Alta two-seater

Geoffrey Taylor ambitiously handcrafted virtually every part of his Alta cars — including the supercharged twin-overhead-cam four-cylinder engines — in Tolworth, Surrey. His firm progressed from small-volume sportscars to a single-seater voiturette racer to rival ERA in 1937.

Only one left-hand-drive Aka sportscar was made, for a German who specified a 2-litre engine. It subsequenfly went over to the USA, from where collector John Ruston reunited it with another version reimported from Australia. Both cars ran at Coys, probably the first time such models have raced at Silverstone since World War II.

Both have been totally rebuilt since they arrived in the spring. ‘The blue car was cosmetically okay, but mechanically poor,” said specialist Ian Poison. “We had to straighten its chassis, replace two of the crossmembers, and switch engines.”

The motor was not a well puppy: “When I drove it down the road it spat a spark plug over my head,” said Philip Venables, who shook it down at Montlhery.

Slipped timing and a cracked carburettor float slowed Saturday’s run, but Australian Venables and Briton Martin Walford placed a more competitive fourth in the second pre-war sportscar race, on Sunday, Venables having led the field early on in the event.

The engines were reputed to give 160bhp,” said Venables, “but I think we had more like 135bhp, so the potential is definitely there.”