At one time “one-off” “specials” were built by enthusiastic amateur constructors in considerable numbers for participation in sprints, speed hill-climbs and even circuit racing.
In recent years such cars have seldom been a match for conventional racing cars or Cooper 1,100s, but at times “specials” continue to be built, at the whim of individualistic enthusiasts. Such cars are not necessarily successful, unless in V.S.C.C. events with machines composed of vintage components, but they provide much fun during their construction and subsequent, usually hectic, operation and, if not over-done, the building of such vehicles is to be commended, for at least it puts back into action an aeroplane engine, for instance, which has become divorced from its fuselage, or a vintage chassis from which the body has fallen.
The heading picture shows just such a car, in the form of a pre-1914 25-h.p. Talbot chassis, discovered by F. M. Wilcock as derelict, which he restored and endowed with a two-seater replica of the single-seater body used on the Talbot of the same type with which the late Percy Lambert first exceeded 100 miles in the hour, at Brooklands in 1913. The car was run at the 1952 Brighton Speed Trials and has since been dismantled. Other examples are shown, captioned below.
Swandean Spitfire. — This fantastic four-wheel-drive monster is another brain-child of F. M. Wilcock. Powered with a 27-litre supercharged Rolls-Royce Merlin aero-engine, it provides its owner with a definite taste of what Land Speed Record cars of a couple of decades ago were like. It ran, not too successfully, at Brighton in 1953, as shown, and again this year, when it clocked 27.43 sec. It is to be developed further for next season. (1)
Shades of Chitty-Bang-Bang. — Ted Lloyd-Jones evolved this modern aero-engined “special” out of a Daimler Scout car chassis and an unsupercharged 21-litre Rolls-Royce Kestrel aeroplane engine which he discovered in a Gloucestershire breaker’s yard. It has four-wheel drive and has scored several sprint successes, its best performance to date being two fastest times of the day at the Brighton Speed Trials. In 1953 the driver couldn’t produce the correct “driving licence” and was disqualified, but the Triangle Flying Saucer clocked 24.55 sec., only 0.92 sec. slower than the new four-wheeler course record set up this year by Ken Wharton’s blown E.R.A. And in 1952 the Triangle clocked 23.91 sec.
(2) Shades of the Late-‘Twenties. — Nigel Arnold-Forster built this Anzani-engined G.N. Special (1923 chassis) expressly to recapture the carefree(?) atmosphere which prevailed in the nineteen-twenties at venues such as Shelsley Walsh and Lewes. It won the 1 ½-litre vintage class at this year’s V.S.C.C. Prescott Hill-Climb in spite of accidents and oiled plugs.
(3) Humber-Fancier W. L.T. Winder constructed this “special” (seen cornering at Prescott) it is alleged between a Thursday and a Friday, using a 1923 8/18 Humber chassis in which he installed a 1928 Humber 9/20 power unit with four Amal carburetters, thus obtaining something of the urge of a racing light car of the early post-Armistice period without the cost of restoring such a car — even supposing such could be found. (Below)