rumblings, June 1938
IHAVE seldom seen so much genuine enthusiasm as that aroused by Percy Maclure’s hard-won victory in the J.C.C. International Trophy Race with the unblown oversize Riley. After the formal reception he came coasting with dead engine up the finishing straight as the loud-speakers were playing the National Anthem. As the music died away Maclure got :going again and ran into the Paddock. At once he was surrounded by a happy crowd of enthusiasts anxious to shake him by the hand or to get him to scribble his name on a grimy programme or hastily produced visiting card. Percy, a little tired looking but extremely pleased with life, just could not enter his
dilapidated Riley Nine saloon. In the end he was persuaded to sit again in the winning Riley, complete with his wreath of victory, for the benefit of the amateur camera fans. And after that the crowd closed in on him again. Never have I seen such an unaffected victor, nor such a welcome for any driver, as at the close of the 1938 International Trophy Race. Maclure deserved every moment of it, for he drives very tidily indeed and he does all his own work on the Riley, which is one of the highest efficiency unblown racingcars in existence.
While on the subject of this race, we may express pleasure in the result of the inquiry into the accident, for no blame was attached to Joseph Paul, Lace, or the Brooklands authorities. It was suggested that greater precautions should be taken to ensure safety of the public at the spot at which the accident occurred, and to this Mr. Percy Bradley was able to reply that this section of the enclosure would remain closed until alterations have been made. We wish Paul a rapid. reco very.
Already some people have seen fit to criticise the 1938 T.T. regulations, on the grounds that they do not restrict the race to purely standard production cars. As we said last month, the new rules are very acceptable and aim to encourage those makers who
are developing new cars for sale to race, apart from attracting existing sports-models, while true racingcars are very effectively barred.
However, for those who crave a race strictly for catalogue models, Brooklands on July 16th cannot fail to appeal. The Light Car Club’s 3-Hour Sports-Car Race will commence at 3 p.m., under the chief organiser, A. E. S. Curtis, Secretary of the Light Car Club, and the chief marshal, John Eason-Gibson. Every effort, we are told, will be made to exclude nonstandard cars, and scrutineering will be in the hands of no less a scrutineer than Hugh P. McConnell himself. All the .cars will get away in a massed start, after each driver has furled his car’s hood, which is a sight that takes us back a bit, to the palmy days of the Essex M.C. 6-Hour Race. There will be three categories : upto 1,100 c.c., 1,100 to 1,500 c.c., and unlimited, and three principal winners. There will also be an outright winner, for which purpose each of the smaller capacity classes will be awarded credit laps. More important, however, will be the cars covering the greatest distance within the three hours in each category. AS the full Campbell road course will be used the race will be a very severe test indeed of all those qualities you and I demand in sports motor-cars for which we pay large chunks of our bank balance, or what Still remains of it. Closed ears are barred. The entry fee is distinctly moderate—a matter of 2(4 4s. per car— so that a goodly number of ordinary .owners should run. Hybrid sports types may run, provided they are really in production in fair quantity in the form in
which: they are offered to the scrutineer. It is early yet to talk about entries, but ” Bira. ” has motored down to Tolworth with Prince Chula and fixed up to drive the green works H.R.G., and a works team of Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.s and some independent Delahayes are expected. We sincerely wish the Light Car Club an entry which will ensure an instructive contest and justify its repetition in future years.
This month, tOo, we have Le Mans, while at Whitsun the B.A.R.C. ran the classic Gold Star Race as a sports-car event, confined to British sports jobs.
The Vii Cult
The cult of the V12 is upon us. W. 0. Bentley probably aroused it when he decided that the new Lagonda must have an engine of moderate size for what is really quite a big car, and that in this case, to obtain the essential ” life ” and performance, a high-revving unit was desired. The result was the beautiful 75 X 84.5 mm. 4,480 c.c. V12 unit with chain-driven single o.h. camshafts to each bank of cylinders. George Brough has likewise been thinking in terms of lots of little pots and has introduced the V12 Brough Superior, in this case making use of the side-valve 69.85 x95.25 mm. 4,378 c.c. Lincoln unit. The idea of building an American engine and gearbox unit into a chassis answering to a Britisher’s conception of a fast motor was, as you know, pioneered by Railton, who employed the Hudson straight-eight as his basis, after which Brough also used the Hudson six and eight cylinder motors, Railton introduced sixes, and Jensen, Batten and Allard sports jobs made their bow with Ford V8 30 motors beneath their bonnets. And the blown Graham became available as the LammasGraham. Now it is the Lincoln V12 unit that is attracting designers of Anglo-American style sports-cars. Small wohder, after consideration of the performance which Hutchison has beneath his throttle foot at the wheel of the original V12 Lincoln Allard-Special, which holds the sports-car course records for Wetherby and Prescott. The V12 market is constituted as follows :—
Certainly an exclusive group. It is interesting that only Lagonda and Rolls-Royce use o.h. valves, the latter operating by push-rods and rockers. The V12 is well suited to the production of really high performance from a big capacity engine, because the combustion chambers can be kept compact and the weight of the moving parts reduced, while the torque is exceptionally smooth. The Lagonda engines run quite happily up to 5,500 r.p.m., and that is turning over, for a 41-litre. Just after the War, of course, Packard produced a production V12 job, the “Twin Six,” one of which Count Zborowski used to use as a hack, running it with one cylinder permanently out of action. Then Daimler became truly palatial and introduced the 50 h.p. Knight sleeve-valve Double Six, subsequently produced also in smaller capacity form. At the time there was a move to introduce a sports version and drawings of a low chassis edition found their way into the weekly motor papers, but apparently the scheme was never brought to completion. However, one sometimes sees a most imposing Double Six low-frame coupe purring through London, and we should be interested to know whether this is the much-talked-of version of the Double Six in speed form. HispanoSuiza, of course, listed a 54-220 h.p. 91-litre push-rod
o.h.v. V12 four years ago, the first appearance of which was one of the sensations of the Paris Salon of 1931. Whitney Straight used one for a time and one heard that he was saddened, shortly after placing the order, to learn that Rolls-Royce had introduced the V12 “Phantom III.” With the participation of unblown V12 41-litre Darracq, Delahaye and Delage cars in the important races of 1938, the V12 cult is hardly likely to diminish. If your bank balance seems hardly favourable to this urge to possess a motor with lots of little pots beneath its hoods, it is worth remembering that the V12 Lincoln ” Zephyr ” saloon sells for as little as £470.
A Most Original Idea
The great Ford Motor Company put into practice last month a most original idea. You went along to a main Ford dealer, confessed that you did not own a Ford Ten, and went out in one of the dealer’s Ford Tens along with a salesman armed with a stop-watch. This gentleman directed you round a route of some eight miles and bade you accelerate up a hill, accelerate from rest to 30 m.p.h., reverse round a corner and pull up from 30 m.p.h., while he worked his watch. It was explained that as 30 m.p.h. was not exceeded the Police could not object, and that no R.A.C. Permit was required—we will not go too fully into that. A representative of MOTOR SPORT submitted himself to the mercy of Messrs. Allan Taylor, in company with a driver who has an excellent reputation as a. special-test expert. We managed to win on acceleration, but blush to admit that we failed the reversing test and were beaten in the other two tests. Our friend contrived to bend a gear selector but the star turn came when he hauled on the trigger hand-brake for the pull-up test and neatly swung the car right round, to establish a record time. The Ford Company offered a prize of f,5 for the best gentleman and
for the best lady, and that is more starting money than. E.R.A. drivers receive in many British races.
The Fuel That They Use
It is interesting that R. A. Macdermid, writing in “The Sports Car,” suggests that superchargers on_
production cars use far too much fuel. He quotes a comparative consumption of 14 m.p.g. blown and 28 m.p.g. unblown, with the same car. With this view we entirely agree: Whether this rise in con sumption is due to power lost in motoring round the blower at low revs: (which the Pomeroy-Velox compressor obviates) or because no driver can resist using the extra performance which a blower endows, is a moot point. Personally, we believe that the latter is the case, and certainly an M.G. Midget of our acquaintance, driven really steadily at a cruising speed of 45 m.p.h., gave a genuine 30 m.p.g. in blown guise, whereas a similar M.G. which we once drove, revelling in the punch, was about 10 m.p.g. down on that figure. Both cars had vane-type compressors, but of rival makes. Macdermid calls for a blower you can bring in at will, as on the Atalanta. Mercedes-Benz, of course, do this so very nicely, and the old ” Bearcat ” Stutz had its Powerplus compressor under the driver’s control. This heavy fuel consumption undoubtedly stays development of the blown standard car. On the other hand, unblown moderns are usually notoriously heavy on fuel. Nearly every car we test is down on its catalogue consumption, and one Italian 1,100 c.c. saloon which hustled us westwards not long ago was only doing 20 to 21 m.p.g. So that it is refreshing to come upon cars of real bite which yet do around 30 m.p.g., which is about the highest figure many of us can permit in this heavily taxed age ; Lancia, Aprilia, H.R.G., and Talbot Ten, for instance. Maybe the time will come when wide-gap ignition and weak mixture gas-works will make 40 m.p.g. a possibility with such performance. In the meantime we can shun blowers for everyday motoring and take consolation from the fact that in Formula racing the blown 3-litres do about 2+ m.p.g., and the unblown 41-litres about 7 m.p.g. Actually, at Tripoli the Mercs. seemed to swallow less fuel, and they will have to continue to do so if they are to hold their own with the unblown bolides in races where one brief pit-stop can
decide the issue. On the subject of superchargers, some people feel that the banning of blowers is the one weak point in the T.T. regulations, but actually, while it is very hard on people like Atalanta, FrazerNash: Lammas-Graham and Mercedes-Benz, assuming they should want to run their production blown models, it would otherwise he extremely difficult for the R.A.C. to keep out racing-type cars, as they aim to do, while framing regulations lenient to sports-types not yet in full production. You cannot have your cake . . .
The present outcry against trials is directing lots of people’s attention towards rallies. The Scottish Rally this month and the Welsh Rally next are truly important fixtures, and several of the smaller clubs are running rally-type zontests, notably the Maidstone and Mid-Kent Rally and Riley M.C. 24-Hour Trial last month, and the M.G. C.C. N.W. Centre 24-Hour Rally and Bugatti Owners’ Club Monte-PrescottHoniton Rally this month. Rallies have the advantage over trials that they break up the number of competitors using a given route and are decided on special tests instead of climbs of frowned-on hills.
Unfortunately, unless held on private ground, such tests can be almost as big a nuisance and a greater danger than a trials hill, but if competitors are content to rally to a suitable concluding venue, all is well. In the meantime, criticisms of the R.A.C. Rally float around and about—that sports-cars invariably have an advantage over touring cars, that the brake test might have endangered spectators, that two-seaters with raised hoods ran as closed cars, that the coachwork competition is unfairly judged, and so on and on. It is surprising that Capt. Phillips and Major DixonSpain remain as unruffled as they do ! We must try to sort all these matters out before the regulations for the 1939 event are due to be pieced together. In the meantime, Walter Norton and Co. had an excellent answer to those critics who said that the ” Jabberwock ” Ford V8 coupes should never have competed as closed cars. That answer was to the effect that the rules did not state that you should not furl back, and that the cars in question actually have a bad blind spot in both three-quarter directions, not found in saloons, while, in spite of apparently flimsy construction, the ” Jabberwock ” cars are only 2+ cwt. lighter than the latest Ford V8 saloons. It was sportingly not mentioned that these cars which did so well in the Rally are five-year-old models bought quite cheaply, nor was the amateur status of the drivers over-emphasised.
A Cyclecar Revival?
In a Morgan tricar a lusty V-twin engine gives very high performance with extreme economy. One wonders whether the same might apply to a light fourwheeler-80 to 85 m.p.h. and 50 m.p.g. is not to be scorned. Weight would need to be kept to below 10 cwt. or so, but is that impossible ? Big twins can play havoc with bevels and pinions, and 2 speeds would probably prove inadequate, but a chain final drive from a 3 or 4 speed and reverse gearbox should not be impossible. And gearboxes are easier to find
than G.N. transmission assemblies. Are there any cyclecar fans thinking along these lines ? Not that we can see anything against a ” Moggy,” save that on corners a four-wheeler should be a bit quicker and on a four-wheeler you can poke an enthusiastic third passenger in over the axle.
Aliss Wilby will in future be driving an Atalanta in sprint events.
The V12 11-litre G.P. Delage, late property of the Conan-Doyle brothers, is to be raced again.
Barker and Co. (Coachbuilders) Ltd. have supplied a Rolls-Royce “Phantom III” sedanca de ville to Mr. Mark Ostrer.
H. J. Mulliner & Co. Ltd. have recently completed a very fine limousine de ville body on a Rolls-Royce ” Phantom III ” chassis.
Hamish Weir has acquired the ex-” Cream Cracker” T-M.G. Midget formerly owned by Keith Elliot.