RUMBLINGS Big Stuff, June 1939
Big Stuff LOTS to intrigue as usual. at McKenzie’s place at Victoria, revealed during a recent visit. First and foremost was ” Mac’s ” own 4;2-litre Bentley, which won one race at the Crystal Palace Stanley Cup meeting at 46.97 m.p.h., and then, scorning a heavy rehandicap, won another at 48.66 m.p.h. This car has the experimental engine from McKenzie’s old, green, car, but now carries a light, fabric blue two-seater body. The framework is of really sound material extracted from old Rolls-Royce bodies and the dimensions conform to sports-car requirements, in case McKenzie should wish to run in such classes at Shelsley and elsewhere. The result is a wide body not unlike an enlarged Hyper Lea-Francis, and in its owner’s opinion, not exactly pretty, although its finish is very smart and the facia very nicely laid out in spite of being ehoe-a-block with dials and switches. The car owes much of its success to a wider spring baEe at the rear, resulting in much improved road-bolding. A new rear shackle spindle takes the original shackles and new brackets were made for the front ends of the springs, while the prop. shaft had to be entirely
modified. This Bentley also has a top-gear ratio which exactly suited the Palace circuit and I believe the car was about as fast on third as it was on top and that it romped round the bend at the end of the home straight at 00 m.p.h. Next exhibit :—Mr. Lyeett’s 8-litre, newly bodied, with new light alloy cross-members in the chassis, the gearbox further hack to improve weight distribution, some 30 lb weight off its propeller shaft, and a gear-lever that now comes outside the body. Should be faster than before, and, as you know, that is saying more than a good deal. Incidentally, the new gear change was not quite right for Syston at the beginning of the season, and I believe that a change was actually missed on the fastest run of all. A springloaded action has obviated the trouble, this mechanism being accommodated on the near side of the box with
the lever in its newly extended position. Lycett was motoring his very potent 3-litre that afternoon. On the bench a 4/-litre Bentley engine all ready for some fortunate client, and knocking out 130 b.h.p., in the shops a Rolls-Royce ” Phantom II ” unit completely stripped for overhaul. Upstairs we saw a rather remarkable lowered-chassis 41-1itre the actual 3-litre car which Birkin shared with his brother in. a Six-Hour Race a dozen years back, now being rebuilt after a crash, and a 4i-litre in process of over haul. McKenzie’s then pointed to a spare T-head cylinder block belonging to Lycett’s 1914 ” Alphonso Hispano and became absorbingly reminiscent. The Hispano is now going really well and was observed to be knocking up over 70 m.p.h. on the Oxford By-Pass recently. McKenzie’s only regret is that the design makes it very difficult to increase the compression-ratio. Incidentally, only the extreme top of the cylinders are water-jacketted and the radiator,. though large in size, has a very fine honeycomb. The result is interesting, for very little water is in circulation, and the car boils quickly for traffic driving, yet cools down within a few yards of forward progression at 30 m.p.h., a very slight draught being suffi cient to materially reduce the temperature. He drew attention to the very small trace of wear in. the bores of this spare block, and, without wishing to raise an age-old argument, one wonders if the high cylinder-wall temperature is responsible. On the subject of the ” Alphonso ” Hispano, there is another one awaiting a kind home up Southport way. This car was owned from 1932-37 by J. W. Burnand, who drives the little J.W.B. in sand events. He used his ” Alphonso ” seriously and did some 16,000 miles on it. Previously it was only used from 1923 to 1924, and I believe the old car does over 70 m.p.h., 20-24 m.p.g., and gives an oil consumption of 3,000 m.p.g. Another ” Alphonso ” is owned by W. A. Hill of Hampstead_ and was entered for the Veteran’s Handicap at the Stanley Cup Meeting, thought it did not actually
run. So this remarkable car, which Marc. Birkigt took the sporting fraternity by storm in 1911, has not entirely vanished from amongst us.
One of the last of the 3-litre Bentleys also has a home at McKenzie’s and he has just acquired a rather over-bodied 8-litre which he proposes to convert into a nice open job, rather on the lines of Lycett’s car—which, in our humble opinion, is from many aspects the most desirable sports-car ever evolved,. if not still the fastest.
Fred Craner Scores Again
On the 10th of this month Fred Craner will give us the Nuffield Trophy Race at Donington, and he will give it to us as a scratch 1,500 c.c. Grand Prix. We have not had a long-distance scratch race for 1,500 c.c. cars in this country since the R.A.C. dropped the I.O.M. race ; the Nuffield Trophy Race has formerly been limited to cars not exceeding li-litres capacity, but has been run on a class-handicap basis to humour owners of 750 c.c. and 1,100 c.c. racing machinery. The 1939 race, however, is a scratch if-litre contest over 200 miles of the full Donington course. The winner takes £200, the second home 150, the third i75 and the fourth PO. Entries closed on May 30th and Craner, the man who brought Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union to our shores in 1937 and 1938, sent invitations to Mercedes-Benz, Alfa-Romeo and Maserati, to race their very latest in 1-litre bolides. As this part of the paper has to close for Press rather early, we do not yet know if any or all will accept. At the worst, a great race between independent E.R.A. drivers will result, with Reggie Tongue’s four-cylinder Maser, and an Alta very probably well in the picture. If the Continentals do come over, and everyone devoutly hopes that they will, Donington will present a race even more enthralling than the Grand Prix of 1937 and 1938, when all British motor-racing attendance figures were broken. Mercedes-Benz scored the first if litre triumph of the year at Tripoli, and this will
be the second clash of rival teams. As Craner is not starting the race until 3 p.m., everyone should contrive to attend, who troubles at all about motorracing in any shape or form. The only regret we have to express is that there is no definite news of the new E.R.A. running against possible Continental entries in view of the recent announcement the Press received as the closing down of E.R.A. Ltd.
The new E.R.A. was running and complete on May 5th. It was posted as a non-starter in the International Trophy Race because, it was said, Brooklands silencers would ruin, or had ruined, the new engine. We do not profess to know in what way the engine differs internally from the earlier Zoller or Jamieson-blown units, to bring this about. But we do know that such official silencers are not needed at Donington. If however, the engine has been badly damaged by being run with a back pressure too great for it, we hope that one of the old Zoller-blown engines that have won races for E.R.A. before, be adapted
to the new car if this is at all possible and that, if it is not, that we shall learn that some attempt has been. to repair the new engine in time for the car to run.. We hope the Fund will be able, somehow or other, to support at least one new E.R.A. during 1940. Humphrey Cook is apparently still willing to give &IMO() if the Fund reaches £8,000 by the end of this. year—it has been in existence only about six weeks and an eighth of that sum has come in. £12,000 might suffice to run two cars, even though there is no works to service them. For the sake of British Prestige we hope this will be so, but we cannot see much hope for the Fund if the new car is absent on June 10th. One must blame the Government for quite failing to appreciate the store which the Dictator states set on motor-racing ; the 1 flitre MercedesBenz had no teething troubles at Tripoli and a grant of a tiny fraction of the public’s money now being spent on armaments would very probably have resulted in the same happy state of affairs in respect of the latest E.R.A.s. If the Continental cars come over for the Nuffield Trophy Race we shall probably see how far we are lagging behind even in 1ilitre racing. But a truly great race will result. Incidentally, someone might bring out the ex-Seaman Delage and the Powys-I,ybbe Talbot and the Conan-Doyle V12
Delage for this race. Meanwhile Parnell’s special 13,-litre six-cylinder car is taking form, ready for the 1940 season . . .
Sydney Allard, has decided to concentrate on sprint events, as a temporary change from trials-driving. His V8 Allard will be quite standard, which will receive a little more detail service-attention than is found necessary for trials work.
M. S. Soames, who is running arovery special Morgan tricar, may shortly go on a round-the-World tour for a Min company, using a Ford V8 utility car. •
Who crashed his Jowett on the Brooklands entrance road ?
Prince Chula has written another book dealing further with ” Bira’s ” experiences.