RUMBLINGS, September 1939
A very Good Show.
THE above heading refers not to something which we saw during a flying visit to the French capital, but to a run, officially timed by the B.A.R.C., Undertaken at Brooklands on July 18th by Capt. George Eyston. The object was that entertaining one of attempting to motor further in an hour with a production motor car than anyone had done before. The car was our old friend the Continental 43-litre Bentley streamlined saloon. It was entirely successful. Eyston did 42 laps in the sixty minutes, or 114.638 miles. The fastest lap was at 115.02 m.p.h., and the slowest was done a mere second slower, the car running remarkably consistently throughout. Actually, it clocked eight laps at 115.02 m.p.h., and at 3,800 r.p.m. it held 116 m.p.h. without over-revving. Fuel consumption came out at 11 m.p.g. of B.P. Ethyl. The lubricant was Castrol ; the tyres were Dunlop. The car used for the attempt is now in regular use in the hands of Embiricos. It easily beat the previous best standard-car-hour, set by Bugatti, although the Bugatti did one lap rather faster. After the hour run Eyston covered 10 miles in 5 mins. 12.99 secs., doing one lap at 115.55 m.p.h., and reaching 116 m.p.h. off the Byfleet. Present at the track was Millard Buckley, Rolls-Royce and Bentley publicity manager, and W. A. Robotham, Bentley experimental engineer. Naturally, the car ran with lamps and faired wings in place. In sober fact this run, exhibiting entire reliability at an exceptionally high track speed, is a very fine tribute indeed to Bentley design and construction and British automobile engineering ability. That such speed is possible from a closed car possessed of such wellpraised refinement and proven economy is adequate emphasis that the engineers at Derby are still right up to date and ahead of all rivals. The reliability in any case, is taken for granted where this marque is concerned. There seems little excuse for buying abroad when super-speed is the requirement, and if fate bade us go to the ends of the earth rapidly there is no car we should choose quite so confidently as the sober, push-rod 4i-litre Bentley: If the actual car
is shown at Earl’s Court next month it should be the major attraction of the Show. For such achievements, however effortlessly accomplished, are not casually realised.
Soiled or Spoiled.
From thoughts of a Bentley which you can buy for something in the region of fifteen hundred pounds, let us turn to secondhand motor-cars. The purchase of one’s first car is a great event, be it ever so bumble. A little advice to the very keen but impercunious enthusiast. Before you buy, decide exactly what you require the car to do, and how much you can spend while leaving a little in band for such desirable purchases as a new battery, new tyres, new glass in a discoloured screen, etc.
If you have long runs to do almost daily and the car is now going to serve in lieu of the puffer, buy reliability. In other words, a car of known servicibility, for which spares are easily procurable, and not of high tune. If you want to use the car in a general way, buy a really weather proof body, even if it is fine the day you go bargain hunting. Only if you have the use of another car, or really motor at week-ends for le sport alone, venture to buy an old or little known sports model of what the catalogues call ” advanced design.” This applies to cars costing 1,-,50 or under and if you defy these rules and get away with it you are luckier than most.
Remember that although different makes vary immensely in respect of character and performance, you are buying used, probably hard-used, machinery, and sometimes a very shaky sample of a given breed will be inferior to a more sound example of something else, no matter what the original road tests tell you. However, in general, all cars hold their performance very reasonably, so be warned and don’t fall for abnormally low-priced examples of classic models.
New tyres all round, a new battery, relined brakes and a rebore will do much to restore confidence, if you are not used to buying secondhand, and will be almost essential where the really cheap cars are concerned. But having seen to these things, how miserable if a leaky radiator hose, a ” shorting ” lamp lead or a worn magneto coupling lets you down. New World’s Records
Abe Jenkins, before he was badly burned when his Mormon Meteor III of 750 h.p. caught fire at Utah, established four fresh World’s Records. He put up the 50 miles record from 170.27 m.p.h. to 174.2 m.p.h. and set the 1,000 miles record to 170.767 m.p.h., the Six Hours to 170.85 m.p.h. and the 3,000 kiloms. to 168.7 m.p.h. Odd Spots
An amusing incident at Rheims during the 1,500 c.c. race. When Wakefield was touring round to finish second he took time off at Gueux to make a gesture, the one immortalised by Charles Laughton. The local Chef de Police was vastly interested and wanted to know what it was all about. On being told in our perfect French that it was the private sign of Le Club Anglais de Conducteurs he was most impressed. When last seen he was using it on all and sundry ; let’s hope he won’t have to arrest himself when he finds out.
This starting on the handle rule in French races is rather futile as after all the event is for racing cars, not a rally test. Why the cars cannot be pushed is beyond me as its far slower than an electric handle, which is permitted. It’s just as well Abecassis retired on the first lap as he not only didn’t have a handle but there was not even a hole to put one in. The way different people behave while abroad for a race has always been rather a mystery to me—and the natives. Some dicers when the mechanic is in trouble will even get out of bed and come down and
lend a hand while other less helpful people will probbably pinch the mechanic’s bed and leave him to do the lot.
The new official E.R.A. does seem to be having more than its fair share of trouble. I can vouch for the fact that it has passed me at Rheims at 160, quite close enough to appreciate the speed. They do seem to do some funny things all the same. My spy tells me that after Rheims the engine was dismantled and three exhaust valves were found to be nonstandard so they were replaced—mark you just that three. Finding the car went O.K. the idea cropped up of going to Albi after all, so off they went. Result at the end of the first heat while in the lead the other three valves decided they had had enough. Seems funny not replacing all three while they were at it. Great pity Arbuthnot in the Campbell Trophy didn’t content himself with going round fairly gently and getting used to the car before really pressing button
A. If he had avoided that disconcerting spin on the first lap he might quite feasibly have got second place. The car has certainly got what it takes and Arbuthnot will forgive me for saying he gets better every time, so with the tuning and preparation in the hands of the great Giulio Ramponi the car should be about right.
Which reminds me of a good and true story of Ramponi when working for Seaman. After careful planning it was decided to change the make up of the fuel normally used to give a better fuel consumption on the twisty course to be used for the R.A.C. race in the Isle of Man. As Ramponi could’nt go with the car he was asked what jet setting to use and what gear ratio to use. Without even seeing the course he said jet “so and so” and gear ratio “so and so.” Over to the island went the car, went like the proverbial bomb, and walked off with the race. A real mechanic.
Nice win for Brackenbury in an outer at Brooklands, but I suspect the plans went a bit astray. If ” Brack ” had gone straight out for a win in the first outer he was in and Selsdon had hung back I don’t think Selsdon would have been pushed back by F;bby as he was in the next race. Why he could even have retired in the first one and then come out with original start and walked off with the second one giving two nice wins to Lagonda. But if my guess is right he won’t make the same error twice. Considering the Lagondas run on straight petrol their speed was pretty good. If put on dope and with a really good body I can see them doing 140 or so.
Most people will agree that the most improved driver this year is Peter Aitken. The way he absolutely battled with Maclure for the lead in a road race on Bank Holiday was terrific. Less than a year ago he wouldn’t have attempted to dice with Marline.
This habit of the Auto-Union people of covering everything with a rag as soon as the bonnet is lifted if spreading. If you do it with a perfectly standard racing car it causes no end of fun with one’s immediate rivals who start wiring the works for insides the same as yours. Another good one is to paint a red mark of the rev, counter about 1,000 higher than you ever go yourself. This has we think been done in the past with devastating results. Bad luck on Staniland in his try on the outer circuit lap record, trouble I think is stretching inlet valves. If he had gone like he did in practice he would have got the record easily. I timed him in practice on the Saturday at 160 over the flying quarter. If they do get this car right let’s hope someone persuades them to run in the Donington Grand Prix as I feel sure it would finish higher than some of the Germans. Worters as tuner and Staniland as driver is a pretty powerful combine. By the way did you notice that despite the trouble the car did a lap on seven cylinders at 140, that proves all right that the record is theirs. They are now using the same fuel as the Mercs.— nitro benzine—the stuff with the lovely almondy
smell. I’m told they used to put it in cakes until the Minister of Health got wise.
Interesting that in the 1,500 c.c. division of the Swiss Grand Prix the two Alfettes of Farina and Biondetti both beat up Wakefield’s Maserati which rather indicates that the Alfette and the new E.R.A.
would be pretty well matched. In the final Evans Alfa finished one place higher than Wakefield, a thing which would not be likely to happen on either the Brooklands road course or at Crystal Palace. Farina who won the 1,500 c.c. race actually finished higher than Hartmann on the Mere. and Stuck on the AutoUnion which definitely proves something.
Its refreshing to note that the supremacy of the German racing stables is not yet quite complete. In the Ulster Grand Prix, Stanley Woods, who is down to drive a Morgan in the T.T. won the 850 c.c. class managing to finish in front of both Fleischmann and Wunsche on the Auto-Union D.K.W.s He was of course mounted on the old favourite, the Velocette.
The T.T. is going to be rather difficult to follow. There seems to be more Rileys running than there are Rileys although my clever friends tell me this is not possible. The position scents to be that Gerard is driving Brooke’s, Brooke is driving Gerard’s, Parnell is driving Maclures, Maclure is driving Parnell’s. I hope the drivers don’t get all muddled up and lodge a protest against themselves after the race. The amazingly fast run put up by Evans at Prescott has a real gem of a story behind it. Coming down the
hill after practice the gear selector bent. Wilkinson pulled the top off the gearbox and found there was nothing he could do, so Evans was instructed to be very careful putting it into gear on the line and go up the whole way on one gear. He carefully put it into bottom and thought the acceleration was pretty bad getting away. Off came the top again when it was found that although the lever was in one the gear was in second. So for the second run the lever was flung away and the gears wedged in first inside the box, when it a time.