Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

Help Kickstart an Alfa-Inspired Wrist Watch

Vintage Driver Chrono by Straton

This Kickstarter for an Alfa-Romeo Alfetta GT inspired chrono by Straton Watch Co has already achieved more than 7 times it’s $15,500 goal, but there’s still time to get in on it for your own Vintage Driver Chrono. Even a few of the special Backers Editions are still available. Whenever we peek into the world of watches we start to enter an environment with a fastidiousness to put Pebble Beach concours judges to shame with near religious adherence to particular movements, countries of origin, and grades of metals.

The Straton Vintage Driver Chrono uses the Seiko-developed Mecha-Quartz movement which combines quartz’ accuracy with a mechanical chronograph that represents what I think is a good compromise (at this price point) between purists and casual fans of wristwatches.

Check out the Kickstarter for more information.

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Everoak is Still Producing the Racemaster Helmet

Jim Clark Replica Helmet by Everoak

When I posted a vintage advertisement yesterday for Everoak helmets, I thought I’d simply stumbled upon another wonderful piece of old racing ephemera. It never occurred to me for even a moment that Everoak would still be out there selling the same helmets. Instead of just another piece of throwaway advertising from an old magazine, I instead found something far more exciting: yet another example of the miraculous little surprises that keep me returning to the vintage racing community.

Everoak Racemaster HelmetEveroak is indeed still selling Racemaster and Classic helmets. The grandson of the founder of the company, Bill Vero, was the craftsman who would mold and paint helmets for Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, Barry Sheene, Jo Bonnier, and others throughout the golden age of racing… And Bill Vero still molds and paints the helmets today.

They have even produced the occasional replica of those iconically liveried helmets, like the Jim Clark example above, which sold at Bonhams 2013 Goodwood sale for £1,250.

Sure, they’re slightly more expensive than the prices listed in yesterday’s ad… but they’re doubtless worth every penny. Save it for touring—I’m going to go ahead and assume this isn’t FIA approved.

More information and available for purchase at EveroakHelmets.com.

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BMW Makes new 328 Transmissions Available

Reproducing BMW 328 Gearboxes

I love it.

Another manufacturer is working to keep their vintage sports and racing cars on the road and ready to race. Like our earlier look at Porsche licensing the Type 547 engine to Capricorn, BMW has licensed the gearbox from the 328 to transmission manufacturer ZF. Keeping these cars on the road is clearly a priority for manufacturers, and taking these kinds of steps is a great boon for vintage motorsport.

The mighty BMW 328For racing, there’s a great effect here as well. BMW 328 drivers know that they can really race their cars without fear of a blown gearbox sidelining their car indefinitely. Well done, BMW. Keep ’em coming and keep ’em on the road.

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Some Pit Lane in the Boardroom

Monaco Cufflinks. Named for Graham Hill's victory at the 1965 Monaco Grand Prix

All too often when men’s accessory makers attempt to introduce elements of racing into their lines the results are ham-fisted and clunky. We’ve all seen examples of wristwatches or bracelets that are overtly bedazzled with checkered flags or racing stripes or Von Dutchian flames. Eyesores, the lot of ’em.

When I come across a line of vintage racing-inspired accessories that are truly well designed, meticulously executed, and beautifully made, I can just feel my wallet screaming for mercy. In spite of the fact that I have almost no use at all for these gorgeous cufflinks from London silversmiths One Bond Street, I’m just such a sucker for wonderful examples of tasteful nods to historic motorsport.

I’ve struggled to tastefully showcase my own love for vintage racing in the work environment—and I work in an ad agency, where it’s perfectly fine wearing a t-shirt and ripped jeans. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for those that need to wear suits daily. Here’s where those with whiter collars than mine have one up on me. A set of cufflinks with graphics inspired by Graham Hill’s BRM, or Jim Clark’s Lotus 49, or John Surtees’ Honda RA300 are going to look much better when coupled with Hugo Boss than with Levi’s.

Monza Cufflinks. Named for John Surtees' victory at the 1964 Italian Grand PrixSilverstone Cufflinks. Named for Jim Clark's victory at the 1967 British Grand PrixParabolica Cufflinks. Named for John Surtees' victory at the 1967 Italian Grand Prix

Available at One Bond Street. Gorgeous.

via Silodrome.

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Shiny Doesn't Win Races

1968 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300TI with black steel wheels

Similar to my love for the Momo Prototipo and Jaeger gauges, there is a kinship I feel with BlackSteelies.com. There’s something special about finding a solitary slice of perfection and watching it prove itself in situation after situation. What these items share is an innate ability to improve the aesthetic or performance of any car they’re added to. It’s as true for the Prototipo as it is for simple black steel wheels. Whether on modern Minis or vintage Porsches and BMWs, the desire to throw out unnecessary and frivolous (and oversized) chrome in favor of a more simple solution is a quick route to my heart. Keep at it, gentlemen.

Lancia Aurelia GT with black steel wheelsBMW 2002 with black steel wheels

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Autodromo's New Movement

We’ve been singing the praises of the aesthetic of Autodromo’s offerings for a while now. They wonderfully marry the sleek sophistication that so appeals to wrist watch aficionados with the purposeful elegance of motorsport. The world of vintage motoring has certainly embraced the endeavor. Some watch snobs though, have been less enthusiastic in throwing their support behind a piece with Quartz movement.

I’m guessing that with their latest release, Autodromo has silenced those naysayers. The limited edition Monoposto is not only marvelously designed and gorgeously detailed—I love the heavily threaded reinforcement on the strap— it is also Autodromo’s first watch with automatic mechanical movement.

Like all of Autodromo’s wristwatches, the references to motorsport are evident but not gaudy. The subtlety of their range is perhaps what I’m most drawn to. There’s no tacky racing graphics here. But those that are in the know will instantly see the sporting references in the design and execution of them.

More information at the Autodromo store and at Automobiliac. Bradley tells me that they can still ship for Christmas if you order today. Get on it!

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Autodromo Launches Chronograph Line

When Autodromo launched last year with a series of automotive inspired timepieces I was immediately smitten. How could I not be?

Timepieces and motor racing have a long history of association together, even if sometimes the reasons are a bit murky, and even if sometimes the glamour of expensive cars and expensive watches overshadows the pure clinical necessity of accurate timekeeping in motor racing.

Rarely, though is motoring this successfully referenced in a watch without being gaudy. Some watch manufacturers’ aesthetic is a bit…excessive. I prefer a cleaner and less ostentatious design; and Autodromo has successfully referenced motorsport without screaming it by adding checkered flags or other overt or corny iconography. It’s not just the faces either, the perforated bands just ooze motorsport to me.

For their most recent line, Autodromo has smartly moved beyond simply referencing motoring in their offerings and created a vital tool for the sports and racing enthusiast: These stunning chronographs (for those unfamiliar with chronographs, this YouTube clip gives a good introduction).

By happy coincidence, they’ve chosen my favorite model from their launch line as the basis of extension for the chronograph series. The Vallelunga series is, for me, the most beautifully realized of their combinations of straight timepiece function with graphic motorsport reference.

I think I’m also partly drawn to it because 3 o’clock is redline. I don’t know about you, but that’s usually when I’m starting to burn out after running hot all day.

Check out the complete collection at Autodromo.com.

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Brand New Porsche 4-Cam Engine Anyone?

That gorgeously presented puzzle above is the work of the German motorsport product company, Capricorn. Their original intent seems to have been to manufacture parts to replenish the dwindling stocks of spares that threatened to make authentic 4-cam rebuilds all but impossible. The net effect, however, is something much more precious. It is now possible to build a brand new type 547 engine from off-the-shelf parts.

That they have managed to leverage their long relationship with Porsche into making complete reproduction 4-cams available to consumers is nothing short of remarkable. After all, this legendary little box of awesome powered the 356 Carreras, the Spyder series, and the 904 to a string of victories that was Porsche’s introduction into the top tiers of motorsport and resulted in us still referring to Porsche as “the Giant Killer” even all these years after they’ve become a giant themselves.

It’s not all good news and sunshine, however, the Capricorn build will set you back nearly as much as an authentic 547—somewhere in the neighborhood of €120,000. That’s no small figure, of course, and the renowned difficulties of the 4-cam will come along with it. Looking at these pieces, something tells me that the oft-quoted anecdote of the 20-hour valve adjustment aren’t that exaggerated. But I have to think it would be worth it to hear her sing once the revs get up.

I find it tremendously encouraging that there are organizations that will take this kind of production on and get the licenses to do it. What’s next? Colombo 12-cylinder, anyone?

More info on Capricorn’s Carrera Engine detail page.

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Reddit Interviews Jacques Couture, Racing Instructor

Reddit’s “I Am A” forum is always a fascinating peek into people’s lives. The premise is simple enough, someone pops on and starts a thread with “I am ___, ask me anything”. r/IAmA has hosted a variety of fascinating discussions with a wide variety of diverse and public people such as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, military whistleblower Justin Watt, and comedian Louis C.K. It’s a wonderful and rare opportunity for people to directly ask questions of someone, without the filter of a more traditional interviewer acting as our proxy. Plus they’re just a good read (I got distracted from writing this post and read all three of those I linked… Focus!).

Recently Jacques Couture, a founder of the Jim Russell Racing School North America and racing instructor to Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve, Al Unser, Jr., and myriad other famous and not so famous racing drivers started a thread.

What a rare and tremendous opportunity for motorsport enthusiasts to interact with such an influential figure in the sport as Couture.

Some of my favorite questions and responses from the discussion:

Q: Motor racing is well known for rewarding those with money over those with talent. Were there any students that you thought were unbelievably talented; maybe even better than Gilles Villenueve; but due to lack of funding ended up never getting anywhere?

A: Absolutely. over the 35 years i ran the school. there have been hundreds of extremely talented individuals that have come through that showed great promise, but just didnt have the money to continue.

Q: We hear a lot about drivers like Gilles, Senna and Prost, but who’s the greatest unsung F1 driver of the last 30/40 years?

A: There are quite a few great drivers who just never got the break they needed. Chris Amon is one. exceptional driver who was always right behind the front runner waiting for that mistake that never came.

Q: What is the biggest difference between teaching Jacques who had probably some aptitude and a beginner without any knowledge (Celebrities)?

A: Someone who has no experience is actually easier to teach because they have no bad habits you have to reverse. Many people with some racing experience, in the beginning, may be more difficult to teach because they may have one or more bad habits you have to deal with first before they can progress.
later on though, once those bad habits are broken, someone with experience, such as Gilles and Jacques, will then progress much more quickly.

Click on through for the full discussion, and thanks to Ral for writing in and pointing me in the right direction.

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Shopping the 1968 Cobra Parts Catalog

Who needs racing cams? I got performance heads here! Get your close ratio gearboxes!

Browse the complete catalog and daydream at Mustang Tek.

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