A Series of Interviews with Personalities famous in the Realms of Motoring Sport
No. 4 – L.M. Ballamy
Mr. Leslie Ballamy does not only manufacture and modify sports cars but is, happily; sincerely interested in the Sport.
Always bright and optimistic, he is not bounded by the prevailing fashions in car-designing lore, but rather strikes his own way.
The success of his swing-axle front suspension speaks for itself, likewise the effectiveness of his numerous gadgets for Fords; also his neat supercharger conversions.
On the subject of engine tuning, Ballamy favours good power at low revs, and deprecates the idea of solely concentrating on maximum power/revs. output.
He is not interested in making an engine rev, above its economical piston speed (for wear and fuel consumption).
Power at excessive revs, has to combat high frictional losses detrimental to longevity and fuel economy.
Acceleration, roadholding and good braking are the important factors for English roads.
There are more designers who could produce a car with a high top speed than the above-mentioned virtues.
Ballamy is only interested in a car as a tractable road vehicle.
One result of the war has been to improve the reliability and efficiency of the blower, which have been developed for such purposes as pressurising cabins. In five years’ time no manufacturer will consider an unblown engine.
1st, Prescott class, Type 37 Bugatti (with L.M.B. swing-axle f.s.), 1938.
Mid-Surrey Club Sopwith Cup, 1938. L.M.B Special.
1st, 1 1/2-litre class M.G. Abingdon-Abingdon Trial. L.M.B. Special. Team Prize F.E.C. Xmas Trial, L.M.B. Best Performance in F.E.C.
Several special awards in J.C.C. high-speed Trials, also has some place awards in J.C.C. two-lap handicap races at Brooklands.
Has gained an Award in every M.C.C. Trial entered, including premier in the Edinburgh and Silver and Bronze in Lands End and Exeter.
Motoring Activities Immediately Prior To The War
Trial driving in his L.M.B. 1,100-c.c. Special (“Doodle-bug”) which, of course, was chiefly Ford Ten with a Marshall blower, swing-axle front suspension and a hydraulic self-locking differential.
His favourite venues were the Brighton and the Mid-Surrey Sopwith Cup Trial.
Motoring Activities During The War
Mostly Ford Eights.
Briefly he intends to produce two new models. One, using chiefly the smaller Ford component and a blower. The other is an entirely new conception at present shrouded in secrecy.
The L.M.B. is now undergoing overhaul to make it “trial worthy” and an overdrive is being fitted.
Cars Now Owned
Lincoln Zephyr saloon (with swing-axle front suspension using duplex transverse springs both ends, i.e., two springs of equal length but with different periodicities).
Most Frightening Experience
L.M.B.’s horrific happening did not occur in competition, but after a Christmas party.
He was taking considerably more than the statutory number of passengers home in an Austin Seven saloon in the early hours. Fortunately he was in his normal state of sobriety.
Descending a steep hill at about 15 m.p.h. with brakes hard on, he found himself beginning to accelerate, on a road which was just a sheet of ice. At once he adopted the desperate expedient of mounting the nearside curb and retarding the car by using the hedge as a brake against the side of the body.
Halfway down he had to take to the road again to avoid a lamp-post, but he managed to get back to his hedge-brake before gathering too much momentum, and arrived at the bottom of the hill with his passengers in a complete state of nervous prostration.
Hobbies Other Than Motoring
Likes reading Kipling and Burns. Musical with catholic taste.
Keen photographer, in which sphere he used his skill to photograph with a movie camera the behaviour of road wheels in action. Does not play golf but states he has a handicap of a wife and two children.
Ballamy lives in a pleasantly compact house on the heights of Caterham, Surrey. He spends most of his evenings at home with his family and enjoys himself romping with his two children.
Business Or Profession
By profession L.M.B. is an inventor. He is a director of Messrs. L. M. Ballamy Ltd., experimental engineers, a concern which embraces a research laboratory and two garages.
Any Suggestions To Improve Motoring As A Sport
The first thing to do is to legalise motoring and cause it to be accepted as an essential part of the national life. Once this has been accomplished, the Way is open to obtain sanction to race on the roads.
Motorists should not be regarded as a criminal class.
Whilst public regard remains against motoring, any move to improve things will be futile.
With motoring an accepted necessity, if a strong representation of the Sport were to approach the proper authorities and put it that the lack of motor racing was affecting national prosperity, it would be a different story.
Advice To The Less Experienced
L.M.B. does not generally presume to give advice, admitting that he was never good at taking it himself.
Most of the things he knows have been learnt through bitter experience.
His motto — “Bite off more than you can chew and chew it.”