Letters from readers, September 1943


Herewith the answer to the great Lory crankpin mystery. Referring to the original text of Lory’s paper I see that he suggests rollers 6.5 mm. diameter by 12.7 mm. He then goes on to say that he likes a “bielle” of 18 mm. “largeur,” and having tested this word out on a French technical acquaintance, he says that Lory meant this to refer to the width of the crankpin.

I think there can be absolutely no doubt at all that this is so, particularly as the word “bielle” means “connecting rod,” whilst the crankshaft is a “vilebrequin,” which word does not come into the sentence containing 18 mm. at all.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Laurence Pomeroy.



A recent letter from a fellow enthusiast still in the old country has prompted me to pen you a few lines. Although I have read Motor Sport monthly since 1932, I am a little out of touch these days with “the Sport.” The reason for this is that since going abroad I have expressed a desire for my copies to be delivered to my home address and not sent out to me, as this will spoil these, among other things, for the future binding. And shall I have a spate of sheer joyful reading on my return!

This time of the seemingly far-off peacetime year would see the racing season in full blast. As a follower mainly at Donington, I would be looking forward to the “Nuffield.” So far I’ve seen each race since 1935, and the lesser events back to August, 1933.

High lights in my memory over the period of years at the Leicestershire course are: 1933, the duels between the late Hugh Hamilton with his K.3 M.G. and Lindsay Eccles and the ex-Craig single wipe “2.3” G. P. Bugatti. 1934, the Q-type M.G.s and the Riley successes of Paul and Dixon, plus again Eccles with his twin-cam “2.3” Bugatti at the July meeting. 1935, Fairfield’s victory with the “1,100” E.R.A. in the Nuffield Trophy, and earlier, the advent of R.C. Shuttleworth’s momoposto Alfa and the ”3.3″ Bugatti of A.H.L. Eccles. 1936, the battle royal between Earl Howe and his blue-and-silver E.R.A. and Seaman’s Delage in the 200 Mile Race – Howe passing the black Delage on the apex of Starkeys. The Grand Prix “3.8” Alfa of Hans Ruesch, victor of the second Donington Grand Prix. 1937, Walker’s dirt track methods with the black Whitehead E.R.A. in the rain, British Empire Trophy. Duel between the works E.R.A.s of Mays and Dobson, and the “Bira” Maserati in the 200 Mile Race – no, I didn’t see THE G.P.! 1938, “Bira’s” “Hanuman” E.R.A. victory in the “Nuffield.” Gerard’s Delage versus Lace (Darracq) in the T.T. – Nuvolari coming out of the Hairpin in the Auto Union. 1939, unfortunately short duel between Percy McLure, blown Riley, and the independently-sprung E.R.A. of “Bira.” A great pity after such a fine show that Percy was put out with gearbox trouble at nine laps.

Need I add the very best of good wishes to that pukka motor sporting magazine, our beloved Motor Sport. Until the day when open exhausts will mean more than aircraft engines, Good luck.

I am, Yours, etc.,

L.A/C. Kenneth N. Teasdale.

(ex. E.R.A. Club).

R.A.F., M.E.F.



At the age of 13 I drove my father’s car for the first time, it being an Oakland Six; rather a large car but of only 18-h.p. I enjoyed being at the wheel and that started my enthusiasm for motors and motoring, which has increased with the years. At about this time I bought an old F.N. motor-cycle; it was a single cylinder and was the type with a shaft drive and bevel gears to the rear wheels, and of course the shaft and universal joints were missing. However, I devised a method of making a drive with universal joints by using a short length of water pipe cut at the ends so that a cross pin could slide two ways; this was done by many hours of hard work with a hacksaw, and all for a ride of about mile, as the soft metal of the water pipe refused to stand the strain any longer at this stage. After this my father had other cars – Buick, Studebaker, Chevrolet – which I drove for many thousands of miles. Later I acquired a Douglas motor-cycle, 2 3/4-h.p. belt drive, and improved the performance quite a bit by a rebore and having the piston ring grooves turned out considerably wider and having rings made to fit; this in addition to attention to and advancing the magneto made this quite the fastest Douglas in the district, and I well remember the many friendly races that I won on the old Doug. I also at this time had a two-stroke Excelsior.

The first car of my own was a Rover 9 h.p.; it was in rather bad condition when I bought it for £25 and I spent many days of hard work on it, as I pulled down the whole engine and rebuilt it. On completion it went very well, but I then had the usual trouble with the differential and had to renew some parts; however, the whole job was well worth while, as the car went very well for a long time. A sleeve-valve Falcon Knight was next on the list. I did not keep this car long, but while I had it it was quite satisfactory, and the motor very quiet. At about this time my brother and I had a Frontenac Ford. We had a lot of fun in this bus, minus a body. I next owned a Morris-Cowley and I still have much respect for these little cars for the great deal of hard work that they will stand without protest. I had this car for some years and carried out all the repairs myself, which I must say were very few. It is still performing good service for a farmer in this district; I often see it in the town on market days.

Next was a Huprnobile Six with a very nice sports body in two colours; this was a thoroughly reliable car – it had a good turn of speed and always looked well, a good example of the better class of American car of 1932. The car following this was a Riley Nine, and these cars, I think, were the best small cars in the world. My Riley had an amazing performance even though it had an ugly double-seater body; the enjoyment I derived from driving it I shall never forget. The design and workmanship of the motor is excellent, and it would sing along at 60 m.p.h. or higher all day if necessary. I eventually sold the Riley, but the new owner takes good care of it and often tells me how in third gear it will lose more modern cars on a hill.

I was without a car of any sort for some time, but I now have a car which has good performance and a personality all its own – a “Blue Label” 3-litre Bentley with a nice clover-leaf body. My Bentley is in good order and a real pleasure to drive, although this is not a great deal as the petrol ration at present is only three gallons per month. The whole car has a solid all-one-piece feel, and the notes from the through pipe sounds well.

My brother, Flight-Lieutenant B.H. Higgins, D.F.C., of the R.A.A.F., has some interesting motors. A Midget which for two years held the Australian record in its class, a Rudge Four o.h.v. cycle, and a Harley-Davidson Special 13-h.p. job, and not least of all a supercharged Aston-Martin with a clover-leaf body, a great little car. Both my brother and I wish Motor Sport every success and assure you that every copy is looked for eagerly and read from cover to cover, so keep it going.

I am, Yours, etc.,

W.F. Biggins.

Wangaratta, Australia.



I have been intending to write you re the matter of the bit of B. and M. Aston-Martin news from Mr. Pomeroy, because it is definitely not accurate, and a true statement of the facts is this:–

In the beginning three chassis were supplied to give a wheelbase of 8 ft. 6 in., but these proved too weak, by reason of their being only 3 in. deep. One was out down to 8 ft., and this was “Bunny.”

The designer of the s.v. engine was one Robb, late of Coventry Simplex, who also designed the vertical 16-valve o.h.c. engine. This was designed to have battery and coil ignition, but this was not fitted, and in place a vertical-driven magneto was fitted.

Through Zborowski, Gallop persuaded Henri to design the 16-valve twin-cam engine over the Christmas holidays of 1921 for the modest sum you have stated. The dimensions of the various parts in this engine are exclusively Peugeot. The 8-valve twin-camshaft engine was a failure and was definitely NOT used in H.W. Cook’s 200 Mile Race car. The snag of the o.h.v. engines was the centre main bearing. All the different heads (that is 16-valve vertical, 16-valve twincam and 8-valve twin-cam) were mounted on the same base.

No cars had dry-sump lubrication; those with it were converted afterwards. (This corrects an incorrect statement of mine.)

I am on the track of “N****r,” one of the original racing B. & M. Astons. This was sold by Lambert to the police in Wakefield; since that I have traced it to Stockton-on-Tees. The car was a short wheelbase with artillery wheels, no front brakes and one of the light semi-streamlined bodies. A different body was fitted by its owner in Wakefield.

By the way, 52 or 53 cars were actually made, not including the special racing cars.

I am, Yours, etc.,

F.E. Ellis.




I find Mr. Hampton’s reply to my letter very interesting, but I, too, hold my own opinion re British and foreign motorcars. It is surprising to me that Mr. Hampton says, in effect, that the M.G. successes were very seldom obtained abroad. To name a few, M.G.s have scored at the 750 c.c. race, German G.P. twice, 800 c.c. Eiffelrennen twice, Mille Miglia team prize, Acerbo Cup Junior race, American A.C. Grand Prix, Swiss Coupe des Voiturettes, 24-hour Bol d’Or, Circuits di Modena, etc. Then he goes on to praise the qualities of the Lancia “Aprilia.” For my own part, I would prefer (a) an M.G. 1 1/2-litre, (b) an Alvis “12/70,” (c) an S.S. Jaguar 1 1/2-litre, (d) Riley 1 1/2-litre, to any standard Aprilia in existence. Finally, turning to the cheaper cars, Mr. Hampton enthuses over Renault, Fiat, and Citroen. Whilst admitting these to be good cars, I still fail to see why they are superior to Morris, Austin, Standard, Hillman, and other British cars of the same price.

For example, the F.W.D. 12-h.p Citroen has a maximum speed of 63 m.p.h. as against the Series III Morris Twelve’s 70 m.p.h. The 8-h.p. Renault, which incidentally is taxed as a nine, has a maximum of 62 m.p.h. against the 8-h.p. Standard’s 61 m.p.h. Again, in the 10-h.p. class, what can the continent oppose to Morris, Austin, Hillman, Standard, Ford, Wolseley, Sunbeam-Talbot, Jowett, and others?

I fully recognise, of course, that Mr. Hampton is sincere in his belief, but I think that he is quite mistaken, just the same. Perhaps he will write again in answer to this letter and thus develop the discussion, which I am really enjoying.

I am, Yours. etc.,

A.F. Brookes.

St. Helens, Lancs.

[We are glad to endorse the M.G. successes. Nevertheless, speed is not everything, and this discussion, depending as it does on the indefinable qualities rather than the concrete, is apt to become pointless if continued. Perhaps Mr. Hampton has driven mostly continentals and Mr. Brookes mostly Britishers, but, having driven many of both, we rather think that to please the enthusiast our manufacturers should study Lancia, B.M.W., Fiat, D.K.W., etc. But then, do they want to please enthusiasts? – Ed.]



The Sequeville-Hoyau described in your August issue seems, from its body, to be of 1921-22 vintage, as surmised, although the low chassis and engine numbers suggest something earlier perhaps 1919. The 1919 chassis, however, had a Rhone dynamotor, not separate units, and the Zenith fed through the block. The gear ratios were interesting: 4 1/2, 5 1/2, 11, 15 1/2, giving almost equal speeds (50 and 45) on top and third, but only about 20 on second, which could with advantage have been raised to 8 to 1. I remember the quaint timing gear – a short inclined cross shaft linking the camshaft to the crankshaft by two pairs of skew gears. Very quiet and durable, but a hell of a thing to cope with single-handed. Bore and stroke remained for years at 60 x 110 (1,244 c.c.). The clutch was a single plate between Ferodo discs, but may have been altered later.

I went in a Van der Plas 2-seater a few times in 1924 or 1925 and found performance decidedly brisk up to the modest maximum. Total weight, of course, was low (about 12 cwt.) and the brake horse-power not far from 20.

An extremely practical but hearse-like saloon body was available. This, and the fully floating axle, created quite an impression in 1919!

Re Jowett’s (July issue): (i) one was successfully blown in 1935 and performed phenomenally; (ii) 68 m.p.h. equals 4 1/2 thousand r.p.m. I don’t believe stronger valve springs and two carburetters would hold the engine together for long at this speed! I can push mine to 4,300 – but only for a few seconds at a time.

I am, Yours, etc.,

J.R. Edisbury.

Bebington, Cheshire.



Naturally, I have been extremely interested in the excellent articles on the old Astons, and have sent Ellis a few additional scraps of information, etc. May I venture to correct one or two statements in the article in your current issue? The name of the designer of the side valve and vertical 16 valve o.h.v. engine was Robb, who had recently been employed by Coventry Simplex.

The 8 o.h.v. engine shown at Olympia in 1925 was an adaptation designed by the Hon. John Benson, son of Lord Charnwood.

It was never raced at Brooklands, and was not a success – but I must go easy on this, as my connection with the firm ceased in late 1925. The engine used by Cook in the “200” was an example of the Henri design, but the block had been over-bored, and a crankshaft with reduced throw had to be fitted. Yes, there was an A.M. during the 1914-18 war: s.v. engine with valve caps ground in and held down by a bus-bar. Designed by Robb also, and the engine you know fitted on its base. Transmission by (late) E.G. Wrigley, and largely drawn by Cecil Kimber!

Heartiest congratulations on the very high level of excellence of Motor Sport; how do you do it ?

I am, Yours, etc.,

Lionel Martin.




I was most interested to read about “Team Bentleys” in February’s Motor Sport. Your correspondent may be interested to know that I own a 1926 Team Car (No. 8, raced by Glen Kidston), registration No. MK5205. Since purchasing this car in 1936 I have fitted it with a 4 1/2-litre engine. I used it constantly up till the middle of 1941 on my military duties, and it is now stored at my home in London. I also, until recently, owned a 9-ft. wheelbase (pear-shaped rad.) 3-litre, and also a 1925 T.T. 3-litre, which I keep for spare parts – not that I have needed any! Best wishes to Motor Sport.

I am, Yours, etc.,

F.H. Thomas (Capt., R.E.).

Airgraph, India.



Mr. B. FitzPatrick in his letter (July, 1943) certainly libels the English motor designers both on their past and present achievements, with his repertoire of popular clichés so unkindly used. Anybody who attempts to ridicule the vintage motor car is rather on Tom Tiddler’s ground. People who run these worthy veterans are not fools; they are well aware of what is available on the market. A standard “12/50” Alvis big-port (not that many are standard) with a maximum of about 72 and doing 26 m.p.g., or a 4 1/2-litre giving 90 m.p.h. with 17 m.p.g., will compare quite favourably with the modern English or continental car in most respects other than, probably, acceleration, silence and lightness of control. But to offset this they have greater longevity and much lower depreciation costs. And what is more important, there is a class of enthusiast, both here and abroad, who find more satisfaction in both owning and maintaining a veteran.

As for our more modern designs I am surprised that an apparently knowledgeable person should refer to them as “absolute abortions.” The English motor-car is essentially built for English roads, for which it is eminently suitable. However, I will allow that they may specialise so much on that score that once the average English car comes off the hard made-up highway the suspension may not prove very successful. And I am thinking that in view of the present rubber shortage it is fortunate for us that the majority of our motors carry non-independent suspension.

To capture foreign markets we must build special cars, suitably designed to meet the requirements of the particular countries concerned.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Donald Parker (F/O., R.A.F.).




It was very refreshing to read the defence of women drivers in your July issue.

I am no feminist in the usual sense, but I must say I heartily agree with most of the points made by your contributor, “P.D.B.”

I particularly enjoyed the reference to “rich young nincompoops” and their habits. It reminded me so forcibly of the “twerps” one was compelled to listen to, and drive amongst, at and en route to and from meetings before the war.

My motoring before the war was confined to some trials and an occasional rally in such cars as Alvis, M.G. Magnette, Lancia and H.R.G., but the pleasure my brother and I derived from such events as we were able to find time for was almost nullified by what was the (to us) objectionable behaviour of so many others who took part. The intense conversation of both sexes, the noisy drinking habits (we prefer a quiet, steady session in the “men only” bar, when you can find it) and the absurd attempts to impress one another with exaggerated boastings, made us wonder whether motoring Sport was worth while after all. Perhaps things will be different after the war, but I very much doubt it.

Sorry to sound so gloomy, but I just had the urge after reading “P.D.B.’s” article to let her know, through you, that at least one “mere male” agrees with her and at the same time air a grievance I have had for years against so many of the motoring fraternity.

I am, Yours, etc.,

W.S. Perkins.


[This seems an unusually black picture, but this letter may do a little good somewhere. Actually, we hope Mr. Perkins will not give up motoring sport for the reasons he outlines – it takes all sorts to make a world, and experience has taught us that one may make thousands of acquaintances and a few friends from association with any pastime. It is the few real friendships which outweigh all the shortcomings evident in one’s acquaintances. – Ed.]



As one who has been exiled from the “old country” for a matter of 2 1/2 years, I should like to congratulate you on keeping up such a high standard in these difficult times.

I receive your paper regularly, I am pleased to say, and it is amazing how much I am cheered up on the arrival of each monthly copy, for out here I’m afraid real enthusiasts are very rarely met. I particularly enjoy the “Cars I Have Owned” series that you are now running.

Conquered enemy territory has so far yielded nothing more interesting to my eyes than a few Lancia “Aprilias” and one of the ultra-streamlined 1100-c.c. Fiat saloons.

But I can pronounce the former G.P. circuit as still in first-class order, and can now well imagine why such high lap speeds were possible on it.

Before the war I was merely an ardent spectator of the Sport, owning a  1 1/2-litre M.G. saloon, but when things start “cracking” again, my brother and I intend to be active participants in sports car events for a beginning. At the moment the car we have in mind is a Type 328 B.M.W., pending, of course, the introduction of newer and better post-war models.

May those enthusiastic days be not far distant!

I am, Yours, etc.,

S.L. Wallace.




Motor Sport for May has just reached me, and may I add my thanks to you for continuing publication to the many who have already written? It is for me one of the most welcome pieces of mail I receive in this dreadful country. The only pleasant pieces of motor cars I’ve seen out here are 1 1/2-litre Bugatti and s.s.v. Mercédès in Cairo, and Amilcar, 3-litre Bentley, modern Talbot (Darracq), and Horch in Alexandria. Reference the May issue, page 90, depicts “Green’s s.v. Aston-Martin.” Surely this is an H.R.G. at Prescott? I’ve been right with all the cover photographs so far, and though far from any reference, and memory is rusty, I feel I’m right. Also I think I recognise the car on page 103, “Plugs,” as a Talbot, French G.P., 1938 (?), Rheims – in for a new valve spring or rocker – if not, why remove valve cover to remove a plug?

I am, Yours, etc.,

A.R. Wilson (Lt.).

Airgraph, M.E.F.

[Yes, A.M. is H.R.G.! And we wondered how long it would be before someone spotted the apparent inaccessibility of those plugs! –Ed.]