Letters from Readers, February 1937



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The article in your January issue entitled “On the Trend of Racing-car Design” has, I think, raised a point that is worrying a number of people who follow motor-racing at the present time.

Are the wrong type of people going to be attracted to the new racing circuits ?

We who like fast motor-cars and appreciate the atmosphere of enthusiasm that abounds at Brooklands and elsewhere are not, I think you will agree, given to shouting, cat-calling or rattleswinging, and in my humble opinion it would be a thousand pities if this type of crowd “supported” motor-racing in the future as they do the speedway and football teams now.

Perhaps I may be accused of being snobbish or unduly pessimistic, but it does seem to me that every effort should be made to keep in view the basic principle of motor-racing, the improving of the breed first, and the spectacle of speed and the sensationalism last.

However, I will take heart again, since in all probability no interest will be taken by the general public unless there is 00,000 to be won in a sweepstake, or little coupons are issued proclaiming fantastic monetary rewards for those who forecast the first three places correctly in the next Grand Prix.

With every good wish for the future of a very enjoyable MOTOR SPORT. I am, yours etc., C. 14, DENSIIAM. Wallington,


Mr. Densham outlines a situation which is what the author had in mind When penning his opening paragraphs and he is glad that one enthusiast, at least, sees eye to eye with him. He feels, however, that speed, in itself, can be satisfactorily presented without ” cheapening” the sport, as witness the sight of heavy metal at full bore up the weather-scarred banking at Weybridge. The question of the extent of public interest is no light one— perhaps a really good crash at one of the new road courses will be the deciding I actos.—Ed.



I thought that you might possibly be interested to hear of a ” hybrid” which is now in process of construction.

The underlying idea was to obtain, for the lowest possible figure, a car which would be fun to drive, and the components had to be selected always bearing in mind the old adage about “cutting one’s coat according to the cloth.” After casting about for some time a 1930 Hillman Straight-Eight fabric saloon in a very dilapidated condition was found, and the engine being in reasonable trim— although nothing else was much good—it

was acquired for a sum a little higher than a breaker’s price.

These cars never earned themselves a very good reputation, but as they were in production for four years, I do not think that there can have been anything fundamentally wrong with them, and that not a great deal was known about the carburetion of straight eights in 1929 when they were introduced. It is improbable that the Hillman Motor Car Co. Ltd. will disappear for some years, and therefore parts should be easily obtainable at reasonable prices.

I discovered that the Hillman Straight Eight chassis weighed 22 cwt., and therefore looked around for a light but sturdy chassis into which I could fit the engine, and I eventually found a 1932 Vauxhall “Cadet,” which was again purchased for a very low sum. Here again, the question of replacement parts was taken into consideration but the deciding factor was that it is one of the very few medium size cars for which a high ratio crown wheel and

pinion could be obtained. The 3-litre Bentley or 30/98 Vauxhall, for example, stand almost alone in having back-axle ratios in the threes, but the Vauxhall Cadet was available for export with -a 27 h.p. engine and a 10/39 pinion and crown wheel combination. In addition, the chassis weight was only about 17i cwt. The Vauxhall was stripped right down, and a new crown wheel and pinion fitted in place of the 9/46 combination, and the Hillman engine unit has been mounted a foot further back than the original engine. As it was six inches longer, this has necessitated cutting eighteen inches out

of the propeller shaft. The Hinman radiator has been mounted just behind the front axle, and at the same time it has been dropped four inches relative to the engine. This has meant some alteration to the water fittings, and it is very much farther from the fan than it was previously. If necessary, a cowl will be added to improve the cooling.

The Hilhnan gear-box has been retained, partly because I have a very Strong preference for right-hand controls, and partly because it is a four-speed unit. In any case, it would be very difficult to adapt any other gear-box. The alteration in axle ratio gives me 3.9 top, 0.1 third, 10:1 second and 15.5 bottom. The car will therefore turn out like a three-speed car with, an emergency bottom for use in trials. I have always wanted a five-speed box, for 0:1 is not nearly high enough for third speed to my mind. I like a car to be capable of 75 m.p.h in third gear, like my Prazer-Nash, which has a 4.8 third. I expected that the steering would turn out to be rather a problem, but it has been overcome by using the Marks steering of the Hillman (which is attached to the engine unit), and after cutting the ends off the two drag links, about

s’-, inch was machined off the Vauxhall one, which enabled it to be inserted about four inches into the Hillman one. The two drag links have been shrunk together and the exposed joint welded, and owing to the different lengths of the steering arms and drop arm, it now requires only lf turns of the wheel from lock to lock. The Vauxhall brake gear was operated by means of a cross shaft, rrorn which cables ran to the back axle, and rods

forward. The Hillman had the same arrangement but without the cross shaft, and it has been found possible to utilise the Hillman brake rods and the Vauxhall cables without any difficulty.

The exciting point when I shall be able to “see what she will do” is now rapidly approaching, for there only remains the hand brake to rig up before a battery is connected up to operate the coil, and a test tank rigged up, and then I shall be able to have it in motion.

The complete car, is, of course, a long way off yet, bonnet, wings, seats and instruments etc., are going to take longer than the chassis erection, but I estimate that it should weigh just under a ton, and alter I have put some ideas on carburetion into practice, and raised the compression from 5:1 to something more modern—and possibly added a ” blower” —I anticipate that the acceleration should be pretty good. as the volume to weight ratio should be about .8 lb. per c.c. I am, yours etc.,


Hants. * * *



I think it would be of interest to your readers to hear of an opportunity which might not occur again, to see the Monaco Grand Prix at a comparatively moderate cost as part of their summer holidays.

After much correspondence and cajolery I have persuaded the P. & O. Steam Navigation Co. to run a cruise—S.S. ” Strathmore “—starting on July :31st for a thirteen-day trip including a call at Monte Carlo to see the race.

Needless to say, I am extremely pleased and shall be amongst those Present, where I hope to meet many other enth usiasts. I am, yours etc.,

C. S. CLARK. (loodmayes,


We shall be glad to put any reader in touch with Mr. C. S. Clark.—Ed. * *



I read with interest your recent article “On the Trend of Sports-Car Design” and wonder if you can supply me with some information.

What companies manufacture the Centric and Velox superchargers ?

am interested in obtaining some superchargers for my own car, a Plymouth, and for sale on other cars made here in the United States and I would like to find out whether it would be practical to install a blower on a car of that sort. Would the pressures become too high so that it might be harmful to the engine or transmission ? Is it a very difficult job to install this equipment, and are there standard parts available which can be used ?

If you can refer this enquiry to the proper companies I would appreciate it greatly, as I am planning on putting on a rather interesting sales campaign if I find the equipment is available at a reasonable cost.

I enjoyed reading your fine magazine and plan to buy it regularly, and learn something of the sporting side of motoring, a thing we get little of in this country. I am, yours etc.,

Lawrence Crolius. New York, U.S.A.

We shall be pleased to forward any letters to this correspondent that we receive at this office.—Ed. Sir,

For many years, and at present, we have been very much interested in speed work, and are well known in the United States for our work in this field. We are at present interested in a supercharger for the American Ford V8, 1984-35-36 and the large model of 1937. If you know of any firms in England who have such a supercharger, we would be pleased to have their names and addresses so that we may obtain literature, prices and all details from them. We are, yours etc., J. B. Mezey,

Central Winfield Distributor.

New York, U.S.A. Sir,

May I trespass on your space a little ? I am writing on behalf of a group of keen Invicta owners who have decided to meet at 1 o’clock on Sunday, February 14th, for lunch at the Wee Waif Cafe, Twyford, on the Reading By-Pass.

We should be very glad if any other Invicta owners would care to meet us there, as we are having a meeting afterwards to consider the feasibility of forming an “Invicta Car Club” on quite modest lines.

Will any persons interested make their own arrangements with the cafe concerned, and preferably drop me a line as well ? I am, yours etc., DONALD MONRO 4, Tavistock Street,

Covent Garden, W.C.2. * * * * Sir,

Whilst reading your admirable journal I noticed that under the heading of “Rumblings,” Oct-Nov. issue, you have quoted the performance of the ex-Birkin, blown 44-litre Bentley, as having travelled 120 miles in under two hours. ‘) his strikes me as being inconsistent with the Bentley reputation for speed, and endurance, etc.

I drive a 1935 Chevrolet Master Coupe. ‘1 his car whilst not being quite my ideal is admirably suited to the requirements of my job, and cannot he compared with many other British or American cars for speed, etc., yet for the past six months I have been travelling, once a week, from Melbourne to Arardt, a distance of 129 miles, over good roads, most of the way being perfectly smooth and banked. It takes me two hours and ten minutes to do this run, which incidentally passes through a main town, thus cutting down the average considerably. This car has now done 20,000 miles in seven months, has had no attent on other than oil changes every 1,000 miles, one new set of plugs, cleaning and greasing, etc., has been decoked at 10,000 miles, has averaged 20.5 miles to the gallon of petrol, having used 975i gallons to do 20,000 miles, petrol measured from tank when the speedo. registered exactly 20,000—Alba second grad,e petrol being

used, Mobiloil as lubricant. If this is. an average performance for such a earthen the Bentley’s figures are not so good.

I wish it could have been my lot to have been born in England, that is, as far as cars are concerned. Most of the cars I read about in the English magazines are complete strangers in this wilderness. Imagine it. I have never even seen a Frazer-Nash ; E.R.A. ; Aston-Martin ; 3.3 Bugatti ; Maserati ; Alfa-Romeo (after 1929 model)—have seen about two Lagondas, one Invicta, eight or nine Bentleys.

The entire racing colony of Victoria consists of half a dozen Bugattis of various ages, the most modern is a blowrt G.P. 11-litre, about twenty M.G.s, J.4s, J.3s, P types. No Q type in Victoria, two K.3s, a collection of hybrids, one old Alfa, a very nice four-cylinder unblown Riley holds course lap record at Cowes for unblown cars. Cowes is our local track, about three miles circuit, triangular, dusty and the road not too good. I am, yours etc., A. W. THOMPSON. Essertdon, W.5,


Our correspondent seems to have missed the point in connection with Robertson-Roger’s drive in the blown 41-litre Bentley which was for 120 miles up our Great North Road which, though officially Al, is hardly “perfectly smooth and banked.” A 60 m.p.h. average anywhere in this country under the Belisha regime is very good going unless risks are taken—and Mr. Roger is not that kind of a driver.—Ed.