RUMBLINGS, June 1944



The bulk of this issue is taken up with Cecil Clutton’s masterful article on Sports Car Evolution. To those

A Matter of History

this painstaking study in which, for the first time, the origin and subsequent development of the sports or high-performance car is traced in one comprehensive and complete article. It seems evident that, whether you and I like it or not, we are about to see big changes in the design, construction and conception of the highperformance car. What the engine looks like is rapidly becoming of second importance to what the engine does, and what the chassis sounds like on paper of less importance than how it goes round corners encountered on our roads. Before the war ends and sports cars again become something to use as well as discuss, it is appropriate that we should get a clear picture in our minds of how the breed has developed in the space of thirty eventful years. Consequently, with an eager expectancy that by the time these words are in print the Second Front will be well on the way to a successful conclusion, this survey of Sports Car Evolution from Cecil Clutton’s pen could hardly be published at a more opportune time. We owe this talented young man a deep debt of gratitude for allowing MOTOR SPORT to publish something which, in the vulgar language of general journalism is, we believe, called a “scoop.” It is not the first time that we have done something of this sort. The ” Veteran Types” articles by Kent Karslake (which series is continued to-day by various capable writers) focused attention on the more exciting veterans even before the Vintage Sports Car Club held competitive events for them. And the more recent series of articles, commenced by Cecil Clutton and ably continued by Anthony Heal, Laurence Pomeroy and the late FfLt. John Scafe, on” Racing Car Evolution,” covering, as they did, the years 1.895-1933, together with earlier articles by the Editor on G.P. racing from

1984-1937, and International 11-litre racing from 1935-1940, collectively present a work of reference Oli racing car development which appears nowhere else in a forni so comprehensive and yet so concise. some cannot stand history at any price we tender our apologies. But we feel certain that the majority will welcome

Clutton’s present article, written, as it was almost entirely from memory, for he is in the Service away from his sources of reference, requires no further commendation on our part. It will he read and referred to again and again by all keen students of sports-car design and by all discerning motoring historians. Whether or not it is a sign of the relative interest and appeal of the vintage as opposed to the modern car that Clutton, in his original MSS., -used 21 pages of foolscap to bring us from 1908 to 1930, and only five pages to complete his survey, we will not debate ! Certainly some very useful factors of comparison between a number of outstanding vintage cars are given, as well as a very fair picture of how the moderns compare with the older cars. To the minority of readers who are impatient of history and interested only in non-vintage matters we offer our condolences –and the remaining matter in this issue, much of which has been specially selected for them.

A N ew Sports Car

The plans laid some time ago by Dick Ctesar and Walter Watkins, in association with Joe Lowrey, for production after the war of an entirely new sports car, are going along healthily. We are now able to give ary plot. The new car is to be called the -Gordan°, after Ctesar’s home village. Two models are anticipated, a 2-seater sports job, with a third seat in the tail, of high quality and outstanding design, and a competition or ” Donington ” model for competitive events. Suspension is to be all-round independent, to a design of Cwsar’s, incorporating a Morgan-cumLancia layout. The chassis will be composed of 5-in. diameter tubes and the rear cross-member is to be a sheet-steel fabrication, carrying the suspension units and differential casing. A three-piece body—scuttle, cockpit and tail—will be easily removable to facilitate servicing, and accessibility throughout will be a very strong point of the Gordano. Braking will be Lockheed hydraulic and, although much detail work remainsvto be settled, we understand that numerous practices borrowed from the aircraft world will be adopted. For example, it is thought that a single central head

lamp in the streamlined nose will prove adequate for, as Watkins says, “If a Beaufighter can land at 100 m.p.h. on one lamp, it should be possible to motor behind similar quantities of light.” The engine, undecided as yet, is likely to be a proprietary unblown 11-litre 4-cylinder unit, and it is expected that the sports 3-seater will sell for approximately £350. The ” Donington ” model will be a very stark and ” builtfor-business ” affair, probably sold without any such frills as hood, screen, third seat, streamlined wings, etc. It will probably be cheaper than the road-equipped model. Readers who crave something different for after the war should certainly welcome this venture and will wish the Gordan() actuality and future success. Incidentally, Watkins is further modifying his sprint G.N., using Morgan steering and building on more bodywork, while he also has a rather revolutionary idea anent the 500-c.c. class flying mile and kilo. records, which Count Lurani holds at present at around 107 m.p.h. Ca>sar is thinking in terms of more and more Mvi, and Lowrey rides the skies in Tiger Moths— so the Gordano is being launched by practical people.


Alan Southon is serving overseas, but his cars are safely stored in this country. Passing recently through Salisbury we thought to seek out his father, who kindly took us to a large garage just off the main road, wherein are two of his son’s cars—the well-known “14/40” 4-cylinder H.E. which he drove

in Vintage S.C.C. events before the war, and his F.W.D. Alvis. The H.E. is the most beautifully stark thing we have seen for a long time. It has a Zenith carburetter feeding the s.v. engine ; sober as the powerunit is, the tar certainly could perform. The exhaust manifold is a very utility-car object, but apparently Southon was building up a new one with separate offtakes. Ignition is by a Scintilla ” Vertex ” magneto, and the electrical panel on the dash is also Scintilla. Bugatti reversed 1-elliptic suspension is now used and the whole car has been lowered. The fuel tank was picked up on an aerodrome and conveyed home by Southon when he was a callow youth, years ago–it proved just what was needed for the ILE. The Alvis is a 4-cylinder 2-seater front-drive car, with the usual commodious boot in the tail ; it, too, has a Scintilla switchboard. The engine is partially dismantled and a Roots supercharger was to be seen amongst the pieces. This garage is a delightful enthusiasts’ quarters, the many racing numbers and plaques adorning the walls testifying to the owner’s skill as an amateur tuner and driver, while the piles of magnetos, carburetters and spares of all descriptions are a reminder of the thought and careful experiment which made such results possible. Southon’s other car, a Type 38 Bugatti, we could not see, as it was further away than the D.P.O. would have liked. This is certainly one of the more practical vintage stables, and we hope Capt. Southon will let us have more information of these cars from his own pen.