Letters from Readers, December 1940



I wonder if you could spare a little in the correspondence colwnn on of a lonely airman ?

I am up here for some time and have touch with most people interested the sport. Could anyone with a for a chat on motoring sport round at the address given ? I shall be more than delighted to see

Thanking you in anticipation and wishyou all the best. I am, Yours etc., DENNIS W. BATEMAN. AC2, Bateman, c/o 25, Banks Street,

Blackpool, Lancs. Sir,

First, congratulations on keeping MOTOR SPORT going in these dillietilt times. I have had to forsake my beloved motor cars in favour of more serious stuff ” for the duration,” but I have been reading your excellent paper for about eight years now, and I still manage to get it month by month through the newsagent in my home town.

I am the proud owner of the exHippisley-Cox G.N. ” Grasshopper ” (illustrated in action at Shelsley in your October, 1934 issue, I think).

I have been very interested in your various articles, etc., on the £10 car, and really I am rather keen on acquiring such a type of car for use on such leave as I do get in this outfit.

The main snag is that it is quite impossible for me to “scout around” for such a vehicle, but as it seems that you have conic across quite a good number, I was wondering whether you might be able to put me in touch with someone who has such a machine for disposal ? I am very keen on Salmsons—having owned five of various types in the past, including one which I rebuilt for sprint work—and I would go above the /10 . mark to get a decent twin o.h.c. example of this great marque. An old but ” passable” sports Austin Seven or “

M” type M.G. should also meet my needs.

You may be interested to know that although I purchased the G.N. ” Grasshopper ” from Hippisley-Cox nearly two years ago, I have so far been unable to use it on account of war and threat of war, but hope to get a great deal of fun out of it after the war. The amazing thing about this great little machine is its easy starting. After standing in my brother’s garage for six months at a time, it will start without the slightest hint of trouble on a cupful of the precious if filthy ” Pool “—can you imagine running a Shelsley Special on Pool ? I start it up every time I get home on leave and give it a run up the drive of my brother’s house—much

to the detriment of the said drive, but to my very great personal satisfaction !

Up till the time I joined the R.A.F. I used a well-preserved 1932 Morris Minor two-seater as a war-time mount, and it is still giving good service in my brother’s hands. Incidentally, I think your remarks about the brakes on these ears rather unkind as I found that, given careful attention to adjustment, they were definitely quite good for the year. Certhinly a lot better than some of the hydraulic systems I have experienced on later models. The three-speed gearbox seems O.K. once you really get the hang of it, but it certainly is tricky at first. Excuse this disjointed outpouring, but I am a very enthusiastic motorist and feel very outcast away from all my motors and with no motor racing (which is the spice of my life) to visit. Besides the five Salmsons my brother and I have owned three G.N.s and a Lea-Francis, while our ” family ” vehicles have included : Morris Cowley, Hillman

1., Riley Nine, Austin Ten, Standard Eight and Morris Eight ” E ” type.

Very best wishes for the continued success of your paper and an early resumption of ” The Sport,” and I hope you May be able to put me in touch with ” A car for now—and later on ” on the lines I have indicated.

Thanking you in anticipation. I am, Yours etc.,


No. 1, A.A.C.H. R.A.F. [We criticised the three-speed gearbox of the earlier Morris Minors from the viewpoint of not having the low bottom ratio required _for trials, and not on account of the characteristics of the gear change.—Ed.] Sir,

I am anxious to trace the whereabouts of one of the straight-eight F.W.D. Alvis, if any are still in existence. I believe about eight were made in 1930.

I would be much obliged if you can give me any information. If you do not know the present whereabouts of any, perhaps you may know of somebody who had one during the past couple of years, or even of one that has been scrapped.

I am very interested in F.W.D.

having already had two four-cylinder cars, one a 1928 T.T. car, and hope soon to get another. Parnell has obtained all the 1,500 c.c. Deluge parts and has built two ears therefrom. I wonder what has become of the Talbot-Darracq rebuilt by PowysLybbe and the 2-litre V12 Delage linered down to 1,500 c.c. for the COnan

Doyles, both of which you described in MOTOR SPORT some years ago ? Wishing you every success in the future. I am, Yours etc.,


Ventnor, I.O.W. [Yes, where are these cars ?—Ed.] -* * * Sir,

I wish to claim a favour from the sympathetic columns of your journal. Although I am young and have only just received my first licence enabling me to drive motor-cycles and tricycles, I have for some years been a real enthusiast.

I wish now to acquire a Morgan SuperSports three-wheeler, using a J.A.P. o.h.v. “twin,” and three-speed and reverse gearbox ; and the before-mentioned favour I am asking is, could you possibly help me to find such a tricar, very cheap, but with the necessary urge ? I want something that I can tune and get a reasonable yet economical performance from, and would be much obliged if you could help me in this matter. I am, Yours etc., 11. R. FRENCH. 3, Bramley Crescent,

Ilford, Essex. [Please reply direct. —Ed.] Sir,

I have a 1928 ” 12/50 ” Alvis with sports-tourer body which I bought in January, 1938 ; it is my second ” 12/50,” my first being a 1926 model.

The car is laid up at present but will Soon be in commission again. Before putting it On the road I want to take out the existing gearbox, which has very worn teeth, and also to scrap the existing prop-shaft in favour of the later Hardy-Spicer type as mentioned in your January, 1940, issue. The present shaft is quite impossible to keep in alignment and shakes the whole car. I wonder if anybody in the Guildford

district, who has had experience of these ears, could do this cheaply for me ? Also, where could I obtain a sports “Silver Eagle” (1930) box and the Hardy-Spicer shaft, both in good condition ? I hope that you will continue with your

excellent journal with all success. I am, Yours etc.,

JOHN L. GREENWOOD. “Barton Lodge,” Semaphore Road,

Guildford, Surrey. [Please reply direct—Ed.] Sir, The enclosed details re the six-cylinder twin o.h.c. 1,100 c.c. Amilear may be of interest to Mr. Bateman. However, the car was never very well ” written-up (why, Mr. Editor ?) by MOTOR SPORT or

any of the motoring Press ; I failed to find a complete description in almost ten years reading of MOTOR SPORT and “The Autocar.”

The car had a bore and stroke of 55X77 mm„ giving 1,098 c.c. The twin camshafts were gear-driven from the rear of the engine and housed in alloy casings, bolted to the detachable cylinder head. The main and con-rod bearings were white-metal lined and oil fed by pump, drawing from an oil tank carded in front dtunb-irons.

The water pump and magneto were shaft-driven on the NS ; the top water outlet was of the branch type. Plugs were in centre of the seri pherical head, two valves per cylinder being used. The multi-plate clutch and four-speed box were in tniit with the engine ; the drive being taken by closed prop-shaft to normal type rear axle. Quarter elliptical springs Were fitted to the rear, the frame passing under the axle. The front axle was well dropped, giving a very low frame level. The front half springs were carried by (111mb-irons outswept in the well-known Amilear fashion. Brakes operated by cable, mounted outside the si(le-members. Photographs of one of these ears appeared in Mown Sewer for March, 1936.

You may be interested to hear I am running a 1931 sports Austin Seven, and have had this and, earlier, a 1929 Chummy, taxed and on the road all this year ; and only the basic ration. I’ve just had the two-seater completely repainted in ” the Green,” at a cost of £8 ! ! Early next year I intend to fit the ” Ulster ” type front axle and S.U. carburetter. I am, Yours etc.,

HAROLD PRATLEY. Si I II Woodford, Sir, May I be permitted to add a few remarks to Mr. Clutton’s article on” Modern Sports-Cars,” in so far as Laneias are concerned ? The ” Augusta ” was a direct descendant from the long line of Xth series models, and retained all their characteristic good road-holding qualities coupled with simplicity : it was, however,

rather slow. This latter defect they determined to remedy on the ” Aprilia ” by meaas of a hemispherical head with inclined valves, among other things, and they achieved their object only at the expense of :accessibility and simplicity of layout. There was also the unfortunate ” red herring ” of the independent rear suspension. incidentally, it is of interest that, whilst the ” Aprilia ” will do its 80 m.p.h. with full saloon body, it goes precious little faster with the lightest of streamlined two-seaters. Readers will remember how very slow they were in the 1988 T.T. Race at Donington, as well as horrible to behold on the corners. Repeated defeats by 1,100 c.c. Fiats led to the capacity being increased to nearly 1,500 c.c., but in the 1940 Mille Miglia (so-called by force of habit) the

Lancias were again outclassed by the 1,100 c.c. class, as well as having a great appetite for tyres. The new 1,000 c.c. ” Arden ” model is a magnificent reversion ta type. It has orthodox rear suspension, and, whilst by extreme cunning all the best points of the ” ” inclined o.h.v. are retained, the old simplicity has also been

recaptured. Mr. Clutton does not do justice to what a splendid car this is, at any rate on paper. I am, Yours etc.,

“P. C. T. C.”

London, W.2. Sir, I should very much like to compliment you on the fact that your paper is still carrying on during the war and I since rely tope that you will be able to continue for the duration. I was delighted with the very excellent article, in the September issue, written by John Cooper of

Le ice of e r, and entitled ” Scuderia Imp( elm iosa. ‘

I am still running my 10 h.p. Triumph ” Gloria ” sports saloon and I shall continue to do so if possible. I should be glad to hear from any other enthusiast who would Care to write to me. I am, Yours etc.,

G. W. DixON. Brookhousr, Laughton, nr. Sheffield,

Yorkshire. [Please communicate direct.—Ed.1 * * Sir,

I was extremely interested in the article ” Seuderia Impecuniosa ” ill your September issue.

In times such as these it is very refreshing to read of Mr. Cooper’s experiences, and brings back to me many humorous incidents of a similar character.

I, too, was a passenger in an elderly Amilcar during a run to Donington two years Pg), and I can heartily endorse his re marks. ie the road-holding qualities and the very inadequate ” anchors.” The ran home was undertaken in the dark during a particularly violent rainstorm. When the hoed was erected it was impossible to navigate with any certainty, and the screen wiper, which was hand operated, Was worse than useless. During the latter part of the run the car showed a decided tendency to shake itself to pieces.

While at the wheel myself I also managed to pall off a tyre, the off side rear, due to the .road suddenly dccAin g to turn to the left while the car wanted to go straight ahead at between 43 and 50 m.p.h. I found this charming habit was common with beaded-edge tyres, havirg done the same thing with an elderly, but very reliable, Sunbeam tourer. The most serious trouble encountered was the two-bearing crankshaft of the Amilcar which broke on two occasions, necessitating rather expensive repairs. After the second breakage it was decided that someone else should have some fun. My friend and myself stood by in an

agony of apprehension while the prospective purchaser play( d light-heartedly with the throttle, expecting at any moment to hear that heart-rending noise which announces a broken crankshaft. We were heartily relieve d when the deal was settled and the new owner drove away, apparently quite happy. (The crankshaft collapsed again a week later.) This car only remained with us for a short while, but the experience gained was enormous, and many happy hours were spent in the garage.

I hope Mr. Cooper will enjoy many more years of this very fascinating and instructive pastime. I have become a pedestrian for the time being, but when this spot of bother is over, then once again I hope to enjoy some real motoring.

Carry on,. MOTOR SPORT; although we are, for a time, unable to ” dice,” we can read your articles, which are a great help. I am, Yours etc.,


Wembley Park. Sir,

I was most interested to read Mr. Maurice’s and Mr. Barden’s comments on my adumbrations (some might even sey, lucubrations) on modern sports-cars.

Mr. Barden wants to know why I ‘dislike the modern Alfa-Romeo and the Type 540 Mercedes-Benz.

As far as the Alfa is concerned, my principal objection is to the excessively inferior substance of which this machine has lately been constructed. To see one in pieces is a horrible experience, and opportunities of doing so are depressingly frequent. Added to this, I cannot love a motor car whose engine has the appearance of having been finished externally by the blacksmith, in rather a hurry, and whose body is obviously out to ” catch the eye” as a primary consideration.

I admit that the modern Alfa goes quite (sometimes very) fast—when current. The earlier models were, of course, Oft& different, and most reliable.

Now, as to the Type 540 MercedesBenz. This funny car has a capacity of 5.4 litres and eight cylinders, and a supercharger which makes a terrific noise and helps the engine to make-180 b.h.p. I

The V12 Legonda has a capacity of 4i litres and no supercharger and no noise at all, and it, also, develops 180 b.h.p. or just on.

If the Mercedes refrains from making the dreadful noise from the supercharger it will not give more than 120 b.h.p. at most (22 b.h.p. per litre). This is probably enough to pull the huge thing along at 75 m.p.h., which is the maximum on the top gear of 4.4 to 1. This means that if you want to accelerate any more, on the 3.08 to 1 overdrive, you have got to use the blower ; nor is there any acceleration at lower speeds without its assistance. All this shrieking to the high heaven is vastly diverting to young children Continued on page 289