V-E-V miscellany, March 1983, March 1983

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For this year’s Coventry Rally, over the weekend of June 25th / 26th, the Riley Register has decided on a “side-valve theme”. It is hoped that with a great effort 18 s.v. Rileys may attend, but organiser Richard Odell, who owns that very quick side-valve sand-racing Riley, and who knows of 31 UK owners of such Rileys, would like to hear from those who have four which are “missing”, the Reg. Nos. of these cars being NH 5575 (a 1923 tourer), RN 2686 (a 1925 tourer), UC 212 (a 1925/26 two-seater) and PM 2965 (a 10.8 h.p. coupe). If you own one of these Rileys or know their whereabouts, Richard asks you to contact him at The Old Stables, Cattle End, Silverstone, Towcester, Northants, NN12 8UK (Tel.: 0327-857633). The aim is to try to have as many s.v. Rileys outside the Coventry Crest Hotel in June 1983 as there were outside the Peebles Hydro Hotel for the first anniversary rally of the Riley MC at Whitson 1926. Later Rileys, and many older ones, will, of course, also be welcome.

From the Alvis Register Circular we have gleaned some interesting information about an Australian speedway car, raced as late as 1981 after being restored and for sale for 5,500 Australian dollars. The story came originally from the Australian Alvisatics Club publication and should interest the VSCC President, Tom Threlfall, who races a similar car here. The one in question was used by former motorcycle stuntman Bill Varney, from 1934, when he helped to introduce midget-car speedway racing to Australia. Known as the Roadmaster Speedster, the chassis was adapted from that of a 1909 Model-T Ford. The engine was from a 1923 12/50 SA Alvis, fined with twin Amal carburetters. It drives through a hand-controlled cone clutch to the Ford torque-tube. The only brakes are those on the back wheels, controlled by another hand-lever. The steering is geared ⅔rd-of-a-turn, lock-to-lock and petrol is carried in the tail in an oil-tank from a 1909 Rolls-Royce. As the wheelbase is only six-feet the driver has to have his legs one on each side of the engine. Top speed is around 85 m.p.h. at some 4,000 r.p.m. and Morris and Austin parts figure in the hybrid construction. Originally special Australian Dunlop 12″ knobbly-tread tyres were used. Around 1936 lighter air-cooled cars proved a match for the Roadmaster Speedster on the Sydney dirt-tracks but it has survived, apparently in very original order, apart from radial-ply tyres and a roll-over protective cage. — W.B.

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