The article on Toni Plowman (Motor Sport, July 1989) brought back happy memories of the immediate post-war era.
It mentions that the dural front axle was discarded as “unsatisfactory”. I wonder if you would like to know the reason why this was so?
Tom had taken me out for a quick blast around Luton to see that all was well with the car. We were returning along the A6 on the long straight stretch at the top of the Barton cutting, and as the road was empty except for two cyclists coming towards us in the distance, Tom turned up the power and we were doing 90-95 mph. Suddenly to our horror the cyclists decided to do a “U-turn” in front of us.
Although they were about half-a-mile down the road, Tom put the anchors on quite hard, and the front of the car went beserk, first dipping and then leaping into the air with about a foot of clearance between the wheels and the road. This continued the whole time the brakes were on, but less so as the speed dropped. Luckily the car kept straight, but altogether it was most frightening.
Once we had calmed down Tom did a repeat at a much lower speed, whilst I watched the front axle to try and see what was happening. When Tom had the axle made it had a much steeper upsweep between the spring pads and the king pins, and when the brakes were put on hard this part twisted alarmingly until the tyres lost adhesion and the whole lot sprung back to normal, throwing the front of the car into the air, with the whole thing being repeated when the wheels were back on the ground. After this fright we went very gently back to the garage, jacked the car up, took the axle off and threw it under the bench, and refitted the old steel axle. I always regret that I could not accompany Tom to Montlhery as this was a fantastic achievement.
Clifford England, Great Barford, Bedfordshire
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