The Phoenix Sports Car
The Cairo Motor Company announces a new Egyptian sports-racing car, to be known as the Phoenix 150 SR.
The car has been built to the design of Raymond Flower, managing director of the Flower Organisation in Egypt, who is responsible for the Phoenix project. A 1,960 c.c. twin o.h.c. 4-cylinder engine with S.U. fuel injection, giving 145 b.h.p. at 5,800 r.p.m. and built by Turner of Wolverhampton, has been fitted to a lightweight tubular chassis with a de Dion rear axle designed by Lister of Cambridge. In the bodywork particular emphasis has been laid on aerodynamic flow and air-ducting, the result being a distinctive 2-seater open body in which simplicity of line is the keynote. The Company wishes to record its gratitude to the Hon. Fitzroy Somerest, who spent some months in Cairo during the winter, and in an entirely honorary capacity assisted in the design of the bodywork.
No one knows better than Raymond Flower (who has been since 1949 a regular competitor in the Alpine Rally and in 1953 and 1954 won the Series-Production Award in the Tourist Trophy) how difficult and costly it is to invade the precincts of the established sports-car manufacturers in International competitions, but the value of racing to design development and prestige is fully appreciated, and the appearance of the Phoenix in racing events will serve to underline the activities of the Flower Organization and the engineering progress of Egypt itself.
In due course, an inexpensive sports version of the Phoenix is planned, which will have similar lines and much of the performance of the 150 SR, but with a simplified chassis and engine, and bodywork more suitable for touring, probably manufactured in laminated plastic.
The name Phoenix springs from ancient Egyptian mythology, the Phoenix being a fabulous bird of great longevity, which consumed itself by fire at Heliopolis and from whose ashes a new Phoenix arose. Those with a cynical turn of mind may relate this nomenclature to the fact that the Flower Organisation suffered severely in the burning of Cairo in January, 1952, when the main premises of the Cairo Motor Company, the E.A.S.T. Company and the Universal Motor. Company of Egypt Ltd., were gutted, causing great damage evaluated at L.Eg.300,000 — but the manufacturers prefer to see in the name Phoenix a symbol of renaissance and perfection
The Phoenix sports-racing car is expected to be seen on July 2nd in the International Twelve-Hour Race at Reims, driven by Raymond Flower and Ernest MacMillen, and has subsequently been entered for various events in Britain and the Continent. The specification of the Phoenix is as follows: —
Engine: Four cylinder twin o.h.c. (1,960 c.c.) with S.U. fuel injection developing 145 b.h.p. at 5,800 r.p.m. built by Turner (Wolverhampton).
Chassis: 3-inch round tubular side-members and cross-members with rectangular tubular uprights and differential, designed by Lister of Cambridge.
Transmission: Salisbury hypoid differential unit.
Suspension: Equal-length front wishbones with long threaded kingpins and coil springs, enclosing direct-acting Woodhead Munroe shock-absorbers. De Dion rear and with twin parallel radius rods and sliding block coil springs enclosing direct-acting Woodhead Munroe shock-absorbers.
Brakes: 11-inch Girling 2 LS at front; Inboard single LS at rear. Twin master cylinders. Alfin drums.
Steering: Forward mounted rack-and-pinion. Electrical equipment: Lucas 12 volt.
Bodywork: Light aluminium alloy, all-enveloping twin-tail-finned 2 seater.
Timed Runs and Record Attempts
Timed runs on closed circuits have a fascination of their own and a number have taken place since the war, such as the National Benzole-sponsored lappery of Goodwood for two rounds of the clock by a couple of small Fords. On June 4th/5th another such attempt was made, at Snetterton, at a 24hour speed/economy run. The participants were Jack Sears, A. E. Cleghorn, a one-armed trials-driver who is Competitions Secretary of the S.C.C. of Norfolk, and Dennis Allen, who is “Con-rod” of the Eastern Evening News. If they had a target at all it was to better the 1,291.4 miles set up at the same course on a 24-hour run by a Morris-Oxford, which averaged 54.67 m.p.h.
The car chosen was a new Morgan Plus Four with the 2-litre twin-carburetter engine, brought for the purpose from the Morgan works by Mr. Goodall. Alas, after 6 ½ hours’ running a stub axle arm fractured, the steering track-rod came adrift and the attempt was ingloriously abandoned. Up to that time the car had covered 390.24 miles, an average speed of 65.2 m.p.h. Its consumption of National Benzole fuel worked out at 23.7 m.p.g.
This disastrous end to a run sponsored by the Eastern Evening News, and backed by the Morgan Company, National Benzole and Dunlop, was described dramatically in that paper, opposite an advertisement for “the cheapest 100-m.p.h. car on the road.”
The intriguing thought arises that modern sports cars should be able to break British National records, even with the hazards to speed of bends and corners of existing circuits. For example, our National 24-hour record still belongs to S. F. Edge and his Napier, which in 1907 averaged 65.91 m.p.h. Moreover, the 24-hour National record has yet to be established in all the International capacity classes except class J (up to 350 c.c.) in which it stands as low as 21.44 m.p.h. (Edge never claimed a class record). Much the same applies to the 12-hour National class records, while many of the shorter distance records in the lower capacity classes stand at “interesting” speeds, capable of being raised by a good sports car, properly driven and organised, even over a “road” circuit.
International class records are mainly way out of reach of ordinary mortals in ordinary cars, having long ago been lifted to dizzy heights at Brooklands, Montlhèry and places like Utah and the Continental motor-roads, and are still being raised; but there are the National records you and I could attack with a reasonable chance of success, for the fun and satisfaction of doing so, and because trade-sponsored runs gain immensely with the increased stature of a record established, as distinct from merely a timed-run.
This being the case it is disappointing to learn that the R.A.C. will no longer recognise new British National records. The Competitions Department considers that “road” circuits are unsuited to such attempts. There is a further stumbling-block. The International Sporting Code insists that record attempts shall be made only on a specially-surveyed course unless on a licensed track: none of the British circuits is licensed by the R.A.C.
Since publishing a paragraph under this heading the Editor’s museum-of-oddities has benefited materially, as recounted in the May issue, and he duly gives thanks. Other additions are an unused flexible roller bearing for the back axle of a 1912 model-T Ford, donated anonymously, the crankshaft from the R.B. (forerunner of the Bertelli Aston Martin cars), some early Gordon Bennett picture postcards, etc. These have been placed with a Wolseley Viper cylinder block, piston, camshaft and valve, a valve and rocker from a 1914 G.P. Opel, the camshaft from Delage I, a valve from a 1919 Sunbeam Sixteen, a Crossley-Bugatti radiator badge, a G.N. radiator shell and mascot, the propeller from a 1918 Sopwith Salamander, a mysterious Parry Thomas crankshaft, possibly for a small V16 engine, and a Hispano-Suiza radiator so big that it dwarfs that for the “Alfonso” model. Small contributions thankfully received . . . [My wife remarks, “the smaller the better!” — Ed.]