Griff on Zborowski



Griff on

GRIFFITHS BORGESON’s promised saga of Zborowski has appeared in the American Automobile Quarterly, which contrives tit. publish without advertising support and which, like MOTOR spoRT, recognise, that its readers like a goodly proportion of the contents devoted to history. As. iti the past. I have endeavoured to cast light on the Count Zbomwski saga and the “Chitty-Bang-Bangs,” I read Borgeson on the sithj,.i with food: ;oleic, at, enjoyment. II, toile over, ow, known ground but throws tit some very worthwhile new intormat ion about the Zbormyski family (which Griffiths has it, originated as Zabriskie, the first of the line emigrating to America either in 1662 or in

the 1800s . . He tells us that Count Elliot Zborowski, father of Louis Zborowski. with his wife, from the famous Astor family, had a combined annual income estimated at dose on 580,000 dollars lie The I 900,, that he left 10,000,000 dollars when he was killed in his Mercedes at La Turbie hill-climb in 1903, and that on coming to England he built “a palatial house at Melton Mow bray” — althoug.h I have never been able to establish that this was mOre than a fairly-modest hunting-lodge. Borgeson also provides some interesting data about the memorial erected to the daring sporting Elliot Zborowski. . . I feel I can correct Griff on a few points. I cannot actually deny that the famed “Chitties” were not preceded by two 1914 giants also owned by Louis Zborowski, one said to have had a Maybach aero-engine (how was that obtained, at this tense period?), the other a Hall-Scott engine which Foresti had installed for him in an Itala chassis — the latter sound, like the car Lord Donegal later owned, when he was at Oxford. If in fact Z.borowski had such monsters before the war, at the age of 18 or 19, this surely does not invalidate my claim that the “Chitties” were the original aero-engined cars to enjoy a vogue at Brookl.ds after the war, especially when :qualified by my other statement, “built by an amateur”, Coatalen’s two V12 Sunbeams having preceded the Count’s cars, as

professionally-assembled aero-engined racing cars (see “Profile NO. 68”). I am not sure that I agree that “Chivy 11” was “quite low”, or that the horizontal outside exhaust-pipe and overall effect “was suggestive of later 9 and SS Mercedes-Benz”. It was in 1922, not 1923 as a caption states, that “Chitty I” had its spectacular Brooklands accident. Grill says that “. . the Higham Special received only passing notice in The grid’s study of the Chittys”. That is because. although Gallop may have conveniently writ. (If five “Chitties”, the third was usually called “The White Mercedes” by the Count, and the

fourth the “Higham Special”. Bergeson himself does not give as much space to the latter, anyway.

Coming to Zborowski’s Indianapolis Bugatti, one of a team of five, Griff says it was a Type 29, not as popularly supposed, a Type 30. That I arn prepared to leave to Hugh Conway. Of the Zborowski Miller (MOTOR SPORT, October, 1981) the Borg. writes: “The Bed says that Lou expected 120 mph laps from his new two-man car. (In fact, he is quoting, S. C. H. Davis in 1923). This does not add up, since the four fastest single-seat Millars had qualified at Indianapolis at from 101 to 108 mph . . .” I didn’t say that! What I actually wrote was that Zborowski hoped for a top speed of 120 mph. At Brooklands the top speed of a car was usually, give or rake wind and weather, about ten mph faster than its lap speed. Later Bergeson says Lou won a Brooklands race, with a best lap of 109.46 mph, which seems to prove my assumption correct . . . Some of the captions to the article’s pictures contain errors, for instance, Lou’s Ballot is seen, not at an unspecified race meeting, but at the top of the course during a Shelsley Walsh hill-climb, the Count is shown, not at the “Sandsea” but at the Southsea speed-trials when “Chitty I” made ftd at 73.1 mph over the kilo, in 1922), and “Chitty II” has become confused with “The White Mercedes”, . . — W.B.