I enjoyed reading your report of the last Shelsley Walsh Meeting in your October issue, and I do not disagree with your suggestion that my argument with the bank in practice resulted in a certain degree of caution the following day. Incidentally, as I have competed at Shelsley since 1921, I thought I knew enough about the hill to keep out of trouble, and as a matter of interest it seems fairly conclusive that a weak accelerator spring was the cause of the trouble. I might also mention in passing that as my best recorded time at Shelsley on this car is 42.83 secs., my carefulness only cost .31 sec.
However, what I do disagree about is your description of this car as a “very special 3 1/2-litre Jaguar that is said to do 6,000 r.p.m.” In fairness to the car and the makers, it must be stated that this car cannot in any way be described as very special. It was originally a perfectly standard 2 1/2-litre “100” which I drove in the Scottish Rally in 1936.
It was somewhat altered for subsequent Shelsley meetings when it was driven as a 2 1/2-litre with a standard body, but in a stripped condition. At this stage the only deviations from standard were a high compression ratio and a non-standard axle ratio. Later a 3 1/2-litre engine was fitted, and a somewhat lighter body and the engine was set back to improve the weight distribution. The engine has not been altered since 1939 in any way and with the exception of high-compression pistons and a lightened flywheel, it can be described as standard. The gearbox and back axle are standard except for a low axle ratio.
The original 1936 frame is still used, and the front axle and steering assembly are so standard that after crashing in practice the day before at Shelsley a complete standard front axle assembly was drawn from the works stores and fitted the same day.
As for the engine being said to be capable of 6,000 r.p.m., I have a rev. counter calibrated only to 5,000 r.p.m., which I can just about touch in third gear, but I should say that if this engine was pushed up to 6,000 r.p.m. it would have far-reaching results on the “works.”
I only raise this matter because I think this car is a very good example of the possibilities of a production-type sports car without any radical alterations, and I think it is a little unjust to describe this as “very special,” when in point of fact it is probably a great deal nearer to the standard job than many so-called sports cars.
I am, Yours, etc.,
S. H. Newsome.
You say the day is gone when one could motor for 15s. a week. Well, there is a way in which this can be done, and I can thoroughly recommend it to any impecunious enthusiast. It is simply this: Get a Morgan three-wheeler.
Running costs are roughly as follows:
Tax per annum … … £5 0s. 0s.
Insurance (third party) … £6 0s. 0d.
Petrol, 117 galls … … £11 0s. 0d.
Oil, say … … … £1 0s. 0d.
Tyres and spares, say … £10 0s. 0d.
Total … £33 0s. 0d.
That is a little under 13s a week for four to five thousand miles of motoring with sports car performance. The only snag is that good Morgans cost a lot of money to acquire nowadays.
Finally, to anyone who takes my advice I will give a little more — join the Morgan Three-Wheeler Club.
I am, Yours, etc.,
J. H. Balleny.
From the Viscount Curzon.
I should like to associate myself with Mr. Bull’s letter in last month’s issue of Motor Sport. I agree wholeheartedly with all he says. I bought a second-hand Fiat “500 ” in July of 1939, the car has now completed 23,000 miles. During the war years I was only able to use the little car occasionally on a few days’ leave, for the remainder of the time it lay unmolested in a dilapidated old shed. A few months ago, the oil consumption became rather heavy, so I decided to have the engine rebored, at the same time a new hood was fitted and the car was recellulosed. It now runs and looks as new. I originally bought the car with a view to using it on short journeys on crowded roads, but I became so enamoured of the handling qualities of this baby Fiat that I have used it on many a long journey. I have never attempted to spare the engine and have driven the car hard and somewhat fiercely. The brakes, steering, tyres and engine have stood manfully up to all this and I am more than satisfied. I suppose the maximum speed is around the 50 m.p.h. mark, however downhill, with a fair wind, it is possible to flash into the sixties. The comfort, visibility and driving position are all that could be asked of any small motor car. On a reasonably level and twisty road it is quite possible to keep on the tail of a car of much larger engine capacity and, if in the mood for a little fun, quite surprising things can be achieved. In these post-war days, with the Government trying hard to keep all private motorists and motor cyclists off the road, the Fiat “500,” with its refusal to acknowledge the poor quality of Pool petrol, and with its 50 miles to a gallon of the poison, is the answer to many a motorist’s prayer. These little Italian cars have done and are doing magnificent service, ever since they were first introduced into this country.
I am, Yours, etc.,
“Sideslips,” in the November issue, was most interesting, and I think “Baladeur” has hit the nail on the head when he speaks of the manner of performance being as important as sheer performance itself. Those old-time cars were definitely more peaceful and pleasant to drive than the buzz boxes of to-day, demanding constant rowing at the gear lever.
We probably will never again see such cars as the 3-litre Bentley and the old Hispano, but could not some enthusiasts build a car to simulate this performance or type of performance. How about a 1 1/2-litre, 4-cyl. Riley engine with modified camshafts and carburation to give lots of power at low revs., installed into a small saloon weighing say 17 cwt. This might give the type of performance required. Will the experts comment on such possibilities?
I once drove a 14-h.p. Wolseley which had been modified on such lines and it pulled in a most amazing way, gearchanging was certainly seldom called for unless in a hurry.
I am, Yours, etc.,
F. W. Champion.
Re your article “We Hear,” November 1947, we may be able, perhaps, to reply to the question raised: “An odd veteran 4-cylinder engine, with exposed flywheel at the front, barrel-shape light-alloy crankcase and gearbox, cylinders cast in pairs, and fan-drive by flat belt, is reported in a breaker’s yard — does anyone recognise the make? ”
Without full particulars it is very, difficult, of course, to state it with absolute certainty, but any of the above points of identification is in accordance with the details of the Laurin and Klement car, Type G (1913) and Type S (1914).
The earlier Type F had the flywheel as usual. Also large-capacity cars have been built with the sleeve-valve engine similar to the Knight system.
Manufacturers: Laurin & Klement, Jungbunzlau, Böhmen (Bohemia so called), in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, now Mlada Boleslav in the Czechoslovakian Republik, 50 km. approx. from the capital Prague: Designer of the Laurin and Klement cars and motorcycles was Mr. Laurin, the business manager Mr. Klement, racing driver Mr. Vaclav Wondrich, famous with his successes in France.
In 1927/28 the L. & K. works were purchased by the Skoda Works, Plzen (Pilsen), and they erected there ultra-modern factories in extension of the old works, where from this time, and now, are manufactured all Skoda cars in fairly large series on conveyors and with U.S.A. methods (except the Hispano-Suiza, which remained in licence manufacture in Plzen), as well as the manufacture of aircraft engines.
As far as we know, L. & K. exported many cars and motorcycles to England after the successes in France in pre-firstworld-war days, and therefore the motor in question may be of this make.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Ing. O. V. Smekal, S.I.A.,
V.D.I., Dip. Research, Eng.
pp. Delta Research Laboratories.
With reference to the 1922 Grand Prix Aston Martin and your Editorial “Worthwhile Journey,” in your November issue, could you spare me space for comment.
First, may I congratulate you, sir, for having committed so much to memory from our to-and-from journey small talk.
Secondly, may I express some embarrassment at finding so much mention of myself and of days which will never come back and therefore constitute both a pain as well as a pleasure.
Thirdly, may I make a few corrections for the benefit of any enthusiast who may be interested.
(1) The Long-Stroke Peugeot Voiturettes did not all have the same number or disposition of valves per cylinder. As far as my memory serves me, however, they all (including the first 78 mm. by 156 mm., of 1911) suffered from having caged, and therefore somewhat poorly cooled, valves and in particular respect of the V2 80 by 280 mm. engine it was the cage and its seating for the enormous single-inlet valves which constituted in effect the whole head of each cylinder. These monobloc cylinder castings, both two and four cylinder, forming also housings in which ran the camshafts, were, despite the large apertures for the cages a very intricate and difficult foundry job, and the four-cylinder “V” engines did, in fact, suffer from overheating, as “Baladeur,” in his very interesting article “Sideslips,” in the same issue points out. Baladeur’s articles, if I may say so, are always interesting and very well informed. May I, however, with respect to him, express doubt as to the late Ettore Bugatti having been responsible for the design of those engines.
A working apprentice is not necessarily aware of questions of policy in his firm and I would not care to be dogmatic, but in the works it was always understood that the pre-Henri racing engines were solely the work of Mon. Michaux, who was also responsible for the remarkably lively, 2-cylinder, narrow-V, Lion Peugeots which were sold in considerable numbers in the 1909-1911 era.
It will be recalled that these engines, of 75 by 150 mm. and 85 by 150 mm., with side valves-there were also a small number with V4 engines — had narrow angle-V monobloc castings and were set athwart the chassis in the normal manner. They had the peculiarity of running anti-clockwise as there was a double reduction gear in the rear axle.
In later years, when I was privileged to know Bugatti well he referred with amusement and pride to his “tour de force,” the 55 by 90 mm. Bébé Peugeot, but I never heard him mention having taken any part in the design of any of the racing engines.
(2) With regard to the use of short internal stand pipes for directing water on to the valve seatings, their “bridges” and the sparking plug bosses, which I added to Gremillon’s cylinder design for the Aston-Martin. I claim no novelty for this as it was used in certain 1914-18 aero engines and probably before that. Bugatti enthusiasts may be interested to know that on the new 4-cylinder “light alloy” racing engine, which I was informed was in the development stage, shown on the Bugatti stand at the Paris Salon last month, the water pump delivers first to a longitudinal gallery incorporated in the alloy block casting, low on the right-hand side, and thence by an outside pipe carrying the water round to the left side of the engine, where it enters the block again by four branches, each apparently in line with the exhaust valve seat “bridges.”
(3) Zborowski’s very beautiful Kelner-bodied 2-seater Hispano-Suiza, which I was fortunate enough to own for nearly two years after his death, was one of the “Monza” type, of which we always understood that only four were built.
Not particularly fast all out (106 m.p.h.) the engine dimensions were (6) by 102 by 150 mm., fitted in a specially low-slung chassis.
These preceded the “Boulogne” model of 110 by 140 mm., which was appreciably faster and was mounted in a normal-height chassis.
The “Monza,” however, had an individuality all its own and I may be accused of being an unnatural parent when I say how sorry I was that the arrival of a “family” obliged me to part with it on account of the cost of running!
I entirely agree with you as to the lovely job that Ellis is making of the Aston-Martin and I only wish that younger and less latticed connecting rods and camshafts with rather less steep cams (to save the springs) were available to him so that he could enjoy, let us say, 3,500 r.p.m. with a reasonable factor of mechanical safety.
I am, Yours, etc.,