AN ENTHUSIAST’S IDEAL
THE F.M., A HAND-MADE MOTOR-OAR DESIGNED TO BE SUITABLE FOR A VARIETY OF SPORTING EVENTS
MOST of us at one time or other have d-signed a ” car of dreams,” a superfast tour..r, an unstoppable car for reliability trials, or a racing car on which no item making for speed and stamina should be lacking, but few of us have the time or the means to translate their conception into actual fact. The other day, however, we had the opportunity of seeing a car of this type, which had been built to the order of Mr. A. Sebag-Monteliore, who a year or two ago took part regularly in rallies and high-speed trials of various .sorts. The car was designed for him by Mr. Fensom, who has had considerable experience of this type of work, and the car’s name, ” F.M.,” is made up of the initials of the designer and the owner.
The car was built with two objects in view, firstly, that it should be suitable for such events as the Monte Carlo Rally, and then secondly, that it should be stoutly enough constructed to take part in long-distance races such as the 500 Miles Race. These requirements were met by combining a twolitre supercharged engine, a self-changing gear-box with alternative high and low ratios, and a light but strong underslung frame equally suitable for carrying a light four-seater body, or a racing shell. Unfortunately Mr. Montefiore was killed in an aeroplane accident before he bad a chance of putting his theories to the test, and the car is now to be used as a fast tourer fitted with a drop-head body, but there is a chance that ‘further cars of this type will be built if there is a demand for them.
The chassis of the F.M. was evolved from the underslung Invicta, which appeared at Olympia two years ago, fitted with a supercharged engine, but has been considerably strengthened at several points. The engine is basically a four-cylinder supercharged two-litre Lagonda, with a re-designed cylinder-head and crank-shaft. A two-vane Villiers’ supercharger is used, and is carried in a vertical position in front of the engine and driven by means of bevel gears from the crank-shaft. The engine is said to develop 134 h.p. at 4,200 r.p.m., which should give an all-out speed of about iro m.p.h. The gear-box is a four-speed E.N.V. self-changing unit, with fairly wide ratios to make it suitable for rallies and ” rough stuff.” Between the engine and the gear box a special” super-gear ” is fitted which steps up the normal ratios at will by 16 per cent., this being done by an epicyclic train similar to those used in the main gear-box. With the super-gear in action, the top gear is raised from 4.2 to 3.5, and
the lower ratios in similar proportion, giving a set of gears useful for racing or economical long-distance running or racing. The super-gar was, of cours,.. fitted last
year on Lord Howe’s Delage. The ratio is changed simply by moving the auxiliary lever backwards or forwards. ‘ The main gear-lever works in a notched quadrant, which is mounted on an eXtenSion from the gear-box, with tiny rods which come up through the knob one at a time to show the driver which gear is engaged. The super-gear is operated by a second lever on the left of the main one.
Between them is the control knob for the Telecontrol shock-absorbers.
The transmission has nothing unusual about it, but the chassis at once claims one’s attention. Six inches deep in the centre, but much lightened by the large holes cut out of it, it should be a good compromise between lightness and strength, while the top of the side-members is only twelve inches off the ground. The chassis is swept over the front axle and passes under the roar a lo, and the springs are pivoted at their inner ends and work in slides at their extremities. The front axle is a fine piece of work with the centre I-section tapering to an oval at the steering pivots, where it has to withstand the brake-reaction. The brakes themselves are extremely powerful, sixteen inches in diameter with ribbed drums, and are hydraulically operated. The hand-brake operates the rear set by means of rods. The car was without a body when we saw it, but we were shown the neat closecoupled four-seater, weighing a couple of hundredweight at most, which had been intended for it if it had been driven in the Monte Carlo Rally. Mr. Fensom has
now joined forces with Myles Rothwell, whose workshops and coachbuilding departments are at Tarrant’s Yard, Byfleet, and after we had inspected the chassis he fitted it with a pair of buckot seats and invited us to try it down the Portsmouth Road. Feeling slightly Gordon Bennett as we sat on the bare chassis with goggles and cap hack to front, we nevertheless were impressed with the easy-running and
steady pulling of the supercharged engine at low speeds, and the quiet exhaust note brought about by the two silencers. The acceleration was most encouraging, though it was difficult to judge it exactly as the instruments were not connected up. The engine pulled the high set of gear-ratios perfectly happily, though this was to be expected with a bare chassis, and the low ratio might well have stood being raised to 3.6 with a geared-up top of 3 to i, a step which originally had been contemplated.
The car cornered neatly and was wellsprung, even without the weight of the body to flex the springs, and altogether would have been an ideal car for rallies or fast journeys on the Continent, though there is no reason why it should not have been equally satisfactory in England. As has been said, the original car was built to the special order of Mr. Sebag-Montefibre, but further chassis and engines are available and could be built up if anyone required one. It would be interesting to see one of these cars fulfilling the intention of the late owner and taking part in the Monte Carlo Rally after all.