An Isotta Fraschini Puzzle

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I sometimes think that I was put on this earth, ineffectively, to try to answer motor racing puzzles. The most recent, put by a young Formula One mechanic, relates to an Isotta-Fraschini, the great 7.4-litre straight-eight, nine-bearing car which I have felt was trying hard to enter Hispano-Suiza territory but perhaps not quite succeeding. What I am faced with are pictures of one of these I-Fs being raced; it has a T registration, assigned to Durham CC from 1922, but was probably photographed in Jersey.

One picture shows the car being tow-started, and it does not need Sherlock Holmes to note that the engine has not run, or not for long, otherwise the passenger would not have his left arm resting on the outside exhaust-pipe! Another shot is of driver and passenger, wearing early m/c-type crash-hats, on a road which does not suggest Shelsley Walsh or Prescott. The final photo is of the same chaps, goggles down, at the start of a sand-race, the I-F carrying the number 7, the other cars in view being a SuperSports Morgan three-wheeler, what I think is an Alvis with completely cutaway cockpit-side, a road equipped three-litre Bentley and what could be an A7 Special. If I had to guess at the rest I might opt for HE for one of them, but the white job with fully-flared mudguards defeats me…

I at first thought that the I-F was the car once owned by John Bolster, which he advertised in Motor Sport in 1947 and which Stan Waine bought, and which I recall appearing in VSCC events many years ago. But this was YR3294. Nothing was heard of it after the early 1950s, until Stan revealed all in another magazine not long ago and on which I do not intend to poach. So I can only add that the J-reg I-F does not have the four carb intakes which protruded from the bonnet of Waine’s car, and he records that after he sold his in 1957 at the time of the Suez Crisis, it apparently went to Count Lurani’s stable in Italy. So all I can tell the enquirer is that we do seem to have found another I-F that was raced in club events, unless the photographs are of the car before Bolster bought it. They were thought possibly to have been taken in 1937 and John Bolster would have carved his I-F about long after that.

In the pictures the car looks pretty standard, with longtall two-seater body; the sand-racing was obviously at Bouley Bay, for which the I-F’s offside front fixed-cycle type mudguard was pulled down very low, presumably to catch sand and water. The tow-start was in a main street of shops – does anyone know of a sprint course close thereto? I confess defeat; the pictures were found by Damien le Brevilly’s relative S G Horton, and YR is a London Registration, from 1926. Comments welcome!

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