Category Archives: Car Pr0n

50 Years of the E-Type Jag

By lex, on December 10th, 2010

The Economist reminds us of an upcoming celebration:

PETROL-HEADS of a certain age may have noticed that the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type sportscar is imminent. Within the motoring world, it will be the cause for much ballyhoo and dewy-eyed nostalgia. But before getting caught up in all the hoopla, your correspondent—wizened enough to have been around when the iconic car made its debut at the Geneva motor show in 1961—would like to contribute his two-pennyworth of personal experience on why the E-Type really was the most innovative piece of automotive machinery of its age.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, Car Pr0n, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex

Cutaway Thursday: Tyrrell P34

It doesn’t have to be an airplane does it? Nope (Imma hired gun pen here so I’m generously provided with a LOT of rope with which to hang myself latitude).

Probably one of my favorite F1 cars aside from Senna’s legandary and 1988 season dominating McClaren MP4/4 and the technologically revolutionary Williams FW15C.

More on the Tyrrell P34 from Wikipedia:

When unveiled, the cover was peeled away from the back forward and the collective gasps from the world’s press said it all. Along with theBrabham BT46B “Fancar” developed in 1978, the six-wheeled Tyrrell was one of the two most radical entries ever to succeed in Formula One (F1) competition, and has specifically been called the most recognizable design in the history of world motorsports.[1]

It first ran in the Spanish GP in 1976, and proved to be very competitive. Both Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler were able to produce solid results with the car, but while Depailler praised the car continually, Scheckter realised it would only be temporarily competitive. The specialGoodyear tyres were not being developed enough by the end of the season.

The P34’s golden moment came in the Swedish Grand Prix. Scheckter and Depailler finished first and second, and to date Scheckter is the only driver ever to win a race in a six-wheeled car. He left the team at the end of the season, insisting that the six-wheeler was “a piece of junk!”[2]

For 1977, Scheckter was replaced by the Swede Ronnie Peterson, and the P34 was redesigned around cleaner aerodynamics. The P34B was wider and heavier than before, and, although Peterson was able to string some promising results from the P34B, as was Depailler, it was clear the car was not as good as before, mostly due to the tyre manufacturer’s failure to properly develop the small front tyres. The added weight of the front suspension system is also cited as a reason for ending the project. Tyrrell even tried a “wide track” P34B to improve its handling, but this put the front wheels out from behind the nose fairings and reduced the aerodynamic gains from having four small front wheels. Thus, the P34 was abandoned for 1978, and a truly remarkable chapter in F1 history was over.

More recently the P34 has been a popular sight at historic racing events, proving competitive once more. This was made possible when the Avon tyre company agreed to manufacture bespoke 10-inch tyres for Simon Bull, the owner of chassis No. 6. In 1999 and 2000 the resurrected P34 competed at a number of British and European circuits as an entrant in the FIA Thoroughbred Grand Prix series. Driven by Martin Stretton, the car won the TGP series outright in 2000, the sister car repeating that success in 2008 in the hands of Mauro Pane; this example is today part of a private collection in Italy. Stretton also achieved numerous Pole Positions and class wins at the Grand Prix Historique de Monaco. The P34 has also been seen a number of times at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

So here ya go:


An interesting car with a uniquely chequered history but why the 4 front tyres? Let the website for the car, Project-34, tell you:

Derek set to work on designing a car to replace the successful, but rapidly ageing Tyrrell 007. He calculated that they needed the equivalent of a gain of 50hp on the competition in order to leap frog the other teams, since almost everyone was running the same engine the gain would have to be made elsewhere in the design. After a few weeks of research he presented his concept to Ken Tyrrell in August 1974. A concept that drew on the experience of those years spent working on the four wheel drive, Gas-Turbine cars, for there, on the piece of paper presented to Ken was sketched an F1 car with six wheel’s ! Two regular sized wheels at the rear and four small 10″ wheels at the front. Derek explained the reasoning behind his concept to Ken.

The theory was that exposed tyres cause lift, and the bigger they are, the greater the lift they will produce, standard four wheel F1 cars counter act this effect by the use of more wing at the front, since the six wheel concept would greatly reduce the lift effect generated by the front wheels it would not need to run large amounts of front wing thus it should have a straight line speed advantage.

An interesting car with an interesting history and there’s one for sale and if you have to ask for how much, you can’t afford it.


Filed under Car Pr0n, History, Other Stuff, Outside the Box

Porsche – the Early Years


I know there are more than a few of you here who are car nuts – I got a laugh out of this. Have to admit I am a bit slow – it took me a moment to “get it”.

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A Visit To The Tesla Factory in Fremont, CA


If I had to describe this factory – that builds all-electric cars –  in 1 sentence, it would be a 20th century factory shell with 21st century manufacturing methods and a 21st century product. Continue reading


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A new Ferrari and 4 sets of tires

There are people in this world that get to do fun things for a living. Like flying fast jets.

I never put fast cars in the same category but along comes this video.

This guy, Chris Harris, has gone beyond fun. Don’t know what to call it. Chris gets to go test drive a beast, 700 hp and more, and his video report is just too good. Go to full screen, turn up the volume, and wait for the good stuff at about 7:45 when he turns off all the automatic traction control.

He punches it in 4th gear at 86 in a full drift right hand turn and…comes out of the turn at 106.

Dang. The guy left me grinning.


Filed under Baby!, Car Pr0n, Really Good Stuff, Uncategorized

Boys of Bonneville

ImageIn my recent post, I made the casual remark that Bonneville started post WW2 with the So Cal Timing Association.

Just saw a wonderful documentary on Netflix, The Boys of Bonneville. It is primary the story of Ab Jenkins and how he really “built” the Bonneville Salt Flats to the speed mecca that it is today.

Jenkins set 49 speed endurance records, of which 12 still stand today.

Even convinced the British, such as Malcolm Campbell, to come out.

All before WW2.

Jenkin’s most famous cars are probably his Mormon Meteors. The first one was designed with the help of his friend Augie Dusenberg and based on the Dusenberg SJ – to get more speed he designed another with the 3rd version (top photo) having a 12 cylinder aircraft engine, the 750 hp Curtiss Conqueror.

Pontiac honored Ab , who died in 1956, by naming its flagship car the Bonneville. In 1956, Pontiac, trying to shed its stodgy image, hired Jenkins and his son Marv to drive a Pontiac on a circular 10 mile track for 24 hours. They shattered the current record, averaging over 118 mph.

The current land speed record holder (over 700 mph) , Andy Green, paid both Jenkins and the Mormon Meteor III the compliment of flying out from Britain just for a chance to drive this historic car.


Filed under Car Pr0n

The Daily Lex – August 23rd

Originally published August 23rd, 2007. Posting ‘long form’ today, as I seem to be unable to access the Mothership. Enjoy!


Maintaining the auto-voiture

By lex, on August 23rd, 2007

So it came to pass last night, dragging my weary carcass out the door of the salt mines a little after 1800, that I found myself sitting in my little car perfectly flummoxed by the fact that the vehicle, she would not start. The lights worked fine and the NPR guy cheefully assured me all was lost on the radio, had been since 2000 really, but the starter stolidly refused to do its duty. Tacketa-tacketa-tack.

Was a time when everyone carried jumper cables in their cars, but those who do so these days seem to out of mere nostalgia. It took us better part of 45 minutes before a Sailor walked by who was both willing and able to help a fella out.

Now, I love my little car. I love her despite the fact that she is small (and I, alas, am not) and that in type and color she is entirely undistinguished, especially in this part of SoCal. I used to run around parking lots hopefully mashing the key fob to turn the lights on before slapping a bike rack on the roof. I think I may be the only 330i owner in Sandy Eggo with a bike rack atop my daily ride, and I’m OK with that because I love my little car. She still pulls off the line like she means business, shifts with precision, corners like she’s on rails, embraces you in her cockpit and stops like she cares about your health. Really cares.

I love her even though she’s six years old, wears 90,000+ miles and is not yet paid for, a rather appalling combination of characteristics under normal circumstances. But these aren’t “normal circumstances” because even though I’m a firm believer in the fact that it’s “not the years, it’s the mileage” I can’t blame her for the miles. The miles aren’t her fault.

I blame myself.

But blame aside, she’s at an age when things begin to, you know: Break. And the extended warranty, it is to dead. Which means – each slenderest mechanical reed having apparently been milled from the purest German steel and cooled in Tivolian spring water brought down from the mountains by cupful, before being rolled on the thighs of virgin, blond, Bavarian beer maidens (which that last bit is damned good work, if you can get it) – that taking her in for maintenance can be a Significant Unplanned Event, what we call a boojay boostair, en Francais. What with the dealer charging you $127 – odd number, that – just to look down his nose at her, the poor thing.

Explain that it’s something electrical to the service rep and watch him smile sadly at you, knowing that this is going to hurt you a lot more than it hurts him, but he’s got two kids at Harvard, one at Stanford and little Gracie is leaning towards Columbia, and it isn’t like that kind of education pays for itself, now, does it?

No. It does not.

“We might get lucky,” he says. “Maybe it’s only a battery.”

So it’s cheer up or suck it up, he as much as says to you. Batteries only cost $300, have courage. You poor bastard.

Ninety thousand miles, you think, sadly. This isn’t going to get any better, the poor girl’s on the decline. The starter this time, or who knows – maybe the battery. It was the brakes six months ago, you remember with a shudder. What will it be next?

Your imagination starts to wander, taking with it your eyes. You start to think about the unthinkable. You think about cheating, decide you can’t. So then you think about leaving her. And you suddenly realize that you’re not ashamed. That nothing lasts forever.

You wander out to the showroom floor, see the muscular, black, late model M5 sedan sitting there, beckoning to you. You note that the driver’s door is unlocked, slip in to her embrace with a tremulous thrill, luxuriate in her exotic good looks and deep, plush leather. Step back outside and note that they’re practically giving her away at $94,000. But really, it’s the 10 mpg in the city, 15 mpg on the highway that changes your mind. Only think of the carbon footprint.

Beside her is a 2007 M6 convertible, also black but with a red leather interior, and – like the M5 – paddle shifters to go with the V-10 engine. Note that she’ll seat two kids in the back, so long as they don’t have any legs. Price reduced to $127,000, seller motivated. They might take $126,000, you make them an offer. Never can tell.

But I wandered back to the service department instead and accepted the keys to my loaner, a perfectly competent, utterly uninspiring, brand new Toyota Camry. Heading into work I thought to myself, no. I can’t do it.

Because I really do love my little car.


Filed under Car Pr0n, Lex