Nissan license-built Austin A40s in Japan during the 1950s, so the Nissan L20 engine makes sense in this van.PHOTO BY MURILEE MARTIN
The Southern California Timing Association, the organization that runs Speed Week every August at the Bonneville Salt Flats, has a bewildering array of car classes for the event, with each class subdivided by ranges of engine displacements. This year, in the Classic Gas Altered class, with engine size limited to 1,524cc to 2,015cc (otherwise known as G/CGALT), two teams showed up to try to beat the old record of 106.643 mph. One was the vivid yellow 1948Austin A40 Devonpanel van of Team Masson & McGavin of Corona, California.
Running 107.382 miles per hour on Sunday.PHOTO BY MURILEE MARTIN
This car, campaigned by Jack Masson and Gary McGavin, gets its power from a 1,952ccNissan L20four-cylinder engine, the sort used in Datsun 610s, 710s, and many Datsun pickups during the late 1970s. It ran 107.382 on Sunday, an impressive speed for a brick-shaped English van with fewer than two liters of displacement under its bonnet.
In 1966, the Karmann Ghia came with a 50-horsepower engine. This ’66 has considerably more power.PHOTO BY MURILEE MARTIN
The Austin’s rival in G/CGALT was this 1966Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, owned and raced by Chris Mursick of Okanogan, Washington. The VW packs a wild 1,964cc air-cooled engine in back, and managed to set a two-way average speed record of 124.611 mph… on three cylinders.
Setting the record.PHOTO BY MURILEE MARTIN
When the G/CGALT battles were all over, the Karmann Ghia set two records. We’re hoping to see a VW-versus-Austin rematch at Speed Week 2018, ideally with aBorgward Hansa 1800in the mix as well.