Spares and Specials
A surprise visit inflicted last month on K. Kirton at his vast field full of broken motor-cars at Honiton revealed that even this old-car enthusiast finds less demand than formerly for comic motors. In consequence, Kirton now concentrates on modern spares for export, and his stock should prove intriguing to those builders of hybrids who favour fairly late components, as Robert Peaty did when he built his Hillman-engined Vauxhall Velox. “I have never driven one” said Kirton, a twinkle in his eye as he viewed the vast array of bent and battered moderns from which his unique spares stock is derived. “What do you think I drive myself ? ” he asked, adding that he had just sold his Twenty Rolls. We guessed, and guessed wrongly. The answer is an Austin Seven. Yet Kirton still retains a few museum pieces, notably one of Cecil Burney’s real veterans ; an immense prewar Sunbeam landaulette bearing a ” Phantom III” badge on its low radiator and kept reverently beneath a tarpaulin ; a racing Arrol-Aster ; a most imposing 40/50 Delage a twin-cam six-cylinder Lea-Francis, and an early four-cylinder Vauxhall.
He hankers to return to Brooklands, where he last raced a “80/98,” and over reminiscences of the Leylands and Hooker-Thomas, divulged that he will only do so with a racing-car possessed of cylinders big enough to put his head into. Kirton once told me he considered most of the aero-engined Brooklands cars to be undergeared, believing a final ratio of 1.5 to 1 or thereabouts more suitable than the 2.0 to 1 or 2.5 to 1 axles invariably employed. The difficulty was to obtain the desired ratio, and the secret, he told me, is to use certain lorry axles. There must still be lots of old cars in far places. In Cornwall a wayside garage tried to sell me a pushrod Salmon (the job with eight, not four, push-rods) and the owner talked intelligently of all the ancient marques we mentioned, telling of a single-cylinder Sizaire-Berwick delivered to Ilfracombe as late as 1925, of a pre-war Bentley quite recently smashed by
gypsies, and of a wrecked 3-litre Bentley renovated with the aid of Darracq body and wheels and a Buick rear axle at a profit of £120. In Newquay we saw a very fine Lorraine-Dietrich and the ” bag ” during a 300-mile run home included two small Panhards, a model-T Ford used as a sweet-shop, and a RustonHornsby breakdown lorry. Incidentally, the terrible sign-posting of Plymouth is in direct contrast to the efficient arrangements in Bodmin.
Forrest Lycett’s 8-litre Bentley is truly a magnificent motor-car. We timed it at Brooklands recently to beat the British standing mile record unofficially. The car was stripped of wings and screen, and had Dunlop racing tyres, but was otherwise in road trim. Later, the flying half-mile was clocked at 125 m.p.h., two up. Lycett will probably have a crack at this standing start mile record shortly. It stands at present to the credit of John Cobb and the Napier-Railton, at 102.52 m.p.h.
The record is, of course, the average of two runs, one in either direction, whereas we were only able to time the car the anti-clockwise way. Lycett says that the return run should be even faster, because you can pull down early off the Byfleet, always provided you move out to the middle of the Railway Straight about by the half-way timing box, so as to be able to safely negotiate the Members’ Banking at the very considerable speed that the Bentley will by now have attained. Do not imagine that because of its docility the 8-litre is unimpressive on the Track. Its exhaust note is distinctly strident, to watch it leap from the big bump at the spot on the banking rim where only Pressmen may congregate is to understand how difficult is the driver’s task, and to travel as passenger at over two miles per minute (or two m.p.m. as Lycett puts it)—a privilege enjoyed by very few mortals— is a lesson in how the Bentley must be humoured as it flys round the Byfleet with a series of skittish tail wags. It is rumoured that G. P. Harvey Noble may soon
attempt to better the “fastest ever” timed speed at the Track (at present Cobb’s kilometre at 88.52 m.p.h. with the Napier-Railton) with the Bi-motore Alf aRomeo which he will drive in the outer-circuit race on September 17th. The Alfa is said to reach 170 m.p.h. along the straight and apparently Noble doesn’t altogether hate it. But they say its engines will be removed and put into monoposto Alfa chassis after this last fling.
Goodbye Lea Bridge
Midget car cinder track racing at Lea-Bridge is no more. One of the directors, G. ” Jimmy ” Baxter, in a farewell radio speech and a farewell programme article, tried to blame it on lack of efficient cooperation from the motor-people. Approached about this, J. A. Prestwich preferred to suggest to us that lack of money closed the track. Meanwhile, midget racing goes on every Saturday afternoon at the Crystal Palace speedway.
The Skirrows do not seem to be lapping much faster than did Dick Nash when he established the lap record there with a carefully-shrouded ” Spook ” many moons ago.
The 66 Bira “-Dobson Duel “
The ” Bira “-Dobson duel which will be a feature of the Crystal Palace meeting on October 8th should draw an excellent gate, and once again we must hand it out to Harry Edwards for instituting a novelty. But to prove anything the drivers should use the same car and be timed on separate runs, say of 5 laps each, drawing lots as to who takes the car out first. Other races are the 52-Mile Imperial Trophy Race run in heats and a final and yet another sports-car race, over ten miles. Entries close September 14th.
While we are not able to offer you red-hot statistics as a result of expert manipulation of a super-sliderule, like certain other motor scribes, we have just discovered that a difference of 30 m.p.g. and 40 m.p.g. is not going to mean very much, expressed as spread over a year’s motoring. At 1/6 a gallon (average of cheap or better fuel) 10,000 miles at 30 m.p.g. costs £25 and the same mileage at 40 m.p.g. costs £18 15s. We obtained those figures from a Charles Letts diary which Bellevue Garage send every year to their friends—Letts, of course, used to race an M.G. Now anyone who cannot afford an extra fuel bill of £6 5s. a year probably cannot afford a car, anyway. Yet the fact remains that we do, most of us, worry about a 10 m.p.g. variation in consumption in the wrong direction. Probably the answer is that fuel so often has to be paid for in ready cash. At all events, a high performance car that does a good consumption is a highly delightful possession. Alas, performance and good m.p.g. seldom go together. You can, of course, get 45 m.p.g. and 55 m.p.h. out of a good Austin Seven and usually not less than 40 m.p.g. and 45 m.p.h. from a poor example. The Morgan lads get around 60 m.p.g. with 65 to 75 m.p.h. on top, which is why we will willingly publish any correspondence relating to converting a ” Moggy ” into a four-wheeler. The late Eric Fernihough went one better, with a 494 c.c. single-cylinder air-cooled J.A.P. engine in a special
Morgan frame, which took records at Brooklands at nearly 74 m.p.h. in 1926 and which did 60 to 70 m.p.g. Full details in MOTOR SPORT of August 1926. But, generally speaking, speed eats fuel, and how much engines of differing sizes vary is clearly seen in the table below, compiled from data obtained during MOTOR SPORT road-tests, when fuel consumption is checked over a big mileage as you yourself would take a check.
One wonders what the future holds in store. Already the General Motors engineers manage 42 m.p.g. with a maximum of 60 m.p.h. with the Vauxhall Ten, using wide-gap ignition and weakened mixture, and the new Sunbeam-Talbot has such a layout. Most of us crave at least 65 m.p.h., and a cruising speed of 50, and to get that and 60 m.p.g. as well would be very nice indeed. Possibly an efficient o.h.v. 600 c.c. fourcylinder engine with wide-gap ignition by Lucas may realise such a dream—one day !
Congratulations to G. M. Giles on his promotion from Col. to Brig.-General.
The Hon. Peter Aitken and Billy Cotton have taken delivery of Type 328 Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.s. * * *
The 1039 2.6-litre M.G., a new model, is rated at 20 h.p., and develops over 100 b.h.p. and 135 b.m.e.p. at 2,600 r.p.m. It runs up to over 5,000 r.p.m. * * *
The Bugatti Owners’ Club can supply Prescott posters to those who will kindly display them.
H.H. The MahArajah of Rajnagar has had a tenyear-old “Phantom I” Rolls-Royce overhauled and re-bodied by Thrupp and Maberly.
A. P. Good has taken delivery of a James Young drop-head coupe V12 Lagonda.
Peter Clark is recovering from head injuries sustained at Bo’ness.
The new closed model H.R.G. was displayed at Brooklands on August 27th—a remarkably smart car that still looks a real motor-car—as it is.