Letters from Readers, November 2000

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Fascinating restorer stories

Sir,

I am writing to thank you for your splendid series ‘The Classic Restorers’. I began following vintage and classic racing some 20 years ago when I went to live near Silverstone, and became so fascinated with the machinery that I often spend a whole meeting wandering around the paddock examining the cam rather than watching the racing.

I often used to wonder who had restored these vehicles to their former glories and where on earth did the owners find the expertise to look after the sometimes very complex engines. Unless you were actually in the business it was quite difficult to find out, as I never quite had the gall to go and ask owners outright.

Your series is, after all this time, filling the gaps quite nicely.

I am yours, etc, B Wylie, Bicester, Oxon

Don Moore’s MG

Sir,

Firstly, congratulations on your new appointment. Judging by your background, there appears to be some room for optimism regarding the Vintage content of the magazine.

Referring to the grid-scene photo (page 28-29, September issue), I wondered if the cigaretted mechanic just behind the ERA-Delage might be the late Don Moore? He was the man responsible for the ‘works’ Lister Jaguar engines, and by the time of his retirement had built something like 2000 engines which powered a multitude of competition cars.

He became noticed as a result of his achievements with a highly modified P-type MG. In the early 1950s this then-20 year-old car was frequently beating relatively sophisticated opposition. Although the car was broken up by Moore in the late ’50s, bits of it have recently come to light and are now in my possession. A reconstruction is intended and I’d be keen to source any other original components which may be hanging on garage walls or gathering dust under benches. The radiator surround with its two distinctive cooling slots cut either side of the badge would be a nice find.

I am yours, etc, Andrew Bradshaw, Cambridge

Time to face facts

Sir,

Historic Racing is thriving, as can be seen from your excellent magazine, and while I appreciate that the drivers concerned want to appear in ‘retro’ apparel, I find it disturbing that so many still use open-face crash helmets. I would like to point out the hazards of using such helmets. The full-face helmet was introduced in the late 1960s and it provides a large measure of protection from serious facial injury. I have treated several drivers over the years who sustained deep, disfiguring facial lacerations while wearing the open-type helmet. These could have been completely avoided if a full-face helmet had been worn, because often it is the peak of the open-face helmet that appears to produce the laceration when struck.

I dealt recently with a Formula Ford driver who suffered a comparatively minor head injury when struck on the face and head by a wheel. The chin component of his full-face crash helmet was completely destroyed but had undoubtedly saved him from severe facial injury.

By all means let us celebrate historic racing, but let’s do it without avoidable risks.

I am yours, etc, Alistair Gray FRCS, FFAEM, Chief Medical Officer, Oulton Park

Continuous ‘Loop’ History

Sir,

In response to David J Jones (September 2000 issue) regarding the Melbourne Hairpin where the pre-war Auto Unions used to take off at Donington, it was indeed me who was the Eurosport commentator for the Motorcycle GP that weekend.

I brought it to the attention of the viewers as I’d driven around the Loop after the VSCC meet and had a colleague take photos of my car at the same point as Rosemeyer’s flying C-Type. I now have the two photos on my kitchen noticeboard.

On Sundays the Melbourne area is regularly used as a car park for a market and many people attend an area about which they have no knowledge of its historic past. To Donington’s credit, the area has been very recently resurfaced, so it will at least remain in good repair for a few years yet. But it needs to be kept on top of.

I am yours, etc, Toby Moody, via email

Avus mercedes

Sir,

It was a great idea to publish Chris Nixon’s article (Bahnstormas, September issue), but I regret I do not agree with him when he writes that ‘von Brauchitsch had Caracciola’s record-breaker fitted with the new streamlined bodywork and powered by the DAB engine’. I do so for two good reasons.

Firstly, Carraciola’s 1936 record-breaker and von Brauchitsch’s 1937 Avus streamliner are two separate entities kept within the DaimlerChrysler museum in Stuttgart.

Secondly, it appears from various archive documents there that the 1936 record-breaker was built from the 2725mm wheelbase 1935 W25 chassis (chassis 109975/Wagen 7) on which both the 5.57-litre DAB V12 and the 1936-specification rear axle were fitted. On the other hand, von Brauchitsch’s 1937 Avus streamliner was built from the 2460mm W25-36 chassis (chassis 142207/Wagen 12) on which the DAB engine had been fitted as well.

I am yours, etc, Yves Kaltenbach, Lyon, France

Exhaustive research

Sir,

Bill Boddy’s story of Auto Union using dummy exhausts on their 1938 cars was half right. They did use them, but only during testing at Monza.

In that year’s April issue of Motor Sport, Auslandef wrote: ‘The Auto Union people adopted different tactics in order to preserve their secrets. They camouflaged their cars. It has been known for some time that they have been experimenting with a 12-cylinder engine, but all the cars at Monza had 16 exhaust stubs protruding from their bonnets. When the engine of one of them was started, however, smoke only issued from 12 of the pipes, even though the engine was firing evenly.’

I am yours, etc, Chris Nixon, East Twickenham, Middx

Cooper Snoopers needed

Sir,

I am the new owner of the ex-John Surtees F2 Cooper T51 and would much appreciate any information and photographs your readers can provide regarding the car’s history.

Mr Surtees has told me the car (chassis F2-460) was purchased new by him and that he first raced it at Oulton Park in April 1960, finishing second to limes Ireland’s Lotus 18. In its next race, the Aintree 200, he set the lap record and was the best-placed British car behind the Porsches. This got him recognised by the works teams and, having no further need for the Cooper, he sold it. Records show it was raced in the Tasman series by Horace Gould and owned by Reg Parnell and Bib Stilwell.

I am yours, etc, Gregg Cawley, 18 Agecroft RD, Nortwich

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