Obituary

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Amherst Villiers, that remarkable character who was educated at Oundle and made many important contributions to automotive and aeronautical engineering, died recently, in frail health, at the age of 91. He will be forever remembered for supercharging the vintage 4 1/2-litre Bentley, which in Paget-sponsored Sir Henry Birkin guise gave that driver the Brooklands lap-record and second place in a French GP, etc. Before that Villiers had tuned Raymond Mays’s Brescia Bugattis so that they were virtually invincible in sprint events up to 1924. He then supercharged Mays’s unsuccessful single-seater AC and, far more effectively, his Vauxhall Villiers, or Villiers-Supercharge.

When asked by the owner of a P1 Rolls-Royce to supercharge it, Villiers designed a special four-cylinder ohc miniature engine to drive the blower, and mounted it in a box on the car’s running board — see accompanying photograph by Donald Parker. (Amherst was able to buy this unit in 1990 from a Sussex farmer who thought it was the blower from the lap record Bentley). Apart from his great knowledge of supercharging, Villiers made aero engines in the 1920s, did work for Sir Malcolm Campbell on the LSR “Bluebird”, and for BRM after the war, and in recent times he was engaged by NASA in the creation of space-defeating hardware. Other activities in a busy life included painting, driving his blower Bentley and sueing Rolls-Royce Limited for claimed unfinished work on an old Rolls-Royce car. WB

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