What Some of the Smaller Firms are doing.
"Motor Sport" Visits Specialist Car Manufacturers in the London Area
(Further Illustrations will be found in the Centre Pages)
With the Big Five of this country—B.M.C., Ford, Standard, Rootes and Vauxhall—mostly set for expansion of their already huge outputs, the smaller specialist manufacturers might be thought to be facing lean times so far as car sales are concerned, especially as three of the Big Five list sporting or sports-type cars and, by utilisation of utility-car parts and their facilities for large-scale manufacture, such manufacturers can sell these cars at prices to which the small concerns find it almost impossible to descend.
The answer is to endeavour to build cars which are always one jump ahead of those built in the big factories, so that purchasers who appreciate individualistic cars of character—custom-built machines, as our American cousins say—will be attracted in spite of higher prices. It would be a thousand pities if the specialist manufacturers folded up, the firms we visited fortunately showed no likelihood of this—they continue as constructors of tailor-made cars of true character, well worth the extra pennies.—W. B.
On one of the few sunny days in January (the 27th) I went along to Thames Ditton, still something of the remote village it was when Auto Carriers commenced building motor vehicles there before the 1914-18 war, to see how Ace production is progressing and what is happening over that enthralling new A.C. Aceca coupe which took last year's Earls Court Motor Show by storm.
After lunching more than adequately at the hotel on Tagg's Island, in the Thames—owned in part, incidentally, by the Hurlock brothers of A.C. Cars—as guest of "Jock" Henderson, we were able to inspect the A.C. factory and drive the prototype Aceca coupe.
Our visit was opportune, inasmuch as the first production Aceca was in course of assembly. This was right at the end of January and by now some of the ever-increasing orders for this Continental-style coupe should have been fulfilled.
There was only one prototype, the show-car, and since then very few changes have been introduced. To reduce engine and transmission noise within this compact coupe the propeller-shaft and frame-mounted differential unit are now rubber-mounted, the welded-up differential housing being supported on three Metalastic rubber bushes, one above and two below. This has involved the introduction of an extra tubular cross-member in the massive single-tube chassis frame. In addition, a very interesting innovation is the introduction of a one-piece bulkhead and dashboard in glassfibre. This is immensely strong, facilitates production by sliding into place on the chassis, and insulates engine noise and heat. It probably weighs 20 lb. more than the former alloy structure, but as the sound-proof boarding once required is now dispensed with the total weight should not be greatly increased, if at all.
The body frame of the Aceca is of a composite welded-up small-diameter, steel tube and wood structure, with wooden door frames, the panelling being of aluminium. So light is this frame that two people can lift it without anxiety. The body-frame of the open Ace weighs only 147 lb. and Mr. Charles Hurlock said that although they have been too busy to weigh an Aceca frame he wouldn't expect it to exceed 160 lb. Further total weight reduction may be obtained by substituting Perspex for glass in the large rear window of the Aceca. The fitting of back bumpers to protect the vulnerable rear lamps is under contemplation. We were able to appreciate the very neat welding-up of these frames (a coloured operative is particularly proficient), and to appreciate the steps taken by A.C. to obviate that irritating scuttlefloat from which sports cars often suffer over bad surfaces. On the Aceca this takes the form of a scuttle cross-tube welded at right angles to uprights rising from the chassis, while on the Ace a similar roll bar is employed, now further strengthened by a central inverted-vee tubular brace. Incidentally, rack-and-pinion steering is no longer employed.
The Ace frame has no wood in its construction, even the door frames being all steel tube. The Thames Ditton works is now fully equipped for Ace and Aceca production, with all the jigs essential to body construction of this kind, and well versed in welding-up the many very neatly fabricated structures in these cars, which range from the wishbones of the all-round-independent suspension system to the clutch and brake pedal mounting boxes and the aforesaid differential casing, etc.
When the body frame is completed on the chassis the vehicle is taken away in a truck to be panelled, a wide choice of colours being available for body and upholstery.
We heard of many famous personalities in the motor-racing and entertainments world who are likely to order A.C. Aceca coupes, having admired the "Ferrari-like" blue prototype at Earls Court. We tried to extract from "Jock" the name of the body designer responsible for this striking newcomer, but all he would say on that subject was that the A.C. Design Staff were responsible. They certainly have every reason to be proud of the finished product.
The famous 2-litre overhead-camshaft six-cylinder, light-alloy, wet-liner A.C. engine powers both Ace and Aceca and is bench-tested within the main assembly shop. Normally it is supplied with a compression ratio of 8.0 to 1, in which form, with three S.U. carburetters, it develops 85 b.h.p. at 4,500 r.p.m. The cylinder head is less shallow these days to provide this compression ratio and, if required, 30 thou. can be machined off the face of the head to provide a compression ratio of 8.5 to 1. The exhaust system these days is an intriguing straight-flow design with two tail-pipes per three cylinders, which gains six or seven horse-power over the manifold used on the normal A.C. saloon. The dynamo has had to be re-positioned to afford clearance for the back set of pipes. While regarding the handsome engine of the A.C. we noticed some characteristically individual features. Thus, the grease-gun and oil-can are neatly carried in clips on the inside of' the near-side frontwheel arch and the engine cooling fan is driven by a belt separate from that driving the dynamo, so that it may be removed if not required. Mr. Henderson told us that so ample is the Ferrari-like radiator cowl as an air-intake that the fan is unnecessary in this country and that even during the Alpine Rally no trace of overheating was experienced. The engine still retains direct white metalled connecting-rods and the crankshaft runs in five main bearings, as there is a bearing on each side of the timing sprocket.
An instance of the value of events like the Alpine Rally is shown in one small detail—the starter-motor solenoid and wiring junction-box are now mounted on the driving-compartment side of the foot-board in the Ace, so that they are accessible without opening the bonnet; indeed, without getting out of the car.
The Ace and Aceca are attractive cars, priced respectively at £1,439 0s.9d. and £1,722 7s.6d. inclusive of p.t.. Not only is the well-established light-alloy engine with its slightly-inclined o.h. valves installed in an essentially-modern rigid tubular chassis with independent suspension front and back by transverse leaf-springs and wishbones, but the body is beautifully proportioned, and items such as the straight-through exhaust system, alloy-panelled body, centre-lock wire wheels, which often comprise "extras," are included in the purchase price. A heater will be contrived for the Aceca and Michelin "X" tyres may become standard equipment, for they are regarded with high esteem by the works.
At the time of our visit more than sixty Ace two-seaters had been delivered and these cars will be seen in this year's R.A.C. Rally, Alpine Rally and sports-car races. Amongst the drivers may be Hazel Dunham, who had such bad luck in last year's "Alpine" when an alloy bracket supporting the oil-coils broke and shorted the battery, and a trailing lead-lamp punctured the fuel tank as the car was driven off following a wheel change.
Before we left Thames Ditton we had a brief drive in the prototype Aceca. Impressions—all that a short drive permit—were : The small, secure, easily-adjustable bucket-seats permit ample elbow room, useful head-room and good visibility, which will be further enhanced when the scuttle ledge is lowered in production models. The gear-changes go through well with the aid of a stiff, backward-cranked central lever (which, however, is rather too long), the brakes are light and progressive, the steering very light and sensitive, calling for finger-action only, and the suspension firm. That the body lines are practical as well as beautiful is obvious from the absence of wind noise. The doors contain neat little elastic-topped pockets, there is a fully-effective rear-view mirror, and a very massive hand-brake lever with fly-off action between the seats. Speedometer and rev-counter (red-marked at 4,500 r.p.m.) occupy a raised cowl in front of the driver, with oil gauge between them, and a small wood panel in the expanse of the dashboard contains the water thermometer, fuel gauge and ammeter dials. The Aceca has a top-gear ratio of 3.9 to 1, giving a speed of 19.5 m.p.h. in top gear at 1,000 r.p.m., whereas the Ace has a 3.64 to 1 axle ratio, equal to 21.2 m.p.h. in top gear at 1,000 r.p.m. The Ace weighs 164 cwt. unladen and 174 cwt. is spoken of for the Aceca.
My brief drive in the much-discussed Aceca has certainly whetted the Editorial appetite for a prolonged road-test with this outstandingly smart, up-to-the-minute coupe and its companion Ace.
Bucklers of Reading have a new model, their Mk.D.D.1 in preparation for the coming season. Buckler pioneered the space frame for amateur assembly purposes and naturally retains this for the new model. It differs somewhat from earlier Buckler frames, having a box structure round the engine which is deliberately untapered so that there is ample width for proper spacing of the pedals. It is constructed of welded-up steel tubing, mainly 18 g. as for Buckler 90 (the original Mk. V. used 16 g. tubes), with four main cross-members. Suspension front and back will be by the new combined suspension/ shock-absorber units—which make isn't finalised, but probably the new adjustable Giffin struts will be used. Swing axles are used at the front, in conjunction with Ford front hubs, a de Dion rear-end being a notable aspect of the new Mk.D.D.1. This differential unit bolts neatly to the rear end of the space-frame. It will embody a proprietary differential unit and final-drive ratio to customer's requirements, the first unit having a ratio of 4.3 to 1. Transmission is by open shaft. The new frame is designed with installation of a 1,100 c.c. or 1.4-litre Coventry-Climax engine in mind, but will also accommodate M.G. or similar power units. It has a wheelbase of 7 ft.6 in., compared with that of 7 ft.3 in. on the Buckler 90 and 7 ft.10 in. on the long wheelbase Mk.VI, Mk. VI-4 (occasional four-seater), and Mk.XI cars, the Mk.V and Mk.X (three-abreast seater) having the same wheelbase as the Mk.D.D.1. All versions use a track of 3 ft. 9 in.
Steering on the new car is by a light-alloy Burman Douglas steering box giving 1 7/8 turns, lock to lock. A Buckler pressurised radiator with separate header tank behind the engine is used; whereas the Mk.V cars had a behind-engine radiator location, the 90 and D.D.1 have this component in front of the power-unit, with a Ford Ten engine the header tank on the 90 is mounted on the cylinder head.
Both the 90 and D.D.I Buckler frames have all-enveloping two-seater bodies, a feature of these bodies being a floor which also constitutes an undershield and seat-base and a seat-back riveted to the propeller-shaft tunnel to provide rigidity and a base for two well shaped armchair seats. Incidentally, hot air from the engine is led away to the rear down the propeller-shaft tunnel. A 6 1/2 gallon fuel tank is fitted in the tail, its base forming an extension of the undershield, lugs being provided to facilitate continuation of the undershield beneath the back axle if the constructor so desires. The spare wheel is also accommodated in the tail, leaving room for the proverbial tooth-brush, pyjamas and nightdress. The tail panel hinges up for access but a similar arrangement at the front has given place to the more usual bonnet top-panel.
Derek Buckler claims that this body for the Buckler 90 calls for only 35 b.h.p. to achieve a speed of 90 m.p.h., as the frontal area of 9 3/4 sq.ft. is the smallest in use on a car of this kind. He quotes a weight of 70 lb. for the 90 body shell complete with two doors, the panelling being in 18 g. aluminium, and a dry weight of approximately 8 3/4 cwt. with Ford Ten power unit.
The 90 frame is intended primarily to accommodate a Ford Ten engine, gearbox and back-axle, using low-rate transverse leaf springs front and back and swing-axle i.f.s. The engine is 3 1/2 in. lower in the frame than in earlier models and ground clearance is approximately 6 in., the height being approximately 29 1/2 in.
The new Buckler D.D.1 will have a very similar all-enveloping body and on this and the 90 a lower position of the air-intake is being introduced, making possible a more sloping nose. A dry weight in the region of 9-9 1/2 cwt. is quoted for the D.D.1 according to the engine in use.
Fifteen Buckler 90s are likely to be seen in action this season at Club race meetings. In addition, Adrian Little, in collaboration with "Pip" Ravenshaw, is having the first Coventry-Climax-engined D.D.1 and Air-Commodore Worsley is installing one of these engines in a Mk.90. As no proprietary gearbox is available suitable to this engine, TC M.G. gearboxes will probably be employed.
A recent exportation was a Buckler frame to take Morris Minor i.f.s. and an M.G. power unit.
In conclusion, it must be emphasised that Bucklers of Reading supply frames and bodies but not complete cars. They make special twin-carburetter and free-flow-exhaust sets for the Ford Ten engine and similar aids to increased performance—a new innovation in this department is a 13 in. pressed-steel wheel which weighs 10 1/2 lb. and costs £4 I0s.
A call at Cooper Cars Ltd. at Surbiton found the Coopers, father and son, in their usual state of pre-season bustle.
A whole flood of the new Mk.IX F.III Cooper frames was coming through, each with a single H.R.G.-Palmer two-pad disc brake on the back axle. The aim is for this well-established F.III car to weigh a mere 500 lb. Sports cars were represented by the Cooper-Jaguar Mk. II and the new rear-engined Cooper 1,100 sports-model.
The Cooper-Jaguar is based on the car which Peter Whitehead raced last year and we were able to inspect the car which had been exhibited on the Jaguar stand at the Brussels Show. In its latest form the car is 4.in. lower than before. The power unit and ancillary arrangements are 250-b.h.p. D-type Jaguar. The space-frame is ingenious, being swept-in at the centre, over the gearbox, so that high-set tubes do not obstruct the door openings. It is made of 16g. and 18g. steel tubing of 1 1/2 in. diameter, and the 18g. aluminium body lifts off entirely in two sections for complete accessibility. Suspension is Cooper transverse leaf-spring and wishbones, providing independent suspension all round, the Cooper-Jaguar having double sets of wishbones. Dunlop disc wheels are used, the spare being carried in the tail, where it deliberately projects slightly to provide a bumper. Oil and fuel tanks live on the near side of the frame, the former over the exhaust manifolds. Coopers make their own bodywork, incidentally.
Very interesting is the new Cooper 1,100 sports model. The frame is rendered extremely rigid by hoops ahead and behind the cockpit area, in which the driver sits centrally, with the passenger on his left and the fuel tank on his right. The frame, like that of the Mk.IX Cooper 500, is of 1 1/2 in. diameter 18g. steel tubing. Suspension is independent all round, on the Cooper system, the rear transverse spring having an anti-roll leaf above it.
The engine is mounted behind the driver and is a Coventry-Climax, driving to a chassis-mounted Citroen gearbox behind the final-drive unit, this gearbox containing close-ratio Cooper gears giving four forward ratios.
Steering is rack-and-pinion and single wishbones are used for the suspension. The battery lives at the very nose of the car. It is hoped that this ingenious new 1,100 sports model will turn the scales at 7 1/2 cwt., complete.
Cooper-Jaguar and Cooper 1,100 sports cars are being built for a number of well-known drivers, Tommy Sopwith having one of each sort on order and a provisional entry for Le Mans with the 1,100-c.c. Coventry-Climax-engined car.
The H.R.G. Engineering Company, founded well before the war by Halford, Robins and Godfrey, has never built any cars but sports cars and, although these were of vintage persuasion. they have always been held in very high esteem by enthusiasts. Consequently, it is extremely pleasing to find that the long awaited new, soon to go into production, is as sensationally advanced as the now obsolete models are charmingly old-fashioned. The new has a single tube chassis frame of 16g. steel, by which we mean that two parallel large-diameter tubes replace the side-members of the chassis of vintage times, some authorities maintain that our description is confusing, because frames with only one central tube were once made, but these are correctly termed backbone frames, and to call the H.R.G.-type frame a double-tube frame would be to suggest a space-frame having tubes one above the other.
These tubes are very slightly curved, so that they are lower at the back than at the front of the car. At the front the tubes terminate in short dummy dumb-irons for attachment of the nose of the body and at the back they are reduced noticeably in diameter to form a platform for the fuel tank. These main tubes are connected by three main tubular cross-members of identical diameter, of which the central one carries the two rubber bushes which mount the gearbox and is continued as a tubular scuttle hoop.
The first unorthodox aspect of this new H.R.G. sports-car which impinges itself on the observer is the suspension system.
In order to ensure wide suspension-links, which are essential to maintain the road wheels in correct track, it was originally intended to use single-leaf transverse springs of triangular formation. Special steels being required for such non-friction springs, which is difficult to obtain, a compromise has resulted in 5 in. wide, three-leaf springs being employed.
The front spring passes below the chassis tubes and wide-base A-shape fabricated wishbones are pivoted on brackets above the side tubes. At the back a similar spring is mounted above the chassis and rather different wishbones are used below it, the effect front and back, being extremely rigid, wear-resisting location of the wheels.
These low-friction leaf springs take only about 75 per cent. of the total weight of the car, the remainder being absorbed by Woodhead Monroe strut-type suspension-cum-shock-absorber units incorporating external coil springs. These are mounted at 45deg. leaning in towards tine top, those at the front being attached to the centre of the wishbones and at the back to brackets attached to an arched tubular auxiliary cross-member. This combination of coil springs and leaf-spring suspension, apart from its structural advantages, provides a form of variable-rate suspension.
The new H.R.G. has the final drive casing being bolted to plates between the back main chassis cross-member and the aforementioned arched cross-member to which the rear suspension struts are anchored. Although the majority of the chassis components and brackets are welded-up in the modern chassis, certain mountings employ bolts and nuts for easy interchangeability. This applies to the final-drive assembly.
The drive passes to the hubs via universally-jointed open shafts to provide independent rear suspension, and special pains have been taken to make these shafts of considerable length, thus reducing angularity.
The power unit of the new car is a four-cylinder 73mm. by 89.4mm. 1.497 c.c. unit with a very business-like 90 deg. o.h. camshaft head. Known as the Singer-H.R.G., which name appears on the cam-box covers, this engine employs the bottom-end of the known Singer SM 1500 engine, but with a steel instead of a cast-iron crankshaft and other obvious modifications for increased power output. This pleasing-looking engine develops its peak power at 6,000 r.p.m. and with it's free-flow four-branch exhaust system and ram inlet pipes in conjunction with two 40mm.twin-choke Solex racing carburetters with air-intake extensions, 105 b.h.p. is developed at 5,500 r.p.m. on a compression-ratio of 8.7 to 1.
A belt-driven water impeller is used, this belt also driving the dynamo, and a four-bladed cooling fan is driven by a separate belt from the front of the impeller, so that the fan can be dispensed with when not required; the fan is mounted on slotted brackets for belt adjustment. A small header tank, incorporating the water filler, is mounted on brackets attached to the front of the cam-boxes, remote from the radiator, which is inclined in-ward at an apreciable angle to provide a low nose. Water leaves the cylinder head via a small-bore two-branch manifold delivering to the header tank. Water is directed to each exhaust-valve seat by means of an external gallery with four off-takes, coupled to the head by four small hose joints. The sparking plugs are in the centre of the hemispherical combustion chambers. inclined rearwards, ignition being by Lucas coil. The inlet valves are on the off side, the exhaust valves on the near side of the head. There is a quick-action oil filler at the front of each cam-box cover. This compact, high-output engine is in unit with the clutch and a close-ratio gearbox with central remote-control gear-lever. The unit is three-point mounted in the chassis, at the back as described and at the front on fibre pads on brackets extending out to the chassis tubes.
The drive passes via an open propeller shaft to the chassis mounted final drive unit.
A range of final-drive ratios ranging from approximately 3.5 to 1 to 4.5 to 1 will be available, but the prototype car and second chassis has gear ratios of 4.1, 5.1., 7.93 and 12.54 to 1. At the rear of the Chassis a flat fuel tank of about 13-gallons capacity is fitted, the spare wheel being accommodated above it with room for luggage above.
Steering is by a Singer circulating-ball type steering box, the drop arm of which operates at the centre of the divided track rod behind the front spring, through a transverse drag-link.
One of the many outstanding features of the new H.R.G. is the use of disc brakes. These are of H.R.G. manufacture under Palmer licence and at the front employ triple pads per brake, two on the leading edge and a single pad at the trailing edge of the disc, two-pad brakes being used on the back wheels. These brakes, for which H.R.G. have the sole rights, are operated by the pedal via two hydraulic master-cylinders and a wiffle-tree system of adjustment is incorporated so that the braking effect can be varied between front and back wheels. Those disc brakes put the new H.R.G. in the forefront of modern sports cars and they will contribute materially to the performance of the car. rendered extremely brisk by reason of the excellent power output of 72 b.h.p. per litre, and a total weight which is estimated to he in the region of 14-14 1/2 cwt.
A fly-off central handbrake-typically H.R.G.-is fitted and as it isn't convenient to couple this to the disc brakes an ingenious solution has been found --the lever applies an expanding transmission brake at the back-end of the propeller shaft, through an enclosed cable. This brake. being geared-up, is very powerful, and fully capable of stopping the car on its own, but would naturally overheat under prolonged application.
H.R.G. wheels consisting a six magnesium spokes bolted to Dunlop steel rims are used, these wheels being handsome and businesslike in appearance as well as light in weight, and likely to ensure adequate cooling of the brake discs. They are bolted to the hubs with a row of six nuts. hut normally tyre changes would be made-by unbolting the rims. The tyres are 5,25 by 16 Dunlops.
The prototype car carries a conventional all-enveloping, aluminium body of rather bulbous form, with a conventional nose containing the radiator-intake grille, two bucket seats; a neat instrument panel with unobtrusive speedometer and rev.counter and a small quick-action fuel filler in the tail panel.
It should be emphasised that the new H.R.G. incorporates certain Singer components, such as the radiator, stub axles, and steering linkages, although the latter are modified.
With its twin-cam engine and disc brakes this is essentially an up-to-the-minute design and no doubt the unusual suspension system will contribute to very effective road-holding.
The new H.R.G. is a welcome addition to the sparse ranks of 1 1/2-litre sports-cars, and its announcement is likely to create widespread interest and admiration.
The price of this interesting newcomer will be determined by demand and production facilities, but is likely to be in the regime of £1,700-1,800, inclusive of disc brakes. It will be made in two wheelbases, 7 ft. 6 in. and 8 ft. 0 in., and a lower-priced version with twin SU. carburetters in place of the racing Solex instruments is visualised.
A visit to Hornsey found Colin Chapman surrounded by partially completed Lotus frames and body shells, hoping to complete two of the new Mk. IX cars for dispatch to America in time for the Sebring race, where they are due to be driven by Frank Miller and Len Bastrup, under the aegis of Bob Said.
The rise to fame of the Lotus is a success story indeed. Only a few years ago Chapman built a sports car, as an Austin Seven engined 750 Formula machine, and its lightweight, rigid frame was developed to become amongst the best of its kind for 750 and 1,172 Formulae racing.
Following the many successes of the slab-tailed Mk. VI Austin Seven and Ford Eight and Ten-powered Lotus cars, high-tuned M.G, engines were used for events outside the 750 Formula, The irrepressible Chapman, having got frame and suspension to his liking, turned his attention to streamlining, carrying out many experiments with wool tufts, in conjunction with Frank Costin, as well as wind-tunnel tests.
The result was the Mk. VIII Lotus with the twin-finned, all-enveloping aerodynamic body--a pretty devastating car to emanate from virtually an amateur-inspired pocket-factory. These cars firmly established themselves in competition work last season. Chapman admits that he does not love particularly the aerodynamic body but, as he said, you cannot sneeze at a free ten extra m.p.h., apart from which his bodies enhance stability.
This year will see the debut of the new Mk. IX Lotus. It is mainly similar to the Mk. VIII but, being built round the 1,100-c.c. o.h.c. Coventry-Climax engine, is lower and shorter, although track and wheelbase remain as before, the latter at 7 ft. 3 1/2 in. The twin tail fins are shorter and more bulbous to partially enclose the back wheels and the whole car is lower, which eliminates the somewhat grotesque side-view of the Mk. VIII, which, being long for a small engined car, and very advanced, tended to exude a rather space-travel atmosphere.
The Mk. IX will have a very neat ducted radiator, entirely sealed off from the engine compartment, air for brake cooling being taken from apertures on each side of it, while a low opening in the bonnet will admit cold air to the engine.
As the body is lower a slight "conning-tower" will surround the driver, to which will be shaped the U-windscreen. Minor mods, to suspension brackets, centre-lock wheels and a new de Dion back-end permitting tubular half-shafts, will be features of the 1955 Lotus. Fuel will be carried in a pannier tank on the near side, because this location will match the revised weight distribution consequent upon using the lighter Coventry-Climax engine. At present these tanks come in 19-gallon Le Mans and 13-gallon Sebring sizes, but a smaller one could be employed for short races.
The Coventry-Climax engine will be installed in 1,100-c.c. and 11/2-litre form, mated to an M.G. TC gearbox. The nose of the car has been altered to provide a low-placed radiator inlet and a different air-flow round the front wheels; Chapman remarking, after further aerodynamic researches, that "Mercedes-Benz knew something about that department ! "
Orders are flowing in for the new Mk. IXs. Ken Smith, the 500-c.c, exponent, will have one, Reg Bicknell will drive another, and Peter Gammon has a new Lotus on order but has specified a non-aerodynamic body because he wishes to keep weight to a minimum and the slab-tailed type saves some 50 lb. All these will be 1,100-c.c. cars. John Coombes has a 1 1/2-litre Connaught engined car, Nixon. the E.R.A. driver, a Lotus with a 1 1/2-litre Turner fuel-injection engine on the stocks, and Brian Naylor has acquired a used Lotus. In addition, Chapman will build himself a new car, Hacking will race a 1 1/2-litre Lotus-M.G., while 2-litre Bristol-engined ears are being prepared for Michael Anthony and Scott-Russell, and Cliff Davis may decide on one. Moreover, a Lotus-Bristol is being supplied to an enthusiast purely as a road car.
At the time of our visit, early in February, these orders were reflected in panel-bashing activities on the part of Williams and Pritchard, who panel the Lotus space-frames.
For a small firm to have cars running at Sebring and an entry for Le Mans is creditable in the extreme. At the time of our visit Le Mans' plans were not very far advanced, but Chapman had great hopes of his entry of two 1,100 c.c. Coventry-Climax Mk. IX cars being accepted. The drivers are rumonred as possibly Gordon Wilkins/Ron Flockhart and Lance Macklin/Colin Chapman, but this obviously depends on various factors.
The Hornsey home of Lotus is rather cramped due to the car's very quick rise to fame, and discarded body-shells, new frames and other components are apt to stack-up outside on fine days, where they mingle with the delightfully early-vintage Austin Seven saloons of the employees. Plans are in hand for expansion and work has already conmenced on a new engine, assembly and test shop, where we imagine Chapman may extract more than the 72 b.h.p. at 6,300 r.p.m. which Coventry-Cliimax claim for their 1.098 c.c. engine. He also has plans for a neat transporter, based on a Commer van, which will accommodate two Lotus cars, one above the other.
In conclusion. we should explain that the Lotus Engineering Co. does not supply complete cars. The Lotus frame-cum-body-cum-suspension units. including de Dion rear-axle, costs in the neighbourhood of £600 and auxiliaries in the region of another £250, without including the power unit. The price-total is still modest, judged by the available performance and competitions-record of these cars.
A visit to the historic Falcon works at Isleworth, where the chain-driven Frazer-Nash cars were assembled years ago, produced lunch with the Allingtons, whither we were taken in a beautifully-constructed Type 501 B.M.W. saloon, and inspection of the latest Frazer-Nash model. The last Roadster, which is the least expensive Model in the Frazer-Nash range, being priced at £1,650 basic. It is a handsome all-enveloping two-seater with the 105-b.h.p. triple Solex carburetter Bristol engine, in the well-tried Frazer-Nash single-tube chassis with transverse leaf-spring i.f.s. and torsion-bar rear suspension of the normal back axle. The specification includes rack-and-pinion steering, Girling 11-in, brakes with cast-iron drums, bolt-on disc wheels, one-shot chassis lubrication, and equipment includes bucket-seats upholstered in Vynide, laminated safety-glass in the windscreen. full equipment, etc. On the latest models the plated grill at the front of the carburetter air-intake on the bonnet is despensed with. We were able to inspect the new Sebring Frazer-Nash of which Stoop was soon to take delivery, and several fixed-head coupe's in course of construction, with or without de Dion rear-end to customers' choice.
As some confusion exists in respect of A.F.N.'s entry for Le Mans, we can say that if the new sports Type 502 B.M.W. 2.6-litre V8 engine is ready this will he used in a Frazer-Nash chassis, probably with fixed-head coupe body, but if not, a Bristol engine will be installed.