Vintage postbag, January 1976

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A Mystery for Solving

Sir,

With reference to your comments regarding the mystery car on page 1261 of your current issue.

This is, indeed, the 2-litre Miller Lea-Francis that first appeared at Brooklands, in April 1928, in the hands of Kaye Don. There appears to be no record of Don attacking records but Purdy did so early in June of the same year.

Basically the car was Eldridge’s Miller Special which he had modified considerably to his own ideas, and incorporating a number of components made by Lea-Francis.

For Purdy’s attempt the radiator cowl was removed, and I have a photograph of the car in this state showing clearly the Lea-Francis radiator. When Don drove the car the cowl was in place. London, W1 T. A. S. O. MATHIESON

Sir,

I agree with your conclusion that the mystery racing car in the November 1975 issue of MOTOR SPORT is a Miller-engined Lea-Francis. In a friend’s collection I have seen recently a photo in an old clipping showing the engine compartment of what appears to be the same car. The raked radiator shell was identifiable as Lea-Francis; it looks to have been cowled over for streamlining in Mr. Clark’s photograph. The engine was clearly a supercharged 2-litre Miller 122 model of 1924-25 vintage.

My first notion was that the engine was from the E.A.D. Eldridge Miller record-breaker, but The Motor for July 21st, 1928, has a picture of Eldridge’s car ready for runs at Brooklands at a time which would have been just after the Lea-Francis attempts, and it is a handsome and complete rear-drive Miller 122.

The latter photo also disposes of my notion that Eldridge’s car might be a front-drive Miller. I started wondering, when I read your recent account of Eldridge’s near-fatal crash at Montlhery. The phrase “threepiece” used in describing the axle alleged to have failed could be applied to the built-up front de Dion tube of a front-drive Miller, but I realise now that it could describe also the front axle of a rear-drive Miller, in that the steering-knuckle forgings are connected by a length of round tubing.

California MARK L. DEES

[This seems to confirm my guess. But if Eldridge had prepared his Miller for record-breaking at Brooklands in 1928, there is no record that he was successful, and, indeed, he wasn’t fit to drive himself until 1921. I have never doubted, however, that the Miller in which Eldridge crashed at Montlhery in 1927 was a rear-drive car, but glad to have this confirmation that Eyston wasn’t wide of the mark when he spoke to me of the crash being caused by the breaking-up of this car’s three-piece front axle. Incidentally, a straight-eight Miller which performed frequently at Southport was Dan Higgin’s, but this was the ex-Zborowski 1923/4 2-litre car, that went to New Zealand.—Ed.]