vintage postbag, November 1980



Vintage Postbag

The Beckenham Specials

Maybe I can shed a little light on the Beckenham Specials. I believe there were only three Beckenham Specials — the first two being built by Ted Batten (Mrs. Warren’s uncle, the younger brother of Jim Batten), the second being a rebuild of the first car and the other was Keith Salmon’s car originally known as the Salmon Special.

Ted Batten’s first Beckenham Special, onginally built about 1929/30, was based on a Frazer Nash or GN chassis and used the Nash chain transmission and gear change with four speeds and no reverse (modification). The engine was a 2-litre AC-Six driving through an [scam Fraschini multi-plate disc clutch. The body being a two seater, wood and metal frame fabric covered in blue leather cloth — a very pretty and potent car. The engine was very much modified by firstly fully balancing the crankshaft by brazing on suitable balance weights and also by making a high lift camshaft from scratch, machining, shaping and hardening; further an enlarged sump made up from welded steel was used; all being done at Beckenham Motor Co., of which Ted was a partner, director and works manager.

This engine and clutch I later purchased and used in my Barson Special No. 7 — when I built Barren Special No. 8, I sold this engine to Dick Carver who put it into the Caesar Special and this car and engine is still in use, owned by Dr. Tony Taylor.

The second Beckenham Special built about 1932,3, grew from the first and had an overhead camshaft SAGE engine which I believe came from a car called “The Silent Knight”. I think this engine was smaller and lighter than the AC, but was a potent engine — probably 11/z-hues. The remainder of the chassis was again Frazer Nash. and the same body was used. The radiator looked rather She the small Invicta, hut was! think from a Silver Hawk car built by Noel Macklin. This car was still running and in the hands 01 Ted Batten at the beginning of the war.

The other Beckenham Special is the one built by Keith Salmon and was originally known as the Salmon Special being built by Keith with the assistance of his brother, Stuart, at their parents home in Anerley about 1937. Why he changed the name to Beckenham Special, I don’t know, but I think that be had a list of his parts, frame, etc., made up by Beckenham Motor Co., as he himself had no welding or machining facilities at that time. I think that this wane personal arrangement with Ted Batten who was army close friend of his, in fact of both of us.

The engine and gearbox use was a 2-litre Tiger MG, the car that was sold at its introduction with a 100 m.p.h. guarantee. This car was nearing completion just before the war. I think that its hodY was actually completed at Beckenham Motor Co., but the design and main construction of the car was by Keith Salmon himself.

The above will help Mr. Tudge — his car was originally called the Salmon Special and later Beckenham Special, and neat the beginning of the war there were two Beckenham Specials, Ted Batten’s car and Keith Salmon’s. I saw Keith several times in the UK after the war and he confirmed that he had changed its iiame, but he did not say why he had done so Vecifically — possibly to help advertise the

Beckenham Motor Co. I do remember a group photograph of the Beckenham Special No. 2, a Barson Special and a Batten Special as an advertisement for the Beckenham Motor Co. I should be very glad to have a photograph of the Salmon/Beckenham Special. Hour Bay, South Africa E. CHALENOR-BARSON