Frankel's festive miscellany 2020

Le Mans 66

Autocar’s very own Richard Osman shares fascinating and obscure car facts that are surely pointless

Few have as detailed a knowledge about car-related arcana as Frankel, or are as generous in sharing it every Christmas. Here’s this year’s nuggets of wisdom. 

Factual inaccuracies in Le Mans ’66

1 Carroll Shelby didn’t catch fire at Le Mans in 1959.

2 Enzo Ferrari didn’t attend Le Mans in 1966.

3 There was no meaningful battle between Ford and Ferrari in the closing stage of the race.

4 There’s no evidence that Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles ever had a physical fight.

5 Fiat didn’t buy Ferrari in 1965.

6 Lee Iacocca had nothing to do with Ford’s attempted purchase of Ferrari.

7 Carroll Shelby wasn’t the first American to win Le Mans. Phil Hill won in 1958 and Luigi Chinetti had already applied for US citizenship when he won in 1949; it was granted the following year.

8 Ken Miles wasn’t left behind at Le Mans in 1965.

Cars that have also been planes

Ambassador (Austin and Airspeed)

Aztek (Pontiac and Piper)

Caravan (Dodge and Cessna)

Caravelle (Volkswagen and Sud Aviation)

Comet (Mercury and De Havilland)

Concorde (Chrysler and Aerospatiale/BAC)

Cutlass (Oldsmobile and Vought)

Electra (Buick and Lockheed)

Metro (Austin and Swearingen)

Mustang (Ford and North American)

Spitfiire (Triumph and Supermarine)

Valiant (Chrysler and Vickers)

Victor (Vauxhall and Handley Page)

Viggen (Saab and Saab)

Every manufacturer to have supplied tyres in Formula 1










Nineteen Formula 1 drivers you’ve probably never heard of

1 Kurt Adolff

2 Conny Andersson

3 Giorgio Bassi

4 Michael Bleekemolen

5 Tom Bridger

6 Adolf Brudes

7 Ettore Chimeri

8 Paddy Driver

9 Fred Gamble

10 Masahiro Hasemi

11 Gus Hutchison

12 Hans Klenk

13 Ernst Loof

14 Robin Montgomerie-Charrington

15 Ben Pon

16 Adolfo Schwelm Cruz

17 Mike Sparken

18 Gaetano Starrabba

19 Desmond Titterington

The 10 most famous cars in movie history

Volkswagen Beetle – The Love Bug et seq

Cadillac Miller-Meteor Ecto-1 – Ghostbusters et seq

Lotus Esprit S1 – The Spy Who Loved Me

Ford Falcon X8 GT Pursuit Special – Mad Max

Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – Smokey and the Bandit

Ford Mustang GT390 Fastback – Bullitt

Delorean DMC-12 – Back to the Future et seq

Aston Martin DB5 – Goldfinger et seq

The Batmobile – Batman et seq

Racing drivers with a long name and a short nickname

Alfonso Antonio Vicente Eduardo Angel Blas Francisco de Borja Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton, XI marqués de Portago, or ‘Fon’

Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh of Siam, or ‘Bira’

Jyrki Juhani Järvilehto, or ‘JJ Lehto

Cars that can be front-, rear- or four-wheel drive

BMW i8 Ferrari SF90

Lancias named after letters in the Greek alphabet











Ypsilon (ish)

Occupations of some of the Bentley Boys

1 SCH ‘Sammy’ Davis – Autocar sports editor

2 Glen Kidston – Lieutenant Commander, Royal Navy

3 John Du – fencing instructor

4 Dudley Benjafield – bacteriologist

5 Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin – lace manufacturer

6 Frank Clement – professional racing driver

7 Woolf Barnato – Bentley chairman, Surrey wicketkeeper

8 George Duller – jockey

Some car makes beginning with B





Ben Hur







Porsche 911 facts

1 The 911 was originally going to have a pushrod engine that would have seriously damaged its chances of being turned into a racing unit.

2 The most powerful engine yet seen in a 911 is the 690bhp flat six used in the 2017 GT2 RS, the least powerful the 110bhp unit of the 1967 911T. The least powerful engine used in the 911 body was the 90bhp 1.6-litre four-pot used in the 912 of 1965.

3 The most powerful 911-based racing car was the 1978 935/78, known as Moby Dick because of its whale-like bodywork. Getting 850bhp from its 3.2-litre turbocharged engine, it was timed doing 228mph at Le Mans.

4 The Porsche flat six has in fact been many different engines, but the last of the air-cooled units used in the 993 in 1997 was directly related to the first used in the 901 in 1963.

5 The 911 and its derivatives have won every major sports car race on earth, including the Le Mans 24 Hours (935, 1979), Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours and Targa Florio (all 911 RSRs in 1973). It has also won the Monte Carlo Rally (1967-70) and the Paris-Dakar Rally (1984 and 1986, latter with the 959).

6 The lightest 911 was the 911R of 1967, which weighed 814kg. The current 911 Turbo Cabriolet weighs 1710kg.

7 The 901 became the 911 after Peugeot pointed out that in France it owned the rights to three-digit numbers with a 0 in the middle. Just 82 901s were built before the name was changed.


Zoom meeting: The Autocar road tester’s Christmas lunch 

Autocar’s ultimate Christmas quiz 

Christmas road test 2020: The Goodyear blimp

Source: Autocar

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