Further to your reference in October’s Motor Sport to my R.-R. Merlin Spitfire Special at Brighton Speed Trials, for the sake of historical accuracy I am sure you would wish me to correct one or two items in your report concerning this “fantastic” motor car.
Chiefly, the wheelbase is not “nearly 15 feet” as stated, but is, in fact, 13 ft. 9 in. The engine did not “overheat rapidly”; actually it did not overheat at all and if anything tended to remain too cool, for which reason I intend to scrap the Spitfire radiator and fit something smaller. The engine carburation and supercharging adjustments have not been altered and bear the manufacturer’s seals, the rich running being confined to very low revs. only, the object apparently being to prevent flash-backs in the supercharger on sudden throttle openings. Brighton was my first opportunity to really try out the Spitfire and I soon discovered that second gear was the only ratio which would grip at all in the preselector box and even this slipped badly. However, I can assure you that even 1,610 slipping horses under the bonnet is quite an experience!
Incidentally, it may be of interest to some of your readers who build racing-car specials to know that, following publicity in the Press relating to the Spitfire Special, the Customs and Excise authorities visited me and warned me I may be liable for purchase tax. If this proves to be so, and it is still under consideration, I shall be forced to discontinue completion of the car and break it up.
I am. Yours, etc., F. M. Wilcock. Worthing.