RUMBLINGS, January 1935



In the Light Car World.

QUITE a number of people, I hear, are tuning their M.G’s. to achieve colossal speeds next year, and R. T. Horton, who is nothing if not original, is boring out the Magnette which belonged to the late H. G. Hamilton to 1,500 c.c. The other single-seater he has sold to Major Gardner, who will be driving it in a variety of events next year. Tongue has bought Seaman’s Magnette, which has distinguished itself on the Continent during the past season ; while I understand that Horton’s single-seater Midget, the first of his cars to have an off-set single-seater body, is going to America.

European Sports Cars in the U.S.A.

There are a good many small English sports cars, such as M.G’s. and Rileys in the Eastern States, and I read with interest the account of a 100 mile race held in a private park last November, and which was won by a hotted-up Willys ” 77 ” with an M.G. second, and a Riley third. Other cars entered were two American Austin Sevens, a Lancia fitted with a Ford V8 engine, and three Bugattis.

Strangely enough I received a letter only a fortnight ago from one of the Bugatti owners who wanted to know more about Brunet’s Grand Prix “23,” to which I referred some time ago in these pages, so he probably. intends to give his fellow-drivers a big surprise at the next A.R.C.A. meeting.

Four New Grand Prix Bugattis for England.

All my news this month pales beside the information I have been bursting to announce for the past two months, namely, that four of the new 3.3 litre Grand Prix Bugattis will come into English ownership in 1935, their purchasers being Lord Howe, Noel Rees, A. H. L. Eccles and Charles Martin. The Hon. Brian Lewis will again be Rees’ driver, and Lord Howe and Mr. Rees will join forces for various English and Continental events, while Lord Howe’s Maserati will make a useful reserve car. The cars of Lord Howe and Mr. Rees will be kept and tuned at Molsheim, and will make their first appearance in the Monaco Grand Prix, and then will be driven in the Brooklands International Trophy race. Noel Rees has bagged the Mannin Moar race two years in succession, and is naturally keen to bring off the hat-trick, while

Lord Howe will probably concentrate more on foreign events, but will be joined by Lewis from time to time. Eccles and Martin have not yet settled their plans, but I believe Eccles will confine his racing mostly to events in this country.

185 m .p.h. “

Monsieur Jean Bugatti, the popular son of ” Monsieur le Patron,” was deputising for his father at the Bugatti Owner’s Dinner last month, so I was able to get a little supplementary information about the cars. The engine design does not permit of the capacity being raised above the present figure of 3.3 litres, but its efficiency has been improved until the speed of the car is little slower than that of the German projectiles, the maximum being something in the neighbourhood of 185 m.p.h.

Even at this speed the orthodox springing works perfectly satisfactorily, and Monsieur Bugatti attributes this largely to the De Ram hydraulic shock-absorbers, which have already been referred to in these pages more than once ; but as a set costs about 2140 they are not liable to come into general use yet awhile. Mr. Rees told me, incidentally, that when he was at Molsheim he was invited to try the racing car round the test circuit, being assured that it was just as comfortable and. easy to drive as the new 3.3 ” Aerodynamique ” coupe which he has just bought.

Nine of the racing cars have been built this year. Four of these are going to their English owners, and four more will be built to replace them ; but I was rather surprised to learn that no more will be available for private owners, which will come as a disappointment to the numerous French and Italian drivers who are searching round for mounts for next season. The official drivers are Wimille, Taruffi and Benoist.

If the Bugatti concern receive the racing car subsidy at present being collected in France, they may possibly set about building a racing car more advanced than the “3.3,” but it won’t be ready until 1936.

The Rail Record.

Though he has never been seen at the wheel of the Bugatti racing cars, Jean finds an outlet for his love of speed by piloting the firm’s very swift rail-coaches, and some time ago captured the World’s Railway Speed

record at 118 m.p.h., driving it on a specially straight stretch of line near Le Mans, and told me with considerable glee how all the panes of glass had been blown out of the roof of a wayside station by the gale of wind flung off by the speeding coach “I think we could speed up your Southern Railway quite a lot,” said Jean ; but then, perhaps, he was rather prejudiced by being mixed up in the celebrations which heralded Scott and Black’s return from Australia.

Before I get off the subject of fast Bugattis, it is worth mentioning that Lord Howe’s very fast 2.3 Grand Prix car is for sale. You will remember it put up a record lap for its class on 129.8 m.p.h., and ” I think I could have put it up to 131 if I had been hard pressed,” Lord Howe told me. He is also selling the famous blue MercedesBenz which has performed so well at Shelsley and elsewhere, and which I personally think is still one of the handsomest sports cars on the road.

“Flying Frazer Nashes.”

Turning to a purely English type of racing car, I hear that the “Terror,” that famous four-cylinder car built by Capt. Frazer Nash and driven with distinction by R. J. G. Nash at Shelsley, has now passed from the hands of A. A. Arnold to Instone, a consistent Shelsley performer on the ” G.N. Martyr.” The “Spook,” which R. J. G. Nash himself built up from the old ” Slug” and sundry Frazer Nash parts, has also found a new owner in K. N. Hutchison, who will run it next year in the various spring events and hill-climbs.

Dick Nash is contemplating building another machine for next year, but is unable at present to find a suitable engine. He wants to obtain a 11-litre unit which will give 160 h.p. and built up into a car weighing not over 10 cwt. Apart from the E.R.A. units, which are not for sale, the only possible motor would seem to be the 1,500 c.c. Zoller two-stroke, which is said to develop about 220 h.p., but not for long !

Trials of the R.A.C.

The course for the Mannin Races has now been settled. The circuit will be the same as last year, but the run along the Promenade will be continued for a further two hundred yards past Broadway, and the cars will then negotiate an acute hairpin bend round a lamp-post and return on the other side of the road, turning sharp up Broadway to continue on over the 1934 circuit. The grandstand will overlook the hairpin, and as the pits will be placed off the road on the out§ide of the course a short distance before the hairpin is reached, the spectators will have a chance to see the cars at rest and in action. Unfortunately, just as things were fixed up satisfactorily in the Isle of Man, the Ulster authorities informed the R.A.C. that August 31st the date booked for the Tourist Trophy race, was quite unsuitable,

owing to certain political demonstrations which take• place that clay, and which would fully occupy the Ulster Constabulary. The previous Saturday was already booked for the Ulster Grand Prix, the big motor-cycle race, so the unfortunate R.A.C. have had to change their date to September 8th, thus clashing with the Italian Grand Prix. However, the Italian authorities have been very sporting about it, and have agreed to exchange dates with the R.A.C., and this arrangement has been submitted to the A.I.A.C.R. for their sanction.

This happy arrangement has preserved Britain’s only. road-race as an international fixture, and it is hoped that some foreign cars will compete. I shall not be surprised if a team of Ballila Fiats were seen, and I should like to see those six-cylinder 2.3 Alfas in action. The race, by the way, is again confined to unsupercharged cars.

Big Tyres.

With the Monte Carlo Rally close at hand Freeman and the other members of the Dunlop competitions staff are being kept busy with enquiries about the ” LowPressure ” tyres which were widely used on the Rally last year, and promise to be even more in favour in the forthcoming event. Healey was one of the first in this country to discover the virtues of the big cover, and two years ago fitted his Invicta with some of 7i-inch section, which with a 23-inch wheel gave a total diameter of 38 inches. They were so stiff that even when the tubes were totally deflated the rims did not touch the road. Last year he fitted his 10-h.p. Triumph with 9-inch tyres on 16-inch rims, and not only got through from Athens but was actually ninth in the Figure of Eight test, so these ” Airwheels ” cannot absorb nearly as much power as one would expect. Raymond Mays has found them an equal success under the greatly opposed conditions of road-racing, their principal merits being the good grip they impart

to the back wheels, a state of affairs otherwise difficult to obtain on such a light car as the E.R.A. without recourse to independent suspension ; and another important property is their capacity for insulating the car and its driver from road shocks.

Mays at present uses tyres of 6-inch section on 16-inch wheels, and runs them at 22 lbs. for road-racing and right down to 16 to get adhesion on Shelsley. They have proved so successful during the past season that next year be is thinking of trying the 7i-inch size.

Ten Years Ago.

Looking through some back numbers of MOTOR SPORT I was interested to come across an article by Louis Coatelen, at that time designer to the Sunbeam Company, on “Supercharging and the Sports Car.” Even with superchargers noisy and inefficient as they were then, Mr. Coatelen saw a future for them on the small car as a means of getting good distribution and power low down, coupled with a useful output at moderate engine speeds, a state of affairs which is almost impossible to achieve with a small unsupercharged power-unit. The modern blower is efficient, quiet running and uses little or no oil, with consequent freedom from plug trouble, so I think it is about time some manufacturer produced a moderately priced small supercharged car. One of the things they would have to face is the idea that the supercharged car should have a much greater speed than its unblown prototype, but if the sporting public could be got to appreciate them rather for their ” big-car ” feeling at low speeds, the manufacturer’s task would be much simplified. Another rather essential point for a popular supercharged car is that it should be capable of running on ordinary commercial leaded petrol. .I hope to announce something of this sort in the near future.

Another hush-hush car which should be out in the next six months will have a large supercharged engine, an all-out speed of well over 100 m.p.h., and an 8 ft. 6 in. chassis which nips round corners before you know you’ve got there. Last time I uttered dark hints of this kind, the wretched car was stopped on the eve of production, so perhaps I oughtn’t to have mentioned it !

Not so Thick.

Discussing the matter of winter starting the other day with one of the Essoltzbe experts, I picked up a piece of useful information which deserves to be passed on. It appears that resistance to breaking down of a Mm of any of the range of oils from ” Racer ” to ” 30 ” IS, in each case, amply strong to cope with the loads set up in any normal sports car, so that the only reason for using heavy oil is to prevent it becoming too thin and being rapidly used by disappearing in the various ways that oil does escape. Consequently for town work in winter you can safely go down from ” 50 ” to “30,” which vastly improves starting, and can even use it in the country provided you don’t mind the greater consumption. I expect this applies equally strongly to other brands of oil, but before you do make a change be sure you consult the advisory department of the company concerned. A few very expensive supersports cars thrive only on a diet of Castrol R, so don’t

start using A.F. without asking ” Andy ” about it.


The last time I was down at Brooklands I watched

silencer tests being carried out on a group of cars of various types. The idea was to find out what each maker considered a sufficient degree of silence, and one of the best of the sports cars I noticed was a small vehicle of not very distinguished ancestry. Leaving the Track and passing along to Weybridge my ears were assailed by an exhaust note quite remarkably offensive, made by a car identical with the one I had seen tested on the Track. Could it be that the manufacturer was as honest in the presence of the Belisha officials of his standard silencing arrangements ?

As one would expect, in the case of English sports cars, a greater reading was shown on the recording instrument when the rear of the car was pointed towards it, but strangely enough some of the American cars made most noise when their radiators faced the “mike.” All very mysterious.

The Unlimited Class.

On the Continent England is regarded as the country of small cars, racing and otherwise, and it strikes me as rather remarkable that, in spite of that, for the past ten years the World’s Land Speed Record has always been held by an Englishman, except when Eldridge captured it on the Fiat, on an English car. I now retract slightly—Keech held it for about eight months in 1928 on the three-engined White Triplex.

Next month Sir Malcolm Campbell is again setting off for America with the Blue Bird still further modified, in the hope of achieving the magic speed of 300 m.p.h. The greatest problem, he tells me, is that the beach is only ten miles long, which limits his run before crossing the line to 4i miles. The tyres are so thin that he dare not use the full power of the engine to get up speed, but this year for the first time he us using twin rear tyres, which should help. The efficiency of the brakes will also be improved by fitting a vacuum-servo system, while the local Mayor has removed some of the supporting pillars from a pier near one extremity of the run to give him a clear run at the beginning.

More Big Stuff.

The best times for record-breaking on Daytona Beach are either at the end of January or the end of February, and Sir Malcolm will arrive for the second of these sessions. Dixon is working hard on the Silver Bullet, but does not expect to have it going before May or June.

Eyston is preparing a new large-engined car to attack long distance records on the Murok Salt Lake, in July of next year, and John Cobb will probably take over the Napier-Railton. What about sending ” Ebby ” over with them to fix up a handicap race for these two, the Blue Bird and the Silver Bullet at Daytona afterwards ? Snippets.

.Oxford are now finally and definitely adjudged the winners of the Inter-Varsity Trial.

Cheer up, owners of 2.3-litre Grand Prix Bugattis and Alfa-Romeos ! Next year you will probably find a special class for you at Brooklaiids, giving you a slight advantage over single-seaters such as the 3-litre Maserati.

Kay Don has been released from his unwelcome confinement in the Isle of Man on medical grounds. If fit enough next season he hopes to take up racing again.

Count Lurani, the well-known Italian motor sportsman, has undergone an operation on his knee. His friends in this country will wish him ea speedy recovery. Manfried Von Brauchitch, who is again to be a member of the Mercedes team, has completely recovered from the injury to his eye. He was present at the Avus track last month when his colleague Caracciola took the 5 kilometre record