SUNBEAM SUCCESSES IN EDWARDIAN RACING
FO1 i two reasons the year 1912 stands out as a milestone in ate history of motor racing. In the first place it I arked the defeat of the trailitional dtain-drivern ” giant ravers ” by George I toilloCs !molt lighter and smaller Peugeot, which started a filth’ of development in rating car design that continued for ten years. Secondly, the sante season witnessed ll. Brit iS1i victory in an important international road race, the first since S. F. Edge won the Gordon Bennett Cup ill 1902. in the 1912 Coupe de l’Auto (for 3-litre voitureitts ). held al Dieppe over a 47-mile circuit, Itigars SIIIIIHILM not ()Illy w011 the race, defeating formidable Anglo-French opposition, hut. two other Sunbeams, driven by Resta and Mi.dinger, took second and third places. The 3-litre race was run at the same (hue, over the saint’ course as the Grand Prix and their astonishing speed combined with regularity gave the Sunbeam t cant 1 hird, fourth and lift It posit ions in the big race itself. Boillot’s 7.6-litre Peugeot and tVagner’s 14-litre F.I.A.T. were the only two ears to put up a higher higher average speed than the little British Coupe de 1.1810 winner. The true measure of the Sunbeams’ success can better be appreciated when it is borne in mind that they were basically stantlard side-valve 12,16-h.p. models competing against the ” dernier cri ” in Grand Prix ears of more I hen four I imes their capacity. The secret of llw Wolverhampton lirilis victory at the first serious attempt at international (-limtWtition lay in their combination of speed with reliability. These twin attributes were achieved as the result of experience of sustained high speed obtained at 13rooklands. Louis Coatalen was responsible for the design.
The ColliW de /…1-WO raver was equipped With a modified 12/16-1t.p. engine fitted with slightly larger valves and stronger valves springs t hail standard. A Clfiltdel carburetter supplied the mixture through a peculiar ring-shaped manilbld. The pistons were made front solid steel with a central strut projeeting downwards front the crown to the gudgeon pin. This strut not only served to conduct the heat away front the relate of the piston but it also provided additional support for the crown at its weakest part. It. was said that these pistons would continue to run even when almost red hot. Another unusual feature was the use of a Slut steel band around the piston to retain the gudgeon pin. The eompression ratio was 5.9 to 1. ‘rhe 11-section connecting rods were over 13 inches long and were machined all over. A leather-lined eolie clutch and close-ratio four-speed gearbox formed the transmission. l’he 80 by 148.7 nun, engine delivered 73.7 b.h.p. at 2,800 r.p.m. Frontal area was reduced to a minimum and a pointed
rail was tilted to improve the aerodynamics, thus enabling It somewhat higher than standard back axle ratio (3.13 to 1) to be used. With a top speed of 85 m.p.h. the by ANTHONY S. HEAL The parade of old racing and sports cars at the Daily Express B.R.D.C. Meeting at Silverstone late last month focuses attention on the Edwardian racing car. Consequently, we have pleasure in presenting this authoritative article from Mr. Heal’s wellinformed pen, showing that, prior to the Kaiser War, British prestige was ably upheld in racing by the Wolver hampton-built Sunbeams. In the material which follows Sunbeam enthusiasts will find many previously
little-known facts which will be of great interest to them.—ED. 0111111V1111111110111111111111111111114411111111111111111114.111111111111111UIR•101111111111S.}
Sunbeams were the fastest cars in the 3-litre race. Rigid averaged 63.35 m.p.h. for the 956 miles ; only 3 111.15.11. less than Boillot on the 7.6-litre Peugeot. Itesta”s car was later fitted with a single-seater I ody, and set up a series of World Records at Brooklands averaging 75.92 m.p.h. for 12 hours. Be also broke one Class E record by covering a flying half mile al. 101.87 m.p.h.
Spurred by Ids success in the vaiturette race, Louis Coatalen decided to enter for the Grand Prix itself ill 1013. r04111ations liinited the amount of fuel to just over 40 gallons for the 570-mile race. This rationing of petrol naturally encouraged the tiltUl Ill and efficient type of engine, bid the regulations forlaule the use of streamlined bodywork. Cylindrical, petrol tanks Itad to be fitted athwart the frame behind the driver’s seat. Spare wheels could be carried behind the lank but they might not be enelosed. The Sunh ieam. entries were again basieally standard side-valve machines, hut a good deal of thought was put. into tlutse small but important details which so often make all the difference between success and failiire. Four 41-litre, six-cylinder (80 by 150) ears were constructed. The cylinders were east in two blocks of three and the side by side valves were slightly inclined. To avoid a hwal hot spot the plugs were. not screwed into the valve caps but were phteed in the centre of the head, tints allowing the cooling water toeirenlate around the iffug bosses. M. Claude!. who was then regardedas the high priest of carliuration, attended to the mixture, whieh was fed through a water-jacketed T-slutped nutnifold. Eight steel pistons. giving a niuchi higher emnpressioit than standard, were fitted. The crankshaft was carried on seven plain hearings and the lubrication was by pump which maintained a leessure of 441 110./sq. in. The engine gave 110 blip. at. about 3,000 r.p.m. The chassis and transmission conformed with. normal Sunbeam). design except for the spceial back axle which had no differential and was located by a deep channelsection torque arra. Brake adjustment was accessible from driver’s seat so I) at wear could be taken up while lite car was in motion. Ally attempt at streamline form was impossible under the regulations for the race but the frontal area was reduced lo t Ininintulit. The radiator was SA I narrow that the water
pump protruded through the side of the bonnet. The fuel allowance made the control of engine temperature important and this led Sunbeams to equip their cars with a device like a roller blind which could be raised or lowered in front of the radiator by means of a string operated from the mechanic’s seat. It may be recalled that Alfa-Romeo used a similar device some twenty years later. Goodyear detachable steel wheels were again used, as :on the Coupe de l’Auto winner of the previous year. Derihon hydraulic shockabsorbers were again fitted all round. The Sunbeams were rather longer in the wheelbase and somewhat heavier than the specially-designed and built Delage and Peugeot entries, which both :disposed of engines a litre and more greater in capacity. Although the top speed of the English ears during the race was nearly 10 m.p.h. slower than Boillot’S winning 5.6-litre Peugeot and some
m.p.h. slower than Bablot’s 6,234-e.c. 110elage (which put up the fastest lap), ,Chassagne’s Sunbeam finished third (averaging 70.8 m.p.h. for the 570 miles) behind the Peugeots of Boillot and Goux but ahead of the Delages of Bablot and Guyot. Resta on the second Sunbeam 4,:aine in sixth. Again the reliability and regularity of the basically standard sidevalve Sunbeam engine had told. Chassagne’s average speed was less than 2 m.p.h. slower than the 5.0-litre, 16-valve, overhead camshaft Peugeot. Later in the year one of the these Grand Prix Sunbeams was fitted with a single:seater body and ran for 12 hours at Brooklands, breaking all the World’s Records from 2 to 12 hours and from 200 to 1,000 miles. The speed for the 1,000 miles was 90 m.p.h., while for the two hours the car averaged 97.5 m.p.h. From this it may be assumed that the maeliille’S maximum must have been in the region of 110-115 in.p,h. The retarding of the unstreamlined Grand Prix bodywork .and the fuel restriction is clearly evident
when it is recalled that the fastest speed Resta and Chassagne achieved over a flying kilometre during the race at Amiens was 88 m.p.h.
A team of three new 8-litre ears, driven by K. Lee Guinness, J. Chassagne, and D. Resta, was prepared to *fend the Coupe de l’Auto which, in 1913, was contested on a difficult course near Boulogne. Outwardly they very closely resembled the successful 1912 machines but various detail modifications and improvements had been made to their internal economy. A higher compression ratio and a stiffer crankshaft with larger bearing surfaces were used. The cooling around the valves was improved and the capacity of
the oil pump increased. Great attention was paid to lightening the reciprocating parts. The long connecting rods had 15 holes drilled in the webs; while the light steel pistons had some 50 holes of various sizes to lighten the skirt. As a result of these modifications the engines gave 87 b.h.p. at 3,000 r.p.m. The same type of differential-less rear axle as fitted to the Grand Prix cars was employed and a higher axle-ratio was used, to suit the increased power output. In addition to the streamlined tail, the whaddheating properties of the bodywork were improved by a tapering cowl in front of the radiator. The sum total of these detail changes was an increase in speed of some 10 m.p.h. For the 3-litre race Peugeots built a team of three cars handled by Georges Boillot, Jules Goux and V. Rigal (who had driven the victorious Sunbeam in 1912). These Peugeots were scaled-down versions of the victorious 54-litre Grand Prix car with twin overhead camshafts, 16 valves, and crankshaft carried on ball bearings. Their power output was no doubt slightly greater than that of the Sunbeams and in addition the French cars had an advantage in weight, sealing about 1 cwt. less than the Wolverhampton machines, Due possible to the roughness of the road and the light-railway lines which crossed the circuit at various points, Resta and Chassagne were both forced to retire with broken rear axles. The same type of axle had given no trouble on the faster and heavier Grand Prix ears at Amiens, so the reason for the failure in the voiturette race is difficult to understand. The Peugeots of Boillot and Goux dominated the race from the outset, one or other always being in the lead. The side-valve Sunbeams driven by Guinness and Chassagne followed closely behind but they were obviously not quite as that as the two Frenchmen. Rigal on the third Peugeot, however, could not catch the Sunbeams. On the seventh lap Coax slowed and Guinness went up to second place. Thereafter there ensued
a very close duel between these two and on the penultimate lap Goux, by a tremendous effort, put up a record lap and again got in front of Guinness, who finished third, nine Minutes behind the winner, having made a non-stop run at 61.43 m.p.h.. Although slightly at a disadvantage as far as maximum speed was concerned the Sunbeams were noticeably steadier and held the road better than the Peugeots.
At the close of the 1918 racing season there appeared at Brooklands an entirely new Sunbeam racer which had been constructed with record breaking in view and the classic One Hour Record in particular. In February Percy Lambert with his famous Talbot had put in 108.84 miles in 60 minutes, thus becoming the first man to better the century. Two months later Jules Coax on the 7.6-litre Grand Prix Peugeot fitted with a streamlined body managed to improve on the Talbot’s record, with a speed of 106.22 m.p.h. To do better than this was going to be a tough proposition. Quite apart from the difficulty of obtaining sufficient power, coupled with reliability, for sustaining such a high speed, the problem of tyre wear had to be faced.
The practice of using aero-engines for record-breaking cars, which has continued to the present day, seems to have been started by the Sunbeam Company when they fitted one of their V-12 (80 by 150) airship engines into a standard 25/80-h.p. chassis. The twelve cylinders, in four blocks of three, were mounted at an angle of 60 degrees on an aluminium crankcase. A single camshaft operated the side by side valves of both hanks of cylinders. Unlike most V-12 erigiiies the exhaust manifolds were on 1lu inside of the ” V,” between the cylinder blocks, while the inlet ports were on the outside. Inverted T-shaped manifolds were fed from two Claudel carburetters at the rear of the engine through two long curved pipes. The exhaust arrangements kept the under-bonnet temperature sufficiently high to render unnecessary any hotspotting of the induction nutnifold. Two six-cylinder Magnetos, mounted one on either side, were driven by a cross shaft at the front of the engine. The connecting rods of one bank *were hinged to master rods of the opposite bank. Dry sump lubrication was employed in conjunction with an oil tank in the tail. The engine was carried in a sub-frame which had a three-point mounting on the chassis. A standard cone clutch and gearbox were employed. The rear axle was of the same differential-less type as used on the Grand Prix and Coupe de rAuto cars. It was located by a pressed steel torque and radius arm. The axle ratio was 2 to I, which gave a speed of 120 m.p.h. at 2,400 ratan. The rear 2 ft. of channelsection Chassis frame was filled with lead to assist the road grip of the back wheels. A very narrow single-seater body with a pointed tail was fitted. The 9,048-e.e. engine was reputed to develop 200 b.h.p. which was sufficient to propel the car at well over 120 m.p.h., while the smooth torque of the twelve cylinders imposed the minimum stress on the tyre treads. Jean Chassagne drove this car, which was christened ” Toodies IV” as the successor to earlier Sunbeam Brooklands racers. Its first public appearance was
at the Autumn Meeting at Brooklands in 1913. In the two races in which it ran it was on scratch with Percy Lambert’s Talbot. The latter had better acceleration front a standing start but the larger 12cylinder car was faster by a considerable margin. In the first race Chassagne put in a lap at 114.49 m.p.h. and in the second, a Long Handicap, he ran through the whole field, lapping at 118.38
to win at 110 M.p.h.’ the fastest winning speed that had even been recorded at that time.
On October 11th, Chassagne went for the One Hour Record. His first lap was covered at 95.118 m.p.h. from a standing start. For the second and third he averaged 117.46 and 114.40 m.p.h. respectively. The long-bonneted aluminium car then settled down to lap steadily at 107 m.p.h., and in spite of its lead ballast it needed a good deal of holding. The 50-Mile Record was taken at 108.88 m.p.h., 100 miles at 107.98 m.p.h., and the coveted One Hour at 107.95 m.p.h. In spite of a burst tyre on the 42nd lap, Which necessitated a rapid pit stop, ,Chassagne continued and took the 150 Mile Record at 105.37 m.p.h. At the end of 1913 Sunbeams lold all the World’s Records from 50 miles to 1,000 miles and from one hour to 12 hour:. Incideet ally, it was in an attempt ta improve on Clutssagne s Hour Record that Percy Lambert was killed, as the result of a burst tyre.
In March, 1014, Chassagne broke Class H records at Brooklands, covering a flying mile at 120.78 m.p.h. Dario Resta drove the 12-cylinder car at the Broolda.nds Easter Meeting, where it was on scratch with Hornsted’s 21-litre Benz. In spite of the German car’s advantage of cubic capacity and initial acceleration, Resta passed Hornsted on the second lap, averaging 103.5 m.p.h. for the 51-mile race. Resta also drove the big Sunbeam at the Saltbarn Speed Trials, where he put up the fastest time of the day104.5 m.p.h. After the speed trials he used the beach for an attempt on the flying kilometre record, his average for two runs in opposite directions being 111.05 m.p.h. His fastest run was 117.0 m.p.h. Encouraged by the success Of the Coupe do l’Auto races the R.A.C., in 1914, revived the Tourist Trophy as an event for voiturettes. Instead of adopting regulations uniform with those of the French race the English Club, for some entirely obscure reason, chose a capacity limit of 8,810 c.c. The defeat of their side-valve cars at Boulogne by the 16-valve, overheadastmshaft Peugeots had shown the Sunbeam Company that the day of the ” hotted-up ” tearing car, even for voiturthe racing, Was over. Speciallydesigned iieerltead-Valve engines were absolutely necessary if success was to be achieved. For the T.T. a team of entirely new .ears was enslaved, the design of which was very largely based on the
successful reilgreot of 1918.. Four valves per cylinder, inclined at 60 degrees, were operated by two overhead camshafts. Steel pistons similar to the earlier Coupe de PAuto type were used. Three large bail-bearings carried the short rigid crankshaft which was made in two parts joined in the centre by a long taper. Dry sump lubrication was employed. The &mines gave 99 b.h.p. at 8,000 r.p.m. but they ran up to 8,290 r.p.nt. during the race. Cylinder dimensions (81.5 by 156) differed a little from those of the 8-litre Peugeot, in order to take advantage of the Slightly greater capacity permitted by the regulations. Driven by Dario Resta, Algernon and K. Lee Guinness, the Sunbeams-were found in practice to be the fastest of the cars entered, ” K.L.G. ” putting in one lap at over 60 m.p.h. They shared with Vaitxhalls the distinction of being the lightest ears in the race.
The T.T. was .a two-day contest, in which eight laps of the classic Isle of Man ” Mountain ” circuit had to be covered on each day, making a total distance of 000 miles. On the first lap K. Lee Guinness’ Sunbeam took the lead, which position it retained for the rest of the race. At the end of the first day’s racing the first two elaves were held by the Guinness brothers, but on !Ito thirteent IL lap the failure of a universal joint caused the retirement of Sun beam III. I tcs t a had previously retired in tla.. opening stages of the race owing 01 Hie failttro ?f’ an experimental type of higasid. The remaining Sunbeam was not. seriously iged, husving
over a quarter of an hour’s lead front the second man at the end of the penultimate lap. This lead was increased on the last lap, K. Lee Guinness finishing nearly 20 minutes ahead of the second manRieeken’s Minerva–having averaged 56.44 m.p.h. for the sixteen laps. llis second tap (50.3 m.p.h.) was the fastest of the race.
The ears were impounded after the first day’s racing and were kept overnight in an official enclosure. Asa result they had to start with cold engines the following morning. The Sunbeams were pushed from the Starting line to the pits where they were tilled up. The engines tired after pushing a very few yards with the gear engaged. Ilow many modern racing ears could be started as easily after a night in the open air ?
The 1914 Grand l’rix de l’A.C.F. at Lyons was a momentous race for many reasons. Not only was it the last nilportant race to be held before Europe was plunged into war, but it marked the eclipse of the hitherto invincible Peugeots by Mercedes. who were making their first appearance in the Grand Prix since. their victory in 1908. Suabeants perpared a team of three ears very similar to their successful T.T. (mollifies. The engines were naturally rather larger (94 by 160) as the rules allowed a maximum of 44 litres capacity. The valve gear was modified and two Claudel earbtiret ters were fitted. The wlieelbase WaS increased some. inches, as the Isle of Man cars were inclined to snake at their maximum speed of around 100 m.p.h. The arrangements for practising made it extremely difficult for any of the foreign competitors to gain inueli experienee of the course. As a result, the Sunbeam had very little opportunity of learning Hie circuit anti the English entries were not really au point for the
race. In spite of this It managed to finish fifth behind Gotix’s Peugeot, having average(I 62.46 m.p.1 s. for the 466 miles. The Suttlictim’s fastest lap, at. 67,82 m.p.h., was only one. second slower -Hum Lautensehl1iger’s best. On the winning Mercedes. The out break of war, a month later, pia a stop to Grand Prix racing in Europe for many years, but the American track races continued during 1915 and 1916. Prior to 1915 Sunbeam ears had ma
peted in a number of American races, Ina usually they bad been privately entered. In 1913 Guyot had taken the 01(1 90 by 165 six-cylinder to the States and gained fourth place at_ Indianapolis with a. speed of 70.92 m.p.h. This car had originally been built in 1911 when, driven by Richards, it. had taken a number of longdistance records At BrOoklands, averaging 75.7 m.p.h. for 12 hours. It was afterwards reconstructed and fitted with a narrow streamlined two-seater body for the Indianapolis race. Guyot ran as a private entry.
For the Annual Sweepstakes at the ” Hoosier lb ml ” in 1914 two six-cylinder Sunbeams, originally built for the 1913 Grand Prix at Amiens, were entered To suit the sustained pace of speedway racing they were converted to dry-swap lubrication kind twin carburetters were fitted. .1. Chassagne drove one of these ears and the other was handled by the American driver Grant, who managed to finish, seventh at 75.69 m.p.h. Chassagne was eliminated at 90 laps wIten his car overturned as the result of a Lyre leaving the rim. Fortunately both driver and mechanic were only slightly hurt,.
Two of the 1914 .Grarad Prix Sunbeams were sent. to AllieriCa and tliey ran in the 1915 Indianapolis race driven by .1. Porporato and N. van Raulte. Both Were unlucky, however, the former, after completing more than 400 miles, retiring with a seized piston when lying fifth. Van Ratite managed to finish tenth, in spite of wasting more than three quarters of an hour through losing the bonnet toid having Ids magneto plat fOrm work loose. Pomona() was more successful at. the opening of the new Chicago board track in June, when he finished a close second to Resta’s Petigeot, liavittg, averaged 96.5 m.p.h. for 500 miles. Incidentally, fourth place was taken by Grant. on one of the 1913 six-cylinder side-valve Grand Prix Sunbeams width ran the whole distance wit hoot a stop of any kind for fuel or tyres at an average of over 95 111.1). It. The 12-cylinder car Odd) held the Hour Record was sold to the Packard Company and in November, 1915 it. appeared at I he Sheepshcad Bay track near New York in the hands of Ralph de Palnut. who won a three-cornered match race against 1:testa’s Peugeot and Burman’s Blitzen Benz at 113.7 m.p.h. It came
to an untimely end, however, in 1916 during a 100-mile race on the Kalamayo dirt track. When leading the field, the big Sullhealit skidded sideways right across the track and within a few seconds there was it heap of eight wrecked ears ‘which had piled into it. During the 1914-18 war the Sunbeam. Company was busily engi’ered in the maimfaetare of cars for the War Offiee and aero-engines for the Air Ministry. Nevertheless Louis Cootalen managed to complete the design of a new six-cylinder racing ertgi te and the Experintottal Department, tinder the direction of
• “Forway ” Harrison. built two of these engines which were fitted ii do a eon l” of 1914 Grand Prix chassis. With bore and stroke of 81.5 by 157 trim. (4,914 e.e.) the general design followed lines very similar to those of the 1914 Grand l’rix engines. TIte 24 inclined valves were operated through pivoted fingers liy two gear-driven overhead camshafts. A pair of Clandel carburetters with barrel thrOttles supplied the mixture and aluminium pistons were used for the first time. The three-piece crankshaft was carried on four ballbearings. At 3,000 r.p.M. the engine
developed 156 The power was transmitted through a cone-clutch and four-speed gearbox to the bevel-driven rear axle wIdell employed a ratio of 2.7 to I. As a precaution against vibnition
and breakage, all oilpipes were sheathed ill rubber. The streamlined bodywork of polished aluminium gave the ears a very workmanlike appearance. One of these ears were completed and shipped to the States in time to make its debut in the hands of .1. Christiziens, the Belgian Excelsior driver. at the Sheepshead Bay meeting in May, 1916. The new Sunbeam finished second to Alt-ken’s G.P. Peugeot, averaging 104 m.p.h. for the 20-mile ra.ce. I7nIortunately a crankshaft period eoineided with peak revolutions and the vibration compelled Christi:tens to restrict his speed to 2,900 r.p.m. A big-end I egan to give way before the end Ina in spite of this emit retemps Christ aens managed to complete the race in second place. The 1916 Indianapolis race, shortened
to 300 miles, was won by Dario Resta on a Peugeot, at 83.26 m.p.h. The new six-cylinder Sunbeam was 6)1141 It, at 79.66 m.p.h., having been delayed by tyre trouble in the first 10 laps. After changing to Goodrich tyres Christiaens had no further trouble. Another round of the Sunbeam-Peugeot duel was fought_ out in tIte 300-mile ” International Derby ” on the Chicago track. Christiaens finished third behind fiesta’s and Ralph de Palmals Mercedes, avering 95.78 m.p.1). The. second Sunbeam, driven by Galvin. was fifth, at 94.54 ni.p.h. The two English cars competed in all the principal races during the season, scoring a third at the Cineinatti board track 300-mile race, a second and third at. Chicago (when F. Bill changed a wheel in 10 seconds and filled up with petrol in 30 seconds). At Minneapolis Christ iktens led for half distance, but nearly collapsed when he stopped to refuel. Ile continued, however, after it short pause and worked (Continued On page 458)