Category Archives: Rare and Interesting

image_pdfimage_print

Out and About

The Special Correspondent has been enjoying the summer months, especially August, with visits to several of the traditional motoring events in the UK. Here he considers some special cars that were seen at Croxley Green’s Classics On The Green and VSCC Prescott.

2016 DB General

A 1936 Series II Super Six Wolseley 25, the largest of the range.

2016 DB General

 

Powered by a 6-cylinder Morris Commercial-derived 3.5-litre o.h.v. engine. Sammy Davis, the 1927 Le Mans winner, took a similar model on the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally and finished a respectable 42nd out of 121 starters, winning the Concours de Confort outright.
2016 DB General
This is a 1924 Cluley 10/20 tourer, a typically vintage light car from Coventry. It has an in-house built 4-cylinder side-valve engine, and this car’s third owner was the well-known Brooklands historian and Editor of Motor Sport Bill Boddy.
2016 DB General
Unmistakable are the A.C.s of the vintage period. This fine example of 1926 is powered by the 1500 c.c. 4-cylinder Anzani engine.
2016 DB General
Most of us are all familiar with the Buick-derived V8s in the Rover P5s, P6s and SD1 models but a Rover 75 V8? This is a rare bird indeed!

2016 DB General

Rover announced this model at the 2004 Geneva Show and here is its Ford Mustang 4.6-litre V8. As can be seen above, the car was given a much larger front grille to keep this powerful unit cool. Only 166 were made.
2016 DB General
This view, taken from the edge of the Paddock, conveys something of the charm and warmth of Prescott.
2016 DB General
A lovely example of a Riley Sprite. This was their last sports car before the Receivers were called in sadly in February 1938 – the marque was rescued by Lord Nuffield.
2016 DB General
Two superb examples of the famous Riley Brooklands model, Riley’s most successful sporting car.

2016 DB General

Conceived originally by Parry Thomas and Reid Railton, it effectively took over the 1100c.c. class from the French and went on to score many international successes, including the 1932 Tourist Trophy.
2016 DB General
A rare cyclecar, built by Henry Baughan, a talented engineer in Stroud , Gloucestershire. One of only about six manufactured, it uses a 1000c.c. J.A.P. V-twin air-cooled engine.
2016 DB General
This Alta Sports was returning to Prescott for the first time since 1946 when it was then driven by George Abecassis. Alta cars were the work of Geoffrey Taylor who built a limited number in Surbiton, using his own twin overhead camshaft engines.
2016 DB General
The car park at the VSCC Prescott is invariably as interesting as the Paddock! Here is a Crossley Regis, the last model made by the Gorton, Manchester firm before it ceased car production in 1937. A Coventry-Climax overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engine lurks under that long bonnet driving through an ENV preselector gearbox. The popular stylist of the Thirties, C.F. Beauvais, was responsible for the bodywork.
2016 DB General
A famous Hill-Climb Special, the Freikaiserwagen, was inspired by Dr Porsche’s pre-war thinking. Powered by a mid-mounted Blackburne V-twin, it brought Joe Fry the Shelsley Walsh outright record in June 1949. Here its iteration is seen in the shadows at Pardon Hairpin.
2016 DB General
One has to include a Bugatti at Prescott, the home of the Bugatti Owners’ Club! So here is a Brescia going well at Pardon.
TAILPIECE
2016 DB General
I was privileged to be taken to Prescott in a friend’s superb Riley Kestrel – it has the optional Sprite engine.

David Blumlein, August 2106

 

Brooklands Bash

A few weeks back Brooklands was the source for subject matter in the latest chapter in our ever-popular ‘Rare and Interesting’ series. The Special Correspondent dug out a few gems for our appreciation.

2016 DB General

This Lotus Mark V1 M.G. gave Team Lotus their first race win when Peter Gammon won the up to 1500 c.c. Heat of the British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park on 10th April 1954.
2016 DB General
A 1929 Chrysler 65. This was the basic offering of the range for the 1929 season with a six-cylinder side-valve engine of 3,200 c.c. A 65 model covered 53,170 miles non-stop to set a world endurance record in Germany.
2016 DB General
A 1937 Chevrolet Master Sport. This car was assembled in South Africa by General Motors, hence the right-hand drive.

2016 DB General

Here is its 3.5-litre six-cylinder o.h.v. engine:
2016 DB General

A superb example of a 1935 Hillman Minx. The work of Capt. Irving (of Golden Arrow fame) and Alfred Wilde, this model did much to put the Rootes Group on the international stage.
2016 DB General
A lovely Rover 12 Tourer, showing the influence of the Wilks brothers who turned Rover into “One of Britain’s fine cars”.

2016 DB General

And here is a rear view:
2016 DB General
This is an exceptionally rare car – a 1946 Bristol 400 Drophead prototype. During 1946 Bristol, with plans to enter the car market, built two prototype saloons and two drophead coupés. Despite being used in publicity material and being shown on the Bristol stand at the Geneva Show in 1947, the 400 Drophead programme was cancelled.
TAILPIECE
2016 DB General
I have never been a motor cycle enthusiast but I could not resist the temptation to snap this machine – a Calthorpe motor cycle! Calthorpe cars, yes, popular in the first two decades of the 20th century, I know about – they even ran cars in the 1908 Tourist Trophy (Leslie Porter finished 4th) and in the 1912 Coupe de l’Auto race. Well, those motor cycles eventually outlived the cars, being produced up to 1938!

David Blumlein, August 2016

Vintage Style

The Special Correspondent took a run out to the Chiltern Hills Vintage Rally recently. It proved to be a charming occasion with much to admire……………
2016 DB General
Made in Biggleswade by Berkeley, Britain’s biggest maker of caravans which had vast experience of glass-reinforced plastic fabrication, the Berkeley sports car, in 1956, was the world’s first production car to use a fibreglass chassis/body unit, pre-dating the Lotus Elite by some twelve months.
This car is Chassis no. 10 with the Anzani 322c.c. twin cylinder two-stroke air-cooled engine. Only 163 Berkeleys were made.
2016 DB General
A real vintage car, a 1924 Humber 12/25 saloon.

2016 DB General

Humber was a well-respected make which, in the Twenties, fitted their cars with overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engines – this is the 1795 c.c. 4-cylinder unit in this car.
2016 DB General
This is one of the first production Morgan 4/4s, dating from October 1937.

2016 DB General

Here is its Coventry-Climax overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engine.
2016 DB General
In 1957 came this rather charming Wolseley 1500, based on a modified Morris Minor 1000 floorplan and given a BMC B-series engine. This is a Series 3 version, produced from 1961 until 1965. The cars were made at Longbridge.
2016 DB General
A 1935 6-cylinder Riley Kestrel 15/6. The Kestrel was not a separate model but a body style built by Riley in their Coventry factory and available on a variety of their chassis. Riley – like Triumph and Singer – made far too many different models, a policy which hastened their demise.
2016 DB General
The Austin 16 was the company’s first new post-war model. It used the chassis of the Austin 12 which was introduced only a few days before the outbreak of war in 1939 but had a completely new 4-cylinder 2.2-litre o.h.v. engine developed for military purposes. It was a good car, comfortable, reasonably priced and with a good performance. It was the first production Austin car to have overhead valves.
2016 DB General
A 1935 Wolseley Hornet Special with the 6-cylinder single overhead camshaft engine. Wolseley only supplied Hornet Specials in chassis form, leaving buyers to select their own choice of body builder. This car has a one-off body by an unknown maker.
TAILPIECE
2016 DB General
Last of the legendary 1172 c.c. Ford side-valve engines. This one is in a 1960 Popular De Luxe. These Ford engines were the last side-valve units to be in production in Britain.

David Blumlein, July 2016

A Vintage Crop at Silverstone

The Special Correspondent visits Silverstone for the Spring VSCC meeting, rare and interesting is his quarry…………….

2016 JB General
A beautiful spring morning tempted me to drive up to Silverstone to this event where there is always an abundance of interesting cars especially when the sun shines to lure owners out with their treasured possessions. Before leaving the car park I came across this lovely Lea Francis.

It is a 2.5-litre Sports – they made 77 between 1950-53. Lea Francis was active in competitions before the war, particularly in the late Twenties when they won outright the 1928 Tourist Trophy and scored two class wins at Le Mans in 1929 and 1930.

2016 JB General
A very unexpected visitor! A 1913 Morris Oxford, representing the start of the extraordinary William Morris story. These early cars had the White and Poppe engines.
2016 JB General
Here at the other end of the scale! This is a 1928 4.5-litre Bentley, one of the Team cars. It came 7th in that year’s Tourist Trophy, never a race to suit the big cars of W.O. In the first Double Twelve at Brooklands in 1929 it retired but redeemed itself at Le Mans by completing the quartet of Bentleys which dominated that year’s results at La Sarthe. In the final Brooklands Six Hour race it came 3rd and managed 5th in the Irish Grand Prix.
2016 JB General
This is the Nash-Healey which finished 3rd behind the two Mercedes-Benz 300SLs at Le Mans in 1952, driven by Leslie Johnson and Tommy Wisdom, winning also the 3,000-5,000 c.c. class.

2016 JB General

Known as X8 and was hurriedly put together to replace the Le Mans Coupé (X6) which was badly crashed in the Mille Miglia.
2016 JB General
The big 4.1-litre 6-cylinder pushrod Nash engine.
2016 JB General
I loved this 1929 Amilcar Type M, completely unrestored.

2016 JB General

Amilcar, of St Denis in Paris, is chiefly remembered for its little sports two-seaters, rivals to the Salmsons in the Twenties but at the time of this saloon the company was giving up competitions and concentrating on touring cars.

2016 JB General

Here is its side-valve 1244 c.c. motor.
2016 JB General
A Kurtis 500 with solid front axle and Chevrolet small-block V8 – all very American!

2016 JB General

There were masses of Frazer-Nashes at Silverstone. This is a Sebring model, the last of the Isleworth-built two-seaters – this one made in August 1954, the first of just three.
2016 JB General
This Riley is a mixture! It has a Sprite chassis but is allegedly powered by the engine from Raymond Mays’s “White Riley” which had developments leading to the E.R.A. engines which were of course Riley-based.

2016 JB General
TAILPIECE
2016 JB General
Appropriately for this meeting some BMW 328s with right-hand drive marketed as Frazer-Nash-BMWs to reflect Isleworth’s involvement with the Munich company.

David Blumlein, May 2016

Upstairs, Downstairs

The 2016 Rétromobile expanded to an additional upstairs hall, mainly occupied by the Artcurial Auction lots. The quality was outstanding, like a museum display and The Special Correspondent had a field day.

2016 Retromobile
The Graham brothers built up their business by producing large numbers of trucks using Dodge mechanicals and then bought the Paige-Detroit Motor Company. In January 1928 the Graham-Paige range of cars was announced.
It was ambitious and in 1929 the firm made 77,000 cars – they even won the Monte Carlo Rally that year! The Paige name was dropped in the early Thirties and the company attracted plenty of customers with its new ”Blue Streak” styling in 1932, the cars having sloping grilles. In 1934 Graham offered a supercharger on the Custom Eight and, apart from the Auburn 851 Speedster, it was the only American company to feature a supercharger (until 1939). For 1938 a new styling innovation was introduced with sloping-back grille, square headlamps set in the front wings and spats on the rear wheels, this aggressive design earning the nickname “shark nose”. The public did not take to it and only 8,800 were made up to 1940.
The above car is a 1939 Type 97 supercharged cabriolet, a rare example having bodywork by the French coachbuilder Pourtout. It has a straight six 3.5-litre engine developing 115 b.h.p. and a 3-speed gearbox with overdrive.
A final thought: a Graham-Paige of uncertain vintage was bought in 1935 by a Mr Baker for less than £50 and ,with the 8-cylinder engine rebuilt and a two-seater long-tailed body made specially by Harrington of Hove, it went on to win in August 1939 the last ever race at Brooklands!
2016 Retromobile
1922 was the year that Georges Irat was making at Chatou an excellent 2-litre sports tourer with a 4-cylinder o.h.v.engine, the work of the former Delage engineer Maurice Gaultier. These cars performed well in the long-distance races of the era. In 1935 the company switched to making attractive 2-seater sports cars, first with Ruby engines and then with Citroën units.

2016 Retromobile

After the war a completely new prototype was shown at the 1946 Paris Salon with a lightweight magnesium alloy frame, a flat-four engine and all-enveloping bodywork. There was no positive response to this and a second attempt was made for the 1949 Paris Salon. This is the car shown here with its Lambourdette body found in the factory at Bègles (near Bordeaux) but it has since been underpinned with a Simca Huit chassis. Again it aroused no commercial interest and thus sadly represents the end of Georges Irat motor cars.
2016 Retromobile
Designed by Marcello Gandini, the Bugatti EB110 had a mid-mounted 3.5-litre V12 60 valve 4 turbo engine driving through all four wheels and a carbon fibre chassis made by Aérospatiale. It came about when Romano Artioli, a big Ferrari dealer in German-speaking northern Italy and the first to import Suzuki cars into the region, set up Bugatti Automobili S.p.A. in a brand new factory at Campogalliano near Modena.. The cars were produced between 1991 and 1995 after which the firm went bankrupt.
The appearance of the EB110S at Le Mans in 1994 has been well documented but less well-known is the racing history of this EB110SS of Gildo Pallanca-Pastor, a Monégasque entrepreneur who entered the car during 1995 and 1996 under the banner of his Monaco Racing Team.
The car’s first race was at the Watkins Glen 3 Hours in June 1995 where Patrick Tambay co-drove it into 19th place. Three weeks later Pallanca-Pastor came 16th on his own at Sears Point. A switch to the BPR Championship race at Suzuka in August brought retirement when a broken front drive-shaft sent Eric Hélary into the sand. The 1996 Daytona 24 Hours saw the car running in the GTS-1 class but there was no luck for Derek Hill (son of World Champion Phil Hill), Olivier Grouillard and Pallanca-Pastor, the gearbox failing after 154 laps. Even more disastrous was Tambay’s accident at the start of the Le Mans Test Day, effectively ending Pallanca’s hopes of running in the 24 Hour race.
The car’s last race came at the non-championship GT event at Dijon in June. Pallanca-Pastor finished 3rd in Heat 1 but Bertrand Balas, having initially led in Heat 2, was cruelly pushed off by Wolfgang Kaufmann’s bi-turbo Porsche 911.
To date this was the last racing appearance of a Bugatti in period.
2016 Retromobile
This is the Citroën 15-Six H (Hydropneumatique), a limited series available to selected clients only in 1954, which had the hydropneumatic rear suspension destined for the forthcoming DS19 which appeared at the 1955 Paris Salon. It served as something of a test-bed for the complicated new system and trials revealed that the front suspension needed adjustment to compensate – hence the front torsion bars were lengthened, being extended out at the front.
All this rather mirrors what Citroën did in 1934. Having launched a completely new range of 8, 10 and 15CV at the 1932 Paris Salon, they became known as the Rosalie series after Citroën had gone record-breaking at Montlhéry with Yacco-sponsored special versions, labelled “Rosalies”. In 1933 an 8CV collected many long-distance records, this car known as the “Petite Rosalie”. In May 1934 Citroën equipped the Rosalie cars with the independent torsion bar front suspension that was just appearing on the recently unveiled Traction Avant, Citroën feeling that it was wise to continue offering the Rosalie range while the completely new car was getting established.
2016 Retromobile
The Simca 8 Sport started life as an elegant cabriolet prototype with a Pinin Farina body at the 1948 Paris Salon in the Grand-Palais. The Head of Simca, Henri-Théodore Pigozzi, liked it so much that he decided to market it and production was entrusted to Facel-Métallon; the process was unusually complicated with the pressings made at Amboise, the assembly at Colombes and the final touches put on at Dreux! A fixed–head coupé accompanied the open version and the car was given an upgraded 1200 c.c. engine.
The coupé gained glory in the 1950 Monte Carlo Rally where the cars finished 4th and 5th overall, Scaron/Pascal winning the 1.5-litre class. A year later the cars were outclassed by the Jowett Jupiters, the Scaron/Pascal Simca Sport finishing 16th and even Trintignant managing only 48th.
2016 Retromobile

 

 

One of nine Frazer-Nash Le Mans Fixed-Head Coupés. It has the usual adjustable slats in front of the radiator, centre-lock wire wheels, an Austin rear axle, iron brake drums and adjustable torsion bars. It was ordered by Mrs Kitty Maurice of Castle Combe and completed in April 1955. It travelled to Le Mans in June 1955 as a support vehicle for AFN’s entries. Mrs Maurice did not keep it for long and AFN eventually bought it back in November 1957.
XMC 1 was sold to John Dashwood in March 1959 and he had AFN prepare the car for that year’s Le Mans race . The rear axle location was modified with a Panhard rod and rose joints in place of the original A-bracket. Driven by Dashwood and Bill Wilks, this was the last Frazer-Nash to race at Le Mans. After three hours Dashwood slid into the sandbank at Arnage when the brakes faded. The gearbox split as he tried to slow down and the steering was damaged.
2016 Retromobile
When launched at the 1934 Paris Salon the Renault Vivastella Grand Sport had a 3.6-litre 6-cylinder engine. But shortly after the Show the Vivastella Grand Sport became the Viva Grand Sport (Type ACX 1) and this had a 4.1-litre motor and more aerodynamic lines inspired by the famous Caudron-Renault Rafale aircraft, holder of the World Hour Record. The first Viva Grand Sport for 1936 (Type ACX 2) appeared in the summer of 1935 at the Concours d’Elégance du Bois de Boulogne. Refinements included a single-piece windscreen and a re-designed rear profile.

2016 Retromobile
This 1936 example is one of only three drivable surviving cabriolets. Notice how the gear lever, although operating a central change, is deployed through the dashboard! I note that the prominent French racing driver of the Thirties, René Le Bègue (winner of the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally and the 1939 Comminges Grand Prix) began his career using a Renault Viva Grand Sport.
2016 Retromobile
This is a Bugatti Type 40. Jean Bugatti took it off the production line in 1928 and designed a “fiacre” type body for it especially for his younger sister Lydia. The car was often “borrowed” by Bugatti racing drivers!
Bugatti launched the 4-cylinder racing Type 37 at the end of 1925. In mid-1926 he introduced the Type 40 to replace the Brescia as the 1.5-litre touring car. He took the engine of the Type 37 and fitted it to a new touring frame, stronger than that in the Brescia. He gave the car a narrower track and a new radiator.
Two French ladies, Marguerite Mareuse and Odette Siko, drove a Type 40 in the 1930 Le Mans race, finishing in 7th place.
Approximately 830 of the Type 40 and 40A were made.
TAILPIECE
2016 Retromobile
Back in 1908 you could buy a Detroit Electric car which would do 45 m.p.h. and have a range of 70—80 miles; not much progress since then evidently! There is currently a new vogue for electric cars in the name of zero emissions but, the moment the car is plugged in to recharge its batteries, the pollution is, of course, merely transferred to the power stations!
Under German Occupation during the Second World War, the French had little alternative to resorting to electrical power with a serious shortage of petrol and raw materials. All sorts of crude cars came on the market, this 4-wheeled Pierre Faure being one of the better ones. Constructed from October 1940 onwards at Vitry-sur-Seine, this 2-seater had a backbone chassis with a narrow track at the rear to avoid the use of a differential and front suspension by a transverse leaf spring. Six batteries were located in the nose and these gave a speed of approximately 25 m.p.h. with a range of some 50 miles.
The car was shown at the 1946 Paris Salon but could not compete with the new petrol cars and production ceased in 1947. It is thought that about 20 were made.

David Blumlein March 2016

Rétromobile 2016-style

The Special Correspondent made his annual pilgrimage to Paris and the Porte de Versailles for the Rétromobile. As might be expected there was plenty to see that was ‘Rare and Interesting’…………..

2016 Retromobile

The Renault 40CV was for 20 years the top of their range. A large luxurious model, it originally came as the 50CV with a 9.5-litre engine in 1908, the company’s first six-cylinder. By 1911 it had been re-named the 40CV with 7.54 litres. The model evolved to become by 1925 the Type NM, having in the meantime acquired 9.12 litres and cantilever rear suspension.

2016 Retromobile

By no stretch of the imagination could the big 40CV be considered sporting but in 1925 two successes gave it something of a competition reputation. First, a private 40CV NM Weymann saloon won the Monte Carlo Rally, and then Renault decided to go for the 24 hour record, an activity that was all the rage in the inter-war years. An open 4-seater with special bodywork by Lavocat et Marsaud went to Montlhéry and on the 4/5th June duly pushed the 24 hour record up to 87.63 m.p.h. Alas for Renault, Bentley arrived in September when Duff and Barnato stole their honour by averaging 95.2 m.p.h. for the 24 hours. Not to be outdone, Renault returned in 1926 with a single-seater streamlined 40CV, a re-creation (acceptable because the original no longer exists) of which is shown here. The car boasted three carburettors for the 9.1-litre side valve six, a 55 gallon tank in the rear, a radiator behind the engine as Louis Renault insisted (and as was normal for production Renaults at the time) and provision to carry nearly 8 gallons of oil! Plessier and Garfield dutifully won back honours for Renault in the July, leaving the 24 hour record at 107.9 m.p.h
2016 Retromobile
Production of the Renault 40CV was phased out during 1928 and the car was replaced at that year’s Salon de Paris by the new Reinastella, a 7.1-litre with Renault’s first Billancourt-built 8-cylinder engine and the first production Renault with a front-mounted radiator, the rest of the range soon falling into line. In 1930 a smaller Reina, the Nervastella, was introduced with a 4.2-litre 8-cylinder motor. This model soon won the Rallye du Maroc (taking the first three places) and it was followed in March 1932 by the Nervasport, a shorter, lighter version. In 1934 the engine size went up to 4.82-litres and then at the end of the year to 5.4-litres. This Nervasport dates from 1935 and commemorates the model’s outright win in the 1935 Monte Carlo Rally.

2016 Retromobile

Jean-Pierre Wimille was one of France’s greatest racing drivers. During the war (while working for the Resistance as a member of the Special Operations Executive) he planned a car (La Wimille) that would set modern trends for the post-war era: tubular chassis, mid-mounted engine, central driving position with three seats (recalling the 1936 Panhard Dynamic), aerodynamic bodywork and panoramic vision.

2016 Retromobile

The first prototype, with 11CV Citroën four cylinder engine, was built in 1945 and made its first public appearance at the occasion of the Grand Prix de l’Autoroute de l’Ouest on 9 June 1946 at St Cloud where Wimille first drove the Alfa Romeo 158. Other prototypes followed with bodywork designed by Philippe Charbonneaux and powered by a Ford Vedette V8 engine.

2016 Retromobile

Shown is the third prototype but the whole project came to nought, alas, when Wimille was killed in practice for the 1949 Buenos Aires Grand Prix in a Simca-Gordini.

2016 Retromobile
Pictures DSCN 3510, 3504, 3505
In 1961 Deutsch and Bonnet (DB) followed the then current trend towards mounting the engine behind the driver – all the result of Cooper’s Formula One World Championship successes in 1959 and 1960.

2016 Retromobile

A DB was run in that year’s Le Mans with the Panhard engine so positioned (finishing 19th).

2016 Retromobile
DB also made a Formula Junior racer with the Panhard engine ( modified to 954 c.c.) duly mid-mounted. It was entrusted to Gérard Laureau for a race at Rouen where it was outpaced and never raced again. The pictures show the one such car that was ever made.
2016 Retromobile
It is always a pleasure to see a Panhard CT 24. This was the last model of this famous firm which was one of the very first to produce motor cars. Still powered by Louis Delagarde’s amazing flat- twin, its aerodynamics gave it a respectable performance but Citroën had taken over at the Avenue d’Ivry and killed off car production in 1967.
2016 Retromobile
BMW broke into car production when it bought the Dixi car company in 1928. This Eisenach firm had been making Austin Sevens under licence and BMW initially took on this rôle, steadily developing the cars according to their thinking. Here is a 1931 BMW 3/15 DA4 model still with the 743 c.c. engine but the bodywork is by Ambi-Budd of Berlin and , although it still looks like Sir Herbert’s baby. But notice…it has independent front suspension, something no “real” Austin Seven ever had!
2016 Retromobile
This is the beautiful Bugatti T55, the body design the work of the talented Jean Bugatti. The model, which appeared for 1932, was the true successor to the T43 and , just as that car had used the T35B Grand Prix engine , so the T55 was powered by the T51’s 2.3-litre twin overhead camshaft unit.

2016 Retromobile

Surprisingly, neither of these cars achieved real success in the international sports car racing; Bugatti had to wait for the T57’s variants to stamp Molsheim’s name on Le Mans etc.
TAILPIECE

2016 Retromobile
Ets Ballot made engines (it was one of several French companies to produce the Hispano Suiza V8 aero engine) and after the Great War it built some racing machines with Henry-designed twin o.h.c. motors, competing at Indianapolis in 1919 and the French Grand Prix in 1921 and 1922. This design was used in the exciting sports 2LS and this van, based on the 2LT with single o.h.c., has been restored to represent a “works” version.

David Blumlein March 2016

New Year, Old Cars

The Brooklands Museum celebrates the arrival of a New Year with an open house to all manner of interesting cars. Where else would our Special Correspondent be on January 1st? He found lots to see and enjoy.

 

2015 DB General

One of the very first Jensens. It is based on a Ford V8 chassis and mechanicals but has a Jensen body. It dates from 1935.

2015 DB General

A completely unrestored B.S.A. Ten from 1933. It has a 4-cylinder side-valve engine of 1172 c.c. and a 4-speed pre-selector gearbox in the then current Daimler tradition.

2015 DB General

B.S.A. was at the time also making front-drive three-wheelers and they used the same engine but this had to be turned round to drive the rear wheels conventionally on this car.

2015 DB General

One rarely has the pleasure of seeing Armstrong-Siddeley cars on the roads these days – they were fine, well-built, dignified cars which appealed to the well-to-do customers. This 1960 Star Sapphire is one of the last to be made before car production ceased. It used a 4-litre 6-cylinder engine with hemispherical combustion chambers, a design which was cloned by Humber for their final run of big saloons.

2015 DB General

It’s often forgotten that the Dennis Brothers made cars before switching entirely to commercial vehicles and buses – many of London’s buses today are of Dennis manufacture.

2015 DB General

This 1904 Dennis was, like so many cars of the time, powered by a single-cylinder De Dion engine.

2015 DB General

How to improve an Austin Seven! This 1929 Swallow version is an example of the work of William Lyons (later Sir William) which led him on to make the first SS cars which in turn became the SS Jaguars.

2015 DB General

A lovely Sunbeam Alpine with its body modified by Harringtons. Thomas Harrington was an old-established coachbuilder of Brighton, later Hove, whose main business after the Great War was building coach bodies but they also bodied a wide variety of cars.

2015 DB General

One of these Alpine Harringtons won the Index of Thermal Efficiency at Le Mans in 1961.

2015 DB General

You are not going to see another one of these!

2015 DB General

It is a one-off Alvis prototype dating from 1932 and consists of a Firefly running gear, a 6-cylinder three SU carburettored Eagle engine mounted on a narrowed Speed 20 chassis with a Charlesworth body!
2015 DB General
Surely the most desirable of all the Bristols?

2015 DB General

The 404 was nicknamed the ”Businessman’s Express” but this writer remembers spying prototypes running around near Filton as a teenager and feeling that I had seen the best looking car ever!

2015 DB General
Renault’s first post-war car, the 4 CV or the 750 when its capacity was reduced for competition purposes.

2015 DB General

This example was made at the Billancourt factory in Paris but these successful little cars were assembled at Renault’s factory on the Western Avenue at Acton until 1956.
2015 DB General
There were three completely different versions of the Hillman Husky.

2015 DB General

A sports tourer on the Hillman 14 chassis in the 1930’s, a little utility on a shortened Minx chassis in the mid-Fifties and this smart version based on the Imp 5cwt van
2015 DB General
A wonderful example of a 1950 Allard P1 saloon, complete with a steering column gear change and of course a big V8 engine from Ford. In 1952 Sydney Allard won the Monte Carlo Rally outright in one of these, the only occasion when a driver won in a car of his own construction.

2015 DB General
A bit grubby but the Bentley 3-litre looks lovely in blue.

2015 DB General
The Fiat 508 Balilla, named after a Fascist youth organisation, was a small car equipped with a 995 c.c. side-valve engine, 3-speed gearbox and either a 2-door closed or open body. It was introduced on 12th April 1932 at the Milan Motor Show although Mussolini had been given a preview in Rome on the 8th April. Inevitably sporting versions soon evolved and an open 2-seater with lowered body, sweeping front wings and a tail fin became the 508S. These cars were quickly plunged into competitions, an ohv engine and a close-ratio 4-speed gearbox being available from March 1934. Just two examples of their many successes were class wins in the 1933 Mille Miglia and in the 1936 Tourist Trophy at the Ards.

2015 DB General
Interestingly, the Scuderia Ferrari entered one for the 1934 24 Hour Targa Abruzzo at Pescara, to be driven by one Zoboli, the Fascist Party official from Modena. Proudly wearing the emblems of the Prancing Horse on the sides of the scuttle, the car finished in 7th place. Another such entry was in the 1937 Mille Miglia for Piero Gobbato, the son of Ugo Gobbato, the head of Alfa Romeo who was assassinated as he walked from the factory to his nearby home on 28th April 1945.
TAILPIECE
2015 DB General
Daimler did not just produce staid motor cars but got heavily involved in developing fighting vehicles for the armed forces. Their Scout and Armoured Car Mark 1 were produced in quantity during the Second World War and this Ferret was in production into the 1970’s when it gave service to the NATO forces.

David Blumlein, February 2016

Another Classic NEC Classic Show

One of the highlights of the UK Classic scene is the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, despite its NEC venue. It is heavily rooted in the fine work of the enthusiasts’ car clubs and not some dealer driven event. There is so much to admire it is almost an overload but fortunately our Special Correspondent was on hand to bring to our attention some of the rare and interesting…………..

2015 DB General

The post-war Healeys, powered by the 2.5-litre Riley engine and manufactured by the Donald Healey Motor Company at the Cape, Warwick, were formidable sporting cars.

2015 DB General

This example was one of two works Westland –bodied cars which ran in the 1949 Mille Miglia. Driven by Geoffrey Healey and Tommy Wisdom, it won the over 2,500 c.c. Touring class, beating a works Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Freccia d’Oro (Venturi/Sanesi) and a works Bristol 400 ( H.J.Aldington/Count Lurani).

2015 DB General

The other Healey came 4th in class driven by Donald Healey and Geoffrey Price, who was the Service Manager at the factory.

2015 DB General

Healeys grew into Austin-Healeys and the big 6-cylinder car became a tough competitor in the international rallies. This was Pat Moss’s pet car and she used it in 1960 to win with Ann Wisdom the notorious Liège-Rome-Liège rally, a 96-hour non-stop marathon.

2015 DB General

This is one of two prototypes, the other a convertible, the last Jensens to be designed by Eric Neale. They were both powered by the Chrysler 383 V8 engine and this car was built in the winter of 1965/66. The design never reached production because, at the time, Jensen was in the process of being taken over by the “Norcross Group” and their own designer, Kevin Beattie, chose to have Jensen’s next car designed in Italy…..the well-known Interceptor.

2015 DB General

Sunbeam Rapiers were very active in competitions and Rootes had agencies all over the globe. The Rodriguez brothers, Ricardo and Pedro, drove two of these cars to a dominant 1-2 in the 1600 class in the 1961 Carrera Cuidad de Mexico.
2015 DB General
By 1932 sales of the hitherto successful Singer Junior (introduced in 1926) were dwindling and the company needed a new model. An excellent engineer, Leo Shorter, joined in 1932 and soon increased the capacity of the Junior’s overhead camshaft engine from 848 c.c. to 972 c.c. giving it an RAC rating of 9h.p. This car was the Junior Special and it heralded the famous Singer Nine series.
2015 DB General
This 1934 Rover Twelve Sports Saloon with a 4-cylinder 1496 c.c. ohv engine was supplied by the Leicester Rover agents to Sydney Clutterbuck.

2015 DB General

Being a keen rally driver, he entered the car for the RAC Rally in March and it was specially prepared with non-standard items such as knock-off wheels, larger headlamps etc. Despite wintry conditions, it successfully completed the rally at Bournemouth.
2015 DB General
Originally a 4-cylinder P6 Engineering Development car, it was heavily modified for racing and was fitted with a 4.3 Traco-Oldsmobile V8. From April 1970 it competed in eight races driven by Roy Pierpoint, winning at Castle Combe and at the Silverstone 100-mile Saloon race.
TAILPIECE
2015 DB General
The first car from Dagenham, the Ford Y-type which sold as the £100 Popular.

David Blumlein, January 2016

Traditional Values

The Special Correspondent has been a bit quiet of late but, fear not, he has been beavering away in the background. Visits to diverse events such as Kop Hill and the Manchester Classic threw up a number of ‘Rare and Interesting’ cars for our enjoyment. 

2015 DB General

Behold a superb Aster, a very rare beauty. It is a 1924 18/50 Fixed Head Coupé.

2015 DB General
Aster was a French maker of proprietary engines at St Denis in northern Paris at the start of the 20th century, supplying many makes of early cars such as Gladiator and Argyll. They opened a British branch in Wembley, Middlesex, and from 1922 entered the private car market.
This beautifully preserved car has cantilever rear springs and a 6-cylinder o.h.v. Wembley-built engine:
2015 DB General
Note how the spark plugs are set in the block rather than the head.
In 1927 Aster merged with the Arrol-Johnston of Dumfries and the cars became Arrol-Asters, made in the Scottish factory.
2015 DB General
Then we find a 1948 Healey Elliott saloon. Donald Healey, having before the war been involved with Triumph, set up his own company in Warwick in 1946, making initially successful sporting cars using the 2.5-litre Riley engine.
The saloons were bodied by Samuel Elliott & Sons of Reading, a company that was more used to joinery and making shop fronts! These cars were the fastest production saloon cars at the time, recording 103.76 m.p.h. at Montlhéry in the hands of Tommy Wisdom. Also in 1948 examples came 13th overall in the Targa Florio, winning its class, 13th and 1st in the Touring class in the Mille Miglia, and 8th overall (second in class to a 3-litre Delage) in the Spa 24-Hour race. In 1949 a Healey saloon finished 13th in the first post-war Le Mans 24-Hour race.
2015 DB General
This is a 1932 Riley Gamecock. The model was introduced in 1931 to offer a sports 2-seater to fill the gap between the famous Brooklands racing model and the remainder of the company’s saloon car range. Only about 750 were made, mostly in 1932 and it was superseded by the popular Lynx 4-seater.
2015 DB General
Built in July 1934, this Frazer-Nash has a twin-cam 6-cylinder Blackburne engine and took part in various competitions including the 1937 Brooklands Relay race, at Shelsley Walsh, the Brighton Speed Trials, the Lewes trials and the long distance Land’s End and London- Edinburgh events.
2015 DB General
A Jensen FF, the first production car with 4-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes. Jensen was an interesting company, the brothers Alan and Richard starting as coachbuilders before making their own cars. They diversified a lot and made some commercial vehicles – the little Jen-Tug mechanical horse being a favourite of this scribe; it first used a Ford Ten engine! The West Bromwich plant also assembled Austin A40 Sports, Volvo P1800s, Sunbeam Tigers and the big Austin–Healeys among others.
Jensen made only 110 of the FF model with its Vignale-styled body and potent Chrysler 6.3-litre V8 producing 330bhp.
2015 DB General
This Unipower GT is chassis number 9 of 75 Unipower GTs made at Perivale in Middlesex between 1966 and 1969 using Mini Cooper engines, modified suspension and brakes. It had a square tubular space frame built by Arch Motors and a body by Specialised Mouldings.
It is the first lightweight competition model made by the factory and after being displayed at the 1967 Racing Car Show it was purchased by the Salisbury tuning company Janspeed who prepared it for works driver Geoff Mabbs to race in 1967. It was then sold to Brian Harvey, who eventually founded Grand Prix Models.
2015 DB General
A 1937 Riley 1.5-litre Touring Saloon, a beautifully preserved example. The car has a Briggs steel body which is characterised by the boot extension. Rileys made good cars but like some other manufacturers made too many different models which caused serious problems by the end of the Thirties.
2015 DB General
This was Chevrolet’s answer to the Chrysler PT Cruiser. It is the HHR which stands for Heritage High Roof. General Motors made some 60,000 of them in Mexico.
2015 DB General
The Rochdale Olympic has an important place in motoring history – it is one of the first cars to have a fibreglass monocoque chassis/body. After a disastrous factory fire in 1961, the company concentrated on these Olympic models.
TAILPIECE
2015 DB General
Finally it is surely appropriate that a Manchester exhibition has a local product on display – a fine 1927 Crossley 20.9 hp 6-cylinder o.h.v. 3-litre model from the factory in Gorton.

David Blumlein, January 2016

Coventry Considerations

The Special Correspondent has been to Coventry and, as usual, he brings us some automotive treasures.

While attending the excellent seminar of the Society of Automotive Historians at Coventry Transport Museum, I grabbed a few moments in the lunch hour to nip around that part of the museum which has already been re-furbished. Here are some of the gems:

2015 DB General

This is where the story all began. In 1888 F.R. Simms met Gottlieb Daimler at the Bremen International Exhibition. Five years later the Daimler Motor Syndicate Ltd was formed in London following Simms’s acquisition of the Daimler engine patent rights for Great Britain. In 1895 the British Motor Syndicate Ltd, led by the dubious Harry J. Lawson, acquired those rights from Simms. This in turn led to the flotation of the Daimler Motor Company Ltd in Coventry in 1896. By 1897 production was under way of Daimler cars in the Coventry “Motor Mills” alongside the MMC cars. This Daimler dates from 1898.

2015 DB General

In 1896 Lawson paid Léon Bollée £20,000 for the English manufacturing and patent rights of his 3-wheeler – thus did Humber make the first Léon Bollée Voiturette built in this country.

2015 DB General

A Rover 6 displayed in front of a depiction of the original Meteor works in Coventry with some early Rover cycles. This factory never survived the Luftwaffe’s onslaught. The 6hp model was the second model Rover produced, the first being the 8 in 1904, the first car with a backbone chassis, designed by Edmund Lewis.

2015 DB General

John Davenport Siddeley took over the ailing Deasy company in 1909 and the cars were known as Siddeley-Deasys – they had bulkhead- mounted radiators like the Renaults. This is a 1912 model. After the Great War the cars became Armstrong-Siddeleys.

2015 DB General

A Coventry Premier 3-wheeler. The company made a cyclecar in 1912-14 and an advanced 4-cylinder failed to make production with the coming of the war. This cheaper model was considered more appropriate for the post-war conditions. It had a V-twin engine. Singer took over the firm and produced a 4-wheel variant and a cheap version of the Singer Ten was badged as a Coventry Premier in 1923 before dropping the name altogether in the next season.

2015 DB General

This is the Lea-Francis Hyper which was driven by Kaye Don to victory in the revived Tourist Trophy race, run on the Ards circuit for the first time in 1928.

2015 DB General

Lea-Francis were at the peak of their competition successes in the late Twenties and this 4-seater version of the Hyper won the 1500 c.c. class at Le Mans in 1929 driven by Peacock and Newsome, finishing 8th overall. The following year they won the class again with a 6th place finish.

TAILPIECE

2015 DB General

A portrait of Siegfried Bettmann who, as a German immigrant, adopted England as his home and who rose to become Mayor of Coventry in 1913. He is remembered also as the creator of the Triumph Company.

David Blumlein, April 2015