Electrical theory was never my long suit but I find it difficult to believe that it would ever be possible to start a car with conventional coil ignition by switching on and off. (Mr B. W. Riven, July issue). To obtain any spark at all at the plug points the contact breaker would have to be in the closed position which suggests that the appropriate piston had not reached top dead centre. The spark thus obtained would in any case be very feeble because the condenser would be short circuited. This is not mere theory but can be readily demonstrated by practical experiment.
There would however appear to be nothing “hit or miss” about starting the 40/50-h.p. Rolls Royce “on the ignition lever” for “Torrens” giving his experiences of such a car in The Motor Cycle (Jan 26th 1933) reported that “nine times out of ten” with the engine warm it would be started in this manner. “Torrens” (A. B. Bourne, who died only recently) was, besides being one of the best known motor cycle journalists of all time, a trained engineer so he should have known what he was talking about.
It follows then, that an engine with tremblercoil ignition could possibly be started simply by switching on for if the “timer” was in the appropriate position there would be not just one spark but a shower of sparks (as in the case of a piston-engined aircraft equipped with a booster coil or a hand starting magnet). Model T Fords employed trembler coils, and where an auxiliary battery, either wet or dry, was incorporated in the system it was said sometimes to be possible to start merely by switching on in the “Battery” position but I have never met anyone who has actually seen it happen.
In spite of the foregoing I too do not believe the Jack Warner story!
With reference to the Leyland Eight you do not mention that at the 1938 MCC Brooklands Meeting Sir Lionel Phillips completed 38 laps in the hour, representing 106.71 m.p.h. Although the fact is duly recorded in your oft-referred-to “History of f3rooklands”. It so happens that I was at this meeting and I recall that the car (then described as 7,200 c.c.) had been equipped with somewhat-sketchy lighting etc. obviously to get it past the Scrutineers. I also recall that F. E. Elgood (4496 Bentley, 110-30 miles in the hour) arrived straight from his office in formal city attire!
Looking back over the official results of this meeting I note that P. H. G. Morgan achieved 80.72 miles in the hour and W. A. G. Goodall 79.43 both driving 1,098-c.c. Morgans. The only two competing cars with which I was already familiar were the 918-cc. Morris which was being driven by C. S. Burleigh, and the HRG of Phil Liglow. The former was Ashley Cleaves’ subsequently highly competitive car in one of its earlier guises. I have lost sight of it since it was offered for sale in 1974. I saw the H.R.G. in action only recently. It would be interesting to know how many other cars which competed in this historic meeting the last of its kind still exist.
Tywarcheath J. S. BACON