Few things have fostered so many new sporting devices, contraptions, fashions and gadgets in the past several years as has the rising popularity of the sports car. The market has been flooded with gadgets by manufacturers riding the crest of the craze, and it takes a careful navigator to maneuver successfully through the tough gymkhana of sports car equipment to eliminate the false from the true. One of the most useful instruments to come to the attention of the rally enthusiasts this fall is the Speedpilot, made by Halda, the Swedish company that once made taximeters for London's horse-drawn cabs of the 1890s. The Speedpilot ($125, Nisonger Corp., 146 E. 74th St., New York 21) has two dials. The left one, a speedometer, is set to the desired average speed at the beginning of a rally. The trip meter beneath it is set at zero. The right dial is a clock with a third hand, the pilot hand. At the beginning of a rally, the pilot hand is set to coincide with the minute hand of the clock. If the pilot hand moves four minutes ahead of the minute hand, the car is four minutes ahead of schedule. So long as the two hands are kept in synchronization, the rallier is on schedule and can read his elapsed time and distance as well. The six-by-four-inch instrument is easily installed and averages speeds from 12½ mph to 90 mph.
For the racing driver, a company that manufactures Air Force crash helmets also turns out a Fiberglas racing helmet ($43.50, General Textile Mills, continued on next page 450 Seventh Ave., New York). It can likewise serve for motorboat racing. It has a nylon webbing that cradles the head, a shatterproof clear plastic visor and foam rubber pads which fit in the earpieces to absorb shock and noise. The same company makes a plastic cap for the conservative driver ($10.95).
Another, and more traditional, timing device has a special appeal to navigators among the rally crowd. It's the Autavia, a Swiss-made stop watch which measures seconds, minutes and hours and has such large knobs for starting, stopping and re-setting that it can be operated with gloves on. The Autavia ($45, Abercrombie & Fitch, New York) is built into a flat case with screw holes for attaching it either to a dashboard or a navigator's clipboard. And speaking of clipboards, a new one, the Ray-Rite, is now available which very neatly solves the problem of navigating by night: it has a battery-powered light attached to the top of the metal board ($7.50, Abercrombie & Fitch). Other products of interest to night ralliers and drivers are the lights made by the Lucas Company of Birmingham, England, manufacturer of lighting fixtures for 95% of all English cars. One is a chromium-plated, brass-finished spotlight with an 80,000-candle-power beam concentrated into a long, pencil-thin ray; and as a twin to it a foglight with a widespread, flat-topped beam with a sharp cutoff ($14.75 each, Lucas Electrical Services, Inc., 653 Tenth Ave., New York 36, or 5025 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles).
The Sports Car Club of America now has its own official shirt. A fine cotton knit, it comes in navy, black, red or white and bears the SCCA emblem on the chest. It is available to members only ($10, SCCA, Box 791, Westport, Conn.). A coverall with just about everything for drivers is being produced of featherweight Egyptian Pima cotton, Zelan-treated for water repellency ($14.75, Lion Uniform Co., 44 "Webb St., Dayton 3, Ohio). It comes in blue, scarlet, white, black and khaki and has a high collar, breast pockets with flaps, zippered thigh pockets and straps to secure trouser legs.
November 5, 1956
R. Gordon & Co., Inc., 32 E. 59 Street, New York, has a stock of books, games, records, scale models and model kits to keep the vicarious—or the snowbound—sports car enthusiast happy all winter long. There's a game, Grand Prix, which is played over the Sebring and Watkins Glen courses, each car moving under the control of the driver, who makes his decisions on gear shifting and cornering based on the car's specifications, printed on cards, not by spinners or dice. Just as in actual racing, it is the best driver who wins Grand Prix. It can be played by from 2 to 12 persons ($10). There are two record albums that should delight any sports car enthusiast. One, called Sounds of Sebring ($5.95), was recorded at this year's race. It includes interviews with such drivers as Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio, the sounds of the cars revving and racing and hourly reports on the race. The other album, Sports Cars in Hi-Fi ($5.95), records sounds of the pit, of a race, trial runs and cars from MGs to Ferraris in action. Both recordings are by Riverside Records. There are also three new books worthy of any automobile fan's attention. One, A Picture History of Motoring (Macmillan Company, N.Y., $5.95), is a fascinating pictorial record by L.T.C. Rolt, the Englishman who organized the Anglo-American Vintage Car Rally in 1954. Sports Car Rallies, Trials and Gymkhanas (Channel Press, $5) by David Hebb and Arthur Peck is the first handbook on this fast-growing sport. Its 159 pages of text, photographs, drawings and diagrams give the most detailed information on all phases of sports car activity, from rally arithmetic to staging big-time international events. The Three-Pointed Star (W. W. Norton & Co., $7.50) by David Scott-Moncrieff with St. John Nixon and Clarence Paget "is the complete account of the machines, the men, the races and the triumphs that have made the marque of Mercedes-Benz second to none in the automobile world." Read with the symphony of Sports Cars in Hi-Fi on the record machine as background music, all three volumes should make an armchair seem as glorious a place to be as the cockpit of a 300 SL.