Saturday, April 26, 2014


Tjaarda Design - part 9 - Rayton Fissore 2


In an additional note Tom Tjaarda wrote me about the Rayton Fissore MAGNUM / LAFORZA:

Designed in 1984 while I headed up the Rayton-Fissore Design Group, this project is significant in that it really started the era of the SUV type vehicle. It was the very first big off-road vehicle to use soft and rounded forms and to take this type of car away from the "truck-like" design concepts used previously.

More than 6000 of the MAGNUM / LAFORZA vehicles were eventually produced, starting in 1985, interrupted a few times and then continuing to 1998 - and put back into production with a revised design in 2003. The Magnum / LaForza Turin PSV features a 455 hp supercharged motor, driving 160 mph, luxury interior and a 2 ton frame. 
Available as a High Performance model or a fully ARMORED PERSONAL SECURITY VEHICLE (picture in front of the exquisite Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas). It is the only factory-built armored luxury PSV in the world.


© Copyright Anthony Westen 
In virtue of a personal relationship exclusively written for me and my Fiat 124 Spider Blog - The Netherlands. 
Auf Grund einer persönliche Beziehung exclusiv geschrieben für mich und für mein Fiat 124 Spider Blog - die Niederlande. 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Anthony Westen - Netherlands.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Tjaarda Design - part 9 - Rayton Fissore 1


Tjaarda got restless after four years at Fiat, one reason being that the design center suffered from weak management which resulted mostly in all the important vehicles not being designed in-house but rather outside at Italdesign, Bertone and Pininfarina.

A new challenge came along to set up a design center for a group located outside Torino in the historic town of CHERASCO. Gulio Malvino, who was married to the daughter of the famed coach building family Fissore, had created a small factory to design and fabricate prototypes and small production armored cars and trucks.
Also involved in this business was GIANMARIO ROSSIGNOLO, who was the president and managing director of Lancia for many years and a friend of Tom Tjaarda.

Many interesting projects resulted from this new company. The Spanish company of SEAT AUTO had recently split with Fiat and were on their own now, looking for design expertise.

Tjaarda's relationship with Ford and Mr. LEE IACOCCA, who was now CEO at Chrysler, resulted in a number of prototypes being designed and built in the town of Cherasco. Also personal armored cars were built for Lancia, a very special jazzed up truck tractor called "cowboy" produced for Iveco, and then the now famous RAYTON FISSORE 4X4 MAGNUM, considered to be the very first SUV type vehicle, was then produced for the following eighteen years!

Following is a complete list of the vehicles which Tjaarda designed while working at Rayton Fissore:

SEAT RONDA                                                         production                      1981

SEAT GUAPPA COUPÉ                                         show car                         1981

CHRYSLER LEBARON                                       concept prototype           1982

CHRYSLER IMPERIAL                                       concept prototype           1982

SAAB VIKING                                                        SHOW CAR                   1982 

TORINO TAXI                                                         prototype                        1983

RAYTON FISSORE MAGNUM                            PRODUCTION              1984


© Copyright Anthony Westen 
In virtue of a personal relationship exclusively written for me and my Fiat 124 Spider Blog - The Netherlands. 
Auf Grund einer persönliche Beziehung exclusiv geschrieben für mich und für mein Fiat 124 Spider Blog - die Niederlande. 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Anthony Westen - Netherlands.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Tjaarda Design - part 8 - Fiat Auto


The job offer from Fiat came about in the winter of 1978, and turned out to be an interesting proposition in that it was a managing position for the Fiat Advanced Design Studio.

Working for such a big organization was a bit different form Tjaarda's previous experience but it was here that he was able to learn the techniques of industrial giants internal methods of management.
It was a difficult period regarding automotive design, especially at Fiat with many strikes and adverse political conditions. On the other hand many interesting developments were applied to car design such as the use of the wind tunnel for aerodynamic efficiency and the use of color-coded plastics for integrated bumpers.

Working in a design office together with 15 designers and modelers, the four years at Fiat resulted in a number of interesting prototypes with Tjaarda working this time not as an individual designer but as group manager. Following are a few of the projects which resulted in prototypes and styling demonstration models.

TIPO 4 - LANCIA / FIAT - 4 door                           styling models    1979

FIAT POLAND - off-road vehicle                             prototype            1979

FIAT BRAZIL                                                             prototype            1980

FIAT BRAZIL - small car                                          styling model      1980

FIAT 124 - restyling                                                    prototype            1980

LANCIA Y-10                                                             PROTOTYPE     1981


© Copyright Anthony Westen 
In virtue of a personal relationship exclusively written for me and my Fiat 124 Spider Blog - The Netherlands. 
Auf Grund einer persönliche Beziehung exclusiv geschrieben für mich und für mein Fiat 124 Spider Blog - die Niederlande. 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Anthony Westen - Netherlands.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Tjaarda Design - part 7 - Sinthesis


While still working at Ghia, Tjaarda teamed up with a friend, Peter Giacobbi, to design and build a running prototype. Called the SINTHESIS, this concept vehicle was hand built over a two year period. Using the power and suspension unit of the LANCIA FLAVIA placed in a mid-ship position, a new chassis was designed by Giacobbi and a coupé sports car body designed by Tjaarda to complete this hobby project.

The car was shown in the TURIN AUTO SHOW in 1972. The public showing of this one-off prototype turned out to be shocking and created dramatic speculation as to who did it, where did it come from and what was its purpose. Even De Tomaso called his friends at Fiat to find out if they had engaged Tjaarda to work for them !

The ashes settled when both Giacobbi and Tjaarda produced all the evidence that it was indeed - a hobby project.

The SINTHESIS was awarded the PEOPLES CHOICE AWARD in the 2011 LA QUINTA DESERT CLASSIC CONCOURS d'ELEGANCE (scroll furter down), in the 1992 CONCORSO ITALIANO  and was also displayed at the 1997 PEBBLE BEACH  CONCOURS d'ELEGANCE. The car is now in permanent display in a Automobile Museum in southern California.

PETER GIACOBBI'S AND TOM TJAARDA'S ONE-OFF AUTOMOTIVE DREAM
The divided circle selected as THE LOGO for Giacobbi's and Tjaarda's one-off GT coupe, Sinthesis, tells the whole story: "The Yin and Yang of it", to use the owner's words.

Giacobbi and Tjaarda have accomplished an ambition that most of us have merely fantasized....they have had a car built to their own specifications. By that, we don't mean anything so prosaic as ordering from some manufacturer's lengthy list of options, power-trains and colors. Anyone could have done that, at least up until a few decades or so ago. Engineer Giacobbi and designer Tjaarda spent two years creating a one-off GT solely for their own personal gratification, a car they intended to drive daily as his "beater". Built in 1970, Synthesis was the first car to be fitted with air bags - for both driver and passenger.

We know what you're thinking, and you are wrong, very wrong. This is not some cobbled up atrocity, a Buccialli or Clenet, nor is it a hot rod of Detroit mass market parentage. Giacobbi's and Tjaarda's fantasy come true is a GT that was awarded the Peoples Choice Trophy at the 1992 Concorso Italiano, a 350-car competition held at Carmel Valley, California concurrent with the vintage racing at Laguna Seca, the Concours d'Elegance at Pebble Beach and the myriad other classic car events that each August bring to the Monterey area more than 1000 of the most significant automobiles ever produced.

The Carmel gathering was the third showing for Sinthesis, and it came some twenty two years after the car's public debut on the Nardi stand at the 1970 Turin Auto Show. Penned by the De Tomaso Pantera designer, long-time Ghia stylist Tom Tjaarda, the one-off steel body is mounted on a mid-engine chassis that was the creation of Giacobbi himself. Get rid of that knowing smirk - you're wrong again. Peter Giacobbi has some pretty good qualifications, having been Chief Engineer for the DeLorean project during the early days before scandal marked the demise of that enterprise. Earlier, this former college roommate of Peter Recson spent a decade and a half with Eaton Corporation in Italy, where he supervised many projects relating to the automotive industry.

Peter Giacobbi and Tom Tjaarda, both American-born, both filled with early career optimism, found themselves living in the same Turin suburb in the late 1960s. As noted, Giacobbi was fledgling engineer with the Eaton Corporation, while Tjaarda already had more than half a decade with Ghia under his belt. The pair became friends, sharing interest in tennis, attractive young ladies and, of course, sports and gran turismo automobiles. One Sunday evening in the autumn of 1968, over a wine-lubricated dinner in a trattoria on the banks of the river Po, the two Americans embarked on a private project to design and build a car for Peter Giacobbi. The parameters were few; room for two occupants, fast, possessing superior handling characteristics, relatively economical and sleek, very sleek.
Lancia's flat four cylinder 1.5 litre power-plant from the Flavia was selected for the Sinthesis, primarily because of its low center of gravity, as well as the fact that the engine, complete with the Lancia's four-speed trans-axle and front suspension, would be adapted to become the rear drivetrain for the Sinthesis. The power-train from a wrecked Flavia was acquired for an amount less than $100, a figure which soon became irrelevant during a rebuild and modifications that saw displacement expand 30 percent to 2.0 litres, with a dyno rating of 173 hp.
That output later was scaled back to a still robust 123 hp to allow the 220-lb car a degree of low rpm tractability.

Perhaps inspired by Colin Chapman (an influential English design engineer, inventor, builder in the automotive industry and founder of Lotus Cars), Giacobbi designed a torsion-resistant central tunnel-type chassis that was further strengthened by a perimiter frame and stress bearing floorpan. If anything, the resulting structure is unneccessarily rigid and heavier than need be. A pair of production Alfa Romeo radiators were joined and are mounted in the front luggage compartment along with plumbing for the Girling power disc brakes. Engine cooling is further enhanced by air flow carried aft through a centrally located under-floor duct. Originally for a 3500-lb vehicle, the Lancia disc brakes provide stopping power that can best be described as more than needed, while the acceleration, despite suffering from balky transmission linkage problems, is awesome.
 

The former owner of several Ferraris, Giacobbi had high-speed motoring in Italy on his mind when he set out to build his own GT. In as much as Turin lies not far from some of the world's finest ski slopes, the young American wanted the lowest possible polar moment of inertia in order to make high-speed motoring through the Alps less hazardous. That he achieved this objective is evident from a seat of the pants evaluation during a recent short demonstration drive in Southern California.

All glass, including the windshield, was custom formed for this one car, and two complete sets were secured against future need. The steel body was built in an unorthodox manner, comprised of many small panels formedin one small shop by a traditional Italian artisan, which then were assembled in another Torinese shop. Adherence to Tjaarda's design and symmetry were ensured by templates that were indexed to his plans every single millimeter.

Even though Sinthesis is the creation of two Americans, there is no mistaking this vehicle for anything other than an Italian automobile, right down to that country's "arms stretched to the limit" driving position. Giacobbi admits to having paid less attention than he might have to ergonomics, a not uncommon oversight in that time. One area in which the two young Americans did innovate is shown in the color-coded switches, a feature straight from the Boeing 747 flight deck. This, according to hyper-critical Giacobbi, has proven less successful than originally envisioned. So too are the seats, and the off-white upholstery and carpeting, both of which are attention getting on the show circuit but unpractical in the real world. The cumulative result is that Sinthesis, instead of becoming a daily driver, has accumulated less than 2000 miles in the past 42 years, and that works out to less than 50 miles per year.

Tom Tjaarda considers the experience to have been personally rewarding. He ranks the Sinthesis design among his better efforts, particularly in that it did not involve input from a group of experts who might have placed commercial considerations above the desires of his friend and partner in the venture.


© Copyright Anthony Westen 
In virtue of a personal relationship exclusively written for me and my Fiat 124 Spider Blog - The Netherlands. 
Auf Grund einer persönliche Beziehung exclusiv geschrieben für mich und für mein Fiat 124 Spider Blog - die Niederlande. 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Anthony Westen - Netherlands.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Tour along the magnificent Croatian Adriatic coast 2


THE CROATIAN INITIATOR
As mentioned in my previous post, the initiator of the tour in Croatia along the Adriatic Coast is Sany Antonio and can easily be recognized by one of his 8 (eight!) Fiat Spiders as you may see HERE.
And a number of his Spiders HERE.

Sany wrote earlier about his passion for the 124 Spider: 
Myself, I am an Italian sportscar collector. My 'Spider-connection' and involvement with the 124 Spiders started 40 years ago. I had and enjoyed many of them. In the late 60' I lived in Bavaria, when I bought my 1st 124 Spider, a 1400 ccm AS model. I remember driving my Spiders even during the winter, when going skiing in the Alps!

From the late 70' I lived for 7 years in South Africa and there, I have found and also bought the only 2 Spiders available (in the whole country). Of course, I did restore them too, and drove them all over. I made few long trips in South Africa and several times I visited even the Cape of Good Hope with my black 1968 AS Spider.
In 1984 I moved to California and of course, soon I have found new Spiders and drove them all along the Pacific coast from Mexico to Oregon and all across the USA.
In an 1983 DS Spider I drove from Los Angeles, along the Route 66, all the way to Chicago and Detroit. I was close to the Niagara falls, have crossed America from North to South, to Georgia and Florida. And at all times I had at least a few Fiat 124 Spiders in my garage.

Then in 1996 I did move my vintage car collection back to Europe. There were 11 cars, those that I 'could not' leave behind and 'had' to ship from Los Angeles to Bremen. Later, one by one, I drove them down to the Mediterranean, back to the roots, to Croatia. Since then, I have sold a few of them, as the storage/ parking space has become a problem here.
Soon after I moved here, in 1997 I founded our Spider Club Croatia.


THE DAY-TO-DAY ROUND TRIP PROGRAM
Details about the day-to-day Adriatic Coast / Croatia round trip program you find HERE.

AND MORE
About the approximate costs of lodging during the tour Sany Antonio reports:
If you would choose an accommodation in a private apartment you would have to spend Euro 80- for a very good & clean apartment per night for 2 persons. That does not include breakfast, as one can get things in a nearby store and prepare breakfast in the apartment or just have in a nearby café a coffee, tea, juice & a croissant for just a few Euros. 
And those are the prices in the SELCE region (in the North on the Croatian coast) and in Split we have a nice lodging in a little private hotel right by the water for about 45- Euros per person, including a nice breakfast too. In Dubrovnik I have also found good , nice and clean rooms for Euro 50- per night for 2, included breakfast. This lodging is right down by the water, in a little beautiful bay , just 5 km in front of Dubrovnik.
Anyhow, if you prefer individual lodging in hotels...then there are many in Selce, Split, Dubrovnik and all over the coast...and you can find and book them on the internet in advance.