Veteran - Edwardian - Vintage, January 1957

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A section devoted to old-car matters, both current and contemporary.

Motoring Behind 21 Litres – Douglas Fitzpatrick’s Maybach-Metallurgique

Old cars are always fascinating but especially so when they are endowed with good performance. When this performance is such that modern sports cars have difficulty in keeping pace an experience unique in motoring is in store, and such we enjoyed when sampling Douglas Fitzpatrick’s 21-litre Maybach-engined Metallurgique.

The occasion was a November Sunday that threatened fog, but a Standard Vanguard Sportsman made excellent speed from Essex to the deserted roads of Norfolk, and after a hurried lunch in Holt we presented ourselves at Mr. Fitzpatrick’s beautiful home, Sheringham Hall, at a decently early hour.

The car awaiting our pleasure in the courtyard of the old coach-house was out of this world—a monster in the tradition of the 1908 Itala, 200-h.p. Benz and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.

This Metallurgique is of 1907 origin, having been a special 60/80 model, with the 150 by 140-mm. 10-litre engine, giving 100 b.h.p. at 1,400 r.p.m., used for record-attacks in Belgium. For this reason, probably, it was possessed of a back-axle ratio of 1.27 to 1, the axle casing specially spacious to house the big pinion.

It seems that the late E. A. D. Eldridge, of Isotta-Maybach and Fiat “Mephistopheles” fame, acquired the car. It later passed into the hands of a gentleman named Mr. Cole living quite near to the present owner, but unknown to him until, by a lucky stroke of fate, about six years ago, Mr. Fitzpatrick heard rumours of a giant car decaying on his premises, went to investigate and decided he must add the Metallurgique to his stable.

It had been re-engined between 1919-1921 by Mr. Cole and his partner Mr. Tillet, with a monster T-head, four-valve-per-cylinder 1910 Maybach engine of a type sold for use in “boats or airships.” This vast power unit, with its six separate iron cylinders, fitted snugly once the chassis had been lengthened to accommodate it. The original Maybach carburetters had been replaced by Claudel-Hobsons but the old manifolding called for lighter “gas-works” and so two 52-mm. S.U.s have been fitted, specially made for the car and the only sop to modernity. Three new Y-shaped exhaust manifolds were made up, exhausting into quite a small-bore exhaust-pipe and cylindrical silencer.

Mr. Fitzpatrick disliked the radiator, with a pointed header-tank to give an extra two gallons of water, and bade Delaney-Gallay construct a new one to correct 1907 outline. It is a beautiful thing, carrying the authentic badge, found also on the remarkably unworn foot-pedals. At the same time the queer two-seater body put on about 1919 was abandoned and the chassis provided with three very comfortable bucket seats by Coachcraft Ltd.

The original flywheel with Metallurgique expanding brass-lined clutch is retained, likewise all the transmission and running gear. The crown-wheel and pinion had stripped but Ken Phantom made up new parts.

The side-valve Maybach engine is thought to develop 180 b.h.p. at 1,200 r.p.m. but may give more. It drives through a beautiful gearbox with ratios (note this) of 5.06, 2.56. 1.75 and 1.27 to 1. 880 by 120 tyres being unprocurable, new 935 by 135 Dunlops are used on the original wheels, resulting in speeds of over 20, 41, 60 and 81 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m. in the different gears.

Our inspection of this magnificently-finished chocolate-brown Edwardian completed, 22 gallons of water were supplied to the radiator, 12 gallons of petrol to the 25-gallon fuel tank, Mr. Fitzpatrick’s German mechanic, who accompanies the Metallurgique on all its journeys, pulled the engine over with a bar normally clipped along the chassis frame, and, switching-on the trembler coils, the proud owner caused the engine to burst into life. In no time at all she was warm and we were away.

Riding on this Metallurgique is to put the clock back to an age long past, and, even in 1919, think what a phenomenal possession this car represented. When 85 m.p.h. from an E-type 30/98 was the peak of motoring, imagine being overtaken by a car doing only a little over 1,000 r.p.m.!

Moreover, this Edwardian, for all its size and 36 cwt., can be driven fast in safety. It handles extremely well, so that pulling it off the crown of a country lane to avoid collision with a spell-bound saloon is not in the least ”dicey,” while a casual motor-coach driver enabled us to discover how well it stops from 70 m.p.h., albeit on locked back wheels!

Four pedals confront the driver, two being brake pedals, working, respectively, transmission brakes behind the gearbox and ahead of the pinion casing, one of these pedals also freeing the clutch, which has its own pedal, supplemented, of course, by the accelerator. The hand brake applies the back-wheel brakes. Originally metal-to-metal was the order of the anchorage, but racing at Brands Hatch set the shoes afire, so Mintex liners are now in use and Ferodo racing linings are contemplated for this season.

If such controls seem complicated, the driver is encouraged by the docility of the engine, which is happy down to 300 r.p.m. in that very high top gear. The car’s weight distribution, too, is good, being 18½ cwt. on the front wheels, 17½ cwt. on the back. Only as we rode a straight Norfolk by-road at 95-97 m.p.h. did the Metallurgique become rather eager in its manner of running—sitting high and unprotected, with the long bonnet feet below one, the sensation was better than 130 M.p.h. in a 300SL!

When really motoring, Mr. Fitzpatrick goes up to a daring 1,300 r.p.m. and after cruising at a lazy 80-90 m.p.h. we came to a straight road and assayed some acceleration figures. Here comes the big surprise. The very steady Eliott rev.-counter enabled 0-60 m.p.h. and 0-80 m.p.h. readings to be taken, using third and top, respectively, and the times of 11.7 and 21.8 sec. will mean everything to those who collect performance data. To cap this astonishing performance, a two-way s.s. ¼ -mile was timed. This came out, at 17.1 sec., with the best run, uphill but after the better start, in 17.0 sec. To humour the transmission a very short rolling start was permitted, which might add one or 1½ seconds to the time. but when it is remarked that a 300SL Mercedes-Benz requires 16.1 sec. and a Jaguar XK140 takes 17.4 sec. for the s.s. ¼-mile the pleasure and purpose of owning this 1907/1910 hybrid become clearly apparent!*

Riding back in state on the rear seat to Sheringham Hall we were at peace with the world, for only occasionally does even the Editor of a sporting motor paper experience motoring of this calibre. Over tea in Mr. Fitzpatrick’s charming drawing-room, amongst his treasured musical boxes, we completed our picture of this unique motor car and its keen owner. Lubrication is dry-sump, we learned, from a 10-gallon reservoir under the back seat, three beautiful eccentric pumps providing for feed and scavenge. The car carries appropriate lamps, including a splendid pair of Zeiss acetylene headlamps with ingenious driver-controlled flame-masks for anti-dazzle purposes. Liberal warning that the Metallurgique is coming up on one is provided by a handle-turned Bleriot Klaxon horn. Ignition is by two matching Bosch magnetos firing two plugs per cylinder, and rear suspension is ¾-elliptic. The pistons are cast iron, and the steering-wheel calls for 11/3 turns, lock-to-lock. In all, the present owner has covered about 2,000 miles since the car’s five-year rebuild, and has raced it at Brands Hatch, Bexhill and Silverstone.

As the car was put back into its garage we recalled the thrill of our brief ride, wind howling about one’s head, the acceleration immense — no other word is adequate — as the big engine took hold and hurled the great car forward. Then it was time to investigate the other cars in the Fitzpatrick stable—and what a stable! He has three Rolls-Royces, one of them the remains of his supercharged Phantom I, which will be rebuilt with a light four-seater body. He has a special l933 Riley with big crankshaft and hydraulic brakes, an Austin Seven Special, the 1906 Wolseley-Siddeley, and the 1902 Achilles he drove in last November’s Brighton Run.

Hearing that we intended to drive that evening to Scole to see if the headlamps from the 1908 G.P. Itala still adorn the public bar of the “White Hart,” Mr. Fitzpatrick suggested we should do this in his 1938 Phantom III Rolls-Royce Park Ward saloon. This fine car looks very modern. We were told that its engine was worn out and due for an R.-R. overhaul but no fumes were detected and it cruised effortlessly at 60-70 m.p.h., losing the Vanguard Sportsman on acceleration at certain parts of the range. Like all good big cars, from within this one gave the impression of being small. To ride through the night in this Phantom III was an experience as soothing as the drive in the Metallurgique had been exhilarating, the famous radiator, standing just proud of the bonnet, outlined, with the “silver lady” mascot, in the beam of the big headlamps, the instruments, including the big speedometer with its dead-steady, white-tipped needle, lit gently by the concealed dashlamps. Thus we proceeded, through Norwich and beyond, to the whisper of 7 litres of V12 engine and occasional very subdued creaks from the beautiful coachbuilt body.

Mr. Fitzpatrick told its that it is nice to have i.f.s. on this model, and that it functions so well that if you drive up a kerb in turning you are quite startled as the back wheel drops with a thud onto the road. We were also interested to learn that Rolls-Royce Ltd. still carry out and make available modifications for Phantom IIIs from time to time, such as a new exhaust system giving greater power and a higher axle ratio which improves petrol consumption by one m.p.g. (Mr. Fitzpatrick gets an excellent 10-12 m.p.g. from his P. III), which were on the car in question.

So to Scole—and there were the two Ducellier Dynamo electric lamps from Clutton’s great Itala screwed by their mounting-brackets to the wooden beams of the bar ceiling, lighting the boards of the throwers of darts. As we sipped our drinks, Nasser and the Russian invasion of Hungary receded, until it was time to resume the Vanguard, and later the Volkswagen, and drive 200 miles through the fog towards Monday and the petrol shortage and threat of war . . .— W. B.

* [Almost unbelieveable as the time for the ¼-mile acceleration is, the other figures bear it out, especially as the 0-60 and 0-80 times for the Metallurgique were recorded more gently than those for the ¼–mile:-

                                                         ¼-mile              0-60 m.p.h.            0-80 m.p.h.

Metallurgique:                            say,  18.6 sec.               11.7 sec.             21.8 sec.

Jaguar XK140:                                   17.4 sec.               11.0 sec.            16.9 sec.

Mercedes-Benz 300SL:                       16.1 sec.                8.8 sec.            13.8 sec.

. — Ed.!]

The Nash Collection

Anxious to discover what has become of R. G. J. Nash’s collection of veteran cars, aeroplanes and bicycles, we called on him recently at his home in Surrey. We found him in his study, surrounded by pictures of his active competition days when he drove his famous Frazer-Nash Specials, “The Terror,” ” The Spook ” and the Nash Union Special, in sprint events. His aeronautical collection has been taken over by the Royal Aeronautical Society, but in a big shed flanking his tennis court Nash showed us some of his veteran cars, including the 1898 City and Suburban electric carriage formerly owned by Queen Alexandra, still on its original solid rubber tyres, with leather mudguards and hood, and in a sound state of preservation, his 1900 Peugeot that he drove in many Brighton Runs, the 1896 Pennington Autocar which used to stand in the porch of the “White Lion” at Cobham, a de Dion tricycle, a 1750 hand-propelled fire-engine, and the 1912 15-litre Grand Prix Lorraine-Dietrich “Vieux Charles Trois,” in Brooklands trim ready to race again if given a new carburetter float and fresh inner tubes. These valuable old cars were surrounded by numerous early bicycles and velocopedes, including a simply gigantic “penny-farthing” and by a Bleriot-type three-cylinder Anzani aero-engine, a 50 Gnome rotary aero-engine, etc., ex-U.S. Army Stores Minneapolis.

For health reasons Nash may vacate his present house, for which reason he has lent these vehicles to the Montagu Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

Nash remains faithful to Ford for transport, retaining his well-known V8 saloon, with B.R.D.C. and Brooklands badges, reminder that he holds the Brooklands Test Hill Record in 7.45 sec., and also having an early Ford Eight for local journeys. During the past three years he has devoted much time to laying the Weybridge Beeches Railway, a 7½-in. gauge layout, nearly one-third of a mile in length, of alloy rails on wooden sleepers, encircling his large garden, and embracing delightful, lawn-flanked cuttings, woods and embankments. There are numerous wayside stations, points and two locomotive turntables. Motive power is provided by a pedal-engine, for his son’s amusement, an early steam locomotive which Nash rebuilt, and by a huge electric locomotive which he built himself, the body and roof of which detach to reveal—the batteries from the City & Suburban electric car, which are thus kept in good fettle, being recharged on a big charging panel in one of the garages. This loco has a motor and control unit from a vintage invalid carriage. It travels about 17 miles on a charge and Nash says that taking it at full bore round the line provides a thrill “nearly the equal of lapping Brooklands at speed.”-W. B.

The Tank Museum

Taking a tip from a contemporary, we made a point recently of visiting the Royal Armoured Corps Tank Museum at Bovington Camp. Not far from Lulworth Cove, adjacent to the rolling Dorset plains on which modern tanks are tested, this museum would constitute a worthwhile “basic”-journey for motorists living near Bournemouth, its location being signposted from Wareham—but take warm coats, for the halls are unheated.

The museum was evolved from a “scrap-heap” display of 1914-18 into a better affair in 1924 at the instigation of the late Rudyard Kipling. In 1947 the Tank Museum was revived and is now a credit to its curator and to the Royal Armoured Corps. The tanks exhibited, many of which can he entered, range from the original “Little Willie” of 1915, which carried a crew of five at 3½ m.p.h. and weighed 28 tons, through nearly 70 examples, to the armour of 1945. Tanks from America, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Australia, France, Italy and Russia are on view, together with various special-purpose vehicles.

Things like the 76-ton Tortoise will appeal to the destructive, but perhaps of greater appeal to motorists are the armoured cars and tank engines. The former include 1917 Peerless, 1920 40/50 Rolls-Royce (with normal “Silver Ghost” chassis and radiator and tyres any restorer of vintage cars will covet), 1923 Crossley, 1932 Lanchester and more recent Humber, Daimler, A.E.C. and Coventry vehicles. Amongst the tank engines can be inspected the Ricardo, with o.h. inlet and side exhaust valves; the remarkable air-cooled V8 Armstrong-Siddeley with affinity to the car engines of this make in the valve-gear covers and thin flywheel; the Meadows, a sort of ancester of the 4ED o.h.v. unit; the V12 Liberty as used, in aircraft form, by Parry Thomas in “Babs”; an air-cooled radial American tank engine, and the war-time Morris, Bedford Flat-Six, Ford V8, Rover Meteor 600 h.p. V12. 425-h.p. Chrysler Multibank, and other famous specialised engines of this kind. The full-size exhibits are backed up by models, photographs, plans and pictures, and there is a sectional 1928 Sunbeam private-car chassis presented for instructional purposes, which should please members of’ the Sunbeam Register. Although we went in the hope of seeing F.W.D. and other 1914-18 Army lorries and transports and were disappointed, the Tank Museum is an excellent institution, worthy of your support. Guides and histories of various Tank Regiments, and tank models, are on sale there. Admission is free and normally the museum is open from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays included.—W. B.

From ” The Graphic” dated April 28th, 1900: “The motor car has, it is clear, come to stay, like its forerunner, the cycle.”

From “The Daily Mail” dated November 25th, 1912: “‘Motoring for all’ may now be said to be almost an accomplished fact.”

From No. 2 of the “Chain-Gang Gazette,” official organ of the Frazer-Nash Section of the V.S.C.C.: “I shall make an honest woman of her when I have finished overhauling the ‘Nash . . .”

 

The 30/98 Vauxhall Register has progressed to a second list which gives details of 91 of these famous cars known to be complete and in running order, 26 believed to be so, five cars in process of rebuilding, plus 17 “doubtfuls,” a grand total of 139. The list quotes chassis and engine numbers, owner and address, body style, colour, registered number and other details, where known. Velox bodies predominate, some Wensums exist, and it is astonishing how many 30/98s are now in Australia, some 54 of the entries concerning cars “down under.” The. 30/98 Register holds references useful to owners of these cars, including the Motor Sport article of April, 1948. Details of existing 30/98s are sought by H. Radcliffe, 38, Rydens Road, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in this country, and by C. Sandford-Morgan. Box 869G, G.P.O., Adelaide, in Australia.