News from Australia
BEFORE this war we were apt to think that sports cars could only be truly appreciated in this country, where the roads possess such fascinating variety and even a main road journey necessitates driving every inch of the way. This island seemed to offer the very best motoring conditions, and some of us, at all events, felt that the Swiss could keep their sinuous alpine climbs, the French their long tree-lined straights, and the Italians and Germans their new-fangled autobahn. Moreover, only trials enthusiasts would crave the unmade roads and heavy going reported to exist, and to call for American cars, in many of our overseas possessions. The war, however, has given us a less insular viewpoint, and news from all quarters is not only welcome, but goes to prove that enthusiasts for the Sport have much the same outlook throughout the English-speaking countries. We mentioned recently having received a long letter from R. Beal Pritchett, of New South Wales, and we now have more space in which to quote from it. Beal Pritchett himself is very busy installing a Mercedes engine into his ” 20/70 ” Crossley, no mean task, especially as the Crossley has open shaft transmission and the Mercedes had a torque tube. He says he knows fellow ” special ” builders will admire his restraint in not writing a book about it John Read has very thoroughly rebuilt a twin-o.h.c. Lea-Francis engine, including reboring, fitting special Hidurninium pistons giving a compression ratio of 8 to 1, regrinding the crankshaft and fitting high-duty bearing metal, hardchrome plating the camshafts and cam
followers, fitting new valve springs and valves and lapping together the head and block. It is proposed to use six Amal carburetters, and this virtually new power-unit is scheduled for a chassis with independent suspension all round, using three Lancia ” Lambda ” front ends. Read also has a blown 1,750-c.c. AlfaRomeo (now restored to 100 per cent. condition after a period in the hands of a vandal), a Riley ” Imp ” and a cindermidget with Salrnson “San Sebastian” engine. Pip Thomas, while in England on Coastal Command duties, bought a ” Hyper ” Lea-Francis chassis with Frazer-Nash-type front end and a twino.h.c. Salmson engine and gearbox. This he took back to Australia, and it is shaping well—a very low car, the top of the steering wheel barely above the top of the wheels. For a time Thomas ran a wellpreserved T.B. M.G. Midget, but someone in the street offered him a considerable sum for it, and he parted with it on the spot.
The pro tem. secretary of the proposed Vintage and Sports Car Club of N.S.W. runs an A.C. Six of some eighteen summers, which is said to comprise an S. F. Edge Special body, a modified Montlhery chassis with somewhat non-standard gearbox-cum-back axle, and the alloy cylinder head which was fitted to three cars only. The present owner has fitted three carburetters with beautifully-made controls, certain alterations to the polished alloy body (which is kept in immaculate condition), and a facia which has everything from a Tapley ” Q ” meter to a voltmeter—Pritchett remarks that, “most disappointingly, they all work!”
Then there is an Austin Seven owner who bought one of these little cars to augment his S.S., read Birkett’s article in MOTOR SPORT, and has now collected twin Amals, ” Ulster ” camshaft, alloy head, large alloy sump and a 6-in, rev.counter. He is now making up a tubular front axle, like that of the racing Austins, and built-up inlet and exhaust manifolds of welded tube, and Bill Heath, who is building an underslung bull-nose Morris with twin S.U.s, is making up some special Austin tulip valves.
Other cars mentioned by Pritchett include a well-preserved B.S.A. “Scout,” an A.C. Six-engined Frazer-Nash, a Salmson-engined ” special,” and an AstonMartin sold to F/Lt. Bruce Higgins, who also had a single-cylinder De Dion dogcart. We deeply regret to learn that Higgins was killed when the Catalina he was flying hit the sea. Other cars seen in use on essential work have included a white 328 B.M.W., a T.T. M.G. Magnette, said to do over 35 m.p.g., a black Vauxhall ” Wensum “and Alsatian dog, a” 14/40″ Vauxhall on charcoal, an early RollsRoyce ” Twenty ” in super condition, a Riley “Redwing,” a ” Brooklands ” Riley, a 3-litre Sunbeam, another lowered and modernised o.h.e. Sunbeam, a beautifully-kept ” 22/70 ” Alfa-Romeo, a 41litre Bentley, Rolls-Bentley, Brough Superior, S.S. 100, Railton, ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall saloon, and countless M.G.s. Robert Hood still has his Stoewer, and has acquired a ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall, and John Crouch, who raced an M.G. and 2.3 Alfa-Romeo, now motors in an Austin Seven, consuming coal gas. Bravo, Australia I