Category Archives: Projects

NSU Fulfills a Dream, and Answers Questions

Looking a little like a Corvair, these cars have many similarities with their US cousins.

Along with BMWs and MBs my father’s dealership sold NSUs. So when I started racing he suggested I find the holy grail of NSUs, a 1200 TTS. I found one for sale in NJ and went with my friend Peter P. to collect it and bring it back to MN.

NSU was an old manufacturer. They began in the late 1800’s as a knitting machine manufacturer. Soon they became a bicycle manufacturer, and then in the early 1900’s began making cars and motorcycles.

After the war they continued making excellent motorcycles, winning races in Europe and setting many speed records at Bonneville. Their cars were small, but of high quality, and were also quite successful on track.

Their most successful model on the track and at hillclimbs was the TT and its successor the TTS. These cars came as 1,000 ccs and 1200 ccs, and were named for the race where NSU had had such success, the Isle of Man TT races.

Power comes from a 1,200 cc 4 cylinder, OH cam, air cooled motor derived from their motorcycle engines.

In the late 1960’s they developed a Wankle engined car called the Ro-80 that was a marvel. It was a beautiful design, but the engine proved unreliable, and the warranty claims put the company in jeopardy.

VW/Audi took over the company in 1969 and the NSU brand disappeared.

I ran my TTS in a few auto crosses in the fall of 1969, setting several FTDs, and then raced it on the Ice in the IIRA series in 1969 through 1971. I never got a chance to race it on a track because I sold it and bought a Mazda RX2 to race in 1972.

The question of how well these cars go has always rattled around in the back of my empty skull, so I decided to take steps to find out before I was too old to care.

Here are some pictures of my latest acquisition. It is a 1970 1200 TTS. It has a OH cam 4 cylinder air cooled engine, sitting on a 4 speed transmission. And no, I will not be doing any bump drafting with that oil cooler hanging out there.

It has independent suspension all around. Up front are unequal length arms, with coil springs and a sway bar. In back are swing axels locate by trailing arms, with coil springs and shocks.

I found the car in the Netherlands, and it is on its way via ship to Seattle. No Baby Corvair jokes please.

Stay tuned to follow the adventures of this little Bad Boy!

Moving Parts

This week finds I have a lot of cars on the move.

First car is the M3 race car I bought a few weeks ago. It has been loaded into a container and onto a ship. That ship left Australia on January 9th headed for Seattle. It should arrive sometime in early February.

The Willis and all its extras left Racecraft’s shop yesterday morning. It will head south to Arizona where it will be photographed for the Bonham’s Auction catalog for their Amelia Island Auction that is happening on March 8th. Here’s a link to the auction site.

The Willis is not yet listed among the Lots on offer but should be soon:

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/24809/

Last but not least, my Hyde Park Motors Trans-Am 2002 is headed back to the BMWCCA Foundation museum in Greer, SC where it will be a part of the display honoring the 50th Anniversary of the 2002.

I spent a couple of days cleaning him all up. I then took him up to Portland to meet the same truck that is hauling the Willis.

The car will be on display starting in March through January. He will get a well deserved rest for this summer.

Update to My Garage

Goodby Dorothy. You will be missed.

With the recent sale of Dorthy, my Chevron B16, a space was opened up in my garage.

For some time I have been looking at ex-DTM M3’s, but they have become scarce and very expensive.

About a month ago Jim Froula from Racecraft sent me a link to an ex-JTCC E30 M3 in Australia that was for sale.

http://www.ecuriebowden.com.au/1992-group-25-evo-bmw-m3-ex-anthony-reid

The car was spectacular, and had the exceptional history that I prefer. The price was well below a comparable DTM car, so I made the purchase.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the history of M3 1/60

In 1987 BMW produced what is the most successful racing / touring car of its type – the M3. During its 5-year reign it achieved 1436 victories and continued to dominate well after 1992, winning races in the Group A’s events in Europe, Japan and Australia.

In all 260 cars were produced in Touring Car trim, which could race in Group A, DTM and Group N. An additional 40 – 50 rally cars were also built.

The M3’s were built for the express purpose of winning the European Touring Car Championship (ETTC), but were rushed into production to challenge for the World Touring Car Championship (WTTC).

In the first race at Monza in 1987, M3’s filled the first 6 places but were later disqualified for running what was known as ‘cheater panels’.

The success made everyone sit up and take notice especially the Ford Motor Company who were campaigning some fast RS500 Sierras and were determined to win the WTCC.

The racing that year was close all season and battles were order of the day right down to the last race with the Schnitzer M3’s of Charlie Lamm, just beating Ruedi Eggenberger’s Texaco Sierra, BMW only just taking the title.

BMW were still considered the underdog and they were aware that they needed to do something special if they were going to keep in front of Ford’s RS500 Sierra, hence the ‘Evo’ (evolution) label was added to the M3’s various improvements.

These included more grunt from the engine, better aerodynamics, lighter body panels and more amenable driving positions.

The ultimate Evo package was developed in 1990 for Group A cars. At that time Australia had created their own Group A, as had DTM.

Japan, however, stayed faithful to the original Group A concept and followed FISA (FIA) rules for racing. The reason why is not too clear and could have been for many and varied reasons, after all Nissan (for one), had spent an absolute fortune developing the R32 GTR which dominated Group A.

Whatever the reason, the ‘golden age’ of Japanese racing saw tracks filled with BMW, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota plus the occasional Mercedes 190E joining in the fun.

Middlebridge Racing purchased two of the top spec EVO BMW M3’s and prepared them to run in the 1993 season of the JTCC.

Chassis M31 / 60 was campaigned by Anthony Reid, who was a well known stunt driver, BTCC contender and British Land Speed record holder. Anthony also managed to get on the podium at the ‘Le Mans 24hr’.

His 1993 JTCC campaign was backed by Tomei Sports, with Asahi Kiko and Valvoline sponsoring him in what was the last and most exciting year of the JTCC Group A.

The car was painted in Valvoline’s corporate colors and had all the latest Evo upgrades. Reid achieved many podium places, including a win in round 5 of the JTCC at the Ti Circuit Aida. At the 1993 season’s end, Reid was in second place behind the Auto Tech M3.

That was the end of that particular racing class, and the car was bought by a businessman who continued racing it in the Valvoline livery. Valvoline requested that he changed the paint as he was clearly no Anthony Reid.

The car was then bought by a Swiss racer who used it in hill-climbs back in Switzerland. It was later sold on again to Classic BMW-expert, Alex Elliot, who sold it to Australian, Adrian Brady. Brady, who had a number of special BMW’s, sold it on to its current owner, Ecurie Bowden.

The car was extensively restored over a 12 month in 2011 and in its racing debut in 2012 came 3rd in feature race at Muscle Car Masters. It has been raced in the Australian Group A Historic races since.

The car is currently in transit from Australia to the US. It should be here in early February. Stay tuned for additional updates.

Luigi Gets a New Heart

You may remember that last year at the Rolex Pre-reunion races the #1 main bearing in Luigi let go with catastrophic results. The failure was due to oil starvation, which was caused by the inability of the old Alpina dry-sump pump to keep up with the demands of the engine.

Oil starvation caused the #1 main bearing to let go.
Oil starvation caused the #1 main bearing to let go.

 

After some careful consultation with Terry Tinney we decided to build an engine based on the European M90 block and a modern oil pump.

The new engine went on the dyno last week, and the results are impressive.Luigi On The Dyno

The new engine displaces 3.5 liters and is putting out 360 HP, with between 260 and 290 pound feet of torque between 4,000 and 7,000 RPM.

Here’s a link to Tinney’s Facebook page with a short video of it running:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Terry…483343?fref=ts

Dorothy Arrives!

Dorothy on her pallet arrives at SEATAC.
Dorothy on her pallet arrives at SEATAC.

Mary and I went up to SEATAC last week to collect the new Chevron.

The car was trucked from Perugia, Italy up to England, then put on a plane from Heathrow to Seattle.

She arrived with no damage despite being longer than her pallet. All 4 pallets of her spares came too.

Mary meet Dorothy. Dorothy meet Mary.
Mary meet Dorothy. Dorothy meet Mary.
One of the boxes of spare parts that came with the car.
One of the boxes of spare parts that came with the car.

Here’s a short video of the event:

Redoing the 1800Ti- Part 2

All the metal work has been completed on the shell and it has been powder coated on the interior, the engine bay, the trunk area, inside the doors and fenders.IMG_3787

The powder coating is more durable than regular paint. It is also easier to clean and doesn’t need waxing.

After this Terry will be hanging the doors and fenders on the shell and it will go off to the painter.IMG_3786

Redoing the 1800Ti

In preparation for the big race weekend this August in Monterey we are redoing the 1800Ti into a period correct vintage racer like this famous car:

BMW 1800 wins the 24-hours race at Spa Francorchamps 1966.
BMW 2000Ti wins the 24-hours race at Spa Francorchamps 1966.

We have a lot of work to do to my car to make it look and act like this one. My car was originally built to run in the Carrera Pan-Americana but due to a falling out between the owner and BMW NA it never ran in that race.

It was heavily modified, and we modified it further to make it a better track race car. It had custom rear trailing arms, no dashboard, door frames cut out, exhaust tunnel inside the passenger compartment- just to name a few.

Once the shell was striped, Terry began the necessary metal work.
Once the shell was striped, Terry began the necessary metal work.

The first step was to completely strip the shell, media blast it, and begin fixing all the rust, bent panels, and other necessary metal work.

A new rear seat pedestal and back brace were fabricated so we can put the back seat back in the car.
A new rear seat pedestal and back brace were fabricated so we can put the back seat back in the car.

One big issue was fabricating a new  pedestal and rear brace for the back seat. Those bits had been cut completely out of the car to reduce weight.

The bottoms of all the doors required new panels due to rust issues.
The bottoms of all the doors required new panels due to rust issues.

All four doors required new lower patch panels due to rust issues.

While all this metal work was going on the suspension, fuel, electrical, and other parts were being refreshed and repainted. Here they all are waiting to go back on the car.

All the bits refreshed and repainted, ready to go back on the car.
All the bits refreshed and repainted, ready to go back on the car.

There is still a lot of work to do on the car, but progress is being made. Thanks to Terry Forland and Travis Koch at Racecraft for all their hard work.

Check back in a few weeks for the next update.