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  • Alfa Romeo Swiss Grand Tour: Among the Secrets of Malcantone

    In a region of empty roads winding through the forests, the pleasure of driving blends with the discovery of some charming and, at times, mysterious places. We stumbled upon them at the wheel of a 1969 Junior Zagato Words Alessandro Giudice Photography Alessandro Barteletti Video Andrea Ruggeri Swiss Grand Tour is a project to discover itineraries driving classic Alfa Romeo cars, in partnership with Astara, the distributor and importer of the Brand in Switzerland. This is the only one of the 26 Swiss cantons to have Italian as its only official language. This is why, imagining an itinerary through Ticino, we decided to start from its south-western border with Italy, following the river Tresa, an emissary of Lake Lugano in the municipality of Ponte Tresa which then flows into Lake Maggiore. Ponte Tresa is not only a major border crossing, it is also a lakeside town with beaches and tourist amenities that, in the warmer season, offer visitors a full range of bathing facilities and opportunities. A couple of miles from the town, heading towards Lugano, you reach the municipality of Caslano, a charming and colourful tourism and cultural outpost looking over the water with its characteristic peninsula. Here you can not only surf, swim and sail: there are also some interesting trekking routes on and around Mount Sassalto, a protected natural oasis with a variety of plant species, and then take a tasty break at the Museum & Chocolate Experience Alprose, or a cultural diversion at the Fishing Museum. [click to watch the video] Having explored the area, we start our itinerary from Ponte Tresa, taking Via Cantonale along the right bank of the river Tresa. In contrast to the rather impervious Italian bank, as soon as you leave the town the Ticino coast of the river opens into a large, sun-kissed plane criss-crossed by straight roads linking farms, small businesses and charming villages typical of the border areas, where the lasting presence of two close yet different cultures has created a curious mix of habits and traditions. With the support of Reto Sormani, Alfa Romeo collector and expert of the local area, we wanted the route through this part of Ticino to be marked by driving pleasure, on exhilarating yet possibly quiet roads. A pleasure that was crowned by the agility and power of the car Reto put at our disposal: a bright red 1969 Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato 1300, for the occasion assisted by a really special support car, the 520 HP Giulia Quadrifoglio. The first leg of the tour runs through Sessa, recognisable even from a distance by the size of the bell tower of the San Martino Church, dating back to 1200 and built by the local feudal family Sessa, which took on its current Baroque style in the 15th century. This pretty town has a characteristic urban structure, which has maintained its appeal as an ancient hamlet. Here we also find the Palazzo del Tribunale (Court Building), because, we should remember, Sessa was to all extents and purposes the capital of Malcantone, the region connecting Milan to Lugano and then to Northern Europe. There are several theories behind the name. One states that the strategic and disputed border region was inhabited by both traders and travellers and bandits and criminals, who robbed the wayfarers. Another states that it comes from the rather bad-tempered character of its inhabitants, rough mountain folk: both are sufficient reasons for adding the prefix “mal” (“bad”) to the term “cantone”. Departing from Sessa, the first part of the route runs through the chestnut woods covering the hills. The route runs uphill along wide, well-marked and enjoyable winding roads, where the GT Junior Zagato began to offer all the thrills it is capable of. By one of the bends you will see a minecart, telling of the mining tradition that made Malcantone one of the richest mining regions not only in Switzerland but in the whole of Europe. The minecart is but a clue to the location of the gold mine (along with the local silver mine) which lies a few miles ahead in Costa di Sessa. Following the signs, you will reach the entrance of the mining tunnel, recovered in the last decade and offering interesting guided tours, as well as the first leg of the Mining Park Trail, along which trekking enthusiasts (frequent visitors to Malcantone) can reach other sites telling of the special and somewhat unexpected history and economy of the Confederacy. Like the story of Domenico Trezzini, architect and town planner born in Astano, a village with 300 inhabitants lying three kilometres from Sessa, who studied in Rome and in 1703 was called by the Tzar Peter the Great to help design St Petersburg, the new capital of the Russian Empire. Trezzini, to whom an impressive statue was erected in the Russian city, designed the Summer Palace, the Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral, curiously the saints after whom the Baroque parish church in Astano, dating back to 1636, is also named. The route then continues on to Novaggio from where, running along the southern face of Mount Lema, reaches Miglieglia. In addition to the modern cable car that leads to the top of the mountain, here you can also visit the beautiful Romanic Church of Santo Stefano al Colle, inside decorated with brightly coloured late-Gothic frescoes: don’t miss this tiny gem. From here on the road becomes quite spectacular, with its harmoniously winding bends and scenic views that appear out of the blue. In Breno, the main town in Upper Malcantone, the beautiful blue and white Casa Cantonale welcomes visitors. Wander round its narrow streets, stop for a tasty meal in one of its “trattorie” and then visit the monumental Church of San Lorenzo, built in the 13th century, renovated two centuries later, its neoclassical façade added in 1912. And talking of religious buildings, the view from the Church of Santa Maria Juvenia, a beautiful complex dating back to the 9th century next to the Iseo cemetery, near Vernate, is quite spectacular. The church can be reached along a short diversion from the route, offering breathtaking view of Lake Lugano and beyond. And here in Vernate we begin to approach the lake. Descending into the valley, on a right-hand bend, take the road to the left towards Bioggio, an alternative scenic route that runs half-way along the hillside. Driving through almost uninhabited ancient hamlets, you will enjoy the genuine simplicity of mountain life, while the architecture of the houses and commercial activities dotted along the road clearly indicate that you are approaching more sophisticated places. Returning to the rhythms of nearby Lugano, marked by the bridge over the A2 motorway leading to the Gotthard Pass, you will drive through Breganzona, Muzzano and then Risciano, towards Agno as far as the left-hand turn towards Figino. This picturesque lakeside town is the point of arrival for this unusual yet appealing itinerary, through a Ticino in which Lugano is the main place of attraction and yet has some unexpectedly wild delights to be discovered amongst the chestnut-covered hills. THE COLLECTOR: Reto Sormani The "Junior Z" I chose the Junior Z for its classic mechanics, with a four-cylinder, twin-cam engine, housed in a unique body. For me, who has always loved Alfa Romeo sedans, it was an extraordinary choice that added some zest to my collection, as well as an investment in a model produced in limited numbers. From a dynamic perspective, I appreciate its exceptional road-holding, thanks to a combination of lightness and power that make it agile and easily manageable. The 90 hp engine, which may not seem like much on paper, performs excellently on a weight that doesn't exceed 1000 kg. It's very responsive to the load, and it's clear that you feel the difference when you have a passenger. However, it's a very enjoyable car and surprisingly fast: on the track, I've reached 180 km/h effortlessly. Not bad for a fifty-year-old car of only 1.3 litres. The Modern Alfas As an ardent Alfista, it's enough for me to get behind the wheel of a modern Alfa to find many things that make it unique and recognizable. I recently spoke with someone from the Centro Stile, and I was struck by the fact that even today, those who work at Alfa Romeo put their heart and passion into it. I have a Giulia that I use every day and a Stelvio Quadrifoglio: then I get behind the wheel of a 2004 GT 3.2 with a manual gearbox, and my heart opens up. Perhaps I am made for slightly old-fashioned, rough Alfa Romeos.

  • Leone Pelachin, the Champion Without a Suitcase

    The story, known previously to only a handful, of an Alfa Romeo test driver and racer who walked away from the sport directly after winning the Italian and European titles in one of the most prestigious car championships. Words by Mario Simoni. Photos by Centro Documentazione Alfa Romeo, Foto Alquati Milano, Quattroruote, Leone Pelachin Archive, Mario Simoni Archive. From 1976 to 1983, hundreds of skilled drivers participated in the Alfa Romeo Promotional Trophy – a series of races held on circuits across half of Europe. In those championships, two young drivers who later rose to Formula 1 fame took part, the Spaniard Luis Perez Sala and the even more famous Gerhard Berger. Monza, Imola, Zeltweg, Nürburgring, Paul Ricard, Zandvoort, and Hockenheim were just some of the racetracks. In front of hundreds of thousands of Formula 1 spectators, real battles took place in the pursuit of the Alfasud and Alfa Sprint Continental Titles. Of those drivers duking it out, Leone Pelachin – in his Alfa Romeo – always stood out for his sportsmanship and gentlemanliness. These were the years in which Alfa Romeo regained its prestige in the world of racing thanks to the skill of a great technician like engineer Chiti and the capabilities of a racing team like Autodelta. In 1975, it had just won the World Championship for Makes with the 33TT12 and entered Formula 1, supplying its 12-cylinder engine to Brabham from '76 to '79. Also in 1979, Alfa returned to the World Championship as a constructor, where it remained as a team until 1983. The awareness that competitions were the best business card to win over sports clientele led, in those years, to focusing on a racing version of the best-selling and most popular Alfa Romeo sedan, the Alfasud. Thus, in 1976, the Alfasud Trophy was born, reserved for the racing version of the coupé birthed in ‘72 by Rudolf Hruschka – one of the most skilled technicians in automotive history who had started his career at Porsche and Cisitalia. In Hruschka’s Alfasud project, a sporting soul was imbued in the compact two-volume sedan, equipped with an excellent front-wheel-drive chassis (the first in Quadrifoglio's history) and a 4-cylinder boxer engine capable of optimizing weight distribution, but above all with great potential for sporting use. For the engineers at Autodelta, tasked with developing the kit that would transform the comfortable Alfasud into a real racing car, the task was not the most challenging. There are few drivers who, without a "father" or a sponsor behind them, have managed to reach Formula 1. Among them, it's worth mentioning Consalvo Sanesi and the great Lorenzo Bandini, who went from being a simple mechanic to an unlucky Ferrari driver. The real major hindrance to Leone Pelachin's career, besides his family, was the handicap of starting racing at the age of thirty, when the careers of many drivers are already on the decline. Not so much for physical or skill reasons, as demonstrated by the successes of "grandfathers" like Alonso at 42 and Hamilton at 39, but also the incredible career of Nuvolari, who at over fifty risked winning the Mille Miglia twice. But Leone Pelachin had all the strength and desire to continue racing and winning at 35, and that farewell at the peak of his career and the dream of a lifetime must have been the most difficult moment after years of success. MS: Leone, did you never think about starting racing until you were thirty? LP: I'd always had a passion for cars and racing, but I never thought I would have the chance to race on the track. In reality, I wanted to be a tester. Racing was a dream that came true when I realized I was really good at driving, but before reaching that point, I had to cover tens of thousands of kilometers, first on the roads and then on the Balocco track with Alfa Romeo models under development. It was at Balocco that I truly learned to drive: hundreds of accelerations from a standstill, top speeds, recoveries, special tests with all the prototypes of Alfa production cars, always collaborating with the designers from Arese, including engineer Felisa, who later became CEO and Managing Director of Ferrari and Aston Martin. But before becoming ‘good’, how many mistakes, how many breakdowns, how many accidents... Fortunately, never with any consequences. MS: How did you go from being a simple mechanic to a tester for Alfa Romeo? LP: At 14, I started as a mechanic in a workshop in Rho, just a stone's throw away from Arese, but my dream was to work at Alfa Romeo. So, in 1969, after my military service, I applied and was hired as an engine/carburettor technician. I was already capable of dismantling and reassembling an engine by myself, and I enjoyed that work. After not even a year in the experimental department at Arese, my dream increasingly became to become a tester. The desire was so strong that I asked my workshop head every day to be transferred to that department, and after being told "no" a hundred times, he finally said, "Okay, if you really want to, try it..." The test went well, and so, after covering almost 100,000 km in less than a year on the roads of Lombardy, along the Apennines, and over the Alpine passes to test the new Alfa models, the big day arrived. The chief tester called me and said, "Pelachin is doing well, from Monday he goes to Balocco track." I'll never forget that day. It was as if the gates of Heaven had opened. I could have cried tears of happiness! MS: And how did you find Balocco? What cars did you drive? LP: I drove all the production models from that period, from the Alfa 6 to the Montreal to the Alfasud. But my main task was to develop and verify tires for the new models before putting them into production. We conducted endless tests, especially at night, to avoid being photographed by "prototype hunters," and of course, we drove a lot on wet surfaces. That's how I became a true expert in driving in the rain, as seen in the wet races of the Trophy. Among the testers, there was also a sort of time challenge on the Balocco lap, and after a while, I was the fastest of all, both on dry and wet tracks. At first, no one believed it, until I had to compete for a series of tests – first with my chief tester Bruno Bonini, whom I "defeated" driving an Alfetta prototype, then with the head of all the Balocco testers, Guido Moroni, who at the end of the tests with a GTV 2000 declared, "It's right that the apprentice goes faster than the master." There was also a tester from Autodelta, as well as a driver in the World Championship for Makes, who once, invited to a challenge with me by the head of the Balocco timekeepers, preferred to turn down the invite. Who knows, afraid of being beaten maybe? MS: In the many tests you conducted, is there one you'll never forget? LP: The most incredible of all was driving the Montreal: a "speed test" from Reggio Calabria to Lubeck. From the extreme south to the extreme north of Europe in just 20 hours with the Montreal. It was a report published by the magazine Quattroruote with the title "See you tonight in Lubeck". It was 1972 and there were no speed limits then, and the traffic was a whole different story, but there were still customs checks, and some sections of the Salerno-Reggio Calabria and Brenner motorways were missing. What we did with two Montreals, myself and the tester Francesco Brignoli in one, and the journalist Bruno Bonetto and the chief tester Bruno Bonini in the other Montreal, is truly incredible and unrepeatable. It's almost 2,600 km, so we maintained an average speed of over 130 km/h! Today, no one, with any car in the world, could beat that record. All thanks to the Montreal which, with the 200 hp of its V8, exceeded 220 km/h and, in addition to demonstrating great road qualities, never had any problems throughout the entire journey. MS: In the early Seventies, the development of the Alfasud was in full swing. How was it going? What was its development like? LP: From the first tests, when we drove with the entire body camouflaged, almost like a van, the Alfasud performed very well, and we never had major problems. When the Golf came out, which was considered the most direct competitor, we compared it extensively at Balocco with ours. We were superior in everything, especially in road behavior and steering functionality, not to mention the engine and performance: our 1200 boxer engine clearly outperformed Volkswagen's 1100 and 1300. There was also an Alfasud that no one ever saw and that was on the verge of going into production, but even after our tests, it was rejected. MS: What model was it, and what happened? Were there other Alfas that you tested but never made it into production? LP: It was the Sprint Spider, designed by Giugiaro alongside the sedan and coupe, which in some ways resembled the Fiat X1/9, with the large roll bar and removable roof. It was intended for the American market, but due to the investment required and the design that didn't convince, it remained on standby. The final blow came from our tests at Balocco on the cobbles: it was found that the chassis couldn't withstand the stress, it tended to flex and therefore needed to be modified and strengthened. That was the verdict that definitively ended the project. Among the engines we tested but never made it into production was the 2-liter, 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine of the Alfetta GTV. It was an excellent engine, Alfa Romeo's first production engine with 4 valves per cylinder. It generated over 150 hp and was responsive, but for some reason, it was decided not to continue its development. Another engine we tested in our cars was the Wankel, also being developed by NSU and Mazda at the time: I don't remember if that was one of the rotary prototypes produced at Arese or if it was of Mazda origin. The engine was powerful, but we immediately saw that in terms of noise, fuel consumption, and reliability, it was a step backward rather than forward. Moreover, it had another serious flaw, the lack of engine braking, which put a strain on the braking system and did not provide confidence when driving at the limit. MS: So we come to the end of 1977, when you decided to start racing. What happened? Who helped you, who gave you the car? LP: Actually, I had already done a few races in '75 and '76, but in rallycross with the 2 CV. The first year had few races and many breakdowns, but by the end of the second year, I was in contention until the last race to win the Italian championship, but I came second. Almost everyone at Balocco knew about my desire to race, including Giorgio Francia who in '77, in addition to competing in the World Championship for Makes with the 33 TT/12, had been hired as a tester for Autodelta. We often met during breaks at Balocco. That's how he said to me, almost jokingly, "But didn't you want to be a driver?" Without hesitation, I replied, "Where? With whom? With what?" He told me that the SPECAR dealership in La Spezia had a car for the Trophy but wasn't satisfied with its driver and was looking for a new one. So if I wanted to try... MS: Speaking of Autodelta, the Alfa Romeo cars prepared for racing, including the F.1 and the 33 for the World Championship for Makes designed by engineer Chiti, were often tested at Balocco. Did you ever manage to try them? LP: I would have liked to, indeed! But, for some reason, I was never in the good graces of Teodoro Zeccoli, the head of Autodelta's testers, and I never managed to get close to those cars. In fact, once, in 1980, Zeccoli, acting as a technical commissioner at the Imola track, did me a disservice by disqualifying me for a minor irregularity, which seemed deliberately done to diminish my championship victory. But that's another story.. Actually, once, in the absence of Zeccoli and Chiti, who would never have given permission despite my successes with the Alfasud, I managed to convince Manfredini, the head mechanic at Autodelta, to let me try the F.1. It was Giacomelli's Alfa 179 race car, and a few days later, there was the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet. They let me do three laps, but... if I had broken something, I wouldn't have been able to set foot in Balocco or Alfa Romeo again! It was a mix of joy and fear! At 160 mph on the straight, if you accelerated a bit too much, you felt all 500 hp of the naturally aspirated V12 unloading onto the rear, causing it to hint at slipping, while in the corners, it felt like being on a rail, but only up to the limit I had set for myself to reach. After that, it's better not to know. MS: So you made it to Formula 1, congratulations! Even if it was just for three laps! But let's go back to the beginning of your career when you had your first test with the Alfasud Trophy. LP: The pivotal moment of my career was at the Varano racetrack, where the dealer Piero Simoncini had decided to assess my skills, given that I had never been on a track and had never driven a race car. I didn't know Varano or the Trofeo, but despite that, I wasn't worried at all; I was truly confident in my driving abilities! MS: And how did it go? LP: Simoncini and his workshop manager were satisfied with the performance and said to me, "Okay, let's go, if you agree." I replied, "For me, that's fine, as long as I don't have to incur any expenses because I really wouldn't know how to manage." For this reason, we didn't have any other winter tests until the beginning of the Trophy, and we had to skip some races during the season, including the first one at Mugello. So, here we were at Monza, on April 23, 1978, for the debut, and it was a debut with a "bang"... in every sense of the word! MS: What happened? LP: We arrived at Monza with all the top teams who had already tested extensively on that track, which I didn't know, and at the end of the official practices, I was in the top five, just 17 hundredths off the pole position. Some of the more established drivers started wondering, "Who's that guy, never heard of him, and he comes in and goes faster than us who have been racing in the Trophy for two years!" Meanwhile, Autosprint’s headline the following Monday read, "An Alfa Tester Unleashed." On race day, my first impression, at the start, was, "are these guys all crazy?" I didn't know where to look; I was in the middle of a real "battle," with cars touching, pushing, and banging doors. When we got to the first chicane, I said to myself, "well, if that's how it is, I'll play the fool too," and I threw myself into the mix: and so began my racing career. In the heat, after starting on the front row, I was leading the race in the penultimate lap when I was overtaken by two other Alfasuds. They collided at Ascari and spun right in front of me: I couldn't do anything but hit them, and so, after turning the nose of my Trofeo into a "wedge," I had to retire. Fortunately, the dealer understood that it wasn't my fault, and since I also set the fastest overall lap time among the Alfasuds, he said to me, "It's not a problem, let's continue!" MS: And did it go better at the second race? LP: Not entirely. We were at Varano in May, and there too, I was among the best in practice. I started on pole in my heat, but on the first lap, I was pushed from behind, sending me into a spin: I hit a couple of Alfasuds, and so I found myself off the track, stopped in the middle of the grass. I unbuckled my seat belts and tried to get out to see the damage to the car, but the door wouldn't open. So, I buckled up again and... I restarted like a madman! I set the fastest lap time, and at the end of the heat, I was fourth, qualifying for the final! In the final, I then achieved my best result of the debut season, finishing fifth. MS: So the rest of the season didn't go as you hoped? LP: Actually, we only planned to compete in five or six races, and even though I didn't achieve any other results, I managed to gain some satisfaction. In the second race at Varano in June, I won my heat, setting the fastest lap time. At Misano, I secured pole position in the official practices, while in the only race of the Trofeo Europa that I participated in at Le Castellet, I qualified sixth and finished the race in fifteenth place. MS: Not bad for a rookie. So, were you able to get an Alfasud Trofeo for the 1979 championship? LP: Yes, SPECAR dealership confirmed me, and finally, the first victory came at Monza in my seasonal debut, in the third race of the Trophy! It was a head-to-head battle with Sigala which finished in a sprint finish – a win by just a few centimeters! During the championship, I won my heat at Varano, Misano, and Mugello, but due to several retirements and skipping some races, I didn't go beyond fourteenth place in the Trophy standings. However, the tuner Bigazzi, who assisted my car and Bertolini's, managed to win the preparers' cup. MS: So, we come to 1980, the year of the championship victory. Was it all easy? LP: Almost, although there were some problems and mishaps. The car, always prepared by Bigazzi, was perfect at the beginning of the championship, so much so that I won the first four races of the championship. But at Mugello, it didn't seem the same anymore, while my teammate Bertolini's car was flying. We had this feeling or impression that the tuner favored him, so the owner of the SPECAR dealership for which I raced decided to leave Bigazzi and switch to another team, Luicar. Immediately, things returned to normal. With two more victories at Magione and Misano: the Trofeo Alfasud was mine! But at Magione, a couple of incidents made me think that someone wanted to prevent me from winning: leaving the car in a workshop the night before the race, we found it with a loosened cylinder head cap, as if they had tried to make the engine run out of water during the race. Fortunately, we noticed the ‘sabotage’, and in the final, after winning the heat, I found myself with a significant lead in the last lap. It seemed done, but a backmarker cut me off and gave me a push that almost sent me spinning. I managed to keep the car in control somehow and finished the race more than 5 seconds ahead of Calamai. Was it the backmarker's mistake or a deliberate maneuver? I'm still wondering. MS: In 1981, the national championships gave way to the Trofeo Europa, which was even more thrilling with 10 races, half of which were concurrent with the Formula 1 Grand Prix. How did it go? LP: Well, I can tell you that I finished ahead of Gerhard Berger in the championship that year, as he began his leap into Formula 1 and Ferrari. I, always racing for Luicar, won at Imola, and he won at Zeltweg, but the season's dominant driver was Rinaldo Drovandi. We only finished sixth and seventh. Ahead of us was also a young man from Ferrara, Renato Croce, who could have really made it to Formula 1. But instead... At Monza, in the final race, he won, racing alongside Drovandi with the Alfasud prepared by Bigazzi for Autolodi. The owners of the Lodi dealership called me at the end of the season to offer me a car for the 1982 Trophy, which would no longer be contested with the Alfasud but with the Alfa Sprint. However, there was a big problem: my departure from the Bigazzi team in 1980. It hadn't gone down well with the Tuscan tuner, and he immediately demanded my apologies for doubting his integrity. MS: So, did you "apologize" and manage to join the strongest team in the Trophy? LP: Needless to say, I apologized to Bigazzi for ‘thinking badly’, but in reality, some doubts always remained… His team was indeed the strongest. Besides me and Croce for Autolodi, the Bigazzi team fielded three Alfa Sprints for the Spaniards Villamil, Emilio Zapico, and Luis Perez Sala, another guy who managed to make it to Formula 1. It was an exciting Trophy: just over halfway through the season, Croce and I were leading with two victories each, but despite this and the many battles we had on the track, there was a good relationship – respect in the race and friendship in life, even though he often said to me, "You're not Leone, you're a Volpone." So we arrived at the last two races with almost the same points. At Monza, I won, after risking going off the track several times. Meanwhile, Croce, after colliding with Drovandi, driving the third car fielded by Autolodi, damaged his Alfa Sprint and lost many positions. Then he went off the track trying to get back to the front of the race. That incident, which I believe was entirely unintentional however, marked Renato Croce's fate. He felt like a victim of a plot and suffered dramatically from the so-called ‘injustice’ he’d been dealt. There was still one race to go, and everything was still to be decided. Croce and I were the favorites, but the Spaniard Emilio Zapico was right behind us. And we were racing in Spain, where a real bullfight awaited us. A bullfight indeed. It began right away, with Renato Croce getting involved in the starting melee and finding himself at the back of the pack. He launched an incredible comeback, gaining fifteen positions, but he couldn't do better than eighth place. I, as Croce would have said, like a true "fox," focused mainly on securing the result, I didn't attempt any heart-stopping overtakes and settled for third place. But the victory in the Trofeo Europa was mine! MS: For the winner of the Trophy, the Alfetta GTV 6 2.5 was at stake, which was worth almost 30 million lire. Didn't you think about racing in F.3 with the winnings? LP: Actually, the GTV went to Autolodi and the team. I was left with just a ‘tip’! The agreement was that I wouldn't have any expenses, but all the prizes went to the team, except for some ‘pocket money’ for me. I didn't have the economic means to move up to a formula car, while the Trophy I was asked to leave unless I wanted to lose the chance to continue working in Alfa Romeo's sports activities. The desire to race was still strong, but I had to let reason win over passion. MS: So, did you hang up your helmet for good? And what happened to Croce, your great rival that year? LP: Yes, I hung up the helmet, but not forever. Ten years passed, and at 45 I returned to the track with the Alfa 33 Group A, immediately winning the first race at Misano. From '92 to 2000, I competed in many touring car races in Group A and N championships and returned to win several times. But if I won the lottery today, I'd return to the track immediately, and I'm sure many wouldn't be ahead of me. Renato Croce, on the other hand, in the winter of '82 tried the Alfa Romeo-powered F.3, but he also decided to return to racing with the Sprint in 1983. He arrived at Imola for the trials of the first Trophy race, which was won by Calamai ahead of Sala. But something had changed in him. Partly due to the disappointment of the previous year, but above all it was because of a parasite that had begun growing in him – drugs. Unfortunately, he didn't even start the race at Imola, and a few months later he lost his most important race – the one for life. About the author, Mario Simoni. Cars, racing, and journalism have always been among my passions. I am among the few fortunate ones to have turned my passions into a lifelong career. And all this almost by chance, through a series of fortunate circumstances that have led me to write these pages about the life of a driver and tester like Leone Pelachin. I also began my career as a driver, but at 23, competing for two seasons in the Renault 5 Cup. However, while my financial resources were similar to those of the "Champion Without a Suitcase", my driving abilities were evidently different. Thus, after a couple of spectacular accidents and no significant results, I hung up my helmet... but not forever. It was Alfa Romeo itself that called me back to the track, at Imola in 1982, to compete in a race of the Alfa Sprint Trophy, the one won by Pelachin in a photo finish against Renato Croce. In reality, I had been called not so much as a driver but as a journalist, to recount to Autosprint readers the thrills, emotions, and driving sensations behind the wheel of the Sprint Trophy. But let's take a step back: at the end of the seventies, I began my career as a journalist in the automotive sector for a minor magazine, until in 1981 I started collaborating with Autosprint, writing among other things about promotional championships, such as the Alfasud Trophy. An undeniable passion for Alfa also led me to propose a competition in Autosprint to entrust a young driver with a Sprint Trophy for the '82 season: and the main selector in the final test at the Balocco track naturally had to be Leone Pelachin. In those two unforgettable seasons with the Sprint, I admired and recounted all the duels and battles on European tracks, becoming friends with almost all the protagonists of the Trophy. My career then continued, leaving racing to move on to production cars in the editorial staff of the monthly magazine Auto, where for almost thirty years I tested every type of car and authored investigations, tests, travel stories, and scoops on upcoming releases from automotive manufacturers. In the meantime, I also wrote a book about Alfa Romeo spiders and two about another of my life's passions, Cisitalia.

  • Lynn Park, MR. COBRA

    Several years ago, I was at a major automotive event watching a lot of famous, big-name builders greet their adoring public and show off their latest builds. As is often the case I was in the back of the crowd studying the events at hand looking for photo opportunities that caught my eye. Standing a few feet from me was a man who was also watching, and he caught my attention. Something about the confidence with which he stood there and the seemingly kind and genuine aura he radiated made me notice. Words & Photography by Tim Scott (IG: Scott Photo Co.) I remembered seeing him a couple of times previously though I couldn’t recall exactly where, so I went up and introduced myself. His handshake was firm and confident, and he said that his name was Lynn Park. I really had no idea who I had just met but I was sure that there was something interesting to this man’s story. It was only years later that I would come to learn that Lynn Park was known worldwide as Mr. Cobra and had been deeply involved with the Cobra story, almost since the beginning, and was a friend and confidant of legendary men like Peter Brock, Mike McCluskey and even Mr. Carroll Shelby himself. This is a story of a man with a love and passion for the iconic Cobra that has lasted more than 60 years and is still going strong. Lynn Park grew up in Southern California during a time of immense optimism and prosperity following the darkness of WWII. Working at a service station meant that Lynn had to learn about cars, as in those days’ “service” meant more than just putting gas into cars. From fluids to tires to engines, Lynn was building the foundation of knowledge that would serve him for the rest of his life. When he got his driver’s license in 1959 his mom gifted him the ’56 Ford Mainline that had been her daily driver. With gearhead blood already flowing through his veins he went down to the local scrapyard and bought a 410 cubic inch Edsel motor to put in the underpowered Ford. Everyday he learned more about his automobiles as he and his friends worked to make them nicer, faster, and more fun. Soon he discovered that he could buy stripped and totaled cars from the same scrapyard, often very clean cars simply missing an engine or an interior or needing basic body work to make them road worthy again. He would buy, repair, and then sell them to fund his growing love for cars and was soon driving very nice cars himself. Lynn’s sister’s boyfriend, Joe, was also into cars at this time and owned a Lotus. Of course, this led to many spirited discussions about horsepower versus handling. One fateful day Joe brought the September 1962 issue of Road & Track magazine that had this new “Shelby AC Cobra” on the cover. A sleek, curvaceous, sexy body with V8 power? This one moment and photograph lit a spark in Lynn that was to become a lifelong passion. With curiosity overflowing Lynn drove down to Venice where the Shelby “factory” was at the time. By this point, after flipping many cars, he was able to drive a really nice automobile so when he drove up, they assumed that he could actually afford one of these hot, new sports cars. Carroll Shelby did his best to sell him one not knowing that he was unable to afford one. While Lynn didn’t buy a Cobra then, Carroll and the staff at the Cobra factory were so nice to him that he just started coming back time and time again. He befriended many of the people there and before long most people just assumed he worked there. Lynn really wanted a Cobra but couldn’t afford one, so he bought an AC, put a V8 in it and made, perhaps, the very first Cobra replica ever. From 1963-1967 Lynn raced his home-made “Cobra”, attended college at UCLA and enjoyed life in Southern California. In 1967 Lynn joined the Army and was honorably discharged in late 1969. It was now 1972, and Lynn was determined to get his first “real” Cobra. He found a wrecked one for $2,100, ordered parts directly from AC and started the rebuild. Before his first Cobra was even finished, he found another Cobra, the 10th ever built, which had also been wrecked and was now in parts. He purchased this one for $2,000. As was the norm for the time he bought a new, original AC body and completely rebuilt the car. This was just the beginning as he started buying every Cobra he could find. Working on his Cobras alongside a legend himself, Mike McCluskey, who has done all of the paint and body work on Lynn’s Cobras from day one, Lynn has learned every little detail of his cars with his own hands building priceless experience for use for the next 50+ years. L.P. "The yellow car is a 1963 Cobra. It’s the car that my wife and I have taken on thirty “Cobra 1000” tours over the years. I put a Tremec 3550 five speed transmission in it to reduce the RPMs during the long road trips. Otherwise, the car is very original and is a fun car to drive.” Lynn continued buying, repairing, and driving Cobras from that time on supporting his habit while running several successful businesses. He has never approached buying Cobras as an investment and will quickly caution would-be buyers against doing so. L.P. “I don’t look at them as money-makers or an investment. Don’t buy a car thinking of it as an investment. That means that you’re not going to use it. You’re going to park it and wait for the opportune time to sell it.” Lynn drives all of his cars. Some are street cars, and some are race cars. With many, many Cobras passing through his hands through the years, he currently owns 10 “real” Cobras, 10 replicas and 6 of them are race cars. Every single one has its own personality, patina and story and is “perfect”, to him. He explained to me that cars that are banged up often have more personality than a “perfect” car (ask him about his Cobra that he’s affectionately named “Dirtbag”). L.P. “The #12 Cobra is one of the five FIA Cobras that Shelby built to race in Europe.  It has been vintage raced since the early 1980s by a good friend of mine who sold the car to me about a year ago. As you can see it’s got a lot of “Patina” but to me that’s part of the charm of this car. No one mistakes the car for a replica, that’s for sure. In addition to being raced for so many years it has participated in the famous “Cobra 1000” tour for ten years or more.” To be clear, Lynn has no issue with replicas. Proof-in-point, he owns ten. Shelby officially stopped production of “real” Cobras in 1967 only to return years later and make replicas himself. The good thing with replicas available is that you can still get parts, which would likely be nearly impossible to come by otherwise. Having more Cobras out there allows more people to see and appreciate their beauty and uniqueness. “Real” or “replica”, these cars are meant to drive. Lynn and his family and friends have been vintage racing his Cobras since 1982, racing all over the country at tracks from Monterey to Willow Springs, to Lime Rock, to Watkins Glenn, to Kansas City and St. Louis, to Road America and more. To this day, Lynn and his sons, Steve, and Tim, race their Cobras twice a year at Willow Springs. They would often take “Cobra 1000” trips – 1,000-mile trips driving with a group of Cobras to destinations across the country. Just because “driving a Cobra is fun!” This brings us back to the big question of why Cobra? L.P. “You know what’s fun about Cobras? You meet the people that own them and almost without exception they’re nice people.” The more Lynn talked about his years with his Cobras the more it sounded like a family. His entire family was involved from the early days – from making 1,000-mile trips, to racing with his sons – to this day the Cobras are a family affair. Beyond that there is an entire extended family and close community built around the love for the Cobra – a community of friends built over the past 50 years that still gathers as friends, brought together and united by this car. L.P. "The maroon coupe is a 1959 AC Aceca. I have owned it since 1985 and it reminds me of the Aceca that I bought in 1963 when I couldn’t afford a Cobra. The Cobra was $6000 and the Aceca was $1500. I promptly swapped the original six-cylinder engine for a 289, added a four-speed transmission and had my own Cobra. When I bought this particular car, it had no engine or transmission so the decision to put a 289 in it was an easy one. This car has Cobra disc brakes all around, Cobra rack-and-pinion steering and Cobra suspension so it’s basically a 289 Cobra with an Aceca body. There were only 350 or so of these cars built and even fewer than that in the U.S. which makes it virtually unknown to anyone but an AC enthusiast." The Cobra has lived and thrived well beyond its relatively short manufacture period. Its essence is so much more about the car and the experience than some kind of perceived “status”. It’s a different kind of supercar. Even Carroll Shelby himself, while bold and larger than life, was always about the car and the people that loved it. Whenever there was a Cobra event, Shelby would show up. He was kind and accommodating to the crowds, signing autographs, and talking to them about the cars. A kind and genuine person attracting other kind and genuine people that would become part of the Cobra family. For many years the Cobra was the epitome of a performance car. It was doing everything better than what was being offered at the time. It’s noisy, it’s hot, it’s cold, it’s open to the elements and that’s part of what makes it special. When you drive a Cobra, you experience the world in a more immersive and memorable way. When is the last time you remember fondly driving your perfectly comfortable, soundproofed, fully enclosed car? This is a car for the pure joy of driving, for experiencing your journey in a way that no other can offer. It’s not for everyone and you may have to make time to wave and talk to complete strangers who may or may not know just how valuable and special this car is. L.P. “The silver 427 is a Kirkham replica. It was built by Mike McCluskey roughly thirty years ago.  It has a 427 engine and a top loader transmission and is as accurate in every aspect to an original 427 SC.  With its big tires and loads of power it is a ball to drive.” But to Mr. Cobra, the true value has always been in the friends he has made, the experiences he has lived and the joy of sharing that love and passion with all who will listen. Even with so many years of owning, driving and being involved with Cobras you can still see the smile on his face and hear the passion in his voice as he talks about his family of Cobras and friends. In his words, “Someone my age has grown up with the best 80 years of American history”. These days Mr. Cobra still drives each and every one of his cars. Whether on the track, or even just an 8 mile drive up the beautiful Angeles Crest Highway, these cars are loved and driven. People like Louis Hamilton, Jay Leno, Ashton Kutcher, and so many others from all over the world call him for information and his expertise – and of course, advice on buying a Cobra. The next time you are at a car event take a moment to look to see if there is a quiet, unassuming gentlemen in the back wearing perhaps a hat or shirt with a Cobra logo. If you see him, say hello, ask him about Cobra and enjoy some wonderful stories from a wonderful man. This is what the Cobra family is all about.

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  • 1974 Lancia Beta Coupé Group 4

    1974 Lancia Beta Coupé Group 4 RM Sotheby's 1974 Lancia Beta Coupé Group 4 RM Sotheby's If you are interested in the content of this listing, please contact the Dealer. Contact details are indicated below in the section "Contact the Dealer." Should you require confidential support from SpeedHolics for your inquiry, kindly complete the section "I am Interested." This listing is provided by SpeedHolics solely for the purpose of offering information and resources to our readers. The information contained within this listing is the property of the entity indicated as the "Dealer." SpeedHolics has no involvement in the commercial transactions arising from this listing, and we will not derive any financial gain from any sales made through it. Furthermore, SpeedHolics is entirely independent from the "Dealer" mentioned in this listing and maintains no affiliation, association, or connection with them in any capacity. Any transactions, engagements, or communications undertaken as a result of this listing are the sole responsibility of the parties involved, and SpeedHolics shall bear no liability or responsibility in connection therewith. For more information, please refer to the "Legal & Copyright" section below. SH ID 24-0415006 FEATURED BY SPEEDHOLICS In Stock Monaco Dealer SEARCH OTHER CARS COMMENT ON FACEBOOK This Car Contact the Dealer I am Interested Legal & Copyright Prepared from new by the Lancia Works department Purchased by Scuderia Grifone to compete in the Beta Coupé Trofeo for 1974 Fascinating competition history in both Groups 3 and 4 A time-warp example, visually untouched from its final competition outing in 1980 Mechanically restored by the renowned Italian specialist Facetti in 2017 Accompanied by dozens of historic images, Estratto Cronologico and Lancia Classiche Certificate of Origin Eligible for the Modena Cento Ore, FIA Historic Rallying Championship, and Tour Auto Description Following Fiat’s acquisition of Lancia in 1969, the Angelli-owned manufacturer felt the rallying success of the Lancia Stratos was not aiding conventional car sales. As a result of this and an aging Fulvia HF Coupé, the Lancia Beta Coupé was launched in June 1973. Looking to create a stir with a consumer-oriented coupé, Lancia Works prepared around a dozen early production 1.8-litre coupés to compete in Group 3, taking place from February to April 1974, when on 12th of that month, the Beta was homologated for Group 3. Until the Sanremo Rally on 2nd October 1974 (where a day earlier the Beta was finally homologated in Group 4), Lancia Beta Coupés prepared by Lancia Works were fielded in multiple Italian rally events across the country. Each result contributed towards the commonly unknown 1974 Lancia Beta Coupé Championship. Following Sanremo, Group 3 Betas were converted to Group 4 specification, in order to increase competitiveness. First registered on 28th January 1974, this Beta Coupé was equipped with a 1,756cc engine. The Estratto Cronologico shows that in February, the first owner was Lancia S.P.A., who held onto the car until 12th April, likely when they were modifying the vehicle to Group 3 specifications, and just before official FIA homologation. Sold to the first owner, a Miss Angela Frumento in Genova, a relative of Mr. Tabaton, the founder and president of Scuderia Grifone. Registered on Torino plates with the number TO K81158, chassis 1050 was liveried in white, with the bonnet sporting two large blue stripes and “H F” letters. In the 1974 season, Bruno Ferraris and Daniele Cianci were paired together as drivers, and drove the car on no less than nine occasions. Debuting on 29 June at the Rally Alpi Orientali, with race number 28, the duo finished 34th overall and 6th in class. For Sanremo, they still ran in Group 3, and the pair maintained a 4th in class position until the 8th stage, when they suffered from differential failure. Due to the nature of these regional rallies and the sheer volume of them, information for results of each event is scarce. However, in the Lancia Beta Coupé Championship, Bruno Ferraris finished 5th in the Drivers’ Championship. Scuderia Grifone took the decision to uprate chassis 1050 to Group 4 specifications for the 1975 season, the most distinguishing factor being the wide plastic wheel arch trims, and a Group four dashboard (components that the car still sports to this day). Giuseppe "Pippo" De Stefano was Grifone’s driver of choice for 1975, save for Sanremo and the Rally Piacentine, where Ferraris and Cianci returned. In 1976, Guide del Prete became drove chassis 1050 alongside Cianci, in four known events, with the Rally Targa d’Oro their best result, coming in at 14th overall. Following this season, it marked the end of this Beta’s time with Scuderia Grifone, who sold the car to Garage Centrale, owned by Roberto Beretta. The Estratto notes it entered his name on 3 April 1978, with the registration CO 532967 – which the car today still retains. On 21 July that year, Beretta entered and raced at the Rally Piacentine, sporting race number 59, the car bore an interesting livery of blue with red highlights under the Jolly Club banner. By 31 March 1979 at the Rally Città di Modena, chassis 1050 now had black bodywork, with blue, red, and white sweeping side stripes as well as a lower white band starting at the front diffuser and carrying down along the wheel arches, skirts and around the rear of the car. Now under the Beretta-Lucco Team, Beretta drove on nearly all occasions with his partner Francesca Pozzi – who at Modena finished 36th overall and 4th in Class. Beretta fielded chassis 1050 in the 1979 and 1980 seasons, before retiring the car and driving a Montecarlo. A detailed race chart is available to view online, and on file are various photographs of chassis 1050 at rallies from 1974 until 1980. Beretta retained the car (and later under his of co-driver’s name – Laura Julita) until 1994 when it was sold to Mr. Vallauri of Borgo San Dalmazzo. Changing hands again in 1995 and 1997, this Beta Coupé then entered storage as part of a large collection until 2016, when the previous owner acquired this vehicle from RM Sotheby’s Duemila Route sale. Remaining in Roberto Beretta’s care for 17 years preserved this Group 4 Lancia Beta Coupé. Still wearing Beretta-Lecco livery, the interior takes onlookers back to rallying in the 1970s. The dashboard is of Lancia Works origin and matches what is pictured on the 1974 Group 4 FIA homologation papers. Instructed by the previous owner, the masterful Italian rally preparation expert Facetti rebuilt the engine, while another workshop restored the suspension and running gear of this car; masterfully blending preservation with the ability to compete in historic rallying events. The new owner would be eligible to compete at Modena Cento Ore, FIA Historic Rally Championship, and Tour Auto. As a time-warp example, this Group 4 Lancia Beta Coupé is one of the earliest examples prepared by Lancia Works and has a fascinating competition history. Its recent mechanical preparation provides an exciting opportunity for rallying enthusiasts to acquire a true gem from 1970s Group 4 rallying heritage. Other Cars from RM Sotheby's 1/1 Switzerland 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster RM Sotheby's 1/1 Switzerland 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster RM Sotheby's 1/1 Switzerland 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster RM Sotheby's Last Featured Cars 1/1 Switzerland 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster Oldtimer Galerie International GmbH 1/1 Pennsylvania 1958 Aston Martin DB 2/4 MKIII LBI Limited 1/1 The Netherlands 1970 Abarth 1300 Scorpione Cool Classic Club Comments: No co mments yet. Be the first Submit

  • Market | SpeedHolics

    Featured by SpeedHolics this month 1957 Maserati 200SI by Fantuzzi RM Sotheby's View SELECTED BRANDS The Ultimate Refined Automotive Marketplace Online. Showcasing 1008 Exclusive Offerings, Selected with Passion by SpeedHolics. Explore Featured Vehicles Tier-1 CARS & STORIES Sean Campbell Racing Through Time: The Legacy of the 1954 OSCA MT4 #1143 Tracing the Journey of a Motorsport Icon: The Chassis number 11431954 OSCA MT4's Epic Tale from Italian Tracks to Classic Car Renaissance... Sean Campbell Porfirio Rubirosa: The “Real” James Bond & His Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe A diplomat, a race-car driver, a pilot, a polo champion, an alleged assassin, and a notorious ladies’ man, Porfirio Rubirosa is believed... Sean Campbell The Story of Bob Akin, Captain of Industry & Racecar Driver, and his 1982 Porsche 935 L1 “You can’t make a racehorse out of a pig. But if you work hard enough at it you can make a mighty fast pig” Bob Akin Find this car listed... Sean Campbell 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder: A Film by Auxietre & Schmidt “This is just the purest of…” Automotive designer Anders Warming trails off, trying to find the right words, “I have to go rob a bank!”... 1 2 FEATURED PERFORMANCE CAR S 1970-Aston-Martin-DB6-01.jpg 1970-Aston-Martin-DB6-02.jpg 1970-Aston-Martin-DB6-10.jpg 1970-Aston-Martin-DB6-01.jpg 1/10 1970 Aston Martin DB6 United Kingdom Iconic Auctioneers Ltd 1951-Maserati-Spyder-A6G-2000-Frua-Spider-01.webp 1951-Maserati-Spyder-A6G-2000-Frua-Spider-02.webp 1951-Maserati-Spyder-A6G-2000-Frua-Spider-17.webp 1951-Maserati-Spyder-A6G-2000-Frua-Spider-01.webp 1/17 1951 Maserati Spyder A6G 2000 Frua The Netherlands Cool Classic Club 1962-Mercedes-Benz-190-SL-01.jpg 1962-Mercedes-Benz-190-SL-02.jpg 1962-Mercedes-Benz-190-SL-16.jpg 1962-Mercedes-Benz-190-SL-01.jpg 1/16 1962 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL United Kingdom Iconic Auctioneers Ltd FEATURED RACE CARS 1966-Porsche-911-13.jpg 1966-Porsche-911-14.jpg 1966-Porsche-911-15.jpg 1966-Porsche-911-13.jpg 1/14 1966 Porsche 911 France Historic Cars 1980-BMW-M1-01.jpg 1980-BMW-M1-02.jpg 1980-BMW-M1-20.jpg 1980-BMW-M1-01.jpg 1/20 1980 BMW M1 Canada Fantasy Junction 1984-Jaquar-XJS-Group-A-01.jpg 1984-Jaquar-XJS-Group-A-02.jpg 1984-Jaquar-XJS-Group-A-15.jpg 1984-Jaquar-XJS-Group-A-01.jpg 1/15 1984 Jajuar XJS Group A United Kingdom Duncan Hamilton Rofgo Ltd READERS' CHOICE 1988-Ferrari-328-GTS-01.webp 1988-Ferrari-328-GTS-02.webp 1988-Ferrari-328-GTS-20.webp 1988-Ferrari-328-GTS-01.webp 1/20 1988 Ferrari 328 GTS United States ISSIMI, Inc 1964-Alfa-Romeo-Ti-Super-01.jpeg 1964-Alfa-Romeo-Ti-Super-02.jpeg 1964-Alfa-Romeo-Ti-Super-20.jpeg 1964-Alfa-Romeo-Ti-Super-01.jpeg 1/20 1964 Alfa Romeo Ti Super France Historic Cars 1981-BMW-M1-01.webp 1981-BMW-M1-02.webp 1981-BMW-M1-15.webp 1981-BMW-M1-01.webp 1/15 1981 BMW M1 Ontario RM Sotheby's View All Listings Catering to Your Passion and Business: A Niche Marketplace for Sports and Racing Cars. Contact Us for Listing Your Vehicle

  • 1987 Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV 2

    1987 Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV D.K. Engineering Ltd 1987 Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV D.K. Engineering Ltd If you are interested in the content of this listing, please contact the Dealer. Contact details are indicated below in the section "Contact the Dealer." Should you require confidential support from SpeedHolics for your inquiry, kindly complete the section "I am Interested." This listing is provided by SpeedHolics solely for the purpose of offering information and resources to our readers. The information contained within this listing is the property of the entity indicated as the "Dealer." SpeedHolics has no involvement in the commercial transactions arising from this listing, and we will not derive any financial gain from any sales made through it. Furthermore, SpeedHolics is entirely independent from the "Dealer" mentioned in this listing and maintains no affiliation, association, or connection with them in any capacity. Any transactions, engagements, or communications undertaken as a result of this listing are the sole responsibility of the parties involved, and SpeedHolics shall bear no liability or responsibility in connection therewith. For more information, please refer to the "Legal & Copyright" section below. SH ID 24-0415022 FEATURED BY SPEEDHOLICS In Stock United Kingdom Dealer SEARCH OTHER CARS COMMENT ON FACEBOOK This Car Contact the Dealer I am Interested Legal & Copyright Transmission Manual Drive Side LHD Description To replace the iconic Miura, Lamborghini would once again throw the design rulebook out of the window. Employing Marcello Gandini once more, Lamborghini launched the spaceship LP400 at the Geneva motorshow in 1971. Three years later the first customer cars were delivered. In 1974 the Countach was a trailblazer. Its design both pioneered and popularised the wedge-shaped, sharply angled look popular in many high-performance sports cars. The "cabin-forward" design concept, which pushes the passenger compartment forward in order to accommodate a larger engine, was also popularised by the Countach. For the 5000 QV, the penultimate and most popular iteration of the Countach legend, the engine was bored and stroked to 5.2 litres (5,167 cc) and given four valves per cylinder (quattrovalvole in Italian). The carburettors were moved from the sides to the top of the engine for better breathing — creating a "power bulge" on the engine cover. These engine changes meant that the car produces 455BHP @7,500rpm with 369lb ft @ 5,200rpm; some 70bhp up on its Testarossa rival and enough to propel the car from a standstill to 60mph in 4.1 seconds and on to 100mph in 10. The Downdraft 5000 QV was in fact the only Countach to be homologated for the FIAs Group B, intending to rival the likes of the 288 GTO and 959 before the cancellation of the series due to safety concerns. Such was the over engineering present with the Countach, even at peak production just three handbuilt cars a week were finished in Sant’Agata. It is these facts and figures which make the downdraft QV the Countach to have, whilst the headlines have been grabbed the early Periscopica Countachs which have soared in value, peaking at auction as high as $1,800,000. In 2011, world-renowned period test-driver Valentino Balboni spoke the highest praise of the QV, ’It’s still clean and pure Countach. I think it’s the best compromise. In terms of power and drivability, for me it’s the best. This is the one which has the most charisma, I would say. Pure Countach: the right engine in the right car.” This example of the iconic, penned by Marcello Gandini, Lamborghini Countach is a high performance 5000 QV ’88.5’ variant, named as such due to its four valve per cylinder heads (Quattro – Valvole). This specific car is believed to have been the New York Auto Show car for 1988. It arrived finished in Rosso Perlato Chiaro, a deep almost pearlescent finish, not overly saturated, which allows it to pair coherently with the gold Campagnolo magnesium wheels. The interior is trimmed in extensive Champagne leather, with dark red inserts and piping. A specification that was bespoke at the time, and certainly encapsulates the iconic 1980s aesthetic of the Countach. After unveiling at the New York Auto Show, the car had two subsequent owners before being purchased by Frank Drendel of North Carolina, with just 5,877 kilometres from new, in January 1997. The Drendel family was in ownership of an impressive collection, and notably Matt Drendel, son of Frank, would go on to purchase a broad range of the most desirable turbocharged Porsche Racecars, including 911 GT1, 917/30, and several 935s, before his untimely passing at just 35 years old in 2010. In 1998, the car was sold to Al Burtoni of Milano Imports of Gilroy, California. Burtoni would undertake extensive modification this Countach, including high compression pistons, camshafts, ignition, low inertia connecting rods, as well as European spec headers, exhaust system, and Weber carburettors. This raised the output of the Bizzarrini Designed V12 from a claimed 440bhp, which was an optimistic figure, to a proven 538.4 Corrected bhp over 7,000rpm, on the TRD USA dyno in California. Whilst the car was undergoing works, it was purchased by Miura and Diablo owner Dick Rasmussen, who eventually took delivery of the car to his home in Wisconsin on the 4th of September 1998. Upon purchasing, Rasmussen also had the registration "DA BULL" put onto the car. Rasmussen would go on to care for this Countach until his passing in 2023; an over 25-year single ownership, covering less than 7,000km in this time. A request from Rasmussen was that whoever would be the next owner of the car would be selected by his family, and as such, the previous owner of the car did not simply just choose to purchase the Countach, he underwent a lengthy assessment by the family to be a worthy custodian of the vehicle. Today, this exceptionally powerful Countach has covered only 13,000 kilometres from new and presents the opportunity to purchase an appropriately upgraded Lamborghini in excellent condition. Other Cars from D.K. Engineering Ltd 1/1 Switzerland 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster D.K. Engineering Ltd 1/1 Switzerland 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster D.K. Engineering Ltd 1/1 Switzerland 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster D.K. Engineering Ltd Last Featured Cars 1/1 Switzerland 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster Oldtimer Galerie International GmbH 1/1 Pennsylvania 1958 Aston Martin DB 2/4 MKIII LBI Limited 1/1 The Netherlands 1970 Abarth 1300 Scorpione Cool Classic Club Comments: No co mments yet. 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