The 1924 Austin Seven Sports Model
In answer to your inquiry in “The Gordon England Brooklands’ Super Sports Austin Seven” article, I can assure you that two of the production cars, i.e., pointed-tail, two-seater Chummys with flaired wings, exist. One is being restored in the London area, and the other by myself.
The history of my own car is very obscure—it was found, apparently in a shed near Castle Donington some years ago, by a student at Nottingham Technical College. It then passed to another student who used it for nearly a year and a half, and then into my hands, whereupon I completely stripped the car, and have been rebuilding it ever since.
The registration number is TO 6433, which attached itself to the car, according to the log book, in 1927—the chassis is of this date, and the 6-in. brakes had been replaced by 7-in. brakes. which indicates that the body was put on a later chassis during 1927, and the ensuing car re-registered.
The flaired wings were replaced with cycle-type wings, and the C.A.V. electrics replaced by more modern Lucas equipment. Naturally, the b.e. wheels went in favour of 19-in. well-based Chummy wheels, and the spare was re-mounted at some later date on top of the pointed tail, instead of inside (unless it carried more than one spare!), with resulting damage to the rather thin aluminium bodywork.
As I still require a great number of early parts, the rebuild was hardly begun, but the London car may be fairly close to completion by now. I hope that news of more of these cars, especially the Gordon England “Brooklands”, will reach you, and within a few years they may not be quite as unknown as today.
In your January 1965 article, “The Cars of Betty Haig”, appears a description of the Sports Austin Seven, which would do “44 m.p.h. in middle gear”. The article goes on to say: “The Avon tyres used to burst . . .”—so perhaps my car did carry more than one spare!
Leicester. Chris Leach.
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In Europe with a Dennis “Toastrack”
We have just returned from a trip around Europe and thought you may be interested to hear about it, as we travelled in the 1929 Dennis “Toastrack” bus which appeared in your June issue, on the Brighton run. We were nine newly graduated engineers from Southampton University.
The trip lasted six weeks and took us through Belgium, W. Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Switzerland and France, a total of 3,500 miles. The only trouble we experienced was a short circuit in the Klaxon switch, which caused our lights to blow.
Amongst the passes we went over were the Grim-Glockner and the St. Bernard, both taken at walking pace with frequent stoppages to replace water lost by boiling. At the summit of the former we were given a fantastic reception by hundreds of people who had overtaken us the way up. Indeed throughout the trip great interest was taken in the “Rack”, several people asking it if was for sale. We were not the only unusual Dennis travelling on the Continent for coming out of Switzerland into France we met a brand new Dennis Dustcart— have Dennis will travel!
Epsom. M. D. Kimber.
R. A. Heaver.
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Is it the Engine from Napier L48?
I am wondering if you could help me to identify an early racing engine which I have out here in Australia. Photographs are enclosed.
This engine is a Napier and was brought to Australia I think around 1908, for installation in a racing motor boat. When fitted to Mr. Cornwall’s motor boat “Nautilus” this engine won the Griffith Cup in 1914 and again in 1915, the Griffith Cup being the premier Australian racing boat award. When converted for boat use this engine was fitted with a new water circulating pump and some alterations were made to the crankshaft. I have however located the original pump used on the engine when it was fitted to a car and this pump stands out prominently in the photographs. The evidence that the engine was used in a racing car is very strong, not only from the type of water pump used but the engine still has the original bronze car type clutch pilot bearing in the end of the crankshaft. The rear bearer on the valve side has been cut away to take a car type exhaust pipe. As you will see from the photographs of the valve side of the engine, vertical pipes from the ports, in the normal Napier manner of the period, can run down and clear all excepting the rear engine bearer. The pipe for the rear cylinder has apparently been made with a small offset and the bearer cut away to clear it.
Mr. Jack Day who worked on this engine when it was installed in the boat tells me that the engine had been originally used in a racing car in England. He had in fact carried out some of the modifications and fitting work. The ignition system as used on the boat originally had been of the Napier “synchronised” type driven by a small vertical shaft running from a skew gear unit at the end of the camshaft. Later this ignition system was replaced by a double-spark six-cylinder Roach magneto operating two plugs in each cylinder.
The engine is of very light construction for its size. The cylinders are very thin and have electro deposited copper water jackets. Bore of this engine is 6¼ in. and stroke 5 in.
The only Napier car which I can identify with an engine of this size is the old L48, later called Sampson. I have photos of this car in its early form and some of these photos show the crankcase projecting from underneath the car and it is obviously that of the engine which I have or one similar. I do not have-any photos of a Sampson engine looked at from above.
There are many photos of this old car and it is obvious that it had been altered many times using various engines cooling systems, different types of wheels, etc., etc. It seems to be a feature of racing cars of this period that they were altered so frequently that it is difficult to get identification. The number stamped on the crankcase of my engine is 1320A. I have checked this with Mr. Derek Grossmark who has access to Napier records in England, but he does not have a record of a group of numbers around this time. He does however have numbers related to some engines used in Sampson and they do not include the number of my engine which does however come between some of the numbers of engines used in Sampson. As I cannot find any record of a 6¼ in. x 5 in. engine being used in any other racing car I still think it likely that this engine was originally fitted to L48. The engine as shown in the photographs has been altered in some respects from its original form. The crankshaft has been altered at one time and the flywheel shown was made in Australia. I do not know what happened to the original flywheel.
Melbourne, Australia. A. H. Chamberlain.
Technical Director, Rolloy Piston Company Pty. Ltd.
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Nude or Near-Nude?
With regard to your editorial in the November issue. I think you have made a mistake in the description of a Rolls-Royce mascot. The “Flying Lady” is not nude and has never been so. If you will look closely you will find she is wearing a very fragile and flowing garment. It is this flowing material which forms the wing.
If she is as you say, she has a very peculiar figure!
Birmingham 32. Susan Taylor.
Hon. Secretary, Midland R.-R. Club.
[After writing “nude lady” realised I had dropped one, but console myself with the thought that in 1911 the “Flying Lady” probably looked outrageously nude to many who rode behind her. Especially in comparison with the bathing girls who sometimes formed the mascots of lesser cars in the nineteen-twenties. Today, of course (and perhaps alas!), anything goes and presumably she offends no-one—I nearly wrote “goes unnoticed”—Ed.]
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A Racing Austin 7
When reading your article on the Gordon England Brooklands Super Sports Austin Seven many pleasant memories were revised of my own experiences in those far off days. In 1928, a new manager came to the garage where I was foreman, by the name of Marshall, who was a very keen Austin Seven enthusiast and he brought with him a 1926 Austin Seven that he used; it did not take long before I was involved with him in rebuilding it and tuning the engine to beat the 70 m.p.h. he bragged about.
Of course, we had to work on it in our own time and money was not very plentiful. But I fitted a high-lift camshaft and balanced the conrods and pistons with what few tools were available and ground out the ports as large as possible, even grinding away the top the valve guides and fitted tulip valves with double valve springs making up a special manifold to take a large 30 mm. Solex carburetter. I built the body with an ash frame (broken boat timbers from the local shipyard) covered with plywood. There was quite an argument about colour, until I finally bought a tin of every colour in Woolworths and let everyone paint a patch, finally outlining each colour with a thin black line and entered it in various events as “Camouflage” and after various trial runs went out to check top speed which was 55 m.p.h. in 2nd and 75 m.p.h. in top. This was with myself driving, and I was 6 ft. 1 in. and thirteen stone, and my co-driver as passenger, who was fifteen stone. I point this out because I found there was no road wide enough to go flat out without this weight to keep her steady, for she only had standard steering.
As the speed was only speedo-reading and that driven by a spring belt from the cardan shaft I was convinced the real speed was higher.
We then entered the Speed Trials at Brighton and came in first in our class. In 1929 the great day came when we entered the International Relay Race at Brooklands with two Rileys to make the team. The first Riley went well and did its 30 laps at an average speed of 70 m.p.h. but the second Riley drew into the pits after the first lap with a big-end gone, leaving our little “dark horse” to do 59 laps. She completed 54 laps at about 74 m.p.h. before she too ran an end; if she had only held out I think we would have been placed 7th or 8th. Everyone was very proud of our effort for I remember the winners were a team of Austin Special single-seaters, lapping at 100 m.p.h., So there was no disgrace with this sort if opposition.
Littlehampton. R. V. Cobden.
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The Jarrot Austin 7
I was very interested to read your article on the Gordon England Brooklands Model and wonder whether any of your readers remember the Jarrot “Speed” Model Austin 7.
My father owned one of these cars from 1931 to 1935, when he sold it. It had an aluminium body with a pointed tail very similar to a Type 15 Bugatti. It had no doors and a very spartan hood. The upholstery was leathercloth. The dashboard equipment included a rev.-counter driven from the timing gears and a clock (which never worked). The chassis was more or less standard but the engine was tuned as it had a high-lift cam and larger valves. The compression ratio was also raised and my father thinks a Solex carburetter was fitted.
Apparently they were manufactured in Wolverhampton from about 1927 to 1929, my father’s being a 1927 car. Very few must have been made because my father says in his four years of ownership he never saw another one.
When he obtained it, from a garage in Reading, it had a red body and black wings (cycle type). It apparently had a very good performance and he was able to obtain 65 m.p.h. on occasions. It had an external exhaust which was he assumes straight through, as it was very noisy.
He says he had very little trouble with the car until his last year of ownership when the c.w. and pinion stripped and a crankshaft broke, the latter forcing him to sell the car to a man its Chiswick.
Unfortunately no photos exist of this car as they were all destroyed during the war but he believes that the Reg. No. was JW 31 – – with two other numbers.
He says he is sure it must be remembered by the police in the Kingston area as he was stopped twice for speeding there!
I wonder if this car does still exist? My father does remember seeing it about two years after he sold it in a very sorry state; buzzing around Richmond. I would be pleased to hear from any past or present owners of these seemingly very rare cars.
Surbiton. E. D. Howell.
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Gordon England Austin 7s
I was interested to read your notes on Gordon England Austin Sevens but had not realised that these small sports cars had become so rare. Perhaps this is because one used to turn up on the Kings Lynn to Hunstanton veteran and vintage parades held in the mid-sixties. It was a very original car in red and black, even having the proper exhaust. I last saw it about three years ago.
Attleborough. Tony Cardy.
[Cup Model or Brooklands Speed Model?—Ed.]
I own a 1927 Gordon England Silent Saloon and, after reading your article in Motor Sport, I wonder whether this might be of interest as a follow up.
It was collected from the factory in August 1927 by the one and only owner.
It has only done 16,000 miles and is in 100% original condition (tyres, spark plugs etc. are the same ones as supplied new).
I have checked all the usual channels and by all accounts it is the only one in existence.
The engine number is M44493 and chassis number 44176.
The side lights had been taken off before I brought the car home on a trailer. These lit on the top of the front wings.
I purchased the car from an elderly gentleman in Sussex who had it under old papers and sacks in a garage. This car now joins a 1925 Austin Chummy and a 1926 Austin “Top Hat” which I own.
Enfield, Paul Nicholas.
I have just completed a rebuild of a Gordon England Cup Model and read with interest your article on the Brooklands Model, I have been trying for some time to try and trace one of these cars, without success.
The Cup model is an excellent little car with a Ricardo head, sports block and Jack French camshaft; it will do just under the legal limit, though the road holding does become a little unpredictable at that speed.
Glasgow. Tom Abernethy.
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14/40 or 16/60
Far from crossing pens with my good friend Keith Poynter, may I say that in all probability we are both right in parts! My latest information on the Lea-Francis RPK 500 suggests that the engine, LFS 318, came from the Vulcan-produced two-seater tourer chassis LFS 304. In all probability this was a 2-litre car, a 16/60, and I shall in due course confirm this from the old Works records. This car was written off in 1934, but the engine was salvaged for use as a speedboat engine.
The axles, however, must have come from a Lea and Francis produced car, as they are of narrower track and different design to those used on the Vulcan-built LFS cars. They are of the same type as those used on the 14/40 T type Leaf, and this makes me think that they must have come, together with the various other parts like the gear and steering boxes, from the 14/40 chassis 15066. This chassis number has been the one used for the car in question ever since I have had any knowledge of it. I should think whoever did the first rebuild used the chassis number of the car from which most of the parts were drawn, though the actual chassis frame bears no resemblance to any Leaf made!
Incidentally, I have not heard any more of the 1½-litre single o.h.c. prototype or the Lobster mentioned in my last letter, and would still be glad to hear from anyone who has any knowledge, however small, of these two cars.
Sutton Goldfield. Peter Pringle,
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Credit Where Due
Your reference in the current issue of Motor Sport to the fact that a test involving the starting of the car by the use of the starting-handle was incorporated in the tests at the recent S.T.D. Wolverhampton Rally reminds me that such a test, in which each entrant was timed from the moment he was given the “go” while standing alongside driver’s door until the car had been successfully started on the handle, the driver had gained his seat and the driven wheels had made one complete forward revolution with the car in gear, used to form part of the tests used on several occasions by the Humber Register in 1950s when this Register held a Midland Rally in which all the test hills and the majority of the tests were those used on the Victory Cup and Economy Car Trials of the 1920s. These Midland Rallies of the Humber Register were held some years before the idea of the Inter-Register meetings had become a reality, but were open by invitation to the Alvis 12/50 and Fiat Registers, and on at least one occasion to members of the V.M.C.C. also, as was only appropriate when it is remembered that the original Trials of the vintage period were primarily for motor-cycles, with only a comparatively small car entry. Also, this was before the current spate of organisational and administrative restrictions, and one’s memory indicates that much happy motoring enjoyed by all.
Tenbury. A. B. Demuas,
Founder, The Humber Register.
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Coventry Rileys are not £5 of Old Iron!
It made my hair stand on end to see the Link-Hampson advertisement for their STP oil on page 1002 of your November issue. How could a reputable manufacturer include a picture of a P.V.T. Riley and call it one of the “old irons” and expect your vintage enthusiast readers not to be incensed? The copywriter makes matters even worse by inferring that Rileys are bangers (but at least he admits they are faithful!). His ignorance is complete when he talks about an ignition key. As you well know, the Riley 9 didn’t have a key—the magneto was in and out of circuit with a push-pull knob. When will manufacturers learn to choose an advertising agency which knows what it is talking about and which can produce an advertisement which isn’t an insult to the vintage motoring fraternity?
As the owner of a Riley Gamecock I, for one, will never think of buying this oil. In fact, I wouldn’t touch it with a proverbial bargepole, if only on a point of principle. It runs perfectly well (admittedly with timing gear clatter which neither STP nor any other oil would cure) with 100% reliability.
Sidcup. John H. Foster.
[We thought this would cause anger amongst Coventry Riley owners and expected a letter from the Riley Register. In fairness to STP the advertisement did refer to “faithful bangers”, valuing them at £5. Or was that adding salt to the blue diamond wound?—Ed.]