Friday, February 20, 2015

Bits from the web: A210, Allison V12

Ah, the Internet. A source of fascination and endless, curious little dead ends. Also a great opportunity to rack up credit card bills if you are not careful.

In this context, a package arrived today, ordered quite a few weeks ago from Model Roundup in a fit of weakness. (Canadian customs had a hand in the delay this time, soaking me for additional duties). Two kits stand out, both out-of-production items that must have come from collections; both disappeared from the online listing the minute my credit card had cleared.

The first is a kit, from the French company Heller, of the Alpine A210 that ran at Le Mans in 1966. Scroll back through my posts and you will find a description of the Monte Carlo version of the A110, which had a Renault R8 engine modified by the French wizard Amédée Gordini hanging out the back. The largest version displaced 1.6 litres and probably made 100 horsepower. The A210, with a smaller motor mounted mid-ships, and with a streamlined body, won the Index of Performance, a fuel efficiency prize devised by the French to ensure that a French car would win something, anything, at Le Mans. (I seem to recall a Lotus Eleven with the 997 cc Coventry Climax motor won this at one time). With a 1.0 or 1.3 litre motor (Internet records are spotty and contradictory), the thing managed something like 200 km/h which must have been pretty scary if you are bearing down on one of these little tiddlers in the rain in the middle of the night on the Mulsanne in, say, a Ford GT or Ferrari 250 LM at 200 miles per hour. However it is an obscure kit, long unavailable, and will look good with some of the other Le Mans obscurities like the Alfa Giulietta SZ which I have also not started.

At the complete other end of the spectrum is a 1968 Thunderbird with a WWII-surplus Allison V12 motor shoehorned into it. Taken from the fighter plane program and displacing 1700 cubic inches (that's 28 litres, and no, I didn't slip a decimal), we are looking at 1000+ horsepower before the hot rod guys got their paws on it. The mechanical engineering labs at my alma mater had a cutaway Rolls-Royce Merlin of similar displacement on a stand, and boy what a monster, featuring pistons the size of dinner plates. This one will definitely not get built with the Thunderbird body; I am thinking of something like a monster replica of the Auto-Union C-Type, the rear-engine V16 Grand Prix car built by a guy named F. Porsche in about 1938, but on, say, a lowered Kenworth chassis with wheel tops above the driver's head. Scratch building the chassis should be fun; a suitably Art Deco fuselage may require some thinking. Maybe a 1/32 WWII warplane model could serve as donor? Something to think about. Now I just need to find a Kenworth chassis donor.

OK, so the unbuilt stash has increased by 5 (I also picked up an Aston Martin DB4, a Ford Mark IV and a very detailed Aoshima kit of the McLaren F1 GTR). I guess I'll just have to retire sooner, right?

On second thought, don't encourage me.

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