Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Wet Moggie

December is upon us, so the mood is definitely that of hibernation. The office has been cleared up a tad and both scanners are now up and running with the latest Silverfast 8.0 software. Just playing around with some old negatives but here is a Morgan back on 10th May 1982 at the Silverstone 6 Hours. The Plus 8 was driven by Bruce Stapleton, Bill Wykeham and Richard Down in a typically wet endurance race. They completed 177 laps and finished 15th overall, 4th in class.

I must have been bonkers to be standing out in the deluge.

John Brooks, November 2012

Highlights of the Footman James Classic Motor Show

Our Special Correspondent went to Birmingham for the recent Classic Motor Show, here are some of the gems that he found.

1899 Decauville

This little Voiturelle is important in motoring history as it has independent front suspension, the first known example of i.f.s. on a petrol car. As can be seen, it has a transverse leaf spring operating on sliding pillars. Strangely there is no rear suspension and it is  powered by two De Dion singles on a common crankcase.

1951 Allard P1 saloon

It was no surprise to find P1 saloons on the Allard stand because this year is the 60th anniversary of Sydney Allard’s win with a P1 saloon in the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally, the only time the event has been won by a driver in a car of his own construction. This model was Allard’s best seller, 559 being made between 1949-1952.

It was powered by the familiar 3.6-litre side-valve V8 as used by Ford in the Pilot and even inherited this car’s steering–column gear change. The successful rally car had a 4.4-litre Mercury V8.

Morris Six

From the same era comes this Morris Six, the largest of the three completely new Morris cars introduced at the first post-war Motor Show at Earl’s Court in 1948. The sensation was of course Issigonis’s Morris Minor but a first for the make was that all three newcomers (the other was the Oxford) had independent front suspension – away with the cart springs at last! – in their case by torsion bars. Whereas the two smaller models still relied on rather gutless old side-valve units , the Six was given a new 6-cylinder overhead camshaft 2.2 litre motor which it shared with its Nuffield stablemate, the Wolseley 6/80.

Ford Pilot

The Pilot was Ford’s post-war version of their pre-war V8 and it suffered from the same antiquated chassis design – hence the transverse leaf spring suspension on solid axles. One concession to modernity was the currently popular steering-column gear change but it still operated on only a 3-speed box. The Pilot was nevertheless a tough machine and they built 22,000 of them before the arrival of the completely new Consul and Zephyr range at Earl’s Court in 1950 with their trend-setting MacPherson independent front suspension. This also spelt the end for the famous flat-head side-valve V8 in the private car range from Dagenham (but not at Ford-France) although updated V8s were to be the staple diet in America for decades – Fords were the first to make over 100 million of them!

Daimler SP252

By the mid-Fifties Daimler was being confronted with an ever-changing market for which the Century and faster Century Conquest models had been produced; the works had cast these into the likes of the Monte Carlo, Alpine and R.A.C. rallies to help generate a more modern image for the traditional marque. This led to the introduction of a two-seater sports car, the SP250 , the heart of which was the superb Edward Turner-designed V8 engine. By 1960 Jaguar had swallowed up Daimler in its entirety and produced a mechanically improved SP250 so naturally the engineers started to play around with possible successors. One line of thought was this SP252 , just two examples of which were made. Lyons himself apparently had some input to the styling but he didn’t like the final outcome and this killed off the project, especially when it was realised that such a car would be more expensive to produce and this would take it into E-Type territory.

Morris Family Eight

This is a rare car! William Morris had introduced his Minor at Olympia in 1928 as his answer to the Austin Seven. It had a Wolseley-designed overhead camshaft engine (Morris had bought the ailing Wolseley company in 1927) but by 1931 had replaced this unit with a cheaper to produce and maintain side–valve motor.

For 1932 two longer wheelbase models were added, the Eight Sports Coupé and this Family Eight, both of which retained the old overhead camshaft engine. Production was short-lived, probably until supplies of the older unit ran out.

Triumph Gloria

Donald Healey joined Triumph in September 1933 as their Technical Director and with his competition background managed to persuade the Board to enter seven of the new Gloria models for the 1934 Monte Carlo Rally in the January. They included three specially built Gloria four-seat Tourers with lightened chassis, all aluminium bodies, a 17-gallon tank and twin spare wheels. KV6906 was driven by John Beck Jr and Reg Tanner. Starting in Tallin in Estonia they arrived in Monte Carlo in 10th place on the Light Car class, finishing 27th overall (Healey came 3rd). All seven Triumphs finished.

The car’s Coventry-Climax engine. It had a capacity of 1087 c.c. and had overhead inlet and side exhaust valves.

Lea Francis 12h.p.

The 12 h.p. Lea Francis (actually 12.9 h.p.) was introduced in 1937. This car was shown at the Earl’s Court Show in 1938 and was one of three made with Corsica bodies. One of the company’s agents, Charles Follett, used a similar car with a stripped body to win “The Second August Long Handicap Race” at the August Brooklands Meeting in 1938 .

Aston Martin 15/98

You don’t often see 4-door Aston Martins although they did offer four doors on their first T-type series, an example being on their stand at the 1928 Olympia Show. This is a Bertelli-bodied car built on the long chassis to accommodate the extra doors; 50 such chassis were constructed. The 15/98 cars were powered by the 2-litre overhead camshaft engine.

1939 Triumph Dolomite 14/65 Roadster

By the mid-Thirties it was Triumph policy to move away from making small cars – they lacked the production facilities to compete with Austin, Ford and Morris – and to move up market to compete with the likes of Riley, Alvis and SS, at the same time playing down their more sporting image. After using Coventry Climax engines, Healey designed a new family of OHV Triumph 4- and 6-cylinder motors  which were used in the Vitesse and Dolomite ranges.

This Dolomite, with its controversial “waterfall” grille copied from the 1936 Hudson, was typical  of the company’s production just before the war. For those who did not like the brashness of this Dolomite grille, Triumph offered the 2-litre Continental model with the traditional grille from the Vitesse.

Rover 75
The Rover 75 and 60 were the company’s first new models after the war. Similar in looks to the later pre-war cars, these P3 series cars were very different under the skin. They had completely new overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engines, 6 cylinders for the 75, 4 for the 60 and forthcoming Land-Rover, and, for the first time on a Rover, independent front suspension using the André-Girling system already used on the pre-war Lanchester Roadrider.

Bentley R-Type Continental

Introduced at the Motor Show in 1951, this original version of the Bentley Continental has to be among the most beautiful cars ever made. Most of the R-Types were given this exquisite body by coachbuilder H.J.Mulliner.


David Blumlein, November 2012

A Very Classic Car Show

To Birmingham’s NEC with The Special Correspondent for the 2012 Footman James Classic Car Show. The Show has expanded this year to fill even more halls and the extra space is very welcome.

Of course it being the NEC there are always a few issues………….the lighting in the exhibition halls remains sub-standard and arguably in breach of Health & Safety legislation, and the level of grumpiness shown by those unfortunate to travel to Birmingham by car was at an all time high. Tales of 45 minutes to get parked at the facility were common, not excusable at such a venue. On the other side of the ledger, those of us arriving by train were greeted by an enthusiastic bunch of staff, who cheerfully steered us all the way to the other side of the site. One could not fault that welcome, so credit where credit is due, more to the point the staff were still there and still cheerful we came to leave.

Once inside the Show there was a bewildering array of automobile heritage, the quality of the content certainly matches any other event of its kind, anywhere. There were so many jewels to see, such as the Aston Martin Atom, a prototype built in 1939. This was the only example of the marque that David Brown drove before acquiring the company in 1947, all of the glories that followed can be traced back to this advanced car and the impression it made on DB.

While in the fullness of time out Special Correspondent will produce one of his Rare and Interesting pieces I propose to have a quick look at what was on offer that caught my eye. A car that represented a significant step in the German Auto industry was to be found on the Audi stand. The work of Paul Jaray back in the ’20s inspired Ferdinand Porsche when designing the Wanderer Type 8.

Porsche would develop the aerodynamically efficient shape when producing one of his masterpieces, the Volkswagen. Jaray’s Ugly Duckling turned into a swan.

The Coventry Transport Museum’s collection provided another pioneering vehicle, the Ferguson R4 Prototype. Harry Ferguson designed a four wheel drive system back in the early ’50s, it featured independent suspension and Dunlop disk brakes and Maxaret anti locking device, all very advanced for the time.

The backbone of the Classic Car Show is the support provided by the car clubs. Stand after stand featured great cars backed up by real enthusiasm and deep knowledge of those manning the exhibition. Questions, no matter how basic, were generally answered with patience and good humour. So while virtually all the stands had something to interest there were some that I preferred to others. A tad Orwellian I suppose, all exhibits are equal but some are more equal than others…….Bugatti for instance had several fine cars, all promoting the scene at Prescott…………….from the early days to the present.

The Maserati stand also had a nice bunch of cars, I have always been a fan of the Trident, even more so since visiting the factory a few years back.

Strange, but Ferrari does not appeal to me in the same way, though who could resist this Dino?

This gorgeous Continental was the pride of the Bentley/Rolls Royce stand.

One strange trend that was more common than might have been expected was adorn a “barn find” with some straw…………..what this achieved was anyone’s guess.

And of course the trend was taken to the next level with a string of onions draped on a Citroën Traction Avant…………… stereotypes here then, no none at all……………..what next we hesitate to enquire?

There were a few competition cars at the Show, mainly sportscars such as the Jaguar XJ220 that won its class at Le Mans in 1993 but was subsequently disqualified, a casualty in the long running conflict between TWR boss, Tom Walkinshaw, and Alain Bertaut of the ACO.

No such problems afflicted the Aston Martin DBR9 in 2007, with a convincing GT1 class win.

Less successful was this TVR, first retirement in the 1962 race.

Shows such as this always throw up a few oddities, who could resist a chance to sit in a truck used by the Great Train Robbers?

Try explaining Del Boy to an American, eh Rodders?

And this optional extra for all aspiring Bond villains would prove very tempting on the M25 morning commute.

Candidate for the worst colour scheme on display………this Lea Francis Lynx, representing the end of the line for the marque.

The 2012 Footman James Classic Car Show was another resounding success and if you have even a sniff of petrol in your veins you should seriously consider making the trip in 2013, I will be there certainly.

Here is a gallery of images, please excuse the weird colour in some shots, them pesky lights again.

John Brooks, November 2012




The Paris Salon

Our Special Correspondent has been across the English Channel to Paris for the Motor Show.

The Paris Motor Show, Le Salon de l’Automobile, first took place on the esplanade of the Tuileries in 1898. It then took up residence at the newly-constructed Grand Palais in 1901 and stayed there until 1961. The need for a larger display area meant a move in 1962 to the exhibition halls at the Porte de Versailles where, since 1976, it is held biennially to this day. In 1988 the name was changed to the “ Mondial de l’Automobile”.

Here are some images of the 2012 Mondial:

This is the new Jaguar F-type with its hood in place. It did not create the same sensation as did the XK120 at Earl’s Court in 1948!

A view of the McLaren stand:

The new P1 was jealously guarded – even special guests invited on to the stand were not allowed to get too near!

Toyota was proudly displaying their TS030 Hybrid after its first victory at Sao Paulo – the winner’s trophy can be seen on the right at the back in its cabinet.

In total contrast this welcome Mini  Clubvan was tucked away at the back of the large Mini stand not noticed by most visitors:

We have not seen a Clio Estate before and this new variation will not be coming apparently to the UK – pity!

But we’ve seen hot Clios before and this is the Regie’s latest offering:

Rolls-Royce had nothing new to show this time but this stunning blue Ghost still attracted plenty of admiring glances:

The Bentley Continental GT Speed has a W12 engine that gives 625 b.h.p. which is good enough for 205 m.p.h.

This is the first appearance of Bentley’s GT3 racer which is already over a tonne lighter than its road-going counterpart; for example, the weight of a door for the normal Continental is 54kg, on the GT3 it weighs only 7kg!

Peugeot showed a hotter version of the RCZ – the RCZR:

This is the Renault 1.6-litre engine for the base model in the new Mercédès A-Class:


De Dion Bouton – one of the big and influential names at the dawn of motoring. This is a 1915 Army truck, notice the Solex Circular radiator.

David Blumlein, November 2012


Long Days, Long Roads

Our Special Correspondent has been out and about during the past months, here are some of the rare and interesting cars he encountered.

1930  Singer Junior Porlock

The Singer Junior was introduced at the Motor Show in 1926 and it was unusual as a light car for its time as it had an overhead camshaft engine, anticipating the Morris Minor by some three years. The four-cylinder engine was of 848 c.c. and the car was so popular that it stayed in production until 1932.

Various body styles became available and in December 1928 two Singer agents, Bill Deeley and Ernest Wood, made 100 ascents and descents in a day with a Junior Sports on the steep hill at the Somerset village of Porlock. Singer benefited from the publicity that was generated – it was quite an achievement for a small car in the late Twenties – and offered a special Porlock model to celebrate.

1935 Riley Kestrel 15/6

Riley built up an enviable reputation for racing success in the 1930s, the cars using both 4 and 6 cylinder versions of their twin high-mounted camshaft engine which first appeared in the Riley Nine Monaco saloon in 1926. However, the company ran into increasing financial difficulties through their policy, like their Coventry neighbours Triumph, of making too many different models. Despite overtures to BMW the firm was swallowed up into the Nuffield Organisation.

Only twelve of these Kestrels were made with the 6-cylinder engine.

1962 Apal Porsche 1600 Coupé

Apal, Application Polyester Armée Liège, made cars of various sorts between 1961 and 1998, mainly using fibreglass bodies on VW mechanicals – lots of beach buggies and Jeep-like vehicles (1968-1973).

However, this small Belgian company also produced some smart GT coupés, introduced at the 1961 Brussels Motor Show, which similarly relied on other sources of power: this example uses a 1600 c.c. 4-cylinder Porsche motor.

An Apal took part in the Spa 1000 km race in both 1966 and 1967.

1934  B.S.A. 3-wheeler

The Birmingham Small Arms Company, founded in 1861, grew into a major industrial combine making firearms, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, buses, iron castings, machine tools etc. They made motor cars from 1907-1939. In 1910 B.S.A. purchased Daimler and after the Great War production was resumed with a light car powered by a 1080 c.c. V-twin air-cooled engine.

This engine was designed by Hotchkiss et Cie of Far Gosford Street Coventry, the company having opened this branch when they feared for their St Denis factory with the German advance on Paris in 1914. It was tested in an old 1914 Morris Cowley and did well in the Land’s End Trial. When the Hotchkiss factory was bought by Morris to form Morris Engines in 1923, B.S.A. acquired the rights to the engine design and their version is here in this 3-wheeler. These little cars used front wheel drive and double transverse leaf independent front suspension similar to that introduced on the Alvis Sports in 1928.

1922 Wolseley Seven

Wolseley made Hispano-Suiza V8 aero-engines in the Great War and their overhead camshaft design influenced Wolseley’s engine design in the following decade as can be seen in the post-war 10 and 15 h.p. cars.

In total contrast was their bottom of the range high quality Seven. This had a 986 c.c. flat twin side valve engine but the car was expensive at £295 and stood no chance against the Austin Seven four-cylinder. Only about 1,000 were made in two years.

Jaguar XF-R Bonneville

In November 2008 a Jaguar XF-R arrived at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah where Paul Gentilozzi and his RocketSports team gave the car nine runs reaching 225.675 m.p.h. on the last; this beat Jaguar’s previous speed record of 217.1 m.p.h. set by the XJ 220 in 1992 and makes the car the fastest Jaguar ever. The car carried 110 kg ballast in the boot to keep it pressed to the ground and only minor adjustments were made to the all-new AJ-V8 Gen 111 supercharged engine, no internal components being changed. Similarly the 6-speed automatic gearbox was completely standard including the ratios.

David Blumlein, November 2012