A Vauxhall Query.
SI R,—I wonder if I may presume to occupy the hospitality of your paper —to ask for assistance in the matter of modernising an old car ?
I am a Vauxhall enthusiast—besides being a Motor Sport enthusiast—and in addition to an " Eighty " which I have brought to a high stage of efficiency. I have just acquired a 30/98 twelve years' old. She is 0E54, and as Vauxhalls were at that time turning out about three 30/98's a week—she is about twelve years old this month.
She has been untouched since the day she first took the road, as far as modifications are concerned.
She has her old 820 x 120 B.E. tyres. 'Can anyone tell me what the present day equivalent would be ? Later cars had 32 X 44S.S., and I assume that 6.00/20 would probably be a suitable size. I do not think that there should be any great difficulty in procuring a set of suitable wheels from one of the firms who dismantle cars, but before doing so, I should be glad of advice regarding the size.
She has also, of course, rear wheel brakes only, which need care. I had one of the old E type side-valve models in 1927, and I was surprised to find how much more care is needed now. I don't know whether it is because I have got so used to the excellent brakes on my other Vauxhall, or because all the small "road lice" have got such improved brakes since 1927. I know that many of these cars have been converted to F.W.B., and I should like to do the same. I am told that the front axle of a 20 h.p. Star will fit without any drilling. The Bentley and Sunbeam axles also can be made use of, I believe. Could any of your readers who have dealt with this problem write and tell me what method was adopted ? • I am, yours, etc.,
6, Christchurch Road, Winchester..
G.P. Fornitda and Special Fuel.
IR,—I am writing this letter to put in a plea against the abolition of doped or special fuels in racing. The high performance of the modern small sports car has been made possible by the fact that fuels of fairly high octane number are now universally available (if you don't believe this try running your car on some of those "no name" commercial brands, which incidently, have a higher octane number than No. 1 petrol of
1920 or so). if fuels of an octane No. of 100 were available to the masses the B.H.P. /Litre of sports car engines could be increased by some 50 per cent. without any increase in fuel consumption. According to Mr. Fedden, the designer of the Bristol Aircraft engines, it would be possible to build a petrol engine just as efficient as a C.I. engine if such fuel was available.
Unfortunately the limit has just about been reached in the octane No. of natural petrols. How can it be further increased ? There are three principle methods by the addition of (1) aromatic or cyclic hydrocarbons (e.g. benzol), (2) alcohol or methanol, (3) metals in soluble form (e.g. lead as the tetra ethyl comp.). The trouble with the first method is that it requires very large quantities before there is a worthwhile increase in the octane No. and there is not enough and could not be enough produced for this method to be universally used. In the case of alcohol it also requires a high per cent., but there is no limit to the amount of alcohol which could be cheaply produced if the demand occurred. There is, however, another snag, the low energy value of alcohol. This is somewhat offset by its high latent heat of evaporation and by the fact that engines running on alcohol can, if properly designed, be more efficient than when running on petrol. The last method is probably the best. It is cheap, very effective, and the materials required are available in enormous quantities. The only catch is that such parts as plugs, exhaust valves, etc., do not take too kindly to this method but this could be got over by designing the engines to suit leaded fuels.
From this brief summary it will, I hope be seen that the second two methods are those which are most likely to be used in the future and are the most used in racing, in fact, it is largely owing to racing that they and engines suitable for their consumption have been developed. Hence my plea. I am, yours, etc.,
SIR,—I beg leave to plunge into what looks like a very promising discussion. Last month one of your correspondents drew attention to the little-known truth that although this country boasts no car drivers of first rank importance in road racing, it does possess road racing experts whose pre-eminence has never been successfully challenged. These are the motor-cycle, road-racing miestros, Woods, Guthrie, Simpson, Dodson and a host of others of almost equal fame. As a motor cyclist of fairly long standing and some experience of competition, and further
more as one who has had occasion to compete with many of our best riders, I can claim to some knowledge of the motor cyclist's case.
Car racing on the continent seems to be carried on in somewhat the same spirit as motorcycle racing here. That is, in road racing it is necessary to beat all the other competitors in a straight race. Car racing in this country (I include, of course, Ireland and the I.O.M.), on the other hand is organised with the object of providing every competitor with an opportunit3z to win. The handicap system which has flourished for so long at Brooklands has always provided a nice day's entertainment and rendered motor racing palatable to those who might not like it without dilution. In this respect, and insofar as the system suits the spectators, the Brooklands handicap system serves a useful purpose. But it is significant to observe that Brooklands results are given very little attention in the motor cycling world. Those motor cyclists who cannot actually see a Brooklands meeting, who are not interested in the mere spectacle of the thing, seldom concern themselves with what is going on at the track, and certainly do not consider it of any, real interest. What they do think important is a road race. But does anyone imagine that this interest in the T.T. the Ulster, or any of the continental G.P.'s would be maintained if these races were run on a handicap basis which permitted a 175 c.c. two-stroke, as good a chance of winning as Stanley Woods with his 110 m.p.h. " 500."
If the T.T. and similar motor cycling events had been run on a handicap basis they would not have survived to this day. We cannot say whether, under the handicap system, the 500's would have attained to their present day high average speeds or whether the riders would have evolved that mastery of road racing tactics which to-day places them above foreign competition; but we can realise that the interest of the general motor cycle buying public—which means, in other words, the importance of the race—would not have survived, and that means that there would be no pre-eminent racing men at all in this country to-day ; for you can only make racers in races. The recent G.P. at Pau drew its crowd of more than 20,000 spectators because, barring catastrophe, the winner would be the man who covered the course in the shortest time and could be cheered as the victor without having to make any
distracting allowances and having to cornpromise with clocks. And indirectly that is why Nuvolari exists as a road-racing genius.
I recollect the occasions of Varzi's appearances in the I.O.M. He rode Sunbeams at the time when George Dance and Alec Bennet were in their prime, and on his form then, and discounting the likelihood of any special aptitude for four wheels, I cannot regard him as their superior or—to be frank—even nearly their equal. In fact, in one T.T. race in which he rode, there must have been a good dozen faster men riding against him. Yet Varzi later became champion of Italy on cars.
It brings to mind the words of a rider of my acquaintance who was famous as a specialist on lightweights. He took to small car racing with some success, and when asked why he had deserted two wheels for four, he said simply : " For a holiday." And if any four wheel enthusiast resents that remark let him attempt seven laps of the I.O.M. on that modern version of the rack, the high speed motor cycle at an average speed of nearly 80 m.p.h. If, therefore, any of our manufacturers feel the urge to challenge the Mere's, the Alfas, the Auto Unions and the rest, but are withheld only by the grim spectres of Varzi, Nuvolari and Co., from making an all-British attempt, let them go over to Douglas in June and meet some of the lads of the village on the happy hunting grounds where Stylists and Geniuses and
Greatest-Road-Racers-of-all-time learn their profession. I am, yours, etc.,
Monton House, Mouton Street, Moss Side, Manchester.
A Rally Analysis.
SIR,—The following analysis of the performance of popular makes of car competiting in the R.A.C. Rally, may prove of interest to your readers. I have only taken makes with at least eight cars competiting, as I do not think a fair figure of average performance can be arrived at with less than that number. I have alloted marks as follows : 4 for a 1st, 3 for a 2nd, 2 for a 3rd, 1 for a finisher, with no award, and 1 deducted for every
retirement. Non-starters are ignored. Without going beyond two places of decimals, the following gives a very good idea of the average performances of the 14 makes in question.