CARS I HAVE OWNED

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CARS I HAVE OWNED I And so the series continues, this contribution being by Lance-Corporal D. Paterson.—Edd

W1IILF…-at sehookil bought my first car for the proverbialjfiver ; it was a Square-radiator Morris-Cowley 2-seater tourer. It made but one journey under illy ownership, from Marlborough to Liverpool, taking 13 hours, including running out of petrol three times in the middle of the night. It had one good

point—the starter worked! The only headlight made little difference, “on ” or ” off ” ! In fact, it must have been my first taste of ” blackout ” driving I The win( I:semen-wiper failed after an hour, so the sereen had to be open in the driving rain. The highest speed attained was -1.5 i 1.1).11. on the clock down Cleeve Hill pear Cheltenham. This fantastic burst was due to complete failure of the brakes and a slipping clutch. The car was sold to the breakers for 30s. less lights, plugs, dynamo, battery, seats and dock. The next car was an “‘ M “-type M.G. Midget about six months old. I was extremely proud of it and took the silencer and windscreen off, fitted a bonnet-strap, and also bought a white helmet and goggles ; ” Fleeing Fly” was stencilled on the bonnet, and the world was mine. I.’En. fan t Terrible I It was written off by a large Austin saloon, Which only had a bent bumper, despite the fact that the eughte in the M.G. was ” reversed ” 6 inches, both doors came off, and I was thrown out about 20 feet, and my driving career nearly finished, as my parents refused to get me another car. They relented a week later and I got a twin of the M.G. The transformation was completed and I thought I had another racing car. They both did about 65 m.p.h. and gave no trouble at all. About this time I bought a special miderslung chassis, which Tin kler (the designer of that ill-fated water-cooled motor-cycle) had built to use on Southport sands. The trouble was to find a suitable engine; after many visits to the local scrap-yards, I unearthed a 1,500 c.c. Lea-Francis and after much labour fitted it in. Then I.suddenly decided I was wasting money and sold it back to Tinkler for 10s., after gaining useful information about engines. The M.G. went in part exchange for a Singer “Le Mans” coupe in good condition, with about 20,000 miles to its credit. It went very well, apart from trouble with the springs and heat from the engine. The acceleration and speed seemed very good for the 9-h.p. engine ; 85 m.p.h. on the speedometer was the fastest. It did many fast runs and once averaged 50 m.p.h. from Liverpool to Newcastle over the ” top ” through Brough and Middleton-in-Teesdale, quite tough going for a small engine. One day an old Bugatti took my fancy. It turned out to be a 4-seater Type 40 and it cost £12. [Surely a Brescia ?—Ed.] The registration book showed it had been in use practically continuously since 1924, and was faster than the Singer, though the acceleration with a 3.5 to 1 axle ratio was not so good. It was an amazing example of good workmanship, as it must have done a terrific mileage in its career. I decided to try to make it into a sprint-car, , as I stripped it dowit:to:the:cle , ;it Tite • springing seemed to make the rear of the chassis too high, so we thought we would improve on M. Bugatti I (Very ignorant II) We cut the chassis just behind the gear-box supports, removed 10 in. from the rear half, joined it up again with H.T. bolts and welding, putting the rear half upside down and the springs the correct way up so that the axle was now about 3 in. above the chassis, the latter having about 4 in. grotmd-clearance. The eardon shaft and axle torque bearer were shortened to fit. Rear shock-absorbers were a problem and special brackets had to be made for the large Hartfords. All this seemed very promising ; we had an undershmg Bug, unusual to my knowledge and the weight was less than 9 cwt. We borrowed wheels with well-base tyres in place of the antique wire-rim type fitted. Business took me to Newcastle from Liverpool, so I sold the Singer and bought

Wolseley ” Daytona Special” and I also took the Bugatti up to Newcastle, but owing to having no decent place to work on it, I lost interest. The WoLseley was quite good ; it knocked up 85 m.p.h. very literally—I found gear oil had been put in the sump to “hush up” the front main bearing which had 80 thou. play. I invested in new bearings throughout, but the crankshaft was found to be slightly oval and too expensive to replace or repair. Then I got my first fast car, a brand new T “-type M.G., supercharged by Arnotts, and reputed to be capable of 102 m.p.h. when run in. I fitted oversize rear tyres and it was definitely fast, but to do 100 m.p.h. the engine still had to run at 6,000 r.p.m., and as the makers’ safe limit was 4,800 r.p.m., this speed couldn’t he used much. I tried to get a lower ratio axle, but estimates were too expensive. I went in for a few triaLs, without much success ; it was always near the top on timed tests, but wheel-spin was difficult to overcome with the blower on. After a year of very fast motoring, during which time many a “T “-type owner was left behind gnashing his teeth, and even Frazer-Nash owners were horrified by the M.G.’s rapidity, the engine needed a complete overhaul, so I swopped for an S.S. “100” 2i-litre, one of the few made in 1986, keeping the supercharger from the M.G. for later use. The S.S. was a real good buy ; it has now done 50,000 miles without a rebore, and is still in use driving this lowly lance-corporal from billet to alehouse, incidentally receiving salutes by the score. I use Castro! ” R ” oil, as it seems to help the engine a great deal, despite the groans from the garage man, who says R ” ruins a private car engine. I raised the compression by fitting a thin copper gasket and ran on Discol. The groundclearance was too low for trials and we generally returned minus the silencer, so I concentrated on speed trials and sand racing. It did 36.07 secs. at Wetherby for the half-mile course, which was quite fast, but I was outclassed by the B.M.W.’s. At Saltburn sands it lapped at a shade over 60 m.p.h., at Southport slightly slower, and:its’4bcst day:was at Hartlepool speed

jusgpre-war, over the quarter-mile concrete course with a very:slight righthand curve. In doing 17 secs. it beat the previous open record. Soon after buying the S.S. I decided to get a car to use only for speed trials, so I bought a twin-supercharged Ford V.8 shortened chassis with L.M.B. front axle. When bought it had a canvas body which was practical but ugly, so we scrapped it, lowered the radiator 4 in., made an aluminitun body, took off the 40-gallon petrol-tank and fitted a 2-gallon tin with pressure-feed. All electrical parts were removed and, not being able to get a magneto, we used a 6-volt motor-cycle battery for the coil. The engine had Laystall liners and pistons, the blower achieved 10 lbs. per sq. in. when flat. out, and with a multitude of different wheel sizes and a spare 3.5 to 1 axle, we could suit the ratios for most courses. With the largest tyres it would do 85 m.p.h. in second gear and considerably more in top ; never having been timed, I wouldn’t like to say how fast she really was. The clutch was Fordson and generally had to be replaced after every trial, but it only cost 7s. 6d.—the best of having a Ford, spares everywhere and excellent service ; imagine ordering a replacement engine for a Bugatti I The Ford made its first appearance under my command at a freak hill-climb near Swainby in Yorkshire, after the body was finished. It won easily, despite the fact that the radiator burst before arriving at the summit, covering me with steam and water ; of necessity I ducked, and it free-wheeled the rest of the way over the line. Overheating was a serious problem, so we put a 3-gallon header tank on the radiator which improved it a great deal. It was then decided that the cars shouldn’t be nameless, so my friend “Hellfire Wikins, ” after much drink, christened them the “Hangover V.8” and the “Hangover S.S. “—very suitable ; but the suggestion that they should be painted

green and yellow was overruled At Wetherby the V.8 did 30.08 secs. for the half-mile course, despite the fact that I was over-exuberant and skidded about 4 yards off the track at the first corner, going almost at right-angles to my intended direction. My second run was worse and I finally skidded completely off the course at the second corner, careering down a field through the trees to finish in a hedge. The only mishap was the loss of the radiator-cap, easily replaced the next day for 3d. A spectator said that just prior to skidding one front wheel bounced over a foot off the road ; not being a motorcyclist, one-wheel steering was beyond me. . . . The outcome was to fit larger, stronger and tighter shock-absorbers. At Hartlepool it did 15.1 secs. for the standing i-mile, on the first run, after a bad start. The coil packed up on the second run after a better getaway, but it was doing just over 100 over the finishing-line, giving 0-100 in 15 secs. with mudguards on and, in fact, practically within the sports car regulations. [We anticipate a discussion .–Ed .]