RUMBLINGS, February 1944



Lt. C. W.-P. Hampton has’accepted, with certain reservations, the series of challenges put to him by Lt. P. F. Whalley. which arose from Challenge, the Continental rersus British dis Acceptedj eussion in these pages. We published the letter front Peter Whalley in December, and here is Peter Hampton’s full reply :

December 25th, 1943. Sir,–I was very interested to read the letter from Lt. P. F. Whalley, featured in ” Ruml hogs,” in the December issue of MOTOR SPORT. There well be some

SPORT. There may well be some truth in what he says about the Delahaye as sold to the public. Though the one driven by Arthur Dobson performed very well in the Brooklands “Fastest Sports Car ” race, and elsewhere ; as also did Connell’s Lago Darracq. I doubt very much if a 4.3 Alvis, Bentley or Lagonda could get even within striking distanee. As I have said before, the Alvis is a ery fine car—also, of course, the Bentley ; but my experience with the 4k-litre Lagonda does not bear retelling here. That part, then, of Whalley’s letter is rubbish. However, the meat of his letter is his challenge. Let me say at once that, all things being equal after the war, I accept both his challenges subject to certain provisos, as follows : I know his exCouper Talbot ” 110 ” very well, having always admired this car, and met it on several occasions at Brooklands in J.C.C. events. It used to pass my ” 2.3″ Type 55 Bugatti like a train on the Outer Circuit, and I always regretted hat I was unable to boy it at the time Courier was offering it for sale. (Incidentally, although I 1 Jaye never met Peter ‘Whalley, I believe he lives not far from my home in Sussex, and that we corresponded earlier in the war when he re’ lied to an advertisement I had in MOTOR SPOI; when I contemplated selling my Type :17 Bugatti tourer.) I claimed 112 m.p.h. maximum for my Type 55, and don’t think I have ever claimed more than 112-115, either privately or publicly, for my Type 575 Clearly, therefore, I should be a complete Joe Soar,, the Punter’s Pal, if I accepted Whalley’s challenge as it stands, knowing that Cooper’s Talbot has a potential 130 maximum. Since, however, the challenge is that the Talbot will beat my Type 57SC, and I hope that if my plans to convert my 575 to a “blown ” model materialise satisfactorily, it should increase the maximum to about 125, I am prepared to accept the challenge over three laps of the Crystal Palace road circuit instead of live laps of the Brooklands Outer Circuit. My Bugatti is a very fully equipped fixed head coupe, and in no sense a racing car. Also, all my arguments have been to the effect that the continental ears are sui erior in all respects for road work—not just maximum speed. The Crystal Palace circuit will prove whether or not a standard 3.3-litre Bugatti—in my view the best of all continentals—is superior to a very special, non-standard British sports car of

” The Wearing of the Green.” The late Sir llenry .Birkin, Bart., gets away from the pits with his blower 41-litre Bentley in the 1930 Le Mans race, in which he set the poce in orde; to crack-up Caracciola’s Mercedes-Benc. Note tlw .near-side rear wing crumpled by a ylu,u, tread—Me blower cars suffered incessant tyre trouble and eventually Birk in retired, but-not before he had 14117derMilied the Mercedes opposition. This photograph is ,front Rivers

Fielcher’s collection ; he wrote up the Bentley victories al Le Mans last month.

similar litreage. I am prepared to overlook the fact that my Bugatti will run in this challenge race complete with all touring equipment (radio, screen defrosters, tool box, complete tool kit, spares, spare wheel, silencer, lamps, etc.) whereas the Talbot has a fairly stark, open sports competition body ; provided that this latter carries lamps, wings, normal road silencer, some form of windscreen, spare wheel, tool kit, dynamo and starter and normal seating capacity. I shall probably run on pump fuel, and would not agree to the Talbot using more than 50 per cent. pure Benzole, the remainder being pump fuel.

Regarding the second challenge,I have not yet run my Amilcar Six, but I am, nevertheless, prepared to accept this challenge, over the same course as above, provided that Whalley’s IC3 M.G. runs with lamps, wings, dynamo, starter and silencer, I propose fitting out my Anailcar as a road car immediately poit-war and, obviously, therefore, am not prepared to run it as such against a stripped racing car. I put no restriction on fuel. I stipulate that in all contests we drive our own ears.

Unfortunately, I do not own a Lancia ” Aprilia ” of any type. If, however, anyone would loan me a standard 1939 Aprilia ” saloon, I would back it to beat Whalley’s standard TB M.G. over the same course. The same applies to his Alta, if by then I am able to acquire a Type 37A Bugatti—the car I believe I mentioned in a previous letter that I would back to beat the Alta from A to B.

I should be quite happy if the Editor of MOTOR SPORT judged the contests. I would also like to insert another condition in the Bugatti-Talbot duel, viz. that immediately afterwards, the two cars are driven for not less than five miles in and around Sydenhana and Crystal Palace district to prove their roadworthiness. I invite the Editor of MOTOR SPORT to accompany me in the Bugatti, and ask him to nominate an equally responsible third party to accompany Whalley in the Talbot. I would also insist that no other ears are invited to join this race, otherwise the many corners in this circuit might well be cluttered up with 8-litre Bentleys and the like. So much for all that—all I want now is peace and the availability of tyres and petrol for the Bugatti.

The article by Marcus Chambers in the same issue, entitled “Preserve or Perish,” struck me as being awful nonsense. Bis analogies of the Old Master in a chromium frame and the old Berkeley Coach don’t fit in at all. Surely a better one would be the case of the genuine Queen Anne, or other period, house. Delightful to own—but not in true period style with no bathroom or sanitary arrangements. These are added because, by blending the old with modern science, the ideal of many is achieved. So with motor cars. If a Birkin Bentley motors better with the single-seater engine, or if Bachelier can make a good road car out of a bad Type 5t G.P. Bugatti, or if a classic car of 1920-30 lives again after being rebuilt and fitted with modern accessories (S.U. pump instead of Autovac, etc., modern, attractive body instead of its old, uneomparable affair), then why in the name of what’s reasonable not do it ? Why have a shabby radiator when you can have a clean one, merely because in 1920 chromium-plate wasn’t available ? I don’t get it. I’m all for vintage cars, but when it is carried to this length for the sake of pseudo he-man stuff and misdirected “good taste,” then I agree with certain people who say that the vintage cry is largely affectation. I see nothing wrong with a horn on a Monza Alfa playing “Le Chemin du Paradis,” if the owner likes it, or an electric bell on a MercedAs (presumably the one I had on my Targa Florio car as a joke and effective road clearer before the days of” gonging police cops “) any more than having an electric bell circuit in a period house. Like the genuine antique, that is kept in original condition as a show-piece and delight to its owner, I agree that pre-1914 cars should be kept in original condition— but merely because they are rare relics and kept as such.

Finally, replying to Mr. R. W. J Clarke, I should say the reason why continental cars have higher gear ratios is that they make their cars lighter and, as a result, livelier. British cars are far too heavy, and rev, their life away due to the necessity of having low gear ratios. I do not agree with most of his remarks, nor with “Two-Point-Six.” who obvious7y knows very little about breeding.

MM. Forces.

We hear that the Scuderia Chemvamo wish to give a small trophy to the victor, and Boddy is quite willing to judge the contests, so here is one interesting happening to herald the peace. I am, Yours, etc.,

C. W. P. HANIPTOI4 (Lieut.). Much of the compensation of devoting most of one’s leisure to running this paper comes from the extremely interesting correspondence received Corre(there is all too little time available spondence to reply to it, alas) and the new year

was no exception. Peter Hampton, apart from the matters he mentions above, tells us of Dr. Noel Murdock, of Victoria, Australia, who has owned Bugatti cars since 1928. He has a Type 44 laid up and is seeking spares for a Type 40 which has developed very “noisy valve gear and gearbox. He says that with all garages engaged on repairs to essential vehicles it is impossible to get parts made up, and so he hopes someone in this country may be able to find him spares—he would arrange and risk shipping, although he remarks that some recent issues of MOTOR SPORT have gone astray—” and the supply doesn’t meet the demand.” Very few Bugattis went to Australia and so ” knowledge comes by trial, and error,” so any maintenance hints or literature would be much appreciated. We can forward letters c/o Lt. Hampton. Dr. Murdock says that after 1930 the M.G. killed the Bugatti market in Australia. He has owned Fiats, 4-cylinder Hispano-Suiza, 3-litre Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Ford V8 cars, after learning to drive on his father’s 1908 single-cylinder De Dion, now in storage. He concludes : “1 liked the Bugattis best ; the Ford is excellent as a family car, and the Fiats were great workers, but the Bentley and Rolls disappointed me—no life, cumbersome, heavy to handle and a poor ride.” Another letter has come in from Capt. Alan Southon, now in a nicer bit of the Middle East, The Mercedes he mentioned last month turned out to be a 4-cylinder “21/90,” owned by Major Aurengo-Jones, who has another in the U.K. It was a 1924 car with o.h.c. and single Pallas carburetter. It is rumoured to have been built up from aero-engine spares left over at the close of the Great War and did not appear to be a very good model, so it has been sold, and possibly broken up. It is believed to have run in speed trials at Alexandria years ago and to have attained about 100 m.p.h. The dynamo, gear-driven from the rear of the crankshaft, resulted in a scream easily mistaken for a blower. Southon has also encountered three blown 1i-litre sports Alfa-Romeos up for sale at prices of £600 to 1:800, and an earlier car of this sort still in use. He remarks : ” All these cars have been the property of Army officers, so it looks as though someone has been more fortunate than I in this matter. ” The high prices are difficult to understand, since the Egyptian doesn’t like this type of motor car, which leaves the penniless Army officer as the only prospective buyer.” An alloy-wheeled, twin-carburetter 2-litre G .P. Bugatti, said to have run in a Targa Florio, was also for sale, for £250, the owner admitting that another £250 would be needed to get it to run. Southon is surprised that the Type 230 Mercedes-Benz abandoned by German diplomats in this country has been referred to as the only one of its kind in the U.K., as these, and the smaller ‘I ype 170 Mercedes, are quite common in the Middle East. He finishes his letter with some details of the air-cooled O.M. light truck chassis, which has a push-rod o.h.V. 4-cylinder engine of 1,616 c.c., cooled by a Franklin-like curved duct, fed from a centrifugal fan driven from the front of the crankshaft

and housed within an alloy casing. The valves are enclosed in rocker boxes and the cylinders appear to he without fins. The chassis steers and drives on all four wheels and has a central 4-speed gearbox. Suspension is independent all round, by transverse leaf springs in pairs. The engine apparently gives 20 h.p. at 2,400 r.p.m., or 23 h.p. in later models, and speeds are governed at 25 k.p.h. to 48 k.p.h. according to type. The appeal for clues as to the whereabouts of certain veteran cars, published in these columns in December last, has so far fallen on barren ground, but Alan Smith, of Orpington, who is rebuilding the 1910 Brasier, weighs in with some data about the Nazzaro. He considers that the car which ran at Lewes in the nineteen-thirties probably wasn’t the 1914 Grand Prix car at all, but a car he once borrowed from a Croydon motor company for extended trial. This car proved disappointing, being unable to exceed 65 m.p.h., and to reach that speed only with difficulty, so that an attempt to reach Torquay in a day resulted in turning back at Wimborne. Second and third ratios were very low and there was had back-lash in the bevel drive to the single o.h.c. ; also, the four-wheel brakes were worn out. The body was a 4-seater and there was a full Bosch lighting set. That rather evaporates interest in the Nazzaro, unless anyone comes upon the G.P. car, but can any reader tell us what has become of a 1908 G.P. Germain which Sully, who once raced an H.R., is rumoured to have saved not so fearfully long ago ? Apart from old cars which have vanished, C. L. Grace has found at Woodbridge, Suffolk, a big 1912 4-cylinder Cottin-et-Desgouttes believed to have been built for hill-climbs and raced at Brooklands, but the history and origin of which are otherwise wrapt in mystery. This is not the car Homsted ran at Brookla.ncls around 1925; the engine number is C534, and any information about it would be most welcome. G. T. Foulis & Co., Ltd., have reprinted the late Sir Henry Birkin’s book, ” Full Throttle,” in austerity style, which is excellent. It contains Reprint all the original text and many of the splendid photographs and drawings, most of the Bentley days at Le Mans and elsewhere, and is good value at 7s. 6d. We notice that the apology by Birkin to the proprietors of Brooklands

Motor Course for certain unfortunate references thereto does not appear in this war edition, probably because the old Track has been closed for the last four years, although we would prefer to think that after the war the concrete will be relaid so as to be above reproach. Birk in’s plea for a team to uphold the British Green is, in a way, as necessary now as ever it was, and should be digested by all who hope to race other than in an amateur capacity when racing happens again. Incidentally, enthusiasts owe much to the house of Foulis, who have published, also, Chula’s books, ” Bira’s ” ” Bits and Pieces,” Edge’s reminiscences, Bradley and Burn’s “Wheels Take Wings,” Lt.-Comdr. Graham White’s book, and “The Magic of a Name,” by Harold Nockolds, the last-named nowadays an important soldier man in the Middle East, with several mentions in dispatches. It is with deep regret that we learn of the death of Lt.-Col. Charles Jarrott. Jarrott was undoubtedly the greatest British driver at the close Obituary of the last century, and his great hook,

“Ten Years of Motors and Motor Racing,” published in 1906, and twice reprinted, did much to introduce people to the Sport in the early days. He loved any form of contest and was, of course, in the forefront of all manner of athletics, amongst which, perhaps, his early motor-bicycle and motortricycle races should be included. Jarrott won the 1902 Circuit-des-Ardennes race with a 70-h.p.,Panhard, averaging 54.8 m.p.h. for the 820 miles with that decidedly tricky car. But some of his greatest drives took place in earlier town-to-town races, such as the Paris—Vienna, which he just finished after galling troubles had beset his ” 70 ” Panhard ; the fateful Paris—Madrid, when he drove a De Dietrich; and the Paris—Berlin, in which he drove his 40-h.p. Panhard into 8th place. He later handled Napier and Wolseley ” Beetle ” cars in the Gordon-Bennett races. Many people class Charles Jarrott with Segrave and Seaman of later eras, and his death removes from our midst a very great British racing driver, a fine sportsman and an extremely staunch motorist. He lived long enough to see some of his rather pessimistic forecasts on the future of motoring and motor-racing all but fulfilled.