I think it’s fairly safe to say that of the many films to feature motor racing, few have achieved any artistic distinction, and even fewer have managed to appeal to the vast audience that watch the sport.
Europe in the post-war period was a paradise for motor sport enthusiasts – regardless of your vehicle, chances were that you could race it, be it on a disused airfield, the public roads or a circuit.
For me car boot sales these days are as much about rummaging through boxes of old toys as they are searching for interesting books, and of late, as my son shows an ever-increasing interest in all things both two and four-wheeled, my most valued quarry has become the Tonka toy.
There aren’t terribly many boxy saloons that can pass for bona fide sports cars, and I’ve already written about most of those here already: the little Simcas, the Renault 8, and Fiats 128 and 131.
As an impressionable lad who spent his days amidst stacks of old Motor Sport magazines, and his evenings buried in Doug Nye’s biblical tome on Cooper Cars (yup, they were heady days) the discovery that back in ’66 a guy named Frankenheimer had made a three-hour epic about Formula 1 racing was pretty exciting.
Writing this blog on a weekly basis it’s impossible to predict when or how inspiration will strike – if indeed it does – for while there’s much to be said for creative freedom, it can be tough on the indecisive.
On one hand the seventies were a great time to buy something sporty and Italian – there were lots of makes and models to choose from, ranging from true exotica like the Maserati Merak, to pretty Spiders from Alfa and Fiat, plus everyday cars with a bit of poke, like the Giulia Sprint or the Sud Ti.
The other evening I was watching a film called Le Pacha, directed by the late, great Georges Lautner. It’s a typical slice of sixties French policier action, with a couple of big heists, a coldblooded baddie and a slightly grumpy Jean Gabin as the weary cop on his trail,
Perhaps it’s just morbid curiosity that draws my eye to the Obituaries page of the paper each morning, but regardless I find the well-lived lives of others truly fascinating.
There’s a great book by racer-turned-journalist Innes Ireland, entitled Marathon in the Dust, which tells the eventful story of the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon.
A few months back, as you may recall, I was dispatched to the Footman James Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham, and though the day itself was somewhat hectic, it did give me a chance to meet some really nice people and see some really exciting cars.
Once upon a time, when Buck Rogers was on TV and I was a boy, there was a little Italian sports car, so small and angular, it appeared to have been conceived as an experiment in origami.
This time last week I was racing along the deserted roads of Northern France in happy wonderment at just how well maintained they are. From A road to D road, they’re flat and fast, with rarely a fellow driver to be found.
Okay, so I guess I’ve probably extoled the virtues of enough Italian rustbuckets to last my five faithful readers a lifetime, so this week I’ll pop my patriotic hat on and spend my regulatory union tea break having a look at another wedge-shaped marvel,