Letters from Readers, September 1950

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60

Multi-Cylinders and the B.R.M.

Sir,

In common with very many other British motor racing enthusiasts I thank God and Raymond Mays that we at last have a racing car which should be able to compete, with a reasonable chance of success, against the Italians and French, and perhaps even against the Germans should they have an opportunity to enter Grand Prix racing again. It would be a pity, however, if we allowed ourselves to be over-optimistic of our chances of success merely because on paper the B.R.M. has everything that is considered desirable for Grand Prix cars. Much, for example, has been written lately about the importance of maximum possible piston area, and hence the need for cars with many small cylinders. Few would challenge the theory of this requirement but the practice of it has produced many headaches, and many disappointed people in even the most experienced motor racing firms – particularly during the first year or two of racing with a new design. An excellent example occurred just before the war, which illustrates very well the contrast between theory and practice in this respect. The cars concerned, or rather more particularly, the engines, are those of the famous 1936 Type C Auto Union and Type 1937 Type W.125 Mercédès. The following figures show that the Auto Union engine should have been far more powerful than that of the Mercédès. Like the B.R.M., the Auto Union had 16 cylinders, the Mercédès only eight. Its swept volume was 6.01 litres, Mercedes 5.66. The Auto Union, due to its many cylinders, had a piston area of 109.5 sq. in„ compared with 86 sq. in. for the Mercédès. The Auto Union also had a higher compression ratio, and a higher boost pressure yet it developed only 520 b.h.p., while the Mercédès produced 646 b.h.p. This greater output from what should have been an inferior engine would appear to be due largely to the better breathing and carburation of the Mercédès (by which it was able to develop it to higher b.m.e.p. and maintain it to higher’ r.p.m.) this being more than sufficient to offset the advantages which extra piston area should have given the Auto Union.

It is also significant that in the motor-cycle world the single-cylinder motor-cycle is still a very consistent winner or long distance races. The latest T.T. results from the Isle of Marc bear evidence of this in no uncertain manner.

This is not to suggest that ultimately the multi-cylinder engine will not prove capable of greater output than existing types, but only if carburation, breathing at high speeds, and reliability of the multiplicity of small parts involved is at least equal to that of engines with less numerous “pots.”

Here’s hoping that in the B.R.M. the answer has been found.

I am, Yours, etc.,

R. G. Hore, Witley

[We may by now have the answer! – ED.]

* * *

The “Motor Sport” Brooklands Trophy

Sir,

I am not in the habit of writing to the Press on any subject, but I feel I must write and thank Mr. Boddy and the management of Motor Sport the interest you have shown in sports cars, and the Goodwood meetings in particular. I think the Brooklands Memorial Trophy has given added interest to these meetings. I was very pleased to be placed third for this award and in view of my enthusiasm for the marque M.G. I was delighted to see Mayers pull it off.

Best wishes and sincere thanks again for your interest.

I am, Yours, etc.,

R. W. Jacobs, London, E.18

* * *

Austin Seven Matters

Sir,

I grieve to see Mr. Woodbine in his recent letter referring to the “alleged” conversion to push-rod o.h.v. on an Austin Seven.

Such a conversion does in fact exist and I have used one in a standard saloon Austin Seven for 10,000 miles now, with excellent results. Several beliefs have been put forward as to the origin of these cylinder heads, but as I obtained mine “ath hand” I have not been able to separate the corn from the chaff. The only facts on which there seem to be any unanimity are that they are very few and far between, and much envied.

For those fortunate enough to obtain one, a perfectly satisfactory conversion can be made by anyone with the usual engineers’ tools plus a little manual dexterity, the chief alterations being a new set of longer cylinder head studs, oil feed to the rocker arms, new gasket, preferably of’ sheet copper as the lands between the cylinders are rather narrow, blanking plate for the old inlet and exhaust ports in the cylinder block, and, of course, push-rods to go where the valves normally are.

The conversion definitely gives a much better engine torque, resulting in excellent acceleration and hill-climbing and, no doubt the top speed can be increased if desired.

Mr. Woodbine is welcome to come and look at the “alleged” conversion if he is interested, and I can assure him it definitely improves the performance, and if properly fitted gives no trouble whatsoever.

There would appear to be a market for these cylinder heads even now if some enterprising engineers offered them in the form of a readily fitted conversion kit.

I am, Yours, etc.,

W. J. Wilkes, Berkhamsted.

[Surely this was the Boyd-Carpenter conversion? – ED.]

* * *

Sir,

While I appreciate the many good write-Ups, reports of events, etc., in Motor Sport I feel I must correct some inaccuracies regarding ray car as given on page 323.

My Austin is not an A.E.W. but a two-seater, with home-made body. It is news to me that the engine is carefully balanced; it isn’t and at the critical speed of 3,000 r.p.m. it is as rough as the proverbial bear’s – ! The inlet manifold is an inverted unblown “Ulster” type, not “Nippy.'”

I am, Yours etc.,

G. B. Hewitt, Allesley.

[We gleaned our data front an official of the 750 Club – ED.]

* * *

About the Palladium

Sir.

In your August number someone was inquiring about Palladium cars. I can tell you something about these cars, but it will not be very technical. My uncle, Dr. Ross MacMahon, a medical graduate of the University of Aberdeen, was the founder (I think) and managing director of Palladium Motors in England, and they had a factory at Putney Bridge. I have an idea that originally the Palladium was a French company, and the English firm brought over the components and assembled the cars here. Later, the French company may have ceased business, and the English firm continued to buy the engines in France, building the rest of their cars here. I remember my uncle arriving in Aberdeen in a Palladium two-seater about 1915 – the car was of the same stubby appearance as the G. W. K.s. There was also another occasion when we drove to Tintern Abbey from our home in Monmouthshire in an open tourer of his manufacture. When I came up to London in 1922 as a medical student, my uncle often took me out in what must have been the prototype of a new model. We used to shoot down the Portsmouth Road and we seemed to hold our own with the other cars. This model was the last one made so far as I know – it looked somewhat like the Hotchkiss-engined Morris and somewhat more like the A.C., with long lean lines and pointed bull-nosed radiator, and “Pallades” (also called Minerva) on the nose of the bonnet – vaguely resembling Britannia. The engine was of proprietary make – Meadows’ engines were used in some models. The car I remember best had front wheel brakes, and left-hand central gear change, aluminium pistons and adjustable bucket seats. The firm at one time made lorries and charabancs – I have seen one or two of each, looking rather like the old Maudsleys. At one time, friction-drive was tried in lieu of the ordinary gearbox – the Surrey and the G.W.K. also tried this form of variable gear. The Palladium at the 1923 Motor Show was a very handsome affair in mottled aluminium, again in appearance a cross between the early M.G. and the A.C. At least one of the Rolls directors bought a Palladium.

I believe the firm ceased production in 1925. It was rather a pity as they seemed to have hit on a satisfactory design in the field of sporting smaller cars – most of the medium horse-powered ears of that date were very staid-looking things – think of the Austin Twelve and the Standard. I saw a Palladium in Croydon quite frequently when we first moved there in 1944, but have lost sight of it these last few years.

I am, Yours, etc.,

C. Grant Nicols, M.B., Bs., D.P.H., Croydon, Surrey.

* * *

Feminine Pioneering

Sir,

As a result of my wife’s enquiry’ on this point in last month’s Motor Sport, a most interesting letter has come in from Mr. Naylor of Cross Hills, near Keighley. He tells me that Madame du Gast, mentioned by Jarrott, was by no means the only lady driver in the Paris-Madrid (1903). There was also Madame Lockert„ who not only drove herself in the touring car section of the race, but was owner, editor and, presumably, founder of the French motoring paper “Le Chauffeur.” Mention is also made of Madame Le Blond, who accompanied her husband “and is herself an expert racing motorist,” but whether she actually competed in this race is not entirely clear.

However, thanks to Mr. Naylor, we have now discovered a lady who preceded Madame du Gast at the wheel, or perhaps even the tiller. Madame Bob Walter was, it is claimed, the first woman to enter the motor business and was managing director of a large automobile garage in the Avenue de la Grand Armée, even then this focal point of Paris automobilist. In 1902 Madame Bob Walter won a prize at the Deauville races at the wheel of a 10-h.p. Vinot et Deguingand. Later in this year, graduating to a 16-h.p. car of the same make, she won the ladies’ prize at the Gaillon Hill-Climb.

The fact that presumably there were other ladies competing against her points to the possibility of women racing in 1902 or earlier. Any further advance on Madame Walter, who now replaces Madame de Gast as the first recorded woman racing motorist?

I am, Yours, etc.,

David Scott-Moncrieff, Forfar.

* * *

Raffle

Sir,

You may be interested and as surprised as I was to hear of a 1930 10.4-h.p. Bianchi tourer in original condition being raffled in aid of the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund at the Old Kimmel Club, Burleigh Street, W.C.2 (well-known rendezvous for R.A.F. officers during the war). You and your readers may find this notable.

I am, Yours, etc.,

K. E. Whitcher, London, S.W.16.

* * *

Not only Americans…!

Sir,

Having just finished reading your admirable August issue I notice with a smirk a line or two in your “Continental News ” – who your special correspondent is, I don’t knew, but hell! I refer particularly to the last paragraph which commences: “The point of using an American car…” Ha ha ! I should dam’ well think so… if I had a 1948 car I should expect it quite naturally to do 2,000 miles without doing more than to put in the necessary!

Three years ago I took a 1934 Austin Ten tourer up over all the Swiss passes, did nearly 3,000 miles and, apart from one puncture, I did nothing “except to pour in petrol, oil and water…”

Last month, I took my old 1927 Red Label Bentley down and around the South of France, covering in all some 2,500 miles – complete with wife, two children (aged 6 and 4), self and large trunk – I never looked under the bonnet from the time I left “base” until I arrived home “except to pour in petrol, oil (and not much of that!) and water…”

Of course, I didn’t expect to look under the bonnet, but… a 1948! tch! tch!

I am, Yours, etc.,

Doyne Hayes (Sqdn. Leader), Upwood

* * *

Sir,

One is reluctant to correct such an expert as “Bunty” Scott-Moncrieff, but the car he mentions in “Bunty remembers” (August issue) was called “GRAEF and Stift’ – not “GRAF und Stift.” Whatever a “Stift” may be, I’m afraid “Graef” is definitively not a Count!

As Bunty says, these were very fine cars indeed, and they definitively fell within the category of “voitures de grande luxe.” They were built at Wiener-Neustadt, an industrial suburb of Vienna.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Ralph McGildowny, London, S. W. 1

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