Thursday 19 March 2009

Garry Sowerby: A Memorable Interview

Over the Christmas holidays, a select group of people received my limited edition signed and numbered Holiday card, and their responses were overwhelming.

One of the recipients was local automotive journalist, record-breaker, adventurer, and event planner Garry Sowerby. I was always intrigued by his exploits, so I thought I should send him one of the cards.

In turn, Garry was intrigued to receive this card sent to him by a person completely unknown to him. So he called me to do an interview for his “Road Less Traveled” weekly feature in the “Wheels” section of our local Halifax Chronicle Herald paper.

I was thrilled to meet Garry. He has been described as the Indiana Jones of adventure driving, and has 4 world distance/time records under his belt, including 1980 world circumnavigation by car “Odyssey 77” in a Volvo station wagon in a record-breaking 74 days! His next record-breaking drive was the 1984 fastest drive from the bottom of Africa to the top of Europe “Africa-Arctic Challenge” (28 days), where he was shot at by Shifta bandits in Kenya. His third was the 1987 fastest drive from the bottom to the top of the Americas “Pan American Challenge” (23 days), and his last was the 1997 world circumnavigation by car “Frontera World Challenge” where he beat his origin record, with his new record being an amazing 21 days! All have been published in the Guinness Book of World Records.

He has published a great book of his adventures called “Sowerby’s Road – Adventures of a Driven Mind”. His company Odyssey International Limited does event planning and product launches for the major automotive companies, including General Motors, Honda, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Saturn, Saab, Vauxhall, Subaru and Ford.

Like I said, I was honoured to be interviewed by such accomplished adventurer. You can read his feature below; I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Friday 13 March 2009

Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato: “Machismo” defined

After they introduced their stunning new Touring-bodied DB4 GT in 1959, Aston Martin decided to take on Ferraris SWB 250GTs with their own weapon.

Pen & ink and Prismacolor pencils on Canson green archival stock
© Paul Chenard 2009

They commissioned the Milanese firm of Zagato to make their new car competitive. Young designer Ercole Spada penned a fabulous lightweight “Superleggera” body, “super-light” in Italian, which refers to a Touring-developed construction method of a frame of small-diameter metal tubes built on the main chassis, and covered with aluminum body panels.

The car is a stunning purposeful-looking racer; Doug Nye described it as "a man's car" in his 1982 Salon feature review in Road & Track magazine. It is beautiful from every angle ... rolling sculpture.

Though the Zagato was slightly lighter the original DB4 GT, they were not competitive enough to beat the all-conquering Scuderia Ferrari, which introduced the GTO. They were raced by such famous drivers as Roy Salvadori and Jim Clark.

19 of the Zagatos were built originally, and in 1991, Aston Martin authorized the building of 4 more DB4 GT Zagatos, utilizing unutilized chassis numbers; these were labeled as Sanction II cars. The original cars rarely come up for sale, but if they did, the expected sale price would be at least $3 million USD.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Instrument of Racing: The Alfa Romeo Tipo B “P3” Monoposto

After the success of their P2 racer, Alfa Romeo followed it up by developing the "P3" monoposto (single-seat), also known as the Tipo B. Designed by the brilliant Vittorio Jano, it was the first genuine single-seater Grand Prix car.

Pen & ink with a watercolour pencil wash on archival white stock, 12"x 9"
© Paul Chenard 2009

Original art is available for sale, as are limited edition prints.

* The inset clover "quadrifoglio" graphic appeared on the Alfa Romeo Racing Team cars.

It was powered by a straight 8- cylinder engine, built around two 4-cylinder cast-iron blocks, each fed by a Roots supercharger. Power was transmitted to the rear wheel via twin drive-shafts.

In the hands of Tazio Nuvolari, Rudolf Caracciola, Louis Chiron, Achille Varzi, Raymond Sommer, and René Dreyfus, the P3 won countless races from 1932 through to 1935.

It’s best known victory came in the hands of Nuvolari at the 1935 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. With the P3’s engine bored-out to 3.2 litres, he beat out the far superior machines of the Mercedes and Auto-Union teams.