ON entering the spotless and spacious workshops of Messrs Birkin and Couper the first objects that caught my eye were a tattered racing cover and a buckled wheel, which occupied the place of honour. Mr. W. M. Couper who was taking me round remarked, “Le Mans and Ulster.” The wheel was the result of the little argument between Birkin’s Bentley and a wall in last year’s Ulster T.T., while the forlorn and ragged cover is a reminder of the never-to-be-forgotten struggle between the Bentleys and Carraciola’s Mercedes in the 1930 Le Mans race. It was one of many which gave up under the stress of Birkin’s terrific driving in the struggle which finally accounted for both cars, and left the way open for the Bentley team to score a convincing victory. To all followers of motor racing “Tim “, now Sir Henry Birkin, and his partner, W. M. Couper, are well known figures. The latter has done a great deal of motorcycle racing and tuning which is a highly individual game, while latterly he has been a consistent performer at the wheel of Lagonda cars. Birkin’s early exploits with a D.F.P. at the track soon led to great things, and require no description here. It is often forgotten, however, that he has many other qualifications besides actual driving experience, and I was particularly interested in the 2-litre overhead camshaft racing
engine which he designed in conjunction with Comery some time ago, and of which one is now at his works, together with an ample stock of parts. It is hoped to find time to get one ready for racing in the near future, but with a full racing programme in view this may not be easy. The chief work specialised in by this firm is, of course, tuning sports and racing cars for events and also
the fitting of superchargers to cars. This is work requiring great experience and knowledge, but if done by people who know how, the results on a normal sports car are most gratifying. Various interesting preparations for this season are in progress, among them being a very thorough reconstruction of one of the T.T. Arrol-Asters of 1929, which will be running in this year’s race in Ulster, and an inspection of this work shows the amazing amount of detail which
has to be gone into in such a case.
The works, in addition to the latest machine shop equipment, has a drawing office where plots are hatched and amateurs’ desires and ideas turned into workable form.
It is often imagined that such a tuning shop is not interested in small jobs of ordinary routine overhaul. In actual fact nothing is further from the truth, and they are only too pleased to do any job from a simple de-coke” to the most elaborate overhaul, and skilled mechanics and full equipment not only make it possible to do the job better, but also to keep the price down. The works at Broadwater Road,
Welwyn Garden City, are within easy reach of London, and there is no doubt that an increasing number of enthusiasts will avail themselves of racing drivers’ experience in the coming season.—B.