The Monoposto Alfa Romeo
Sir, Your article on the Monoposto Alfa Romeo (MOTOR SPORT, March issue was most interesting, perhaps the following facts may
help to complete the picture. I owned the .exGeorges Raph car and sold it to Mrs. Thomas, my profit being a pair of de Ram shock-ahsilrbers, which were subsequently
fitted to the ex-Charlie Martin car. I bought from C. E. Martin his monoposto Alfa and his ERA. The idea of Charles Brackenbury was to fit the Alfa engine into the ERA chassis. However, I soon found that both the 2.9-litre and 3.2-litre Alfa blocks were Cracked beyond repair, ‘so the ERA Was resold, and if it had not been for my racing mechanic Haynes, the Alfa would have been setapped or at the best wound up in a Museum with the. Multi-Union which had the same trouble. Frank Ashby supplied new monObloc castings, said IQ have been based on the 350 Manx Norton, with the same bore and stroke etc., these being the product of Ashby, R. R. Jackson and Wal Phillips.
It took six months to find someone to machine the two blocks and cost £500 and this was only the start of the rebuild which included new stronger halfshafts, new crownwheel and pinion, etc.; weak transmission was a feature of all pre-War Alfas. The 2.3litre 8-cylinder supercharged Alfa also cracked across the valve seats and there must be few available today without this trouble, although perhaps in these modern times it is possible to weld the detachable heads with success.
The Ashby car and mine were rebuilt with the new blocks, improved water circulation, 12-mm. plugs, etc., although Ashby pushed the compression ratio to I() to I on his car. However, my car was rebuilt to standard compression ratio, tind it was hoped it would equal the times on the Brooklands Mountain circuit of the Shuttleworth car, and would later beat the times and the handicappett, by gradually raising the compression ratio.
After the War, having lost my mechanic, I sold the Alfa to Lex Davidson in ALISITAlia. 1 still have a picture of the car taken preWar, showing the de Ram shock-absorbers and the air scoops to the brakes with the drilling of the back-plates; which was nonstandard, hut did not improve the rather poor brakes or stop the drums from distorting. Poor brakes was surely the reason that great little man Nuvolari was always seen on opposite lock, scrubbing off speed with the t yres.
It seems a long time since D.S.J. tried to buy a Lancia Aprilia from my motor business in Pembridge Villas or since I sold a 2-seater SSK Mercedes-Benz for L380! Cannes J. I-1. (JACK) BARTLETT [The Charlie Martin car was No. 50003, which is now owned by Robert Cooper and should not be confused with No. 5003 which was Chris Staniland’s car and became the Multi-Union. It is interesting that when the Martin car returned from Australia it was no longer fitted with the de Ram shock-absorbers or the drilled back-plates and air scoops. It featured as the first full-page colour photograph in the MOTOR SPORT series that started in Auglist 1970, Pre-War Jack Bartlett bought and sold exotic competition cars from his premises in Pembridge Villas, off Notting Hill Gate in London, and practically every Alfa Romeo to come into England must have passed through his hands at some rime or another. He was active in British racing pre.-War with numerous cars, among them a 2-litre Alta and the Alfa-Romeo mentioned. It is nice to hear from him in his retirement in the South of France and to know that he is still one of our readers. —D.S.J.l