Although it is becoming problematical whether we shall ever see racing cars in action again in this country, there are a few outlets remaining to us. On January 3rd we witnessed the racing of driverless cars up to 10-c.c. capacity at the Horticultural Hall, and at the Schoolboys’ Exhibition we found John Cobb’s 400 m.p.h. Railton Mobil Special and Reg. Parnell’s E-type E.R.A., with the latest front-end, advancing the cause of caution on the road. And on January 5th we attended the pre-view of the Victoria League’s Exhibition of static racing cars at Henly Hall. The Rt. Hon. The Earl Howe, P.C., C.B.E., made a very effective speech in opening the latter show — it certainly is not his fault that we have no racing in this country, and the thanks of every single person who has the interest of the Sport in any way at heart should go out to his Lordship for his repeated efforts to obtain a square deal for British motoring sport.
The daily Pressmen were at the pre-view in force, and much should by now have been published about the show, which embraced 43 exhibits and was a very fine thing indeed. So we will content ourselves with giving you the result of interesting matters discovered in the course of a stand-to-stand “snoop.”
L. Rose showed his 1929 Le Mans 4 1/2-litre Bentley, with its significant twin rear lamps, a brake adjuster in the cockpit, which “cockpit,” by the way, was of pleasingly robust construction, and such items as rev.counter reading to 6,000 r.p.m., fire-extinguisher, quick-action door catch, etc. J. D. Percy’s 1930 “Speed Six” Le Mans Bentley has the usual two S.U. carburetters, a rev.-counter reaching to 4,500 r.p.m., and an Autovac-like tank under the bonnet on the near side, able to feed extra oil to the sump via a breather when a facia control was operated, this tank being replenished by a quick-action filler on the scuttle. The Bentley exhibits, arranged by the B.D.C., were completed by J. P. Emon’s 1929 Le Mans 4 1/2-litre.
Next to attract our attention was a 5-stud dirt-track J.A.P. motor-cycle engine with twin-float, remote-needle Amal carburetter and special d.t. B.T.H. racing magneto. Beside it was one of the 500-c.c. Cooper-Specials, which were so successful last year, and on which a grateful Government now imposes a purchase tax of 62 per cent. The cockpit contains only one dial, the 7,000 r.p.m. rev.-counter, and the engine is an identical 5-stud J.A.P., with 16 1/2 to 1 compression-ratio, and a standard T.T. Amal carburetter.
Another 500-c.c. car was the Strang-Special. Its H.R.D. engine uses an ordinary twin-float T.T. Amal carburetter and a 6 1/2-in. by 21-in, exhaust megaphone. The magneto is a T.T. B.T.H. and oil is carried in a normal quart oilcan beside the machinery. Again the only dial is that of the rev.-counter, reading to 8,000 r.p.m. in this instance, and on the left is the Bowden ignition lever, on the right the air-control lever. The hand-brake is an 8-in. motor-cycle lever, arranged to pull up, on the near side of the car.
While motor-cycle-engine minded we inspected Noel Pope’s 998-c.c. blown Brough-Superior, which holds the solo Brooklands lap-record at 125 m.p.h. The blower is ahead of the V-twin J.A.P. engine, driven by chain; all the chains on this bicycle are exposed on the near side. The valve rockers are beautifully machined and have single-coil hairpin return springs, which bear on drilled extension pieces on the rocker posts. Alloy plates were noticed under the cylinder barrels and each cast-iron cylinder head has two 14-mm. plugs, one on each side. Two racing magnetos are used, driven at right-angles from the oil-pump drive on the off side, the rear magneto feeding the plugs of the rear “pot,” the front magneto those of the front cylinder. The blower feeds through a long, chromium-plated pipe which tapers slightly as it nears the rear cylinder, the off-take to the front cylinder containing a priming tap to facilitate starting. The carburation arrangements live in a cowling below the supercharger ; 3 1/2-in. by 10-in. exhaust megaphones suffice in this instance. Other items of Pope’s fine machine — the bungee, springless saddle (round Brooklands he took most of his weight on the footrests), cowling over the top of the forks, 8-speed gearbox with rocking foot-change, and frame-bracing near the rear wheel on the off side to combat transmission torque, a laBaragwaneth. A front brake is fitted — useful at Brighton — and the sidecar lugs were still in place. The Brooklands sidecar lap-record also belongs to Pope, at 107 m.p.h.
Reverting to the cars, there was the 1908 G.P. Austin, its T-head, six-cylinder engine with a plug over each valve, apparently all fired from a single magneto, and two horizontal carburetters feeding, downdraught-fashion, into two 3-branch manifolds via beautifully-polished, bulbous water-heated chambers.
K. W. Bear’s twin-cam 2.3-litre G.P. Bugatti appeared standard save for rust and a small rear lamp. Interesting, however, is the use of 4.75 by 19 twin rear tyres, of which the outer are the latest-pattern treaded Dunlops, while the inner tyres are pre-war S-tread Dunlops. E. C. Pool showed his unblown 2-litre G.P. Bugatti, with twin triple-diffuser Zenith carburetters. Non-standard features are the large fuel-filter in the fuel line on the engine side of the dash, the air-pump transferred to the outside of the cockpit by the driver, and 6.50 by 16 racing Dunlops on the rear wheels. Bear’s ex-Abecassis “3.3” Bugatti interested us by reason of the wonderful rear wheels, with four sets of spokes, two sets arranged radially, to enable twin rear tyres to be used with the Bugatti brake drums, the double-action Luvax-Girling rear shock-absorbers, and the accommodation of the H.T. leads from facia-mounted magneto to plugs within aircraft flexible hosing. We noticed that the front-brake leverage has been increased by 2-in. extensions, and that a Bluemel mother-of-pearl steering wheel is used.
Salvadori’s ex-Evans’ “2.9” Alfa-Romeo was looking exceedingly smart in a new coat of black paint, together with new upholstery, the bonnet retaining the Ferrari insignia and its owner’s blue-and-white “flash,” the front axle and steering connections polished, and a new radiator stoneguard with slot-less beading being fitted.
Peter Hampton’s Type 13 Bugatti and Rodney Clarke’s Bugatti “Black Bess,” both exceedingly well known to our readers, certainly showed up two of the G.P. Bugattis by the immaculate way in which they were turned-out.
H.R.H. Prince Chula of Siam, G.C.V.O., showed the E.R.A. “Romulus,” its successes displayed on a card before it. The riveted two-piece tail with its central rib and the Lockheed-Girling front brakes as on the i.f.s. cars, are modifications to this famous E.R.A.; de Ram and friction shock-absorbers are used at the rear, de Ram only, mounted as Hartfords would be, at the front. Daubs of coloured paint on the gear-lever quadrant facilitate gear selection and the engine used the cranked outlet to its 2-branch breather manifold. The facia is endowed with tiny badges of the clubs and places where the car has raced, a representative one reading, “Monaco, 1936, 1st, 1,500 c.c.”
John Bolster’s “Bloody Mary” was wearing a party appearance for the occasion. The S.U. carburetters for the two J.A.P. engines are neatly controlled by Bowden cables. Its front brakes are Austin Seven, but operated by substantial rods, and the single G.N.-like rear brake is also rod-operated. The wooden chassis, dating from single-engine days, is stayed by rods, and in the centre a G.N.-type radius arm locates the rear axle. Friction shock-absorbers high up at the rear are coupled to the axle by drilled arms and further friction shock-absorbers are incorporated in the outer radius members. Incidentally, John does not sit amid whirling chains, as is popularly supposed, as these are all on the near side. Nor does he really trail along the ground as he sits in “Mary” — the underneath of his wooden seat is five inches clear.
From “Mary’s” twin J.A.P.s we passed to the engine from the 1905 200-h.p. V8 Darracq. A single central camshaft operated the o.h. valves via immense pushrods, fork-jointed to huge rockers. The inlet valves and springs are completely sunk from view within the water jackets, but the exhaust valves are normally located. The cylinders are in four blocks of two, and two carburetters between the “vee” feed to them through a 2-branch manifold on each block. The water-pump is at the front, delivering through a long central pipe with an off-take to each block.
Of the remainder of the exhibits, Maclachlan has himself described his single-seater s.v. Austin Seven in these pages, the Twin-Cam Austin was there in the form in which it was so well known to all of us, likewise Heath’s 2-litre sports Alta, Gilby’s “2.6” Alfa-Romeo, Tony Crook’s Mille Miglia “2.9” Alfa-Romeo, and Carrington’s cream “328” B.M.W. The Appleton-Special has a neat three-pane Perspex wind deflector, and Peter Clark’s “Aerodynamic” H.R.G. an additional fuel tank in the tail, a queer gauze screen ahead of two mica aero-screens, an additional air aperture at the front and delightful 12-in., longitudinally-placed straps for the “alligator” bonnet. There was a tiny lap-scorer on the facia, but we were horrified to find that the remote gear-control had entirely vanished! The scuttle “hump” and passenger’s seat fairings used for racing were not in evidence, but a notice proclaimed this H.R.G. able to run 500 miles between pit-stops in sports-car races. Prince Chula’s “2.9” Maserati was as good looking a racing car as any present, although its cockpit was filled by “Bira’s” special cushion. The front-brake pipe lines were missing from this car.
Heath’s 6C Maserati has a square-type aero-screen and the rear extremities of the front torsion bars protrude from the side cowling, as on all these cars. Harrison showed his sports 2-litre Riley, with six Amal carburetters, an oil tank in the scuttle with motor-cycle filler cap, I-section light-alloy arms linking the front friction shock-absorbers to the axle, and a torque cable running back to the chassis from the top of each king-pin. A big fuel tank occupies the tail and rods brace the rear-axle banjo casing to the torque tube. All that was shown of the E-type E.R.A. were miscellaneous components scattered about the floor.
Veteran and vintage racing cars were well represented, and of them Heal’s 1922 T.T. Sunbeam, with immense polished copper fuel tank and authentic wings will feature in a forthcoming “Veteran Types” article in MOTOR SPORT, while his 1924 G.P. Sunbeam, with auxiliary fuel tank in the cockpit and the instruction “To Undo —,” perhaps mindful of Divo’s fiasco at Tours in 1923, on its radiator filler cap, Ariel Clark’s 1914 Mercedes, the 1910 Fiat, the 1908 Hutton and Abbott’s 1904 Mercedes, have so featured in past issues. Pratley’s 350-h.p. V12 Sunbeam in Brooklands guise, the Gardner M.G., the Monaco flat-four and other aeroplane engines, etc., were amongst the exhibits, and, of the motor-cycles, Daniell’s 499-c.c. Norton and Foster’s 850-c.c. Velocette stood proudly by their 1947 Tourist Trophies. (For the sake of those burglars who have any petrol left we would emphasise that the exhibition has been over for some time!) Those who set store by exhaust megaphones may care to know that the Norton has one of 5 1/4in. by 15in., adjustable for position on the pipe, the Velocette one measuring 4 3/4in. by 13in., while the 498-c.c. Triumph with which Whitworth won five Continental road-races for Britain last season, has two, each of 3 3/4in. by 22 in.
Paper control permitting, we could tell you a lot more about this absorbing exhibition. We hope it did the Victoria League so much good that it will become a regular fixture.
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Major Vaughan is shortening the wheelbase of the Fane-Nash.
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R. C. Rowland tried the ex-Harry Noble Q-type M.G. single-seater and Charles Mortimer the rebuilt ex-Rayson Maserati on a Hampshire airfield recently.
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G. M. Watson has purchased Cowell’s single-seater Alta.
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Gigi Villoresi, using Lodge plugs in his 16-valve Maserati, made fastest lap and won the Buenos Aires Grand Prix on January 17th.