The World's fastest cyclecar

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When as a young boy I was given a ‘tip’ by visiting friends or relations, I spent the modest present not on chocolate but on the current Copy of The Light Car and Cyclecar. Around June 1920, aged 8, I was excited to find in this estimable weekly (price 3d) a piece about Captain A G F Nash’s racing GN. There were intriguing pictures of this very slim single-seater and some clear drawings of its special aspects.

The racing GN’s engine dated back to 1914, put into a new ‘dog and chain’ chassis in 1918. It had pushrod oh valves above the two air-cooled barrels in an arrangement with Austro-Daimler associations, adopted by H.R Godfrey, Nash’s partner, and the G in GN. It used lightened aluminium pistons, and two leads ran from the total-loss oil tank to the crankcase and the main bearings.

A single carb fed into the curved inlet pipe between the cylinders. The chassis differed little from roadgoing GN cyclecars but the upper leaf of the quarter-elliptic front springs acted as a damper, with Houdaille shock-absorbers and rubber buffers to the rear quarter elliptics. Steering was by the primitive wire and bobbin system, and an exhaust ran down each side of the pointednosed body — no silencer stipulations then. Outboard rear brakes sufficed and fuel was carried in a tank in the tail, fed by a pressure pump from a downed German Fokker. The wire wheels had 650×65 Palmer tyres. ‘Archie’ pressed on a big rectangular accelerator pedal instead of the tiny naillike one on standard GNs, and he had only a100mph speedo, rev counter and air pressure gauge to look to.

Named ‘Kim’, this new GN its title new achieving 80mph at Brooklands. It made its debut there at the 1920 JCC Light Car Race but retired with a broken tappet rod, after practice laps at 76 mph. At the Whit-Monday races ‘Kim’ won the Light Car Handicap, and the Cyclecar race from scratch at 72.75mph. Then at Thundersley Church hillclimb ‘Kim’, in spite of Nash waving spectators off the road, was 1.8sec faster than Malcolm Campbell’s Talbot ‘Blue Bird’.

At the Summer races the GN won the last event, a sprint, at 72.5mph, and at the 1920 Shelsley Walsh hillclimb Nash won the light car class by a full 26sec from Bird’s Calthorpe. At the Westcliffe speed trials H R Godfrey won two classes on his first acquaintance with the car, and at South Harting hill `Kim’ again took two classes. Disaster then struck at the August Brooklands meeting: Nash lost it on a wet patch and went backwards through the Railway Straight fence, being pinned under `Kim’ and cracking a collar bone. However he soon built `Kim II’, with a longer wheelbase to improve stability, and went on to gain even more successes with it.

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