Rumblings, September 1955

Prestige Through Racing
A leading article elsewhere in this issue discusses the relationship between the publicity which successful participation in motor-racing fosters and the type of car which sells most readily as a result. Not all manufacturers race directly to increase sales — the research and a third value of racing is well known, and a third reason for racing is the prestige, both national and commercial, which accrues to a successful participant. Thus, Daimler-Benz are spending £500,000 on their two-year programme of Grand Prix racing and in Italy Fiat and Lancia, disturbed by their non-appearance in this field (Lancia having abandoned racing as a result of the tragic death of Ascari, although he was killed in a Ferrari), are giving £30,000 a year for the next five years to Ferrari to race the V8 Lancias, or composite Lancia/Ferrari cars.

Racing prestige is apt to have a long-standing and sometimes indirect effect on sales. For instance, so far as petrol and oil are concerned the writer buys largely under the two “Cs.” Cleveland and Castrol, because the alcohol in Cleveland Special petrol is redolent of racing and those high-boost pre-war engines which cooled their internals by liberal doses of alcohol, while Castro’ oil, apart from being a very good oil, has long been synonymous with racing, the late Sir Charles Cheers Wakefield, Bt., of the Castrol firm, having been outstandingly generous in his financial assistance to British racing and record-breaking attempts.

In the same way, the writer has a distinct preference for K.L.G. plugs, for no better reason than that they were evolved originally by the late K. Lee Guinness to cure misfiring in the early Sunbeam and Talbot-Darracq racing engines, and at first made solely for this purpose at that factory in then-sleepy Putney Vale, former haunt of highwaymen on this lonely stretch of the Portsmouth Road. He also uses a lot of National Benzole petrol, mindful that petrol/benzole was once a sacred fuel that ‘whiffed of the very atmosphere of Brooklands and motor-racing.

Respect for specialists also abounds: Castrol as refiners of lubricating oil alone, un-allied to sales of fuel oil; Wipac because they produce good sparking plugs for only 3s. 6d. each which have been known to function in racing and sports-car engines.

Prestige of the kind that promotes sales can be built up in unusual ways, not always apparent at the embarkation on a publicity campaign or advertising drive. It is possible that certain present-day campaigns may still reap benefit thirty years from now.

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E-Type Again
Knowledgeable spectators who watched the racing at the Crystal Palace circuit on the sweltering Saturday of July 30th saw an E-type E.R.A. — that one-time British G.P. world-beater project of R. Mays which, like the B.R.M., fizzled but refused to go off — and must have been intrigued to see that this admittedly potent racing car is now a road-equipped sports car.

For the benefit of McDonald Hobley and James Tilling, the commentators on that occasion who were baffled by this E.R.A.-Jaguar, here are a few facts about this interesting conversion.

It is the work of K. Flint, of the Autospeed Garage, near Liverpool, and the car is G.P. 1, which, you may remember, was driven by Peter Walker until he had an accident when practising for the 1950 Empire Trophy Race in the I.O.M., the car being damaged in the resulting fire. Its engine was then bought by Rob Walker for installation in his E.R.A. — Delage and G.P. 1 was rebuilt as a sprint car by H.W. Motors for Peter Walker, using a two-stage-supercharged 2-litre E.R.A. engine.

It is this machine which Flint has turned into a very intriguing road car as other historic racing cars have been converted in the past.

The beautifully-made tubular chassis had Porsche-type trailing-link torsion-bar i.f.s. and a de Dion rear end incorporating a four-speed synchromesh gearbox. The brakes are hydraulic 2LS, with huge Alfin drums. These features of the specification are retained but the E.R.A. engine has been replaced by a 3½-litre Jaguar power unit, using S.U. carburetters and standard head with a compression ratio of 8.0 to 1. In conjunction with the Jaguar gearbox two speeds only are retained in the E.R.A. box, giving a 3.0 to 1 crown and pinion reduction but, as the E.R.A. top gear was indirect, an actual top gear of 4.0 to 1 or 5.0 to 1 to choice, in conjunction with 6.50 in. by 16 in. back tyres. At Crystal Palace Flint discovered that the steering was rather too high-geared, the reduction box used by E.R.A. having been deleted, while the engine tended to overheat with the original E.R.A. radiator, so that a larger one is being made up. It is possible that a 4.5 to 1 final drive ratio will be arranged, as better suiting the Jaguar power curve.

The E-type radiator cowl and shapely tail are fitted, the body having come from the other car, G.P. 2, which Leslie Johnson raced with no conspicuous success; the mudguards are slim, blade affairs.

The E.R.A.-Jaguar has a wheelbase of 8 ft. 7 in. and a track of 4 ft. 4 in., and a “wet” weight of 17 cwt., which is very reasonable for a 3½-litre sports car with pre-war chassis and body, the chassis being, moreover, substantial, as befitted a 250-b.h.p. G.P. car. Flint says he has seen 6,500 r.p.m. in top gear on the road, equal to around 135 m.p.h., and was getting just under 6,000 r.p.m. at the Palace, or in the region of 120 m.p.h. on the lower of the two available top gears.

This E.R.A.-Jaguar was due to run at last month’s B.A.R.C. Club Meeting at Aintree after these notes were written—au interesting motor car, is it not, Mr. Tilling?

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What They Say:
Of the Hillman Husky: ” . . . I had come to appreciate the central gear-change lever. How on earth we have come to accept the waggly steering column type of gear lever — good as some of them may be — I really don’t know. It was a real pleasure to use the gears on the Husky. The ratios are very suitable for one thing and no effort was wasted in fumbling around for some elusive gear.” — Bill Amos in Top Gear.

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Of the German Industry: “In the fight for the world automotive markets the British may have taken an early lead, but they are now about to he caught by the German automobile industry, and any prolonged ‘pit stop’ will certainly become a serious matter.” — Roger Barlow in Road and Track.

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Of the Pomeroy Trophy Competition ” . . . the fact that two Triumph TR2s came top this year shows that this is no fluke, and that an exceedingly good small sports car that will go down to posterity has cropped up.” — G. A. Meek in the Bulletin of the V.S.C.C.

K.L.G. Equipment for World Water Speed Record
Mr. Donald Campbell’s turbo-jet “Bluebird,” with which he broke the world’s water speed record on Ullswater on July 23rd with a speed of 202.32 miles an hour, was fitted with K.L.G. ignition equipment.

In an article headed “The Guild at Goodwood” (October 24th, 1954), which appeared in the November issue of Motor Sport, it was stated that “a rather inexperienced Irish photographer hit a concrete wall with a Sunbeam.”

Mr. Maxwell Boyd, who is an Irish photographer, was present and we wish to make it quite clear that this remark was not intended in any way to refer to Mr. Boyd’s professional capabilities as a photographer, and to make it also clear that it was a colleague and not Mr. Boyd who hit a wall while driving a Sunbeam.

We assure Mr. Boyd that the said article was not in any way whatsoever meant to be defamatory of him.

V.S.C.C. Race Meeting Silverstone (Aug. 6th)
Once again vintage cars took to the track at Silverstone on August 6th for scratch, handicap and relay races. The first of the five-lap handicap events began with P. A. Lazarus cruising round in his vast Hispano-Suiza sedanca-de-ville, accompanied later by H. F. M. Scott in an open model of the same make which appeared to dislike the marker bins at Becketts, judging by the number it crushed; Melville’s 30/98 Vauxhall sped along very well but Mallalieu’s twin-cam 2.3-litre type 51-engined Bugatti seemed slower than its appearance suggested. Honours went to C. J. Freeman’s Aston Martin, followed by Mulholland’s big 4½-litre Lagonda. In the following race, a similar five-lap event which was won by P. J. Nunn in his Frazer-Nash, Anthony Brooke put in some fast stuff in the Prince Henry Vauxhall, as did T. J. Brameld in a very pretty Alvis with boat-shaped aluminium body; also present were the two sports Amilcars of Lisle and Brown. Scott’s Hispano tourer was second. A third handicap race of the same length again began with Lazarus in the lead, soon to be caught by Mulholland in the winning Lagonda and Welford’s Riley; D. C. Webb’s Brescia Bugatti performed well although wheel tramp sometimes occurred on coming into Woodcote, and D. W. Kitchener’s supercharged 1½-litre f.w.d. Alvis made queer noises from time to time. The five-lap scratch race for vintage cars began with Burton and McDonald dicing in their Bentleys with Melville’s OE in close company. Burton kept the lead for two laps but McDonald changed all this and was leading by the third lap and remained there to the end. The best race of the day, and indeed for some time past, was the 39-lap race for the Richard Seaman Memorial Trophies. This event was a combined scratch and handicap race for vintage and historic racing cars and began with Spero in the Maserati and Poore in the ex-Seaman 3.8-litre Alfa-Romeo having fun battling along together, Vessey in the Monoposto Alfa and Broad in the E.R.A. “Remus” following up together with Schellenberg’s big 8-litre Bentley. Dennis Poore had to retire early on with no oil pressure, leaving Spero and Broad as leaders. Broad, however, had the misfortune to overturn as he braked to avoid a slower car near Becketts. P. J. E. Binns deserves credit for the way he drove in this race, his little Riley running like clockwork; also to be commended was the Amilcar equipe for the very smart turn-out of their two fast twin-o.h.c. racing cars. Final order was Spero, Vessey and Carson (E.R.A.). The five-lap handicap race for chain-driven Frazer-Nash cars went to J. Teague, but not before Thirlby and Day had had a good chase. The last five-lap handicap went to Walker in his 4½ Bentley, with Neve’s 1914 T.T. Humber, flames coming from the exhaust, in second place, and Taylor’s Austin holding its own against heavy opposition. The 10-lap “all-corners” scratch race resulted in a big fight between Schellenberg in the 8-litre Bentley, which left the track at Becketts to “admire the scenery,” and Carson in the E.R.A. A further dice took place between Crowther’s Alfa and Tozer’s Arnilcar, final order being Carson, Schellenberg, Crowther and Tozer. Finally came the relay race, with eight teams incorporating slow and fast cars, the slower cars being Winder’s Humber Nine, Johnson’s Morris-Cowley and another faster Cowley of Tony Mayes, with Cox, Keiller (Riley and Brescia) as more rapid competitors. The “D” team (Cox, Keiller and Mrs. Parker) won at 59.16 m.p.h., followed by the “A” team (Winder, Goodman and Johnson), successfully concluding a pleasant day in admirable competition weather. — I. G.

Motor Car Miniatures
As an inveterate collector of motor-car miniatures and models, the Editor is pleased to announce that this month Meccano, Ltd., will have three new Dinky toys in the better toy shops. These comprise a Land Rover truck of the kind used by the Mersey Tunnel Police for patrol work and towing disabled vehicles out of the tunnel — visitors to the British Grand Prix at Aintree will have seen these vehicles and will no doubt welcome this means of obtaining a souvenir of their visit — a Bedford “Ovaltine” van and a fine miniature 5.5 gun.

Those Dinky collectors who are reaching saturation point should bear in mind that, if they still have a Continental holiday to come, the French Meccano factory makes additional Dinky car-miniatures which are just the thing on which to “blue” the surplus francs — ask Jackie Reece, who is an avid collector!

The French Dinky range comprises racing Lago-Talbot. f.w.d. Citroën, Peugeot 203, 2cv Citroën, Simca Eight Sport, Simca Aronde, Ford Vedette 54, as well as Buick Roadmaster and Studebaker Commander. In the commercial-vehicle range are a postal van. Citroën camionette, Panhard tractors with various trailers, Citroën breakdown crane, Simca tipper and cargo van, and, as a reminder of the holiday scene, a Parisian autobus, French fire-escape, road-signs and petrol-station. They are well worth seeking out. — W. B.

B.A.R.C. Race Meeting, Aintree (Aug. 13th)
The programme, a series of six seven-lap scratch and handicap races, began with an event for unsupercharged cars of up to 1,500-c.c. capacity in which J. B. Naylor in his Lotus-Connaught and J. P. Hacking in his T.V.R. came in first and second, Naylor leaving the rest of the field miles behind. Traugott had to retire at Village Corner on lap three with his overheated Lester-M.G., and Escott in a similar car also retired. The second scratch race (1,500-2,000-c.c. class) went to J. D. Lomas, at 74.90 m.p.h., in the very fast Bristol Warrior, which kept a steady lead with the Cooper-Bristol of M. C. Kearon, driven by the Hon. E. O. Greenall, not very far behind. Parkin, Bewley and Charnley did battle in their TR2s, although Bewley spun off at Bechers. The third of the scratch races resulted in a Bentley versus the rest competition, the Bentley being Sehellenberg’s well-known 8-litre and the rest being Jaguars, Aston Martins and Austin-Healeys; way out ahead of everyone else, however, was K. Flint’s interesting ERA.-Jaguar, which walked away with the race (average speed 75.60 m.p.h.), the Bentley coming in second, with G. L. Corlett’s Austin-Healey third. In the handicap races Charnley (TR2), Corlett (Austin-Healey) and Trevor-Jones (Rover 75) were winners, with Cuff (TR2), Lomas (Bristol-Warrior) and Wood (Jaguar XK140) as runners-up. In the first race Naylor started last in the Lotus and fought hard to gain third place, six TR2s went off together but as Club Corner came up they began to tread on each other’s toes, and R. Vincent had to retire after clouds of smoke issued forth from the cockpit of his Tojeiro-M.G., while in the second race a batch of Austin-Healeys went into operation and G. Towse in his XK120 Jaguar put in some fast work on corners, as he is accustomed to doing. The final handicap event was for saloon cars and began with the Morris Oxford of T. H. Crutchley starting from the line, followed by Trevor-Jones’ Rover and then some 1,100 Fiats, a D.K.W. and a Porsche. The Fiats and the D.K.W. were driven in very close company but the 1,100s eventually left the smaller car; T. E. Green spun his Aston Martin at Club Corner but soon got under way again. Final order here was R. C. Trevor-Jones (Rover 75), G. Wood (Jaguar XKI40). — I. G.

Nylon Towrope
Vitopan Ltd., of 29, Goodge Street, London, W.I, have bestowed a real benefit on the motorist by making it possible for him to carry in his car a towrope less than ½in. thick with a breaking strain of over two tons, 12f ft. long rolling to only 11in. by 3½in. For 39s. 6d. one can acquire this nylon towrope in a neat plastic bag.

Three or four days after acquiring mine, a neighbour knocked at my door asking, a little apologetically for it was a quarter to twelve on a Sunday night, if I had a towrope. His friend’s battery was down and they had tried for over an hour to get her Humber Hawk started, but without success. Out came the ‘Vi-Tow” with its eye-spliced ends; a loop at one end and a metal hooking device at the other make fixing and releasing quick and easy, for it is unnecessary to tie a knot. The towing car moved forward; there was no sudden jerking, for the nylon rope stretches and absorbs the shock, and the Humber Hawk moved forward. Within twenty yards the engine burst into life and the tiny towrope had done its job. My neighbour’s friend was not only thankfully happy, hut was resolved never to go motoring again without her “Vi-Tow” shock absorbing towrope. — W.J.T.