Letters from readers, February 1943


I have just received my July copy of Motor Sport and would like to thank you for sending it so regularly and also for maintaining your high standard. The book might not be so large as in pre-war days, but I am positive I’ve learned more from the various articles contributed by vintage experts.

Can anybody give any information on the Harker special, which performed at the Track some years ago? It was a Lombard chassis, housing two blown M.G. engines of, I believe, 750 c.c. each. The acceleration was extremely brisk and it had the most glorious exhaust note! I seem to recall that Harker wore a weird and wonderful cap of many shapes and colours. Any information on this motor would be appreciated.

What about an article on the 3-litre Sunbeam? I don’t remember having ever seen one yet. I believe you have a reader living at Woodford who could help in this direction. This is most certainly one of the finest of vintage sports cars.

I had occasion to look through an old Brooklands programme recently and some interesting cars were called to mind. Here are some of them; perhaps some readers will know one or more of them intimately and can give us the “lowdown.”

First, the Bainton special, consisting of a “30/98” Vauxhall engine in a G.P. Sunbeam chassis. Dr. Beaver’s blown “30/98” Vauxhall, a lusty motor which used to slide the Fork in a spectacular manner. A rather spidery-looking Salmson, entered by Hall Caine and piloted by Paddy Naismith; it hopped about a bit on the Outer Circuit. Baker’s outsize Minerva touring 4-seater, which seemed equally at home performing round the Track or gliding sedately along the Brighton promenade. The big green Graham-Paige which raced for a number of years with a different driver every time it turned out (or nearly). That incredibly noisy and potent Appleton special. Ashby’s golden “flat-iron” Riley. The rather ordinary looking Alvis belonging to Powys-Lybbe, which motored very rapidly. Essen Scott’s beautifully turned-out 2-litre Bugatti, later linered down to 1.5 litres, I believe. Another regular performer, the Abbott-Nash. N. S. Embiricas’s Bugatti with an enormous silencer. Connell’s blown Vale special.

Perhaps mentioning a few famous motor-cycles won’t be out of place: Baragwaneth’s “Bulbous” Brough and sidecar; Laird’s Gold Star Morgan (he possessed many alternative engines for this, so I was never quite sure which one actually got a gold star); Eric Fernihough’s 350-c.c. Chater-Lea-engined Morgan; the 1,000-c.c. o.h.c. twin A.J.S. which Capt. Baldwin piloted at many record-breaking attempts; Bill Shortt’s ancient Zenith with a frame so old that, rumour hath it, he used to burnish the frame all over so that he could observe the cracks as they appeared; C. K. Mortimer’s old but fast Brough (I have a replica of this machine, which is being rebuilt for Outer Circuit dicing); Basil de Mattos’s 175-c.c. J.A.P.-engined job with engine inclined towards the rear of the machine; Bickell’s blown Ariel Square Four—what acceleration and what a “ripping calico” exhaust note! Worters’s stable of Blackburne-engined bikes (Chris. Staniland rode some of these). A host of names were famous then — Rex Acme, Grindley-Peerless, Zenith, O.E.C. Alas I where are they all now?

If any of the foregoing arouses memories of famous cars and bikes, perhaps readers concerned can give us the benefit of their knowledge and at the same time help out the Editor with his request for contributions.

For a motoring enthusiast this is a most barren country. I did once see a Type 327 B.M.W.; the rest are Yank saloons, incredibly neglected.

Roll on the day when motoring starts again.

Vive le Motor Sport.

I am, Yours etc.,

H. G. Hanmer. – R.A.F., Iraq.

[The Harker special is referred to in some detail in our issue of December, 1942. It at first had Austin Seven cylinder blocks and later M.G. blocks with o.h.c. valve gear. It won a 1934 Mountain race, lapping at 69.5 m.p.h. Harker usually wore a loud cheek cap. We described the late Eric Fernihough’s single-cylinder Morgan in 1926, but it then had a 500-c.c. J.A.P. engine; can anyone give details of, and the reasons for installing, a 850-c.c. Chater-Lea? — Ed.]