Rumblings, October 1957

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68

Speed shops, where they sell the parts and have the facilities for souping-up popular cars, are common in America but the idea is an innovation here. Barry Eaglesfield, whom one automatically associates with Bugattis, opened the Chequers Speed Shop at Camberley, Surrey, at the end of August.

At this garage on the Portsmouth Road, Eaglesfield stocks every conceivable item of speed equipment and conversion kit for Ford, Morris. M.G. Austin and other popular makes. At his party on August 27th such exponents of the art of this motoring black-magic as Michael Christie, Leslie Bellamy, Louis Giron. Derek Buckler and Archie Butterworth were present. A particularly tasteful display had been arranged of special heads, manifolds, shock-absorbers, anti-roll bars, exhaust systems and the like from all the better chefs of souping, laid out under make headings and every item bearing a price tag. Bucklers of Reading showed Mk. DD II,Mk. XV and 90 tubular space frames, designed for Morris engine and suspension units, Ford components, or for any engine of up to 2-litres capacity depending on requirements. From this truly fascinating display we were reminded that apart from speed equipment the Chequers Speed Shop stocks all manner of lamps, safety belts, maps, map measurers, instruments, gloves, clothing and general rally equipment. In addition, they sell all kinds of vintage and veteran decor, in the form of wall-paper, curtain material, pictures, trays, glasses, lampshades and pottery, suitable for the homes of old-car fanatics.

The garage is decorated with Eaglesfield’s own pictures and model cars and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. Tuning of all kinds, from setting carburetters to complete overhaul and modification, can be undertaken, under the supervision of G. A. Upton, M.E.Mech.E., M.I.A.E., A.M.I.A.A., who spent 30 years with the old Lanchester Motor Co. There is a machine shop in which precision machining, experimental work and “one-off” jobs can be done and there is a scheme afoot to allow enthusiasts to garage their cars free and use the tools and equipment and obtain advice for a charge of 5s.an hour upwards.

Altogether an ambitious venture and if you wish to bring the chequered flag closer home the Chequers Speed Shop may very well be the means of your doing so.

*

Fifty years ago the first Hillman was built, a car evolved rather hastily for the 1907 T.T. Race by William Hillman and Louis Coatalen. Twenty-five years ago Rootes announced the first Hillman Minx, To celebrate this double anniversary Sir William Rootes announced the new Jubilee Hillmans in London on August 29th. Basically the Minx continues unchanged but the Jubilee models are smarter, have a new camshaft which provides 864 lb./in. torque at 2,200 r.p.m. instead of 837 lb./in. at 2,400 r.p.m., the maximum output of 51 b.h.p. now being developed at 4,400 instead of at 4,600 r.p.m., and the radiator grille has been simplified into a shallow lattice pattern. Rootes have also followed B.M.C. and Standard in offering two-pedal control as an optional extra on a small-engined car, Manumatic transmission being available for the De Luxe, Convertible and Estate Car models. There are also interior changes of detail, including door-operated interior lighting.

More important than these modifications is Sir William Rootes’ decision to maintain existing prices at a time when the rising cost of raw materials and wage increases in all grades of industry are causing other manufacturers to raise the price of their cars. This courageous policy recalls price slashing by William Morris (now Lord Nuffield) during the slump of 1919. Sir William is holding Hillman prices firm in spite of having to meet an annual increase of £3¼-Million in his steel bill alone. If this gamble is to come off he will have to increase Minx sales by 750 a week.

Apart from unchanged prices of existing models a new low-price Minx Special saloon is announced. This has a simplified instrument panel, modified interior and exterior trim, and a floor gear-lever, but has the improved engine, and bucket front seats which normally cost £15 extra. The Minx Special offers a saving of £46 10s. over the De Luxe saloon. We find it rather droll that when we went to Michael Christie’s party (reported last month) we were shown the floor gear-change as a luxury extra on the Alexander Minx and at Rootes’ party a month later we were shown the same thing as a means of reducing the price of the normal Minx! But this trend towards the return of “real” gear-lever is to be encouraged, so let’s not haggle over it!

Shelsley Walsh Hill-Cimb (Aug. 31st)

Being the only meeting this year at Shelsley Walsh, the Midland Automobile Club had a fine entry of interesting sprint machinery entered, and with good weather the meeting proved a great success. Among the more exciting motor cars were Henderson’s Cooper, an early chassis with V-twin J.A.P. supercharged by an enormous “blower” on the side, and using twin rear wheels; Phillips’ intriguing Cooper with 1,100-c.c. four-cylinder Climax engine mounted across the frame and driving by chain to a Norton gearbox, cooling being by the water in the jacket and a small header tank; the fabulous Farley Special with V-twin J.A.P., two-stage supercharging, Harley-Davidson gearbox, Michelin X tyres and a very forward driving position; the le Gallais Special from Jersey. with XK120 engine behind the driver, special two-speed gearbox, de Dion rear end, twin rear wheels and inboard brakes; the ex-Fane single-seater Frazer-Nash now owned by Col. Vaughan; the famous R4D Zoller-blown E.R.A. 2-litre, ex-Mays and Wharton and now owned by “T. Dryver,” who also had his de Havilland-engined M.G.; the Norris Special supercharged 2-litre Alta single-seater; a 2½-litre supercharged H.W.M.-Alta owned by Tony Gaze; and many others, not forgetting the seemingly orthodox V-twin J.A.P. Coopers of Marsh, Christie, Rivers-Fletcher, Good and Boshier-Jones, nor the Formula II Cooper-Climax models of R. R. C. Walker, driven by Christie, that of Sopwith, and that of Marsh. A more varied collection of exciting sprint machinery would be hard to find, and Shelsley Walsh lived up to its name in the sprint world.

Results:

F.T.D.: R. Henderson (Cooper). 35.84 sec.

Fastest Shelsley Special: C. Summers (Farley Special) 37.15 sec. (new class record).

Fastest Sports Car: T. Sopwith (Cooper) 39.09 sec.

Fastest Lady Driver: Miss R. Cowell (Emeryson 2½-litre) 40.41 sec. (new class record)

 

Book Review

“British Racing Green-1946-1956,” by Louis Klemantaski and Michael Frostick. 60 pp. ( The Bodley Head, 10 Earlham Street, London, W.C.2. 15s.)

This is a survey of what British cars driven by Britons have done in post-war racing up to the end of 1956, and for its excellent pictures and memory-refreshing text it is to be recommended. We cannot call the book complete, however, when Tony Brooks’ win at Syracuse in the Connaught, Britain’s first victory in a race of this sort since Segrave’s Sunbeam came home first at San Sebastian in 1924, is omitted from pictures, story and table of race results! — W. B.

Vanwall Transport

The victorious Vanwalls are now transported to the various circuits in a Leyland Royal Tiger van presented to them by Leyland Motors Ltd. It is shod with Michelin Metallics.

The Farnborough Flying Display (Sept. 4th)

Meteorologically speaking, Press Day was the worst of Farnborough week, with cloud down to 500 feet and continuous drizzle. Pilots were restricted to radar-controlled circuits, and, in the main, the flying programme was a series of takeoffs, fly-pasts and landings. Twice the pattern was broken, by Hunters, one performing a perfect slow roll in front of the spectators, the other a half roll and inverted fly-past, followed by a dicey roll-out, which nearly ended it all for the pilot!

The helicopters were least affected by the weather and gave their usual nippy display. The Wessen, the world’s first free-turbine-engined ‘copter was remarkably quiet by comparison with the din that is usually associated with these machines.

Many of the aircraft shown are almost veterans, but the Saunders-Roe S-R 53, with its Spectre variable thrust rocket motor, as well as a conventional turbo-jet, is something quite new. Several other aircraft were fitted with auxiliary rocket motors, which, for the first time, are fully controllable.

Miles have produced two new aircraft — the H.D.M. Caravan, with ultra high-aspect-ratio wing (reminiscent of the Liberator), making it a very manoeuvrable transport aircraft, and the M.100 Student, an ab initio jet trainer, which will compete with the Jet Provost.

The Accountant is a tribute to the enterprise of a private compony — Aviation Traders Ltd. This versatile, and primarily economic, aeroplane has been designed to replace the Dakota, and uses the already-proven Rolls-Royce Dart turbo-prop. engines. It can be used in two forms — a 28-seater long range version, and a 40-seater short-range version — and promises to be just as popular as its predecessor.

The most exciting aeroplane of the show was undoubtedly the English Electric P-1. Unfortunately we were not able to watch it put through its spectacular routine on Press Day. The P-1B is the last manned fighter to be ordered for the R.A.F. It is quite incredible that this aircraft, which can exceed the World’s Speed Record climbing, is also manoeuvrable.

Other items that we missed because of the weather were the precision aerobatics of the R.A.F. and R.N. teams. However, we were able to see these, with the rest of the normal flying programme, on television — in the dry!

A preview of things to come was given in the Guided Weapons display by an evil-looking collection of missiles. With the advent or more of these monsters, Farnborough will lose much of its glamour. — A. B.

Note. — One of the few aircraft not flying on Press Day was the Javelin, the all-weather, day and night-fighter!

The Things They Say . . . .

“. . . give me an automatic gearbox every time.” — Stirling Moss in the Daily Mail of September 13th. 1957.

*

“I disliked the draught at the back of the neck . . . the lack of an ashtray . . .” — Robert Glenton in a road-test report on a 1927 1½-litre Bentley, in the Sunday Express of September 1st, 1957.