Letters, June 1986

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Irish GP Car

Sir,

I feel I must take issue with one error in the otherwise excellent article “If — a story of what might have been”, in your April issue. The error concerns the account of the 1966 GP trial of a Paul Emery modified Climax “Godiva” engine, in what was described as — “a crudely made, converted F3 car — the Shannon”.

The above description is incorrect and does justice neither to the car nor the man who built it — Alden Jones. Perhaps the following short history will set the record straight. Aides Jones built the Shannon towards the end of 1965, in workshops behind Cliff Davies’ car showrooms in the Goldhawke Road. At the time it was a very advanced chassis: a stressed skin monocoque with inboard top rocker arm front suspension and outboard disc brakes all round. The rolling chassis was very light and rigid, yet did not use the engine or gearbox as a stressed member The car was built as an exercise for F1 or 2 and did not race in F3 until the end of the 1960s, when the change in F3 regulations made such a chassis eligible Fitted with a 1,000 cc R70 Holbay engine prepared by Doc Ehrlich, the car was successfully driven at a number of British and European events by Australian John Wilson and Londoner Keith Jupp. In 1966 Paul Emery. who then owned all the “Godiva” engines. approached Aides Jones with the proposal that one of his engines, mated to Jones’ car, would be a force to be reckoned with. That is how their 1966 GP entry came about I was present at that GP in 1966 and remember it well The Autosport race report of July 22nd 1966 shows Jack Brabham on Pole with a time of 1 min 34.5 sec and Trevor Taylor in the Shannon at 1 min 41. 65 sec. Interestingly, behind Taylor were Chris Lawrence, Cooper Ferrari. on 1 min 43.8 sec and Peter Arundell, Lotus Climax 2-litre. on 1 min 54.3 sec. Sadly Taylor retired on the first lap with a split petrol tank At the end of the season the partnership of Jones and Emery split up for various reasons. perhaps mainly dusty lack of finance. Alden Jones, although in his seventies. is still building successful race cars today, for Formula Super V in America. and still called Shannon I now own the GP Shannon, complete with “Godiva” engine and Colloti gearbox. having purchased it from Tony Newman. who has done much of the work in tracing the car’s history Alden Jones has seen the restored chassis, and many people involved in the car’s past — such as the GP driver Trevor Taylor — have been very helpful and interested in detailing its history After a great deal of work, sadly due to those ubiquitous “unforeseen circumstances”. I shall have to sell the car. The entire restoration is almost complete now and I hope that some time very soon the Shannon will be seen on the circuits again.

TERENCE COLE Newnham-on-Severn

(The Shannon may have been “very advanced.” though it doesn’t sound so from the description. But it still wasn’t very good and it certainly wasn’t well made. Well made cars last more than one lap M.L.)

He or Me?

Sir,

After the fiasco of last year’s San Marino GP. with cars expiring of thirst faster than one could keel, track of their positions, I thought this year’s race might be an anti-climax, but far frorn it My feelings about it can best be illustrated by a conversation I had with a nonenthusiast friend afterwards. He, Was the race good then, Me. It was quite interesting. Several cars, including Rosberg’s McLaren, ran out of fuel right al the end. He: Why don’t they carry enough petrol,

Me: Well there’s a maximum, fuel limit which was further reduced this year. Prost just managed to last the distance and win, and Berger remembered to stay behind him as they crossed the line to save a lap and finish third. He; But don’t all the cars have to cover the same distance?

Me; Well yes, but, er well anyway Rosberg eventuall, came fifth. He: But I thought you said he had run out of petrol,

Me; Er . well he did, but. . . (by this stage my friend had lost any interest he might have had) He: Seems a bit silly.

Unsure whether he meant me or motor racing. I had to agree My enthusiasm for it is something I have never been able to rationalise satisfactorily. Westerham, Kent S L. PAYNE

Morrey’s of Market Drayton

Sir,

Your reference in “VEV — Odds &, Ends” to Morrey’s Garage of Market Drayton (where I was born. in 1910) brought back nostalgic memories. At 5.30 pm on June 21st 1921 my father took delivery of NT-277 from Mr Morrey. It was the latest American built Model “T” Ford with left-hand drive, self-starter, oversize Avon tyres at the rear and those very troublesome Dunlop Magnums elsewhere. Mr Morrey held Ford and Austin franchises and first tried to sell dad an Austin Twenty tourer with disappearing hood and enclosed spare-wheel but as it was our first car my father was quite unable to master the crash gearbox and so we bought the Model “T” at £240 ex Trafford Park works.

Unknown to my father I had two years earlier, at the age of nine, been driving a 1914 brass radiator Model “T” van and so I look the new car down the long driveway leading to our house only to discover dad watching me saying: “Well. you seem to be better at it than I am so you can take your mother into Market Drayton for the shopping.” Thus I became the family chauffeur.

You refer to Stanley Morley. He and l were at prep school together and I recall the one ton Ford truck which builder Healey used to run. At that time the famous Foden Motor Works Band used to visit our local flower show arriving in the back of a Foden steam wagon with a tarpaulin spread over their heads to protect their immaculate red jackets from the smoke. When in 1926 I became a apprentice at the Austin Motor Company’s Longbridge Works, we still had the Model “T” and by then I was eligible for a driving licence and so I arrived there in NT-277.

West Lavington, Wilts F. T. HENRY

The 100 hp lsotta Fraschini

Sir,

May I congratulate you on your article about the 1000 hp Isotta Fraschini?

One is tempted to speculate about the origin of this long-stroke. l30x200 mm engine which appeared in 1910. lt does not seem to relate very closely to the engine used In the cars which won the Florio Cup race in 1907 and the Targa Florio in 1908. The former was run under the Kaiserpreis formula, which stipulated a maximum capacity of 8 litres, while in the latter the maximum bore permitted was 130 mm. If the Isotta Fraschini engine used this maximum bore, and if its capacity was, as you state. 7.4 litres, its stroke was evidertly 140 mm, giving a very moderate stroke-bore ratio. The same dimensions, incidentally, were used in the 1908 Targa Florio by the FIAT, one of which made the fastest lap while another ran second to Trucco’s lsotta Fraschini.

Up to this point, therefore, at least outside the world of voiturettes. the limited bore regulation had no, resulted in the use of a very long stroke. There are indications. however, that in 1909 things might have been very different. In that year the 130 mm bore limit was adopted for the Grand Prix, which never took place because the leading manufacturers decided to boycott it. Among those who signed the self-denying ordinance. undertaking not to lake part in the race. was Isotta-Fraschini. This is curious because, as the Italian firm had never taken part in the race in the past, It could hardly be regarded as an interested party. The best explanation for Its inclusion in the list of the boycotters would thus seem lobe that it had intended to enter for the 1909 race but had finally been persuaded, perhaps under the influence of Lorraine-Dietrich, to withdraw. If this is so, and if the design for the 1909 Grand Prix contender had been executed, its details, as far as I know, remain a matter for conjecture. It may be noted, however, that the 90 hp FIAT which won the 1911 Grand Prix de France had been designed in 1909. FIAT had not entered or the ACF race that year, nor had they joined the boycott party, but it seems pretty certain that this “Model 6”, with engine dimensions of 130,, 190 mm. was designed with the 1909 Grand Pox formula in mind. Given the apparent tendency at this Period for great Italian minds to think alike, it seems a fair conjecture that the 100 hp Isotta Fraschini, with its very similar engine dimensions, was also designed in 1909 as a Grand Prix contender and, like the 90 hp FIAT. became a production model in 1910 when the makers’ racing ambitions had been frustrated. George Nymplon, KENT KARSLAKE North Devon

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