Not Leonce Girardot who, in the heroic age of motor racing, earned this title by the number of times he finished second (he won some races too!), but a crimson Austro-Daimler which, in my teens, I would very much have liked to own. It had been raced hard at Brooklands by George Newman, who also drove a Salmson. He had a well-known motor business in London’s Euston Road, and incidentally went on his honeymoon in a wartime Avro 504.
Clive Dunfee, brother of ‘Bentley Boy’ Jack, had been competing in JP Turner’s 2-litre A-D but, by 1927, he’d acquired the bigger car, which placed second eight times overall! Clive had ceased to run it by ’31 and was sadly killed when the Bentley he was sharing with Jack went over the banking in the 1932 500-Mile Race.
Both Dunfee’s car and Turner’s orange A-D took part in other races apart from the second-placed ones, Dunfee with thirds etc, Turner securing five seconds and also a win when his A-D dead-heated with a 12/50 Alvis in 1926.
Clive’s A-D looked every inch a racing car, with a six-cylinder twin-cam 2994cc (74x116mm) engine fed by twin carburettors and dual ignition from two Bosch magnetos. It was alleged to be a Targa Florio car, though I could never confirm this. In 1932, it was taken over by LF Dove and driven for him by RE Hall. Dunfee had lapped Brooklands in it at 109.22mph. After it ceased to be raced I discovered it, an unexpected sight, in a very small showroom in a Wimbledon cul-de-sac, price tag £100; but its fate is unknown.
After those dominant successes by the Porsche-designed Alpine A-Ds in the Prince Henry Tours and Alpine Trials before WWI, the WienerNeustadt Company followed up with many more successes in Continental post-war events. Herr Neubauer, for instance, won his class in one of the Porsche-engineered Sascha A-Ds with twin-cam alloy-block engine and four-wheel brakes, made in 1100cc and 1500cc forms.
These A-D racing cars (apart from the 19/100 sportscars) were available in this country because A-D aero-engines had been imported by the Scottish firm of Beardmore to Britain with a Mr FW Luther in charge, so after the Armistice he was able to supply these racing cars, too.
Thus Malcolm Campbell won two classes at the 1922 Saltburn sand-races and Luther, in the same 1.5-litre Sascha, with the Deuce of Spades emblem on its radiator cowl, was third in class at Aston hill and at Westcliffe. But Campbell failed to start in the 1922 200-Mile Race, the car probably being sold, perhaps to RB Tennant, who had used a sports Beardmore in sprints in Scotland.
Campbell and Newman may have handled sales for Luther, who had the British A-D concession. What I suspect was that one of the pre-war Alpine A-Ds got here, Woolf Barnato running it at the Track in 1921, and Lucas Scudamoor and then R Sahl drove an 1100cc Sascha for a Major Bradshaw, up to 1925.