Rumblings, October 1947
The End of “Basic”
Motor Sport is not a political paper, so we must content ourselves with announcing that the “basic” petrol ration has ended and that after November all private motoring in this odd, sad little country is apparently to come to an end. Quite a lot of sports cars will continue in use on essential duties, as was the case throughout the war, and we imagine that those not in receipt of supplementary petrol rations will find various means, according to their natures, of sustaining their motoring enthusiasm. The Trials season will presumably be seriously affected by the so-called Crisis, but much depends on how long the Government finds it politic to ban private motoring — or perhaps on how long the Government itself exists. We can only hope that “basic” will return with the re-arrival of branded motor spirit on January 1st, and that sprint events and races will be possible next year. It is practicable to hold trials up to the beginning of May, so if the ban is lifted before then, trials organising clubs and trials drivers may be able to make up for lost time before the racing season begins. We rather feel all this depends on how much the private motorist is prepared to show that he is hurt. Write to your M.P. now, gently reminding him that, while your sister is at the cinema, your father on the golf-links and your mother smoking while she listens to a radio commentary that may be on anything from football to dirt-track racing (yes, dirt-track racing is still sanctioned) YOU CANNOT MOTOR. Do not forget to tell him how much you have paid the country for the privilege of motoring in the past! And surrender licence and insurance policy as soon as you cease to motor.
The price of the older cars should fall appreciably if the Crisis lasts, but plenty of enthusiasts are waiting to snatch such vehicles from the scrapheap. For our part, if we are permitted to do so, we shall continue as we did during the War, when Motor Sport was in greater demand than ever and presumably pleased and heartened the customers. If things remain bad for very long, will you please help us by sending in news-items, details of cars in use, articles and photographs, as you did during that other rather-less-avoidable Crisis?
Last month we called in at the Phoenix Green Garage and were able to inspect the Becke Powerplus at close quarters. This month we paid another visit and the Fane-Nash, that other racing car of Major Vaughan’s, was a good-looking centre of attraction. The car is, of course, that with which the late A. F. P. Fane broke the Shelsley-Walsh record in 1937 in 38.77 sec., but appreciably modified in 1939. The chassis is the 9-ft. wheelbase “Shelsley,” looking particularly long when endowed with a single-seater body. The four-cylinder, single o.h.c. Gough engine is surprisingly far back, there being literally room for another engine between it and the small, shapely radiator, with its filler cap on an extension of the header tank beneath the one-piece bonnet top. This space is occupied, curiously, by a flat fuel tank of some four gallons’ capacity immediately behind the radiator, and by the twin superchargers. The latter are Centrics and each has a huge S.U. carburetter directly beneath it, these carburetters having horizontal piston-chambers, being protected by a shield, and fed through big-bore flexible pipes from the aforementioned fuel tank, which is pressure-fed but must feed largely by gravity. The near-side blower feeds through a slightly longer pipe than its fellow, both delivery pipes converging on the front underside of the heavily-ribbed inlet manifold, on the off side. This manifold carries a Frazer-Nash plaque and its blow-off valve is on the front face. Boost pressure at present seems to be about 10 lb./sq. in.
A Bosch magneto driven from the timing gears on the off side fires four horizontal plugs on this side and on the opposite side of the head the plugs fired by coil in the standard engine remain in place, but have no leads attached to them. On the near side are the four exhaust pipes and a water-pump at the extreme rear of the engine, driven by a long shaft which has been substituted for the dynamo. This location of the water-pump necessitates a very long water inlet pipe, while the rather bigger-bore water off-take pipe, running from two ports on the near side to the radiator, is likewise of shattering length. A tiny tank above the blowers contains Castrol “R”, which reaches them through a gravity pipe, although the tank is actually pressurised with petrol/air vapour by a small-bore pipe from the inlet manifold, this pipe being an extension of the pressure-gauge line. The neat facia carries the usual gauges and a Smith’s rev.-counter reading to 8,000 .r.p.m., which is driven from the rear end of the camshaft. The gear and brake levers are outside the cockpit. Front suspension to the straight, tubular axle is by short cantilever springs, located by torque rods beneath them and damped by triple Hartfords. At the rear normal Frazer-Nash 1/4-elliptics are used, again damped by triple Hartfords. When we inspected the Fane-Nash it had big-section front tyres, but normally 4.50 by 19 in. covers are used, as the car steers best with these, while twin tyres of the same size are fitted on the rear wheels. The transmission system is 4-speed Frazer-Nash, with duplex chains for each speed and a centre bearing for the back axle, carried on an arm which pivots about the counter-shaft within the bevel-box. Vaughan is very pleased with the car, and really started to motor it at Brighton, but he was using the 3.5 to 1 top speed provided by the bevel-box, there being 22-tooth top-speed sprockets on both axle and countershaft, thus giving a 1 to 1 ratio. As things were, something in the region of a 4.1 to 1 top would have been more appropriate at Brighton. As geared at present, 1,000 r.p.m. in top equals about 24 m.p.h. and as the engine is able to do 6,500 r.p.m. without anxiety, it will be seen what sort of a car this Fane-Nash is. Certainly it is good to know that so famous a racing car is in such good hands.
The “500” Club was invited to send representatives to the Bol D’Or 24-Hour Race, and hopes to do so in 1948. Entry was free, certain expenses were paid, and the cost of competitors’ petrol was refunded. A noisy horn was one of the items specified in the Regulations!
R. Parnell is said to have flown to Switzerland to bid for the two 1 1/2-litre Mercédès-Benz. One car good, one rough, but many spares.
A. J. Butterworth, the Bentley exponent, hopes this winter to build a four-wheel-drive road-racing car using an air-cooled, bored-out V8 Steyr engine in a chassis with petrol tanks forming much of its structure, and with special suspension.
Leslie Johnson has joined E.R.A. Ltd. as a director.
It is rumoured that, after all, Abecassis may dispose of his “3.3” Bugatti, to K. W. Bear.