum of his debut season. Power Maxed TAG Racing's Cook then followed up his recent Donington Park success with another stellar display at the Hampshire speedbowl. 

Pole-sitter Neal couldn't hang on off-the-line as Turkington's BMW blasted ahead of the Honda Civic Type R on the run down to the Complex. Commish's Honda bogged down at the start, which allowed Tordoff's Ford Focus and Andrew Jordan's Pirtek Racing BMW by in a tussle for third. 

Progress was soon being made behind, however, as the Power Maxed TAG Racing duo of Cook and Senna Procter slipped past Team Shredded Wheat with Gallagher's Tom Chilton. Procter's advances were halted at that point but teammate Cook was on a charge as he saw off Tordoff and Jordan in quick succession. 

Cook's Astra then surged around the outside of Neal's Honda at the final chicane and by lap 10 the local hero was challenging for the lead. The moment of truth came at the end of the next tour as the Bath driver pulled an almost identical move on Turkington's BMW 125i M Sport.

Team GardX Racing with Motorbase's Tordoff held onto fourth from Jordan and Procter. Morgan's second win of the season came in dominate fashion as he commanded the final race from start-to-finish in his Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The Lancastrian driver got a good getaway from pole position and he was able to defend well from an early attack from the Vauxhall Astra of Procter. 

Morgan's job was made slightly more comfortable when a charging Jack Goff hauled his Honda onto the back of Procter's Astra, and a squabble for second ensued. Goff made his move stick on Procter in the final third of the contest, but it was too late to make any inroads into Morgan's advantage. The 29-year-old took the chequered flag and with it the lead in the overall driver's standings. 

Tordoff completed a solid day for Team GardX Racing with Motorbase by taking fourth, whilst team BMW's Turkington fired himself back into championship contention with another top five finish, following on from his double podium earlier in the day. 

Morgan leads the standings by just a point from Cook, with previous championship leader Tom Ingram a further ten points in arrears. Speed works Motorsports' Ingram endured a challenging day after a non-finish in the opener, but the Toyota star provided some respite with a seventh place and a brand-new lap record in the finale.

Results

Round 7

  1. Matt Neal (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing 16 laps
  2. Colin Turkington (GBR) Team BMW +0.860s
  3. Dan Commish (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +3.699s
  4. Sam Tordoff (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +4.040s
  5. Tom Chilton (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +5.290s
  6. Andrew Jordan (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +8.922s
  7. Senna Procter (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +9.361s
  8. Brett Smith (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +9.725s
  9. Josh Cook (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +14.929s
  10. Chris Smiley (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +15.436s
Round 8
  1. Josh Cook (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing 16 laps
  2. Colin Turkington (GBR) Team BMW +1.325s
  3. Matt Neal (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +5.285s
  4. Sam Tordoff (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +6.287s
  5. Andrew Jordan (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +6.595s
  6. Senna Proctor (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +7.005s
  7. Adam Morgan (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +7.419s
  8. Jack Goff (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +7.816s
  9. Tom Chilton (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +9.114s
  10. Chris Smiley (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +10.203s
Round 9
  1. Adam Morgan (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport 16 laps
  2. Jack Goff (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +2.433s
  3. Senna Proctor (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +3.147s
  4. Sam Tordoff (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +5.045s
  5. Colin Turkington (GBR) Team BMW +5.994s
  6. Josh Cook (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +6.544s
  7. Tom Ingram (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +6.922s
  8. Matt Neal (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +7.722s
  9. Chris Smiley (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +12.985s
  10. Rob Collard (GBR) Team BMW +13.205s

The next rounds of the BTCC take place at Oulton Park, on the weekend of the 9th-10th of June. 


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Think Bike!

A little change of pace now, as today's blog is all about motorcycles. 

Of course, we love all things motorcycle related here at Veloce – a number of the Velocisti regularly ride their bikes into work – so road safety is paramount to us. Sadly, a large number of motorcycle riders around the globe are involved in serious accidents annually, and with the weather getting warmer, it's even more crucial that we all THINK BIKE whilst out on the roads.

Locally, Dorset Police have launched a new campaign in order to encourage motorists to THINK BIKE on a more regular basis. This has involved putting up posters in 'hot spot' areas around the county where serious collisions have occurred involving motorcycle users. It is hoped that these signs will highlight that road users need to pay more attention to motorcycle users. You can see these posters on the following roads:

  • B3059 Somerford Road, Christchurch
  • A354 Weymouth Way
  • A354 Portland Beach Road
  • B3073 Christchurch Road between Dudbury and Wet Parley
  • A30 Babylon Hill
  • A31 just west of lake gates roundabout to just east of Merley roundabout
  • A348 Ringwood Road near Langham
  • A351 Sandford to Holten Heath



Further afield, Autotalks, the global leader in V2X (Vehicle to Everything) communication chipsets, has joined the Connected Motorcycle Consortium (CMC). Autotalks will work with other CMC members to help realise the vision of a uniform motorcycle platform for V2M (Vehicle-to-Motorcycle) communication. Specifically, Autotalks and other CMC members will work together to enhance Cooperative-Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) applications in motorcycles in a way that will help minimise motorcycle accidents.

Autotalks' V2M solution is based on a second generation V2X chipset developed by the company, which allows motorcyclists and other drivers to receive alerts on life threatening situations, in order to avoid road accidents. The V2M enables detection of motorcycles that are not visible to the human eye, cameras, or other sensors. 

To highlight the importance of being aware of motorcycle users on the road, Autotalks' CEO Hagai Zyss points out:
 "Motorcycles have higher chances of being involved in a road traffic accident, meaning motorcycle users are at a greater risk of fatality. Studies show that in approximately one third of motorcycle accidents, the motorbike is not visible to the car driver. Autotalks is committed to minimising motorcycle accidents until there will be zero accidents on our roadways."



Whether you are a motorcycle rider or not, be sure to Think Bike when you are out on the roads!


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

New MOT comes into effect

There are big changes coming to the MOT as of this Sunday, so are you aware of what these could mean for you and your vehicle?



There are three main areas where the MOT is changing, and these include:
  • New defect types, and new items to be tested
  • Stricter rules for diesel car emissions
  • Change of circumstances for certain cars over 40 years old

From the 20th of May, any defects found while the testing is being carried out will be classed as either dangerous, major, or minor. Any fault classed as dangerous or major will be an instant fail on the MOT, where as a minor fault would still be a pass. Further details on there faults are as follows.

Dangerous faults mean that there is a direct and immediate risk to road safety, or a serious impact on the environment. You will not be allowed to drive the vehicle until the fault has been repaired. 
Major faults mean that they may affect the vehicle's safety, put other road users at risk, or have an impact on the environment. You will be advised to repair a major fault immediately. 
Minor faults will be those that have no significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment. You will be advised to repair any minor faults as soon as possible.

MOT testers will also tell you of any advisory problems, which could become more serious in the future unless monitored and repaired when necessary. However, there have been concerns that this new way of classifying faults can be too confusing for motorists. Simon Williams, a spokesman for the RAC, said that the new classifications "will surely be open to interpretation which may lead to greater inconsistency from one test centre to another."

In addition to the new defect types, there will be a number of new items that will be tested for during the MOT. The main ones include:
  • If the tyres are obviously under inflated
  • If the brake fluid has been contaminated in any way
  • If there are any fluid leaks that pose an environmental risk
  • The brake pad warning light and if brake pads or discs are missing
  • The reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009
  • The headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009, if they have them
  • The daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018; most of these vehicles won't have their MOT until 2021


Limits for emissions are getting stricter for diesel cars with diesel particulate filters (DPF). If your car's exhaust emits smoke of any colour, or if the tester finds evidence that the DPF has even tampered with, it will be classed as a major fault and will fail the MOT test. 

There is good news if you have a classic that was first registered in 1978, as cars, vans, motorcycles, and other light passenger vehicles that are 40 years old or more will no longer require an MOT – so long as they have not been substantially modified. However, each time you tax your historic vehicle, you will need to declare that it meets the rules for not needing an MOT certificate. 

So, what do you think of these changes? Do any of them work in your favour, or will it strike up a lot of confusion? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!


Wednesday, 2 May 2018

What a race!

Here's hoping we aren't in for a Bank Holiday washout, as this year's Donington Historic Festival will be celebrating an iconic Formula 1 race ...

One of the most memorable events in the history of Donington Park, the rain-soaked 1993 European Grand Prix will be celebrated at this year's Donington Historic Festival – which runs from the 4th to the 6th of May – with on-track F1 car demonstrations on the Saturday and Sunday, plus static displays on all three days. In addition, DHF visitors will be invited to get involved by sharing their own memories of the race before and during the Festival.

The 25th anniversary activities add a further exciting dimension to the event, where visitors can enjoy three days of world-class historic motorsport from an outstanding line-up of grids featuring an incredibly diverse range of racing machines spanning nine decades!

The Festival's anniversary theme celebrates that unforgettable day in April 1993, when the crowds flocked to Donington Park as the circuit played host to its first Grand Prix in 55 years – and the first European Grand Prix in eight years. Torrential rain made the track treacherous, as, starting from 4th position, Ayrton Senna battled it out with Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher to win by an incredible 80 seconds.

The F1 cars on show pay tribute in particular to Ayrton Senna, and were either driven by him or against him during his career up to 1993. They include:
  • The Toleman TG-184-01 Hart Turbo in which Senna caused a sensation for Friday practice at the 1984 British GP
  • A Camel Lotus/Judd 101/3 campaigned in 1989 by Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima
  • Gerhard Berger's 1992 Canadian GP-winning McLaren MP4/7A-8 (courtesy of the Donington Collection museum)
  • A 1993 Benetton B193B raced that year by Michael Schumacher and Riccardo Patrese
  • The McLaren MP4/8 was Senna's test car for the 1993 Donington Park race (courtesy of the Donington Collection museum)

The McLaren MP4/8


DHF visitors will be invited to share their memories of that famous race on display boards at the Festival and, prior to the event, motorsport fans will be invited to send in their own images and memories of the race, which will be printed out and put up on a 'scrapbook' board for everyone to enjoy. 

Do you have fond memories of that race on Easter Sunday, 1993? Be sure to share them with us in the comments below!


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The end of the diesel Porsche ...

Porsche news always grabs our attention here at Veloce, as you know how much we love the marque, but this news story got our attention for a different reason than normal ... 

It has been announced that Porsche will axe all diesel engine options from its range of cars with immediate effect, with the reason behind the decision being a "cultural shift" by the brand's customers which caused the demand for diesel models to fall. Instead, the marque is switching its attention to petrol and hybrid models. 

The decision was made the same week that Germany's top court ruled that cities have the right to ban diesel motors in an effort to improve air quality levels. The cities of Stuttgart – home of Porsche  – and Leipzig had wanted to stop older diesel vehicles entering the city limits, and now this can be possible. Similar proposals are being discussed by governments around the world, in order to reduce pollution in major cities. 

Last year, bosses at Porsche said that they would consider killing diesel altogether by the end of 2018. A reason this decision may have been brought forward is due to the new round of economy and pollution testing regimes (known as RDE and WLTP) which arrive in the autumn. Older-generation diesel engines could struggle to meet these new tests, so it makes sense for Porsche to halt diesel car production for the time being.



Further to this news, Porsche has announced its desire to reduce CO2 emissions by fuelling internal combustion engines with sustainably sourced fuels. The German company says advances in fuel technology means it is already possible to create petrol and diesel substitutes that do not use crude oil, and that such fuels can make a 'significant contribution' in the battle to reduce global warming.

"In the foreseeable future, powertrains featuring combustion engines that operate using sustainably produced fuels will be offered as an optimum solution for sports cars in terms of performance, vehicle weight and range – key considerations from the perspective of Porsche customer," detailed a statement from Porsche.

With diesel absent from the Porsche line-up for the time being, and the use of sustainably sourced fuels still in the early stages, electrification will step into the foreground. Further hybrid models – including a hybrid version of the next 911 – are in the pipeline, while Porsche will release a pure EV next year in the form of the production Mission E.

So what do you think of the, albeit temporary, absence of diesel Porsches? We'll have more on the changes for diesel cars in general in the coming weeks. 


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Drive-It Day 2018

Who doesn't love a classic car? Drive-It Day 2018 is taking place this Sunday, April 22nd, and although many of the popular events to celebrate the day have sold out, there are plenty of ways to participate.


Drive-It Day takes place every year to help raise awareness of the classic vehicle movement in the UK and encourages classic vehicle owners to show off their classics as much as possible. Organised by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), Drive-It Day celebrates the UK's rich transport heritage.

Now into its 13th year, Drive-It Day commemorates The Thousand Mile Trial, which took place on April 23rd, 1900. Organised by the Automobile Club, a gathering of 65 cars embarked on a highly ambitious voyage around the country. Starting in London, the Trial went through Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Derby, Kendal, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, and back to London.



Events around the country

Drive your classic to the British Motor Museum, Warwickshire and receive discounted entry to the world's largest collection of British-built vehicles – including the vehicle that won The Thousand Mile Trial, an 1899 Wolseley Voiturette. Many other classics sure to be in attendance will be on display out front of the museum, and free guided tours will be taking place throughout the day.

The Classic Motor Hub in Gloucestershire will be expecting large crowds to attend a special opening of its historic collection at RAF Bibury, where visitors can also see the arrival of a special Drive-It Day rally from Chateau Impney. Highlights include the Hub's superb display of around 70 cars, which currently includes Bentley and Aston Martin Le Mans racers from the 1920s, and the 1924 V12 Delage DH land speed record-holder. Still a fairly new venue, this place is well worth a visit in you are in the area!

It's estimated that around 100 classics will descend upon the Lakeland Motor Museum in Cumbria, joining a display of classics outside the museum. If you arrive in your classic, you'll get discounted entry into the museum!

Since it's first Drive-It Day 'Sunday Scramble' back in 2014, the event at Bicester Heritage, Oxfordshire has become bigger and better every year. This unique venue combines wartime heritage with a fascinating assortment of businesses furnishing the classic car industry. Another attraction on the day us the launch of a new photography exhibition by Amy Shore.

So if you're up for a museum visit, a leisurely drive around the countryside, or fancy watching any number of the convoys happening up and down the country, there is something for everyone this Drive-It Day!



Friday, 13 April 2018

Abingdon's Finest

MG has always played a prominent role in British social history, and its cars have always been enthusiastically praised. A home-grown concept, MG became internationally successful, largely due to the uniqueness of the factory; a family unit that supported innovation, race craft, had a talented design team, and provided opportunities for it's employees. The success of the factory propelled the small market town of Abingdon, in Oxfordshire, onto the global map, and made MG into an international brand that has survived almost a century of change. 


We have a number of books on MG at Abingdon, such as MG's Abingdon Factory and Don Hayter's MGB Story, but the real stand out has to be our newest book MG, Made in Abingdon. An active volunteer of Abingdon County Hall Museum, author Bob Frampton has collected the memories of many of the men and women who worked at Abingdon, to provide an intimate and unique account of what it was like to work in MG's Abingdon factory. 

 This book is proving to be a popular buy, and with reviews like these, its easy to see why!

"This is social history at its best,  [it's] as much about skilled trades, shop floor romances and lower-league football as making cars." – Classic Cars



"We are used to reading about the big names in MG's history, but this book gives voice to some thousands who worked in the Abingdon factory, helping to create the cars we love ... it opens a window on aspects of MG life that rarely get an airing in public." – MG Enthusiast

It's Bob recognition that the most important aspect of MG's success was its team – tea-boys and girls, the shop floor workers, the engineers and racers, the apprentices and management – that makes this book such an interesting read. Factory life is often overlooked and unremarked on, but the story of MG's factory is an important reflection of the British motor industry from the perspective of the shop floor work force.

From memories of the production line, to recollections of racing incidents, the previously untold story of MG from the men and women who worked in the Abingdon factory is revealed for the first time. Yes, it's certainly a nostalgic look at an historic marque, but more than that, it's an historically important record of a unique period in social history.

Image credit British Motor Heritage Museum


From the 14th of April until the 24th of June, Abingdon County Hall Museum will house a new exhibition entitled "Automotive Design: Innovations at MG Abingdon". Using recent donations from MGB lead designer Don Hayter, the museum will celebrate the importance and practice of good design in automotive production, and how MG made innovative steps forward in this industry.

This weekend sees the exhibition opening, and to market he occasion, Abingdon County Hall Museum will be hosting a book signing event with Bob Frampton this Sunday (April 15th)! For more information, you can contact the museum directly.


So, if you are local to Abingdon, or are an MG enthusiast, make sure you check out the Automotive Design exhibition, and don't forget to get your copy of MG, Made in Abingdon from our website 


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – December, January and February

It's been quite a while since we last heard from Oliver, author of, A Life in Car Design. However, Oliver has still been vigilant in keeping track of all he does, so let's catch up with him ... 


2 December – Find speedreaders.info (USA) online review, which is very positive.

4 December – The Jaguar ex-Apprentice newsletter arrives. They have done me proud under 'Things to put on your Christmas list.' Many thanks Mr Benton.

5 December – Travel to Old Sudbury, Gloucestershire and give a talk on the book to Club Lotus Avon at The Bull, in Hinton. The venue was full to capacity, plus a couple of standing audience. Sign at least six books, and a very good pub! My thanks to Rob Ford for organising it.



11 December – Doug Weal of North Yorkshire Lotus Owners Club contacts me regarding giving a talk for them next March or April. He says there would be a wide-based audience, so I suggest adding a TVR slide to the presentation.

Meet Andrew Walmsley at Barnham Broom Bell and sign a book – the second he has done – for a Christmas gift. 

13 December – Brian Llewellyn email RE:contact.
'Hello Oliver, I forwarded your letter to a friend of mine ... Shaun Beadsworth. He emailed back saying "You never told me you're a friend of Oliver Winterbottom?!" I remember visiting Hethel with my Dad when he had a job there, not long after Colin Chapman had passed away. I would be very pleased if you could organise a book ... ' 
I explained how to buy from the publisher. 

14 December – Travel to Bourne, Lincolnshire for the Bourne Motor Racing Club BRM Evening. I manage to distribute a number of book leaflets. John Sismey, ex-BRM engineer tells me he enjoyed reading my book. My old buddy Dick Salmon (ex-BRM and Lotus) was busy singing his re-printed book. I had a very good dinner at the Nags Head (owned by my great, great, grandparents in the 1890s) and stayed at The Angel. 

24 December – While enjoying a pint of Tiger at the Heathcote Arms, Croft, Leicestershire with a gentleman who organises the Hinckley Concours each summer, he wished to buy the book there and then! Sadly, I had none with me, so here's hoping he can get one elsewhere.

31 December – I need to start thinking about how to increase promoting this wonderful book in 2018! Wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2018


4 January – Kevin Atkins of Veloce sends a trial 'book flyer' design. I approve the second option, and ask for a minor change on the right hand side in order to increase the impact of the book cover. Result below:



5 January – Sign a book for Jonathan who will be moving into the old Team Lotus race workshops at Kettering Hall in February. They have been converted into modern offices. I also take some history of the Team at the Hall, which he may use to decorate it. 

8 January – Print Veloce flyer – looks good to me! Barnham Broom Bell put one on display. 

9 January – Amazon Germany customer review (Google translated): 
A life for the automobile led Oliver Winterbottom in many different companies and countries of the world. It was the wish of the young Oliver reality to take care of the design of automobiles. From time to time some of the side war scenes also played a role, which he filled with just as much devotion. The biography is a great and interesting journey through the history of the automobile, especially English, of course. Most of the lines are very entertaining and you almost feel like talking directly to Winterbottom. In addition, some barely published drawings and pictures are shown, which underline the work with emphasis. Again and again, the people around him are presented and the financial situation is assessed.
For the equivalent of just over 40 euros, the reader can travel through the past with Winterbottom and clearly understand his way of doing business. The working life of the automotive designer provides a great template for a book and is very worth reading, especially since it is always first-hand information, which makes it all the more valuable. 

Deliver two Veloce flyers to Hethersett Queens Head. Eye-catching display with one in the entrance lobby. 

11 January – Friend and ex-Lotus colleague John Elwin has a possible contact with Club Team Lotus Belgium for the book. 

Jonathan, a friend in Barnham Broom Bell, reading my book tells me he particularly liked my design for the Jaguar E Type 2+2. It dates from 1968, so I have nearly forgotten it!

15 January – Richard Bond (Hethersett Queens Head) reports the copy of my book he gifted in November was enjoyed immensely. 

17 January – Doug Weal of North Yorkshire Lotus Owners Club contacts to say likely time for me to give a talk would be late this year. I send my diary for September and October, as it currently stands.

18 January – John Elwin, ex-Lotus, Team Lotus, and now a journalist living in France, enters my book on the Ten Tenths Motorsport website. Post generates a fair bit of interest!:
Anyone interested in Britain's sports car industry will find Oliver Winterbottom's biography A Life in Car Design a fascinating read. Oliver's career began as a Jaguar apprentice in the 1960s, where he graduated to the drawing office. From there he moved to Lotus, where he was responsible for design of the Elite/Eclat range. He was to return to Lotus (more than once!) but after that he was responsible for the wedge-era TVR's, followed by spells in the US and China. 

Contact Club Team Lotus Belgium and offer to give a presentation on my career and book if they would like me to. 

19 January – Contacted by Only Motors TV with regards to potentially do a profile on me for their show, #Petrolheads.
"#Petrolheads is one of our most views programmes, with an average viewership of 1 million per month, it is a half an hour show on an individual with a personal history and interesting story around their love and use of motors and would stream on our Only Motors TV site." 

22 January – Only Motors TV confirm they expect to contact with dates around the end of February. 

24 January – Sign a copy of my book for Stuart at The Heathcote Arms, Croft, Leicestershire. Stuart Elliot is a leading organiser of the Hinckley annual Classic Car Show which now fills the town with interesting vehicles. This years event is on Sunday 16 September.

26 January – Tom Willis (Barnham Broom Bell) says he will bring a copy of the book for signature. He has connections with Mick McIsaac who features in the book as a superb pattern and model maker. 

27 January – Surprise, surprise – Amazon advertise the book for its published price of £37.50 with 14 in stock and (more on the way) – That may be a "First"!

29 January – Tom Willis brings book for signature which he will gift to Mick McIsaac.

30 January – Amazon email me offering my book to myself. Full published price but now only 13 in stock (more on the way). So thats another one gone!

2 February – Find a site on Google offering a download of my book. As I am concerned this may be breaching copyright, I contact Veloce who respond quickly: The explain that this is a very common scam of the 'phishing' variety – an attempt to gain personal details. Sometimes it's only to gain an email (for spamming), but such sites require that you 'sign up' or login (as this one does), and will then usually ask for credit or payment details for 'security.' This is usually what the scammer is ultimately after ... Fortunately for us, the site is hosted by Google, using it's 'Sites' features. Google Sites gives companies a quick and easy way to create a web presence – and a quick way for scammers to try and fool people. However, because it's a Google Site, the options for reporting and flagging issues are top notch, so I've filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint, directly with Google. 

The whole business reinforces my view that the internet is a totally uncontrolled system. No one knows who says what/where/when! Half of the information available is fictitious and unsubstantiated. That's what I think!

3 February – The Google site offering a download on the book has been removed from the internet by 11am this morning. 

4 February – Although Google have removed the "download" facility, they still are on the internet with a "box" advert and a website offering a preview of my book. I am not very happy and have sent my thoughts to Veloce for comment. My thoughts are: In my opinion the preview is excessive. To show the first three chapters absolutely complete with illustrations is way beyond what I would call a preview. Veloce have responded that this is not unusual and indeed, in a bookshop one can browse the whole book. In addition, the Google website has a number of incorrect items of information. Veloce explained that this is not unusual and doubt it would do any harm. I will therefore accept the position. 

6 February – Get a nice email from Amazon offering me my book at £24.37. Seems to have been reduced again since 27 January!

7 February – So a Tesla electric sports car is launched into space. By my reckoning, that really makes Lotus the first car in space, as the Tesla was based on the Elise and built by Lotus. Where will my old projects end up? Mars?

9 February – Amazon email me to offer the book at £21.91 with free delivery. Such a nice world the internet has brought. 

10 February – Yet another website offering free download of the book. Forwarded to Veloce (again!)

12 February – Reply: Once Google have been informed of one infringement, its algorithms will remember the 'issue' and keep an eye open for similar scams, alerting Google's operatives (yes, they still have actual people working for them) to check them. This is usually all that's needed, and whilst Google isn't the only search provider, it is the biggest, and many others follow its lead in malware and intellectual rights issues. If you visit the URL you last sent, for example, you'll see that it's already gone ... 

So now I need to keep calm!

13 February – Amazon email me again offering my book to me for £21.91.

A search on the internet shows Amazon Japan offering the book for 3459 Yen, Amazon Italy and Amazon Brazil also advertising it. Hopefully this will sell a few.         

16 February – Amazon obviously upset that I haven't bought my book from them. Emailed me again today with the price £21.91.

23 February – Phil Clarke (Barnham Broom Bell customer) who restores old caravans has bought my book and will bring it for a signature in the evening. 

Visit my podiatrist who was aware of my local radio show last year and knows some people at Lotus. Suggested she and as many others should get a copy of my book, and I will sign at my next appointment. 

25 February – Enjoying a pint of Tiger in my sister's local pub and discuss with Stuart Elliot the possibility attending the Hinckley Classic Car Show (Sunday 16 September) with a book signing. Will definitely consider this. 

26 February – Staying with my sister who has friends for dinner. I sign two copies of my book.

You can purchase your own copy of A Life in Car Design here, and make sure to check back on the Veloce blog for the next instalment! 

                                                     

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Great Scott! Look at our new release!

We have a number of new Essential Buyer's Guides out this month, including the Range Rover First Generation, Mercedes Benz W123 and Mercedes Benz 190, but one in particular can be linked to an iconic movie ... 


Of course, I'm talking about the DeLorean DMC-12! The only model ever made by the DeLorean company, roughly 9000 DMC-12s were manufacturered between 1981 and 1983. Featuring a number of unusual construction details, such as gull-wing doors, a rear-mounted engine and unpainted, stainless-steel body panels, this car, though made in Ireland, was intended primarily for the US car market – though a small number were later converted post-production to be right-hand-drive, so they could be sold in other parts of the world. 

As of 2007, there were thought to be around 6500 left, and if you fancy trying to obtain one for yourself, Chris Williams' Essential Buyer's Guide is the perfect tool to help you get the best possible DMC-12 for the best possible price! Packed with good advice on everything you need to know when purchasing a second-hand DeLorean, from running costs, paperwork, vital statistics and valuation, to information on the DeLorean community, this is the complete guide to choosing, assessing, and buying the DeLorean of your dreams. 

"The way I see it, if you're going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?" – Doc Brown, Back To The Future, 1985.



Now, I may not have grown up in the '80s, but I love the Back To The Future film series! Though their prediction of the year 2015 wasn't exactly what we experienced, these films are still classics, and that is in part down to the futuristic car that made time travel possible!

As the most anticipated car of the decade, the DeLorean was gaining a lot of media attention, and teamed with its sleek, futuristic silver look, it seemed the obvious choice for Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale to have the car as the star in their time travel film.



Three models were purchased for modification, for each film in the trilogy, with a complete fibreglass replica being built for the flying scenes in Back To The Future Part II. Of these nine in total, only three survive: the original one can be seen at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angles, California; the remaining two are owned by Universal Studios, with one on display in their Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida.

Now, I've got a couple of behind-the-scenes mechanical facts about these iconic cars. The DeLoreans used in filming retained their original V6 engines, however the sound effects artists changed the sound in post-production to the sound of a Porsche 928 V8 engine. For the American West scenes seen in Back To The Future Part III, two DeLoreans were fitted with a special dune buggy chassis, and high performance Volkswagen engines, in order to help the cars navigate the Western terrain with ease.

Whether you want to fulfil your dream of owning a time machine – in style, not in essence! – or you just always fancied owning a rare and iconic car, then you need to get a copy of Chris Williams' guide to help you find the right DeLorean! This book, and many other Essential Buyer's Guides, are available to buy from our online store now. – Siân



Friday, 9 March 2018

The Ultimate Book of the air-cooled Porsche 911 – a review

Graham Robson is a name well known in the motoring world, and he has a few events coming up this month. Saturday will see him chatting to David Richards, CBE at Beaulieu National Motor Museum, and Monday the 12th will see him at Bristol Pegasus Motor Club, with Brian Culcheth, talking about the 1970 World Cup Rally

As if he's not busy enough, Graham has also been reviewing some of our books. Today, we bring you Graham's review of The Ultimate book of the air-cooled Porsche

"Note carefully that word – Ultimate – for it told us everything we needed to know about this monumental study of Porsche's iconic 911. But with 592 pages, well over 1250 illustrations, and enough detail to satisfy any enthusiast's memory banks, could it be anything else. We could, in fact, have expected nothing less from Brian Long, who is a totally addicted admirer of these cars. Not only has he owned 911s, driven 911s, and been involved in the restoration of 911s, but has clearly been totally besotted with these cars for the half-century in which they have been on the world's roads.

The very first 911, complete with its rear-mounted flat-six air-cooed engine, went on sale in 1964, and the last was assembled in 1998, when it was finally replaced by yet more 911s, but thereafter equipped with water-cooled engines. In those thirty-four years, Long has somehow managed to include a description of the myriad different specifications, engines, transmissions, colour schemes, specialised market types, coupes, convertibles and competition versions – and has somehow kept it all understandable to a casual reader (who will, we promise, become an avid reader shortly afterwards).



Because this is a huge, and bulky book, which comes in its own special slip-case, we expected to find beautifully-presented colour images on almost every page, and were not disappointed, but were also vastly impressed by the excellent picture quality, the variety of car, component, brochure and advertising reproductions and, amazingly, by the easy-to-follow way in which the book is laid out. This, of course, in not a volume which can be skimmed at a sitting, but needs careful study – and the enjoyment of reading a real tour de force.

Over the years, and because there were so many different engine sizes, power ratings, carburetted, fuel-injected and turbocharged models, all matched to rear-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive, different colour charts for every model year, and special specifications for special markets, a seemingly endless evolution of Porsche's dedication to their layout (and style) merges. You need to know the detail technical specification for each model year? It's there. You want to know what combination of body colour and trim layout was available for particular markets? How many cars were built in each model year? That's all there too.

Yet Long, somehow has given this monumental book a real theme from start to finish, of how the car which started out with handling and other shortcomings, but which gradually became the standard by which all its rivals measured themselves, developed. To decide whether this tome is worth £175, you need only remind yourself that nearly 457,000 air-cooled 911s were built, and you will see that the magic is truly world-wide."

Note: This book is a limited edition of just 911 copies and is only available directly from Veloce's website.

Be sure to check out the wide range of Graham Robson books we have in stock over on our website.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Classic Car Boot Sale dates

If you're a lover of classic, vintage, or retro cars, The Classic Car Boot Sale is probably already on your radar. A great place to celebrate music, food, fashion, design, and, of course, vehicles, this year's first dates have been announced …



The first Classic Car Boot Sale of 2018 falls over the weekend of 28th & 29th April, at King's Cross, London, and if you're in the area, we recommend a visit. Car and bike lovers are well catered for, of course, with a truly outstanding selection of vehicles, all driven to the event by the owners, who are more than happy to chat.

But this is no ordinary car boot. You'll certainly find a wealth of traders, selling everything from vintage clothing and accessories, to homewares, collectibles, and vinyl, but you can also grab yourself a classic vehicle.

If your budget doesn't stretch to vehicles, then you can browse the stalls, enjoy some of the finest street food in London, or simply enjoy the DJs playing vinyl-only sets … from the top of a Routemaster, of course! You can even apply for a stall, so you can sell your own goods.

Pencil the dates in your diary, and pop along to one of the finest car boot sales in the land. You can buy an advance ticket for just £4 … and you won't be disappointed.

The Classic Car Boot Sale
Sat 28th – Sun 29th April 2018, 10am-6pm
King's Cross, London

Buy advance tickets here

Find out more at www.classiccarbootsale.co.uk or check Class Car Boot Sale's facebook, twitter, and other social media channels for more details.


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

An Incredible Book Launch

At the end of last month, translator Alison Falls gave a talk on Austrian author and explorer Max Reisch. Having translated his book An Incredible Journey for us, it seemed only fitting that she should hold a book event and talk on Max and his numerous adventures. In today's blog post, we have the transcript from her talk, so it's over to you Alison.





I must confess that from the moment I started to put a few bits of India the Shimmering Dream into English for my brother, I was hooked. I am mostly an armchair traveller, but I would like to think that these books appeal to genuine long distance travellers as well. But why exactly was I hooked?

  • Because of the stories – one of the first books I remember asking for and reading when I was about 10 years old was The Kon Tiki Expedition by Thor Heyerdahl.
  • Because of the style. The language is direct, clear and personal, with not too many abstract nouns. It's no fun translating abstract nouns from german. No high-flown philosophy here, then.
  • Because of the history. In the aftermath of the First World War, as we know, German speaking lands were in a ghastly mess and Fascism was poised to pick up the pieces. Austria was scarcely a real country, just a rump of the old Habsburg empire. But, Max Reisch does not mention the political situation of his homeland in any of his books. Even in the war memoir Out of the Rat Trap he gets away with laconic allusions. It has been called the only war book in which not a single shot is fired. Not totally true, but Max's eyes are set on a wider world. And by his own confession, he is an optimist. We need a few optimists in 2018, as much as in 1935. So, who was he and what was his background?
Maximilian Felix Gottfried Reisch, to give him his full name, was born in Kufstein in 1912  – the same year, incidentally, as fellow Austrian Heinrich Harrer whom we know from Seven Years in Tibet, but while Harrer was a professional sportsman and mountaineer, Reisch's passion was motor travel, beginning, significantly with motorcycles.

His was a  family of business people going back many generations. They were formidable entrepreneurs. In the 18th century, for instance, they were candlemakers, but when towards the end of the 19th century it became evident that electric light was going to be the thing, they diversified into groceries and wines, and as railways opened up trading opportunities, they imported colonial goods – tea, coffee, cocoa, rice, spices etc. They were always on the look-out for an opportunity. They also had interests in hotels and winter sports. During the First World War, and in the face of a declining economy, Max Reisch's father Hans August Reisch decided to diversify and bought a vineyard in the South Tirol. He knew nothing about growing wine, but he soon learned, moved down to Bolzano (Bozen) for a few years and got involved in all the local business projects.

As a young man, before he worked in the family firm, he had already acquired a Puch, Modell B, Bj, 1904, 254ccm, 2.75hp, top speed 45km/h, with no clutch or gears. On this motorcycle, in 1905 Hans August rode from Kufstein, over the Alps to the Mediterranean (which was no mean feat), and, wrote it all up for a motorcycle magazine. The tradition was established. Max writes that, as a small boy he also got the bug, lying on the floor with his father under the bike, and learning the 'clever arrangements of wheels and levers.'

Max Reisch's older brother Hans Friedrich was the one destined to go into the family business, but old man Reisch decided that his second son, Max, who showed a gift for draughtsmanship, should be an architect. He was duly sent off to Vienna to study architecture, but it wasn't long before he decided that trade and transport geography was much more interesting, so he swapped courses. He somehow forgot to tell his father what he had done, and old Hans August was not best pleased. He promptly cut off his son's allowance and told him to make his own way. I think this was only a temporary measure, to see if Max would rise to the occasion. He certainly did. He got himself a job as a film courier, which involved riding a motorcycle round Vienna delivering film canisters to cinemas. He eventually acquired a motorcycle of his own and went off on some Alpine trips. These, like his father, he wrote up for the magazine. He was well on his way. 

But he was longing for the big adventure, the really big one. He wanted to be an explorer, like his hero the great Swedish/German geographer Sven Hedin (1865 - 1952), and he wanted to see wonderful, mythical places, straight out of The Arabian Nights, like in the adventure novels of the famous German writer Karl May (who, incidentally, never travelled anywhere except in his imagination!). These are the two great motives of Max's journeys: he wants to boldly go where none have gone before (not with a motor vehicle, anyway), and he wants, as he put it himself, to have tales to tell his grandchildren. 

The idea Max came up with was to go overland to India, as Alexander the Great had done with his armies. The great Sven Hedin had made his travels into Asia with camels and other pack animals. It seemed obvious to Max that it must be possible to travel to India overland by motorcycle. After all, the trade routes already existed on the ground. 

He was keen as mustard to have a go, but his university professor in Vienna, Bruno Dietrich, wisely persuaded him to do a trial run to the Sahara first. There's a lot of desert on the way to India, and so Max learned to ride in arid conditions and control his motor cycle in loose sand – all vital experience. As a pillion passenger, he found Alfred Schricker who was prepared to go halves on the expense. Max always travelled with a partner and he always found sponsorship for his trips. In true entrepreneurial fashion, his father insisted on it, and for Max it was a point of honour. He financed the trips further by journalism. The articles he wrote home for the India trip were not written up as a book until after World War II. The great India journey of 1933 is described in India The Shimmering Dream. He took a light motorcycle, an Austrian-built Puch 250cc, carrying luggage which included cameras and a typewriter, as well as tents, sleeping bags, water fuel etc, and a pillion passenger, Herbert Tichy, who went on to become a traveller and mountaineer in his own right. The India trip remains the most astounding achievement and the book has never been out of print in German. The two young men nearly died several times.

Once back in Vienna, Max had to catch up with his studies and pass exams. He was cock-a-hoop with the fame he had earned, but the university did not let him get away with it. An Incredible Journey opens with Max telling a tale against himself. To cheer himself up, he says, he began to plan a new trip, by motorcycle to China, but when he put his proposals to the Puch management, the Director suggested using the new Steyr 100 motor car, a modest domestic
model, but "The man in the street must feel he could drive his Steyr 100 to China too!" Puch stipulated that the engine and chassis must not be adapted in any way, but he had a free hand with designing the bodywork for the trip. Max's partner on this trip was Helmuth Hahmann, only 19 years old but already a gifted mechanic. He certainly had his work cut out. The car had its bodywork revised in Baghdad, and the gearbox fell apart at least three times, but the car got to Kolkata, then through the jungles of South East Asia, through China in the midst of a civil war, all the way to Shanghai, then through Japan, and finally from Seattle across the United States (with a brief and disastrous excursion into Mexico), to sail home in triumph from New York to Bremerhaven, and so to Vienna. This car still exists. So do all of Reisch's vehicles. They form part of the Reisch Collection, and if you contact his son Peter you can still see them. They are still garaged at the family home in Bolzano, South Tyrol, although Peter is hoping to find a permanent home for them in Austria one day. The trip took them 19 months, from late April 1935 to December 1936.

For me, the personality of Max as a writer is vivid. He has a youthful enthusiasm that leaps out over more than 80 years and makes me feel I was there. Helene Hanff, in that book of books 84 Charing Cross Road, says she is a great fan of 'I was there' stories. So am I. 

There is also the rather ambivalent pleasure of being seen as other see us. On the round-the-world trip, Max spends a longish time in British India, including Burma and the Shan States. He's really quite a fan of the British, and quite well aware that when he is invited for a drink, or even a cup of tea, he is being gently interrogated. From the British sphere of influence, they continue into French Indo-China, and then into China which is really in a state of civil war. Even so, they begin to learn a lot about daily life and culture. They often stay with missionaries deep in the country. Max was advised to grow a beard in order to gain respect in China as an 'old' man. This works pretty well, except for being sometimes mistaken for a Christian missionary and begged for a blessing. However, things are different when they get to Shanghai and experience the dazzling international social life. We are certainly not told all that goes on, but it is here that the beard meets its fate. 

I could go on with descriptions of staying in a traditional guest house in Japan (the attention of geisha girls of the the hotel staff, scalding hot baths), the novelty of auto camps in America, breaking down in the Mexican desert, getting a new differential cage built by a backwoodsman in Laredo, driving 2100km in 40 hours non-stop.

Then, of course, the big question: what happened to Max Reisch in World War II? And for that, you must read Out of the Rat Trap, where the Libyan desert under Rommel becomes Max's next big adventure. When the Axis troops surrendered in Tunisia in May 1943, he got hold of a fishing boat, never having sailed before, and eventually escaped over the Mediterranean to Sicily, with six other men – and a dog. Jerome K. Jerome could not have told it better. However, this was war. Here is what happened as Reisch and his engineer Stempian are taking the boat down the coast to a hideaway to fit it out. It is a maiden voyage. Suddenly a flight of Italian troop transport planes roars over-head. Reisch and Stempian turn around and rescue as many men as they can from the water. It is a genuinely harrowing experience. 

Reisch died at the age of only 72, in 1985. His outlook was optimistic to the last. When told that he was terminally ill, he is reported as saying, "Well, I'm not really 72, I'm 102, because the years in the desert count double."



An Incredible Journey is available now, and India The Shimmering Dream will be arriving in the summer. 



Thursday, 22 February 2018

Happy Birthday Enzo Ferrari!

This Sunday just gone would have seen the 120th birthday of one of the most influential men in automotive history ... 



Enzo Anselmo Ferrari, son of Alfredo and Adalgisa, was born in Modena on the 18th of February, 1898. As a child, he showed an unbridled passion for cars (his father, after all, had a workshop ... ), and as an adult he went on to become not only a great car manufacturer, but one of the world's greatest representatives of Italian spirit. He was also one of the most influential personalities of the 20th century.

To celebrate his 120th birthday, a photographic exhibition has been organised at Enzo's birthplace, within the complex that now houses the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena. It includes images taken throughout his life: from childhood to adulthood, from his career as a driver, to that of a manager and manufacturer, alongside unforgettable motor racing champions such as Nuvolari, Castellotti, and Villeneuve.

The museum also houses the former workshop of Enzo Ferrari's father, which has been meticulously restored and now contains the Museum of Ferrari Engines, where visitors can see the Prancing Horse's most experimental power units as well as the perfect engines that equip the track and race cars that have given such satisfaction to both Ferrari and its fans.

"It seems incredible to think that Enzo Ferrari was born in the 19th century," says Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne. "His lesson is more relevant than ever and his modernity unquestionable. He was a man with extraordinary vision and ability to manage people and resources, as well as a strong entrepreneurial spirit and exceptional courage. One wonders what he could have achieved if he had had access to today's technical resources and knowledge. The mark that he left on the world remains a source of pride for all of us at Ferrari, and for the whole of Italy."

We have a variety of books on all things Ferrari, available on our website, and if you fancy finding out more motoring history tidbits, This Day in Automotive History is the book for you!