At this time of year racing cars used to change hands and everyone was agog at the glowing prospects for the coming season. If the prospects are not so glowing as before the war, at least the cars are finding new owners all right. David Hampshire has sold his 6-cylinder, 1 1/2-litre Maserati to Leonard Potter, of Continental Cars, and has taken unto himself Parnell’s “Challenge.” it will be recalled that this car was a very special “special” which Parnell ran once with an Alta engine installed. He is, however, popping in one of his straight-eight Delage engines for Hampshire’s edification. Then Barry Woodall, who ran a “Shelsley” Frazer-Nash last year, has acquired one of Parnell’s Delage cars, while Yates, who was getting his hand in with the 2.9-litre Maserati last season, is importing, they say, a 1 1/2-litre, 6-cylinder, 24-valve Maserati from Italy. Parnell has also sold the ex-Maclure Riley and the ex-Howe Zoller E.R.A. Harrison has relieved him of the latter. Reg. has big ideas for himself — he has been to Alfas, tried a Type 158, approved it, and now hopes to import one. Ken Hutchison is another would-be racer, for which purpose he has acquired the ex-Ferrari momoposto 2.9-litre Alfa-Romeo which A. F. Ashby raced. You will recall that Ashby modified this car quite a bit, as reported in Motor Sport at the time, in order to obviate the cylinder-head troubles to which these cars were prone. So Hutchison takes over with i.f.s., 12-lb. boost, cast-iron blocks and hydraulic brakes and hopes to try out the car at Bo’ness next May. Rowland awaits, his sensational Cisitalia and Cowell plots some flat-twelve G.P. cars, assembled largely from proprietary components. Rumour has it that bits of Raymond Mays’ new team, such as Laystall-rnade con.rods, are coming along, and E.R.A., Ltd., talk of having the one-and-only Bert Hadley to test each E.R.A. for 150 miles or so at racing speed — we wouldn’t know where. It looks as if Parnell, Brooke and Leslie Johnson will have their E-type E.R.A.s to back Whitehead’s this year.
Over here, too, the “specials” are flourishing, largely as 500-c.c. cars, but in addition John Bolster schemes a rear-placed, “hotted-up” V8 Mercury engine in his old four-J.A.P. chassis, and Lance Macklin’s lengthened, Mercury-engined Fuzzi is well on its way, down at Lightwater.
Over and above all this, there are high hopes of a Mille Miglia, and possibly Le Mans, this year. A sort of picnic for Cisitalias and the new sports 2 1/2-litre Alfa-Romeo, perhaps.
And Bugatti has at last got his Molsheim factory back. Count Lurani has been over here, feasting with the J.C.C. and visiting Earl Howe, and he brought over some news of Italian teams for this year. Alfa will put out Wimille, Sanesi, Varzi and Trossi in the invincible-last year 1 1/2-litre, Type 158s, the rear-engined, flat-twelve cars coming out later on. This Maserati will counter with a new tubular chassis, de Dion rear-end car using the well-known 4-cylinder, 16-valve engine, three-stage supercharged, their team to comprise Sommer, Ruggeri and, it is hoped, Nuvolari. The flat-twelve Alfa-Romeo they will match with a (front-engined) flat-twelve of their own. Add to this Ferrari’s new V12 Colombo-designed team, with Farina, Villoresi and Cortese as pilots, and you just must get over to a Continental Grand Prix this year.
We wouldn’t like to prophesy who will come out on top, but the Maseratis are doubtless rubbing their hands together and pointing out that Raymond Sommer has been declared French champion of 1946.
Darracq have a new 4 1/2-litre which Farina may handle, and over and above all this, Madame Itier’s Union Sportive Automobile has the most breath-taking plans for taking on cadet drivers free of charge and letting them race seriously against men like Sommer and Wimille in twenty identical 3-litre, 3-carburetter. single-seater Delage cars, if they pass a medical and certain preliminary trials in single-seater Salmsons. This is so much what we have all dreamed about that we withhold further information until the thing becomes an accomplished fact. But if you can support yourself in France while trying to get in on this munificence, there is no harm in trying to get details from the Union, at 190, Rue de Rivoli, Paris. It really seems there is a good time coming, possibly.