Teal Articles

This is the real Teal

14th June 2016

The Prescott hill climb is a legendary event, based just outside of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, it rises over 200 feet via short straights, fast and slow corners and a breathtaking hairpin. The fastest modern racing cars take only 36 seconds to complete the course and since the late 1940s, pre-war cars have contested the legendary hill in the quest to be the fastest over the 1127 yard course.

The actual Prescott Hill Climb was split into a number of classes, with a wide range of entrants. Saturday focused on the Italian classics (La Vitta Rossa) whereas Sunday focused on the French classics (La Vie en Bleu) The cars were given two runs up the hill, one in the morning, the second in the afternoon.

The classes were compiled of some absolutely remarkable vehicles, The Beast of Turin being one of them

Beast Of Turin 1

Beast Of Turin 2

... JAPs

Super Aero JAP

Racing JAP

... that cornering looks dodgy!

and the legendary Bugattis of course.

Bugatti T35B

Bugatti T22


The Teal Owners was represented by a great collection of 13 gleaming Teals.

(click to enlarge)

from left to right Dizzy, La Tecla, KPC431, Per Sang, FIL1248, Phoenix, Red Baron, Grasshopper, PJY343K, Isadora, Vital Spark, YDO21, Dolly

It was the intention to take a procession of Teals up the hill climb in the break, but the organisers refused saying they were not real bugattis!... But they are the real Teal (maybe except for one)...Where did this one sneak in from? Is it a Teal?



Classic Car tour across Northern Europe

3rd March 2016

Choosing to take the non-motorway route wherever possible the routes taken ensure the full French experience is absorbed, running through what appears to be almost deserted villages, stopping in small towns for a coffee & a bite to eat before continuing to the next place on the route.

Replicar 1

The last trips route was a 1,400 mile round trip that took in The Ace Cafe, onto the very first motor racing track in the world at what is now the Brooklands Motor Museum (both in London) then to a stop over at Hythe (The excellent ‘Beach’ B&B right on the sea run by ex Savoy chefs) near the Euro Tunnel.

Replicar 2 Replicar 3 Replicar 4

Up in the morning & the eight minute drive to the tunnel & onto France then the drive to the small walled town of Laon for 3 days of all things classic cars & taking in the food & wines of the area once the racing has been completed each day.

Race/rally over & everyone departs for home but not for the Bugatti, the short drive is taken to Reims to see the fabulous cathedral, visit to the major champagne houses of the region (Lanson, Moet etc), bottles safely stowed away then off to visit the site of the original French F1 track (Circuit du Gueux) on the outskirts of the town.

Replicar 5

From there the Bugatti was turned towards Belgium & the town of Bastogne & an overnight stop (Best Western Hotel) in the centre of town where there are restaurants a plenty. Bastogne is famous for The Battle of the Bulge, the 1st Airbourne Easy Company museum is located 300 yards from the hotel.

Leaving the next morning the American cemetery was visited as was Jaques Wood & a local farm that houses the biggest American plains buffalo/bison herd outside of the States. Bison steaks safely stowed away with the champers, the journey too in the back roads & villages with their tank relics laying by the side of the road & in the centre of the villages on the way to the next destination of Waterloo & the visit to the battlefield, both Napoleons & The Duke of Wellingtons houses that they stayed in prior to the battle (The Duke of Wellingtons abode is now the Dukes Museum).

Overnight in Waterloo then off to Ypres taking in the town of Casteau (the location of the first & last shot fired in WW1, remarkably they are no more that 100 yards apart!). Safely parked in Ypres very near the cathedral, it was a very short walk to the Menin Gate where since the end of WW2 each night without fail at 8pm the road is closed, both tourist & locals gather as the local Fire Brigade march inside the gate & stand to attention to perform the Last Post, ceremony over & onto the restaurants & bars all around the local area. Next morning took in the biggest WW1 cemetery of Tyne Cott (12,000 poor souls entombed here), from there the route turned back to France to the secret Nazi rocket sites of La Coupole & the sinister Blockhaus then on to the last overnight of the trip based in Calais.

The next morning it was onto the tunnel & once back on home soil turning to the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne in Kent, then home.

This year it’s the same UK side, onto France to the crash site of the red Baron, onto the Canadian memorial at Beaumont Hamel on to Fargniers near Laon concentration camp transportation site), then onto the 3 day rally at Laon.

Rally over & its back to Reims then onto the south of Belgium to a car grave yard at Chatillon & overnight at Dinant (home of the saxophone), the next day its onto the Netherlands & Arnhem for two nights taking in the history of Operation Market Garden, visiting the Paratrooper museums & remembrance at Oosterbeck. Next port of call is the small coastal town of Steenburgen (grave of Guy Gibson VC DSO DFC Dam Buster leader), then finally Dunkirk for the return home on the Saturday.


Building an Ironsmith Bugatti by Greg Ross

20th January 2016

During the course of my build I've taken advantage of the opportunity to correspond and chat with Bob who readily admits he has no interest in those new fangled TV's and the internet that people discuss so much these days. We correspond via regular mail but he does manage the odd mobile phone conversation.

Mr. Koch is now in his 80's and indicates he continues to enjoy scarring up wood and beating on metal. He once said of the Ironsmith Inc company,"‘it was no more profitable for him then growing Christmas Trees or Farming in general".

The original Owner/ buyer of my Ironsmith was a Jack Slocombe of Groveland, California (shown in the photo below in the white shirt with Bob Koch).

Building an Ironsmith 1

Mr Slocombes' plans got sidetracked, the Pinto Donor Car became an irritating eyesore sitting beside his house and eventually was disposed of, the Ironsmith kit languished dry, safe and sound in the basement garage for 26 years.

The photo below portrays the Ironsmith frame as delivered to me several years ago.

Building an Ironsmith 2

I've made modifications to accommodate aftermarket “Mustang II” tubular A” arms, 2” drop spindles and GM metric hubs. As seen, Marchal lamps, 1929 Ford frame horns and adjustable coil-overs. Not seen, triple core custom rounded top radiator/ rated for 300 HP, suitable for use with the Honda S2000 drivetrain I shall be using.

Building an Ironsmith 3

My rear suspension includes the Honda rear sub-frame complete. I created a set of adapter frame connections to permit bolting the Honda sub-frame to the Kit Car frame. Not shown is the last structural element, a cross strut between the two coil-overs/ strut towers.

I've taken liberty with Bob's design and presumably the very last unbuilt Ironsmith Bugatti, departing substantially from his 40 hour assembly concept. My ambition has been to create a touring version of the Type 35 thru the addition of a windshield wipers, defroster and heated seats. The V-windshield required a bit more acreage so the cowl was extended.

The windshield was acquired as a kit of aluminum castings produced in California to suit a '32 Ford hot rod. To adapt for my installation, both narrowing and lowering were needed to get the windshield proportions refined. The tail section was lowered by about 3 -1/2” to achieve what I considered a more pleasing side view.

Building an Ironsmith 4

The dash panel was built from scratch with a plywood backer and faced with sapele pommele set in epoxy, a variety of African mahogany and includes a few bits of vintage hardware.

Building an Ironsmith 5

A set of (reportedly) original Bugatti fenders were acquired recently, bracketing/ mountings of these mud guards remain on the “to do” List along with framing in a firewall, frame reinforcement and support for the fuel tank and plumbing/electrical.

Building an Ironsmith 6 Building an Ironsmith 7>


First car show for new Teal owner

6th January 2016

FIB690 was purchased by Colin & Fiona in October 2014, and with a bit of a brush and tidy up Vital Spark was ready for showing at the Severn Vale vintage car show in Stoke Orchard near Tewkesbury. It was a lovely sunny day with the show having a lovely local homely feel about it. Probably around 40 cars were on display on the sunday with Vital Spark drawing a lot of interest.

FIB690 at show

A rather odd coindident occured when a young lady approached Fiona asking her why our Teal was named Vital Spark. Vital spark was named by Neil & Vicky Ramsey after the Clyde puffer from the BBC series Para Handy - Master Mariner. It turned out that she was reading a book that she had bought from a second hand book store called Vital Spark by Stuart Donald. It was this book that was the inspiration of the BBC series.

The other highlights at the show was a Model T ford fully operational but a little tired - not surprisingly, and a Studebaker in tip top condition as well a rather well maintained vintage Rolls Royce.

Studebaker at show


Our Teal Journey has begun.

7th January 2016

After over 22 years of marriage, I thought my husband couldn’t surprise me anymore, but I welcomed his suggestion that we had a week end break in the Scottish boarders for our wedding anniversary, oh yes, and whilst we were there we could just pop to see a car he had always dreamt of. Just for a look of course!

I hadn’t ever heard of this childhood dream before and was not too impressed as he had only just bought the modern car of his dreams. (Range rover Evoque in case you’re wondering) but it will be just five minutes he promised and then it was off to see the castles and eat shortbread.

The childhood dream started way back in 1968, Brooke Bond used to put collectors cards in their packets of tea. His Nan used to buy Brooke Bond Tea specially and save the cars for him. In 1968 they produced a set called the 'History of the Motor Car' and that's where it all started. Card No. 27 was a Bugatti Type 35B, the car a young boy fell in love with....and he still has the card today!

Brookbond card front Brookbond card rear

Roll onto 2014, Colin discovered a replica was produced in the 80's, quite a good one too and it captured the essence of the original, even better it was affordable!

Meeting Vicki and Neil was an absolute delight. Colin and Neil spent such a long time chatting and going over Vital Spark, that Vicki had time to cook cakes and biscuits whilst we got to know each other in the kitchen. It was like meeting friends of old, which was just as well as my turn to go out for a spin, came a mere four hours later!

At 4ft 11, my first hurdle was climbing into Vital Spark elegantly, (still practicing that, and getting out again when everyone is watching!) but once Neil took me for a short spin, I was surprisingly smitten by the unrestricted views and being able to actually smell the countryside. Not one to give in too easily, I told Colin I needed to think about it a bit as I had just saved up for a new three piece suite. So with Neil and Vicky giving us until the next day to let them know, my dear husband needed to explain why I should let him have my cash to top up his budget.

So Colin, I said, I need 3 good reasons why I should say yes…

Ever the lover of engineering, design, and history, he gave me 5;

  1. It’s not about efficiency and speed, but about the experience, style, exclusivity and craftsmanship. The elegant shape that is instantly recognisable and flowing lines, designed before crash tests.
  2. The character and rawness of the manual drive. Getting it right is more challenging but it is a far more rewarding and satisfying experience. (no reverse camera’s/beepers, eh Col, you have to use your brain)
  3. Ben (dear son), addicted to phone, computer. – We will make him escape from his digital world back to an analogue world. Amazingly this has worked. Ben has learnt for the first time that mechanically, the cars are quite different. Modern car engines are effectively a sealed unit, comprising of components that are largely unserviceable by the average person. He didn’t know that driving a classic car requires a great deal of manual input from the driver. He watched with fascination as his dad adjusted the fuel/air mixture manually with the choke, selecting gears and controlling the engagement of power to the wheels with the clutch. The feel and character of Vital Spark is totally different from anything Ben has experienced in a modern car. An experience that goes way beyond monetary value. Attached is a picture of Ben doing his first oil change!
  4. Ben doing Oil change
  5. The car’s aesthetically pleasing lines and curves – it will turns heads and you will look “cool” (this didn’t sway me, I have never been able to claim looking “cool” but it is true bystanders and tourist of all ages do take pictures, share friendly smiles of admiration and want to talk about the car).
  6. FIB690
  7. Millie will love being in the open air. (she does as you can see in the picture attached)
  8. Millie in Teal

It’s brilliant to have all Vital Sparks records and history, adding to its character and chronicling its life. Owning Vital Spark compares to the difference from baking your own cake or buying one from the supermarket. Your own tastes so much better you know what’s gone into it and everyone wants you to give them a taste.

Embarking upon a journey used to be to reach a destination, but instead the journey is the destination now that we own Vital Spark.

Everyone keeps telling us what an investment we have made, but here’s the thing, owning any new car is easy now a days, all it takes is money, and with cheap credit and easy finance, even that is not very difficult any longer, but for us no amount of money could get you Vital Spark now. She simply isn’t up for sale.