Rumblings, April 1940

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Advanced Design

OF recent years, sports-cars of advanced design, that is to say, of the roller-bearing, twin o.h.c., hand-assembled sort, have been equalled, if not overshadowed, in performance by more sober designs, having more simple valve gear, and of less specialised construction generally. We have often argued that this is mainly so only because the commercial demand for the specialised sports-car has decreased to such an extent that its development has been virtually at a standstill for some time. Now, Alfa-Romeo seem to have provided an answer, with the new V12 4½-litre job, which appeared at Liege just before the war. The engine has its cylinders in a V, with twin o.h. camshafts to each block and three downdraught carburetters between the inner camshaft covers. As a streamlined two-seater, the maximum of this unblown motor is quoted as 140 m.p.h.

In the sphere of 1½-litre racing instances of design stimulus are the 54×94 mm., twelve-cylinder, 9,000 r.p.m., horizontally opposed Alfa-Romeos, the rumoured 1½-litre Auto-Union, and the said-to-be improved-still-more, 1½-litre Mercedes-Benz. Alfa also has, they say, the sixteen-cylinder 3-litre, peaking at 9,000 r.p.m. Maserati appears to be leaving the1½-litre, straight-eight, to concentrate on the four cylinder, sixteen valve jobs. Tripoli, on May 12th, should be rather terrific.

The Home Racing Front

Latest news of the proposed race sponsored by Anthony Heal and Co. is not so good, because Harry Edwards can no wise be persuaded to open up the Crystal Palace circuit for such a contest. Donington is too far afield, and is believed to be barred anyway, and Brooklands also is out of the question. The idea of giving up the race is quite unpalatable to the vintagents concerned, and they are investigating every possible course. If the worst happens, a speed trial will possibly replace it, and Clutton is examining a course within thirty miles of the Metropolis.

A reply has now come through from the Mines Department, in answer to the Club’s Memorandum, apologising for the delay in writing, and stating that the matter is still under consideration. Although there was no legal obligation to approach the Mines Department, to do so was a courteous and wise move, and that no objections have been raised so far is a point gained. Further, both the Kentish Border C.C. and Bugatti Owners’ Club look like lending support to the Vintage S.C.C. endeavour, and the possibilities of a racing circuit in which the former club was interested a year or two ago have not been overlooked. The practicability of holding a race for cars running on alternative fuels such as calor-gas, etc., at some future date, as advocated at the recent M.C.C. A.G.M., has also occupied the Vintage committee.

Let’s go on hoping, and backing up Heal, Clark and Clutton all we can.

Anent Ourselves

If anyone wants any proof as to the undamped enthusiasm existing in this country for sports motoring, he should wade through MOTOR SPORT’S monthly correspondence. We only regret that the war has made things difficult for us just as it has altered so many other activities, and delay in replying to correspondents is inevitable, nor is it possible to publish more than a few of the extremely educative letters which each month arrive to stimulate our own un-quenchable keenness. However, in spite of A.R.P. ties and no real staff, we do contrive to answer lots of queries, and to pass on much information, while the demand for photographs, and for back numbers, especially those containing road-test reports and tuning articles, seems undiminishing. Nor does circulation suffer, and in fact, the March issue was right out of print by the middle of the month, and the Editor himself could not send out the copies he had promised to many of his friends. The paper is no longer returnable from newsagents, so if you are in need of this particular issue, a round-up of newsagents large and small might conceivably reveal a solitary issue that someone ordered and did not collect. A definite order is the only way of ensuring that you get each month’s issue, and we would remind subscribers who will shortly be called up to notify us of their military address if they want MOTOR SPORT forwarded direct. Incidentally, if you now get your copy from a newsagent and expect to go overseas, a subscription will ensure that you receive the paper at your new address, as we have the necessary war export permit, which every newsagent has not. The Census of cars still in use, published last month, aroused widespread interest, but did not pretend to be in any way comprehensive! Observation must show that hundreds of sports-cars still in use were not included therein, and all that the Census set out to do was to indicate the enthusiasm still prevailing amongst the sporting fraternity and to give news of certain interesting fast cars that remain in operation. Some more are mentioned in the correspondence pages, and J. Mitchell of Belfast taxed his homebuilt 1932 Austin Seven two-seater for the first quarter, using supplementary fuel, and also had his 1933 J.2 M.G. Midget taxed, while H. F. Hart intends to go on using his 1½-litre Singer Le Mans until he is called up, though he has only basic rations to burn.

For Fast Drivers

Although the lighter days will greatly reduce the strain of black-out driving, drivers will still have to contend with many hours of darkness if they do not strictly limit the times at which they motor. Under such conditions, the Hartley lamp mask will be found something of a godsend. The proprietor of MOTOR SPORT has been testing one and reports that not only does a normal headlamp so masked pick out pedestrians at a really considerable distance, but that a very respectable spread of illumination is cast before the car. The Hartley mask, although not of the three-slot type which is now referred to as the “official” mask, has been approved by Scotland Yard and is entirely within the law. It is the product of V. & N. Hartley, Axtell House, Warwick Street, W.1 (Ger. 3692) and Greenfield, nr. Oldham, Lancs, and is worth investigating by any fast driver not acquainted with it. Another matter of special concern to the enthusiast is that of battery maintenance now that limited mileage and black-out driving makes such big demands on the electrical system. The private owner and trader alike can obtain comprehensive battery service at any one of the specially-equipped and staffed Lucas Battery Service Agents located throughout the country. If a car has been laid up, attention to the battery beyond merely re-charging is highly desirable, while continuous use under present conditions is liable to damage the battery, so that in both cases a visit to a Lucas agent can save much trouble and expense. Incidentally, the Lucas Two Years’ Insured Life Scheme enables a brand-new battery to be obtained from the local garage at a price proportionate to the time the old battery has been in use, provided it is less than two years old—an excellent war-time insurance. Readers doing their own overhauls will find “Electricalities—publication No. 444” very helpful—a copy will be sent free from Joseph Lucas, Ltd., Birmingham 19, on mention of this paper.