A forum thread here on ViaRETRO last year about how to regard “Originality vs. Safety” in historic racing was one of the biggest and longest discussions ever on this forum. The story was caused by a visit to the Spa 6-hours by Claus Ebberfeld – where he fell absolutely in love with the interiors of the pre-1963 GT cars. Know what I mean?
When I bought my Giulietta Sprint from Alfa-restorer Søren Poulsen outside Aarhus the winter before last, I also fell in love with its interior. I have seen many classic race cars in paddocks around Europe and in winter workshops of my racer friends, and I most often see them as terribly pragmatic and modernly equipped with all kinds of high-tech devices that either helps the driver to better command the car and read the instruments or indeed to protect the driver in case of a violent crash.
The Giulietta has an old-school dashboard, facia and instrument binnacle. It’s all shaped in steel plate and as such quite simple – but rather difficult to disassemble and very awkward to do electrics work on. But it looked just right. The dash facia is painted in the body-colour and the three multi-function dials are set in a matt-black deep pot-hole right inside the circumference of the steering wheel. On the right a delicious enamel sign from the long-defunct Roskilde Ring, where once the likes of Stirling Moss and Innes Ireland raced, and although many original bling-parts, such as push-buttons, toggle switches and warning lamps had been removed, it all looked just the part. It did have Sparco Sprint seats (about to expire) but they ARE the most period-looking of all the FIA-approved full buckets, and I already began dreaming about getting Zagato seats in. All the missing bling from the facia had also been replaced with a fuse array sitting outside the glovebox, with excellent access, (very handy in an italian racer) and the toggle switches and warning lamps had all been relocated to an auxiliary electrics panel behind the gear lever. I liked it.
How should the interior of a classic GT racer look?
I also attended the Spa 6-hours last autumn, and I was also smitten by the thorough care taken in the pre-63 GT class. I know, all racers take care to get good interiors, but some of these cars were equipped quite differently than the usual stripped-out Mini Cooper, Alfa Bertone or Ford Escort et al. I suppose they looked a bit like they actually looked in period? And there are many ways to go about creating something that is “period”, as pronounced in FIA’s Appendix K regulations. I can actually fit my Giulietta Sprint with garden-stool like Zagato seats … or indeed fit original seats. That’s because the car qualifies for Period E (1947-1961) and for some reason or other they don’t crash as heavily as Period F (1961-1965).
Lucky me, or how’s that? Some classic racers go about dicing without even having a roll cage fitted; see the Maserati 151 or the Ferrari 250 above. While most fit their race car with a tight roll cage like the Maserati A6G53, or even go as far as the dude who issued his Chevelle with what I would call the full plumbing.
Risking it all with VHT Wrinkle Plus paint – first on the removable parts, and since on the facia itself
When I had my car home in my garage after a prolonged stay with my mechanic – I drove it directly from Søren Poulsen to Skallebølle Automester, and Søren was a bit concerned about the driving distance – I immediately started dismantling the whole dashboard and took the instruments apart and left the facia all naked. And then I couldn’t help dreaming about classic GT interiors; me, in egg-shell helmet and sweaty driving gloves, aiming the screaming Giulietta Sprint up the Raticosa on my way to Brescia on the 1956 Mille Miglia. Or something. I had to do something! I had acquired at Skallebølle about the way to achieve the wrinkle black surfaces I had seen on one of my visits. Inside a race-equiped Maserati 3500 GT that was in for some fiddling, or some other place, I had seen my dream in the flesh. The problem has, as Steffen Madsen said: “There’s a lot of stuff out there, and most of it doesn’t really work. And then you are left with the cleansing work”.
So I started investigating what would work and what would not; and the Internet (big world-wide digital thing we all love) had the solution. Many had been there before me; they had overcome these mundane trials and errors and could recommend one product “VHT Wrinkle Plus”. So I started asking around, but nobody sold it in this country; apparently it was prohibited and insanely life-threatening to use anywhere in Denmark. I found three cans on ebay from Holland (which is inside the EU) but they refused to send it to me “because they weren’t allowed to”. What?! I contemplated import directly from the states where it seems to be usual business to paint rocker covers Wrinkle Black or Wrinkle Red, but I felt sure that the local environmental authorities would round me up and put me away – until – I stumbled upon a Volvo-dude who had it in stock. Here in Denmark. Problem solved, and I have been using five cans now; I even have a Wrinkle Plus RED spray can. Oh, the agony. Where shall I use it?
But listen carefully to my observation: “Read the instructions on the can, and follow them. Or it won’t look anything as good as it should. It takes a very thick layer; three thick layers actually, to get the right wrinkles. And heat, a lot of it. And patience; it is the most slow thing in the world, and it collapses if you touch it before it has set”.
There, I warned you!
Ultimostile testament 03
“Using the follow car was an excellent idea. Seeing that beautiful red Alfa body running through the hills was fantastic. This in one of my all time favorite, beautiful cars. I wish I was there. Thanks”.
– Dennis Weifenbach
“At the end; that was a little nervous laugh ha ha…..nice driving through Eau Rouge”.