ANardent motorist for many years, I have been extremely fortunate in coming across your most interesting publication a few months ago. The motoring experiences of your many
enthusiastic correspondents have ittfluenced me in writing in quest of advice. Perhaps a list Of most of the cars that I have owned might be of some interest. My first was a Trumbull —this was an American cycle-car of about 1915, with a friction transmission and double-chain final drive. This machine was then about ten years: old, had no engine ; with
great youthful enthusiasm I pulled it. completely to bits, intending to reassembist it with a new engine. However, the pieces drifted away, 1 never obtained an engine, and that was the Trumbull. Next was a Model T Ford, which I ‘completely took down. It was put to gether with undersling irons, I fartford shockers, wire wheels—and I fitted an 8-valve push-rod head with a horizontal Zenith carburetter, high-tension distribu tor ignition, and a so-called racing body. This car had a lot of acceleration (or so
it seemed to such a youthful novice), but since it had been assembled with no cotter pins, it had a disconcerting hahit of shedding things like a right front wheel.
A year or so -later I was given a new Model T roadster (one of the last). It was not long before the fenders and running boards were removed, and undersling irons and cycle wings fitted. I
lifted a high-compression head (Hat), alloy pistons, and a ‘Winfield carburetter. This car would attain almost 60 m.p.h., but On long trips at speed had a tendency to loosen its big-ends, and transmission bands burned out. Nevertheless this Ford stood up well to hard driving, and would out-accelerate most of its contemporaries. At about this time I purchased a 1923 Ace motor-cycle (ancestor of the Indian Four). After a little Use this machine was also dis-assembled, and wound up in a spare parts box. Next I had a 1-927 Overland ” Whippet Four,” which had the body completely smashed. We built. an aluminium 4 seater body and fitted a thin brass exhaust pipe (4″ diameter) the entire
length of the car. This car would easily pass (at speed) the then new Ford Model A, but could not equal it for take-off. A little later I bought a 1925 .IDCB 74″ liarley-Davidson, which was a really
service;tble motor-cycle. Next was a 1929 “A” Ford coupe, to which I fitted an 8-valve pusii-rod head —but this combination was somewhat of a disappointment after the ” Whippet.” Then a 1928 JDH Harley Two-Cam was purchased (at that titne one of the fastest stock American motor-cycles). In 1930, while in London, I bought a Dunelt motor-cycle with a 500 o.h.v. Sturmey
Archer engine. In about 3,000 miles on the Continent this machine gave no trouble, and instructed me on the handling and finish of British motor-cycles. While on this trip, in Geneva, I aequired a ” 501 ” Fiatcoupe. Though about five yeais old and slightly tattered, it was a remarkably tough little car. Back in the States I degenerated to a This article was written by 1st Lieut. David L. Cliff, of the American Army Air Corps, while he was in hospital in this country. We wish him a speedy recovery, and hope readers will be able to advise him on the points raised. Letters can be forwarded. We have often wondered what could be done with American engines and the special heads, etc., sold in the States, and perhaps someone over here will derive amusement in such experimenting after
the war. Ed.
completely stock Buick convertible coupe, but had also a 1931 Ford 2-door phaeton on which I installed a 7-to-f flat head, a large downdraught Winfield, and solidskirt alloy pistons. It had also doublebreaker ignition and slightly modified camshaft timing. I was never passed on acceleration with this car (and I mine up against about everything on the American market). The brakes were useless after one or two applications at speed.
I then went into a series of conventional stuff, including a 45′ Harley, a 619 Graham-Paige, a ” Blue-streak ” Graham, a big-eight Chrysler, several Dodges, and one or two others. At this time I bought a Stanley Steamer, but was prevailed upon to sell it before I ever had it running ; what a mistake !
By 1940, although then driving a Chevrolet, I decided to build another ” special.” I searched everywhere for a British or Continental I.-seater in which to install a Vs, but had no luck. I could have had an ancient. Lancia ” Lambda tourer. but the bodywork was too poor.
I finally took a 1931 Model A Ford drophead coupe and went to work with it. I installed the front and centre crossmembers from a 1932 V8 (on which the engine is rubber-mounted). I substituted a complete front-axle assembly from a 1932 V8 which gave me the larger front brakes (and the front radius rods mounted on the cross-member instead of the bottom of the clutch housing). I then obtained four large notidaille -shock absorbers from a Lincoln and installed them in place of the standard equipment. I removed the steering gear and replaced it with one. from a Buick, and I lengthened the l’it:nan arm so as to give just under two tarns of the steering wheel from lock to lock. I replaced the front seat with two air-cushioned individual seats from a custom-built American sportsman’s coupe. I obtained and fitted an almost unused 85-h.p. V8 engine and gearbox from a smashed 1939 Ford. This ” special ” looked exactly like a 10-yearold Ford, but proved to be the besthandling motor-car I have ever owned. It. was dubbed “Dangerous Dan NlaeGrew” and its interesting performance was rather belied by its somewhat aged exterior. The rear axle ratio was 4.11 to 1, and I got a Columbia 2-speed axle (which I still have), but enlisted before installing this. I also have, in the States, a Mercury club cotqA and a conventional ’39 Ford ;
I like the later V8 Fords. The Mercury has about the same engine as the Ford with a larger bore. Incidentally, since coming to England some time ago, I purchased a 1939 Arid
4,000 ” Square Four ” with sprung rear wheel, but have not, as yet, had any chance to use it. Now, as to the advice I should like. I want to obtain my British or Continental 4-seat er tourer and equip it with a Mercury engine. I ktiow that I can obtain the engine and install it, even if I should have to increase the frame length slightly. What I want is a chassis with excellent handling characteristics and
good appearance, and of fairly good size. It should have brakes which will not be greatly disturbed by a change of power plant (hydraulics, or mechanicals with unobtrusive cross-shafts alai parking levers). I have wondered whether or not to use the British gearbox, but this is more or less dependent upon what I finally wind up with. I should also like to use may 2-speed axle, Lut if the final drive of the ” (Waiver ” is somewhere around 3.7 to 1, that should do. Most 2-speed axle cars I have encountered will move faster in the low ratio, anyway. Although I know very little of British cars, I like the looks of the short-chassis Aston-Martin “Le Mans” 4-seater, but fear that it is just a little too small, and that owners may be anxious to hang on to same, even if power plant should have exploded (no implication against time marque intended, since I know nothing of the machine, but simply that 1 will probably want a car–otherwise in good shape—which has had expensive power plant complaints !) The Invicta or sonic years back looked good in the magazines,
as did the Alvis and Lagonda. The Jensen seems to be using the Ford motif, but looks (in illustrations) too high and too long—and too Yank. One of the trickiest parts of installing a V8 in a chassis is to clear the cylinder head of the steering gear housing. The radiator core is not very difficult, Since in northern climes (my home is in Massachusetts) the V8 will run cool enough even with a smaller core and no fan (the V8 fan may be mounted either on the crankshaft or generator nose, anyway). Instrument omit lets are rat tier straightforward a ta.ch. may be driven from one of the water pumps ; the exhaust system is inclined to be a little difficult-but a good welder and some tubing can do the job. Incidentally, even a firmly rubber-mounted engine bounces around
a bit, and adequate clearance of all engine parts must be allowed, Or some rather alarming noises will develop under certain conditions ! I also realise that increasing rower-plant weight may change handling characteristics—but am prepared to take a chance.
With some of these things in mind, what do your readers think would be a good basis to work on ? Where would be a sgood place to obtain one at a reasonable (meaning ” low ” in the States) price ?