Entries in Prototype (6)


Introducing the Vic Elford Edition Prototipo Chronograph

Our latest design at Autodromo is the all-new Prototipo Chronograph, inspired by racing watches of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The centerpiece of the collection is the Vic Elford Edition, limited to 224 numbered pieces with a booklet signed by Quick Vic himself! The color scheme of the watch is inspired by the paintwork on Elford's Porsche 907 with which he dominated the 1968 Targa Florio, winning by 3 minutes and 42 seconds, even after losing nearly 19 minutes due to wheel nuts coming lose and then a flat tire! He set multiple lap records in the process.

Head over to www.autodromo.com for full details and specs! The Prototipo is also available in white dial and black dial.

The caseback of the Vic Elford bears a map of the Targa Florio circuit, as well as Elford's record practice lap and even faster record race lap!


Is it time to re-appraise the Vector W2?

Continuing on our theme of unloved cars this week, let's talk about the original Vector W2 Prototype.  Of course when I was a tiny kid in the 80s, I thought the Vector was the be-all end-all of supercars.  It was the topic of many breathless schoolyard conversations and sketches in the margins of my notebooks.  But as time went by, it has become sort of the Jean Claude Van Damme of supercars--just a punchline to a bad 80s joke.  The sort of thing that we look at today and say "wow. did we really think that was cool back then??"  Putting aside the 3 speed automatic transmission, I think the time has come to perhaps re-appraise the car on stylistic grounds.  Although I agree it will never be a "timeless" car, I think it's now getting old enough to appreciate it as a period piece, and a successful execution of the design trends of that time.With the later iterations of the design, the car became increasingly overstyled and needlessly complex, in order to compete with also-vulgar Lamborghini Diablo.  But I think the original prototype has some really wicked, menacing proportions, and cool detailing.  I love the fighter jet look imparted by the shut lines and tight panel gaps. The design borrows heavily from Bertone (the Athon -also from 1980- comes to mind), but creator Gerald Wiegert added his own Art Center-trained, American flavor to the mix. I think the way the organic fender flares relate to the chiseled belt line of the car is particularly well executed and unexpected. Perhaps we should look past the later Vectors, such as the disgusting M12, and appreciate the intent behind the original car --to make a home grown super-exotic with the latest technology and the most extreme styling that was cutting edge at the time.


For your consideration: Bertone Rainbow Prototype

The same year my Dino's body was built in the Bertone factory, Marcello Gandini and his team were creating this wedge-like design study also based on the Ferrari 308 mechanicals.  Clearly, these themes never made it into any production Ferrari. But you can see many elements here that would find their way into several small sports cars of the 80s, particularly from Japan.  At this time, Japanese automakers had yet to emerge, butterfly-like from their mimetic, unimaginative cocoons.  But collaborations between Italian styling houses and Japanese automakers began to bear fruit. Radical Italian ideas of the mid 70s became the new Japanese look of the 80s, and the wedge went from avante garde to mainstream.


Pete Brock's JP6 Prototype: Toyota's stillborn Le Mans project

Reading this month's Vintage Racecar Magazine, I came across a fantastic period photo of a gorgeous low-slung GT car prototype. Its designer was Pete Brock, who penned the Shelby Daytona Coupe and was the originator of the Corvette Sting Ray.  Brock and his buddies Bruce Burness and Trevor Harris got together to design this car from the ground up for Toyota at their shop in California. This followed on the heels of Brock's successful work for Japanese maker Hino, which was then acquired by Toyota. By this point, Brock enjoyed a good reputation in Japan, which must be how he was commissioned to create the JP6.

The JP6 was to be Toyota's 2-Liter entry for Le Mans, using the inline six from the 2000GT as its powerplant (with view towards an eventual V8) and a diminutive spaceframe structure for the chassis. Development started in 1966, but was scuppered due to lack of funding by '67, and Toyota had the prototype shipped back to them where it presumably was scrapped or used as a testbed for other more promising projects. The car never turned a wheel in anger, but it certainly looked state of the art for the time, and was achingly beautiful. I have no idea what happened to the prototype, but I would certainly love to see it come out of the shadows if it does still exist.

Image credits: Automobile Magzine, top. Other images from Shin Yoshikawa's book on the 2000GT.

More info in French at 2000gt.net


Neri & Bonacini's Mini Miura

Every so often, I come across cars I've never heard of but can't figure out how I could be unaware of something so beautiful!  This is one of those times.  Idly searching for interesting cars online, I suddenly found myself staring at a low-slung, sleek red machine with all the hallmarks of late 1960's Italian sports car design. The car in question is the 1968 Neri & Bonacini Studio GT Due Litri.  Like many of these forgotten cars, it was a prototype developed on a tiny budget in the hope that publicity would spur capital needed to develop the car, attract a proper engine supplier, and set up larger production. Neri & Bonacini were no strangers to modifying cars, having produced the famous Ferrari "Breadvan." Here, they sought to develop an all-new car from the ground up.They considered many possible engines, but the car in the photos is powered by a tiny Lancia V4 engine, mounted midship.  The car resembles the Lamborghini Miura from the rear, and somewhat presages the shape of the Uracco when seen fron the side view.  The pleasing front end is quite interesting for the use of pop-up headlamps.  2 prototypes were made. The car pictured is the second one, owned by John Mastroianni Sr. of Auto Turismo & Sport , New Milford, CT, and in original, unrestored condition!  I found these photos on their website, which has some great images from their shop! Some day I'll have to drop by and pay a visit!

Photo credit: Auto Turismo Sport

More info on the Studio GT and interior photos also at supercars.net