Rumblings, September 1956

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Formula Two plans

Cooper have got away to a good start in the race to build cars to next year’s Formula Two, for unsupercharged 11/2-litre racing cars. Keen competition is anticipated, albeit with most of the British contestants using Coventry Climax engines. Lister expects to have a F2 Lister racing towards the end of this month, a delay in the supply of brake parts having held up the project. He will use a space frame made of 1 in by 18 g and 3/4 in by 18 g steel tubes, designed to weigh a mere 30 lb. Girling disc brakes will be fitted, inboard at the rear and of very low weight, and a normal but low monoposto body of non-enveloping type will complete the F2 Lister, stress calculations for which were made at a Cambridge laboratory. Ultimately the twin ohc Climax engine will be installed.

AJ Butterworth tells its that he is continuing with his F2 AJB swing-valve engine, about which nothing has been heard for some appreciable time. Apparently the latest version weighs in the region of 227 lb and develops 120-hp at 5,800 rpm on a 91/2 to 1 cornpression-ratio, giving 116 lb/ft torque and 193 bmep at 5,000 rpm. Five of these 11/2-litre AJB engines were in course of assembly and a further batch of a dozen has been provisioned for.

A new British high-performance car

As Motor Sport announced exclusively last March, Aston Martin have a new tubular-chassis version of their 21/2-litre DB model. The new car, known as the DBR1/250, has a multi-tube chassis frame of small-diameter chrome-molybdenum steel tubing. Front suspension is by the usual trailing links and transverse torsion bars. Porsche-fashion, while at the rear a de Dion axle is suspended on lateral torsion bars and located by Watts linkage, a 5-speed gearbox being integral with the final drive. Girling disc brakes are fitted and the wheelbase is 7 ft 6 in. A magnesium-alloy panelled two-seater body, using. a light-alloy tubular framework cloaks the main frame and the engine has dry-sump lubrication, a 9.2 to 1 compression-ratio and Weber carburetters. Quite a motor car ! 

—and a new British economy runabout

In the past we have enthused over Continental economy vehicles such as the air-cooled Citroen 2 cv, Isetta and Goggomobile and have expressed a wish that there existed a British counterpart. The Astra is an attempt to fill this need. It is a product of the well known British Anzani Engineering Co Ltd, of Hampton Hill, whose engines have gained fame in aeroplanes (remember Bleriot ?), motor-cycles and cyclecars. The Astra is powered by an air-cooled 60 by 57 mm, 322 cc two cylinder two-stroke engine mounted at the back. This Anzani power unit has a crankshaft-driven cooling fan, rotary-valve mixture admission and is lubricated on the petrol system. It gives 15 bhp (more than a vintage Austin Seven) at 1,800 rpm and drives via a multi-plate wet clutch and enclosed primary chain to an Albion 3-speed and reverse gearbox with forward ratios of 17.3, 9.0 and 5.63 to 1. Final drive is by another chain to a differential unit from which Layrub-jointed halfshafts convey the drive to the independently-sprung wheels. Front suspension is also independent by swing axles. Girling hydraulic suspension units being used front and back.

The Astra is a four-wheeler, running on Dunlop 20 by 4 tyres, the wheelbase being 6 ft 2 in. The brakes are 7 in Girling hydraulic, and a 12-volt battery provides for the Siba dynastarter and 7 in headlamps. The body is a van-type utility of light-alloy panels over a steel frame, with wood framing at the back and a fully-lined interior. Perspex sliding side windows and hammock-type seats are used and the price of this new economy car, which sounds exceedingly promising, is a modest £347 16s 6d, inclusive of purchase tax. Spare wheel and petrol tank live under the front bonnet, the fuel range claimed being about 240 miles, while the Aatra is said to be simple to maintain with few lubrication points to possess a 22 ft turning circle for easy parking, and to weigh not a lot more than six hundredweight.

They say …

“We would state our firm conviction that no amount of dolling-up and face-lifting is going to make an uninspired, or dated (British) model competitive after the Earls Court Show this autumn”—From an Editorial in The Autocar of August 3rd.

“I am sorry to be unkind to the Sunbeam Rapier, but I do not feel that it can inherit the great Sunbeam sporting tradition.”—Michael Brown writing in The Autocar, on defining a sports-car.

“My personal view of the Rapier is that it carries the wrong badge. Comfortable, even during all-night and all-day stages, reliable and economical, as well as very smart, our car showed only touring acceleration up to a maximum very little beyond 80 mph, and with a more touring exhaust note would have seemed an excellent successor to the 12 hp Humber Vogue which was marketed in pre-war years. Calling it a Sunbeam and advertising it as a sporting car is, I fear, liable to sell it to folk who really want something faster …”—Joseph Lowrey, BSc, writing in The Motor, dated August 15th, 1954.

Dame Ethel Locke King, DBE.

It is with sorrow that I heard that Dame Ethel Locke King, DBE– died, aged 92 on August 5th. Dame Ethel gave the greatest possible encouragement to her husband when he undertook the formidable task of building the motor-course on his vast Webridge estate in the autumn of 1900. After Mr Locke King’s death in 1926 she ran Brooklands Track for 10 years. Her spirited handling of her Ford V8 30 coupe–always, I seem to recall, on permanently attached trade number plates, when she was 80 years of age, was possibly the, least of her accomplishments, yet one that enthusiasts cannot fail to admire. Dame Ethel gave me every possible assistance when I embarked on the task of compiling The Story of Brooklands and when I wrote commiserating with her on bureaucracy having closed the motor course, she replied characteristically that she and her husband always believed that the future of motor-racing was in the hands of the young, and that she did all she could to allow the impetus of youth to have full range at Brooklands, until she became too old to carry on. I think this gallant lady –then was then over 70years of age —who was so willing not to curb the high-spirits of the younger generation, was saddened when Brooklands was sold without any attempt being made by the motor trade, the clubs or the racing fraternity to save it. Let us, now that she has passed away, spare her at least, a moment’s gratitude. WB

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