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Thread: Bigtime Celebrity Endorsement!

  1. #1
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** Spacenut's Avatar
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    Bigtime Celebrity Endorsement!

    Hi everyone – as you know I do enjoy researching the history of our favourite cars, looking for interesting historical snippets that raise the profile of the Nova above that of your average kit car. Items such as the connection with JW Automotive, the team behind the Gulf GT40, or Hans Hermann, the former Porsche factory driver who was approached as a possible retailer of the Nova through his Stuttgart Porsche dealership.

    You will probably also remember my meanderings regarding the Italian Puma GTV, built in Rome by Adrianno Gatto (Adrian Cat), allegedly under licence from Nova Kit Cars, and how much fun we had watching the intro
    toL'insegnante al mare con tutta la classe”, the 1980 Italian comedy that featured the factory prototype driving around all the major landmarks in Rome.

    Close inspection of the car in the film shows that the one-piece bodyshell moulding was taken from a Nova with the bonnet shut lines filled in so that the front edge of the canopy could be hinged from the bodywork, instead of using the more complicated pantograph hinges. The front and rear undertrays, and the side sills were also integrated into the bodyshell, with the lower rear intakes on the side sills filled in to aid the removal of the shell from the mould.

    The first generation car, the one most closely resembling the Nova, was sold for construction on an unmodified VW Beetle (“Maggiolino” in Italian), typically with a 1200cc engine and banded steel wheels. Later cars were re-styled, first as the 033i (initially with a shorter nose and semi-recessed “frogeye” headlights, later in long nose form after complaints about the styling) and later still the Boxer 90, both supplied with Alfasud or Alfa 33 boxer engines from the factory, with a Beetle gearbox adapter plate and a custom exhaust. There was even a one-off “Puma 248”, which had a tubular steel spaceframe chassis with the Alfa boxer engine and gearbox mid-mounted, which unfortunately never made it into production. The GTV and the 033i had the forward hinged canopy, while the Boxer 90 and the 248 had gullwing doors for access. All of the Puma variants used the Nova windscreen.

    OK, so what has this got to do with celebrity endorsement I hear you ask. Well, a few weeks ago I received my regular copy of Alfa Romeo Driver, the AROC bi-monthly newsletter. Actually newsletter is doing it a considerable disservice, it is actually a 100-page glossy magazine, although it caters mainly to the modern Alfa enthusiast these days. Nevertheless, I was flicking through the letters page, and what should I see but a photograph of a Puma GTV with an Alfa boxer engine, illustrating, along with a selection of classic Alfa Romeos, the strong support of the marque by the family of a certain well-known Italian car manufacturer.

    That’s right – a derivative of our favourite sports car is currently on display in the Museo Ferruccio Lamborghini near Bologna. And the reason for this choice of exhibit? The car in question belongs (or belonged) to Ferruccio’s son, Tonino in the 1990s, and is in a section of the museum allocated to cars belonging to the Lamborghini family dating back to the 1950s.


    This is the first picture, which prompted me into action…





    You can see an example of Tonino’s Town Life city car in the background, together with an unidentified sports coupe. The number plate is consistent with a date of registration sometime in the mid 1990s. Other than identifying the Alfa boxer engine as motive power, no further details were provided by AROC member Alex Goldbloom.

    My interest piqued, I first contacted club chairman John Griffiths, who put me in touch with the magazine editor Guy Swarbrick, who in turn was kind enough to publish my request for more information in the following issue of AR Driver.


    While I was waiting for a reply, I continued my investigations. First, I contacted the museum to see if they could help. Unfortunately my emails coincided with the Summer break, when most businesses in Europe close down for the whole of August. At least I hope that is why I didn’t get a reply – I even went as far as using Google Translate to render my request for information in Italian, but being unable to check the results I may have been talking complete gibberish!


    However, I was able to match the number plate with a Puma GTV exhibited at the Autoclassica show in Milan in 2016. Photographs of this car appeared in the online magazine Velocetoday.com, and as you can see, it is a nicely finished example of a factory stock Puma GTV…






    You can also see the lack of sill intakes and the wheelarch flares that differentiate the design from the Nova, and the banded steel wheels that were commonly fitted to these cars.

    As the weeks rolled by I convinced myself that the Puma must have been a temporary exhibit reflecting some other form of involvement by the Lamborghini factory, perhaps some minor engineering work, but in the latest issue of AR Driver which I received last week, Alex Goldbloom confirmed that the Puma actually belonged to Tonino Lamborghini, which I think you will agree is quite exciting!


    Alex also posted a further image of the interior, which shows a very austere level of trim and detailing, and an unmodified gear lever position, although the handbrake appears to be modified in keeping with the water-cooled engine…




    You can also see how the Mk1 twin pod dashboard has been modified to create a single integrated instrument panel. Also evident is the lack of weather seals around the canopy, so it is clearly not intended to be used in bad weather! This car has a hinged sunroof panel, and I noticed a grab handle fitted to the left of the panel opening, so that the driver can pull the canopy closed when seated. It is also evident that the Nova internal canopy skin moulding was not used, as the strengthening ribs and latch cut-outs are very different to those of the Nova.

    The Museo Ferruccio Lamborghini was established in 1995 by Tonino Lamborghini, and is independent of the Lamborghini factory museum at Sant’ Agata Bolognese (which is now owned by Audi). The museum is located in Argelato near Bologna and is intended to celebrate the life and work of the company founder, rather than the products of the company itself. As such, the museum has many exhibits that are not related to the company, such as Ferruccio’s modified Fiat Topolino barchetta, in which he competed in the 1948 Mille Miglia (and crashed into a roadside trattoria), various Alfa Romeos belonging to himself and his family, many of the tractors on which his fortune was made, plus Dallara’s Lamborghini helicopter and many significant Lamborghini sports cars, including Ferruccio’s own Miura and various Espadas, Jaramas, Jalpas and Urracos.


    And amongst all of these amazing vehicles sits a derivative of the Nova! How amazing is that?


    Lauren
    Last edited by Spacenut; 24-12-2019 at 10:57 AM.
    only Pythagoras can save me now!

  2. #2

    Cool

    That is amazing! Really cool.

    Thought you'd been quiet on here lately -all in the name of research!
    I have seen a lot of you tube videos of Pumas, club meetings etc and did
    wonder how they are perceived in Italy.

    I'm going to read it again...


    L'INSEGNANTE AL MARE CON TUTTA LA CLASSE -Arrivo in albergo- M. Tarantini
    Just watched it on you tube!
    Last edited by novanewbie17; 24-12-2019 at 12:28 PM.

  3. #3
    Owners Register Admin & Euro-Nova Supporter BlueNova's Avatar
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    What a fantastic read as I’m chillin’ on Christmas Eve. Thanks for sharing it with us Lauren and Merry Christmas!

    Alistair

  4. #4
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** Spacenut's Avatar
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    Yes, and a Happy Christmas to you too!

    Unfortunately the best bit of the film is the title sequence, which appears to have been removed from Youtube
    only Pythagoras can save me now!

  5. #5
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** Spacenut's Avatar
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    I tell a lie - its here!

    https://youtu.be/88PcNIUrkrY

    I'm going to watch it again
    only Pythagoras can save me now!

  6. #6
    Now that's what I call driving music!

    Merry Christmas

  7. #7
    Senior Member Phill's Avatar
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    Great find Lauren - Personally I prefer the styling of the Nova over many exotics such as Lamborghini so I'm not surprised it was held in such high esteem. I've often wondered if the Puma's front hingeing roof was a better solution than that used by all the other manufacturers. Certainly for a manual system it must lock down better but I'm not sure how easy it would be to open even with the gas assisted struts?
    "The most beautiful kit car in the world - Motor"

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  8. #8
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** Spacenut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phill View Post
    Great find Lauren - Personally I prefer the styling of the Nova over many exotics such as Lamborghini so I'm not surprised it was held in such high esteem. I've often wondered if the Puma's front hingeing roof was a better solution than that used by all the other manufacturers. Certainly for a manual system it must lock down better but I'm not sure how easy it would be to open even with the gas assisted struts?
    I talked to Richard Oakes about the Puma canopy operation, and he was very much in favour of it. His view was that it is much easier to weatherproof a canopy that seals on only three sides instead of four. That said, I have not seen a Puma use any kind of weatherseal around the canopy, they appear to rely entirely on rain channels moulded into the bodywork. Also, from an aesthetic point of view I do not like the way the Puma canopy looks when it is open, but that is just me.

    Regarding the styling, you have to remember that Lamborghini were there first - although not a direct copy, Richard Oakes was strongly influenced by Miura, as well as the GT40 and Mako Shark concept. In pure stylistic terms, I feel the Nova represents the "missing link" between the more curvaceous Miura of the late '60s and the Countach of the early '70s, particularly when viewed from the front. And the release of the first Nova in 1972 coincides exactly with the cessation of Miura production and the development of Countach 002, which defined the model in its production form.

    As for ease of canopy operation, there is a segment immediately after the intro that demonstrates just how easy the gas strut canopy is to operate, but the "arrivo in albergo" sequence (the only other appearance of the car in the film) also demonstrates this ease of operation. And of course, being front hinged it does not suffer from the lifting of the canopy front edge that used to afflict the original manual canopy Novas (and which required internal overcentre catches to lock down).

    Lauren
    only Pythagoras can save me now!

  9. #9
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** Spacenut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by novanewbie17 View Post
    Now that's what I call driving music!

    Merry Christmas
    Isn't it the best? And what a great advert for the car!
    only Pythagoras can save me now!

  10. #10
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    Well done Sherlock great wright up very interesting.

    Dirk

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