AN INVERTED VAUXHALL AND A REBUILT LANCIA
TWO ATTEMPTS TO ACHIEVE THE OWNER’S IDEAL.
HALF the fun of possessing an old car, especially one of sporting type, is that chassis and body may be modified to suit the owner’s requirements on quite a small expenditure, for ” hits” which will fit in may often be bought very cheaply from a car-breaker, or picked
up for a mere song at a local .auction. I remember coming across two very interesting machines of this type, one with a Salmson engine and three-speed gear-box built into a G.N. chassis, also with three gears, giving a range of nine forward and three reverse ratios. Another ingenious vehicle consisted of the front end and engine of .a 12-h.p. A.C., wedded to the four-speed gear-box back axle and chassis of an A.B.C., and some very pretty work was called for to join up the two chassis, which differed considerably in width. These two Machines were constructed, I imagine, just to show that it could be done without any serious object in view, but quite lately I have come across two
specimens which had definitely been built in pursuit of an ideal. In one case it was to get a low centre of gravity on a well-tried chassis, while in the other the designer sought to improve the powerweight ratio of a chassis already famed for its road-holding. The first of these cars was met with in the B.R.D.C. car-park at Shelsley. It was a long powerful-looking black outfit with -a two-seater rating body, suggesting a little Eldridge’s old Mephistopheles, without the front cowling. There was nothing on the hub-caps, radiator or anywhere else to give us a clue as to the make, though I rather felt it might be a pre-war Sunbeam, while my companion favoured Vauxhall. We saw it again that night in the Plough Yard in Cheltenham, and more careful search revealed ” Vauxhall ” on one of the instrument dials. The car belonged to Mr. Carson of the Phcenix Hotel, Hartley Wintney, on the London-Basingstoke road, so down we went one afternoon to investigate this
mysterious car more fully.
The mystery was to some extent cleared up when Mr. Carson raised the bonnet to reveal a side-valve 30-98 engine. In its original state the chassis had been raced at Brooklands some six years ago, and had been later used on the road, until the owner suddenly had the ingenious idea of lowering the centre of gravity by turning the chassis right over so that it passed under both the axles. As will be understood by anyone who has tried the job. of converting chassis, this undertaking involved a tremendous amount of work, but after two years the Vauxhall is .again on the road., complete except for a few details such as the speedometer drive.
The semi-elliptic springs in front have been inverted so that their concave surfaces are once more upwards, and the front ends are hung from the dumb-irons by the original ones which were used at the rear, while special hangers had to be built up above the chassis to carry the rear ends. The front axle comes off one of the old 3 litre T.T. cars and special brackets were made to carry the front brake mechanism and the shock-absorbers.
The kick-up (now ” kick-down “) at the back of the chassis simplified greatly the task of remounting the rear axle, which is carried on the original springs and shackles, but the propellor shaft has been reduced in length. The engine and gearbox have also gone back into place quite neatly in the inverted frame.
A Rover radikor has been used owing to the difficulty of putting back the old one, and two standard Vauxhall petrol tanks are fixed one on top of the other at the rear of the chassis. The body is a rakish-looking affair with a straight top Line rather suggesting a three-litre Sunbeam on a larger scale, and with its cycle-type wings has the air of some Grand Prix car in honourable retirement.
The car put up quite a:good performance at Lewes this year, though a little outclassed by the ” Spook,” which was also entered in the unlimited racing class! Mr. Carson has not yet fitted a speedometer, and so is unable to state the speed of the car in its new guise, but in the old days it lapped Brooklands at 85, with a maximum of 73 in third. It handles well (Continued on next page.)