Letters from readers, July 1942


Having recently read the article which appeared in Motor Sport some months ago by a New Zealand enthusiast, I am prompted to make my small contribution to this worthy journal, which was, until a few months ago, entirely unknown to me. More’s the pity.

If I make rather heavy weather of it, I ask you to make allowances and try to remember that I find the “spanner mightier than the pen.”

Regarding our New Zealand friend and his “Gutless Wonder” [early six-cylinder Essex. – Ed.], I suggest that he and other “Gutless” owners who wish to have some “fun” adopt the following procedure, after which the gutless portion will develop guts worthy of the best.

Remove oil pump and cut the body through 3/4″ from the flange; make this 3/4″ portion round. Braze on bronze bush of 1 1/8″ internal diameter. Fit with a suitable bronze piston to bear against the original plunger, one end of the new piston will have to be recessed to receive the spring which maintains the plunger in contact with the operating cam. Fit the remaining portion of the pump to the other end of the bronze bush. A tight push fit will do, suitable grub screws retain this portion. Fit 1/2″ oil suction pipe from sump to pump. This alteration will result in the big-end troughs remaining full, which the pump in its original form was unable to do – did I hear a peculiar noise coming from the technical department of the manufacturers? Needless to say no more bearing trouble will occur, and the engine runs very silently. Fitting an extra oil control ring to the pistons will control the increased oil flow.

Fit the exhaust valves only with much heavier springs. This is important if time is to be maintained, as the springs fitted are not up to the job of getting the valves back on to their seats in a hurry – more noises off? Replace “Marvel” (and how) carburetter with Zenith, S.U., or what have you. I used a Zenith.

The foregoing modifications will result in a motor that really “motors” to the consternation of all and sundry.

A cross-member of X type between the front dumb-irons helps to keep the performance off the pavements, hedges and such.

If rapid gear changes are required, proceed as follows:–

Remove gearbox and bell housing and withdraw clutch assembly “as is.” Alternate clutch plates have lugs (four, if I remember correctly), which fit over pegs attached to the flywheel and have separating springs between. Drill a 1/8″ hole through these lugs at the side of the holes in the lugs which fit over the aforementioned pegs. Insert a 1/8″ split pin through the new holes, allowing the pin about 3/16″ end play after the ends have been turned over. Only two opposite lugs need be done, making sure that the new holes are absolutely diametrically opposite one another; reassemble. The clutch will free the instant the pedal is depressed and will only spin momentarily, allowing of very rapid changing.

A new manifold may be built up if desired, although this necessitates cutting the old one off the block, as it was cast in one with the block; however, it is worth while if one has the patience and a good workshop. Some of the superfluous metalware inside the silencer can be removed without making the exhaust unduly noisy.

I have recently designed a two-stroke engine which should be of interest to high-performance enthusiasts, but, as there are no facilities in this country for development and experiment, and as I don’t “know the ropes” on your side of the globe, I shall be very grateful for suggestions and advice, either from yourself or readers. Perhaps Dick Caesar, vide Motor Sport of January, 1942, will be interested, seeing that he likes simplicity.

In conclusion, may I congratulate you on producing such an excellent and interesting paper; it is the kind of thing I have been looking for for years.

I am, Yours etc.,

Thomas Forfar.

604, Enfield Court,

Kapteign Street,

Hospital Hill,

Johannesburg, S. Africa.



Further to Cecil Clutton’s remarks on the 5-litre Bugatti, to my mind the internals are more interesting than the externals. Having overhauled one of these cars, details may be helpful to your readers.

The cylinder block, head and extensions for the crankshaft bearings are in one casting. In assembling, the valves are fitted first, then pistons and rods, and then the crankshaft, camshaft-drive and oil pumps at the front of the engine and all the large-bore steel oil pipes are fitted; every nut inside the engine is split-pinned, in fact it looks like an in-line aero-engine.

The whole engine is lowered into an aluminium box casting, which is faced with rubber strip for an oil seal; the support brackets bolt through on to the cylinder block, these in turn being fastened to the chassis with a thin strip of rubber.

Another amazing detail is that the flywheel is attached to the crankshaft flange on a large rubber sleeve, also the cover over the clutch is placed over the end of the cylinder block with a strip of fabric. The clutch is of fabric type, with several plates, and is operated by the usual Bugatti toggle levers and is very smooth.

The dynamo is driven from the shaft between the clutch and gearbox by an endless rubber belt; a spare one is hung up round the shaft, the shaft being a big job to dismantle. I should think that Rodney Clarke’s vibration is due to a slack coupling or to the shaft being out of balance.

The crown-wheel and pinion on these models gave trouble; I believe that the thrust bearings are under-size.

I certainly agree that one feels the car is undergeared; this we expect from a big engine.

Bugatti’s most fascinating cars were the smaller models; one expects big things from a big engine….

I would like to add that Motor Sport is the most interesting paper in these times.

I am, Yours etc.,

F.H. Hambling.




You will no doubt remember that the first motor racing book privately published by Prince Chula, “Wheels at Speed,” was completely sold out, but since then we have had persistent demands from disappointed enthusiasts, some of whom have offered as much as £1 for a volume, all of which demands we have been unable to supply.

There are now less than 50 copies left of the second book, “Road Racing, 1936,” and we fear that the same disappointment will be experienced by many enthusiasts. Thus we wonder if you could have it mentioned in your sports columns that there are only the last 50 copies of this book left, which can be supplied at 8/6 at this address. This may help some of the enthusiasts to complete their collections of motor racing books. I trust you do not think that we are asking for a free advertisement, as we do not need it for this old book, which has done exceptionally well already. We are only thinking of the interests of the enthusiasts which, we feel sure, you also have at heart.

I am, Yours etc.,

A. Rahm.

Lynam House,

Rock, Cornwall.



May I give a few more particulars of the T.T. Vauxhall, which may interest Mr. Brooke and the other readers of your April issue?

There were three complete cars and four engines built for the 1922 T.T.

I don’t know the early history of No. 1, but fancy that it was H.W. Cook’s car. It was bought by David Brown about 1929, I think, and fitted with a Villiers blower and a special chassis of his own design, with his own rear axle. It passed through various hands after that, and was fitted with parts from No. 3, after I had sold No. 8 to Arthur Baron. I have now sold the composite No. 1 and 3 to Anthony Brooke, who has also acquired No. 2.

No. 2 was the original Vauxhall Villiers raced by Mays and later by Cummings, and now belongs to Brooke.

No. 3 was raced in the I.O.M. by M.C. Park and later by Jack Barclay, then by Dan Higgin, and bought by me in 1928. I ran this at Skegness (unblown), being just beaten for F.T.D. by Mays with his blown No. 2. I then won two races at Brooklands at just under 100 m.p.h. and took the 200 kilo. record at 97 m.p.h. This was all unblown.

The No. 3 engine finished up by breaking a con. rod in the paddock and scattering bits of rod and crankcase over an area of nearly 30 sq. yds.!

I then sold the car to Arthur Baron, the Bugatti enthusiast, who fitted a Buick engine in the chassis with a single-seater body and shipped it to Australia for dirt track racing. The engine he used for spares for No. 1.

Brooke, as far as I know, now has all the parts of all three cars, except for No. 3 chassis.

In its unblown and original condition the car had nothing in its size to equal it. It could do a standing lap at 94 m.p.h., starting from the fork, and a flying lap at 112 m.p.h. With the blower, of course, the acceleration was absolutely phenomenal.

Good luck to Motor Sport. I agree with Anthony Brooke that it means a lot to the exiles.

I am, Yours etc.,

Tim Carson.




I am much obliged to Peter Hampton for amplifying the facts given in my article on touring Bugattis. With his far greater knowledge and experience, could not Mr. Hampton be persuaded to write a comprehensive article on racing Bugatti types, and anything else I may have left undone? I am certain that such an article would be most acceptable.

Regarding the Type 57, it seems to me, from somewhat limited experience, that the early examples had a disagreeable power roar, while later ones had lost that sense of intimacy between man and machine which is so essential a characteristic of the Bugatti of tradition. As to cast aluminium wheels on the Type 46, I can only say that Rodney Clarke’s unblown model has them.

I am also grateful to Mr. Lowrey for further facts about the development of Gnome engines after 1908, which was the end of the period so inadequately dealt with in my article on early aero engines. In that same article I hazarded the opinion that the 1937 Auto-Union power unit must have bettered one pound per horsepower. Mr. Pomeroy has had the kindness to verify this for me, and it transpires that in its 600 b.h.p. form it weighed only 550 lb. – a truly remarkable performance.

I am, Yours etc.,

Cecil Clutton.

London, W.11.