About me

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and now living in the South-West of France, my interest in cars and motor racing was sparked at age five when my father - one-time mechanic to South African Champion Frank Brodie - started taking me to local races in 1949.

My analytical book ‘Grand Prix, a Century of Racing’ was published in 1994.

I have always been fascinated by the perennial problem of how to rate Grand Prix driver performances. In 2002, I derived a methodology which separates driver and car performance. An explanation of my Grand Prix Performance Ratings System is provided elsewhere on this blog.

Elected Honorary Member of the Societa per la Storia dell’Automobili Italiana in 1987.

Published articles:

o Autosprint (Italy) January 1979
'The Magnificent 12 - Dominant Grand Prix Cars 1895 to 1975’.

o Australian Sports Car World October – December 1984
‘Sports Touring Cars – Aerodynamic Progress?’

o Het Automobile (The Netherlands) March 1985
‘Alfa’s Super-Efficient Giant Killers - the Giulietta’.

o Classic & Sports Car (UK) December 1986
‘Scaglione – Forgotten Design Genius’.

o Thoroughbred & Classic Cars (UK) June 1988
‘Alfa Romeo Speciale restoration’.

o Het Klaverblaadje (The Netherlands) June 1988
‘Scaglione’s Alfas’.

o Alfa Romeo Giulietta Gold Portfolio by Brooklands Books (UK) September 1990

o Het Klaverblaadje (The Netherlands) July 1990
‘Alfa Romeo in South Africa 1958 to 1985’.

o Automobile Quarterly (USA) October 1994
‘Franco Scaglione – Forgotten Genius’.

o Automobile Quarterly (USA) December 2008
‘Formenti – Unsung Master Designer with Carlo Bianchi-Anderloni’.

o Motorsport (UK) March 2009
‘Giulio Ramponi on Grand Prix Drivers’.

o Numerous South African motoring publications 1974 to 2010.

2 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciales Restored.

In 1980 I bought a red Speciale in Boksburg, near Johannesburg. It was an old, rusty and modified 1961 example. Six years and many struggles later it was completely restored, including the deep red paint to the original Bertone formula. In 1989 I took on another Speciale, found near Pretoria. This was a 1962 model, in a far more original condition than the red one. It was originally also painted an incorrect red. Coincidentally it was another six difficult years before this blue one was completed. These projects could not have been done without the help of my son, father and brother, friends and the generosity of many of the Alfa Rome Club of South Africa members. Alfa Romeo Milano kindly sold me a brand new, still-in-the-packing-case bonnet/hood for the 1961 price of $30 [about £10] including shipping [from Italy to South Africa], as a friendly gesture!

A spin-off was that I became so intrigued with the aerodynamic efficiency of the car, that I started researching the story of Franco Scaglione, the Speciale’s body designer. From just 1.3 litres in 1957 the Speciale could top 200kmh/124 mph; faster than the 4.6 litre Corvette, 5.2 litre Ford Thunderbird, 3.4 litre Jaguar XK150 and 2.9 litre Aston Martin DB MKIII at the time. Scaglione had dropped into obscurity and no-one in Italy knew of his whereabouts in the eighties, some even reporting his passing in 1981, erroneously. It took 13 years from 1981 for me to research his biography and obtain copies of his sketches and photos from his family in Suvereto, Italy. My biography of him was published in Automobile Quarterly in1994 (issue 33/3). The Scaglione family, whom my wife and I visited in 1994 were very pleased that Franco belatedly got this publicity. One of the great car design talents, he passed away late in 1993.

Model car collection: 1/43 scale started in 1955 (age 11).

In the mid-1950s, at about age 9, my brother chose his birthday present: a Dinky Toy set of three ‘racing cars’: the Blue and yellow Ferrari Tipo 500, the Talbot-lago 26 and the 1951 HWM in pale green. That set us off, collecting more 1/43 scale models. By 1957, we were rolling/racing the grand prix models down rainwater gutters with other kids in the neighbourhood.

After leaving school, I packed our 80 or so models in an apple box which was moved from top cupboard to top cupboard as we moved apartments and houses. Didn’t look at them for about 20 years, till 1980 when I unpacked them ‘for’ my then six-year-old son, gave my brother his models, and built a display cabinet for mine.

A few years later I decided to rationalise: swapped salon cars and concentrated on ‘The Postwar Sports-Touring Car from 1945’. The grand prix cars remained my strongest passion, but I had to restrict the collection: after doing my 1994 analytical GP book, I began re-arranging the collection to just one model each year of ‘The Most Competitive Grand Prix Cars from 1894’. I stopped the Sports-Touring cars in 1995 and focused on the GP collection, swapping, and buying to fill my ‘gaps’. Today I have every one from 1925 to 2011. Plus a few from 1906 to 1912. Recently my brother Michael started home-building the ‘unobtainables’ for me, starting with a 1930 Maserati and a 1903 Mors. He has just completed the 1927 Delage, 1924 Sunbeam and the 1923 and 1922 Fiats.

So if anyone stumbles across a 1905 Itala, or 1898 Panhard at a car boot sale or church fete, please let me know. I have several swaps up to the 2010 Red Bull-Renault.

Scrap book collection started 1956 (age 12).