RUMBLINGS, June 1937
A Hybrid for South Africa
Those who specialise in the construction of special cars for racing sometimes have curious jobs to do. Arthur Baron is just now building a car for a client who wants to take it out to South Africa and do some racing in that country, where racing is rapidly becoming of great importance, and that requires a fast car that will not need everything duplicated for spares and a vast workshop for its efficient maintenance. Consequently Baron is using the engine from an elderly 30 h.p. Ford V8 coupe. It will no doubt be modified to overcome the exhaust overheating that worries this unit when given full gun for considerable periods. The chassis is the O.M. once raced at Brooklands by Widengren, from which Baron has removed the straight-eight, twin o.h. camshaft blown engine. It is a curious frame, having straight side-members, short stiff front dumb-irons and considerably tapered and kicked-up rear dumb-irons. There is only one main cross-member and that of very meagre construction, while the side-members were filled with lead bars by the engine mountings, so heavy that we could scarcely carry one of them. Also present was Baron’s G.P. Bugatti with the blown Brescia Bugatti engine now for sale at
the only successful supercharged Brescia we have ever heard of. Baron has also acquired the 3.3-litre Grand Prix Bugatti formerly owned by Charlie Martin. When we saw it the body had been rubbed down, awaiting re-painting, and the machinery will likewise receive attention when Baron has a few moments to spare. The Vauxhall-Villiers, Eldridge-Special and Austro-Daimler racing-cars which used to hibernate at Dorking have all been sold, and the only ” exhibit ” of vintage nature was the Fronty Ford chassis, once owned by the Conan Doyles, who wrote its a story about it at the time, and later by Dick Nash. It has a track almost as wide as the wheelbase is long and, moreover, wider at one side than time other from the frame side-members, an o.h.v. Frontenac head, the usual T-model Ford two-speed epicyclic gearbox, and an unbelievably small auxiliary gearbox in the rearaxle assembly. It is said to have run well at Indianapolis in the dim and distant past, but generally it is crude in the extreme.
On the subject of special Fords, W. C. N. Norton now has Silvertop alloy heads and a Scintilla Vertex magneto on his 1933 V8 coupe, which he uses for trials, in addition to Philco radio and a startling new coat of yellow paint.
We recently spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Adlards Motors, seeing the latest Ford films, which you should certainly see if your local Ford dealer is showing them. They are truly entertaining and of such a nature that lady-friends will not reprimand you for dragging them to see “dull motor stuff.” The driving tactics of a learner and the landing of a V8 as it takes off from a ramp tackled at speed, are distinct high spots.
Driving a 1926 Morris-Oxford along the Kingston By-Pass last month we ovembauled a Palladium tourer in a nice state of preservation, being driven by
a lady. The Palladium was, we believe, the first advertised sports-car to do 60 m.p.h. This example did 29 m.p.h. in built-up areas and 33 m.p.h. elsewhere. For some while we followed it, but lost it near Dorking. As it is probably the only surviving example of the marque, we hope that sooner or later it will come into the fold. of the Vintage S.C.C.
Still we have been unable to seek permission to cast the Editorial eye over the new Invicta, which is now in process of testing on our highways and by-ways. According to the May issue of “The Gauntlet,” organ of the Invicta Car Club, the old company has now changed hands, and a new company, known as Invicta Cars Ltd., has taken charge.
Two-and-a-half, three and four-litre models of new design and thoroughbred conception are said to be on the stocks. The existing service station will continue, apparently, under the same personnel. It has hitherto been kept open for the convenience of Invicta owners rather than as a financial undertaking, by the sporting action of the Rt. Hon. Lord Fitzwilliam.
W. 0. McMinnies has now revised his remarkably interesting book” Signpost,” and as sporting motorists in particular take a great interest in the hotels and inns at which they eat and sleep, the new edition should be especially welcome. Something like 75,000 miles were covered to compile this book, the price of which is 3/6.
Another book of particular appeal to motorists is “Mine Host America” by the Earl of Cottenham, who previously wrote two motor-racing novels and two other motoring works. Motoring, flying, night life, food, entertainment, divorce and philosophy as seen during a rapid visit to America are presented in an easy, very striking style.
Brooklands for Amateurs
On July 3rd the J.C.C. stages its annual Members’ Day at Brooklands, comprising the two One Hour High Speed Trials with artificial barriers and a series of short, outer-circuit races. To gain an award in the High Speed Trials cars have to really pull out the goods” and driving errors cannot easily be masked. These events savour of real racing for competitors and are vastly instructive to intelligent onlookers. Unless you are going to the Bristol Hill-Climb on July 3rd you must be at Brooklands.
The New Law
The new Constructions and Use Regulations, whereby police may test the efficiency of brakes, silencers and steering gears, are now in force and naturally especially interest users of the older sports-cars, though those who drive new sports-cars have the satisfaction of knowing that their vehicles are the most likely cars of all to get through any such examination, and, moreover, to remain in sound mechAnical condition over long periods of hard usage. Owners of older cars need not, we believe, worry unduly. No definite standards of efficiency have been laid down, and, except in the case of very old cars, it seems reasonable to suggest that the police will demand a safety-factor greater than that possessed originally by the vehicle under test. In this age of accidents we all should hasten to ensure that such a condition applies to our sports-cars. New silencers are not expensive, re-bushing generally and reshackling the springs will do much for slack steeringgear, which really wears very slowly, efficient silencers are not prohibitively expensive, and Ferodo is certainly cheap enough. That trials competitors must not be convicted under this particular law is another clause that conscientious secretaries can now include in their competition regulations. Front brakes are not compulsory, and no doubt special leniency will be displayed towards veteran cars competing in approved Veteran Car Club events. Even ;C5 car-buyers need not feel too down-hearted, for last winter we found a 1918 Swift cycle-car for that sum, possessed of sound tyres and a safety-glass screen, though the brakes would have needed attention. The new law will only be
unpopular if the police hold parties too frequently for the examination of cars previously tested and passed. If our recent drive of some 100 miles with no licence-disc on a friend’s car, without anxiety, is any criterion, this is not likely to arise !
It is a big pity that Forrest Lycett is unable to devote sufficient time to all the things you have to do to run at Le Mans to get the 8-litre Bentley over, as he had hoped. John Cobb has been invited and Delahaye would seem a likely victor. M.G., Singer, Austin, the H.R.G. and Bilney’s Ford are all about ready at the time of writing and the German Adler team is getting very serious about this important race. Nuvolari is expected to compete. The date is June 19th-20th.
Although the season is now quite well advanced, we have yet to see the 1 Flitre cars in the full cry of battle. So far E.R.A. has shown superiority, the new Maseratis experiencing divers bothers and appearing
to be over-geared for English circuits. Obviously Powys-Lybbe will need time to get his Talbot going really well and possibly the same will apply to Freddie Dixon’s supercharged Dixon-Specials. Charlie Martin is unlikely to find everything working to his liking right from the start in the new J.A.P.-Special, which has four single-cylinder, 375 c.c. air-cooled J.A.P. motor-cycle engines in a 2-litre Delage frame, fed by the Delage blower. There is much to be said for this experiment from the point of view of developing a really high power output from 1i-litres of machinery, but one wonders if Martin hasn’t his tongue in his cheek where long-distance racing is concerned. At all events, he has acquired the E.R.A. once owned by Norman Black, and celebrated his first race by winning the 1,500 c.c. class at Avus. We must wait a little longer, it would seem, for the 14–litre struggle to really commence.
Although in a recent Editorial we said that practically any modern car would journey from London to John o’Groats without adventure, such long journeys, with the imposition of a stiff time limit, bring out very vividly the good and bad features of a car. Most modern sports-cars, driven skilfully, would doubtless do this run in a day—a day, of course, embraces twenty-four hours—but the opinions of the occupants at the end of the drive, about the car’s good and notso-good points, would be very well worth having. Good seating, light accurate steering, really good brakes that do not lose their initial power too early, really efficient lighting and a high degree of silence from engine, gearbox and transmission would make a world of difference to one’s well-being on a 600-mile non-stop jaunt. And how many cars would turn round and come home again with the addition of fuel only ? If you wish to form an opinion of a car go to a friend who really knows what he is talking about
(he is talking about cars . . .) describe to him vividly a drive from Land’s End up to John o’Groats in a limited period of time and then pop the question : “If you had to do it what car would you prefer to drive ? ” Lots of our friends have replied with very little hesitation : “A 4i-litre Bentley or the new 2litre Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.”
The Social Side
We have long been of the opinion that something should be done for the young enthusiast who is as keen as mustard but who does not run to a fast car or motorcycle. It was once suggested that a club should be formed for enthusiasts up to twenty-one years of age, solely for the purpose of lectures on various aspects of the sport, debates, and mass attendance at races and other events. The weak point, of course, was lack of funds, for even a humble meeting-place costs money and with a widely scattered membership a single club-room is of little use. Yet the fact remains that non-car-owning enthusiasts anxious to take concrete steps to associate themselves with motor-racing are in an unfortunate position, in as much as at practically all the clubs they may join they will be amongst folk who own and race cars and to whom a non-owner ranks, rather inevitably, as an outsider. Recent conversation on these lines with a keen member of the E.R.A. Club has increased our interest in that organisation. At times we have criticised the E.R.A. Club on the grounds that it has handed sums of money to E.R.A. Ltd.—presumably a profit-seeking company. Actually, the idea has merely been to materially demonstrate enthusiasm for the only British marque to place this country on the International racing map, since the old Bentley days have become but a memory. It is strongly emphasised that the handing over of money to E.R.A. is in the nature of a symbolic gesture of mass-enthusiasm and certainly the actual sums contributed would do little more than provide one of the works cars with a. new instrument-panel. To our way of thinking the important thing is that here is a club which runs no competitive events, so that car-ownership resolves itself into merely using one’s car to attend
those events visited jointly by the club. We are told that members without transport facilities are, whenever possible, offered seats in other members’ cars. Frequent lectures and social gatherings figure largely in the club’s programme, they issue a magazine, and we are assured that anyone, no matter what his social or motoring standing, is welcome, provided his enthusiasm for International racing is 100 per cent. We were particularly impressed with a description of the manner in which members are reminded that though they may meet people like Raymond Mays, Humphrey Cook, Peter Bethron, Pat Fairfield, Lord Howe and Mrs. Petre as friends at club functions, such as on the visit to the E.R.A. works at Bourne, they are not expected to maintain such familiarity at race meetings, and to pester the famous ones for their autographs. Indeed, the whole tone of the club is excellent, and their purely informal dinner-parties draw well known E.R.A. personalities without much persuasion. S. C. H. Davis and Mrs. K. Petre are especially interested in the club. You may like to know that the annual subscription is 2s., and that the secretary is : S. H. Green, 591, London Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey.
One service rendered by the Competitions Department of the R.A.C. consists of the circularisation to club secretaries of a letter emphasising the increasing number of cases of unbecoming conduct at motoring gatherings which, by offence against the law or good taste, is undermining the high reputation the sport has so long enjoyed. There is a vast difference between high spirits and horse-play and we heartily concur with the R.A.C.’s suggestion that in extreme cases of misbehaviour offenders be reported to the Competitions Committee of the R.A.C. for such action to be taken as is deemed necessary. Doubtless the Committee has in mind a punishment to fit the crime. Unfortunately suspension, temporary or otherwise, of Competition Licences will not suffice in the case of trials competitors, who do not require such licences to drive in closed or invitation club events.
A Fine Little Car
The 14-litre Delage, a story of which appears in this issue, is jointly owned by A. Conan Doyle and Lieut.-Commander Murray G. Edwards. As soon as Lieut.-Commander Edwards has recovered from his recent accident, he will be partnering Conan Doyle in the various races that they have decided for the Delage, chiefly on the Continent. Incidentally Lieut.Commander Edwards is now the owner of the S.S.K. Mercedes-Benz originally owned by Denis Conan Doyle.
New Diesel Records
G. E. ‘1’. Eyston has set up new Diesel records at Montlhery with the latest A.E.C. Diesel car. The 50 kilos went at 106.27 m.p.h., the Hour at 105.59 m.p.h., the 1,000 kilos at 98.51 m.p.h., the 1,000 miles at 99.10 m.p.h., the 12-Hour at 99.08 m.p.h. and the 24-Hour at 97.05 m.p.h. A. Denly was co-driver. Eyston used Castrol oil and Dunlop tyres.