Falcon

Eric Fretten's 1972 car as featured in Hot Car magazine, October 1972...

THE GIRAFFE, they say, is a horse designed by a committee! A fate that couldn't, fortunately, befall our 'Falcon'. The Falcon wasn't designed' so to speak. That is to say, it wasn't a drawing board project from the first nut and bolt to the last lick of paint. It happened like this. The ragged remains of Old Number Two (the mk 3 Dastle Racer, had four wheels in the grave and more besides. Bent, bodged, ancient and creaking - and thoroughly old fashioned, in appearance and technically. It had had its glory days and its graunching days - and many of 'em.

Today's racers are mostly mid-engine-beside driver for hotter weight distribution and to get the gear lever from its potentially deflowering position between the drivers legs! And for '72 the scene had changed. From being chief mechanic on the '71 Whiting Electrical team. Eric Fretten (a Chief Inspector with Met Traffic Division) decided to own his own. In as co-driver came The King-of -Spin himself. your very favourite Ed. In as chassis designer came Dutch engine man 'Gerard-the-Tweak' Sauer And in as new chief mechanic, Martin Bryant. As before - Official entrant, ot Car Magazine: supplier of lubricants and team clothing, Duckhams Oils And by coincidence and great good fortune, part -sponsorship in cash-and-paints form from Rallyflek makers Sherwood Parsons (Parsons Automotive Products) -newly venturing into racing.

So all was set. and with Gerard standing there directing operations, two chassis were commenced at Hugh Sutton's Falcon Engineering works (who have contracts with Ford and others) the second being for Hugh.

Coal strikes came and ended. power was on and off, railways ceased and roads got clogged, a winter came and went, and then it was complete - but without a body, Baptismal raceday neared - a body was hurriedly thrown together. A mighty roar of disapproval rent the air! Very fussy, our members.

"Tidying up the bonnet" as the policeman had said, wasn't difficult - it was impossible! Bodging a body would have been bad enough - but the new nerf bars were narrower than the bodywork. Get your tinshears round that! So for three whole days and sleep-less nights your suffering Ed snipped hither and thither, and measured and swore, and cut and swore - and re-measured and swore and cut again. And drilled and Pop-riveted, and bent and shaped, and filled and filed, and badge-made and grille-made, and mated-up and blended-in, and steering-modded and tail shaped. and firewalled and screen-fitted, and there she was finished - above the off-cuts and the blood, and the dust, and the crusts and the coffee cups, the broken drills, the worn-out blades, and an Editor who had fallen into a deep, deep sleep.

To Parsons the paint-men, where Peter the technician produced a gleaming two-tone in Rallyflek blues and Rallyflek yellowatones as flamboyant as the tow-car Triumph Vitesse. Two-toning was a technique I used to the full to soften the silhouette of the angular body - a contour dictated by the desire for a 'new look' - and because Hot Car's wretched artist. the revisionary Peter Weller. drew it that way for the preview (April Hot Car)! Designed by one, drawn by another, parts from the last one, chassis by a specialist, body by you-know who, fitting by both owner and mechanic. Not a committee. Most unlike a giraffe. But truly a team affair. Ovals she may race on - but what is an Oval? Roundy-roundy, quarter-mile, hard and dry, and all left-handers? Theoretically yes - in practice no. There's rainy wet. there's hosepipe wet. there's shale and cinder wet or dry. There's half-mile tracks and longer tracks. There's all right-handers. and lofts and rights. There's ups and downs. and bumps and bounds. There's shunts and spins. and hitting fences. The designer's task is not a happy one!

The Falcon racer, our 'Rallyflek Special', takes much of this into account. A robust chassis, rather heavy to withstand abuse - suspension adjustable to suit every eventuality - protection for fuel and rad and battery and driver. And into it all an easy-starting. highly tuned. flexible and torquey engine. Tyres for tarmac, tyres for shale. And handling to cope with small oval Seventies and big track Hundred-and-Thirties.

And that's the Falcon. A versatile vehicle, which, a little wider, a little longer, could be the basis of a very manageable sports car!

 

Virtually designed and built on the shop floor, with the engine and mechanicals for the chassis to be built around. Discussion took place at every stage, much of it between Falcon Mechanical Engineering Managing Director Hugh Sutton (left) who'll drive one of the cars, and Dutch tuning expert Gerard Sauer. Rule of thumb method worked, as fully complete car took 5th position in field of 21 cars in its first race driving on tarmac (Harringay, Bostock driving), and 4th out of 20 on wet shale (Rayleigh, Fretten driving).