20 Years Ago In Moss Motoring
The summer 1986 issue of Moss Motoring carried a variety of interesting features, including a report on the Ocean-to-Ocean Tourist event, which departed from the Moss Motors facility in Rockaway, New Jersey, and eventually ended up in California. Forty-seven MG T Type cars – led by the famous Moss TD pickup – reached Colorado on the 50th anniversary of the launch of the T series.
Larry Crane of Road & Track provided an insight into the upcoming Monterey Historic Races, in which several Moss staffers were participating. Al Moss would be driving the famous #11 Von Neumann TD Special, while Lawrie Alexander was in charge of another notable MG – Ken Miles’ MG R1!
The launch of the new Sprite & Midget catalog was showcased, as was an in-depth article on MGB engine interchanges; and three staff members gave their opinions of their daily-driver Triumphs: a TR2, TR4 and a TR6.
Other articles included a timely feature on fire extinguishers and a detailed description regarding converting a TR6 to wire wheels. Electronic versus conventional ignition systems were also covered. Cars for sale included a 1959 MGA 1500 for $2500, a couple of TD’s at around $8000, and a 1960 Austin Healey BN7 was on sale for $3700! Those were the days!
TVR In Trouble
One of England’s last independent automakers has come upon rough times. First rumors out of the Blackpool facility in Lancashire, England, surfaced that the Segaris, Tuscan, and Tamora producer was planning on laying-off half its workforce. Then the Transport & General Workers’ Union announced that 150 TVR factory workers had been told to stay home, as vehicle production had dropped from 12 cars a week to two over the past year. Then talk of TVR closing its doors for good started spreading around the internet like wildfire.
Finally, the company issued a statement claiming that TVR isn’t dead, but making major changes to keep things running. In the statement, TVR states that it is planning to move some manufacturing operations to “…a more suitable facility, the exact details of which cannot yet be released.”
Reading between the lines, count on the brand doing some of its heavy lifting overseas in an effort to cut costs. The statement further devulges that their models will continue to be of a similar composition, albeit employing new technology and assembly techniques designed to simultaneously cut costs and increase reliability, though officials insist the cars will still be built by hand.
While further details have yet to be released, we truly hope TVR can get back to the business of building unique, interesting sports cars infused with British character, preferably in the UK where the famous marque was born.
The Passing of a Legend
World Rally Championship Commission President Shekhar Mehta has died at the age of 60. The Kenyan, believed to have died from pneumonia, passed away April 12 after falling ill shortly before the Tour de Course rally.
Mehta was featured last issue in an article about the Ecurie Cod Fillet Rally Reunion. “Throughout his life, Shekhar made an enormous contribution to motorsport, and rallying in particular, both as a successful competitor and as a highly respected member of the FIA,” the FIA said in an official statement.
Before taking on the title of WRC President, Mehta won the Safari Rally a record five times between 1973 and 1980. While he primarily drove Datsun and Ford vehicles, the gregarious racer was a close friend and compatriot to many legendary British drivers, including Sir Stirling Moss and John Sprinzel. He also oversaw a series that many Europeans consider the greatest form of racing in the history of motorsport. Our sincerest condolences go out to the Mehta family.
Stylish Minis, Old & New
Lots of news for Mini fans this issue. First, the original Mini ranked fourth in a poll of British design icons organized by the BBC. The poll invited people to vote for their favorite example of British design conceived since 1900. Winning honors went to the Concorde, followed by the London Underground Map (Mind the Gap!) and the legendary Supermarine Spitfire (see this month’s cover). The Mini was the only car in the top 10; the E-Type Jaguar was voted 11th, just ahead of the Aston Martin DB5 in 12th.
The Alec Issigonis-designed Mini was designed as a cheap, fuel-efficient four-seater, and it revolutionized the way small cars were built. The engine was turned sideways to provide more cabin space, and powered the front wheels, negating the need for a bulky transmission tunnel. Every nook and cranny in the car is packaged to perfection – leaving 80% of the 9-foot-long Mini to be devoted to its occupants.
The slightly larger and more modern BMW-built version has also been in the news. BMW used the Geneva Motor Show to unveil the latest (and fastest) Mini yet: the 2007 Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works Grand Prix Edition. The car will reach 62mph in under 6.5 seconds and achieve a top speed of 146mph. The GP has a power output of 218hp, a stunning 136hp per liter, thanks to an intercooled supercharger, revised intake and exhaust systems, and an aggressive camshaft profile.
Other tweaks include John Cooper Works (JCW) sport suspension, JCW performance brakes, 18-inch lightweight wheels, and Recaro bucket seats. Cosmetic tweaks include “Thunder Blue” paint, topped with a silver roof and “Chili Red” mirrors and wing. Only 2000 will be built, starting in July 2006.