Letters from Readers, August 1947

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34

Sir,
“Baladeur” in his June “Sideslips,” suggests that the 1902 Round-the-World Panhard “Passe-Partout” may still be mouldering in the snows of Nijni Novgorod. May I point out that, according to H. O. Duncan’s “The World on Wheels”, this Panhard was found frozen in three feet of snow at Clerio by Chas. Friswell, who had it hauled out by peasants and horses and railed home to England, where he put it on show at Friswell’s Garage and at the next Motor Show at the Agricultural Hall. Apparently Friswell felt it worth while to journey out to Russia to save the car — he had difficulty in entering the country; still more in leaving it — but whether because he was an enthusiast or a dealer, history does not relate.
“Reader Since 1924”.
London, E.C.

Sir,
In the November 1946 issue of Motor Sport I wrote requesting information regarding the Austin “Grasshoppers.” Since then I have obtained, through the kindness of Alex Bruce (“Pilot” of the Scottish Motor World) and R. K. N. Clarkson (the well-known Scottish trials driver who owns one of these potent little cars), some authentic news.

In the first place Alex Bruce obtained the following from Alan Hess, Public Relations Officer of the Austin Motor Company. Mr. Hess told him that eleven cars were made. The original seven were unsupercharged, but for the “Colmore” in 1936 one was blown and the results were so promising that they were all fitted with blowers boosting at 5 lb., this figure was later raised to 9 lb.

Three cars of similar build were constructed, with light aluminium bodies, and were run at Le Mans in 1937 and, finally, a similar car was built and run inthe Paris-Nice (Madame Itier and Mrs. Petre).

The original cars were numbered AOX 3, AOX 4, AOV 343, BOA 57-58-59 and probably BOA 61; they were all on the low chassis and were later “raised” and blown. The first three were handled by Milton, Richardson and Orford. BOA 57 was Bill Scriven’s, BOA 58 was Owned by Denis Buckley, BOA 59 driven by Bert Hadley and BOA 61 shared by Charlie Goodacre and All Langley.

The three Le Mans cars were numbered COA 118-110 and 120. Scriven bought COA 118 when he left Austins’, and this car now belongs to George Symonds. COA 119 was apparently converted to “Grasshopper” standard and is now driven by the Scottish driver Wilson; it is painted blue.

Clarkson informed me that time original three had two-bearing cranks which kept. breaking, until Laystalls were called in to make these specially, with 1 1/2-in. journals. The experimental department fitted new cranks every four months. While experimenting with the threebearing crank Austins found that, whilst the two-bearing engine would rev. more, the three-bearing crank would stand more abuse, though big-ends were inclined to go.

Regarding blower pressures it is interesting to note that, whilst Austins recommended about 6 1/2, lb./sq. in. in the interests of reliability, Hadley often used 13-15 lb./sq. in.

It would seem that BOA 57-58-59 and possibly 61 were three-bearing “Grasshoppers.” The Le Mans cars COA 118-119 and 120 were also three-bearing, Symonds being now blown, as I described in Motor Sport recently. Clarkson tells me that one Le Mans car was in the hands of Jack Gibson, a friend of Leslie Ballamy (maybe COA 120), he also told me that Evans, of Caernarvon, had a car, and one was written off by an apprentice. Two of the original two-bearing cars AOX 4 and AOV 243, with one of the three-bearing jobs, BOA 59, formed the “Tartan Grasshopper” team in the hands of Blyth, Valentine and Carlaw.

Of these, AOX 4 is now the property of Clarkson and is fitted with LMB front suspension with a 4-in, wider track, thus slightly crab-tracking the car. AOV 343 still belongs to Valentine and BOA 59 has been. sold to a Glaswegian who has removed the blower and takes no interest in competitions.

I hope this will help regarding the history and present whereabouts of these cars.
I am, Yours etc.,
H.L. Biggs
Enfield.