Clive Jacobs 1939-2014

Clive and I worked as colleagues on BBC Radio 4’s Going Places and BFBS motoring programmes, as well as a 1970s venture in stereo recordings of motor racing called Competition Cassettes. I marvelled at his professionalism in live studios. I was a hesitant broadcaster, but with Clive you knew there was never going to be a crisis. His rich voice would intervene in its deeply measured way and you were out of trouble in a trice.
You weren’t always out of trouble with Clive. We drove together sometimes on press launches and at least once, when he was at the wheel of a right hand drive car, we faced disaster in a left hand drive country. Meticulous, precise restorer of clocks and watches, Clive made models, loved cars and revelled in their rectitude. He could afford good cars although he had to suffer incredulity with a few, such as his AMC Pacer, at least with grace although not invariably good. This Rolls-Royce was one of his better ones.
Clive and I, you could say, were related by marriage. I was sorry he wasn’t at my recent birthday party; when he wasn’t able to come we knew things were serious but he was cheerfully represented by his son Blair and family. Clive was a great stepfather to Craig, invariably kind, and an everlasting friend.

Fair cop

“The Council of the London Borough of Ealing believes that a penalty charge is payable for an alleged traffic contravention…” It was quite right. I knew when I stopped on that box junction that I shouldn’t. I had driven round the block after spotting number one daughter crossing the road. I was afraid she would dart into Lidl’s and disappear. I expected the white van to clear the junction but it didn’t. I dislike snooping cameras but you couldn’t argue with this one. It had video if I tried to argue, and I suspect the Council wouldn’t be impressed with catching number one daughter. I should have been paying more attention. I won’t do it again.

Bentley at Windsor

If the hallmark is cars you’ve never seen before, Windsor’s Concours matched Pebble Beach. Nobody knows who commissioned the Art Deco body on the Jonckheere Rolls-Royce Phantom I, with its circular doors, because the Belgian coachbuilders’ records were lost in the War. I’m not sure it is entirely successful, despite winning the 1935 Prix de Cannes at the Riviera Concours. The judges must have loved the huge fin, but as a period piece with a puzzling past it is exquisite. I do not recall ever even seeing a photograph of it, yet Thorough Events managed to include it in an astonishing array in an inner courtyard of Windsor Castle. Once the morning mists have blown off the beach and the Pacific is a shimmering blue, the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach is splendid, but the battlements of Windsor have their own grandeur.

Lalique splendour on a Bentley prow? The catalogue made no mention of the Lalique-style mascot on the Maharajah of Jaipur's 1930 Speed Six.

Sloping cliff on the Jonckheere Art Deco created by who knows whom? Rolls-Royce probably did not like the  lean-back of its famous radiator shell. An astonishing car.

I don't think I have ever seen a Fiat 8V outside an Italian museum and this 1953 Ghia 'supersonic' (it probably wasn't) was a star exhibit at Windsor. The BMW 507 (opposite) was the same as one Ruth and I took on a Guild of Motoring Writers Classic. TOP PHOTO: The history of the 1938 Embiricos Pourtout Coupe is well documented in The Complete Bentley (Dove Publishing).


Sad week. Bollinger bankers taking home the price of two Tornado GR4s lost in the North Sea. Watched XV (R) Squadron at Waddington on Sunday, only for lives to be lost on Tuesday. They gave a convincing demonstration of action in Libya or Afghanistan. (Pyrotechnics at Waddington below)

I couldn’t help thinking of my years in motor racing, watching heroes flashing past at a hundred and fifty only to die on the next lap. It’s the same sort of grief. You flinched then; I flinch more now I’m old. Pilots and drivers show the same dashing heroism; gain the same adulation of a Grand Prix crowd.

I’m glad motor racing is safer, sad that service flying is so demanding. I pay tribute to the Lossiemouth aircrew.

Bollinger bankers?

Silver Arrows land on Goodwood

So, the Second World War is really over. Goodwood welcomes the Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union grand prix cars to the Revival in September. It is really about time. Westhampnett, satellite to Tangmere during the Battle of Britain, will echo to the noise of engines made by its adversaries and 75 years after their first appearance in the UK, it promises to be one of the most spectacular historic vehicle events ever.
(Top, Nick Mason drives the V12 Auto Union, above and below, W 125 Mercedes-Benz of 1937-1938)
It is 75 years since their first time in Britain and 74 since their second. This was 1938 for a Donington Grand Prix arranged on 2 October, but the teams had to pack their cars back into their transporters and retreat to Harwich for a ferry back to Germany as the Munich Crisis deepened. Only after Mr Chamberlain brought back his piece of paper was the race rescheduled for 22 October.

Although effectively British Grands Prix the 1937 and 1938 races were called the Donington Grand Prix. Dear old RAC, member of the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus (AIACR founded 1904), was chary about allowing provincial Donington to use the title. Even though Fred Craner, of the Derby and District Motor Club, and JG Shields, landowner, managed to persuade Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union to race against what were essentially local amateurs, the RAC couldn’t quite persuade itself that it should be a British Grand Prix.

Auto Union won both races, Bernd Rosemeyer in 1937, Tazio Nuvolari in 1938 after some disarray in the Mercedes camp.

D-type Auto Union, reconstruction of Nuvolari's winner.
There could be ten Silver Arrows at Goodwood. There were only six at Donington in 1937, eight in 1938 and they will compete with some of the also-rans, ERAs, Maseratis, Rileys, Bugattis and MGs. They will overwhelm them just as they did three quarters of a century ago. The German cars have appeared occasionally in Britain since then, John Surtees drove an Auto Union at Silverstone in 1990, along with Neil Corner in a Mercedes-Benz, but the prospect of seeing - and hearing – them all together is a heady one. Mercedes-Benz W25, W125, W154 and W165, plus the extravagantly rebuilt Auto Union Types C and D will take part

Perhaps it will make the Revival a touch less jingoistic. Motor racing at Goodwood was, essentially, a creation of the 1950s; it was only happenstance that it took place on a wartime airfield. Douglas Bader (below) and his brave contemporaries would be agreeably entertained by the most spectacular grand prix cars of all time on their old “perry track”.

Jaguar E-type FSN1

You can’t go to the Goodwood Revival without meeting cars you knew. Last year it was the Cooper-MG, this year it was FSN1, Jackie Stewart’s first E-type. I drove it a lot in 1961-1962 when it was Stewart’s of Dumbuck demonstrator. It was also the car that convinced the world Jackie had an extraordinary talent.
The white sidewalls were put on for a concours d'elegance at Turnberry. In a book we co-wrote following his first world championship: “Early in 1962 came the decision that was to settle the 1969 world drivers’ championship. He took the Jaguar (FSN1) the Aston Martin (DB4GT) and the Marcos (the Mark 1) to Oulton Park for a private test day. It was all a little bit of a lark, although the undertones were serious. Jackie drove from Scotland with three friends, a local golf champion Jimmy Pirie, Glasgow motor trade executive and raconteur Gordon Hunter and Scotland’s newest motoring journalist.” This was me. The car was a large Mark IX the Stewarts had for sale at the time.

FSN 1 became SSN 300 when it was bought by the late Eric Liddell. Jackie had decided that if he could reach competitive lap times he would take racing seriously. He had been strictly amateur, unlike his brother Jim already with a proven track record and works drives with Jaguar and Aston Martin. Jim drove the cars first to establish lap times. “Jackie lapped the track, which was still dirty from winter, at an impressive speed. With the E-type, which had been only modestly tuned, he put up times as fast as a world class driver had done the previous autumn in a full race tuned lightweight E-type.” Gordon, Jimmy and I held the stop-watches.

Can it be 50 years? Well, with hindsight, the E-type might have been more than modestly tuned. Lofty England had a policy of ensuring any Jaguars raced competitively were well prepared. “His rationale was that cars with works backing were expected to do well, so he carefully maintained a sub rosa affiliation with private teams and drivers. Goldie Gardner’s 1948 record car with its experimental 4-cylinder engine, Tommy Wisdom’s XK120 and William Lyons’s son-in-law Ian Appleyard’s XK 120 were prepared either by the factory or under its tutelage. While the practice was not wholly secret, it was not made public either. Recipients of advice or practical assistance understood the system. They could acknowledge Jaguar’s polite interest, but they had better not brag about how substantial it was or it would be quickly and quietly withdrawn.”* Still, Jackie matched Graham Hill’s times round Oulton in 1961, although Hill’s “full race tuned lightweight” was nothing like as fast as the later series of lightweight E-types.

Sir Jackie, Goodwood 2011, getting ready to drive Fangio's Maserati 250F The family photographed number one grandson – going to Goodwood was his Third Birthday treat - beside the 50 year old E-type. What a great day. Best test of the ambience was the family verdict. They want to come again next year. With half of them girls less than passionate about old racing cars it was proof of how they enjoyed old cars, people dressing up, turning the clock back and a dozen Spitfires flying past. Come 2012 they’ll be back.

* from: JAGUAR, latest ebook from Dove Publishing, now on itunes, Amazon, Waterstones and many others.

Glorious Goodwood

Off-track the Goodwood Revival is a paradise. The racing is fine but how glorious to find oddball cars you haven’t seen for years. An Austin Sixteen like the one in which I passed my driving test. A bit down at heel perhaps but what do you expect for a 63 year old? They made 36,000 for a post-war car-starved market. And Riley RMs. There seemed to be a lot this year. Imagine it; torsion bar independent suspension and twin high-camshafts in 1946-1952. How well-proportioned and what fun for geeks looking for dark blue badges for 1½ Litres and light blue for the 2½. The first time I saw 100mph from a driving seat was in a 2½ in Glencoe. Maybe it wasn’t quite. Speedometers were notoriously optimistic, but it certainly felt like it. The car park was full of that were quite ordinary a generation ago, like the Austin A70 Hampshire converted into a woody estate. I wonder if it was original. Quite a lot were made as estates in a wheeze to escape tax. I wonder if it was sold.
Exotics in the car park. The Hispano-Suiza badge features the colours of Spain (red and yellow) and the Swiss white cross on red. The story behind the stork, like the Ferrari prancing horse, goes back to a First World War aviator, in this case the French ace Georges Guynemer an adversary of the Red Baron. His SPAD biplane, powered by a Hispano-Suiza V8, failed to come back from a flight over the Western Front on 9 September 1917. His squadron adopted the stork symbol of Alsace (annexed by Bismarck in 1870-1871, which France was then trying to win back) and in 1919 it was applied to the cars made at Bois-Colombes, in the Rue du Capitaine Guynemer.
Aeroplanes were one of the best bits. This is Number One daughter with the Spitfire. She is into vintage clothing and the hat is based on a 45rpm vinyl record. See It is astonishing how the British enjoy dressing up. The period feel is amazing even though what looks like a visiting general taking to Dad’s Army is a Major with a staff officer’s hat and the medal on the left dates from the First World War (but with the ribbon the wrong way round). Well maybe not so odd. Quite a lot of the Walmington-on-Sea worthies guarding the Tangmere satellite airfield were probably 1914-1918 veterans.

Jim Clark

Looked in on Jim Clark on the way back from the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers’ Award of his Memorial Trophy in Dundee. The statue at Kilmany, a few hundred yards from where he was born on 4 March 1936, is well looked after. Ford Motor Company supported its erection on 30 May 1997, a day when a test car uncharacteristically failed to get Ruth and me to an airport to attend its dedication by Jackie Stewart. It is a fine likeness, a shade bigger than life-size, commemorating a driver who, by any standards, was one of the greatest world champions. This year’s winner of the award was Ian Forrest, who made headlines at the age of 60 last month, winning the first Scottish XR2 Championship race of the day. Circuit Manager at Knockhill, he has apparently traded his bus pass for a 2010 racing licence, after racing for 40 years across the UK and Europe. He said, “Once you’ve got it… you never lose it. Being that little bit older and wiser certainly has its benefits.” I’ll go along with that.

DUNDEE, Scotland, 1 June, 2010 – The Association of Scottish Motoring Writers has awarded Ian Forrest, chief instructor at Knockhill and former racing driver, the prestigious Jim Clark Memorial Award for 2010.
Ian began his racing career in 1971, racing 'Scottish Special Saloons' and was champion for two consecutive years. His other titles include Scottish 1-litre GT Champion in 1985 and Knockhill GT Champion in 1988, before he took part in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) in 1989. Ian competed for four consecutive seasons in the BTCC and in 1991 won the improver award. Ian's son, Sandy has also competed in the BRSCC (British Racing and Sports Car Club) Ford Fiesta Championship.
Presented annually, the Jim Clark Memorial trophy, sponsored by Ford, is awarded to Scottish people who have made a major contribution to the world of motoring.
John Murdoch (right), President of the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers, said: "Previous winners have included motorsport legends Sir Jackie Stewart, David Coulthard, Allan McNish and Colin McRae, so Ian is joining an impressive list.”
After the presentation Ian said: “I’m astounded. When you look through the list of past recipients of the Jim Clark Award, and see who has won it, it’s quite unbelievable. To get the Sir Jackie Stewart medal from the Scottish Motor Racing Club and now the Jim Clark award from the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers, I’m just stunned and honoured. I really am delighted.”

Here for the bier

Roger William Stanbury made a melancholy little journey down Sutton Veny High Street on his MG 18/80. On it, not in it. He was going his last mile, as it were, to the quiet Wiltshire country churchyard. Somebody at the funeral put it rather well. Roger, he said, was not only good at making friends; he was good at keeping them. He had had the 18/80 since he was a student. It could be a fractious car, but if ever an MG was a member of the family, this was it. We celebrated its birthday every year. You invariably enquired after its health, which was often not good. There was always something to worry about – its temperature, gaskets, frothy stuff in the oil. You could once see the road through gaps in the floorboards. How many cold winter night drives to a jolly hostelry to meet MG chums? The 18/80’s hood was sketchy in 1930. Roger didn’t like spending money fixing it. Real Ale was more important. He had left strict instructions to the Vicar that there was to be no Happy Clappy stuff at the funeral. A lot gathered to pay tribute and talk about him. He was a loyal sort of conservative, a deft artist, with an engaging slow-burn laugh. I wasn’t sure about the shaky platform on the back of the 18/80. It looked a bit as though he had made it himself with sticky tape and bits of wood. He would have said he was only here for the bier. This Sunday 25 April would have been Roger’s birthday. He was only 65. We’ll raise a real ale. He is survived by a wife, three sons, two stepsons, an 18/80 and a bereft old friend.

Motorway driving

This has nothing to do with motorway driving. This is me acting as riding mechanic on the 1906 Grand Prix Renault at Le Mans. (see below)

Scotland on Sunday 27 July 2003

I was driving up the M6 after a two thousand mile round trip mainly on motorways. For the most part the driving was not bad. White Van Man now drives Sprinters at 110mph in the outside lane but except for an articulated truck crossing my path while the driver dived for his Yorkie Bar, or fell asleep, it was pretty well without incident.

Biggest nuisance was the undertaker, left-side traffic stealing through, then pulling in front. One white van passed on the left, swerved over to the outside lane, dodging from lane to lane in a frantic and dangerous bid to get ahead. It made no sense, and made law-abiding drivers wonder where the traffic patrols were.

So what was I doing in the middle lane when there was overtaking space on the left? I like to set the cruise control to an indicated 80mph, that is 77mph for the 10 per cent the law allows, plus a couple of mph to take account of the flatter most speedometers have. At this speed the middle lane of the motorway is comfortable, flyers can fly by on the outside, trucks trundle along on the inside. Everybody, you would think, would be happy.

Not so. Self-appointed guardians of the Highway Code, which says in effect you should always pull over to the left, come up behind at 85mph and make a great display of swerving out to overtake, flash indicators and point leftwards in rebuke. It is never clear exactly what they are mouthing but it seems like indignation. People get shirty if the left lane is unoccupied and there is much flashing of lights, but I am too old and dignified for road rage, and let them get on their high blood pressure way.

I take the view that smooth consistent and predictable behaviour is far better on the motorway (or anywhere else) than dashing from side to side. I am pleased to find the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) supports this. The IAM manual "Pass Your Advanced Driving Test" on the thorny issue of lane discipline says:

"Return to the left when you can, but do not do this over zealously so that you end up constantly skipping from one lane to another. Far too often on motorways you see strings of cars bunched needlessly in the right hand lane queuing up to pass a few people drifting along in the centre lane."

The emphasis is on the over zealous. Unnecessary lane changing can make accidents.

“Drifting along in the centre lane” seems to exclude those, like me, going about their lawful affairs at around the statutory speed limit. Driving experts disapprove of Slow Lane, Middle Lane, and Fast Lane; the outside one is the Overtaking Lane but in theory if the Middle Lane is occupied by 70mph traffic nobody should be overtaking anyway.

The safest roads are those on which all the traffic is doing the same speed. If everybody is bowling along at 50 or 60 or 70 nobody is going to be taken by surprise and leave those lurid skid marks that mean somebody has had a heart-stopping moment or worse. Consistency, changing lane as seldom as possible, and constant monitoring of the mirror are the recipe for motorway safety.


Scotsman Motoring, Eric Dymock 4 May 2006

Renault might look a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to Formula 1, but next month celebrates the centenary of not only grand prix racing, but also its first victory. Perching me high on an antique racing car, with the wind in my face, convinced me of the fortitude of drivers in the heroic age of motor sport. I managed it for several miles; they battled it out on dusty gritty roads in the searing heat of a scorching summer, literally up hill and down dale, for two whole days.

The 1906 French Grand Prix at Le Mans was no hour-and-a-half sprint by Schumachers and Alonsos, cocooned in fire-proof clothing, and strapped into fat-tyred roller skates. A hundred years ago next month, fearless Hungarian Ferenç Szisz and his intrepid riding mechanic Marteau, sat on a swaying one-and-a-half-ton monster with a 13-litre engine, averaging 63mph for the entire 770miles. They reached 100mph, bounced perilously on bone-jarring ruts in the compacted clay surface, scarcely easing up on stretches of railway sleeper roads by-passing villages along the 64 mile course.

Then as now, team managers were up to technical tricks. The flints and the heat shredded tyres; most fatalities in racing followed tyre failure, so in collaboration with Michelin the Renaults’ big wooden artillery wheels had detachable rims. The jantes amovibles were fitted to the back wheels since they wore out faster. Instead of cutting off the worn-out smoking remnants of the old tyres with knives and forcing on new ones, Szisz and Marteau undid eight nuts, and put on a ready-inflated tyre and rim. They were on their way in two minutes instead of their rivals’ ten, and by the end of the first day had 26 minutes in hand. After a second day, despite a last lap nursing a broken spring, they won by half an hour.

Renaults moreover had the first double-acting hydraulic dampers ever used on a racing car, not only for comfort and controllability, but also to spare the tall, narrow and vulnerable tyres.

British carmakers had been suspicious of the French Grand Prix. The Petit Parisien confirmed their doubts about its sporting nature, when it said: “If we win the Grand Prix we shall let the whole world know that French motorcars are the best. If we lose it will merely be by accident…”

The industries were deadly rivals. The British thought the contest would be rigged, so left it to Germany and Italy to enter three teams of three cars, challenging 25 from ten French manufacturers. The race was known simply as The Grand Prix; there was no other. The title meaning big prize, had already been used for the Grand Prix de Pau on 17 February 1901, but it was not applied to anything else until the 1920s.

Officially the Grand Prix of the Automobile Club de France (ACF), the 1906 event was the first great national race, inaugurating a series that has counted towards the drivers’ and manufacturers’ world championships since 1950. The doubts of the British in 1906 were by no means ill founded. The Entente Cordiale had been signed barely two years earlier, but the French motor industry was the biggest in the world, its members formed the nucleus of the ACF, and they had been frustrated by the rules of the Gordon Bennett Cup, the first attempt at international motor races.

This specified one team per country, which seemed unfair to the French, because they had more manufacturers than anybody else. Prompted by the industry that formed the bulk of its membership, the ACF proposed teams for its Grand Prix, entered by make rather than country. The chief protagonists from Italy were Fabbrica Italiani di Automobili Torino (F.I.A.T. forebears of Ferrari) along with Itala, and from Germany the mighty Mercédès. Besides Renault the French teams included Lorraine-Dietrich, Darracq, Gobron-Brillié, Grégoire, Hotchkiss, Clément-Bayard and one of the oldest names in the industry Panhard-Levassor.

Renault’s commemorative expedition to Le Mans used Agatha, the closest thing to the 1906 racers, all of which have been lost. One of ten built, at $8,500 each for William Kissam Vanderbilt Jr to compete in the Vanderbilt Cup races on Long Island in 1908, Agatha is only 7.4litres but leaps off the line with astonishing vigour. The big crankshaft, with pistons the size of biggish teapots, turns only at between 1,200rpm and 1,800rpm, yet pulls with the low-speed strength of a steam engine. Changing gear is ponderous, accomplished with a certain amount of clunking and heaving of the big lever, even in the practised hands of owner German Renault dealer Wolfgang Auge.

The great car’s first owner was Harry Payne Whitney, Vanderbilt’s cousin and heir to a cotton gin fortune. It then passed to mining millionaire Robert Guggenheim, before coming to Britain before the first world war for Lord Kimberley, famous surgeon Sir Harold Gillies, then collector Marcus Chambers of Clapham. The value of all old racing cars collapses when they are no longer eligible for competition, and Chambers later the motor sport manager of the British Motor Corporation (BMC), bought it at the bottom of its cycle. He advertised it in Motor Sport of August 1935 under Veteran Cars as: “1907 Sports Renault, £30 or offer.”

Brothers Anthony and John Mills, named it Agatha, and when Anthony a Royal Air Force squadron leader was killed soon after D-Day it was sold to Charles Dunn until auctioned in 1992 to Wolfgang Auge. It is now almost priceless.

The course of the 1906 race is easily followed. It lies to the east of Le Mans, well clear of the Circuit Permanent de la Sarthe where the Automobile Club de l’Ouest runs the great 24-Hour Grand Prix d’Endurance. Triangular over undulating countryside it goes by the N157 to St-Calais, the D1 to La Ferté Bernard and the Route Nationale N23 back through Connerré to the start-finish line near Le Mans, where the twin tunnels built for spectators to walk from the pits side of the road to the grandstands have been carefully restored