Archive for Rare and Interesting

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

A Continental Tour

 

The Special Correspondent has been visiting shows on the continent, Paris and Bremen have been his targets. He brings us a fine selection of the rare and interesting from these venues, sit back and enjoy the automotive education. 

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The Bugatti Type 43 is considered to be one of the four “landmark” cars from Ettore’s factory, the others being the Brescia, the Type 35 Grand Prix car and the Type 57 from the Thirties.

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The Type 43 could be thought of as the McLaren of its day when introduced in 1927. Based on the Type 38 chassis it had a Type 35B 2.3-litre 8-cylinder supercharged Grand Prix engine mounted in a Molsheim open four-seater body of narrow torpedo shape with a single left-hand door. The car ran on the detachable rim alloy wheels from the Grand Prix car.
The car had no outstanding success in competition – a team of three works cars could only manage 6th, 13th and 16th in the 1928 Mille Miglia. It tended to be unreliable and had a certain proclivity for catching fire (Campbell’s at the 1928 Tourist Trophy, for example).
Bugatti made just over 150 of them and it seems that one was presented to Louis Chiron in lieu of payment for racing successes!

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The Germans were undoubtedly the pace-setters in the art of streamlining in the 1930s as exemplified by the Mercedes factory’s recreation of their 1938 W29 5.4-litre Stromlinien-Limousine.

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Le Mans enthusiasts tend to be familiar with Grégoire’s little front-drive Tractas which did well at the 24-Hour race but do they know of this very pretty Type E two-seater built for the road? It is powered by an American-made 2.6-litre Continental 6-cylinder engine.

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What do these three cars have in common, the Amilcar CG SS……..

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……the Delaunay-Belleville Type H.C.4……

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and the Hotchkiss 864 Vichy?

The answer is that they all emanated from factories in the northern Parisian suburb of Saint Denis. Away from car lovers the Abbaye of Saint Denis is famous as the place where the pointed Gothic arch which adorns so many cathedrals and churches in Europe was invented.

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This lovely 1935 Rover 14 Streamline Coupé reminds us that streamlining to the English manufacturers at that time invariably meant what we came to call “fastbacks”. Nevertheless, with a 6-cylinder 1600 c.c. o.h.v. engine fed by 3 S.U. carburettors, this car could reach 131km/h. Rover made just 300 of them.

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1937 Bugatti Type 57S (surbaissée) with a 3.3-litre 8-cylinder, built for T.A.S.O. Mathieson, a very competent amateur driver. It has a unique cabriolet body by Corsica. He raced it in the 1938 Tourist Trophy at Donington, finishing 20th and 4th in class.

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This car is the beginning of the HWM story. John Heath used this sports racer in 1948. It had a tubular chassis, pre-selector gearbox and a 4-cylinder twin –carburettor 2-litre Alta engine. It first raced in the Jersey Road Race, retiring after 19 laps when the timing chain broke. He was encouraged to enter it for the revived Spa 24-Hour race but his co-driver, George Abecassis, crashed it during the night. A front wheel parted company twice (!) during the Paris 12—Hours in September. All this led to a heavily revised car for 1949 and soon to the Formula 2 HWMs.

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This is a Ford Eifel, the German version of the Model C, built in the Köln factory. Henry Ford had a rather sympathetic relationship with Hitler which explains the continued presence of the Ford factory in Nazi Germany. The Wehrmacht was always desperately short of lorries during the war and Ford helped to oblige.

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Adler commissioned Hans-Gustav Rohr to design a 1501 c.c. front-wheel drive all independent suspension car with bodywork by Ambi-Budd – this was the Adler Trumpf, introduced at the 1932 Geneva Show. It was very successful and came to be built under licence by Imperia in Belgium and Rosengart in France. Ultra-streamlined versions eventually ran successfully at Le Mans and Spa.
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Here is the former Karmann factory in Osnabruck, rescued by VW.

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David Blumlein, April 2015

 

Testing Times at Brooklands

The Special Correspondent has been spending some time down at Brooklands since finishing his Spa 24 Hours’ history. As is his wont, he regularly finds cars that are rare and/or interesting and the recent VSCC Driving Tests event was no exception to this rule. He shares this discovery with us below.

John Brooks, February 2015

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The Société des Moteurs Salmson made aero engines during the First World War as well as magnetos and other components; they also made some of their own aeroplanes. With the cessation of war contracts they diversified into car production and initially they made G.N. cyclecars under licence at Billancourt in Paris. This is a Salmson-G.N., recognisable by its brass radiator and steel body. Salmson- G.N.s were used after the war by the Paris police.

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This 1923 Crossley 19/6 tourer is powered by a 4-cylinder side-valve 3.6-litre engine. It has no front brakes and a 4-speed gearbox with the traditional right-hand change.
Crossley was a very versatile company, making engines, commercial vehicles and buses at their Gorton, Manchester plant and is remembered especially for its 25 h.p. RFC/RAF staff car which became standard equipment during the First World War.

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This Frazer-Nash BMW 319/55  was first delivered in February 1937. It is back at Brooklands after 78 years, having taken part with Don Aldington at the wheel in the 1937 JCC Brooklands Rally. It has a 6-cylinder o.h.v. engine.

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Rileys were at the peak of their powers in competitions in the Thirties and the factory entered no less than six cars for the 1934 Le Mans 24 Hour race. They were driven down by road from Coventry, calling in at Brooklands for some preparatory laps on their way to France. This Riley Imp, one of two specially prepared Imps for the race, was driven by Jean Trevoux and René Carrière but lost two laps early on in the pits for repairs to the tail following a spin at Mulsanne. This left it 44th and last but it recovered to 12th and 3rd in class. The car made up for this later that year by winning its class in the Tourist Trophy on the Ards circuit.

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Here is the famous Napier-Railton, a brute of a car! Commissioned by John Cobb with a view to tackling the World 24 Hour record, it was designed by Reid Railton and built by Thomson and Taylor at Brooklands. Gurney Nutting supplied the bodywork and Napier the 502 h.p. version of the First World War “Lion” W-12 aero engine with cylinders in three banks of four, giving it a capacity of 23,970 c.c.

The car won its début race in the 1933 August Bank Holiday Brooklands meeting but then went to Montlhéry to try for the 24 Hour record but tyre failures spoilt this. Back there again in 1934 but the very competent Riley driver, Freddie Dixon, crashed it. So it was over to Bonneville Salt Flats in America in 1935 and here the car took the record at 137.40 mph driven by Cobb, Charlie Dodson and Tim Rose-Richards. This success was repeated a year later when Cobb, Hindmarsh, Brackenbury and Rose-Richards pushed the record for 24 hours up to 150.6 mph.

After the war ownership of the car eventually came to the Hon. Patrick Lindsay who raced it at Silverstone in the 1960 Martini Trophy meeting, coming third behind two E.R.A.s. It now resides with loving care in the Brooklands Museum.

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An example of a rare “chain-gang” Frazer-Nash. This is a 1932 “Exeter” model of which only 5 or 6 were made and named after the London-Exeter Trial – Frazer-Nash cars scored twelve Premier awards in the 1931 event. It has the usual Meadows engine but the bodywork is by Corsica.

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Here is an offside view of the brute’s engine!

David Blumlein, February 2015

A New Year at Brooklands

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The gathering at Brooklands on New Year’s Day grows ever bigger – over 1,100 cars turned up within its sacred borders! The weather stayed dry this year and amidst the rows of tedious MGBs, MX-5s etc., there were, as usual, some real gems for the true enthusiast to enjoy:
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A.C. cars were very active on the Brooklands track during the Twenties, scoring many successes and setting many speed records. It was, however, John Weller’s superb overhead camshaft 6-cylinder engine which forged A.C.’s reputation, this unit staying in production for some forty years. Here we see one of the final expressions of the vintage 2-litre A.C. Sixes before the Hurlocks took over the company in 1930, ushering in a new era.
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The M.G. 18/80 was introduced at the Olympia Show in 1928 but so was the first M.G. Midget. And it was the Midget line that would go on to create a future for M.G. The 18/80 was the first to use the traditional M.G. radiator and was a dignified model with many Morris mechanicals beneath the surface including a 6-cylinder overhead camshaft engine. The big M.G. came in Mark Ι and Mark ΙΙ forms and there were even five Mark ΙΙΙs, the Tigresse model. One of these, in Cecil Kimber’s favourite cream and brown colours, tackled the 1930 Brooklands Double Twelve race but it was soon clear that the heavy car was no opposition to the Aston Martin and Alfa Romeos. It mercifully faded early on, not with the advertised carburettor problems, but with run bearings. And that spelt the end of the 18/80 as a serious competition car – it was all Midgets from then on.
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One certainly does not expect to see a Borgward 2400 at Brooklands! This is thought to be the only one in the country. Carl Borgward introduced this bigger model in 1952 to compete with the Mercedes 220 and Opel Kapitan. It had a 2337 c.c. 6-cylinder engine with hemispherical combustion chambers giving 80 b.h.p. and came with either a 3-speed box or the Hansamatic transmission which was to cause serious problems. Originally the car, a full 6-seater, had a sloping back but a fully booted version was introduced in March 1953. Sales were small with only 1132 made of which 356 were the second series with a 2240 c.c. 100 b.h.p. engine. The model was withdrawn in 1958.

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One of these cars took a fine 3rd in the over 2-litre class of the 1953 Italian Sestrière Rally driven by Count Von der Mϋhle and former Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team driver Hans Hugo Hartmann who was to take charge of Borgward’s competition department.
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And one also does not expect to find a New York taxi at Brooklands! This is one of the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victorias, for years the staple diet of the yellow cab fleets. It was an old-fashioned body-on-frame design. In 1992 it was given a 4.6-litre overhead camshaft V8 and in 2003 it had an all-new frame with re-designed front suspension and rack and pinion steering. The last one made came off the line at St Thomas, Ontario, Canada in September 2011.
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A Riley once more on the Members’ Banking! Rileys were among the most competitive cars at Brooklands in the Thirties; this one wasn’t born then but the RM series carried on in many ways the company’s fine tradition in the early post-war years. They offered either a 1.5 or 2.5-litre version of the splendid high-cam 4-cylinder engines and boasted torsion bar independent front suspension unashamedly cribbed from Citroën’s Traction Avant.
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During the Fifties Dick Jacobs was a familiar participant in British motor sport, invariably involved with M.G. cars for which his Mill Garage in Essex were dealers. He purchased this YB 1.25-litre M.G. saloon to enter for the 1952 Silverstone Production Car Race where its chief opposition came from Jowett Javelins especially that of Bert Hadley. In the race Jacobs managed to tuck in behind Stirling Moss in the big Mark VΙΙ Jaguar while being lapped and this slip-streaming brought the M.G. nearer Hadley whose Javelin then started to emit steam – thus Jacobs managed to win the class. In 1953 he did it again and in 1954 he won the class for the third time! This car is therefore special in M.G. racing history but soon was put back to family duties
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To understand the weird Trojan it is necessary to appreciate some of the ideals of its designer Leslie Hayward Hounsfield. He had strong views about the place of the car in society and believed that speed was a bad thing for all concerned. He also disliked the idea of a car indicating social status, believing that style and fashion should have no place.
No danger of his contrivance conveying status! This odd machine has an under-floor engine, a twin-cylinder (with two pistons per cylinder) two stroke which drove through an epicyclic transmission with a big flywheel. The output was 11 b.h.p. at 1,200 rpm with exceptional low-end torque. He originally planned to have no bonnet, Lanchester-wise, but was advised that no one would buy a car without a bonnet, even though it was empty!

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But they did buy them, some 25,000, and these were made for Trojan under licence by Leyland Motors from 1922-29 in their Kingston-on-Thames factory where Sopwith planes had formerly been made. And a Trojan stood alongside the big new Leyland Eight on the company’s stand at the 1922 Motor Show. Which of the two was most successful?

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The Alvis 12/50 was an ever present part of the Brooklands vintage racing scene. C.M. Harvey used a special racing version to win the JCC 200-mile race in 1923 whereas the normal production car scored notable victories at the track including best on handicap at the 1927 Essex Six Hour race and winning outright the JCC 4 Hour Sporting Car Race that same year.

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Here is a superb example with the duck-back tail treatment; the other is the beetle-back version.
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It is indeed appropriate to see a Bentley Brooklands at Brooklands! Bentley produced two distinct models: a full-size luxury saloon replacing the Mulsanne (1992-1998) as shown here, and a fixed head version of the Azure, first seen at Geneva in 2007.

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Just 550 of these were built up to 2011.
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How can anyone suggest that Jaguar’ current F-type is prettier than this XK 120 Coupé?

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David Blumlein, January 2015

Old Paris

The month of February brings the Retromobile in Paris, our Special Correspondent jumped on the train to see what was on offer. Now he shares some of his wisdom with us.

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Sunbeam 350 h.p.
This car was the creation of Louis Coatalen in 1920. A native of Brittany, he had worked for various car companies including William Hillman before becoming Chief Engineer at Sunbeam in Wolverhampton. Sunbeams had been very busy during the First World War producing aero engines (so much so that the production of their popular Staff car had to be farmed out to Rover in Coventry) and Coatalen selected one of the company’s V-12 18.3-litre Manitou engines, albeit modified for his new record/sprint car.

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On its first appearance in 1920 at Brooklands it crashed in practice but in October that year René Thomas set a new record at the Gaillon hill climb. On 22nd May 1922 Kenelm Lee Guinness set a new Land Speed Record of 133.75 m.p.h. on the Railway Straight at Brooklands. A month later Malcolm Campbell borrowed the car and reached 138 m.p.h. at the Saltburn Speed Trials.
Campbell persuaded Coatalen to sell him the car, painted it blue and re-named it Blue Bird. After a futile trip to Fanoë in Denmark, Campbell sent the car over the winter of 1923-24 to Boulton Paul at Norwich for wind-tunnel testing – they recommended a streamlined cowl over the radiator, a long tapered tail with a headrest and the rear suspension cowled; the rear wheels had disc covers. This work was then carried out by Jarvis of Wimbledon.
Late in August 1924 another trip to Denmark proved unsuccessful and Campbell then discovered a suitable beach in Carmarthen in South Wales. Here on September 24th on the Pendine Sands Campbell set a new Land Speed Record of 146.16 m.p.h. – by just 0.15 m.p.h.! He returned the next July and raised this to 150.766 m.p.h. in the car now fitted with a long exhaust pipe.

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Lancia D24
In 1953 Lancia raced the 2.9-litre V6 D20 Coupés, scoring third and eighth places in that year’s Mille Miglia. Maglioli then gave the car a win in the Monte Pellegrino hill climb and in the Targa Florio. But the pretty coupés were noisy and uncomfortable because of cockpit heat. Lancia therefore commissioned Pinin Farina to produce an open spyder version, the D23. In August 1953 for the first Nϋrburgring 1,000 km race Lancia produced the D24, a 3.3-litre version of the D23. The two D24s suffered broken batteries when leading the race. However, in 1954 the model won the Mille Miglia in the hands of Alberto Ascari and this chassis gave Taruffi victory in the Targa Florio after earlier winning the Giro di Sicilia.
This chassis 005 was the last built and is the unique survivor.

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Rolls Royce EX17
There had been criticisms of the Rolls Royce car, suggesting it was old-fashioned and of poor performance. So Henry Royce decided to build a Sports Phantom at the end of 1925 and this car, 10EX, was used for extensive testing especially at Brooklands. Royce sanctioned three more experimental Sport Phantoms of which the third was 17EX. This was running by the end of January 1928, although waiting for its body from Jarvis of Wimbledon. Tested alongside 10EX, 17EX was noticeably superior in acceleration and lower speeds. The blue-painted body was delivered to Derby in July and testing resumed until October when the car passed to the Sales Department, having covered just 4,400 miles.

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1921 Delaunay- Belleville

Delaunay-Belleville was a manufacturer of ship and locomotive boilers at St Denis, Paris. From 1904 cars were made and a familiar feature of the early cars was the rounded radiator, reminiscent of the boilers! From 1910 the cars were generally chauffeur- driven. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was a regular customer and both Lenin and Trotsky liked driving their Delaunay-Bellevilles. This car is a 6-cylinder 5-litre 30CV model with a 4-speed gearbox and body by Lambourdette of Madrid.

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The engine used side-valves but some manufacturers provided covering to give the impression that more sophisticated valve-gear was used!

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Alfa Romeo Van
We tend to think of Alfa Romeo in terms of sporting and racing cars but the company produced high quality commercial vehicles especially in the Thirties when the State-controlled firm needed to supply lorries for Mussolini’s military ambitions.

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Diversification after the war included the production of these light vans (1954-68) and this example has true Alfa Romeo pedigree – it is powered by the Guilietta twin cam engine mounted well forward.
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1932 Amilcar C6
Amilcar of St Denis made small capacity sports cars in the interwar years. This C6 is rather special: Clément Auguste Martin replaced the six-cylinder engine with a four-cylinder unit which he had modified and pursued a very successful competition career with it, especially in the Bol d’Or races where it scored class wins.

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At Le Mans in 1932 the car finished 8th overall, winning the 1100 c.c. class. It also ran in the 1930 Routes Pavées (3rd in class) and in the 1932 Spa 24 Hour race.

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1964 Facel 6

Jean Daninos introduced his luxury Facel Vega car at the Paris Salon in 1954, powered by a large V8 Chrysler–based engine. In 1960 he presented the smaller Facellia with its own 1.6-litre twin cam 4-cylinder engine designed by former Talbot engineer Carlo Marchetti. Unfortunately it was noisy and very unreliable. A Volvo-engined replacement was offered in 1963 and then this 6-cylinder version using a linered down Austin-Healey 3000 unit. The original company was declared bankrupt in 1965.

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1955 Cooper Bristol
The Cooper Car Company of Surbiton created for 1955 a central-seat sports car based on their F3 designs. This car, the T39, was powered by the new Coventry-Climax FWA 1100c.c. engine and was clothed in an attractive aerodynamic bodyshell whose tail was cut off- a Kamm tail, named after the German physicist who demonstrated the aerodynamic benefits of such a design. The car immediately acquired the nickname “Bob-tail”.
A young Australian, Jack Brabham, obtained agreement to build one of these cars with a 2-litre Bristol engine for use in Formula 1. The chassis was extended by 2 inches and all the sports car equipment such as lights was dispensed with. This one-off T40 ran at Aintree in the British Grand Prix but the engine overheated causing retirement. Brabham then had a wonderful duel with Stirling Moss’s Maserati 250F at Snetterton finally finishing fourth behind Moss and the two leading Vanwalls.
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Peugeot World War 1 Lorry
This is a Type 1525 4-ton lorry dating from 1917. It has a 4.7-litre 4-cylinder Type KM engine, a 4-speed gearbox and, as can be seen, shaft drive. Expect 22-30km/h when fully laden!

David Blumlein, February 2014

 

 

Rare and Interesting at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show

We have been a bit preoccupied here at DDC Towers, and a bit neglectful of our loyal readers. No matter, there are a number of stories and features in the pipeline to keep everyone entertained and informed over the Festive Season. Our Special Correspondent made his annual trip to the dim lights of the NEC for the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, as ever he uncovered a few gems.

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1935 Jensen Morris Eight
A very remote part of the Jensen story – Jensen produced a short run of aluminium bodies for the then new Morris Eight at their West Bromwich factory.

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It had a chassis lowered by 3 inches, a special dashboard and a spring spoked steering wheel.
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1913 Morris Oxford
This was the first Morris car to leave the factory. It quickly acquired the name “Bullnose” because of the shape of the radiator.

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It was basically an “assembled” car until William Morris was able to buy up his major suppliers – these early cars used White and Poppe side-valve engines.

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1951 Lanchester LD10
Frederick Lanchester was one of the most gifted motor engineers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many innovations, still used today, are credited to his genius – for example , the balancing shaft fitted to modern bigger capacity four-cylinder engines. Production of Lanchesters moved to Daimler in Coventry in 1931 and there was much badge-engineering of models during the Thirties. However this Ten had no Daimler equivalent and used a 1287 c.c. o.h.v. 4-cylinder engine coupled to the familiar Daimler fluid flywheel transmission. It also had independent front suspension with coil springs. The car was produced between 1946 and 1951, these attractive bodies made by Barker.

2013 Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show
1937 Talbot Ten
When Rootes bought the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine in 1935, they effectively put an end to the Talbot tradition for finely engineered efficient cars that had been built up over the years by their outstanding Swiss designer Georges Roesch. Rootes put Roesch to work on adapting their Hillman Aero Minx into a small “sporty” car, the Talbot Ten, which still had the side-valve 1185 c.c. engine but with an aluminium head from which Roesch extracted 40 b.h.p. This pretty car with underslung rear chassis sold well, owners evidently proud to be able to afford a prestigious name such as Talbot!

2013 Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show
1939 Sunbeam-Talbot 4-litre Saloon
Rootes were never sure what to do with the Sunbeam marque, not being interested in carrying on that name’s very sporting tradition. So they played around with their “parts bin” and created a new make, Sunbeam-Talbot. This 4-litre is quite simply a Humber Snipe under the attractive bodywork. Introduced in 1938, the car was never made in large numbers and the design did not survive the onset of war.

2013 Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show
1951 Jowett Jupiter
Several coachbuilders built saloon bodies on the Jupiter chassis. This is one of four made by Abbotts of Farnham. The chassis was delivered to the Wrecclesham factory in June 1951 and the car was completed in the December. Abbotts is remembered nowadays for creating estate versions of Ford’s Zephyr and Zodiac models.

2013 Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show
IKA Torino
The IKA Torino was made in the Santa Isabel suburb of Cordoba in Argentina by Industrias Kaiser Argentina under an agreement with American Motors in 1966. It used either a 3 or 3.8-litre overhead camshaft straight-six Jeep Tornado engine originally developed by Kaiser Motors in 1963 for the Jeep Gladiator and Wagoneer 4-wheel drive vehicles. The body, based on that of the AMC Rambler, was redesigned by Pinin Farina at the front and rear to give the car a more European look. The Torino made its first public appearance on 30th November 1966 at the Buenos Aires racing circuit. A high performance version, the 380W, was equipped with three double-barrel Weber carburettors, front disc brakes and a floor-mounted ZF 4-speed manual gearbox.
In 1969 three such cars were entered for the 84-hour Marathon de la Route at the Nϋrburgring, a gruelling event which replaced the equally demanding Liège-Rome-Liège and Liège-Sofia-Liège rallies. One of the cars completed 334 laps after three and a half days’ racing, more than any other competitor but it was relegated to a final fourth place overall owing to penalties it had accumulated. Five times World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio had helped with the team’s management and in recognition of his guidance IKA presented him with the above car. Other famous owners of the Torino include Fidel Castro, Colonel Gaddafi and Leonid Brezhnev.
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2013 Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show

This 1899 French Decauville has, as can be seen, independent front suspension by transverse leaf spring – There’s nothing new under the sun, Eccl 1.9

David Blumlein, December 2013

 

Top Kop

The Special Correspondent has been a bit quiet recently, he is working on a grand project, more about that later. The Kop Hill Climb was a recent event that he attended and of course he brings us another feast of Rare and Interesting.

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1914 Marlborough
The Marlborough was an Anglo/French car. In 1909 production was taken over by T.B. André, of shock absorber fame. The cars had 4-cylinder engines, 3-speed gearboxes and shaft drive.
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This car is powered by a 1043 c.c. side-valve Ballot engine. Ballot was a French engine maker which later turned to car production. Their 3-litre straight-eight Grand Prix car finished 2nd (and 2-litre 3rd) in the 1921 French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Ballot is best remembered for its 2-litre 4-cylinder sports car, the 2LS, the first production car to have a twin-overhead camshaft engine.

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1947 Alvis Duncan saloon
Pictures 0546 and 0549
The all-aluminium car bodies built by Duncan Industries of North Walsham, Norfolk, are usually associated with the early Riley-engined Healeys but the company made 30 of these sports saloons on the Alvis TA 14 chassis.

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The car had a 4-cylinder 1842 c.c. OHV engine. It is thought that about 15 survive.

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Berkeley 2-seater sports
Most car enthusiasts think that Colin Chapman’s beautiful Lotus Elite of 1957 was the first car to have a glass-fibre chassis-body but it wasn’t – this Berkeley sports car, which made its début at Earl’s Court in 1956, was! Built by Berkeley Caravans of Biggleswade, a firm with vast experience with glass-fibre, the car had a 2-stroke twin-cylinder engine driving the front wheels. Fabricated aluminium structures were bonded into the underbody at the centre, as can be seen, and nose to provide additional beam and torsional strength which were necessary in an open car. The design was conceived by Lawrence Bond, better known for his mini-cars.

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1926 Morgan Family
Morgan’s first four-seater was seen at the 1919 Olympia Show and this “Family” version of the famous three-wheeler was the company’s most popular model during the Twenties.

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This car has the optional OHV Anzani 1078 c.c. water-cooled engine giving about 40 b.h.p.

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1925 Cubitt Tourer
Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire may seem an unlikely town in which to manufacture a motor-car but it was here in Bicester Road that Cubitt’s Engineering Co built the Cubitt car from 1919-1925. It was a subsidiary company of Holland, Hannen & Cubitt Ltd, builders who were responsible for the new east wing of Buckingham Palace and the Cenotaph among many other London landmarks. The Cubitt car was a straight-forward design with a 2185 c.c. 4-cylinder side-valve engine. Rather big and heavy, the car was slow to sell. In 1922 the ex-Napier head of A.C. Cars, S.F.Edge, bought Cubitt and engaged J.S. Napier (no connection with the Napier car) from Arrol-Johnston to redesign the car. (It was J.S.Napier who designed and drove the winning Arrol-Johnston in the first Tourist Trophy in 1905). Napier made no drastic changes to the Cubitt, replacing the cantilever rear springs with semi-elliptics and fitting an underslung worm-drive rear axle; he gave the engine aluminium pistons and lighter connecting –rods. But by 1925 the company had gone into voluntary liquidation. This tourer is one of the last survivors as is the car in the Aylesbury Museum.

2013 General iPhone
1919 Hispano-Suiza H6B
This was designer Marc Birkigt’s post-war masterpiece, built in the Paris factory to rival the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost and Phantoms.
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It had a 6-cylinder 6.6-litre engine with the camshaft driven by a vertical shaft, a feature derived from his amazingly successful World War 1 V8 aero-engine (A8) of which nearly 50,000 were produced, many under licence (Wolseley in Birmingham for example). The shaft can be seen at the front of the engine.

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Your correspondent is about to be whisked up the hill in the Rowlands’ superb Austin Seven Swallow, courtesy of his friend Robert.

David Blumlein, November 2013

Classics on the Green

The “Classics on the Green” at Croxley Green near Rickmansworth invariably turns up some unexpected gems.
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1993 Tatra 613. Having used the Tatra 603 since 1957 the Czechoslovakian Communist officials wanted a new flagship – the result was the 613, styled by the Italian Carrosserie Vignale, the first Tatra not to be styled in-house.
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In the best tradition of the distinguished former Tatra designer Hans Ledwinka, the engine is a rear-mounted air-cooled V8 of 3.5-litres.
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1934 Riley Imp. This car was delivered to Freddie Clifford in August 1934 and was immediately entered for the Tourist Trophy on the Ards circuit. The car was flagged off after 30 laps and was sold shortly afterwards to South Africa.
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1931 Buick 8 – it has an 8-cylinder o.h.v. 5.6-litre engine. The parts for this right-hand drive car were made in Canada and the car was finally assembled at the General Motors factory at Hendon in northern London.
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1935 Triumph Gloria Vitesse. A lovely example of the typical offerings from this Coventry manufacturer. The Gloria line marked a change of direction as Donald Healey became Technical Director. Power came from a 6-cylinder Coventry-Climax engine.
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1954 Frazer-Nash Le Mans Coupé. Only eight of these attractive cars were made after Wharton/Mitchell won the 2-litre class at Le Mans in 1953.
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This car differed from the others by being supplied from the factory with wire wheels.
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Question – what is the link between this rare American Indian motor-cycle and the Le Mans Cunninghams? Answer – G. Briggs Cleaver who designed the American cars was, before the war, the Chief Engineer of the famous motor-cycle manufacturer.

David Blumlein, September 2013

Classical Gas and Thunder Road

The Professional

No it is not a call for Mason Williams or Ryland Cooder, however timeless they are, but it is mid-August so the Monterey Peninsula is buzzing with automotive gold. Whether it is down on Pebble Beach or up at Laguna Seca there is something for every kind of petrolhead and I hope to bring you more during the coming weeks. Here is a bit of the real stuff. Jürgen Barth in a 911 sporting Catalan colours, courtesy of our friend David Soares.

2013 Brooklands Mustang

Meanwhile on the other side of the world I popped over to my local track, Brooklands. The reason was to see the Mustang and other Americana event and well worth the time it was too. More from that later……………OK it was not The Quail but the same spirit is found here around the Byfleet Banking, Percy Lambert’s ghost still races his Talbot and with the right kind of imagination you can feel that Certain Sound.

John Brooks, August 2013

Prowling The Paddock

Last week I caught up with our Special Correspondent in Belgium and he gave me the good news that he had finished his reflections on this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. So for the enlightenment of us all here is his copy and images.

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A visit to the Cathedral Paddock at half past seven on the Friday morning is always well rewarded. Here we have the surviving 1939 V-12 Le Mans Lagonda, the work of W.O. Bentley and his team.
The two cars entered came 3rd and 4th, following obediently the speeds set by the master – he wanted to ensure reliability and to go all out for a win in 1940; but that of course never came. The two cars had their final outing in the very last Brooklands meeting in August 1939 before the war clouds moved in. A win in a handicap race for this car crowned their short career before a V-1 hit the garage where they were stored, doing considerable damage. This car represents the works car which took third place at Le Mans in the hands of Arthur Dobson and Charles Brackenbury.
Beware! – some replicas have been made but this is the only genuine survivor!

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Anyone still somnolent at that time of the morning soon had their condition violently shaken by the shattering bombardment of noise from 12 short-stub flame-spitting exhausts of the 26.9-litre V-12 Liberty engine of Babs being warmed up – wonderful! Babs of course is the real restored car which that engineering genius Parry Thomas had developed from the Higham Special which he had obtained from the estate of Count Zborowski who had been killed at Monza in a works Mercédès in 1924. Thomas worked on the car for a year or so, re-naming it Babs, and in 1926 he set new World Land Speed records in April of 169 and 171 m.p.h. on the Pendine Sands in South Wales.
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The car underwent further modifications prior to Thomas returning to Pendine in April 1927 to try to beat Campbell’s record of 174 m.p.h. set in February in Bluebird. Alas, he crashed fatally and the damaged car was buried forthwith in the sand. It was that enthusiast Owen Wyn Owen who obtained permission to dig up the remains and to restore the car to its original final state as we see here.
Speculation has for a long time suggested that the driving chain came off to cause the head injuries from which Thomas died but this is now discounted – the covers were intact – and it is thought that he lost his life when the car turned over on top of him.
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More record breaking – the Peugeot 208 T16 with which Sebastien Loeb lowered the record at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb by 90 seconds! This one–off machine puts out 875 b.h.p. via the four wheels and set a time of 8 mins 13.878 seconds on the 12.42 mile drive up through the 156 corners of this incredible venue in Colorado.
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It is not often that the sole Cunningham C-6R escapes from its captivity at the magnificent Collier Collection in Florida. This attractive car, however, ranks as a failure. It is the last of the line of cars which Briggs Cunningham built to conquer Le Mans, a goal he never achieved to his great disappointment. It appeared for the 1955 season and differed from its V-8 predecessors in having an Offenhauser 4-cylinder engine more usually associated with Indianapolis than sports car racing. This unit was mounted inclined at 12˚ to the left and was de-stroked to 2942 c.c. The car first raced unpainted at the Sebring 12 Hours but had to retire when the flywheel exploded. By Le Mans it had acquired a fin and traditional American colours of white with a blue stripe. But the engine was not suited to the fuel supplied and its drivers Briggs Cunningham and Sherwood Johnston had to retire. The car raced again a few months later at Elkhart Lane where the Offenhauser failed once more. As Cunningham was by this time becoming involved with racing Jaguars, the C-6R finished its career with a Jaguar engine.
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This is Jaguar C-Type chassis 005 and it has a special place in history. In 1952 Stirling Moss drove it to victory in the Reims Sports Car Race, thus making it the first car to win an international sports car race using disc brakes. Sitting at the wheel here is Norman Dewis who was Jaguar’s long-serving test and development driver. In fact, so precious was he to Jaguar that Sir William Lyons forbade him to race. In 1955, however, the boss relented twice: in that year’s Le Mans, Dewis shared the third long-nosed works D-type with Don Beauman who eventually put the car irretrievably into the sand when lying fourth. Then in the Goodwood 9-hour race Dewis drove Jack Broadhead’s D-type with Bob Berry into a respectable fifth place.
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Over from the Daytona Speedway Museum was the final version of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Land Speed Record car Bluebird. After a break in 1934 from record-breaking which gave Reid Railton time to come up with this all-enveloping body, Bluebird returned to Daytona in March 1935 when this 5-ton machine, complete with twin rear wheels and air-brakes and powered by a 36.5-litre supercharged Rolls-Royce R engine, took the record at 276 m.p.h. However, Daytona Beach was becoming increasingly unsuitable for these higher speeds and Campbell opted to try the salt flats at Bonneville in Utah – by September he had become the first man to drive a car at over 300 m.p.h., 301.129 m.p.h. in fact. Campbell had achieved what he wanted and retired from the arena.
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One of Bluebird’s air-brakes.

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Tucked away from the general crowds on the southern fringes of Goodwood were two Rolls-Royces, unlabelled and without any apparent supervision. One was the 1913 Silver Ghost Alpine Eagle which James Radley used in support of the three works cars which brought success to the Derby marque in the Austrian Alpine Trial that year. Rolls-Royce had entered the cars to redeem their reputation after Mr Radley had driven his private Silver Ghost in the 1912 event and had failed to climb the Katschberg Pass because its 3-speed gearbox lacked a sufficiently low ratio. Needless to say, the 1913 cars had 4-speed boxes and other modifications:
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To recall their ultimate success, Rolls-Royce introduced the special edition “Alpine Trial Centenary Collection” version of the current Ghost model painted a pale blue and here can be seen the two cars from the rear.

David Blumlein, August 2013