Saab Monte Carlo 850

Last Sunday the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation in Brookline, MA held its annual Swedish Car Day.  I was dealing with my own Swedish car issue that day and as such I was unable to make it to Larz Anderson’s.  However my friend, Gary Hamilton, was able to attend and Gary sent me some of his photographs.

Swedish Car Day Ad

The car that caught my eye in Gary’s photos was a Saab Monte Carlo 850.

Saab Monte Carlo 850 (2)

The Two Chrome Strips Along The Rocker Panels Distinguish The Monte Carlo 850 From The Standard Saab 96

The Saab Monte Carlo 850 was a three-year model, 1964, 1965, 1966 and may have trickled into 1967, that had a special two-stroke, three-cylinder, three carburetor 841 cc engine that produced 60 horsepower.

Saab Stamp

All Of Sweden Celebrated Saab’s Monte Carlo Victory In 1963

The Saab Monte Carlo 850 was a rather expensive Saab.  For example, in 1964 a standard Saab 96 with the standard 750cc engine cost $1,895 while the Monte Carlo 850 cost $2,790.  That is almost 50% more!

Saab Monte Carlo 850 (3)

The Red Color Of The Monte Carlo 850 Is The Classic Saab Color

While the outside lines of the early Saabs are not appreciated by everyone, the interior design would surely be considered excellent by everyone.

Saab Monte Carlo 850 (5)

This Car Has Been Restored Inside and Out

The origin of the Saab Monte Carlo 850 goes back to the Saab GT750 that was introduced in 1958.  This was considered a performance car in the Saab line-up.

Saab 750GT Ad

Saab GT750 Advertisement

The GT750 car was introduced primarily for the American market in 1958.  I believe that this model was a result of Saab’s success in the Great American Mountain Rally.  The Saab GT750 had increased horsepower from the standard 93B’s 38 horsepower to 50 horsepower and there was a modified version of the GT750 that produced 57 horsepower.

An interesting feature of the Saab GT750 was that it included a Halda Speedpilot as standard equipment.  This left no doubt that Saab was focusing on rallying for the GT750.  By the early to mid 1960s when the Monte Carlo 850 had evolved from the GT750, the Halda Speedpilot was no longer standard equipment, but it could be ordered as an option.

Saab Monte Carlo 850 (4)

The Saab Monte Carlo 850 Dash Is Among The Best There Is

If you look carefully at the glove box door on the Saab Monte Carlo 850 dash you can see what appears to be a “knock out” plate where the optional Halda Speedpilot could be mounted.

Saab Monte Carlo 850 (1)

Special Badging On The Fenders

The Saab Monte Carlo 850 was an interesting car in the Saab line up.  Given the price premium for the Monte Carlo 850 at $2,750 in 1966 compared to a 1275cc Austin Mini Cooper “S” at $2,349, I would think that it was a car that appealed to a narrow market.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 5 Comments

An Excellent Guide To Rally Co-Driving

Right away when I saw that Mark Williams had written a book on rally co-driving I knew that it would be a valuable and useful guide.  And now after having read the book, I can say that it is all that I expected and more.

Mark Williams Book Cover

Mark William’s New Guide To Rally Co-Driving In North America

Over the years of competing as a rally co-driver, I have read just about all of the books and guides about co-driving and I can say that this book is head and shoulders better than the other rally co-driving books out there.  While the book specifically focuses on North American rallies, most of the information can be applied to stage rallies around the world.

Mark Williams Page (2)

Useful Explanation of Stage Notes

The information is up-to-date and full of practical advice that is immediately useful to rally co-drivers and drivers too.  The frequent use of graphics, specific examples, and rally “war stories” make the issues easy to understand and informative.

Mark Williams Page (3)

Nice Visual Explanation Of Crest Descriptions

As noted in the title of this book, Mark focuses on North American stage rallies.  Most of the rally co-driving books that are out there are written by English co-drivers and frequently include information about other types of rally navigation and co-driving techniques.  This book only deals with stage rallies.

Mark Williams Page (1)

The Book Is Full Of Practical Examples As Shown Above

I enthusiastically recommend this book, both for new rally co-drivers and experienced co-drivers as well.  New or aspiring rally co-drivers will learn from all of the information provided, while the experienced co-drivers will surely pickup some tips and insights from Mark’s many examples and rally “war stories”.

For details on getting this book go to

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Ronnie Adams Caricature Sketch

Recently I bought an older print of a caricature sketch of rally driver, Ronnie Adams, from a seller in Australia.  Ronnie Adams was a very successful rally driver, who among other things won the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally when this rally was the best known rally in the world.

Ronnie Adams Image (2)

Ronnie Adams

Ronnie Adams drove for a number of works rally teams, mostly in the 1950s.  His story is told in the book “From Craigantlet to Monte Carlo”.


Ronnie Adams Driving A Jaguar To A Monte Carlo Rally Victory

Ronnie Adams’ son, Kenneth,  now lives in New Jersey.  I have had the opportunity to meet Kenneth and hear stories about his Dad and what it was like riding with his Dad whenever they went anyplace.  Ronnie Adams was a businessman, not a professional rally driver, so he had to practice whenever and wherever he could.  Kenneth has also shared with me articles and paper clippings about his Dad.

As I said in my September 23, 2012 post about Ronnie Adams; he was a great rally driver.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Triumph TR4 Takes On The Summer Alcan 5000

Robert Vogel of Massachusetts sent me a copy of an article entitled “Beachers Ready To Rally” written by Andrew Hudson that was published in the “Beach Metro Community News”. Robert Vogel is a Cape Cod area British car enthusiast who drove a MINI in the last winter Alcan 5000.  The “Beach Metro Community News” serves the Beaches area of the City of Toronto.  The Beaches is a wonderful area of the City of Toronto full of interesting neighborhoods and parks.  When I lived in Toronto, I often rode my bicycle and played ball in the Beaches area.  The following is Andrew Hudson’s complete article:

“Next time they get stuck on the Gardiner Expressway, Tim Burgess and Jan Frolic can look ahead to a summer of open roads with truly wild traffic: elk, deer, bears, and logging trucks.

For fun and a good cause, the Beach couple is gearing up for the Alcan 5000 – a nine-day, 7,200-km rally that will take them from Seattle to Anchorage on dirt roads and Arctic highways with names like Klondike and Top of the World.

And, just to make it interesting, they will do it all in a tiny 1961 Triumph TR4.


Tim Burgess and Jan Frolic pose for a “before” shot with their 1961 Triumph TR4 sports car, which they will drive some 7,200 km this August on a nine-day rally from Seattle to Alaska. Along the way, the Beach couple hopes to raise $5,000 for Princess Margaret Hospital. Anyone who wants to make a donation or track their progress on rally can find out more on the Facebook page called Jan & Tim’s Excellent Adventure.  PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

“We were looking for a big adventure,” says Burgess, who raced older rally cars in the UK before he moved here and started driving the only rally-ready Triumph in Ontario.

“I came across this thing and went, ‘This is for us! This is a stupidly long way in any vehicle at all, and especially in a tiny little 50-plus year-old car.’”

Now in its 30th year, this summer’s Alcan rally will feature 23 cars and 46 motorcycles, each driving a minute apart.

To keep it legal, drivers hold the speed limit. They compete instead on precise cornering and by following a race itinerary that is spot-checked by people waiting at hidden checkpoints and timed to the hundredth of a second.

Nearly everyone else on the Alcan has a rally computer that beeps if a driver goes a second or two off-course.

But keeping in tune with their four-gear, spoke-wheeled, sixties sports car, Frolic will help Burgess navigate using a wind-up clock and stopwatch.

“He doesn’t have anything sophisticated,” Frolic joked. “He has me.”

The pair plan to start the August rally in style – a costume-designer friend insisted on making them sixties-style rally suits, possibly in lightweight silk.

But such finery won’t last.

“I imagine us having one change of clothes each, and that’s it,” said Burgess. Frolic has already picked out their key piece of rally-wear: camp T-shirts they can wring clean in a motel sink.

Even in the Beach, neighbours often see the two roll in from weekends in Trent Hills, Seneca, or Prince Edward Counties with the Triumph totally covered in mud.

“We kind of seek out the roads that say, ‘Unsuitable for motor vehicles,’” said Burgess.

They will find many such roads in B.C. and the Yukon, including one 160-km spur known as the “Grand Canyon of the North” that edges the Stikine River down to Telegraph Creek. Some of its hills have grades that push 20 per cent or more – think of Scarborough Road only steeper, with no asphalt and a river below.

But that’s just the sort of country that Giovanni Michelotti, the Italian designer of the British-made Triumph, had in mind.

While its 180 km/h top speed may seem modest by today’s standards, in the 1960s the high-torque Triumph was a rally favourite, especially on mountain routes.

“That’s where they really excelled, coming out of hairpins and going all the way up mountains,” Burgess said.

The Triumph also has a very simple, “un-fussy” design, he added, so all but the most serious repairs can be done roadside. Each wheel has a wing-shaped hub that can be knocked loose with a hammer, making for speedy tire changes, too.

Frolic said friends and family have told them everything from “You’re insane” to “If you can’t go, I’ll take your place.”

But however sane it is to drive a Triumph on backroads to Alaska, everyone has good reason to back the trip – the couple hope to raise $5,000 for Princess Margaret Hospital.

“We thought, it’s 5,000 miles, and if we could raise $5,000 that seems reasonable,” Frolic said. “It’s a buck a mile. We just hope we can contribute while we’re doing something fun.”

To track the Triumph during the August 18 to 26 rally, visit the couple’s Facebook page called Jan & Tim’s Excellent Adventure.

Donations will be made through the website for Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer – an Aug. 27 fundraiser they will have to miss this year since it comes on the day they will be cooling their heels in Alaska.”


Further to Andrew’s article the Alcan 5000 is now underway and last night I got the following message from Tim:

We have made it to Stewart BC at the end of a (very tough) day 2. ‎ The TR4 is going like a train so far, and we are having a load of fun. But the rough forest roads give it a pounding, I can tell you!!
Feel free to look us up on facebook too: Jan & Tim’s Excellent Adventure. 


I wish all of the best for Tim and Jan as they take part in this challenging rally.  This is not Tim’s first rally as I know that Tim frequently competes in car rallies in Ontario with his Triumph.  His Triumph is driven the way the way it was meant to be driven.

Finally, I want to thank Robert Vogel for sending me this article from the Beach Metro Community News.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mustang GT350

I recently attended the annual car show of the Mustang Car Club of New England that was held at the Auburn Mall in Auburn, Massachusetts.  I saw a number of interesting cars at the show.  One of those was the Mustang GT350 shown below.

Mustang GT350 1966 (1)

Mustang GT350

Looking back on my initial comment to the car’s owner, I realize that I might have come across to the car’s owner as a skeptic about the car.  I took a couple of pictures of the car and the owner kindly offered to remove a dash cover to allow for a better picture of the interior.  I recall saying something like it’s nice to see a real Mustang GT350 compared to a simply a Mustang with GT350 decals and stripes on it.  The car’s owner was tolerant of me and showed me a bunch of information that made it clear that this was a real Mustang GT350.

Mustang GT350 1966 (4)

Early In Its Life This Mustang Was Drag Raced At New England Dragway

These days the car appears to a standard Mustang GT350, but the owner’s father actively drag raced the car.  In fact, the owner has a picture of his father at New England Dragway 2 days after he bought the car.  I normally associate these cars with road racing, but this particular car was something of a test mule for Shelby on the quarter-mile.  Apparently data from this car and another drag racing GT350 by Harr Motors was fed back to Shelby American as Shelby wanted to know the best setup for drag racing these cars.  Obviously Ford and Shelby wanted to win at all venues with the Mustang GT350.

Mustang GT350 1966 (3)

The Rocker Stripes And The Blue “Skunk” Stripes Were Options

It is thought that most of the Mustang GT350s were shipped in the plain white color with the rocker stripes and the blue “skunk” stripes installed by the dealer.  This car is fitted with the optional Cragar wheels made to Shelby specifications.  Shelby also fitted these cars with fiberglass hoods.  Note the hole in the hood to allow and encourage air flow into the under hood area.

Mustang GT350 1966 (10)

The Interesting Part Of The Mustang GT350 Is Under The Hood

Ford shipped partially finished Mustangs to Shelby for finishing.  The Mustangs were sent to Shelby without hoods, rear seats, exhaust systems, and all Ford or Mustang identification.  The cars were shipped to Shelby American with the optional 271-horsepower 289-cubic inch engine, the T-10 four-speed transmission, nine-inch Detroit locker rear end, and Ford’s larger station wagon rear brakes.

Mustang GT350 1966 (6)

Shelby VIN Tags Are Readily Visible On The Driver’s Side Fender

Shelby added some performance parts which increased to engine horsepower to 306 horsepower.

Mustang GT350 1966 (9)

Note The Bar Tying The Inner Fenders Together

The Mustang GT350 was fitted with a bar across the top of the engine that helped stiffen the body by tying the inner fenders together.  There is also a curved brace going behind the intake filter linking the two shock towers to stiffen the chassis.

Mustang GT350 1966 (5)

Shelby Fitted the Mustang GT350 Cars With A Wood-Rimmed Steering Wheel

The interior of the Mustang GT350 had a couple of unique features such as the Shelby wood-rimmed steering wheel and a central dash-mounted instrument pod with a tachometer and an oil pressure gauge.

Mustang GT350 1966 (2)

The Mustang GT350 Came With The Plain “Radio-Delete” Interior

This Mustang GT350 has been in the same family since new.  The three-ring binder shown above on the front seat is filled with information about the early days of this Mustang GT350.  This is an extremely well-documented performance car.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Montlhery Was A Major Record Setting Venue

I have recently posted about the road near Jabbeke, Belgium that was used for establishing top speed records or measurements in the early 1950s.  The other major record-setting venue for speed-distance records was the Montlhery track near Paris, France.  This track complex which included a road course and an oval course is shown below.  The oval which was the scene of the record-setting runs is located on the right side of the image below.

Montlhery Track Layout (2)

The Montlhery Race Track Complex

The 1.58 mile long (2.584 kilometers) oval track at Montlhery was built in 1924.  Similar to the Brooklands track in England,the Monza track in Italy, and the Sitges track in Spain it had substantial (up to 51 degree) banking.  When it was built it was thought to be capable of producing speeds up to 155 miles per hour.  It is interesting to note that even in 1924 the Brooklands track was falling out of favor as a record-setting venue because of noise limitations.  At Montlhery, the track owner used an estate that was quite large, so noise was not an issue in the early days.

The extent of the impressive banking at Montlhery can be seen in the image below.

Montlhery chicane-nord

The Substantial Banking At The Montlhery Track

I suspect that a racer looking at the above photo would think that the sedan in the French racing blue color is heading off the track, but in recent years the track has been modified as shown in the image below.  Now there are some chicanes that reduce the speeds at the track.

Montlhery current Circuit_de_Linas

Current Layout At The Montlhery Track

Much of the information that I have included in this post is from the book “Montlhery, The Story Of The Paris Autodrome” written by William “Bill” Boddy in 1961.  Bill Boddy was a very well-known and respected motoring journalist who was still writing about motor sports when he passed away in 2011 at the age of 98!  Boddy was probably the most knowledgable person about the Brooklands track which probably tweaked his interest in the Montlhery track due its similarity to Brooklands.

Montlhery Opening Poster

Not only was the Montlhery track used for high-speed tests, it was also a venue for major race events.  The French Grand Prix was held at Montlhery in 1925, 1927, 1931, and from 1933 to 1937.  Sadly, Antonio Ascari was killed in the 1925 French Grand Prix at Montlhery.

Montlhery Bugatti 1936 GP

The Controversial Bugatti “Tanks” at Montlhery During The 1936 French Grand Prix

The banked track at Montlhery allowed for high-speed lapping for hours, even days.  For example in 1930, a Voisin ran for 18 days to break a record for 30,000 miles!  This makes me wonder how many long distance speed records are available nowadays, if you could only rent the Daytona or Talladega tracks for the needed number of consecutive days.

In October 1950, Leslie Johnson took his Jaguar XK120 to Montlhery.  He and Stirling Moss drove the car for 24 hours at an average speed of 107.46 miles per hour.

Montlhery Jaguar

Leslie Johnson’s Jaguar At Montlhery in October 1950

In 1952 Jaguar set another impressive mark at Montlhery.  Leslie Johnson returned along with co-drivers Stirling Moss, Jack Fairman, and Bert Hadley to drive a XK120 fixed-head coupe Jaguar for seven days at an average speed of just over 100 miles per hour.  Near the end the Jaguar was running on a broken spring, likely caused by some rough spots on the concrete track surface.

Montlhery Jaguar Coupe

The Jaguar XK120 Coupe During Its Week-Long Run At Montlhery

The Jaguar XK120 fixed-head coupe shown below is a current view of the same car that ran at Montlhery for a week at more than 100 miles per hour.

Montlhery Jaguar Drophead Record

The Montlhery Jaguar Coupe

In 1955 the British Motor Corporation took several cars to Montlhery to show that their cars were capable of maintaining 100 miles per hour for long periods of time.  They took a Riley Pathfinder saloon, an Austin-Healey 100, a MGA, a Wolseley 6/90 saloon, and an Austin A90 Westminister saloon to Montlhery.  They were successful in that each of these cars were able to drive at more than 100 miles per hour for over an hour.

Montlhery Austin Healey

Ron Flockhart Driving An Austin-Healey 100 At Montlhery In 1955

The number of speed records that were set at Montlhery are many.  Almost from the day that this track opened Montlhery was used for record-setting. Again, I would recommend Boddy’s book for a complete story about the records set at Montlhery.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

World Cup Rally Route & British Leyland’s Team

As I noted in an earlier post a couple of weeks ago, I am reading Graham Robson’s book “World Cup Rally 40″ about the 1970 World Cup Rally.  Robson claims that this might have been the greatest rally of all the major rallies.  He certainly makes a strong case particularly in the South American portion.  The rally took place over public roads and the times/speeds were set such that even the top teams, and sometimes all of the teams, took penalties in terms of minutes not just seconds.

The European portion of the rally route is shown below.  The route started in Wembley Stadium in London and then crossed over into Europe, on to Sofia, and then turning westward to Lisbon in Portugal.

World Cup European Route

World Cup Rally European Route

When the cars reached Lisbon, they were loaded onto a cargo ship and taken to Rio De Janeiro for the South American portion of the rally which ultimately ended in Mexico City, where the World Cup was being held in 1970.  The rally was promoted in conjunction with the 1970 World Cup of soccer, so the rally route went through most of the major soccer countries in Europe and South America.

World Cup South American Route

World Cup Rally South American Route

It is taking me some time to get through the book, as aside from normal things that get in the way of reading a good book, it is full of interesting accounts of the rally, the cars, and the people involved in it.  One of the things that stood out to me in the first part of the book is the extent of the effort that some manufacturers put together to participate in this rally.  In retrospect the most disappointing aspect of this is the ultimate fate of the British Leyland team.  British Leyland was a major rallying force in 1970, but only 10 years later, they were effectively “belly up”.  The downfall of this once great manufacturer is a sad story.  The picture below shows the British Leyland team and their cars for the 1970 World Cup Rally.

World Cup Rally British Leyland Team

British Leyland’s World Cup Rally Team

I’ll try to list the team members from left to right: Brian Culcheth, Johnstone Syer, Tony Nash, Paddy Hopkirk, Neville Johnston, Rosemary Smith, Alice Watson, John Handley, Paul Easter, Team Manager Peter Browning with dog, Brian Coyle, Uldarico Ossio, Andrew Cowan, Peter Evans, Mike Scarlett, Terry Kingsley, “Gelignite” Jack Murray, Hamish Cardno, and Evan Green.  The British Leyland official team had four Triumph 2.5 PI sedans, two Austin Maxis, and one Mini.  The highly-tuned Mini was to function as an early “jack rabbit” to push or entice the other manufacturer’s entries to do something risky which might result in a DNF and was not considered by British Leyland as a finishing vehicle.  This turned out to be the case – it was fast, but it expired in Italy after four days.

It’s hard to believe that British Leyland went down the tubes 10 years later.  I’ll have more about this rally in the upcoming weeks.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments