Rumblings, September 1961




There is no more appropriate driver than Sydney Allard when it comes to dragsters, for Allard always has loved ’em big and fierce. His, the first British dragster, or pure sprint special, designed by D. Hooper and built by J. Hume, was demonstrated to the Press at Silverstone in July. It made a great many exciting onslaughts on a s.s. 1/4-mile, finishing the distance at speeds variously estimated to lie between 150 and 170 m.p.h., the noise from the stub-exhausts of its G.M.C. Roots-blown 5.8-litre V8 Chrysler engine considerably enhancing the performance, before the gearbox broke up. This Allard is a full “sling-shot,” copy of the best American dragsters. It is beautifully finished, with a frame of 3 in. dia. main and 1 1/2 in. dia. rollcage tubing. There is no rear suspension, and the axle is held to the underslung frame merely by welding. Allard sits at the extreme rear, with his legs cranked up over the axle, the back of the final drive casing being wrapped in sponge-rubber as some small concession to his comfort, perhaps at his wife’s request….

The front axle is a drilled beam sprung on a transverse spring and damped by Armstrong shock-absorbers. The worm and roller steering incorporates an extremely long drag-link. Lotus front wheels carry 5.25 x 15 Dunlop racing tyres and the back wheels are shod with 8.00 x 16 flat-tread American slicks. The contraption is stopped by 9 11/16 in. disc front and 12 in. x 1 3/4 drum rear brakes supplemented by an Irving drag-parachute. It will need some stopping, for the engine, on a boost of some 12 lb./sq. in. and an 8.5 to 1 c.r., develops 480 b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m. and 550 lb./ft. torque at 3,000 r.p.m. and it runs up to 6,000 r.p.m. It consumes Distiller’s methanol fuel, injected into the blower on the Hillborn system, at about 1 m.p.g., uses Champion plugs, and a Scintilla magneto and drives via a long-suffering 11-in. Schiefer clutch and a 2-speed gearbox with Ford gears, giving ratios of 4.0 and 2.8 to 1. The coolant is contained in the water jackets only, there being no radiator. The back axle also incorporates Ford gears and has fully-floating hubs to obviate shedding wheels if the half-shafts break, and a normal differential. The car gets off in a straight line with very little wheelspin. It is over 100 b.h.p. down on the American dragster that has clocked 8.84 sec. for the s.s. 1/4 mile, finishing its run at over 172 m.p.h.

Allard will have a tough task at Brighton and before you consider this dragster a cinch for the course record remember that it has to go more than twice the distance run on test and be held at some 170 m.p.h. over the bumpy end of the Madeira Drive kilometre course. We shouldn’t be surprised to find the parachute full of policemen’s helmets and marshals’ hats at the finish, while the noise, echoing back from the promenade buildings, should make the kids cry for a week thereafter – what price rival Eastbourne’s P.R.O. instituting a “silent holidays” slogan! So you must bear with the intrepid Sydney Allard at Brighton on September 2nd, where he has guaranteed to run, wet or fine!

After watching this 500-h.p. projectile it was fun to lap the Silverstone Club circuit in a Shorrock-supercharged B.M.C. Mini-car, which seemed quite happy at more than 7,000 r.p.m. on the Smith’s electric rev-counter.