Tag Archives: Morris Six

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!
2014 Brooklands New Years Day
The River Wey, alongside the Paddock/Club House area, in threatening mood!

David Blumlein, January 2014

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