Book About The 1970 World Cup Rally

With the recently completed soccer World Cup in Brazil, I was inspired to take a look at a book that I’ve had for some time about the Daily Mirror 1970 World Cup Rally.  The book is “World Cup Rally 40″ which was written by Graham Robson on the 40th anniversary of this rally that was held is association with the 1970 World Cup for soccer held in Mexico City in 1970.

World Cup Rally Book Cover

Graham Robson’s Book On The World Cup Rally

At this time I am only about a quarter or the way through this book, but I am really enjoying the book.  Graham Robson was very much involved in the rally and personally knew most of the competitors, the rally cars, and the rally strategies of the major rally works manufacturers/teams.  In addition, for the book Robson interviewed many of those who were involved in the rally.

Robson makes a strong case that the 1970 World Cup Rally was the toughest car rally ever held.  He may be right, but there is no doubt that this is an interesting book.  I will have more about this rally in the upcoming weeks.

The main organizer for this rally was John Sprinzel.  John was a well-known and successful rally driver who had recently retired from active competition at the time he undertook to become involved in this rally.  I am interested in getting a copy of his book, “The Spritely Years” at a reasonable price.  There are copies available for sale at this time, but the sellers all have an exaggerated view of the value of this book.  Please contact me if you know how I can obtain a copy of “The Spritely Years” at a reasonable price.

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Pre-War MGs at Silverstone From 50 Years Ago

This week I got an email from Evan Gamblin from the Ottawa area of Ontario.  Evan grew up in the UK and is very knowledgeable about English cars.  My recent post about the MG J2 that I saw at Thompson Speedway got Evan thinking about the day he attended the MG Car Club races at the Silverstone race track in England 50 years ago in 1964.  He sent me some photographs that he took that day and I am pleased that Evan allowed me to share them with viewers of this site.

Not only are the photos of the featured cars interesting, but it is also interesting to look at the cars and activities going on in the background.  For example, in the picture of the MG M Special below there is an interesting transporter in the background.


 MG M Special

The photo below shows a standard Type M MG Midget.  The MG Midget M Special shown above is at the very least a re-bodied MG Midget.  I assume that the owner also made some improvements to the engine.

Standard MG Midget M

Standard MG Type M Midget

The MG Midgets only had 847cc engines and produced 20 horsepower at 4,000 rpms.  The car had a three-speed transmission.  Not much power, but the car only had a 78-inch wheelbase and a 42-inch track, so it was a small car.


Another MG Type M Midget

In an amazing coincidence, Evan pointed out that the gent in plimsolls/sneakers squatting near the front of the M-type is Peter Ross.  Evan met him only about 20 years after this picture was taken in the 1980s at the Lime Rock race track in Connecticut, and said that Peter is now living in New England and is still racing the same MG-TC that he had that day at Silverstone in 1964.  I pointed out to Evan that it is the same Peter Ross actually also owns the MG J2 that I photographed at the Thompson Speedway which had initially caught Evan’s attention.  Small world!


Peter Ross In His MG TC Many Years Later

My initial story was about a MG J2 car and Evan forwarded two photos of MG J2s that were at Silverstone that day.



In the picture above you can see a commonly used performance improvement of that era where the standard 19-inch wire wheels are exchanged for 16-inch wire wheels which permits bigger and better Dunlop racing tires to be used.  I think that the holes in the brake drums were made to improve brake cooling.  This car also has the small “Brooklands” windscreen.



Note that in the MG J2 shown above and in many of the cars shown in these photos that most of the cars have temporary racing numbers, but road registration numbers.  I mentioned this to Evan and he said that most of the cars were driven to and from the race track.

As I noted in my previous post about the MG J2, the MG J2 was one model of a four model series:

  • J1 – Four-seat touring model with 36 horsepower 847cc engine
  • J2 – Two-seat sports model with 36 horsepower 847cc engine
  • J3 – Two-seat sports model with a supercharged 746cc destroked 847cc engine
  • J4 – Two seat sports model with 72 horsepower 746cc destroked 847cc engine

Now, thanks to Evan, I can show an image of both the MG J3 and MG J4 cars in addition to the J2 cars.


The MG J3 Had A Supercharged 746cc Engine

Note that the MG J3 shown above also has the 16-inch wheels and the “Brooklands” windscreens. Evan said that this MG J3 was lapping Silverstone that day faster than a late 1950s MGA with the Twin Cam engine.



The MG J4 was really the racing version of the J-Series and a MG J4 finished 6th Overall in the 1934 LeMans race.


MG J4 Special

The MG J4 shown above is a special race prepared car as the original body has been removed and replaced with a single seater racing body.  This is getting to be a very serious race car.

Also, note the cars in the background.  The red car on the right looks like a Lotus Cortina, Car #20 is a Lotus Elite, but Car #118 is a design that I am not familiar with.

I appreciate Evan Gamblin sharing these photos.  I am still astonished that a picture of a car would remind someone of an event 50 years ago and that one picture from that event 50 years ago in a country across the ocean happens to include a picture of the owner of the car that triggered the memory.   I have no way of contacting Peter Ross, but if a reader of this website knows how to contact Peter Ross, please advise him of the photo of him at Silverstone 50 years ago.


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Nash Ambassador AirFlyte: One Of The World’s Worst Cars?

Most of the time I write about cars that are quite nice or are interesting.  Occasionally I do venture over to the nether side, such as a post a few months ago about the Trabant.  I was reading a book recently called “Lemons, The World’s Worst Cars” by Timothy Jacobs.  This book was written almost 25 years ago, in 1991, so I’m sure that some other lemons have come on the scene.

Worlds Worst Cars Book Cover

Interesting Book About Some Undesirable Cars

One of the “lemons” in Jacobs’ book is the 1951 Nash Ambassador Airflyte sedan.  This car did have a somewhat unusual design.  They looked somewhat similar to the Hudsons of that era, but the Hudsons were much more attractive cars.  Craig Cheetham wrote a similar book in 2005 called “The World’s Worst Cars”, but he did not include the 1951 Nash Ambassador Airflyte in that book.

Nash Ambassador 1951 (1)

1951 Nash Ambassador AirFlyte Sedan

George Mason, who was the president of Nash at that time wanted a car that had a streamline and aerodynamic  design.  One of the results of this was the front fender design that had a minimal wheel well cut-out.  This design would have limited wheel movement.

Nash Ambassador 1951 (2)

The Front Wheel Opening Limited The Turning Circle For The Big Nash

The design of the Nash Ambassador Airflyte is very rounded and frankly not very appealing.  The weight of the Nash Ambassador Airflyte surprised me.  The four-door sedan weighed “only” 3,450 pounds.  In the days before thin metal and extensive use of plastics, I was expecting a weight of a little over 4,000 pounds.  The weight of the Nash Ambassador was almost the same as another controversial car, the AMC Pacer, that came along about 25 years later, yet had smaller dimensions.

Nash Ambassador 1951 (8)

Some Referred To The Nash As An “Upside Down Bathtub”

The resultant design of the Nash Ambassador was aerodynamic, but to me it just looks too bulbous.  Definitely not to my liking.

Nash Ambassador 1951 (9)

From This Angle It Almost Looks Like a Saab 96!

One of the options available on the Nash Ambassador Airflyte was a front seat that folded backwards to form a bed.  This option was a favorite of traveling salesmen, sportsmen, and teenagers.  This option is illustrated in the following Nash publicity photo.

Nash Sleeping Car

Factory Cut-a-Way View Of The Fold-Down Front Seat Option

This advertising photo above suggested to me that a “suicide” style door design might have been more appropriate for the Nash Ambassador Airflyte.

Nash Ambassador 1951 (6)

The Steering Wheel Is Huge

As illustrated by its sleeping capacity, the Nash Ambassador Airflyte was a spacious car.  The dash and interior furnishings are typical of this era.

Nash Ambassador 1951 (11)

This Car Had A Three-Speed Column Mounted Transmission

The 1951 Nash Ambassador is powered by a 235 cubic inch inline, overhead valve six cylinder engine.  It had a bore of 3.375 inches and a stroke of 4.375 inches.  It had a compression ratio of 7.3:1 and a Carter one-barrel carburetor.  The result is an engine that produced 115 horsepower at 3,400 rpm.

Nash Ambassador 1951 (4)

115-Horsepower Ambassador Six-Cylinder Engine

The Nash Ambassador was a capable performer in its day.  Four Nash Ambassadors were entered in the 1950 La Carrera Panamericana.  One Nash Ambassador driven by Roy Conner with co-piloto, Robert Green were initially listed as finishing third Overall in the 1950 La Carrera Panamericana.  This car was subsequently disqualified because Conner, a car dealer from Texas, had “felt sick” on the last day of the race.  Another Nash Ambassador, Car #37, driven by NASCAR founder Bill France with Curtis Turner, had crashed out earlier in the race.  It was decided to put Curtis Turner, one of the top dirt-track racers in the USA, behind the wheel of Pat Conner’s Nash in place of the “sick” Conner.

Nash France Turner LaCaPa 1950

NASCAR’s Founder Bill France & Curtis Turner With Their Nash Ambassador, Car # 37, In The 1950 La Carrera Panamericana

The picture below shows the heated discussion that took place at the finish line around Nash Ambassador Car #49 when Curtis Turner emerged as the driver instead of Pat Conner.  These images of the 1950 La Carrera Panamericana came from “The Carrera Panamericana, Mexico” by R. M. Clarke.

Nash Conner Car Argument Finish 1950

Heated Discussion After The Initially Ranked Third Place Nash Ambassador, Car # 49, Crossed The Finish Line 

The same Nash Ambassador engine with a slightly larger cylinder bore of 3.50 inches, increased compression ratio and two carburetors became known as the LeMans Six which powered the Nash-Healey to a third place overall finish in the 1952 24-Hours of LeMans race.

Nash Healey 1953 (1)

1953 Nash-Healey

The Nash Healey shown above is probably the design style that most people would think of when they think of the Nash-Healey cars, but the early Nash-Heal;ey cars used the same front grille as the Nash Ambassador Airflyte, as shown in the image below from “Cars of the 1950s” by Consumers Guide.

Nash Healey Early Model

1951 Nash-Healey Used The Nash Ambassador Grille

I’ll leave it to others to decide if the Nash Ambassador Airflyte belongs on a list of the world’s worst cars, but I would say that it could be a contender.

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Veteran Rallyist W. David Teter Passes

Earlier this week Bruce Gezon sent a message that veteran rallyist Dave Teter passed away.  I did not know Dave, but I certainly knew of him.  The Great Race website had the following photo of Dave.

David Teter Great Race Photo

W. David Teter

I obtained an obituary about Dave’s life which I am including below:

W. David Teter, age 77, of Newark, Delaware, passed away on July 12, 2014.

Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, the only child of Catherine Lynch Teter and W. Corder Teter, he graduated with multiple degrees from West Virginia University. He taught Engineering Design and Graphics as well as surveying at the University of Delaware throughout his teaching career, a vocation that was well chosen as he was a true inspiration to his students.

His passion for the WVU Mountaineers was extensive as was his love of car rallying. A co-founder of the Mon Valley Sports Car Club and active organizer for the Brandywine Motorsport Club and the Sports Car Club of America he was instrumental in formulating the rules by which these organizations abide. He is best known as the creator of many Appalachian National Rallies and seventeen March Lamb Rallies, the last of which was in April. A frequent competitor, he won four SCCA National Rally Championships plus the prestigious vintage car Great American Race. He was the recipient of the Robert V. Ridges Memorial Award in 1985.

He was preceded in death by his parents. David is survived by his son, W. Andrew Teter (Cathrine Zell Teter) of Newark and granddaughters Savannah and Kendall.

A memorial service will be held at 11 am on Saturday morning, July 19, 2014, at the Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 121 West Park Place, Newark, DE, where a visitation will be held from 10 am until 11 am. A Masonic ceremony and committal service will be held at 11 am on Saturday, July 26, 2014 at the family gravesite in the Bridgeport Cemetery, Bridgeport, WV.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the WVU Foundation, P.O. Box 1650, Morgantown, WV 26507-1650 to help provide charitable support to university functions.

As you can see, Dave had a very accomplished life.  The funeral home for Dave’s service is as follows:

Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Homes, Inc.

1000 N. DuPont Parkway, New Castle, DE 19720

121 W. Park Place, Newark, DE 19711

214 Clinton Street, Delaware City, DE 19706

302/328-2213 or 302/368-9500

Fax: 302/368-2142 or 302/328-2048

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Before There Was The Mustang, There Was The Falcon

My town, Franklin, MA, has a very enjoyable annual July 4th celebration.  Many people from the surrounding towns come to Franklin every year to take part in the celebration.  In the parade this year was a 1963 Ford Falcon convertible driven by a couple of ladies who were very much enjoying being in the parade with the Falcon.


1963 Ford Falcon Convertible

The Ford Falcon was introduced in 1960 as an economy car that expanded the Ford lineup toward smaller cars.  In 1963 Ford began to add some performance to the Falcon, which was needed.  While this was going on, Ford was developing the Ford Mustang using many parts from the Ford Falcon.

Ford Falcon Futura 1963 (1)

The Ford Falcon Futura Model Designation Is Prominent Displayed On The Trunk Lid

The economy car image and desire for low cost kept the Ford Falcon’s standard interior from being too fancy.  Note the few gages and a 100 mile per hour limit on the speedometer.

Ford Falcon Futura 1963 (8)

The Interior Was Not Overdone.  Bench Seats Were Standard In The Futura

The Falcon was in market competition against the Chevrolet Corvair, the Dodge Dart, Plymouth Valiant, and the Chevy II.  The Falcon was winning over the first generation of Corvairs, due in large part to a scathing book written by Ralph Nader called “Unsafe At Any Speed”.  The Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant cars of the early 1960s where visual designs that are best forgotten.  The Chevy II was a formidable car that was substantial competition for the Ford Falcon.

Ford Falcon Convertible 1963 (8)

Bucket Seats Were Available As An Option

When the Falcon was first introduced in 1960 the only available engine was a short-stroke inline six of only 144 cubic inches that was rated at 90 horsepower. But the extremely short stroke engine design meant that the car developed little usable torque.  The Falcons were very slow.  There was a story in my home town in Ontario that during the late 1960s, the local police chief pulled over a teenager (I am withholding the name) driving an early 1960s six-cylinder Ford Falcon and accused him of “squealing the tires” which would mean a fine for “unnecessary noise”.  The teenager got out of the car, handed the keys of the Falcon to the police chief and told him that the car would not “squeal the tires”, but that the police chief was free to see if he could “squeal the tires” on the Falcon and if he could “squeal the tires”, then the teenager would plead guilty to “unnecessary noise”.  The police chief declined the offer and let him off with a warning.

Ford improved the Falcon for 1961 with the addition of a slightly longer stroke, 170 cubic-inch six cylinder engine that produced 101 horsepower, and in addition, the larger engine had improved torque.  At the same time,  the 144 cubic inch engine was more honestly rated at 85 horsepower, down from 90 horsepower rating of earlier years.

Ford Falcon Convertible 1963 (7)

This Ford Falcon Had The Floor Shift With The Bucket Seats

In 1962 Ford introduced the original small block V8 Windsor engine, which eventually led to the 351 cubic inch Windsor engine. The original Ford small block V8 engine had a displacement of 221 cubic inches.  The second version of the Windsor, introduced during the middle of the 1962 model year, had the same piston stroke but with the cylinder bore increased from 3.50 inches to 3.80 inches, increasing the engine displacement to 260 cubic inches.  The compression ratio was raised fractionally to 8.8:1. The rated power (SAE gross) rose from 145 horsepower to 164 horsepower at 4,400 rpm.

In 1963 the 260 cubic inch V8 engine became the base engine on full-size Ford sedans. Later in 1963 this availability was expanded to the smaller Ford Falcon and Mercury Comet lineups. The early “1964½” Ford Mustang also offered the 260, although it was dropped by mid-year in favor of the 289 cubic inch version of this same engine.  The 260 cubic inch V8 was also used in the 1964-1966 Sunbeam Tiger Mk I.  The subsequent 1967 Sunbeam Tiger Mk II also switched to the 289 cubic inch V8 engine.

Ford Falcon Futura 1963 (3)

The 170 Cubic Inch Six-Cylinder Engine

In the special rally version of the Falcon and in the early AC Cobras, a high-performance version of the 260 V8 with higher compression, hotter camshaft timing, and a four-barrel carburetor was used. This engine was rated (SAE gross) 260 hp at 5,800 rpm.  This was a substantial horsepower increase over the standard 260 cubic inch V8.

Ford Falcon Futura 260V8 (4)

Ford Falcons With The 260 Cubic Inch V8 Engine Have a Special 260 V8 Insignia On The Front Fender

In 1963 Ford entered three cars in the Monte Carlo Rally.  The team manager was English touring car racer Jeff Uren.  He used his racing mechanics to prepare the Ford Falcons for this legendary rally.  The three cars were driven by the following crews:

  • Bo Ljungfeldt/Gunnar Haggbom
  • Peter Jopp/Grant Jarman
  • Anne Hall/Margret Mackenzie

Ford Falcon Monte Carlo (1)

Bo Ljungfeldt/Gunnar Haggbom’s 1963 Monte Carlo Falcon

The picture below showing the Jopp/Jarman Falcon, Car #221, is rather interesting.  The Falcon is exiting a right turn on a mostly snow-covered road.  Look at the inside front tire.  It is barely touching the road.  This suggests that this car has both good grip and is able to get the power down to the road.  Very impressive!

Ford Falcon Monte Carlo (2)

Jopp/Jarman’s Ford Falcon, Car #221, In The 1963 Monte Carlo Rally

The Ford Falcon team did not get off to a good start.  The team chose to start the Monte Carlo Rally from Monte Carlo itself.  By starting in Monte Carlo that meant that the teams had to take a circular route out from Monte Carlo and then return.  Of the 32 cars that started from Monte Carlo, 17 were eliminated mainly by blocked roads.  This caused the cars to exceed the maximum allowable lateness.  The Bo Ljungfeldt car lost a lot of time during this phase of the rally which put them back in the field.  The Anne Hall/Margret MacKenzie entry was one of the cars that was over the limit during this initial phase of the rally.


Bo Ljungfeldt/Gunnar Haggbom’s Ford Falcon At The 1963 Monte Carlo Rally

On the stages the Bo Ljungfeldt Ford Falcon, Car #223, was the fastest car and driver in the Monte Carlo Rally.  However due to the time lost during the portion of the rally getting back to Monte Carlo, Ljungfeldt finished in 42nd overall position.  But he and the Ford Falcon certainly made an impression on the Monte Carlo Rally officials.  Some of the competition rules were changed for the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964 rally to make it more difficult for cars like the Ford Falcon to win the Monte Carlo rally.

Ford Falcon Monte Carlo (4)

Rally-Ready 1963 Ford Falcon

The Jopp/Jarman Ford Falcon shown above finished 34th Overall and 1st in the over 3000cc Class.  Ford did use the fact that it competed in the Monte Carlo Rally in its advertising for the Ford Falcon.

Ford Falcon Monte Carlo Ad

Note The Mention Of The Monte Carlo Rally In Falcon’s Advertising

Ford also used the improved Falcon performance in more wide-spread advertising as shown below.

Ford Falcon 1963-Falcon-Sprint-ad

Hard The Believe That Falcon Was Supposed To Be An Economy Car

The Ford Falcon was a significant car towards the development of Ford’s sporting image and it helped to blaze the trail for the Mustang.  The Falcon was impressive in the 1963 Monte Carlo, but the Falcons did even better in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally.


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Early Announcement Of 2015 Great Race Route

The radiators might still be warm from the 2014 Great Race, but the organizers are already getting ready for the 2015 Great Race.  Next year the Great Race will have a Route 66 theme, as it generally follows the legendary road from Illinois to California.

Great Race 2015 Poster Early

Route 66 For The 2015 Great Race

The 2015 Great Race will start in the St. Louis area on Saturday, June 20, and will finish in southern California on Sunday, June 28, 2015. Further details of the route and the cities that the Great Race will pass through will be made available by the organizers at a later date.

For the 2015 Great Race a private entry fee will remain $5,000, and a $500 discount is available for those who pay a $2,000 deposit by Sept. 30 and the balance of $2,500 by Dec. 31.  It is expected that once again, the first place overall prize will be $50,000, with a $150,000 total prize money pool assuming that a minimum of 100 entries are received.  Contact information is presented on the poster shown above.

This route is something of a departure from recent Great Race events that have been held in the eastern part of the USA and Canada.

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MG J2: Pointed The MG Direction For Many Years

When I was at the rcent vintage Car races at Thompson Speedway I had the pleasure of seeing a very significant MG – an MG J2.  The MG J2 was introduced by MG in 1932 to replace the M-Type Midget.  These early MG’s set the stage for design of the MG cars well into the 1950s.

MG J2 1932 (1)

The MG J2 Cars Were Affordable, Good Looking Sports Cars

The MG J2 was powered by a 847cc four-cylinder which produced about 36 horsepower at 5,500 rpm.  A reasonable top speed of 75 miles per hour could be achieved.   The MG J2 had a four-speed transmission with a very low 5.375:1 rear axle gear ratio. When driven normally, drivers could expect 30 miles per gallon.

MG J2 1932 (6)

The MG J Series Had Four Models

The MG J2 was one model of a four model series:

  • J1 – Four-seat touring model with 36 horsepower 847cc engine
  • J2 – Two-seat sports model with 36 horsepower 847cc engine
  • J3 – Two-seat sports model with a supercharged 746cc destroked 847cc engine
  • J4 – Two seat sports model with 72 horsepower 746cc destroked 847cc engine

The MG J4 was the racing version of the J-Series and a MG J4 finished 6th Overall in the 1934 LeMans race.  These seem like small cars with small numbers to be competitive at LeMans, but those were different times.

MG J2 1932 (3)

Interesting That Lifting The Hood Exposes The Footwell!

I was surprised that when the hood was raised you could see into the footwell.  From a mechanic’s point of view I suppose this is an advantage as they don’t have to stand on their heads into order to work in the footwell.

MG J2 Advertisement

“Safety Fast” Was MG’s Theme

Note that the car shown in the advertisement above has swept front fenders that extends back to the rear fenders.   The swept fender design was introduced in 1934 in the last year of its model run.  The early MG J2 cars only had cycle fenders like the MG J2 car featured in this post, shown below.

MG J2 1932 (2)

I Think That The Swept Front Fenders Would Be Styling Improvement

I noted that the front of the MG J2 had an ARCA badge on it.  ARCA stood for the Automobile Racing Club of America.  Back in the 1930s ARCA was the focal point of road racing, including hill climbs on the east coast.  The original ARCA was disbanded when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.  After the war, the organization was essentially reconstituted as the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).  Now ARCA, an organization not related to the original ARCA, is mostly associated with NASCAR-light racing.

An information card with this car said that it was imported into the USA by Sam Collier and subsequently raced in ARCA races by Tom Dewart at places like Alexandria Bay, New York.

MG J2 1932 (4)

The Dash Is Wonderful In Its Simplicity

The MG J2 is a wonderful car and it was great to see one of these cars.  They are not very common, but their influence on MG was long lasting.

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