Our recent references to air-cooled car engines brought a response from Graham Skillen of the BSA Front Wheel Drive Club, listing a number of cars which had such engines in the pre-WW2 period and reminding us that BSA built several thousand such three-wheeled cars and a few four-wheeled ones (the type FW32). That is true, the vee-twin engine used being a development of the Hotchkiss vee-twin, tested here in an MCC trial in an anonymous chassis.
Our correspondent suggests that BSA must therefore have out-sold all other air-cooled cars and three-wheelers, having made several thousand of their air-cooled three-wheelers between 1929 and 1936, before, of course, introducing a water-cooled four-cylinder version. Well, remembering the big sales of Morgans and Rover Eights, etc. I am not sure about that but Mr Skillen does underline the point made in the reference to air-cooled power units in Boddy Language by saying that his air-cooled BSA is “at your disposal year round!’ He adds the interesting comment that his father-in-law drove an air-cooled SARA for a while and said that “its appearance was good for his image on the seafront but that its performance and reliability left something to be desired.” He also mentions the Scotsman. This hailed from Edinburgh and in six-cylinder form had the SARA engine made here under licence. It was not long in production and was superseded by the Little Scotsman, which had the Meadows 4ED engine. (Confusingly, in Glasgow another Scotsman car was made half-a-dozen or so years before this, backed by finance from the wellknown singer Harry Lauder, but these had watercooled proprietary power units, such as the 2.3-litre Sage engine in the Flying Scotsman. The radiator was shaped like a thistle. WB