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91

Sir,
Mrs Cherrett’s letter (Motor Sport, November 1987) was of special interest to me, having owned one of the Alfas she mentions (GH1557) between the wars. I did not buy the car from Stiles, but took it to St Johns Wood for service, whereupon they volunteered their version of its history: “Third, behind Nuvolari’s and Borzacchini’s at Phoenix Park in 1930, driven by Campari. You can tell it was his by the extension to the steeringcolumn”.

Only long after parting with the car did I try to check the story; I have only two relevant works of reference. First, race-result tables in the appendices of Sammy Davis’ book Motor Racing — where the result of the 1500cc race at Phoenix Park in 1930 is shown as 1st Gillow, Riley; 2nd Eyston, 1500S Alfa Romeo; 3rd Frazer-Nash, 750s Austin. He then goes on to show Campari second in the subsequent unlimited-class race in a 2-litre (sic) Alfa. If SCHD’s appendices are correct, I am left to wonder whether someone at Stiles did not rather enjoy embroidering past exploits.

GH1557’s history has other puzzles, however; and Mrs Cherrett’s remark about Stiles race-entries and number-plates may be relevant. This is where my other work of reference, Luigi Fusi’s tome Tutu le Vetturs dal 1910, comes in. Mrs Cherrett says GH1557 is a 1930 1500 Gran Sport. The car, via Beaulieu and Brian Classic, is now with Henry Petronis in Florida. He tells me the chassis and engine numbers, respectively, are 8513027 and 8513026. But Fusi attributes these numbers to 1930 production of Series 4 1750 cars. He shows no production of 1500cc cars in 1930. Stiles had in fact told me my car was of 1929 manufacture —but then, says Fusi, its chassis and engine numbers should be in the series 0211401-0211415.

Then therein the puzzle over final-drive ratios. When I bought the car— 15,000 miles showing — it had fitted a nominal 3.8:1 crown-wheel and pinion. In what passed for luggage-space, wrapped in greased paper and appearing unused, lurked a 4.1:1 crownwheel and pinion (12/49 cf 13/49). As best I can tell from Fusi, a 1929 1500S should have had a 12/51. The 12/49 was fitted to the 1750s of 1929-1932. The 13/49 I found! had first appears in the “Testa Fissa” 1750 Super Sport. So questions arise. Is the car Henry Petronis has the same GH1557 I had?

She has plates reading GH1557, but they are not the cast aluminium plates of my day: and when Beaulieu had her those were gone. What was her history before Stiles sold her, in late 1930, to a doctor in the Midlands? Did she go to Phoenix Park? Was she raced, or practiced in? Was it her, bearing the GH1557 plates and race number 9, in the TT practice photograph Mrs Cherrett mentions?

GAD Smith, Burford, Oxfordshire

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