RUMBLINGS, October 1938
CfiCIL CLUTTON tells me the engine of his famous Itala came down for the first time in his experience before the Shelsley Meeting, because it was suffering a seized little-end. On rending the machinery asunder, the con-rods were seen to be offset by reason of huge kinks in their middles, the crankshaft webs to be of H-section, and the journals almost identical in diameter to Austin Seven pistons. The Itala’s pistons dwarf even those out of a 30/98 Vauxhall, and have a great depth of skirt into the bargain—after the War, skirts of course became shorter. I only hope Sam will not he unnerved next time he drives the veteran, by thoughts of all this machinery threshing around before him ! Clutton would like to see a race for these old cars at Brooklands. So should I, and I suggested it to Mr. Bradley some moons ago. The answer was that they could not risk an accident, as the Press would at once pin on the old age of the competing car. But, now that every good sprint meeting has one pre-1915 class, perhaps we might agitate for just one lap, next year ? Incidentally, Clutton has now improved on his Formula which the Vintage S.C.C. uses for this class at speed events. Post-war carburetters and aluminium pistons are now penalised 4 per cent. additional power, amongst other things. No wonder they are asking Cecil Choate, who usually scrutineers at Vintage S.C.C. meetings, to become an Honorary Member. While the spectators love to see the big cars in action, their owners compete seriously for awards under the Formula and not on speed alone. By the by, the rap about MOTOR SPORT describing the Pl.(rnix-Special as a machine which ” should have been blushing under Nuffield Trophy honours ” at Lewes, whereas consultation of the Calendar would have revealed that both events occurred at one and the same time (September Bulletin of Vintage S.C.C., page 19), really wasn’t deserved. We thought the car was being run at Lewes instead of at Donington ! The confusion arose because 1>ndley Froy and Tom Rolt both evolved Pheenix Specials. Froy has hastily changed the label on his. Rolt’s car is a chain-drive job with blown
Brescia Bugatti engine—which sounds a hectic enough experiment.
The question of whether or not the G.P. teams of Germany, Italy and France have, in the past, been in
receipt of State subsidy is a most moot one. A friend of mine with a wide knowledge of European money matters avers that they have not. Now some further light is thrown on the matter by an interview with Count ” Johnny ” Lurani. Lurani said that the AlfaRomeo concern gets no direct State subsidy, but that the Italian Government controls the factory, which turns out large numbers of aero-motors. In consequence, Alfa could spend large sums on racing and are, in fact, unbreakable so far as such expenditure is concerned. Maseratis, Lurani thinks, have not had more than -(8,000, all told, in the form of subsidy. In this country, of course, E.R.A. get no help at all from outsiders, barring about f,125 handed in. to date as a sign of enthusiasm by the E.R.A. Club. In the August issue of “Hearsay,” organ of the E.R.A. Club, the Editorial concerned itself with the benefits conferred on utility cars by racing, and suggested that British family cars are too heavy and too floppily
sprung. The ingenious suggestion was made that if the S.M.M.T. would make E.R.A. Ltd. the Industry’s Research Department, making a grant to the Bourne concern, the British Motor Industry would, in return, gain a form of independent front suspension developed and tested by racing, besides valuable data concerning the use of light alloys, and world-wide propagation of prestige. This idea has much to recommend it, in spite of the existence of the I.A.E.’s static research station which already ministers to the Industry’s needs. But the adoption of the suspension example to illustrate the possible benefits that might result is not without its humorous aspect, for one visualises all makes of British ” death-boxes” in possession of identical front layouts (doubtless suitably disguised) to the design of our Continental friend, Dr. Porsche ! Moreover, M.G., Riley and Alta might feel sore that their racing independent suspensions should not have landed a like money-bag.
A Suggestion of Our Own
And here is a suggestion of our own. Why not have a 1i-litre Championship Race run by the R.A.C. at Donington next year, so that we could meet first-class opposition from the Continent in the sphere in which
we excel ? E.R.A. has announced that no further work will be done on the 2i-litre Formula G.P. car, as they propose to concentrate on meeting the Maserati and Alfa-Romeo challenge in the 1-i-litre category.
A great race should result. Moreover, Mr. Craner might very well have his great race on a Sunday, so that we could rightly judge the peak race attendance of the Great British Public. This, of course, if the Formula is not changed next year, as is rumoured, making the 1i-litre race the big event in any case.
Our printers made a quite excusable error in ” Rumblings” last month, when they made Bentle—a pre-war marque—read as Bentley. Unfortunately, of course, the Bentley was unknown in pre-war days. W. 0. Bentley thought about his child while designing the B.R.1. and B.R.2 rotary aero-motors—about the last rotaries to go into production—during the War years. Work on the first 3-litre Bentley commenced on January 20th, 1919, in a quiet office at No. 16, Conduit Street, the staff consisting of ” W.O. ” and his brother, ” H.M.,” the late F. T. Burgess, who designed the 1914 41-litre four-cylinder sixteen valve T.T. Hurnbers, and a few draughtsmen. All the construction work on that first car was carried out by specialist firms scattered
all round the country. Beverley-Barnes, of course, did much of the engine work. At the 1919 Show a chassis was on view, and before the end of the year two experimental cars were out on test. The Cricklewood factory, however, did not open until 1921. In that year Clement raced a 3-litre at Brooklands, and a team of flat-radiator 3-litres lined up for the 1922 I.O.M. T.T. I believe that the first production car was sold to a Mr. Noel van Radtz and he promptly wrote in praise of it to one of the motor papers. When Rolls-Royce Ltd. decided to produce the 34-litre Bentley, ” W.0.” undertook the task of designing the new chassis, which, although it had the same bore and stroke as the 20-25 Rolls-Royce, was actually a very different job, and an “over 90” car even with low axle-ratio and closed coachwork. W. 0. Bentley’s latest undertaking has been the design of the V12 Lagonda, in which work he has, I believe, been closely associated with Trescillian.
Although Chris Staniland has been racing motorcycles and cars for season after season, his first big win on four wheels came when he won the recent Phoenix Park Scratch Race with W. C. Devereux’s Multi-Union, driving a steady race to average 97.45 m.p.h. The Multi-Union is Staniland’s old AlfaRomeo, rebuilt with a new, very Mercedes-like body and having redesigned transmission incorporating parts made by Rolls-Royce. Staniland is a Plight
Lt. in the R.A.F. and test-pilot to Fairev Aviation.
A Remarkable Rumour
A rumour is going around that next year the International Formula will again, be changed, and will
comprise a 1i-litre capacity limit. Those who are hurling bricks at E.R.A. for not proceeding with a Formula car are told to wait and see . . . If there is any truth in. this rumour that the Formula is to be changed next year, instead of for 1941, and if it does take the form of a 1i-litre capacity limit, independent drivers will rejoice, Britain will start with an advantage. Alfa-Romeo and Maserati will be well pleased that they have got new ii-litres which are cracking, and Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union will almost certainly come in. What a prospect ! But so far no official confirmation is forthcoming. In any case, the 11-litre class will be extremely interesting next season. E.R.A. will use six-cylinder Zoller-blown engines in the new low chassis intended for the *litre G.P. engine. Maserati has the new four-cylinder sixteen-valve job and the six, now giving more power and with improved rear suspension. Alfa-Romeo has the already successful new straight-eight single blower Allettes.
Congratulations and good wishes to Richard Seaman on his engagement to Fraulein Erica Popp of Munich, daughter of the Managing Director of B.M.W., which was announced on September 20th.
The Brooklands Meeting of October 15th will include the Championship Race over the Mountain Course.
T. P. Breen is a 14/40 Delage enthusiast and runs a very well-kept example as a personal car.