Aero mystery

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Have I told you the story of the lost aero-engined car? It began when Jenks wanted someone to make him a boat to use on the Aldershot canal. I went with him to a South Coast boat-builder. We were shown into a palatial office and he was asked whether he wanted a river craft or a sea-going yacht? We were unceremoniously shown out.

In 1943 I published in Motor Sport a description and picture of the 14.2-litre Rolls-Royce aero-engined car, allegedly with one of the 1921 GP Sunbeam chassis, which J W Burnand, who had raced his JWB special in Southport sand races, was building. After the war it and other such cars had vanished. I had, however, heard that an occasional Brooklands driver was said to have such a car in his boatyard not far from the one from which we had been ejected; so there we now went, to be told that some time ago someone had taken it away. 

Some time later I was asked by someone who had a car of this kind whether it was still possible to obtain tyres for it. I told him where to obtain them and that I would like to see the car. We lived then a few miles away at Fleet in Hampshire and, getting no reply from his number, drove there. A lady asked us in, saying the car was in an adjacent shed but her son was out teaching his girlfriend to drive, but shouldn’t be long. We waited a long time, before leaving.

Shortly afterwards I was told that this or a similar car was owned by a Marendaz Special owner living close to Weybridge. As my letter was unanswered we drove over, a smart Marendaz car outside a house confirming the address. The owner of the elusive aero-engined giant, however, said it was in London. “I am willing to go there,” I said, and was asked to make an appointment. I did so. Soon after this I had a call saying that the car had been in a garage beneath a block of flats which had collapsed and destroyed it…

If anyone should challenge my account of the end of this interesting motor car I will swear on oath that this is my honest recollection. A Motor Sport reader is working on the history of the Burnand Sunbeam and I will be very interested to see if he can
unravel any more of this story.

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