Letters from readers, December 1942


Intrigued by the glowing (???) press notice on page 186 for September, 1942, I deliberately went out of my way to see the epic “Blonde Comet.” I have a few criticisms to make on the aforesaid press notice.

E.S.T. says “It is very short.” The version I saw took over one hour.

E.S.T. correctly describes the film as starting with “newspaper headlines,” but omits to mention some quite good shots of Mercédès, Auto-Unions and G.P. Alfas performing at Monaco, Tripoli (Grandstand Straight and Mellaha Corner), Donington (Maclean’s Corner, Fred Craner’s Corner, Melbourne Hairpin, “the straight,” and the famous “leap” just at the crest of the hill before the pits), and on a circuit which from the pinewoods I assume to be the Nurburg Ring. I admit that these are interspersed with comic announcers and so on, but are clearly recognisable as the “real thing.”

This first five minutes is worth the entrance money.

Then E.S.T. says that the 100 mile event at Ascot “changes to 500 miles.” He must have seen a very much “cut” version, as in the one I saw the heroine wins the Ascot “100” (although you don’t find out until later on in the film), and then they go to the Oakland “500,” which the hero wins (making them “one each”).

I agree with the rest of E.S.T.’s report, except that some of the newsreel crashes must have been expurgated since he saw the film, as I only saw five. (The radio commentator thinks Indianapolis is one lap to the mile!!!)

It is quite clear that the film has been composed of “bits and pieces,” but the general atmosphere reminds one strongly of pre-war racing days, and the first few minutes are the goods.

Congratulations on the way Motor Sport is keeping up to scratch.

I am, Yours etc.,

Leslie Mee.




I received a few days ago Motor Sport for April, and was particularly interested in a small paragraph in “Rumblings,” entitled “Headlines, Mr. Printer!” You say Capt. Crickmay, R.A.S.C., won the 1929 75-m.p.h. Easter Short Handicap in an R.L.B. Aston-Martin-engined Special at 77.66 m.p.h.

It seems possible that this may be my car, which I have stored away at the present time, and, if so, I would like any particulars you may know about it, or any of Capt. Crickmay’s experiences.

My car has R.B. (not R.L.B.) on the radiator and camshaft cover, and in my log book it states: “Aston-Martin Engine No. 1, Chassis No. 1, Type No. 1,” and is actually the first o.h.c. Aston-Martin to be made.

Certain Enfield Allday parts were used, as Mr. Bertelli, of Aston-Martin’s, had worked there. The following parts are of Enfield Allday manufacture: crankshaft, gearbox, back axle and chassis. The bore and stroke are the same as the 10-h.p. Enfield Allday (63.5 x 117.5 mm., 1,488 c.c., R.A.C. rating -10 h.p.). The head, valve gear, block, cooling system and front axle are Aston-Martin design. The registration number is O.N.6638.

The car was first licensed by Renwick and Bertelli (“The R.B.”) on May 13th, 1926, and was sold to a Mr. R.J. Sully, of Caversham, on July 25th, 1930, but was not relicensed after 1926 until 1932, when it was owned by a Mr. T.B. Plant, of Guildford. 

I have been unable to trace its history between when Bertelli used it until Mr. Sully bought it in 1930, and so I hoped that Capt. Crickmay might be able to complete its long and interesting history for me. I bought the car a year before the war and spent a great deal of time working on it. I cured nearly all its troubles except the carburation. I wonder if Capt. Crickmay could give me any particulars of the kind of carburetter it had when he used it. It is now fitted with an S.U.

If this is Capt. Crickmay’s car I should be very pleased if you would send this letter on to him and would like to hear about any of his experiences with it, and any mechanical points of interest; also if he knows of any spares? And any performance figures he may have.

In a country where there is no good motoring, I appreciate Motor Sport still more than I did in England.

I am, Yours etc.,

I.M. Adams, Spr., R.E.

By Air Mail from M.E.F.

[Perhaps Capt. Crickmay or Mr. Sully, who used to race an H.E. in the early 1920’s, can give some additional information. Certainly this would seem to be the first Bertelli-Aston. – Ed.]



My congratulations on maintaining the excellence of this paper despite steadily increasing difficulties. I think the October issue is one of the most interesting I have ever seen, and I am looking forward to the continuation of Mr. Pomeroy’s article.

I see that Mr. Clutton refers to the 1920 400-c.c. A.B.C. in his article. There is a 1920 or 1921 model of this type, in apparently good condition, under cover in a local scrap dealer’s store; I don’t know whether anyone is interested.

I still run my Type 40 Bugatti on duty and have used a 1924 350-c.c. Royal Enfield on leave. This machine has a J.A.P. engine, complete with petrol cock and valve caps, also acetylene lighting, and causes considerable mirth amongst the passers-by, but goes quite well. The snags are appalling vibration, which sometimes stops my shake-proof watch, and an undamped front fork, which necessitates considerable determination not to get thrown off on rough roads.

Fishenden’s International-type Aston-Martin (the one which you reported some while ago as being “found” in a field at Swanage) is still running well, but has left the district. In fact, there seems a great shortage of enthusiasts round here now.

I am, Yours etc.,

J. De Waele, Capt.




My brother has been a regular subscriber to Motor Sport for years and I always read it with interest. My own view is that its interest has increased a hundredfold since the war; long may it continue to brighten our lives.

Like many others, I had to cease motoring on four wheels last June when a very good Riley was put into storage. Two wheels kept me on the road until now, but that, too, has come to an end. My previous experience of motor-cycles was confined to a 172-c.c. Francis-Barnett in 1929 and to W.D. models since 1939. In July last I bought a 1932 557-c.c. model S.B. Ariel from a careful owner, who had had it for nine years. It is in magnificent order and is modern in appearance. From the performance point of view it is not fast, but its charm lies in the ease with which it performs; it is now carefully stored. I have very recently bought a 1919 Rudge Multi, which has not been licensed since September, 1925, and is in good order. Everything works, but I confess I am a bit ignorant about it. Has anyone had experience of the model? I should be most grateful for the gift, sale or loan of an instruction book, if such a thing exists. The Rudge has joined the others in storage.

Incidentally, the “Cars I Have Owned” series is most interesting. There is one thing which irritates me about most of the owners, and that is the callous way in which they drive their cars. They find a well-preserved touring motor-car, buy it and proceed to cane it until it falls to pieces or blows up. Surely a good car should he driven with respect not abandon.

There are exceptions, of course, and we owe a lot to them. But far too many good cars find an early grave because they had the misfortune to be found by some so-called enthusiast. The type should, in my opinion, be confined to racing cars and V8’s with bodies that have reached the “rough” stage. No one finds a greater enjoyment in motoring than I do, and have done during the last 13 years, but I have yet to run a big-end or have a motor blow up: if that happened to me I should blame myself as a bad driver. I will further confess that I like cruising at 30-40 m.p.h. and insist on spit and polish in my cars and (now) motor-cycles.

To avoid the missiles and cries of “Blimp,” I will say no more, except long live Motor Sport.

I am, Yours etc.,

J.M.B. Dove, Major.

109 Field Regiment, R.A.



Many thanks for the July issue, which I have just received. I must congratulate you on keeping up such a high standard, and can assure you that my copy always receives quite a wide distribution. You may be interested to know that I have seen the following lately and all were in good health: Peter Whitehead; Alexander, who drove an S.S.; and Doce Taylor, of C.A.P.A; also Paul Bird, of the E.R.A. Club.

Best wishes for the future.

I am, Yours etc.,

K.J. Wallace, Capt.

By airgraph from the Middle East.



It is with very great interest that I have read of the “Specials” and cars that have been built or reconstructed by enthusiasts in Motor Sport. Perhaps some of your readers would like particulars of a “Special” I built some three years ago. I have in the past stripped and rebuilt several cars, and after much thought and preparation I decided to build a car that would incorporate features which standard cars lacked. This new “Special” was the second attempt I had made – the first was a rear-engined car, powered by an Austin Seven engine and gearbox. The lack of funds for a suitable body prevented this car from running on the road, and the second “Special” was the next venture. This new design was to provide economical and sporting motoring; a low horse-power, and chassis to take a fair-sized open 2-seater body, with provision for an occasional extra passenger.

For years I have been a twin-cylinder enthusiast and I came to the conclusion that the Jowett horizontally opposed engine was the ideal unit for such a car. Therefore, after a little searching, I bought a 1933 Jowett oversize van. The body I scrapped – the whole chassis was then dismantled and from the chassis frame the new car began. On dismantling the engine the cylinders were found to be in very good condition, but had been rebored 60 thou. oversize. The crank I had reground and big-ends and mains re-metalled. Oversize gudgeon pins and Wellworthy Simplex and rings were fitted, new valve guides, valves and springs, etc.; the dynamo and starter were reconditioned and new distributore gears fitted. The clutch was relined; the gearbox was found to need no attention or renewal. Next came the chassis. Each spring was taken to pieces and cleaned and lubricant put between each leaf, new Silentbloc bushes and shackles were then fitted, larger Luvax shock absorbers took the place of the previous smaller ones, the front axle received a complete rebuild, including wheel bearings; the rear axle was stripped and another crown wheel and pinion (giving a higher ratio) installed. Wire wheels from an earlier Jowett were put on instead of the artillery type, and Austin 12-h.p. wheel nuts were found to fit the Jowett studs.

After the chassis was completed came the question: What body, what type and of what make? Here indeed was a problem. The Jowett chassis had not been shortened and for a 7-h.p. car was of considerable size – wheelbase 8′ 6 1/2″. From memories of a previous car I had owned, I thought that a body from a Rover Nine or Ten would fit, and this type of body was the one I had in mind, shaped rather like a boat and very sleek and advanced for its time, whilst the absence of wheel arches made it very adaptable to give clearance for the rear wheels.

I wrote to Messrs. Avon bodies for further particulars, but unfortunately the business had changed ownership and previous records were not available. Advertising for such a body or complete car brought no results, and many were the letters that passed between a wellknown dealer in bodies and myself in the quest for a suitable type.

Readers can no doubt imagine my feelings when I heard of a complete Rover lying in a yard at Bilston; there I rushed, armed with rule and tapes and chassis drawings, and began measuring up. This car was a 1927 Rover 9-h.p. and fitted with the type of body I have previously described and made of aluminium. The whole car was in exceptional condition and in running order, and £5 soon changed hands and the “find” was towed home. The body was soon removed and placed on the Jowett chassis; this brought some remarkable details to light. Although there was six years difference in the ages of the two cars both were identical in wheelbase; wheels and tyres, too, were interchangeable, width of chassis frames at the scuttle was also the same, even the Jowett exhaust pipe over the rear axle was identical to the mark underneath the body made by the Rover exhaust. By putting the body forward 6″ the tail cleared the rear wheels, giving them 3″ clearance. The radiator block of the Rover was scrapped and a new block made incorporating Jowett connections, also a tunnel for the starting handle. A new chassis cross member, 6″ in front of the Jowett member that previously carried the radiator, now carried the Rover radiator and cowl; the bonnet top panels were retained and I made new side panels. To clear the horizontal cylinders I fitted to the bonnet pressings from a Jowett van – these pressings were like “wind bulges” and were originally made to cover the Jowett hydraulic engine mountings. Austin 10-h.p. bonnet clips fastened the bonnet side panels and Ford 24-h.p. bonnet fasteners bolted down to the valances made the bonnet secure. Mud wings came next and these I had rolled out cycle shape by Messrs. Wasdells, of Birmingham – the rear ends slightly turned out, whilst the fronts were fitted with valances, B.S.A. three-wheeler style. The running boards I made of wood and covered with fluted rubber and aluminium-angle strip; the valances between running boards and chassis I also fashioned, these being of sheet metal.  A new front apron covered the dumb-irons and the spare wheel and rear chassis cross members were partly covered by a rear apron that caused me no little trouble. The Rover accelerator, fastened to the body, came just right and in line with Jowett brake and clutch pedals, whilst the Jowett steering column had to be altered to clear the Rover petrol tank underneath the scuttle and off side cylinder. To do this the steering box was lifted up 3 1/2″ and moved 1″ towards the off side and the drag link lengthened by 1″ to compensate this change of position.

A polished mahogany, single-piece facia board carried the instruments, grouped on the Jowett oval panel. This was chromed, as were the headlamps and other fittings. Messrs. Smiths (M.A.) built me a speedometer and supplied a 4′ 6″ speedometer cable, this special speedometer because the Jowett speedometer drive in the gearbox was not in relation to the final drive. Messrs. Lucas converted Morris 14-h.p. Biflex headlamps to 6-volt dippers and torpedo sidelamps were fitted to the cycle-type wings.

The headlamps were mounted on fabricated supports between radiator and wing valances. A new hood and side curtains were made and the original Rover upholstery recoloured and Austin 12-h.p. seat springs fitted. I had the whole car recellulosed: light blue body and darker blue wings and wheels, similar to the M.G. duo-blue colour scheme.

A chrome and enamel badge with the initials “H.P.S” I had made and mounted on the radiator. This car gave me about 10,000 miles of really trouble-free and economical motoring, speed being nearly 60 m.p.h. and petrol consumption 43-45 m.p.g. Oil consumption was negligible. At hill climbing it was undoubtedly at its best, and many enthusiasts remarked how the old “Rover” romped away.

With reluctance I parted with this car and my latest interest in twins is two D.K.W. cars, one a 584-c.c. 2-seater and the other a 684-c.c. Master Cabriolet.

One day soon I hope to be building “Special” again, and perhaps readers would like a brief specification as I foresee it. Rear engine; de Dion-type rear axle; semi-elliptic rear springing; independent front suspension with unequal links; twin-cylinder engine; cabriolet-type body.

Such a vehicle could, I think, be built on D.K.W. lines. Many readers will disagree with my choice, but I think in a few years we may look back and say, “Why, we used to drive cars backwards!”

I am, Yours etc.,

H.P. Smallbone.

Selly Oak, Birmingham. 



I have an Aston-Martin (YD 2059) which has been fitted with a “12/50” Alvis engine. It has a separate gearbox (very noisy) on which is stamped “B M 1969.” I ran it for a few weeks before my petrol ration was stopped, but was unable to assess the performance. The log book gives the year of registration as 1932, but I rather think that this is incorrect and so would be pleased if any of your readers could give me any details of this car.

I am, Yours etc.,

C.B. Seelhoff.

148, Broad Lane, Coventry.



I spin out my Motor Sport as long as possible and saved up “Cars I Have Owned” in the October number till lately. I was disappointed to receive no confirmation of a belief I have cherished for about 20 years that there was a standard “30/98” Vauxhall with a guaranteed maximum of 100 m.p.h.

On the other hand, a “38/250” Mercédès is mentioned as doing 100 m.p.h. on third gear and 130 m.p.h. on top gear. The open 4-seater “38/250” Mercédès-Benz, with a 2.76 to 1 top gear ratio tested by The Motor in 1931, is only credited with a maximum of 103 m.p.h. It. was said, however, that this was against a slight wind and that the car had only done 2,000 miles and was not fully run in.

Let me add my appreciation of the way Motor Sport carries on.

I am, Yours etc.,

W. Stuart Best.

Godmanston, Dorset.

[We believe that in its hey-day the O.E. “30/98” Vauxhall was guaranteed to do 85 m.p.h. in touring trim and 100 m.p.h. stripped and streamlined. Examples in the latter category, raced by E.L. Meeson, Major Ropner and Major Coe, have lapped Brooklands at 108.74, 102.9 and 106.19 m.p.h., respectively. We believe that the last two had E-type side-valve cars, while Meeson used a 4-seater body. So the standard O.E. Vauxhall may be classed as a 100 m.p.h. car. – Ed.]



I have read the contributions of Mr. J. Lowrey in your recent issues with great interest. I should like to comment on the summary he made of the paper written by M. Lory. the Delage designer. I think that the latter gentleman’s calculations regarding the maximum speed of a racing car of a little over 400 h.p. are highly optimistic, and it is difficult to see on what formula he could base his assertions. He should have known from his experiences with Grand Prix cars in the 1923-27 era that 200-h.p. cars gave a road speed of approximately 140 m.p.h. This being so, it is elementary mathematics to demonstrate that with equal frontal area 400 h.p. is not likely to raise the speed above 176 m.p.h., and although the streamlining of the 1939 cars undoubtedly showed an improvement, this was offset by the much larger and totally unstreamlined tyres. Is not the explanation of the 17-mm. crank mystery that this refers not to the diameter, but to the width of the crankpin? This would give a big-end width with two rods side by side of a little under 8 mm., whereas the rollers on the 1 1/2-litre Delage big-ends are 11 mm. long.

Finally, I crave your courtesy to make two corrections in my last article on “The Evolution of the Racing Car.” On page 224 the figure for the Fiat h.p. should be 90 (and not 60 as written), and in the table on page 226 the r.p.m. for this car should be 5,000 and not 5,500 as written.

I am, Yours etc.,

Laurence Pomeroy.

London, E.C.1.

[We believe Seaman’s Delage reached 150 m.p.h. (vide The Motor) on something like 170 b.h.p. – Ed.]