RUMBLINGS, March 1945
The sports-car owner is apt to consider the passionate pleadings for better roads for Britain as something New Roads outside his ken, because he likes roads which call for skill in driving and good qualities on the part of his car. However, let him not forget that congested roads are even more trying in a fast car than they are to the occupants of a family saloon and that, if the much-needed new trunk roads ever materialise in this country, they will go a long way towards relieving congestion on the secondary roads, by-ways and even along those roads now regarded as Class A thoroughfares. We must confess that the problem of new roads for Britain rather passed us by, in spite of the frequent references to this important matter in the Press—that is, until we noticed a very attractive book on sale at Smith’s, and in the better-stocked branches of Boots, the Chemists. We refer to “New Roads for Britain,” by George C. Curnock, published by the British Road Federation, Ltd. Striking a quality note these utilitarian times, this half-crown book presents its message very effectively. Photographs of existing roads and of possible future highways appeal instinctively to those who enjoy their motoring, and they reach a high standard in this praiseworthy publication. From the text we learn that our road mileage increased by less than 4 per cent. between 1899 and 1988, during which time the population increased by 15 per cent ; motor traffic is estimated to have increased by 2,500 per cent, between 1909 and 1939. The inadequacy of present-day roads is strongly emphasised and safety measures are discussed, while a water-tight case is stated, backed by some very authoritative views, for the need for 1,000 miles of new trunk motor roads after the war, as recommended to the Ministry of Transport by the County Surveyors’ Society in 1938. This little book presents its case to all road users, but it in no way offends the motorist. It should be read by everyone Who is concerned
about Britain’s future status and prosperity. In particular, it should be read by those of you who are addressing your M.P.s about motorists’ rights—when you ask what is to be done about the increased rate of taxation, enquire, at the same time, when we are to get new motor roads ; refer to “New Roads for Britain” on your postcard when you write. The British Road Federation, Ltd., deserves support in bringing forward the motorist’s cause.
Another visit which we have been able to make as a result of our exile in Yorkshire has been to G. P. Miscellaneous Motors Mosby, who lives just outside Bradford. Mosby is at present concentrating most of his attention on the old-school Bentley, as his excellently-arranged scrapbooks testify. He recently purchased a blower 41-litre car which has very imposing open 4-seater coachwork. The history of this car— chassis S.M.8924, engine S.M.8920—has not been fully unearthed, and any forthcoming gen would be very
welcome. But research, as far as it goes, shows this car to have been on the stand at Olympia in 1930, and it took a coachwork prize at the 1989 Blackpool Rally. It was first registered, incidentally, in November, 1930, and is GK3841. Shortt now has the engine and is giving it a general check-over. Meanwhile Mosby uses a 14-litre S.S. ” Jaguar ” saloon, radio-equipped, for business motoring, and his wife a Ford Eight for shopping purposes. But these are only war-time measures. In peace-time Mosby and his wife were keen members of the M.G. Car Club and took an active part in trials. He ran a Marshall-blown M.G. 80,000 miles with no snags, and has only recently sold his second M.G., also Marshall-blown, after driving it some 4,000 miles. This was the P.B. run at Wetherby and Southport by Noel Hewitt and afterwards prepared by Abingdon for the 1989 T.T. It has Q-type valve gear and the special crankshaft fitted for that race, but the compression-ratio is now standard, after having been raised to 8.5 to 1. Incidentally, for Wetherby no gasket was used. The blower set is the standard one of commerce, using double-belt drive with a single jockey pulley. Mosby fitted aero screens, bucket seats and a special dashboard, etc. Some 22-28 m.p.g. was obtained in blown form. Intended for trials, but never used for this sort of thing, is Mosby’s special Alvis. It consists of a 1932 ” 12/60 ” chassis to which have been fitted ” Firefly ” axles, front and back, resulting in vastly improved braking. By the use of wide anchorage plates the ” 12/60 ” springs have been retained. The engine is a 1929 8-carburetter “Silver Eagle,” practically standard, save for a lightened flywheel, and Burgess-reconditioned S.U.s. Into the “. Firefly” rear axle casing a 4.55-to-1 crown and pinion from a 1926 big-port “12/50 “was inserted, and the wheels carry 5.00 in. by 20 in. tyres at the ‘front and 6.00 in. by 19 in. covers at the back. The body consists of a neat un-upholstered shell built on behind the original front doors, using rather light aluminium panels of 22 g.—the only stuff available—on square steel framework. The gearbox is “12/60.” This car is beautifully turned out and weighs about 28 cwt. It has, as would be expected, an excellent performance, doing around 80 m.p.h., yet giving 19 m.p.g. on” pool” on very short runs. Before he acquired his present Bentley Mosby bought a 8-litre Van den Plas 4-seater which had a 1925 chassis and 1926 engine. This car is now owned by his brother-in-law, W. P. Butterfield, and Shortt is preparing a 444itre engine for it. The imposing 44-litre radiator has already been fitted and the body has been shortened at the back. It is to be re-upholstered and sprayed black. Fixed cycle-type wings are now fitted. The dashboard has been neatly re-built, with centrally-placed rev.-counter and the usual Bentley dials. The chassis has a 4i-litre front axle, Speed Six brakes and a Hardy-Spicer propellershaft, , and the rear axle is believed to have come from one of the rare 9-ft. wheelbase ” Speed ” 3-litres, owned by Kaye Don, the ratio being 8.43 to 1. The (‘-type gearbox will be replaced by a D-type. Two Lucas P80 headlamps and two Lucas passlights are set before the radiator. Butterfield uses a standard TB M.G., radio-equipped, for business. These two enthusiasts certainly look like owning two very fine Bentleys between them. But Mosby does not intend to neglect his first love and recently acquired a latemodel 2-seater Ford V8, which he intends to convert
into a trials car when he can spare time from duties at the firm of which he is a director. The Bugatti Owners’ Club has announced Ettore Bugatti’s post-war plans. A little news of what other Post-War Models post-war cars are to be like is filtering through. Aston-Martin, Ltd., have told us that their new models will have shorter-stroke,
bigger-bore engines with push-rod o.h. valve gear and wet sump lubrication. The famous head layout will be retained and the camshaft will be set high up in the cylinder block and be driven by silent chain from the rear of the 5-bearing crankshaft. We may expect 90 m.p.h. closed cars of very high performance and possibly of advanced body style from the Feltham works. Then Lea-Francis will resume production of the 11.9-h.p., 14-litre and 12.9-h.p. -cars, substantially unchanged as to engine design but with detail improvements. A range of higher-powered models was contemplated, but the capacity tax may have dis-spirited the directors. . Lagonda, Ltd., have revealed their intention to market a less expensive smaller car than the V12, and they have had plenty of experience of good smaller-engined cars. The promised Gordano sports car is likely to be produced on a scale of 500 cars a year. That is all we can tell you at present. But there is more, much more, on the way. The motoring world suffered a grievous loss when Cecil Kimber was killed in that miserable railway Cecil Kimber accident outside King’s ‘Cross Sta tion on the evening of February 4th. Kimber—” Kim” to all his friends and to thousands of enthu
siasts who had never met him—took a standard Morris car and converted it into a rakish 2-seater, with very curious wings, for his own edification, some 20 years ago. So successfully did this car perform in M.C.C. trials that Kimber formed Morris Garages, Ltd., at Oxford, into a manufacturing concern, and the M.G. was born. Seldom, if ever, does one see those early, aluminium-bodied ” 14/40s ” about to-day, but they were excellent cars in their day and paved the way for the introduction of the famous M.G. Midget some years later, developed from the o.h.c. Morris Minor chassis. This car brought sporting motoring within the reach of many impecunious enthusiasts, and largely took the place of the existing small French sports cars which had invaded the market up to that time. Kimber’s blisiness went from strength to strength, the M-type Midget giving way to the “J” and ” P ” cars. Kimber’s works at Abingdon-on-Thames became the largest sports-car-producing factory in the world, and his products dominated the trials world. He also made the advanced Qand R-type racing cars and sold some of them “over the counter.” Kimber backed racing and record work with fervour, and the great exploits of Eyston, Gardner and Nuvolari, and all they did to further British prestige the world over, will never be forgotten. Gaining relaxation from yachting, Kimber also had a flair for body designing and for testing his creations personally over a big mileage. He was a happy family man when “off duty “—if he was ever really off duty I—and the ” Rembrandt ” meeting sent a telegram of sympathy to Mrs. Kimber, in which expression all enthusiasts will wish to join.