Rare – Silodrome https://silodrome.com Gasoline Culture Sun, 21 Oct 2018 06:28:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 18077751 Mrs Knight’s Brough Superior SS100 – A $200,000+ Project Motorcycle https://silodrome.com/brough-superior-ss100-project-motorcycle/ Thu, 11 Oct 2018 09:01:18 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=84720 Mrs Knight’s Brough Superior SS100 – A $200,000+ Project Motorcycle

All surviving examples of the Brough Superior SS100 are special, but some are a little more special than others. The Brough you see here is one such special motorcycle, though somewhat unusually it’s not special because it won races or was owned by a celebrity – it’s special because it belonged to a young lady...

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Mrs Knight’s Brough Superior SS100 – A $200,000+ Project Motorcycle

All surviving examples of the Brough Superior SS100 are special, but some are a little more special than others. The Brough you see here is one such special motorcycle, though somewhat unusually it’s not special because it won races or was owned by a celebrity – it’s special because it belonged to a young lady named Jean Knight who bought it for £33.

Mrs Knight and the £33 Brough Superior SS100

Back in 1963 a young Jean Knight needed a way to get from South London where she lived to North London where she worked. A car was absolutely out of the question due to the cost, and public transport was an unreliable dog’s breakfast.

As luck would have it a friend was selling the contents of an old garage for £45, it was promptly bought by Jean’s husband-to-be, and she bought the then 30 year old Brough Superior for £33. This wasn’t a small sum in 1963, but even still, it must surely rank as one of the best motorcycle purchases we’ve ever featured on these pages.

Brough Superior SS100 3

Once the Brough was rolled out of the garage and removed from its still-attached sidecar, Jean began the process of learning to ride it. She was already an avid cyclist but just to be on the safe side she decided to attend an RAC motorcycle training session.

It turned out that she was the first lady rider to ever enroll in the training, and I would have paid good money to have seen the faces of the instructors when the young Jean Knight motored into the parking lot on her rumbling jet-black 1933 Brough Superior SS100.

“I couldn’t praise the course highly enough. All of the instructors wanted a go on my machine, and they put me on a Tiger Cub to start the lessons with, even though I’d ridden to the course on my Brough in the first place!” – Mrs Jean Knight

Brough Superior SS100 1

Once she passed her test and got her license there was no stopping her, she used the bike for commuting to work daily, and for family holidays around Europe, including the Chamonix – Val D’Isere Rally in 1966 (though her husband was the pilot for that event).

Mrs Knight continued riding her Brough even after the birth of her first child but after the birth of her second her husband pleaded with her to stop for the sake of safety “I agreed to save our marriage!” she joked. “I think he worried about me an awful lot. In the end we got a car, which was more sensible, and the Brough was for high days and holidays only.”

After this the trusty old Brough was parked in their shed where it would remain for decades – until it was rolled out again earlier this year. The bike remains in remarkably original condition with all of its original parts (and engine) still in place with the exception of the fuel tank, which is a slightly more recent addition.

Brough Superior SS100 2

The Origins of Mrs Knight’s 1933 Brough

The original factory records now held by the Brough Club show that this particular bike was delivered new on the 27th of July 1933, it was then resold by the works a few months later to F. Dennitt in February 1934.

Though there’s no way of knowing for sure however it’s possible that the first owner found the bike to be too much of a handful, it did happen from time to time as the Brough Superior SS100 was one of the fastest and most powerful production motorcycles in the world at the time.

Bonhams are due to sell the Brough on the 14th of October with an estimated hammer price of £140,000 to £180,000 (approximately $185,000 to $240,000 USD). Obviously the bike does need a mechanical restoration, however I can’t help but hope that the new owner keeps the spirit of the Brough alive, and uses it just as often as Mrs Knight did back in the ’60s.

If you’d like to read more about the Brough or register to bid you can click here to view the listing.

Brough Superior SS100 JAP Engine

Brough Superior SS100 JAP Engine 2

Brough Superior SS100 4

Brough Superior SS100 Rear Suspension

JAP Motorcycle V-Twin Engine

Images courtesy of Bonhams

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The Laverda 750 SFC Elettronica – An Endurance Racing Legend https://silodrome.com/laverda-750-sfc/ Thu, 13 Sep 2018 10:01:38 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83814 The Laverda 750 SFC Elettronica – An Endurance Racing Legend

The Laverda 750 SFC Elettronica is the most desirable of the Italian company’s first big twins, and it’s not just sought-after for its looks – the 750 SFC took a slew of major endurance racing wins in the early 1970s against the best in the world. The Laverda 750 SFC – The Big Twin The...

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The Laverda 750 SFC Elettronica – An Endurance Racing Legend

The Laverda 750 SFC Elettronica is the most desirable of the Italian company’s first big twins, and it’s not just sought-after for its looks – the 750 SFC took a slew of major endurance racing wins in the early 1970s against the best in the world.

The Laverda 750 SFC – The Big Twin

The Laverda 750 SFC started out as an argument between a son and his father. The son (Massimo Laverda) being convinced that the company needed to diversify into larger capacity motorcycles to appeal to the large US market, with his father (Francesco Laverda) being more conservatively minded and wanting to stick with what had been Laverda’s bread and butter up until that point in time – small-capacity commuter motorcycles.

In the end the son won out, fortunately for us all, as Laverda would go on to build some of the best engineered large-capacity parallel twins of the era.

Unusually for the time the development process involved reverse engineering a 300cc Honda CB77 Superhawk engine.

Up until this point the flow of technology had mostly been from the West to the East, but in this instance it flowed from Japan to Italy.

Though not a direct copy there is certainly a lot of external and internal similarity between the Laverda big twin and the CB77 engine, though in the 1960s this was largely seen as a good thing, as the Japanese company had a good reputation for reliability.

Laverda 750 SFC

The Laverda twin started life as a 650cc unit but not many were made at this size, with the engine quickly being upgraded to 750cc to better compete with the popular parallel twins coming out of the UK. Internally the engine has a single overhead cam (chain-driven) with two valves per cylinder.

The engine was designed to be strong enough to be used as a stressed member with an open cradle steel frame, suspension is traditional double shock absorbers in the rear and hydraulic forks up front.

Laverda Big twins are often separated into four major versions, the Laverda 650, the Laverda 750, the Laverda 750 SF and the Laverda 750 SFC. All four generations would take notable wins, starting with the 650 which won its class at the 1968 Giro d’Italia, with three Laverda 750s finishing in the top ten.

The Laverda 750 SF (an initialism of “Super Freni” or “Super Brakes” due to the updated brakes) won the 500 kilometers of Monza in 1970, they took a first, second, and third podium sweep at the 24 Hours of Oss (in Holland), and they took third and sixth at the 1970 Bol d’Or.

Laverda 750 SFC Left Side

Laverda 750 SFC Specifications

A year later in 1971 the Laverda 750 SFC was launched, its name standing for Super Freni Competizione, or super brakes competition.

As you may have surmised, this was the competition version specifically designed and built for racing.

Each example of the 750 SFC was painstaking hand-built for top flight endurance racing against the best in Italy, Germany, Britain, and Japan. The engines were carefully built away from the main production line with a larger valves, a racing cam, a reworked cylinder head, polished rockers, the crankshaft and rods were polished and balanced, and 36mm Amal concentric carburetors were fitted.

A close-ratio five-speed competition gearbox was installed, and the original frame was strengthened. Before they left the factory each bike was dyno-tested to ensure it was producing 70 bhp, and running perfectly as a turn-key race bike.

On the race tracks of Europe, the 750 SFC proved immediately successful, with a one-two finish at the 1971 Six Hours of Zeltweg, then first, third, and fourth at the 24 Hours of Montjuic in Barcelona, first and third at the 24 Hours of Oss, and a win in Vallelunga.

As the year progressed the new Laverdas would take a second place finish in the Bol d’Or, the top two steps of the podium at Imola, and the same again at the 500 kilometers of Modena.

Laverda 750 SFC Front Angle

Over the course of its short production run the Laverda 750 SFC  would see a range of performance and reliability upgrades capped off with the top-of-the-line 1975 Laverda SFC Elettronica with its Bosch electronic ignition and a slew of performance upgrades pushing power to 75 bhp.

Due to the exceedingly low production numbers the 750 SFC Elettronica is a unicorn for many vintage motorcycle collectors, and finding unmodified originals for sale is a rare event indeed.

The 1975 Laverda 750 SFC Shown Here

The beautifully presented original 750 SFC shown here was imported into the UK by Made in Italy Motorcycles in 2016 before being sold into the hands of the current owner.

It’s a matching-numbers example with an ASI identity certificate and what appears to be the original fairing, fuel tank, and seat. Its racing number is 88 which is hugely lucky if you happen to be from the Far East, and as a 1975 model it benefits from the upgraded brakes, upgraded 75 bhp engine, and long list of competition successes against the fellow Italians at Ducati, as well as the best of Britain and Japan.

The bike is now being offered for sale with SORN paperwork, a V5C document, and an instruction manual (in Italian). Estimated value is £24,000 to £28,000 which actually isn’t bad at all for a motorcycle that’s widely regarded as solid gold Italian royalty.

If you’d like to read more about the bike or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on Bonhams.

Laverda 750 SFC 3

Laverda 750 SFC Rear Wheel

Laverda 750 SFC Front Brake

Laverda 750 SFC Fairing

Laverda 750 SFC Front

Laverda 750 SFC Rear

Laverda 750 SFC 2

Images courtesy of Bonhams

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The Only One In The World – A Pontiac GTO Chief Camino https://silodrome.com/pontiac-gto-chief-camino-prototype/ Fri, 31 Aug 2018 08:01:17 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=82973 The Only One In The World – A Pontiac GTO Chief Camino

The 1965 Pontiac GTO Chief Camino is a one-off vehicle that should almost certainly have been built and offered for sale by Pontiac in the mid-1960s. It never was, but this is probably due to the fact that there’s no indication Pontiac even considered building it. The car you see here wasn’t built by them,...

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The Only One In The World – A Pontiac GTO Chief Camino

The 1965 Pontiac GTO Chief Camino is a one-off vehicle that should almost certainly have been built and offered for sale by Pontiac in the mid-1960s.

It never was, but this is probably due to the fact that there’s no indication Pontiac even considered building it.

The car you see here wasn’t built by them, it was built as a prototype by a man named Ron in his garage over a period of 10 years – using an original Pontiac GTO as the starting point.

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Left Side

The Background

Though it’s the subject of much debate in the car world, the Pontiac GTO is considered by many to be the first “official” muscle car. It first appeared in 1964 but not as it’s now model, but rather as a performance option package for the second-generation Pontiac Tempest.

Depending on who you ask you’ll be told that “GTO” either stood for “Grand Tempest Option” or that it was a straight copy of the Ferrari of the same name in order to pick up a little of that European racing flair.

What automotive historians generally agree on is that the Pontiac GTO started an arms race among the three major US car manufacturers, and left an indelible mark on the motoring world.

The Chevrolet El Camino is perhaps less famous than the GTO, but its fans are no less devoted. The first generation of the model appeared in 1959 as an answer to the Ford Ranchero, but it would be the second generation that would really establish the Chevrolet “coupé utility” as an icon in its own right.

El Caminos are now popular classic cars with owners clubs stretching from coast to coast. Early models tent to be the most popular but you’ll find proud owners of El Caminos dating from 1959 right through to 1987 when production ceased.

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Rear

The 1965 Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Prototype

Every now and then a proof-of-concept prototype is built not by the automaker themselves, but by enterprising amateurs in their own home garages. Though it’s rare to see one as well constructed as the Pontiac GTO Chief Camino.

The car is the brainchild of Ron Lindemann, a man who loves the original GTO and the El Camino, and who always wished that General Motors had found a way of combining the two into what would doubtless have been the ultimate coupe utility, or “ute” as the Australians would say.

The project started with an original 1965 Pontiac GTO which would donate its frame and front end to the project, including its engine and transmission.

Lindemann wanted to remain completely true to the prototype’s concept, so he almost exclusively used Pontiac body panels for the car, sourced from various models. The only Chevrolet El Camino parts are the roof and door frames – a remarkable achievement that’ll be deeply impressive to those who’ve spent any time doing panel work on classic cars.

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino V8 Engine

In order to stick as close as possible to what a genuine production Pontiac GTO Chief Camino would have actually been in 1965, the 389 cubic inch V8 engine with a 4-barrel carburetor was kept, as was the Muncie 4-speed transmission, and Positraction rear end.

The interior is 100% Pontiac, with a classic dashboard, GTO carpeting, and the addition of a Hurst shifter, and a wood-rimmed steering wheel.

Looking at the completed car it’s hard to argue that Pontiac shouldn’t have built it back in the mid-1960s. It would doubtless have sold in at least reasonable numbers, and the handsomeness of the car is undeniable by all but the most devoted contrarians.

If you’d like to buy yourself a one-of-a-kind Pontiac this one will be coming up for sale with RM Sotheby’s on the 30th of August. It’s hard to know what it might fetch at open auction but early estimates were $40,000 to $50,000 – though it could surprise, at the end of the day this is a car that’ll drop jaws from Anchorage to Austin, with double helix GTO and El Camino DNA.

You can click here if you’d like to read more about the car or register to bid.

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Front

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Interior

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Wheel

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Tray Back

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Tail Gate

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Shifter

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Hood Scoop

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Headlights

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Grille

Pontiac GTO Chief Camino Dash

Images: Theodore W. Pieper ©2018 Courtesy of RM Auctions

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This Was Carroll Shelby’s Own Personal 1969 Shelby GT500 https://silodrome.com/1969-shelby-gt500/ Thu, 16 Aug 2018 10:30:00 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=82232 This Was Carroll Shelby’s Own Personal 1969 Shelby GT500

This 1969 Shelby GT500 is being sold directly from the private collection of Carroll Shelby, interestingly he bought the car secondhand to add it to his collection, and it would stay in his personal possession for decades – where it would remain even after his passing in 2012. The 1969 Shelby GT500 The 1969 Shelby...

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This Was Carroll Shelby’s Own Personal 1969 Shelby GT500

This 1969 Shelby GT500 is being sold directly from the private collection of Carroll Shelby, interestingly he bought the car secondhand to add it to his collection, and it would stay in his personal possession for decades – where it would remain even after his passing in 2012.

The 1969 Shelby GT500

The 1969 Shelby GT500 would be the last of the original Shelby Mustangs along with its smaller-engined sibling the Shelby GT350.

These two Shelby Mustangs are perhaps the easiest to identify from a distance thanks to their completely re-designed front ends that are a few inches longer than the stock 1969 Mustang, and visually completely different. The letterbox style front surrounds a blacked-out grille with chrome accents and two headlights, above four rectangular lights fitted below.

Ford was far more involved with the design and construction of the Shelby GT500 (and GT350) than it had been in previous years, in fact Carroll Shelby now had relatively little input, and the Shelby-Ford partnership would end in the summer of ’69.

There are positives and negatives to this, the positive being that the build quality on the cars was better than earlier years (overall), and the negative being that the cars didn’t have as much of that underdog Shelby spirit.

The heyday of the first American muscle cars was waning by the late 1960s and this could be seen nowhere more prevalently than in the Shelby GT500’s sales figures. Just a few hundred would leave dealer showrooms containing their new owners, leaving Ford to rebadge unsold inventory in 1970 (under FBI supervision) to the 1970 model year.

1969 Shelby GT500

The 1969 Shelby GT500 Engine + Performance Specifications

When the GT500 was first released in 1967 Carroll Shelby famously said “This is the first car I’m really proud of.” – this was quite the statement from the famous racing driver turned performance car builder, and by this time he’d already built a number of very significant vehicles.

The reason for his love of the GT500 was almost certainly the engine – it was fitted with the 427 cubic inch V8 nicknamed the “Cobra Le Mans” engine. This was the same engine that had been used in the Ford GT40 to take its hugely popular win in 1967, which did absolutely no harm to Ford’s marketing efforts.

For 1968 onwards the 427 was swapped out for the 428 Cobra Jet which was easier to manufacture in significant volumes.

The 428-engined Shelby GT500 was capable of 335 hp at 3200 RPM and a prodigious 440 ft-lbs of torque at 3400 RPM. The 0-60 mph time is a flat 6 seconds and the 1/4 mile time is 14.0 seconds at 95 mph, though high 13s have been reported from reliable sources.

The fuel economy is exactly as eye-watering as you may expect at just 11-12 mpg, but with cars like this you calculate fuel usage in smiles per mile, not miles per gallon.

1969 Shelby GT500 Engine

Carroll Shelby’s Own Personal 1969 Shelby GT500

This car is doubtless one of the most special examples of the 1969 Shelby GT500 in existence due to the fact that it belonged to Carroll Shelby himself for so many years.

It was built at the Dearborn plant on April 14, 1969 with its 428 Cobra Jet, a C-6 Automatic transmission, Candyapple Red paint and white knit vinyl hi-back bucket seats. Options included a traction-lok differential, air conditioning, competition suspension, and a tachometer with a trip odometer.

The first few years of its life were spent over on the East Coast of the USA before it was bought by Shelby in California. A few years ago the car was fully restored by Barry Smiths’ Legendary G.T. Continuation Cars, Inc. (a licensed Shelby partner) and it now presents in remarkably good condition throughout.

If you’d like to read more about this car or register to bid you can click here to view the listing on Bonhams.

1969 Shelby GT500 Right Side

1969 Shelby GT500 Cobra

1969 Shelby GT500 Front Main

1969 Shelby GT500 Interior

1969 Shelby GT500 Steering Wheel

1969 Shelby GT500 Main

1969 Shelby GT500 V8

1969 Shelby GT500 Grille

1969 Shelby GT500 Left Side

1969 Shelby GT500 Back

1969 Shelby GT500 Rear

1969 Shelby GT500 Roof

1969 Shelby GT500 Front

Images courtesy of Bonhams

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The German Giant Killer – An Original Porsche 550A Spyder https://silodrome.com/porsche-550a-spyder/ Tue, 31 Jul 2018 07:01:14 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=81381 The German Giant Killer – An Original Porsche 550A Spyder

The Porsche 550A Spyder has a well-earned reputation for being a giant killer – it took on and handily defeated far more powerful cars including the likes of the 3-litre Mercedes-Benz 300 SL and Maserati 300S, and the more powerful still 3.5 litre Ferrari 860 Monza. The Porsche 550 and 550A Spyder The Porsche 550 Spyder and...

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The German Giant Killer – An Original Porsche 550A Spyder

The Porsche 550A Spyder has a well-earned reputation for being a giant killer – it took on and handily defeated far more powerful cars including the likes of the 3-litre Mercedes-Benz 300 SL and Maserati 300S, and the more powerful still 3.5 litre Ferrari 860 Monza.

The Porsche 550 and 550A Spyder

The Porsche 550 Spyder and its successor the Porsche 550A were developed by the marque in the early 1950s specifically for competition. The earlier 550 was released in 1953, it had a ladder chassis, a mid-mounted 1.5 litre four-cam boxer engine (two per bank), a four-speed fully synchronized gearbox, independent front and rear suspension, and a beautiful hand-crafted aluminum body.

Approximately 90 examples of the 550 Spyder would be built, including the Porsche 550A Spyder which made its debut in 1956.

Though almost indistinguishable from the outside, the 550A was a very different car under the skin. It made use of an advanced space frame chassis that shaved an additional 60 lbs off the already low kerb weight, and notably increased rigidity.

Porsche 550 A Spyder Front

The 550A made use of the same all-aluminum four-cylinder boxer “Fuhrmann Engine” (Type 547) with a capacity of 1498cc, two bevel gear driven cams per bank, two valves per cylinder, twin two-barrel Solex PJJ carburetors, dual ignition (with two separate ignition manifolds), and two ignition coils.

Despite the engine’s relatively small size it was a powerhouse, producing up to 135 hp and 89+ ft lbs of torque. The kerb weight of just 550 kilograms (1,212 lbs) and height of under 1 meter (980mm) contributed to the car’s exceptional handling, and its ability to trounce far more powerful rivals.

The list of races won by the 550 and the 550A is extensive, the former car won its first competitive outing at the Nurburgring Eifel Race in May 1953, it took a class win at the 1953 Carrera Panamericana, and it would take either wins or class wins at Goodwood, the Nurburgring, Le Mans, the Targa Florio, Berlin’s Avus, and in Buenos Aires.

The Porsche 550A took a popular outright win at the 1956 Targa Florio, shocking field as it beat other cars with engines over double the size. In 1957 the 550A would be replaced by the Porsche 718, more commonly known as the RSK, but the 550-series cars would continue competing successfully for years to come.

Porsche 550 A Spyder Racing 3

The Race-Winning Porsche 550A Spyder Shown Here

The car you see here took 1st place at the GP Circuit d’Opatija in Yugoslavia in 1958, with additional wins at the Flugplatz Zeltweg and Innsbruck Flugplatz, with a 2nd place finish at the Flugplatz Wien Aspern, and an 8th at the Gaisberg Hill Climb – all in 1958.

After its successful 1958 season competing in Europe, the car was sent back to Porsche for reconditioning, before it was sent to the USA and sold to Connecticut-based Porsche dealer and road-racer Harry Blanchard, who then entered it in a number of SCCA regional events up and down the east coast.

The car would pass through a few more hands before ending up in a warehouse where it was discovered in 1984 by Steve Terrien. Terrien would spend 30 years slowly and methodically restoring the car back to its former glory, a new aluminum skin was shaped by the Kimmins brothers (world-renowned experts) they later used the same wooden buck to reconstruct another sister car, 550A-0129, which now resides in the Porsche Museum.

The engine was given a comprehensive restoration including a balance, blueprint, and overhaul by Bill Doyle, the well-recognized master of Fuhrmann four-cam engines. During the rebuilt, the rest of the mechanicals were also restored, including the original 5-speed transaxle, brakes, and suspension.

The car is due to be offered for sale by Mecum Auctions in Monterey in late August, there’s currently no estimate listed but you can click here to read more or register to bid.

Porsche 550 A Spyder Back

Porsche 550 A Spyder Front 1

Porsche 550 A Spyder Left Side

Porsche 550 A Spyder Side

Porsche 550 A Spyder Fuel Filler Cap

Porsche 550 A Spyder Back 1

Porsche 550 A Spyder Front 2

Porsche 550 A Spyder Cockpit

Porsche 550 A Spyder Engine

Porsche 550 A Spyder Gauges

Porsche 550 A Spyder Steering Wheel

Porsche 550 A Spyder Shifter

Porsche 550 A Spyder Weber Carburetor

Porsche 550 A Spyder Interior

Porsche 550 A Spyder Racing 6

Porsche 550 A Spyder Racing 2

Porsche 550 A Spyder Racing 5

Porsche 550 A Spyder Racing 4

Porsche 550 A Spyder Racing

Images courtesy of Mecum Auctions

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Unadulterated Jet-Age Styling – The Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster https://silodrome.com/plymouth-asimmetrica-roadster/ Fri, 20 Jul 2018 07:01:12 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=81167 Unadulterated Jet-Age Styling – The Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster

The Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster was designed as a production car, despite its concept car looks – it was initially planned that 25 would be made, however just two were completed by the time production ceased. The Plymouth XNR The Asimmetrica was based on the futuristic Plymouth XNR that had been penned by one of the...

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Unadulterated Jet-Age Styling – The Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster

The Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster was designed as a production car, despite its concept car looks – it was initially planned that 25 would be made, however just two were completed by the time production ceased.

The Plymouth XNR

The Asimmetrica was based on the futuristic Plymouth XNR that had been penned by one of the most important American automobile designers of the 20th century – Virgil Exner. The Plymouth XNR was co-developed with the Italian coachbuilding firm Ghia, the car’s name was a hat-tip to its designer – “XNR” sounds like “Exner” when said aloud.

Virgil Exner was the godfather of jet-age cars, a great proponent of fins and aerospace-inspired design, he would lead the charge from the 1940s into the 1950s, designing many of the most iconic cars of the time along the way.

The Plymouth XNR would be Virgil’s last great unabridged design before leaving the company, and he went all-out. The XNR is a visual feast of curves, planes, fins, and chrome – it was pure unadulterated jet-age styling, the team at Ghia liked it so much they decided to bring a road-going version of the car to market – the Asimmetrica Roadster.

Plymouth XNR Concept Car

Above Image: The Plymouth XNR

The Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster

The Asimmetrica Roadster was based on the same Plymouth Valiant platform as the XNR, utilizing the slant six engine and the Hyper-Pack features – cast-iron split headers and a Carter AFB carburetor, similar to the NASCAR Valiants.

The design of the Asimmetrica was a tempered, more user-friendly take on the XNR concept car, with a folding top, a full windshield, a less prominent D-Type-style fin behind the driver, and door handles.

The headlights of the original design were moved from inside the grill to the front fenders, and the indicators that had originally been fitted to the wings were moved down to a more traditional location under the headlights.

Inside, the Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster was opulent by the standards of its time, with full leather upholstery, rich carpeting, a wood rimmed steering wheel, and polished chrome accents throughout.

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster

The car was first shown to the public at the Turin Motor Show in 1961, where it was seen by Georges Simenon, the acclaimed French author of the Maigret detective novels. It was love at first sight for Simenon and he wrote a cheque to Ghia on the spot to buy it, on the condition that it would be delivered immediately after the show ended. He remembered the encounter in his memoirs:

“On the Chrysler stand I am struck by a splendid flame red car, with a new and unseen line. I am fascinated by the model and address the seller, who introduces me to the famous Italian coachbuilders Ghia, the creator of this exclusive model. The price is shocking, but . . . I buy it for (my wife) Denyse; I sign a check and Ghia promises to deliver the car immediately after the show closes.”

Over the intervening decades the Asimmetrica would pass through a limited number of hands before it was carefully restored to original specification in 1989/1990, after which it was displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1990.

Since 2000 the car has belonged to a private collector in the Pacific Northwest who has only publicly shown it very rarely, preferring to drive it and enjoy it as part of a very exclusive collection.

The Asimmetrica is now due to be publicly sold for the first time in almost 20 years at the RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterey on the last weekend of August. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Steering Wheel

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Side

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster rear Fin

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Rear Fender

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Interior

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Interior 1

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Hood

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Front

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Front Fender

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Engine

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Back

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster 1

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Engine

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Seats

Plymouth Asimmetrica Roadster Back 1

Images: Josh Bryan ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

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The Most Expensive Motorcycle In The World – The Vincent Black Lightning https://silodrome.com/vincent-black-lightning-motorcycle/ Thu, 19 Jul 2018 10:09:16 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=81334 The Most Expensive Motorcycle In The World – The Vincent Black Lightning

The Vincent Black Lightning was the fastest and most desirable motorcycle in the world when it was released in 1948. A factory-delivered Black Lightning was capable of 150 mph if you were brave enough, and no small amount of bravery was required as braking technology hadn’t yet caught up with rapidly increasing horsepower levels. The...

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The Most Expensive Motorcycle In The World – The Vincent Black Lightning

The Vincent Black Lightning was the fastest and most desirable motorcycle in the world when it was released in 1948. A factory-delivered Black Lightning was capable of 150 mph if you were brave enough, and no small amount of bravery was required as braking technology hadn’t yet caught up with rapidly increasing horsepower levels.

The Vincent Black Lightning

The Vincent Black Lightning project began life when London Vincent dealer Jack Surtees ordered a bespoke Vincent Rapide in 1947 with a significantly upgraded engine for racing. The Surtees engine was built alongside one other, which would go into the bike that would become known “Gunga Din” – the prototype test-bed for the motorcycles that would evolve into the Vincent Black Shadow and the Vincent Black Lightning.

If the name Surtees sounds vaguely familiar to you and you can’t quite put your finger on it, you may be thinking of Jack’s son John, who is still the only man to win Grand Prix World Championships on both two wheels and four.

The V-twin used in the Rapide, Black Shadow, and Black Lightning was designed by Australian engineer Phil Irving. The story goes that Phil had blueprints of the Vincent Meteor single-cylinder engine on his desk, the way the blueprints were accidentally overlaid showed him that a V-twin could work perfectly using the barrels and heads of the single, just needing a new crankcase, crank, and a few other parts to work.

Vincent Black Lightning Main

Later in his career Irving would develop the Repco V8 RB620 engine used by Australian driver Jack Brabham to win the 1966 Formula 1 Driver’s and Manufacturers’ Championship against the best drivers and engineers in the world.

The Black Lightning wasn’t developed for street use (though they could be licensed for the road), they were intended for racing, and land speed record attempts.

The 998cc V-twin was built specifically for performance, magnesium alloy components components were used extensively, high-performance Vincent cams with higher lift and more overlap were used, highly-polished Vibrac connecting rods and high-compression Specialoid pistons were installed, the combustion chambers and rockers were polished, the heads were ported and polished, and twin 1¼ inch Amal 10TT9 carburetors were installed.

These highly-tuned engines were capable of 70 bhp – 15 more than the 55 bhp V-twins used in the Black Shadow. The kerb weight was a spritely 170 kilograms, notably less than the 208 kilogram weight of the Black Shadow.

The 150 top speed was tested by a few including the legendary Rollie Free took his modified Black Lighting to a new US national motorcycle speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1948 (pictured below).

Rollie Free Vincent Black Lightning

The 1949 Vincent Black Lightning Shown Here

Over the course of the 1948 to 1952 production run Vincent-HRD built just 33 examples of the Black Lightning, and it’s believed that just 19 numbers-matching examples still exist.

Collectors have begun referring to the model as the “Ferrari GTO of two wheels” in recent years as the prices have begun shooting skyward – the most expensive motorcycle ever sold at auction was a Vincent Black Lighting ridden by Jack Ehret to a new Australian land speed record, it fetched almost $1 million at auction.

The Black Lightning you see here is just the second one that was ever made, it was ordered by Swiss racer (and NSU factory team racer) Hans Stärkle. Impressively the bike has full ownership history from new, and it’s the earliest most original example in existence.

The interest in this bike will be global when it rolls across the auction block with Bonhams at the Barber Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama on the 6th of October. The current estimated hammer price is $400,000 to $500,000 USD, and you can click here to see more or register to bid.

 

Vincent Black Lightning Motorcycle

Vincent Black Lightning Back

Vincent Black Lightning Left Side

Vincent Black Lightning Rear

Vincent Black Lightning

Vincent Black Lightning Left Front

Vincent Black Lightning Front Angle

Vincent Black Lightning Front

Vincent Black Lightning Racing

Vincent Black Lightning Vintage

Images courtesy of Bonhams

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The Maserati Eldorado – Tipo 420/M/58/ – The Monzanapolis Racer https://silodrome.com/maserati-eldorado/ Tue, 10 Jul 2018 07:01:26 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=80708 The Maserati Eldorado – Tipo 420/M/58/ – The Monzanapolis Racer

The Maserati Eldorado The Maserati Eldorado is one of the most consequential racing cars of its time, despite the fact it never won a race, lead a championship, or landed a podium. There’s little doubt the car had the ability to achieve all three of these things given time and development work, after all Maserati...

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The Maserati Eldorado – Tipo 420/M/58/ – The Monzanapolis Racer

The Maserati Eldorado

The Maserati Eldorado is one of the most consequential racing cars of its time, despite the fact it never won a race, lead a championship, or landed a podium.

There’s little doubt the car had the ability to achieve all three of these things given time and development work, after all Maserati had won the 1957 Formula 1 World Championship rather decisively, with their two drivers Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss finishing first and second respectively, far ahead of the rest of the field.

At the end of the 1957 season Maserati withdrew the factory team from motorsport for financial reasons and focussed on building both road cars and race cars for privateer teams in order to generate more revenue.

Once such privateer was Gino Zanetti, the owner of the Eldorado ice-cream company and a pioneering mind in the world of racing sponsorship. Zanetti would be the first major sponsor of a European racing team that wasn’t in an automobile-related industry. He wouldn’t just add a logo to a car, but would have the entire car livery painted in his company colors with the company name along the sides and front, with the young cowboy logo featured in multiple locations on the car.

Zanetti’s decision to sponsor a car for Eldorado was monumental, there had been significant doubts as to whether non-automobile industries would see any benefit from sponsoring racing. Eldorado was the first major European pioneer, leading the way for the many companies who would follow – including the likes of John Player, Benetton, Martini, Jaegermeister, Apple Computer, Marlboro, Renown, Canon, and Camel – now remembered as some of the most famous liveries of all time.

The car Maserati built for Zanetti was developed to compete in the “Trofeo dei due Mondi” (Race of Two Worlds) organized by the Automobile Club d’Italia at Monza, a 500 mile race so similar to the Indianapolis 500 that it was nicknamed the Monzanapolis.

Maserati V8 Engine

Building The Maserati Eldorado

Under the vanilla-colored skin of the Maserati Eldorado lies a tubular steel chassis based closely on the Maserati 250F, though larger overall and reinforced at multiple points to withstand the rigors of high-speed, banked oval racing.

The V8 engine was sourced from the Maserati 450S with twin cams per bank, a 12:1 compression ratio, four Weber carburetors. The capacity was reduced to 4,190cc and in full race trim it’s capable of an impressive 410 hp at 8,000 rpm.

Power is sent back to the rear wheels via a two-speed transmission (low and high), and there are hydraulic drum brakes on all four corners, with Halibrand magnesium wheels, and Firestone 18-inch braided tread tires inflated with helium to shave off every possible gram of weight.

The aluminum bodywork was hand-crafted by Fantuzzi in Italy, its characterized by a fin behind the driver’s head, a long low nose, and a large off-set air intake to match the engine, which itself is offset by 90mm to give the car optimal weight distribution for banked oval racing.

The Maserati Eldorado (technically the Maserati Tipo 420/M/58/) tipped the scales at 758 kilograms, giving it a remarkably good power-to-weight ratio for the era (and even in the modern day).

Maserati Eldorado

Trofeo dei due Mondi – The Monzanapolis

The performance of the car in the Monzanapolis was impressive given that it was its first race outing. Stirling Moss finished the first race in 4th and the second in 5th, during the final race his steering broke and the car was sent into the wall at 260 km/h – astonishingly he walked away from the accident, and the car had relatively little damage save for the bodywork on one side.

After the race the original fin was removed and the hood scoop was reduced so the car could race at the Indianapolis 500. Gentleman driver Ralph Liguori took the wheel and despite his best efforts, the car failed to qualify, though it’s clear from the previous race outing that it wasn’t the fault of the car.

Today the Maserati Eldorado is housed at the Panini Collection, in Modena, and it attends a limited number of events and gatherings each year where it’s often swamped by people who’ve only ever seen it in magazines.

If you’d like to read more about the Maserati Eldorado you can click here to visit the official history sheet on Maserati.com

Maserati Eldorado

Maserati Eldorado

Maserati Eldorado

Maserati Eldorado

Maserati Eldorado Main

Maserati Eldorado Gear Lever

Maserati Eldorado Nose

Maserati Eldorado Side

Maserati Eldorado Steering Wheel

Maserati Logo

Maserati Eldorado 6

Images courtesy of Maserati

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The Only One In The World: 1967 Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Speedway Bike https://silodrome.com/meirson-sprint-motor-msm-v-twin/ Mon, 09 Jul 2018 06:01:38 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=80736 The Only One In The World: 1967 Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Speedway Bike

The Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-twin Prototype The Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-twin prototype is an engine that you’ve probably never seen before. Just one was made in 1967 by a talented father and son team in Australia; Clarry and Allan Meirs – the name Meirson is a contraction of “Meirs” and “Son”. The two...

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The Only One In The World: 1967 Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Speedway Bike

The Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-twin Prototype

The Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-twin prototype is an engine that you’ve probably never seen before. Just one was made in 1967 by a talented father and son team in Australia; Clarry and Allan Meirs – the name Meirson is a contraction of “Meirs” and “Son”.

The two men raced sidecar speedway bikes together with (father) Clarry on the bike and (son) Allan in the sidecar. They started out using modified JAP (JA Prestwich) engines, they began developing their own single-cylinder racing engines that quickly outperformed the more common JAP and Jawa engines.

The Meirson Sprint Motor was a prototype V-twin developed specifically to replace the Vincent V-twin they had been using in their sidecar speedway bike. To accelerate the development process they used a Harley-Davidson Flathead bottom-end, then developed their own cylinders, heads, pistons, and connecting rods. The valve train was sourced from an early-60s Coventry Climax Formula 1 engine, with JAP rocker arms.

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

This new engine has a capacity of 1000cc, with a 15:1 compression ratio (running on methanol) 160 hp in full race trim. In its first season, the MSM V-Twin won 15 of 15 races, clinching the title and setting off a firestorm of rumors and finger-pointing.

Other competitors were convinced that the engine was over the 1000cc size limit, so the Meirs disassembled the engine under the watchful eye of the race officials for inspection – it was found to be legal, and their championship stood.

Shortly thereafter the engine was stolen, exactly what happened in the intervening 50 years is very unclear, but the engine vanished for decades before re-appearing in an altogether unexpected place.

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

The MSM V-Twin Speedway Bike by Royal-T Racing

It’s not known exactly how, but the MSM V-twin made its way across the Pacific Ocean at some point in its mysterious 50 year disappearance, and it ended up hanging on the wall of Jesse James’ (of West Coast Choppers) personal shop in Los Angeles.

This is where the engine was when it came to the attention of Patrick Tilbury, the founder of Royal-T Racing and a former protégé of Jesse James. After asking James about the engine and learning of the mystery surrounding it, Tilbury realized he had to have it. He bought the engine from James, and researching its history became a passion project that would consume weeks of his time, after a couple of months he’d tracked down Allan Meirs, now in his 70s, who was utterly dumbfounded that the engine had resurfaced all the way over in the USA.

Allan provided a wealth of invaluable information about the engine, which allowed engine builder Bill Combs of B&B Racing in Metairie, LA to complete a comprehensive restoration on it – bringing it back to almost-original specification.

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

It was around this time that Patrick decided to build a bike for the Born Free Show, he wanted to build a bike around the MSM V-twin, he discussed the idea with Allan Meirs who requested that it be a speedway bike – as a nod to the engine’s heritage.

Patrick is a fabricator and welder with 15 years experience, he’s appeared on the Discovery Channel TV shows Outlaw Garage and Biker Build-Off, and he’s worked with some of the most respected people in the industry in the USA.

When discussing the build process, Patrick said “The proportions on this bike was my biggest challenge, speedway bikes have a very distinct look and they have a cult following so if you don’t nail it, you will most likely hear about it immediately.”

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

“The other challenge regarding this build was the motor looking at home in this style of bike. The motor is large, like crazy big looking, and a v-twin speedway bike doesn’t really exist. I looked a lot at how speedway bikes mount their motors, how the frames are constructed and began building my frame. I made the frame from 304L Stainless Steel, I know thats not the typical material of choice for frames but for this bike I wanted the frame to be like a ring and the motor the diamond.”

“I used all speedway parts from the wheels to the layshaft assembly, everything is exactly what you would find on a speedway bike. The rake is 19* and the wheelbase is 54”. My buddy Chris Moos of MoosCraft and myself knocked out all of the sheetmetal work together, making all of the tins out of Aluminum.

The paint was inspired by a pack of Newport Cigarettes, I’ve always liked the design and as far as I know Newports have never sponsored any type of race bike or car. We’ve all seen the Marlboro, or John Players, or Lucky Strike cars/bikes but never Newports. The exhaust is full stainless as well and uses the Royal-T Racing production muffler.”

Allan Meirs and his wife Jean flew from Australia to California for the Born Free Show to see motor for the first time in 50 years, and perhaps more importantly to hear it run, for Allen it was a audio time machine back to his remarkable season alongside his father, winning 15 races from 15 to the soundtrack of an engine they’d built themselves.

If you’d like to add a next chapter to the remarkable life of the Meirson Sprint Motor V-twin, it’s currently for sale over on eBay, and you can click here to visit the listing.

If you’d like to see more from Royal-T Racing you can click here to visit the website.

Follow Royal-T Racing on FacebookInstagram

Allan Meirs

Above Image: Allan Meirs reunited with the engine after 50+ years.

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

Meirson Sprint Motor (MSM) V-Twin Prototype Speedway Bike Royal-T Racing

All images Jorge Menes

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1955 Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special https://silodrome.com/jaguar-xk-140-maurice-gomm-special/ Tue, 03 Jul 2018 08:01:08 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=80008 1955 Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

The Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special isn’t a car that you would think is in anyway related to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the World Rally Championship winning Ford Escorts, the Le Mans winning GT40s, or 1960s-era Formula One and Can-Am cars. But it is. Maurice “Mo” Gomm Maurice “Mo” Gomm was one of the most respected...

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1955 Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

The Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special isn’t a car that you would think is in anyway related to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the World Rally Championship winning Ford Escorts, the Le Mans winning GT40s, or 1960s-era Formula One and Can-Am cars. But it is.

Maurice “Mo” Gomm

Maurice “Mo” Gomm was one of the most respected and prolific race car constructors, metal workers, and panel beaters in the United Kingdom in the ’60s and ’70s. He got his start during the Second World War first as a dispatch rider, and then working in factories building bombers for use by the Royal Air Force.

By the time the war ended Mo had developed remarkable skill at shaping and working with metal, particularly lightweight aluminum alloys, and he was able to put this to good use in the construction of countless race and championship winning race cars including Graham Hill’s Indianapolis 500 winning Lola, Jackie Stewart’s Tyrell 001, Nelson Piquet’s Ralt F3, the Ford GT40s, and most (if not all) of the McLaren Can Am cars.

The most popular vehicles to come out of the workshop of Mo Gomm were the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cars, he created five chassis and bodies – one for each transformation the car would go through during the film. Alan Mann would add many of the bells and whistles to finish the cars off, and such is the enduring popularity of the film that these are remembered as some of the most famous cars in cinematic history.

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

The Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

The Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special started out as an altogether different car, it was commissioned from Paul Emery by Sir Waterlow as a personal race car to compete in weekend races across Britain in 1955. They originally used a 1938 Grand Prix Alta Monoplace chassis, fitted with a 2.6 liter Aston Martin DB2 engine.

The design of the body took some cues from the Aston Martin DB2 and some other cars from the era – but it’s its own machine, with a body shaped by hand. The early competition life of the car is largely a mystery, all we know is that it was discovered in rather poor condition in the late 1980s, though thanks to its alloy construction, the body was rust free.

The decision was made to separate the body and chassis – the 1938 Grand Prix Alta was restored back to its original monoposto configuration, and it can now be seen regularly taking part in vintage motor sport competition.

Jaguar XK140 Engine

The body was kept in storage for many years until Charles Fripp (a Jaguar XK specialist from Twyford Moors) had the idea of fitting it to an XK 140 chassis, as the wheelbase was practically the same. He sourced a Jaguar XK140 chassis/engine from the same year, 1955, and set about building the car paying great attention to develop it in the same way it would have been developed in 1955.

The XK140 engine was moved backwards in the chassis to offer better weight distribution, and the bonnet was curved up before being modified with twin “nostril” hood vents to allow better cooling and breathing. The engine was rebuilt to competition specification by Sigma engineering, then mated to an E-Type gearbox with a heavy duty clutch. Power is sent back through a limited-slip differential and there’s adjustable dampers and stiffer polyurethane bushings on all four corners.

The completed car weighs in at just 900 kilograms, and in proper Le Mans specification the XK engine is capable of over 250 hp, so the Maurice Gomm Special has performance not dissimilar to the Jaguar C and D-types, or the Aston Martin DB3S. If you’d like to read more about the car or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on Artcurial.

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

Knock Off Wire Wheels

Jaguar XK140 Engine 2

Jaguar XK140 Engine 1

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special VIN Plate

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special Interior

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

Jaguar XK 140 Maurice Gomm Special

Moto Lita Steering Wheel

Photos © Tim Scott Fluid Images courtesy of Artcurial

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