Vintage Postbag, July 1979

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164

Another Mystery Solved

Sir,

In the May issue you show a picture of an “unknown” engine owned by Mr. Ross McCall. This is a Calthorpe Minor engine, with the timing-cover missing. The shaft on the left, driven at engine speed by a chain, should have a V-belt pulley, which drives the dynamo and fan as fitted on cars after 1922. The magneto is behind the engine and is driven from the other end of the shaft.

The updraught carburetter (on my car a Claudel-Hobson) feeds into a single port in the block, and the induction manifold is cast internally, as is the case, for example, in the vintage Cowley with the Hotchkiss engine.

To digress, I might mention that the Five engine in my Marlborough has the exhaust manifold as well as the induction manifold cast internally, so that head, block and manifold are one casting. Imagine de-carbonising!

Notice on the Calthorpe engine the four separate exhaust ports. This is because the valves are arranged in the somewhat unusual order from front to rear: EI, EI, IE, IE.

the multiple clutch on my car is by Platt’s of Oldham who, a few years ago, were able to supply spares. I think this is remarkable for a 1919 motor car.

The short drive-shaft between clutch and gearbox has universal joints, with ball-bearings in grooves, like those re-invented for front-wheel-drive cars. The rear hubs fit on the half-shafts on V-splines. I know Dr. Lanchester used square splines at the turn of the century, but this was one of the first uses of V-splines.

Carbourne

John Linegar

* * *

Cyclecar Experiences

Sir,

Is it too late for me to add a few comments regarding the Carden Cycle Cars of the First World War period?

I had the pleasure of owning and driving most of these. They were a very mixed bag. The first one I had was a Carden Motor Car, which was of course the predecessor of the AV Monaco but they differed technically in many respects: Firstly, the Carden had a coil spring for the front suspension instead of the leaf spring which the later model had. But it was in the transmission that the greatest difference was to be found. There was a multi-plate clutch on the engine shaft with a drive sprocket behind the sprocket was a pulley of reasonably large diameter of the same angle as used with the normal V-belt. There was fairly close to this a swinging arm. On the end of this swinging arm was a bearing carrying a short shaft which had fixed to it a very small sprocket — six or seven teeth perhaps and a disc tapered at its edge which when swung forwards engaged with the pulley and at the same time the small sprocket engaged with the chain on the outside run. The method of operation was that when you pressed down the clutch pedal fully, a wire connected to the swinging arm pulled the arm forward, engaging the pulley and the disc and simultaneously forced the small sprocket on to the back of the chain. This was very brutal and could only be used when the car was stationary, for, if one attempted to use it on the move, a noise suggesting that one had been fired at of grape shot resulted as the rockers flew off the chain and peppered the back of the seat. However, as the whole contraption was very light one could drive it as a single gear. My second machine was the one that was called the Carden-Tamplin and afterwards became the Tamplin-Tandem. It was a surprisingly good machine and I had very little trouble with the one I had for a short time. The third machine I had was the very horrible Carden 2-seater. It was hailed as the first one hundred pound motor car. It really had every fault imaginable built into it. I had two of these machines. One caught fire when out in the country and the other’s engine gear assembly came loose and revolved around the back axle. This in the Tottenham Court Road at its busiest, it burnt madly. So John Carden’s first two efforts were thunder drive and practical. His last effort was neither.

May I make a slight correction of your way of mentioning the Type 35A. It was not called the Grand Prix Montife, but in their sales leaflets it was referred to as Course Invitation so I think this is the way it was referred to in the works also. Many people sneered at these machines – they were extremely good. Do you remember Chris Hanalan’s wonderful performances with one of these machines?

Regarding your interesting article on straight eight engines, I dearly loved these engines having had one Type 30, two Type 38s, and a Type 44 Bugatti, all of which gave me very great pleasure. You may remember that the Type 30 and 38 used virtually the same type engine as Type 35A. The firing order was, I think, unique being one-five-two-six-three-seven-four-eight, which is quite extraordinary to my mind and quite as original as one would have expected Monsieur le Patron to produce. By the way, the Type 30 had a track rod made of two parallel tubes of vulcanised fibre with leather ends. How’s that for originality?

I always look forward to the first day of the month for my copy of Motor Sport.

Cheltenham

R. S. Peacey

* * *

That Modified ABC

Sir,

The reference to the ABC car on page 422 (May) gave me one of those rare feelings of excitement one feels on seeing something from the past reappearing – in this case after an interval of 43 years or so!

I am certain that the much-modified car is that in which the owner gave me a spirited demonstration run around the coast roads of Norfolk in the vicinity of West Runton after he had completed most of the modifications, which resulted in a very different car from the usual staid-looking two-seater standard model. The then owner was a Mr. Blake of Blake’s Garage (Fakenham) and amongst the alterations he had made were: inverted the chassis to lower the car, modified the suspension and added radius arms, made cast aluminium (split) water jackets to fit around the cylinders (in place of air-cooling fins), removed the magneto and installed coil ignition (the distributor is visible in the picture) and raised the compression appreciably, to, I believe, 9:1. This latter, though high for the period still left a docile engine, with a beautiful tickover for the massive twin – about 1,200 c.c. I believe hand control of the ignition probably helped.

I have, somewhere, a photo of the car, but would not delay this letter searching for it, if other people would like to contact me and try my memory further, I’ll oblige.

Ilminster

Clifford W. Goodchild

* * *

A Sunbeam’s Identity

Sir,

I was most interested in the letter from Mr. Steven P. Dickinson in Vintage Postbag in the current issue of Motor Sport regarding his photograph of a most attractive sports two-seater Sunbeam. This car looked familiar, and reference to my files elicited the information that this 16-40 Sunbeam was supplied to Mr. A. Fitton of Dewsbury in 1923.

The beautifully proportioned body of the car was built by the Lever Motor Co., Bank Top, Dewsbury, and was surely a splendid example of what could be done on a chassis primarily intended for family touring cars and landaulettes, and built by local craftsmen.

A photograph of the car appeared in The Autocar of June 22nd, 1923 and it is rather reminiscent of the polished aluminium two-seater Sunbeam 16 supplied to Capt. Bruce-Bairnsfather, the famous artist, in 1919.

Leith

James N. Savage

* * *

Clive Gallop’s Journey

Sir,

In response to your request for information of the air route taken by the late Col. Clive Gallop, when he was sent to Mannheim to collect the Benz gearbox for the Higham Special in 1924. It is probable that he used the scheduled service to Berlin, this was operated by Imperial Airways Limited, in conjunction with Deutscher Aero Lloy,. running to the following timetable – Depart London (Croydon) 8.00 a.m. Arrive Amsterdam (Haren) 11.05 a.m. Depart Haren 12.05 p.m. Arrive Hanover 2.15 p.m. Depart Hanover 2.45 p.m. Arrive Berlin 4.45 p.m.

The journey to Mannheim would probably be made by road, as there does not seem to be an airport at Mannheim, at this time.

The return journey from Berlin — Depart 8.30 a.m. Arrive Hanover 10.30 a.m. Depart Hanover 11.00 a.m. Arrive Amsterdam 2.05 p.m. Depart Amsterdam 3.05 p.m. Arrive London (Croydon) 5.30 p.m. The return fare would have been £16. I expect the gearbox would have been charged as a passenger — single fare £8.

Torpoint

Tom Place

[If he did go by this route, I suspect the aeroplane would have been a single-engined DH 34. — Ed.]

* * *

Conundrum

Sir,

I enclose a print taken from a photograph by a colleague of mine. The original was, as far as we can make out, taken in Bournemouth, circa 1930 and shows a caravan being towed by this car. Hopefully it may create some interest by some readers on three fronts:-

1 What was the make of the motor?

2 Why should it be equipped with two steering wheels? (Perhaps an early model of BSM?)

3 Do any readers remember this motor?

We look forward to any further comment through your popular columns of Motor Sport.

Moulton

Tony Keay

* * *

Straight Eights

Sir,

After reading John Oldham’s most interesting letter, I must support Lord Montagu on one point.

Lord Montagu spoke of the attitude of the Big Three in Detroit to this type of engine and pointed out that Chrysler didn’t espouse the layout until 1930. And while Mr. Oldham is quite right in ascribing the CG and CD eights to the 1931 model year, maybe he’s forgotten that there were smaller straight-eights from the Corporation in 1930 — the CF De Soto and the DC Dodge. Though at this time Chrysler tended to change models at odd times of the year, both these cars are officially classed and dated as 1930s.

Easebourne

Michael Sedgwick

* * *

Nuvolari and Brooklands

Sir,

I have no solution to offer on the subject of Nuvolari’s actions before the 1933 Mountain Championship, but I think I can suggest who may have, and that is Count Lurani. In the book `Racing Round the World” he relates how he and Taruffi were in England for the “usual and not to be missed end of season visit” and how he and Nuvolari were guests of honour at the MG Car Club dinner. He says that Howe “. . . offered his car to Nuvolari who, however, declined the offer.” No reference to practice at all.

In his biography of Nuvolari, Lurani does say he “attended training for the Mountain Championship at Brooklands, doing a few laps on Howe ‘s Bugatti.” No reference to being offered the car for the race.

Raymond Mays in “Split Seconds” tells that “all of us had our eyes glued on Nuvolari. At first he did not like the very wide corners, where each driver could more or less steer his own course. Being accustomed to road racing, the Italian found those great prairies of concrete a bit tricky and rather ill suited to his own inimitable technique. However, we were all to be disappointed, for Nuvolari was called to Paris. . .”

Both Lurani and Mays describe the race in similar terms to yours, except that Lurani does not mention the White Riley’s spin – Mays does.

Oh, and it was Tony Bianchi in that Spitfire at Silverstone.

Letchworth

Allan Lupton

[This is very interesting— does anyone recall who acted as host to Nuvolari while he was here for the MGCC Dinner? A slip of memory caused me to write Doug for Tony. In reply to others who wrote on this subject, I know Nuvolari came later to Ireland to win the TT, to Donington to win the 1938 GP and to Silverstone after the war; it is where he stayed on his first visit to England that was in mind. – Ed.]

——

Sir,

You say that at Brooklands 1933 was the only time that Nuvolari came to England, presumably to race. [for “only” read “first” — Ed.]

I seem to remember that at Silverstone, I suspect 1950 or later. Nuvolari was to have driven a Jaguar in an all XK 120 race. He certainly did not practise during the second day of practice, but a friend who went on the first day said he drove then, and was quite sensational at Abbey Curve. On race day his car was driven by that great enthusiast, the late Peter Whitehead.

I believe the Great Man suffered from asthma, brought about by inhaling fuel, and suffered from ill health during his last years, and subsequently did not drive the XK120 on race day.

This was a great disappointment to me, not to have seen the “Greatest” in action, as I was too young to attend Donington in pre-war years.

Cockfosters

L. Hemming

* * *

An Accident

Sir,

I hope you don’t mind me writing, but I feel that you have been very unfair to David Llewellyn both in Motoring News and in Motor Sport where you infer that David caused the collision between himself and Tony Judd by driving onto the circuit in a dangerous manner. What happened was that David found himself running out of road and took to the escape road. He turned round at the end of the escape road and waited by the edge of the track to rejoin the race at an appropriate gap. Tony Judd then also ran out of road while David was waiting, but failed to take the escape road and hit David. It is true to say that Judd would have negotiated the corner by using grass etc. if David had not been there, but as David was stationary at the time and off the edge of the track (according to the Observer on the spot), I think it is unfair to say that he caused the accident. I might add that both drivers involved took the incident extremely well, and took the trouble to come to me at the end of the meeting asking me to pass a handsome tip on to the crews of the two breakdown vehicles who were extremely careful not to damage the cars further when they were pulling them apart.

Jim Whyman VSCC

[I did say that it was impossible to be in the Press box, in the Paddock and at the corners all in a reasonable space of time at Donington. The version I gave was as reported in the Press box, but I never thought for one moment that Llewellyn and Judd were blaming one driver against the other for the prang. How careful we reporters have to be! However as any obstruction on track or verges is usually removed as quickly as possible, doesn’t it just seem as if the enthusiastic David did encroach a trifle far onto a run-off area, and, as you say, had he not done this Judd might have sailed by, a bit sideways but unharmed. – Ed.]