Letters from Readers, February 1939



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The letter of Mr. Rivers Fletcher in the December issue describing his Talbot Eight interested me very much indeed. In 1922 my father bought the first Talbot Darracq I..;ight, chassis No. D1, which was, I think, identical to your correspondent’s car, except for the radiator. The car was then some months old and had been used by a “learner,” so possibly she -did not have a very fair start in life.

However, between 1922 and 1927, 45,000 miles were covered, with no mechanical failure. Small Hartford shock-absorbers were fitted to the front, set transversely behind the number plate. This improved the already exceptional road-holding and made her more comfortable to drive altogether. I think the engine was rebored at 30,000, but I am not certain as to the exact figures.

The car was then sold to a friend who during the next six years covered 17,000 .miles. He fitted an electric starter, rear shock absorbers and a set of Lucas lights, the original being rather poor. He repaired the chassis when it cracked behind the front spring and replaced the crownwheel and, pinion by a second-hand set. Nothing was done to the engine.

In 1933 my father bought the car back from him for L1 and passed it on for ” family use.” By this time the steering had worn considerably and we replaced it by a Morris steering box and column, with a spring spoked wheel, lowering the whole lot which allowed a lower seating position. The propeller shaft had got bent somehow, so we threw away the whole transmission system after finding a very good prop. shaft and back axle in a breaker’s yard. These were not 1922 vintage, but could not have been much after 1925. The rear springs were set up as they had collapsed a little. A new wind-screen, hood and side-screens were fitted, and the body cellulosed. We ran it for two years (7,000 miles approximately) and then decided to enter for the R.A.C. Eastbourne Rally. For this we had a fairly comprehensive inspection, fitted new valve springs and raised the compression slightly. The lower end of the engine was found to be in excellent order. A spare coil alongside the 1922 version was fitted and a spare battery next to that already installed–a precaution, as two nights’ driving would

undoubtedly take a lot out of the battery due to the different lighting arrangement. Our friend, the previous owner, knowing the car and being an excellent navigator as well, volunteered to come as my codriver, and starting from London, we had a trouble free—though not uneventful—rtm to Eastbourne via Truro, Leamington Spa, Llandudno and King’s Lynn. One thousand and fifty miles were covered in 38i hours all in. The road section

was simply a question of keeping on and on, but the ” circus” tests at the end were short and sharp, to say the least. Restarting on a 1 in 5 gradient with a 12 to 1 gear and a very fierce clutch called for more than a little delicacy, but she made it.

We won an award, though it was neither a first, nor a second-class one, but it was distinctly gratifying to have competed against modern cars and finished by no means last on the score sheet.

I have partnered competitors in two other Rallies, but 1935 was by far the most enjoyable, in spite of the added comfort of the modern cars, one of which had an engine almost six times as large as the Talbot.

Until the end of that year the car was in regular use, and was then stored away (somewhere where she cannot be found I). Perhaps in 1942, possibly before, she will emerge to compete again on equal terms with modern efficiency. I am, Yours etc.,

IVAN H ILL. Addlestone.



In the late summer of 1937 I found in a Coventry scrap yard a 1929 saloon Salmson with double camshaft engine. This was purchased Jess body and radiator, for £3 ; less radiator because the dealer considered this was worth ” ‘alf a quid as scrap.”

A bull-nose Cowley radiator was fitted and a rough plywood body faked on, the motor then being ready for use.

As a reliability machine it was not a Star, but for entertainment quite good. It completed two or three runs from the Midlands to North Wales. Although the chassis was in excellent order, the engine was more than a trifle

weary and its performance hardly justified its temperament. One bright Sunday therefore the machine was assaulted and entirely dismantled. The offending engine was carted back whence it came, and for this and 25/ a 1924 Alvis 12/50 short stroke engine obtained.

At first sight it seemed impossible to fit this, but after several operations had been performed on the frame and a robust sub-frame made, the vehicle emerged from its lair possessed of an engine of unusual virtue.

Performance on the road was gratifying. The steering, which had been the Outstanding virtue earlier, was in no way impaired, and far more urge was available. The original three speed gearbox seemed inadequate, it was therefore ruthlessly torn out. 10/and a lot of thought and hard work sufficed for the fitting of an Alvis four-speed box. This, of course, necessitated re-organisation of the pedals, handbrake and gear change mechanism.

It is hoped that the motor will be ready for at least a few weeks’ motoring in the early spring.

Another vehicle of great interest was a T.T. type Lea-Francis, also found in a scrap yard and purchased by a friend. This only Cost L7/1010, though the blower was absent. Perhaps as much money again was spent on this car and made it into a really first-class road machine. A great deal of trouble was experienced in getting this car registered as the number plates were missing. Enquiries of the works revealed the interesting fact that this car was actually one of the 1928 T.T. team.

The Talbot Eight seems to have been in MOTOR SPORT news recently.

A noble saloon of this type was given to the owner of the Lea-Francis, by which it was towed forty miles from the field where it had spent two years.

When we got it home we found only one plug in the engine. Three more were dug out of the garage floor and another battery fitted, and this grand fourteen-year-old motor started after three turns. I am, Yours etc.,

D. R. ADAMS. Leamington Spa.


I should be interested to have some other reader’s opinion as to the type of open four-seater sports-car in the 0004200 second-hand class which would be likely to give me most enjoyment to own and drive for 5,000 or 6,000 milts’ running in Britain and on the Continent next summer. I don’t, naturally, wish to spend more than ;s necessary but would not object to 000-025 for four months’

running, including all expenses and allowing for loss on resale of car. The following occur to me. in fact there are so many that I’m in a complete quandary :

3 and 41-litre Bentleys; 36/220 and 38/250 Mercedes; 30/98 Vauxhall ; Le Mans and Mark II Aston-Martins: litre Lagonda Rapide ; Alvis Speed Twenty ; Talbot 05; M.G. Magnette ” N ” ; Frazer-Nash ; lf and 2-litre M.G. • 11-litre Riley.

Which would you choose ? I am, Yours etc.,


Burma. * * * Sir,

I read Mr. Maiden’s letter, published in the January issue, with interest and I assure him that, provided all the pieces are there, he will be well repaid by putting an old Alphonso Hispano into commission again.

I ran these cars from about 1928 to 1934 and had nothing but admiration for them. I found them exceedingly comfortable and economical while the average speed on long distances was amazing and compared favourably with my present 30/98, taking the difference in size into consideration.

I would warn him, however, to see that the rear hubs are a good fit on the half-shafts otherwise he will find himself a wheel short on occasions.

Square shafts are used throughout the transmission in place of the usual splines and if these become a little worn considerable play develops.

The brakes are not up to present day standards, there being metal to metal on the rear and a Ferodo lined transmission brake.

I scrapped the latter and fitted an F.W.B. axle from an Aster, which I use to this day on my 30/08.

The reserve oil tank with the float chamber on the crank ease was an excellent idea and I found the oil consumption to be negligible.

The only mechanical trouble I had in well over 100,000 miles was when I foolishly allowed the water pump to freeze and when I started the engine the end of the impeller shaft snapped off and fell in among the timing gears, which, themselves, were a work of art, each bronze wheel being in two sections, spring loaded to take up any back lash.

I note that the car he has in mind has a four-speed box which means that it is a long chassis model with a back axle ratio of 3.5 against the three-speed short chassis job’s 2.9, while mine had a special axle of 2.5.

The way the four-cylinder 80 x180 c.c. engine used to pull that gear ratio always astonished me. Bottom gear was 7 to 1.

The chassis frame was the last word in rigidity and I was told that they were stamped by Ruberg Owen & Co.

I feel sure that Mr. Maiden, or anyone else with a suitable outlook, would get a great deal of satisfaction out of one of these cars. I am, Yours etc.,

E. J. 1VI00R. Warwickshire. Sir,

I just received the January issue of your paper and I would, however, point out to you that an error appears on page 6. Our Club, the Netherlands Automobile Racing Club now having 250 members, made Mrs. Kay Petre an honorary member and not Protectress. This was the original idea, but later on it was thought better, with a view to our regulations, to make her an honorary member. Other honorary members of the N.A.R.C. are Lord Howe, Percy Bradley, and Charles Faroux. Referring to that 3-litre British Grand Prix Car, I see much has been written in the last months about England taking part again in International Formula Racing, and we in Holland, and generally on the Continent, have been following with interest the cons and pros as discussed in several of your sporting papers. A very good and interesting article in the last issue of MOTOR SPORT is : “On Some Factors Affecting the Future.” My opinion and that of many of my friends is, in short, the following. As is pointed out frequently England is no doubt in a position to build a Grand Prix winning car because in the matter of materials, engineering, tuning, supereharging, h.p. per litre, driving, etc., it holds its own with any other country of the world. Vide Goldie Gardner’s M.G. record, the E.R.A., the Alta, the Austin and the marvellous cars of Eyston and Cobb. There has been talk of a National fund with which to build and organise a racingworks, and later to build a trial car, and later still to build a team which must further be tried out. But did the writers think of the time involved ? It would take three years to come to the starting line with those cars. And wouldn’t it be very difficult to get the important people of different works working together ? Each in his own sphere they are excellent, but it would take months to make them believe in a common ideal racing-car. And every year the glory Of the green fades I Of course it is necessary to come with a good tried-out team but I think that in 1940 England would have two teams if that sum of £150,000 or £200,000 could be raised in some way or another. The present formula need not be altered at all, and I think that 1-1-litie racing is a game apart of the 3-litre. The 3-litre formula is good for years to come. Many enthusiasts and people-inthe-know in England will, I think, agree with me, when I say that the E.R.A. and Alta works have done all experimental work (and with cars, bigger than 111-litre) which is necessary and that this work, which is done for 11-litre cars, is in many ways absolutely all right for present-day,

fast-revving, low-built 3-litre cars. My suggestion (and that of many of you who read this I’m sure) is as follows. As all is of course a question of money and money and again money, it is necessary to get that much-talked-of sum together. But do not spend it to build expensive new works ! Divide the sum equally between E.R.A. and Alta, so that .E.R.A. will be able to develop that 2f-litre car and later on the 3-litre unit, and so that Alta can build some of their 3-litre cars which are listed at the moment. Their experience with 2-litre models will be a big help.

Both works have done an immense amount of experimental work and they both know what to build and how I When the money (at least L50,000 for each) can be raised in one or one and a half months it is as good as guaranteed that in 1940 two teams of three cars each, capable of beating Continental all-corners, will carry the British racing-green again I Get Railton and Eyston to look at the plans now and then, and let Howe, ‘ I3ira,” Seaman, Mays, Dobson, Dodson, Martin, Machin, Abecassis and perhaps some others drive those cars ; with Howe as general team-manager. In the middle of 1940 they will be able to wipe up any Grand Prix ; and that’s not the bunkum probably some of you will think it is ! It is a very sorry thing, but there is no getting away from the fact that plenty of money will do the trick. Only with money can the cars be developed and tried out. It’s up to the sports-car owner, to the driver of the big Rolls, to the man in the small utility-car, to every sporting driver who likes to see England on top of Grand Prix racing again. I am, ‘Yours etc.,





The description ” short-chassis ” is so often applied, to my 8-litre Bentley that I think it will come as a surprise to many to know that the wheel-base is no less than 11 ft. 1 in.

May I be permitted this opportunity to correct an error which crept into the columns of September MOTOR SPORT, due no doubt to my not having expressed myself clearly at a previous interview. The standing start mile record I then had it in mind to attack was not John Cobb’s British ” unlimited” of about 102 m.p.h., but a very different kettle of fish in the shape of the old British Class B record of something over 88 m.p.h. standing to the credit of the late Parry Thomas. I am, Yours etc.,


S.W.5. * * *



I should be grateful if any of your readers could inform me of their experiences as to the 1925 to 11927 20 h.p.

Rolls-Royce. I am interested in performance and consumption as I intend purchasing one of these cars. I am, Yours etc.,

D. CHARLES. * * * Sir,

I have recently been rebuilding a 1 f-litre Alta during this winter and the work is almost complete and I hope to have the car ready in time for the opening meeting.

As I intend to compete at various meetings I should be grateful if you know of a fellow enthusiast willing to assist in the work at odd times, and also to accompany me as pit mechanic at the events I attend. I am, Yours etc.,