FIRST E.R.A. RACING CAR COMPLETED
RAYMOND MAYS AND H. W. COOK PLAN AN EXTENSIVE PROGRAMME.
ALL British racing enthusiasts must have cherished a hope to see a team of cars from this country competing in foreign Grand Prix events, but last year, at any rate, the possibility seemed fairly remote. The Success of the supercharged Riley driven atShelsley last autumn by Raymond Mays was destined to be the starting point of one enterprise of this nature, and with the financial support of Humphrey Cook, whose name has so often been associated with projects for reviving British racing prestige abroad, a company called English Racing Automobiles, Ltd., was formed to undertake the construction of cars based on this design. After the usual delays the first car has just been completed, and will make its abut in the isle of Man Round the Town races.
The engine is based on the six-cylinder 1,458 cc. Riley unit, which has a bore of 57 mm. and a stroke Of 95.2. The cylinder block, which is a steel casting, is similar to the standard Riley and is in unit with the top of the crank-case. The aluminium head is an entirely new production, The valves are set at 90 degrees to one another in a hemispherical head, and are operated by Riley-type rockers and Short push-rods from the cam-shaft on each side of the engine. The valves are approximately l i in. in diameter, and the exhaust valve is hollow and filled with A special salt which encourages heat flow from the head. 14 mm. plugs are used.
The three-bearing fully balanced crankshaft is most massive in appearance, and is carried in three bearings, rollers being used in the centre. The connecting rods are steel, with cast-in big ends, and the pistons are of the slipper type with three rings. A two-vane Ma rro y Jamieson super
charger is mounted vertically in front of the engine, and driven by bevel gears from the crank-shaft, A single S.U. carburetter is used, pressure fed from the rear tank. Dry-sump lubrication is employed and the double pump is
mounted below the crank-shaft, worm driven. A vertical Scintilla magneto is carried on the off-side of the engine.
The rear end of the engine is bolted to an elektron housing, which also acts as a chassis bracing.
A 15 h.p. Armstrong-Siddeley selfchanging gear-box is secured to the rear side of this housing, with a cable-operated lever on the dash. The propellor-shaft is enclosed in a torque tube, with a beveldriven back axle.
The chassis was designed by R. W. Railton, and was made by Thomson and Taylors. It is straight in front and swept over the rear axle. In front it is braced by a light box-member behind the radiator, amidships by the elektron rear engine support and by a dash of the same material, and by two light cross-members at the back, diagonally trussed by a pair of well-drilled channel-section stays. The front anxle is of 1-section between the springs, and is solid up to the steering pins. The rear axle has a split aluminium centre casing and steel tubes for the halfshafts. Two Hartford shock-absorbers are used for the front axle, and four are fitted at the rear. Short half-elliptic springs with shackles, back and front, are used, and radius rods are fitted to the front axle.
The petrol tank is pivoted at the rear and rests on two rubber blocks in front. It holds 23 gallons.
The brakes have large ribbed elektron drums, and they are operated on the Girling system, with its straight rods and high mechanical efficiency.
Burman steering is used. with an off-set box bolted to the side of the chassis, and the column has a universal joint at the bottom, Bugatti fashion, and is Supported by a bearing in the dash. Large section Dunlop tyres are fitted, with a new” S” pattern tread. Marked
” 16 by 6.00″ they are mounted on wide rims, and are fully 6 in. across. This new departure is made with the idea of obtaining increased road adhesion.
The wheelbase is 7 ft. 10 in. and the track 4 ft. 3 in., and the cars complete.
The cars are single seaters and the bodywork consists simply of light aluminium panels secured to the chassis through small brackets. A long louvred bonnet is used, and the fuel tank forms the rear outline of the body, while the 5 gallon oil tank is similarly faired into the undershield. From the side the cars bear a resemblance to the single-seater Maseratis, but with a distinctive radiator cowling. The team colour will be an attractive shade of light green. The design of the cylinder head, the crank-shaft and the modifications necessary for installing the blower, together with the general chassis layout are the work of Mr. Peter Berthon. He has long been associated with Mays in his supercharging experiments, notably the Vauxhall-Villiers. This remarkable threelitre car, based on the old T.T. Vauxhall which once belonged to Cook, develops
260 h.p. and revs. to 6,000 r.p.m., with a stoke of 132 mm. I
The cars are being built at Raymond Mays’ racing workshop in Lincolnshire, which is equipped with lathes, milling machines, grinders, a heat-treatment furnace, and most treasured possession, a Heenan and Froude dynamometer, running up to 8,000 r.p.m. A fine drawing office and stores have just been completed,. and in short what is now the works of the E.R.A. is equipped in every way for the manufacture of racing cars. The workmanship which was being put into the chassis under construction one might fairly term exquisite.
It is intended to make the E.R.A.s in three capacities, 1,100 c.c., 1,500 c.c., and two litre. The first will be obtained by reducing the throw of the crank-shaft, while the cylinder-block will be bored out to give the largest capacity. The 1,500 c.c. engines gives over 160 h.p. at 7,000 r.p.m., only 20 h.p. less thanthat of the 2 .3 Grand Prix Alias of a year ago. It runs on Shell racing fuel, on a 6 to 1 compression, with 15 lbs. blower pressure.
Discussing the cars with Mr. Mays, he confirmed our impression that they were intended for Grand Prix racing and not simply for hill-climbs, which, of course, have been his speciality for the last ten years. “Nearly all the Continental races have a class either for I or two litre cars, so there will be plenty of scope for the E.R.A.s. The appalling expense of constructing new engines, and the fact that the original motor has shown no signs of distress after all the tests to which it has been subjected made us think that we were justified in building a racing car round it. If all goes well, we may think of a three litre straight-eight in a year’s time.” He agreed that there was a market for an English produced racing car and that the Company would be able later on to cater for this demand, but for the present the dozen mechanics were working night shifts to get the team cars ready for their first engagements.
The 1i-litre car has been entered for the Isle of Man races and Shelsley Walsh, and the first 1,100 c.c. model should be finished in time for the latter event.
These two cars and the 2-litre have also been entered for the British Empire Trophy on June 23rd. If no unforeseen snag occurs, some of the cars may be run at Dieppe in July, while next year Mays hopes to take part in the Monaco Grand Prix. He will, of course, be driving in all the events given above, and Cook will also take a wheel in some of the races. The other drivers have not yet been decided upon.
This courageous attempt to produce an English-made racing car will be supported by the good wishes of all followers of motor sport, and the first appearance of the new car in the Isle of Man will be keenly awaited.
The 1i-litre was completed just before Whitsun, and on the following Tuesday was :taken down to Brooklands in the Company’s Leyland van, which can carry three cars and also provides sleeping accommodation for the mechanics. The engine was brand-new, and tests were confined to driving slowly round the track and checking over oil-pressure and similar matters. The ” equipe ” returned to Bourne, the same night and the engine was put on the bench to complete its period of running-in.