Thursday, August 23, 2007

1971 Super GT Comparo

During Concours week, I picked up a couple of compilation-style books on Lamborghinis that were put out by Brooklands. They included magazine articles about Lambos from 1965 through 1975. In a road test article about the 1971 Jarama, the specs page compared it to five other super, yet oft-forgotten, cars of that era.

1. Lamborghini Jarama. This was one of the first of a two decade-long line of forgettable Lambos. This has to be one of Bertone's worst designs. But according to Motor magazine, the 350hp V12 got it to go to 60 in 6.8 seconds and topped out at 168 miles per hour. No matter what the performance numbers, the dull styling relegated this model to the role of bench warmer.

2. Aston Martin DBS V8. That its most famous movie role was as George Lazenby's ride is emblematic of its obscure existence. Though the understated chaps at Newport Pagnell never disclosed the engine's specs, it was common knowledge that the 5.3 liter V8 was good for 350hp. But as the middle sibling between the classic DB6 and the more contemporary Vantage, the DBS is the equivalent of Jan Brady. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

3. Jensen FF. No, this is not the rusting Jensen Interceptor you saw last week in the Auto Trader. Years before the Audi Quattro climbed Pike's Peak, Jensen introduced the first all- wheel drive sports car with the FF. It was so advanced, it even had anti-lock brakes! Because the drivetrain was so complicated and unconventional, many pieces intruded into the left front seat. As such, no left hand drive FFs were ever made. Sorry, America.

4. AC Frua. Only 49 coupes were ever made. They were built on a stretched Cobra chassis. This Maserati Mistral look-a-like was expensive to build. The chassis was built in England. It was then shipped to Italy for the bodywork, then shipped back to England for the powertrain (which included the 428 c.i. engine) and trim. At a cost of 7600 British pounds, only the Lambo and the Jensen cost more.

5. Jaguar E-Type Series II 4.2. No early 70s GT comparo can be without the E-type. Enough has been written about this classic elsewhere. All that needs to be said is that in this comparo, it finished second to last in all the performance figures, just above the Franco-Italian SM.

6. Citroen SM. Ah, the SM. Faithful readers of this blog know that it is one of Tamerlane's favorites. He saw a beautiful, unrestored, rust-free specimen at a local Shell station recently. The "owner" just bought it in Orange County and was about to ship it overseas for a song. Pity, that.

Finally, I want to sum up my experience at Concorso Italiano last week. As spectators and participants left the grounds around 4pm, I was caught up in a traffic jam. In front of me, an Iso Grifo. To my right, a hulking black Lamborghini LM002. And behind me, a pedestrian Ferrari 308. It was heaven.


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