THE E.R.A.-DELAGE

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THE E.R.A.-DELAGE

AFTER I,c Mans 1949, I was-keen that Tony Holt and I should eontinue our assoeiation and widen our sphere of operations, as I consider him unsurpassed in t his eountry as a driver, hut unfortunately, show he won the British Empire Trophy latore ate war, he has not had a mount to do him justice or give him a chance to win. I discussed the matter with him and suggested we tried to lind a Formula I car, and he was agreeable. The only thing is what can one find without spending a lot or money in Italy or somewhere in a highly illegal manner. which I must say I had plenty of opportunity to do, but was in no

way prepared to try. Eventually Tony came to tile and suggested that we try the Grand Prix Delages, OS there were two of these for sale at the time and both lie and t’reddie Dixon reckoned that, there was plenty of room for development.

I was delighted with the idea, as I had always admired these ears immensely and longed to own one. The better of the two cars belonged to Ilabershon, who was giving up racing. and it was in perfect eondition in every way but unfortunately had no steam. It was one of the oars with the i.f.s. designed for Bins by M. Lor3, the original dusigner, and the layout. was almost the same as the Delithaye, but it was always said Oust with the extra strengthening the chassis needed it made the car too heavy and it would never again go as fast as it did with SektIllall. The other car was owned by I ?avid lIampshire and put up for sale by Reg. Parnell ; it had no i.f.s. and almost the original body. I believe it. had run very well at Berne in 1949, causing general surprise, but when I bought it, it was in a shocking condition and had to be stripped immediately, before it fell to pieces. It. later transpired front evidence kindly given us by George Monkhouse, who together with Ramponi knew more about the car than anyone, that it was definitely the Seaman chassis, proved by pieces of wood between the front dumb irons, and it was very nearly in the original condition except for the gearbox and possibly the brakes. The original idea was to buy the I falarshon car, and use the other mainly for spares, but this plan was later changed as it would be sacrilege to prostitute the genuine car ; also we had a host of spires with the eats. Everybody we met seemed to know everything there was to know about them, and were only too pleased to tell us, but when we stripped the ears, and also referred to the copious notes handed down front owner to owner, we found 1 hat at least. 50 per cent, of the information we were given by those who knew all about it was incorrect. Very briefly indeed, the alterations -were, to the chassis, fit new brake system and Alfin drums, also new shock-absorbers: to the engine, a hi?ther pressure Wade Itlower, TIC.W pistons raising compression, and new camshafts, specially deshmed. I think the result ought have been a success but for One item which uliset all calculations : by R. R. C. WALKER

The author of the entertaining “Cars I Have Owned ” article in this issue adds a few notes about his E.R.A.engined G.P. Delage.—Ed.

We had no blocks that had not been linered except for one which was not machined at all. The Idock and head are of course in one pose on these engines, and they were to ing subjected to agreater stress than ever before. ‘Ilroughout the season, every time the motor seemed to he going really well we had IL major ” blow up ” through the block cracking just above the top of the liner, whicls appeared to be the weak spot, and of c.mrsc as soon as the water waslet in, hydraulieing started through the other cylinders, causing untold damage. This liappened three times, and at this juncture I should like to appeal to any reader who might know of the whereabouts of one of these blocks, to let me know. 1 think there are at least. two, somewhere in America, but I myself am left wit It one rather unsatisfactory one and an nom:whined one whiell would cost hundreds of pounds to machine. As Call imagined ottr 1030 season was a costly and very unsuccessfid one, but we did have one or two moments of glory. At the British Empire Trophy in the I.O.M. we made ‘second fastest pracCee time, equalling Seaman’s record there, and were placed in the front line of the starting grid with four new Maseratis in the line behind. Then after about five laps lying fourth, the rear shock-absorbers packed up, and Tony had a very rough ride to finish seventh. At Jersey the Delage did its usual tradit lotus’ bad start and was last. away, but it was moving

down the straight at. over 140 m.p.h. and going by the E.R.A.s with the greatest of ease, and in two laps it had p,elsed up 12 places awl was lying sixth still moving up, when, of course, the big btow-up came again. Finally, running in the Daidy Express rate at Silverstone we blew up again. and this spoiltmy run at Brighton, which I look forward to all the year round, as it is one of’ the few that I get. We decided that for 1931 another engine for the Delage was essential, but the chassis Still seemed as good as the best, and the cornering and handling are

an at deliglit. Our first thought was a 41-litre unblown, and so I paid M. Lag° a visit, but he would not entertain the idea of putting one of Isis engines in so old a chassis, even though I pointed out that old it may be, but, it was leading every Talbot at Silverstone. Anyway M. Logo succeeded in selling me a complete Grand Prix car, on the condition that we import it legally Iry showing it at the Earls Court Motor Show, thus getting an import lieence. Tin. licence was duly granted and the car arrived ; the morning the ,St Low opened one of the motor manufacturers’ unions pointed out that it. was a raving car, and there was a tiny article in the regulations to sav no rating cars were allowed at. the Show. The import Hoene(‘ Wah wit IldraW11 and the car had to be returned to France, travelling naturally at my expense. One pays a subscription to these various motor societies supposedly so that they will help their members, but in my experience I have never found them anything but a hindrance. After considering and turning down various other engines, we turned to the 1.1-litre supercharged field, and the most easily available of these was the E-type B. BA. eiwine which lost its chassis when

it was destroyed in the I.O.M. Looking into the history of this car, we found it was in the chassis and not the engine which had let it down, and we decided to take the risk. starling fairly detuned with a lowish blower pressure, t.hen if this was successful, working up bit by bit. The engine did not present

any great difficulties in fitting, and was all done by my own mechanics, and the only difficulties we had were to get the pistons and special Glacier bearings through in time. 1 feel that the experiment has been most suecessful and we IlaVe had a very enjoyable season’s 1110t or racing, and I just got. my run at. It whiell thoroughly enjoyed in spite of the rain. 1Ve started off with ‘t he Silverstone Doily Erpress meeting. where we finished sixth, mainly due to the weather, and I don’t doitht it. is the last. time IX(‘ will be ahead of three 159 Alfa-Romeos and pass Farina in the last lap, but still, the weather was the sante for everybody! We I en finished sixth in the Formide Libre Festival of It Stakes at Goodwood after Tony had lout it terrific (Hee Nrith Ihmean Hamilton’s 4l,-litre Grand Prix Talbot and 11111y failed 10 beat hint by a bonnet. length. Next Peter Walker drove it in the 200-mile News of /he Wor/d Grand Prix, and it was II it first How this engine had ever finished a 200-toile Grand Prix. eventually being placed eight II. Tony Roll then scored a sevond, followed a month later by a first in the Formule Libre ram at Borehatn. After

Butt we 11:11 smite Itad luck. piston seized in No. 5 eylinder while leading at lbsley the following week at Boreham, whilst lying sielnd with half a lap to go, the oil pump seized owing to a small pieve of piston ring lodged there. Wilielk somehow had eseaped the ‘tight pressure air system.

This meant new bearings had to be fitted, and it looked as if for the seeond year I wouhl miss my Brighton run, but Glaciers Ind in a rush job, and by dint. of my meehatties burning much midnight oil the car was ready late on Friday night and was run in on Saturday morning and then rusheil to Brighton, getting there at 2 p.m. in time for its very wet runs, when it went perfectly, and 1 hope may continue to do so for many years.

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