Letters, September 1991

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Opinions expressed are those of correspondents and not necessarily those of Motor Sport

***

More Connaught

Sir,

The letter from Paul H Shaw (Motor Sport, August) should not go unanswered. Whilst Geoff Richardson was no doubt a very fine driver, it is stretching the truth a little to say he was never headed by any other Connaught after the factory withdrawal. In what appears to have been his first race in the car, at a Mallory Park club meeting in October 1957, he finished third; second was Ken Flint’s similar car. In the 1958 Glover Trophy race at Goodwood, in which Richardson finished 10th, other Connaughts were fifth (Lewis-Evans) and sixth (Scott Brown). He was then 15th in the Aintree 200, behind Scott Brown (ninth) and Emery (14th). Practice times for this race were Scott Brown 2m 07.0s, Emery 2m 11.6s, Richardson 2m 15.0s. Back at Mallory in September 1958 Richardson was again beaten by Flint’s Connaught, on this occasion driven by one R Radforth.

Mr Shaw’s statement regarding the British Grand Prix can perhaps be allowed, however; although Richardson was not entered, his time in practice for the International Trophy on the same circuit earlier in the year had been faster than either Bueb or Fairman in the Ecclestone cars managed in practice for the Grand Prix.

David McKinney,

Northampton

***

Sir,

Following the letter from Paul Sherwin, I am prompted to write to you to straighten some facts. I have in my possession key data appertaining to engine number F120124-6, one of the engines fitted to B2, dated 15/6/57 and signed RM Oliver. Extracts of the original log show that it achieved 253 bhp at 7000 rpm on one test run and 249 bhp at 7000 rpm on another. Throughout the log similar test results confirm that this is not a spurious result. The log also shows that this was the engine fitted to B5 when Geoff Richardson bought the car in late 1957.

In 1989 two engines built by myself showed results of 226 and 230 bhp at 6000 rpm on a methanol/petrol mix and I feel confident that if one of your readers could furnish me with the formulae of fuel 9H, we would be able to replicate the Connaught test room figures.

My company has been race-preparing and supporting B2, B4 and B5 over the last few years and as reported elsewhere in your journal B4 beat a truly magnificent field of contemporary race machines in both heats of the Polo/Ralph Lauren race at the Christie’s Historic Festival at Silverstone in July. David Duffy, the owner, elected to let Martin Stretton pilot the car even though he had never driven a Connaught before, showing what a good car, a good driver and good preparation can achieve, as demonstrated at the same meeting last year with two Connaughts coming home in the first three places.

Spencer F Longland,

Sudbury, Suffolk

***

Segrave’s Nationality

Sir,

Your informative article The First to Succeed about the B-type Formula One Connaught in the July issue brings back memories of a very different and maybe happier era of racing than today.

I note you write that the Syracuse success was universally hailed as being the first time a British car had won a Grand Prix since Segrave’s 1924 San Sebastian victory for Sunbeam, without adding the so oft-times repeated “and driver”. Because Henry de Hane Segrave was Irish. Born in Baltimore in the US, to an Irish father, he lived in Ireland from the age of two, firstly in County Wicklow, where his father Charles organised a hillclimb and other motoring events as early as 1905, and later at Portumna, on the shores of the River Shannon.

Desmond Moran,

Co Galway, Ireland

(Yes, a fact often overlooked — WB)

***

BMW Confusion

Sir,

The BMW 850i road test published in the June issue of Motor Sport contained a couple of points which have led to confusion which I would like to clarify.

Firstly, advance orders for the 850i: currently the order bank for the car is standing at over 600. Having already delivered 180 to customers since the launch in November this means an order placed now would see delivery in slightly over 18 months. We are continuing to receive new orders for the 850i. Secondly, the confusion over the suspension options offered on the 850i. As Jeremy Walton rightly states, there were four suspension options shown to the Press at the launch. These were “Comfort”, “Sport”, M Technic and Electronic Damper Control (EDC). In September 1990, the time of the launch in this country, M Technic was not available. Therefore the cars had “Comfort” as standard, “Sport” as a no-cost option and EDC as a cost option, now £1220. From April this year we dropped the “Sport” no-cost option and replaced it with M Technic as it became available as a £345 option.

The essential characteristics of each system are:

“Comfort” — Springs and dampers to give ride and handling in line with the car’s GT character. M Technic — Stiffer springs and dampers with lower ride height to give greater emphasis to handling. EDC — Electronic system which automatically adjusts damping to suit driving style. “Sport” — Slightly stiffer dampers than “comfort” to make ride and handling compromise more in favour of handling without too much loss in ride.

“Sport” is no longer available in the UK. In Germany “Comfort” is standard on automatic transmission cars and “Sport” is standard on cars ordered with the six-speed manual gearbox.

Scott Brownlee,

Press Relations Manager, BMW (GB) Ltd.

***

HSCC Donington

Sir,

I was very interested to read your article reporting the Formula One 3-litre celebration at Donington in the June issue of Motor Sport. I would like to suggest that the report on the Beltoise BRM P160 is not quite correct. The car belonging to the Donington Collection is chassis No 10 and was never driven by Beltoise. In 1974 it was driven by Henri Pescarolo and François Migault. The car in which Beltoise won the Monaco Grand Prix was chassis No 1.

Noel AL Ottobotcarr,

Kent.

***

Sir,

In the report on the HSCC Donington meeting you refer to Sir Jack Brabham driving a BT35 F2 car. The BT35 was the Atlantic, and I believe F3, version of this chassis, the last space-frame Brabham built. The BT35 had smaller side pods, to accommodate less fuel than the BT36 which was the F2 car used initially by Rondel Racing for Graham Hill, Tim Schenken and Bob Wollek, and the YPF Argentinian team of Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Reutsch. I believe Peter Westbury also acquired a BT36 after the two de facto semi-works teams. These Brabhams raced in the last season of 1600cc (Cosworth FVA) F2 in 1971.

Jeff Heselwood,

Hong Kong

***

Courtesy

Sir,

What a contrast I witnessed at the Silverstone testing between the Old and New in Formula One. The unacceptable face of the business was one leading team manager employing minder techniques as he elbowed away one of a small group of young boys attempting to get one of their heroes’ autographs. None of these young enthusiasts managed to get a glimmer of recognition as driver and manager strode purposefully between the paddock and motorhome area. Earlier in the day however, I had the pleasure of a 10 minute conversation with Mr Rob Walker, who seemed delighted when I asked him of his recollections of Rheims, the old Spa, Rouen and his thoughts on drivers like Sir Jack Brabham, John Surtees, and my own favourite of the late Sixties, the luckless Chris Amon. These drivers together with Hill, Stewart and Clark, I was fortunate to see at the annual Gold Cup meetings at Oulton Park in the mid and late Sixties, and they were more than happy to give autographs to a young enthusiast like myself. So thank you to Mr Rob Walker for proving politeness and courtesy of the good old days does still exist in some quarters of the business.

Robert Nickson,

Warrington

***

Silver Hawks

Sir,

I enjoyed reading Out in a Silver Hawk (May) very much and congratulate Chris Gordon on his achievement in restoring (and using) a rare machine. It is intriguing to speculate on the origin of this Silver Hawk. WB states firmly that it could not have been one of the three 1920 Le Mans cars or the record-breaker at Brooklands, because they all had undrilled chassis side-members. He then weakens this positive assertion by stating that such lightening would have been unacceptable for a road-racer or on Brooklands. Now, on p15 of that super little book The 200 Mile Race by WB (Grenville, 1947), the 1921 Alvis sv 12/40 racer of Harvey is described: “cowled radiator, extensively drilled frame and full undershield, and was fast” (Not as fast, be it noted, as the Marlborough of Wm Harris!) The question posed is therefore: if an Alvis can have a drilled frame at Brooklands, why not a Silver Hawk? The same C M (or Maurice) Harvey of the 1921 drilled frame Alvis had been nominated driver of the non-starting Eric Campbell entered by Silver Hawk Motors Ltd for the August 1920 race at Le Mans, and it was he who also took the 1500cc standing-mile record at Brooklands in June 1920 (at 61.53 mph) in a Silver Hawk. Is it not remotely possible that Harvey was responsible for drilling (or persuading Noel Macklin who made the cars to do so) the Silver Hawk’s frame for the ss record attempt, and then having second thoughts about racing it for 255 miles on the rough and grotty public roads of Le Mans two months later, and therefore pulling out? Can someone produce a photograph of the record-breaker?

G V Ravenscroft,

Minehead, Somerset.

(What I intended to suggest was that Macklin may not have regarded a drilled chassis as suitable for Le Mans or Brooklands. I have turned up a photograph of the car used by Harvey to take the record quoted and it does not have a drilled chassis. Nor did the car (which may have been the same one) with which Gedge and Miss Cordery took longer distance records later that year. But the engine was Coventry-Simplex, whereas Could’s car has an ohc Sage engine. — WB)

***

Special Pleading

Sir,

I was most interested in DSJ’s Letter to Reader in the June issue. It was a most erudite piece and encapsulates the problems of special builders and the speculator market. By coincidence, in the same issue was an advertisment for the ex-Archie Craig MG Bongazoo, a car with which I was associated in the Sixties when old racing cars were really not that valuable. At the time (1966 I think) I was helping Martin Maudling with his racing Anglia and working out of the family stables at Essendon. Under a pile of rubbish was the remains of Bongazoo and various other MG bits which Martin had discovered some years earlier. I made an agreement with Martin that if I rebuilt the car I could race it and set about a Sixties style restoration.

The original body, 20 gauge all over a 1/2 inch square tube frame, was in reasonably sound condition, including the special alloy radiator cowl — like a cross between a Delage GP car and the ex-Whitney Straight Maserati. After removal of large quantities of filler and a quick respray with the vacuum cleaner in dark blue, the car looked great! The non-standard hydraulic brakes upset me so I swopped axles with another old MG chassis in the barn and restored the PB-type cable brakes. Archie Craig later told me off about this as the hydraulics had been a bit special and one of his mods.

I rebuilt the original blower with new bearings etc, and after a top-end overhaul on the engine tried to get the car to run. Unfortunately the engine was in its ultimate 15 psi methanol burning form and L10 plugs and a dodgy magneto were not conducive to a clean running engine — ah the innocence of youth! As family pressures prevented my actually driving the car, Martin had one very wet and misfiring practice session at Silverstone before giving up on Bongazoo and selling it.

Sometime later I came across the car when owned by Dorset restaurant owner Tim Hunt by which time most of the original body had been replaced by a standard looking P type body and radiator, although the domed rear end was still extant. The point is, of course, what is the car that’s currently for sale? Archie Craig ran the car both sides of WWII and constantly developed it up to 1948 I believe.

I believe that the form in which I rebuilt the car was fairly close to the last AC spec (except for the brakes) so what is it now? As Jenks says in his article, things were so much easier when we were just playing with old racing cars. One final fascinating point the car had two throttle pedals with a second to the left of and slightly above the clutch pedal. Archie explained that this was for lightning clutchless down changes under braking! Was he an organist or something?

RJ Dove,

Romford, Essex.

***

Ginetta G11 Coupé

Sir,

I wonder if you could assist me in tracing the history of a Ginetta G11 coupé. The car is linked with Motor Sport in as much as its original owner, David Shone, sold the car through an advert in the classified section in the May 1967 edition. The car featured a fibreglass body bonded to the chassis and the engine was an MGB 1800. Front suspension was from the Triumph Vitesse/Spitfire and the rear was modified MGB with radius arms and coil spring damper units. The G11 was available in both closed coupé and convertible form and it is thought that a total of 12 cars were built, before supply problems forced Ginetta to discontinue the model. Many people considered it to be superior to the MGB, which perhaps explains the supply difficulties which Ginetta encountered. I would be interested in communicating with any of the owners, subsequent to the original owner David Shone, or anyone with any knowledge of the car.

Tom Kenny,

Fife, Scotland

***

Barson Specials

Sir,

I read with great interest your article on Chalenor-Barson’s Specials in the June issue. I keep a register of Alvis cars in North America which includes the Experimental 8 cylinder Alvis-engined Barson Special No 11, currently owned by David Van Schaick. For several years I have been gathering information on this vehicle and its history.

The letter from Group Captain JD Tonkinson, Rtd fills in another blank space in the list of former keepers. Unfortunately I cannot answer Gp Capt Tonkinson’s question as to how the Barson Special got to the States. I can, however, offer a few names of past keepers, some of them unearthed from the letters’ section and adverts of Motor Sport’s past. After Gp Capt Tonkinson it was spotted in Bagshot, Surrey, keeper unknown; Alton Garages in 1951; Mr Turner of Wanlip, Leicester in 1951; Vintage Garages of South Kensington in 1952; Vincent C Freedman in 1952; Mr Blunt of Bangor in 1953; said to be spotted in Caernarvon in 1954. If the registration MKX 968 emanates from Buckinghamshire circa March 1960 it probably lived there at the time. The car appeared in the States during the 1960’s with George Turner of York, PA and later Daniel C Donoghue of Malvern, PA who sold it to David Van Schaick of Newtown Square, PA in 1971. Last winter the Barson underwent a suspension rebuild and David plans to campaign it in VSCCA events this season. Possibly this round of correspondence will prompt additional former keepers to reveal themselves.

Wayne Brooks, Alvis OC, N. American Section