RUMBLINGS, November 1951




V. itk the return of the Austin Seven a highlight of the justconcluded Earls Court Show thoughts turn again to economy vehicles built to ideals and ideas.

Economy Cars

built to personal ideals and ideas. we were interested to see an three-wheeler which Jerry Egan

is building, purely. as a hobby, at the Leacroft Engineering Works, Egham.

This vehicle has a chassis, roughly triangular, of 16-gauge steel tube, with an angle-frame to carry the body panels, which help to stiffen the structure. From the rear of the chassis on each side trail fabricated arms pivoted on plain bearings. The extremities of these arITIS carry grease-packed races on which. run the wheelbarrow back wheels. Suspension is by means of strands of elastic running forward from bell cranks on the trailing arms to an anchorage under the chassis, a light, simple, inexpensive and durable form of soft back springing thus being obtained that can also be easily adjusted.

At the apex Of the triangle is mounted a pair of FrancisBarnett motor-cycle front forks, suitably cut down to carry a tiny wheel matching those at the back. A 7 ifl-. brake will lie incorporated in this wheel, while a similar expanding brake is bolted to each back wheel. Steering consists of a column set at a Slight angle to the vehicle’s centre-line, operating an Austin steering box on the car’s bulkhead, the drop arm of Which moves transversely to swing the forks. A built-up leathercovered spring steering wheel is used.

The engine is a reconditioned 250-c.c. two-port Villiers twostroke, converted from pressure to petroil lubrication. The plot is to mount it adjacent to and inboard of the near-side back wheel and let it drive an Albion motor-cycle gearbox via a primary chain. This gearbox is carried in a cradle below the engine so placed that the final drive chain is unaffected by the rise and fall of the suspension arm. A jockey sprocket may be used to tension it. Cooling duets will direct air onto the cylinder from inlets on each side of the body and in the undershield, although to begin with only the near-side body aperture will beso ducted. A grille in the back of the body above the engine will draw off hot air.

Starting will eventually be electric, incorporating 8 patented belt-drive-cum-clad% front a normal starter, but at present an external hand starter convenient to the driver’s right hand and working via a cross-shaft onto the free-wheel mechanism in the gearbox, is being devised. The gear-lever will likewise operate via a cross-shaft and links.

The body is a wide, egg-like, three-abreast affair, coming to a point ahead of the front wheel and with curved sides; rather better looking, we should say, than a Bond. The petrod tank will go beside the engine, leaving luggage space in the wide, deep tail. Lighting of a single headlamp in the nose and side, lamps on the scuttle will be by a battery arranged for easy triekle-i:harging.

Egan has planned his car with weight-saving in mind ((lie pedals, for instance, are simple fabrications) and expects it to weigh approximately 3 mt. He will be content with 40 m.p.h.. cruising, coupled with reasonable acceleration and a m.p.g. of around 70, and £5 annual tax. Remembering how well the Bond we tested got along on 197 c.c. he should certainly realise this ambition, and the wide rear track should give good stability given correct tensioning of the ” suspenders.” He expects to spend about £50 on this interesting experiment and believes that such a vehicle could be produced commercially, if that were in mind, which it isn’t, for about £250.

It seems curious that more people have not tried their hand at these ears. We also await further eommercial examples. Cooper should be able to excel here but scent to have abandoned their swifts two-seater and the ambitious 350-c.c. Iota project appears to be shelved, at all events temporarily, because while it goes very well, it, objects to being iisked to stop.

However, as we close for Press comes news from Stone, Staffs., of another home-built economy job, made by C. W. Gaskin. He uses a 500-c.c. flat-twin Lawrence o.h.v. power unit in a eltassis which is Morgan at the front, Austin Seven at the back, with Austin Seven clutch, transmission, back axle and back springs. The appearance is rather Fiat 500, but with a ” new look ” grille on the front, and there is plenty of luggage space in this open two-seater. So, you see, some people are getting going on these economy projects. And very interesting and worth while too !

When Peter Walker’s E-type E.R.A. (G.P.2) crashed and caught fire in the I.O.M. last year many people thought that was the end of this ill-fated car. But while

And an E-type E.R.A.

we were at the Leacroft Works we spotted a very good-looking racing car, rather like an enlarged and—this was it ! The

chassis has been rebuilt by II.W.M. and the two-stage Wade supercharged 2-litre E.R.A. engine that. once graced the E.R.A. (R.1013) now raced by Graham Whitehead has been installed. The E-type E.R.A. back axle gearbox and de Dion rear end are retained, using stouter universals, but only top and third gears are used in this box. An Alta-type Wilson gearbox provides the normal ratios and a tiny lever at the left rear of the driver’s seat preselects either ratio in the E.R.A. gearbox, the car being intended for sprints, where the alternative high or a low set of ratios will prove of value. Peter Whitehead intends to use the E.R.A. next season when not circuit racing his latest Ferrari, for which he hopes to acquire a 4i-litre power unit.

Leacroft are masterful at building beautiful bodies without the preliminary elaborate planning and too much drawing board nonsense, and Whitehead’s reborn E-type is a very nice looking car. Another job in hand is the fitting of a road two-seater shell, detachable by removing eight bolts, to Cooney’s 1922 twin-cant G.P. Sunbeam. Modern tyres are now fitted, using Triumph back wheels, and in its new guise it looks neither out-dated nor ultra-modern, the result being well suited to an historic; car seeking a new lease of life. Watson’s Alta, which Big Bill Whitehouse has been driving, is to be given the 4.3 to 1 back axle from Gaze’s car, as the 3.9 ratio in use fit Goodwood and Castle Combe held back a willing engine. Leacroft were busy, top, repairing crashed ” Silverstone ” and saloon Healeys, another department they operate very effectively ; indeed, their ” patients ” go back into circulation looking, if anything, better than new. * * * Against the desires of Germany and Great Britain, the F.I.A. has pronounced that Formula I racing will, after 1953, be for ears to 750 c.c. and

The 1954 Formula

ears up c.c. unsuper charged cars up to 2,500 c.c. This announce ment will raise many interesting conjectures,

but it is as to discuss them in detail.

as to Alfa-Romeo and Ferrari will probably retard any prospective developments of their existing Formula I cars, and B.R.M. now has only two seasons in which to achieve S011le measure of prestige and restore the faith of its supporters. The new Formula might have been designed for Ferrari but it should also interest 11.W.M. and Aston-Martin. Formula II changes were not finalised and Formula III is unchanged.

At this F.I.A. meeting the following dates were ratified of races counting fin. the 1952 World Championship : Swiss G.P„ May 18th ; European G.P. (Spa), June 22nd ; French G.P. (Rouen), July 6th ; British G.P., July 19th ; German G.P., August 3rd ; Rio de Janeiro G.P., Dee. 14th; joined by the Indianapolis 500 on May 30th and the Dutch G.P.