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Bill Boddy

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Grand Prix Models of Radlett are to be congratulated on bringing out metal kits for making up two cars from widely differing ends of the motoring spectrum. One is a splendid replica of an SSKL 38/250 Mercedes-Benz two-seater, in the guise in which it won the 1931 Mille Miglia, driven by Caraceiola. Four inches long, this is a model that captures admirably the might and magnificence of these great German sports-racing cars. It is well detailed, with splendid wire wheels with knock-off eared hub caps, twin spare wheels, divided windscreen, headlamps and central fog-lamp, the outside exhaust pipes, road springs, and tool box, instruments, etc. The finish is naturally in white, with black mudguards, and the chassis has the lightening holes (actually formed as painted recesses, because you can’t cast such small holes) to render it completely realistic. Unfortunately, they extend the full length of the side-members, which wasn’t so on the Mille Miglia car, but skilled model makers will no doubt be able to blank out those not required. The steering wheel on the made-up model submitted to us is too low in the cockpit and the car has no brake drums. Otherwise, this is a splendid example of the great race-winning SSKL in miniature. The kit comes with instructions and a detailed history of the car by our Clive Richardson.

The other Grand Prix Models kit (made-up cars can be supplied at extra cost) is nicely topical, being of the Jaguar XJ-S, the first white-metal-kit to receive assistance from Jaguar themselves. This one measures nearly 4 1/2 in. in length and shows off the imposing styling of the latest production Jaguar; complete with full interior and chassis details and even has screen-wipers.

When I said that GP Models would probably bring out the Napier-Railton as the next model-kit in their Brooklands range of cars, I was confusing this with the kit of this historic racing car that they import from Rinaldo Strilancht of Florence (UK price, 1;6.95 plus postage’!. All collecuirs of Track cars will want this one and I now learn that GP Models’ next Brooklands car is to be the famous single-seater blower-4 1 ex-Birkin Bentley, of which Russ-Turner has the real car. Watch, too, for 1143rd-scale Brooklands’ figures to go with these models. The Mercedes-Benz and jaguar are respectively Nos. 25 and 29 in the Classic Car Series and also available is a 1948 MG ‘IC. which is No. 20 and is creditably modelled to exact prototype dimensions, in contrast to some model makers who fake these for the sake of table-top appearance.

From Auto Replicas Ltd. of Parkstone comes news of a kit, No. AR-16, or made-up model of a 1937 Packard roadster, notable for white-wall tyres with tyre valves, and what is claimed to he the first 1/43rd-scale model of a divided-rear-window 1938 VW Beetle. This is a simplified but accurate metal model, developed in association with Model International of Franktfurt. Watch, too; for Auto-Replicas’ Lotus Super Eleven replica, to be produced in conjunction with Caterham Car Sales. On the Meccano-Dinky front there is a Leopard anti-aircraft tank, No. 696, to 1/50thscale, priced at £2,85.

Finally, for this month, I have received the following interesting letter, on the Meccano side, which takes me right hack to happy schoolboy days :

The Constantinesco Torque Converter.

Sir,

I am happy to be able to refute your suggestion (p, 419 of the May Issue) that I had confused the standard Meccano chassis with the Constantinesen Converter model! I received my first Meccano set at Christmas 1923 when I was 8. Shortly afterwards I discovered the delightof the Meccano Magazine, and I still have all the copies from March 1924 throughout the twenties. I have in front of MC the April 1924 issue (price 2d) of which the cover depicts the Meccano Boy looking at a chassis on which is superimposed an enlargement showing the converter. Not much proof here; but the article within on “The Torque Converter” clearly shows and describe, the modification of the standard chassis.

It was of course some years later that I built the chassis with the converter. As you will no doubt remember, the chassis in either form but particularly the gearbox version used a number of special parts such as bevel gears, full-width 1 in. gears 24 1/2 in. girders and so on which cost upwards of a shilling and were quite beyond the teach of my pocket money. But fortunately I had a number of aunts who could be relied on at birthdays and Christmas to send magnificent sums like five bob, and I remember that I had decided that although the clutch/gearbox chassis was out of question I could manage the bits for the converter version with less financial strain. I was probably about thirteen when I first made the model.

In fact I did not make the gearbox version until some time in the sixties when my son came of suitable age and finance was easier to find. I still have all my original Meccano, and I’m sure it will give just as much pleasure and instruction in-50 years time.

I think that you had in mind was a demonstration model of the converter described by a contributor, A. V. Knowles, in the July 1924 issue. He had built this larger Model apparently to demonstrate to the Thornycroft Engineering Society. In the Editorial it is stated that Mr. Constantinesco had asked Meecano Ltd. to make a number of models for exhibition on the inventor’s stand at the Wembley Empire Exhibition.

Further examination of the Meccano Magazine (im sure you know that it’s fatal to start looking at old magazines!) brought to light the issues of August and September 1924 whit h included “A Meccano Boy at Wembley”. The first one has a photo of “A Small Part of the Palace of Engineering” with in the foreground the Constantinesco stand, or rather part of it. One can discern a number of presumably, models, but the main object in view seems to be the Beardmore 0-6-0 loco-motive chassis which was, on the stand. In the second article it is stated “On this stand was the chassis of a full-sized Beardmore loco-motive fitted with the Torque Converter, also a motor-car and several very interesting models. A machine-gun fitted with the, invention for firing through the propeller of an aeroplane was also on view”.

Although I went to the Exhibition both in 1924 and 1925 I remember very little except a large steam hammer and Caerphilly Castle. Perhaps there are Motor Sport readers who remember the Constantinesco stand?

N. Harrow DEREK PRESTON

[Another, reader J. Derek Bray of Cadby has sent me a copy of the article on the Meccano chassis with the converter from the Meccano Magazine of April 1924.—ED]

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