Rumblings, August 1972

Records.—Once upon a time record-breaking was a very prominent activity in the racing world, but in recent years it has become a dying art. So it is interesting that Italy and Germany have been the scene this year of attacks on c.i. records by Ford and Opel. It wasn’t until 1936 that records by diesel-engined cars were officially recognied, although a Cummins-Diesel had covered a flying mile at Daytona at 100.75 m.p.h. some years earlier, which caused G. E. T. Eyston to build the 8.8-litre A.E.C.-engined racing saloon on a Chrysler chassis and have it timed over the kilo. and mile at Brooklands in 1933, when it did 104.86 and 101.983 m.p.h. for the respective two-way distances. Then, in 1935, the late R. J. Munday used one of the flat-iron Thomas Specials, powered with a Perkins Wolf 2.7-litre engine for what at the time could only be a demonstration of c.i. engined speed, the two-way kilo. being clocked at 94.7 mph. in Zoller-supercharged form, and the car driven for 100 miles at 88.13 m.p.h., in unblown form.

Later diesel records were recognised by the FIA, although not divided into capacity classes, so that all of them counted as World’s figures, and there was more activity in this field, encouraged perhaps by the introduction on the part of Mercedes-Benz of the first production diesel-engined private-car in 1936—Britain did not follow suit until 1954, with a c.i.-version of the Standard Vanguard.

After the war the same class divisions were recognised for diesel records as for other records. It is in the World category that Opel claim records made at their test-track at Dudenhofen with a neat Opel coupé powered with a 2.1-litre turbo-charged diesel engine, which developed 95 DIN h.p. at 4,400 r.p.m. It is similar to the new engine which is soon to be installed in production Opel Rekord Saloons, although in production form it will give 60 DIN b.h.p. at 4,500 r.p.m. The Opel was driven by Marie-Claude Beaumont, Sylvia Osterberg, Paul Frere, Henri Greder, Giorgio Pianta and Jochen Springer, this International team keeping the Opel going for 10,000 kms., at an average speed of 118.6 m.p.h.; it also set a flying kilo. speed of 122.719 m.p.h. Mobil oil was used.

Ford took two Ford Transits, a one-ton van and a 15-seater ‘bus, to Monza for their record attempts, using a new 2.4-litre diesel engine based on those introduced earlier this year into Ford-of-Britain’s commercial vehicle range. The Transits were standard except for high axle ratios and hand-throttles. They were driven by another International team which included Roger Clark, Gerry Birrell, Bengt Söderström and Dieter Glemser, drivers said to have been chosen, for some obscure reason, by Jackie Stewart, who runs a Ford Granada. They drove for spells of four hours, after which refuelling took place and the oil and water levels were inspected. In fact, no water or transmission oil was needed, although the runs went on for seven days and night’s, during which the Transit van broke the International Class D 5,000-mile and 10,000 km. records, respectively at 74.639 and 74.983 m.p.h., and the ‘bus the 10,000-mile record, at 73.70 m.p.h.

In taking these new c.i. records the Ford van averaged 19.6 m.p.g. of diesel fuel and 471 m.p.p. of lubricating oil and when the engines were stripped at Minton by John Bendry, who had serviced them, the honing marks were, say Ford, still clearly visible on the cylinder bores.

Still alive—Readers who visited the Motor Show last year may remember the Aston Martin powered Siva 530 car which was sponsored by the Daily Telegraph as a design exercise to show that Britain could compete with the Italians and their creations at the Turin Show. The man responsible for the design and bodywork was Neville Trickett, whose projects have ranged from the cut-down Minisprint to the Speedy Roadster fake Edwardian car based on a Ford Popular which almost gave the Editor an ulcer when it chugged into the Standard House car park.

The chassis for the Siva 530 was built along racing principles by Maxperenco Products in Dideot, Berks. and when we visited them recently, for an article in the “They Make Racing Cars” series, what should be parked outside but the Siva 530. Not, as one might have expected, under a dustsheet and going to seed but in full road-worthy condition but showing signs that it had been driven over a considerable mileage since last October.

Neville Trickett was present and as enthusiastic about the project as ever. Apparently the management re-shuffle at Newport Pagnell did not help the cause at all and, in fact, the car never ran with power from an Aston V8 engine, which had to be returned to the factory. But Trickett did not give up and with some re-engineering managed to fit a big 5.4-litre Chevrolet engine in the place of the Aston and mated it up to the same ZF gearbox.

Trickett also had a re-think about the styling, particularly at the front, and has tried to cut out the very square lines. The special hydraulic rams which opened the doors by a switch under the front wheel arches have been discarded as unreliable and several other interior changes have been made. But otherwise Trickett is very happy with the performance of the car on the road and has been experimenting with spring rates and so on to sort out the ride.

He allowed Motor Sport to have a quick squirt up the road in the machine and as we set off told us that no one else except himself had ever driven the car before! We were not really able to get very much impression in the short run but the Siva certainly seemed to be stable at high-speed and stopped most impressively. The rectangular steering wheel felt rather strange, rear vision was not at all bad, and there is a vast feeling of space in the cockpit. Some work still needs to be done on insulating engine noise from the cockpit and we found the ZF 5-speed box rather tricky to master. However, driving the car was an interesting experience which proved the car is worthy of further development.

Trickett tells us that, at the moment, he is very hopeful that he will be able to put the car into limited production from new premises and is presently negotiating with a backer.

Car victory.—An economy challenge between a team of two light aircraft and two cars resulted in a near dead-heat in a competition held last month, with the cars getting the verdict by 1.1 gallons. The BARC’s two cars, an MG-B driven by the club’s General Manager Grahame White and a Capri 1600 with lady racing driver Gillian Fortescue-Thomas at the wheel together used a total of 46.4 gallons for the journey from Biggin to Edinburgh Turnhouse airport and back. The aircraft concerned were a 2-seater Fournier RF5 piloted by Brian Stevens and a 4-seater Petit Prince flown by Niel Jensen both from the United Services and Royal Auto Club who issued the challenge. Their joint consumption for the journey was 47.5 gallons.