A bit of music from the lamented Radio Blog Club

Le Français

Toujours, je suis désolé pour mes amis( et amies) français(es), mais il est difficile pour moi d'écire en français. Peut-être un jour...
S.V.P. regardez ce LIEN

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Image sources, here and here

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, a new year full of happiness, prosperity, smooth-running engines, rust-free Fulvias, low fuel prices, freedom from government interference etc!

A bientôt

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Bit More Fanalone

Well, well, unbelievably there has been a bit of progress on what will be a long project - owing to a variety of reasons (laziness is not one of them).

First of all, a couple of snaps of the rather crowded engine compartment. A lot of these modifications were carried out after the car left the workshop at Evolution Engineering in 2001. Amongst the mods are an hydraulic brake servo and a Peugeot master cylinder, the original Lancia item and its replacement being as usual, useless - as with my own car which uses a FIAT Regata item. There is also a lot of complex wiring - too complex in my view.

The point is that all the work carried out, which I must say was largely pretty good was performed by someone who didn't know anything about Fulvias. If you are planning to have something done on your Fulvia, then consult someone who knows his way around these fascinating cars!

Of course some dismantling had already been done when I made
this photo - it doesn't always look quite like this!

Dismantling a modified car is always more time-consuming, though mine isn't too bad, but there I have the advantage of knowing what was done.

The bloke who (later) modified the Fanalone decided that it would be a good idea to alter the run of the petrol feed pipe. He cut off the original at the bottom of the bulkhead and then threaded a copper extension through the sub-frame; this was a pain to remove, and I promise it will not be going back!

With the sub-frame finally out of the car, I have decided to do a spot of engine dismantling in situ as I am rather limited at home for workbench space.

Oily, as might be expected after 26 rallies plus other sorties!
The engine is to be rebuilt

A closer view of the head. Fanalone experts will spot the "error"
which of course will be rectified. Come on experts, what is it??

On removing the carburetters and inlet manifold I was amazed at how clean my modified ports (which I hadn't seen for years) were. Since the above snap was made, I have removed the steering box which sadly is scrap: it had been "adjusted" by somebody who did not have the benefit of instruction on the subject from Harry Manning as I did. Fortunately the owner always found the steering rather too heavy and as there is a good S1 1300 'box available, this will be fitted. In any case Fanalone steering boxes are pretty much rocking-horse droppings aren't they?

There is a spare gearbox from a car alleged to have covered only 80,000km (50,000 miles) which will probably be fitted in pace of the existing one which is not nice to use. My Renault 5 GTX which has covered over 290,000km has a gearbox that Fulvia owners could only dream about - and it has perfectly-chosen ratios and is still silent despite shocking neglect!

A bit of objectivity can be useful sometimes.

Another joy is that a bottom ball joint must be replaced so I shall be looking for a "Porta-Power" to borrow, as with the sub-frame out I shall not have the weight of the car to help me with the dreaded front spring. A friend of mine will remember the enormous TWANG when attempting to lift the spring with a bottle jack... The jack ended up about 20 yards away, with a nasty groove on its shaft, fortunately without killing anybody. You have been warned!

Incidentally, it was with the same friend that I removed a sub-frame assembly complete from a Fulvia in 38 minutes. Oh to be young again!

A bientôt

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hello again

Well here we are again; I have had nothing of interest to say about our favourite car for some time, this being the raison d'être of this blog, but this is about to change for a spell.

The lady who owns the rally Fanalone for which you might recall I built the engine and other bits and pieces, has decided that after 26 rallies without an overhaul, the time has come for a proper look.

So I am taking out the subframe which will provide an opportunity for a good clean up and also easy access to the steering and suspension components. The engine will be dismantled too.

I shall make photographs of the process which will be a fairly long one and comment here and there about stuff that I find.

More in a few days.

A bientôt

Friday, May 29, 2009

Off-Topic - "Dictionary Syndrome"


"Off-topic" - I mention "dictionary syndrome" in my title, because I came across a fascinating article whilst searching for something else.

The article, which concerns cars that are propelled by propellers, appears on a site with the curious name of Dark Roasted Blend

Here's a sample of what you will find there:

Picture source: Dark Roasted Blend

The picture shows one Count Bertrand de Lesseps, intrepid man, demonstrating his "Auto Aero" car in 1912; so intrepid is he that he is even smoking a cigarette...

Dark Roasted Blend's raison d'etre is "Weird and Wonderful Things" and I can promise, they are not lying! Definitely one to bookmark and well worth a visit.

À bientôt

Friday, May 01, 2009

Not the "Sound of Silence"

A bill has been introduced into the US Senate which is an instruction to the Department of Transportation "to conduct a study to devise and require a "non-visual alert regarding the location, motion, speed, and direction of travel of a motor vehicle"." This of course concerns the growing number of electric cars.

The idea is that blind people could be unaware of approaching vehicles and thus could be at risk of injury. This story is reported in The Register.

Fair enough, but there'd be no problem with my Fulvia, how about yours? If it must be electric then I would opt for a couple of 100W amplifiers, suitable loudspeakers and a decent recording of a V16 BRM

A bientôt

Monday, April 27, 2009

More Bull

So, although I expected another victory, Sebastian Vettel finished second for Red Bull at Bahrain; unlike Button, he was unable to pass Hamilton's slower McLaren. He finished seven seconds behind the winner - whilst Trulli with the soft tyres on his Toyota was pushing him hard in the last stages of the race.

Ross Brawn says that his cars have had no updates since the start of the season, and Jenson Button says that the Red Bulls are already faster.

Adrian Newey at Red Bull will not have been idle since his absence from the trackside was ordered a couple of weeks ago.

I am still not inclined to bet against Red Bull this year, despite McLaren's improving form and the presence of Luca di Montezemolo at Bahrain which may well have stimulated the Ferrari team somewhat. It must be acknowledged that Kimi Raikkonen had a good race, whilst his teammate was, like Red Bull's Mark Webber, rather unlucky.

A bientôt

Sunday, April 19, 2009


With Red Bull first and second, what more can I say?

A bientôt

Thursday, April 16, 2009


My regular readers will know that I like to follow F1, despite the fact that the general public and the media seem to think that it is "Driver Racing" rather than Motor Racing. Despite my recent admiring post here concerning Juan Manuel Fangio, it is or perhaps was, the technical battle that fascinated me, which apart from my generally nostalgic nature, makes study of the 1950s and '60s Grand Prix battles so interesting. The days when, within broad limits, manufacturers would do their best by any means to beat their rivals.

In those days there would be excitement because Team A had an special new engine, Team B had a monocoque chassis, Team C had a new fancy fuel etc.

Nowadays there is little room for manoeuvre, although we have recently had an excellent, though very difficult-to-understand example in the matter of the diffusers, in particular those fitted to Brawn (née Honda), Toyota and Williams cars. As you may have read, these were said by other teams to be outside the regulations and a protest was raised which was thrown out yesterday by the FIA. Here from the BBC F1 website is a picture of the diffuser fitted to the Williams. As I understand it, the top is supposed to be a straight line; this obviously isn't but is apparently within the regulations. I say good luck to them; they are much cleverer than I!

In the BBC article, there are various links on this subject. which those absorbed in this rather esoteric topic may pursue at their leisure.

I cannot reproduce any illustrations from the Official F1 Website, hardly surprising I suppose, given that it's generous Bernie Ecclestone in charge, so you'll have to look up the following couple of items yourselves.

First the McLaren diffuser

And then the one fitted to the Brawn GP car

I have to admit that I would have to study this for months before I could understand the subject.

It is always important to remember that FI designers are at the top of their profession, highly paid and highly esteemed; McLaren for example would have devoted a great deal of time and attention to the design - it would not have been signed-off lightly. Some of the protesting teams have claimed that the so-called "double-decker diffuser" is worth up to half a second a lap - 24 hours in F1 terms!

But there's the rub: amongst the "non-double-decker teams" one has been consistently quick and in some cases quicker, than the "double-deckers". That team is Red Bull-Renault whose car was designed by the famous Adrian Newey. This fact makes some of the whinging from certain other teams seem a little silly - Ferrari in particular springs to mind - Ferrari, whose car and apparently organisation this year are shall we say, less than superb.

Following the overturning of the protest of course, all teams except Brawn, Toyota and Williams will be developing their own "double-deckers". Anyone care to bet against Red Bull this season?


Here, quoted from, is Adam Parr, CEO at Williams, talking about the diffuser issue:

"Part of the case presented against us related to what we call as the use of multiple vertical transitions. Essentially, you have to have a reference plane, which is like the plank, and 50mm above that you have the step planes. One of the key issues in the case was: when do you have to have a transition between those two?

"Essentially you have to have a vertical transition between the two when the step plane is visible directly above the periphery of the reference plane. Where you don't, it is explicit that you don't have to have one. So one of the key issues in the case was that if you don't have to have one at certain points then by definition you can have many transitions.

No doubt this has helped enormously to clarify the matter eh readers?


Thanks to "Auntie Beeb" former Technical Director Mike Gascoyne helps to lift some of the fog...


Saturday, Shanghai: Sebastian Vettel achieves Red Bull's first-ever pole position. Here are Jenson Button's (Brawn GP) comments from

"It's not quite as good as what I expected," Button told the BBC. "The Red Bulls were quick yesterday, we were watching them in the high speed corners and they were very, very fast.

"So if you at Q2 it looked like they had two or three tenths on us, so yeah they are competitive. And it's not us driving around slowly or having a lot of fuel in the car because it's Q2 and you run with low fuel so they are going to be tough to beat.

"We knew they were competitive but we didn't think quite that competitive."

A bientôt

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Land of the Free?

How many of you have been caught by a speed-trap radar? Almost everybody hates these things, and my principle objection is that ignoring many centuries of legal precedent, these contrivances dispense arbitrary "justice" with no consideration given to conditions, circumstances or mitigation. I recall that my last English ticket was earned owing to an outrageous breach of the law. I was driving on a deserted road one evening, that real tearaway's car, a SII Fulvia Berline and travelling at the highly irresponsible speed of 38 mph. This cost me sixty quid. Ridiculous.

Here in France it is illegal to have any device that detects police radars/lasers. Worse, whilst there are as yet fewer fixed cameras than in the UK, one can often see the Gendarmes with their blasted jumelles (binoculars) trying to earn a few euros for the impoverished republic. They also have unmarked cars with radars or lasers installed.

As I understand it, the law about detectors is a bit vague in Britain (although this might have changed recently) whilst I suppose that jammers are strictly "off the menu.".

Things are different in the USA; here is an article from Jalopnik via Gizmodo all about a RENNtech-developed Mercedes-Benz. Apart from the 580HP and 465lb/ft of torque and appropriate suspension mods etc., the ultimate accessory is a radar/laser detector and jammer. This is built-in - to the rear-view mirror! Wonderful stuff. One of the comments on the article points out that such accessories are illegal in Virginia, but then that still leaves 49 other states to "explore!"

A bientôt

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Old Man

The "Old Man" was Juan Manuel Fangio's nickname in the 1950s when he achieved his five world championships. He was 45 in 1957 when he won the last one, and anyone who has read about his stunning drive that year at the Nürburgring will recognise his greatness.

Anyway, he is my favourite post-war driver (though I have a big place in my heart for Mike Hawthorn) in respect of his staggering talent and ability.

Here I have a couple of videos for you. Pertinently the first one happily in colour, shows Fangio at Monaco driving the Lancia D50 - OK, "Lancia-Ferrari"... The noise! EDIT: I have just this minute discovered this thread on the Atlas Nostalgia Forum. It appears that this film was made in 1970 and Fangio (at 58 years old) is driving a D50 - doesn't explain though why there is a Ferrari badge on the front of it, instead of the "shield and flag"

And here at the Modena Autodrome in a 250F - great car control and more wonderful noise. As a (English) Lancia Club friend observed to me, once the engines went above about 10,000 it became difficult to relate to the noise. I agree.

For all you youngsters, I should point out that in 1957, a 250F Maserati, running on the special fuels permitted (for the last time that year) produced from its 2.5 litre engine, around 295-300 BHP. Doesn't sound much today does it? But these cars weighed about half a ton and were very quick. Maximum speed was probably around 170 mph, and with drum brakes and those skinny cross-ply tyres, required a great deal of skilled input from the drivers. And a Grand Prix in those days was 300 miles...

Until the next time.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Still Alive

Just in case you were wondering!

I was browsing the excellent fora on Atlas today; these really are excellent for those interested in Motorsport. Apart from the "Racing Comments" forum which is concerned with current events in F1, there is the superb Nostalgia Forum and also the Technical Forum. The contributors to this are very well informed - at least most of them - and some of the contributors are obviously in the highest echelons of the Motor Industry - or perhaps Motorsport industry. The expertise and breadth of knowledge to be found there is quite simply breathtaking.

And it was a thread there that prompted this post.

Those of you who are "hands-on" Fulvia owners who cannot resist taking things apart may have been distressed to notice the sad state of your rocker shafts... Yes, Lancia in its wisdom (or perhaps they let the cost accountants out for a breath of air) chose to run the forged steel rockers directly on the hardened steel rocker shafts. If you have removed the valve gear you will probably have noticed the depressing wear in certain places. I should add, that had Lancia bitten the cost bullet and lined the rockers with bronze bushes which would be the normal engineering procedure (oil retention) amazingly the shafts would have worn probably just as much. In the 1930s, Lancia produced the wonderful Aprilia, a car years ahead of its time - like so many Lancias. The engine, a narrow-angle V4 of course, featured duralumin connecting-rods. These had no bearings, the dural ran directly onto the steel, and it was the crank that wore - not the rods!

Well here's a thread from the Atlas Technical Forum that is concerned with the subtleties of rocker shaft design and manufacture. Should appeal to the engineers and mathematicians amongst you!

Meanwhile there is a chance that I shall finally be in a position to offer you proper Fulvia (mechanical) attention if you live in the Geneva area or perhaps if you are on a pilgrimage to Turin! I may well be operaitng at a garage in Evian les Bains directly on the shore of Lake Geneva. If my expertise fails to attract you, then surely the view will!

Watch this space.

A bientôt

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Something Unusual

A short while ago, one of my Fulvia contacts asked me to comment on this ebay item. From the item comes the picture above; it's a turbo set-up for a Fulvia!

If you click on the link you will find some more pictures.

With my experience at Evolution Engineering which specialised in Lancia and FIAT, I have to say that this "kit" appears to have used various FIAT components - almost certainly from a Uno Turbo. At a glance it would seem to me that the problems would be formidable. Here are some of those that spring to mind:

- With 9.5/1 or 10.5/1 compression (1300/1600) one could run very little boost without meltdown ensuing rapidly, so special pistons would be required to lower the compression ratio.

- This problem would be exacerbated by the necessarily long inlet pipe (where would you run it?) which would mean lag and raised inlet temperatures

- Pressurised carburettor(s) would be very difficult to arrange, so electronic injection/management would be required. To install this would not be trivial; the cheapest approach would probably be to use a plenum chamber and single throttle body scrounged from another Uno Turbo; then of course there's mounting the sensors - oh yes and the small matter of calibration.

- Routing the exhaust, always a problem on a Fulvia would be rather tricky... and how long would that welded-up exhaust manifold last?

- The Fulvia's original radiator would have to go - under-bonnet temperatures would be a big problem and of course you'd have to find space for the intercooler.

- Finally, I would say that off-boost performance would probably not be very impressive.

Desite all this I have a weakness for modifications as my readers probably know, so best of luck to whoever won the auction!

A bientot

Saturday, January 17, 2009


From time to time I have written articles here about motorsport - F1 and rallying - since I assume that a fair proportion of Lancisti are interested in the sport.

So with this in mind I have no hestitaion in including the following dialogue between Autosport and Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari boss and big noise in the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA).

Di Montezemolo has been prominent in demanding that the teams receive a bigger share of the TV revenues that at present appear to accrue to Bernie Ecclestone's organisation. Thus:

Q. Isn't it a guarantee...

LdM: So you never want to talk about Ferrari, only Ecclestone? I haven't come here to do PR for Ecclestone! I'm kidding.

Q. When talking before Christmas about the redistribution of revenues and more, you said these things need to be re-discussed with Ecclestone. Two days later Ecclestone launched a scathing attack against Ferrari and its top management, which you've never replied to. We've now seen a hug...

LdM: You're either born a gentleman, otherwise you'll never become one.

It would seem that politically at least, the 2009 season should be very interesting!

A bientôt

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lancia in South Africa

Hello again>

Apologies to Phil Laing of South Africa; I wrote a piece last July on this subject and promised Phil that I would include a link to his website, for the Cape Lancia Club - which is well worth looking at as there is plenty of interesting Lancia stuff going on in SA as a glance at the site will demonstrate.

The link is going up now!

A bientôt

Sod the Law!


New Internet Speed test

Music and Radio Blog Club

Radio Blog Club, a good friend for a while appears to be in some legislative difficulty...

However, in tribute to its brave effort, I shall leave the existing track on this page (which amazingly still works)

Sadly my Playlist no longer works (hence its removal) thanks to the absurd "Hadopi" legislation in France. Apologies to all.