ECURIE SCALPEL NEWS - APRIL 2005

OUT WITH THE OLD ETC!

Well I suppose every dog has its day and nothing lasts forever. With this in mind it became clear that the faithful Porsche 356 need to move on to pastures new and to someone who would use it more and do it justice. It really is a wonderful car that is simply but beautifully put together. The bodies all rust at an alarming rate but the mechanics are wonderful. For a car that is now 40 years old it handles superbly and of course the engine is a gem having been re-built by the wonderful Andy Prill using all of his little tweaks and modifications. It revs for ever and never misses a beat. Having said all this you might wonder why it has to go. We two reasons really – first I just don’t spend enough time driving a car that deserves to be flying around B roads every day and second there is a new project in town!

The every faithful Andy came up with a buyer and after almost no haggling a deal was done. The Porsche is off to pastures new in a celebrity existence with the well know historic car aficionado Alan de Cadanet who definitely knows his cars and usually fronts the Goodwood Revival video. I am sure he will ensure that the car is well looked after and earns a living – only as it should be.

So what about the new project then? Armed with some cash it was not long before the choices were simple enough – pay off some debt or buy another car! Well what about both? With this in the back of my mind I came upon the idea that all these FF boys can’t be so wrong and maybe I should include one in the Ecurie Scalpel stable. Everyone knows about Formula Ford – simple 1600cc Cortina GT engines, control tyres and the breeding ground of all sorts of very hectic racing and starts of the future. James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, Eddie Ervine, Johnny Herbert, Damon Hill – this list is truly endless of champions who cut their teeth in this starter formula with wild and very woolly antics on the track. Naturally the historic version for pre-’72 cars is no different really with close racing on a budget. Well that is the excuse, so what about the result?

Initially I thought it might be good to have a baby Crossle to go with the 19F F2 car particularly as they are good cars and front runners in the HSCC races. The 20F’s are almost the same chassis and therefore I would fit! Most of them went to the US and I managed to track one down that seemed genuine. However it soon became clear that it had been “Americanised” with changes to the roll hoop and engine along with decidedly non-standard body panels. All of this could be fixed but with budget in mind it had to be a thumbs down.

Almost immediately the answer appeared - and it came from Canada. Tipped off about the possibility I soon began to chat to the marvellous Dave Gold who lives in a small town near Toronto. In fact he is based not far from where I spent some months as a medical student several decades ago. Since 1991 he has owned a Mark 8 Elden and has raced it regularly over the years. However he had recently decided that as time marches on it was time to call it a day and had begun to strip the car in order to ready it for sale – why doesn’t everyone do things that well? After a few chats I realised that the car in question was in fact an ex-works machine built in 1971 and raced in the 1972 season by Chris Smith and Tim (brother of Tony) Brise. One of three cars bought by Mike Catlow and sister to the somewhat more famous Danny Sullivan mount, Dave has maintained Chassis No. 12 in the orange and black of the CATNIC sponsored works team. He is actually only the third owner from new as it was imported to Canada at the end of the 1974 season to be raced by a Jim Blyth. After a minor crash he stripped it for repairs and then lost heart and stored it for almost 15 years before it was revived by Dave.

Dave has very kindly agreed to strip it even more before shipping and will leave the (almost certainly illegal) US specification engine behind. This means that the inevitable work of taking the car apart as always happens will already be done. So when it eventually arrives all we need is an engine and to put it all back together – it sounds so easy when you say it quickly.

These Eldens are well known and rapid cars that may not be to everyone’s taste in terms of looks. Personally I think the wedge look that was so fashionable then (and followed the trend set by the magnificent Lotus 72) is pretty attractive and the car certainly looks the business. Ace preparer Simon Hadfield has agreed to do the setup work and remembers fondly the one he built about 10 or 12 years ago pointing out that it was roomy and accommodated his tall frame quite easily.

So now we just have to wait for the bits to arrive and look forward to the car being built once more. I would predict that the car will be ready for the start of the 2006 season but stranger things have happened!

 

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