Tag Archives: Bentley 3 Litre

image_pdfimage_print

The House on The Hill

In yesterday’s post I stated my intention to remain in an analogue world rather than the brave new digital one. If any confirmation were needed of this being the right course a breathless release arrived overnight confirming that ByKolles was on pole for the virtual Le Mans 24. No further evidence to present, m’ Lord. So continuing to mine the recent past in search of treasure we should once more look at Goodwood, this time the Festival of Speed and Simon Hildrew’s amazing photos.

In any normal year I would getting ready to cover Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans later this afternoon. However, we are living in strange times; normally we would also be anticipating a trip to the South Downs and the Goodwood Festival of Speed. That pleasure is denied to us this year, so we must make do with memories. A look back at 2019 will have to do.

Speed and style are crucial elements in the DNA of the Festival of Speed, so is heritage. As the years roll by anniversaries hove into view, arguably one of the most significant in 2019 was Bentley’s centenary. Naturally there were many fine examples on display, but I was drawn to XM 6761, a 1922 3-Litre. This car is very significant for Bentley and Le Mans, as it was entered in the first race back in 1923, laying the foundations for the ‘Bentley Boy’ legend that did so much to raise the profile of the French endurance race in the early years.

Frank Clement and John Duff ignored W.O. Bentley and entered the 3-Litre, the only non-French car in the field. They set the fastest lap and eventually finished joint fourth after a stone punctured the fuel tank.

UU 5872 has been described as “The most valuable Bentley in the world. This is the actual – and totally original – supercharged 4½-litre that Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1930. Its sister car won the race but this car played a key role in that victory when Birkin acted as a hare and, eventually, Caracciola’s chasing Mercedes SSK broke.” It is automotive royalty of the highest order

Mercedes-Benz were celebrating 125 years of motor sport, a truly great heritage. Amongst the many stars was this 1937 W125. Powered by a 5.6 litre supercharged straight-eight, the Silver Arrow took Rudolf Caracciola to a second drivers’ title.

Fast-forward a few decades to the Sauber-Mercedes C9 that conquered Le Mans in 1989 in the hands of Jochen Mass, Stanley Dickens and Manuel Reuter. Its rumbling V8 song is unmistakable.

Also eligible for a telegram from Her Majesty was Citroën, well they would be if they were not French. Despite that disadvantage they were especially welcome at Goodwood, having produced some of the world’s truly great cars, consistently marching to a different beat. Where would Maigret have been without his Traction Avant? What would France profonde have done without the 2CV?

Fifty years have passed since Sir Jackie Stewart won the first of his three World Championships. It was wonderful see the whole family as guests of His Grace, Lady Helen has not been well for a while. Sir Jackie has, in recent years, thrown his considerable energy and influence in the Race for Dementia charity, if anyone can help to defeat this terrible condition, it will be him.

Sir Jackie, and his sons Paul and Mark, demonstrated his championship-winning cars, a Matra and two Tyrrells.

Another champion from that era was Jacky Ickx. In ’69 he won the first of his six victories at La Sarthe, eclipsing all others, except a great Dane.

The Ford GT40 that carried Ickx and his co-driver, Jackie Oliver, to the closest victory in Le Mans history, 120 meters ahead of Hans Herrmann’s Porsche, is a legend in its own right. #1075 also triumphed in the previous year’s race, making it one of only four cars to win the French classic twice.

’69 also saw the debut of the Porsche 917 at La Sarthe, here Derek Bell is reunited with #045 that he shared with Jo Siffert in ’71. Of course during that race it was in the iconic Blue and Orange Gulf livery but during a restoration in the ’70s it was re-liveried as a Martini Porsche.

Richard Attwood drove #023 up The Hill, he and Hans Herrmann scored Porsche’s first outright win at Le Mans in ’70, the race immortalised by Steve McQueen.

Aston Martin celebrated a 70-year relationship with Goodwood. The parade is led here by the DBR1/2, its wundercar of the late ’50s, with two victories in RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood as well winning Le Mans in ’59.

Aston Martin were also the marque featured on the traditional sculpture in front of Goodwood House, courtesy of Gerry Judah.

As happens most years there is an automotive sensory overload during the Festival of Speed, just how important it has become is illustrated by the loss of the event in 2020, it will be back, and so will we.

In the meantime fill yer boots courtesy of Simon Hildrew’s magnificent gallery.

John Brooks, June 2020

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

The First Step – Brooklands New Year 2014

The Special Correspondent wasted no time in getting his motoring year off to a flying start. While off key choruses of “Auld Lang Syne” were still ringing in the air he was up and out to Brooklands, which resembled a Naval Dockyard rather than the birthplace of British Motorsport. A little rain was not going to deter him or those like him, the British Bulldog Spirit is still much in evidence.
Brooklands on New Year’s Day is always a most welcome start to the season for car-starved enthusiasts and has become so popular that it invariably attracts a fine and wide variety of machines – it is well worth a visit. It nearly didn’t happen this year as the River Wey burst its banks for the sixth time since Brooklands was built in 1907 and, were it not for the dedicated team of volunteers supporting the museum staff working over the Christmas period protecting the exhibits and buildings, the event would have had to be cancelled. The sincere thanks of all of us car lovers go out to them. Yet, despite the wild, wet day, they were rewarded with a surprisingly good turn-out. Here are a few of the sights:
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
To start with, a brace of immaculate, green 3-litre Bentleys, lined up appropriately in front of the Clubhouse, an area which was under flood water a short while before.
Bentleys started winning at Brooklands in May 1921 when Frank Clement drove EXP2 to victory and went on until the chapter was closed by Bob Gregory’s Speed Six saloon winning a heat on 8th July 1939.
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
Just restored, this lovely 1934 Triumph Gloria Monte Carlo dates from the Donald Healey era. It is powered by a 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax inlet over exhaust engine. The pre-1940 Triumph Club is ensuring the survival of more and more examples of this interesting make.
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
This six-light Riley Kestrel is one of the prettiest models to come from the Coventry factory. The engine is based on Percy Riley’s magnificent Nine of 1926 and, although updated by Hugh Rose in the Thirties, it has the high-mounted twin camshafts with short rockers, valves set at 90˚, giving a hemispherical combustion chamber.
Like Triumph, Riley made far too many different models which contributed to its downfall in 1938 – it was rescued by Lord Nuffield.
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
This is an Alvis Silver Eagle, a model introduced in 1929 with a small 6-cylinder engine and a variety of body styles. It is rather nostalgic to see it on Brooklands soil because Alvis entered a team of three open-bodied Silver Eagles with 2-litre engines for the 1930 Brooklands Double Twelve race. One car retired within the first hour with big end failure but the other two placed 13th and 15th at the finish.
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
Charles Follett was a motor-trader with showrooms in London’s west end and he helped Alvis financially. This attractive model, introduced in 1931, was to have been called the Silver Dart but Follett convinced the Alvis chairman T.G.John that it would sell better as the Speed Twenty. The engine was based on that of the Silver Eagle but boasted triple S.U. carburettors and 2.5-litres. In 1933 the Speed Twenty was updated in two significant ways: it was given an all-synchromesh gearbox, the first British car to do so, and independent front suspension by transverse leaf spring. This particular car was made in 1935 and is the SC model with a 2.76-litre engine.
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
Visitors to Brooklands seeking shelter from the persistent heavy rain would have noticed a special sign indicating that “Babs” was in the Campbell sheds. What a lovely surprise to see this historic machine back on home ground where the engineer genius Parry Thomas created it out of Count Zborowski’s Higham Special! After the Count’s death in a Mercedes in the 1924 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Thomas saw the car as the basis for a world land speed record contender and bought it. It came with a huge Liberty V-12 aero-engine and a Benz four-speed gearbox in a specially made Rubery Owen chassis but Thomas modified the car extensively, giving it components from the Leyland Eight he had designed, such as the sloping radiator which enabled him to give the car a lower cowled nose. Calling it “Babs”, he went to the Pendine Sands in South Wales and in April 1926 he set a new land speed record of 171 m.p.h. Coming back to Brooklands for the Whitsun meeting, the car ran in three races, Thomas letting John Cobb drive it in two.
Thomas returned to Pendine in March 1927 to beat Campbell’s new record of 174 m.p.h. set in “Bluebird” in February but Thomas crashed fatally and the wrecked car was forthwith buried in the sand in Thomas’s memory. Then forty-two years later the remains were dug up by Owen Wyn Owen, a lecturer at Bangor University, and he restored the car to its original condition which we see today. It usually lives in the Museum of Speed at Pendine but it is enjoying a very welcome return home here at Brooklands!
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
Still viewing in the Campbell sheds, I found that the so-called Vauxhall T.T. had been moved to a more accessible position in the museum – hence this consideration. It was designed as a Grand Prix car for the 3-litre formula of 1921 but was not ready in time and was thus ineligible for the new 2-litre formula that began in 1922 despite the change in engine capacity being advertised well in advance! So three cars were entered for the revived Tourist Trophy race run on the Isle of Man in 1922 but only one survived to finish 3rd. Henceforth the cars ran privately in the following years, scoring a number of wins here at Brooklands.
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
The unusual layout of the instrument panel of the Vauxhall.
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
A slightly late tribute to the Morris centenary – the Morris Six, Series MS, first introduced in 1948 as a Morris version of the Wolseley 6/80 with overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine. Like all the new post-war Issigonis inspired Nuffield models, it had torsion bar independent front suspension. Only some 12,000 were made; six-cylinder Morrises were never hugely popular although this model did far better than William Morris’s very first six-cylinder, the F-type, which was a disaster!
TAILPIECE
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
The River Wey, alongside the Paddock/Club House area, in threatening mood!

David Blumlein, January 2014

A New Year’s Resolution

Been a little quiet here at DDC Towers since the New Year but our Special Correspondent has been out and about. Attracting his attention was the traditional New Year’s Day gathering at Brooklands. He shares with us some of the hidden gems that were on display around the old race track.

2013 Brooklands New Years Day

Volvo PV444

Probably the best and toughest of all the Volvos, the PV444 was conceived during the war (Sweden was neutral) and was first seen in Stockholm in September 1944. Volvo had been persuaded to purchase a 1939 1.3-litre Hanomag to study its unitary-body construction and this in turn influenced the new car and also the engine which was a 4-cylinder overhead valve with pushrods unit with a 3-bearing crankshaft and gear-driven camshaft. The car had coil spring suspension all round, independent at the front.

Production could not get underway until a flow of supplies was assured and this gave the company time to subject the car to the most rigorous test programme and when cars started to be produced in February 1947,Volvo had a really tough 2-door saloon.

There were no thoughts of competition for several years but when drivers like Gunnar Andersson started to work wonders in rallies with the car Volvo had a change of heart and signed him up as a “works” driver.
The successes were too numerous to list here but mention must be made of Andersson’s victory in the European Championship in 1958, Tom Trana’s two outstanding wins in the R.A.C. Rally in 1963 and 1964 and Joginder Singh’s win in the 1965 East African Safari in a second-hand car!

2013 Brooklands New Years Day

Ford Popular
Based on the “sit up and beg” Anglia shown at the 1948 Earl’s Court Motor Show, the Popular was introduced in 1953 but with the 1172 c.c. side-valve 10hp engine which found its way into so many competition cars at that time. It was a very basic car aimed to provide cheap reliable transport – it came with no heater, vinyl trim, only one vacuum-operated windscreen wiper (you could opt for an extra one for the equivalent of £2.47), very little chrome (even the bumpers were painted) and was offered only as a 2-door saloon.
Production was transferred from Dagenham to Ford’s Doncaster factory in 1955 and the car was made until September 1959 by which time over 150,000 had been sold. This 103E model was the last British car to be produced with a side-valve engine.

2013 Brooklands New Years Day

Reliant Sabre 6

We normally think of Reliants as 3-wheelers and these constituted the company’s main source of activity but by the Sixties they were also making some sporting 4-wheelers. The Sabres with 4-cylinder engines were the most common but Reliant also offered a six-cylinder version, the Sabre 6.
Despite the company’s limited resources it was felt that this car was both powerful and rugged enough to be thrown into international rallies. It had a Ford Zephyr 2553 c.c. engine with Raymond Mays head and three Weber carburettors. In 1963 two of these works cars took the first two places in their class in the gruelling Coupes des Alpes, the second placed car driven by Roger Clark who was having his first works drive.
Just 77 Sabre 6s were eventually made in 1962-63.

2013 Brooklands New Years Day

Jaguar XK120

Here is an unspoilt example of the beautiful car which stunned the world at the first post-war Motor Show at Earl’s Court in 1948, complete with those lovely rear wheel spats that were worn by the early production cars. Indeed, Jaguar left them on when the factory took three of the cars in red, white and blue to contest the first Silverstone Production Car Race in August 1949, giving the XK120 a début win.

2013 Brooklands New Years Day

Austin Seven Swallow

And here is how Jaguar effectively began. William Lyons had started by making sidecars for motorcycles in Blackpool and by 1927 he was making 2-seater car bodies on Morris Cowley and Austin Seven chassis; the idea was to tap into the market for more individual cars at low cost. When he showed his Austin Seven Swallow to the London dealer Henlys, they ordered 500 provided a saloon was added to the range. This was done in 1928 and by the November Lyons was seeking larger premises in Coventry so as to be nearer the centre of motor manufacture. He went on to make attractive bodies on other chassis such as Fiat, Standard and Swift and all this led to his launching in 1931 his own marque, SS, which grew into Jaguar.

2013 Brooklands New Years Day

Singer Roadster

Before the war Singer made their famous Nine sports cars which did well in rallies, races and trials and were serious rivals to M.G., all in addition to their wide range of production family cars. After the war they replaced their sporting cars with the Roadster which was a 4-seater touring model rather than a competition-based car. It had the sound Singer overhead camshaft engine and coil spring independent front suspension but did not create the sporting successes of its forebears.
Rather interestingly a privately-entered Roadster was the last Singer to run in an international sports car race when it finished 13th in the 1953 Tourist Trophy at Dundrod fifty years after the little 4-seater Nine made its first appearance at Le Mans where it too finished thirteenth!

2013 Brooklands New Years Day

A.C. Zagato

Here is a car we know little about so far! Its formal title is the A.C. 378 GT Zagato and it is a product of the Brooklands Motor Company. It has a tubular steel space –frame chassis and is powered by a 90 degree aluminium V8 of 6.2-litres (378 cu.in.) driving through a 6-speed manual gearbox. The body is by Zagato and that firm’s characteristic double humps on the roof can be seen.

2013 Brooklands New Years Day

Tatra 603

Good to see a Tatra 603 which has finally escaped from its communist influence for these cars were not available to the buying public, being reserved for the ruling authorities and eastern European presidents. They were first seen in the 1955 International six-day motor event in Zlin.

2013 Brooklands New Years Day
They did, however, put in some unexpected appearances in the West when they were allowed to compete in the tough variations of the Marathon de la Route during the Sixties. In the last Liège-Sofia-Liège in 1964 their entry came 15th. This rally was by then causing all sorts of complications passing through different countries so it became an endurance event on the famous Nϋrburgring. For 1965 contestants ran for 82 hours and Tatras came 3rd and 4th in the GT category; a year later in the 84 Hours they finished 3rd, 4th and 5th in the GT class, winning the Trophée des Nations. Their final success was in the 1967 84 Hours when they finished 4th and 5th overall. Perhaps we should not be surprised because the Czechoslovakians always made very strong cars.
The picture shows its unusual rear-mounted air-cooled V8 of 2.5-litres.

Tailpiece
2013 Brooklands New Years Day
A beautiful early Bentley 3 Litre

David Blumlein, January 2013