Successful art forgers, dishonest though they may be, are incredibly skilled. If you can fool people who make a living dealing in multimillion dollar paintings you’re doing something right. To take new materials, create art, and then sell it as the real thing using artificial aging takes talent and audacity. Minus artificial aging and deception, this is what Broadley Automotive does with their T76 and other cars once built by Lola. Just as Guy Hain forged the sculptures of Auguste Rodin by using the original molds, Broadley uses all of the original tooling and body molds that Lola used to build the iconic T70. The 1960s racing cars that roll out of the Cambridgeshire factory today are so indistinguishable from the originals that the FIA grants them Historic Technical Passports, letting them race alongside original Ferraris, Porsches and GT40s.
Lola’s version, the T70, was designed in 1965 and featured a British chassis powered by American V8s (one was disastrously equipped with an Aston Martin V8). Chevy-powered T70s won 5 out of 6 Can-Am races in the 1966 season, but performed less well in European races because the big American engines didn’t like the lower quality of European fuel. Engine reliability was a problem and the T70s did their best work in shorter sprint races while in Europe. The pace of development was fast, and by 1967 the M6 McLaren was untouchable in Can-Am racing. Penske racing did, however, win the coveted Daytona 24 Hours with a T70 in 1969.
With Lola sadly going the way of too many other British car builders, Broadley Automotive stepped in and bought up the tooling, body molds, drawings, and everything else required to build “big banger sports racers”. The production process is identical to the one Eric Broadley (father of Broadley boss Andrew) set out in the ‘60s. The cars are produced from aircraft-grade aluminium with brand-new period correct engines, switchgear and Daytona-conquering noise. In the interest of safety there are a couple of updates, like a stronger transmission casing and modern pistons in the brakes. Imagine caning one of these sports car wonders without worrying about anything breaking and putting you into a tree! Delivery to your door happens within 16 weeks of you picking up the phone to order one. Of course, all this history and craftsmanship comes at an eye-watering price, but that’s not really the point, is it?
Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Wednesday Dec 7th 2016.
The CLK GTR was created to compete at the highest level of sports car racing: the FIA GT Championship. The car was designed from the ground up to be a pure racing car, with the road-going versions required for homologation built as an afterthought. During development Mercedes secretly purchased a McLaren F1 GTR and switched it’s BMW V12 for one of their own. This car was to serve as a benchmark for competitor lap times as well as to test out the new and highly aerodynamic bodywork destined for use on the CLK GTR.
After a somewhat shaky start to the GT season due to brake failures, the CLK GTRs really began to hit their stride. Mercedes finished the 1997 GT season as the constructor’s champion and Bernd Schneider clinched the driver’s title in his CLK GTR. With the GT Championship conquered Mercedes set their sights on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Modifications included aerodynamic tweaks for Le Mans’ high speeds and engine changes. Despite replacing the 6.0 litre V12s with supposedly more reliable V8s, both CLK LMs were forced to retire after engine failures. Mercedes then returned to GT racing and ran away with the rest of the season. All told the CLK GTR/LMs won 17 of the 22 races they entered.
To satisfy the FIA’s homologation requirements Mercedes was obliged to produce 25 road-going versions of the CLK GTR. The cars weren’t completed as they should have been by the start of the 1997 season but the FIA allowed Mercedes to compete anyway, much to the chagrin of the competition. As the CLK GTR was designed as a racing car, creature comforts were sparse. Storage lockers were integrated into the door sills and a leather interior was installed, while a new traction control system aimed to keep the CLK GTR’s 630 horsepower from launching itself into a tree. The price of this road-going racer in 1998 was a cool $1.5 million.
Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Febuary 10th 2016
Sir Stirling Moss won the 1955 Mille Miglia driving this gorgeous Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. Departing at 7.22 am, Moss and navigator Denis Jenkinson maintained an average speed of 97.96 mph on the 1000 mile figure eight course from Brescia to Rome and back again, while competing with other racers and dodging public traffic to whom the entire course was still open. The pair completed the course in 10 hours, 7 minutes, 48 seconds, and finished 32 minutes ahead of second place teammate Juan Manuel Fangio. The SLR’s edge was that under its magnesium bodywork it was essentially Mercedes’ W196 Formula One car, which had won 9 of the 12 races and both of the world championships that it had been entered in. Modifications included adding a second seat for the navigator, headlights, and enlarging the W196’s 2.5 litre straight 8 engine to 3 litres. The car produced 310 horsepower, and took sports car racing by storm in 1955.
Tragically, one of the SLRs collided with an Austin Healey at the end of the pit straight Le Mans the same year while being piloted by factory driver Pierre Levegh. The Frenchman’s Mercedes was still travelling at 150 mph, and he had no time to react. The car became airborne and disintegrated, with parts flying into the tightly packed crowd before flames from the fuel tank ignited the magnesium bodywork. 84 people including Levegh lost their lives in the single worst motorsport accident in history. Mercedes had already been courting the idea of ceasing motorsport operations at the end of 1955, and the Le Mans disaster was the final nail in the coffin.
After the end of Mercedes’ racing program the SLR’s deisgner, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, appropriated one of the SLR/SL coupes (built with an enclosed cockpit to increase driver comfort in long distance races like the Mille Miglia) as his personal daily driver and enjoyed what was by far and away the world’s fastest road car with a top speed approaching 180 mph (remember, this was essentially a Formula One car with enclosed wheels). The car came to be known as the Uhlenhaut Coupe, and now resides in Mercedes’ museum near Stuttgart. It is undoubtedly one of the world’s most valuable cars.
Published @Whippstagram on Instagram, Dec 15th 2015