Vintage postbag , August 1980

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An Austalian small car

Sir,

I’ve been a regular reader of Motor Sport for a considerable number of years, and have always found your irregular feature “Cars in Books” quite fascinating. I wondered, therefore, if you would be interested in the following? One of the books I recently purchased in a book sale at a local University bookshop was entitled “True Australian Air Stories” written by T Gwynn-Jones and first published in 1977, it is a history of the exploits of Australian aviators.One such aviator is Sidney Cotton. The chapter on this colourful character reveals that in 1914 he built, what the book claims to be, “the first all Australian light car” The “revolutionary chassis, suspension and drive design” of the car so impressed the “Queensland manager of the Willys Overland Car Company. that he arranged for the factory to make “a special streamlined body” to fit onto it. Little in the way of mechanical detail is given other than that “the final-drive system to the rear wheels was virtually identical to one used years later in England by Frazer Nash Cars”. This is curious, as a photograph shows the vehicle to have what appears to be exposed belt-drive.

I wondered if any of your Australian readers could throw any further light onto the mechanical specification of the car, and, also, the inevitable question “what has happened to it?” in the subsequent 60 odd years.

John R Bateman,  Frilsham

[The photograph showed a two seater light car with hood, probably water-cooled and certainly with final belt-drive. It is quite possible that the transmission followed pre-1914 GN practice, of course. Over to David Thirlby? — ED]

Cierano/Riley

Sir,

Knowing that your readership is noted for its solving of problems put to it through Motor Sport, perhaps there is someone out there can tell me if a certain Cierano/Rley still exists.

A vintage friend of mine was leafing through the classifieds in the October 1951 issue of Motor Sport when he noticed this car for sale at £49, the combination being a 11/2-litre Cierano engine and gearbox in a 12 hp Riley of unspecified model. Being the owner for the last 24 years of an S150 Cierano of 1925, I of course wrote off at once, but alas not only had the car gone but also the house, 36a, Leigham Avenue, Stretham, evidently no longer exists.

As spares for Cierano motor cars are a little rare I have to follow the slightest lead, and have a faint hope that this car, or at least the engine and gearbox from it may still exist.

If anybody can provide any information my car will be eternally grateful.

Nick Sloan, Luton

Slver Ghost Servicing

Sir,

I was delighted to see your coments on my Silver Ghost No 1463 in your issue of July 1980. There was one small slip as the 2.7 axle used on my car was exclusive to the short chassis, while the London-Edinburgh, which was a long chassis car, had the standard 2.9 axle.

I have just received copies of all the R-R paperwork on 1463, including details of every visit to the works. This is an incredible service of th R-REC, and I cannot thank the club enough. From this it would appear that Mr Foster of Ruddington, Notts was the first owner, and he bought the chassis in July 1910 for delivery to a coachbuilder in January 1911, to be fitted with a two-seater body. He later had this changed to the present Holmes Torpedo Tourer and the car was in the works to have the springs changed to suit the slightly greater weight. I think it had a parallel sided bonnet originally, but this was evidently changed for the tappered one when the Holmes body was fitted.

The car was offered for sale in the Autocar in November 1916 and I presume the ‘X’ and Lord Wilton had it after that. Both Mr Foster and Mr EE Lastra, who ran the car from 1919 to 1923, had 1463 regularly serviced but there is no record of ‘X’ or Lord Wilton having any work done. KN3075 is the original registration from January 1911, accrding to Swansea.

Incidentally I have the test bench figures for my engine and maximum torque was developed at 490 rpm !

John V Bolster, Edenbridge, Kent