FORMERLY a successful motorcycle scrambles rider and now an equally competitive circuit driver in his well-known MG-B, registered 286 FAC, “Bill” Nicholson has moved away from partnership and taken a garage of his own. The new premises are at 170, Watling Street East, Towcester, Northamptonshire, which is not very far from the previous garage. The experienced Irishman will continue to develop his own conversion equipment for the MG and Fiat ranges, probably widening his scope later in the summer.
Chris Lawrence Lives
LAWRENCETUNE Morgans used to be synonymous with circuit success a decade ago, but since then very little has been heard of the spry Lawrence who has been involved with so many intriguing yet usually unpopular products. Recently we were invited to Ravenscourt Park in West London, finding there Lawrence and friends surrounded by the fruits of the last few years’ work.
Most intriguing cars were a pair of sleek four-seater Gran Turismo prototypes, one with steel body and an earlier car in alloy, both using road versions of the alloy 3-litre V8 Martin engine and bearing the same Berkshire registration plate!
The running gear is similar on both cars, using inboard-mounted coil-springs for the double wishbone i.f.s. and a de Dion rear. The engines are said to give approximately 210 b.h.p. in road trim using quadruple downdraught Weber twin-choke carburetters. The Mk. 2 version with steel body is now nearly ready for production, probably in France, from which country we understand the financial support came to develop the cars. Seated inside this later version we found the leather interior to be beautifully trimmed, with a stubby lever for a 5-speed gearbox by ZF, comprehensive instrumentation, four individually-operated electric windows with silent and powerful operation, a profusion of switches and cigarette lighters, plus a high-set steering wheel which operates a system mounted in line with the top wishbones. After pulling and pushing every conceivable lever we came to the conclusion that there was no hand-brake, and a subsequent check on this point proved this to be the case.
Other interesting machinery on the premises included the Intertech Steering Wheels-owned Club racing Escort and the well-used mid-engine Deep Sanderson (which qualified for Le Mans 1968 using a 1,598-c.c. Ford engine, but failed to finish the race) with fastback two seater layout. Both these cars have Martin V8s installed at present, coupled to 5-speed ZF gearboxes. Lawrence claims to have the remaining stock of the single overhead cam per bank engines. This amounts to some 25 hand-built units of 3- and 2.8-litres, all with the fascinating forked con.-rods which allow the opposite bank of cylinders to operate with the rods passing through the fork! All in the name of a compact and light design; so far as we could-ascertain these V8s weigh very little more than a Ford V4.
Peter Morgan was also present to look with interest at Brian Haslam’s racing Morgan V8, its engine hidden under a shroud of carburetter chokes and Lawrence-modified manifolding. We spent a pleasant evening also looking at powerboats, a Tecalemit Jackson-injected Ford engine, an Aermacchi horizontal single-cylinder solo motorcycle and all the other projects with which Lawrence has wrestled during the past few years. Whether anything in the way of success will come to hint in respect of the Martin V8, or the large GTs, remains to be seen….
FORD have now announced a price for the Escort Rallye Sport 1600, an example of which we are currently testing on a long loan basis (the first part of our findings was published last month). Inclusive of purchase tax and delivery charges the Cosworth 16-valve Escort will cost £1,446 11s. 6d. We have also been asked to point out that AVO Ltd. of Dover, makers of industrial meters and gauges, arc nothing to do with Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operation at Aveley in Essex; also in last month’s issue we said the car was equipped with a dynamo, this is not so for an alternator is standard equipment.—J. W.