RUMBLINGS, January 1942

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That E.R.A

SOME more light is thrown on what has come to be known as the mystery of the cycle-shop E.R.A. in the form of a letter from A. Rivers-Fletcher. chairman of the E.R.A. Club. Last month FlightLieut. Harry Mundy effectively blew-up the idea that the Nottingham owner haq. a ” hush-hush ” E.R.A. engine, pointing out that the unit so labelled was actually designed in 1932 and never assembled. Rivers-Fletcher confirms this information, saying that he believes the engine came about in 1932-8, or perhaps as late as 1934, and that Macklin (of Invicta’s), Humphrey Cook and Raymond Mays were concerned with it. This is further confirmed by a letter from Patrick Green, published in the correspondence pages. He thinks the engine may have gone to Donington with the rest of the E.R.A. equipment in 1939, and gives its salient features as : six cylinders, 93 x100 mm. (4,890 c.c.), twin o.h.c. operating two exhaust and one inlet valve per cylinder, and Villiers supercharger. The chassis was never made nor the five-speed Wilson preselector box planned for it. RiversFletcher points out that this big engine would be very dated by now and was never by any means a G.P. unit. Actually, we believe it was found as a collection of bits only and that these have been disposed of. So far as the sports 4-litre engine found in the same cycle-shop is concerned, Rivers Fletcher considers that this must have been the Jamieson-designed job, but agrees that no chassis materialised. He adds that, although E.R.A. did contemplate a real Grand Prix engine some time before the war, only a few odd parts were ever made. At the outbreak of war the entire E.R.A. stable at Donington comprised two new-type 14-litres, one possibly not quite complete, and a goodly number of spares, although

probably insufficient to make up into a third car. Which seem,, to clear the matter up pretty thoroughly. All that glitters is not gold !

Down on the Farm

In normal times we should hesitate to describe any in the nature of a farm tractor in the pages of MOTOR SPORT, but details of a rather amateurish, but very effective, example that have come to hand are of particular significance these days. The vehicle in question is so very much the kind that would best be built by the ” Specials ” enthusiast. It can be constructed from easily obtainable car parts and is said to be most effective. If used for farming operations it can be taxed for 5/per annum, insured for 15/and be granted supplementary petrol. Far be it from us to suggest that anyone should build such a vehicle and falsely claim a ration of fuel in order to use it on the road, or for fun-dicing. But we imagine quite

a few enthusiasts might feel inclined to build such a vehicle and either offer it to a farmer who is feeling the shortage of transport, or else drive it themselves on his farm in what spare time they possess. Those waiting to be called up, or those invalided out of, or unfit for, H.M. Forces, may well ‘see a means here whereby enthusiasm may be usefully employed in materially helping the war effort. We imagine that there would be no difficulty in obtaining the licence and fuel ration if a guarantee was forthcoming that the device would be usefully and properly employed. With these thoughts in mind, a few details follow for what they are worth. The prototype has been assembled by Colin Barber, of Ho’infield, and is doing farm work during the owner’s.spare time. Basically it is a 1931 Austin Seven, at the forward end of which we find the spring set on a swivel, which also slightly raises the frame. Behind the Austin gearbox an additional gearbox, from an old Austin Heavy Twelve, is installed. This dries a rear axle from the same car, bolted directly to channel-member extensions of the ” Seven ” frame. No back springs are used. There are thirteen forward and seven reverse speeds, two gear levers being used, and the rear wheels carry 6″ x20″ Dunlop tyres. Tne “hod’,” which you don’t have on a tractor, consists of two wooaen boxes and a ballast platform behind. From Joe Lowrey, who tried the thing as part of some recent leave, we gather that, while its speed on a tarred road is about that of a normal untuned Austin Seven, it is helped on gradients by its many ratios. Over rough going the higher first gear takes it up and over a 450 grass bank on smooth tyres with only a little hand-throttle. The lower first gear is only needed if there is a plough astern and few trials hills should stop it. Certainly it would seem to have possibilities.

Roll of Honour

it is inevitable that a nation’s sportsmen figure largely in the Roll of Honour of war. Our world has suffered particularly heavily and a suitable memorial should one day be instituted. The news that Brian P. W. Twist has passed away after a long illness, following Army service, comes as a great personal shock to us. Of recent years Twist wrote many road test reports and race and trials accounts for this paper. Although very partial to Continental cars, so many of which he tested for us, he got round the country and about the Continent in an open Triumph, which combined those qualities he found essential in a personal car and on which he spent much money. A prominent member of the C.U.A.C., Twist was a popular figure at motoring fixtures, large and small. In earlier times he raced one of the exclusive little Amilcar Sixes, and he has also raced at Brooklands with the big V12 Delage. When he was on the staff of “The Autocar ” he tested many interesting fast cars, and of more recent times he spent much time on the Continent, doing work for Mercedes-Benz and reporting International Grand Prix contests. The war must have pained him considerably. No doubt fighting for the country he loved best hastened his

end ; unhappil) he died a very young man. To his mother and his friends we tender our heartfelt sympathy.

Bombers

Charles Grey has, as we hoped he would, written a book about bombing aircraft, following the successful publication by Faber and Faber of his “British Fighter Planes.” Like his earlier book, this new one deals with history, technicalities, personalities, aerobiographies and specifications. It does not confine itself to machines of this country only, although much detail is given in respect of our “Whitley,” “Manchester,” “Halifax,” ” Stirling ” and “Wellington ” big bombing aeroplanes. C. G. Grey’s writings are so easily absorbed and comprehensive that one hopes he will find time and inclination to set out further books on other war types. In the meantime his “Bombers,” which Faber and Faber publish at 6/-, should not be missed. There are 252 pages, of paper suited to war economy, and many very finely reproduced photographs of ancients and moderns.

This is just the book to provide the ordinary reader with sufficient knowledge to appreciate to the full all we owe to those splendid young men who are making such a wonderful contribution to our victory.

How Fast ?

It is interesting to ask the various owners of fast cars with whom one comes into contact the simple question : ” What speed do you seek from your car ? ” If a fast car is purchased as a means of entertainment by reason of the skill needed to extract from it the maximum performance in safety, that consideration must be taken into the picture, no matter how much good acceleration, sound roadholding and an ability to cruise reliably at a comparatively high pace can offset it. Although many people would prefer a car of sober upper-end performance, but possessed of these latter characteristics, to a faster, but unreliable, uncomfortable car, the fact remains that when the urge to dice really gets hold of you speed—both sustained and maximum—does come very materially into the scheme of things—even if the scheme entails borrowing a motor-car. It is not altogether a matter of calling on one’s full share of driving skill, for averaging, say, 38 or so m.p.h. in a Baby Fiat calls for that in pretty full measure, when the maximum is unlikely to exceed a mile-aminute. Rather is the combination of the undefinable appeal of speed and the employment of that form of skill, embracing judgment born of experience and coordination of sight and muscle, in permitting such enjoyment without inconvenience or danger to one’s fellow beings, that is embraced. How fast, then, must the experienced driver travel to achieve this aim ? The writer suggests that a cruising speed of 70 m.p.h., with 10 m.p.h. in hand, are about the lowest figures which most of you would name. But there would seem a subject here for informative debate.