Rumblings, November 1947

During the war enthusiasts deprived of their cars devoted their leisure to reading all the motoring literature on which they could lay hands. The present regrettable cessation of normal motoring will undoubtedly lead to a repetition of this method of expending enthusiasm and overcoming depression. Fortunately, whereas a motoring book was once an event, this year has seen a great increase in new books of this sort, and many additional titles are in course of preparation by various publishers. Nevertheless, the motoring enthusiast is still less well catered for in publishers’ lists than the ship, railway and aviation fanatics, while cricket, to name but one of the field sports, is covered by a far more extensive library than is motor-racing.

Consequently, we are pleased to be able to sponsor a motor-racing book which will fill a long-felt need amongst the majority of our readers. This book, by a new writer in whom the Editor of Motor Sport has sufficient faith to have written the Foreword, is a sincere attempt to sort-out, as it were, those racing cars which were prominent in important races held immediately before and after the Hitler War in this country and abroad. Many of the cars described have run in British sprint events this season, and are likely to figure in future races and sprints for some years to come. So the subject-matter of “The Motor Sport Racing Car Review” is topical. The author has a happy knack of putting each of the classic cars he describes in its correct perspective, and he illustrates each one with an original full-page photograph. He reminds us of much we have forgotten, of much — speaking personally — that we never knew, about the technical and historic aspects of what may be described as the best of today’s road-racing cars. Such matters as the detail differences between individual cars of a given type, the numbers built, and the different drivers who handled a particular car during its racing career, were the subject of painstaking research on the part of the author before he set pen to paper. For this reason we are confident that “The Motor Sport Racing Car Review,” which is unlike anything that has been published before, will not only appeal to all students of racing-car design, but will enable the reader to gain a better understanding of recent races and stimulate his or her enthusiasm for the future.

Publication date is December 10th, and the publishers are The Grenville Publishing Co., Ltd., 15, City Road, E.C.1. Supplies will be limited, but orders may be placed now, direct or with any newsagent; the price will be 7s. 6d., or 8s. post free.

Boddy, whose “200 Mile Race” is rebinding, is working on another motor-racing book, the first volume of which Grenville hope to publish early in the New Year.

Photo Caption: [Motor Sport Copyright
A car many will have a forgotten, 2.9-litre non-monoposto P3 Alfa-Romeo, Tipo B. As a 2-seater sports car this type won the 1935 Mille Miglia at 71.25 m .p.h. driven by Pintacuda. With hood, wings and electric lighting and starter it was good for about 130 m.p.h. and had the then new reversed 1/4-elliptic rear suspension. Cars of this kind figure in The Motor Sport Racing Car Review,” a new book announced in the accompanying paragraph.

The opportunity presented itself to glean some notes on another “one-off” racing car when we came upon the front-wheel-drive, 1 1/2-litre, Maserati engined Derby single-seater at the Tourist Trophy Garage at Farnham, in the same manner as, previously, we had found the Becke Powerplus and Fane-Nash at the Phoenix Green Garage. This is a “one-off” job and interesting in the way such special cars usually are.

The chassis was obviously intended from the commencement to carry a single-seater body, for it is very narrow; it is also very long. Its channel-section side members are parallel and there is independent suspension front and back, consisting of tubular Y-shape half-axles damped by a transverse leaf spring beneath each assembly. At the back long shackles link the ends of the spring to the extremities of the axles and transverse friction shock-absorbers are fitted ahead of the spring. At the front the swing-axles carry the drive-shafts to the front hubs, and hydraulic shock-absorbers, mounted on the side members behind the swing-axles, are linked to the drive-shaft casings to allow for up and down motion. On the near side of the car a very long draglink runs forward from the steering box and the track-rod is ahead of the swing-axles, forming a wide “V” in relation to them and being pivoted at the apex of the “V” on account of the i.f.s. This f.w.d. layout is reminiscent of that of production-model Derby cars. Large unribbed brake drums are used front and back, brake actuation being via enclosed cables. The Rudge wheels were fitted with 6.00 by 19 in. Dtmlops on the front and 5.25 by 19 in. Dunlops at the back when we inspected the car.

The engine is a 4-cylinder, 69 by 100 mm., 1 1/2-litre, 8-valve unit like that in the Maserati now raced by Charles Mortimer, but it is turned back-to-front in the chassis, its supercharger at the rear and a big gearbox bolting on to what is now the front of the engine, so taking the drive forward to the front wheels. The ribbed Roots supercharger is driven from the nose of the crankshaft and draws from a Weber carburetter located at frame level on the off side. This carburetter has a shutter-type choke that was presumably operated while the bonnet was open, to aid starting. The blow-off valve is situated in an elbow on the opposite side of the blower and from this elbow the first section of the inlet pipe rises vertically and then turns through 90° to a hose-joint that attaches it to a heavily ribbed delivery pipe that feeds into the top face of the equally heaiIy ribbed manifold. This manifold is set at an angle, its ports feeding upwards into the head. A gear train within a small casing at what is now the extreme rear, near side of the crankcase drives a JF4LA. Bosch magneto ahead of it, this magneto firing a vertical plug in each head. The valves are operated by two o.h. camshafts and between the cam boxes runs a long rod which connects, via small universal couplings, the gearbox lever with a small gear lever set outside the cockpit on the near side; gear-changing looks anything but easy. Cooling is by a pump on what was the front of the engine, a very long copper pipe on the near side, with a 180° bend in it, bringing water from the distant radiator, while the off-take from the head is by a neat Henri-like tapering 3-branch pipe. Four exhaust pipes emerge from a gap in the off side of the bonnet and swell out, to join a Brooklands silencer and a long tail pipe that runs under the off-side swing-axle. There is an external oil pump on the off side of the engine, feeding through big-bore copper pipes, and small pipelines look after camshaft lubrication, the oil-gauge line being taken from a junction on that running up to the exhaust camshaft.

The body is very narrow and this is emphasised because the long bonnet does not taper, from the inclined honeycomb radiator with its Derby badge and separate stoneguard, to the scuttle. The facia contains a small 6,000 r.p.m. Jaeger rev.-counter driven from what is now the front of the exhaust camshaft, and the air-pressure pump is outside the cockpit on the near side, the mirror being on this side also. The oil tank is in the scuttle, the fuel tank in the tail, which has a suspicion of a head-rest for the driver. There are quick-action caps for water, oil and fuel fillers, the bonnet has three spring-loaded bonnet straps, the starting handle inserts through the radiator and a clever, spring-loaded scissor retains the detachable steering wheel. This intriguing Derby is still in French blue and retains the racing number 21 on its tail, but, alas, it hasn’t run for years.

Entered by Douglas Hawkes for Mrs. Stewart to drive, the car was never particularly successful. It ran in a Mountain race at Brooklands in 1935, its best lap being at 67.29 m.p.h. Mrs. Wisdom was to have driven it in the 500-Mile Race that year, but the timing gears stripped in practice, and the Derby was far from rapid when Mrs. Stewart handled it in the 1936 International Trophy.

Odd Spots
It is exceedingly good news that David Brown Ltd., have acquired the right the to manufacture the new 2 1/2-litre W. O. Bentley-designed Lagonda, production plans for which were suspended by Lagonda Ltd.

Lea-Francis have introduced a sports model.

John Cobb cabled from Utah to the Lockheed Hydraulic Brake Co., Ltd. to. say that the Ferodo-lined Lockheed brakes of his Railton-Mobil-Special functioned perfectly in pulling up the car from 400 m.p.h. after its successful attack on the World’s Land Speed Record.