Jack Lemon Burton
The Bugatti Owners’ Club President Jack Lemon Burton has died from a heart attack, aged 83. Not only is this a terrible shock to the BOC but all Bugatti worshippers will be immensely saddened, along with followers of the vintage-car movement the world over. Born in 1911, lack was educated at Kilburn Grammar School. His first motorcycle was an OK in 1924, but later that year lack was out and about in his father’s car, overcoming his age by the expedient of wearing his parent’s bowler-hat while his father put on Jack’s school-cap!
His aptitude for matters mechanical was shown when he sold his Headmaster a steam engine he had made, and a electrical buzzer for the lab. He also repaired the Head’s fishing punt. . . He purchased his first Bugatti in 1927, a Full Brescia, and joined the BOC in 1929. From then on lack was an inveterate Bugatti man, buying his second one, a Type 37, from Malcolm Campbell, in 1930. Every variation of the Molsheim marque became known to lack, who raced them with successes at Brooklands and elsewhere from 1934, and who set up his business in Kilburn, by the railway arches, to sell and repair them. I used to look with respect at the big Bugatti-blue doors wherever I drove past.
A big, reserved man with a great sense of humour, Lemon Burton never “pushed” his intimate knowledge of all Bugatti types, but he would quietly help those in need, and as quietly race his beloved cars. He had owned every kind of Bugatti and could boast (quietly of course) that before the war he had owned two of those great Ettore white-elephants, the Royale. He was an early member of the BOC and was later elected Vice-President, then President, of this exclusive Club. His other love was his Paynesfield Railway, a 7¼in-gauge line running the two miles between his houses in Albourne, Sussex, with 10 locos and six wagons, and a 15in-track, two miles long, taking seven years to lay, served by two steam locos, a diesel engine, and seven wagons.
Jack Lemon Burton had a good life — and his kind are now seldom seen. Our condolences to his wife and his vast number of friends, in their irreplaceable loss. W B
R J W Appleton
Sadly, we learn of the passing of another personality from the world of amateur motor-racing of the pre-war and later period — John Appleton. He is best remembered as a very enthusiastic Special builder. This began in 1933 when he acquired the sports 1100cc Maserati which Henken Widengren and R F Oats had run unsuccessfully in the 1931 TT. Appleton changed the engine for that from a Riley 9 and commenced a long and notable career with the car, which by 1936 had been extensively modified and had changed from the Maserati-Riley into the Appleton Special, now with a three-bearing Laystall crank and a new single-seater body; the claim was 120bhp. Appleton ran the revised car at Brooklands, where he had competed with a Bugatti in 1932, and at the new Donington Park circuit, and of course in sprints, at Shelsley Walsh for instance, where he had a class-win in 1935.
With the true Appleton Special John had another class-win at Shelsley and won at Brooklands, where he also set a Class-G Mountain-circuit lap record of 76.1 mph which stands for all time, and did some other record-breaking, including a s s mile at over 91 mph. By 1937 the big Zoller supercharger had given place to an even more massive 27 psi Arnott, and A F Ashby helped the Riley valve-gear to cope. Good results followed, at Brooklands, the Crystal Palace and at the Poole speed-trials, etc. After WW2, with the engine de-tuned to suit non-racing fuels, using now a Roots blower, Appleton made a Shelsley climb in 47.1 sec and entered the 1937 JCC International Trophy race before selling the car in the early 1950s. MOTOR SPORT appreciated the enthusiasm of this inveterate Special builder, publishing a full description of his car before the war. He will long be remembered, especially by those running their own specials. W B
MG exponents will have been especially devasted on hearing of the death of John Thomley, aged 85. He joined the MG Service Department in 1931, rising to General Manager of the MG Car Company by 1952, and became Director-General of MGs to his retirement, saddened by the Leyland takeover, in 1969. From being the MGCC’s first Hon Secretary, Thornley was later elected President of this Club he had founded. With a break during the war, when John served as a Lt-Colonel, all his life was spent promoting the cars he loved, especially in competition, and his book “Maintaining The Breed” was the first motor-racing history to give attention to technical details. It was, of course, an MG saga, about trials, racing and record-breaking. Our condolences to Joanne (whom John met when she worked in the Abingdon drawing office) and her two children. W B