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#1 Vicuna

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Posted 08 September 2002 - 00:19

Motor Sport mag ran a story a little while back about 1976 being the greatest season of all time.

I don't think there's any doubt that Ferrari and McLaren had the best cars that year but a quick review of the drivers table makes interesting reading:

For a start lets look at the quality of drivers in cars below their abilities:.

Mad Ronald in a F2 car with a DFV grafted onto the back

The Carlos's - Moco & Lole humstrung by the Alfa FAT 12

Emmo - suffering from too much sugar

Mario in the awkward Lotus 77

Amon in an Ensign


Sure Hunt was a worthy WDC and Lauda had a great first half of the season but - with all due respect to Jody & Patrick - the fact that they did so well in the 6 wheelers was more to do with the opposition being largely ineffective than anything else.

The title protaganists team mates were arguably in cars better than they deserved - Long Beach aside, Clay was getting past it by then while Jochen was simply too nice to ever be a front liner.

Most of what we, in the English speaking world, on the subject of F1 is written by Englishmen. I am not attempting to start a war with Vitesse, Roger, Barry, and most all of all Ensign because I enjoy all of their contribtions ( the Michael Roe the boat a shaw excepted) BUT have some of the reasons as to how and why James Hunt found himself in a title chase been 'glossed over' by the patriotic Pommy press?

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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 September 2002 - 11:31

I'm in several minds how to approach this. To be quite honest, 76 wasn't a season I paid much attention to at the time, for various reasons - not least the terrible tragedy that had hit the Hill team over the winter. There was certainly a lot of flag-waving going on as much of James' following had migrated from the intensely patriotic Hesketh to McLaren. However, if I can put it like this and relate it to our Press without trying to sound snobbish - Hunt's fans were, in the main, probably Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph readers; predominantly middle class, well-educated, very unlike the Sun readers who followed Noige a decade and a half later. We were coming off a period where Britain had dominated GP racing for 10+ years: four WDCs with a total of 8 titles, but there was a gaping void after we lost several of our brightest hopes - Brise, Courage, Williamson etc. James (and Tom Pryce) seemed to be the only potential champions we had left, so it was fairly natural that the newspapers would get behind Hunt once he got into a really competitive car.

I mentioned the Hill team above: one of the "what ifs" I ponder from time to time is whether the GH2 would have been competitive in 1976 in the hands of the mercurial Tony Brise..... of course that might have meant a three-way fight for the title and, I suspect, the press being more behind Hill than McLaren.

#3 ensign14

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Posted 08 September 2002 - 11:33

It had all the elements of being the greatest STORY, the easy stereotypes (mechanical Mitteleuropean, laid-back public school Englishman), the heroic comeback, twist on twist at the end of the season and the underdog sneaking it from the reigning champion. Who could honestly have predicted how the year would have turned out at ANY point in the season?

It is probably that contrast which has led to the attention. 1964 was even more unpredictable, but with 3 British drivers in line for the title the jingoistic press could be divided into 2 camps: the British, who didn't care who won because it was going to be one of theirs; and the rest of the world, who didn't care who won because it was not going to be one of theirs. :p

But, Vicuna, I do agree with you on the opposition. Really there is no way Hunt should have won the title in a 4 year old car. I wonder whether he is underestimated (at least at his peak)? He destroyed Mass that year who was not far off Emmo in previous years.

For me, there are 2 other great ifs in that season - what if Tyrrell had a new conventional car (they would probably have won more than 1 race); and what if Brabham had a Cossie. I reckon the latter could well have taken the title, what with Gordon Murray, primitive ground effects and 2 top drivers.

Having said that, you can only beat what was in front of you...if McLaren could win with an ancient design (and Indy distractions), why couldn't everyone else?

#4 Mac Lark

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Posted 08 September 2002 - 21:05

Ensign and Vitesse have some good points Vicuna.

If the Brabs had stuck with DFV's and Tyrrell with 4 wheels - no reason something as conventional as the 008 could n't have been on the grid in 1976 - things could certainly have been different.

Even more so if the Lotus 77 had been closer to Lotus 78 performance than 76 performance, AND Ronnie had been there with Mario.

And forgetting about Jochen's contract, what about Emmo - as No.1 -being joined by Hunt at McLaren?

So to summarise:

Ferrari: Lauda and Clay
McLaren: Emmo and James
Lotus 77 and a half: Ronnie and Mario
Brabham BT45 DFV: Moco and Lole
Tyrrell 008: Jody and Patrick


But if we're playing 'if's' - if Lauda hadn't have crashed at the 'Ring, he would probably still have been WDC.

#5 Option1

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Posted 08 September 2002 - 21:09

I have to admit to enjoying the 76 season simply because of Tyrell's six-wheelers. Loved the innovation involved in those and I still think it's wonderful they managed to pick up a win.

As for Hunt's WDC being hollow, well I'm afraid I'm in the camp that thinks every win was deserved even though I never really liked Hunt much as a driver (or Mansell for that matter).

Neil

#6 Viss1

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Posted 08 September 2002 - 21:41

I submit McLaren had "distractions" every year prior to '76... it was their strategy.

#7 Allen Brown

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Posted 08 September 2002 - 22:50

Originally posted by Vitesse2
...Hunt's fans were, in the main, probably Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph readers ...

I don't think I have ever been so insulted.

Bear in mind the McLaren M23 was only "four years old" because they didn't use a new type number every time they rebuilt the cars. Hunt used M23/8-2 for most of his wins and that car was only built in mid-1975. If you think Peterson's 761 was newer, you'd be greatly mistaken. The P34s worked well, the Lotus 77 wasn't at all bad, the March was lightening fast and even the Ensign was quick that year. The Brabhams were as quick as they had been in 1975, just not necessarily there at the finish. And there was a competitive Penske and Shadow. How often do we have that many teams pushing the champion hard?

I still rate 1976 the most exciting championship year ever. And Hunt is still my favourite driver. I'd give Vitesse's right arm for just a fraction of that excitement (in GP racing, you understand) nowadays.

Allen

#8 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 September 2002 - 23:22

Originally posted by Allen Brown
I don't think I have ever been so insulted.


:confused: :confused:
What I was seeking to do was to bring out was the contrast with the rather unhealthy and jingoistic 80s-90s Mansellmania. It should be read in conjunction with Ensign14's "mechanical Mitteleuropean, laid-back public school Englishman" comments as opposed to Our Noige's supposedly impeccable "man of the people" image as fostered by the red-top tabloids (especially The Sun) and which flooded Silverstone with blokes with beergutsand Union Jack shorts.

Originally posted by Allen Brown
I still rate 1976 the most exciting championship year ever. And Hunt is still my favourite driver. I'd give Vitesse's right arm for just a fraction of that excitement (in GP racing, you understand) nowadays.

Allen


OUCH!

#9 Mac Lark

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Posted 09 September 2002 - 00:23

I hope you're left handed Vitesse.

Ayrton Senna was..

#10 Allen Brown

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Posted 09 September 2002 - 12:18

Originally posted by Vitesse2
:confused: :confused:
What I was seeking to do was to bring out was the contrast with the rather unhealthy and jingoistic 80s-90s Mansellmania. It should be read in conjunction with Ensign14's "mechanical Mitteleuropean, laid-back public school Englishman" comments as opposed to Our Noige's supposedly impeccable "man of the people" image as fostered by the red-top tabloids (especially The Sun) and which flooded Silverstone with blokes with beergutsand Union Jack shorts.

I'm an Independent reader so I prefer to be stereotyped as a lentil-eating, sandal-wearing, communist-sympathising, god-bothering, tree-hugging, bleeding-heart pinko-liberal. But I have to admit that I come from solid English middle-class stock, I am laid-back and I was still present in a public school in 1976. So maybe you guys have got me pegged.

The contrast you draw is spot on. I couldn't relate to The Brummy Git or to the nonsense that surrounded him. I still cringe when I remembering him pretending to faint on the steps on the Monaco Royal Box. And I celebrated wildly when he knocked the car out of gear and lost the Canadian GP.

Hunt was more about how I liked to think England still was - the highly civilised and talented "amateur" (Hesketh and Hunt) winning out over the unsporting "professional" (Ferrari). Maybe that's how England was. But I think Our Noige says more about what it has become - jingoistic bordering on xenophobic and a whole lot less civilised.

I hope it was just a phase we went through.

Allen

#11 ensign14

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Posted 09 September 2002 - 13:08

Originally posted by Allen Brown
But I think Our Noige says more about what it has become - jingoistic bordering on xenophobic and a whole lot less civilised.


Or maybe hard work from a background with zero privileges and clawing your way from near-fatal setbacks, in the teeth of criticism and derision from the wealthy? - Telegraph-reading Brummie git ensign14

#12 Allen Brown

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Posted 09 September 2002 - 18:56

Zero privileges!?!? He once helped pay for a F3 drive by taking out a second mortgage on his house. Or so he said. Later turned out to be bogus of course. But it was quite a nice house. Hardly working class made good.

He was just a classic self-publicist.

And I'm a Brummie too. He put the reputation of Birmingham back to the Benny days of the 1970's. I'm amazed the city didn't consider changing its name.

Anyway - this thread is supposed to be about great heroes. I've avoided Mansell threads precisely because I don't even like talking about him.

Allen

#13 baggish

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Posted 09 September 2002 - 20:58

I agree that the 1976 season does seem to be very exciting when looking back. But for me at the time I found it to be a depressing season, one that caused me to lose interest in F1 until 1979.

I was a Fittipaldi fan, so there wasn't much for me to cheer for there, and I didn't like Hunt or Lauda. But for me the dominant memory is of the petty legal disputes that peppered the season and which weren't settled for months: Spain (Hunt's 'wide vehicle'); Brands (Hunt and the restart); and Monza (supposed fuel irregularities during practice). For me as a 12 year old, these weren't what sport was about. (Just as well I'm not 12 now :yawn: .)

Jon

#14 Anorak Man

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 02:16

Ahh Yes, 1976. NowyatalkinGnostalgiawithacapitalG.

Pre-clinical year, blisterin' Summer, (red 'ot Victoria), and the Lauda-Hunt Gladiator combat.

No question the most exciting season I've ever followed.

There have been years just as close in the final events, notably the Hak and MS ones, but there will never be a season with such epic fascination, if only because F1 is so safe nowadays.
To suggest that Shunt's success was in the least bit cracked is, is ... pardon me ... pathetic.
Aren't you forgetting Hunt's disallowed win in Spain?

It was a season of two real heroes, with just the right result.

Even Niki's decision to pull it at the final rain-soaked event in Japan, was one I agreed with.
In my book, I esteem him more for drawing the line there.
Life is more precious than trophies.

Who owns the film-rights?

Incidentally, it's the only newspaper I've kept from that year, with a beaming World Champion James on the front page, and I'm afraid it is the Daily Mail. (Mum's choice, not mine.) The 'Independant' is the only newspaper with any bite today, (the rest are Murdochised,) and even the 'Independant' is tucked-in Big Corps pocket. The Mirror at least has the cojones to face-off TB over the next blood-thirsty blitz, but I'm off again, so I'll shut-up.

AM

PS. I was shocked to learn recently that Niki and James were such good pals. After fighting so closely on the track, I'd have thought they'd be bitter enemies. (Cf. MH and MS)
I'd love to read about their relationship. Anyone care to relate some of the best bits of the books written about them?

Here's one I heard via Super-Rat.

At a track-test, James went out in his mota whilst suffering from 'after-effects'.
His team were worried why he hadn't come round the course. They waited, and waited, and still James didn't appear. No wireless in them days. So they 'adn't a clue what was up. They began to fear the worst. Niki was also at the test, and on his first circuit he was surprised to see Hunt slumped motionless in his parked McLaren, on the far-side of the circuit, so he stopped to investigate.
James was fast asleep catching-up on his beauty sleep!

Majjjjic Jameh!

Imagine DC or Kimi trying that on today?

There is a rather grubby prequel to the tale, but it's best not to go into it.

#15 Jonathan

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 07:33

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Bear in mind the McLaren M23 was only "four years old" because they didn't use a new type number every time they rebuilt the cars. Hunt used M23/8-2 for most of his wins and that car was only built in mid-1975. If you think Peterson's 761 was newer, you'd be greatly mistaken.

I think I recall reading about how Ronnie when he first drove the 'new' March complained bitterly about how something felt 'broken' in the chassis. Exactly the same symptoms that Lella Lambardi had complained about when she drove the 751 the year before. The only difference was that Ronnie's times were much closer to Vittorio's then Lella's were (she was sometimes as much as 4 seconds a lap off). Upon closer inspection the March team did indeed find that the rear subframe had indeed been broken. Makes one think about just how much preperation actually went into their cars.

While 1975 and '76 were both very exciting championship years. I think 1976 stands out as one of the first years where the active involvement of the FIA deciding who to disqualify and who not to actually played a major roll in determining who would win the WDC.

#16 Rob Ryder

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 07:44

This month the European satellite channel MotorsTV is showning a 1 hour review of the 1976 season as part of the 'Motor Legend' series. Some nice images, but as expected no new information.

Rob

#17 petefenelon

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 10:21

Originally posted by Jonathan

I think I recall reading about how Ronnie when he first drove the 'new' March complained bitterly about how something felt 'broken' in the chassis. Exactly the same symptoms that Lella Lambardi had complained about when she drove the 751 the year before. The only difference was that Ronnie's times were much closer to Vittorio's then Lella's were (she was sometimes as much as 4 seconds a lap off). Upon closer inspection the March team did indeed find that the rear subframe had indeed been broken. Makes one think about just how much preperation actually went into their cars.

While 1975 and '76 were both very exciting championship years. I think 1976 stands out as one of the first years where the active involvement of the FIA deciding who to disqualify and who not to actually played a major roll in determining who would win the WDC.



March chassis numbers are a form of numerology akin to the Qaballah, but at least one '761' had previously been a 751 and may well have started life as a 741.

Frank Williams' allegedly "new" 761B for 1977 apparently had traces of orange paint on the tub - which would mark it as an ex-Monza Gorilla car....

A few years back I helped someone try to work out whether his 761 was eligible for Thoroughbred GP - and trying to work out the history of that car was a real education - ISTR that it had been under three different chassis plates and two tubs!

pete

#18 Ian McKean

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 18:05

Originally posted by Vicuna
Sure Hunt was a worthy WDC and Lauda had a great first half of the season but - with all due respect to Jody & Patrick - the fact that they did so well in the 6 wheelers was more to do with the opposition being largely ineffective than anything else.


But doesn't Martin Wotsisname go very quickly in the 6-wheeler now? This seems to vindicate the design better than its contemporary performance.

#19 David Beard

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 18:24

Originally posted by Ian McKean


But doesn't Martin Wotsisname go very quickly in the 6-wheeler now? This seems to vindicate the design better than its contemporary performance.


Martin Stretton can drive absolutely anything quickly.

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#20 Ian McKean

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 18:30

Originally posted by Jonathan

I think I recall reading about how Ronnie when he first drove the 'new' March complained bitterly about how something felt 'broken' in the chassis. Exactly the same symptoms that Lella Lambardi had complained about when she drove the 751 the year before. The only difference was that Ronnie's times were much closer to Vittorio's then Lella's were (she was sometimes as much as 4 seconds a lap off). Upon closer inspection the March team did indeed find that the rear subframe had indeed been broken. Makes one think about just how much preperation actually went into their cars.


Wasn't it about then that the March Technical Director's road car failed its MOT*?

*Compulsory annual roadworthiness test for all U.K. vehicles over three years old.

#21 petefenelon

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 20:10

Originally posted by David Beard


Martin Stretton can drive absolutely anything quickly.


And hasn't a certain Mr Gardner been fettling away at the car too? - I
doubt many of the TGP field have the original designer involved!

pete

#22 David Beard

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 20:19

Originally posted by petefenelon


And hasn't a certain Mr Gardner been fettling away at the car too? - I
doubt many of the TGP field have the original designer involved!

pete


True enough.
Ron Tauranac was hanging around the BT26 at the Oulton Gold Cup, however.
That's him in the pink shirt...

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#23 dolomite

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 20:35

Originally posted by Vicuna
Motor Sport mag ran a story a little while back about 1976 being the greatest season of all time.

Didn't they have another one recently that said 1982 was the greatest season of all time? :confused:

#24 Vicuna

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Posted 11 September 2002 - 08:21

Originally posted by Ian McKean


But doesn't Martin Wotsisname go very quickly in the 6-wheeler now? This seems to vindicate the design better than its contemporary performance.


Good point Ian but I do wonder if 2002 tyres are the difference.

If the P34's had current tyre technology in 1976 the story might have been different.

#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 September 2002 - 08:36

Originally posted by Vicuna
Good point Ian but I do wonder if 2002 tyres are the difference.

If the P34's had current tyre technology in 1976 the story might have been different.


It's always hard to know exactly what's going on...

But back then, Goodyear were making a special tyre just for the Tyrrells, and it was a for a potential World Championship winner... the kudos would have been significant.

Today the car is running in a backwater series with no potential for real publicity, so would the same effort be going into them?

Or is it that the races are shorter and they can take more liberties?

#26 Vicuna

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Posted 11 September 2002 - 10:44

I think it's very difficult to judge the merits of a F1 car based on its performances in historic racing.

I remember a 1983 RAM actually doing very a little while ago - Bob Berridge - I saw Salazar in one thru 1983 and they were horrible.

And we now know it wasn't him.

A decent driver with a strong DFV and decent crew and first rate preperation could probably make any old Cossie kit car do well. And if that happened to be against FW07's, BT49's - so what?

#27 petefenelon

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Posted 11 September 2002 - 12:03

Originally posted by Vicuna
I think it's very difficult to judge the merits of a F1 car based on its performances in historic racing.

I remember a 1983 RAM actually doing very a little while ago - Bob Berridge - I saw Salazar in one thru 1983 and they were horrible.

And we now know it wasn't him.

A decent driver with a strong DFV and decent crew and first rate preperation could probably make any old Cossie kit car do well. And if that happened to be against FW07's, BT49's - so what?


I believe that in TGP these days, ground-effects cars must run at 40mm ride height without skirts (which probably negates a LOT of their advantage as well as making them a bit less uncomfortable to drive and less likely to come unstuck in a messy fashion!), and everyone runs on control tyres.

The difference between a good wing car like an FW07 or a BT49 and a poor flat-bottom one like the RAM is probably minimised to some extent.

Mind you a lot of it's down to the drivers. Berridge isn't bad at all - i've seen him racing elsewhere and although he's not the most stylistically refined driver I've seen he's certainly quick and pretty fearless...

pete

#28 Ian McKean

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Posted 12 September 2002 - 23:14

Originally posted by Ray Bell


It's always hard to know exactly what's going on...

But back then, Goodyear were making a special tyre just for the Tyrrells, and it was a for a potential World Championship winner... the kudos would have been significant.

Today the car is running in a backwater series with no potential for real publicity, so would the same effort be going into them?

Or is it that the races are shorter and they can take more liberties?


Good point, Ray. Does anyone more familiar than I am with the historic world know what sort of tyres Stretton uses? Are they specials or taken off some other vehicle? What size are they? Whatever, it makes Stretton's speed even more impressive.

Going back on topic, it amuses people to talk about the laid back James Hunt, foppish ex-public school boy, etc. etc. but I read somewhere that he was frequently sick before racing because of the nervous tension.

#29 petefenelon

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Posted 12 September 2002 - 23:59

Originally posted by Ian McKean


Good point, Ray. Does anyone more familiar than I am with the historic world know what sort of tyres Stretton uses? Are they specials or taken off some other vehicle? What size are they? Whatever, it makes Stretton's speed even more impressive.

Going back on topic, it amuses people to talk about the laid back James Hunt, foppish ex-public school boy, etc. etc. but I read somewhere that he was frequently sick before racing because of the nervous tension.


Everyone in TGP is on regulation Avons - they're a bunch of enthusiasts
and managed to make a good tyre for the P34.

I think prior to that, it was raced in historics on some tyres made by
Dunlop in India!

pete

#30 dmj

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Posted 13 September 2002 - 12:06

Yes, I remember reading about problems Avon had while trying to produce correct tyres for Stretton's car - apparently, most of originals ended its life as coffee tables...

#31 baggish

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Posted 13 September 2002 - 16:55

Originally posted by Ian McKean


Going back on topic, it amuses people to talk about the laid back James Hunt, foppish ex-public school boy, etc. etc. but I read somewhere that he was frequently sick before racing because of the nervous tension.


I have always understood he spun out of the lead of the 1975 Argentine GP because he was sick in his helmet.

Jon

#32 Uwe

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Posted 15 September 2002 - 19:11

Originally posted by Allen Brown
I couldn't relate to The Brummy Git or to the nonsense that surrounded him.

Please could you explain what a 'Brummy Git' is? (Me no english ;) )

#33 ensign14

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Posted 15 September 2002 - 20:42

Brummie = native of Birmingham. From Olde English version of the town name, Brummagem. Name means 'the home (ham) of the people (inga) led by Beorma [whoever he was]'. Like 'Cockney' = native of London.

'Git' = derogatory name for someone you don't like, similar to 'prat' or 'berk'.

#34 Allen Brown

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Posted 15 September 2002 - 21:56

Originally posted by ensign14
Brummie = native of Birmingham. From Olde English version of the town name, Brummagem. Name means 'the home (ham) of the people (inga) led by Beorma [whoever he was]'.

Are you pulling my chain? I didn't know any of that. I thought Brummagem was just a nickname. Come to think of it, I didn't even think Birmingham went back any further than the 18th century (but that might be because I'm a Black Country lad and we look down on Brummies). I always thought it was Dudley that had all the history. Didn't Rome nick the old saying that All Roads Lead to Dudley?

Can we start swapping Aynuck and Ayli jokes now? Ayli's wife to Ayli: "Yoe never buyen me flower". Ayli sez "well, yoe ay jed yet". Or.... Aynuck's wife: "I said to my Aynuck, yer tea's ruined. He said why, I said the chip shap's berned down!"

Allen

#35 ensign14

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 08:30

No, 'tis true. Bromwich (as in Castle and West) has the same derivation...try saying 'Bromwicham' a few times. Birmingham was very small until the Industral Revolution but did have some status as a market town from about the 10th century, it was on a main crossroads and convenient for merchants from the Marches and the East Midlands to meet.

Aynuck and Ayli were talking about friendship. Ayli reckoned that true friends should share and share alike. "Yo mean, if yo' 'ad two 'ouses" said Aynuck, "yo'd give me one"? "Course I would!" said Ayli.

"An if yo' ad two cars, yo'd give me one" asked Aynuck. "Course I would!" said Ayli.

"An if yo' ad two pigs?" asked Aynuck. "Now that ay fair, yo' knows I got two pigs..."

#36 BertlF

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 14:02

Originally posted by dmj
Yes, I remember reading about problems Avon had while trying to produce correct tyres for Stretton's car - apparently, most of originals ended its life as coffee tables...


I've heard or read somewhere that Avon is or was owned by a certain Mr. B Ecclestone? Is that correct? Does anybody have some background here?

Bert

#37 Uwe

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 14:15

Originally posted by ensign14
Brummie = native of Birmingham. From Olde English version of the town name, Brummagem. Name means 'the home (ham) of the people (inga) led by Beorma [whoever he was]'. Like 'Cockney' = native of London.

'Git' = derogatory name for someone you don't like, similar to 'prat' or 'berk'.

Thank you.