Rumblings, January 1954
The Kieft Company is now in an advanced stage with the construction of the chassis for a Kieft Formula I racing car for the coming season. It is hoped that the completed prototype will be ready for testing at Silverstone towards the middle or the end of January. It is probable that during the test the car will be driven by Ken Wharton and Alan Brown. Cyril Kieft would like to emphasise that, at the moment, he is busy with his co-designer, Gordon Bedson, on the production of the prototype and, until this has been thoroughly tested and approved, any statements relating to plans beyond those referred to are wishful thinking and surmise. If the car, when tested, proves itself to be a potential Grand Prix winner, three other cars will be manufactured, as all main chassis components have been ordered and conversion of these components into chassis could be speeded up. The following are some details of the car:—
Engine: The new Coventry Climax 2 1/2-litre racing engine.
Chassis: Multi-tube construction with two cast Elektron torsion boxes at either end to take suspension loads and, at the rear, to locate the back axle and support the rear-mounted preselector gearbox.
Brakes: For its initial tests the car will be fitted with normal drum brakes. Disc brakes have been ordered and will be fitted to the car when the units are available.
General: Extensive use will be made of light alloy metals in the general construction of the car, which, it is planned, will have a dry weight of 11 cwts. Suspension will he based on the well-tried Kieft 1953 sports-car suspension.
It is not intended to make any further statements about this car until tests have been completed.
The company, of course, intends to retain its interest in Formula III racing. The Kieft-Parker-Lancefield team will operate for the third successive season and a new ultra-lightweight 500-c.c. car is being designed and built for Don Parker, who during 1953 entered his Kieft in 46 races and obtained 31 firsts and 11 seconds.
A Singer Special
We have received from Austin Harbinson, of Co. Derry, the following description of a “special” he built at the age of 23.
“After reading of the Rover Special in the November issue of your excellent journal, I am prompted to write and tell you of my own ‘special.’ This is based on a Singer Nine Bantam, to which I devoted nearly two years’ spare-time work. I stripped the whole car and rebuilt it, strengthening the chassis considerably by virtually building a tubular steel chassis around the old one. I fitted a four-speed remote-control gearbox in place of the original three-speed box and then fitted a second gearbox behind that. This second box is a Wolseley Hornet box and has all the gears removed except third and top. It is fitted back side foremost so as to be an overdrive, so I now have five forward gears and two reverses.
“I purchased a radiator from the late ‘Bobbie’ Baird which I think is an old aircraft oil cooler but does its job very well. This allowed me to get my nose down, as can be seen from the photograph, and entailed fitting a water pump — quite a headache as the Bantam engine had no external drives.
“The body I built entirely myself and is designed to reduce panel beating to a minimum, there being only about eight hours actual beating on the whole job. The bonnet lifts up and is hinged at the front, Aston Martin style, and the back lifts up the same way. With both ends open the car looks rather like a tank landing craft.
“Performance is far above what I expected. I get fifty miles per gallon on normal driving, more if I keep between 30 and 40 m.p.h., less if I exceed 50 m.p.h. In fact, I covered 60 miles in 60 minutes on give and take roads one night and used almost two gallons of petrol, yet on another occasion the same journey was done in 80 minutes and used little over one gallon, which proves that that extra 10-15 m.p.h. takes gas. The car’s top speed is around 80 m.p.h. on the level, and with a slight gradient may be 90, but the engine is still quite happy as I have 6.00-16 tyres on the back, along with the overdrive. It has now covered 6,000 miles since first taxed in April and has given no trouble whatsoever. It corners perfectly and is virtually impossible to turn over, as I have proved. It stands only 35 1/2 in. at the highest point (1/2 in. lower than an XK120), which is lower than most ‘specials.’
“I am a farmer’s son. I have a small engineering business which was started as a hobby and developed into a full-time job, and I had no previous experience of building a body of this kind. I have learned a tremendous lot from this job, and as all the local garage men laughed at me when I tried to outline what I wanted to build — especially when I said I was going to build it from aluminium — it was worth it all to see their faces when they saw the ‘thing,’ which just goes to prove that there is no such word in an engineer’s vocabulary as ‘can’t’ or cannot be done ‘.
“Stars And Stripes
We notice that in a recent American sports-car club rally there were Ladies’ Leg Awards.