EDITORIAL NOTES., September 1926
Ramblings, Rumours and Reminiscences. Being Asides About All Sorts of Things.
THOTJGH we are still in the thick of the sporting season, rumour is growing busy concerning the Autumn Shows and from what I hear two very interesting exhibitions may be expected. News comes in from Coventry that certain manufacturers propose to stage entirely new models in the motor cycle line, besides which numerous improvements may be expected with reference to further mechanical refinements and additions in the way of accessories.
Perhaps I may be too sanguine in hoping for advances in motor cycle frame design, for up to the present designers have found it difficult to break away from the modified form of diamond frame as used for pedal driven cycles. A little while back, however, one very well-known designer showed me the blue prints of a much improved model embodying many real advances not only with regard to the lay-out of mechanical details, but including a really well conceived frame. Even so the proposition In putting a new machine on the market in these days of fierce competition is not one to be entered upon lightly, though my friend is still persevering with the thankless task of getting the support necessary to start production on a commercial scale. It is early yet to predict what will happen in the sporting car line when the great Olympia Show opens, but there are already quite promising indications. For instance, the Daimler Company have come boldly forth with admittedly sporting models. The Sports Daimler which was described in Motor Sport is now a production model and similar bodies can be supplied for the larger types. I have already been invited to test the new 35-120 h.p. Sports Saloon and will certainly do so as soon as the opportunity presents itself. There is no doubt that these new Daimlers have a wonderful turn of speed as I discovered early this year when testing a standard 20-70 saloon. A trip from London to Exeter and back was easily accomplished in one day and during
the trip we gave two youngsters driving a small racing car—make not observed—the surprise of their sweet young lives. As our horn made a genteel appeal for a little share of our road, two beret capped heads turned to look and seeing a Daimler saloon trying to pass the heads faced forward, a puff of blue Castrolly smoke showing that they did not mean to be overtaken.
As we had been hitting up seventies on the way down, we simply sat on their tail for a few miles, becoming more and more amused at their frantic efforts to escape. At last weary of the huge shape behind they of the racing car drew into the side and with affected nonchalance began to light up their cigarettes. But, bless your soul, we knew that in the matter of m.p.h. the Daimler had got them stone cold.
That new Lea-Francis racer is quite an interesting little bus and no doubt more will be heard of it, for I understand that a new specially ” hot” six cylinder engine is well on the way. If my information is correct the new power unit was designed by Mr. Lord, who was responsible for the Lloyd-Lord four cylinder two-stroke car and other engines. During its early tests in a used Vulcan chassis speeds of over 75 m.p.h. on the road were attained, and as for reliability, the test consisted of some two hundred successive climbs of Kirkstone Pass, during which the only trouble was the cakeing of the ports due to the use of a well-known brand of • lubricating oil, which from its name and reputation ought to have known better.
So we have to look after ourselves with regard to noise again, as Mr. the Home Secretary, informs us. Well, perhaps it is quite as well and our designers and manufacturers especially in the motor-cycle line, must really begin to sit up and take notice. Quite a lot depends, too, on driving, but if everyone takes the little trouble necessary to reduce noise to a reasonable limit no harm will be done. During my recent incarceration in Charing Cross Hospital, watching the welding operation on a tibia and fibula smashed in six places, there was ample opportunity of observing how noisy cars affected people for whom undisturbed sleep was a matter of life and death.
All night long crackling exhausts, roaring exhausts, reverberating exhausts, tinny exhausts and indescribably objectionable exhausts, thundered and spat along King William Street, so that it was only patients who had been doped with morphia who got any sleep at all— until their ears became accustomed to the din.
We live and learn, my masters, and apart from thundering past hospitals at the dead of night, shall we remember on our trips home from town that within the walls of houses in deserted streets, there may be someone lying dangerously ill and the rattle of our exhaust may just break a slumber upon which the very life of the sufferer depends.
Having got that bit of moralising off my chest (and how we all hate moralising !), let me ramble off to more cheerful topics and recall to mind the ever-growing fascination of the type of car described as the” Special.” By this I do not mean the hotted up production type as prepared by manufacturers for such events as the J.C.C. Two Hundred Miles Race, but the hundreds of individual efforts with Braidwood’s funny old machine (described in these columns recently) at one end of the scale and J. G. Parry Thomas’ ” Babs ” at the other. Between these two types are many surprisingly interesting vehicles, some of which appear at Brooklands and elsewhere and some are kept as secret sources of enjoyment by their proud and happy owners. Have you ever, when speeding along on a nippy little car of known make, been hopelessly outclassed by some mediocre looking affair with no pretensions at a sporty appearance ? If so you have probably been the victim of some keen amateur enthusiast, who, faithful to an old and trusted bus has spent time and money in an
outrageously extravagant fashion by hotting up his machine.
In the silent watches of the night he has been busy in his own little workshop pulling certain pieces out of his engine, which wrapped in mysterious packages have found their way to Ewer Street, Southwark, where the Laystall wizards have performed dark operations upon them.
Some of these owners of” specials” are quite content to travel about by omnibus and train for long periods at a stretch so that their beloved cars can be fitted with unstandard parts which give that extra five or ten miles per hour. And it really is a most fascinating game even if it does consume most of one’s available pocket money.
Talking of ” specials ” I wonder how Malcolm Campbell is getting on with that new fire eater of his, or does his new nest of” Bugs” keep him too fully occupied to attack worlds’ records once again ?
Our Editorial notes last month on the subject of a brighter Brooklands seem to have aroused considerable interest, judging by the letters we have received.
Under the circumstances we have revived the correspondence columns in this and future numbers, and invite readers to write us on any matter of interest.
We are publishing a selection of letters on the Brooklands question, one of them being from one who takes us severely to task for reviling the ordinary B.A.R.C. meeting. Far be it from us to discourage this club, as our correspondent suggests ; in fact, Motor sport policy from the beginning has been solely to encourage racing and competition, being, as we are, dependent on these features for our very existence.
Our remarks therefore were made in a genuine attempt to improve the ordinary Brooklands meeting as a spectacle, and we still maintain them.
We maintain that the spectators on the hill are ” uninformed ” in so far as they are unaware of any non-starters, re-handicaps, winners’ speeds, etc., that may be posted on the score boards in the paddock. The crowd in the paddock, on the other hand, can see very little of the actual racing, unless they are among the uncomfortable crowd on the small grandstand.
Our correspondent, quite rightly, avers that” racing essentially means covering the course at utmost speed, and we agree with him that the B.A.R.C. handicap event does produce speed, if nothing else ; but the point we wish to emphasise is that sheer speed, at any rate at Brooklands, is not, of itself, an interesting spectacle.
The track is too large and distant for any real impression of speed, whereas the semi-road race introduces fast cornering, which is altogether more spectacular and exciting.
With regard to the latter point, the bends should ‘ not be as ” slow” as they were in the British Grand Prix, as apart from the antics of one driver the cornering was rather uninteresting.
We quite agree that a race for privately owned sports models is of little interest except to the drivers and perhaps from the point of view of the prospective purchaser.