RUMBLINGS, July 1945
Our remarks last month about the need for an inexpensi ve, reliable small sports car have borne a little fruit. F. J. Hambling has a Austerity rather intriguing design for a people’s Sports Car car, which is expected to perform well enough with a normal touring engine, such as an Austin, Morris or Ford Eight: or Ten, to put it in the sports car category. This is something quite separate from Rambling’s backbone-chassis, twincrankshaft job which was described, in the November, 1944, MOTOR SPORT. His utility design calls for a chassis having two tubes united by a simple front end which provides Lancia-style i.f.s. The engine is mounted transversely, driving a separate gearbox by a modern, oil-fed, enclosed chain drive. This enables side-valve tappets to be readily accessible from the front and obviates the effect of transverse torque reaction. The differential is mounted on the frame and chain-driven from the gearbox, the front-drive half-shafts being universally-jointed. Hambling pro
vides for rack-and-pinion steering operating directly on the track rod, and for Girling brakes, the front brake drums being inside the chassis members. The fuel tank is welded into the scuttle to increase rigidity, feed being by combined gravity and pump action. Dunlop pierced disc wheels carry 5.00 in. by 16-in. tyres, wheelbase 8 ft., track 4 ft. in., ground clearance 8 in. Due to its light weight and absence of transmission friction a good performance is expected. The appearance is quite futuristic and the cost is expected to be moderate, as no special jigs are needed. We understand that a Leeds concern is building a prototype van, and that the second car will have open sports bodywork and will use a Ford Ten engine unit, giving ratios of 4.5, 8.17 and 15.8 to I. On the same, subject the following letter has been received from John Raining, explaining why he abandoned his project for offering re-built “12/50 ” Alvis cars at about £150 :
With reference to the notes on a proposed “Utility “sports car, I would like to add the following : I had intended to produce, in limited numbers, a re-bodied edition of the famous ” 12/50 ” Alvis, for sale to genuine enthusiasts desiring a real, if somewhat stark, genuine sports car of the old school. The intention was to thoroughly overhaul the chassis and engine, and fit. a light 2/3-seater open body, fitted with folding screen, aluminium dash, rev.-eounter, and the minimum of modern ” gin palace” fittings such as grab-handles, cigarette lighters and suchlike frippery.
To this end a large quantity of spares and components for these cars have been purchased, at, sometimes, exorbitant prices. from breakers and similar gentry, and many parts have been bougl t from private owners. I Inhappily, the cost of obtaining chassis, and the scarcity thereof (in any reasonable state of preservation), has proved the proposition to be impossible from a commercial point of’ view. The cost of building the cars, coupled with ti,l. factors named above, made it necessary to retail them at (in my opinion) far too high a price.
Sports cars—real vintage sports cars—are far too fine a hobby to besmirch with the sordid air of commerce (again my own humble opinion), and I have no wish to be classed with those gallant gentlemen whose sole interest—so miraculously brought into full bloom by the rising prices of quality motor ears extends only to the amount of filthy lucre to be gained from the sale thereof. Hence my refusal to build and sell, to a limited market, a motor car which I know would not be truly worth the inflation price I should be forced to ask for it. My own ” 12/50 “Alvises both occupy a place in my zi fleetions far above the price of rubies ; the prototype car built under my scheme has been Sold at a fair and reasonable price to another enthusiast, and I feel that I can do greater service to the cause by keeping my scheme to the limits of an Alvis spares bureau, and leaving the winning of bags of gold to those with a longer pocket—I like to be able to keep at least on nodding terms with my most long-suffering bank manager
We have not heard what Peter Monkhouse, of Monaco, Ltd., thinks of the possibilities of an austerity sports car, but his firm has announced a more ambitious project, i.e., manufacture in limited quantities of the unblown M.G. T.B. Midget, which was prepared for the 1939 T.T. This car, bored out to over 1,400 c.c., and weighing 13i cwt., exceeded 90 m.p.h. in road trim, and we look forward to making its further acquaintance in the near future. Perhaps the best news, apart from the restoration of “basic.’ is that Rivers-Fletcher is giving us another enthusiasts’ rally, as announced in Cockfosters Club News. The date is Saturday, July 14th, and the venue is the Bevan Park Estate, Cockfosters, New Barnet, Herts. Things get going at 2.30 p.m. Admission is by ticket,
price 10s. per person, available from Rivers-Fletcher, 4, Eversleigh Road, New Barnet—they are, by the way, restricted in number. A limited supply of teas can be had on the day of the event, at 2s. 6d. per head. Earl Howe will “open the course” with his Type 57 Bugatti, and amongst the cars due for demonstration (at sane speeds) are E.R.A., M.G., Bugatti, AlfaRomeo, Mercedes-Benz, Bolster’s “Bloody Mary,” old-school Bentley, Lord Brabazon’s streamline Fiat, Heal’s Fiat and Sunbeam, the Aston-Martin “Atom,” etc. The public car park should also be well worth inspecting. Members of the N.L.E.C.C. are marshalling, and the W.V.S., etc., are assisting. Proceeds go to the Victoria Hospital, Barnet.. The thanks of all enthusiasts are due to Rivers-Fletcher and his committee—Roberts, Symmons, Bance, and Pently Fletcher—and we hope to see a big attendance. The ” course ” measures three-fifths of a mile and lies near Mount Pleasant, not far from Cockfosters Underground Station on the Piccadilly Line.
Incidentally, things really are coming along. The 750 Club and E.C.C. of G.B. were due to hold car meetings on July 1st near London and Manchester, respectively, and the N.L.E.C.C. had a tea run on June 23rd, and meet again at Barnet on July 27th to discuss members’ experiences of well-known cars. This latter club had a most successful talk by Douglas Tubbs on June 15th and, earlier, Kenneth Neve’s discussion on one-make racing for the impecunious was equally well received by the E.C.C. of G.B. Alas, hopes of reviving the T.T. race in Ulster have
gone by the board, because the insurance companies want excessive third-party premiums, although the R.A.C. has done its best over the matter. Dining with Anthony Heal after the B.O.C. A.G.M. he recounted how one of Segrave’s mechanics volunteered to ride on the tail of the twin Exciting engined 200 m.p.h. Sunbeam during a
test at Daytona, in order to try to locate a curious noise in the works. The car reached 180 m.p.h. with the mechanic ” listening-in ” and Anthony wants to know if anyone has been a passenger at a higher speed ! Heal also recalled that on one occasion in the early 1920s its rivals said of the famous V12 Sunbeam (now owned by Pratley) that it was a single-seater, and as such, competed against them unfairly. Consequently a beautiful extra seat was cowled into the cockpit and the 140 m.p.h. Sunbeam ran on this one occasion as a 2-seater. Peter Clark is now in charge of transport at a Naval Establishment in Australia, and is reported to have a Bugatti! Group Capt. Scroggs in
Odd Spots tends to run his famous Trojan in forthcoming trials ; after regular wartime use it needs little attention beyond a change of final drive ratio.
We look like getting a 1946 Land’s End and Shelsley Walsh Meetings—if the R.A.C. permits. The Royal Scottish A.C. has announced no trials until after the Japanese war.