Automodello creates John Fitch’s souped up Corvair
John Fitch is NOT a household name. But he was an incredible person.
Fitch not only was a leading American sports car racer in the 1950s, racing at LeMans six times and finishing third once, winning big name events such as the 12 Hours of Sebring and 1955 Mille Miglia in Italy, but he was an inventor. Fitch, who lived to be nearly 100, held patents on a variety of safety devices, much of it to do with racing. He was a car guy, through and through.
In the 1960s he fell in love with Chevrolet’s Corvair as a possible sports car to be raced. He had already been the first manager of Chevy’s Corvette racing team. So Fitch put his design and racing experience into a series of customized Corvairs that became known as Fitch Sprints.
Every once in a while a new shape surprises the racing world. In the late 1950s and early ‘60s it was the rear-engined F1 racer that eventually took the Indianapolis 500 by storm. In the 1970s it was the 6-wheeled Tyrrell F1 racer. Today it’s the DeltaWing.
This shiny silver racer features a triangular shape with two wheels close together in its needle-like nose and a wider rear-end complete with a vertical wing, so a delta wing shape. Spark Models now brings the shape to an eye-catching 1:43 diecast model that will stand out in any racecar collection.
DeltaWing, the racer, started on the drawing board of designer Ben Bowlby back in 2009 and originally was a proposed chassis for IndyCar, which was looking to revamp its racecar package. While it didn’t fly among the upper brass there, likely because it wasn’t a fully open-wheeled racer, it did gain support in the racing world.
Ostensibly the DeltaWing’s design is aimed at cutting drag so it is faster in a straight line and also more fuel efficient, plus reducing weight for better fuel economy. Its nose is thin with the front wheels creating just a 2-foot wide track, while the rear tires’ track is about 5 ½-feet wide. You’d think the car would be unsteady, but it’s not and turns crisply into turns.
Major IndyCar team owner Chip Ganassi funded the DeltaWing project and Dan Gurney’s noted All-American Racers built it to be entered as an experimental racer at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 2012. Nissan provided the engine, originally a 1.6-liter turbo I4. At LeMans it qualified 29th out of 50+ cars and was running well before being involved in an accident with another racer. Continue reading Die-cast: Spark 1:43 DeltaWing 12 Hours of Sebring→
Detailed D-Type Jaguar a replica of 1955 LeMans winner
Jaguar was a post-war powerhouse with its C-Type sports cars that won France’s famous 24 Hours of LeMans twice in a 3-year period.
The C was a straightforward sports car with a long nose and a 3.4-liter straight-6 that made 220 horsepower.
But by 1954 the competition, mainly in the form of Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari, was stepping up and Jaguar needed a new design that was lighter and faster, so its D-Type was developed with a distinctive stabilizer fin and airplane technology that included a monocoque cockpit and an aluminum alloy to keep the car light.
Its shape was aerodynamic too, thanks to the design work of Malcolm Sayer, plus its frame was strong and rigid. Other developments included a dry sump lubrication system, canting the engine at 8.5 degrees and a deformable aviation style bag in place of a standard gas tank.
Jaguar kept the underbody clean too in an effort to boost top speed on LeMans’s famously long Mulsanne Straight, where racers today can hit 250 mph. In 1955 the Jag was reaching 172 mpg vs. about 160 for other competitors. The C Type had been capable of about 120 mph. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart LeMans-winning D-Type Jaguar→
Despite low cost, Chrysler 200 droptop leaves us cold
Firstimpressions can be skewed by many factors, and it probably did not help that the Chrysler 200 Limited Convertible arrived on a near zero degree day in a week where snow was forecast, and fell, over several days.No, I didn’t drop the top!
The test car was a bright metallic red with tan canvas roof. A hardtop convertible also is available and the 200 comes in three trim levels, the base Touring model, starting at $27,100, the tested Limited at $32,095 and the S model with blacked out grille at $32,595.
Mopar lovers may recall the former Sebring sedan, which also was available as a convertible. And this, like the Sebring, offers a rare under $30 grand convertible that will seat four adults. It’s only real competitors are Ford’s Mustang and Chevrolet’s Camaro. Both look much sportier and in mid-trim levels with V6 power, the Mustang is actually a tad less expensive. I’d opt for the Mustang on looks alone, but for folks who want a pleasant, less racy, comfortable convertible, the 200 is fine. Continue reading 2013 Chrysler 200 Limited Convertible→