RUMBLINGS, April 1937



For the Outer Circuit

Sometimes you may visit Brooklands and learn nothing of interest, whereas another visit will reveal something very unexpected. Running out of fuel on the Railway Straight last month E. W. W. Pacey had the misfortune to do likewise and the imposing singleseater Pacey-Hassan-Special duly stopped just behind our Frazer-Nash. Thus it came about that we knew, before a lot of other people, that it is now a supercharged car. A big Zoller blower reposes beneath the radiator cowling, driven direct from the nose of the crankshaft. It draws from two Zenith carburetters bolted to the near side of the casing, and is lubricated by a fan-driven oil-pump. The Bentley engine has been reduced from 44 to under 3-litres, and is rather “hush-hush.” When it was cracking again we noticed how extremely stable the Pacey-Hassan is at speed on a water-logged surface. The rear wheels carry the curious looking balloon Dunlops, and the long, half-elliptic springs appear more supple than those of cars built for road-racing.

The Lea-Francis Returns

For over two years George Leek and R. H. Rose have been designing and testing the new Lea-Francis, and the specification has been made public. It will have a 69 x 100 four-cylinder engine with bendspherical cylinder heads. The valve-gear will apparently be on the ingenious push-rod principle used exclusively by Rilevs for many years. The three bearing crankshaft will be fully balanced and cooling is by pump.

Arrangements will be made to supply either a fourspeed gearbox Nit ith synchro-mesh on the three upper ratios, or a pre-selector, box with automatic centrifugal clutch. The rear-axle ratio has been fixed at 5.25 to 1. The well-proved Girling brake actuation has been adopted, and special Burman-Douglas steering will be used. Suspension will be half-elliptic, hydraulically clamped, and the electrical equipment 12-volt Rotax. The four-five seater saloon will cost about 055. We hear so little about designs that it is interesting. to know something about the partners who are re-introducing this once famous sporting marque. George Leek joined the Humber concern in 1901, and he met Rose there in 1903. From 1909 to 1932

Leek looked after the production of the Riley and only left that company to wean his new child. R. H. Rose stayed at Humber’s until 1908, when he accepted a position as designer at the Sunbeam works. In 1918 he went to Crossley’s, as chief designer of aircraft engines, and in 1927 returned to Sunbeam’s as chief designer, producing commercial vehicles and electric trolley buses as well as Sunbeam cars.

Later Rose specialised in gearbox design and joined the Riley Company to develop his gearbox patents, later designing the well known and deservedly popular Riley I i-litre four-cylinder, six-cylinder and V8 engines.

Visitors from the Continent

At last our racing circuits seem to be interesting important foreigners. Carlo Pintactida recently took an Alfa-Romeo to Donington, presumably to have a look-see at England’s first road-course, before sending in an entry for the Donington Grand Prix next September. Then Hans Ruesch will be driving at Donington

again for the Empire Trophy Race, and there is that rumour about Richard Seaman coming back to see us later in the season, bringing a G.P. Mercedes-Benz with him. Although we cannot expect real crowds to go to see these “aces ” perform, it does seem as if more interest is being displayed than ever before, and we may yet see 100,000 people storming into Donington, Brooklands or the Palace, before an International race. Incidentally, was there any significance in the modern, very Continental looking Mercedes-Benz with foreign number-plates, that we saw recently at the top of Anerley Hill by the entrance to the Crystal Palace grounds ?

A Startling Newcomer

Last month the Atalanta made its bow and took the sporting section of the motoring community more or less by storm. We hinted at its arrival in these pages over ‘a year ago. The combination of supercharged, overhead camshaft engine, all-round independent suspension and Cotal electric gearbox is exciting enough for anyone—especially in a car built at so English a neighbourhood as Staines. The absence of a head gasket, the use of three valves per cylinder, and twin magnetos feeding eight 14 mm. plugs, and the clutch control of the Centric ,supercharger are ” high-lights ” of this new marque. There is, of course, a great deal to be said for putting the supercharger out of action at will. Fuel consumption will benefit, likewise maintenance, and, although a modern supercharger does not make itself objection able on the score of noise, it does absorb a certain amount of valuable power when motoring on the high

est ratios amongst the orange-groves. Another factor is that in speed trials it should be possible to run in the unblown classes if the control lever he duly sealed, when the car could later be run in the supercharged sections, and in the same way an Atalanta will probably be allowed to compete in rallies and trials in which blowers are, like the Zenith Gradua gear of yore, barred—with the sealing proviso. When Mercedes-Benz introduced the supercharger to, the sportsman just after the War, they controlled this potent instrument by clutch, arranging very cleverly that it only came into engagement near full throttle opening, though it was available at any road speed. Chiefly because the blower was to be cut out at will it was made to blow through the carburetter, though we believe that a famous Sunbeam technician once said that in any case this system results in better acceleration for a given set of conditions, and it certainly eases divers distribution problems, when once its own tricky matter of pressurein-many-places has been solved. When, nmch later, Stutz gave the ” Bear Cat ” a blower, controlled by a hand-lever, the same layout was adopted. This supercharged Stutz was road-tested by IVIoToR SPORT at the time. For a long while we regarded this throughthe-carburetter layout with high favour, whether clutch controlled or not, and how well it works you must know if you, lucky mortal, have driven the present 5.4-litre Mercedes-Benz straight-eight. But now that distribution troubles have been banished from the

mole conventional layout the designer of the Atalanta engine has had no qualms about using it in conjunction with clutch control, the first time, we believe, that this has been seriously tried. It is all very interesting and we look forward to driving an Atalanta from this aspect alone, apart from a wish to experiment with its novel transmission and to slam it round fast corners.

Whither ?

Where do you make for when wishing to extend a rapid motor-car ? The Great North Road, of course, is entertaining, but then so is the journey Westwards across the Plain. Some excellent roads with interesting open bends abound in the Fen country, and the road to Southsea and Portsmouth is far from slow. Please don’t write and tell us about the going to be had in the Highlands, because Scotland is a long way off and the next time we go there will probably be to attempt London to John o’Groat’s within twenty-four hours.

The Reason ?

Probably the reason why SO many and far flung motoring enthusiasts pay us the compliment of reading MOTOR SPORT and quoting it freely is because it is compiled by scribes who only write as a means to an end and who are motoring enthusiasts first and foremost—dyed-in-the-wool. Writing of mere journalism, as such, reminds Us of the printed reactions of Mr. Answers of ” Answers,” after he had been taken round the outside of Brooklands in the rain in the twelve-cylinder Delage by Mrs. Petre. At the time we wrote to him pointing out certain technical errors in the article and at the same time suggesting that his impressions were rather lurid. His reply was to the effect that as a journalist he had been down a coal mine, down in a submarine, up in the stratosphere, and made a parachute jump, etc., and that his trip round Brooklands as passenger in the big Delage was the worst exper:ence he had vet had– -though 115 m.p.h. was the maxinmm achieved. Sc) perhaps we are not missing much by giving popular journalism a miss !

Modifications for Trials

It is, of course, common knowledge that successful trials cars driven by semi-professional drivers are fairly far removed from standard There were, for instance, those six-cylinder small cars which were bored out to 111itres, supercharged, built largely of parts from various models of the standard range, and which carried lead ballast that made its presence felt on main-road bends. They revved at 6,000 r.p.m. at 90 m.p.h., and did only 18 miles to a gallon. All that is fair enough when you are out to win in trials. From the April issue of ” The Sports Car” we learn that the model-T M.G. Midgets of the” Cream Cracker ” and ” Musketeer” teams are modified as follows. The compression ratio is raised one ratio, the oil filter raised 21 inches, and special valve springs fitted. The aluminium sump is replaced by one made of pressed steel, lower ratios are used for 1st, 2nd and 3rd speeds, twin Lockheed brake master cylinders and larger front wheel cylinders are fitted, and a hand-throttle added. The bonnets are made of aluminium to reduce weight, cycle wings replace the standard wings, the fuel pumps are duplicated, six inch section rear tyres are used, the Luvax shockabsorbers are larger than standard, and the tail pipe is raised to give greater clearance. That is all, so far.

Profound Thoughts !

How many sports-car owners, if they were building aircraft, would trust their car engines to take them aloft ? And how many accidents have been caused by engines failing to respond when rapid acceleration is urgently needed, in the same way as aeroplanes have piled up through the motors stuttering during the take-off ? rive-minute poser : What is the effect of double declutching on the dog-engagement of FrazerNash transmission ?

A Sprint Special

H. Whitfield Semmence, who has premises at Elgin Terrace Maida Vale, where he specialises in looking after chain-gangsters, is hard at work on a special car which he hopes to have running at most of the

sprint meetings this season. It has a Frazer-Nash type chassis, with straight side-members and a modified form of ” Shelsley ” cantilever front suspension with special tubular front axle. The engine is one of the A.C. units, which have featured light-alloy construction and o.h. camshaft valve actuation for so many years. Semmence has his walls decorated with some amusing cartoons and a fine collection of photographs of direct interest to Frazer-Nash enthusiasts.

That Bimotore

It was a very proud Austin Dobson who showed the Bimoinre Alfa-Romeo to a group of worshipping mechanics at Brooklands on March 19th, afterwards driving it up and down the Aerodrome road preparatory to having it transported tp Syston Park for the Inter-Varsity Speed Trials. The finish of the whole car suggests that it has just emerged from the works, and it seems surprisingly tractable under way. The rear engine accommodation could only have been planned by Continental designers and the unit is much closer to the driver’s seat (yes, literally !) than we imagined it would he before we saw the car. The engine covers are secured by two simple, effective clips. By the time you read this the Bilnolore should have been seen in its first English race, for it was entered for the Empire Trophy Race of April 10th.

Road-Circuit Surfaces

Someone raised an interesting point recently, namely, how will the surfaces of the new road-circuits last through the season. Donington has, we believe, proved quite able to withstand a season’s racing, though it would be instructive to know how much work is performed during the winter months, remembering how the concrete surface of Brooklands calls for extensive replacement each year. The Crystal Palace circuit is composed of a non-skid dressing on an apparently normal road foundation, while at Brooklands they are taking no chances, using a concrete surface for their new road course.

An 8-litre Bentley for Le Mans

Good wishes Of all Bentley enthusiasts will go with Forrest Lycett to Le Mans, where he is racing an 8litre Bentley this year. We hear that this remarkable motor-car has an astonishingly ” straight ” acceleration curve right up to 100 m.p.h. L. C. McKenzie is looking after the machinery.

The Vintagers

We have enjoyed the dozen pages of the Vintage S.S.C. Bulletin, which has now burst into print and picture but is still unmistakably Cecil Clutton’s handiwork. In the Editorial the Vintage S.C.C. makes it clear that, while it despises the ” buzz-box” and the Anglo-American sort of combination, it has nothing against modern examples of the “real thing,” which they quote as the Lagonda, Aston-Martin, H.R.G., and Bugatti, and nothing against cars such as the Frazer-Nash-B.M.W., and Delahaye which they term the ” new breed,” relying on light metals and special chassis construction in conjunction with

independent suspension. Now if everyone who believes as they do (and remember all the letters you see in the weekly motor papers signed ” 30/98,” ” Oldtimer,” etc.) joined up, this club, apart from providing amusement and service for its members, might very well exert a strong influence on manufacturers of the sort of motors vintagers don’t like, because much good money must be spent on secondhand thoroughbreds that should he paid into manufacturers’ accounts. So if you feel as Clutton does, join the Vintage S.C.C. now—Tim Carson of” The Phcenix,” Hartley Wintney, Hants. can supply full details.

Those Unfixed Fixtures

It seems that the happy idea of the Brooklands and Montlhery authorities to run match races on their

respective courses this year is to suffer from this matter of unfixable fixtures about which MOTOR SPORT had something to say last month. Montlhery wanted to have the first round and wanted it on May end, but the Opening Meeting of the new Brooklands roadcourse on May 1st will, unless we are very much up a siding, draw all the star British cars and drivers and keep them at home that week-end.

It now seems that only one of these match contests will be run this season, probably at Brooklands late in the year, and the return match be left to take its place, or chance, in the 1938 Fixture List. It is expected that these Anglo-French duels will be confined to 1-litre cars.