Miniatures news, March 1963

Several motor-car miniatures have appeared with dummy engines revealed when the bonnet is opened, but in particular the Issigonis-inspired Morris 1100 lends itself to this, because its transverse power-unit is particularly interesting and worthy of display. So it is interesting to find that Meccano Dinky Toy No. 140 is of just such a Morris 1100 saloon, 3 7/16 in. long, with the “East-West” engine beneath its lift-up bonnet. Enthusiastic users of this advanced British car are likely to want a couple of these fine models, one as a mascot in or on the real car and one to admire at home. They cost 4s. 6d. each.

Dinky Toys also have a 3 1/2 in. long Atlas Copco compressor unit on a realistic Ford Thames chassis, complete with opening side panels to reveal the compressor, while their pneumatic drill hose can be coupled to points at the rear—oh, to be young again! No. 436, this one costs 6s. 9d., U.K. p.t. paid.

Lesney recently introduced a “Matchbox” miniature (No. 47) that increases your shivers—a 75:1 scale Commer Ice-Cream Canteen, detailed, in spite of its diminutive size, down to a white-overalled lady serving an ice-lolly and its Lyons Maid transfers. It costs 1s. 9d. Other new Lesney “Matchbox” series miniatures include a Ford Fairlane Police Car (No. 55) and an equally tiny l.h.d. Mercedes-Benz 220SE coupé (No. 53), of which both doors open and close. Moreover, they have introduced a well-made “Matchbox” Service Station (MG-1) measuring 9 3/4 in. x 4 3/4 in., with clock, ramps to first-floor showroom and B.P. petrol pumps, for the display of their fine scale miniatures. It is also to a scale of 75:1, suitable for HO/OO layouts and retails at 9s.

Apart from commercial models that you can go out and buy, Geoffrey Deason, who has made many excellent scale models in cardboard in recent years, has completed a replica of the Renault 45 Montlhéry record-breaking saloon that could easily be run on a rail-track, and is working on a big paper-and-card working model, some 10 in. high, of a G.N. Vitesse air-cooled, vee-twin racing engine, its o.h. camshafts driven by Meccano chain, and cut-away sections to show the valve gear, piston and big-end assembly, the plot being to hide an electric motor in the crankcase, driving it at about one r.p.m. for demonstration purposes. This sounds like something all “Chain-Gangsters” will want to see, if and when it is finished.

Finally, for this month, I append a report, sent by Mr. A. M. L. Kennaugh, of the Ecurie Spa 12-hour Le Mans-type model-car race. This event was held last December but the report reached me a month late, due either to postal delays or office filing snags; it was such an ambitious race, which should inspire the many other slot and rail-car racing clubs operating up and down the country that I am still glad to include it.—W. B.

The “Ecurie Spa” 12 hrs. “Le Mans” Race
On December 2nd, 1962, four teams of drivers arrived with their cars to commence the world’s first endurance race for motor cars, run under the general racing rules of the “Electric Car Racing Association.” The Ecurie Spa track at Leamington is 96 ft. per lap and has been referred to as “one of the finest tracks in the world,” and Ecurie Spa as “one of the world’s premier model-car clubs” (American magazine Slot Racer). The lap record is 10.6 sec., so some fast racing was expected. The rules stated that only one car/chassis per club entry was permitted although any repairs necessary could be made.

At 0900 hours the flag fell and the race was under way. Various penalty and hazard periods were scheduled to “even up” the teams, but the first hours were flat-out racing. At the end of this stage the Ecurie Spa “C” Jaguar held a lead of 54 laps over the Birmingham Aston Martin DBR1/300, which in turn led the Berlinettas of Loughborough and Northampton. At this time cards were handed out scheduling compulsory “fuel and tyre” stops for each team and varied in number and duration according to performance, the leaders receiving a total of 20 minutes compared with the “tail-enders” 10 minutes. The race continued with penalty periods when losing control and “coming off” the lane meant drawing a “pit card” which imposed some penalty such as a 2-min. pit stop, or reduced power supply for 10 minutes. Hazards simulating the effect of rainstorms, slippery roads, etc., were imposed, and 1 1/2 hours total darkness with only car headlights and the glow of pit lights were present to light the track. The “C” Jaguar led all the way despite a 6-min. stop to change a badly-worn gear and a 3-min. stop for electrical contacts to be changed. However, the other places were hotly contested.

By the fifth hour the Northampton Berlinetta had moved up into second place and the Aston dropped to fourth with an intermittent “short circuit,” and was 52 laps behind third-place Loughborough. By the 10th hour they were well in the chase and the gap was closed to nine laps, and an hour later were third with 61 laps lead on Loughborough and gaining on second place, but time ran out and at the finish the positions were: 1st, Ecurie Spa; 2nd, Northampton; 3rd, Birmingham; 4th, Loughborough.

The winning car covered 2,730 laps, equal to an actual distance of 49 miles 116 yards, or a scale distance of 1,570 miles. The winner’s actual running time was 10 hr. 22 min., which meant the running average scale speed was 153.2 m.p.h. Average lap time 13.6 sec. The winning team were awarded the “Jaguar Trophy,” presented by Jaguar Car Co., to hold for this year.—A. M. L. K.