Alconi Renault models R8 and R10


 Alconi Renault R8 & R10 Story, History, Development and Production.


Renault Alconi


The "Renault Alconi''  was a special performance model of the Renault 8 & 10 (1108cc engine) vehicles, marketed by the Renault ( Africa) division of Regie Renault (France) between the years 1965 and about 1968. 
The R8 and R10 Renault vehicle was a fairly small, 4 door, rather close in the rear (hardly possible to accommodate say 4 rugby forwards though front seats were renowned for their comfort) 4 seater with rear engine that replaced the Dauphine model. As competition for the VW beetle, it offered considerably more power, and far superior fuel economy, but proved to be less reliable with  a water cooled engine that required more attention.
In Alconi form, approximately 400 - 500 new vehicles were sold by dealerships, and many hundred conversions and conversion kits supplied.

Development Work
"Scamp" and brother "Phil" Porter, auto racing and rally drivers and enthusiasts, were employed by Renault Africa at the time. Phil was an Accountant and Scamp an auto mechanic and their school instructor. They were instrumental in encouraging their Company's racing stance.
This culminated with the arrival in 1963 of the (956cc) engined R8 model, and one was entered in the November "9 hour" International Endurance race at Kyalami race track, in highly modified form, prepared by Scamp Porter. The car achieved a 4th place finish overall, including 1st saloon car to finish (driven by Phil Porter and Colin Burford), behind three out and out sports racing cars, (a Ferrari GTO, Shelby Cobra & Lola Climax) ahead of many other well respected racers, and bested all larger  engined saloon cars ( like Volvos, Alfas, Cortinas Coopers  etc).
This was a story book result. Soon after, to take advantage of the result, the Renault Africa management and two of Scamp Porter's friends, (fellow racers who had helped in this R8's engine upgrades), John Conchie and Eric "Puddles" Adler, talked together to capitalise on the competition successes and discuss marketing a high performance version of the Renault R8 to the enthusiastic 'car mad' South African public.

Experimental Versions and Test Mules
A larger engined 1108cc version of the R8 was released early in 1964, and this version was utilised for the performance mules, which already had inherited the name "Alconi" by combining the last names of the two developers. Modifications were made to the motor, upping power to 68bhp(net), which cut accelleration time 0-60 mph by about 40% and increased top speed by about 20%.  The only other alteration was the inclusion of a tachometer and distinctive Alconi badges.

One demonstration Alconi charged around South Africa in the hands of factory representatives, introducing the concept to their Renault dealers and at the same time testing the vehicle under duress, and a few other kits went to Renault staff members and owner enthusiasts for feedback.



At about this time, Adler and Conchie incorporated, launching themselves as Alconi Developments.  They were motor racing enthusiasts, and between them had already established a performance development reputation by competing in events quite successfully, with saloon cars like Fiat 1100, Simca Etoile and Fiat 1500.  They started procuring parts and manufacturing components for the Alconi kits they were installing and selling, as well as for assembly into the first batch of vehicles due shortly from the assembly line.  A newly introduced electrically controlled rolling road "Dynamometer" and Camshaft grinder was also ordered to assist their tuning business.

While this was in progress, the Porter brothers continued racing and rallying and,  in the gruelling 1964 July "Total LM Rally"(Johannesburg-Lourenco Marques, Mozambique), using another test Alconi engined R8, managed to secure an overall win!
For the 1964 November "9 Hour" a number of Renault R8s,  many with Alconi modifications and engines, competed, resulting in another 4th overall, 1st saloon car finish (Scamp Porter, A Chatz, drivers) ahead of a high powered sports car and saloon car field similar to the previous year.



Vehicle Production
Scheduled assembly and production of the first of a number of batches of 50 Alconi R8 vehicles started towards the end of 1964 or beginning 1965, and a "French Racing Blue" colour was chosen. Somehow, the assembly plant erred with the mix and a bluish purple hue resulted.  This became known as "Alconi blue" and all future R8 Alconis were made in this colour. Purchase price was approximately 10% above the standard car. 


Regie Renault (France) developed  and offered the Renault R8 Gordini 1108cc in 1965, and a 1255cc version towards end 1966, and these vehicles were also immediately available in South Africa. It came only in french racing blue, so the two performance R8 vehicles could easily be identified. Performance of the 1100 Gordini was hardly superior to the Alconi, and the price was about 15% higher.

From late 1966 onward, with the arrival of the Renault R10, production of the Alconi in batches of 50  R10s was initiated. Standard R10s were marketed with the Renault 1108cc Caravelle engine, with slightly better performance from a twin-choke weber carburator. The production Alconis used their same upgrade kit on the newer R10 1108cc engine, but retained the production carburator, and the vehicle was slightly lower (1 inch) than its standard brother.  Colour choices were initiated: Alconi blue with white flashes down the sides, Red with white flashes and white with red flashes.  Production continued through 1967 and 1968 and possibly 1969.
 As well, many conversion kits were sold through the dealership and aftermarket.  Owners were for the most part very enthusiastic, and it was especially sought after by the young "road racer" genre.  Road handling with the rear engine was quite good, but could be tricky at times. However, suspect roadholding was not at all the case with the track race cars,  and they continued to establish the standard for saloon race car handling.
Without doubt, competition success helped all Renault vehicle sales and sales penetration in South Africa during this period substantially.

Racing Achievements
Because the public in South Africa were "performance car" mad, successful  competition achievements formed an integral part of the marketing plan for "Alconi" and "Gordini" sales.
This R8 Gordini ( which had many different parts, and could not be fitted as a kit) in 1255cc form could accellerate about 5% faster than the Alconi, with top speed about 10% higher, and cost about 20% more than it.  For racing purposes its power potential was superior, and racing participants opted for Gordini 1300cc engines in most events therafter. 
An R8 Alconi (1108cc) did win the inaugural 1966 Kyalami Onyx production car championship, with an overall win in the season's final race (ahead of a Sunbeam Tiger V8).  "Onyx" was  a Kyalami (race track near Johannesburg) annual racing series with a number of sprint events for locally made cars,  classes based on retail price. 
(Sunday express, November 1966)
Alconi vehicles also offered superior fuel economy to the standard Renault 8, which was already a class leader, so they accumulated overall wins almost every year in the annual "Mobil Fuel Economy Run".  On many sections, more than 60mpg was recorded.
Renault Gordinis, (usually with many optional Alconi manufactured racing parts) were dominant in their class in modified saloon sprint racing for the next few seasons, and the Renault 8 accumulated an unmatched endurance record, which no doubt helped vehicle sales. 

The annual 9 hour endurance events produced:
1963 Renault R8 948cc 4th, overall on distance 1st saloon car, ahead of many outright sports cars (http://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Kyalami-1963-11-02.html)
1964 Renault R8 1100cc 4th overall, 1st saloon car     "   (http://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Kyalami-1964-10-31.html)                
1965 Renault R8 1100cc 9th overall, 2nd saloon car    "   (http://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Kyalami-1965-11-06.html)                   
1966 Renault R8 Gordini 1300cc  5th overall  1st saloon car      "      (http://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Kyalami-1966-11-05.html)                      
1966 Renault R10 1300 (Alconi entered) 6th overall, 2nd Saloon car  (http://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Kyalami-1966-11-05.html)                     
1967 R8 Gordini 1300                   9th overall, 1st saloon car         "  ( http://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Kyalami-1967-11-04.html)                
1968 R8 Gordini  1300                  9th overall, 1st saloon car " (http://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Kyalami-1968-11-09.html)
1969 R8 Gordini 1300                       4th overall, 1st saloon car      "  (http://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Kyalami-1969-11-08.html)




No other vehicle, South African or overseas professional, achieved such endurance racing success as the R8, proving the vehicle's reliability and  startling performance potential, as well as its unmatched reliability and wet weather handling, that gave it the ability to pass nearly all out and out Sports Racers during downpours. Much of the endurance  race competition came from imported  sports racing cars (Ferraris, Jaguars, racing Porsches etc.) as well as saloon cars with much larger engines, including many with a tried and trusted European racing heritage and pedigree.(like Alfa Sprint GTA, Lotus engined Escort and Cortina, Cooper S, Volvo 2000cc, Galaxie 7000cc)

After 1969, production of newer and heavier models of Renault, with front engines, started to come off the assembly lines, and the R8/10 model slowly became obsolescent, so factory racing support for these vehicles dried up. But privateers still continued to race for many seasons.

An overall Saloon car  lap record was held  at Kyalami (the only events in which the car competed) during 1968 and shared in 1969 by a 1300cc supercharged Alconi prepared R8, and later an R10 when its body style was changed.  


       Supporting race - 1968 S.A. Grand Prix at Kyalami. Supercharged 1296cc R8 (Gordini engined) leads the Modified Saloon Race ahead of a 2000cc Auto Delta Alfa GTA. (Jean Pierre Beltoise really really wanted it after the race!)
Supercharged 1296cc Gordini engined R10 competes for overall victory at Kyalami

Interesting to note, Jody Scheckter, South Africa's only World Formula 1 racing champion, started his blossoming career in sprint races with a 1300cc Renault R8 with Gordini and Alconi modifications.The Alconi factory later supplied the equipment for the supercharged 1424cc engine with which Scheckter was able to compete and periodically take overall wins (in 1969/70) against a 2000cc class BDA engined Escorts, 2000cc GTA Alfa Romeo Sprints and a 7000cc Ford Galaxy.


Jody 'Sideways' Scheckter on Hesketh Circuit (Pietermaritzburg), 1969  Note tiremarks on doors (motorprint)

Conclusion
Towards the close of the decade, it is possible that 1300cc R10s (engine from the R12) might also have been offered from the assembly line.  By then, inevitably, newer and more modern concepts (R12) were in the pipeline to cater to the public's changing tastes.

The Renault R8 and R10 Alconi was only marketed off the showroom floor as new vehicles in South Africa.  Renault Africa also supplied conversion kits through their parts department.
It has become quite sought after as a collector car in that market.


Classic & Performance Car Africa Magazine remembers!

The French Connection. Renault Racing R8 progress of Scamp Porter & Jody Scheckter from CPCA magazine, by Dr Greg Mills



  "The French Connection" 


Reprint of  2 part series from 
Magazine (0ct 7 & Dec 2013) on  South African  Racing Renault R8 progress of Scamp Porter and Jody Scheckter










"Scamp" Porter's R8 Gordini Sprint Racer Modifications, 1966-69

"Scamp" Porter's Gordini Modifications carried out for South African Saloon Car Sprint Racing, 1966-69.

Body, Chassis

Renault 2" homologated fender spats attached
Use of widened 13" delta-mic composite wheels, approx 5.5" or 6" front, up to 8" in rear
Fitting of a front radiator in the spare wheel well, allowing air to exit through luggage boot.
Shaving Gordini front brake caliper where contacted by 13" wheels.
DS11 brake pads on Gordini rotors.
Bending front stub axles to give 1.5 degrees negative camber.
Quick ratio 1.5 turns lock to lock (Pierre Ferry) steering pinion and offset bushings,
(re-centralising spring discarded)
1" steel anti roll bar fabricated to original shape.
Front springs cut approx 1.25 coils (extended track automatically lowers car)
Discarding of rear brake pressure regulator for superior rear braking performance.
Standard R8 rear crossmember with single shock absorbers
Rear R8 springs cut approx 1.5 coils, to allow for 4.5 degrees negative camber.
De Carbon gas shocks or Konis.
Specially fabricated rear axle shafts with larger diameter wheel carrying spigots to accept larger wheel bearings.  (With all the extra grip and racing tyre technology, snapped axles were the weakest link)
Plexiglass side and rear windows as allowed by regulations (Internal roll cages were either not thought up yet, or not allowed by FIA regulations)
Ducts and passages cut behind rear inner fenders to allow cool air to the motor area.
Hanging the standard oil cooler in the air stream



Gearbox and Drive

Gordini 5 speed with optional 7/32(4.57) ring and pinion ratio
4 Pinion gears in differential rearranged so that two opposite ones intermesh and prevent all rotation (locking up diff)
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th gears specially fabricated to allow closer ratios between 2nd to 5th to keep engine in better power band

Major Engine Alterations

Utilizing Alpine Gordini 1297cc pistons (75.7mm)
Engine block and sleeves machined 1mm to allow higher compression
Pistons valve cutouts machined and smoothly bevelled to cope with high lift cam, shortened block and larger valves,.
Larger Gordini oil pan double baffled to prevent surge in corners
Smaller Alconi crank pulley,  removed engine fan
Lightened flywheel and fabricated sintered brass twin plate clutch
45mm Weber carburators with 36mm primary venturis
Fabricated 4 into 2 into 1 exhaust system of 1.5" by 16" primary, 1.625 by 24" secondary, and 1.75 by 34" final length, underbody parts wrapped in asbestos! tape to limit under bonnet heat
Huge plastic separation plates to isolate exhaust/engine heat from intake, and ducts to allow intake to obtain air from engine lid louvres. 4 into 1 exhaust ( primary length 32") was tried, hoping for high rpm improvements, especially with the redesigned closer ratio 5 speed box, but somehow the 4-2-1 gave better lap times.
Isky/Alconi camshaft of 7.3mm lift, 285 degrees duration, intake 42 -63, exhaust 75 - 30 degrees.

Cylinder Head Upgrades

Fitting  of shortened 39.1mm AJS motorcycle intake valves
Using Gordini 35mm intake valves as exhausts
Terry Manufacturing Fiat 1500 heavy duty valve springs for extra valve lift, higher rpm.

The head was quite delicate and very expensive, and had to be treated especially carefully.
Fabricated and fitted large brass or iron valve inserts always looked good, but, due to the  cavity under the spark plug, the head in that area seemed to overheat and warp, and often cause small cracks and movement, so this was always a suspect condition requiring careful inspection,  because it could cause an expensive engine failure.  (Many standard Gordini heads also suffered from these cracks)
Opening the valve ports to blend with the large valves, and seating the valves low in their seats. One of the most important design areas and secrets for obtaining top engine horsepower, which even today, sorts the superior flowed heads from the mediocre.
Valve guides had to be shortened under the spring area to allow for the high (about 10.5mm plus clearance) valve lift. And, because of this, the high revs and quick lift, lubrication suffered and they became inadequate. Adding 2 extra lubrication holes at inner valve spring seat, through into the guide solved this wear problem.
Together, with all moving parts lightened, balanced and polished, the rpm limit was upped to about 8600-8800, which was considered more than adequate at the time.  However, it must be stressed that just one over rev or missed gear change could destroy the engine.  There were no safeguards, so the drivers in general used only 8000-8200rpm through the gears, and allowed the engine to pull more in top gear only, if the straight was long enough!

One difficulty that was not solved, was the tendency of the timing chain tensioner to strip its ratcheting device every race.  This never contribute to any other collateral damage, but was not overcome, although an experiment  using  Dauphine cam drive gears in the system instead was under way.  The problem was blamed for a deterioration of about 3/10 seconds in lap time well into every race.
In this form the engine produced around 98KW (130bhp) at 7800rpm at the Johannesburg altitude of 5800ft above sea level.

Renault Alconi R10 Official Road test - (incl. R8, Gordinis etc. ) Car Magazine, August 1967. Also R8 Gordini 1300 performance figures (Autocar 1967)



  Road Test reprint of the Renault  "Alconi", R8/10 & Gordinis from  Car Magazine, Aug, 1967.







Reprinted from South African "Car" Magazine, August 1967


Comparison road test of R8 Gordini 1100 by Car Magazine, Sept 65

June, 1966 "Car" Magazine road test of the Renault 10 (with Caravelle engine)




Autocar 1967 Road Test performance figures R8 Gordini 1300cc

"Scamp" Porter - South Africa's Mister Renault Racing - Biography by "Puddles" Adler, also brother "Phil" Porter,


  A Biography of  "Scamp" Porter, South Africa's Mister Renault Racing, and his brother "Phil" (reprint of "Memoirs by Puddles Adler")


Recollections
It was indeed a fortunate occasion when I met Scamp Porter.   He is without doubt, one of the smartest and most astute hands-on guys, one who stands out amongst my many acquaintances.  It has showed me that learning is not the only important attribute in success.  Like with Henry Ford, it is inventiveness, thinking outside the box and a clear and detailed work ethic that goes with it.  Listening attentively, careful reasoning, using knowledge and experience, and a mysterious something extra are the attributes that brought his successes.  That and also an amazing capacity for hard graft.

He was also an outstanding driver and had that incredible gift of being able to quickly pinpoint areas in vehicle handling or engine performance that could improve lap times.  Or, if the vehicle needed nursing, to be able to drive around the problem without losing much time. or exacerbating any threat.

As this is an account of his progress and the history of the times, most of the following is of a more factual nature, focusing on the events.  But one cannot move straight into it without talking about the personality of our subject.
Scamp was and is a most modest and fun-loving chap.  He always has time for a laugh and a joke, and was great fun either being good naturedly teased or teasing.  While motor racing was one of his overpowering passions, he was always approachable by anyone, and ready to listen or give advice when asked, even with his competitors.  Autograph seekers always got the most gentlemanly treatment.   He was great company at any and all times, and able to make light of any difficult situation, even the grave ones.  If even a serious competitor in direct competition needed help in any way, he would be there, whether it was for information, an idea to rectify some problem, or even muscle power or fabricating something to help.  His staff and black mechanic helpers adored him. He always had time and made efforts to help them improve their skills, learn something new, or even listen and assist with any domestic problems.  And the Renault race and rally team drivers also adored and respected him highly.  The same can be said for his fellow Renault competitors.  Anything that would be of help to them was offered, and new ideas he had, carefully explained and discussed.  He was also a thoughtful family man and father.
And he was a born racer.  Countless times he was teased about his tenseness and worry in the paddock before a race. And especially about his constant habit on the straights of moving back and forward in the driver seat, urging the car faster, as if it was a race-horse!   A habit he retained, even on every lap of the endurance races, or when he was way ahead in the sprint races.  Perhaps it would have helped if he had raced bicycles!  I don’t think the car responded to it!


1960/61.

Scamp and John Conchie met when one of them was buying a motorcycle from the other – can’t remember who.  Scamp was still a young kid, had served a full motor mechanic apprenticeship, owned an older Fiat 1100, loved speed and was already racing cars, following the footsteps of elder brother, Phil.  They had both entered a couple of races and 9 hour events at Grand Central race track, and somehow managed to get a bit of help and sponsorship from Lucy’s Motors, the dealer. Phil and Colin Burford teamed up together.  Scamp had no money, having just qualified, and also married, so usually had to beg a ride by doing most of the preparation work.
Conchie also loved speed and was in the process of modifying the engine of his own Fiat 1100. He had also just graduated from an apprenticeship in armature winding, and learnt from the old racing do it yourself “Pros” that internal engine parts had to be immaculately polished. So he showed off his incredibly shiny crankshaft and conrod work to Scamp.  Having worked with Fiat, and knowing the engine shortfalls, Scamp was not very impressed.  Fiat crankshafts were so prone to centre bearing failure, polishing could never help!   Scamp’s own Fiat 1100 had a banged out sets of these very bearings. Too short of money to do the full repair, he became resigned to fitting a new pair of shells from under the car every few months.  Of course, good new bearings on a worn out crank hardly helped, so the first of his innovative solutions was effected.   Directly from his father’s work boots!  The long leather tongues were just right.  Snip – snip.  The solution of a distortable leather bearing worked admirably for a teenager with no money, and reduced down time to once or twice a year!  Who knows Dad’s thoughts.

Valuable crankshaft info for budding racer Conchie, that left him in a quandary, after all the hours of hard work .  So he did careful research, and discovered that a hard chroming process lengthened the life of diesel truck engine crank journals indefinitely!
 Voila.  And so was born a great tuning and prep partnership.  Conchie’s Fiat 1100 and their first Kyalami 9 hour Endurance (Conchie/S Porter) race together brought home much silverware. 1st Saloon car, class win etc. (5th overall behind respected sports racers) in the 1961 (first) Kyalami 9 hour endurance race.  They tuned with few actual internal component changes, since the performance industry was in its infancy.  But Scamp was a master tuner already, having grasped the nuances of carbs, and would spend endless hours fiddling with the many adjustable bits and distributor bits, and, together with Conchie’s fabricated and laboriously finished parts, they progressed fast together.  The car was so fast and bullet proof because of the meticulous attention to every detail, and their own innovation.  High compression and mirror polished cylinder head from the Fiat 1200. (slightly larger ports and valves).  Adler & Conchie already had procured a pair of early side draught Weber carbs that had just been released. (carb numbers #4 and #6!)  There was no room to fit them in the conventional place in a Right Hand Drive Fiat if you wanted to retain the steering box, but this was hardly a deterrent.   A manifold with four 180 degree sweeping bends was fabricated with the pair mounted above the valve cover.  So, when you looked at the engine, all you saw were these newfangled type carbs with huge ram tubes and shiny metallic manifolds!  Also, it had a very creative branch exhaust too!  There was no one to bend exhaust tubing to complicated shapes in Johannesburg!  Pipe benders were unknown.  You would buy 90 bends and fabricate or do without.  These two had different thoughts.  A handy forked branch in a nearby tree.   Some straight pipe, fill it with resin or sand, weld the ends closed, and puff and heave on one end with the other stuck in the tree, making perfect bends to your exact desire.

Being such a keen apprentice, Scamp used his recent theory lessons on front wheel camber, caster and toe to advantage.  Adjustments quickly brought down the lap times of the understeering  1100, and the car went faster and faster at every appearance.  And the shoe leather fix to the daily transport Fiat rumbled on and on.

1961/2
The Big Career Step.  


Scamp started work at Renault Africa as School Instructor.  The job entailed towing a trailer all around the Country, teaching theory, discussing Renault vehicle problems with the dealer mechanics, demonstrating new factory tools, and better and speedier methods of making some of the repairs. (Dauphine and Fregate vehicles at the time.)  An early success of his was encouraging the dealer mechanics to make suggestions from their own experience and methods of going about a repair, then grasping and rewarding any innovations or procedures.  This approach resulted in Renault Africa encouraging and offering prizes and rewards for money saving ideas, tools or processes, which was a first, I think, in the Industry.
The French Renault Factory had established a racing reputation during the early part of the century. But the post war cars they produced at the current time were not really competitive, though the Dauphine with Gordini upgrades did quite well in the early local 9 hour endurance races and won a Total - Lourenco Marques Rally overall, piloted by the redoubtable Porter Brothers.    The Renault Fregate was a pretty 4 door Renault and quite large for a European import, with lazy 2200cc front engine.   It was not very popular locally and sold poorly.    The Renault Dauphine was a rear engined small and cramped four door vehicle with 850cc motor and superseded the post WWll 750CV.  Its intention was to compete with the wildly successful VW Beetle.  It offered excellent fuel mileage, but proved not to be anywhere near as popular, and the water cooled engine was not as reliable.  It also suffered the ill manners of the VW in crosswinds and had the same reputation for toppling over easily.  However the lowered Dauphines that raced seemed to have far better handling qualities than the VW, with few such racing incidents. 

Lawson Motors (Volvo Importers and Renault Dealers who had a great racing tradition with their Volvos) were successfully competing with their Volvo 444/544 cars, and even encouraging enthusiasts who were prepared to try racing the Dauphine.  Phil Porter, who loved any type of car racing, was now quite involved with the Dauphine (1093) Gordini, and somehow got a 9 hour entry out of it.  Brother Scamp was the preparation man, but the prep work had to be done in his own time.  No time off from duties!   What one doesn’t do for brotherly love!  Brother Phil and Colin Burford had tried and enjoyed quite some success with rear engine vehicle handling when competing in a Fiat 750 Abarth for Lucy Motors at Grand Central Circuit.    But this swing axle rear suspension was something else!    Systematic lowering and tweaking the suspension was a must, but sudden oversteering  situations would still occur!  So, an innovative solution from brother Scamp!  “If you can’t beat them, join them”.  So Scamp searched around for a method of getting a faster steering response, to allow a good driver's reflex the ability to catch the sudden steering change.  And the birth of the Renault quick steering ratio came about.  You modified the rack with a larger pinion and offset bushings, giving just over 1 turn from lock to lock.  The drivers loved this new gadget!  The 9 Hour results with that vehicle proved the excellent, painstaking preparation that Scamp was capable of, as the car was reasonably powerful for an 850cc, ran faultlessly, and gave the two drivers loads of confidence in piloting this rear engined configuration. (1961: P Porter/Burford 9th overall, 1st in class, 1962: 2nd in class.)   These vehicles continued admirably and successfully on to the next season’s sprint racing schedule under the very capable tutelage of Arnold Chatz, and distance events with Chats/S Porter.

1963.                                                                                                                
The new Era

A new Renault R8 956cc vehicle was introduced early this year.  It offered a 5 main bearing engine, and all the internal parts were kept unbelievably small and tidy, making it a high revving delight that responded well to tuning.  The vehicle was a small and tight 4 door saloon, slightly larger than the Dauphine. It was very comfortable and still incredibly fuel efficient, but definitely would not have accommodated four rugger players.   Sales proved it to be not as popular as the VW it competed with, and similar rear engine road manners in certain situations, as well as the water cooled engine dogged sales.  However, in Saloon Car racing it quickly established its superiority, on its way to becoming the low budget racers' choice!  In S.A. it (The R8/10, Alconi, Alconi upgraded Renaults, and Gordinis) enjoyed better sales penetration than elsewhere.   It also became most Renault competitive drivers’ (both rally and racing) personal choice for their own road car/personal transport/second car, as well as the preferred  personal vehicle for a multitude of the motorsport fans.

The name Scamp Porter and racing Renault R8/Alconi/Gordini became synonymous.
The previous two 9 hour endurance results made more enthusiasm evident at Renault Africa.  A decision was made to compete in the upcoming event with a modified hi-powered version of the new car, even though it had not yet proved itself, and no such performance components were yet available for the car.....  But don’t misunderstand, Mr Porter, if the car embarrasses us, you’ll still be hung!...   Your future is still on the line! There was no R8 Gordini or Alconi.  They came later, with the 1100cc engine.  A bigger budget was needed, too.  (A budget that would make todays racers die laughing; no mechanics, no pit crew, no pit supplies. (Probably less than the monthly wage of one mechanic!)  Preparation would be a mainly spare time effort, so drivers P Porter and Burford had to chip in extensively.   But Renault Africa would also have to sweat a bit.  Building hi-performance parts was not cheap, and many Saturday practise sessions were necessary!
Thus began the South African era of R8 racing history. The very first year the first R8 (956cc engine) was released!  A local performance cam grind was chosen.  Friends Conchie and Adler had some ideas on cylinder head improvements.  Scamp’s arm was twisted, too.  If you’re going to be hung for a poor finish, what can you lose?  You need to fit twin side draft Weber carbs and tuned length exhaust, everything one could think of at the time. Plus the suspension and quick ratio steering lessons learned from the Dauphine racing days.  I believe Adler and Conchie also made up the manifolds, though by now help was at hand, as one could get pipes bent to follow templates you fabricated with small diameter copper tubing!  All lovingly put together by Scamp and ready for testing.  In those years Kyalami allowed practice/testing for about 3 hours on Saturday afternoons only.   And this had to be shared 50/50 in alternating half hours with the motorcycles!


A photograph taken at Renault Africa Head Office to celebrate the 1963 fourth-place Nine-Hour result of Phil Porter and Colin Burford and the seventh of Scamp and Arnold Chatz. Scamp is second from left with Chatz beside him on his left followed by Phil and Burford. (Courtesy Arnold Chatz)

The engine relished the modifications, and the rev limit that Scamp had based his homework on for endurance racing longevity had to be extended well into the 7000 bracket.  Not a healthy sign for job retention!  This was stratospheric!  How would the new mechanicals cope?  Well, there was little time to change or refine anything, because one major problem to bug this Renault and many future Renault R8 racers suddenly materialised.     Fabulous lap times for one or two laps, then a steady loss of power!   Concerted efforts to change jets,  ignition, fuel supply, fuel, spark plugs were futile.  No improvement.  Weber S/D carbs were always highly susceptible to vibration, and needed sensitive vertical damping.   The Renault engine, because it was mounted to a transmission that had to be reasonably solid, did have considerable vertical vibrations.  So, make up softer dampers, make up harder dampers, support the carbs from the engine bay!  No improvement!  Until on one lucky practice run, a carb jet change was performed in such a  rush, with nearly no testing time remaining in the session.  No time to refit the engine (bonnet) lid.   The car took off with the rear open to the atmosphere.  Problem discovered!  Better lap times, and no pace slack off!   This caused a few pub hours of painful, thoughtful analysis!   It was exhaust manifold heat and coolant heat (the R8 fan sucked the heat away from the radiator) combining to throttle the engine.
 And side draughts carbs were the worst offenders, sitting just atop the exhaust!  What to do?  Regulations don’t allow bodywork like engine bonnets to be left off during races!  Lots and lots of experimenting followed, and, with time to the event getting short, it was necessary to utilise Randburg’s main roads, sprinting down the country lanes, with pieces of wool trailing off the rear bodywork, and spotters and passengers watching to see where they pointed at high speed!  Each genius idee on rectifying the hot air problem failed, and the 9 hour event was eventually completed with makeshift ducting screwed and taped on, and heavy asbestos sheeting between the carbs and the exhaust.  Conchie, being the armature winder, was especially useful, in painstakingly winding many layers of armature insulating asbestos tape around each exhaust runner to prevent as much heat transfer as possible.

Well, that 9 hour race results spoke volumes.  A clean sweep!  4th overall, 1st saloon car to finish, behind pukka racing sports cars, (drivers P. Porter/Burford) and wet weather road holding that embarrassed the sports cars!  All on simple Michelin radials.  Kudos and accolades for Scamp and drivers, but no wage increase!   (Scamp also competed and the Chatz/S Porter Renault Dauphine finished with 7th place overall, 1st in class)

1964.
Scamp always wanted to race the fast cars himself, not just prepare vehicles every night.  Immediately after the 9 hour race, he managed to get a deal on an R8 .   He wanted to do Sprint racing, and was permitted use of the modified parts from the 9 hour car.   He spent hours and hours on the under bonnet heating problem, with all sorts of novel approaches.  Reversing the flow of the whole cooling system, using engine driven fans to blow the heat out, ducts everywhere. 
 Renault introduced a new R8 1100cc (956cc bored out to 1108cc) engine for 1964, which upped power nicely, and good race results started accumulating, but preventing the drop off in power on side-draught carbs cars was always there.  This problem was to a large extent solved later in the following year with the arrival of the 1108cc R8 Gordini.  This introduced a crossflow hemi cylinder head, so the carbs were stuck on the opposite side of the engine.   Interesting to note, the Alconi, with downdraft twinchoke carb and original carb cold air ductwork, never suffered this malady.
Another area that did not satisfy Scamp completely was the still slightly tail happy handling.  He felt there was room for improvement.   How he managed all these experiments is a complete mystery.  Because he was totally busy, morning noon and night, repairing private customer cars, helping Fiat owners with performance mods, and even doing bodywork and spray painting, because he sometimes procured a wreck that he repaired and resold for a little extra money to spend on his racing!  And he was working a full day, still doing his instruction tours about the Country, and preparing his racing car and the Factory Rally entries.  Talk about living on lack of sleep!

 One rather amusing story to come from this.  He was developing another genius idee about swing axle suspension. His race cars were always pre-set with good negative rear camber.  To prevent the rear end jacking on corners, why not fit check straps to limit travel and retain some of the negative camber.  Came Saturday afternoon Kyalami practice.  Time to compare lap times.  This experiment ended with the car skidding sideways, then flopping onto its driver’s side at Clubhouse bend!  We all rushed down.   Scamp, are you OK?  What happened?  That was the scariest thing we’ve ever seen!  As the car went over, you seemed to fall out of your seat belt.  All we saw were arms and legs sticking out the window!  You could easily have lost a leg or arm! ……
 Nah, that was me, says Scamp.  When it flopped onto its side, it slowly started lifting up to go onto its roof, and I thought:  “I’m already going to have to straighten the driver’s side, and I really don’t want to do the roof too, so I stuck my feet out the driver’s window and pushed and strained until it flopped back…….And by the way, the check straps are no great idea either”!
Remember, understanding road holding was in its infancy. 

The next two upgrades during the year really made the R8 a road holding champion.  The car was slowly getting to the edge of the power versus handling curve.  There was now enough power in that engine for the rear wheels to lose cornering traction through wheel spin.  Changing front or rear or both end spring rates did not help.  To adapt or fabricate a limited slip differential was the next immediate challenge?  You could not buy one - probably still can’t.  This was not a Ford or Volvo or Alfa with Factory Competition Development, and racing parts available!  An R8 has a dinky little gearbox, and nothing already available could be adapted.   So Scamp’s next genius idee was to lock the diff completely.  Wouldn’t work, said all the boffins!  You’ll never get the vehicle off a straight line, and the initial understeer is unmanageable. And wet weather driving would be no cake-walk either!  He pondered this for a while.  Understeer could be a good thing at times with rear engines.  A Renault diff is not an easy thing to get at.  And there are many expensive parts.  Why weld it solid, as the dragsters did?  Welding causes all sorts of fatigue and cracking problems.  So he solved this by adding two extra spider pinions that jammed the diff, and could be removed without damage or cost if it did not work.  His now newly straightened R8 lapped it up.  Handling ease, corner entry speeds, hard acceleration with steering on correction was fabulous.   And so was born the “Porter-Posi! (traction)” All the higher powered sprint R8s from then on were so equipped, including his Renault competitors, who were informed of this new development, and not one single component failure was recorded.  The second alteration, on advice from his two Alconi (not yet formed) friends, was a stronger front anti roll bar, to limit vehicle roll and improve front/rear balance.  They built him a triple strength bar, about twice the diameter of the car’s road springs!...Better.   So they built an even bigger one, 8 times the strength of the original bar!   Better still.  All racing R8/Alconi/Gordini’s from this day forth raced with the equivalent of 8 Renault front anti-roll bars attached to the suspension.  (In fact it might have been a great idea for the Renault Factory to have equipped all Alconis and Gordinis with a twice standard strength anti-roll bar as well, in hindsight.)   These two factors turned the car into an awesome track car, easily coping with the wide wheels and the best tires of the day.   And it made the R8 equal in handling to the best of its competitors, and an absolute joy to drive. Sprint and Endurance race results continued to be hauled in, and any wet weather occasions were embraced with open arms.


An advert placed by Renault Africa after the November 1964 Nine-Hour. The Renault Gordini mentioned in the inset driven by Angela Pera and John Myers, was the Dauphine Gordini 1093 driven by Scamp and Arnold Chatz in the 1963 Nine-Hour. In the advert Basil van Rooyen follows the fourth-place Chatz/Porter R8 in the Zephyr, while David Piper is seen coming through in his Ferrari GTO shared with Tony Maggs. (Courtesy Arnold Chatz)


 The Kyalami 9 hour brought another good result, with another 4th place overall, 1st saloon car home and class win (S. Porter/Chatz).  These were not simply 9 hour endurance competitions against other somewhat similar cars!  These R8s were beating a slew of high powered sports cars, and many overseas sports car entries as well.  Often, the traditional Kyalami 9 hour rain storm helped them catch up and un-lap themselves from the Ferraris, Cobras, Porsches, Jaguars, etc., but reliability and preparation also played a big part.

And so, a rising tide of Renault R8 entries grew throughout the Country.  This vehicle was becoming a popular choice for would-be racers.
Only a few further steps in handling materialised after this, but more of it later.
These Competitors at the time who were starting to race Renault R8s were offered every bit of this hard earned advice, supplied many of the special trick parts, and told how and where to get  the rest.  Never were any sneaky tricks held back from fellow competitors, so his own entry/ies could win. 
He was at last given his first Factory help!  Wait for it!  The “Big” sponsorship came in the form of….wait for it….free use of all the Renault parts that were returned to the factory under warranty! …. And so it happened that his Randburg home became all R8 racers' after hours dream parts supplier. The “Renault Randburg Division.”  Open 24/7.  Free advice, a few laughs and always, cup after cup of tea.  He had the largest personal tea cup ever produced, with the name “Daddy” on its sides.  His little home repair and race preparation industry and parts supply was becoming so big now, that an extra double garage and storeroom was needed.  For this, he in-spanned his Dad (a builder and carpenter) to help, and their work was completed shortly thereafter.  Where he ever found the time to do all this extra building work as well, no one could fathom.

Brother Phil Porter, always active and wanting to race/rally, was a senior accountant at Renault Africa, and did much to influence their competitive spirit and attitude.   Of course, Renault Africa had had a fairy tale introduction to racing, and so were not too difficult to encourage.  The staff soon became gung-ho.  But they now expected these types of results.   Engine failures and accidents only happened to other inferior makes.  No credit was given to the meticulous and careful preparation and foresight that was the gift of their one, over-worked  “competition department” employee.   But they eventually did relieve him of his day job, budgeting for Scamp to become the Renault Competition Department (one man). 

 Phil also procured an R8 entry in the year’s Total LM Rally, which was not surprising, after their previous success.
At the time Adler and Conchie and the go ahead Renault Africa management had begun discussions in capitalising on racing success with a factory performance model.  The bosses thought it a worthwhile idea, and a car was offered to this pair of interpid builders.  Work commenced.  A few different arrangements were envisioned, and some ideas were tried.  Within a few weeks this new road car, a modified performance model now called the Alconi, was delivered to Scamp for evaluation before being returned to Renault Africa for testing.  The factory had the intention of leaving it to their sales reps to hammer as only sales reps can, evaluate, and get impressions from their various dealers.  Scamp knew a lot more about what the vehicle was going to be subjected to than the two innocent fabricators, so he used it for a few weeks himself, came back with suggestions and contributions that smoothed  it out amazingly, and made the car very easy to drive, as well as quick and desirable.  All this in addition to his already mammoth work load.  Where he found the extra time for this, no one knows.

Phil’s designated Rally entry for the Total LM had to be prepared at the same time.  However, after driving the new Alconi, both Phil and Scamp opined that a similar performance engine would be ideal for the rally entry, with a few tactical alterations to best take advantage of the regulations.  So, an Alconi was involved in its first motor sporting event before the vehicles were even manufactured!  For the rally, Phil had Scamp as his navigator (P.Porter/S Porter), which was fortunate indeed.  In addition to his imaginative forethought and mechanical skills, Scamp was an excellent navigator, completely at ease with all the furious math work necessary to clock in the exact times rally competitors needed.  And he was very successful at this, though prone to terrible car sickness, and one can only imagine what a dreadful experience a long rally was.  Before the Rally had reached a third of the distance, a weak point was discovered.  The Alconi intake manifold had cracked badly!   Ever improvising, Scamp managed somehow to strengthen and re-rig it in place during the stages and at the stops, which was great, for the car won the event overall on its first outing. (Hooray for the birth of racers-tape.)  It gave both Renault and Alconi a feather in their cap, and stress tested parts of the conversion.  Scamp’s innate ability to read, repair and solve a problem was further put to the test in this, the first R8 rally entry.   Awful roads and the many yumps the car was subjected to, caused parts in the front suspension to bend, and affected the vehicle’s front steering so badly it slowly became impossible to aim.  So, while navigating the route map, spinning the calculator, adjusting the Halda and maintaining the mechanicals, he also had to think up tools he would need, and a method to straighten and realign these steering parts at each stop, so the vehicle could continue.   Results prove he did it.  Scamp deserved the kudos, but Renault and Alconi reaped the benefits.  The fact that they had two Total LM rally wins in four years allowed them to compete two times in the Monte-Carlo Rally, and these two experiences were Scamp's only ever trips out of Africa.  Of course, he could not prepare his entries, and the French regaulations gor them into trouble too.

With this big win and the general enthusiasm of the staff and dealers for the prototype Alconi, it was not long before the enterprising young Boss of Renault Africa gave a green light for production, and stuck his neck out by retaining the warranty on the rest of the car. TYet the Alconi Production run that would allow new specifications for racing R8's turned out to be short lived.

1965 and 1966

Because soon after, Renault released  the 1108cc R8 Gordini, with crossflow cylinder head and 4 carburetter throats, and this configuration offered far more performance potential to all-out racers.  The production Gordini was considerably more expensive, yet hardly faster than the Alconi, but the new engine had incredibly far sighted basics, and, especially in 1300cc form, had distinct power advantages.    Scamp in his capacity as the whole Renault Racing Department plus their preparation person, driver, transporter and pit crew, with some little help from Alconi, developed this motor to produce scads of power, especially in the higher rpms.
Alconi found him an excellent camshaft to start with.  But the high-lift profile, together with the huge breathing improvements (giant 39mm and 35mm valves and valve springs able to cope with the higher engine speeds had to be researched and resourced) made many of the Gordini components very delicate and prone to failure, so reliability required a genius in ideas and engineering, a touch of finesse and a lot of testing to improve durability. This all had to be done locally, from scratch.

 Other competitors had special gear ratios available to take advantage of the peaky modified engines.  Not Renault, though the Gordini 1300cc did have closer ratio 5 speed box.    Scamp was not quite satisfied with this, so it wasn’t long before he had worked out better gearing, and replaced the five gears with pairs made to his new specs.   He was already toying with the idea of extending the Gordini box to 6 speeds, and with just a few more facilities available, would doubtless have done it!
This kind of power output had never been envisioned by the R8 designers, so some drive train, axles and wheel parts had to be strengthened too, or redesigned. You only learned a weak point from a failure.  So you were kind of a test pilot!  When a rear axle broke due to cornering loads, he could redesign and strengthen it, but only if he survived!  No deep infrastructure of other racers to keep you posted, because it was he alone on the cutting edge!   In fact the only imported Renault competition part utilised were the 1296cc H/C pistons, available from Alpine.  The 1300cc Gordini was really a bored version of the 1108, with the 5 speed and a number of extra refinements and mechanical changes and 4 head lights.
 Double clutches and thicker axles had to be designed and fabricated. (And, of course, made available to other R8 racers.)   But, as teething troubles were overcome, competitive makes to Renault in the 1300cc bracket soon fell away.  Even the imported British racing saloons that were so dominant overseas could not keep up.

The only threat to class victories came from drivers of a similar type car.   Always more than fair, these drivers, like Geoff Mortimer and Jody Scheckter, were offered all the advice plus the reinforced or redesigned components to make their chariots identical and as safe as his own.  The only disadvantage a fellow competitor had was the fact that acquiring Gordini parts was shockingly expensive, while Scamp’s budget, though meagre, was in better shape.  And he still had the warranty returns! 
This budget would have made the Ford and Alfa teams cringe.  They would have called it petrol money!

 Scamp was still essentially a “one man show” in a different world.   He did his own towing, all the preparation on his own car and the factory rally cars. (Rally car preparation was labour intensive, as the chassis needed oodles of reinforcing, and the addition of so many brackets, switches, extra lights, tires and spares.  This work required a very experienced hand, especially in the electrics, to prevent all the possible shorts or failures, the major bugbear of rally cars in that era.)   Booking of away race and rally accommodation also fell on him, and still he would find the time to help and make suggestions to other race and rally competitors.  He was constantly on the phone, patiently answer calls from would be racers and rally drivers, and all the while in high demand  for an opinion on the general run of the mill standard Renault warranty breakage or repair work discussions!  Quite a job requirement!  And quite the role for a simple race driver!
Their rally entries and frequent Rally successes increased the size of the Rally component of the Renault Africa budget, and also upped his workload.   Remember, in those days it was just becoming a requirement for the successful Rally cars to be “chased” by Factory maintenance and parts vans. The drivers of these “chasers” had to do the repairs, maintenance and frequent body straightening in situ, during the special rally stages, or wherever a competitor stopped!  He and the Renault factory reps were these van drivers.
The enthusiastic rally car “chasers” deserve special mention. With all their duties, not only did they get less sleep and rest than an actual competitor, but they had to follow them at first with Renault R4s, later R16s service vehicles.  (The Renault R4 was a front engine small van with a bit more room than an R8 for spare tires an service parts with a tiny 850cc engine that could not even keep up with a standard R8, never mind rally car.  And, being bogged down with all the extra weight, they needed a star driver to complete the route behind the competitors, without killing himself.  The Renault R16 was a larger 1500cc and later 1600cc front-engined vehicle with more interior room, but was also no star performer.)
 At the time a number of privateers also began to rally Renault R8’s, due to its success and relative low cost and upkeep.   So, being Scamp, not only were these competitors also kept up to date with all developments in performance, reliability and strengthening needs, as well as advice on the experience and knowledge he had gleaned from his successful factory rallying, but, in addition, he now had to add to equip the “chaser” vans with more parts, tires and bits, as this help was extended to privateers as well.  The policy proved very popular and also brought good appreciation and publicity, as privateers often also started featuring well in results.

One cannot continue without relating a rather embarrassing story now.  Generally, Scamp’s racing car was housed at the local Renault dealer during the few days before an away from the Reef sprint event.   During a sojourn at the Cape Town dealer, a salesman approached and wanted to know how in the world these rally drivers managed to effect  the 180 degree car spin on its own axis to reverse direction! ….. Oh, you mean the hand brake turn! ….. Let me show you….So, in they climbed, into the brand new showroom Renault R4 demonstrator.  Two salesmen,  Scamp and the dealer big Boss.  Hi-tailing it down the main Cape Town drag.  In a small space among the traffic, Scamp duly jerked up the hand brake, and whipped the steering around.  But the heavily occupied little car responded badly, and tipped onto its passenger side.  So, there was poor Scamp, helping the three other occupants out of the two doors that were now facing up in the air, and apologising profusely to the Boss… sooo sorry……It was the badly adjusted handbrake!..... An amusing story that caused a lot of good natured ribbing.  Amazingly no injuries or blood or scrapes or knocked out teeth in the days of no seat belts!

Final Performance gains that made the 1300 R8 Gordini a giant killer.  Regulation changes allowing for after market 13” diameter wheels and the recently homologated 2” factory fender spats.  This almost eliminated rear end jacking and made R8s the finest handling saloons on the circuit.  Sprint race class wins were a formality.  Moving the radiator system to the front also allowed better and cooler engine air, with another slight up in performance. The engine and running gear was bulletproof now, so reliability was affected only by preparation and the odd electric glitch.  And the most enviable endurance race results continued to roll in.
In fact so well did the cars handle that (unlike their competition) a sports car tyre like Michelin was considered adequate for endurance races, and if it occasioned to rain, contesting an overall position was on the cards as well as 1st saloon home, class wins, index wins and team wins! (No diving into the pits for a quick tire change!)   1965 occasioned a slight slip in the Renault’s unbelievable 9 hour runs, as this year an R8 finished 2nd saloon car home and two mere class wins! (Mortimer/Hooper 9th overall & class win, P Porter/Burford 12th overall, class win)  They were beaten by a Volvo, but only by less than one lap!
For the 1966 9 hour endurance event Scamp’s  Renaults were back on top, with  a 5th and 6th finish overall, 1st saloon car home, class wins and index wins S Porter/Adler 5th, P Porter/Burford 6th).  This with the usual R8 Gordini and a new Renault R10 (Alconi entered) hardly 2 laps behind it.  The R10 (essentially an R8 with slightly altered bodywork and longer front and rear overhang) was specially equipped for an index win, and utilised the same Gordini 1300cc engine of the 5th placed car, but had an intake manifold specially fabricated by Alconi to use only one twin choke Alconi type carburetter.
 During practise, for this type of event, a car goes through a lot of assembling and dismantling, and at one stage the new R10's boot lid (front) had been re attached but not perfectly aligned.   This produced an incredible whining sound speeding down the straight, and the pit attendants decided to leave it misaligned, for easy identification at night.  It upset the competitors who wanted to know what was blowing air into the engine for the boost.  It also didn't really please the Renault factory, who were having issues with this exact customer complaint, but it served its purpose well all night and especially through the heavy evening rain session.
One does not hesitate to complement the engine design and strength for much of the success, but remember that some performance and nearly all the handling superiority was all locally developed, overcoming the deficiency of the hot air in the engine compartment and getting the big horsepower numbers and reliability from the engine was painstakingly Scamp and his few helpers.  There was the wonderful domestic camshaft, and improving the crossflow to an amazing efficient cylinder head. (Iffy reliability from the hard stressed Gordini cylinder head components and a totally inadequate clutch also had to be overcome.)


1967 

The R8 Alconi had already dominated Kyalami’s Onyx series race, taking the 1966 trophy  with an overall win in the final event.  (The Onyx series of races were Kyalami Race Track only events for locally produced cars, with classes based on the retail price. Only limited modifications were allowed.  Volvo 122, Alfa Romeo Giulia and Giulia Sprint, Cortina GT, Mini Cooper S, Sunbeam Tiger were the usual entrants.)                                                      
 Such was the 1300cc Gordini dominance in modified Saloons, that R8 contenders decided not to ruin each other’s chances by fighting for victory amongs themselves! (They were really only 1-1.5 seconds a laps slower than the overall race winners – usually a Ford 7000cc Galaxy or 2000cc  Escort.)  As Renault had sold 946cc R8’s, Jeff Mortimer decided to compete in the 1000cc class. He was immediately competitive with the imported overseas engined Anglias and Cooper Minis. In 1969 he lost his lead in the Modified saloon championmship in the final race.  In 1970 he won the championship, using a  special crankshaft he made, de-stroking the Gordini engine to 1000cc, which made him dominant.   

Here are some interesting comments from Geoff Mortimer during an interview with Run Ride Drive.  Mortimer competed in racing and rallying for more than 30 years, and drove  specialised race-bred cars like Chev Canam and  factory built Audi Quattro turbos for a number of years.
http://www.runridedive.com/geoff-mortimer/
"Group N racing brought you success in the Renault Gordini in particular. Tell us more about the Gordini?
The Renault 8 Gordini of the 60s and 70s was truly a remarkable car. In South Africa in the hands of Phil Porter, Chris Swanepoel and Louis Cloete it was a very successful rally car. In the National SA Saloon car racing category the car was very successful with myself, Scamp Porter and Jody Schecktar as main drivers. In long distance races we teamed up with the rally drivers to take numerous index wins in the famous Nine Hour race and Springbok Series.
The car was probably the best handling rear engine production car in the world at that time and needed very little in the way of suspension changes to make it a fantastic handling race or rally car. The engine was a brilliant development by Amedee Gordini of the current 1100cc (and later 1255cc) Renault R8 engine and lent itself to race and rally tuning. The 1000cc version was developed by myself and Scamp Porter in the late 60s to compete against the very quick Minis it developed 123bhp and revved to 9000rpm.
What was your favourite car that you raced?
Favourite Race Car: Renault Gordini – Vice free, easy to setup, always competitive even against supposedly faster cars in larger capacity classes.
Favourite Rally Car: Ford Escort MK11 – Did not have to prepare it myself, bit you if you treated it badly – fantastic to drive.
Who were your favourite rivals?
Were those you could race wheel to wheel without actually making contact and not have to have recriminations or bad feelings with after the race. To name a few, Garth McGill, Gordon Briggs, Scamp Porter, Dave Charlton, Willie Hepburn, Tony Viana, Collin Burford and Koos Swanepoel."

And Puddles Adler, (who was only really available to compete at Kyalami on the Reef) would try his hand at supercharging, which multiplied the engine capacity by 1.4, putting the car in the 2000cc class and perhaps capable of an overall win.

 (These escapades are a story for another time.  Mortimer legendary dices against the imported works Ford Anglias and Mini Coopers.  In Adler’s case, things were not as easy.   Blowing was a totally new field.  Unlike today, where boost is more or less the performance car norm, previous engines were carburetted.  So, if you sucked the mix into the blower, you had a very hot and potentially extremely explosive intake manifold.  Going through an intercooler doubled or trebled this volume.  If you blew plain air into the carburetter, you had a pressurised float bowl and potential blower pressure going all the way through the fuel lines to the tank!  Work demands made it a spare time after hours job, too, and overcoming the pressurised overheating intake air mixture, as well as coping with the further stresses to the drive train took time to overcome.   In hindsight, a few simple modern tricks would have unleashed enormous potential and made the car unbeatable.  But it is really modern fuel injection that matured the supercharging and turbocharging concept, and made it so viable today.\


Scamp, like Jody, could get it sideways too, locked diff et al.
At Roy Hesketh, Scamp’s favourite circuit, in the 1970 season. (Colin Camp/motorprint)

So 1967 was a good year for the Renaults in the 1000cc and a totally dominant year in the 1300cc class.  In fact he won the 1968 Modified Saloon Car Championship, taking 1st place in every race that year. 
They also continued their endurance race tradition with a 1st saloon car finish in the 9 hour event, class wins (9th overall P Porter/Burford) and excellent Rally results by both factory sponsored entrants and local privateers.  This year brought South Africa an introduction of French Factory competition in the form of a Renault Alpine at the 9 hour event.   The Renault Alpine, also rear engine, used a version of the newly introduced Renault R16 TS engine, which adapted easily onto the rear configurationed R8 and R8 Gordini 5 speed gearbox.  The TS used a much more substantial engine of 1600cc, also with crossflow head.  It produced good power, but would not qualify for local racing because the R8 did not come that way.  In the event, the Gordini 1300cc engine seems to still be the gold standard, and I have not heard of TS equipped cars that could match it in outright performance. 
A gauge of the sudden  new French Renault Factory interest can also be obtained from the fact that in addition to Alpine, Lotus released the Lotus Europa Model, after an agreement with them, in which they used a slightly higher performance  Renault R16 (1500cc) engine and Renault drivetrain.

1968

Jody Scheckter arrived on the scene as a complete surprise. Here was a youngster with enormous talent, who had already been through a few years of Go Karting (school for underage potential race drivers, a la todays F1 pilots). He had just started an apprenticeship, and being the son of a Renault Dealer gave him a leg up financially with influence at Renault Africa, and lots of time on his hands. Because of the connection, Scamp had been his hero as a kid.   Scamp encouraged and helped the keen youngster and gave him the complete handling and performance package, so he was immediately up with the big boys.  An R8 already handled like a Go-Kart, and Jody spent his whole apprenticeship year innocently drilling, carving, plasticising and lightening his race car without a single thought to the weight requirements imposed by the regulations.



Suddenly the nicely laid plan of who wins which class was threatened by a usurper!   Jody’s philosophy on driving fast, was that you only slowed down retrospectively, if you couldn’t make a bend, and after you came off a corner!   First you tried it way too fast, lost control, and slowed as little as possible, until you eventually stayed on the road!  Sideways Scheckter was really a simplification!  Jody was usually reappearing from the long grass or perimeter fence after each corner.  But it was not long before he posed a real threat to the Porter winning ways.  In his autobiography “Jody”, a fair amount of credit is given to Scamp in various references to his early racing years.

As a Competition Department, Rallying and Endurance racing was a team effort, so every competitor had the same potential. It was impossible to do both, and, as Scamp enjoyed the racing side most, he found and employed good Rally drivers. The Rally section was still enjoying many successes and a few overall wins, and quite a few privateers were assisted by the factory for most of these events.

 For the endurance race season, he preferred a team of two cars, and chose to drive the higher powered entry.  His team strategy was to enter one more powerful and the other slightly less modified car, to ensure at least one car made it to the finish.  But his meticulous preparation, foresight on the demands of the race, pit preparation and parts at hand always seemed to outdo others, even the one or two occasionally faster makes and competitors to the extent that his R8s nearly always featured among the high powered sports cars, beating a good number who were competing for overall victory.  As the annual 9 hour race became internationally more well known, more and more illustrious overseas competitors entered, so it was quite an accomplishment to beat many of them continuously and so frequently. It was not only being the first saloon car home that was so impressive.  It was like the hare and the tortoise.  The old adage, “to finish first you have to first finish.”   The 1968 endurance races again brought trophies for 1st and 2nd saloon car home and impressive overall results. (S Porter/Swanepoel  9th overall, P Porter/Burford  10th on the same lap)  Chris Swanepoel was his chosen factory Rally driver at the time, who had claimed a number of wins in this theatre as well.

1969.

Renault released the R12 1300cc, which utilized basically a stroked version of the 1108cc engine.  This  did not alter the racing motors of the Gordini engined sprint racing R8's. However, at the time Jody Scheckter was interested in continuing the campaign with the Alconi supercharged engine, and by fitting the longer stroke crankshaft to the 1300cc Gordini engine, capacity would be upped into the 1400cc limit allowed by supercharging.  Jody did pull off one or two impressive overall Sprint race wins, but the reliability of this power-plant was still an unknown.  Scamp and Geoff Mortimer continued on their successful rounds with the usual class wins, Scamp mostly finishing 2nd, 3rd or occasionally 4th overall.   Rally results were still coming in steadily.

A highlight of the year was the impressive 9 hour endurance race, once again.  This year another 1st saloon car overall, and a 4th place on distance covered once again. (S Porter/Mortimer) The Kyalami 9 hour was continuing to attract more and more illustrious overseas sports car entries, and very many well prepared real racing breeds ended up behind them once again.  The public were no longer surprised to see a Renault R8 featured in the results.  It was a given, as if the car was built for racing and for 9 hour endurance events,  and had the comparative power and  weight of the specifically designed sports racers!


When cars were hairy and the stands packed. The start of the 1969 Nine-Hour. (motorprint)

1970

The French Renault Factory thinking was moving to front engined larger cars.  The R16 and R16TS had no racing potential, though the TS engine did show itself to be useful overseas with Renault Alpines.  Renault Africa brought out the new R12 front engined, somewhat larger and heavier vehicle, with the same basic engine as the R10..  Naturally, they wanted to compete and continue their run of successes with this new baby.  It was ill suited for track use, but Scamp agreed to try his hand at building it into a rally car. It was starting from square one again, because no other country or developer had even considered this car.  Renault in France was happy with the Renault Alpine rally prowess, but as these vehicles were not being offered for sale in South Africa, the local factory saw little benefit.   Gordini was also developing a special GT version of the R12 with the R16TS 1600 or 1700cc engine, but this would not be available locally.  The local rally drivers, who had been so successful with the R8s were quite prepared to try their hands on the new car, but engine performance, traction and too much weight bugged them throughout the year.   Scamp and Renault entered cars, but for the first time since its introduction, the 9 hour Kyalami event did not feature an R8/10 in the top results, though an R8 still achieved a class win.  They were somewhat down the list.
But 1970 was the twilight of the rear engine Renault R8, and Renault Racing was hard pressed with the larger less competitive front engine cars.  


You can bet that, had the Renault R5 Gordini, with its rear engine (The midi engined R5 Turbo, with 1527cc engine homologated in the 1980s and made for 'B' class rally work) come out a little earlier, South African Renaults would still have been in the forefront of Saloon car Racing and Rallying, and probably taken a large portion of the overseas production run for local sales!

Actual saloon car racing and rallying was not the only R8 forte.  Ever since its introduction it had been entered in economy runs as well.  The most well-known was the Total Economy Run, where certain minimum speeds had to be maintained over a planned route, and careful scrutiny kept on the competitors.  The Renault R8s and Alconis seemed made for this, especially with the knowledge and tinkering of Scamp.  He had worked out all the carburetter and ignition settings for optimal performance, even to the extent of special adjustment of valve clearances!  Coasting was allowed if you could keep up to their minimum speed requirements (which were quite high, usually 60 to 80 kph).  And brother Phil was an absolute ace at driving these events. Amazing consumption figures, usually in the high 50 and 60 mpg range were achieved, usually with the R8 Alconi, which had higher compression and even better engine efficiency!

This exciting era in motor racing was also coming to an end.  Production cars still raced on mainly standard engine internals, and peak engine rpm was approaching 9000.   Electronic ignition was slowly being introduced, but this was a very primitive type, where just the spark was generated without the use of contact points.   Ignition advance was still devised by the distributor, so an advantage was  dubious, and the electronics were not in any way reliable.  Fuel injection was also just being introduced.  Formula One vehicles were un-boosted and equipped with a Lucas mechanical type injection, which was quite unreliable, as their many retirements from races at this time will attest.  Cortinas and later, Ford Escorts were available with the Lotus Twin Cam engines, and later with the larger capacity 16 valve formula 2 engines, the size of which gradually increased from 1600cc to 2000cc. Even in their final form the R8 Gordini 1300cc was still a class winner, and would definitely have given them a good run for an overall win, had its capacity been about 1500cc!  The first of the 16 valve fours was a Ford Escort with the Cosworth  BDA, and these were already in use by competitors.   In the EFI department, injection vehicles were slowly being introduced to the public towards the end of the 1960s, notably in VW and Volvo makes.  This comprised  electronically controlled fuel injector pulse and a computer, which adjusted the fuel according to manifold pressure.  Being in its infancy, it was notable for the unreliability of the electronics. This is attested by the fact that, a few years later, many vehicles reverted to the mechanical type Bosch K-tronic design.  It is doubtful if these EFI developments (4 valve per cylinder over-head camshaft engines excepted, as these did offer tremendous breathing improvements - consequently far hgher rpm) of the early 1970s, even at their best, would have offered more than minimal horsepower gains.  Multi-camshaft profiles activating valves or cam phasing was not even dreamed up, and dry-sump lubrication  was still a somewhat unreliable single seater engine option.  As it happens, Scamp was already working on “Kugelfischer” (introduced on the Peugeot) and another aftermarket injection system, to try and get that tiny extra from the engine!  He was also contemplating the possibilities of a dry-sump lubrication system, though electric pumps were notoriously unreliable, so he was toying with some mechanical drive.   But, as stated earlier, the Renault R8 was already obsolescent and production was being phased out in the final year of the 1960 decade, which meant the end of factory promoted competition for the Renault R8.

1971/1972

Phil Porter had moved on and joined Toyota South Africa.  It was not long after, that he enticed Scamp to join him, and run the new Competition department there, which started with rally cars but had ideas about endurance racing too, and a bigger budget. Their rally cars were Toyota Corollas that were highly modified with special high performance imported engines that were far too powerful for the traction offered.  Race track Formula 1 cars were already brandishing huge wings to help their roadholding, so it was but a small step for Scamp to be the first to adapt this idea on his Corollas.  You would see these rally cars with an outsized wing somewhere above the rear window trying to push the rear end down.  Overseas Rally competitors came out to drive in all the important events,  so there were a number of cars to prepare and service. At first there were a few retirements, but towards the end of the year results began to accumulate. 

For the 1972 9 hour Toyota decided to compete with an imported, race prepared Toyota Celica 2000cc, equipped with twin cam engine.  Neither the car, nor the drive train were available in South Africa. When it appeared for practice, the car was quite competitive, putting in lap times close to those of the 2 liter GTs that competed in the sprint events in South Africa during the year.
 But then, in the dark of the evening of official Thursday night practice, two days before the event,  that dreadful collision occurred on the fastest part of the main straight, between Scamp, piloting the Celica, and  the rear of a Mini Cooper S of Brian Ferreira.   The fuel tank is in the rear of the Cooper, and the vehicle immediately burst into flames.  By the time his vehicles stopped and Scamp had got over with his extinguisher, the driver was in a seriously burnt condition.  A sad, sad day.   Brian Ferreira was a good track friend of Scamps, having worked with the Meissner/Gough Ford Escort team for a number of years.  Unfortunately he would not survive the injuries.
The Celica was an absolute write off.  No other similar car existed in the Republic.  Only Friday and race-day morning remained.  But racing personnel are an unusual breed.  Phil Porter immediately went to work, and through the ownership network, managed to find a Rhodesian owner of a road version of the same car in the Transvaal. 
He somehow contacted the owner, did an immediate deal, and the newly purchased Celica arrived at Toyota Competition workshops late the Friday afternoon!  By then the write-off had been fully stripped, and many of the broken parts were already under repair or new ones in the process of fabrication!   It was an all-nighter for the drivers, pit crew and most of the Toyota factory mechanics and reps.  Sometime next morning a straight, not quite shiny painted but race-worthy vehicle appeared, aligned and ready.  The new car was able to lap at similar times to the one it replaced, and it would have been justice for the enthusiasm and dedication of the staff, had it been able to finish.  Internal damage to the original special 5 speed gearbox from the collision car eventually sidelined it. 

This accident deflated Scamps enthusiasm for racing, and he decided to hang up his helmet thereafter. Shortly after this, Phil Porter died.   This, too, was a major blow, as the brothers were very close all their life, and Scamp had looked up to him as a hero.  He continued to devote his time to the Toyota Rally Department for a number of years, before moving out altogether.
However this is a story about Scamp Porter and the Renault R8 that justly bore the two of them into the annals of racing history.

If the results of this short period of motor racing were tabulated and the success ratio and statistics of all cars and drivers aggregated and compared,  I feel certain that Scamp would feature as one of the  winningest South African drivers ever.  His trophy count for 1st places is prodigious!  Both from sprint and endurance races, especially when compared to the number of starts he made.  But specially endurance races.  IF anyone actually had success even close to this, it could only possibly have been David Piper.
On top of that, Scamp should also be given accolades for the wonderful results achieved in Renaults by the P.Porter/Burford endurance team on vehicles he prepared.
One also must bear in mind his rally successes and trophies, and brother Phil’s and Chris Swanepoel’s  rally successes in the cars  prepared by him, because the effort  was not the product of a Factory Motor Sport Department, like most Rally entries are today, but by his own work and that of a few helpers.


In conclusion, it must be evident that Renault Africa and Regie Renault were the ultimate benefactors.  Renault R8/10 sales penetration in Southern Africa had risen incredibly, and was well above that of other sales areas, in all probability due to their performance models and racing successes with the performance mad public of South Africa.  Yet the rewards to the enthusiast race driver/developer/competition manager of that time were actually quite minimal.   Phil Porter, Colin Burford, Geoff Mortimer, Arnold Chatz, Dave Clapham, George Armstrong etc. did it merely for the love of racing!   In many instances it cost them plenty, too! (You know the adage:  Want to make a small fortune motor racing?   Start with a large fortune!)  Most sponsors (like Shell oils, Ferodo Brake linings, Champion Spark Plugs) only supplied free product.  No sponsorship sheckels!   The successful racer was usually on a short list from the tire manufacturers to BUY their latest arrivals of new rubber compounds!   Only the Formula 1 teams were offered money for using sponsored products. Scamp was certainly paid a fair wage for the job, and had a useful, if not complete, budget from Renault. But it was definitely just a wage, and there was no sitting around and waiting, or negotiating the big bucks with competitive manufacturers!  You just kept on working to pay the mortgage!


Finally
There are many a story of these carefree days.   Adler & Co losing control and rolling the trailer with sprint race car attached, en route to Cape Town to compete on his behalf, when he was awaiting the birth of a son.   Another straightening job for the hard pressed Racing Department!  And finding the extra time to design/build another race car trailer, as the write off had been discarded.
Trailering race cars to meetings was the worst!  Usually they were towed flat out, well above speed and safety limits, mostly by pit crew, the drivers being innocent and inexperienced in this type of vehicle handling, with both tow-car and trailer road-holding diabolical. Of all the tow cars I saw, none were ever vehicles designed with a tow rating for anything near that required for the heavy load.  Scamp's tow car was first an R16 and later an R16TS, nowhere near heavy enough or suited to the job.   
Every race driver from that period will tell you harrowing tales, and that towing race cars to the meetings was by far the most dangerous and frightening part of motor racing!
 Every driver I know has at least one hair-raising story, mostly ending in alarming destruction and injury of sort.  . 
Also, screaming down the back roads of Randburg with open exhaust, stopwatch in hand to compare some lately thought out modification.  The closer the race date, the more frequent the trial.


               Summary of 9 hour results  with Overall positions               

Year   Driver Scamp Porter                              Driver Phil Porter/Burford

1959     Fiat 1100—17th                                            Fiat 1200 –14th
1960     Fiat 2100….?                                               Fiat Abarth 750  11th
1961     Fiat1100 5th (1st Prod car) w. Conchie        Dauphine Gordini  9th
1962                              not entered                                         Dauphine Gordini (2nd in class)
1963     Dauph Gordini …7th  w Chatz                     Renault 8(956cc)  4th (1st Prod Car)
1964     Renault 8   4th (1st Prod Car) w Chatz         Renault 8    11th
1965     Renault  Alconi  13th (w Schultze)                Renault 8 Gord   12th
1966     Renault Gord  5th (1stt Prod Car) w Adler    Renault 10 1300  6th   (2nd Prod Car)
1967     Renault Gord w Swanepoel   ?                     Renault Gord 1300 9th  (1st Prod Car)
1968     Renault Gord  10th (2 Prod Car)w Mortimer  Renault Gord  9th (1st Prod Car)
1969     Renault Gord  4th(1st Prod Car) w Mortimer Renault Gordini (P.Porter/Swanepoel) crash
1970     Renault Gordini w Mortimer  ?                                                   no entry



From above, Scamp achieved 4 First Saloon Car home awards, 1 second.
Brother Phil managed 3 First Saloon car home and 1 second.
Between them 5 finishes in the top 5
All this in 10 years of racing for Renault.  Obviously if one counts up all the class wins, Index of performance results and Team results, it’s a lot of silverware.  And, there was an almost zero record of retirements

No other entrant has got anywhere near these results



Puddles Adler