Letters from Readers, May 1940

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24

Sir,

Allow me, please, to take umbrage at some of Mr. Clutton’s remarks, in your March issue, wherein he dares to compare the incomparable “30/98” Vauxhall unfavourably with the 3-litre Bentley. Hyperion to a Satyr!

I had a lot of experience with both these cars, but the difference in performance was so colossal that I never thought of them as being in the same class. The top-gear acceleration of a good “30/98” is so effortless that one can drive fast on crowded roads without drawing attention to oneself, whereas, in order to produce any acceleration at all from the 3-litre Bentley, one has to play at boy-racers with the gearshift, the resulting crescendo of exhaust and gear noise causing heavy sneers from the Pedestrians Association. If I object to the vibration periods of the 3-litre’s engine, Mr. Clutton will no doubt call me a sissy, but I think he will agree that, through some almost supernatural phenomenon, a “30/98” will run 100,000 miles without any engine replacement’s, whereas after 40,000 miles the bearings of the 3-litre will be getting a bit spent. Furthermore, which engine would Mr. Clutton prefer to decarbonise? I admit that Mr. Bentley would sell you some brakes with his car, whereas Mr. Vauxhall expected you to make your own.

The majority of “30/98s” were originally supplied with very low compression pistons and an enormously heavy flywheel, a state of tune roughly equivalent to the “Blue Label” Bentley. One had only to put longer “corks” in one’s cylinder, turn most of the flywheel off, and fit decent exhaust valves, and one could beat up almost anything, till quite recent years. It was only the very early O.E’s that had the type of con. rod which was subject to rapid fatigue, the later ones being quite blameless.

It’s so long since the “30/98” was made that most of them now have covered astronomical mileages, so that their speed and reliability have at last been lost, but in their day they gave a. splendid combination of performance and reliability, and running costs were incredibly low.

I am, Yours etc.,

JOHN V. BOLSTER.

Wrotham,

Kent.

[On with the battle!–Ed.]

*    *    *    *    *
Sir,

I would like to add my car to your census. It is a type 55 Frazer-Nash B.M.W., built late 1935. It is licensed for the year, and I get a small extra of pool, in order to toddle around and look for steel and machinery, and to make apologies. This car appeared very ingloriously at the United Hospitals Donington fling last June or July. She tottered round in a hell of a mess, but she did complete her mileage. Trouble started when the rear universal, which had probably been cracked in a trial the previous Sunday; exploded a couple of days before the event. And I just could not get hold of one. Scoured round several second-hand B.M.W.s and the shafts were all different. Finally, Hardy Spicers were very decent, and offered to rush me through a special shaft and two universals if I could make adaptor flanges. They made this in two hours.

This was all complicated by the car being under the none too good guarantee of an almost bankrupt “Sports Car Specialist” of this goddamn town. I finished making the adaptors about 8 p.m. on Friday night at our works, and the car was running at about 10. Then I had tea-supper, and a very much deserved meal.

Set off to Donington hoping to have time to tune her up Saturday morning. Halfway there, the Klingerite gasket blew. There is a garage on the way, with an interesting Silver Alvis, so stopped there on spec. and tore the head off with their help, and fitted an ordinary Copper Asbestos. It was getting on for 12, so arrived at Donington, feeling dirty, hot, and bothered.

On the track at last, moving away nicely down to Melbourne. Then hell got loose. Relief at thinking all was over, but pulled in at pits and found rocker shaft had come adrift. Slammed it back, set tappets just to have enough clearance to turn push rods, and tootled round a few laps.

Troubled in the first race by rain, which did not appear to worry others. The pump had come adrift, last plugs cooked to bits. And so the poor old B.M.W. finally found herself straining round miserably from scratch in the last race, and finally, being passed by nearly everyone there.

Forgive all this scrawled reminiscence, but rather cut off from usual enthusiast friends. Would willingly stand you drinks in exchange for conversation if in the city. O.K. with you? [Too busy A.R.P.-ing. — Ed.]

Am building up an old Frazer-Nash, with an A.C. engine, which I hope will venture out for a month this summer. Last venture was a journey to Cambridge last summer, which began with running out of road when a front tyre burst, and the track rod slid apart. And finished with a most glorious blaze, which brought out a fire engine, and burnt up the wiring, the carbs, and a few gallons of petrol. I got her home in a highly flammable state, with three old Morris S.U.s.

But she is rejuvenated, and painted to look like the fire engine which saved her.

God bless you all for MOTOR SPORT.

I am, Yours etc.,

BILL MASON.

Birmingham, 15,

*    *    *    *    *
Sir,

As you are conducting a census of sports-cars in use to-day, may I take up a corner of your correspondence columns to enquire as to the present whereabouts of the following machines:—

B.S.A. three-wheeler GK 7575

Morgan UY 100

M.G. F-Magna GX 717

Alvis 12/50 YT 2202

I should be very glad to hear from the present owners of any of the above.

I should also like to hear from the owner of a Meadows-engined ‘Nash who is anxious to find a good home for his faithful steed.

I am, Yours etc.,

PETER CLARK.

London, W.2.

*    *    *    *    *
Sir,

Continuing your interesting and useful series on tuning and modifications, could we not have an authoritative article on the 30/98 Vauxhall, beloved of vintage car Owners?

In referring to this grand old motor, one always hears dark references to its “lack of deceleration.” Has any enthusiast experimented with Dewandre vacuum servo operation in connection with this chassis?

I remember that the original Vauxhall Villiers in 1929 used two enormous Clayton-Dewandre vacuum servos mounted on the outside of the chassis, and that in its later form this projectile used four vacuum servo cylinders, one for each wheel, controlled by a single master valve.

To point the fact that this system of operation does improve braking beyond all recognition, without any alteration to drums, linings, cam levers and linkages, I would tell you that recently I had occasion to replace an elderly Austin 16 saloon, a marque never famed for its braking, by a car of similar type and age, but fitted with a Dewandre servo; the difference in braking of these two cars was positively amazing, and to prove that this was solely due to the method of operation, the servo was removed for test, when the braking reverted to the indefinite character of its predecessor.

I am, Yours etc.,

H. L. BIGGS.

Enfield.

[See Cecil Clutton’s article in our March issue.—Ed.]

*    *    *    *    *
Sir,

I found the article by Mr. Cooper and the letter from Mr. May very interesting, especially as I am trying to make up my mind whether or not to purchase an Alvis that has been offered to me for something under £10. This particular car appears to be a special one, but I am unable to find out anything of its past history, and I wondered if any of your readers knew anything about the car.

It is an aluminium two-seater with a rear tank (pressure feed), and was first registered in October 1932, registered letters P.J. and looks something like an Allard from the back. A large oil tank is slung in front of the dumb-irons and lubrication is on the dry sump principle. The gear lever is outside and works in a large gate inside the body, the handbrake being inside as well. There is an external Brooklands exhaust system on the off side, large six inch rev, counter and speedometer, and separate aero-type rocking switches for each lamp. Triple Hartfords look after the damping all round and the wheels are the open hub type fitted with 5.25″x18“ tyres. The headlamps are Marchal. Engine and chassis numbers are 3783 and 89201 respectively, the bore being 68 mm., and the capacity 1,496 c.c. The whole car is in very good condition and has obviously been the apple of someone’s eye. Provided I can find somewhere to keep it (my own garage is only big enough to house my Centric-blown P.A. M.G. Midget which I am still running), I think I shall buy it as a very good example of a fine car.

I am, Yours etc.,

A. E. H. ANTELL.

42, Ritherdon Road,

London, S.W.17.

*    *    *    *    *
‘Sir,

Congratulations on your recent “bobfulls,” it is good to read that kindred souls are investing in the only “Motor Sport” possible now, whatever the cost. The omission of the “Letters from Readers” page in the February issue worried me not a little. In these restricted times it is good to read how others are managing, to say nothing of the visions aroused by past adventures.

Your contributor who completes the chapter “Club News” has a feverish follower in the writer. There is nothing I enjoy so much as his lively penmanship, and his evident appreciation on all matters motoring.

For my part, by far the most enjoyable portion of motoring life has been spent in the saddle of a solo 350 c.c. motor-cycle, manufactured by a leading firm. There is nothing like it for a sense of well-being, freedom, and go-anywhere sensation. Two years ago my home town mustered a round dozen or more lads riding an assortment of fast bikes all of whom competed at many of the fairly local grass-tracks, did some small-circuit racing, and managed an occasional blow-out at Donington.

Experience was gained by early rising on Sunday mornings throughout the summer, a swift ride into nearby Wales where the bikes were stripped, straight-throughs fitted, hot plugs slipped in, and for three hours or so the jobs would “hog it,” across a well-known, and at that early hour, completely deserted stretch of moorland.

Many were the adventures; speeds of quite an exciting order were achieved frequently and some splendid riding was witnessed.

During the morning a fifty minute interlude for the solo-riders was usual whilst a sidecar of some repute, and about 600 c.c., was wheeled on to the road and we would be treated to riding and skill of the highest order—in fact, this combination of men and machine finally broke the Donington lap record and won a race in record time.

Later, breakfast would be enjoyed in a little country café, always prepared for our Sunday morning arrival, whilst the pros and cons of gear ratios, compressions, types of cylinder heads and many another item of bike construction were discussed in true motor-cycle vernacular.

Without doubt these early morning “do’s” profited the lads not a little, since those with motors capable of the knots did quite well apart from the success mentioned above. One 350 c.c. exponent returned from Ireland with the Ulster Grand Prix Governor’s Trophy Prize (incidentally, a trophy of truly wonderful proportions, and inscribed with a nice choice of previous names), the same rider winning a heat at Donington in the rain.

Another of the lads succeeded in his heat in the 500 c.c. class on a none too modern motor, and had the experience also of leading a group of well-known competitors by a distance of most satisfactory measurements till in the third lap the plug lead flew off to the extreme disappointment of our particular party of spectators.

The writer also managed a 350 c.c. win at Donington, collecting the lap record en route to his own amazement—though truth to tell the bike went like a bomb, the rev, counter reaching 7,500 r.p.m. in every gear, including top, despite a suggestive yellow line drawn across the rev. dial at 7,000 by the manufacturers.

Alas! As the elderly are prone to say, “Those were the days!” Transport is now brightened by ownership of a second-hand Morgan 4/4—a truly wonderful little car with a particular flair for road-islands, and sufficiently exclusive for recognition signals to occur in passing between drivers of this marque.

As it is some time now since you reported a bike meeting, much of the foregoing may not be of interest. It is, however, a brief account of how a small band of enthusiasts made much happiness out of little bags of gold and a deal of personal effort and comradeship.

I am, Yours etc.,

K. DIXON.

Liverpool, 9.

*    *    *    *    *
Sir,

I have been an ardent reader of MOTOR SPORT for the past four years, and there is therefore no need for me to tell you how glad I am that you are carrying on in these hard times, and allow me to wish you every success in the future.

The article in the March issue. called “The Appeal of the Vintage Sports Car” was of particular interest to me, as quite a lot was said about my own type of car, a 1931 Anzani-engined Frazer-Nash.

The Nash represents my sole pride and joy, and is now in the first stages of running in after a thorough overhaul and rebore, and by way of interest for your census, I am taxing the car till the end of the year. I should very much like to meet a fellow enthusiast who has, or is running a Frazer-Nash now, as a few hints on maintenance, particularly with regard to the chains, would be invaluable to me.

I am, Yours etc.,

GORDON WOODS.

“The Rhallt,”

Burgh Heath Road,

Epsom, Surrey.

*    *    *    *    *
Sir,

I can’t really understand how Mr. Cecil Clutton in his very interesting article “The Appeal of the Vintage Sports Car,” managed to leave out that most fascinating vintage barrow, namely, the side-valve Aston-Martin of around about ’24, ’25, and ’26. I was very disappointed that he did not even mention these old thoroughbreds, as at the moment I am running one of the 1924 short chassis models. I believe that Mr. Clutton has actually seen and ridden in this car himself, when my elder brother was running it.

Personally, I would very much like to read something of the history of these old Astons, written by such an eminent vintage specialist.

I am, Yours etc.,

IAN A. FORBES.

London, S.W.3.

[Space is limited in war-time, and Sam Clutton had to leave out much he would otherwise have put in. Surely we dealt fully enough with the s.v. Aston-Martin in the issue of April 1938? —Ed.]

*    *    *    *    *
Sir,

I should be interested to know whether any of your readers when designing or constructing “specials” have given thought to the possibility of using commercial vehicle motor-coach engines? Given a suitable rear axle ratio I would suggest that some remarkable performances could be obtained, especially if the engines were “hotted up.”

Engines that I had in mind in this connection were the 4 9/10 bore Leyland (120 b.h.p.), large bore Maudslay (145 b.h.p.), large bore S.M.G. (Sunbeam) (145 b.h.p.), Morris Imperial (120 b.h.p.), and Albion (110 b.h.p.).

The Maudslay especially is of interesting design as it has an aluminium block with wet liners and hemispherical combustion chambers with inclined overhead valves, which latter feature is also possessed by the Sunbeam and partly by the Morris and Albion.

Any comments or results of experiments by your readers would be appreciated.

I am, Yours etc.,

J. W. POWELL

London, W.12.

[The snag is the large size, making for excessive taxation at 25/- per R.A.C. horsepower.—Ed.]

*    *    *    *    *
Sir,

I am writing you in hopes that you may be in a position to contact someone who has some 1½-litre motors for sale.

Owing to present conditions, there should be quite a number of race cars for sale at reasonable prices.

I am building some midget cars, and I need these 1½-litre motors to complete my work.

If you can help me in this matter I would greatly appreciate it.

I am, Yours etc.,

LEMUEL LADD.

Oak Hill Garage, Inc.,

1106, Commonwealth Avenue,

Boston, Mass.,

U.S.A.

[The Oak Hill Garage, Inc. claims to service Mercedes-Benz, Hispano-Suiza, Rolls-Royce, Alfa-Romeo, M.G., Duesenberg, Bentley, Bugatti, Lancia, and Cord cars and to have a fully-equipped machine shop for “overhauling foreign and domestic cars, aeroplane and marine motors.” So it would seem to be exceptional for an American garage and someone over here might well do a good business deal with it.—Ed.)

*    *    *    *    *
Sir,

A hearty sigh of relief from afar with the assurance that you are “carrying on.” A few glimpses of “The Sport” down under, or more exactly in Victoria, might be of interest. Trials, hill-climbs and road races are enthusiastically contested, and the entries reflect the popularity of specials, the motive power generally supplied by V8 engines of the Ford type.

A recent hill-climb at Christmas Hills (Victoria) produced the usual crop of these specials. Fastest time of the day (30.28 secs.) was made by a monoposto racing Frazer-Nash with a Ford V8 engine, gearbox, and the usual F.N. final chain drive. The original engine from this car, complete with blower, powered what looked to be a much-modified Lancia chassis, with all four wheels independently sprung. Making its first appearance, this hybrid looked quite impressive as, sans body and with blower whining, it sought to conquer inevitable teething troubles. Possibilities, too, were shown by a Riley chassis, its 12 h.p. engine replaced by the 30 horses of a V8. Honours of the day went to the stout effort by a 1913 Delage, which won the 1914 Indianapolis Race with four-cylinder engine, of at least 5 litres capacity.

The half mile (approximately) Christmas Hills course has been called the Shelsley Walsh of Australia. From the start, the cars tackle a deceptive rise (about 1 in 10) for about 150 yards, a right turn to a “wind up” dip, over the spillway of a dam (about 200 yards) to a short (50 yards) 1 in 3 rise at the top, of which a long bend straightens out for the finish (about 1 in 6). The climb is, incidentally, bitumen surfaced and about 12 feet wide.

The record for the hill stands to the credit of the Kleinig Special (29.72), which, named after its owner, has a Hudson eight-cylinder engine in an M.G. Magna chassis, and dashingly driven, is particularly fast, as may be gauged by the fact that the present time is a split second faster than the record established by Peter Whitehead in his E.R.A. Although the latter car may be an old model to many Old Country enthusiasts, its appearance here was an eye-opener to many. Incidentally, speaking as onlookers (unfortunately), a note of congratulation to its driver for what might be termed his unassuming efficiency.

Road-racing in Victoria has been carried on mainly on a 3⅓ mile macadamised course at Cowes, on Phillip Island, and it would be possible to write for hours on cars and drivers that have won and “also ran”—an old Morris, underslung and, considerably hotted-up, but retaining the distinctive bull-nose radiator and Sankey wheels, outwitting the handicappers, and romping home in a 100 mile Grand Prix at an average of over 58 m.p.h.—a blown Austin (raced at Brooklands in the past by Hall) successfully warding off a strong Terraplane challenge over the last laps to cross the line on three cylinders in front by the narrowest of margins—a hot 1938 10 h.p. Standard tourer, whose driver’s clever cornering was revolutionary, and whose mechanic’s performance eclipsed the acrobatics of side-car passengers in motor-cycle outfit races—the aforementioned Frazer-Nash (in its original form) the high first gear of which necessitated the assistance of pushers off to get it under way—the repeated consistency of M.G.s, one ” P type in particular—the exceptional enthusiasm of a trio of brothers whose courageous efforts with old type Bugattis have been long dogged with misfortune— another special, a Monza Bug. chassis with the inevitable V8 engine, the speed and acceleration of which far outstripped its safety—the present holder of the lap record, a K3 Magnette (ex “Bira,” ex Lord Waleran), driven by the late C. A. Dunne is in our opinion the finest car that we have seen on this track. (Whitehead’s E.R.A., by the way, did not compete at Cowes.) Tragically enough, in the role of spectator at the motor-cycle races on this track, Dunne lost his life in a road collision. We would pay homage to one of the keenest and cleanest followers of The Sport.

We have here what must surely be the trials director’s dream, as courses galore up to 200 miles, embracing either rough stuff (much publicised Colonial conditions) “pansy” varieties or simple petrol tests may be planned with the route never exceeding 30 miles distant from the central starting point (Melbourne). Our Country Roads Board would take exception to this remark as they have done a very fine job, but these Colonial conditions are there if one looks for them. Limited (again unfortunately) participation in these trials has only whetted our appetite for more. First attempt about two years ago was made in a 14 h.p. Hillman, vintage 1928, whose solidity subdued its agility. A note of appreciation, however, to the makers of this stout old job which is still in daily use despite the vicissitudes which are its constant lot. Last attempt was in a 1926 (?) model Frazer-Nash, the high reverse gear of which lured the skid demon and brought about disaster. This car, however, carries its years lightly, and in acceleration, road-holding, etc., can still hold its battered bonnet ahead of the majority of the fancy Yankee grilles, and it is a constant source of amazement to the uninitiated.

Up to the time of writing, Australian motorists have not suffered the iniquities of rationing, or black-out lighting, although petrol has risen in price and first grades (containing ethyl) will soon be unprocurable. Sport has been but slightly curtailed, and but for the distance separating us we would gladly offer safe (?) keeping for anybody’s racing job for the duration.

Seriously, though, let us congratulate you on keeping the flag flying; a front wheel skid to Adolf, and may the Sport be again at full revs, before long.

We are, Yours etc.,

FRANK G. LIVINGSTON.

A. S. McCOLL.

[We would thank these enthusiastic Australians for a very interesting letter. We have only cut those parts which are already covered by the Australian news item elsewhere in this issue.—Ed.]

*    *    *    *    *

Sir,

I was very interested in the article on the cars produced by Scale Models Ltd., in the February issue.

I should like to know if you are aware of any other racing people in the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve.

I was called up at the beginning of war, and having stowed away the Austin for the duration, I have been posted here for Flying Training.

I came across R. Jarvis at my previous station, but have not met any other enthusiasts, and I thought you might know if anyone else is in this branch of the services. With best wishes to MOTOR SPORT in its efforts to keep going despite the war.

I am, Yours etc.,

W. D. CASTELLO,

(Sgt. No. 745870).

R.A.F.

[We were enquiring for this Austin only a few days before Mr. Castello’s letter came, when his garage on Kingston Hill did a little job for us, when trouble overtook our much more sober Austin.— Ed.]