A Team of Three H.W.M.s for This Year’s Formula ll and Sports-Car Races
Keen Students of motor-racing hardly need reminding that one of the more outstanding of last year’s Formula II cars was the H.W.-Alta evolved by John Heath. He drove It to victory in the B.R.D.C. Manx Cup Race in the I.O.M. and finished second to Pozzi’s Delahaye in the G.P. de l’A.C.F.
Encouraged by this successful debut Heath, in partnership with George Abecassis, has evolved a team of three similar cars, to be known as H.W.M.s, for racing in British and Continental Formula II and sports-car races this season. The H.W.-Alta, incidentally, has been sold to a North Country enthusiast.
Technically, these new 2-litre cars, which can be racers or road-cars at will, are extremely interesting. A new chassis frame is used, built mainly of 3½-in. mild-steel tubing, with cross-members of the same tubing, to form a very rigid structure, on which is carried the strip and tube framework for the panels of the light-alloy body.
The independent front suspension is similar to that used last year for the H.W.-Alta, but is lighter. It employs fabricated wishbones, with a transverse leaf spring beneath them. Alford and Alder stub-axles, suspension components and ball joints are used, adapted to take E.N.V. centre-lock hubs. Rack and pinion steering similar to that in the F.W.D. Citroen is used, with a fabric joint at the base of the steering column.
At the back an entirely new system of independent suspension has been evolved, consisting of a transverse leaf spring above transverse swinging members, the drive passing from the E.N.V. differential and final drive unit on the chassis to the road wheels via short, substantial universally-jointed shafts. Girling light-alloy shock-absorbers are fitted front and back.
The engine is one of the latest 83.5 by 90 mm., 1,960c.c. four-cylinder, twin o.h.c. light-alloy Alta units, supplied by the Alta Car & Eng. Co., Ltd. The sealed cooling system uses a neat Gallay radiator, ignition is by a Lucas vertical magneto, and two 1¾-in. S.U. carburetters are fitted on the near side, each feeding Into a generate U-shaped external two-branch manifold. Two studs on the top face of each manifold secure elbows which are connected together by a length of flexible tubing to form a balance-pipe. Fuel feed is by an air pump driven from the back of the near-side camshaft, via very large bore aircraft flexible petrol pipes.
With a compression-ratio of 18.5 to 1, running on alcohol fuel, the first engine has given a reading on the brake of 149.2 h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m.
A Type 110 E.N.V. pre-Selector gearbox is fitted at present on the first car, but this will eventfully be replaced by an E.R.A.-type pre-selector box, made by Armstrong-Siddeley Motors, Ltd., and having modified linkage to the selector mechanism and a light-alloy ball housing to Heath’s requirements. These gearboxes are being fitted to the second and third cars of the H.W.M. team. A Layrub coupling is imposed between crankshaft and gearbox and transmission aft of the box is by open shaft, with Hardy Spicer universals.
Reverting to the engine, four separate exhaust pipes are used, on the off side, and the second and third cars will have a dry-sump lubrication system with the oil reservoir beside the engine by the near-side chassis tube. On the first car an oil cooler and filter is fitted behind the radiator.
The final drive ratio will obviously have to be capable of being varied to suit different circuits and a choice of four different ratios—4.5, 4.2, 3.7 and 3.5 to 1—is available. The rear wheels are shod with 6.00-16 Dunlops, the front wheels with 5.25-16 Dunlops.
The brakes are Ferodo lined, hydraulically-operated 2 LS Girlings on all wheels, with very beautiful 12-in, by 1¾-in. Alfin drums. As a matter of fact, standard Girling equipment is used with the difference that H. W. Motors, of Walton-on-Thames, where the cars were built, reduced the weight of each back plate from 6 lb. 9 oz. to a much less embarrassing 4 lb. 8 oz., which is merely one example of the careful thought and skilled assembly that has gone into the making of those H.W.M.s. Two independent master cylinders are used, gravity fed from one of those neat little two-compartment Gallay, brake-fluid containers.
The engine is three-point mounted on electrically-welded bearers. At the back of the chassis a Gallay 23-gallon fuel tank sits on a scanty extension of drilled channel-section and is held down by two wire straps.
Seen as a whole the H.W.M. is a most exciting motor car. It is very compact for a 2 litre, the wheelbase being only 7 ft. 8 in., the track 4 ft. 1 in. The body can be a sports two-seater when required, and battery, starter, wing, brackets, passenger’s door, etc., are fitted as a matter of course. But for Formula II racing the driver will sit on the off side and the near side of the cockpit above the door will be neatly faired-in. The driver’s seat and the steering column have been made adjustable, a sensible feature for meets such as Le Mans and Spa, where more than one driver will drive each car. The cockpit is very neat, with a black dashboard before the driver and a full-size car fire extinguisher clipped transversely under the near side of the scuttle. The number of instruments has wisely been kept to the essential minimum, ordinary Lucas ignition and lighting switches are used, and the 16¼-in, steering wheel is a special Bluemel product. For Le Mans two of Mr. Lucas’ excellent headlamps will be backed up by a Lucas passlight.
One factor which increases respect for Heath’s ambitious project is the number of components he has manufactured in his own works. Quoting from memory, these include steering columns, the fabricated suspension units, driving shafts, engine bearers, pedals, gear-change quadrants, etc., etc., as well as the chassis frames themselves. He report’s excellent co-operation from suppliers of preprietary components and has adequate spares of all kinds to hand.
Heath has reason to be proud of the fact that the dry weight of the first car is as low as 12¼ cwt. This weight is with the Type 110 E.N.V. gearbox installed, which is 34 lb. heavier than the 86 lb. A.S. gearbox to be installed later. Incidentally, the steering-column gear-lever is normally on the left of the driver, but can be placed on the other side, if preferred. The body lines are smart yet efficient, the Leacroft Sheet Metal Works at Egham being responsible for the construction. The low weight of the complete car is largely attributable to the remarkably light chassis which, with the body frame, weighs a mere 2 cwt.
The drivers for the H.W.M. team will be Heath, George Abecassis, and Stirling Moss on a professional basis, backed up at Le Mans by Peter Clark, Nick Haines and the earnest young Belgian, Johnnie Claes.
The first H.W.M. was tested at Silverstone on March 20th and it is hoped to run two cars at Goodwood on Easter Monday. After this a serious season of Continental racing will be commenced. Two of the cars will be transported in Heath’s former Ford two-tier van, newly repainted, bearing the smart H.W.M. badge which incorporates Heath’s personal crest, and having a new Mercury engine installed. The third car will be carried in the Ford lorry used last year by Frank Kennington.
So far as personal transport is concerned, it is well known that both Heath and Abecassis refuse to be parted from their Light Fifteen Citroens, a sentiment they share with many other discerning drivers.
The H.W.M. team should be able to carry the British flag effectively in the Formula II onslaught and our good wishes will go out to Heath, Abecassis and Moss as they battle against the pick of the Continental cars.—W. B.