Letters from Readers, August 1948

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36

“Baladeur’s” notes. 

This is a very involved subject, but certain angles of  “Baladeur’s”  notes can be very clearly defined.

The French end of the centuries-old De Dietrich concern (which later isolated its motor business as the Lorraine-Dietrich) was located at Luneville. It built early cars under Amedée Bollée and Turcat Mery licence. It evolved an expansionist programme in 1907 when an English manufacturing branch was floated, and the Ariel works at Bournbrook, Birmingham, acquired. At the same period a big interest in Isotta-Fraschini was taken (which, in later years, caused headaches for patriots). Interfactory liaison was already established before the 1908 reference quoted from the Autocar. The other branch of the De Dietrich functioned separately in (German) Alsace at Niederbronn. It was this branch which marketed the Bugatti design for a short period.

Apart from Alfa-Darracq, De Luca-Daimler, Diatto-Clement and Italian Peugeot, there are the Wolsit or Italian Wolseley, Fides or Italian Brasier, San Giorgio or Italian Napier, and others. Some of these ventures coincided with the world-wide financial panic of 1907 which snuffed them out, together with other Italian motor concerns. Even F.I.A.T., at that time, were reported arranging an extension with their creditors. Their exports to America had been drastically cut. Later, to get behind the tariff wall they built their own American works at Poughkeepsie, followed elsewhere by Polski-F.I.A.T., Austro-F.I.A.T., and so on. There are endless examples of these working arrangements in the years gone by, so there is no point in singling out Italy. Thus the late John Newton, of Manchester, took an interest in the S.C.A.T. concern and, separately, bought out a small works in Turin, where the Newton (or N.B.) car was produced. On the other hand, the Italian Ceirano car was produced in Germany by the Möllkamp-Werke A.G., of Köln-Zollstock.

Now to Isotta-Fraschini. The date, 24/11/04, is when the company was formed, with a capital of 1,500,000 lire. It took over the business of C. Isotta and V. Fraschini, and the technical director was G. Stefanini. The first vehicle is said to date back to 1898, and their very neat front-wheel-brake design appeared in 1910.

By the way, what is the exact connection, if any, between Bugatti-Hermes or Hermes-Simplex (made in an Alsatian locomotive works, and sometimes called the Mathis-Bugatti) and the H.I.S.A. ?

I am, Yours, etc.

J. Pollitt

Eskdale

***

B.M.W.  —  Not Bristol

Sir,

May we ask you to be good enough to correct your statement in the article entitled  “Practice Observations on the Isle of Man Races”  that the Monnier-Special has a Bristol engine. We are afraid that your reporter jumped to a too hasty conclusion after having “spotted” a Bristol cylinder head. In view of the general similarity in design, this mistake is perhaps excusable, although a closer examination would have revealed the differences which actually exist between the Type 328 Fraser Nash-B.M.W. engine (which is actually fitted in this particular car) and the Bristol unit.

Since the war ended and racing has recommenced, we have helped several French and other Continental drivers of basically “328” models, including Eugene Martin, to maintain their cars by supplying engine and chassis spare parts.

In the case of Monsieur Monnier, he was in some desperation in view of his entry for the Isle of Man, and came over specially to see us. We therefore supplied him with a cylinder head so that he could still race, and he was almost resident at our works for several weeks preparing his car for the race!  Ignoring the fact that England is not France, he would often hurtle out on to the road with open exhausts and breaking all our English regulations against racing cars being driven on public roads  —  luckily the local police never seemed to be around!    Like all Continental owner-drivers of cars mainly built by themselves, he is extremely enthusiastic, and a likable Frenchman whom we were glad to be able to help.

Another point arising out of your statement, and perhaps more important, is that this may be taken to infer that the complete Bristol engine unit is available generally to anyone, which is definitely not the case.

I am, Yours, etc.

W.H. Aldington, for A.F.N. Ltd.,

Isleworth, Middlesex

***.

Ettore Bugatti’s engines

Sir,

Having read “Baladeur’s” excellent article on Ettore Bugatti and his works, two points strike me, on which I should greatly like some comment from his erudite pen; and which would probably be of general interest.

Bugatti certainly was a very early exponent of the o.h.c. and this could be taken to be a logical conclusion to his own previous work. In 1904 he was responsible for the o.h.v. de Dietrich, known as the 24-h.p. model, which had what were in fact o.h. camshafts, in so far as they operated downwards on to rocking levers which in turn operated long pull-rods which carried the motion up to the valve stems through strikers on the pull-rods. The general neatness which is such a typical feature of Bugatti’s work was much in evidence in this engine, particularly in the beautiful cylindrical castings in which he enclosed each pair of cylinders. It seems to be logical to suppose that this tidy mind thought it a far better mechanical idea to have one camshaft up on top to do the work, instead of his two, and all the pull-rods and extra springs, rockers, etc., and set about the design which Isotta used.

On the other hand, the Maudslay three-cylinder 25-h.p. motor designed in 1903  —  which, except for rather rudimentary induction arrangements and a fancy swinging camshaft to facilitate the removal of the valve cage assemblies, is a relatively modern conception  —  could very easily have come to Bugatti’s notice.

This Maudslay engine was unique in its day at least so far as England and France are concerned  —  so it would appear that we can claim the first multi-cylinder o.h.c. in a period when most of the real automobile design was still on the Continent.

I am, Yours, etc.

Geo. Cothay

Winnersh, Berks.

***

Scottish Bentley frame

Sir,

With reference to your report of the revent proceedings at the Bentley Brains Trust, please allow me to take up the cudgels on behalf a Messrs. Mechans of Glasgow, the makers of the special 4-1/2 frame, as I feel sure they strongly object to being labelled Meakins, at least on one score, if no more.

I am, Yours, etc.,

 A. D. Eeekhout

Dover