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The Goodwood Revival: An ERA in Its Own Right

Min Reading Time
Tags: Motorsport, Events
Janine Vogler, October 08, 2019
Janine Vogler Vintage cars related to ZF-products have been at the heart of the journalist. Outside of work, she enjoys to ride motor bike or to be accompanied in nature by her dog.
Have you ever heard of ERA, Bizzarrini, or Lola? Each year in September, the Earl of March extends an invitation to the Goodwood Revival, the most incredible racing spectacle of them all – breathtakingly beautiful exotics and rare legends of racing history present themselves as a who’s who of the superlative class. Almost all of them have something in common: they are equipped with ZF products.

What sets these cars apart is that they run on pure alcohol (methanol)

What sets these cars apart is that they run on pure alcohol (methanol)

At the monumental festival in Goodwood, a very rare make is sometimes predominant: ERA stands for English Racing Automobile, a brand created in November 1933 by Humphrey Cook, Raymond Mays, and Peter Berthon in Bourne/Lincolnshire. The goal at that time was to create a team of single-seater racing cars to maintain British prestige in continental European motorsports. The ERA was the first and best-known prewar English racing car and was mainly used to compete against Maserati and Alfa Romeo. The English asked ZF to develop a locking differential for ERA, and all 17 vehicles were equipped with it. What sets these cars apart is that they run on pure alcohol (methanol), consuming 120 to 130 liters per 100 kilometers. The ERA engine was designed for three displacements: a basic version with 1,488 cubic centimeters (ccm) for the 1,500 ccm racing class produced about 180 to 200 hp, a version with 1,088 ccm was made for the 1,100 ccm class, and it was also possible to expand to 1,980 ccm for the 2,000 ccm class. In the higher engine displacement classes, more than 250 to 275 hp were achieved. The various model types were divided into the A, B, C, and D types.
A total of only 17 cars were built, and 8 vehicles, practically half of them, were present this year at the starting line of the Goodwood Revival. In England, almost every child is familiar with the ERA, while in Germany it is now largely unknown because it has not been driven on the continent for decades. The Second World War brought motorsports to a standstill in Europe, and the Bourne location was then sold to a bus operator. When racing resumed in the late 1940s, Berthon and Mays switched over to the British Racing Motors (BRM) project. Until 1951, the ERA was successfully driven in Formula 1 by well-known English racing drivers such as Charly Martin and Peter Whitehead, but starting in 1952, supercharger cars were excluded from Formula 1. The ERA is very rarely spotted on mainland Europe.
Other vehicle models that are extremely rare and precious can also be enjoyed in Goodwood: for example, this time an entire Ferrari armada of 250 GT SWB types (SWB stands for short wheelbase) and even a type 250 GTO opened the games ceremoniously with the first race in the Kinrara Trophy. It included a steering system and limited-slip differential from ZF. Giotto Bizzarrini, then head of development at Ferrari, believed in ZF products and repeatedly relied on the fine Swabian engineering from Lake Constance for later models, some of which were created in his own company. A special specimen, the Bizzarrini-Chevrolet P538 with ZF five-speed transmission, started in the pole position of the Whitsun Trophy with starting number 1, followed by several Ford GT 40s, the Lola-Chevrolet T70 Spyder, and the McLaren-Chevrolet M1B – all powered by the unparalleled ZF racing transmission ZF 5DS25 with integrated locking differential.
ZF products were in practically every class – each representing a certain era – and at the Goodwood Revival, each vehicle is also a special class of its own.