Thursday, October 24, 2013

Birthday's of A Different Sort - Finale

Continuing on with this nebulous theme of counting down the three remaining selected Birthday boyz of our Fab-5 as your humble No Fenders scribe attempts blowing out A-L-L of thee candles upon his birthday cake; Chirp, Chirp? Hey, where's my cake? Oh Never Mind! As let's resume the countdown with thy number three...

Italia Raging Bull image from long ago Sports Car Illustrated Lamborghini Diablo poster - backside. (TTC)
So who hasn't heard the folklorish story of how "LamborGenie" got its start, Y'all know when reputedly 'Ol Ferruccio Lamborghini was so incensed by Il Commendatore, nee Enzo Ferrari's unwillingness to listen to his repeated requests for product improvement that he decided he'd start his own automobile company and show that pompous Enzo how to build a true Italian masterpiece!

Thus in 1963, a very good year indeed! Ferruccio began producing his legendary machinery with the debut of the 350 GTV in prototype form, as another legend has it that due to his dispute with the ex-Ferrari engine designer hired to design its V-12 powerplant, the car was filled with bricks in order to keep the car's stance appropriate during the Geneva Auto Show with the bonnet under lock 'N key! The car went into production as the 350 GT before a second model, the 400 GT was unveiled, basically being an updated car with an enlarged engine.

Then a legendary automobile was launched from the Sant'Agata Bolognese Automobili Lamborghini Spa factory, the extremely beautiful Miura, (1966-72) which surely takes some sort of styling cues from Ford's GT-40? Although the Miura had a very complicated layout with its transverse V-12 behind the driver's compartment, is arguably one of the best looking ever Supercars produced,

The Miura was followed up by the evocative Lamborghini Countach, (1974-90) albeit the less dramatic LP400 before the extremely BAD ARSE trio of Walter Wolf Speciale's were born, which became known as LP400S's, the first being an Arctic white chassis, (stuffed with an enlarged five-liter engine) appropriately for its owner's 'Kuhnadiun tundra, eh?

the second of this trio, with its wide wheel arches and massive rear wing looks exceedingly evocative in its  Wolf "Grabber Blue" (Bugatti light bleu) hue, with the third model being dark blue and sporting 'Kuhnadiun flags. Whilst the ex-formula 1 team owner was able to convince the factory into building him a Miura from left over parts after production had ceased...

There were also the larger engine LP500's along with the 5000QV's, i.e.; Quattro Valve before the company now taken over by Chrysler in 1987 killed off the Countach with the mondo disgusting looking 25th Anniversary edition model, before the car was replaced by the Diablo. (1990-2001)

Chrysler president Lee Iacocca decided they needed to be in F1 and thus went about setting up Lamborghini Engineering Spa to build engines for the new 3.5-liter Normally Aspirated era beginning in 1989. Yet it's too bad that Chrysler didn't put more of an effort into it, as I was a huge fan of their 'Lambo V-12 Formula 1 engines which were designed by Mauro Forghieri, who  Ferrarista's will recognize from his distinguished tenure at la Scuderia's (Ferrari) F1 Competizone department.

The Raging bull engines powered Larrouse-Calmels for the '89 season before both Larrouse and Lotus ran them the following year, with the engine's high water mark being Aguri Suzuki's third place finish in his native Japan's Grand Prix at Suzuka. (1990)

while I personally will never forget the "LamborGenie's" propelling those Banana ("Fly") yelow "Joe Camel" Lotuses, especially the one that exploded into a kuh-zillion pieces with Martin Donnelly at the controls in Spain, 1990... The engines then continued on with the Modena team, Ligier and Minardi to lesser results from 1991-93, albeit they were never given enough time or development to ultimately succeed...

And how many know that these very same F1 V-12 power units almost propelled McLaren? As I'd enjoy having a Diecast of the plain vanilla test mule that Ayrton Senna and "Mika-the-Finn" (Hakkinen) tried out late in 1993 - as Ron Dennis unwisely chose the recalcitrant Peugeot 'lumps instead, which I can only now wonder if he received a few armoured truckloads of Francs to do so? As the last minute switch left the Chrysler Lamborghini F1 engines out in the cold and the company was sold once again shortly afterwards to Megatech.

Today Lamborghini is in much better shape after having been bought by Audi AG in the fall of 1998, who've constantly improved the company, along with introducing several new models, most notably the Murciélago and Galardo and some other BAD ARSE models like the extremely rare Reventón  which captures the fighting bull spirit of the company's marque which perhaps was in deference to its founders (Ferruccio) birth sign Taurus...


Nah, actually it stems from his fascination with Bull fighting as the long line of his Supercars being named after famous Bulls began with the Miura and the tradition has  rightly been carried on under the Chrysler and Audi ownership eras...

'Kiwi nose art upon Johnny Rutherford's "Works" McLaren IndyCar at the Indianapolis Hall of Fame museum, 2011. (DOB)
Arguably the second most successful Formula 1 team in history, (behind Scuderia Ferrari) albeit trailing Sir Frank's "Team Willy" (Williams) 9-8 over thy coveted Constructor's Cups, (which Professor Steve Matchett likes to continuously Bang On about) nevertheless I'd say more potent overall in deference of Driver's World Champions and overall victories, not to mention overall business diversity since Williams doesn't produce its own automobiles...

Yet for Mwah, whenever I think of McLaren I tend to recall my first vivid memory from when I was a 'wee lad and didn't even know what Formula 1 was, yet was so captivated upon the sight of 'Kiwi orange upon finding the remnant's of two sporadic unrecognizable Tamiya plastic model kits of those A-L-L dominating Can Am cars, Y'all know of the 'legendous "Bruce 'N Denny Show," right?

As Grizzled Journo' Joe Saward points out, the McLaren Dream has come a long ways from being incorporated as Bruce McLaren Motor racing Ltd residing in a dirt shack in New Zealand in 1963 to arguably the second most powerful Formula 1 entity on the grid, albeit I'm sure that Red Bull and the might of Mercedes would likely debate that? Yet McLaren is a Formula 1 Constructor in the truest sense - having built itself from the ground up by building its own world championship winning chassis one at a time...

And although I know of 'Emmo's (Fittipaldi) first team world championship in 1974 followed by James Hunt epic title  victory in '76 which as Y'all know is the basis of 'lil Ronnie Howard's superb movie RUSH, for Mwah the McLaren legend really begins with the Ron Dennis and McLaren International era.

as Dennis molded the company into what its today, as they revolutionized the de riggour carbon fibre chassis with John Barnard's revolutionary MP4 chassis produced by Hercules (composites) and ultimately propelled to three consecutive Driver's crowns (1984-86) by the then potent 1.5-liter V-6 twin turbo TAG Porsche 'lumps.

Yet for most, I'm guessing McLaren is most notably known for the legendary Prost-Senna Feud, along with the immaculate season of taking 15 of 16 victories in 1988 with the all conquering Honda turbo engine - with Honda engines powering McLaren to four consecutive world championships.

After a long dry spell, McLaren rebounded behind the genius of Adrian Newey with Mika Hakkinen's double championship years of 1998-99 before somebody named Schumacher got in the way, with McLaren last standing upon the championship's top step in 2008 with Dennis's prodigy Lewis Hamilton, as its ironic that the Woking based team is struggling mightily in its golden year, looking set to not stand upon the  F1 podium for the first time since 1980!

And don't forget that McLaren also has the distinction of having won arguably America's biggest race, NO! Not the DayToner 500 but the Indianapolis 500 - having won at Mother Speedway three times during the 1970's; with Mark Donohue aboard a customer Penske Racing chassis in 1972 and Johnny Rutherford drinking the "buttermilk" in victory lane for the Factory "Works" McLaren team in 1974 and 1976...

Porsche 911
What can I say about the Porsche 911? As this is one of the Supercars I'd LUV' to ride in one of these years - with its iconic rear engine propelling it at great speed with its tail planted thanks largely due to its whaletail spoiler... As the 911 is synonymous for the word Porsche as its flagship model has endured for fifty years now upon replacing the 356 model in 1963.

And while over 800,000 units have been sold, I'd say that the 911 is more legendary for its unmatched racing success - as its been the car to beat in endurance racing ever since its introduction, as other competitors seemingly come 'N go while the 911 is the unrefuted "Timex" of endurance racing, as Y'all know: "It takes a licking but keeps on Ticking..." As the 911's victory roll call at Circuit  de la Sarthe, aka Le Mans is truly 'legendous with multiple class victories, not to mention winning overall at Daytona and Sebring, while the 911's offspring includes the nasty 934 and 935 of the mid-1970's - the latter having won Le Mans overall in 1979, with the 935 racking up a nearly 1-in-3 winning ratio for races entered - not to mention these two variants being the car to beat in IMSA and Trans Am 'Wayback when...

Another offspring known as the 959 recorded a 1-2 victory romp in the 1986 Paris-Dakar Rally, as I can still see those blue & white Rothmans liveried desert raiders in my mind's eye - of which a trio contested the world's most grueling rally during the mid-1980's

While the 959 also has a storied past here in the Pacific Northwest, as some chap named Gates, perhaps Y'all have heard of him? As in a one Mr. Bill Gates of Microsoft fame along with company co-founder Paul Allen tried importing a pair of the non-U.S. legal chassis into the country with both cars being immediately scooped up by customs upon a pier in San Francisco I believe before Gates car sat impounded for 13yrs prior to the pair getting a "Show & Display" law successfully passed in order to allow them the ability to drive their Porsche 959's in the states...

(TTC: Image courtesy of The Tomaso Collection)
(DOB: Photo Courtesy of No Fenders ‘Offical Photographer ‘CARPETS)