|Living Legend Interview continued..||I hope you enjoyed the first part of the interview, here is the second....
Q: Do you know anything about the blue 4th TDF car, that was driven by Henri Greder and entered by Ford of France?
A.Mann: No, it was different from our preparations and I had no relation to Ford of France. Frankly, I do not even remember that other Mustang in the Tour de France 1964.
Note: Greder did not finish due to heavy oil leakage after a crash with a house and a fence at La Chevalierie. The damage took him out on the road to Monza later. The Greder TDF car appeared in other races of the season as well and was driven in 1965 by Jacky Ickx with a belgium licence plate
Q: What happened to the TDF Mustangs afterwards? I read a test in a mag indicating, that one went to Comstock Racing in Canada. Another source says that Roy Pierpoint bought one of the cars from you on December 4th., 1964 and raced it later.
Peter Procter and Andrew Cowan with the winning TDF car #83 and licenc plate DPK7B. Brian Lewis, race mechanic of Alan Mann says, the winning car had to be sent back immediately after the race to Ford/USA. The team initially wanted to drive with it around Nice/France, but it was no more available for that.
A.Mann: I think, they were sold and we gave the credit to Ford USA back or we sent them back to the US. I am pretty sure that however one was raced later still in the UK by Roy Pierpoint. He won the British Touring Car Championchip in 1965 on this car. Yes, I think, it was the Procter TDF car. I've also noticed your mentioning about the later article of a tested TDF car at the Comstock Racing Team in Canada, but I have actually no idea what happened to them in detail or how it turned up there. Maybe we gave it back to Ford USA.
Editorial note:Brian Lewis - the TDF Mustang mechanic - stated however that the winning car was ordered back from Ford USA immediately after the race. The Mann team had in mind to drive it around in Nice, but it was not available acc. to Brian. Bernard Cahier got the second TDF Mustang of Harper for a week for testing it in France. The car carries a DPK6B licence plate, but a #83 on the door, which was initially on the TDF the car with licence plate DPK7B of Peter Procter. The door number #83 is different than those used in the race and the car was most probably repainted to make it a decent winner in the pictures that were published.
Another english magazine called Motor Sport got one of the TDF cars - DPK5B (the Ljungfeldt car) after the event for testing as well. The journalist wrote that all the cars would have to be returned to the US due to the fact that no import tax was paid by A. Mann and that otherwise the cars would have to be torched in halves under the eye of customs inspectors. I asked Alan Mann later about that and he confirmed that the TDF Mustangs were definitely not cut.
Acc. to Graham Robson, a famous book writer of a Ford rally book, 4 Mustangs were stored after the TDF outside Alan's workshop in the yard. This information was given to him by Allen in a previous interview (which might contradict to the mechanics words, but we are not at the end of our research).
Graham continues in a February 2002 'classicford' Article that Alan redevelopped the TDF cars for saloon racing and that in 1965 Roy Pierpoint, Mike Salmon and Jack Brabham lead them to six victories out of eight championchips round. Bo Ljungfeldt and Jacky Ickx (on the Greder car) achieved another 3 victories in Mustangs in 1965 in other European events.
We are still investigating the TDF cars history after 1965, but have just recently got much more detailed hints. Stay tuned - July 2003.
But back to Alan Mann
Alan continues about the whereabouts of the race cars:
In the past years we have been approached by 2 auctioneers, wether we would be able to verify original TDF Mustangs. I said, yes, as our mechanics are still here, that worked on the cars and they pretty well know, how they welded things or which failures they did. There is always a personal note of a mechanic to identify items.
Well, these auctioneers did not came back to us, so I have to think, they did not have original TDF Mustangs on hand or wanted to have fakes approved. The same happened for our later Escorts and such.
Q: Can you tell us something about the GT40 project and your relation with Walter Hayes and the roles of Alan Mann Racing and Ford Advanced Vehicles?
A.Mann: I had no direct relation to Ford Advanced Vehicles and John Wyer, their chief. However nothing happened in Europe for Ford without Walter Hayes. He was the head of Public Relations and he held the budget. So in fact he had the biggest influence on the whole story and we were part of it with a contract with Ford USA as was FAV.
FAV was not very successful with the GT40 project, so they turned the project later to Shelby, but that is another story. We worked for Ford USA in Dearborn, FAV worked for Ford USA as well, but we had no direct business amongst each other.
Q: What were your main customers? Running such a big race shop probably required some sponsoring?
A.Mann: Ford USA was our biggest customer starting with the Falcons in the Monte Carlo rallye. We got 14 cars delivered and actually raced 8 of them in Monte Carlo. We put 289 engines in them and were very successfull as you know. However our deal with Ford was 'Costs plus 10%'. So we got only 10% profit out of that deal. We got the cars free of charge, but in case, we sold them, we had to give credit to FORD for the received money.
We had some other projects with Ford USA. Ford England was another big customer. We prepared and raced the Cortinas for them. Then later we had good business with Ford of Europe racing the Escorts. Besides that we had some movie projects.
Q: That sounds interesting! I know about the Tschitty-Tschitty-Bang-Bang project. Then there was the James Garner movie 'Grand Prix' with the Hertz Shelby. Did you have any activity in that?
A.Mann: In fact the Tschitty-Tschitty-Bang-bang car concept was initially for a truck. First Walter Hayes was contacted and he sent the guys to Roy Pierpoint with his Heavy Vehicle facility first, but they did not found any suitable cars. Then we made some drawings and finally got the order for building 3 or 4 of these cars. A boat builder called Bates in Chertsey was involved as well. He was really surprised, when we showed him what to build.
No, I know the movie Grand Prix, but we had nothing to do with that Shelby. The Grand Prix movie with James Garner was about Formula 1. In fact Steve McQueen initally thought about the same theme for his move, that later became Le Mans or French Kiss. When they heard about the Garner project, they did not want to do a similar thing, so they rather went for the Le Mans scenario.
However we prepared and took care of the Mustang and the Aston Martin DB5 in the James Bond movie "Goldfinger". Again we were contacted via W.Hayes. We happened to be in Monte Carlo at that time in 1965 and were asked by the director to do some of the racing scenes in the Swiss Alps with both cars. We had to organise similar cars like those which were used on the other locations. That was an easy job for the Mustang, because we had one around these days - I don't know where it came from, but it was available. But for the DB5, that was really tough, especially for the colour choice, but finally we managed that. We also had to organize the helicopter that were used for the cameramen. You may know that I run a helicopter business today, that is probably where my interest started.
We prepared the Mustang for the driving with stiffer suspension and modified several other things, so that it was up to the speed in some scenes. Peter Procter's TDF co-driver Andrew Cowan, a successfull scottish race driver, who was with us, drove the car in some of the scenes. We had to care for a female driver as well, that looked like the real actress. We incidentally called the same Tania Mallet - the real actress to get in the car. Actually she was driving not as requested, she was not up to the speed. When the director came to the set, he approached us and said: "Hey, your driver does not really have a "public appearance" and is a horrible driver". We had a good laugh. She had to get out of the car and acutally was not used for the stunt scenes, but she got good money for compensation and Andrew Cowan did some of the stunt driving using the same clothing and a wig.
Editors note: Tania Mallet made her only film appearance in Goldfinger as Tilly Masterson, probably she was very angry about that incident?!
Q: What was your connection to Performance Cars Ltd. and the Ecurie Filippinetti? 2 R-Competition Shelbys 5R097 and 5R209 were delivered to FAV and forwarded to Performance Cars Ltd./Geneve.
Did you have your teams hands on them?
A.Mann: I had no relation or connection to them and I never had Shelby race cars in my shop. I just remember that FAV (John Wyer) had 12 G.T.350 sitting 3 month at his shop not knowing what to do with them.
Finally we got them and sold them within 2 weeks. That was easy and the only Shelby Mustangs that had a connection to my shop.
Q: 2 other R-Shelby were sent to Jochen Neerpasch (5R107) and Claude DuBois directly (5R539). One is now back in the US, the other was found last year in Belgium and will have its comeback at the Le Mans Classic 2002 by Claude DuBois. Do you remember anything about those cars, although they did not went through your hands? At least you must have seen Claude at the SPA 24h race in 67, as a picture shows you there.
A.Mann: I do not remember Claude DuBois. We might have met, but I have no idea. I was several times at Spa or the other smaller Belgium racetrack, actually I had to qualify one of our Mustangs once by myself as our driver missed an airplane and I had to drive the car myself to get it into the race. That was at Spa. The only other race where I raced a Mustang myself was at Brands Hatch in 1965. I liked the Mustang, as it was very strong and reliable. Jochen Neerpasch was one of our drivers on some occasions, eg. The Nürburgring 1965 driving our car #No. 7 with Roy Pierpoint. So we had a team-driver relation with him.
Q: When did you met Shelby first and what was your relation to him?
A.Mann: I think I met Caroll Shelby at Daytona 1964 first. We were racing Cobras over here. If I remember correctly, the first one in Monte Carlo, where we did not finish due to a tire puncture, then we met of course at Le Mans on several occasions. I knew him very well. I have met him also in the past years at Goodwood or Silverstone, then at the 35th. Anniversary, where I was 3 days. He is a very nice man and I admire him sitting there and signing all day photos and things.
Q: Talking of Le Mans, did you do anything for the Steve McQueen movie "French Kiss" (Le Mans).
A.Mann: Well, we did a lot of work for the production team for preparation and advising them, but the actual filming schedule was delayed for 3 month, so we were not there for the "Action" due to other obligations.
Q: Which other races did you participate in? I have pictures showing your team and a transporter with Mustangs in Scandinavia?
Bo Ljungfeldt in Karlskroga/Sweden with 2 Alan Mann prepared Mustangs
Picture courtesy Bjorna Djonne/N
A.Mann: Aside from Brands Hatch and other UK locations, we were often in Belgium, France and other places of the Touring Car Championchip. We ran 2 Mustangs later, one was driven by Roy Pierpoint, one by Jacky Ickx. I do not remember the Scandinavian events very well, but as I said we were at many Championchip locations at that time.
Ed: Note the information about the drivers in 1965 made earlier. At Karlskroga it is said, that A. Mann entered 3 cars, probably Roy Pierpoint entered his car as an independent.
Q: Please give your opinion about the reliability, strength and weaknesses of the Mustang in general.
A.Mann: As I said, I liked the Mustang due to its durability. A lot of the components were made much stronger compared to our cars back then. If you consider the various climate conditions from South to North America - from tropics to ice and snow, they had to build things much stronger than we did. Obviously there are still a lot around, that prooves my statement to be accurate. Recently I heard that a vintage race car was on sale for 55.000 Euro. I was quite surprised. Vintage racing seems to be populare again these days. Are there a lot in Germany?
Q: Yes, there is a dozen of vintage Mustang owners and some more from other countries over here. Did you modify also other Mustangs and Shelbys for private buyers?
Alan Mann: No, we did not alter any other cars for private buyers.
Q: Your opinion on the new Mustang?
A.Mann: I have no more business relation to Ford today other than occasional visits to some events here in the UK or the US. I have not yet checked out a new Mustang.
Thank you, Alan.
That should be changed soon, don't you think so, Ford?
Alan Mann passed away on March 21st,
Copyright will be secured and violators prosecuted by any means. I am very professional in public relations (it is my job), so think about the risk of being flamed in public. And I am not afraid of legal actions anyway.
Grant Interview 2003 (ex-mechanic from Alan Mann Racing Team)