RUMBLINGS, May 1935
A Pressman’s Holiday.
IHAVE often thought how interesting it would be to have a register of all the old sports and racing cars in England with a history behind them. London would probably be the richest hunting ground and there must be several hunft.ed stowed away in mews and garages within ten mile 7 of Charing Cross.
Last month I was told that the two Brescia Bugattis which Raymond Mays used to race were to be seen somewhere in the Paddington district, so when I had a little time to spare I went up to Sports Spares whose showroom is close to the station. There indeed was the Brescia, which was supposed to be “Cordon Bleu.” As far as one could see, it might well have been the old car with its bolster tank and scanty body, though some later owner had added front wheel brakes. A second suggestion was that it was the car which Marshall drove in the Boulogne Grand Prix.
Another historic car I saw there was a two-seater Eldridge Special, which I believe was built for Indianapolis, and looked an exciting sort of vehicle. The induction system must surely have been unique, for the induction pipe runs from the blower in front of the engine down the near side, under the crank-case, and up the off-side to the manifold. The chassis passed under the front axle, all the oil was carried in a tank behind the driver’s seat, and the radiator header tank was just in front of the dash. There were lots of other exciting points about the car, one of them being that it was reputed to have cost £6,000 to build.
Horstmans and all that.
For the other Brescia I was directed to try Mr. A. J. Griffiths, whose garage is in the same district, but here I was disappointed. He had Jack Robinson’s old Brescia, and a full Brescia in a touring Brescia chassis but “Cordon Rouge” was not amongst his collection. He had, however, a 1924 200 Miles race Horstman which was supposed to have been driven by Purdy or Cambell and to have lapped Brooklands at 98 m.p.h., and which had later been fitted with a tubular front axle and front wheel brakes, with shock absorbers acting as radius rods ; a ” 30-98 ” which might have had Mundy’s Gold Star engine in it but probably had not, and the Hon. Jock Leith’s two-litre Grand Prix Sunbeam. This is a rather remarkable car, since it weighs only 12 cwt.,
but the chassis is so light that the front of the car just goes straight on when the wheels are locked over on a rough-surfaced corner. Something like this must have happened at Donginton, I think, for the car upset on its new owner at the opening meeting.
Returning once more to Eldridge Specials, Booth and Croft are building an Eldridge engine, reputed to be from
the single-seater racing car, into a special chassis, with chain-drive transmission in the Frazer Nash tradition, but with semi-elliptic rear springing. The chassis members are straight and carried very low under both axles, and it sould make an attractive job when finished. A good deal of ” special-making ” is also being carried on by Bentleys just now, and I have seen an eightlitre engine fitted into a four-litre chassis, a three-litre supercharged by means of a Cozette blower driven from the rear of the cam-shaft, and which is said to do 100 m.p.h. with a petrol consumption of 30 m.p.g., and best of all a 6i-litre engine fitted into a three-litre chassis, which gives a bonnet-length quite worthy of one of the
Though we have not yet reached the stage of building a full-sized Grand Prix racing car, English sports cars have been doing well this year on the Continent in the events for which they are eligible. Ridley’s success in the Monte Carlo Rally was a good start, and now the fine performance of Clarke and Faulkner in winning the 1 fare class in the Mille Miglia on their Aston Martin is another feather in our cap. The Italians were so surprised at its speed that they insisted on having the engine taken down and measured, and then the official measurers could not agree on the exact size. One thing I liked about the Mille Miglia was that amongst the entries was Signor Mercanti, who
an drove a supercharged 2.3 Alfa. Somehow I cannot imagine any of the Committee of the Royal Automobile Club.at the wheel of a Bentley or Lagonda in the T.T.
Rallying down South.
Like its neighbour at Monte Carlo, the Paris-Nice Rally only really begins when the cars reach their destination. The regulations for body sizes and other matters of specification are most complicated and exacting and the tests at Nice -ere extremely complex. Consequently it has seldom attracted entries from England, so it was gratifying to find that F. S. Barnes had won the small car class, this year, on a Singer, with Miss Astbury third, and that in the La Turbie Hill Climb which follows it they were first and second in the 1i-litre class. Kiklaus on an M.G. won the 750 c.c. sports class and MaillardBrune repeated this success in the racing class, also on an M.G. Barnes told me that the Singer Company were this year concentrating on the 9 h.p. car in competitions. He had intended to enter one or more in the Belgian 10 Hour Race, but this event is now cancelled. However, there is a race for sports cars at Rheims on the same date between the heats of the Grand Prix, and the length, some 120 miles, is not too exacting, so I should
not be surprised if a number of our fast small cars are are seen over there. There is, incidentally, a class for cars up to 5 litres, in which Lagonda Rapides should stand an excellent chance.
Blowing the Speed Limit.
Like most people who have to travel much in built-up areas, I felt a little despairing at first about the effect of 30 m.p.h. limit on average speeds. After a period of temporary despression with thoughts of selling my
sports car and taking to a pony, I’ve decided that a supercharged car which can take full advantage of the short stretches of de-restricted road is the only thing. The only thing is that if I attach a blower to my old charger, what will the effect be on its second-hand value ? I am confident fortunately that its works are strong enough to withstand the strain.
From what little experience I have had of supercharged cars I feel that a car with a capacity of not more than three litres, blown would be the ideal sports car for England. Other things I would specify are mechanical (and efficient) brakes, a simplified electrical system, and a manually operated gear-box. I don’t know how far my preference for the latter would be shared amongst sports cars owners. The self-changing pattern is certainly very rapid.
The Gold Standard.
One effect of our speed limit must be to keep away those continental visitors who would otherwise visit the pleasant land of England. With petrol at is. 5d. to us, what must it be to them, but they are not going to be attracted by the long and pointless limits such as the six-mile stretch from Colnbrook to Slough.
Incidentally, a financial friend tells me that there is quite a chance that France will go off the Gold Standard, in which case the franc will drop to 200 to the pound. In that case they will need to put on a double service of steamers across the channel to accommodate the sports car owners who are longing to open out on the Routes Nationales.
Record Breaker for International Trophy.
I have it from the mouth of Signor Farina himself that the car he will be driving in the International Trophy at Brooklands on Jubilee Day will be the 3.7litre car which he ran at Monaco. The car and driver made an excellent showing until fuel feed trouble set in, a trouble to which Maseratis seem to be prone. If I am not mistaken, a frozen-up needle valve in the carburetter of Hamilton’s car in the Grand Prix de Tripoli last year caused him to drop out when lying and probably the same thing occurred to Farina.
Rovere hopes to be driving the 1,100 c.c. Maserati which broke the kilometre record this year, and as this car is fitted with quite a compact single-seater body, it should do well on the Brooklands course.
The V8 Maserati.
There were rumours a fortnight before the Monaco race that the new five-litre car would be ready, but I was told by Zehender that it Was not intended to be launched until the Grand Prix of Tripoli. At any rate it will be a lot more manageable than the old 16-cylinder, and with the ” Bimotore ” Alfa-Romeo, which is des
cribed elsewhere in this issue, will give race-fans at that thrilling spectacle something to think about.
One or two cars at the La Turbie Hill climb were fitted with twin rear wheels, but I should think they would cause too much drag on corners, besides being too heavy, ever to be used in long races. I noticed, however, that Etancelin, Zehender, and Farina had taken a leaf from the E.R.A. book and were using 7-inch lowpressure Dunlops on 16-inch wheels. 6 or 61-inch tyres on 18-inch rims were the sizes favoured on the Alfas, but the Mercedes-Benz cars had colossal ones, nominally 6.50 by 19, but much wider and more bulky than one expects even for that size.
Harking back to the E.R.A., a number of the drivers down there were anxious to see these new English racing cars in action on the Monte Carlo circuit, but they would hardly have stood much chance against the “heavy metal,” with its three and four litres of engine size. However, this year there will be plenty of 1i-litre races, in which they should be able to make their mark.
Congratulations to Whitney Straight on his engagement to Lady Daphne Finch-Hatton, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Winchelsea. I hope we shall see him in motor-races from time to time, for Straight has a genuine flair for handling a car which places him head-and-shoulders above the normal run of drivers. Aviation, and particularly the Monospar, is taking up a good deal of his time just now.