Rumblings, September 1952



Alpine Rally

The rather innocent title “Alpine Rally” in fact implies one of the most strenuous tests there is of the modern motor-car. The Alpine Rally is, to the summer, what the Monte Carlo Rally is to the winter, in this respect. Only the necessity to close last month’s issue for press before results could be obtained has reduced the amount of coverage Motor Sport would otherwise give to this valuable, strenuous contest. Just how strenuous it is can be appreciated from the 62 retirements! Certainly this run over eternally twisting gradients to a very high speed schedule took toll of cars normally able to cover tens of thousands of faultless miles—thus do the world’s designers learn lessons and, we hope, subsequently do their homework.

To discuss a few at random, Goff Imhof coveted an Alpine Cup, tried really hard, but had the back-axle of his Allard fail within a mile of the finish. Nancy Mitchell was robbed of the Coupe des Dames because her Sunbeam-Talbot elected to discard its off-side front wheel about the same distance from success. A little Dyna-Panhard similarly sheared its distributor drive with but a short distance to go and an Alpine Cup to collect. A Jupiter retired with gearbox failure, another with the brake drums cracked. Two Morgan Plus Fours lost wheels, the third jammed its final drive. Clutch trouble beset one XK120, a Sunbeam-Talbot threw a rod, likewise a little Renault, another Renault was eliminated through steering failure, and a Frazer-Nash lost its torque arm. A Javelin blew a gasket, a Renault continually overheated, another seized its gearbox, as did an Aronde, and a Lancia’s brakes failed. An XK120 broke a main-spring leaf, a Sunbeam-Talbot suffered fuel-feed trouble. And so on . . . Also, crashes eliminated or delayed many competitors, fortunately only one with serious personal results and none involving fatalities.

All praise, therefore, to the outright winner, Falkenhausen with a pre-war 328 B.M.W., Ian Appleyard, who gained the Gold Cup for his third successive Alpine Cup performance, and to the “works” Sunbeam-Talbots, driven by Moss, Hawthorn and Murray Frame, which was the only team to get through intact, and with no loss of marks at that! Others who deservedly secured the coveted Cups were:—Gatsonides (Jaguar XK120), Fabre (Dyna-Panhard), Regibus (Renault), Picon (Renault), and Gatta (Lancia Aurelia).

These marques have proved their stirling worth, while the outstanding performances of the Jaguars and Sunbeam-Talbots, following the Allard victory in the last Monte Carlo Rally, set British prestige at a high level throughout the world.


The Frazer-Nash embodies the very essence of private-owner competition motoring in its make-up, a legacy from the days when the chain-driven cars from Isleworth swept most awards onto their drivers’ sideboards. Today, as then, the Frazer-Nash is pre-eminently a competition motor-car and it still possesses the embarrassing habit of beating cars of greater engine capacity than itself.

New models have recently been introduced by High Priest Aldington—recently transferred from holding that office for the Chain Gang to fulfilling it on behalf of the Single-Tube-Chassis Cult.

The range now comprises the following models:—

Le Mans Replica Mk.II: 1,400 lb. 125 b.h.p. Frazer-Nash “Competition” engine. Al-fin brake drums. £3,112 12. 3 with p.t.

Mille Miglia: 1,850 lb. 100 b.h.p. Bristol engine or 125 b.h.p. Frazer-Nash “Competition” engine. £3,501. 0. 0 with p.t.

Unnamed, smooth-sided all-enveloping two-seater: 1,850 lb. 100 b.h.p. Bristol engine or 125 b.h.p. Frazer-Nash “Competition” engine. £3,034. 16  8 with p.t.

Formula II single-seater: 1,175 lb. 125-130 b.h.p. Frazer-Nash racing engine. Al-fin brake drums. £3,112 12. 3 with p.t.

The Le Mans Replica model has been improved in many ways, notably in respect of a lighter, slimmer two-seater body with a hinged tail housing the spare wheel, lower cockpit sides, a new double-three exhaust system with twin tail pipes, lighter battery and no passenger’s door. The brake lining area is greater by 29 sq. in. The Mk.II is 200 lb. lighter than the Mk.1 and bolt-on steel wheels are optional in place of the original, heavier centre-lock wheels.

The Mille Miglia model has improved body lines, greater interior width and very generous luggage space, while being as sleek as before and 60 lb. lighter. The new two-seater is a snug touring two-seater of all-enveloping type, from which it is intended to develop a 125 b.h.p. version 110 lb. lighter but £300 more costly. The new two-seater has been ordered by Briggs Cunningham and Errol Flynn. The FII single-seater has a radiator grille which is now common to all models.

One basis chassis frame is now used for all models, based on that evolved for the racing car. The side members are 14G. steel tubes of 4 in. dia., united by three tubular cross-members. The wheelbase is 8 ft. The transverse leaf spring i.f.s. (now with a rate of 80Ib./in.), the torsion-bar rear suspension incorporating the famous “A” locating-bracket and the rack-and-pinion steering are, of course, retained. Detail improvements have been effected to the suspension at both ends. All bodies are panelled in 16G. alloy sheets on tubular steel framework.

The Aldingtons have a most attractive range of some of the quickest competition cars on this earth. To the many readers (mostly overseas) who beseech us to publish a Fraser-Nash road test report we can but regret that so far we have been unable to prise one of these delectable cars away from the Isleworth synagogue.

Over 100 M.P.H. For A Week

One of the most sensational runs for many years has been set up at Montlhery by a normal “hard-top” Jaguar XK120. The idea originated in Leslie Johnson’s fertile brain and as co-drivers he took a redoubtable trio —Stirling Moss, Jack Fairman and Bert Hadley.

Anyone who knows Montlhery’s post-war surface will not be surprised to hear that after two days a back spring broke. As a spare spring was not on the car no further International records could be attempted, for the rule is that such spares shall be carried on the car. Moreover, some four hours were lost replacing the spring, but the Jaguar contrived to conclude successfully what it had been set to do—it averaged 100.31 m.p.h. for seven days and nights, covering in that time over 16,851 miles. After which LWK 707 ran as well as at the start . . .

This is a performance which will go down in motor-history with Edge’s 24-hour run in 1907 and Lambert’s first “100 in the hour” of 1913. The greatest praise is due to all concerned, and especially to Johnson for sponsoring the attempt, Moss, Fairman and Hadley for so ably backing him up in his monotonous, dangerous bid, to Desmond Scannell, aided by Joan Scannell and “Mort” Morris-Goodall, for managing the run and to Jaguar Cars for making such an astonishingly fast and durable standard closed carriage. On one occasion Johnson sat nine hours at the wheel, keeping up the average with the broken spring, refusing to involve his co-drivers in the added risk.

The Jaguar ran on reliable Dunlop tyres (fitted by “Dunlop Mac”), breathed Shell fuel through S.U. carburetters (watched over by Leslie Kesterton), used Champion plugs, was arrested when required by Ferodo-lined Lockheed brakes, was lubricated by Shell X-100 oil, greased by Tecalemit and had the fearful shocks from the track smoothed out by Girling dampers on the Salter springs. Lucas electrical equipment stood up to all the big demands made of it, the Hardy Spicer prop. shaft and Salisbury gears gave no trouble, the engine was cooled by a Marston radiator, the drivers sat on Connolly upholstery, held a Bluemel steering wheel, watched Smith’s instruments and communicated effectively with the outer world via Pye radio checked-over by K. Custerton. The Jaguar mechanics Thompson, Sutton and Potter were present to service the car, and Chief Engineer Haynes adds another very large feather to a hat which is already overladen with plumage!

That the Jaguar took the following records lends additional merit: World’s and Class C 72 Hours (105.55 m.p.h.), Class C 10,000 kilo (107.031 m.p.h.), World’s and Class C four-day (101.17 m.p.h.), World’s and Class C 15,000 kilo (101.94 m.p.h.). The sheer speed of this XK120 on a mere 8 to 1 compression ratio was indicated early in the run, when Moss did a lap at 121.28 m.p.h., bumps notwithstanding. Formidable!