MOTORING SPORTSMEN. Mr. Woolf Barnato.
By THE EDITOR.
pROBABIN few men in the world have such
opportunities of judging the merits of the world’s best cars as Mr. Woolf Barnato, who has recounted some of his views and experiences for inclusion in our popular series of ” Motoring Sportsmen,” his name being particularly prominent in the motor world at the present time as having shared with Capt. John Duff the honour of capturing the 24 Hours’ Record for Great Britain, as recorded by Capt. Duff himself in another part of this issue.
Like so many other prominent motorists, Woolf Barnato started his motoring career with a motor-cycle, but made his acquaintance with four wheelers at the early age of 15 years, when he volunteered to try his prentice hand on a two-cylinder Renault car belonging to his brother. Without any tuition, he took the wheel and drove the car through the crowded streets of Cambridge. The first attempt finished with the car facing backwards in a shop window, and young Barnato had to exercise his persuasive powers in extricating himself from the consequences of driving without a car license, being too young to possess one at the time.
On leaving Charterhouse, Woolf Barnato went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he studied for the Bar and was well on with his course when War was declared.
Mr. Woolf Barnato joined up with the Royal Field Artillery as a first lieutenant and spent some time in the Ypres Salient (1915), afterwards serving in Palestine on various parts of that front from Gaza to the Jordan Valley. Though he had motored for many years, Woolf Barnato did not fully appreciate the fascination of real speed until he chanced to notice a sporty-looking Calthorpe when walking down Euston Road one day. The particular car had been built specially for hill-climbing events before the War, but had not actually been used, so it was purchased with the idea of using it as a quick runabout. In 1919 the Calthorpe was entered in the speed trials at Southend, thus Mr. Barnato made his
first appearance as a racing motorist. The next development was when staying with a keen motoring friend, it was suggested that the Calthorpe should be entered for a race at Brooklands, this being done by telegram on the spur of the moment. For a couple of days prior to the race Woolf Barnato did what tuning was possible on the machine, though he had not the remotest idea what it could do in the way of maxi mum speed. The event was a Private Competitors’ Race and to his own and everyone else’s astonishment, the Calthorpe romped home an easy winner, with the
length of the Finishing Straight in hand at the average speed of 60 miles per hour.
After that the Calthorpe was sent to the works and hotted up, with the result that it put on another 9 m.p.h. and won several other races, until it eventually retired from active service with many successes to its credit.
At first Mr. Barnato took to motor racing merely as a new kind of amusement, without any serious intention of developing his natural ability in this branch of sport but like so many others he became an enthusiast, and from that time has raced very many of his own cars, besides taking part in numerous speed events and hill climbs. A very fine collection of cups, medals and other trophies in Mr. Barnato’s possession bear witness to
his prowess at the wheel, though his modesty prevented more than a passing reference to the events in which they were won. Among other cars owned and raced by Mr. Barnato are : a Wolseley, Austro-Daimler, Locomobile, the
Talbot originally owned by Percy Lambert, and another smaller Talbot which is still used as a hack. His Wolseley Ten, specially built to his order, ran with some success at Brooklands and lapped at 91.6 miles per how, a very useful average for a car of its limited engine capacity, and was incidentally faster than any other Wolseley Ten at that time or since. Last year, it will be remembered, Mr. Barnato attacked and broke several records in the 8 litre class, including all distances up to 500 Kilometres, the Three Hours and the 300 Miles, the speeds averaging out at 921 miles
per hour, which was an excellent performance considering the car was a standard tourer with a sports body. The chassis happened to be a Hispano-Suiza and now, having retired from the track, is used for touring purposes. Considering Mr. Barnato’s skill as a fast driver and a clever exponent of track as well as road racing, it may be wondered why he has not come more prominently to the front in the ranks of racing men; but the explanation is quite simple, for this gifted amateur recognises that real success can only come as the result of consistent practice, for which he cannot spare the time. In other words, he realises that the best car which money can buy is only one factor in racing, the other being a driver who
from such a connoisseur, whose opinions are unfettered in any way.
With his opportunities of sampling all the best cars in the world, it is not surprising to find that Mr. Barnato has a very considerable selection in his private garage at Lingfield, where there is accommodation for twelve cars. At the present time he owns a very fine RollsRoyce saloon, a Hispano-Suiza sporting tourer, a 3 litre Sunbeam, a 3 litre Bentley, a 2 litre Bugatti racer and a Wolseley Ten racer, as well as various other hack cars, including the ubiquitous Ford. Mr. Barnato’s sporting character is exemplified by the readiness with which he lent his assistance to Capt. Duff in the recent Twenty-four Hours record in
is able to spend undivided attention on the track in order to secure the best results. At the same time, however, Mr. Barnato appreciates the benefit of motor racing as a recreation, finding it a healthy and invigorating pastime. Besides racing, he makes a hobby of buying sporting cars of all kinds and of studying their individual characteristics from the viewpoint of an owner-driver. As a matter of fact, there are many men in the trade who might well envy Mr. Bamato’s knowledge of various makes of cars. At this point it is interesting to note that he considers the Boulogne type of Hispano-Suiza one of the finest sports cars on the road and describes the new “Big Bentley” as the finest car yet produced, a remarkable tribute
answer to a telephone request, and though able to enjoy the good things of this life he keeps himself hard enough to endure a physical test which would try many athletes and took his turns at the wheel of the speedy Bentley without a moment’s anxiety.
This, perhaps, is a matter for no great astonishment in view of the fact that Mr. Barnato is a rather useful heavyweight boxer, plays cricket with the lads of his village, hunts with the Old Surrey and Burstow, besides being a keen golfer and tennis player. Where motors are concerned, he is equally at home on land and water and takes a keen interest in motor boating, owning two very fast racing boats, one being a 3 litre Saunders hulled Wolseley, capable of 32 knots,
and-the other a 1 litre Saunders Sunbeam with a speed of 40 knots. This year he won the Duke of York’s Trophy on the Thames and has many continental successes to his credit.
Speaking of motor boat racing, Mr. Barnato described some very interesting details about cornering on the water and explained how a good helmsman could cause his craft to execute a double skid, so as to cut round the buoys without loss of way, much in the same manner adopted by road racing motorists.
He appreciates the opportunities presented by Brooklands as a training ground for beginners and as a venue for races, but considers that the possibilities of the Track should be developed not only for racing but to provide more of a social rendezvous than is the case at present.
In a brief review it is impossible to do justice to the attainments of this very versatile sportsmen, and we join our readers in the hope of seeing him at the wheel in further record breaking runs as well as in next season’s races.
For a car of its capacity, the petrol consumption is very good and it is quite economical with regard to lubricating oil. Nothing could be better than the suspension system and though the seats are rather high on the example I tested, I notice the new body work has been modified in this respect, as well as with regard to other detailed improvements, which should give a still greater degree of comfort and convenience.
The four-wheel brakes are operated by a pedal and a very conveniently located outside lever actuates the rear wheel brakes. With regard to the four-wheel brakes, these operate on the well-known Perrot system, whereby it is impossible to lock the wheels when taking a corner, as one wheel frees itself immediately the wheels are locked over in either direction.
I was able to test the brakes under abnormally severe conditions, as at the time of the test, the test hill usually frequented was in a very chalky condition, and though, thanks to the brakes, it was possible to descend quite comfortably, the surface was so bad as to prevent the car being backed up on reverse, owing to wheel spin. For a few moments I was puzzled to know how to reach the top of the hill again, as it can only be approached from one end. Here, however, the hill-climbing capabilities of the Crossley came into prominence, for by descending to a point beyond which I usually venture, it was possible to turn round and start the ascent from a very steep incline. A clean run up resulted, though the 1 in 31 portion had been badly chewed up owing to my attempts to restart backwards on the first attempt. The 20/70 h.p. Crossley combines all the advantages of a first class sporting car with those of a comfortable touring carriage and from the viewpoint of design would be very difficult to surpass. As far as mainten
ance is concerned, I should be surprised if the repairing fraternity would grow. very rich if all cars of to-day possessed the sound constructional features which are to be found in every detail of the Crossley chassis.