The Late Gordon Brettell's Single-Seater Racing Austin Seven

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As this issue is by way of being an Austin Seven number, there is interest in recalling details of the late E. G. Brettell’s racing car of this make, especially as it will probably be raced by the late owner’s brother in the future. This car was based on the Marquis de Belleroche’s “Ulster,” the tailless body of which was put on a touring chassis. The Monaco Garage, Ltd., of Watford, were entrusted with the task of converting the “Ulster” chassis into a racing car. The rear springs were mounted above instead of inside the frame side members, and kept in place by an internal aluminium block on each side and very carefully made and fitted U-bolts. Chassis and suspension were otherwise standard, but highly polished to show up incipient failures. The brakes, also, were virtually standard, except for longer cam levers and air scoops. A long tubular outside brake lever on a separate countershaft was used, and on both countershafts the levers were duplicated. Because maximum braking effort was normally required, it was found possible to adjust. for in the cross-shaft, whereas for road use this would not have been so easy. The brakes proved very effective, but shoes and drums were replaced between every race.

The engine was an absolutely standard Cozette-supercharged “Ulster,” but very carefully assembled and having the chromium-alloy type block with ten 1/8-in. base studs and a deep valve chamber, in conjunction with which was a bronze Whatmough-Hewitt head, held down by extra studs. The Cozette compressor was in poor condition, but, even so, blew at 10 lb./sq. in. pressure and was quite reliable. It drew from a horizontal Solex carburetter. At one time this Cozette was replaced by a Powerplus compressor, driven from the front of the standard blower drive, the radiator being mounted far forward, in a steel framework, for this reason. This layout was not a success, so the Cozette went back as before. A motor-cycle type sight feed regulated the oil supply to the supercharger. A special four-branch exhaust manifold was made up, an electron distance-piece being used to match the tapering ports. Engine assembly alone occupied five weeks.

The gearbox was built up specially to give the required ratios, and was controlled by an outside, left-hand lever. The rear axle had the normal 4.9 to 1 ratio, various sized wheels being used as required. The single-seater body was mounted on a 3/4 in. by 1/2 in. sub-frame of R.R.66, to which aluminium alloy sheeting was screwed. It had a maximum width of only 17 1/2 in., or 1 1/2 in. greater than the diameter of the steering wheel. The tail consisted of a faired 10-gallon tank of 26 s.w.g. tinned steel. The steering box was mounted on the side member, the column thus coming into the cockpit at an angle. The Austin, which was finished in 1937, weighed 6 3/4 cwt. and, running on 50/50 methyl alcohol and benzole (happy days!), could do approximately 44 m.p.h. in first, 60 m.p.h. in second, 80 m.p.h. in third and in top gear would exceed 100 m.p.h.

At the 1917 Easter B.A.R.C. Meeting, Brettell won a Mountain Handicap, doing one lap at (64.02 m.p.h., and at the Whit Monday Meeting of 1938 was first in a Campbell Circuit Race, lapping at 62.87 m.p.h. It will be recalled that Brettell went over the top of the Members’ Banking during one Mountain race, breaking his arm, but the little car escaped serious damage. We shall hope to see Brettell’s brother handling it when racing is resumed.