Letters from Readers, February 1942

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Sir,

MOTOR SPORT is the only paper which I really look forward to reading now. Many thanks for supplying such excellent literature on the greatest of all sports.

I have got a Type 37 Bugatti stored away which I am thinking of selling. I drove the car for the first month of the war, but it has since been tucked away only to be started about every three months on the little decent juice left in the tank. A superb £10 1f-litre AlfaRomeo was my next car. It went like a born!) for four months, but eventually an ill-controlled burst of enthusiasm on the local “kill ” caused complete and spontaneous disintegration of the ” woiks.” This was followed by a 1,100-c.c. Fiat, which I have still got, though it. is at present off the road with clutch trouble. It is the ideal wartime car’ no pinking on “Pool,” real steering and brakes. It has not got the urge of a Lancia ” Aprilia,” but makes up for it by complete silence and absence of fuss.

I am greatly looking forward to events like the Stanley Cup Meeting after the war. In my opinion half the fun of any meeting is seeing the incredible number of interesting cars which turn up in the car park, and when these machines actually compete I think you have the answer to the perfect event. I am, Yours etc.,

C. W. LAMBTON. 5th Battn. Coldstream Guards.

Sir.

I have just (after months of patient search) managed to run to earth a vintage Track Morgan three-wheeler, which I have ideas of converting into a four-wheeler.

Anyway, having given the job a good deal of thought and having made very little progress, I went into consultation with a friend who dabbles a bit with fast motors and we dug out MOTOR Soar dated May, 1940, in which there is a most interesting article on racing Morgans by the late Martin Soames.

In the article he mentions that at one time he considered altering his Morgan into a “token ” four-wheeler in order to comply with regulations governing events under the R.A.C. jurisdiction, and he touches briefly on the “standard” method of such a conversion as exemplified by Woodall’s “Chatterbox,” Lones’s “Tiger Cat,” and Breyer’s “Salome.” Apparently this method employs Frazer-Nash countershaft, springs and axle, etc. I should very much like to know how the alteration was carried out on these vehicles, and if you can help me at all, either by an explanation or by putting me in touch with someone who knows all about it, I shall be most deeply grateful. I want to get some expert advice as the engine in the machine (which is said to have lapped at 113 m.p.h. at the Track) is a real “pip “—a “two of everything” ,096-e.e. J.A.P. And I would add that

my friend mentioned in this letter has lately acquired an Arnott blower, so we hope to have fun and games just as soon as everyone loses interest in the war and it stops.

London, E.5. [Quite a few enquiries come in on this subject. If anyone with practical experience of the job would care to help, the space is available. But surely a Morgan on three wheels is reasonably stable and handleable ?—Ed .1 Sir,

You have my sincere thanks for carrying on the production of your unique and, in these days, invaluable magazine. It is invaluable to me as a link with that marvellous time that ended in September, 1939, apparently ” eons ” ago.

It is still delivered to me out here, being sent on by my dutiful parents, and in due course being passed on to younger brother, who is having a period of wrestling with an observer’s course in Canada. I imagine that there are very few copies of MOTOR SPORT on this side of the Atlantic.

Over here automobiles are being produced in the same regular annual manner that prevailed in England during “those days.’ However, most of the “improvements “to the 1942 models merely consist of the usual alterations to grilles, speed lines, etc., that characterised the American styles. The designers never seem to be satisfied with a grille design however pleasing, but insist on altering it yearly for the mere sake of change. Some of this year’s changes are distinctly fearsome, De Sotos frontal appearance being akin to that of an angry dragon. All these Yank machines are very estimably comfortable vehicles, but they lack that ” something ” that even the cheapest British car has.

In Canada, however, I saw numerous Morris Tens and Eight,;, Austins, an aged bull-nose Morris-Cowley and a 41-litre Bentley coupe. Florida, on the other hand, seems to boast of an incredible number of Austin Sevens of the American variety similar to the British 1982-3 model and a goodly collection of the toylike “Bantams.” However, motoring over here is strictly utilitarian and not very exciting or worthy of comment.

I therefore wish you continued success in your publication during the coming year and the hope that it will continue to go from strength to strength. I am. Yours etc.,

CADET G. A. PERROTT, R.A.F. Alabama. Sir, I noticed in your December issue, under “Club News,” that Norman Massey Riddell was ” doing ” some interesting I am, Yours etc.,

R. J. SPICELEY.

” 12/50 ” Alvis conversions, one of which I thought out about five years ago, namely, the ” Lancia front end.” I gave it up because, having owned a number of the early Lancias, fifth, seventh and eighth series, it was obvious that the whole principle of the system depended on an absolutely rigid chassis. I had a cracked radiator shell on a ” fifth series ” and it completely spoilt steering and suspension, and later other peculiarities were all traced to similar sources. I could not think of a really practical way of making the Alvis chassis rigid, so I bought the old Doctor Beaver’s “silver car,” on which West and Chittenden, of Lancia fame, had fitted a wider and lower front axle. This was wrapped as a car, but the front axle was built on to A later-type chassis and the suspension altered and, with a very much modified engine and transmission and an extremely light body, became the basis of the present car. Incidentally, the body was made of Steamed ash, plywood, cotton wool and fabric, since I decided that, for trials, flexibility was essential, and after four years of very hard work there are no rattles or signs of weakness anywhere and it really is light.

Perhaps Mr. Riddell has thought of a way of stiffening the whole thing up ? I should be very interested if he cared to write to me and maybe I could give him some information which would help him.

I am very fortunate in that I am still getting a lot of miles in on official journeys. I was very lucky in being able to purchase for a quite modest sum a 1932 “i2’50 ” 2-seater Alvis in Scotland, owned all its life by a schoolmaster and completely rebuilt mechanically by the works just before August, 1939, and it has given me some very quick and reliable motoring recently. Also for business reasons I am using a 2-litre Triumph saloon, which is a lot less like the modern tin saloon than most, but it is a saloon all the same.

In getting about as I do I meet. lots of people and get a chance to discuss cars almost. as of old, and it is quite surprising how many optimists are rushing around, like that peculiar bird one used to hear so much of, chasing engines and spares and chassis for the evolving of strange ” Specials ” ” for afterwards,” myself among them. My great difficulty is that so many interesting pieces of machinery keep cropping up, making it very difficult to know what to attempt. Then, of course, storage is a great problem and one which Anthony Heal seems to have settled in a very novel way. Being on a farm I am fairly well off myself for room. Finally I would like to extend an open invitation to any of the old enthusiasts, V.S.C.C. or otherwise, who happen to be in the neighbourhood to drop in on a Sunday or any evening. Preferably ring up first. I Tsually someone or other

is here. Robson, of the Lancia, Jack Riddy, Denis Clapham, etc. I am, Yours etc.,

G. F. FOXLEE. [Anyone who would like to take advantage of George Foxlee’s enthusiastic invitation should ring Littlewiek Green 283.-Ed.] Sir,

From time to time MOTon SPORT devotes some space to small sports cars which suit the young man, or otherwise, of modest means, and I feel that during these Ones such types are especially interesting. In 1934-5 there was quite a variety of small English sporting cars. A point about them was the popularity of the occasional 4-seater body, which was surely a more useful type than the pure 2-seater. However, for some reason it seems to have gone out of fashion for sports cars. Indeed, very few open carS, except standard 8-h.p. models, were offered for 1939; and, according to your article in the February, 1939, number, ” Open Cars are Best.” The M.G. Midget had only a 2-seater body, and its only rivals were the II.R.G., Morgan and the not so exciting Talbot, E.S.A. and Singer, the last two not any better for having only a three-speed gearbox. In 1934-5, however, the choice was much wider, with sports cars ranging from 7 h.p. to 12 h.p., the 7 h.p. being the Jowett, 10 h.p. including Lagonda and Crossley, and 12 h.p. including Alvis and Invicta. Hitherto the last named had specialised only in big cars. Admittedly there were faults to find. For instance, some were overbodied, others perhaps a little undergeared, while the still popular small six-cylinder engine was favoured for some quite small vehicles. However, whatever their snags were, they did provide the enthusiast with Something better than a family saloon, and had manufacturers managed to continue them no doubt improvements would have been made.

May I now pass on to mention, first, a make which does not seem to have much limelight in your columns—the Talbot ? All older types-14, 1.8, 21 and 24 h.p.conic to my mind as comparable with Alvis, Lagonda, Bentley, S.S„ etc. ; and, secondly, the efforts of our own small manufacturers, Alta, Atalanta and Aston Martin, which seem to me to provide good British alternatives to the B.M.W. These are, however, only my personal and unbiased opinions, and I only put them forward in the hope that they may be of some interest.

In conclusion, I would like to state how much I enjoy reading Mount SPORT, and I appreciate its continuance during these difficult and dreary times. Wishing your magazine every success. I am, Yours etc„ R. NV. J. CLARIM. West Heath,

Birmingham. Sir, At a recent meeting of the 7$0 Club the suggestion was made to me that, as one of the persons responsible for a certain awakening of interest in the possibilities of 500-c.c. sprint ears, I should endeavour

to rind out what activity, if any, there is in the matter.

Since the success of any Class I competitions depends entirely on support. that is reasonably strong numerically, I should be glad to help in this way. Will anybody who has built, is building, or proposes to build, a 500-c.c. sprint car please let me have a postcard with this information ? I shall then be in a position to answer more accurately queries as to the amount of support Class I events are likely to receive. I am, Yours etc.,

.1. Lownr.v. 8. Church Road,

S. Farnborough, Hants. Sir, Mr. Patrick Green enquires the fate of the two Vauxhall-Villiers ex-Mays and ex-David Brown. ‘The Mays plot in the ex-Kaye Don ” 4.9 ” Bugatti chassis is ” somewhere in the country,” together with spare cylinder heads, block, crankcase, sump, camshaft covers, timing cover, wheels, etc. David Brown’s car is in

nearly as many pieces as it could be and will be joining the sister car as soon as packing and collection can be arranged on leave. Following his many successes in sprint events in 1935 and 1930, S. E. Cummings put forward the idea of the Bugatti chassis or four-wheel drive, as reported in an article in MOTOR SPORT, January, 1937. In 1937, J. L. Hanson purchased the Vauxhall-Villiers as it stood and also the Kaye Don Bugatti chassis, the engine from which formed the power unit for R. Parnell’s B.H.W. The transfer of the Vauxhall engine to the new chassis was carried out by F. H. Hambling at his Crown Point Garage, Leeds. The result

was quite a neat job, though there seems to be something wrong with the weight distribution, the front end feeling very light at speed. The Mays cream body and chassis were unfortunately lost to the breakers when war Started and Crown Point Garage was cleared out. As a chassis, the less said the better perhaps, though it w mild have made an interesting souvenir. Cummings showed great courage in his handling of such a car The last time he took the record at Wetherby was in 1936, in 30.20 sees. The car was next driven by .1. L. Hanson in July, 1937, at Wetherity, returning 32.36 sees. The entry was described as

Bugatti-Vauxhall (S.), and it won the over 1,500-c.c. (S.) and over 3,000-e.c. racing class—fastest-of-the-day going to H. J. Williams (M.G. Magnette) in 30.13 sees. At this time the rear axle ratio of the Bugatti-Vauxhall was 2.6 to 1, and I estimate that first gear would be about 8 to 1 or higher—hardly suitalle

for a racing start up 1 in 20 as at the Wetherby course! For some reason unknown, Hanson never replaced this with a suitable sprint ratio. Hanson had had no wide experience of competition work. yet he clocked 32.36 sees. What would he have done properly geared, much less “Peter Walker, who drove at Wetherl,y and Only recorded 35.30 sees. in 1938 at the July meeting ? In the same year Hanson drove in September and clocked 32.88 sees., and

then, with that rather characteristic attitude of drivers who have so nearly got something really good, lacking just the finishing touches, lost all interest. apparently. Anyway, the motor lay mouldering until it came into Malcolm Fergusson’s hands in July, 1939. the impression being created in the district that the chassis was no good. Possibly this was because Peter Walker ran out of road on his first run in 1938.

Before describing the car as we found it a few words about the Bugatti chassis may be of interest.

In 1933, Kaye Don fitted Lockheed hydraulic brakes, but even then he had some fun and games round the ” Mountain.” According to MOTOR SPOUT, April, 1933 : ” The 4.9 ‘ Bugatti . . . seemed difficult to handle on corner and . . . DOn had to use the escape road at the Fork.” The engine was set further hack in the frame, but Jack Field, Dudley Fray and Manby Colgreave all found it none too pleasant on the outer circuit, and Kaye Don was injured by a tyre tread. Don preferred non-spring steering wheels and a very touring affair was fitted IA hen we took delivery.

So that whilst the chassis was not Molsheim’s best it was a deal better than a great many. Pitt as we got it there were snags. Time w as so short before the July meeting at Wetherhy that only vital work could be done, such as cleaningpetrol pipes, brake gear, sump, etc. We guessed there wouldn’t he any racing in 1939 after .Jul’, and thotorh We hesitated to injure the Villiers’s reputation further, we were keen to see how it went ; opportunities on the road being limited to a bottom gear race against an S.S. in top— the N’illiers passed the S.S.. much to the latter’s chagrin.

As I had raced a.” 30;98 ” Vauxhall at Southport and Donington Club meetings since 1936, it was decided to let me drive, as a ‘phone call to the Yorkshire Sports C.C. indicated that they would not have the car inside the grounds unless they knew something of the driver ! Hectic work was put in by Fergusson and his assistants, and in a misguided moment twin rear wheels were built up, as rain seemed certain.

So for the practice run on Sunday morning we had one motor-car in running order and one driver wondering if he ought to drive it. Snags :—slipping clutch, first gear about 6 or 7 to 1, a compression plate which must have modified the b.h.p., the driver’s ” seat ” being a cushion on transverse planks, a Ilia-spot at 3,500 r.p.m., rather ” dickey ” magnetos, pedals almost impossibly placed, petrol pressure pump ripped smartly out at the driver on unclutehing it, an inability of engine to run at less than 3,000 r.p.m.—very trying for all within two miles radius ! The steering wheel was useful for holding oneself in the car—Wetherby is a bit bumpy. Apart from these little trials, the driver was obliged to enjoy a ” 21st ” at Llandudno on the previous Saturday night. As there was no time to go to bed I changed from dinner jacket straight to sports jacket at 6.30 a.m. on the Sunday, whilst my room mate drank my tea, and got into a small saloon, bound non-stop tor Wetherby.

Two practice runs were permitted and were the most crowded 30 secs. in a fairly hearty motoring career. Hanson arrived and was very interested and a trifle sympathetic. So was Allan Arnold, who, complaining his Riley was uncomfortable, tried the Villiers and, imploring me not to go anywhere near it, returned rapturously to his own car. . . .

In the actual event the first run took over 34 sees., much time being lost at the start through slipping the clutch in trying to get away in racing style. For the second run I let the clutch straight out at 3,000 r.p.m. Slowly the Villiers jerked off the line, the engine chugging and clinking like a Diesel. Then—everything happened at once and we were off ! Foot right down, the car crabbed its way round the left-hand corner, barely staying on the road, the front end feeling alarmingly light. Fergusson said afterwards that he retired 5 yards from the fence on observing that, though I was doing a fair amount of steering, the front wheels did not appear to be spending much time in contact with the road.

Seeing 6,000 r.p.m. (possibly high, due to clutch slip) on the rev.-counter just after the second right-hand bend, I heaved into second and got 6,000 r.p.m. again across the finishing line—only 33.76 sees. for all that. A doleful pusher at the finish said, “Au woon’t drive that monster fer all Vbrass in t’bank—it’s a killer, mister.”

However, I was sure of three things : (a) there was plenty of power latent in the motor, (b) the chassis was basically all right, and (c) I was about half the driver I thought I was ! We had a motor that definitely “had something” if it was given a chance. This exhilaration caused me to inform A. F. P. Fane that the Villiers would cause him to really motor at the September meeting. With a restraint admirable from one who had pulverised the record at 17.42 secs., he replied : ” If ” Of course, there wasn’t a September meeting.

There is a world of difference betw een this car and the admittedly fast ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall raced at Southport and Donington Inner Circuit, and plans are ready for getting the Villiers au point—” if and when.” I will gladly give Mr. Green any information I can. I am, Yours etc.,

ANTHONY BROOKE.

R.A.F. [We wrongly suggested that the Buick single-seater built by Arthur Baron had a Vauxhall-Villiers frame ; we made the mistake of thinking the David Brown Villiers used a T.T. Vauxhall chassis, which it apparently did not.–Ed.] Sir,

Once more I crave the favour of your columns, but this time with a really urgent appeal.

My 1939 T.A. M.G. Midget is at the moment being prepared for strenuous work in the competition world in happier days, not to far distant I trust ! And I am desirous of fitting her out with a set of cycle type wings. I have tapped all sources of supply without result, so now turn to you. Do you think any of your readers will be in

a position to supply them ? If so, I would be very grateful, and perhaps they would get in touch with me and inform me as to price, condition, etc. The wings could then be forwarded to me C.O.D. It doesn’t matter what colour they are and the only stipulation that I make is that the condition is good.

Many thanks indeed to you for printing my notes on the T. M.G. I hope that by now people will have a less fantastic idea of this particular model’s real capabilities.

As a matter of interest to your readers, I am boring the block of my engine out to 66 ram. and endeavouring to get the weight down to the region of about 12 cwt. The engine is being completely stripped and rebuilt, compression shoved up to approximately 9.1 and all the innards polished. I am also on the look-out for another set of needles for the twin S.O.s, something with a hole big enough to thread rope through ! All this to be accomplished on No. 1 fuel after the war, naturally.

When all these modifications have been carried out I am hoping for a maximum speed in the region of a genuine 90 m.p.h. and acceleration figures of roughly 0-50 in 9 to 10 sees. Do you think I’ll do all this without making “big bay windows” in the crankcase and strewing engine parts all over the countryside ? Any comments on these modifications to be carried out will also be much appreciated.

Congratulations on your article “In Favour of the 1,100-c.c. H.R.G.” in the January issue. Can anyone give us a similar write-up on the 1,100-e.e. Riley Imp ? Long Eaton,

Nottingham. Sir,

I have read S/Capt. Alan Hess’s letter in the January issue and feel that I must hasten to support the Editor. Not being a journalist myself, I am not in a position to pass an opinion, so must therefore accept Mr. Hess’s superior judgment to the effect that the November editorial “Too Fantastic” was, in fact, “had journalism “—but does it really matter ? The Editor is doing a great job of work in keeping MOTOR SPORT going in these difficult days ; being stationed in a very isolated part of the country I appreciate it to the full. I can assure Mr. Hess that my MOTOR SPORT is most eagerly awaited month by month and is read from cover to cover—” bad journalism ” included ! I am fully in agreement with the

editorial concerned. While the real enthusiasts might appreciate the proposed ” Victory ” run in its true perspective, I am sure that the remaining 99.9 per cent. of non-enthusiasts, both in and out of the Services, would take a very poor view of the proposed run for, to them, definitely ” comic ” cars. I’m sure the whole idea would do the Sport as a whole a great deal of harm. Furthermore, as the Editor observes, why should the Veteran C.C. suddenly decide to encroach upon a class of car which they previously “disowned “—the interest in which was definitely raised and I am, Yours etc.,

PAT STILI.F.Y.

fostered by that excellent body the Vintage S.C.C. ?

As for constructive criticism, surely after the war our first efforts should be directed towards convincing the rest of the world of our ability to produce the finest examples of modern cars and machinery. To this end such firms as the Austin Motor Co. and other large motor manufacturers (who, after all, reap a good profit from the very sale of motor-cars) would surely be doing a far better service by supporting the struggling builders of our few real racing cars or themselves constructing a team of ” pukka ” G.P. cars.

If some real support is forthcoming for motor racing in this country after the war, let us hope that it will be accorded to the few ; those very few who have actually done something concrete in experimenting and producing really fast cars, such as Geoffrey Taylor and his men, Raymond Mays and his associates and the like, and not wasted on those, unfortunately, rather prevalent personages who spend their time conceiving and designing the most really wonderful but entirely hypothetical G.P. teams in the smoke-laden atmosphere of after-dinner speeches.

In the same way, I hope that greater support and encouragement will be given to those great enthusiasts who themselves design, build and race the better type of ” Special ” for whom MOTOR SPORT has always catered in such a praiseworthy manner.

I should have imagined Mr. Hess’s letter to be contrary to professional “etiquette,” or does such not exist in the journalistic world ? Be that as it may, I trust that Mr. Editor will carry on with his “bad journalism,” which I am sure is much appreciated by the majority of enthusiasts ! I am, Yours etc.,

PATRICK GREEN.

R.A.F. Sir, leading article inveighing against

a projected “Victory Run” of early cars to Berlin has beer i classed as” bad journalism.” It struck me as remarkably good sense. It was also declared devoid of constructive criticism. Perhaps a modicum of the destructive variety will rectify the alleged deficiency ?

The title implying, as it does, the right termination to hostilities, there is no need to dwell upon the kind of victory parades which would otherwise be the order of the day here, nor upon the certainty that thousands of us would still get a run to Berlin and elsewhere in Germany, but in cattle trucks LIS reconstruction slaves, as would aLso our womenfolk as white slaves. In what spirit is it contemplated this extraordinary outing shall be conducted— enmity or amity ? If in the former, then dismissing the fact that to the average observer it would appear as incongruous as a Roman triumph with the victor astride an ass, participants can count upon progressing to an accompaniment of cat-calls and potato parings, save, of course, any who supposes that “I’m English I’d have you know” will gain him individual immunity. Reflect for a Continued on page 82

moment what a quarry an aged and possibly ailing car would present to relays of cyclists bent upon making things unpleasant for its occupants. (I have no doubt the post of “nuisance organiser,” dangerous though it would be, would be much sought after in the event of vie, torious foreigners attempting a similar display over here.) No doubt a handful of adventurous spirits will be attracted to the idea of shooting their way to Berlin and back, but why wait until the war is over and the commandos disbanded? But if amity is to be the order of the day then I foresee the biggest flop, for who will be a willing bearer of the olive branch to such a nation of moral lepers as Germany ? Indifference to one’s own fate were Hitler’s hordes to gain a footing here is no ground, for forgetting the cruelty and horrors already inflicted by these inhuman monsters on Poland

and other of our allies. Suggestions for making Germany a post-war playground are not calculated to sustain the heart of enslaved and tortured Europe, even when characterised by S/Capt. Alan Hess in a supercilious letter as” very sporting” —about as sporting, I would say, as extending a hand to the man who had outraged one’s wife, murdered one’s best friend, set fire to one’s house and still hoped for an opportunity to cut one’s throat !

My sojourns in Germany total upwards of two years. I have swum in their lakes, rowed upon their rivers, cycled on their roads, joined in their Ausflfige, lost myself in their forests, drunk in their kneipen, sung (my claim!) “0 Tannenbaum ” round their Christmas trees, exceeded 200 k.p.h. on their autobahnen ; but now I’m through with them for all time, determined never to set foot on pleasure bent in their beautiful country again.

After all, what reconciliation is possible with a nation which twice in a generation has deliberately deluged the world with blood and every brand of infamy ? Yes, and given the opportunity, would not hesitate to do so again. To harbour any but feelings of lasting hatred of the Germans is to be blind to realities, or-just selfish.

Will Pall Mall grant a permit ? Will Downing Street ? And what of the Kremlin ? It being no flight of fancy that there may rest the final say upon what happens in Germany after the war, and no bad prospect either, perhaps, remembering how the fruits of the last victory, costing a million of the flower of British manhood, were thrown away.

Stick to your guns. I am, Yours etc.,

F. Lvcerr.

London, S.W.5.