The Season Opens
So the Empire Trophy Race is over and the season is well on its way. Right from that first race the enthusiast has had. heaps to interest him. In the Donington race Dobson found the Bimotore Alfa-Romeo quite unsuited to the course in practice and the Bugatti and Talbot were very regrettably not on the starting line. Remarkable that Mays has won his first big race with the little E.R.A. It was a trying race, too. Ian Connell appeared to weaken considerably in the latter stages, and most of the drivers were cornering untidily, though no one pleased the gallery quite as much as Walker, who turned on the taps well and truly coming out of the bends so that his E.R.A. slid fantastically. The steadiest drivers in the race were Powys-Lybbe and Rene Dreyfus. The latter was taking the very fast bend on Starkey’s Hill with the Delahaye’s tail just swinging. The Alta showed rather astonishing performance in its sick condition at the end, and W. L. Wilkinson was notably good during his spell with the Riley.
It is instructive that the highest average, that of Walker’s E.R.A., was over 5 m.p.h. slower than that at which Seaman’s Delage of like capacity won the ‘200-Mile Race over this circuit last year. At 3.30 p.m. ” Bira,” driving the 2.9-litre Maserati, had averaged just over 65 m.p.h., compared with Seaman’s winning average of 66.33 m.p.h. last year, with the same car in its 2.6-litre form. The foul weather on April 10th must have had a big effect on speeds generally. Tyres stood up splendidly, even Walker’s, and a very interesting topic of conversation was whether ” Bira ” would have gone through non-stop if he hadn’t retired —with nearly 3-litres of motor-car. Everyone was sorry about the unfortunate episode in which poor Dodson was involved and, as the car was undamaged, it seemed a pity that there was no co-driver to carry on his good work. It is a plucky show of Austin’s to run in these big events, for the handicap does not always make up for absence of litres. It was noticeable how popular is the visor as an item of racing apparel, for Mrs. Petre, Mays, Parnell, Hughes, Wilkinson, Faulkner, Evans, Walker, Connell, Scribbans, Dobson, Dreyfus, Jucker, ” Bira” and Martin all used them. In contrast, Atkin wore
goggles and lost them early on, Powys-Lybbe favoured a cap back-to-front and goggles, Dodson used a helmet and goggles, and Percy Maclure drove bare-headed, scorning even goggles. Walker sported a very summery shirt, in spite of the wet. The pessimists who thought the smallest cars would baulk the heavier stuff were disappointed, and certainly the little Austins were as fleet as anyone as they scattered round the outer edge at Starkey’s.
It is rather curious that since Mr. D. W. Jarvis raised the subject of high speeds obtainable on the road, in a letter published in the March issue, two members of the staff have comfortably exceeded 100 m.p.h. on roads near London—the 5.4-litre Type 540K Mercedes-Benz cabriolet gave 108 m.p.h., and Col. Giles drove the writer at well over 100 m.p.h. along the Barnet By-Pass, and again along an open straight in the Fen district, in a 3.3-litre Type 57 Bugatti. If only ordinary motorists and members of the Pedestrians’ Association could have been in the cars they would, I believe, have appreciated just bow safe such speeds are in a really good sports-car. In spite of the excellence of modern low-priced motors
there still exists a clientele which favours the most exclusive models, and after a brief run in one of them it is easy to understand why this should be so. The 504K Mercedes-Benz is selling strongly in this country for a car costing 62,250, there are at least seventeen users or users-to-be (for delivery dates are not as with mass-production automobiles) of the Types 57 and 57S Bugattis, and coming out of Donington after the Empire Trophy Race I espied one of the very latest open sports Alfa-Romeos. Jack Barclay Ltd. recently supplied a Type 57S Bugatti to Capt. Ropner, and other 57S Bugattis have been ordered by the Hon. Maurice Fox-Pitt Lubbock, Miss Enid Fawcett, and T. A. S. 0. Mathieson. Col. Giles has that thoroughly re-conditioned blown 4.9-litre Bugatti drophead coupe.
So that, although fashions change, there are still some very fine sports-cars amongst us.
Technicalities of the Bimotore
Austin Dobson’s Bimotore Alfa-Romeo has aroused
idespread admiration, yet I find that many people are unaware of its technicalities, although regular readers of MOTOR SPORT will probably recall that it was fully described in these pages just two years ago —in the issue of May, 1935. The engines are, of course, the B Type 2.9-litre units with eight cylinders in line, twin o.h. camshafts and double Roots blowers drawing from twin Weber ” gas-works,” and ensemble that is productive of 5,10 b.h.p. The rear-placed engine drives forward to the three-speed and reverse constantmesh gearbox, behind which is the conical-geared differential. From there transmission is by twin propeller shafts set at an angle, as on the later monoposto Alfas. The clutch is a special dry-plate affair of unique design, constructed of Duralfa and steel. The rear engine drives to the gearbox via internal gearing in its flywheel, and can be cut out if required by a handcontrolled clutch in the cockpit. The chassis is virtually a lengthened monoposto and the rear axle has radius rods to steady it and is jointed in the centre which, with special shackles for the rear half-elliptic springs, gives a semi-independent movement. Formerly Dubonnet independent suspension was used at the front, but before Dobson took delivery of the car the latest swinging link system, as used on the 3.8-litre Alfas, replaced it. The brakes are Ariston hydraulics. The radiator is in two sections, one for each engine, oil is carried in the tail and the fuel tanks run along each site of the chassis and are said to have a capacity of 110 gallons. The chief designers of the Bimotore were Signor Baz…i and Signor Roselli of Ferraris. The car underwent its first trial run in April 1 035 along the Brescia-Berg-amo Autostrada, watched by important Italian racing personnel and driven first by Marinoni and then by Nuvolari, who first merely achieved 4,500 r.p.m. or 175 m.p.h. and later 5,300 r.p,m. or 21 2 m.p.h. Suitable tyres for the Rimotore had not been found in time for the Tunis G.P., but both of them ran at Tripoli and Chiron was second to the Auto-Union at Avus. Now you know as much as most people of the most interesting road-racing car in England. Official Let us turn to more serious matters. We have recently emphasised that club officials should take the greatest pains to ensure that the published results of events really do denote the outcome of a particular competition. Equally so, scrutineers should at least know as much as competitors about the cars they have to examine. During a recent appeal a driver quoted certain non-standard features of a rival competitor’s car and when asked how be knew about them he replied ” I don’t, but neither do the scrutineers.” Which was too, too true. Award-winning cars might well be scrutineered after, as well as before, a contest. There are very very few truly formulalibre competitions, when you come to think of it. Yet in trials where locked differentials are barred how often are award-winning motors jacked up that
the scrutineers may twirl the rear wheels ? There was once an owner of a solid-axle car who found one wheel spinning furiously in loose sand with the other stationary, but that is quite another story . . .
And Another Grumble
Fashionable people attend motoring fixtures these days. They didn’t like the slime at Shelsley last year and we imagine that they liked the generally Flanders aspect of Donington on Empire Trophy day still less. But perhaps these things will improve in time—at the first Brooklands Meeting away back in 1907 we heard of ladies’ shoes suffering horribly on the loose gravel. Anyway Shelsley’s “Paddock,” they say, is now beyond reproach.
Independent Suspension in the News
The two works E.R.A.s driven by Mays and Fairfield in the Empire Trophy Race had the new independent front suspension, which is a notable improvement. The swinging link system is used, controlled by torsion bars running across the frame. A curious feature is that as the torsion bars lie in the same horizontal plane, the wheelbase varies by about one inch according to which side of the car you measure. Which reminds one of the early sixteen-valve Bugattis manufactured after the War in this country by Crossley’s, though in that case the variation was the result of conversion from metric standards and quite unintentional. The war that is said to rage between the makers of the proprietary braking systems is nicely emphasised in the new E.R.A.s, which use Girling direct-action shoe actuation operated by Lockheed hydraulic apparatus. It is noticeable that the big ribbed drums are well out in the air-stream. Incidentally, I understand that the 1,100 c.c. E.R.A. is supercharged at 45 lb. and develops nearly 200 b.h.p. The 1i-litre Maseratis, of course, are independently suspended at the front end, and ” Him’s ” new 1>elage chassis is nearly completed and may have run in a race ere you read these words. ” Bira ” is using a transverse leaf-spring system rather like that of the Delahaye chassis, designed by M. Lory, but constructed in this country. As the work is taking longer than expected it is likely that only the second Delage will be converted, the ex-Seaman car being kept as it was last year, at all events for a while. The Conan-Doyle Delage is to have a split tubular front axle, pivoted centrally, and controlled by a transverse leaf spring
• that will also take the major braking loads, though tie-rods running back from the dumb-irons will relieve it of some of that responsibility.
Mercedes-Benz now use double universal joints in their rear axles, allowing the rear wheels to move vertically, instead of swinging in an arc as they did previously, which is very interesting in view of their abandonment of independent rear suspension for a while. Yes, all-wheel independent suspension should be with us universally by 1940.
The I2-Hour Sports-Car Race at Donington
I am looking forward to that 12-hour race for sports-cars up at Donington in July. It will be an excellent excuse to get away from stuffy London .streets into the country, and if you put up at a small .country farm-house and arise early each morning to see the practice you enjoy English road-racing at its best. Donington, I must confess, is growing on me. In passing, I believe responsible people can now use the whole circuit on non-race days for a charge of fi per day. This sports-car contest will he very interesting. It is divided into classes for 1 litre, 1 fare, 2-litre, 3-litre, and 5-litre cars, with class victors and an absolute winner in the form of the car -completing the greatest distance in the twelve hours. The cars will apparently carry sports-type bodies, but will run without wings, hoods, screens or lamps, which is -a good thing. But we are as far from a stock car race as ever, because internal alterations can be quite extensive and that, I think you will agree, is a pity. The only saving factor may be that so efficient are present-day sports-cars that not one entrant will bother with special machinery—though perhaps we ‘cannot say as much of Continental entries, for abroad a sports-car is taken to mean anything with wings and space for a passenger. I wonder if it is too much -to hope for M.G., Austin, Fiat, and a special Ford Eight or two in the small class, M.C., Riley, FrazerNash, Aston-Martin, Singer, H.R.G., Rapier, BritishSalmson, Morgan, Lancia, Alvis and Talbot Ten in • the 1 fare section ? If so, what a procession we should see at Starkey’s during the opening laps. Unless, of ,course, as seems likely, Donington has expanded by next July, in readiness for the T.T., which may be held there this year. At all events, we should see Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. fighting Aston-Martin in the 2-litre class, with Atalanta, Alta, and A.C. possibly running as well, and the 3-litre class should see Alvis, British-Salmson, O.M. and Talbot battling for honours, if only each maker or concessionaire concerned appreciates the .immense publicity and research value of competing in such a race as this The biggest class should see I,agonda and Bentley renewing their T.T. struggles and upholding British prestige against Delahaye and Talbot and, I hope, Bugatti, while we might see the new Invicta and a few Type 500K Mercedes-Benz as well, if the German marque is allowed its blower. I think, too, that Jensen Railton, Brough-Superior, Cord and Lammas-Graham might usefully make this race an occasion for a display of high-speed
reliability. Entries close on June 26th, at f5 5s., with the race limited to forty starters. Freak cars are eliminated to some extent by the proviso that only commercial fuels may he used and that engines must he started on the starting motors, although combustion chambers research and the infallibility of modern batteries make this no positive bar to specially modified motors. There will be no handicap.
In its time the Invicta was a very remarkable car, for it possessed very fine acceleration and, with the introduction of the low-chassis 4i-litre, allied really impressive maximum speed to the former useful quality. Unfortunately it was too lightly constructed for really good road-holding. The springing only appealed to hardened enthusiasts and certain of the 41-litre models were limited as to revs, by reason of too flimsy crankshafts. Nevertheless, every marque has its weaknesses, and the Invicta made many friends. Consequently it was intriguing to see a test chassis bearing the familiar and very shapely radiator in the Midlands one recent Sunday. It is always interesting to visit a famous factory in search of an unreleased model, but enquiry at Chelsea revealed that it is early yet for a motor scribe to ask after the new Invicta. In the meanwhile, rumours circulate. The new Lea-Francis we know more about, the Atalanta is launched, and up at Bourne Murray-Jamieson and others work busily on the new sports E.R.A. which the little birds say will have a biggish engine, a very fine performance and a low list-price. Reverting to the Invicta, one of the staunchest supporters of the marque, of course, is Donald Monro, cheery originator of the now flourishing Invicta Car Club. His own well known Invicta has been sensibly modernised, without being rendered in any way a special, freakish motor-car. Indeed, the only mechanical modifications comprise twin S.U. petrol-lifts with large bore spare fuel lines to match, a dumb-iron apron necessitating a starting handle extension, racing fillercaps and hand-brake ratchet, the latest type thin metal bearings with sump-trap to prevent surging, and the fitting of Lucas P100 headlamps from a 3-litre Lagonda. Purchased secondhand in December 1935, the original saloon body has been replaced by a Jarvis (of Edgware Road) built two-seater with such extremely roomy stern-sheets that it looks just like a
four-seater. Luggage goes into these sternsheets, louvres keeping everything cool during Continental touring. The axle-ratio is 3.9 to 1 and the compression ratio 6 to 1, giving 110 b.h.p. Monro tells me he has lapped Brooklands at a genuine 85, getting 90 m.p.h. at 3,800 r.p.m., and 30, 48 and 70 respectively on the gears. The first re-bore was given at 45,000 miles, tyres last 11 to 12,000 miles with a few trials and rallies included, and fuel consumption varies with the going from 12 to 17 m.p.g. 0-50 m.p.h. occupies 10 secs., 0-60 15 secs., and the standing quarter-mile 20.2 secs. From a standstill by the gate the Invicta, which is of 1929 vintage, vanquishes the Brooklands Test Hill in 10.2 secs. A very refreshing motor-car. Monro estimates that the total cost, including new bodywork and conversions, has been under 050.
A Veteran in Australia
Modern, monoposto racing-cars are undeniably impressive, but lots of us still have a soft spot in our hearts for those cars that date from the days of flimsy frames, small-section tyres and the travelling mechanic. So it is interesting to learn from a letter to hand from Mr. Harold Pratley that one of the old Grand Prix Sunbeams is apparently to be given a new lease of life out in Australia. The car in question is a 1922 2-litre four-cylinder job of the type owned a few years back by the Hon. Jock Leith. Its present owner is an Adelaide enthusiast who heard that the car was for sale last April twelvemonth and straightaway drove over to Melbourne and purchased it. It is believed that Hope Bartlett originally used the car in New South Wales. When discovered it had a single Stromberg downclraught “gas-works,” the streamline tail had been cut away, and headlamps were fitted. The three-peice front axle, however, had been fitted with new hightensile bolts, probably very necessary after a doubtful career spread over fifteen years. The engine has the gear-driven twin o.h. camshafts, a built-up crankshaft running in three main ball-races, and H-section
connecting-rods each with four b.e. bolts. Two of the original beaded-edge rims were still on the car.
The oil tank beneath the seats holds five gallons. This is claimed to be the Strasbourg Sunbeam with which J. S. Spencer won a B.A.R.C. short handicap race at 91.88 m.p.h. at Easter 1926, as duly illustrated in MoTOR SPORT at the time. The new owner talks of fitting twin Solex carburetters and of racing the old car once again and I hope he gives it a good home. But we still do not know what has become of the 1923 six-cylinder 2-litre Sunbeams, one of which was the only British victor in a French Grand Prix and about which there was some comment in these columns two years ago. The car that McCalla used to drive in Irish road-races is a 1924 machine, which is not quite the same thing.
Wimille’s Wonderful Drive
So Jean Pierre Wimille has won the French Government’s prize of 400,000 francs (f4,000) for Bugatti, in spite of the very general opinion that the job could only be tackled with an ultra-modern Grand Prix car, and that even then success was problematical. On the first attempt Wimille broke the back axle, but going out again under the extended time-limit he lapped the 200 kilos. (162 miles) of Montlhery road-circuit at 91.13 m.p.h. This speed represents a fraction under that of the Grand Prix lap record and, to anyone who knows Montlhery’s famous road-course, Wimille’s drive will be accepted as a very historic piece of motoring. Witnille used a normal 3.3-litre, straight-eight supercharged Bugatti, from which, of course, the sports type 57 and 57S Bugattis were developed. The Bugatti’s absence from the Empire Trophy Race is excused !
An Outer-Circuit Exponent
There is a noticeable shortage of cars of true tracktype at Brooklands nowadays, but E. W. W. Pacey (Pacey-Hassan-Special), John Cobb (Napier-Railton), and J. Street and R. L. Duller (Duesenberg), present an interesting trio. Another man who enjoys really rapid outer-circuit racing at Weybridge is Richard R. K. Marker. His old 6i-litre Bentley has of recent times been getting rather too old in the chassis to please the B.A.R.C. scrutineers, so for this season the car will appear as a Bentley-Jackson, having been rebuilt at R. R. Jackson’s premises. An entirely new chassis is now used, with a shorter wheelbase than formerly and the new single-seater body is very completely faired, with the radiator set in an isolated position and cowled in. There is a streamlined headrest for the driver and no front brakes are fitted.
I). H. C. Fry has built a rear-engined cycle-car for Shelsley-Walsh and other sprint fixtures. It has a motor-cycle power-unit and independent front suspension.
Delage is said to be returning to racing with a twelvecylinder aerodynamic saloon for Le Mans and the French Grand Prix.
Gordon Glegg now has an Eric Femihough-tuned, V-twin J.A.P. engine in his four-wheel-drive Dorcas.
Delahaye, too, have a new twelve-cylinder, 44-litre sports model on the stocks, which they will try out in the Miramas 3-Hour Race and run in the French Grand Prix. * •
The French Talbot Company is runioured to be building six cars for the 1938 Grand Prix, one set of 3-litre supercharged twelve-cylinders and a set of unblown twelve-cylinder cars.
John Bolster’s new “Mary,” with independent front suspension, is unlikely to be finished in time for the June Shelsley Meeting.
Freddie Dixon is going in for superchargers on his Rileys this year. Will he soon take the Brooklands Lap Record with a 2-litre car ? S. C. H. Davis once held the 1,100 c.c. Mountain Lap Record with a blown Riley Nine, and E. K. Rayson applied a MercedesBenz blower to one of these cars a few years ago.
Humphrey Cook has taken delivery of a new 44litre Lagonda drop-head coupe.
Cecil Kimber has been exhaustively testing a 1i4itre M.G. in Germany.
An Auto-Union to attack our World’s Land Speed Record is on the stocks.
Dick Seaman, who recently visited the Crystal Palace circuit, is using a small Mercedes-Benz saloon as his personal car.
The rapid invasion of our roads by Baby Fiats has been a striking high-light of the past month. The Beechholme Motor Co. reports selling one of these cars to a client as a direct result of our impressions given in the March issue.
The Hon. Maurice Fox-Pitt Lubbock is amongst the exclusive few who own Type 57S Bugatti cars. He has joined the Bugatti Owners’ Club.
The length of the Donington circuit can be extended when such a move seems desirable.
The 1937 Brooklands Year Book is now ready. Price 11-.
D. M. K. 1VIarendaz is now engaged in aeroplane design and construction.
Pat Fairfield is disposing of his 14-litre E.R.A., together with its 1,100 c.c. engine and spares.
Distaste was expressed at the practice of certain daily paper motor journalists, who drove in the R.A.C. Rally and wrote up only their own cars.