While many must have been crying into their wine because Jaguar and failed to achieve its seventh victory at Le Mans, I was at the VSCC’s high-speed sprint venue, watching bicycle racing, motorcycle demonstration runs and the serious speed-trial work.
There is usually an additional attraction at Colerne, and this year it was a huge Hispano Suiza Special from Australia. It turned out to have been the late “Jumbo” Goddard’s idea – he had intended to put the engine into a 30/98 chassis and try for national records. Some thought the result akin to a theatrical Chitty-Bang-Bang, others that it was the finest road car they had seen.
It consists of a Model H 140mm x 150mm 18½-litre 90 Hispano vee-eight aero-engine in a 1915 type 30 Hispano Suiza chassis, with Delage CO2 gearbox and a back axle with Hispano casing but a 1.5:1 ratio. The FWB front axle is that of a 1919 37.2hp Hispano, found on a trailer and rebuilt, and there is a dry-sump oil-tank on the nearside chassis side-member.
The result is, to say the least, formidable. At 1000 rpm the car cruises at 65 mph and its engine has apparently given 330 bhp at 1300 rpm on the bench with an 8in propeller, despite weighing less than a Bentley car engine. The owner drives it to work, and has used it recently for the 1100-mile Australian Bicentennial vintage rally and a 1000-mile American event. After its plugs had been changed it did a demo run in 29.26 seconds, with a best speed of 111 mph.
Practice at Colerne saw only one casualty – Joy Rainey’s 1936 Alfa Romeo unhappily breaking its back axle on the start-line. It was good to see the heroes of the Millbrook record-bids in action, Stanley Mann’s Bentley having had a valve touch a piston (but not dropping it in as at first thought, so only a new piston was needed) and the Bentley-Jackson having had its split fuel tank repaired.
Times were slower this year, and no records broken. FTD was made by Bob Roberts, the Sunbeam “Tiger” in truly fine form. It did the standing-start quarter-mile on its first run in 13.33 seconds, and was just 0.01 sec slower on its second run, when the kilometre was covered in 23.41 sec, with a terminal velocity of 146 mph. Runner-up was Jolley’s 1932-37 Giron Alvis with times of 13.48 and 24.53 sec respectively and a final speed off 134 mph. WB
That the VSCC is not just active but also far-reaching was proved once more on May 21, when eleven observed sections had to be tackled by the 38 entrants in the Scottish Trial. The only non-starter was a Riley 9; A7s made up 21 of the runners, WS Gordon’s winning the Sammy Davis Cup.
Long-distance claims made by pre-war cars in British rallies are rather overshadowed these days by European exploits, not to mention by last year’s Australian event (in which, for instance, the Roesch Talbot made the return journey from England and was then driven straight on to an STD rally).
We now learn that three British entries completed the Brussels-Istanbul Rally without trouble: Bob May’s 1929 Speed-Six Bentley, navigated by John Brown, the 1934 16/80 Lagonda of Richard and Nicky Dresner and Tom Heesom’s 1926 3-litre twin-cam Sunbeam which covered 2402 miles from home to the finish.
V to C Miscellany
A folder has come to light concerning a 1932 Rolls-Royce PII Continental Arthur Mulliner saloon which was once owned by Kaye Don and which a Mr Horrocks of Bridgend ran for a time before selling it to Charles Mortimer for £225 in 1960. The information will be given to the RREC archives.
Railton Owners Club’s Bulletin has recently been devoting much space to the 1934 Hudson Eight form which the Railton derived. Meanwhile some interesting information has emerged in Front Wheels, magazine of the BSA FWD Club, about the lubrication system of the vee-twin BSA engine.
A 1904 12hp Sunbeam which had been owned by the Sword Collection in Scotland has been rebuilt by Tom Heesom. Once owned by Dr Penney, it was one of the first cars on the Isle of Bute.