Monday, 24 February 2020

Classic Motoring News UpdaTe - Monday 24th February 2020

NATIONAL AUSTIN 7 RALLY TO WELCOME INTREPID ADVENTURER
The  58th National Austin 7 Rally will be held on Sunday 5th July at Beaulieu in Hampshire.

For those who own these iconic little cars; those who would like to own one; and those who just love looking at them, the national rally is the most anticipated annual event on the calendar. Hundreds of cars will take part and there will be much to see and do over the weekend – all of it centred around the diminutive ‘Motor for the Millions’ created by Sir Herbert Austin in 1922 and produced up until the outbreak of the war in 1939.

This year’s special theme is ‘Coachbuilt and Fabric-bodied Austin Sevens’ and many fascinating examples will be on display around the arena, in the grounds of the National Motor Museum.

In 2019, the rally gave an enthusiastic ‘Bon Voyage’ to intrepid adventurer Chris Blakey as he set off in his Austin 7 on an 8,000-mile drive across Russia to reach Tokyo in time for the Rugby World Cup. He made it there in one piece and in recognition of his amazing achievement, Chris will be the Guest of Honour presenting the prizes to the class winners on Sunday.

The National Rally is organised by the 750 Motor Club and the event is open to all Austin 7 owners regardless of whether or not they are 750 Club members. Pre-1980 vehicles of all other makes are welcome to attend and will have a designated parking area on the rally field.

The National Austin 7 Rally is an ideal day out for enthusiasts and for families as the rally entry ticket also gives access to the whole of the Beaulieu attraction, including the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, On Screen Cars, the ancestral Montagu home of Palace House, Secret Army exhibition, Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds and gardens. Also, open from March 15th is the adventurous new play area, Little Beaulieu, for family fun all together.

For entrants wishing to make a weekend of it, camping facilities are available and on Saturday there is an organized run through the picturesque New Forest followed by the ever-popular evening social gathering.

The event is sponsored by Motoreasy and RH Specialist Insurance. Full details and participant entry forms will be available on the 750 Motor Club website towards the end of March. All other Beaulieu visitors are welcome to see the Austin 7 display as part of their general admission ticket – for tickets and details see www.beaulieu.co.uk.

Source: 750 Motor Club
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THORNLEY KELHAM BEGINS RESTORATION ON RARE MUSSOLINI-OWNED ALFA ROMEO 6C 1750 SS
Classic and vintage car restoration specialist Thornley Kelham is undertaking its most challenging project yet; a complete nut-and-bolt concours-standard restoration of a rare Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS, with an even more extraordinary history. This particular Alfa Romeo comes complete with records showing the car was delivered to its first owner, ‘II Duce’ Benito Mussolini, on the 13th January 1930, for Lire 60,000.
The Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS was one of the most popular and successful sports-racing cars of its day, as demonstrated by the fact that no fewer than 13 competed in the 1929 Mille Miglia, of which 8 finished, seven among the first ten including the overall winner and third place. Cars were built up as rolling chassis, which were then bodied by coachbuilders including Carrozzerie touring and Zagato, and Stabilimenti Farina. 
Extensive research by Thornley Kelham tracked down period black and white images of the exact car in Archivio Luce (the main archive for Cinecitta) in Italy, taken on 29 April 1931, showing Mussolini driving the car, as well as footage of Mussolini driving the car whilst leading ‘II Radio Auto-Raduno’ on a section of the rally from Roma to Ostia. It is these early images and film footage that help fie the clearest indication of the Alfa Romeo’s original appearance.

Alfa 6C Today – Credit Ashley Border

By enlarging one of the period photos, Thornley Kelham was finally able to establish that the Alfa Romeo was originally bodied by Stabilimenti Farina, thanks to the period carrozzeria badge at the base of the body near the rear wheel. At some point later in its life the body was modified into a stripped won, the racing-focused body that it wears today. On 21st March 1937, the car was sold to a Renato Tigillo and then recorded as having been shipped to Asmara in August of that year. Since no change of ownership is to be found, it’s likely Tigillo took the car with him as he moved to Eritrea.
It is clear that the body changes took place while the 6C 1750 SS was in Eritrea, where it was adapted for racing. Images sourced of the car in Asmara reveal much of the bodywork had been removed to create a stripped-out racing car, bearing only a passing resemblance to the beautiful Farina creation it was born with. At the time, Eritrea was an Italian colony and many young Italians would take their cars to Asmara to live and race on hill climbs and street circuit races like the Coppa di Natale or the Coppa Governatore.
When this car was eventually inspected in the USA by Thornley Kelham, the bodywork had been fitted with an unoriginal grille and retained very little in the way of original panels. The chassis, rear axle and gearbox are, however, original to the car. With in-house paint, engine and body shops, Thornley Kelham is widely regarded for the quality of its award-winning restorations of historically significant, often unique vehicles across a variety of marques. The team have now been tasked by the car’s new owner with recreating the car’s original 1930 appearance which will involve several thousand hours of fabrication, engineering and assembly by its highly skilled workshop technicians.
Simon Thornley, the co-founder of Thornley Kelham, said: “We’ve undertaken many challenging restorations here at Thornley Kelham but this Alfa Romeo presents us with perhaps our greatest test to date. Over the course of its extraordinary life it has been graced with a beautiful hand-crafted body from Stabilimenti Farina, owned and piloted by one of the world’s most (in)famous dictators, and stripped out for motorsport and raced on the streets of North Africa. Our challenge now is to restore it to the condition it first left Stabilimenti Farina’s carrozzeria, based on further painstaking research and thousands of hours of expert craftsmanship. Automotive history like this has to be preserved, and we are delighted to be involved in the latest page in its amazing story.”
Source: Thornley Kelham
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