I was most interested to see the photograph and reference to J. Ludovic Ford’s 1,100-c.c. Alta. I enclose a photograph of the same car today, indicating that I have considerable work to do before it will be roadworthy again.
The car is Alta No. 14 and, as entered in the 1932 Le Mans race and Ulster TT races, was fitted with four Amal carburetters.
Persistent clutch slip due to incorrect lubrication of the thrust race put it out of the Le Mans race in the first hour, whilst after a number of laps at Ards it attempted to enter the always popular butcher’s shop in Comber, pulling the near-side rear spring clean out of its housing.
The engine block, crankcase and sump are all cast magnesium and the head in aluminium is fitted with bronze seats and KE965 valves. The twin overhead camshafts are driven by a vertical shaft at the rear of the cylinder block, each camshaft being fitted with a 5-in, diameter skew gear mating with a driver on the top end of the vertical shaft. Halfway down the vertical shaft skew teeth cut into the shaft drive, a horizontal shaft to the water pump on the off-side of the block and to the 120 p.s.i. oil pump and distributor in tandem on the near-side of the block.
The dog driven from the front of the crankshaft is a Lucas starter/generator, whilst at the rear a single-plate clutch drives an Alta 4-speed constant-mesh gearbox on which reverse is selected by the dubious expedient of pushing the lever forward beyond the 1st gear position.
Rear suspension is torque tube and 1/4-elliptics whilst the front axle is mounted above the chassis frame on 1/2-elliptics with the shackles in tension, thereby giving a very low centre of gravity.
I would be very interested to hear from other readers having any connections with Altas of this vintage and in particular to hear of the unlikely existence of any spares.
Foston. Keith Eames.