Over the years, many motoring events and the venues in which they are held have come and gone, but some have endured for more than a couple of generations. That’s the case here. The VSCC was founded in 1934, to cater for those interested in older sports cars, and whilst the definition of “older” has changed a little, it remains largely the premier UK organisation for cars built before World War 2. And Prescott Hill Climb has nearly as long a pedigree, having been acquired in 1938, and barring a few years interruption whilst Europe was at war, has since enthusiasts pitting themselves against the clock on a ascent that is trickier than it looks ever since. Prescott belongs to the Bugatti Owners Club, but the facility is made available to other event organisers during the course of a season, and it is no surprise to discover that one of the largest events of the year that is held on these North Gloucestershire slopes is one organised by the VSCC. It is their largest meeting of the year, too, and for as long as anyone can remember it has been held over the first weekend in August. I’ve attended at least one of the days for more years than I can now remember, and always enjoyed it, so it was an easy decision to put the 2016 iteration of the event in my diary. And I decided to make a weekend of it and to attend on both days. The sun shone, which certainly encouraged an even bigger attendance than usual, meaning that there was easily enough to keep me interested all the time, and for the camera to be very busy, as this report evidences.
THE VSCC CAR PARK
On the Saturday, around half of the Orchard is reserved for owners of vintage and veteran cars, and this always makes for an impressive sight, but this is nothing compared to the Sunday, when the entire area is given over to vehicles of this period, Line upon line of cars assemble until by mid morning the area is almost completely full. Many people come to enjoy the whole event, of course, but there are some for whom this is as much a social occasion as a car one, and you can see that with the extensive picnics that have been carefully packed and which are spread out on the grass at lunch time, an opportunity for long-time friends to get together over food and a glass or two. Although some people do convoy in, which ensures that there are a few groups of the same model or at least marque, in most cases there is a gloriously random element to the way the cars are parked up, meaning that diminutive Austin Sevens can end up next to imperial Rolls Royces and sporting Riley and Alvis models. It makes for a splendid sight. Here are some, but by no means all, of those cars, and identified to the best of my ability.
1930s Alfa Romeo models are among my favourite cars of all time, and I always hope to see examples of them here. Some years there are lots, but in 2016, there was just a sole representative all weekend, a rather lovely 6C 1750. In the mid-1920s, Alfa’s RL was considered too large and heavy, so a new development began. The 2-litre formula that had led to Alfa Romeo winning the Automobile World Championship in 1925, changed to 1.5-litre for the 1926 season. The 6C 1500 was introduced in 1925 at the Milan Motor Show and production started in 1927, with the P2 Grand Prix car as starting point. Engine capacity was now 1487 cc, against the P2’s 1987 cc, while supercharging was dropped. The first versions were bodied by James Young and Touring. In 1928, a 6C Sport was released, with a dual overhead camshafts engine. Its sport version won many races, including the 1928 Mille Miglia. Total production was 3000 (200 with DOHC engine). Ten copies of a supercharged (compressore, compressor) Super Sport variant were also made. The more powerful 6C 1750 was introduced in 1929 in Rome. The car had a top speed of 95 mph, a chassis designed to flex and undulate over wavy surfaces, as well as sensitive geared-up steering. It was produced in six series between 1929 and 1933. The base model had a single overhead cam; Super Sport and Gran Sport versions had double overhead cam engines. Again, a supercharger was available. Most of the cars were sold as rolling chassis and bodied by coachbuilders such as Zagato, and Touring. Additionally, there were 3 examples built with James Young bodywork. In 1929, the 6C 1750 won every major racing event it was entered, including the Grands Prix of Belgium, Spain, Tunis and Monza, as well as the Mille Miglia was won with Giuseppe Campari and Giulio Ramponi, the Brooklands Double Twelve and the Ulster TT was won also, in 1930 it won again the Mille Miglia and Spa 24 Hours. Total production was 2635.
There were probably more Alvis cars here than any other marque with the exception of Riley.
Every year there is a great collection of Aston Martin models from the 1930s, and the owners of many of these clearly do arrange to meet up outside the venue and convoy in together, as the majority of these fabulous cars do end up parked next to each other. Most numerous among them were the 1.5 litre and International cars of the early 1930s.
Oldest of those present was this 1923 car.
This looks like an Ulster, but is in fact a replica, one of 7 made in 1987 by Fergus Engineering.
There were plenty of the 15/98 model here. This was Aston Martin’s standard model from 1936 onward. It was built in both short chassis and LWB form. Both models were named after their RAC power rating of 15 and an actual output of 98 bhp. Initially launched as a four-seat tourer Aston Martin’s prepared a shorter 15/98 short chassis to spur on sales. Some were fitted with occasional back seats and others were strictly 2-seat roadsters. The car retained Aston’s 2-litre engine which was capable of nearly 100 bhp. This was the same unit developed for the 1936 Le Mans team cars, but converted to wet-sump lubrication. Most of the roadsters were bodied by Abbey Coachworks in London while the sedans and coupes were handled by E. Bertelli Ltd. In either configuration the complete car was £575 and £475 in 1938 to sell unsold examples. Around 100 were made.
There were numerous examples of the popular Seven here, reflecting the model’s popularity and its good survival rate. Herbert Austin’s masterpiece which did much to put Britain on wheels in the 1920s was first seen in 1922, as a four seat open tourer. Nicknamed Chummy, the first 100 featured a 696cc four cylinder engine, which was quickly upgraded to the 747cc unit that remained until the end of production some 17 years later. The first cars had an upright edge to the doors and a sloping windscreen, but from 1924, the screen became upright and there was a sloping edge to the doors, as well as a slightly longer body. Stronger brakes came along in 1926, along with a slightly taller nickel-plated radiator grille, conventional coil ignition, a more spacious body and wider doors. An even longer and wider body arrived in 1930, as well as a stronger crankshaft and improvements to the brakes which coupled front and rear systems together so they both worked by the footbrake. In 1931 the body was restyled , with a thin ribbon-style radiator and by 1932 there was a four speed gearbox to replace the earlier three-speeder. 1933 saw the introduction of the Ruby, a car that looked more modern with its cowled radiator. There were also Pearl and Opal versions. Development continued, so in 1937 there was a move to crankshaft shell bearings in place of the white metal previously used, and the Big Seven appeared. The last Seven was made in 1939, by which time 290,000 had been produced. Aside from saloons and tourers, there had been vans and sports derivatives like the Le Mans, the supercharged Ulster and the rather cheaper Nippy. Around 11,000 Sevens survive today.
Sitting above it in the range was the Ten, a model which Austin had launched in 1932, to plug the gap between the diminutive Seven and the larger Twelve models in their range which had been updated in early 1931. The Ten became the marque’s best seller and was produced, in a number of different versions through to 1947. A number of improvements were made to the car in the months following launch, but it was for 1937 when the first really big change came about with the launch of the almost streamlined Cambridge saloon and Conway cabriolet. Compared with the preceding cars, the passengers and engine were positioned much further forward, the back seat now being rather forward of the back axle. There were six side windows like the Sherborne and the quarter lights were fixed. Again like the Sherborne the forward doors opened rearwards. At the back there was now a compartment large enough to take a trunk as well as more luggage on the open compartment door when it was let down. A new smoother single plate spring-drive clutch was now fitted, the two friction rings carried by the centre plate were held apart by leaf springs. Other changes included Girling brakes with wedge and roller shoe expansion and balance lever compensation using operating rods in tension with automatic compensation between front and rear brakes all four of which might be applied by hand or foot. Drums were now 9 inches diameter. 16-inch steel disc wheels replaced the 18-inch wires. Top speed from the 1141cc engine rose to 60 mph.
There was also a later Ten, a 1936 Cambridge. Launched in December that year, the new body styling was almost streamlined for the Cambridge saloon and Conway cabriolet. Compared with the preceding cars the passengers and engine were positioned much further forward, the back seat now being rather forward of the back axle. There were six side windows like the Sherborne and the quarter lights were fixed. Again like the Sherborne the forward doors opened rearwards. At the back there was now a compartment large enough to take a trunk as well as more luggage on the open compartment door when it was let down. A new smoother single plate spring-drive clutch was now fitted, the two friction rings carried by the centre plate were held apart by leaf springs. Other changes included Girling brakes with wedge and roller shoe expansion and balance lever compensation using operating rods in tension with automatic compensation between front and rear brakes all four of which might be applied by hand or foot. Drums were now 9 inches diameter. 16-inch steel disc wheels replaced the 18-inch wires Top speed rose to 60 mph. The car’s wheelbase was now ¾ inch longer. Rear track was now increased to 3′ 10½”, 46.5 in (1,180 mm). The vehicle’s weight was now reported to be 18½ cwt, 2,072 lb (940 kg). These changes did not appear on the open cars, which no longer included the Ripley sports, until 1938 when the Cambridge and the Conway cabriolet gained an aluminium cylinder head on the engine and a higher compression ratio.
Slightly confusingly, the Six was a much larger car, as it was named after the number of cylinders rather than the horsepower, unlike the car that was branded Seven which was so named because of its HP rating. The Austin Twelve was introduced in 1921. It was the second of Herbert Austin’s post World War I models and was in many ways a scaled-down version of his Austin Twenty, introduced in 1919. The slower than expected sales of the Twenty brought about this divergence from his intended one-model policy. The Twelve was announced at the beginning of November 1921 after Austin’s company had been in receivership for six months. Twelve refers to its fiscal horse power (12.8) rather than its bhp which was 20 and later 27. The long-stroke engines encouraged by the tax regime, 72 x 102 later 72 x 114.5, had much greater low-speed torque than the bhp rating suggests. Initially available as a tourer, by 1922 three body styles were offered: the four-seat tourer, the two/four-seater (both at £550) and the coupé at £675. The car enjoyed success throughout the vintage era with annual sales peaking at 14,000 in 1927. While the mechanical specification changed little (the engine increased from 1661 cc to 1861 cc in 1926), many body styles were offered with saloons becoming more popular as the twenties drew to a close. The car continued in the Austin catalogue and as a taxi option until 1939. The last cars were produced for the War Department in 1940. After the early thirties the car was referred to by the public as the Heavy Twelve to distinguish it from the other, newer, 12HP cars in the Austin catalogue Light Twelve-Four, Light Twelve-Six etc. and received some updating. The artillery style wheels were replaced by wire wheels in 1933 and coil ignition replaced the magneto in 1935. The gearbox was provided with synchromesh between its top two ratios in 1934. The factory catalogued body range was steadily updated with the last of the no longer fashionable Weymann style fabric-covered cars in 1931 and no open tourers after 1934.
Oldest of the models present were a number of the 3 and 4.5 litre cars that were produced in the 1920s and which epitomise the classic Bentley to many people. The 3 Litre was the company’s first model, first shown in 1919 and made available to customers’ coachbuilders from 1921 to 1929. It was conceived for racing. The Bentley was very much larger than the 1368 cc Bugattis that dominated racing at the time, but double the size of engine and strength compensated for the extra weight. The 4000 lb (1800 kg) car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924, with drivers John Duff and Frank Clement, and again in 1927, this time in Super Sports form, with drivers S. C. H. “Sammy” Davis and Dudley Benjafield. Its weight, size, and speed prompted Ettore Bugatti to call it “the fastest lorry in the world.” The 3 Litre was delivered as a running chassis to the coachbuilder of the buyer’s choice. Bentley referred many customers to their near neighbour Vanden Plas for bodies. Dealers might order a short cost-saving run of identical bodies to their own distinctive design. Most bodies took the simplest and cheapest form, tourers, but as it was all “custom” coachwork there was plenty of variation. The 2,996 cc straight-4 engine was designed by ex-Royal Flying Corps engineer Clive Gallop and was technically very advanced for its time. It was one of the first production car engines with 4 valves per cylinder, dry-sump lubrication and an overhead camshaft. The four valve SOHC Hemi design, with a bevel-geared shaft drive for the camshaft, was based on the pre-war 1914 Mercedes Daimler M93654 racing engine. Just before the outbreak of the war Mercedes had placed one of the winning Grand Prix cars in their London showroom in Long Acre. At the suggestion of W.O. Bentley, then being commissioned in the Royal Naval Air Service, the vehicle was confiscated in 1915 by the British army, dismantled at Rolls-Royce and subjected to scrutiny. A notable difference to both the Mercedes and the aero engines was the cast-iron monobloc design, and the fully Aluminium enclosed camshaft, which greatly contributed to its durability. But having the valve-head and block in one-piece made for a complicated and labour intensive casting and machining. This was a feature shared during that time by the Bugattis which the car was later to compete with. The engine was also among the first with two spark plugs per cylinder, pent-roof combustion chambers, and twin carburettors. It was extremely undersquare, optimised for low-end torque, with a bore of 80 mm and a stroke of 149 mm. Untuned power output was around 70 hp, allowing the 3 Litre to reach 80 mph. he Speed Model could reach 90 mph; the Super Sports could exceed 100 mph. A four-speed gearbox was fitted. Only the rear wheels had brakes until 1924, when four-wheel brakes were introduced. There were three main variants of the 3 litre and they became known by the colours commonly used on the radiator badge. There was a definite rule controlling badge colours but astonishingly it has since been established that given “special circumstances” the factory would indeed supply a “wrong” colour. Blue label was the standard model with 117.5 in wheelbase from 1921 to 1929 or long 130.0 in wheelbase from 1923 to 1929. The Red label used a 5.3:1 high compression engine in the 117.5 in wheelbase chassis and was made from 1924 to 1929. The Green label was made between 1924 and 1929 and was the high performance model with 6.3:1 compression ratio and short 108 in wheelbase chassis. 100 mph performance was guaranteed. As well as 3 Experimental cars, Bentley produced 1088 examples of the 3 litre, and the Speed Model numbered 513 and there were 18 Super Sports.
Bentley replaced the 3 Litre with a more powerful car by increasing its engine displacement to 4.5 litres. As before, Bentley supplied an engine and chassis and it was up to the buyer to arrange for their new chassis to be fitted with one of a number of body styles, most of which were saloons or tourers. Very few have survived with their four-seater coachwork intact. WO Bentley had found that success in motorsport was great publicity for the brand, and he was particularly attracted to the 2 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, the inaugural running of which took place 26–27 May 1923, attracting many drivers, mostly French. There were two foreign competitors in the first race, Frank Clement and Canadian John Duff, the latter winning the 1924 competition in his personal car, a Bentley 3 Litre. This success helped Bentley sell cars, but was not repeated, so after two years without success, Bentley convened a group of wealthy British men, “united by their love of insouciance, elegant tailoring, and a need for speed,” to renew Bentley’s success. Both drivers and mechanics, these men, later nicknamed the “Bentley Boys”, drove Bentley automobiles to victory in several races between 1927 and 1931, including four consecutive wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and forged the brands reputation. It was within this context that, in 1927, Bentley developed the Bentley 4½ Litre. Two cylinders were removed from the 6½ Litre model, reducing the displacement to 4.4 litres. At the time, the 3 Litre and the 6½ Litre were already available, but the 3 Litre was an outdated, under-powered model and the 6½ Litre’s image was tarnished by poor tyre performance. Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, described as “the greatest British driver of his day” by W. O. Bentley, was one of the Bentley Boys. He refused to adhere strictly to Bentley’s assertion that increasing displacement is always preferable to forced induction. Birkin, aided by a former Bentley mechanic, decided to produce a series of five supercharged models for the competition at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; thus the 4½ litre Blower Bentley was born. The first supercharged Bentley had been a 3-litre FR5189 which had been supercharged at the Cricklewood factory in the winter of 1926/7. The Bentley Blower No.1 was officially presented in 1929 at the British International Motor Show at Olympia, London. The 55 copies were built to comply with 24 Hours of Le Mans regulations. Birkin arranged for the construction of the supercharged cars having received approval from Bentley chairman and majority shareholder Woolf Barnato and financing from wealthy horse racing enthusiast Dorothy Paget. Development and construction of the supercharged Bentleys was done in a workshop in Welwyn by Amherst Villiers, who also provided the superchargers. W.O. Bentley was hostile to forced induction and believed that “to supercharge a Bentley engine was to pervert its design and corrupt its performance.” However, having lost control of the company he founded to Barnato, he could not halt Birkin’s project. Although the Bentley 4½ Litre was heavy, weighing 1,625 kg (3,583 lb), and spacious, with a length of 172 in and a wheelbase of 130.0 in, it remained well-balanced and steered nimbly. The manual transmission, however, required skill, as its four gears were unsynchronised. The robustness of the 4½ Litre’s latticed chassis, made of steel and reinforced with ties, was needed to support the heavy cast iron inline-four engine. The engine was “resolutely modern” for the time. The displacement was 4,398 cc. Two SU carburettors and dual ignition with Bosch magnetos were fitted. The engine produced 110 hp for the touring model and 130 hp for the racing model. The engine speed was limited to 4,000 rpm. A single overhead camshaft actuated four valves per cylinder, inclined at 30 degrees. This was a technically advanced design at a time where most cars used only two valves per cylinder. The camshaft was driven by bevel gears on a vertical shaft at the front of the engine, as on the 3 Litre engine. The essential difference between the Bentley 4½ Litre and the Blower was the addition of a Roots-type supercharger to the Blower engine by engineer Amherst Villiers, who had also produced the supercharger. W. O. Bentley, as chief engineer of the company he had founded, refused to allow the engine to be modified to incorporate the supercharger. As a result, the supercharger was placed at the end of the crankshaft, in front of the radiator. This gave the Blower Bentley an easily recognisable appearance and also increased the car’s understeer due to the additional weight at the front. A guard protected the two carburettors located at the compressor intake. Similar protection was used, both in the 4½ Litre and the Blower, for the fuel tank at the rear, because a flying stone punctured the 3 Litre of Frank Clement and John Duff during the first 24 Hours of Le Mans, which contributed to their defeat. The crankshaft, pistons and lubrication system were special to the Blower engine. It produced 175 hp at 3,500 rpm for the touring model and 240 hp at 4,200 rpm for the racing version, which was more power than the Bentley 6½ Litre developed. Between 1927 and 1931 the Bentley 4½ Litre competed in several competitions, primarily the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first was the Old Mother Gun at the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven as a prototype before production. Favoured to win, it instead crashed and did not finish. Its performance was sufficient for Bentley to decide to start production and deliver the first models the same year. Far from being the most powerful in the competitions, the 4½ Litre of Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin, raced neck and neck against Charles Weymann’s Stutz Blackhawk DV16, setting a new record average speed of 69 mph; Tim Birkin and Jean Chassagne finished fifth. The next year, three 4½ Litres finished second, third, and fourth behind another Bentley, the Speed Six, which possessed two more cylinders.The naturally aspirated 4½ Litre was noted for its good reliability. The supercharged models were not; the two Blower models entered in the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans by Dorothy Paget, one of which was co-driven by Tim Birkin, did not complete the race. In 1930, Birkin finished second in the French Grand Prix at the Circuit de Pau behind a Bugatti Type 35. Ettore Bugatti, annoyed by the performance of Bentley, called the 4½ Litre the “fastest lorry in the world.” The Type 35 is much lighter and consumes much less petrol. Blower Bentleys consume 4 litres per minute at full speed. In November 1931, after selling 720 copies of the 4½ Litre – 655 naturally aspirated and 55 supercharged – in three different models (Tourer, Drophead Coupé and Sporting Four Seater, Bentley was forced to sell his company to Rolls-Royce for £125,175, a victim of the recession that hit Europe following the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
There were a number of examples of what are known as the “Derby” models. These were produced after the acquisition of Bentley by Rolls-Royce, in 1934, at which point the focus of the brand shifted to the production of large and elegant tourers. The cars retained the famous curved radiator shape based on earlier Bentley models, but in all meaningful respects they were clearly Rolls-Royces. Although disappointing some traditional customers, they were well received by many others and even W.O. Bentley himself was reported as saying that he would “rather own this Bentley than any other car produced under that name.” The Rolls-Royce Engineer in charge of the development project, Ernest Hives (later Lord Hives), underlined the Rolls-Royce modus operandi in a memo addressed to company staff “our recommendation is that we should make the car as good as we know how and then charge accordingly.” At a time when the Ford 8 could be purchased new for £100, an early Bentley 3½ Litre cost around £1,500 (equivalent to £6400 vs. £96,000 today), putting it beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest consumers. Despite not being a car of remarkable outright performance, the car’s unique blend of style and grace proved popular with the inter-war elite and it was advertised under the legend the silent sports car. Over 70% of the cars built between 1933 and 1939 were said to have still been in existence 70 years later. Although chassis production ceased in 1939, a number of cars were still being bodied and delivered during 1940. The last few were delivered and first registered in 1941. The 3.5 litre came first. Based on an experimental Rolls-Royce project “Peregrine” which was to have had a supercharged 2¾ litre engine, the 3½ Litre was finally fitted with a less adventurous engine developed from Rolls’ straight-6 fitted to the Rolls-Royce 20/25. The Bentley variant featured a higher compression ratio, sportier camshaft profile and two SU carburettors on a crossflow cylinder head. Actual power output was roughly 110 bhp at 4500 rpm, allowing the car to reach 90 mph. The engine displaced 3669 cc with a 3¼ in (82.5 mm) bore and 4½ in (114.3 mm) stroke. A 4-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on 3rd and 4th, 4-wheel leaf spring suspension, and 4-wheel servo-assisted mechanical brakes were all common with other Rolls-Royce models. The chassis was manufactured from nickel steel, and featured a “double-dropped” layout to gain vertical space for the axles and thus keep the profiles of the cars low. The strong chassis needed no diagonal cross-bracing, and was very light in comparison to the chassis built by its contemporary competitors, weighing in at 2,510 pounds (1,140 kg) in driveable form ready for delivery to the customer’s chosen coachbuilder. 1177 of the 3½ Litre cars were built, with about half of them being bodied by Park Ward, with the remainder “dressed” by other coachbuilders like Barker, Carlton, Freestone & Webb, Gurney Nutting, Hooper, Mann Egerton, Mulliner (both Arthur and H J), Rippon, Thrupp & Maberly, James Young, Vanden Plas and Windovers in England; Figoni et Falaschi, Kellner, Saoutchik and Vanvooren in Paris; and smaller concerns elsewhere in UK and Europe. Beginning in March, 1936, a 4¼ Litre version of the car was offered as replacement for the 3½ Litre, in order to offset the increasing weight of coachwork and maintain the car’s sporting image in the face of stiff competition. The engine was bored to 3½ in (88.9 mm) for a total of 4257cc. From 1938 the MR and MX series cars featured Marles steering and an overdrive gearbox. The model was replaced in 1939 by the MkV, but some cars were still finished and delivered during 1940-1941. 1234 4¼ Litre cars were built, with Park Ward remaining the most popular coachbuilder. Many cars were bodied in steel rather than the previous, more expensive, aluminium over ash frame construction.
The Historic BMW Car Club – a completely separate entity from the BMW Car Club, and focused solely on the older models – had a special display feature over the weekend, as part of the centenary celebrations of the BMW company. The already interesting collection of cars on the Saturday expanded to something really rather special on the Sunday. This was a chance to see examples of the Frazer-Nash BMW range from the 1930s on a scale that you rarely encounter. Frazer Nash was, of course, a marque in its own right, making small chain driven sports cars, with proprietary engines which enjoyed much sporting success, including the prestigious Coupe des Alpes. By the mid 1930s, though, their design with beam axles and a channel section chassis was limiting their performance. Things came to a head in 1934, when immediately after their cars were beaten in the 1934 Coupe des Alpes by a trio of BMW 315 2 seaters, the then Company owner, manager and works driver, HJ Aldington, went straight to the BMW factory in Munich to negotiate the importation of right hand drive versions of the cars which had defeated his own. An agreement was struck and announced in December 1934 for the cars to be called Frazer Nash BMWs. Aldington brought back a 315 two seater sports cars to the UK, still in left hand drive form. Registered BMP844, this was one of the actual Alpine Trial Team cars. Many more 315s and the outwardly similar 319s would follow, and several of these were on show.
Although it was the 2 seater sports 315 that had piqued HJ Aldington’s interest, there were plenty of other models in the range, which, ironically, had grown largely as a result of the Bavarian company making British cars under licence, with the Austin Seven based Dixi some years earlier and there was one of these here.
The first right hand drive cars that came in were the 315 and 319 saloon models, These looked the same and were supplied with a mix of 1.5 and 2.0 litre engines, some with two and some with three carburettors, all with iron heads and vertical valves. By this time production of the chain driven Frazer Nash cars had ceased as the advantages of BMW’s design were indisputable, with outstanding ride and road holding for their day. This was thanks to a stiff tubular chassis, independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering. The early cars – 315, 319 and 329 – had cable brakes and a 6 volt electrical system. Later models had a box chassis with semi-elliptic rear springs. Many of the early cars had aluminium panels over ash frames, but later cars would have all steel bodies. All had the benefit of a foot operated one-shot chassis oil lubrication system. The cars were very advanced compared to what else was on the market at the time, but they were expensive. Even so, more than 700 cars were brought into the UK before the Second World War.
Somewhat surprisingly, this is a 315, too, and it dates from 1935. It certainly stood out and had me wondering what it was and whether it really was as old as this. As ever, the internet provided at least some of the background to the car. It turns out this vehicle was originally supplied with body work by Abbots of Farnham and then after the War turned up, sans body, in the hands of a chemist who took it to Williams & Pritchard of London, a small sub contracting bodywork shop before WW2, a Spitfire fuselage workshop during WW2 which returned to doing repairs and bodywork after WW2. The owner of the chassis took with him a pile of motoring magazines and sat down with Williams & Pritchard and pointed out all the features he wanted incorporated into the new bodywork for his old BMW. When did this happen you may well ask. It looks like it should be in the late 1950s or even the early 1960s, perhaps after the Tojerio and AC Ace had been around. But no, amazingly the aluminium body work dates back to 1948 four years before the Tojerio which famously morphed into the AC Ace!
During the 1930s, new models continued to be added to the range, with the 326 Saloon and the 327/80 drophead coupe being particularly stylish. Around 60 cars came to the UK in chassis form and were bodied by various English coachbuilders, in particular Abbots of Farnham, Whittingham & Webb with a 326 Saloon by Freestone & Webb and a 320 Saloon by Midland Motor Bodies. These English bodies came in both open and closed versions. A 326 with Freestone & Webb body was present in this display along with a couple of regular 326 saloons and several of the 327/80 Cabriolets.
Also here was the 328, a sports car made between 1936 and 1940, with the body design credited to Peter Szymanowski, who became BMW chief of design after World War II (although technically the car was designed by Fritz Fiedler). It had a 1971cc straight 6 OHV engine and 3 solec carburettors which gave it an output of 79 bhp at 5000 rpm, and a top speed of 150 km/h, making this relatively light car ideal for motorsport. The 328 was introduced at the Eifelrennen race at the Nürburgring in 1936, where Ernst Henne drove it to win the 2.0 litre class. The 328 had more than 100 class wins in 1937, including the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Österreichische Alpenfahrt, and the La Turbie hillclimb. In 1938, the 328 won its class at Le Mans, the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Alpine Rally, and the Mille Miglia. The 328 won the RAC Rally in 1939 and came in fifth overall and first in class in the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car continued its competition career after the war, with Frank Pratt winning the 1948 Australian Grand Prix driving a 328.
Parked with these cars was this, which is actually a Bristol 401 Touring. Bristol cars started off based on pre-war BMW designs, and used the company’s 2 litre engine. The first car was the 400, launched in 1947. When it came to a replacement, Italian carrozzeria Touring produced a design for what would become the 401, and Bristol Cars adopted much of what was proposed, but made their own changes to the design, Around half a dozen of the Touring cars were produced, and are very rare these days This is one of them.
The BMW 501 was a luxury car manufactured from 1952 to 1958. Introduced at the first Frankfurt Motor Show in 1951, the 501 was the first BMW model to be manufactured and sold after the Second World War, and as the first BMW car built in Bavaria. The 501 and its derivatives, including the V8 powered BMW 502, were nicknamed “Baroque Angels” by the German public. The BMW 502 was the first postwar German car to be manufactured with a V8 engine. The 501 made an impression on the public with its solid engineering and its extravagance. Its list price of more than fifteen thousand Deutsche Mark was about four times the average yearly salary in Germany at the time. Development issues delayed the start of production until late 1952, and even then BMW still did not have equipment for pressing body panels in operation. The first 2,045 four-door saloon bodies were built by Karosserie Baur and were shipped from Baur in Stuttgart to BMW’s factory in Munich for assembly. The thousandth 501 was completed on 1 September 1953. Coupe and convertible versions were available as custom orders from Baur or Autenrieth. While the 501 and 502 model numbers were discontinued in 1958, variations of the model, with the same platform and body, were continued until 1963.
The BMW 503 is a two-door 2+2 grand touring automobile from the 1950s. BMW developed the 503 alongside their 507 roadster in an attempt to sell a significant number of luxury cars in the United States. The 503 and 507 cost about twice their projected price and did not recover their costs. During production from May 1956 to March 1959, 413 units of the 503 were built. Even though it was a prestige model it resulted in heavy losses for BMW. Hanns Grewenig, sales manager of BMW, repeatedly requested the development of a sports car based on their 501 and 502 luxury sedans. In early 1954, influenced by the public reaction to Mercedes-Benz 300SL and 190SL show cars in New York in February 1954, the management of BMW approved the project. Max Hoffman, an influential automobile importer in the United States, saw early design sketches by BMW’s Ernst Loof, and suggested to industrial designer Albrecht von Goertz that he should submit design proposals to BMW. Based on these proposals, BMW contracted Goertz to design the 503 and 507 in November 1954. The 503 was a 2+2 grand tourer that was available as either a coupe or a convertible. It was noted for having a cleaner and more modern design than the “Baroque Angel” 501-based sedans. The convertible version of the 503 was the first European convertible with an electrically operated top. Tasked with designing rolling chassis for two cars while using as much as possible from the existing 502 sedan, engineer Fritz Fiedler designed two versions of a new ladder frame, one with the same wheelbase as the 502, and one with a shortened wheelbase. The long-wheelbase version was used in the 503. Both cars used the steering system and a variant of the front suspension system from the 502; the 503 also used the 502’s rear suspension. As originally designed, the 503 used the 502’s remote gearbox placement and shift linkage. Both cars used the braking system developed for the 3.2 sedan, using drum brakes with vacuum assist. All 503s were configured for left hand drive. Both cars used the 3.2 L version of the 502’s V8 engine developed for the 3.2 sedan, but with two carburettors and with an improved lubrication system using a chain-driven oil pump. The 503’s V8 had a compression ratio of 7.5:1 and yielded 140 bh at 4800 rpm. The 503 had sixteen inch wheels and standard final drive ratio of 3.90:1, A final drive ratio of 3.42:1 was optional. Acceleration of the 503 from standstill to 100 km/h (62 mph) had been measured at 13 seconds; the top speed of the 503 is about 115 mph. In September 1957, the 503’s drivetrain was revised. The gearbox was bolted to the transmission and the shifter was moved from the steering column to the floor. Hoffman had wanted BMW’s sports and GT cars to be positioned between Triumph’s sports cars and the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, at a selling price close to US$5000. He told BMW he would order thousands of their sports cars at a purchase price of DM12,000. After introduction at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1955, the 503 began production in May 1956 with a selling price of DM29,500, while the 507 roadster sold for DM26,500 when it began production seven months later.Despite Battista “Pinin” Farina’s opinion that the 503 was superior in design to the 507, the 503 was largely overshadowed by the 507. However, while neither the 503 nor the 507 sold well enough to earn a profit, the larger, heavier, plainer, more expensive 503 sold 412 units to the 507 roadster’s 253. 139 of the 503s made were convertibles. Production ended in March 1959.
Rather more significant than most would realise was the BMW Isetta, as without these cars, the modern BMW company simply would not exist. However, the car originated with the Italian firm of Iso SpA, and it is two of those models which were to be seen here. In the early 1950s the company was building refrigerators, motor scooters and small three-wheeled trucks. Iso’s owner, Renzo Rivolta, decided he would like to build a small car for mass distribution. By 1952 the engineers Ermenegildo Preti and Pierluigi Raggi had designed a small car that used the motorcycle engine of the Iso Moto 200 and named it Isetta—an Italian diminutive meaning little ISO. The Isetta caused a sensation when it was introduced to the motoring press in Turin in November 1953, it was unlike anything seen before. Small (only 7.5 ft long by 4.5 ft wide) and egg-shaped, with bubble-type windows, the entire front end of the car hinged outwards to allow entry. In the event of a crash, the driver and passenger were to exit through the canvas sunroof. The steering wheel and instrument panel swung out with the single door, as this made access to the single bench seat simpler. The seat provided reasonable comfort for two occupants, and perhaps a small child. Behind the seat was a large parcel shelf with a spare wheel located below. A heater was optional, and ventilation was provided by opening the fabric sunroof. Power came from a 236 cc 9.5 hp split-single two-stroke motorcycle engine. The engine was started by a combination generator-starter known as Dynastart. A manual gearbox provided four forward speeds and reverse. A chain drive connected the gearbox to a solid rear axle with a pair of closely spaced 25 cm (10 in) rear wheels. The first prototypes had one wheel at the rear, but having a single rear wheel made the car prone to roll-overs, so the rear wheel layout was changed to two wheels set 19 in apart from each other. This narrow track eliminated the need for a differential. The front axle was a modified version of a Dubonnet independent front suspension. The Isetta took over 30 seconds to reach 50 km/h (31 mph) from rest. Top speed was only about 75 km/h (47 mph). The fuel tank held only 13 litres. However, the Isetta would get somewhere between 50 and 70 mpg depending on how it was driven. In 1954, Iso entered several Isettas in the legendary Mille Miglia where they took the top three spots in the economy classification. Over a distance of 1,600 km (1,000 mi) the drivers achieved an average speed of over 70 km/h (43 mph). In view of its maximum speed, which was just 15 km/h (9 mph) higher, this was an almost incredible figure. However, despite its initial success, the Isetta was beginning to slip in popularity at home. This was mainly due to renewed competition from Fiat with its 500C model. Renzo Rivolta wanted to concentrate on his new Iso Rivolta sports car, and was extremely interested in doing licensing deals. Plants in Spain and Belgium were already assembling Isettas and Autocarros using Italian made Iso components. BMW began talking with Rivolta in mid-1954 and bought not just a license but the complete Isetta body tooling as well. Rivolta did not stop with licensing the Isetta to BMW. He negotiated similar deals with companies in France and Brazil. After constructing some 1,000 units, production of the Italian built cars ceased in 1955, although Iso continued to build the Isetta in Spain until 1958. In addition to the Turismo, Iso in Spain also built the Autocarro, a commercial version with full-width rear axle. The Autocarro was offered in several body styles, a flatbed pickup, enclosed truck, a tilt-bed, or even a fire engine, although some of these might not have been sold. The Autocarro was an extremely popular type of vehicle in Italy, and numerous manufacturers produced some variant of the type. Iso had previously produced a motorcycle-type Isocarro. The Iso Autocarro was larger than most, with its four-wheel layout, conventional rear axle with differential and leaf springs, and a large tubular frame. It could carry a 500 kg load. It is thought that more than 4,000 Autocarros were built.
Final car in this display was the 700, a small rear-engined car which was produced by BMW in various models from August 1959 to November 1965. It was the first BMW automobile with a monocoque structure. The 700 was a sales success at a time when BMW was close to financial ruin. The 700 was also successful in its class in motorsport, both in its stock form and as the basis of a racing special called the 700RS. More than 188,000 were sold before production ended in November 1965. Upon discontinuing the 700, BMW left the economy car market. Wolfgang Denzel, the distributor of BMW cars in Austria, commissioned Giovanni Michelotti to prepare concept sketches based on a lengthened BMW 600 chassis. In January 1958, Denzel was awarded a development contract for the 700. Denzel presented a prototype to BMW’s management in July 1958. The concept, a 2-door coupe with a slanted roof, was generally well received, but objections were raised about the limited passenger space. BMW decided to produce two versions, the coupe, and a 2-door sedan with a taller, longer roof. The engineer responsible for the chassis and suspension was Willy Black, who had designed and engineered the 600. The drivetrain and suspension were similar to those of the 600, with a rear-mounted flat-twin engine powering the rear wheels, leading arm suspension at the front, and semi trailing arm suspension at the rear. The 700 used a steel monocoque structure, and was the first BMW automobile to do so. The engine was an enlarged version of that used in the R67 motorcycle and the 600. With a bore of 78 mm and 73 mm of stroke, the engine displaced 697 cc. The engine originally used a single Solex 34PCI carburetor and had a compression ratio of 7.5:1, resulting in a power output of 30 hp. The coupe and saloon versions of the 700 were shown at the 1959 Frankfurt Motor Show. After the show, BMW received 25,000 orders for 700s. Production of the BMW 700 Coupe began in August 1959, with the saloon version following in December. The large number of orders was welcome news for BMW, which was in a financial crisis. In December 1959, shareholders blocked a proposal by BMW’s supervisory board to merge BMW into Daimler-Benz. The subsequent heavy investment in BMW by Herbert Quandt has been attributed in part to the success of the 700. By April 1960, production of the 700 was at 155 cars per day. The first variant of the 700 to appear after the original coupe and saloon was the 700 Sport in August 1960. Available only as a coupe, the Sport used an uprated engine with a pair of Solex carburettors and a 9.0:1 compression ratio. This brought the power output to 40 hp. The Sport also had a rear anti-roll bar. A ribbed oil pan was used to reduce the oil temperature of the more powerful engine. The 700 Sport was renamed the 700 CS in 1963. The 700 Cabriolet was introduced shortly after the 700 Sport, and was available only with the Sport’s 40 hp engine. The convertible body was made by Karosserie Baur of Stuttgart. 2,592 convertibles were built. A Saxomat semi-automatic transmission was offered as an option on 700s from September 1960. The 700 Luxus (deluxe) replaced the original saloon in 1962. A longer wheelbase variant, the LS, was also added, extending the wheelbase by 16 cm (6.3 in). In February 1963, the size of the inlet valves in the 700’s base engine was increased. This increased power to 32 hp. The final development of the 700 was the 700 LS Coupe of 1964. This was a long-wheelbase coupe with the Sport engine. 1,730 LS Coupes were built. Production of the BMW 700 ended in November 1965. By that time, the successful New Class cars had established themselves in the marketplace. High demand for these larger cars with larger profit margins led BMW to stop making economy cars.
This being the home of the Bugatti Owners Club, there were a number of examples of the marque parked up around the Museum. These included the Type 40 “Lydia” car as well as examples of the Types 43, 37 and Brescia. Far more of most of these would be seen in the Paddock, ready for action on the hill.
This is a 1926 Chevrolet Superior. The Superior was launched in 1923, manufactured by Chevrolet for four years with a different series per year. The 1923 model was known as the Series B, the 1924 model was the Series F, for 1925 it was known as the Series K and the 1926 Superior was known as the Series V. It was replaced in 1927 by the Series AA Capitol. All Superior models were powered by a 2.8 litre 4-cylinder engine generating 26 hp @ 2000 rpm, and shared the 103 in wheelbase. The cheapest complete model, which was the Superior Roadster, cost $510 in 1926, while the range-topping model, the Superior Sedan, sold for $825. It was also possible to buy a chassis; the Commercial chassis cost $425, while the Express Truck chassis cost $525. This chassis was shared with other GM products at the time, including Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Oakland and GMC products, introducing the “A-body”, “B-body” and “C-body”. This policy of sharing mechanicals across multiple brand led to the General Motors Companion Make Program in the 1920s. Starting with leadership under Mr. Sloan, GM instituted visual styling changes for each yearly series.
Something of a regular at Prescott is this 8CV Rosalie. dating from 1932. At introduction, the larger Rosalies replaced the Citroëns C4 and C6, themselves launched respectively in 1928 and 1929. They also represented a move upmarket for the entire business, since during the early 1930s Citroën appeared for a time to lose interest in the smaller cars which had filled their dealerships during the impoverished 1920s. The Rosalies, especially the larger 15CV versions, were offered with range of different body types, which was normal practice at the time. Though not radical in terms of subsequent Citroën launches, the look of the Rosalies was significantly more modern than that of the earlier C4 and C6 models. However, the real revolution at Citroën during these years involved production technology. André Citroën had drawn practical inspiration from his 1912 visit to Henry Ford’s then new Highland Park Ford Plant in Michigan, and in 1932 Citroën was still a European leader in the application of assembly line manufacturing. Rosalies were competitively but apparently profitably priced. In 1934 all the Rosalies received a facelift which involved applying a gently raked angle to the front grille. The post facelift versions that appeared were known as the NH versions, or also as the B-series. NH stood for “Nouvel Habillage” (literally “New Clothing”). The model seen here is the entry level version, the 8CV, which, like the Citroën Type B of the first half of the 1920s, featured a four-cylinder motor of 1,452 cc, driving the rear wheels. The three-speed gear box featured synchromesh on the two higher ranges, and braking was provided by drum brakes on all four wheels. The car was 4.27 metres (168.1 in) long and offered a maximum speed of 90 km/h. Four cylinder 10CV and six cylinder 15CV models were also offered, All told, 88,090 four-cylinder and 7,230 six-cylinder Rosalies were built (38,840 small 7/8’s, and 49,250 bigger 10/11’s). Of the total produced 8,400 were of the short-lived, facelifted B-series (NH) and around 15,000 were of the latter “MI” cars.
The Crossley 25/30 was manufactured between 1919 and 1925. Approximately 600 cars were made, with a mixture of those using factory bodies such as the London and the Manchester, as well as those which were sent to the coachbuilders. Chassis numbers range from 10000 to 15xxx. Numbers up to 12000 were shared with the 20/25 and 13000 onwards shared with the military 30 cwt light tenders. On some cars the chassis number is prefixed by a letter X but the significance of this is uncertain. The engines were numbered and date stamped and engine numbers and chassis numbers were close but not usually identical. For example, engine number 15273 is stamped February 1925. Many, probably most, of the cars had the V-shaped radiator but a flat type was available as an option.
This is a Ten Torquay, a saloon model made between 1931 and 1934.
This 1937 Crossley Regis is an example of the last model made by the Gorton, Manchester firm before it ceased car production in 1937. The Regis originated when the Scottish dealer Gordon C McAndrew wanted an updated “Ten” for his use and commissioned C F Beauvais of coachbuilders New Avon to design the body. This was fitted to a modified 10hp chassis. This design was adapted by Crossley to produce the Regis Saloon with the original Beauvais design offered as the Sports Saloon. Both versions were shown at the 1934 London Motor Show. The lower built Sports Saloon was the popular choice with very few, possibly only 6, of the standard saloons made. The four and six cylinder models were launched simultaneously. The only external difference between the 4 and 6 cylinder models is the grille which has a cross hatch pattern on the 4 cylinder and vertical slats on the 6 cylinder models. This one is a 4 cylinder car which means it has a 1200cc Coventry-Climax overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engine under that long bonnet driving through an ENV preselector gearbox.
One of the largest cars present was this 35/120 model. In 1929 Daimler’s range encompassed six-cylinder and twelve-cylinder motor cars and the six-cylinder 35/120 model was the second largest car in the range with its 5.8 litre sleeve valve engine. It fitted into the range between the ponderous 7 ½ and 9 ½-litre models and the later vee-twelves. This particular car was first registered on 31st January 1930 with Gloucestershire County Council and the first recorded owner in the continuation buff log book, commencing in June 1952, was a Charles Wingfield of Barrington Park, Burford, who may well have been the first owner of this car. In July 1952 it passed to P.H. Nicholas & Son of Wisbech and was at that time re-licensed as a hackney carriage. In 1965 it was acquired for preservation. It has been suggested that this car was exhibited at the 1929 Olympia Motor Exhibition however this is not substantiated by reference to that Show Catalogue, but it is understood that it did however make an Olympia appearance at The Car of the Year Show in 1968, as a qualifying Champion of Champions. This car has originality in spades and is presented in dark blue over black livery, still bearing a family crest on the rear door. It is traditionally upholstered, leather to the front and cloth to the rear and features two substantial occasional seats, therefore providing accommodation for seven passengers. The rear compartment is particularly impressive with silk blinds to each of the rear windows and also to the two-piece, wind-down division. Rotax head and side lamps are fitted while twin side-mounted spare wheels provide for the longer motor tour. The rear doors open to reveal supplier’s plates from Stratton Instone Ltd. of 27 Pall Mall and Maythorn & Son Ltd. of Biggleswade.
This equally imposing car is a 1939 EL24. Produced from 1937 to 1939, the Daimler EL24 range was based on a Daimler rolling chassis, on which various coach builders fitted a variety of body styles from saloons and limousines to fixedhead and drophead coupé. The light limousine was usually bodied by Charlesworth and proved popular as Mayoral transport. The chassis was of a latticework box section with a special cruciform centre bracing which gave exceptional torsional stiffness. It also featured a built-in lubrication and jacking system with ‘Gilt Edge’ safety glass fitted throughout. Power came from a 3.3 litre straight-six rated at 23.8hp with push-rod operated overhead valves operated by a chain driven high clearance cam, a seven bearing crankshaft with a torsional vibration damper, SU carburettor and mechanical petrol pump. Depending on body style, the car had a top speed of around 73mph and 20-25mpg economy. Transmission was via a four-speed pre-selector gearbox with Daimler fluid flywheel and direct drive top gear. Suspension was by beam axles with semi-elliptic springs, a pair of radius rods at the front and Luvax shock absorbers. Brakes were Girling mechanical with a Dewandre servo. In all just 710 examples of all body types were made.
There were a couple of examples of the DR70 here, dating from 1928. Chassis number ‘26290’, with engine number ‘922’, was imported by J Smith & Co, Delage’s main UK agents, who added the six-light Weymann saloon body. This reduced import duty and the DR70 retailed at around £600. The car was purchased new by R S (Reg) Dixon, of Brandon, Suffolk, managing director of Fox Umbrellas. It was first licensed on 27th April 1928 and taxed up to 1955. The amazing grille mascot one of them is not actually an original (which would be extremely valuable in its own right), but a high quality replica.
A couple of Classic Ford models were here, one American and one British. The first of these was a Model A, the 1927 replacement for the long-running Model T. These were produced in large quantities for 5 years, before giving way to the Model B/V8 range of cars.
Ford really started to grow market share in the UK when they extended their range downwards with models aimed at the family motorist, designed in the UK for UK tastes. Sometimes called the Eight, the Model Y was the first Ford designed in Europe. It was powered by a 933 cc, 8 hp Ford sidevalve engine, and was available in two and four-door versions. The suspension was by the traditional Ford transverse leaf springs front and rear and the engine drove the rear wheels through a three-speed gearbox which, right from the start, featured synchromesh between the top two ratios. The maximum speed was just under 60 mph and fuel consumption was 32 mpg. Even by the standards of the time, the car, like its major competitor the Austin 7, was found noteworthy for its almost unbelievable lack of brakes. In June 1935 a reduced specification two-door model was the only closed-body car ever to sell in Britain for just £100, a price it held until July 1937. It was replaced by the 7Y in 1938, which following a minor facelift became the Anglia. Production resumed after the war, along with a four door version, the Prefect. When these models were replaced by a much more modern design in 1953, the design lived on in the E103 Popular. It was powered by a Ford Sidevalve 1172 cc, 30 bhp four-cylinder engine, and was very basic. It had a single vacuum-powered wiper, no heater, vinyl trim, and very little chrome; even the bumpers were painted, and the bakelite dash of the Anglia was replaced by a flat steel panel. The Popular 103E differed visually from the Anglia E494E in having smaller headlights and a lack of trim on the side of the bonnet. Early 103Es had the three spoke banjo type Anglia/Prefect steering wheel as stocks of these were used up, but most have a two spoke wheel similar to the 100E wheel but in brown. Early Populars also had the single centrally mounted tail/stop-lamp of the Anglia, but this changed to a two tail/stop lamp set up with the lamps mounted on the mudguards and a separate number plate lamp. This car proved successful because, while on paper it was a sensible alternative to a clean, late-model used car, in practice there were no clean late-model used cars available in postwar Britain owing to the six-year halt in production caused by the Second World War. This problem was compounded by stringent export quotas that made obtaining a new car in the late 1940s and into the early 1950s difficult, and covenants forbidding new-car buyers from selling for up to three years after delivery. Unless the purchaser could pay the extra £100 or so for an Anglia 100E, Austin A30 or Morris Minor, the choice was the Popular or a pre-war car. 155,340 Populars were produced.
HRG Engineering Company also known as HRG, was a British car manufacturer based in Tolworth, Surrey. Founded in 1936 by Major Edward Halford, Guy Robins and Henry Ronald Godfrey, it took its name from the first letter of their surnames. Having raced together at Brooklands, Ron Godfrey approached Major Edward Halford in 1935 as regards the development of a new sports car. Having shown the prototype in late 1935, the company was formed in 1936 with Guy Robins formerly of Trojan joining as the third partner. Taking space at the premises of the Mid-Surrey Gear Company in Hampden Road, Norbiton, the cars were heavily influenced in their design by Godfrey’s previous long involvement — from 1909 — with both the GN company and subsequently Frazer Nash. The first Meadows-engined HRG cost £395, about half the cost of the 1.5-litre Aston Martin, and weighed almost 1000 pounds (450 kg) less. In 1938 the Company announced the 1100cc model using an OHC engine from Singer’s Bantam Nine. and then in 1939 they also started using the OHC 1500cc Singer Twelve later Singer Roadster engine in place of the old OHV Meadows unit. Post-war, the 1100 and 1500 2-seaters continued being made to the same pre-war design. HRG also commenced manufacturing the Aerodynamic model on basically the same vintage chassis. In 1950 Guy Robins left the company and S. R. Proctor joined as technical director, having been associated with Godfrey on the ill-fated Godfrey-Proctor in the 1920s. Sports car production ended in 1956 after 241 cars had been made, although the company remained in business as an engineering concern and as a development organisation for others, including Volvo. In 1965, they made a prototype Vauxhall VX 4/90-powered sports car. The company ceased trading in 1966, making a profit until the end. The factory’s racing team, Ecurie Lapin Blanc, achieved several notable successes. In the 1938 Le Mans 24-hour race. the works entry driven by Peter Clark and Marcus Chambers was the highest-placed British car (10th out of 15 finishers from 42 starters). The following year Clark and Chambers returned to win the 1.5 litre class. In 1947 Chambers took 3rd place in the Grand Prix des Frontières at Chimay, and HRG won the team prize in the Isle of Man Empire Trophy race. In 1948 Chambers was 4th at Chimay, and HRG won the team prize in the Spa 24 hour race, where team leader Peter Clark had the cars equipped with two-way radios for communication between the drivers and the pits. Innovative at the time, radio communication is common in racing today. The team prize again went to HRG at Spa the following year. Also in 1949, the 1.5 litre class at Le Mans was won for the second time by an HRG, driven on this occasion by Eric Thompson and Jack Fairman. Proving that HRGs were still competitive 59 years later, a three-car team won the 2006 Vintage Sports Car Club 2-hour team relay race at Donington Park. They raced as “Ecurie Lapin Blanc”. Of the 241 cars made, it is estimated that 225 survive.
There were a couple of old Humber models here, a 1927 14/40 and the later 1934 Twelve Sports Tourer.
Oldest Jaguar model type here was an SS100. The first of William Lyons’ open two-seater sports cars came in March 1935 with the SS 90, so called because of its claimed 90 mph top speed. This car used the 2½-litre side-valve, six-cylinder engine in a short-chassis “cut and shut” SS 1 brought down to an SS 2’s wheelbase. Just 23 were made. It was the precursor to one of the finest pre-war sports car ever made, the SS100. That car benefitted from some significant engine development work that was led by Harry Westlake, who was asked to redesign the 2½-litre 70 bhp side-valve engine to achieve 90 bhp. His answer was an overhead-valve design that produced 102 bhp and it was this engine that launched the new SS Jaguar sports and saloon cars in 1936. Shown first in the SS Jaguar 2½-litre saloon, the new car caused a sensation when it was launched at a trade luncheon for dealers and press at London’s Mayfair Hotel on 21 September 1935. The show car was in fact a prototype. Luncheon guests were asked to write down the UK price for which they thought the car would be sold and the average of their answers was £765. Even in that deflationary period, the actual price at just £395 would have been a pleasant surprise for many customers, something which characterised Jaguars for many decades to come. Whilst the new Jaguar saloon could now compete with the brand new MG SA, it was the next application of the engine that stunned everyone even more, with the launch of the legendary SS100. Named because it was a genuine 100 mph car, this open topped sports car looked as good as it was to drive. Only 198 of the 2½-litre and 116 of the 3½-litre models were made and survivors are highly prized and priced on the rare occasions when they come on the market. Such is their desirability that a number of replica models have been made over the years, with those made by Suffolk Engineering being perhaps the best known, and which are indeed hard to tell apart from an original 1930s car at a glance.
There was also an examples from the range of saloon and drophead models that Jaguar produced in the late 1930s and again once production resumed after the war until 1949. Sometimes referred to as the Jaguar Mark IV. the cars were marketed as the Jaguar 1½ litre, Jaguar 2½ litre and Jaguar 3½ litre with the Mark IV name later applied in retrospect to separate this model from the succeeding Mark V range. All these cars were built on a separate chassis frame with suspension by semi-elliptic leaf springs on rigid axles front and rear. Biggest seller, with 10,980 made, was the smallest model of the range, the 1½ litre, which originally featured a 1608 cc side valve Standard engine but from 1938 this was replaced by a 1776 cc overhead-valve unit still from Standard who also supplied the four-speed manual transmission. Pre-war the car was available as a saloon or drophead coupé but post war only the closed model was made. Up to 1938 body construction on all the models was by the traditional steel on wood method but in that year it changed to all steel. Performance was not a strong point but 70 mph was possible: the car featured the same cabin dimensions and well-appointed interior as its longer-engined brothers. Despite its lack of out-and-out performance, a report of the time, comparing the 4-cylinder 1½-litre with its 6-cylinder siblings, opined that the smallest-engined version of the car was “as is often the case … the sweetest running car” with a “big car cruising gait in the sixties”. For the 2½ Litre, the engine was alsosourced from Standard but had the cylinder head reworked by SS to give 105 bhp. Unlike the 1½ Litre there were some drophead models made post-war. The chassis was originally of 119 in but grew by an inch in 1938, the extra length over the 1½ Litre was used for the six-cylinder engine as the passenger accommodation was the same size. Nearly 7000 of these were sold. The 3½ Litre, introduced in 1938, was essentially the same body and chassis as the 2½ Litre but the larger 125 bhp engine gave better performance but at the expense of economy.
Once again there were a couple of examples of the very imposing LG6 Saloon, and an impressive sight they were especially when parked together. The LG6 was announced at the 1937 London Motor Show and would be produced up to 1940. The LG6 chassis is based on the one used on the V12 model lengthened by 3.5 in to cater for the longer engine fitted. Suspension is independent torsion bar front suspension and live rear axle with Spiral bevel gear final drive. The braking system is Lockheed hydraulic. The 4453 cc straight-six engine with pushrod operated overhead valves was bought in from Henry Meadows of Wolverhampton and previously used in the LG45 model. Drive is to the rear wheels through a single dry plate clutch and four-speed gearbox. Standard coachwork included saloon, tourer, coupé and sedanca styles. The tourer was also available in a Rapide version and this had a higher compression ratio engine but only two were sold. The car can be distinguished from the V12 by the twin long trumpet horns on either side of the radiator grille. 67 of the short chassis and 18 long chassis were made.
This 1.5 litre car dates from 1923.
There were several other examples of the marque including a 1930 2 litre.
There were a couple of the smaller Lagonda Rapier models here, too. The Rapier was produced from 1934 to 1935. A few more were subsequently produced by the independent Rapier Car Company. At the heart of the car was an all new 1104 cc twin overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine. The design of this was done by a consultant Thomas Ashcroft (known as Tim) with the brief of producing “Britain’s finest 1100 cc engine”. The engine was originally intended to be cast in light alloy but to save cost it was eventually made in cast iron using the original patterns making it rather heavy. It did, however, produce 50 bhp at 5400 rpm, a very good output for the time. Production of the engine was sub-contracted to Coventry Climax. The chassis was designed by Charles King and consisted of steel sections bolted together. The engine was connected to a four-speed preselector gearbox with right-hand change lever and the Girling system rod operated brakes had large 13 in drums. Half-elliptic springs provided the suspension controlled by friction dampers. Although the original car as shown at the 1933 London Motor Show had a wheelbase of 90.75 in, in order to cater for a wider range of bodies, production cars from 1934 had this extended by 8 in to 98.75 in. The factory supplied the running chassis for £270 to customers who could then select their own coachwork. Most cars had bodies by E. D. Abbott Ltd of Farnham, Surrey. A complete car with Abbott four-seat tourer body sold for £368. Other suppliers of coachwork included John Charles, Maltby and E J Newns who made around 12, subsequently known as Eagles. The engine was just too large for use in the popular 1100 cc class so a few cars were made with 1084 cc engines. In 1935 the Lagonda company failed and was bought by Alan Good who reformed it as LG Motors (Staines) Ltd. As part of the general upheaval the rights to make the Rapier were sold to a new company Rapier Cars Ltd of Hammersmith Road, London, a premises previously used by Lagonda as their London service centre. The intention was now to sell the car complete with body and a design was produced by Ranalah. A four-seat tourer was priced at £375. Production continued until 1938 but only 46 cars were made.
One of the best-known of pre-war Lancia is the Lambda, an innovative car which was first shown in 1922. A number of these were present. Built in 9 series over a 10 year period, the Lambda pioneered a number of technologies that soon became commonplace in our cars. For example, it was the first car to feature a load-bearing monocoque-type body, (but without a stressed roof) and it also pioneered the use of an independent suspension (the front sliding pillar with coil springs).Vincenzo Lancia even invented a shock absorber for the car and it had excellent four wheel brakes. The narrow angle V4 engine which powered is not something which was widely copied. Approximately 11,200 Lambdas were produced. Most of them had the open Torpedo style body, but some of the last Series 8 and 9 cars had Weyman saloon bodies.
This is a 1931 Artena Berlina, and is apparently the 1931 Geneva Show car. It has only had three owners and stayed in Switzerland until the current owner bought it in 2000. He understands that the car was refurbished around 1978, when it acquired the rather nice two tone paint scheme. The Artena was produced between 1931 and 1936, powered by a 2 litre Lancia V4 engine. There were four successive versions of the car. Lancia built approximately 1500 of the first series between autumn of 1931 through summer of 1932. During the next year the second series was produced, and the third series from Autumn 1933 till the start of 1936. The third series was available in two lengths. The 54 bhp engine was sufficient to provide a claimed maximum speed of 72 mph for each of the first three versions. Between 1940 and 1942 a further 507 Artenas were built. These modified Artenas were larger and slower than the prewar versions: they were used by senior military and political personnel, and in modified form as ambulances.
This is a 1927 P Type. During 1927 Charles Van Eugen convinced the directors of Lea-Francis to allow him to design a completely new chassis assembly. Incorporating semi-elliptic springs front and rear the new chassis was longer and with a wider track than previous models. The trailing end of the springs was mounted in such a way that it slid in bronze trunnions, which were themselves able to rotate in their mounting. When well maintained this arrangement gave the new chassis a good ride quality and comparatively good road-holding for the period. The spur gear differential was gone in favour of a bevel gear version and torque reaction was now taken by the rear springs. The hand brake no longer operated on the transmission but instead through a second set of shoes in each of the rear brake drums. The radiator, while retaining the distinctive shape was taller and higher. A new plate clutch was designed which was eventually fitted to all cars on the new chassis when fitted with a Meadows 4ED engine. This new chassis fitted with the 1.5 litre Meadows 4EC engine was designated the U Type. Fitted with a standard single port Meadows 4ED engine it was designated the P Type and with the twin-port Brooklands version of the Meadows 4ED engine the O Type. This chassis frame would also form the basis for that used on famous Hyper or S Type, the V Type and W Type. Made 3” longer the frame was also used as the basis for the T Type. While the basic specification of theP Type remained more or less the same over the years, many detail changes were made to the design. 38 of the early P Types were fitted with a cone clutch, but after that all but the last few cars were fitted with the Lea-Francis plate clutch – a reliable and effective unit that would prove quite capable of handling the power of a supercharged engine when used in the S Type. The first 500 or so cars were fitted with a scuttle mounted petrol tank feeding a Solex carburettor by gravity. On later cars the petrol tank was moved to the rear, slung between the rear dumb-irons of the chassis and petrol was now fed to the carburettor by way of an Autovac. With the petrol tank now at the rear, the spare wheel had to be relocated and, with a redesign of the front wings, was now mounted on the side of the scuttle. The majority of P Types were fitted with the standard wide-ratio gearbox, although customers could specify the close-ratio variant, as they could the Lea-Francis patent free-wheel. The latter being a unit secured to the rear of the gearbox, operated through a second gear-lever, and which, when engaged, worked with the same principle as the free-wheel on a bicycle. The last few P Types were fitted with a Borg & Beck clutch and the duo-gearbox, which had been designed for use in the Ace of Spades. A wide range of bodies were fitted to the P type. The most common being four seaters by Avon and Cross & Ellis and two seater and dickey bodies by the same builders. Cross & Ellis fitted many of the chassis with saloon bodies with a few also being built by Vulcan. While perhaps the most advertised optional extra on this model was the aforementioned Lea-Francis patented free-wheel, customers could have a car built with all manner of variations from the standard specification. Some P types, for example, left the factory fitted with the twin carburettor 12/50 Brooklands specification engines. This made them more of less identical to an O Type and may explain why so few of the latter were built. The P type, with the standard single-port engine, became deservedly popular, selling almost as well as the J type and surviving in far greater numbers. Approximately 1093 were built of which at least 97 have survived so it has become the most familiar pre-war Lea-Francis.
This is a 2.5 litre, the car that the firm produced from 1949 to 1953, and is perhaps best known these days for its regular appearance in the pages of Classic and Sports Car, as one of “Our Cars”, owned by Mick Walsh.
There were several examples of the 18/80 here. These were among the earliest MG cars, and were based on the contemporary Morris Oxford, but with a range of coachbuilt bodies offered as well as the standard factory ones, and with more power than the Morris on which they were based.
The diminutive M Type Midget is a tiny sports car produced from April 1929 to 1932. It was sometimes referred to as the 8/33. Launched at the 1928 London Motor Show when the sales of the larger MG saloons was faltering because of the economic climate, the small car brought MG ownership to a new sector of the market and probably saved the company. Early cars were made in the Cowley factory, but from 1930 production had transferred to Abingdon. The M-Type was one of the first genuinely affordable sports cars to be offered by an established manufacturer, as opposed to modified versions of factory-built saloon cars and tourers. By offering a car with excellent road manners and an entertaining driving experience at a low price (the new MG cost less than double the cheapest version of the Morris Minor on which it was based) despite relatively low overall performance the M-type set the template for many of the MG products that were to follow, as well as many of the other famous British sports cars of the 20th century. The M-type was also the first MG to wear the Midget name that would be used on a succession of small sports cars until 1980. This 2-door sports car used an updated version of the four-cylinder bevel-gear driven overhead camshaft engine used in the 1928 Morris Minor and Wolseley 10 with a single SU carburettor giving 20 bhp at 4000 rpm. Drive was to the rear wheels through a three-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. The chassis was based on the one used in the 1928 Morris Minor with lowered suspension using half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction disk shock absorbers with rigid front and rear axles and bolt on wire wheels. The car had a wheelbase of 78 inches and a track of 42 inches. 1930 brought a series of improvements to the car. The Morris rod brake system, with the handbrake working on the transmission, was replaced a cable system with cross shaft coupled to the handbrake and the transmission brake deleted. Engine output was increased to 27 bhp by improving the camshaft and a four-speed gearbox was offered as an option. The doors became front-hinged. A supercharged version could be ordered from 1932, raising the top speed to 80 mph. Early bodies were fabric-covered using a wood frame; this changed to all-metal in 1931. Most cars had bodies made by Carbodies of Coventry and fitted by MG in either open two-seat or closed two-door “Sportsmans” coupé versions, but some chassis were supplied to external coachbuilders such as Jarvis. The factory even made a van version as a service vehicle. The car could reach 65 mph and return 40 miles per gallon. The open version cost £175 at launch, soon rising to £185, and the coupé cost £245. The 1932 supercharged car cost £250. The M-type had considerable sporting success, both privately and with official teams winning gold medals in the 1929 Land’s End Trial and class wins in the 1930 “Double Twelve” race at Brooklands. An entry was also made in the 1930 Le Mans 24 hour, but neither of the two cars finished. It was replaced by the J Type, and then the P Series in 1934.
The MG D-type “Midget” was produced in 1931 and 1932. It used the engine from the MG M-type in the chassis from the MG C-type and was only available as a four-seater. Of the 250 cars produced, 208 were open tourers, 37 were salonettes and five went to external coachbuilders. The car used the M-Type 847 cc engine that was derived from the overhead camshaft engine from the 1928 Morris Minor and Wolseley 10 with a single SU Carburettor producing 27 bhp at 4500 rpm. Drive was to the rear wheels through a three-speed non-synchromesh gearbox with a four-speed gearbox was an option on later cars. The chassis came from the C-Type and took the form of a ladder frame with tubular cross members and passed under the rear axle. The suspension used half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction shock absorbers with rigid front and rear axles and centre lock wire wheels, the brakes were cable operated with 8 in drums. At 84 in (2,134 mm)), 86 in (2,184 mm)) after the first 100 cars, the wheelbase was longer than the C-Type to cater for the larger body, but the track remained the same at 42 in (1,067 mm)). In spite of its looks the car was not very fast, 60 mph being just possible in the tourer, the body being really too much for the small engine. The cars are quite rare today, many having been converted into C-Type replicas. At the same time as the D-Type was being made MG was also offering the 6-cylinder 1271 cc F-Type, and externally the two are virtually identical. The extra power of the F-Type made it a much better car, and it proved a bigger seller.
Next up was this J2 from 1934. The J-type was produced from 1932 to 1934. This 2-door sports car used an updated version of the overhead camshaft, crossflow engine, used in the 1928 Morris Minor and Wolseley 10 and previously fitted in the MG M-type Midget of 1929 to 1932, driving the rear wheels through a four-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. The chassis was from the D-Type with suspension by half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction shock absorbers all round with rigid front and rear axles. The car had a wheelbase of 86″ and a track of 42″. Most cars were open two-seaters, but a closed salonette version of the J1 was also made, and some chassis were supplied to external coachbuilders. The open cars can be distinguished from the M type by having cut-away tops to the doors. Small numbers of J3 and J4 models, designed for racing, were made and the J1 was the four seater model in the range, but by far the most common were the J2 models, such as this one. The 847cc engine gave the car a top speed of 65 mph, although The Autocar maanged to get nearly 20 mph more than that from a specially prepared one that they tested in 1933. The most serious of the J2’s technical failings is that has only a two-bearing crankshaft, which could break if over-revved. The overhead camshaft is driven by a vertical shaft through bevel gears, which also forms the armature of the dynamo. Thus any oil leak from the cambox seal goes into the dynamo brushgear, presenting a fire hazard. Rather than hydraulic brakes the car has Bowden cables to each drum. Although requiring no more pedal force than any other non-power-assisted drum brake if they are well maintained, the drums themselves are small, and even in period it was a common modification to replace them with larger drums from later models. Nonetheless, the car was quite popular, and at £199, was relatively affordable.
Replacing the J series cars was the 1934 PA. The PA and later PB replaced the J Type Midget. These 2-door sports cars used an updated version of the overhead camshaft, crossflow engine that was also used in the 1928 Morris Minor and Wolseley 10 as well as the J-type Midget of 1932 to 1934. It drove the rear wheels through a four-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. The chassis was a strengthened and slightly longer version of that used in the J-type with suspension by half-elliptic springs all round with rigid front and rear axles. Steering was initially by a Marles Weller and later a Bishop Cam system. The two-seat car had a wheelbase of 87″ and a track of 42″. Most cars were open two seaters, but streamlined Airline coupé bodies were also made. The P-type was also available as a four-seater, a car that suffered from a lack of power and poor rear ground clearance. Whereas J, K and L-type MGs differentiated between versions with the use of numbers, with 1 indicating a four-seater (the J1) and 2 a two-seater (the J2), this was not the case with the P-type (or its six-cylinder sister, the N-type Magnette), and there is no clue to the type in the name. The first version, the PA used an 847 cc engine similar to the one on the J-Type, but now with a 3-bearing crankshaft, larger camshaft and twin SU carburettors. It produced 36 bhp at 5,500 rpm. In 1935, a PA open two-seater cost £222. Around 2,000 PAs were made. In late 1936 the PA was replaced by the PB, which had a larger 939cc 43bhp engine and which is distinguished by a grille of vertical slats as opposed to the honeycomb pattern of the PA. 526 examples of the PB were made.
Slightly larger than these was the F Type Magna, a six-cylinder-engined car produced from October 1931 to 1932. It was also known as the 12/70. Looking for a car to fill the gap between the M-Type Midget and the 18/80, MG turned to another of the engines that had become available from William Morris’s acquisition of Wolseley. This was the 1271 cc 6-cylinder version of the overhead camshaft engine used in the 1929 MG M type Midget and previously seen in the 1930 Wolseley Hornet and had dummy side covers to disguise its origins. Fitted with 1 in twin SU carburettors it produced 37.2 bhp at 4100 rpm at first, later increased to 47 bhp by revising the valve timing. Drive was to the rear wheels through a four-speed non-synchromesh gearbox of ENV manufacture. The chassis was a 10-inch (250 mm) longer version of the one from the MG D-type with suspension by half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction shock absorbers all round with rigid front and rear axles. Wire wheels with 4.00 x 19 tyres and centre lock fixing were used. The car had a wheelbase of 94 in and a track of 42 in. With its sloping radiator and long bonnet the F-Type is an attractive car capable of reaching 70 mph. 188 of the cars were supplied in chassis form to outside coachbuilders such as Abbey, Jarvis, Stiles and Windover. The original F was restricted by only having 8-inch brake drums, which, with its 4-seat bodies, was not really adequate. Many F1 cars have subsequently been fitted with the larger F2 brakes. The four-seat tourer cost £250 and the Foursome coupé cost £289. Introduced in late 1932 the F2 was the open 2-seater car in the range. It also got much needed enhanced braking by fitting larger 12-inch drums all round. The body with straight-topped doors came from the J-Type Midget. The F3, also introduced in 1932, used the same brakes as the F2 but had the 4-seater tourer and Foursome Coupé bodies fitted. The engine cooling was improved by changing the cooling water flow.
Although pre-war MG is best known for its sports cars, the Abingdon marque did head up market in the late 1930s, producing a range of cars which were aimed at competing with the emerging Jaguar saloons, and there were examples of each of the three series that resulted, an SA, the smaller VA and the later WA. All three were splendid. The two tone green 1938 MG SA Saloon. brought along by David Gregory, was a car I had seen at this event before. This time I got the chance to talk to him briefly just before he departed. As well as this car he has a now restored 1951 Riley RMA, and he bought the MG as he realised that restoration of the Riley was going to take a long time, so the MG was something of an “interim” car. It had been restored by a previous owner after it had spent 20 years – painted custard yellow – on top of the RTS Motors building in Bristol. The SA Saloon was launched as the 2 litre, and only later became known as the SA. The car had been originally planned as an advanced performance saloon to rival the likes of SS Cars (later to be known as Jaguar) and even Bentley with all independent suspension and was given the factory code of EX150 and designated the S-type. A prototype was made but with the amalgamation of MG with Morris Motors in 1935, development stopped. The Cowley drawing office picked up the project again but a much more conservative car appeared with conventional live rear and beam front axles. The SA used a tuned version of the six cylinder 2062cc Morris QPHG engine which it shared with the Wolseley Super Six but enlarged to 2288cc. The capacity was increased again to 2322cc in 1937 bringing it into line with the Wolseley 18. This was a tall engine and to allow the bonnet line to be as low as possible the twin SU carburettors had their dashpots mounted horizontally. Drive was to the live rear axle via a four speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on the top two ratios (on all but a few early models). Wire wheels were fitted and the drum brakes were hydraulically operated using a Lockheed system. A built in Jackall jacking system was fitted to the chassis. The saloon body, the only option available at the time of the car’s launch, was made in-house by Morris and was a spacious four door with traditional MG grille flanked by two large chrome plated headlights. The spare wheel was carried on the boot lid. Inside there were individual seats in front and a bench seat at the rear, all with leather covering. Much use was made of walnut for the dashboard and other trim items. A Philco radio was offered as an optional extra for 18 Guineas (£18.90). From April 1936 a Tickford drophead coupé by Salmons joined the range priced at £398, the saloon was £375, and in July coachbuilders Charlesworth offered a four door tourer at £375. The tourer originally had straight topped doors but these were replaced with front ones with cutaway tops from 1938 and at the same time the spare wheel moved to the front wing. Of the 2739 cars made, 350 were exported with Germany proving the best market. Quite a few have survived, though many are in need of restoration, and that is a costly business, as this was a complex car, and values of the car do not (yet) make this financially justifiable, which is a pity, as this is a supremely elegant car. This was one of my favourite cars of the whole event.
Final MG here was a TA, the first of a long line of T series sports cars produced by MG from 1936 to 1955. The TA Midget replaced the PB in 1936. It was an evolution of the previous car and was 3 inches (76 mm) wider in its track at 45 inches (1,100 mm) and 7 inches (180 mm) longer in its wheelbase at 94 inches (2,400 mm). The previous advanced overhead-cam inline-four engine was by then not in use by any other production car so it was replaced by the MPJG OHV unit from the Wolseley 10, but with twin SU carburettors, modified camshaft and manifolding. The engine displaced just 1292 cc, with a stroke of 102 mm and a bore of 63.5 mm and power output was 50 hp at 4,500 rpm. The four-speed manual gearbox now had synchromesh on the two top ratios and was connected to the engine by a cork-faced clutch running in oil. Unlike the PB, hydraulic brakes were fitted with 9-inch drums. Like the PB, most were two-seat open cars with a steel body on an ash frame. A bench-type seat was fitted with storage space behind. The T-type was capable of reaching almost 80 mph (130 km/h) in standard tune with a 0–60 mph time of 23.1 seconds. Allan Tomlinson won the 1939 Australian Grand Prix handicap driving an MG TA. 3,003 were made and in 1936 it cost £222 on the home market, the same as the PB.When first introduced the model was known as the T Type and only after the advent of the TB did the TA designation come into use.
Classic Morgan cars included a 3 wheeler model from the 1930s and a “Flat Rad” Plus 4 from the 1950s.
There were surprisingly few Morris models that I came across in the VSCC parking was. You could not really miss the 1921 Cowley with a polished aluminium body and there was another example of the famous “Bullnose” style.
Railtons were built by the Fairmile Engineering Company in Cobham, Surrey. This company was the enterprise of Noel Macklin who had been building Invicta cars at the same premises. Invictas were hand built using expensive materials and were no longer selling. Macklin was determined to produce a car with similar performance and good coachwork at an affordable price. Following evaluation, he was very impressed by the performance of the new Terraplane model launched by Hudson Motors in 1932 and came to an agreement to import the straight eight cylinder chassis. Improvements to the chassis and suspension were carried out so that they handled in a way more to the liking of British motorists. He then contracted several independent coachbuilders to design and construct Light Tourers, Drop Head Coupes and Saloons. F. Gordon Crosby, the well known motoring artist, designed the Railton radiator grille in a similar style to the Invicta; Reid Railton, the designer of Land Speed Record cars agreed to his name being used for the new car. Production began in 1933 and continued up until the outbreak of WWII. Six cars were assembled during the war for use by the Metropolitan Police. After the war four more cars were built using chassis stored for the duration and two cars were constructed on post war chassis. The majority of the cars were of 8 cylinders, 4168 cc, 28.8 HP engine capacity. This one is a 1934 Eight Ranalah. In 1935 the original Terraplane chassis was replaced by the one from the Hudson Eight, the engine grew to 4168 cc producing 113 bhp, and a wider range of bodies from several coachbuilders were on offer from at least seven different vehicle coachbuilders including; Ranalah, R.E.A.L, Carbodies and Coachcraft Ltd. Two special lightweight models were made in 1935 and, with a 0–60 time of 8.8 seconds, were claimed to be the fastest production cars in the world. Altogether 1379 of the Railton 8s were made.
By the 1930s, Riley had a vast array of different models on offer, something which turned against the Coventry company, as the costs of doing this got somewhat out of control, leading the firm’s bankruptcy and takeover by the Nuffield Group. Sports saloons were joined by a whole array of open tourers and two seater sports car. Rileys are probably the most popular of all vintage cars, with a decent survival rate, and the number of them here is evidence of that. It takes a marque expert to identify them all exactly, so some of these are grouped together.
Many of the cars come under the label of a Riley Nine, one of the most successful light sporting cars produced by the British motor industry in the inter war period. It was made with a wide range of body styles between 1926 and 1938. The car was largely designed by two of the Riley brothers, Percy and Stanley. Stanley was responsible for the chassis, suspension and body and the older Percy designed the engine. The 1,087 cc four-cylinder engine had hemispherical combustion chambers with the valves inclined at 45 degrees in a crossflow head. To save the expense and complication of overhead camshafts, the valves were operated by two camshafts mounted high in the crankcase through short pushrods and rockers. The engine was mounted in the chassis by a rubber bushed bar that ran through the block with a further mount at the rear of the gearbox. Drive was to the rear wheels through a torque tube and spiral bevel live rear axle mounted on semi elliptic springs. At launch in July 1926 two body styles were available, a fabric bodied saloon called the Monaco at £285 and a fabric four-seat tourer for £235. The saloon could reach 60 mph (97 km/h) and give 40 mpg. Very quickly a further two bodies were offered, the San Remo, an artillery wheeled basic saloon and a two-seater plus dickie open tourer and there was also the option of steel panelling rather than fabric for the four-seater tourer. After the car’s 1926 launch, Mark 1 production actually started in 1927 at Percy’s engine factory, due to some resistance in the main works to the new design. It was such a critically acclaimed success that after fewer than a thousand cars had been produced the works quickly shut down side-valve production and tooled up for the new Nine in early 1928. This switch to the main factory coincided with several modernisations of the Mark 1 – the cone clutch was dropped, the gear lever and handbrake were moved from the right to the centre of the car and a Riley steering box was adopted, thus making the car the Mark II. The Mark III was a gentle update of the II at the end of 1928, evolving stronger wheels and a different arrangement of rods to the rear brakes. The Mark IV was a thorough re working of the Nine. Heavier Riley-made 6-stud hubs and axles replaced the bought-in five-stud items. A new cable braking system was introduced with larger drums. The range of bodies was further extended in 1929 with the Biarritz saloon which was a de-luxe version of the Monaco. The improved brakes were fitted using the Riley continuous cable system and if the cable stretched it could be adjusted from the driver’s seat. More body variants were added over the next few years and in 1934 a Preselector gearbox was offered for £27 extra. The range was slimmed down in 1935 to the Monaco saloon, Kestrel streamlined saloon and Lynx four-seat tourer as the works started gearing up for production of the new 12 hp model. In an attempt to keep costs down Riley entered into an agreement with Briggs bodies to produce a steel (non coach-built) body for a newly designed chassis. This new chassis was introduced in 1936 and incorporated such features as Girling rod operated brakes and a prop shaft final drive for the Nine (though the 12 hp variant retained the torque tube). The Briggs body was named the Merlin and was available alongside the last nine Kestrel variant, also built on the “Merlin” chassis. The Briggs body evolved through 1937 with a large boot extension to be called the Touring Saloon and an additional body style was added on the same chassis – the higher specified special series Monaco (a completely new design from the previous car). The final version (and last Nine model) was the 1938 Victor also available with 1496 cc engine. The Victor had the engine further forward to increase interior room, with the battery moved to the engine bay and smaller diameter wheels were fitted.
Riley introduced a more powerful car, the 12/4 in 1935. From 1936 this was known as the Riley 1½-litre, and the car would be made until 1938, with saloon, touring, and sports/racing coachwork, These cars were powered by a four-cylinder 1,496 cc “12/4 Engine” with one or two Zenith carburettors. Designed by Hugh Rose, it was based on the Riley Nine engine but with some significant changes including the cylinder block and crankcase being cast as one unit. It was advanced for its day with twin camshafts mounted high in the engine block, cross flow head on some versions, and Zenith or twin SU carburettors. Production of the engine continued until 1955 and also powered the later RMA and RME. The chassis had half-elliptic leaf springs all round and drive was to the rear wheels through either a four-speed preselector or manual gearbox. Girling rod brakes were fitted. Three different wheelbases were made and two track options of 48 in on most versions or 51 in on the 1936 Adelphi, Continental and Kestrel saloons. At launch three body styles were available: the Kestrel 4 light fastback saloon, the Falcon saloon and the Lynx open tourer. In 1936 the Kestrel became a six light, the Falcon was replaced by the Adelphi six light saloon and the Continental touring saloon was introduced. Seen here was a Falcon and a Lynx.
There were also specials based on this chassis and these are a few of them.
This looks like an example of the legendary MPH, but it is not quite such a car. This stunning looking car was salvaged in 2006 when the father of the current owner bought a 1933 12/6 Rolling Chassis from the Bonhams auction in Beaulieu. Missing the bodywork and in need of some serious elbow grease, father and son decided to take on the project to build the ultimate MPH. Six years later, in 2012, the car was finally ready and road registered, ready to conquer the world. During the restoration, the 12/6 engine was uprated to 15/6 specification, the most capable engine you could have in your MPH. It has the ‘silent-third’ gearbox. From the exact body work and cotton braided wire looms to the correct engine specification and Riley logo in the headlights, this car has been made to very high standards and a very high attention to detail.
There were lots of Rolls Royce models here, too, ranging from the 40/50 “Silver Ghost”, through the three Phantom generations and the smaller 20/25 and 25/30 models of the 20s and 30s.
Also here was this 1948 Silver Wraith, the first post-war Rolls-Royce. It was made from 1946 to 1958 as only a chassis at Rolls-Royce’s former Merlin engine plant, their Crewe factory, alongside the shorter Bentley Mark VI. The Bentley too was available as a chassis for coachbuilders but also for the first time could be bought with a Rolls-Royce built standard steel body. It was announced by Rolls-Royce in April 1946 as the 25/30 hp replacement for the 1939 Wraith in what had been their 20 hp and 20/25 hp market sector, that is to say Rolls-Royce’s smaller car. The size was chosen to be in keeping with the mood of post-war austerity. Even very limited production of the chassis of the larger car, the Phantom IV, was not resumed until 1950 and then, officially, only for Heads of State. The straight six-cylinder postwar engine, which had been briefly made for the aborted by war Bentley Mark V, replaced conventional overhead valve gear with an F-head configuration of overhead inlet valves and side exhaust valves and reshaped combustion chambers. There were new main and big-end bearings and a more efficient drive to the timing gear. To this prewar mix Rolls-Royce added chromed bores. Initially, this engine retained the Mark V’s capacity of 4,257 cc increased from 1951 to 4,566 cc and in 1955, after the introduction of the (standard wheelbase) Silver Cloud, to 4,887 cc for the remaining Silver Wraiths. The first cars had an entirely new 127 inch (3226 mm) wheelbase chassis which differed considerably from that of the pre-war Wraith and was much nearer rigid. It matched the new Bentley chassis but with an extra 7 inch section added to the centre. The new chassis had coil sprung independent front suspension, which required a very rigid chassis to function properly, and at the rear conventional semi-elliptic springs and live axle. The braking system was a hybrid hydro-mechanical system with hydraulic front brakes and mechanical rears using the mechanical servo similar to that of the pre-war cars. The last short-wheelbase cars were delivered in November 1953. The long, 133 inch (3378 mm), wheelbase chassis was announced in 1951 and the first delivered in January 1952. 639 were made by the time of the last deliveries in October 1958. This was not quite the last Rolls-Royce model to be supplied as a “chassis only” ready for a wide variety of bespoke coachwork designed and made by a rapidly declining number of specialist coachbuilders. Most of the bodies selected used “formal” limousine designs. From 1949 until 1955 customers wishing to buy a Rolls-Royce fitted with a much smaller standard steel body could purchase the Silver Dawn. It rode on a chassis seven inches shorter than the Silver Wraith, and was almost identical to Rolls-Royce’s Bentley Standard Steel saloon available alongside the Silver Wraith since July 1946.
The Singer Nine was launched in 1932, to replace the Junior. It featured a larger 972 cc overhead cam engine, based on the 848 cc engine seen in the 8HP Junior. This variation had already been introduced in the Junior Special, a short-lived interim model shown at the 1931 Olympia Motor Show four months before the Nine’s introduction. Power output was 26.5 hp, and this was transmitted through a four-speed manual gearbox. As well as the conventional four door saloon models, Singer offered a stylish coupe body as seen here and a four-seat tourer model with abbreviated bumpers and no running boards called the “Nine Sports” from October 1932, and one of these managed to finish thirteenth at the 1933 24 Hours of Le Mans race. In 1933, celebrating this moderate success, a new underslung racy two-seat model called the Singer Le Mans appeared. With twin SU carburettors, the Sports offered 31 hp at 4600 rpm, providing a 66 mph with the wind screen down – impressive for the era and at a price considerably lower than the competition. The Nine Sports was also used in various other endurance races, finishing second in class in the 6-day Coupe Internationale des Alpes trial in 1933. For 1934 the front bumpers were elongated to protect the paintwork on the sides of the car, as the earlier short units were found wanting. For 1935, as the sportier Le Mans gained a four-seater option, running boards appeared on the Nine Sports along with larger doors and a curvier rear end. In 1936, the shorter and simpler Nine-engined Bantam Nine appeared, and in 1937 the Nine was discontinued in favour of this model. However, in 1939 the “Nine” name reappeared on a new Roadster model which depended heavily on the Bantam, meaning that the Nine was to continue in production until into 1949, and as the 4A/4AB until 1953.
This is a LeMans, the 2 seater sports version of the regular Nine saloon which had a higher tuned version of the 972 cc inline-four, with higher camshafts, bigger and better cooled oil sump, and a counterbalanced crankshaft. Power climbed to 34 hp and a close-ratio gearbox was fitted. The frame was dropped behind the front wheels and thus underslung at the rear. No running boards, a 12 gallon external fuel tank and twin spare tyres finished the competition appearance. As opposed to the competing MGs, the Singer had more powerful and dependable hydraulic Lockheed brakes. The Nine Le Mans, while not particularly successful at the track which gave it its name, clocked up an impressive number of wins at hillclimbs, trials, and various endurance races such as the Liège-Rome-Liège and the Alpine Cup Rally. In 1935 a four-seater version of the Le Mans was also available, somewhat of a hybrid of the Sports and the regular Le Mans. Production resumed after the war with a mildly updated car called the Roadster.
Sunbeam made a series of large and expensive models in the 1920s. Best known of these is the 3 litre, a heavy 26 long cwt (2,912 lb; 1,321 kg) sports car introduced by Sunbeam in October 1925 at the London Motor Show, and was offered from 1926 until 1930. It was seen at the time and subsequently as the retort of Louis Hervé Coatalen, Sunbeam’s energetic chief engineer, to the Bentley 3 Litre which by then was beginning to make its mark, having won at Le Mans earlier that year. The Sunbeam’s engine was of 2,920 cc, distributed between six cylinders. It featured inclined valves operated via easily adjustable tappet levers by two overhead camshafts, an important innovation at the time. The detailed design of the engine followed many of the principles of the engines which were gathering plaudits for the company on European racing circuits. The cylinder head and block were formed from a single casting which was then considered normal for high-performance engines. One of the novel features of the engine was its use of dry-sump lubrication whereby engine oil was drawn from a tank positioned beside the engine. In 1929 a supercharger was added, increasing the power output to 135bhp. The cylinder bores translated into a fiscal horse-power rating of 20.9 hp which under the system operating in the 1920s attracted an annual Road Fund Tax of £21. The big four-cylinder engines of the competitor vehicles from Bentley incurred an annual Road Fund Tax of £16. The difference of £5 might be considered immaterial for anyone who could afford to purchase and run a car of this type, but £5 was at the time more than the average weekly wage in Britain, so the annual saving to the Bentley buyer may well have been significant even in this class. The Bentley gained a reputation as the more robust of the two cars, although in standard form the Sunbeam was reported to be marginally quicker. Two Sunbeams were entered in the 1925 Le Mans, one driven by Henry Segrave and George Duller, the other by Jean Chassagne and Sammy Davis. Segrave and Duller were forced to retire but Chassagne and Davis achieved second place, beaten only by the Lorraine-Dietrich of Rossignol and de Courcelles. In retrospect the Sunbeam’s achievement became eclipsed by the extent to which the race came to be dominated by Bentleys during the second half of the decade. Although the sturdily constructed chassis was based on that from earlier Sunbeams, the hitherto characteristic semi-elliptical leaf springs were, at the back, replaced by cantilever rear springs which during the second half of the decade became a Sunbeam hallmark. A variety of different bodies were available.
The Talbot 70 was first introduced in 1930, and was virtually the same as the outgoing 14/45, although on a 120 inch wheelbase frame with centralised lubrication, a higher radiator, stronger steering box and a silent third gearbox. The new car was powered by a new 2376cc engine with seven main bearings, and water pump cooling replacing the thermo-syphon method employed on the smaller car. Originally marketed as the Talbot 70, until the introduction of a 119 chassis when it became known as the 75 on account of its top speed. The 90 was basically a shorter chassis version of the 75 with an increased compression ratio, larger carburettor, eventually producing 93 bhp. A four seater Talbot 90 finished 3rd at the 1930 Le Mans 24 hour race.
The Talbot 105 was a high powered sports car developed by Talbot designer Georges Roesch. It was famously fast, described by one authority as the fastest four-seater ever to race at Brooklands. The first of the 6 cylinder Talbot cars made its debut at the London Motor Show in 1926, and at this stage it was formally named according to its fiscal and actual horsepower as the Talbot 14-45. The six-cylinder engine displaced a volume of 1,665 cc and was the basis for all Talbot engines until the Rootes takeover in 1935. The engine was repeatedly bored out further, giving rise to a succession of performance improvements. Throughout these developments, the exterior dimensions of the original 14-45 engine block remained unchanged. The 1930 London Motor Show saw the debut of the 20-70 model, bore and stroke both being increased to give an engine capacity increased to 2,276 cc. In this form the car was later called simply the Talbot 70 or 75. Higher compression ratios and power increases followed. An increase in the engine capacity, still without any change to the exterior dimensions of the engine block, yielded a cylinder displacement of 2,969 cc for the iconic Talbot 105 model. In 1931 four 105s were tuned to provide a reported 119 bhp, at 4,800 rpm. In “Brooklands trim” further tuning and in increased compression ratio of 10:1 gave rise to a claimed 125 bhp. The Talbot acquired its fame on the racing circuits, featuring prominently at Brooklands as well as gaining 3rd and 4th places at the 1930 Le Mans 24hour race. For 1931 Roesch further developed the engine enlarging it to 2,969cc and creating the Talbot 105. The 1931 Le Mans 24hour race saw a Talbot 105 in 3rd place, with prizes on the Alpine Trial in 1931 and 1932. In 1932 Talbot pulled out of racing, but a major Talbot dealer named Warwick Wright successfully ran a team of three 105s that year, and other teams operated by dealers and enthusiasts continued to race the cars at least till 1938. In 1935 Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq fell on hard times inspite of the good sales provided by the Roesch-designed cars, and was acquired by the Rootes brothers. Three of these legendary cars, in the distinctive livery of apple green were competing here, including a “Special”.
Having started off producing smaller models such as the SuperSeven to compete against the market dominating Austin and Morris models, by the early 1930s, Triumph came to the conclusion that they could not really compete against these bigger selling cars, so a new strategy was conceived to offer larger and more costly cars instead. The result was the Gloria, made between 1934 and 1938. The Gloria was available in a large and complex range of sporting saloons, coupés, tourers, 2-seater sports cars, drophead coupés and golfer’s coupés. All these Glorias, apart from the final two models (1.5-Litre Saloon and Fourteen (1767 cc) Six-Light Saloon of 1937-1938) were powered by 1087 or 1232 cc four-cylinder or 1467 or 1991 cc six-cylinder Coventry Climax overhead inlet and side exhaust valve designed engines (modified and built under licence by Triumph). The chassis came in two lengths, with an extra 8 in ahead of the passenger compartment depending on whether the four- or six-cylinder engine was fitted, and had conventional non-independent suspension with semi elliptic leaf springs. The brakes were hydraulically operated using the Lockheed system with large 12 in drums. A four-speed transmission was fitted with an optional free wheel mechanism allowing “clutchless” gear changing. Synchromesh was fitted to the gearbox on the final Fourteen and 1.5-litre models. From August 1934 to 1936 the Gloria range included ‘Gloria Vitesse’ models (not to be confused with later Vitesses) which were up-rated, with twin carburettor engine and equipment, versions of the equivalent Gloria and slightly different bodywork in the case of some saloons. This is a Southern Cross dating from 1934.
The Dolomite name first appeared in 1934 as a sports car and the name was also used from 1937 on a series of sporting saloons and open cars until 1939 when the company went into receivership. All except the Straight 8 featured a “waterfall” grille styled by Walter Belgrove, versions of the saloons with conventional grilles were sold as Continental models. With the 1937 car, the car this time had a 1,767 cc four-cylinder engine and saloon body. The design was overseen by Donald Healey and the cars were marketed as “the finest in all the land” and targeted directly at the luxury sporting saloon market. Triumph had been moving progressively upmarket during the 1930s, and the 1938 Dolomites were very well equipped, with winding windows in the doors, automatic chassis lubrication, a leather-bound steering wheel adjustable for rake and reach, dual hydraulic brake circuits, twin trumpet horns, and spot lamps included in the price. There was even a tray of fitted tools slotted beneath the driver’s seat cushion, and for an extra 18 guineas buyers could specify a radio. The body was aluminium over a rot-proofed ash frame. Like many Triumphs of that time, the car followed the American trend of concealing its radiator behind a flamboyant shining metal grille. The British market, then as now, was in many ways a conservative one, however, and, before Dolomite production was suspended completely, Triumph had time to introduce a “Vitesse”-branded version of the Dolomite on which the grille had been removed and the car’s own radiator was exposed in the traditional manner. In April 1938 an increased compression ratio and mild further engine tuning justified a changed designation from 14/60 to 14/65 (where 14 was the fiscal horsepower and 65 was the claimed actual horsepower. There was an open version of the 14/65, announced 29 March 1938, with seating for three people on a single bench seat and “two additional outside seats in the tail, reminiscent of the dickey seat that was at one time common” for two more people behind. The hood folded completely into the body to give the appearance of an open sports car. The car was announced with the 1,767 cc engine with twin SU carburettors, and it is this version which is seen more often these days, with the Saloon a rare sighting.
This is an early Vauxhall, a Type A.
There were a significant number of examples of the imposing 30/98 here. This long running car was produced from 1913 to 1927, although it is believed that only 13 30/98s were made before war intervened and these were all for selected drivers, the last of these pre war cars, built in 1915 for Percy Kidner a joint Managing Director of Vauxhall. Actual production began in 1919. Also known as the E Type, the 30/98 name is believed to have been coined because the car had an output of 30 bhp at 1,000 rpm and 98 bhp at 3,000 rpm, though another explanation is that it had an RAC horsepower rating of 30 and a cylinder bore of 98 mm. Perhaps the most likely of all is that there was then a popular but heavier slower Mercedes 38/90. However it was found, the name 30-98 looked and sounded so well and the car proved popular. The 30/98s used the earlier Prince Henry chassis, but were distinguished by having more-or-less flat rather than V-shaped radiators. Laurence Pomeroy took the Prince Henry L-head side-valve engine, bored it out 3 mm, then cold-stretched the crankshaft throws 5 mm using a steam power hammer to lengthen the stroke. The camshaft was given a new chain drive at the front of the engine, high lift cams and new tappet clearances. The Prince Henry chassis was slightly modified and the whole given a narrow alloy four-seater body, a pair of alloy wings (front mudguards) and no doors. The first 30/98 was constructed at the behest of car dealer and motor sport competitor, Joseph Higginson—inventor of the Autovac fuel lifter—who won the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb motoring competition on 7 June 1913 in his new Vauxhall, setting a hill record in the process, having in previous weeks made fastest time of the day at Waddington Pike and Aston Clinton, but these were not racing machines but fast touring cars. The exhaust made a tranquillising rumble, there was no howl, no shriek, no wail, but there was the quiet satisfaction of knowing that if stripped for action, the car could lap Brooklands at 100 mph, and its makers guaranteed that. Most of them were built with a 4 seater open tourer body, though other body styles were produced as well.
Another of those long obsolete marques that few will have heard of, this particular car is quite a regular at Prescott. Derby was founded in Courbevoise by Bertrand Montet in 1921 to build voiturettes (cyclecars). These were powered by American vee-twin motorcycle engines, which were quickly replaced with Chapuis-Dorniers units. In this form, the Derby became a close copy of Citroën’s 5CV, and selling at £195 for the two-seat roadster, it was competitive with the contemporary Austin Seven (₤225). Shown at the 1923 Olympia Motor Show, Derby failed to gain many sales in Britain. It was there, however, where the company displayed a 9 hp British-bodied Sports model with wire wheels, priced at ₤275. This followed the 1923 racer, which had competed at the Brooklands 200 mile event. Production peaked at approximately 200 cars a year in 1925, falling to approximately 100 a year between 1928 and 1931. By 1927, the car was being sold as a Vernon-Derby, taking the name of the marque’s sales agent, Vernon Balls. The company offered an 8 hp with four-speed manual transmission in place of the previous three-speed. The next year, the lineup had expanded to three models: the 8 hp sports car (typically with an 1100cc Chapuis-Dornier four) and two new sporty two-seater sixes, a 1.5 litre sidevalve and a 14 hp The 1.5 litre was replaced the next year by a smaller-displacement 12 hp sidevalve six. Derby showed a two-seater sportsman’s coupe at the 1930 London Motor Show, powered by a 16 hp 18,475 cc six, which resembled the Bugattis of the era. Like other marques of the period, Derby involved themselves in motor sport, with driver Douglas Hawkes’s front wheel drive Miller with Derby parts (dubbed a Derby-Miller) acting as a testbed and promotional tool; that it was driven by Gwenda Stewart did not hurt publicity, either. Nor did Stewart’s results: she took a land speed racing 1.5 litre class record at Montlhéry in 1930, with a mile at 118.13 mph In 1934, she took another class record in a 1.7 litre Derby, at 147.79 mph, which stood five years. Stewart would also enter the 1934 and 1935 Le Mans, with the recently-introduced V8, falling out both times. Derby ended production with unusual and sophisticated models: 12/50, introduced in 1931, with front wheel drive and fully independent suspension, and a 2 liter V8-powered front wheel drive model, which debuted 1933 (with a chassis price of ₤525).
This is a Hornet Special, with a Hardy body. The Hornet is a six-cylinder 12 HP lightweight automobile which was offered as a saloon car, coupé and open two-seater as well as the usual rolling chassis for bespoke coachwork. Produced by Wolseley Motors Limited from 1930 to 1936, the Hornet was unveiled to the public at the end of April 1930. Wolseley had been bought from the receivers by William Morris in 1927. This car’s tiny six-cylinder engine, Motor Sport magazine described it as a miniature six, reflected the brief vogue for less vibratory 6, 8, 12 and 16 cylinder engines soon superseded by greatly improved flexible engine mountings. Their overhead camshaft engines were so good that cars built on their Hornet Special chassis developed an outstanding reputation on the road and in club competition. The initial offering was something of a quart in a pint pot, tiny but powerful for its size. Furthermore, four passengers might be fitted into the very lightly constructed car. However the market soon required more room and more comfort and the car’s nature changed. This was countered by making and selling the Special with a more highly tuned engine. Two sporting versions were sold only as Hornet Special “rolling” chassis. The first with Hornet’s 1271cc engine, the last with a Wolseley Fourteen 1604cc engine. They were sometimes referred to as Special Speed chassis. Saloon and Tickford coupé as well as sporting bodies were fitted. Later cars had a large S mounted on the radiator cap with a small H for hornet in its lower section, the S shaped to be like a striking snake or a preening swan. The new Special chassis was announced 18 April 1932. It had twin carburettors, higher compression (domed pistons) and numerous smaller modifications including a revised exhaust system (triple-piped manifold —2 inch pipe to the straight-through silencer), duplex valve springs, metal universal joints in the propeller shaft, three inches wider front track and specially large 12-inch brake drums. The long flexible gear-lever was replaced by a remote control and a small short-travel lever. Special front (3 inches wider track at 3″ 9″) and rear axles were supplied with the saloon’s large-hub stud-fixed Magna wire-wheels. Small knock-on hubs in Rudge-Whitworth wheels were optional and usually preferred. A particularly large speedometer (a quick-reading five inch dial), matching engine revolution counter, and ten inch headlights were supplied as part of the complete kit for the coachbuilder. The large headlights were supported by braced mountings included in the kit. In the autumn of 1933 to improve its breathing the engine was given a cross-flow head with inlet and exhaust manifolds on opposing sides. The block casting was redesigned to increase its stiffness and the Special received the long wheelbase underslung chassis and other modifications of the saloon including freewheel. The Special chassis was supplied to various specialist coachbuilders particularly Swallow, Whittingham & Mitchel, Jensen and, now also part of the Morris group, Cunard. 2307 were made.
Although that collection of fabulous machines might seem like an event in its own right, of course the real feature of this VSCC gathering is the hill-climbing challenge. And a field of over 200 of the members’ cars, all of them from the pre war era, compete against the clock and in a series of categories based on age and engine size. Saturday is practice day, whilst on the Sunday, the timed results are the ones which count for class honours. Many of the cars here were ones that I have seen at Prescott a number of times before, as you might expect, as there are only a finite number of cars of this type still around and running, but there were also several which I had not seen here (or indeed anywhere else) before. Unrestricted access to the paddock area, as always, as well as all the vantage points up the hill give excellent opportunities to see these cars both at rest and in action.
There were a couple of Alta cars taking part. The brand goes back to 1931 when the Alta Car and Engineering Company Ltd. was formed by Geoffrey Taylor, then 27 years old and the owner of a small home-built sports car, the object being to build production versions of this car. Taylor had been earning a living doing contract machine work for the nearby ABC company close to where he lived in Kingston Hill, in SW London. Late in 1927 he began building himself a sports car, not only to his own design, but also of his own making, especially engine components such as crankshaft and connecting rods. His objective was an 1,100 c.c. car that was not only small and light but also ultra-low as he felt that most of the sports cars of those days were too high to achieve good handling. From the Rubery Owen catalogue of those days he selected a proprietary channel section chassis side-member design, which when turned upside down gave him what he was looking for. A pair of these side-members provided the basis for his car and the axles and springs were mounted above the chassis rails, instead of underneath in the more conventional manner. Half elliptic springs were used at the front and trailing quarter elliptic springs were used at the rear. The 4-cylinder engine was mounted equally low in the chassis and the finished car set new standards for the time. The engine was made in aluminium, with cast-iron wet cylinder liners and there were two overhead camshafts driven by a vertical shaft and skews gears from the rear of the crankshaft. Valves were at 90-degrees in the alloy cylinder head and seated on steel inserts. Bore and stroke were 60 x 95 mm, giving a capacity of 1,074 cc on a 7.6 to 1 compression ratio the power was said to be 49 bhp at 5,200 rpm. and the engine was safe to 6,200 rpm. All this work was done in the stable-block of the family home on Kingston Hill, using the minimum of machinery, enthusiasm and hard work making up for any lack of facilities. Having completed the car Taylor needed a name for it and he chose Alta, the name of a town in Alberta, Canada, which he had come across in a novel he had been reading, for no other reason that that it appealed to him. This first Alta was registered in November 1928. It was given the Surrey number PK 4053, and was soon a familiar sight around the neighbourhood and it made its debut in competitions, for this was one of Geoffrey Taylor’s aims, in the London-Land’s End trial of 1930. in which it achieved a Bronze Medal. The following year it competed again in the London-Land’s End Trial and this time netted a Silver Medal. By this time Taylor was all set to begin producing further examples of his “prototype” and had registered the “Alta Car and Engineering Company Ltd.”, in January of 1931 with a share capital of 1,000 shares all owned by Taylor himself. Dissatisfied with local contractors’ ideas about building him a factory on a piece of land he owned at Tolworth on the Kingston bypass he got stuck in and built his own factory for a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time and in April 1931 he was able to announce in the motoring press that the 1,100 c.c. Alta sports car was available for £350. Like many small motor manufacturers Taylor was averse to numbering his first production car as No.1, at he considered his owned car. PK 4053, as the prototype and started at 10. This meant that the first production car was No.11, completed during the summer of 1931 and sold to a Mr. Last of Littlehampton. It had a short life for in the diary of the works manager, H. J. Griffiths, there is a note which reads “. . . completely smashed and written-off. Feb. 1932”. Meanwhile PK4053 was still in regular use by Geoffrey Taylor and was used for publicity and advertising purposes, as well as for experimental work and as a general works hack. The second production car to be built was No.12 and this was delivered to the Viscount Curzon in December 1931 and was registered GTI617. The works notebook mentions that an allowance of £120 was made on an MG and £140 on a Morris Cowley coupe, taken in part-exchange, the MG later being sold at a profit and the Morris Cowley at a loss! Viscount Curzon subsequently became The Rt. Hon. The Earl Howe, and was to become Patron of the Alta Register. Number 13 was an engine sold to Ron Horton for his Henna Special, and this achieved the first competition success for the name Alta. It was fitted with an Amherst Villiers supercharger and set up a class record at Shelsley Walsh in 1932. Three more cars were completed and sold in 1932, one of which was a 4-seater model and two in 1933. Meanwhile Taylor was still running his own car and looking after his customers’ cars as well at doing development work on the engines for a couple of people who were racing their cars. In 1934 the Scotsman A. J. Cormack bought Alta number 21S expressly for racing and at thc end of the season he set up a new lap record for 1,100 cc. cars on the Brooklands Mountain Circuit. In February 1935 Pete Whitehead took delivery of 245 and in May 1935 A. C. Lace bought 25R IS, these two cars being registered respectively, AER 884 and DPI 929, and both were used in all forms of racing. By this time Taylor was making his own Roots-type superchargers and all manner of improvements had been made to the engine. The skew gear drive to the camshafts had been replaced by a train of straight cut gears, but as these proved to be too noisy, they were replaced by single-roller chains. The original crash-type gearbox was replaced by an ENV pre-selector gearbox and all the modifications were first tried out on Taylor’s own car, PK 4053. In addition he was developing a 1,500 cc version of the engine and in the middle of 1935 he built the first pure racing Alta, for A. J. Cormack. This followed the basic layout of the 1,100 cc cars, with underslung chassis frame, but the engine and gearbox was set slightly to the left no that the driving scat fitted between the right-hand chassis side-rail and the prop-shaft. By this time the 1,100 cc cars were no longer being built, and 25R1S was the last one. Twelve cars had been built, from No.11 to No.25, with three of the numbers being given to engines only. The new series of 1.5-litre “offset” racing cats started at No.52 and six of these were built, for Cormack (52S), R. R. Jackson (53S), J. P. Wakefield (560), J. H. Bartlett (570), Frank O’Boyle (58S), and Philip Jucker (59S). Two road-going sports cars were built in this seven, 54S for Dr. Williams, a supercharged 2-litre registered FF4515, which was subsequently re-registered E0Y8 and later still EVG436, ends supercharged 1,5-litre (550) registered DPG 167 for W. W. S. Bennett. It was now 1936 and the name Alta was becoming quite well known in British racing circles, and there had been one or two sorties out of the country into International events. Geoffrey Taylor was now more interested in racing than in production and the greater proportion of the factory effort went into competition activities, he himself becoming a well-known figure in sprints and speed trials, both in PK4053, continually up-rated with all the latest developments, and with the “offset” car which Taylor had bought. In 1937 there appeared an entirely new Alta racing car, No. 61IS, the letters denoting “Independent, Supercharged”. This was a narrow single-seater with the driver positioned centrally over the prop-shaft and all-round independent suspension by a system of vertical sliders and coil springs. This was delivered to Philip Jucker on April 27th, 1937, hut sadly he killed himself in it a month later practising in the Isle of Man for the races at Douglas. The wreckage was rebuilt and sold to George Abecassis in 1938 and it became the most well-known Alta of them all. Painted silver with red wheels this car was raced extensively during 1938 and 1939 and while it did not win any major events, it was very successful in the smaller National events. At the time the ERAs and Maseratis were ruling the roost in 1.5-litre class racing, but Abccassis and the silver Alta not only stirred them up, but beat them a number of times at the Crystal Palace, Brooklands and in speed trials and hill-climbs. Two similar cars were built, one for Hugh Hunter and the other for Tony Beadle, the former being a 1.5-litre, the latter a 2-litre. Beadle’s car, No. 67IS, was the ultimate pre-war Alta, with a tubular chassis frame, double-reduction gearing rear axle, giving a low prop-shaft line, and all the latest developments in engine, suspension and brakes. It was delivered in August 1938 and by mid-1939 Beadle was beginning to get to grips with the canard it was matching the works 2-litre ERA. But then the war put a stop to everything. In amongst the building of the single-seater cars Taylor was also building sports cars on the “offset” type of conventional chassis and as the war approached he was completing a new single-seater car with all-round independent suspension by torsion bars. To keep the business solvent the factory had been doing Government contract work on engineering, and marine development work on Ford VI engines, so that when war broke out the Alta Can and Engineering Co. Ltd. turned over fully to Government work. Between 1931 and 1939 Geoffrey Taylor and his small work-force had built twelve 1,100 cc cars, six “offset” racing cars, four pure single-seaters, and seven I .5/2-litre sports cars, a total of 29 cars, each one built by hand. In an article in the Scottish magazine Top Gear in 1954 it was stated that Taylor built 160 – which would seem hard to believe! Such is the imagination of the journalist. After the war Geoffrey Taylor was keen to get back into the racing game and announced a new Grand Prix Alta in November 1945, as it was pretty obvious that the racing revival would be centred around supercharged 1.5-litre cars. Post-war difficulties in the supply of materials delayed his new car until 1948, when GPI was delivered to George Abecassis. It was a neat single-seater with a tubular chassis following the lines of the 1939 cars, but suspension was by double-wishbones and rubber blocks in compression. The engine was an improved version of the pre-war 4-cylinder and Taylor built his own synchromesh 4-speed gearbox using some proprietary components. Although GPI showed some flashes of brilliance it was not a success, nor were GP2 (for Geoff Crossley), and GP3 (for Joe Kelly), though equally they were not total disasters, but they could not match the opposition from Alfa Romeo and Maserati. The 4-cylinder Alta engine in 2-litre form unsupercharged was taken up by Abecassis and his partner John Heath, to form the basis of their successful HWM cars, and Taylor redesigned his post-war Grand Prix car into a 2-litre unsupercharged car for the growing Formula 2 in 1952/53. Four of these Formula 2 cars were built and a fifth one remained on the stocks that was going to have a fully streamlined, totally enclosed body, but it was never finished. Alongside HWM the Connaught firm was expanding rapidly and they contracted Alta to supply 2.5-litre versions of the 4-cylinder engine for their B-series cars for Grand Prix racing in 1954. The famous victory by Tony Brooks at Siracusa in 1955, when he beat the works Maserati team, driving a Connaught started the rise of Great Britain in Formula 1 racing and the Connaught was powered by one of Geoffrey Taylor’s Alta engines, whose origins go back to the home-built special he put into production in 1931. By 1956 Connaught were waning and Geoffrey Taylor’s health was not of the best so after completing the last batch of 2-litre engines he closed down the Alta works at Fullers Way, Tolworth, Surrey. Sadly his health deteriorated and he died in 1969 at the age of 65. In the mid-1970s Geoffrey’s son Mike resurrected the company in nearby Epsom, but it never really got going and it was but a brief flutter. The name of Alta may not have the aura of ERA, Maserati, Bugatti or Alfa Romeo, but none-the-less it holds an important niche in the history of British motor racing and was the result of the endeavours of one man.
With a class for cars of under 750cc, it was no surprise to find lots of the 747cc engined Austin Seven cars competing. Austin themselves produced sports versions of their baby car, called the Nippy and then as the regular cars aged, many owners removed the bodies and put something of their own design on, creating all manner of Specials, several of which were to be seen in action here, along with Ulster and Nippy versions.
There were several examples of the distinctive Type 13 Brescia taking part. The Type 13 was the first real Bugatti car. The Bugatti automobile had been prototyped as the Type 10 in Ettore Bugatti’s basement in 1908 and 1909 while he was chief engineer at Deutz Gasmotoren Fabrik in Cologne, Germany. The Type 10 used a monobloc straight-four engine of Ettore’s own design. it was an overhead cam unit with 2 valves per cylinder, highly advanced for the time. A very-undersquare design, it had a 60 mm bore and 100 mm stroke for a total of 1131 cc. This was attached to an open roadster body with solid axles front and rear. Leaf springs suspended the front with no suspension at all in the rear. Cables operated rear drum brakes. On ending his contract with Deutz, Ettore loaded his family into the Type 10 and headed to the Alsace region, then still part of the German Empire looking for a factory to begin producing cars of his own. After World War I, Alsace became a part of France again, of course. The prototype car was preserved and nicknamed “la baignoire” (“the bathtub”) by the staff at Molsheim in later years due to its shape. Ettore restored it in 1939 and repainted it an orange-red color, earning it a new nickname, “le homard” (“the lobster”). It was moved to Bordeaux for the duration of World War II and remained there for decades before falling into private ownership. Today, the car is in California in the hands of a private collector. Upon starting operations at his new factory in Molsheim, Bugatti refined his light shaft-driven car into the Type 13 racer. This included boring the engine out to 65 mm for a total of 1368 cc. A major advance was the 4-valve head Bugatti designed — one of the first of its type ever conceived. Power output with dual Zenith Carburettors reached 30 hp at 4500 rpm, more than adequate for the 660 lb (300 kg) car. Leaf springs were now fitted all around, and the car rode on a roughly 79 in wheelbase. The new company produced five examples in 1910, and entered the French Grand Prix at Le Mans in 1911. The tiny Bugatti looked out of place at the race, but calmly took second place after seven hours of racing. World War I caused production to halt in the disputed region. Ettore took two completed Type 13 cars with him to Milan for the duration of the war, leaving the parts for three more buried near the factory. After the war, Bugatti returned, unearthed the parts, and prepared five Type 13s for racing. By the time production of the model ceased in 1920, 435 examples had been produced and the model had also formed the basis of the later Types 15, 17, 22, and 23. Most of the road cars used an 8-valve engine, though five Type 13 racers had 16-valve heads, one of the first ever produced. The road cars became known as “pur-sang” (“thoroughbred”) in keeping with Ettore Bugatti’s feelings for his designs. The car was brought back after World War I with multi-valve engines to bring fame to the marque at Brescia, which is why the model is often referred to as a Brescia Bugatti. The production “Brescia Tourer” also brought in much-needed cash.
Also well known as a model, indeed many would tell you that this is THE classic Bugatti, is the Type 35 and there were three of these models entered: a pair of Type 35B and a single Type 35C. The Type 35 was phenomenally successful, winning over 1,000 races in its time. It took the Grand Prix World Championship in 1926 after winning 351 races and setting 47 records in the two prior years. At its height, Type 35s averaged 14 race wins per week. Bugatti won the Targa Florio for five consecutive years, from 1925 through 1929, with the Type 35. The original model, introduced at the Grand Prix of Lyon on August 3, 1924, used an evolution of the 3-valve 1991 cc overhead cam straight-8 engine first seen on the Type 29. Bore was 60 mm and stroke was 88 mm as on many previous Bugatti models. 96 examples were produced. This new powerplant featured five main bearings with an unusual ball bearing system. This allowed the engine to rev to 6000 rpm, and 90 hp was reliably produced. Solid axles with leaf springs were used front and rear, and drum brakes at back, operated by cables, were specified. Alloy wheels were a novelty, as was the hollow front axle for reduced unsprung weight. A second feature of the Type 35 that was to become a Bugatti trademark was passing the springs through the front axle rather than simply U-bolting them together as was done on their earlier cars. A less expensive version of the Type 35 appeared in May, 1925. The factory’s Type 35A name was ignored by the public, who nicknamed it “Tecla” after a famous maker of imitation jewellery. The Tecla’s engine used three plain bearings, smaller valves, and coil ignition like the Type 30. While this decreased maintenance requirements, it also reduced output. 139 of the Type 35As were sold. The Type 35C featured a Roots supercharger, despite Ettore Bugatti’s disdain for forced induction. Output was nearly 128 hp with a single Zenith carburettor. Type 35Cs won the French Grand Prix at Saint-Gaudens in 1928, and at Pau in 1930. Fifty examples left the factory. The final version of the Type 35 series was the Type 35B of 1927. Originally named Type 35TC, it shared the 2.3 litre engine of the Type 35T but added a large supercharger like the Type 35C. Output was 138 hp, and 45 examples were made. A British Racing Green Type 35B driven by William Grover-Williams won the 1929 French Grand Prix at Le Mans. The Type 35 chassis and body were reused on the Type 37 sports car. Fitted with a new 1496 cc straight-4 engine, 290 Type 37s were built. This engine was an SOHC 3-valve design and produced 60 hp The same engine went on to be used in the Type 40. There was also one Type 37 entered.
This 200Hp car is a regular here, and always thrills the crowds. It was also one of the oldest competitors, dating from 1905. During 1904, Pierre-Alexandre Darracq’s engineer Paul Ribeyrolles designed a racing car with a light chassis and a large 11,259 cc four-cylinder engine producing 100 hp. With this car, factory driver Paul Baras reclaimed the title of fastest on earth from the alcohol fuelled Gobron-Brillié driven by Louis Rigolly. On a short road in the coastal town of Ostend, Belgium where only the occasional local could be seen during the cold month of November, Baras flew through the kilometre in 104.52mph, almost a full 1 mph faster than Rigolly’s success a few months prior. Not content to sit on his laurels, Darracq summoned his flamboyant designer to build an even more powerful car. With an all new ohv V8 engine developing a claimed 200 hp, it was by far the most powerful racing car in the world and remained so for quite a number of years. In late December of 1905 on the Arles-Salon road in southern France, the outspoken Victor Hémery set a new Land Speed Record stopping the clocks in 20 3/5sec and 108.59 mph. Shortly thereafter, the big Darracq was on a boat headed for Florida and the 1906 Daytona-Ormond Speed Trials. There it made a good showing of itself although the same cannot be said of its driver Hémery, who was disqualified by officials for his bad temper and behaviour. Louis Chevrolet next piloted the car to an 115.30 mph speed and finally Victor Demogeot, Hémery’s mechanic recorded 122.45 mph over the smooth sand. Learn more about this event at First Super Speedway. Upon its return to France, the powerful car was acquired by Algernon Lee Guinness. Heir apparent to the famous brewery company. Algy, as he was better known, also had in his possession the 100 hp former record holder which he used mainly for sprints throughout 1905 and also a 1904 GB Weir Darracq. After rebuilding the latter, it was entered in the 1905 Gordon Bennett British trials but succumbed to mechanical failure, never progressing past the second round of eliminations. From 1906 to 1909 the 200 hp car resumed where it had left off, collecting the French National Record, the European and the Worlds Standing Kilometre on the Boulevard Scheveningen in 1907. That same year Guinness procured the British Flying Kilometre on the sands of Saltburn and returned the following year where he recorded an unofficial 121.57 mph. Following its retirement after 1909, its history becomes unclear and something this scribe will not attempt to unravel. Two well-informed reports however suggest that two-thirds of the frame survived still cradling the engine and it was left in this state until Guinness’ death in 1954. It was then bought two years later by Mr. Gerald Firkins who for the next 50 years collected enough parts and revived the old record holder. Unfortunately, amid flailing health, Firkins decided to place the car on the market in 2006 when it was purchased by Mark Walker and it remained in England. Well known in vintage and veteran car circles, Mark has over the years campaigned a number of outstanding vehicles from aero-engined specials as well as a 1908 Grand Prix Panhard. When tasked with the rebuild it was found to be inaccurate in some respects. Although the previous owner procured enough parts to return the car to a state where it mirrored its former self, its new owner was determined to return the car to its original form. Fortunately, many historical photos were found that would later assist in the authentic rebuild. With modern computer software it was also possible to deduce the exact length and profile of the front and rear of the frame as well as the wheelbase. Period images also came in handy when recreating of the unique two-speed rear axle and its torque arm. An original Darracq front axle was used. Detailed accounts from early publications were another source utilised when searching or remaking other vital components. The V-shaped radiator by Grouvelle & Arquemborg was lost to time, but Mark was able to produce an exact replica along with the large water tank sitting above the original but updated carburetors. The shock absorbers are also from the same maker when the car made its record run in 1906. Since its public debut contemporary reports always quoted the swept volume of the V8 engine as 22.5 litres but during reconditioning it was later discovered to be 25.42 litres. During its rebuild, the engine also received a new crankshaft, rods and pistons. Even though the engine had been run before Mark purchased it, both the original crankshaft and four of the connecting rods after inspection were found to be cracked. Overall the car has been restored to a state that can only be described as amazing.
This 1909 car has nearly as large an engine and nearly as much power. Well, compared to most of the rest of the vehicles of the period, with 130 HP from 14 litres.
135S from 1936.
It is always a pleasure to see the ERAs competing, and on this occasion there were three of them. As they do not have the same engines, they do not actually compete in the same classes here (or elsewhere), though they do tend to be grouped together when they go up the hill. This one is R12C, a car whose complete history of R12C gets a bit tricky. The story starts with R12B, which was a 1936 works car with a 2 litre engine and in the works black colour scheme. Raymond Mays successfully hill climbed R12B at Shelsley Walsh and raced at Brooklands. In 1937, the works rebuilt R12B to C-type specification with a 1.5 litre engine and a long-range fuel tank. Pat Fairfield was to be the main works driver of R12B/C for the year. After a win with R12B/C at Crystal Palace and Donington Park, Fairfield was killed in the Le Mans 24-hour sportscar race. R12B/C was successfully used by other drivers during the rest of the year. The Albi Grand Prix was won by Humphrey Cook/ Raymond Mays. The Berne Grand Prix, Switzerland and the JCC 200 mile race were won Arthur Dobson. The Brooklands Siam Trophy was won by Raymond Mays. In 1938 the car was sold to Prince Chula for “B.Bira” to drive R12B/C was painted with a light blue body and yellow chassis and wheels of the “White Mouse” stable and made the national racing colours of Siam (Thailand). In the tradition of “White Mouse” cars, following R2B “Romulus” and R5B “Remus” R12C was named “Hanuman”. “B.Bira” used R12C to gain wins at Brooklands, Donington Park and Cork, Ireland. In 1939, “B.Bira” raced R12B/C to win the Nuffield Trophy at Donington Park.Somewhat less successfully Bira crashed R12B/C at in practice for the Coupe de la Commission Sportive at Rheims, France. Bira suffered only minor injuries but the car was badly damaged, and it is what happened next which makes history a bit more complex, for as happens with many well raced cars repair and modification keeps cars on the track but complicates their history. R12B had been modified to C-type spec.and was now repaired with the only available chassis frame (a B-type, probably from R8B left over from its rebuild up to C-type spec.) so that the cars code letter reverted to “R12B” and its name was moved on to “Hanuman II”. The spare parts from sorting out the mess were set aside – see R12C “Hanuman”, below, for what happened to them. In 1982, respected car restorer and ERA expert W.R.G. “Bill” Morris rebuilt the wreckage left over from the R12B/C “Hanuman” crash and rebuild, useing the original mangled chassis frame from R12B/C, other R12B/C parts and other period parts with any gaps filled by remanufactured parts. The result was “R12C – Hanuman” a C-type ERA as if the 1939 Rheims accident had not happened. As at the time Bill Morris owned both “R12B – Hanuman II” and “R12C – Hanuman” the question of whether one or the other or both or neither was “genuine” was a matter he would have had to fight out with himself! These days R12C is owned by Terry Crabb, and it is a regular sight at Prescott and Shelsley (and doubtless other places that I’ve not yet visited) where both he, and his son Jamie, compete very successfully.
R4D is the last development of this classic voiturette racing car, the only D-Type ever built. Originating as R4B in 1935, the car was rebuilt as a C-Type by modifying the front end of the chassis frame to accommodate independent Porsche-type torsion bar front suspension. Over the winter of 1937-38 the car was given a completely new fully boxed frame, and was designated R4D. This was the first ERA to be fitted with a Zoller supercharger (in 1935), and R4D accumulated a formidable competition record in its various guises, finally being purchased from the works by Raymond Mays, and running as a privately entered car in 1939. Mays set numerous pre-war records in R4D, including Prescott and Shelsley Walsh hill climbs, Brighton Sprints and Brooklands Mountain Circuit. Mays describes his history with the car in his book Split Second. After World War II R4D continued in active competition, but the demands on Mays’s time created by the evolving BRM project meant he competed less frequently. In 1952 Mays sold R4D to Ron Flockhart. In 1953 Flockhart had a phenomenally successful season, winning the Bo’ness hill climb in a record setting 33.82 seconds. The car was featured on the cover of Autosport magazine. This success led to his joining the BRM team as a works driver, and later successes at Le Mans and elsewhere. In 1954 Ken Wharton purchased R4D from Flockhart and used the car to win the RAC Hill Climb Championship. In 1955 he used R4D and his Cooper to finish equal first in the hill climb championship with Tony Marsh. Since Wharton was a multiple previous winner, the RAC awarded the championship to newcomer Marsh. An achievement of R4D in the post-war era is that it has won the Brighton Speed Trials seven times, driven by Raymond Mays four times and Ken Wharton three times, more wins than any other car at this event. The owner after Ken Wharton was the pseudonymous “T. Dryver,” creator of the aero-engined De Havilland-M.G. Special. He raced the ERA in the Brighton Speed Trials in 1957 but his chance of achieving fastest-time-of-the-day was spoiled by rain.From the mid-fifties onward, the car had a variety of owners, but achieved notable success in historic racing in the hands of Neil Corner and Willie Green (the latter driving for Anthony Bamford). R4D rose to pre-eminence again in the hands of Anthony Mayman, achieving many successes and setting many pre-war records at various venues. In recent years the car has been owned and driven by James Baxter and Mac Hulbert, and continues to be one of the most successful pre-war racing cars still active in competition, having set new pre-war records at numerous venues. That trend continued, with Baxter winning the class at this event.
R7B was made in 1936 with a 1.5 litre engine with a white paint scheme and a chrome plated radiator for Arthur Dobson. Cyril Paul drove its first three races, until Dobson took over. 1937 saw success and the start of a string of ERA versus ERA battles with “B.Bira”. Charles Brackenbury raced R7B at Donington Park once (whilst Dobson was otherwise engaged). In 1938, the highlight of another good year was a third place in the Modena Grand Prix, Italy and sixth in the Donington Grand Prix behind the might of Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz. But in 1939, the new ERA E-type taking Dobson’s main interest with R7B being less widely used. Immediately after WW2 Leslie Brooke raced R7B widely. For a long time the car was painted red, but it was returned to white fairly recently.
Fafnir was a German engine and vehicle manufacturer based in Aachen. They made a range of cars between 1908 and 1926. The company was founded in 1894 producing needles. With the growth of the bicycle industry, they started to make wheel spokes. In 1898, the company was registered as “Carl Schwanemeyer, Aachener Stahlwarenfabrik AG”. From 1902 the name “Fafnir” started to be used on the company’s products, including a range of motorcycle engines. In 1904, the company started to produce kits, consisting of an engine and associated components, to allow others, particularly bicycle makers, to enter into motor vehicle production. These were sold under the name “Omnimobil”. The kit at first was based around a two-cylinder engine rated at 6 HP with later a larger option with a four-cylinder, 16 HP unit. Beginning in 1908, finished cars were manufactured with the type “274” with a 1520 cc engine and a maximum speed of 60 km/h (37 mph) and the type “284” with 2012cc capable of 70 km/h (43 mph). The engines had overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. By 1912 six different models were available at prices between 4,100 and 16,000 German Reichsmark (RM). In 1919, the company changed its name to Aachener Stahlwarenfabrik Fafnir-AG. The pre war 1924 cc Typ 472 and 2496 cc Typ 384 were re-introduced and a new Typ 471 with 1950 cc engine announced which could be bought with a supercharger. The Typ “471” proved to be the last car model made and survived in production until 1927. Fafnir had its own racing team running up to seven cars with drivers including Rudolf Caracciola. A replica of one of the racing cars has been built in the UK and competed in number of VSCC events fitted with a WW1 Hall-Scott aero engine, which is what is seen here. Fafnir production methods were very labour-intensive, and with the difficult trading conditions of the 1920s failed to compete with the large manufacturers. Prices were reduced, but losses mounted and with debts of 1.8 million RM the banks forced the company into bankruptcy in 1925 with a resulting closure in 1926.
This company was founded in 1922 by Archibald Frazer-Nash who had, with Henry Ronald Godfrey founded and run the GN cyclecar company. The company was established in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, moving to Isleworth, Middlesex in 1929. The company entered receivership in 1927 and re-emerged as AFN Limited. The majority of AFN was acquired by H. J. (“Aldy”) Aldington in 1929 and run by the three Aldington brothers, H.J., Donald A. and William H. Aldy’s son, John Taylor (“JT”) Aldington was the last of the family owners/directors until AFN Ltd was sold to Porsche GB. The company produced around 400 of the famous chain drive models between 1924 and 1939. They were all built to order, with a surprisingly long list of different models offered during this time. Most had 1.5 litre 4 cylinder engines, and many of the models were built only in single digits, but the Fast Tourer/Super Sports and the TT Replica models were made in significant quantity. Seen here were examples of the Super Sports and the Shelsley as well as a couple of Specials.
This is the Freikaiserwagen, an interesting example of the cross over between pre and post war cars and illustrates that nothing is ever really new! The original and best known car was a “Shelsley special”, of David Fry of the Fry’s Chocolate family and Hugh Dunsterville. They were assisted by Dick Caesar who was instrumental in the origins of the 500 movement as a founder member of CAPA and the 500 Club (See Keith Gough’s From Acorns……). The name Freikaiserwagen is derived from their names, Fry and Caesar with a Germanic twist appropriate to the time. In its original 1936 form, Freikaiserwagen used a GN chassis and a V twin Anzani engine, mounted amidships, which was highly unusual for the time and probably accounts for the nickname “Porsche” used by the team members (A reference to the Auto Union Grand Prix cars designed by von Porsche). David’s cousin Joe Fry became the primary driver, partly because of David’s size but also due to Joe’s considerable skill. The car underwent constant development including a switch to a Robin Jackson tuned V twin Blackburne engine and set many fastest times for its class. Post war, this car was reconstructed around one of Caesar’s Iota chassis and two stage supercharging was used to boost power even further. Joe achieved considerable success with the Freikaiserwagen, the pinnacle being setting overall FTD at Shelsley Walsh in June 1949 but he also drove 500s such as the Arengo. Tragically, Joe crashed the Freikaiserwagen car in practice for the hill climb at Blandford in July 1950 and was killed. The car was put away, though ti reappeared in the 1960s. It has now been rebuilt.
The GN cyclecar was made in Hendon, North London, between 1910 and 1925, then moving to Wandsworth, London. The name derives from its founders, H.R. Godfrey (1887-1968) and Archibald Frazer-Nash (1889-1965). Production ceased in 1923 but the company kept trading until 1925. After making several cars for their own use, the two founders launched the GN car in 1909, building them in the stables at the Frazer Nash family home. The car was powered by a V twin engine by JAP or Peugeot with belt drive to the rear wheels. By 1911, production had moved to Hendon and GN’s own 1100 cc engine, using some Peugeot parts being fitted. The engine was mounted in the chassis with the crankshaft parallel to the front axle, driving through a two-speed transmission by chain and dog clutch, then by belt to the rear wheels. The two-seat car was very light, weighing only about 180 kg (397 lb). Therefore, in spite of the low power available, 60 mph (97 km/h) was achievable, which was very respectable performance for the time. The engine was turned 90 degrees in 1913, with its cylinder heads protruding through the bonnet sides, and a team was entered into the French Cyclecar Grand Prix resulting, in sports models being added to the range. Some 200 cars had been made when production stopped with the outbreak of World War I. Production restarted in 1919, and shortly afterward the company was bought by British Grégoire Ltd and moved to East Hill, Wandsworth in south west London. The chassis changed from wood to steel, with the chain type transmission now with three speeds and reverse. At the peak, 500 staff were employed, making 55 cars a month. A licence to make the cars was agreed with the French maker Salmson who made about 1600 cars. By 1921, the cyclecar boom was on the wane and the company went into receivership, but was soon sold. The new owner, a Mr Black, wanted to move to much higher production levels and away from sports cars. A four-cylinder water-cooled model with 1098 cc DFP engine and shaft drive to a differential on the solid rear axle was introduced in 1922 as part of the new policy, and Godfrey and Frazer Nash left the company later that year. In 1923 a Chapuis-Dornier engine replaced the DFP, but production of the new car and the old V twin model stopped in May. About 4000 cars of all types were made by GN in the post war period. A new company was founded by some ex-employees and a few more cars were made from parts in 1924 and 1925, but the main business was spares and service. In 1925 the company became General Motors dealers. H.R. Godfrey went on to found a new car company, Godfrey-Proctor, and later HRG. Frazer Nash formed the car maker that took his name where he re-introduced his chain and clutch transmission system. A number of one-off specials were made, and these are the best known and most often seen GNs these days. Several of them were here: Grannie, Spider, Gnat Special and Wasp. These are exciting cars to watch as the drivers, showing great skill, achieve impressive times from such flimsy machines.
A SuperSix racer, with a 4738cc engine, dating from 1917.
As well as the Lambda models that were to be seen in the Orchard, there was one competing on the hill.
The Hyper was a light sports car which made its first appearance in 1925 and was the car to put this Coventry marque on the map. Also called the S-type, the Hyper was the first British supercharged production car with a 1.5 litre Meadows engine, and in 1928, one of these cars won the Ulster TT, a 30-lap race on the 13.5-mile Ards circuit on the roads of Northern Ireland in the hands of legendary race car driver, Kaye Don. The race was watched by a record 250,000 spectators, and the victory placed Lea-Francis firmly on the map. There were three of these cars competing, all of them dating from 1930.
This is a 60HP car from 1903, featuring a 9.3 litre engine.
As well as the 18/80 cars to be seen in the Orchard, at least one of them was competing on the hill, too.
This one is an L Type Magna
A car I had not seen before, and which it turned out was making its Prescott debut was this Mitchell Board Racer. Dating from 1916, it as a 4000cc Buick engine to power it.
There were a couple of Morris cars competing, one of them looking rather more fit for the part than the other. Earlier of the two was one of the well-known “Bullnose” cars, dating from 1926 and there was a later Cowley, with the flat radiator and a bespoke body, making it a “Special”.
Making another appearance here, much to the delight of the crowds who always enjoy seeing this car, was Chris Williams’ fabulous Napier-Bentley. This vintage racing car is a one-off special built in 1968 by David Llewellyn, based on a Sunbeam chassis but, after a serious accident, was re-built on the chassis of a 1929 8 Litre Bentley. It has a 24 Litre Napier Sea Lion W12 boat engine based on the Napier Lion aeroplane engine, the same as that used in the silver Napier-Railton, which it resembles closely, which develops approximately 550 bhp With its red bodywork and Napier-Railton-esque grille, it is spectacular and entertaining in action. Being a W12, the engine has three banks of four very large stub exhausts, one of which points straight out of the side of the car. The sound of the car has been likened to a World War I biplane or cluster or mortar bombs going off. Due to the immense torque of the engine (c.1,400 ft-lbs), the rear tyres can be made to produce clouds of smoke whenever the car is launched, while the exhausts produce sparks, flames and smoke. In the past, I have seen Chris making toast from the heat of the exhaust after he has taken the car out on track. It certainly tends to leave the grass under where it is parked looking somewhat singed. An amazing car – but it was not the only one of its type that was here.
A similar size to the Austin Sevens, this is a 1928 Peugeot Lockhart Special, based on the “Bebe” Peugeot.
This is a Swiss car, manufactured in Geneva from 1906 to 1924. They were produced by the Piccard-Pictet Company until 1920, and by Gnome et Rhône from 1920 until the demise of the marque in 1924. At the beginning of the 20th century two brothers, Charles and Frederic Dufaux, set about building their own race car. The design called for a straight-8 12-litre engine with about 80 horsepower. To produce the automobile, the two brothers contacted the Piccard-Pictet Company, which had the capability to manufacture such a vehicle. The elderly Paul Piccard did not think highly of the relatively new invention of the automobile. On the other hand, Lucien Pictet thought cars had a bright future. This friction led to the founding of the Société d’Automobiles, Geneva (S.A.G.) in 1905. This was a marketing company that contracted with Piccard-Pictet Company to manufacture the automobiles. In fact, the cars were known as SAGs until 1910. Lucien Pictet was appointed managing director. Léon Dufour was appointed chief designer, and later added technical director to his job titles. Pictet travelled to Barcelona in early 1905, and while there met with fellow Swiss Marc Birkigt of Hispano-Suiza. Pictet was so enamoured of the Hispano-Suizas that he negotiated a licence agreement in August 1905. At the second annual International Geneva Motor Show in 1906, Piccard-Pictet/S.A.G. displayed a 20/24 horsepower licensed Hispano-Suiza. In 1907, a 6-cylinder 28/32 horsepower car was introduced. In 1910, a 14/16 horsepower 2.4 litre 4-cylinder car was added. During World War I, the Swiss Army ordered a large number of Pic-Pics, which were known for their robustness. Indeed, these cars were in use until the late 1930s. The two post-war models used either a 2.9 litre 4-cylinder or a 5.9 litre V8. Sales of the cars declined after the war due to competition from imported brands. This led Piccard-Pictet Company to file for bankruptcy in 1920. Henceforth, Gnome et Rhône produced Pic-Pic cars, the last one being presented at the 1924 International Geneva Motor Show. In 1916 Commandant Yves le Prieur, a naval officer, used a Pic-Pic to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the Le Prieur rocket. The Pic-Pic’s ability to travel up to 80 Mph simulated the speed of the aircraft of the time. The successful test led to the use of LePrieur’s rockets on Nieuport fighter aircraft against German balloon aircraft. Pic-Pics competed in a number of motorsports in their short existence. Two Pic-Pics with 4.5 litre engines and front wheel brakes competed in the 1914 Grand Prix, but both cars were withdrawn. In hillclimbing events, Pic-Pics competed more successfully. Pic-Pic cars came in first place in Vosges in 1909, Bern in 1911, and Jaunpass in 1912, 1913, and 1914.
This 1934 Railton Light Sports, with its 4200cc engine is a regular at Prescott and is one of just two such cars built.
The SCAT (Società Ceirano Automobili Torino) was an Italian automobile manufacturer from Turin, founded in 1906 by Giovanni Battista Ceirano. The Ceirano brothers, Giovanni Battista, Giovanni, Ernesto and Matteo, were influential in the founding of the Italian auto industry, being variously responsible for: Ceirano; Welleyes (the technical basis of FIAT); Fratelli Ceirano; Società Torinese Automobili Rapid (STAR/Rapid); SCAT (Società Ceirano Automobili Torino); Itala and SPA (Società Piemontese Automobili). Giovanni’s son Giovanni “Ernesto” was also influential, co-founding Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili (aka Giovanni Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili) and Fabrica Anonima Torinese Automobili (FATA). In 1888, after eight years apprenticeship at his father’s watch-making business, Giovanni Battista started building Welleyes bicycles, so named because English names had more sales appeal. In October 1898 Giovanni Battista and Matteo co-founded Ceirano GB & C and started producing the Welleyes motor car in 1899. In July 1899 the plant and patents were sold to Giovanni Agnelli and produced as the first FIATs – the Fiat 4 HP. Giovanni Battista was employed by Fiat as the agent for Italy, but within a year he left to found Fratelli Ceirano & C. which in 1903 became STAR building cars badged as ‘Rapid’. In 1904 Matteo Ceirano left Ceirano GB & C to create his own brand – Itala. In 1906 Matteo left Itala to found SPA with chief designer, Alberto Ballacco. In 1906 Giovanni founded SCAT in Turin. In 1919 Giovanni and Giovanni “Ernesto” co-founded Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili (aka Giovanni Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili) and in 1922 they took control of FATA). The company was active from 1906 to 1932 and achieved Targa Florio wins in 1911, 1912 and 1914. The first produced models were the 12 HP, the 16 HP and the 22 HP of 1909, with 19 different types produced before manufacture ceased.
The Stinson Special was created in 1929, with a 3285cc engine, and was created for circuit racing, sprints and hill climbs.
A 1918 car, this Bearcat has a 6 litre engine, and sounds pretty good. The original production Bearcat was introduced in the Series A of 1912. The first public mention of the car (then spelled “Bear Cat” ) is in an advertisement in the 1912 program for the Indianapolis 500 mile race. This ad also was the first to use the soon to be famous Stutz slogan “The Car that made good in a day” referring to the Stutz racer’s 11th-place finish in the 1911 Indianapolis 500. The Series E of 1913 brought electric lights and starter. A six-cylinder option was available for an extra $250.00. The doorless body style lasted through 1916. A sales catalogue lists the available colours for the Series E as vermillion, monitor gray, and Mercedes red. Wire wheels were listed as a $125 option. The Series S Bearcat of 1917 brought the first large change to the model. While it retained the 120-inch wheelbase, its body now featured an enclosed cockpit with step-over sides. It continued to be right-hand drive with external gearshift and brake levers. The main change was a new Stutz-designed 5.9 litre 16-valve four-cylinder engine. It was cast in a single block had a heat-treated nickel crank and camshafts. For 1919, the Series G was similar, but the mid-1919 Series H bodies featured cut-down sides to make cockpit entrance easier. The H also introduced new colours, including yellow, royal red, and elephant gray. By the end of 1919, price for a Bearcat had risen to $3,250, the same as the roadster and slightly less than the touring coupe). The 1920 Series K was again similar, but prices rose to $3,900 in the wake of a postwar auto sales boom. The 1921 series K featuring a new “DH” engine with a detachable head was introduced, but a switch to left-hand drive in the following KLDH (L for left) meant the end of the Bearcat, since its narrow front seat and cockpit did not leave room for centrally located gear and brake levers. By 1922, the famed Bearcat name was missing from model lists and sales literature. For 1923, the roadster was renamed the Bearcat, but the name would again disappear in 1924.
This is a 12HP model dating from 1914, featuring a 2.5 litre engine.
Rather better known is this 1939 Talbot-Lago Darracq T150C. The long name comes from the fact that the Anglo-French Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine collapsed in 1935. The French Talbot company was acquired and reorganised by Venetian-born engineer Antonio Lago and after that, the “Talbot-Lago” name was used internationally. On the home market the cars still bore the Talbot badge they had carried since 1922, which was when, in France, the “Talbot-Darracq” name had given way to “Talbot”. New models were gradually introduced. Most of them came with a variety of voluptuous coachbuilt bodies and are among the most prized cars of their era, but there were some fitted with racing bodies, such as this one.
The Prince Henry is widely credited with being one of the first “sports cars”, and there was an example of this model competing. The Prince Henry was a higher tuned version of the Vauxhall 20 hp that had been designed in the winter of 1907-08 by then draughtsman Laurence Pomeroy (1883–1941) when the company’s chief engineer F. W. Hodges was away on holiday. The engine was of 4-cylinder monobloc design with side valves and a capacity of 3054 cc giving 40 bhp output. Known to Vauxhall as their C-10, three specially prepared cars were entered in the 1200 mile long 1910 Motor Trials named in honour of Prince Henry of Prussia. They had their engine power increased to 60 bhp at 2800 rpm and as a result of the success replicas were put on the market at £580 with the chassis code C10 and known as the Prince Henry model. These proved popular and sold quickly. and became known as Prince Henry Vauxhalls. Prince Henry cars also competed in other international trials including the 1911 St Petersburg to Sebastopol Trial and so two cars were sold to Tsar Nicholas II. A sales and support and distribution branch was opened in Moscow with good results. Hampered by the First World War the office was finally closed after the 1918 revolution. Three of these cars were entered in the RAC 2,000-mile trial and one won the speed trials at Brooklands which was part of the event as well as winning the fuel economy award for its class. This victory helped Pomeroy to be promoted to Works Manager. In 1913 the engine capacity was increased to 3969 cc and the internal designation changed to C. Production continued until 1915.
There were also a large number of the later 30/98 model competing. Combine these with the various examples I found in the main car park, and this has to be one of the best represented of all vintage model types.
As a bit of fun, on the Sunday morning, there were some special events for the younger generation. Children were invited to take part on a bicycle race, and this always becomes a surprisingly competitive activity and there was also something for even younger children in an amazing array of old pedal cars.
At lunch time, there was a brass band that played, to the enjoyment of the crowds. Starting in the Paddock, they marched along the track almost as far as Ettores, and a few people decided that they would demonstrate their dancing prowess to accompany them.
There is no auction held at this venue, but renowned Auction House Bonhams had once again brought along a quintet of cars that they will be trying to sell at high profile sales later in the year, and this was a great chance to get see each of them up close.
My favourite among them was this 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Zagato. It was Enzo Ferrari, no less, who persuaded Vittorio Jano to leave FIAT’s racing department and join him at Alfa Romeo. One of the most gifted and influential automobile engineers of all time, Jano would not only supervise Alfa Romeo’s Grand Prix racing programme but also design its road cars. This happy state of affairs resulted in the latter emerging as some of the most exciting of their day, establishing the Milanese marque’s reputation for producing sporting driver’s cars second to none. Jano arrived at Alfa in 1923 and by the following year had produced one of the most fabulous racing automobiles of all time – the legendary P2. As well as bringing Alfa much valuable publicity by virtue of its outstanding Grand Prix successes, the P2 provided the basis for Jano’s first production model. Announced in 1925 but not produced for another two years, the 6C 1500 was designed as a fast touring car combining light weight with sparkling performance. The latter was achieved courtesy of a 1,487cc inline six-cylinder engine based on the P2’s straight eight and producing 44bhp in single-overhead-camshaft Normale form. Twin-overhead-camshaft Sport and supercharged Super Sport models followed, the latter being the first of its type to feature the classic open two-seater coachwork by Zagato forever associated with sporting vintage Alfas. Production of the 6C 1500 ceased in 1929 on the arrival of the 6C 1750. Logical derivative of the Tipo 6C 1500, itself directly descended from Jano’s all-conquering P2 that had won the World Championship in 1925, the Tipo 6C 1750 arrived in 1929 boasting a derivative of the 1500’s six-cylinder engine enlarged to 1,752cc. Built in single-cam Turismo and twin-cam Sport (later renamed Gran Turismo) variants, the 6C 1750 was an exciting fast touring car combining light weight with sparkling performance, more than 120km/h (75mph) being attainable, depending on coachwork. Aimed at gentleman racing drivers, there was also a limited edition Super Sport, or ‘SS’, version, which later evolved into the Gran Sport. Most of these cars carried coachwork by Carrozzeria Zagato or Carrozzeria Touring, with James Young being responsible for bodying the majority imported into the UK. In ‘SS’ form, the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 was one of the most popular and successful sports-racing cars of its day, as demonstrated by the fact that no fewer than 26 competed in the 1929 Mille Miglia, of which 25 finished, six among the first ten. The race was won, for the second consecutive year, by Giuseppe Campari and Giulio Ramponi driving, of course, a 6C 1750 SS. Other high profile victories for this model include the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps, Grand Prix of Ireland, and the 12 Hours of San Sebastian – all in 1929 – plus the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps and RAC Tourist Trophy in 1930. The 1750’s sporting career, aided by its mechanical longevity, extended far beyond its production, which ceased in 1933. According to Luigi Fusi’s authoritative work on the marque – ‘Tutte le Vetture Dal 1910’ – this car, chassis number ‘101014946’ with identical engine number, is a 5th series 6C 1750 Gran Turismo Compressore built in 1932. It is understood that the Alfa was exported to Australia in 1932 for an English doctor, almost certainly in rolling chassis form for bodying locally, though the original style of coachwork is not known. In the early 1940s the car was damaged in a serious road accident, remaining laid up in a garage until the 1970s when it was rediscovered by Nick Langford, an Alfa Romeo specialist, who set about its restoration, which including having a replacement chassis made using the irreparably damaged original as a pattern. The rolling chassis, complete with the original engine, gearbox, running gear, brakes and axles, was purchased in the mid 1980s by well known historic-car exponent Werner Oswald. Mr Oswald then sold the car to a German private collector who continued the restoration. All mechanical elements of the car were overhauled or rebuilt, including having a new alloy cylinder head fitted to allow the use of unleaded petrol. Extensive work was done on the mechanicals, electrical system, clutch, gearbox, rear axle, brakes, etc. There is a comprehensive set of German invoices in the file plus many photographs showing the work in progress. Tom Bowhill of Cheltenham was then commissioned to build a new body in the style of Carrozzeria Touring’s ‘Flying Star’. This was an inspired choice, as the first 1750 Alfa Romeo to carry this ‘Flying Star’ coachwork, created by Touring’s Giuseppe Serigni for Josette Pozzo, won 1st Prize at the 1931 Villa d’Este Concours d’Élégance. Tom Bowhill had previously restored the original Josette Pozzo ‘Flying Star’ Alfa, and had the correct drawings and wooden bucks for this model so was perfectly equipped to carry out this vital part of the restoration. There is no denying that he did a superb job, as the standard of finish is among the very best. (It is worthwhile noting that the Josette Pozzo ‘Flying Star’ Alfa Romeo 6C won 1st Prize at the 2014 Hampton Court Palace Concours d’Élégance). As well as the body being a work of art, so is the supercharged twin-cam six-cylinder engine, which sounds as good as it looks. According to Fusi, the supercharger boosts maximum output to 80 horsepower at 4,400 revs compared with the 55 horsepower of the un-blown engine. This is certainly more than enough to give this car very lively performance which, combined with its slick four-speed gearbox, excellent chassis and suspension, and positive steering and brakes, make it a genuine pleasure to drive.
This 1936 Aston Martin 2 litre Speed “Red Dragon” has quite some pedigree. It will be offered for sale at Goodwood, which seems particularly appropriate as two of its most celebrated drivers in-period have particular links there. Richard John ‘Dick’ Beattie-Seaman – the finest British racing driver of the 1930s, later winner of the 1938 German Grand Prix in his works Mercedes-Benz W154 – was born at Aldingbourne House, which still stands today a mere three miles away to the east, within earshot of Goodwood Motor Circuit. And in later years this remarkable car would be owned and campaigned by leading Welsh privateer Dudley Folland – one of the first internationally-known owner-drivers to compete at Goodwood, not least in the first Ferrari V12 ever to appear in England. Rumours had begun to circulate early in 1936 of a new larger-engined Aston Martin to replace the marque’s successful 1½-litre designs. Discreet official confirmation came when two entries were made in the 2-litre class of the Le Mans 24-hour race. Aston Martin’s production of the 2-Litre ‘Speed Model’ competition variant would total just 23, making it more rare and exclusive than its ‘Ulster’ predecessor, production of which ran to 31. The 4-cylinder engine was enlarged to 1,949cc with the ports reversed in expectation of minimizing detonation as experienced on the 1½-litre unit. The patented Renwick & Bertelli wedge-shaped combustion chambers were retained, while 18mm spark plugs appeared on the exhaust side of the cylinder head instead of the inlet side. Scintilla magneto ignition was used, and dry-sump lubrication retained. Two new Speed Model Team Cars were readied for Le Mans only for that 1936 race to be cancelled following French industrial strife. Neither car would ever be raced by the works. The first chassis, ‘LM22’ was the last to bear the famous factory prefix ‘LM’. Chassis design followed that of the familiar Mark II model’s, down-swept beneath the rear axle and upswept over the front. It was wider, and more rigidly cross-braced, although its 102-inches, 260cm, wheelbase matched the Ulster’s. The front axle was mounted via ‘Silentbloc’ bushed trunnions, with torque reaction during braking or under drive being controlled by stout cables in tension. Great attention was paid to improved steering geometry while Lockheed hydraulic brakes with twin master cylinders were adopted. The gearbox was in unit with the enlarged engine. Sadly, economic times were hard. Following the cancellation of Le Mans, Aston Martin withdrew indefinitely from active competition. The two prototype 2-litre cars were to be sold. However, they had aroused such interest that two further machines were laid down, with pure two-seater bodies. Two entries were then made in the 1936 RAC Tourist Trophy race at Ards in Northern Ireland, one a deadly serious fully factory-backed effort and the other a relatively light-hearted entry for Alan Phipps and his wife (nee Doreen Evans). So it was that this very special machine made its racing debut in the last of the RAC TT races run on Northern Ireland’s fabulous Ards circuit. Its driver on the 13.6-mile loop of rural roads linking the towns of Dundonald, Newtownards and Comber, was the then 23-year-old Dick Seaman. He was then just completing the sensational Voiturette racing season in which he won on the Isle of Man, and at Pescara, Berne and Donington Park in his modified nine-year old straight-eight Delage – humbling the strongest ERA and Maserati opposition. He had caught the eye of Daimler-Benz racing manager Alfred Neubauer who offered a works Mercedes-Benz test-drive at Monza. From 1937-1939 Dick Seaman would become the first British driver to command a place in a major Continental factory Grand Prix team – winning the 1938 German GP before crashing fatally while dominating the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix. At Ards in 1936, Dick Seaman had been engaged to resist the German-design threat of the latest Frazer Nash-BMW 328s, which Aston Martin was clearly desperate to beat. Aston technical head ‘Bert’ Bertelli and new owner Gordon Sutherland fully appreciated how valuable a TT victory could be over their German foe. But during practice, to the team’s dismay, the Seaman car lost its oil pressure due probably to a wrongly fitted dry-sump suction pipe, and the engine bearings ran. By working through the night, chief mechanic Joe Bestente and his crew re-assembled the engine in time for the race, but it could not be run in. Seaman could race flat out and attempt to break the BMWs before wrecking his own engine….or nurse the new Aston Martin throughout, hoping for misfortune to befall the German cars. The race was run in heavy rain. Seaman the racer evidently took the former course and as Aston Martin historian Dudley Coram related: “From the fall of the flag he was travelling at a great pace well ahead of his class… “. Despite the conditions Seaman lapped at 75.89mph “…doing best against (his) handicap, the young Englishman putting up a wonderful run in circumstances which were anything but envious”. But after only three or four laps the car’s oil pressure began to fluctuate “…and at twelve laps the bearings gave up the struggle and Seaman retired after a truly magnificent drive…(which)… impressed everyone…and it seemed all the more unfortunate that the firm remained adamant in their decision not to race again…”. In this car Dick Seaman had led that 1936 TT overall on handicap and twice broke the 2-litre class lap record, before engine seizure due to oil loss. Surviving factory documentation lists the original engine as unit ‘H-6-711’, installed in “Chassis built in experimental shop for 1936 Ulster race & driven by R. Seaman”. A further note records “Engine seized due to lack oil. Afterwards rebuilt & sold E. Hertzberger. Ran various continental races during 1937, inc. Mille Miglia, Le Mans, Montlhery”. A separate listing includes in November 1950, Ronald John Hoare CBE of Kelling Hall, Holt, Norfolk – the great former-Royal Artillery motoring enthusiast who became famous simply as ‘The Colonel’ – Ronnie Hoare – UK Ferrari importer, head of Maranello Concessionaires Ltd and patron of that company’s eponymous, highly successful Ferrari racing team. ‘The Colonel’ was a famously exacting character who would only settle for the very finest motor cars. Following its dominant start in the 1936 RAC TT, the car’s first private owner was Dutch sportsman Eddie Hertzberger, a wealthy Rotterdam clothier who also excelled at boxing, sailing and skiing. Aston Martin fitted a new engine for him which was stamped with the original serial number to simplify Customs documentation, Hertzberger also adopted a more modern-style radiator cowl and streamlined wings, the car’s appearance becoming similar to the contemporary sports-racing Talbot-Lago, but resplendent in Dutch Racing Orange. Eddie Hertzberger entered the 1937 Mille Miglia 1,000-mile round-Italy race. Clearly a hard, determined and talented racing driver – knowing he would be at a disadvantage to the Italians on their home soil – he drove his Aston Martin from Holland, negotiating as many Alpine passes as possible to gain experience. The great race was again run in almost continuous rain, Hertzberger driving as if in a Grand Prix, pushing the Aston to its absolute limits. At Florence he was comfortably leading the 2-litre class – a remarkable seventh overall.. Unfortunately this fine run was halted by a broken valve spring, Hertzberger’s skilful (and brave) riding mechanic Van der Pijl changing the offending component despite dropping a valve collet down the timing chain gallery, which was retrieved with a blob of grease on the end of a stick. The pair lost an hour, dropping to fourth in class, but Hertzberger fought on through the ceaseless drizzle, clawing his way back to finish a fine second in class and 16th overall. He and his Aston Martin had proved formidably competitive Mille Miglia contenders. With French fellow-enthusiast, Albert Debille, Hertzberger then co-drove this Aston Martin in the 1937 Le Mans 24-Hour race. Ranged against an armada of works BMW 328s, ‘H6/711/U’ again proved hugely competitive. The mercurial pairing duelled so effectively with Gerard’s 3-litre Delage and the quickest 328s for the class lead, that by the early hours of Sunday morning they ran a remarkable sixth overall. Sadly, this second very competitive appearance at pinnacle International level was ended by a dropped valve. Albert Debille then won the 2-litre class of the subsequent Coupe de l’Automne race, run during the AGACI Journée des Indépendants meeting at Montlhéry, France, on September 19th 1937. Into 1938 Eddie Hertzberger entered this Aston Martin for its second Mille Miglia race, co-driving with Albert Debille. Yet again confronting the usual squadron of works-backed BMW 328s, the gallant Dutch-entered Aston Martin took the battle to them before having, sadly, to retire. Regardless, Montlhéry again proved lucky as Hertzberger won the 2-litre class in the 1938 Coupe de Paris. The car’s story featured postwar in ‘The Autocar’ magazine’s ‘Talking of Sports Cars’ series. It had achieved further fame in the ownership of Dudley Folland. In the journal’s February 18, 1949, edition – under the heading ‘The Folland Aston Martin’ – he was cited as being rightly proud that ‘FGY409’ (as the car had been UK road-registered) was the Aston Martin in which “…the late Richard Seaman, after confounding the prophets by staying out of sight of the Frazer Nash-BMWs for twelve laps, and twice breaking the Class E record for the circuit, the second time at 78.06mph…” – had competed in the 1936 TT. Having been returned to England by Hertzberger in 1939 the car had “…fretted the war away in a Glasgow garage. Via Allan-Arnold of Manchester it then passed into the hands of Jim Elwes…” (who) “…ran the Aston on the road for about eighteen months, piling up a substantial mileage. Dudley Folland bought ‘FGY409’ in the summer of 1947, at which time it represented the most potent British sports-racing car available to compete in international endurance races. Here another great name enters the story – John Wyer, of postwar Aston Martin works team and eventual Gulf-JW multiple Le Mans and World Championship-winning fame. Just postwar, he had been invited to join Monaco Motors at Watford as managing director, appointed by founders Peter Monkhouse and Ian Connell. Both were established racing drivers and created the company to prepare racing cars for private owners. In 1948 Welsh enthusiast Dudley Folland bought Peter Monkhouse’s share. He had been at Cambridge University with Connell pre-War when he raced under the pseudonym ‘Tim D. Davies’ to avoid family alarm. He entrusted the very car now offered here to Monaco, wishing to run it in the first postwar 24-Hour race, to be run at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Their trip began inauspiciously as they missed their ferry, crossing finally to Dunkirk, where the war-damaged lock gates had jammed, delaying them a further four hours. The pavé road from Dunkirk to Ostend then split the Aston Martin’s special 28-gallon fuel tank – a Monaco Motors replacement for the standard 15-gallon type. Limping the car to Brussels they found a tinsmith to repair the tank. After his first practice lap at Spa, Dudley Folland then reported clutch slip. John Wyer tried the car to confirm the problem. He then stripped the clutch, found it had been over-oiled and fitted a new clutch plate which cured the problem. In second practice the car ran perfectly. After this disappointment, the Folland Aston Martin reappeared in the Paris 12-Hours at Montlhéry, in which Folland and Connell finished third overall, beaten only by Luigi Chinetti’s latest Ferrari V12 and the rapid Louveau/Brunet Delage. Their Aston Martin averaged 68.3mph for the 12-Hours, and Folland’s final two laps were the car’s fastest of the race. He was entranced by the Chinetti Ferrari, and ordered one from the factory. Into 1949 it would become the first Ferrari to appear in the UK – and Dudley Folland would campaign it briefly as a stable-mate to the Aston Martin. Both would be emblazoned with his Welsh dragon symbol, after which the rebodied Aston Martin would become known as ‘Red Dragon’. Into 1949 it was campaigned for the second time in the Le Mans 24-Hour race and again in the Spa 24-Hours, but as John Wyer put it “…the old car was beginning to feel its age and failed on both occasions”. Under his direction at Monaco Motors, ‘FGY409’ was progressively lightened to extend its competitive life. This culminated in the lightweight body currently fitted, most probably in preparation for the 1950 season, which bears a striking similarity to its fellow ‘Red Dragon’ – the cycle-winged Spider Corsa-bodied Folland Ferrari, but the owner then decided to retire from racing. The car is still accompanied by its original fuel tank (which still bears traces of Hertzberger Dutch Racing Orange paint) while the cycle-type mudguards appear to be those used by Folland in the 1940s. According to notes on file he spent circa £1,500 on the car with Monaco Motors from 1948 to 1950 – a very considerable sum at the time. Geoff Bishop rebuilt the car around 1988-89 within his exceptionally long ownership, while marque specialist Ecurie Bertelli has completed considerable further work upon the car for its current owner who has taken, in his own words “… a money no object approach to the cars ownership”. He has used ‘FGY409’ offered here with great success in all of the world’s premier historic motoring events including the Le Mans Classic, Monaco Historique, Mille Miglia Retrospective amongst many others, in all of which it has proved not just extremely competitive, but at the same time an excellent and most tractable road car. Aston Martin ‘Red Dragon’ was also invited to the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours where it was much admired on the lawn and performed faultlessly during the accompanying road rally Tour d’Elegance. Following a minor racing accident at Brands Hatch in 2013 the opportunity was taken to refurbish the car cosmetically, and fully rebuild the engine at cost of circa £35,000, since when the car has remained fresh, being little used.
This 1930 Bentley 4 1/2 litre Tourer comes from the Robert White collection. W O Bentley proudly debuted the new 3-litre car bearing his name on Stand 126 at the 1919 Olympia Motor Exhibition, the prototype engine having fired up for the first time just a few weeks earlier. In only mildly developed form, this was the model which was to become a legend in motor racing history and which, with its leather-strapped bonnet, classical radiator design and British Racing Green livery has become the archetypal vintage sports car. Early success in the 1922 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, when Bentleys finished second, fourth and fifth to take the Team Prize, led to the introduction of the TT Replica (later known as the Speed Model). However, by the middle of the decade the 3-Litre’s competitiveness was on the wane and this, together with the fact that too many customers had been tempted to fit unsuitably heavy coachwork to the excellent 3-Litre chassis rather than accept the expense and complexity of Bentley’s 6 1/2 litre ‘Silent Six’, led to the introduction of the ‘4 1/2’. The new 4 1/2 Litre model effectively employed the chassis, transmission and brakes of the 3-Litre, combined with an engine that was in essence two-thirds of the six-cylinder 6 1/2 litre unit. Thus the new four-cylinder motor retained the six’s 100x140mm bore/stroke and Bentley’s familiar four-valves-per-cylinder fixed-‘head architecture, but reverted to the front-end vertical camshaft drive of the 3-Litre. Bentley Motors lost no time in race-proving its new car. It is believed that the first prototype engine went into the 3-Litre chassis of the 1927 Le Mans practice car. Subsequently this same engine was fitted to the first production 4½-Litre chassis for that year’s Grand Prix d’Endurance at the Sarthe circuit. The original 4 1/2 Litre car, nicknamed by the team ‘Old Mother Gun’ and driven by Frank Clement and Leslie Callingham, promptly set the fastest race lap of 73.41mph before being eliminated in the infamous ‘White House Crash’ multiple pile-up. The 4 1/2 Litre was produced for four years, all but nine of the 665 cars made being built on the 3-Litre’s ‘Long Standard’, 10′ 10″-wheelbase chassis. Purchasers of the 4 1/2 Litre model were, in common with those of all vintage-period Bentleys, free to specify their preferences from a very considerable range of mechanical and electrical equipment, in addition to whatever body style and coachbuilder might be required. The accompanying illustrated report, compiled by world-renowned Bentley authority, Clare Hay, states that chassis number ‘PB3528’, fitted with engine number ‘PB3528’, was passed of Final Test on 11th December 1929. The car was completed in January 1930 with Weymann type saloon coachwork by Gurney Nutting, and the first recorded owner is one Samuel Salmon of Messrs J Lyons & Co, operators of the famous ‘Lyons Corner House’ chain of restaurants. Its original registration was ‘MP 37’. The Service Record notes various works carried out during Mr Salmon’s ownership. The next owner listed is one R Mead, some time between March 1935 and April 1936, and the registration changed to ‘CMH 15’. One D Marley Fletcher of the London Rifle Brigade is the next owner noted, from mid-1938, followed by P C Weeks in 1947 and L W Aird in 1950. It is believed that Aird rebuilt ‘PB3528’ and fitted the 3-Litre engine ‘LT1579’. By this time the chassis had already been re-bodied with four-seat, open tourer coachwork. It was reregistered as ‘NPL 62’, a Surrey number dating from December 1949. Later owners are listed as C W Scott in 1955, P G Hill in 1964, and A J Stait in 1971. The earliest known photograph (see report) dates from March 1956 when ‘PB3528’ was offered for sale in Autosport by Shoreham Autos. Their advertisement states: ‘very smart open 4-seater sports body fitted about 1948’. By 1985 ‘PB3528’ belonged to Fuad Majzub, who kept the engine when he sold the otherwise complete Bentley, which passed via an intermediary to John Brown. 4 1/2 Litre engine number ‘XF3521’ was assigned to the chassis and in this form the car was bought by Stanley Mann, who sold it on to George Dodds. At around this time ‘PB3528’ was seen in rolling chassis form at Stanley Mann’s premises with body and engine removed. ‘XF3521’ later went into chassis ‘HT1634’. With the oldest approaching its 100th birthday and the youngest 85 years old, most Cricklewood-built Bentleys will have been restored at some time in their lives, and many more than once. It is not unusual for a new replacement chassis to be used, while swaps of major components – engines, gearboxes, axles, etc – are commonplace. Conversions of cars to ‘Le Mans Replica’ specification are understandably popular. This has been the fate of ‘PB3528’, and seemingly very little of the original survives in the car we see today.
First of 2 Frazer Nash cars on offer was this 1935 2 litre TT Replica. The Frazer Nash was the direct descendant of the GN cycle car, a twin-cylinder, chain driven vehicle produced until 1922 by the partnership of Captain Archie Frazer-Nash and H R Godfrey. Archie Frazer-Nash then formed a new company and in 1924 the first Frazer Nash appeared. In 1928 Captain Frazer-Nash left the company, which then came under the control of H J and W H Aldington. Between 1924 and 1954, when production effectively ceased, approximately 450 Frazer Nash cars were produced, of which 350 were pre-war ‘chain gang’ models. Of these, 85 had the most popular TT Replica style of bodywork, which was offered between March 1932 and 1939. The TT Replica was based on the cars that contested the 1931 Tourist Trophy Race, though none of the three cars entered actually finished the event. In 1932 the cars fared better, one finishing 2nd in class. Frazer Nash used a number of different proprietary engines, the TT Replica being fitted with the 1½-litre, four-cylinder, overhead-valve Meadows engine; the 1,660cc six-cylinder, twin-overhead-camshaft Blackburne engine; and the 1½-litre, four-cylinder, single-overhead-camshaft Gough engine. However, it should be noted that the factory undertook the manufacture of individual cars to order and various combinations of engine and chassis were produced. Although the chain drive is highly unusual, for a motor car of the period, a chain is more efficient than almost any other form of power transmission and the Frazer Nash system was one of the best. References at the time to ‘smoking or red-hot chains lying on the road’ after the rare breakage were mistaken. The reason they were handled with care was because they were dirty, and many chains lasted over 40,000 miles. With their unique form of drive, Frazer Nashes oversteered dramatically under power and it was said at the time that ‘Frazer Nashes never go round corners, they merely change direction.’ While the TT Replica was sold as an all-round performer, it did not achieve significant success in major circuit races. The model’s record in the International Alpine Trials of 1932, 1933 and 1934 is, however, outstanding and equalled by few makes, no doubt due in part to its ability to negotiate the tight Alpine passes under full power. In the 1932 event two cars were entered and lost no marks, while in 1933 a TT Replica was the only car entered not to lose marks. In 1934, four of the team of six cars were un-penalised. ‘HTU 255’ is believed to incorporate an original Frazer Nash/GN chassis, as per the VSCC ‘Buff Form’ dated March 2016. The car is registered with the DVLA as a 1946 GN, presumably registered immediately after WW2. Its history is not known until Len Hodgson sold the chassis in 1980 to Frazer Nash enthusiast Jan Burlinski, who built up the car with an original Frazer Nash front axle, bevel box, and rear axle, and a Meadows engine. Bodied by Frank Higgins and painted blue, ‘HTU 255’ was used in VSCC competitions and the Nash Section’s ‘Bolzano Raid’ in 1989. Mr Burlinski then removed the Meadows engine and sold the car to historic racer Geraint Owen, who installed the six-cylinder engine from a BMW 315. This engine has been bored out to 1,971cc and fitted with a modern spin-off oil filter. The car was then restored again and repainted black. For safety reasons, a new ‘Club’ front axle was installed (original retained) and new suspension springs and wheels fitted. The Frazer Nash was then actively campaigned again in VSCC competitions, being raced by both Geraint Owen and his wife, Charlotte. Having successfully completed the 2009 ‘Bolzano Raid’, the car was sold to Richard Myers of York, who used it sparingly for some two years before selling it to the enthusiast vendor in 2011. While in his ownership, ‘HTU 255’ has competed at Silverstone, driven by the vendor’s son and daughter. In addition to general servicing, works carried out during the last five years include carpeting the interior, rebuilding the starter motor, relining the brakes, and fitting new Blockley tyres. The car has also been set up and rolling-road tuned by Ian Nuthall Racing.
This is a 1950 Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica. Renowned for handling qualities and performance capabilities which belie its perhaps barrel-chested appearance, the Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica earned its title after AFN Ltd principal H.J. Aldington and Norman Culpan drove a prototype ‘High Speed’ model – with 2-litre 6-cylinder Bristol engine and shaft drive – into a fine third place overall in the first postwar Le Mans 24-Hour race, in 1949. Some 34 of these cars were produced between 1948 and 1953 and they accumulated a glittering record of motor racing success in period, topped by Franco Cortese’s outright win in the 1951 Targa Florio race around the Madonie Mountains of north-western Sicily. This is one of the most original and unspoiled of all surviving original Frazer Nash Le Mans Replicas, completed as-new by Frazer Nash manufacturer AFN Limited at its Isleworth, West London, factory – the Falcon Works – in September, 1950. Company records preserved today by the Frazer Nash Archive show that this car, ‘FN20’, was the twentieth Le Mans Replica completed at AFN’s Falcon Works, but it was – from the beginning – given the chassis serial number ‘127’. No proven reason for this has emerged during the car’s 66-year life. In common with its preceding sister car ‘FN19’, this car was completed with Newton telescopic dampers front and rear which were mounted outside the body panelling, while its wing support brackets were exposed on top of the wing panels themselves. The car was also equipped with Al-Fin brake drums, an Invicta handbrake and a 3.7:1 back axle ratio. The car was ordered new by Anthony Crook Motors in Caterham, Surrey, for Anthony Alastair ‘Buster’ Baring. It was finished in maroon paintwork with black upholstery, and was entered for the August 26, 1950, One-Hour Production Sports Car Race scheduled for the major ‘Daily Express’ Silverstone race meeting, but it was not ready in time. Anthony Baring had also entered it for that year’s RAC Tourist Trophy race at Dundrod, Ulster, but after practice decided that the engine remained too tight after insufficient running-in period and so he opted to become a non-starter. The car’s competition debut followed one week later, on September 23, 1950, when it was loaned to Donald Pitt for the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb meeting, in which he promptly beat Tony Crook to win the 3-litre sports car class. Early in 1951 Anthony Crook purchased ‘VHX 839’ offered here from Anthony Baring, and sold it to fellow motor trader/racer Roy Francesco Salvadori, the British-born son of Tuscan-Italian parents and already a most experienced International competitor in the early years of his very fine racing career. By the time he acquired this Frazer Nash he had already made a considerable name for himself as a very fast and combative racing driver in MG, Riley, Alfa Romeo Monoposto, Maserati and Healey cars. This ex-Baring Frazer Nash was then race-prepared for him by Anthony Crook Motors and Roy Salvadori made his debut in the eight-month old Frazer Nash in the BRDC International Trophy May Meeting at Silverstone, on May 5, 1951. Roy Salvadori set fastest time during practice for the 2-litre Production Sports Car Race, and was leading until he crashed heavily at Stowe Corner while lapping a group of three slower cars. His Frazer Nash slid wide and struck a concrete-filled oil drum marking the aerodrome course. The car rolled over several times, inflicting severe and near fatal head injuries from which the unlucky new owner-driver was fortunate to recover fully, apart from total deafness in his right ear which persisted for the rest of this most popular celebrity racing driver’s long life (he died as recently as 2012, aged 90). Anthony Crook Motors at Caterham subsequently rebuilt ‘VHX 839’ to the latest 1951 Le Mans Replica specification, with its rear dampers re-positioned within the bodywork and wing supports hidden beneath the wings. The recovered Roy Salvadori resumed racing this Frazer Nash on October 6, 1951, at Castle Combe, immediately finishing a strong third overall in the unlimited-capacity sports car event. He then campaigned the car widely during 1952, winning the 2-litre class and finishing sixth overall in the Silverstone May Meeting’s Production Sports Car event; fourth and second in class to Mike Hawthorn in the May 29 British Empire Trophy event at Douglas, Isle of Man, and second to Ken Wharton’s works Mark II Le Mans car in the 100-mile sports car race at Boreham on August 2. Roy also shared the car with Stirling Moss in a Castle Combe relay race on April 12 that year. He always recalled ‘VHX 839’ with great affection: “I decided I really needed a car I could use on the road, so it didn’t need a transporter, and that’s why I bought the Le Mans Rep. It was a super car to drive. Unfortunately I nearly wrote myself off in it at Silverstone but I was racing it again less than a year later. It was a lovely car and I adored driving it. Late in 1952, Roy Salvadori finally sold what had become his faithful Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica. The new owner was Peter Kenneth, who continued to race it through 1953. He placed ninth overall and fourth in class at that year’s British Empire Trophy race in Douglas, and entered the car for driver John Buncombe at May Silverstone. In early-1954 ‘VHX 839’ was re-sold, this time passing to Walter Grant-Norton who fitted engine ‘BS1/142’. He continued the car’s racing career at minor level, while also rallying it, including International outings in the RAC Rally that March, the Dutch-based Tulip Rally in May and the mighty French-organised Alpine Rally in July. While not figuring in the results of these challenging events, Walter Grant-Norton was competitive and led his class in the Tulip Rally. The car was again offered for sale into 1955, this time by HW Motors of Walton-on-Thames. It found a new owner in John Dashwood who club-raced and rallied the car with a friend – Paul Fletcher – through 1955-56. Stan Creamer owned ‘VHX 839′ for a period before it was re-purchased by Peter Kenneth in 1961. Eleven years later, in 1972, it passed to its present owner – an International race-winning member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and a well-respected connoisseur of fine performance cars. As offered here – with only eight owners from new and the last having lovingly preserved the car for no fewer than the past 44 years – this important Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica is described as being “…all working, fully operational and in a lovely patinated condition – not a recent bright-as-a-button restoration, and all the better for it – owned since 1972 by a Scot!”. The car is accompanied by a beautifully presented documentation file, plus historic photographs, fascinating copies of the 1951 May Silverstone race meeting bulletins detailing the Salvadori accident, and past, paid restoration invoices. These include; 1978-1994 nine invoices from Ian Cunningham (Edinburgh) covering extensive servicing and maintenance; 1991-1992 from leading Frazer Nash marque specialists TT Workshops covering engine and ancillaries overhaul, totalling £8,250; May 1996 from David Morris covering an extensive mechanical overhaul and bodywork ‘tidying’, totalling more than £14,000; and from 2010 for a brake system overhaul.
Least well known of the cars on offer was this 1906 Brasier 16 HP Side-entrance Tonneau. The Brasier marque originated in 1901 when engineer Henri Brasier left Mors to join Georges Richard, who together with his brother Max had been building cars since the late 1890s at Ivry-Port, Seine, France. The Richards had offered a Benz-like car at first, to which was added a smaller voiturette model licensed from the Belgian manufacturer, Vivinus. Previously called ‘Georges Richard’, the cars were renamed ‘Richard-Brasier’ for 1904 and plain ‘Brasier’ after 1905 following Georges Richard’s departure to found Unic. On his arrival Henri Brasier had instigated a new range of larger cars constructed along Panhard lines, consisting of four chain-driven models with two and four-cylinder engines ranging in power from 10 to 40hp. Pressed steel chassis frames were the norm by 1904, while chain drive survived on only the largest models, shaft drive having been adopted on the others. From 1906, all models had shaft drive. It was in 1904 that Richard-Brasier gained the first of its two consecutive victories in the Gordon Bennett Cup. First run in 1900 in France, the latter took its name from founder James Gordon Bennett Jr, millionaire owner of the New York Herald newspaper and himself a keen sportsman. Contested by national teams, the races were hosted in the country of the previous year’s winner until 1905, after which the Automobile Club de France organised the first motor racing Grand Prix at Le Mans. But prior to the coming of Grands Prix, the Gordon Bennett Cup was the most prized trophy of them all. The 1903 race had been won by the Belgian driver Camille Jenatzy driving a German Mercedes, so the 1904 event was run in Germany around a circuit in the Taunus Mountains. Victory went to the 9.9-litre 80hp Richard-Brasier of Léon Théry, who retained the Cup the following year at the Circuit d’Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand driving an 11.2-litre 90hp car. This was, arguably, the high point of Brasier’s fortunes, for the company went into decline after The Great War and was acquired by the bicycle manufacturer Chaigneau in 1926, after which it continued to produce cars under the Chaigneau-Brasier name for a few more years. The Brasier offered here is of right-hand drive configuration and is powered by a four-cylinder engine rated at 15hp. It carries a side-entrance tonneau body by Auguste Védrine, whose Courbevoie-based coachworks was in business from 1899 to circa 1912. The car was brought over from the USA in the 1980s by Stephen Langton as a complete original example in need of restoration, and was purchased from him by the current owner (see photographs on file). A report on file, compiled by Gordon Cobbold in 1997, indicates that at some point the car has had a change of crankcase. The vendor, a collector of quality cars of many years standing, then restored the Brasier, the mechanical work being undertaken by Neve Engineering (see photographs on file) and the coachwork restoration by Malcolm Jeal. Related invoices on file total circa £25,000, and the car also comes with a V5 registration document and a VCC dating certificate issued in 1995. Used sparingly since completion, this rare French ‘Edwardian’ is only offered for sale because of the vendor’s ill health.
A couple of years ago, the then newly opened Porsche Tewkesbury dealiership became a major sponsor of Prescott, and they tend to have a presence at every event there. Some of the times they really do stick out as a complete contrast to the theme of the day, such as La Vie en Bleu, where they have a very prominent position right in the middle of the area reserved for French cars, but on this occasion, they were rather less conspicuous, tucked away on the raised area at the far end of the Orchard, near to the Bonhams auction cars. This was a chance to inspect some of their latest models, which included the Boxster and 911.
THE OTHER CAR PARKS
Not everyone who comes to an event like this has a vintage or veteran car, far from it indeed, but many people do have something a cut above the ordinary, and so a tour around the public car parks will always elicit enough of interest to be almost an even in its own right. That was certainly the case here. On the Saturday, a part of the Orchard is open to Bugatti Owners Club members, but on the Sunday even they are asked to park in the adjoining field. It’s something of a challenge driving across the very undulating terrain, but a walk around the field, up and down long lines of cars produced plenty of photos, as this section of the report evidences.
I came across just two examples of the Abarth, a white 595C and a black 595, and have to say that I didn’t recognise the plates on either car, so am unsure as to whom they belonged.
Oldest of the post-war Alfa models were a pair of Giulia Spider cars. Alfa followed up the 1950 launch of the 1900 Berlina with a smaller model, the Giulietta. Known as the Type 750 and later 101 Series, the Giulietta evolved into a family of models. The first to be introduced was the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 coupé at the 1954 Turin Motor Show. Designed by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, it was produced at the coachbuilder’s Grugliasco plant near Turin. A year later, at the Turin Motor Show in April 1955, the Sprint was joined by the 4-door saloon Berlina. In mid 1955, the open two-seat Giulietta Spider, featuring convertible bodywork by Pininfarina, and it was a couple of examples of this achingly pretty car that were to be seen here. Alfa replaced the Giulietta with the Giulia in 1962, but as the Coupe and Spider were not ready, the Giulietta based models were kept in production, and renamed as Giulia. They gained a larger 1600cc engine, and this meant that the bonnet need to be raised a little to accommodate the new unit, so the easy recognition beyond Giulietta and Giulia Spiders is whether there is a flat bonnet or one with a slight hump and a vent in it.
Far more commonly seen wherever classic Alfa models are gathered are the 105 Series cars and unsurprisingly, there were plenty of examples of this very elegant design here. It dates from 1963, and evolved over a 14 year production life, with plenty of different models, though the basic design changed little. The first car was called the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, and was revealed at a press event held at the then newly opened Arese plant on 9 September 1963, and displayed later the same month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In its original form the Bertone body is known as scalino (step) or “step front”, because of the leading edge of the engine compartment lid which sat 1/4 an inch above the nose of the car. The Giulia Sprint GT can be distinguished from the later models by a number of features including: Exterior badging: Alfa Romeo logo on the front grille, a chrome script reading “Giulia Sprint GT” on the boot lid, and rectangular “Disegno di Bertone” badges aft of the front wheel arches; flat, chrome grille in plain, wide rectangular mesh without additional chrome bars; single-piece chrome bumpers; no overriders. Inside the cabin the padded vinyl dashboard was characterised by a concave horizontal fascia, finished in grey anti-glare crackle-effect paint. Four round instruments were inset in the fascia in front of the driver. The steering wheel was non-dished, with three aluminium spokes, a thin bakelite rim and a centre horn button. Vinyl-covered seats with cloth centres and a fully carpeted floor were standard, while leather upholstery was an extra-cost option. After initially marketing it as a four-seater, Alfa Romeo soon changed its definition of the car to a more realistic 2+2. The Giulia Sprint GT was fitted with the 1,570 cc version of Alfa Romeo’s all-aluminium twin cam inline four (78 mm bore × 82 mm stroke), which had first debuted on the 1962 Giulia Berlina. Breathing through two twin-choke Weber 40 DCOE 4 carburettors, on the Sprint GT this engine produced 105 hp at 6,000 rpm. Like all subsequent models, the Sprint GT was equipped with an all-synchromesh 5-speed manual transmission. The braking system comprised four Dunlop disc brakes and a vacuum servo. The rear brakes featured an unusual arrangement with the slave cylinders mounted on the axle tubes, operating the calipers by a system of levers and cranks. According to Alfa Romeo the car could reach a top speed of “over 180 km/h (112 mph)”. In total 21,902 Giulia Sprint GT were produced from 1963 to 1965, when the model was superseded by the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce. Of these 2,274 were right hand drive: 1,354 cars fully finished in Arese, and 920 shipped in complete knock-down kit form for foreign assembly. For 1966, the Giulia Sprint GT was replaced by the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, which was very similar but featuring a number of improvements: a revised engine—slightly more powerful and with more torque—better interior fittings and changes to the exterior trim. Alongside the brand new 1750 Spider Veloce which shared its updated engine the Sprint GT Veloce was introduced at the 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966, and then tested by the international specialist press in Gardone on the Garda Lake. Production had began in 1965 and ended in 1968. The Giulia Sprint GT Veloce can be most easily distinguished from other models by the following features: badging as per Giulia Sprint GT, with the addition of round enamel badges on the C-pillar—a green Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) on an ivory background—and a chrome “Veloce” script on the tail panel; black mesh grille with three horizontal chrome bars; the grille heart has 7 bars instead of 6; stainless steel bumpers, as opposed to the chromed mild steel bumpers on the Giulia Sprint GT. The bumpers are the same shape, but are made in two pieces (front) and three pieces (rear) with small covers hiding the joining rivets. Inside the main changes from the Giulia Sprint GT were imitation wood dashboard fascia instead of the previous anti-glare grey finish, front seats revised to a mild “bucket” design, and a dished three aluminium spoke steering wheel, with a black rim and horn buttons through the spokes. The Veloce’s type 00536 engine, identical to the Spider 1600 Duetto’s, featured modifications compared to the Giulia Sprint GT’s type 00502—such as larger diameter exhaust valves. As a result it produced 108 hp at 6,000 rpm, an increase of 3 hp over the previous model, and significantly more torque. The top speed now exceeded 185 km/h (115 mph). Early Giulia Sprint GT Veloces featured the same Dunlop disc brake system as the Giulia Sprint GT, while later cars substituted ATE disc brakes as pioneered on the GT 1300 Junior in 1966. The ATE brakes featured an handbrake system entirely separate from the pedal brakes, using drum brakes incorporated in the rear disc castings. Though the Sprint GT Veloce’s replacement—the 1750 GT Veloce—was introduced in 1967, production continued throughout the year and thirty final cars were completed in 1968. By then total Giulia Sprint GT Veloce production amounted to 14,240 examples. 1,407 of these were right hand drive cars, and 332 right hand drive complete knock-down kits. The 1750 GT Veloce (also known as 1750 GTV) appeared in 1967 along with the 1750 Berlina sedan and 1750 Spider. The same type of engine was used to power all three versions; this rationalisation was a first for Alfa Romeo. The 1750 GTV replaced the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce and introduced many updates and modifications. Most significantly, the engine capacity was increased to 1779 cc displacement. Peak power from the engine was increased to 120 hp at 5500 rpm. The stroke was lengthened from 82 to 88.5 mm over the 1600 engine, and a reduced rev limit from 7000 rpm to 6000 rpm. Maximum torque was increased to 137 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. A higher ratio final drive was fitted (10/41 instead of 9/41) but the same gearbox ratios were retained. The result was that, on paper, the car had only slightly improved performance compared to the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, but on the road it was much more flexible to drive and it was easier to maintain higher average speeds for fast touring. For the United States market, the 1779 cc engine was fitted with a fuel injection system made by Alfa Romeo subsidiary SPICA, to meet emission control laws that were coming into effect at the time. Fuel injection was also featured on Canadian market cars after 1971. Carburettors were retained for other markets. The chassis was also significantly modified. Tyre size went to 165/14 from 155/15 and wheel size to 5 1/2J x 14 instead of 5J x 15, giving a wider section and slightly smaller rolling diameter. The suspension geometry was also revised, and an anti-roll bar was fitted to the rear suspension. ATE disc brakes were fitted from the outset, but with bigger front discs and calipers than the ones fitted to GT 1300 Juniors and late Giulia Sprint GT Veloces. The changes resulted in significant improvements to the handling and braking, which once again made it easier for the driver to maintain high average speeds for fast touring. The 1750 GTV also departed significantly from the earlier cars externally. New nose styling eliminated the “stepped” bonnet of the Giulia Sprint GT, GTC, GTA and early GT 1300 Juniors and incorporated four headlamps. For the 1971 model year, United States market 1750 GTV’s also featured larger rear light clusters (there were no 1970 model year Alfas on the US market). Besides the chrome “1750” badge on the bootlid, there was also a round Alfa Romeo badge. Similar Quadrofoglio badges to those on the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce were fitted on C pillars, but the Quadrofoglio was coloured gold instead of green. The car also adopted the higher rear wheelarches first seen on the GT 1300 Junior. The interior was also much modified over that of earlier cars. There was a new dashboard with large speedometer and tachometer instruments in twin binnacles closer to the driver’s line of sight. The instruments were mounted at a more conventional angle, avoiding the reflections caused by the upward angled flat dash of earlier cars. Conversely, auxiliary instruments were moved to angled bezels in the centre console, further from the driver’s line of sight than before. The new seats introduced adjustable headrests which merged with the top of the seat when fully down. The window winder levers, the door release levers and the quarterlight vent knobs were also restyled. The remote release for the boot lid, located on the inside of the door opening on the B-post just under the door lock striker, was moved from the right hand side of the car to the left hand side. The location of this item was always independent of whether the car was left hand drive or right hand drive. Early (Series 1) 1750 GTV’s featured the same bumpers as the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, with the front bumper modified to mount the indicator / sidelight units on the top of its corners, or under the bumper on US market cars. The Series 2 1750 GTV of 1970 introduced other mechanical changes, including a dual circuit braking system (split front and rear, with separate servos). The brake and clutch pedals on left hand drive cars were also of an improved pendant design, instead of the earlier floor-hinged type. On right hand drive cars the floor-hinged pedals were retained, as there was no space for the pedal box behind the carburettors. Externally, the series 2 1750 GTV is identified by new, slimmer bumpers with front and rear overriders. The combined front indicator and sidelight units were now mounted to the front panel instead of the front bumper, except again on the 1971-72 US/Canadian market cars. The interior was slightly modified, with the seats retaining the same basic outline but following a simpler design. 44,269 1750 GTVs were made before their replacement came along. That car was the 2000GTV. Introduced in 1971, together with the 2000 Berlina sedan and 2000 Spider, the 2 litre cars were replacements for the 1750 range. The engine displacement was increased to 1962 cc. Oil and radiator capacities remained unchanged. The North American market cars had fuel injection, but everyone else retained carburettors. Officially, both versions generated the same power, 130 hp at 5500 rpm. The interior trim was changed, with the most notable differences being the introduction of a separate instrument cluster, instead of the gauges installed in the dash panel in earlier cars. Externally the 2000 GTV is most easily distinguished by its grille with horizontal chrome bars, featuring protruding blocks forming the familiar Alfa heart in outline, smaller hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts, optional aluminium alloy wheels of the same size as the standard 5. 1/2J × 14 steel items, styled to the “turbina” design first seen on the alloy wheels of the Alfa Romeo Montreal, and the larger rear light clusters first fitted to United States market 1750 GTV’s were standard for all markets. From 1974 on, the 105 Series coupé models were rationalised and these external features became common to post-1974 GT 1300 Junior and GT 1600 Junior models, with only few distinguishing features marking the difference between models. 37,459 2000 GTVs were made before production ended and these days they are very sought after with prices having sky-rocketed in recent years. To be seen here was a 1600 GT Junior.
When the 156 was launched in 1997, things looked very bright for Alfa. Striking good looks were matched by a driving experience that the press reckoned was better than any of its rivals. The car picked up the Car of the Year award at the end of the year. and when it went on sale in the UK in early 1998, waiting lists soon stretched out more than 12 months. Reflecting the way the market was going, Alfa put a diesel engine under the bonnet, launched a (not very good, it has to be admitted) automated transmission with the SeleSpeed, added a very pretty if not that commodious an estate model they called Sport Wagon and then added a top spec 3.2 litre GTA with its 250 bhp engine giving it a performance to outrun all its rivals. And yet, it did not take long before the press turned on the car, seduced by the latest 3 Series once more, citing build quality issues which were in fact far from universal. The 156 received a very minor facelift in 2002 and a more significant one in late 2003 with a new front end that was a clue to what would come with the car’s successor. Production ceased in 2005. They’re getting quite rare now, so it was good see this 156 2.5 V6 here.
Rather than replacing the 916 Series GTV with a single model, Alfa elected to produce two successors., The more commodious of the two, the GT, was the first to appear, making its debut in March 2003 at the Geneva Motor Show, finally going on sale in early 2004. It was built at the Pomigliano plant, alongside the 147 and 159. The GT was based on the Alfa 156 platform, which was also used for the 147, providing the 2-door coupé with genuine five-passenger capacity. It was styled by Bertone. Most mechanicals were taken directly from the 156/147 using the same double wishbone front suspension and MacPherson rear setup. The interior was derived form the smaller hatchback 147 and shared many common parts. The GT shared the same dash layout and functions, the climate control system as well as having a similar electrical system. Some exterior parts were taken from 147 with the same bonnet, wing mirrors and front wings (from 147 GTA). The engine range included both a 1.8 TS, and 2.0 JTS petrol engine, a 1.9 MultiJet turbodiesel, and a top-of-the-range 240 bhp 3.2 V6 petrol. There were few changes during the GT’s production life. In 2006 Alfa introduced a 1.9 JTD Q2 version with a limited slip differential, and also added a new trim level called Black Line. In 2008 Alfa introduced the cloverleaf model as a limited edition complete with new trim levels, lowered suspension, body kit, 18 inch alloy wheels and was only available in the colours black, Alfa red, or blue. with 1.8 and 2.0 litre petrol engines as well as the 1.9 litre Multijet turbo diesel. The GT was acclaimed for its attractive styling and purposeful good looks, in 2004 being voted the world’s most beautiful coupe in the annual ‘World’s Most Beautiful Automobile’ (L’Automobile più Bella del Mondo) awards. The car sold reasonably well, with 80,832 units being produced before the model was deleted in 2010.
This is a TB21 Drophead Coupe. The Alvis TB 21 was a two-seater open car based on the running gear of the TA 21 saloon and made only in 1951. Alvis had previously contracted AP Metalcraft, a Coventry coachbuilder, to produce the TB 14 two door open car body to fit on the TA 14 chassis. With the replacement of the TA 14 by the larger TA 21 in 1950, AP were asked to modify their design for the new running gear. The TB 21 dropped the controversial grille used on the TB 14 in favour of the traditional Alvis one. The doors, rear hinged, were heavily cut away at the top and the windscreen could be folded flat. The 2993 cc engine was slightly modified to produce 90 bhp with a single SU carburettor replacing the Solex one used on the saloon. The TA 21 suspension was retained, independent at the front using coil springs with leaf springs at the rear. As the car was lighter than the TA 21 the final drive ratio was changed from 4.09:1 to 3.77:1 helping to increase the top speed and improving economy. The car could reach 95 mph but was very expensive at £1598 on the home market resulting in limited sales. Just 31 were made and it is understood that around 20 of them have survived.
Produced between 1953 and 1955, the TC was an update of the 3 Litre. The car was available in four-door saloon and drophead versions essentially the same as the TA 21. The saloon bodies were made for Alvis by Mulliners of Birmingham) and the dropheads by Tickford. A sunshine roof remained standard as did “separately adjustable front seats; heater and air-conditioning unit; Trico windscreen washers” drawing the comment from Autocar “In detail fittings . . . this car leaves little to be desired. The 2,993 cc engine was upgraded to produce 100 bhp by modifying the cylinder head and fitting twin SU carburettors. Suspension was the same as the TA 21, independent at the front using coil springs with leaf springs at the rear. The 11 in drum brakes using a Lockheed system were also retained. However this update found few buyers during a very difficult year for the British Motor Industry and though it remained in the catalogue and continued to be advertised it was in practice replaced by the Grey Lady. The TC.21/100 or Grey Lady was announced on 20 October 1953 came with a guarantee of a speed of 100 mph resulting from an improved exhaust system and an engine compression ratio raised from 7:1 to 8:1 to take advantage of the availability of better petrol. The final drive ratio was raised from 4.09:1 to 3.77:1. A paired front fog lamp and matching driving lamp became a standard fitting. The bonnet gained air scoops and wire wheels were fitted to try to enliven the car’s image. A heater was fitted as standard but a radio remained an expensive option. A saloon version tested by The Motor magazine in 1954 had a top speed of 100.1 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 15.4 seconds. A fuel consumption of 20.6 mpg was recorded. The test car cost £1,821 including taxes. Nevertheless just 18 months later the Times’ Motoring Correspondent tested and reported on the Grey Lady under the headline “Few Concessions to Fashion Trends”. His opening gambit was that this Alvis was now one of the few British cars that did not look American and, he said, there was little concession to the cult of streamlining beyond the two air scoops in the bonnet. He wrote that spacious internal headroom and wire wheels completed that picture. It was noted the instruments were not in front of the driver but in the centre of the dashboard (instrument panel) and so the speedometer was apt to be masked by the driver’s left hand. However the front seats were comfortable and rear seat passengers received padding on the wheel arches surmounted by armrests. Leather upholstery, pile carpets and walnut facings for the dashboard and lower parts of the window frames completed the traditional picture. He did however say that “the driver who is sensitive to the “feel” of his car will enjoy every moment of his motoring irrespective of the traffic” and reported the car’s behaviour on corners was extremely stable though potholes like those caused by recessed manhole covers proved very heavy going for the springing. Nonetheless, 7576 examples of the model were produced.
Final Alvis model to be seen was this example of the last bodystyle which Alvis produced, a TD21. Conceived in 1956, the predecessor TD21 was quite a departure from the lovely, but rather “post-war” TC21. However, on its arrival in dealer’s showrooms, it quickly set about changing established views of the Alvis. Following the loss of coachbuilders Mulliner and Tickford (who were now tied to other companies), Alvis turned to the Swiss coachbuilder, Graber whose tradition of producing sleek, modern and very elegant saloons and dropheads proved a good fit in terms of the way Alvis saw their future. Graber first presented this new style to the Alvis board in late 1957 who were very impressed with the Swiss company’s flowing design and commissioned the body to be built on the new TD chassis. To ease logistical problems, Park Ward of London, built the Graber designed bodies in the UK. The Alvis Three Litre TD21 Series I was produced between the end of 1958 and April 1962, and was powered by the TC’s 2993 cc engine, uprated by 15bhp to 115 as a result of an improved cylinder head design and an increased compression ratio. A new four-speed gearbox from the Austin-Healey 100 was incorporated, while the suspension remained similar to the cars predecessor, independent at the front using coil springs and leaf springs at the rear, but the track was increased slightly and a front anti-roll bar added. From 1959 the all drum brake set up was changed to discs at the front retaining drums at the rear. In April 1962, the car was upgraded with four wheel Dunlop disc brakes in place of the disc/drum combination, aluminium doors, a five-speed ZF gearbox and pretty recessed spotlights either side of the grille, these improvements coming together to create the TD21 Series II. The car would be updated in 1963 to create the TE21, with its distinctive dual headlights proving a recognition point, and the later TF21, continuing in production until 1967 at which point Alvis ceased car manufacture.
Although not the first in the DB series, this is undoubtedly the best-known, and needs little in the way of an introduction, as this model is famous for being the most recognised cinematic James Bond car, first appearing in the James Bond film Goldfinger The DB5 was a follow-on to the DB4, designed by the Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera. Released in 1963, it was an evolution of the final series of DB4. The principal differences between the DB4 Series V and the DB5 are the all-aluminium engine, enlarged from 3.7 L to 4.0 L; a new robust ZF five-speed transmission (except for some of the very first DB5s); and three SU carburettors. This engine, producing 282 bhp, which propelled the car to 145 mph, available on the Vantage (high powered) version of the DB4 since March 1962, became the standard Aston Martin power unit with the launch in September 1963 of the DB5. Standard equipment on the DB5 included reclining seats, wool pile carpets, electric windows, twin fuel tanks, chrome wire wheels, oil cooler, magnesium-alloy body built to superleggera patent technique, full leather trim in the cabin and even a fire extinguisher. All models have two doors and are of a 2+2 configuration. Like the DB4, the DB5 used a live rear axle At the beginning, the original four-speed manual (with optional overdrive) was standard fitment, but it was soon dropped in favour of the ZF five-speed. A three-speed Borg-Warner DG automatic transmission was available as well. The automatic option was then changed to the Borg-Warner Model 8 shortly before the DB6 replaced the DB5. The high-performance DB5 Vantage was introduced in 1964 featuring three Weber twin-choke 45DCOE side-draft carburettors and revised camshaft profiles, delivering greater top-end performance at the expense of overall flexibility, especially as legendary Webers are renowned as ‘full-throttle’ devices. This engine produced 315 hp. Only 65 DB5 Vantage coupés were built. Just 123 convertible DB5s were produced (also with bodies by Touring), though they did not use the typical “Volante” name until 1965. The convertible model was offered from 1963 through to 1965. Originally only 19 of the 123 DB5 Convertibles made were left-hand drive. 12 cars were originally fitted with a factory Vantage engine, and at least one further convertible was subsequently factory fitted with a DB6 specification Vantage engine. A rare factory option (actually fitted by Works Service prior to customer delivery) was a steel removable hard top. From October 1965 to October 1966, Aston Martin used the last 37 of the Aston Martin DB5 chassis’ to make another convertible model. These 37 cars were known as “Short Chassis” Volantes and were the first Aston Martins to hold the “Volante” name. Although calling it a “Short Chassis” is a bit of a misnomer as the “short” comes from comparing it to the subsequent DB6, which has a longer chassis. When compared to the DB5, it is not “short” but rather the same size, however these cars differ to the DB5 convertible models as they feature DB6 split front and rear bumpers and rear TR4 lights, as also used on the DB6.
Also here was a DB6, a model launched in 1965 as a replacement for the DB5 which had run since 1963. The wheelbase was now 4″ longer than before, resulting in an extensive restyle with a more raked windscreen, raised roofline and reshaped rear quarter windows. Opening front quarter lights made a reappearance, but the major change was at the rear where a Kamm tail with spoiler improved the aerodynamics, greatly enhancing stability at high speeds. “The tail lip halves the aerodynamic lift around maximum speed and brings in its train greater headroom and more luggage space”, declared Motor magazine, concluding that the DB6 was one of the finest sports cars it had tested. Famed employee, Tadek Marek, designed the six cylinder engine, which had been enlarged to 3,995cc for the preceding DB5 and remained unchanged. Power output on triple SU carburettors was 282bhp, rising to 325bhp in Vantage specification. Premiered at the 1965 London Motor Show, the DB6 Volante marked the first occasion the evocative ‘Volante’ name had been applied to a soft-top Aston Martin. After 37 Volante convertibles had been completed on the DB5 short wheelbase chassis, the model adopted the longer DB6 chassis in October 1966. A mere 140 DB6 based Volantes were manufactured, and of these only 29 were specified with the more powerful Vantage engine.
Follow on to the DB7 was the DB9 (there has never been a car called DB8 – supposedly because people might have assumed this meant a V8 engine), and there was a nice example here. The Aston Martin DB9, designed by Marek Reichmann and Hendrik Fisker, was first shown by Aston Martin at the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show, in coupe form. It was widely praised for the beauty of its lines. This was the first model to be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon facility. It was built on the VH platform, which would become the basis for all subsequent Aston models. The Aston Martin DB9 was initially launched equipped with a 6.0 litre V12 engine, originally taken from the V12 Vanquish. The engine produced 420 lbf·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 444 hp at 6,000 rpm, allowing the DB9 to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). The engine largely sits behind the front-axle line to improve weight distribution. Changes to the engine for the 2013 model year increased the power to 503 hp and torque to 457 lb-ft, decreasing the 0 to 60 mph time to 4.50 seconds and with a new top speed is 295 km/h (183 mph). The DB9 was available with either a six-speed conventional manual gearbox from Graziano or a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox featuring paddle-operated semi-automatic mode. The gearbox is rear-mounted and is driven by a carbon-fibre tail shaft inside a cast aluminium torque tube. The DB9 was the first Aston Martin model to be designed and developed on Ford’s aluminium VH (vertical/horizontal) platform. The body structure is composed of aluminium and composites melded together by mechanically fixed self-piercing rivets and robotic assisted adhesive bonding techniques. The bonded aluminium structure is claimed to possess more than double the torsional rigidity of its predecessor’s, despite being 25 percent lighter. The DB9 also contains anti-roll bars and double wishbone suspension, supported by coil springs. To keep the back-end in control under heavy acceleration or braking, the rear suspension has additional anti-squat and anti-lift technology. Later versions of the car also features three modes for the tuning: normal, for every-day use, sport, for more precise movement at the cost of ride comfort, and track, which furthers the effects of the sport setting. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante, the convertible version of the DB9 coupe, followed a few months later. The chassis, though stiffer, uses the same base VH platform. To protect occupants from rollovers, the Volante has strengthened windscreen pillars and added two pop-up hoops behind the rear seats. The hoops cannot be disabled and will break the car’s rear window if deployed. In an effort to improve the Volante’s ride while cruising, Aston Martin have softened the springs and lightened the anti-roll bars in the Volante, leading to a gentler suspension. The retractable roof of the Volante is made of folding fabric and takes 17 seconds to be put up or down. The Volante weighs 59 kilograms (130 pounds) more than the coupe. The coupe and Volante both share the same semi-automatic and automatic gearboxes and engine. The car was limited to 266 km/h (165 mph) to retain the integrity of the roof. Like the coupe, the original Volante has 420 lb·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 450 hp at 6,000 rpm. The 0 to 60 mph slowed to 4.9 seconds due to the additional weight. The DB9 was facelifted in July 2008, which mainly amounted to an increase in engine power, to 476 hp and a redesigned centre console. Externally, the DB9 remained virtually unchanged. For the 2013 model year revision, Aston made minor changes to the bodywork by adapting designs from the Virage, including enlarging the recessed headlight clusters with bi-xenon lights and LED daytime strips, widening the front splitter, updating the grille and side heat extractors, updating the LED rear lights with clear lenses and integrating a new rear spoiler with the boot lid. .On newer models, like the coupe’s, the Volante’s horsepower and torque increased to 517 PS (510 hp) and 457 lb·ft respectively. As a finale for the model, a more powerful DB9 was released in 2015, called the DB9 GT. This had 540 bhp and 457 lb-ft of torque at 5500 rpm, giving a 0 to 60mph time of 4.4 seconds and 0 to 100mph in 10.2 seconds, with the standing quarter mile dispatched in 12.8 to 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 183mph. Production of the DB9 ended in 2016 being replaced by its successor, the DB11.
From the current range were a Rapide and the latest Vanquish.
There was a further example of the Six from the 1930s here.
By the mid 1950s, the BMC organisation was well established, and it dominated the UK market with a 39% share. Plans were made for a complete new range of cars that would encompass all the marques: Austin, Morris, MG, Riley and Wolseley. Italian stylist Pininfarina was commissioned to design them. The first model to appear was the A40 which was launched in October 1958 at the London Motor Show. Although it is frequently referred to as the A40 Farina, it was only ever badged as the A40. It was only ever sold with Austin badging. At a time when Turin auto-design studios were, for the most part, consulted only by builders of expensive “exotic” cars, Austin made much of the car’s Italian styling, with both “Pinin” Farina and his son Sergio being present at the car’s UK launch. As would become apparent in later years, the car was something of a scaled-down version of the forthcoming Austin Cambridge and Morris Oxford, but without an extended boot. The A40 Farina was intended to replace the Austin A35, from which it inherited much of its running gear, and was a capacious thoroughly modern small car, with a brand new distinctive “two box” shape and generous headroom in the back seat. It was a saloon, the lower rear panel dropped like a then conventional bootlid, the rear window remaining fixed. The Countryman hatchback appeared exactly a year later in October 1959, and differed from the saloon in that the rear window was marginally smaller, to allow for a frame that could be lifted up, with its own support, while the lower panel was now flush with the floor and its hinges had been strengthened It was effectively a very small estate car with a horizontally split tailgate having a top-hinged upper door and bottom-hinged lower door. October 1959 also saw the standardisation on both cars of self-cancelling indicators and the provision of a centre interior light and, in early summer 1960, a flat lid was added over the spare wheel in the rear luggage compartment. At launch the car shared the 948 cc A-Series straight-4 used in other Austins including its A35 predecessor. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs with a live axle and semi elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The drum brakes were a hybrid (hydromech) arrangement, hydraulically operated at the front but cable actuated at the rear. The front drums at 8 in were slightly larger than the 7 in rears. Cam and peg steering was fitted. Individual seats were fitted in the front, with a bench at the rear that could fold down to increase luggage capacity. The trim material was a vinyl treated fabric. Options included a heater, radio, windscreen washers and white-wall tyres. The gearchange lever was floor-mounted with the handbrake between the seats. The door windows were not opened by conventional winders, but pulled up and down using finger grips; a window lock position was on the door handle. A Series 2 version of the car appeared in 1962, and continued for 5 more years. The car seen here was a Series 1 model.
There were several examples of the “Big Healey” here, one of Britain’s most popular classics, in both the earlier 100 and later 3000 guises. Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase, redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production.
There was also a nice example of the smaller stablemate, the “Frog Eye”. Known officially as the Sprite, it was announced to the press in Monte Carlo by the British Motor Corporation on 20 May 1958, just before that year’s Monaco Grand Prix. It was intended to be a low-cost model that “a chap could keep in his bike shed”, yet be the successor to the sporting versions of the pre-war Austin Seven. The Sprite was designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company, with production being undertaken at the MG factory at Abingdon. It first went on sale at a price of £669, using a tuned version of the Austin A-Series engine and as many other components from existing cars as possible to keep costs down. It was produced for a little over 3 years before being replaced by a Mark 2 version, which was then joined by a badge-engineered MG version, the Midget, reviving a model name used by MG from the late 1920s through to the mid 1950s. Enthusiasts often refer to Sprites and the later Midgets collectively as “Spridgets.” The first Sprite quickly became affectionately known as the “frogeye” in the UK and the “bugeye” in the US, because its headlights were prominently mounted on top of the bonnet, inboard of the front wings. The car’s designers had intended that the headlights could be retracted, with the lenses facing skyward when not in use; a similar arrangement was used many years later on the Porsche 928. But cost cutting by BMC led to the flip-up mechanism being deleted, therefore the headlights were simply fixed in a permanently upright position, giving the car its most distinctive feature. The body was styled by Gerry Coker, with subsequent alterations by Les Ireland following Coker’s emigration to the US in 1957. The car’s distinctive frontal styling bore a strong resemblance to the defunct American 1951 Crosley Super Sport. The problem of providing a rigid structure to an open-topped sports car was resolved by Barry Bilbie, Healey’s chassis designer, who adapted the idea provided by the Jaguar D-type, with rear suspension forces routed through the bodyshell’s floor pan. The Sprite’s chassis design was the world’s first volume-production sports car to use unitary construction, where the sheet metal body panels (apart from the bonnet) take many of the structural stresses. The original metal gauge (thickness of steel) of the rear structure specified by Bilbie was reduced by the Austin Design Office during prototype build, however during testing at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) distortion and deformation of the rear structure occurred and the original specification was reinstated. The two front chassis legs projecting forward from the passenger compartment mean the shell is not a full monocoque. The front sheet-metal assembly, including the bonnet (hood) and wings, was a one-piece unit, hinged from the back, that swung up to allow access to the engine compartment. The 43 bhp, 948 cc OHV engine (coded 9CC) was derived from the Austin A35 and Morris Minor 1000 models, also BMC products, but upgraded with twin 11⁄8 inch SU carburettors which gave it 43 hp at 5200 rpm and 52 lb/ft at 3300 rpm. When tested by “The Motor” magazine in 1958. It had a top speed of 82.9 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 20.5 seconds. Fuel consumption of 43 mpg was recorded. The rack and pinion steering was derived from the Morris Minor 1000 and the front suspension from the Austin A35. The front suspension was a coil spring and wishbone arrangement, with the arm of the Armstrong lever shock absorber serving as the top suspension link. The rear axle was both located and sprung by quarter-elliptic leaf springs, again with lever-arm shock absorbers and top links. There were no exterior door handles; the driver and passenger were required to reach inside to open the door. There was also no boot lid, owing to the need to retain as much structural integrity as possible, and access to the spare wheel and luggage compartment was achieved by tilting the seat-backs forward and reaching under the rear deck, a process likened to potholing by many owners, but which resulted in a large space available to store soft baggage. The BMC Competition Department entered Austin Healey Sprites in major international races and rallies, their first major success coming when John Sprinzel and Willy Cave won their class on the 1958 Alpine Rally. Private competitors also competed with much success in Sprites. Because of its affordability and practicality, the Austin Healey Sprite was developed into a formidable competition car, assuming many variants by John Sprinzel, Speedwell and WSM. The Sebring Sprite became the most iconic of the racing breed of Austin Healey Sprites. Many owners use their Austin Healey Sprites in competition today, fifty years after its introduction. 48,987 “frogeye” Sprites were made and the car remains popular to this day.
Following the war, Bentley introduced a completely new car, the Mark VI. Announced in May 1946, and produced from 1946 to 1952 it was also both the first car from Rolls-Royce with all-steel coachwork and the first complete car assembled and finished at their factory. These very expensive cars were a genuine success, long-term their weakness lay in the inferior steels forced on them by government’s post-war controls. The chassis continued to be supplied to independent coachbuilders. Four-door Saloon, two-door saloon and drophead coupe models with bodies by external companies were listed by Bentley along with the Bentley-bodied saloon. This shorter wheelbase chassis and engine was a variant of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith of 1946 and, with the same standard steel body and a larger boot became the cautiously introduced Silver Dawn of 1949. The same extended-boot modification was made to the Mark VI body in 1952 and the result became known as the R type Bentley. The R type is regarded by some as a stop-gap before the introduction of the S series cars in 1955. As with its predecessor, a standard body was available as well as coachbuilt versions by firms including H. J. Mulliner & Co., Park Ward, Harold Radford, Freestone and Webb and others. During development it was referred to as the Bentley Mark VII; the chassis cards for these cars describe them as Bentley 7. The R Type name which is now usually applied stems from chassis series RT. The front of the saloon model was identical to the Mark VI, but the boot was almost doubled in capacity. The engine displacement was approximately 4½ litres, as fitted to later versions of the Mark VI. An automatic choke was fitted to the R-type’s carburettor. The attachment of the rear springs to the chassis was altered in detail between the Mark VI and the R Type. For buyers looking for a more distinctive car, a decreasing number had custom coachwork available from the dwindling number of UK coachbuilders. These ranged from the grand flowing lines of Freestone and Webb’s conservative, almost prewar shapes, to the practical conversions of Harold Radford which including a clamshell style tailgate and folding rear seats. All R Type models use an iron-block/aluminium-head straight-6 engine fed by twin SU Type H6 carburettors. The basic engine displaced 4,566 cc with a 92 mm bore and 114.3 mm stroke. A 4-speed manual transmission was standard with a 4-speed automatic option becoming standard on later cars. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs with semi elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The brakes used 12.25 in drums all round and were operated hydraulically at the front and mechanically at the rear via a gearbox driven servo. Other than the radiator grilles and the carburation there was little difference between the standard Bentley R Type and the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn. The R Type was the more popular marque, with some 2,500 units manufactured during its run to the Silver Dawn’s 760. The survival rate is not that great, as the bodies had a habit of rusting. Seen here were an example of the regular factory saloon body and a Drophead.
The S Type Saloon, a close relative of the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, was first revealed in April 1955. It represented a complete redesign of the standard production car, the R Type (which had started off as the Mark VI). It was a more generously sized five- or six-seater saloon with the body manufactured in pressed steel with stressed skin construction, with the doors, bonnet and boot lid made of aluminium. The external appearance was very different, although the car still had the traditional radiator grille. Compared to the outgoing R Type, the new model had a three inch longer wheelbase, was lower of build without reducing headroom and with an enlarged luggage boot, softer suspension with electrically operated control of rear dampers, lighter steering and improved braking. The engine, still a clear descendants of the one originally used in the Rolls-Royce Twenty from 1922 to 1929, had its capacity increased to 4887cc, and a four-speed automatic gearbox was standard, with the ability to select individual ratios if desired, which was enough to give the Bentley a top speed of just over 100 mph and 0 – 60 acceleration times of around 13 seconds. Standard and from 1957, long wheelbase saloons were offered and some were sent to the coachbuilders for alternative bodies to be fitted. An upgrade in 1959, creating the S2, saw the installation of a new V8 engine, and in 1962, the S3 cars gained four round headlights. 3072 S Types were made, 145 of them with coachbuilt bodies as well as 35 of the long wheelbase cars, before the model was replaced by the new T Type in 1965. Seen here was a Series 2 Continental Flying Spur with HJ Mulliner body and a Continental Coupe S2.
Although the Turbo models claimed the limelight of the 1980s and 1990s, the lesser versions of the car sold well, too. Several different version of what started out simply as the Mulsanne, a badge-engineered version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit were offered. The Eight was Bentley’s “entry-level” offering from 1984 until 1992. Distinguished mainly by a wire-mesh grille radiator instead of vertical slats, the Eight also had somewhat less equipment than the similar Mulsanne on which it was based. This brought the introductory price to under the psychologically important £50,000 mark at the time of introduction, £6,000 less than the Mulsannne. A firmer suspension offered slight handling improvements. The Eight was so popular that sales expanded from the original UK market to Europe and the United States. The Eight was introduced with cloth upholstery, steel wheels, and a mesh grille that was simpler than the slatted grille of the Mulsanne. Fuel injection and anti-lock brakes were added in 1986, leather upholstery and power memory seats were added in 1987, and automatic ride height adjustment was added in 1990. In Britain, catalytic converters became optional in 1990 – although they had been available long before in markets where such were required. The three-speed automatic transmission was replaced by a four-speed transmission in August 1992. The Bentley Brooklands was introduced in 1992 as a replacement for the Bentley Mulsanne S and Bentley Eight models. It was intended as a slightly cheaper alternative to the Bentley Turbo R, featuring the same styling, underpinnings and the Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre V8 engine, but without the more powerful model’s turbocharger. The Brooklands continued Bentley’s relatively angular design theme, which was also used on contemporary Rolls-Royce vehicles, throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. The exterior design featured the classic Bentley waterfall grille as well as dual headlights with wraparound parking lights. As in many Bentley and Rolls-Royce vehicles, the Brooklands also featured the trademark descending bootlid and chrome B-pillars. The interior remained relatively unchanged from previous Bentley models, with more curvaceous design elements surrounding the leather-wrapped centre console. The steering wheel and interior door panels remained largely unchanged; the major change arrived in the form of relocating the gear selector to the centre console – for decades the standard practice among R-R and Bentley models utilised a steering column mounted selector. The interior continued to be surrounded by ample woodgrain which featured engraved, lighter-coloured outlines on the door panels.
More recently it has been the Continental GT family of cars that has delivered most of Bentley’s sales and there was at least one nice example of this model here.
There were lots of modern BMWs in the car park, of course, but the only I felt to be of note was this Z1, the very striking sports car that was produced only for a short period between 1989 and 1991. The first example of the Z1 was released by BMW to the press in 1986 and later officially presented at the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show. Initial demand was so fierce that BMW had 5,000 orders before production began. The Z1 was designed over a three-year period by an in-house division of BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH. The development of the Z1 is attributed to Ulrich Bez and his team at BMW Technik GmbH. The BMW Z1 was used to develop and debut several technologies. Z1 designer Harm Lagaay mentioned that Z1 production helped generate patents for BMW’s high-intensity discharge lamp, integrated roll-bar, door mechanism, and underbody tray. Both the engine and the five-speed manual transmission were sourced from the E30 325i. The 2.5 litre 12-valve SOHC straight-six engine sits tilted 20 degrees to the right to accommodate the low bonnet line. The engine produces 168 hp at 5,800 rpm and 164 lb·ft of torque in its original form. The rear suspension, called the Z Axle, was specially designed for the Z1 and this was one of the first BMWs to feature a multi-link design. In the 1990s, the Z Axle would be used on a variety of BMW Group vehicles, including the E36, 3 series, and the R40 Rover 75.The chassis was specially designed for the Z1 and featured a number of innovative features: removable body panels, continuously zinc welded seams, a composite undertray, and the unusual dropped doors. Parts of the car (including the engine, gearbox, and front suspension) were borrowed from the BMW E30 325i and 325Ix, but most of the Z1’s components are unique to the model, and that had the consequence of making it expensive. The body was made from plastic and could be removed completely from the chassis. The side panels and doors are made of General Electric’s XENOY thermoplastic. The hood, trunk, and roof cover are GRP components made by Seger + Hoffman AG. The car is painted in a special flexible lacquer finish developed jointly by AKZO Coatings and BMW Technik GmbH. During the Z1s launch, BMW suggested that owners purchase an additional set of body panels and change the colour of the car from time to time. The car could actually be driven with all of the panels completely removed, similar to the Pontiac Fiero. BMW noted that the body could be completely replaced in 40 minutes, although Z1 owners have reported that this may be optimistic. The entire vehicle was designed with aerodynamics in mind. Specifically, the entire undertray is completely flat and the exhaust and rear valance were designed as integral aerodynamic components to decrease turbulence and rear lift. The front end reportedly induces a high-pressure zone just forward of the front wheels to increase front-wheel traction. The Z1 has a drag coefficient of 0.36 Cd with the top up or 0.43 Cd with it down. The doors retract vertically down into the car’s body instead of swinging outward or upward. The Kaiser Darrin was the first car to have retractable doors; they slid forward into the front wings. The inspiration for these doors came from more traditional roadsters which often feature removable metal or cloth doors. Because removable doors did not fit within BMW’s design goals, the retractable doors were installed instead. The body with its high sills, offers crash protection independent of the doors, the vehicle may be legally and safely driven with the doors up or down, although this is not legal in the U.S. The windows may be operated independently of the doors, although they do retract automatically if the door is lowered. Both the window and door are driven by electric motors through toothed rubber belts and may be moved manually in an emergency. It took a while to get the Z1 into production, by which time demand had dropped considerably, perhaps due to reduced demand from speculators. In the end, BMW only produced 8,000 Z1 models. 6,443 of these were sold in BMW’s native German market. The country to receive the second-greatest number of Z1s, Italy, received less than 7% of the total sold domestically. BMW was reportedly unable to build more than 10 to 20 Z1 vehicles each day. None were initially sold in North America, although examples have been independently imported since the car’s launch. More than half of all Z1 vehicles (specifically, 4,091) were produced for the 1990 model year. Seventy-eight Z1 vehicles were reportedly used as test mules, although most were later sold without a warranty and, presumably, at a lower price. The Z1 was available in six exterior colours and four interior colours. Most (6,177) were red, black, or green with a dark grey interior. Light yellow exterior (fun-gelb in German or fun yellow in English, with 33 examples made and cars with a red interior (38 examples made) are the rarest Z1 colours. The colours swimming pool blue and oh-so-orange were reserved for the car’s designers, Bez and Lagaay. Reportedly, some 1,101 Z1 vehicles were delivered without a factory radio installed. In these vehicles, BMWS AG installed an aftermarket Sony radio in its place. None of the Z1 vehicles were sold with air conditioning. The vehicle’s dashboard is very small and there was no room for both heat and cooling units. Some Z1 vehicles were converted using BMW E30 parts to have air conditioning, but reportedly the heater elements had to be removed. Although prices did drop from the new car cost of around £40,000, these have never been cheap cars to buy, and these days values are increasing again.
There were two examples of the 406 here, the regular saloon and the exceedingly rare Zagato model. The Bristol 406 was produced between 1958 and 1961 by the Bristol Aeroplane Co, which later became Bristol Cars. Compared to the 405, which it replaced, the 406 saw several significant changes. The most important was that the six-cylinder engine itself was enlarged slightly in both bore and stroke to dimensions of 69 mm by 100 mm. This gave an engine displacement of 2,216 cc but the actual power of the engine was no greater than that of the 405. However, the torque was higher than the smaller engine, especially at low engine speeds. It would prove to be the last Bristol to use this engine, before switching to Chrysler V8 units. The 406 also featured Dunlop-built disc brakes on all four wheels (making it one of the first cars with four-wheel disc brakes) and a two-door saloon body Bristol were to stick with for a long period after adopting Chrysler V8 engines with the 407. The styling made the 406 more of a luxury car than a true sports saloon. It was, nevertheless, “a delight to drive”. The rear suspension of the 406 also did away with the outdated A-bracket of all previous Bristols for a more modern Watt’s linkage. The 406 was the world’s first production car to be thus equipped. However, the outdated front suspension of previous Bristols was retained and not updated until the following model with its more powerful drivetrain. A prototype with a body by Carrosserie Beutler AG of Thun in Switzerland was exhibited in 1957 in both Paris and London Motor Shows. The start of production at Filton was announced in late August 1958. Two short-wheelbase 406s, known as 406Ss, were bodied by Zagato. In all, there were only six 406s with Zagato bodies. Rather than the 105 hp of the standard cars, these received a fettled engine with 115 hp and a stainless Abarth exhaust, which combined with the considerable lighter weight to make a spirited performer out of the 406.
Chevrolet first used the Impala name in 1958, when it was applied to a new model which sat above the Bel Air as a top of the line model. It differed from the cheaper models in the range from behind the windscreen with a longer wheelbase even though the overall length was the same, as well as upgraded trim. It proved popular, accounting for 15% of total Chevrolet sales for the year. For 1959, Chevrolet completely redesigned their entire product range, and once again there was an Impala included. Sharing bodyshells with lower-end Buicks and Oldsmobiles as well as with Pontiac, part of a GM economy move, the Chevrolet’s wheelbase 1-1/2 inches longer. Using a new X-frame chassis, the roof line was three inches lower, bodies were two inches wider, and curb weight increased. Its tailfins protruded outward, rather than upward. The taillights were a large “teardrop” design at each side and were the largest yet (and indeed, ever) seen. The Impala became a separate model in its own right, adding a four-door hardtop and four-door sedan, to the two-door Sport Coupe and convertible. Sport Coupes featured a shortened roof line and wrap-over back window. The standard engine was an inline 6, while the base V8 was the carryover 283 cu in (4,640 cc), at 185 hp Optional were a 283 cu in with 290 hp and 348 cu in (5,700 cc) V8 up to 315 hp. Standard were front and rear armrests, an electric clock, dual sliding sun visors, and crank-operated front vent windows. A contoured hooded instrument panel held deep-set gauges. A six-way power seat was a new option, as was “Speedminder”, for the driver to set a needle at a specific speed and a buzzer would sound if the pre-set was exceeded. The model continued into 1960, though there were styling changes, with the tail fins reduced somewhat, as well as a reinstatement of three round taillights on each side, a nonfunctional front air intake scoops, and a white band running along the rear bumper. The available V8s were reduced to seven, in 283-cu in or 348-cu in displacements. The Turbo-Fire 283 cu in V8 could have either 170 or 230 hp. The 348 cu in was available in 250 to 320 hp with a 350 hp Super Turbo-Thrust Special with triple two-barrel carburettors, 11.25:1 compression ratio, and dual exhausts. Fuel injection was no longer an option on full-size Chevrolets. New to the options list was speed and cruise control. Production was 490,000 units before a completely new model appeared for 1961. Right hand drive models were made in Oshawa, Ontario in Canada, for New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa which were then assembled locally from CKD or SKD kits. The right-hand drive dashboard was a mirror image of the 1959 Chevrolet panel and shared with equivalent right-hand drive Pontiac models. Australian models were assembled by hand on the GMH Holden assembly lines. Seen here is a 1959 four-door hardtop with those amazing tail fins.
There was also a second generation Corvette Convertible model here. Sometimes referred to as the C2, this was launched in 1963. This model introduced us to the name Sting Ray. It continued with fibreglass body panels, and overall, was smaller than the first generation. The car was designed by Larry Shinoda with major inspiration from a previous concept design called the “Q Corvette,” which was created by Peter Brock and Chuck Pohlmann under the styling direction of Bill Mitchell. Earlier, Mitchell had sponsored a car known as the “Mitchell Sting Ray” in 1959 because Chevrolet no longer participated in factory racing. This vehicle had the largest impact on the styling of this generation, although it had no top and did not give away what the final version of the C2 would look like. The third inspiration was a Mako Shark Mitchell had caught while deep-sea fishing. Production started for the 1963 model year and ended in 1967. The 1963 model was the first year for a Corvette coupé and it featured a distinctive tapering rear deck (a feature that later reappeared on the 1971 “Boattail” Buick Riviera) with, for 1963 only, a split rear window. The Sting Ray featured hidden headlamps, non-functional bonnet vents, and an independent rear suspension. Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov never liked the split rear window because it blocked rear vision, but Mitchell thought it to be a key part of the entire design. Maximum power for 1963 was 360 bhp, raised to 375 bhp in 1964. Options included electronic ignition, the breakerless magnetic pulse-triggered Delcotronic first offered on some 1963 Pontiac models. On 1964 models the decorative bonnet vents were eliminated and Duntov, the Corvette’s chief engineer, got his way with the split rear window changed to a full width window. Four-wheel disc brakes were introduced in 1965, as was a “big block” engine option: the 396 cu in (6.49 litre) V8. Side exhaust pipes were also optionally available in 1965, and continued to be offered through 1967. The introduction of the 425 bhp 396 cu in big block in 1965 spelled the beginning of the end for the Rochester fuel injection system. The 396 cu in option cost $292.70 while the fuel injected 327 cu in (5.36 litre) engine cost $538.00. Few people could justify spending $245.00 more for 50 bhp less, even though FI could deliver over 20 mpg on the highway and would keep delivering fuel despite high G-loading in corners taken at racing speeds. Another rare ’63 and ’64 option was the Z06 competition package, which offered stiffer suspension, bigger, multi-segment lined brakes with finned drums and more, only a couple hundred coupes and ONE convertible were factory-equipped this way in 1963. With only 771 fuel-injected cars built in 1965, Chevrolet discontinued the option at the end of the ’65 production, having introduced a less-expensive big block 396 engine rated at 425 hp in the middle of the production year and selling over 2,000 in just a few months. For 1966, Chevrolet introduced an even larger 427 cu in 7 litre Big Block version. Other options available on the C2 included the Wonderbar auto-tuning AM radio, AM-FM radio (mid-1963), air conditioning (late-1963), a telescopic steering wheel (1965), and headrests (1966). The Sting Ray’s independent rear suspension was successfully adapted for the new-for-1965 Chevrolet Corvair, which solved the quirky handling problems of that unique rear-engine compact. 1967 was the final year for the C2 generation. The 1967 model featured restyled bumper vents, less ornamentation, and back-up lamps which were on the inboard in 1966 were now rectangular and centrally located. The first use of all four taillights in red started in 1961 and was continued thru the C-2 line-up except for the 1966. The 1967 and subsequent models continuing on all Corvettes since. 1967 had the first L88 engine option which was rated at 430 bhp, but unofficial estimates place the actual output at 560 bhp or more. Only twenty such engines were installed at the factory. From 1967 (to 1969), the Holley triple two-barrel carburettor, or Tri-Power, was available on the 427 L89 (a $368 option, on top of the cost for the high-performance 427). Despite these changes, sales slipped over 15%, to 22,940 – 8,504 coupes and 14,436 convertibles.
It is hard to imagine just how revolutionary the DS must have seemed when it was unveiled at the Paris Show in 1955. 18 years in secret development as the successor to the Traction Avant, the DS 19 stole the show, and within 15 minutes of opening, 743 orders were taken. By the end of the first day, that number had risen to 12,000. Contemporary journalists said the DS pushed the envelope in the ride vs. handling compromise possible in a motor vehicle. To a France still deep in reconstruction after the devastation of World War II, and also building its identity in the post-colonial world, the DS was a symbol of French ingenuity. It also posited the nation’s relevance in the Space Age, during the global race for technology of the Cold War. Structuralist philosopher Roland Barthes, in an essay about the car, said that it looked as if it had “fallen from the sky”. An American advertisement summarised this selling point: “It takes a special person to drive a special car”. Because they were owned by the technologically aggressive tyre manufacturer Michelin, Citroën had designed their cars around the technically superior radial tyre since 1948, and the DS was no exception. The car featured a novel hydropneumatic suspension including an automatic levelling system and variable ground clearance, developed in-house by Paul Magès. This suspension allowed the DS to travel quickly on the poor road surfaces common in France. In addition, the vehicle had power steering and a semi-automatic transmission (the transmission required no clutch pedal, but gears still had to be shifted by hand though the shift lever controlled a powered hydraulic shift mechanism in place of a mechanical linkage, and a fibreglass roof which lowered the centre of gravity and so reduced weight transfer. Inboard front brakes (as well as independent suspension) reduced unsprung weight. Different front and rear track widths and tyre sizes reduced the unequal tyre loading, which is well known to promote understeer, typical of front-engined and front-wheel drive cars. As with all French cars, the DS design was affected by the tax horsepower system, which effectively mandated very small engines. Unlike the Traction Avant predecessor, there was no top-of-range model with a powerful six-cylinder engine. Citroën had planned an air-cooled flat-6 engine for the car, but did not have the funds to put the prototype engine into production. The 1955 DS19 was 65% more expensive than the car it replaced, the Citroën Traction Avant. This did impact potential sales in a country still recovering economically from World War II, so a cheaper submodel, the Citroën ID, was introduced in 1957. The ID shared the DS’s body but was less powerful and luxurious. Although it shared the engine capacity of the DS engine (at this stage 1,911 cc), the ID provided a maximum power output of only 69 hp compared to the 75 hp claimed for the DS19. Power outputs were further differentiated in 1961 when the DS19 acquired a Weber-32 twin bodied carburettor, and the increasing availability of higher octane fuel enabled the manufacturer to increase the compression ratio from 7.5:1 to 8.5:1. A new DS19 now came with a promised 83 hp of power. The ID19 was also more traditional mechanically: it had no power steering and had conventional transmission and clutch instead of the DS’s hydraulically controlled set-up. Initially the basic ID19 was sold on the French market with a price saving of more than 25% against the DS, although the differential was reduced at the end of 1961 when the manufacturer quietly withdrew the entry level ID19 “Normale” from sale. An estate version was introduced in 1958. It was known by various names in different markets: Break in France, Safari and Estate in the UK, Wagon in the US, and Citroën Australia used the terms Safari and Station-Wagon. It had a steel roof to support the standard roof rack. ‘Familiales’ had a rear seat mounted further back in the cabin, with three folding seats between the front and rear squabs. The standard Break had two side-facing seats in the main load area at the back. During the 20 year production life, improvements were made on an ongoing basis. In September 1962, the DS was restyled with a more aerodynamically efficient nose, better ventilation and other improvements. It retained the open two headlamp appearance, but was available with an optional set of driving lights mounted on the front bumpers. A more luxurious Pallas trim came in for 1965 Named after the Greek goddess Pallas, this included comfort features such as better noise insulation, a more luxurious (and optional leather) upholstery and external trim embellishments. The cars were complex, and not always totally reliable, One of the issues that emerged during long term use was addressed with a change which came in for 1967. The original hydropneumatic system used a vegetable oil liquide hydraulique végétal (LHV), similar to that used in other cars at the time, but later switched to a synthetic fluid liquide hydraulique synthétique (LHS). Both of these had the disadvantage that they are hygroscopic, as is the case with most brake fluids. Disuse allows water to enter the hydraulic components causing deterioration and expensive maintenance work. The difficulty with hygroscopic hydraulic fluid was exacerbated in the DS/ID due to the extreme rise and fall in the fluid level in the reservoir, which went from nearly full to nearly empty when the suspension extended to maximum height and the six accumulators in the system filled with fluid. With every “inhalation” of fresh moisture- (and dust-) laden air, the fluid absorbed more water. For the 1967 model year, Citroën introduced a new mineral oil-based fluid liquide hydraulique minéral (LHM). This fluid was much less harsh on the system. LHM remained in use within Citroën until the Xantia was discontinued in 2001. LHM required completely different materials for the seals. Using either fluid in the incorrect system would completely destroy the hydraulic seals very quickly. To help avoid this problem, Citroën added a bright green dye to the LHM fluid and also painted all hydraulic elements bright green. The former LHS parts were painted black. All models, including the Safari and ID, were upgraded at the same time. The hydraulic fluid changed to the technically superior LHM (Liquide Hydraulique Minéral) in all markets except the US and Canada, where the change did not take place until January 1969, due to local regulations. Rarest and most collectable of all DS variants, a convertible was offered from 1958 until 1973. The Cabriolet d’Usine (factory convertible) were built by French carrossier Henri Chapron, for the Citroën dealer network. It was an expensive car, so only 1,365 were sold. These DS convertibles used a special frame which was reinforced on the sidemembers and rear suspension swingarm bearing box, similar to, but not identical to the Break/Safari frame.. Seen here were a DS21 and a Chapron “usine” convertible.
The SP250 “Dart” was quite unlike any previous Daimler model, the marque having a history of producing a series of luxurious saloon and open topped models. But by the mid 1950s, the once proud Coventry marque was in trouble, with a range of cars which were expensive and just not selling. New models were seen as a potential way of changing things around, so shortly after being appointed Managing Director of BSA’s Automotive Division in 1956, Edward Turner was asked to design a saloon car powered by a new V8 engine. The engine drawings were finalised by March 1958 but the saloon prototype, project number DN250, was not available for examination by the committee formed in 1958 to report on the feasibility of the V8 cars. The committee’s evaluation centred on the prototypes being tested at the time, which were for the SP250 sports car project. according to the feasibility study conducted by the committee, the SP250 would generate a profit of more than £700,000 based on a projection of 1,500 cars being sold in the first year of production and 3,000 cars per year for the second and third years of production. Two-thirds of the sales of the car were expected to be in the United States. The study also determined that the body should be made from fibreglass, with shorter time to the beginning of production, tooling costs of £16,000 as opposed to £120,000 for steel bodies, and lower cost to change the styling. That meant that the car was able to be launched at the 1959 New York Show, christened the Daimler Dart. Chrysler, whose Dodge division owned the trademark for the “Dart” model name, ordered Daimler to change the name under threat of legal action. With little time to come up with a new name, Daimler used the project number, SP250, as the model number. The car certainly looked quite unlike previous Daimlers, but whether that was a good thing is less clear as the SP250 won “The Ugliest Car” via vote at that 1959 show. That was not the only problem with the car, either. The original version, later called the A-spec, could reach a speed of 120 mph, but the chassis, a “14-gauge ladder frame with cruciform bracing” based on the Triumph TR3, flexed so much that doors occasionally came open, marring its reputation. The car featured the smaller of the two hemi-head V8 engines which Edward Turner had designed. 2547cc in capacity, it was a V8, iron block, OHV unit, with a single central camshaft operated valves through short pushrods with double heavy-duty valve springs, aluminium alloy hemispherical cylinder heads, and twin SU carburettors which meant it put out 140 bhp.The manual gearbox, the first of the type used by Daimler since they started using the pre-selector type across their range in the 1930s,, was reverse-engineered from the Standard gearbox used in the Triumph TR3A. Early examples of the car were not particularly reliable. Sales were slow, initially, and Daimlers problems were compounded when, not long after they had been acquired by Jaguar, an in-house rival in the form of the E Type arrived on the scene. New bosses at Jaguar did not kill off the SP250, though, but they were immediately concerned about the chassis flex. They brought out the B-spec. version with extra outriggers on the chassis and a strengthening hoop between the A-posts. There were also other detail improvements, including an adjustable steering column. Bumpers had originally been an optional extra. With the basic specification not including full bumpers, the A-spec. cars have two short, chromium-plated ‘whiskers’ on the body on either side of the front grille and two short, vertical bumpers, or “overriders” at the rear, which were not included if the rear bumper was optioned. B-spec. and the later C-spec. cars do not have the ‘whiskers’ that A-spec. have and some do not have the optional front bumper, so there is very little front protection for these cars. A planned Coupe version of the car, the DP250 never got beyond the prototype phase, and Ogle Design’s proposal for a Coupe version was not taken up, the styling for that concept ending up forming the Reliant Scimitar GT. The SP250 ended production in 1964. Just 2,654 SP250s were produced in five years of production, far short of the projection of 3,000 per year by the second year of production. Jaguar did built a prototype replacement under project number SP252 with a neater body style but decided not to proceed with production, as they figured that the cost to build the SP252 would have been greater than that of Jaguar’s popular and more expensive E-Type, thereby creating internal competition from a product with no practical profit margin and with uncertain market acceptance. These days, surviving SP250s are viewed rather more positively than they were when new, and a certain Quentin Willson, who has owned one for many years, is particularly positive about the car’s merits.
Needing little in the way of introduction is this Viper, one of America’s few true supercars. Subtlety never was the point here, but power and noise certainly were.
The Ferrari 365 GTC/4, a 2+2 grand tourer, was only produced by Ferrari from 1971 to 1972. It was based on the chassis of the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona”. In the very short two-year production run 505 examples of the GTC/4 were produced. Its chassis and drivetrain, however, were carried over mostly unaltered (apart from a wheelbase stretch to provide more satisfying rear seat room) on its successor, the 1972 365 GT4 2+2. The GTC/4’s coupé bodywork by Pininfarina enclosed two front and two rear seats, as on the 365 GT 2+2 it replaced directly. However, the rear seats were small and the slanting rear window limited rear headroom, so it can also be seen to trace to the two-seat 365 GTC that had been discontinued in 1970. With its wedge shape, fastback silhouette, sharp creases and hidden headlamps the GTC/4’s styling clearly reflects the 365 GTB/4 “Daytona” it was based on. Power steering, electric windows and air conditioning were standard. The cabin was upholstered in mixed leather and tartan fabric, unique to this model and unusual for a Ferrari, with full leather upholstery an option. The 365 GTC/4 shared the chassis and engine block as the 365 GTB/4 Daytona, riding on the same wheelbase and suspension. Many changes were made to make it a more comfortable grand tourer than its two-seat predecessor and sibling. These included softer spring rate and a hydraulic power steering. The chassis was a tubular spaceframe, mated to a steel body with aluminium doors and bonnets; as was customary in this period, the bodies were made and finished by Pininfarina in Turin, then sent to Ferrari in Modena for the assembly. The suspension system used transverse A-arms, coil springs coaxial with the shock absorbers (double at the rear), and anti-roll bars on all four corners. Wheels were cast magnesium on Rudge knock-off hubs, while Borrani wire wheels were optional; the braking system used vented discs front and rear. The engine was a Tipo F 101 AC 000 Colombo V12, displacing 4,390 cc. Engine block and cylinder heads were aluminium alloy, with cast iron pressed-in sleeves; chain-driven two overhead camshafts per bank (four in total, as noted by the “4” in the model designation) commanded two valves per cylinder. The V12 was detuned to 340 PS (335 bhp) from the Daytona, to provide a more tractable response suited to a GT-oriented Ferrari. In place of the Daytona’s downdraft setup, six twin-choke side-draft Weber carburetors were used, whose lower profile made possible the car’s lower and sloping bonnet line. The 5-speed all-synchronised manual transmission was bolted to the engine, another difference from the Daytona which used a transaxle. However the set back placement of the engine and transmission still allowed the car to achieve a near perfect 51:49 weight distribution. The gearbox was rigidly connected to the alloy housing of the rear differential through a torque tube. There are a handful of them in the UK.
Firmly placed in Ferrari’s history as one of their finest big GTs, the 550 Maranello’s combination of stylish Pininfarina lines and front mounted 12-cylinder engine meant this car had the potential to become an instant classic, following in the footsteps of its forebear, the 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’, and if you look at the way the prices are steading to go, it’s clear that the potential is being realised. Launched in 1996, and with modern styling cues, a 5.5 litre V12 engine producing around 485bhp and a reported top speed of 199mph, the 550 Maranello was a serious motor car. A less frenetic power delivery, the six speed manual box and excellent weight distribution were all factors in the 550 becoming the perfect European Grand Tourer. Ferrari updated the car to create the 575M.
The successor to the 500 was the 126, which arrived in the autumn of 1972. Initially it was produced alongside the 500, which stayed in production until 1976. The 126 used much of the same mechanical underpinnings and layout as its Fiat 500 rear-engined predecessor with which it shared its wheelbase, but featured an all new bodyshell resembling a scaled-down Fiat 127, also enhancing safety. Engine capacity was increased from 594 cc to 652 cc at the end of 1977 when the cylinder bore was increased from 73.5 to 77 mm. Claimed power output was unchanged at 23 PS, but torque was increased from 39 N·m (29 lb/ft) to 43 Nm (32 lb/ft). A slightly less basic DeVille version arrived at the same time, identified by its large black plastic bumpers and side rubbing strips. A subsequent increase in engine size to 704 cc occurred with the introduction of the 126 Bis in 1987. This had 26 PS, and a water cooled engine, as well as a rear hatchback. Initially the car was produced in Italy in the plants of Cassino and Termini Imerese, with 1,352,912 of the cars made in Italy, but from 1979, production was concentrated solely in Poland, where the car had been manufactured by FSM since 1973 as the Polski Fiat 126p. Even after the introduction of the 126 Bis the original model continued to be produced for the Polish market. The car was also produced under licence by Zastava in Yugoslavia. Western European sales ceased in 1991, ready for the launch of the Cinquecento, but the car continued to be made for the Polish market. In 1994, the 126p received another facelift, and some parts from the Fiat Cinquecento, this version was named 126 EL. The 126 ELX introduced a catalytic converter. Despite clever marketing, the 126 never achieved the popularity of the 500, with the total number produced being: 1,352,912 in Italy, 3,318,674 in Poland, 2,069 in Austria, and an unknown number in Yugoslavia. Seen here was a 126 DeVille.
The X1/9 followed a 1969 show concept car called the Autobianchi Runabout, with styling by Bertone under chief designer Marcello Gandini. The Runabout was powered by the same engine as the Autobianchi A112. Designed around the all-new 128 SOHC engine and with the gearbox (transmission) from the front wheel drive Fiat 128, the X1/9 relocated the transverse drive train and suspension assembly from the front of the 128 to the rear of the passenger cabin, directly in front of the rear axle, giving a mid-engined layout. The layout also located the fuel tank and spare wheel side by side ahead of the engine, directly behind the seats — optimising the proportion of the car’s weight falling within its wheelbase for more effective handling and also enabling cargo areas front and rear. Unlike Fiat’s marketing nomenclature at the time which used a numerical system (e.g., 127, 128, 124, 131) denoting relative position in the model range, the X1/9 retained its prototype code as its marketing name. Fiat’s prototype coding used X0 for engines, X1 for passenger vehicles and X2 for commercial vehicles. The X1/9 was thus the ninth passenger car developed using the nomenclature. The prototype car featured a distinctive wedge shape and took many styling cues from contemporary power-boat design. Though the more extreme features of the Runabout such as the C pillar mounted headlights and the small wind-deflector windscreen were lost for the production car, many aesthetic features of the Autobianchi Runabout are readily identifiable on the X1/9. The long flat bonnet with central indentation, the large front overhang, the wedge shape with prominent C pillar roll-over hoop and the car-length indented plimsoll-line all made the successful transition to the X1/9, giving it a highly distinctive appearance. Once developed for production, the two-seater featured sharp-edged styling with a wedge shape, pop-up headlights and a removable hard top roof panel (targa top). The removable hardtop stores in the front luggage compartment, below the front hood, only slightly reducing the space available for cargo. An aftermarket company offered a top made of lightweight clear-smoked polycarbonate. The car was developed for release for European sales in 1972 to replace the 850 spider by Bertone. It was not intended as a replacement for the 124 Sport spider and production of the 124 spider and X1/9 continued in parallel for much of the X1/9’s life. The car’s monocoque body was produced at the Bertone factory in Torino and then transported to the Fiat’s Lingotto factory for final assembly. In 1982, shortly after the introduction of the 1500 model, complete production was assumed by Bertone with models subsequently badged as the “Bertone” X1/9. Bertone models featured revised footwells redesigned to enhance legroom and sitting comfort for persons taller than the original design’s target. The first models featured a 75 bhp 1290 cc single overhead cam engine with an aluminium head. In 1978 the more powerful 85bhp 1500cc unit found its way into the engine bay which necessitated a raised engine cover to provide the clearance. Larger bumpers were fitted at this time. Fiat made few other changes for many years, as if they lost interest in the car. The last production models were named the Gran Finale and sold over the 1989/1990 period. They were a dealer modification of the special edition (commonly abbreviated to SE) of 1988/1989, with the addition of a rear spoiler and “gran finale” badges. There were a couple of them here, one the limited production VS car.
Getting rare now is the Cinquecento, or Tipo 170 in Fiat development parlance, which was launched in December 1991, to replace the Fiat 126. It was the first Fiat model to be solely manufactured in the FSM plant in Tychy, Poland, which had been sold to Fiat by the Polish state, and where production of the Polish variant of the Fiat 126, the Polski Fiat 126p, was still running. It took 18 months before the new city car reached the UK, and its success proved that there was a market for very small cars after all, even though Renault had concluded that there was not sufficient demand for their Twingo which appeared around the same time. The Fiat sold well, and it was not long before it had a number of market rivals, such as the Ford Ka, Seat Arosa and Volkswagen Lupo. The smallest engine, intended for sale in Poland only, was a 704 cc OHV two-cylinder unit, delivering 31 bhp, an engine which was inherited from the 126p BIS. For the front-wheel drive Cinquecento, it underwent a major refurbishment (although the engine still employed a carburettor), which resulted, among other changes, in the crankshaft revolving in the opposite direction than in the 126p BIS! The bigger engine was the 903 cc 40 PS version of the veteran Fiat 100 OHV four-cylinder engine, which saw service in many small Fiat models, starting with the Fiat 850, and dating back to the initial 633 cc unit as introduced in the 1955 Fiat 600. It was fitted with single point fuel injection and was the base engine in most markets. Due to fiscal limitations, the displacement of this unit was limited to 899 cc in 1993, with a slight reduction of output, now producing 39 PS. In 1994, Fiat introduced the Cinquecento Sporting, featuring the 1108 cc SOHC FIRE 54 PS engine from the entry-level Punto of the same era, mated to a close-ratio 5 speed gearbox. Other additions were a drop in standard ride height, front anti-roll bar, 13″ alloy wheels, plus colour-coded bumpers and mirrors. The interior saw a tachometer added, along with sports seats, red seatbelts and a leather steering wheel and gear knob. It is the Sporting model which gave birth to a rallying trophy and a Group A Kit-Car version, and the Sporting is the version you see most often these days. Production of the Cinquecento ended in early 1998, when it was replaced by the Seicento.
After the 124 Spider ended production, there was a wait of over 10 years before Fiat would produce another open-topped car. Developed between 1990 and 1994 under the project name Tipo B Spider 176, the Barchetta, a small open topped rival to the Mazda MX5 was designed by Andreas Zapatinas and Alessandro Cavazza under the supervision of Peter Barrett Davis and other car designers at the Fiat Centro Stile, and prototyping was carried out by Stola. Production began in February 1995 and lasted until June 2005, with a brief pause due to the bankruptcy of coachbuilder Maggiora. The Barchetta was based on the chassis of the Mark 1 Fiat Punto. The Barchetta has 1,747 cc DOHC petrol engine fitted with variable camshaft timing, used for the first time in a Fiat production car, after being patented in 1970. The engine has 132 PS, and with a weight of 1056 kg (2328 lb) without air conditioning can accelerate to 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph). It came in various trim levels which offered different features, for example, diamond cross stitch – patterned red leather instead of the standard black leather or fabric seats, alloy wheels instead of steel wheels, or fog-lights as an option. Arguably one of the biggest external cosmetic changes was made by the addition of the third brake light, first introduced by Fiat on the Lido and Riviera in 2000, and on sub models thereafter. The bodies were welded at ILCAS in Sparone Canavese, and final assembly was done in Chivasso by the coachbuilder Maggiora. After Maggiora’s bankruptcy in 2002, Fiat relocated production of the Barchetta to its Mirafiori plant and resumed production two years later. The most notable changes were the revised front spoiler and rear bumper. Production of the car eventually stopped in June 2005, with around 57,700 cars having been built. Production of the Barchetta was limited to LHD cars only, even though the car was marketed and sold in two RHD markets, the United Kingdom and Japan.
The Ford Thunderbird began life in February 1953 in direct response to Chevrolet’s new sports car, the Corvette, which was publicly unveiled in prototype form just a month before. Under rapid development, the Thunderbird went from idea to prototype in about a year, being unveiled to the public at the Detroit Auto Show on February 20, 1954. It was a two-seat design available with a detachable glass-fibre hard top and a folding fabric top. Production of the Thunderbird began later on in 1954 on September 9 with the car beginning sales as a 1955 model on October 22, 1954. Though sharing some design characteristics with other Fords of the time, such as single, circular headlamps and tail lamps and modest tailfins, the Thunderbird was sleeker and more athletic in shape, and had features like a hood scoop and a 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer hinting a higher performance nature that other Fords didn’t possess. Mechanically though, the Thunderbird could trace its roots to other mainstream Fords. The Thunderbird’s 102.0 inches (2,591 mm) wheelbase frame was mostly a shortened version of that used in other Fords while the car’s standard 292 cu in (4.8 L) Y-block V8 came from Ford’s Mercury division. Though inspired by, and positioned directly against, the Corvette, Ford billed the Thunderbird as a personal car, putting a greater emphasis on the car’s comfort and convenience features rather than its inherent sportiness. The Thunderbird sold exceptionally well in its first year. In fact, the Thunderbird outsold the Corvette by more than 23-to-one for 1955 with 16,155 Thunderbirds sold against 700 Corvettes. With the Thunderbird considered a success, few changes were made to the car for 1956. The most notable change was moving the spare tire to a continental-style rear bumper in order to make more storage room in the trunk and a new 12 volt electrical system. The addition of the weight at the rear caused steering issues. Among the few other changes were new paint colours, the addition of circular porthole windows as standard in the fiberglass roof to improve rearward visibility, and a 312 cu in (5.1 L) Y-block V8 making 215 hp when mated to a 3-speed manual transmission or 225 hp when mated to a Ford-O-Matic 2-speed automatic transmission; this transmission featured a “low gear”, which was accessible only via the gear selector. When in “Drive”, it was a 2-speed automatic transmission (similar to Chevrolet’s Powerglide). The Thunderbird was revised for 1957 with a reshaped front bumper, a larger grille and tailfins, and larger tail lamps. The instrument panel was heavily re-styled with round gauges in a single pod, and the rear of the car was lengthened, allowing the spare tire to be positioned back in the trunk. The 312 cu in (5.1 L) V8 became the Thunderbird’s standard engine, and now produced 245 hp. Other, even more powerful versions of the 312 cu in (5.1 L) V8 were available including one with two four-barrel Holley carburetors and another with a Paxton supercharger delivering 300 hp. Though Ford was pleased to see sales of the Thunderbird rise to a record-breaking 21,380 units for 1957, company executives felt the car could do even better, leading to a substantial redesign of the car for 1958.
Also here was one of the Mustang Mach 1 cars, from the early 70s.
Hillman used the Minx model name for nearly 40 years on their family cars. The original Minx was announced to the forewarned (in August) public 1 October 1931. It was straightforward and conventional with a pressed-steel body on separate chassis and 30 bhp 1185 cc engine producing cushioned power. It was upgraded with a four-speed transmission in 1934 and a styling upgrade, most noticeably a slightly V-shaped grille. For 1935 the range was similar except that synchromesh was added to all forward gears and this Minx became the first mass-produced car with an all synchromesh gearbox. it was designed by Rootes’ technical director Captain John Samuel Irving (1880-1953) designer of Sunbeam aero engines and Sunbeam’s Golden Arrow in conjunction with Alfred Herbert Wilde, (1891-1930) recently chief engineer of Standard and designer of the Standard Nine. The 1936 model had a new name, the Minx Magnificent, and a restyle with a much more rounded body. The chassis was stiffened and the engine moved forwards to give more passenger room. The rear panel, previously vertical, was now set at a sloping angle, and the manufacturers offered the option of a folding luggage grid attached to the rear panel for “two pounds, seven shillings and sixpence” A Commer-badged estate car was added to the range. The final pre-war model was the 1938 Minx. There were no more factory-built tourers but some were made by Carbodies. The car was visually similar to the Magnificent, with a different grille, and access to the luggage boot (trunk) was external (that on the predecessor was accessed by folding down the rear seat). There were two saloon models in the range, the basic “Safety” model with simple rexine trim instead of leather, no opening front quarterlights, and less luxurious trim levels. The De Luxe model had leather trim, opening quarterlights, extra trim pads, and various other comfort benefits. The 1938 model was not the final iteration before the outbreak of war, however, as the 1939 model was considerably different mechanically, with virtually the entire drivetrain improved to the extent that few parts are interchangeable with the 1938 model. This includes gearbox, differential, half shafts, steering box, and a great many other mechanical and cosmetic changes. Even the front grille, which to the casual eye looks almost identical to the 1938 model, became a pressed alloy component rather than a composite.
Once a common sight on our roads, and indeed a car I know well, as we had a series of these in the family when I was growing up, and I drove the last one for a few months before the arrival of my first company car, this is a Hillman Estate Car, as the first of the estate models were known. It came from a range of cars codenamed Arrow, and produced under several badge-engineered marques from 1966 to 1979. It is amongst the last Rootes designs, developed with no influence from future owner Chrysler. A substantial number of separate marque and model names applied to this single car platform. Some were given different model names to justify trim differences (Hillman GT, Hillman Estate Car) and to make things more complicated, from time to time all models were sold in some European markets under the Sunbeam marque (Sunbeam Sceptre for instance), and at other times used UK marque/model names. To add complication, Singer Gazelle/Vogue models were also sold in the UK for one season badged as Sunbeams after the Singer brand was withdrawn. The Arrow range was conceived in 1962. Following the Hillman Imp, consideration was given to developing a larger rear-engined car, but this concept was dismissed, and the engineering settled on for the new car was more conventional and closer to the layout of the existing Audax series (which included the previous Hillman Minx). With cash-strapped Rootes struggling amid continuing engine cooling problems with the Imp, which often resulted in warped cylinder heads, the cautious Arrow broke little new engineering ground. New parts were largely based on tried and tested Rootes components, using a new but strong 5-bearing version of the well-proven 1725 cc overhead valve petrol engine as a starting point which varied in output from 66 bhp to 88 bhp. The engine was inclined by a modest 15 degrees, to allow for a lower bonnet line and to enable packaging of the carburettors. This engine was further uprated by specialists Holbay, employing two Weber 40DCOE carburettors to produce 107 bhp for the Sunbeam Rapier H120 and Hillman Hunter GLS. A smaller 1500 cc engine was the standard for manual versions of the Hillman Minx and the Singer Gazelle, and the Hillman Hunter DeLuxe model which succeeded the Minx. Automatic models were all powered by the 1725 cc engine. Particular attention was paid to weight and cost to bring the vehicle in line with its natural competitors, including the Mark 2 Ford Cortina. For the first time in a Rootes car MacPherson strut suspension featured at the front, with a conventional live axle mounted on leaf springs at the rear. Other firsts for Rootes in the new car were curved side glass and flow-through ventilation. Manual transmissions were available in four-speed form with an optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive, or Borg-Warner automatic transmission, again as an option. Initially, the Borg Warner Type 35 3-speed automatic was offered, then the Type 45 four-speed automatic became available in 1973. The handbrake was situated between the driver’s seat and door rather than between the front seats. This followed the practice in the ‘Audax’ cars. The first Arrow model to be launched, the Hillman Hunter, was presented as a replacement for the Hillman Super Minx. The Hunter was lighter than its predecessor and the wheel-base of the new car was actually 2½ inches shorter than that of the old, but the length of the passenger cabin was nonetheless increased by moving the engine and the toe-board forwards. For the first two years there were few changes. However, in May 1968 power assisted brakes were made available as a factory fitted option. Hitherto this possibility had been offered only as a kit for retro-fitting: it was stated that the factory fitted servo-assistance, at a domestic market price slightly below £13, would be cheaper for customers. A mild facelift in 1970 gave new grilles to the various Hunter trim levels, and some derivatives gained a (then) more fashionable dashboard, exchanging wood for plastic, but the car remained fundamentally the same throughout its life. A more detailed facelift for 1972 brought a new all-plastic dashboard with deeply hooded round dials (earlier versions had either a strip speedometer or round dials in a flat dashboard for more expensive models like the Vogue), new steering wheel, plastic instead of metal air cleaner, reshaped squarer headlamps in a new grille and some engine tuning changes. For 1975, bumpers were enlarged and the tail lights were enclosed in a full-width anodised aluminium trim piece. Following the 1967 acquisition of Rootes by Chrysler, the Arrow derivatives were rationalised until only the Hillman Hunter version was left by 1976. From September 1977 it was re-badged as a Chrysler, which it was to be for the remaining 2 years of its life. Hunter production was switched in 1969 to Rootes’ troubled Imp plant in Linwood, from its original home of Ryton. Sales were lower after 1975 following the launch of the Chrysler Alpine, a similar sized car but with front-wheel drive and a hatchback bodystyle, at a time when rear-wheel drive saloons still dominated in this sector. Following the Hillman Avenger’s move to Linwood in 1976, the very last European Hunters were assembled in the Santry plant, Shanowen Road, Ireland from “complete knock down” (CKD) kits until production ended in 1979 – but no evidence exists to suggest that the Talbot badge was applied to any production Hunter following Chrysler Europe’s 1978 takeover by Peugeot, and the application of that badge to other Chrysler models sold on or after 1 August 1979. The final Chrysler Hunter was built in September 1979 in Porirua, New Zealand, and was donated to the Southward Museum. In 2000 the Museum sold the car to a private collector.
The Sceptre MK III, introduced in 1967, was a derivative of the Rootes Arrow design and was the best-appointed version of this model offered by Rootes. It continued Humber’s tradition of building luxury cars and featured wood-veneer fascia, complete instrumentation, adjustable steering column, vinyl roof and extra brightwork on the wheel arches and rear panel. The MK III had a more powerful version of the 1,725 cc engine with twin carburettors giving 87 bhp. The manual-gearbox model featured either the D-type or the later J-type Laycock De Normanville overdrive, with the J-type fitted from chassis numbers L3 onwards starting in July 1972. As with all models in the Arrow range, an automatic gearbox was an option. A closer ratio G-type gearbox was fitted to later Sceptres, using the J-type overdrive. An estate car variant of the Sceptre was introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1974. It featured a built-in roof rack and a carpeted loading floor protected by metal strips and illuminated by an additional interior light. Washer and wiper were provided for the rear window, a rare feature on UK-market estate cars of the time. The Sceptre was discontinued in September 1976, along with the Humber and Hillman marque names. From that time, all models in the Chrysler UK range were branded as Chryslers. Production of the MK III totalled 43,951 units.
Jaguar stunned the world with the XK120 that was the star of the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948. Seen in open two seater form, the car was a testbed and show car for the new Jaguar XK engine. The display car was the first prototype, chassis number 670001. It looked almost identical to the production cars except that the straight outer pillars of its windscreen would be curved on the production version. The roadster caused a sensation, which persuaded Jaguar founder and design boss William Lyons to put it into production. Beginning in 1948, the first 242 cars wore wood-framed open 2-seater bodies with aluminium panels. Production switched to the 112 lb heavier all-steel in early 1950. The “120” in the name referred to the aluminium car’s 120 mph top speed, which was faster with the windscreen removed. This made it the world’s fastest production car at the time of its launch. Indeed, on 30 May 1949, on the empty Ostend-Jabbeke motorway in Belgium, a prototype XK120 timed by the officials of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium achieved an average of runs in opposing directions of 132.6 mph with the windscreen replaced by just one small aeroscreen and a catalogued alternative top gear ratio, and 135 mph with a passenger-side tonneau cover in place. In 1950 and 1951, at a banked oval track in France, XK120 roadsters averaged over 100 mph for 24 hours and over 130 mph for an hour, and in 1952 a fixed-head coupé took numerous world records for speed and distance when it averaged 100 mph for a week. Roadsters were also successful in racing and rallying. The first production roadster, chassis number 670003, was delivered to Clark Gable in 1949. The XK120 was ultimately available in two open versions, first as an open 2-seater described in the US market as the roadster (and designated OTS, for open two-seater, in America), and from 1953 as a drophead coupé (DHC); as well as a closed, or fixed head coupé (FHC) from 1951. A smaller-engined version with 2-litres and 4 cylinders, intended for the UK market, was cancelled prior to production. There were a number of the open two seater version seen here.
The XK140 was the successor to the XK120, with a number of useful changes and upgrades over the earlier car which included more interior space, improved brakes, rack and pinion steering, increased suspension travel, and telescopic shock absorbers instead of the older lever arm design. The XK140 was introduced in late 1954 and sold as a 1955 model. Exterior changes that distinguished it from the XK120 included more substantial front and rear bumpers with overriders, and flashing turn signals (operated by a switch on the dash) above the front bumper. The grille remained the same size but became a one-piece cast unit with fewer, and broader, vertical bar, making it easy to tell an XK140 apart from an XK120. The Jaguar badge was incorporated into the grille surround. A chrome trim strip ran along the centre of the bonnet and boot lid. An emblem on the boot lid contained the words “Winner Le Mans 1951–3”. The interior was made more comfortable for taller drivers by moving the engine, firewall and dash forward to give 3 inches more legroom. Two 6-volt batteries, one in each front wing were fitted to the Fixed Head Coupe, but Drop Heads and the Open Two Seater had a single 12-volt battery. This was installed in the front wing on the passenger side (e.g. In the left wing on right hand drive cars and in the right wing on left hand drive). The XK140 was powered by the Jaguar XK engine with the Special Equipment modifications from the XK120, which raised the specified power by 10 bhp to 190 bhp gross at 5500 rpm, as standard. The C-Type cylinder head, carried over from the XK120 catalogue, and producing 210 bhp ross at 5750 rpm, was optional equipment. When fitted with the C-type head, 2-inch sand-cast H8 carburettors, heavier torsion bars and twin exhaust pipes, the car was designated XK140 SE in the UK and XK140 MC in North America. In 1956 the XK140 became the first Jaguar sports car to be offered with automatic transmission. As with the XK120, wire wheels and dual exhausts were options, and most XK140s imported into the United States had wire wheels. Cars with the standard disc wheels had spats over the rear wheel opening. When leaving the factory it originally fitted either 6.00 × 16 inch crossply tyres or you could specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato CA67 as a radial option on either 16 × 5K½ solid wheels or 16 × 5K (special equipment) wire wheels. The Roadster (designated OTS – Open Two Seater – in America) had a light canvas top that folded out of sight behind the seats. The interior was trimmed in leather and leatherette, including the dash. Like the XK120 Roadster, the XK140 version had removable canvas and plastic side curtains on light alloy barchetta-type doors, and a tonneau cover. The door tops and scuttle panel were cut back by two inches compared to the XK120, to allow a more modern positioning of the steering wheel. The angle of the front face of the doors (A-Post) was changed from 45 degrees to 90 degrees, to make access easier. The Drophead Coupé (DHC) had a bulkier lined canvas top that lowered onto the body behind the seats, a fixed windscreen integral with the body (the Roadster’s screen was removable), wind-up side windows, and a small rear seat. It also had a walnut-veneered dashboard and door cappings. The Fixed Head Coupé (FHC) shared the DHC’s interior trim and rear seat. The prototype Fixed Head Coupe retained the XK120 Fixed Head roof-profile, with the front wings and doors the same as the Drophead. In production, the roof was lengthened with the screen being placed further forward, shorter front wings, and longer doors. This resulted in more interior space, and more legroom. The XK140 was replaced by the XK150 in March 1957.
The C-Type was built specifically for the race track . It used the running gear of the contemporary road-proven XK120 clothed in a lightweight tubular frame, devised by William Heynes, and clothed in an aerodynamic aluminium body designed by Malcolm Sayer. The road-going XK120’s 3.4-litre twin-cam, straight-6 engine produced between 160 and 180 bhp, but when installed in the C-Type, it was originally tuned to around 205 bhp. Early C-Types were fitted with SU carburettors and drum brakes. Later C-Types, from mid 1953, were more powerful, using triple twin-choke Weber carburettors and high-lift camshafts. They were also lighter, and braking performance was improved with disc brakes on all four wheels, which were something of a novelty at the time, though their adoption started to spread quite quickly after Jaguar had used them. The lightweight, multi-tubular, triangulated frame was designed by William Heynes. Malcolm Sayer designed the aerodynamic body. Made of aluminium in the barchetta style, it is devoid of road-going items such as carpets, weather equipment and exterior door handles. The C-Type was successful in racing, most notably at the Le Mans 24 hours race, which it won twice. In 1951 the car won at its first attempt. The factory entered three, whose driver pairings were Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman, Leslie Johnson and triple Mille Miglia winner Clemente Biondetti, and the eventual winners, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead. The Walker-Whitehead car was the only factory entry to finish, the other two retiring with lack of oil pressure. A privately entered XK120, owned by Robert Lawrie, co-driven by Ivan Waller, also completed the race, finishing 11th. In 1952 Jaguar, worried by a report about the speed of the Mercedes-Benz 300SLs that would run at Le Mans, modified the C-Type’s aerodynamics to increase the top speed. However, the consequent rearrangement of the cooling system made the cars vulnerable to overheating, and all three retired from the race. The Peter Whitehead-Ian Stewart and Tony Rolt/Duncan Hamilton cars blew head gaskets, and the Stirling Moss-Peter Walker car, the only one not overheating having had a full-sized radiator hurriedly fitted, lost oil pressure after a mechanical breakage. Testing by Norman Dewis at MIRA after the race proved that the overheating was caused more by the revisions to the cooling system than by the altered aerodynamics: the water pump pulley was undersized, so it was spinning too fast and causing cavitation; also the header tank was in front of the passenger-side bulkhead, far from the radiator, and the tubing diameter was too small at 7/8 inch. With the pump pulley enlarged, and the tubing increased to 1 1/4 inch, the problem was eliminated. The main drawback of the new body shape was that it reduced downforce on the tail to the extent that it caused lift and directional instability at speeds over 120 mph on the Mulsanne Straight. These cars had chassis numbers XKC 001, 002 and 011. The first two were dismantled at the factory, and the third survives in normal C-type form. In 1953 C-Types won again, and also placed second and fourth. This time the body was in thinner, lighter aluminium and the original twin H8 sand cast SU carburettors were replaced by three DCO3 40mm Webers, which helped boost power to 220 bhp. Further weight was saved by using a rubber bag fuel tank, lighter electrical equipment and thinner gauge steel for some of the chassis tubes . Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt won the race at 105.85 mph (170.35 km/h) – the first time Le Mans had been won at an average of over 100 miles per hour. 1954, the C-Type’s final year at Le Mans, saw a fourth place by the Ecurie Francorchamps entry driven by Roger Laurent and Jacques Swaters. Between 19951 and 1953, a total of 53 C-Types were built, 43 of which were sold to private owners mainly in the US. When new, the car sold for about $6,000, approximately twice the price of an XK120. Genuine cars have increased in value massively in recent years, however buyers do need to be aware that replicas have been produced by a number of companies, though even these are far from cheap to buy these days. Cars with true racing provenance are well into the millions now. A C-Type once owned and raced by Phil Hill sold at an American auction in August 2009 for $2,530,000 and another C-type was sold at the Pebble Beach auction in 2012 for $3,725,000, More recently an unrestored C-Type that raced at Le Mans has sold for £5,715,580, during the Grand Prix Historique race meeting in Monaco. In August 2015, an ex-Ecurie Ecosse Lightweight C-type, chassis XKC052 and the second of only three works lightweights, driven by Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart to fourth at the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours, fetched £8.4 million at auction in California.
Although bearing a family resemblance to the earlier XK120 and XK140, the XK150, launched in the spring of 1957, was radically revised. A one-piece windscreen replaced the split screen, and the wing line no longer dropped so deeply at the doors. The widened bonnet opened down to the wings, and on the Roadster the windscreen frame was moved back 4 inches to make the bonnet longer. The XK140’s walnut dashboard was replaced by one trimmed in leather. On the early Drophead Coupés, the aluminium centre dash panel, which was discontinued after June 1958, had an X pattern engraving similar to the early 3.8 E-Type. Thinner doors gave more interior space. On the front parking lights, which were located atop the wings, a little red light reminded the driver the lights were on. Suspension and chassis were very similar to the XK140, and steering was by rack and pinion; power steering was not offered. The standard engine, the similar to the XK140, but with an new “B” type cylinder head, was the 3.4 litre DOHC Jaguar straight-6 rated at 180 SAE bhp at 5750 rpm but most cars were fitted with the SE engine whose modified cylinder head (B type) and larger exhaust valves boosted the power to 210 SAE bhp at 5500 rpm. Twin 1.75-inch (44 mm) SU HD6 carburettors were fitted. While the first XK150s were slower than their predecessors, the deficit was corrected in the spring of 1958 with a 3.4-litre “S” engine whose three 2-inch SU HD8 carburettors and straight-port cylinder head increased power to a claimed 250 SAE bhp. For 1960, the 3.4 litre engine was bored to 3.8 litres, rating this option at 220 hp in standard tune or 265 hp in “S” form. A 3.8 litre 150S could top 135 mph and go from 0–60 mph in around 7.0 seconds. Fuel economy was 18mpg. Four-wheel Dunlop 12 in disc brakes appeared for the first time although it was theoretically possible to order a car with drums. When leaving the factory the car originally fitted either 6.00 × 16 inch Dunlop Road Speed tyres as standard, or you could specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato CA67 as a radial option on either 16 × 5K½ solid wheels (basic models) or 16 × 5K wire wheels. Production ended in October 1960, and totalled 2265 Roadsters, 4445 Fixed Head Coupés and 2672 Drophead Coupés.
Jaguar launched 2 new models in 1961. One was the gargantuan Mark X, which replaced the elderly Mark IX at the top of the saloon car range, but it is the other one which is better remembered and loved even now, more than 50 years after stunning the world at the 1961 Geneva Show. That car, of course, is the famous E Type, considered by many to be Sir William Lyons’ greatest achievement. Not only did the car having stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous styling, but it had explosive performance (even if the 150 mph that was achieved in The Autocar’s Road Test is now known to have been with a little “help”), but it was the price that amazed people more than anything else. Whilst out of reach for most people, who could barely afford any new car, it was massively cheaper than contemporary Aston Martins and Ferraris, its market rivals. It was not perfect, though, and over the coming years, Jaguar made constant improvements. A 2+2 model joined the initial range of Roadster and Coupe, and more powerful and larger engines came when the 3.8 litre was enlarged to 4.2 litres, before more significant styling changes came with the 1967 Series 2 and the 1971 Series 3, where new front end treatments and lights were a consequence of legislative demands of the E Type’s most important market, America. There were several of these popular classics in the car park, including Series 1, 2 and 3 Coupe models and a Series 1 4.2 Drophead.
One of the most loved Jaguars of all time, both when it was new, and still now, is the Mark 2 saloon. Many will tell you that it is not the 3 Series BMW that “invented” the “compact sports saloon” car class, but this model, which dates back to 1959. A thorough revision of the small Jaguar saloon that had joined the range in 1955, the Mark 2 was notable in that it was the first car to use the Arabic numeral in its name, as opposed to the Roman numerals of the larger Jaguar models. At launch, the earlier model which had hitherto been known by its engine size was christened the Mark 1. Although clearly based on that car, the updated car looked significantly different, with an increase of 18% in cabin glass area greatly improving visibility. The car was re-engineered above the waistline. Slender front pillars allowed a wider windscreen and the rear window almost wrapped around to the enlarged side windows now with the familiar Jaguar D-shape above the back door and fully chromed frames for all the side windows. The radiator grille was amended and larger side, tail and fog lamps repositioned. Inside a new heating system was fitted and ducted to the rear compartment (although still notoriously ineffective). There was an improved instrument layout that became standard for all Jaguar cars until the XJ Series II of 1973. As well as the familiar 2.4 and 3.4 litre engines, what made this car particularly special was that it was also offered with the potent 220 bhp 3.8 litre unit that was fitted to the XK150 and which would later see service in the E Type. This gave the car a 0 – 60 time of around 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph. No wonder that the Mark 2 became popular as a get-away car for the criminal fraternity, and to keep up with and catch them, many police forces bought the car as well. With revised suspension and standard four wheel disc brakes, the car was effective on the track, taking plenty of class wins when new, and it is still popular in historic racing circles today. The quickest and most successful private entries came from John Coombs, a man with significant race experience who operated a large Jaguar dealership in Guildford. Coombs would undertake modifications to meet the demands of his customers, so not all the cars that he worked on are the same. Jaguar replaced the Mark 2 with simplified and slightly more cheaply finished 240 and 340 models, as an interim measure until an all-new model was ready to take over from them. The 3.8 litre disappeared from the range at this time, but in the 7 years it had been in production, it had been the best seller of the range, with around 30,000 cars produced, as compared to 28,666 of the 3.4 litre and 25,741 of the 2.4 litre model.
The Lagonda 3-Litre was produced by Aston Martin Lagonda from 1953 to 1958, the second Lagonda model of the David Brown/Aston Martin era. The 3-Litre was fitted with a higher displacement 2.9 litre 140 bhp version of the twin overhead camshaft Lagonda Straight-6 engine designed by Walter Owen Bentley. Like its predecessor, the 3-Litre was available as a 4-seat 2-door coupé, built by David Brown subsidiary engineering company Tickford or as a drophead coupé produced by the same coach builders. A 4-door saloon was introduced in 1954 and the 2-door coupé was discontinued in 1956. In early 1955, the Mark II version introduced a floor-mounted gear lever. The car had a separate cruciform braced chassis and the suspension was independent all round, unusual for a car of its time, but utilising this form the previous 2.6 litre car, with the addition of a Jackall system. At the front there were coil springs and at the rear torsion bars and a swing axle. The Lockheed drum brakes, 12 in at the front and 11 in at the rear were servo assisted and steering was by a rack and pinion system with fore and aft adjustment on the steering column. The interior was luxurious with polished walnut for the dashboard and door trims and leather seats, individual in the front and a bench at the rear with a central fold down arm rest. There were also adjustable arm rests on the front doors. A heater, radio and built in hydraulic jacks were standard equipment. Single or two tone paint schemes were available. The 3-Litre was more expensive than its competitors and a total of just 270 of the three bodystyles were sold. The convertible ended production in 1957 (ca. 55 made), with the saloon following one year later.
Straddling pre- and post-war production is the Aprillia and there was a nice example of the model here. Launched in 1937, the Aprilia was one of the first cars to be designed using a wind tunnel. This was in collaboration with Battista Farina and Politecnico di Torino and allowed the car to achieve a record low drag coefficient of 0.47. This was the last of Vincenzo Lancia’s designs, with the car entering production in the very month in which he died. The first series (model. 238) of which 10,354 units were built between 1937–39 featured a 1,352 cc V4 motor providing 47 bhp. The second series (model. 438) of which 9,728 were made, was first seen in 1939 and production of which continued after the war, had its engine capacity increased to 1,486 cc which provided 48 bhp. A Lusso model of this second series was also offered as well as a lungo (lengthened) version. 706 of these were made between 1946 and 1949, making a grand total of 20,082 cars, with 7,554 additional chassis for coach built bodies, produced in Turin along with about 700 in France. With the Aprilia, Lancia followed their tradition of offering cars with the steering wheel on the right even in markets seen by other manufacturers as left hand drive markets. Outside the UK and Sweden customers increasingly picked the optional left hand drive versions, however.
Designed by Vittorio Jano, the Lancia Aurelia was launched in 1950 and production lasted until the summer of 1958.The very first Aurelias were the B10 Berlinas. They used the first production V6 engine, a 60° design developed by Francesco de Virgilio who was, between 1943 and 1948 a Lancia engineer, and who worked under Jano. The first cars had a capacity of 1754 cc, and generated 56 hp. During production, capacity grew from 1.8 litres to 2.5 litres across six distinct Series. Prototype engines used a bore and stroke of 68 mm x 72 mm for 1569 cc; these were tested between 1946 and 1948. It was an all-alloy pushrod design with a single camshaft between the cylinder banks. A hemispherical combustion chamber and in-line valves were used. A single Solex or Weber carburettor completed the engine. Some uprated 1991 cc models were fitted with twin carburettors. At the rear was an innovative combination transaxle with the gearbox, clutch, differential, and inboard-mounted drum brakes. The front suspension was a sliding pillar design, with rear semi-trailing arms replaced by a de Dion tube in the Fourth series. The Aurelia was also first car to be fitted with radial tyres as standard equipment. Aurelia was named after Via Aurelia, a Roman road leading from Rome to France. The B21 version was released in 1951 with a larger 1991 cc 70 hp engine and a 2-door B20 GT coupé appeared that same year. It had a shorter wheelbase and a Ghia-designed, Pininfarina-built body. The same 1991 cc engine produced 75 hp in the B20. In all, 500 first series Aurelias were produced. This is generally believed to the first car to use the name GT, or Gran Turismo. The B20 GT Aurelia had a successful career in motorsport, too. In the 1951 Mille Miglia the 2-litre Aurelia, driven by Giovanni Bracco and Umberto Maglioli, finished 2nd beaten only by the Ferrari America. The same year it took first in class and 12th overall at LeMans. Modified Aurelias took the first three places on 1952’s Targa Florio with Felice Bonetto as the winner and another win on Lièges-Rome-Lièges of 1953. These are a pair of 2500GT Coupe models.
Lancia replaced the long-running Appia with a new model in 1963, the Fulvia. Like the larger Flavia which had been shown 3 years earlier, it came with front wheel drive, and a host of exquisite engineering which ensure that even though it was expensive, it was actually not profitable for its maker, and was a direct contribution to the marque’s bankruptcy and take over by Fiat in 1969. It was not long before the initial Berlina saloon model was joined by a Coupe. First seen in 1965. the Coupe proved to be the longest lived of all Fulvia variants, surviving until 1976 when it was effectively replaced by the 1300cc version of the Beta Coupe. Before that, it had undergone a steady program of updates, with more powerful engines, including a capacity increase from the initial 1200cc of the narrow angle V4 to 1300 and then later 1600cc, and the car was developed into a successful rally machine for the late 60s.
Now referred to as the “Classic” version of the Range Rover. it took a while before Land Rover realised that they could move their 1970-released car upmarket, but this happened during the 1980s, first with the release of a 4 door mode, then with more powerful versions of the familiar 3.5 litre Rover V8 engine, and increasingly luxurious trim. This is a Vogue SE version.
There was a further example of Hyper model here.
The original Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé version appeared in 1965, and there were examples of all of these here. The two-seat Lotus Elan replaced the elegant, but unreliable and expensive to produce Lotus Elite. It was the first Lotus road car to use a steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. At 1,600 lb (726 kg), the Elan embodied the Colin Chapman minimum weight design philosophy. Initial versions of the Elan were also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer. The Elan was technologically advanced with a DOHC 1557 cc engine, 4-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and 4-wheel independent suspension. Gordon Murray, who designed the spectacular McLaren F1 supercar, reportedly said that his only disappointment with the McLaren F1 was that he couldn’t give it the perfect steering of the Lotus Elan. This generation of the two-seater Elan was famously driven by the character Emma Peel on the 1960s British television series The Avengers. The “Lotus TwinCam” engine was based on Ford Kent Pre-Crossflow 4-cylinder 1498 cc engine, with a Harry Mundy-designed 2 valve alloy chain-driven twin-cam head. The rights to this design was later purchased by Ford, who renamed it to “Lotus-Ford Twin Cam”. It would go on to be used in a number of Ford and Lotus production and racing models. Seen here was a nice example of the Drophead.
Perhaps my favourite of all the Lotus models on show was this fabulous early model Esprit. The silver Italdesign concept that eventually became the Esprit was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in 1972 as a concept car, and was a development of a stretched Lotus Europa chassis. It was among the first of designer Giorgetto Giugiaro’s polygonal “folded paper” designs. Originally, the name Kiwi was proposed, but in keeping with the Lotus tradition of having all car model names start with the letter “E”, the name became Esprit. The production Esprit was launched in October 1975 at the Paris Auto Show, and went into production in June 1976, replacing the Europa in the Lotus model lineup. These first cars eventually became known as S1 Esprits. With a steel backbone chassis and a fibreglass body, the Esprit was powered by the Lotus 907 4-cylinder engine, as previously used in the Jensen Healey. This engine displaced 2.0 litre, produced 160 bhp in European trim 140 bhp in US/Federal trim, and was mounted longitudinally behind the passengers, as in its predecessor. The transaxle gearbox was a 5-speed manual unit, previously used in the Citroën SM and Maserati Merak; it featured inboard rear brakes, as was racing practice at the time. The Series 1 embodied Lotus’ performance through light weight mantra, weighing less than 1,000 kg (2,205 lb). The original Esprit was lauded for its handling and is said to have the best steering of any Esprit. However, it was generally regarded as lacking power, especially in markets such as the United States where the engine was down-rated for emissions purposes. Lotus’ claim of 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 138 mph may be thought of as optimistic – actual road test times indicated 0-60 mph in 8 seconds and a top speed of around 133 mph. The S1 Esprit can be distinguished from later Esprits by a shovel-style front air dam, Fiat X1/9 tail lights, lack of body-side ducting, and Wolfrace alloy wheels. Inside the car, the most obvious indication of an S1 Esprit is a one-piece instrument cluster with green-faced Veglia gauges. The car gained fame through its appearance in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) where a fictionally-modified version was featured in a long action sequence. Bond’s Esprit car is first chased on road, by a motorcycle, then by another car, and then a helicopter, then converts into a submarine for an undersea battle. A series of improvements made to the Esprit during its initial run culminated in the S2 Esprit, which was introduced in 1978. The most obvious of these changes are intake and cooling duct “ears” located behind the rear quarter window, tail lights from the Rover SD1, and an integrated front spoiler. S2 Esprits also used 14-inch Speedline alloy wheels designed specifically for Lotus. Other changes included relocating the battery from above the right side fuel tank (under the rear quarter window) to the rear of the car, adding an access door to the engine cover, as well as replacing the instrument cluster made by Veglia with individual gauges made by Smiths and using different style of switches on the dashboard. During this era, a special edition car was released to commemorate Lotus’s racing victories and their victory in the 1978 F1 World Championship. Sharing the black and gold colour scheme of Lotus’ then F1 sponsor, John Player & Sons, these cars are commonly known as the John Player Special (JPS) Esprits. The “JPS” Esprit has the same mechanicals as the regular two-litre S2. According to Lotus themselves a limited series of 300 was built, but most likely the total was considerably lower.Lotus’ records of production figures are notoriously vague, but best estimates suggest that 149 JPS Esprits were produced. The S2.2 was produced as a stop-gap model from May 1980, almost identical to the S2 but with an enlarged (2.2 litre) type 912 engine used. This kept horsepower the same, but bumped up torque from 140 lb·ft to 160 lb·ft. Importantly, the S2.2 also introduced the use of a galvanised chassis, although it did not benefit from the succeeding S3’s chassis improvements. These cars are extremely rare even among Esprits: according to Lotus themselves, only 88 were produced in its thirteen-month production span. In 1980 the first factory turbocharged Esprit was launched. Initially, this was another special edition model commemorating F1 ties and reflecting current sponsorship, this time in the blue, red and chrome livery of Essex Petroleum, and is therefore known as the Essex Esprit. The new turbocharged dry-sump type 910 engine produced 210 hp and 200 lb·ft of torque. 0-60 mph could be achieved in 6.1 seconds, with a top speed of 150 mph. These performance improvements were coupled to a redesign and strengthening of the chassis and rear suspension, where an upper link was added to alleviate strain on the driveshafts, along with brake improvements. The Essex cars introduced a Giugiaro-designed aerodynamic body kit with a rear lip spoiler, prominent louvered rear hatch, more substantial bumpers, a deeper front airdam, and air ducts in the sills just ahead of the rear wheels, which were 15″ Compomotive three piece items. Internally, scarlet leather, combined with a roof-mounted Panasonic stereo, made for a dramatic environment. 45 Essex Esprits were built, interspersed and followed by a number of non Essex-liveried but otherwise identical specification dry-sump turbo cars. Two Essex-spec Turbo Esprits – one in white and the other in copper – were featured in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), although these were scripted as the same vehicle – the white one was destroyed by an anti-burglar explosion system in Spain, while the copper red one was a “rebuild” of the original (actually a joke between Bond and Q in the latter’s laboratory), and was fully functional (the copper exterior paint colour for the replacement car was chosen to make the car stand out more in filming against the snowy background of Cortina, Italy, the only locale in which it appears). By the close of 1980, Lotus was effectively building three different models of Esprit, with distinct chassis designs and body moulds – the Domestic S2.2, the Export S2.2, and the dry-sump Turbo Esprit. Introduced in April 1981, the Turbo Esprit and S3 (Series 3) Esprits marked a necessary consolidation: both new models had a common chassis, inheriting much of the configuration of the Essex cars, whilst body production was based on a single common set of moulds. The S3 continued to use the 2.2 litre type 912 engine of the S2.2, whilst the Turbo Esprit reverted to a less complex wet-sump lubrication system, retaining the power and torque outputs of its dry-sump predecessor. The interior for both cars was revised and featured new trim; combined with changes to the body moulds this resulted in more headroom and an enlarged footwell. Externally, the Turbo Esprit retained the full aerodynamic body kit of the Essex cars, and featured prominent ‘turbo esprit’ decals on the nose and sides; the S3 gained the more substantial bumpers, yet retained the simpler sill line and glazed rear hatch of the S2.2 body style. Both models were supplied with 15″ BBS alloy wheels. For the 1985 model year, the S3 and Turbo underwent some slight alterations to the bodywork and to the front suspension. In April 1986, the final incarnations of the Giugiaro-styled Esprit were announced, with raised engine compression giving rise to the ‘HC’ moniker. This increased the output of the naturally aspirated engine to 172 hp and 160 lb·ft for the Esprit HC, and to 215 hp and 220 lb·ft for the Turbo Esprit HC, with the increased torque available at a lower rpm. For markets with stringent emissions requirements (mainly the United States), Lotus introduced the HCi variant, teaming the higher compression engine with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection and a catalytic converter- the first fuel-injected Esprits. This engine had the same peak power as the carburettor version, but at a somewhat higher engine speed, and torque dropped to 202 lb·ft.
One of the shortest lived Lotus models was the modern Europa. Based on the Elise, the car was officially introduced at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. Lotus Europa S production commenced in July 2006 and continued to 2010. The engine was a 2.0 litre turbo delivering 197 bhp at 5,400 rpm, with a maximum torque of 272 N·m (201 lb·ft) at 5,400 rpm, delivering 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 143 mph. Lotus did not export the Europa S to the USA, but despite this, the American manufacturer Dodge developed an electric vehicle based on the Europa, known as the Dodge Circuit, which it planned to bring to the US market by 2010, but the project was cancelled in May 2009. The Europa SE was unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show on 5 March 2008. The Europa was an upgraded model with more comfort in mind, intended to bring in more customers. The Europa S motor was modified to bring power to 222 bhp and torque to 300 N·m (221 lb·ft). Neither version was a success, though and the Europa was discontinued in 2010 after a short model life.
Older of the Maserati models I came across was an example of the range known internally as the Tipo 338 and better known as the 3200GT and 4200GT and Spider. After producing BiTurbo based cars for 17 years, Maserati replaced their entire range with a new model in July 1998, the 3200 GT. This very elegant 2+2 grand tourer was styled by Italdesign, whose founder and head Giorgetto Giugiaro had previously designed, among others, the Ghibli, Bora and Merak. The interior design was commissioned to Enrico Fumia. Its name honoured the Maserati 3500 GT, the Trident’s first series production grand tourer. Sold mainly in Europe, the 3200 GT was powered by the twin-turbo, 32-valve, dual overhead cam 3.2-litre V8 engine featured in the Quattroporte Evoluzione, set up to develop 370 PS (365 hp). The car was praised for its styling, with the distinctive array of tail-lights, consisting of LEDs, arranged in the shape of boomerang being particularly worthy of comment. The outer layer of the ‘boomerang’ provided the brake light, with the inner layer providing the directional indicator. The car was also reviewed quite well by the press when they got to drive it in early 1999, though it was clear that they expected more power and excitement. That came after 4,795 cars had been produced, in 2001, with the launch of the 4200 models. Officially called the Coupé and joined by an open-topped Spyder (Tipo M138 in Maserati speak), these models had larger 4.2 litre engines and had been engineered so the cars could be sold in America, marking the return to that market for Maserati after an 11 year gap. There were some detailed styling changes, most notable of which were the replacement of the boomerang rear lights with conventional rectangular units. Few felt that this was an improvement. The cars proved popular, though, selling strongly up until 2007 when they were replaced by the next generation of Maserati. Minor changes were made to the model during its six year production, but more significant was the launch at the 2004 Geneva Show of the GranSport which sported aerodynamic body cladding, a chrome mesh grille, carbon fibre interior trim, and special 19-inch wheels. It used the Skyhook active suspension, with a 0.4 inch lower ride height, and the Cambiocorsa transmission recalibrated for quicker shifts. The exhaust was specially tuned to “growl” on start-up and full throttle. The GranSport was powered by the same 4244 cc, 90° V8 petrol engine used on the Coupé and Spyder, but developing 400 PS (395 hp) at 7000 rpm due primarily to a different exhaust system and improvements on the intake manifolds and valve seats. A six-speed paddle shift transmission came as standard. The GranSport has a claimed top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h) and a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) time of 4.8 seconds.
I also spotted a GranTurismo, the car which replaced the 4200 and which is still a current model nearly 10 years after its debut.
This rather fabulous example of the 300SL Gullwing was parked up surrounded by much more mundane machinery. Known under development as the W198, the first iteration of the SL-Class grand tourer and fastest production car of its day. Introduced in 1954 as a two-seat coupé with distinctive gull-wing doors, it was later offered as an open roadster. Built by Daimler-Benz AG, the direct fuel injected production model was based on the company’s highly successful yet somewhat less powerful carburettor overhead cam straight 6 1952 racer, the W194. The idea of a toned-down Grand Prix car tailored to affluent performance enthusiasts in the booming post-war American market was suggested by Max Hoffman. Mercedes accepted the gamble and the new 300 SL – 300 for its 3.0 litre engine displacement and SL for Sport Leicht (Sport Light) – was introduced at the 1954 New York Auto Show rather than the Frankfurt or Geneva gatherings company models made their usual debuts. Immediately successful and today iconic, the 300 SL stood alone with its distinctive doors, first-ever production fuel injection, and world’s fastest top speed. Even with the upward opening doors, the 300 SL had an unusually high sill, making entry and exit from the car’s cockpit problematic. A steering wheel with a tilt-away column was added to improve driver access. The 300 SL’s main body was steel, with aluminium bonnet, doors and boot lid. It could also be ordered with an 80 kg (180 lb) saving all-aluminium outer skin at tremendous added cost; just 29 were made. Like the W194, the 300 SL borrowed its 3.0 litre overhead cam straight-6 from the regular four-door 300 (W186 “Adenauer”) luxury tourer introduced in 1951. Featuring an innovative diagonal aluminium head that allowed for larger intake and exhaust valves, it was canted to the right at forty-five-degrees to fit under the SL’s considerably lower bonnet line. In place of the W194’s triple two-barrel Solex carburettors, a groundbreaking Bosch mechanical direct fuel injection was installed, boosting power almost 25% over the Grand Prix car’s. Derived from the DB 601 V12 used on the Messerschmitt Bf 109E fighter of World War II, it raised output from 175 hp to 215 hp, almost double that of the original Type 300 sedan’s 115 hp. An optional, even more powerful version, with radical camshaft developed 240 hp @ 6100 rpm and a maximum torque of 217 lb⋅ft @ 4800 rpm, but was rough for city use. The result was a top speed of up to 260 km/h (160 mph) depending on gear ratio and drag, making the 300 SL the fastest production car of its time. However, unlike today’s electrically powered fuel injection systems, the 300 SL’s mechanical fuel pump would continue to inject gasoline into the engine during the interval between shutting off the ignition and the engine’s coming to a stop; this unburned gasoline washed lubricating oil from the cylinder walls, which not only left them unprotected in affected areas during start-up but would dilute the engine’s entire oil supply if the car was not driven hard or long enough to reach a sufficient temperature to evaporate the fuel out of the oil. Exacerbating the problem was the engine’s large racing-oriented oil cooler and enormous 10 litre oil capacity, which virtually guaranteed the oil would not get hot enough. In practice, many owners would block off airflow through the oil cooler and stick rigidly to the appropriately low 1,000 mile recommended oil change interval. An auxiliary fuel pump provided additional fuel for extended high speed operation or cold starts; overuse would also lead to dilution of the oil., Clutch operation was initially very heavy, remedied by an improved clutch arm helper spring which reduced pedal force. From March 1963 to the end of production later that year, a light alloy crankcase was used on a total of 209 vehicles. Aerodynamics played an important role in the car’s speed, with Mercedes-Benz engineers placing horizontal “eyebrows” over the wheel openings to reduce drag. Unlike many cars of the 1950s, steering was relatively precise and the four-wheel independent suspension allowed for a reasonably comfortable ride and markedly better overall handling. However, the rear swing axle, jointed only at the differential, not at the wheels themselves, could be treacherous at high speeds or on imperfect roads due to extreme changes in camber. The enormous fuel tank capacity also caused a considerable difference in handling depending on the quantity of fuel on board. More than 80% of the vehicle’s total production of approximately 1400 units were sold in the US, making the Gullwing the first Mercedes-Benz widely successful outside its home market and thoroughly validating Hoffman’s prediction. The 300 SL is credited with changing the company’s image in America from a manufacturer of solid but staid luxury automobiles to one capable of rendering high-performance sports cars. It should be noted initial sales were sluggish due to many things, of which the price was one. Initial prices were about $6,400, a new Chevrolet Bel-Air could be purchased for $1,700 in the same year. Then there were few mechanics, even at the dealers, who understood the fuel injection system enough to do repairs. Nonetheless, 1400 were built by 1957, at which point Mercedes introduced a roadster version which was broadly similar, but with conventional doors. It was produced until 1963, and achieved sales of 1858 units.
Also here was a 190SL. Produced between May 1955 and February 1963, having first been seen in prototype at the 1954 New York Auto Show, this was designed as a more affordable sports car than the exclusive and rather pricey 300SL, sharing its basic styling, engineering, detailing, and fully independent suspension. While both cars had double wishbones in front and swing axles at the rear, the 190 SL did not use the 300 SL’s purpose-built W198 tubular spaceframe. Instead, it was built on a shortened monocoque R121 platform modified from the W120 saloon. The 190 SL was powered by a new, slightly oversquare 105 PS Type M121 1.9 litre four cylinder engine. Based on the 300 SL’s straight six, it had an unchanged 85 mm bore and 4.3 mm reduced 83.6 mm stroke, was fitted with twin-choke dual Solex carburettors, and produced 120 gross hp. In detuned form, it was later used in the W120 180 and W121 190 models.
Final Mercedes to attract my camera was this 280SL “Pagoda”, from the series of W113 cars. By 1955, Mercedes-Benz Technical Director Prof. Fritz Nallinger and his team held no illusions regarding the 190 SL’s lack of performance, while the high price tag of the legendary 300 SL supercar kept it elusive for all but the most affluent buyers. Thus Mercedes-Benz started evolving the 190 SL on a new platform, model code W127, with a fuel-injected 2.2 litre M127 inline-six engine, internally denoted as 220SL. Encouraged by positive test results, Nallinger proposed that the 220SL be placed in the Mercedes-Benz program, with production commencing in July 1957. However, while technical difficulties kept postponing the production start of the W127, the emerging new S-Class W112 platform introduced novel body manufacturing technology altogether. So in 1960, Nallinger eventually proposed to develop a completely new 220SL design, based on the “fintail” W 111 sedan platform with its chassis shortened by 11.8 in, and technology from the W112. This led to the W113 platform, with an improved fuel-injected 2.3 litre M127 inline-six engine and the distinctive “pagoda” hardtop roof, designated as 230 SL. The 230 SL made its debut at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show in March 1963, where Nallinger introduced it as follows: “It was our aim to create a very safe and fast sports car with high performance, which despite its sports characteristics, provides a very high degree of travelling comfort”. The W113 was the first sports car with a “safety body,” based on Bela Barényi’s extensive work on vehicle safety: It had a rigid passenger cell and designated crumple zones with impact-absorbing front and rear sections built into the vehicle structure. The interior was “rounded,” with all hard corners and edges removed, as in the W111 sedan. Production of the 230 SL commenced in June 1963 and ended on 5 January 1967. Its chassis was based on the W 111 sedan platform, with a reduced wheelbase by 11.8 in, recirculating ball steering (with optional power steering), double wishbone front suspension and an independent single-joint, low-pivot swing rear-axle with transverse compensator spring. The dual-circuit brake system had front disc brakes and power-assisted rear drum brakes. The 230 SL was offered with a 4-speed manual transmission, or an optional, very responsive fluid coupled (no torque converter) 4-speed automatic transmission, which was popular for US models. From May 1966, the ZF S5-20 5-speed manual transmission was available as an additional option, which was particularly popular in Italy. The 2,308 cc M127.II inline-six engine with 150 hp and 145 lb/ft torque was based on Mercedes-Benz’ venerable M180 inline-six with four main bearings and mechanical Bosch multi-port fuel injection. Mercedes-Benz made a number of modifications to boost its power, including increasing displacement from 2,197 cc, and using a completely new cylinder head with a higher compression ratio (9.3 vs. 8.7), enlarged valves and a modified camshaft. A fuel injection pump with six plungers instead of two was fitted, which allowed placing the nozzles in the cylinder head and “shooting” the fuel through the intake manifold and open valves directly into the combustion chambers. An optional oil-water heat exchanger was also available. Of the 19,831 230 SLs produced, less than a quarter were sold in the US. Looking identical, the 250 SL was introduced at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show. Production had already commenced in December 1966 and ended in January 1968. The short one-year production run makes the 250 SL the rarest of the W113 series cars. The 250 SL retained the stiffer suspension and sportier feel of the early SLs, but provided improved agility with a new engine and rear disc brakes. Range also improved with increased fuel tank capacity from 65 litres to 82. Like its predecessor, the 250 SL was offered with a 4-speed automatic transmission, and 4-speed or ZF 5-speed manual transmissions. For the first time, an optional limited slip differential was also available. The main change was the use of the 2,496 cc M129.II engine with a larger stroke, increased valve ports, and seven main bearings instead of four. The nominal maximum power remained unchanged at 150 hp, but torque improved from 145 lb/ft to 159 lb/ft. Resiliency also improved with a new cooling water tank (“round top”) with increased capacity and a standard oil-water heat exchanger. The 250 SL also marked the introduction of a 2+2 body style, the so-called “California Coupé”, which had only the removable hardtop and no soft-top: a small fold-down rear bench seat replaced the soft-top well between passenger compartment and boot. It is estimated that only 10% of the 250SLs that were brought into America were California Coupes. Of the 5,196 250 SLs produced, more than a third were sold in the US.The 280 SL was introduced in December 1967 and continued in production through 23 February 1971, when the W 113 was replaced by its successor, the entirely new and substantially heavier R107 350 SL. The main change was an upgrade to the 2,778 cc M130 engine with 170 hp and 180 lb/ft, which finally gave the W 113 adequate power. The performance improvement was achieved by increasing bore by 4.5 mm (0.2 in), which stretched the limits of the M180 block, and required pairwise cylinder casts without cooling water passages. This mandated an oil-cooler, which was fitted vertically next to the radiator. Each engine was now bench-tested for two hours prior to being fitted, so their power specification was guaranteed at last. The M130 marked the final evolution of Mercedes-Benz’ venerable SOHC M180 inline-six, before it was superseded by the entirely new DOHC M110 inline-six introduced with R107 1974 European 280 SL models. For some time, it was also used in the W 109 300 S-Class, where it retired the expensive 3 liter M189 alloy inline-six. Over the years, the W 113 evolved from a sports car into a comfortable grand tourer, and US models were by then usually equipped with the 4-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning. Manual transmission models came with the standard 4-speed or the optional ZF 5-speed, which was ordered only 882 times and thus is a highly sought-after original option today. In Europe, manual transmissions without air conditioning were still the predominant choice. Of the 23,885 280 SLs produced, more than half were sold in the US.
Whilst the TC, the first postwar MG and launched in 1945, was quite similar to the pre-war TB, sharing the same 1,250 cc pushrod-OHV engine, it had a slightly higher compression ratio of 7.4:1 giving 54.5 bhp at 5200 rpm. The makers also provided several alternative stages of tuning for “specific purposes”. It was exported to the United States, even though only ever built in right-hand drive. The export version had slightly smaller US specification sealed-beam headlights and larger twin rear lights, as well as turn signals and chrome-plated front and rear bumpers. The body of the TC was approximately 4 inches wider than the TB measured at the rear of the doors to give more cockpit space. The overall car width remained the same resulting in narrower running boards with two tread strips as opposed to the previous three. The tachometer was directly in front of the driver, while the speedometer was on the other side of the dash in front of the passenger. 10,001 TCs were produced, from September 1945 to Nov. 1949, more than any previous MG model. It cost £527 on the home market in 1947.
Following on from the TC , the 1950 TD combined the TC’s drivetrain, a modified hypoid-geared rear axle, the MG Y-type chassis, a familiar T-type style body and independent suspension using coil springs from the MG Y-type saloon. A 1950 road-test report described as “most striking” the resulting “transformation … in the comfort of riding”. Also lifted from the company’s successful 1¼-litre YA saloon for the TD was the (still highly geared) rack and pinion steering. In addition the TD featured smaller 15-inch disc type road wheels, a left-hand drive option and standard equipment bumpers and over-riders. The car was also 5 inches wider with a track of 50 inches. For the driver the “all-weather protection” was good by the standards of the time. For night driving, instrument illumination was “effective but not dazzling, by a pale green lighting effect”. There was still no fuel gauge, but the 12 gallon tank capacity gave a range between refuelling stops of about 300 miles and a green light on the facia flashed a “warning” when the fuel level was down to about 2½ gallons. In 1950 the TD MkII Competition Model was introduced, produced alongside the standard car, with a more highly tuned engine using an 8.1:1 compression ratio giving 57 bhp at 5,500 rpm. The higher compression ratio engine was offered with export markets in mind, and would not have been suitable for the UK, where thanks to the continued operation of wartime fuel restrictions, buyers were still limited to 72 octane “Pool petrol”. The TD MkII also featured twin fuel pumps, additional Andrex dampers, and a higher ratio rear-axle. Nearly 30,000 TDs had been produced, including about 1700 Mk II models, when the series ended in 1953 with all but 1656 exported, 23,488 of them to the US alone.
Final version of the popular T Series sports car was the TF, launched on the 15 October 1953. Although it looked quite a bit different, this was really just a facelifted TD, fitted with the TD Mark II engine, headlights faired into the wings, a sloping radiator grille concealing a separate radiator, and a new pressurised cooling system along with a simulated external radiator cap. This XPAG engine’s compression ratio had been increased to 8.1:1 and extra-large valves with stronger valve springs and larger carburettors increased output to 57.5 bhp at 5,500 rpm. In mid-1954 the engine capacity was increased by 17 per cent to 1466 cc and designated XPEG. The bore was increased to 72 mm and compression raised to 8.3:1 giving 63 bhp at 5,000 rpm and a 17 per cent increase in torque. The car was now designated TF1500, and externally distinguished by a cream background enamel nameplate on both sides of the bonnet, placed just to the rear of the forward bonnet-release buttons. Production ended at chassis number TF10100 on 4 April 1955 after 9,602 TFs had been manufactured, including two prototypes and 3,400 TF1500s. A number of replica models have been built in more recent years, with the Naylor of the mid 1980s being perhaps the best known.
I am not sure today’s 1 or 3 Series driver would be that enamoured of the prospect of one of these YB Saloons as his or her daily driver, but the reality is that this was a sports saloon of its era which would have appealed to the same sort of buyer who wanted something that was a cut above a regular Morris, Ford or Hillman. The Y Series was conceived before the war. when MG had sought to supplement its popular range of ‘Midget’ sports cars with three saloons of various sizes and engine capacities. These were the “S”, “V” and “W” models, seen above and introduced in the mid 1930s. But these were large and costly machines with the SA and WA aimed at the Jaguar Saloons of the era and even the VA having an engine of 1,548 cc, so the next development was to produce another saloon, of smaller engine capacity than the “VA”. To keep costs down, the Cowley design office turned to Morris’s Ten-Four Series M saloon, which was introduced during 1938, and the smaller Eight Series E which was launched at the Earls Court Motor show the same year for componentry. The prototype “Y” Type was constructed in 1939 with an intended launch at the Earls Court Motor show, the following year. However, as a result of the hostilities the public had to wait a further eight years before production commenced. All prototypes originating from the MG Factory at Abingdon were allocated numbers prefixed by the letters EX; this practice continued until the mid-fifties. Although the prototype of the MG “Y” Type was primarily a Morris concept from Cowley, much of the ‘fleshing out’ was completed at Abingdon. As a result it was allocated the prototype number EX.166. When the car was launched, the MG Sales Literature stated “A brilliant new Member of the famous MG breed. This new One and a Quarter Litre car perpetuates the outstanding characteristics of its successful predecessors – virile acceleration, remarkable ‘road manner,’ instant response to controls, and superb braking. A ‘lively’ car, the new One and a Quarter Litre provides higher standards of performance.” The UK price of the car was £525.0.0 ex works plus purchase tax of £146.11.8d. Gerald Palmer was responsible for body styling and, in essence he took a Morris Eight Series E four-door bodyshell in pressed steel, added a swept tail and rear wings, and also a front-end MG identity in the shape of their well-known upright grille. The MG 1 1/4 Litre Saloon would retain the traditional feature of separately mounted headlights at a time when Morris was integrating headlamps into the front wing and it was also to have a separate chassis under this pressed-steel bodywork, even though the trend in the industry was towards ‘unitary construction’. The car featured an independent front suspension layout designed by Gerald Palmer and Jack Daniels (an MG draughtsman). Independent front suspension was very much the latest technology at the time and the “Y” Type became the first Nuffield product and one of the first British production cars with this feature. The separate chassis facilitated the ‘Jackall System’, which consisted of four hydraulically activated rams that were bolted to the chassis, two at the front and two at the rear. The jacks were connected to a Jackall Pump on the bulkhead that enabled the front, the back, or the entire car to be raised to facilitate a wheel change. The power unit was a single carburettor version of the 1,250 cc engine used in the latest MG-TB. This engine, the XPAG, went on to power both the MG-TC and MG-TD series. The MG Y Type saloon developed 46 bhp at 4,800 rpm, with 58.5 lb ft of torque at 2,400 rpm, the YT Tourer (with the higher lift camshaft and twin carburettors) develop 54 bhp. With the exception of only the Rover Ten, which managed 2 additional bhp, the “Y” Type had more power than other British saloons of similar size. Indeed at the time many manufacturers were still producing side valve engines. The MG “Y” Type had an extremely high standard of interior furnishing and finish, in accordance with the best British traditions. The facing surfaces of all seats were leather, as were the door pockets. The rear of the front seats were made from Rexine, a form of leathercloth, which matched the leather fronts, as were the door panels themselves. A roller blind was fitted to the rear window as an anti-glare mechanism (not a privacy screen as many think). Considerable use of wood was made in the internal trim of the “Y” Type. Door windows, front and rear screens were framed in burr walnut, the instrument panel set in bookmatched veneer offsetting the passenger side glove box. The speedometer, clock, and three-gauge cluster of oil pressure, fuel and ammeter, were set behind octagonal chrome frames, a subtle iteration of the MG badge theme later replicated in the MG TF. An open topped YT Tourer was produced but fewer than 1000 of these were made. Production of the Y Type ended in 1953, when the car was replaced by the ZA Magnette. Just 8336 were made over its 6 year life.
The MGA replaced the long running T Series sports cars and presented a complete styling break from MG’s earlier sports cars. Announced on 26 September 1955, the car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A total of 101,081 units were sold through the end of production in July 1962, the vast majority of the 58.750 cars made were exported. Only 5869 cars were sold on the home market, the lowest percentage of any British car. It was replaced by the MGB. The MGA design dates back to 1951, when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips’ TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. He turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caused a change of heart, and the car, initially to be called the UA-series, was brought back. As it was so different from the older MG models it was called the MGA, the “first of a new line” to quote the contemporary advertising. There was also a new engine available, therefore the car did not have the originally intended XPAG unit but was fitted with the BMC corporate B-Series type allowing a lower bonnet line. The MGA convertible had no exterior door handles, however the coupe did. It was a body-on-frame design and used the straight-4 1489cc “B series” engine from the MG Magnette saloon driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox. Suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion. The car was available with either wire-spoked or steel-disc road wheels. The 1489 cc engine fitted with twin H4 type SU Carburettors produced 68 hp at first, but was soon uprated to 72 hp. Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were used on all wheels. A high-performance Twin-Cam model was added for 1958. It used a high-compression (9.9:1 later 8.3:1) DOHC aluminium cylinder head version of the B-Series engine producing 108 hp. Due to detonation problems, a 100 bhp low-compression version was introduced later. Four-wheel disc brakes by Dunlop were fitted, along with Dunlop peg drive knock-off steel wheels similar to wheels used on racing Jaguars, unique to the Twin-Cam and “DeLuxe” MGA 1600 and 1600 MkII roadsters. These wheels and chassis upgrades were used on a small number of the “DeLuxe” models built after Twin-Cam production came to a halt. Aside from the wheels, the only outside identifier was a “Twin-Cam” logo near the vent aside the bonnet. A careful look at the rear wheel vents would also reveal another feature unique to Twin-Cam and DeLuxe: those 4 wheel Dunlop disc brakes . The temperamental engine was notorious for warranty problems during the course of production, and sales dropped quickly. The engine suffered from detonation and burnt oil. Most of the problems with the Twin-Cam engine were rectified with the low-compression version, but by then the damage had been done. Many restored Twin-Cams are running more reliably today than they ever did during production. The Twin-Cam was dropped in 1960 after 2,111 had been produced. Production ended in April 1960, but had slowed to a trickle long before. In May 1959 the standard cars also received an updated engine, now at 1588 cc producing 79.5 bhp . At the front disc brakes were fitted, but drums remained in the rear. Externally the car was very similar to the 1500 with differences including: amber or white (depending on market) front turn indicators shared with white parking lamps, separate stop/tail and turn lamps in the rear, and 1600 badging on the boot and the cowl. 31,501 of these were produced in less than three years. A number of 1600 De Luxe versions were produced with leftover special wheels and four-wheel disc brakes of the departed Twin-Cam, or using complete modified Twincam chassis left redundant by the discontinuance of that model. Seventy roadsters and 12 coupés were built. The engine size was increased again to 1622 cc by increasing the bore from 75.4 mm to 76.2 mm for the 1961 Mark II MGA. The cylinder head was also revised with larger valves and re-engineered combustion chambers. Horsepower increased to 90 bhp. It also had a higher ratio 4:1 rear axle, which made for more relaxed high-speed driving. An inset grille and Morris Mini tail lamps appearing horizontally below the deck lid were the most obvious visual changes. 8,198 Mark II roadsters and 521 coupés were built. As with the 1600 De Luxe, there were also some Mark II De Luxe versions; 290 roadsters and 23 coupés were produced.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find several examples of the MGB here, with cars from throughout the model’s long life, both in Roadster and MGB GT guise, as well as one of the short-lived V8 engined cars. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples. Due to a high demand of the limited edition model, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of home market limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here. There were several Roadsters and MGB GT models here including one of the limited edition Jubilee GT cars from 1977.
The MGC was produced as a sort of replacement for the Big Healey, though apart from sharing that car’s 3 litre straight six C Series engine, the reality is that the car was quite different and generally appealed to a different sort of customer. Or, if you look at the sales figures, you could say that it did not really appeal to anyone much, as the car struggled to find favour and buyers when new. More of a lazy grand tourer than an out and out sports car, the handling characteristics were less pleasing than in the B as the heavy engine up front did the car no favours. The market now, finally, takes a different view, though and if you want an MGC, you will have to dig surprisingly deeply into your pocket. Roadster and GT versions were offered, and there were examples of both here.
Sitting alongside the MGB in the MG range was the smaller Midget, and there were a couple of these cars here, a Series 3 model and one of the later rubber-bumpered cars. The 1961 Midget resurrected the name that was used by MG for their smallest car, the M Type, in the late 20s, was the Midget announced in 1961, and was essentially a slightly more expensive badge-engineered version of the MkII Austin-Healey Sprite. The original ‘Frogeye’ Sprite had been introduced specifically to fill the gap in the market left by the end of production of the MG T-type Midget as its replacement, the MGA had been a significantly larger and more expensive car with greater performance. Many existing MG enthusiast and buyers turned to the Sprite to provide a modern low-cost sports car and so a badge-engineered MG version reusing the Midget name made sense. The new Midget differed from the Sprite only in its grille design, badging, colour options and having both leather seats and more external chrome trim as standard to justify its higher purchase price. Mechanically the car was identical to its Austin-Healey counterpart, retaining the rear suspension using quarter-elliptic leaf springs and trailing arms from the ‘Frogeye’. The engine was initially a 948 cc A-Series with twin SU carburettors producing 46 hp at 5500 rpm and 53 lb/ft at 3000 rpm. Brakes were 7″ drums all round. A hard top, heater, radio and luggage rack were available as factory-fitted extras. In October 1962 the engine was increased to 1098 cc, raising the output to 56 hp at 5500 rpm and 62 lb/ft at 3250 rpm, and disc brakes replaced the drums at the front. Wire spoked wheels became available. The doors had no external handles or locks and the windows were sliding Perspex side-screens. A heater was still an optional extra. The car sold well, with 16,080 of the small-engined version and 9601 of the 1098 being made before the arrival in 1964 of the Mark II. Externally the main changes were to the doors, which gained wind-up windows, swivelling quarter lights, external handles and separate locks. The windscreen also gained a slight curvature and was retained in a more substantial frame. The hood, though modified, continued to have a removable frame that had to be erected before the cover was put on. The rear springs were replaced by more conventional semi-elliptic types which gave a better ride. The engine block was strengthened and larger main bearings were fitted, increasing the power to 59 hp at 5750 rpm and torque to 65 lbf·ft at 3500 rpm. A total of 26,601 were made. 1967 saw the arrival of the Mark III. The engine now grew to 1275 cc using the development seen on the Mini-Cooper ‘S’. Enthusiasts were disappointed that this was a detuned version of the 76-bhp Cooper ‘S’ engine, giving only 65 hp at 6000 rpm and 72 lbf·ft at 3000 rpm. A reduced compression ratio of 8.8:1 was used instead of the 9.75:1 employed on the Cooper S engine. The Midget used the 12G940 cylinder head casting that was common to other BMC 1300 cars, whereas the Cooper ‘S’ had a special head with not only larger inlet, but also larger exhaust valves; however, these exhaust valves caused many ‘S’ heads to fail through cracking between the valve seats. The detuned engine was used for reasons of model range placement – with the Cooper ‘S’ spec engine, the Midget would have been faster than the more expensive MGB. The hydraulic system gained a separate master cylinder for the clutch. The hood was now permanently attached to the car, with an improved mechanism making it much easier to use. Minor facelift changes were made to the body trim in late 1969 with the sills painted black, a revised recessed black grille, and squared off taillights as on the MGB. The 13″ “Rostyle” wheels were standardised, but wire-spoked ones remained an option. The square-shaped rear wheel arches became rounded in January 1972 and later that year a Triumph steering rack was fitted, giving a gearing that was somewhat lower than earlier Midgets. A second exhaust silencer was also added in 1972. Alternators were fitted instead of dynamos from 1973 onwards. Many consider the round-arch Midgets with chrome bumpers produced for model years 1972 and 1974 to be the most desirable. These round-arch cars started leaving the Abingdon factory in late 1971. Between 1966 and the 1969 face lift, 22,415 were made, and a further 77,831 up to 1974.
The traditional British sports cars from nearby Malvern Link are popular with Prescott visitors, and there are usually several of the type in the car park and this was no exception with a number of the outwardly little changed shape in evidence.
No surprise to see the evergreen Morris Minor here as this is a very popular classic, with the 2 door, Tourer and the Traveller parked up. The Minor was conceived in 1941. Although the Nuffield Organization was heavily involved in war work and there was a governmental ban on civilian car production, Morris Motors’ vice chairman, Miles Thomas, wanted to prepare the ground for new products to be launched as soon as the war was over. Vic Oak, the company’s chief engineer, had already brought to Thomas’ attention a promising junior engineer, Alec Issigonis, who had been employed at Morris since 1935 and specialised in suspension design but he had frequently impressed Oak with his advanced ideas about car design in general. Issigonis had come to Oak’s particular attention with his work on the new Morris Ten, which was in development during 1936/7. This was the first Morris to use unitary construction and was conceived with independent front suspension. Issigonis designed a coil-sprung wishbone system which was later dropped on cost grounds. Although the design would later be used on the MG Y-type and many other post-war MGs the Morris Ten entered production with a front beam axle. Despite his brief being to focus on the Ten’s suspension Issigonis had also drawn up a rack and pinion steering system for the car. Like his suspension design this was not adopted but would resurface in the post-war years on the MG Y-type, but these ideas proved that he was the perfect candidate to lead the design work on a new advanced small car. With virtually all resources required for the war effort, Thomas nonetheless approved the development of a new small family car that would replace the Morris Eight. Although Oak (and Morris’ technical director, Sidney Smith) were in overall charge of the project it was Issigonis who was ultimately responsible for the design, working with only two other draughtsmen. Thomas named the project ‘Mosquito’ and ensured that it remained as secret as possible, both from the Ministry of Supply and from company founder William Morris (now Lord Nuffield), who was still chairman of Morris Motors and, it was widely expected, would not look favourably on Issigonis’ radical ideas. Issigonis’ overall concept was to produce a practical, economical and affordable car for the general public that would equal, if not surpass, the convenience and design quality of a more expensive car. In later years he summed up his approach to the Minor; that he wanted to design an economy car that “the average man would take pleasure in owning, rather than feeling of it as something he’d been sentenced to” and “people who drive small cars are the same size as those who drive large cars and they should not be expected to put up with claustrophobic interiors.” Issigonis wanted the car to be as spacious as possible for its size and comfortable to drive for inexperienced motorists. Just as he would with the Mini ten years later, he designed the Mosquito with excellent roadholding and accurate, quick steering not with any pretence of making a sports car, but to make it safe and easy to drive by all. As work proceeded, there were plenty of battle to overcome, to get Issigonis’ ideas approved, and not all of them were. The production car, called the Minor was launched at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in London on October 27, 1948. At the same show Morris also launched the new Morris Oxford and Morris Six models, plus Wolseley variants of both cars, which were scaled-up versions of the new Minor, incorporating all the same features and designed with Issigonis’ input under Vic Oak’s supervision. Thus Issigonis’ ideas and design principles underpinned the complete post-war Morris and Wolseley car ranges. The original Minor MM series was produced from 1948 until 1953. It included a pair of four-seat saloons, two-door and (from 1950) a four-door, and a convertible four-seat Tourer. The front torsion bar suspension was shared with the larger Morris Oxford MO, as was the almost-unibody construction. Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a flat-4 engine, late in the development stage it was replaced by a 918 cc side-valve inline-four engine, little changed from that fitted in the 1935 Morris 8, and producing 27.5 hp and 39 lbf·ft of torque. This little engine pushed the Minor to just 64 mph but delivered 40 mpg. Brakes were four-wheel drums. Early cars had a painted section in the centre of the bumpers to cover the widening of the production car from the prototypes. This widening of 4 inches is also visible in the creases in the bonnet. Exports to the United States began in 1949 with the headlamps removed from within the grille surround to be mounted higher on the wings to meet local safety requirements. In 1950 a four-door version was released, initially available only for export, and featuring from the start the headlamps faired into the wings rather than set lower down on either side of the grille. The raised headlight position became standard on all Minors in time for 1951. From the start, the Minor had semaphore-type turn indicators, and subsequent Minor versions persisted with these until 1961 An Autocar magazine road test in 1950 reported that these were “not of the usual self-cancelling type, but incorporate[d] a time-basis return mechanism in a switch below the facia, in front of the driver”. It was all too easy for a passenger hurriedly emerging from the front passenger seat to collide with and snap off a tardy indicator “flipper” that was still sticking out of the B-pillar, having not yet been safely returned by the time-basis return mechanism to its folded position. Another innovation towards the end of 1950 was a water pump (replacing a gravity dependent system), which permitted the manufacturer to offer an interior heater “as optional equipment”. When production of the first series ended, just over a quarter of a million had been sold, 30 per cent of them the convertible Tourer model. In 1952, the Minor line was updated with an Austin-designed 803 cc overhead valve A-series engine, replacing the original side-valve unit. The engine had been designed for the Minor’s main competition, the Austin A30, but became available as Austin and Morris were merged into the British Motor Corporation. The new engine felt stronger, though all measurements were smaller than the old. The 52 second drive to 60 mph was still calm, with 63 mph as the top speed. Fuel consumption also rose to 36 mpg. An estate version was introduced in 1952, known as the Traveller (a Morris naming tradition for estates, also seen on the Mini). The Traveller featured an external structural ash (wood) frame for the rear bodywork, with two side-hinged rear doors. The frame was varnished rather than painted and a highly visible feature of the body style. Commercial models, marketed as the Morris Quarter Ton Van and Pick-up were added in May 1953. Rear bodies of the van versions were all steel. The 4-seat convertible and saloon variants continued as well. The car was again updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 948 cc. The two-piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window was enlarged. In 1961 the semaphore-style trafficators were replaced by the flashing direction indicators, these were US-style red at the rear (using the same bulb filament as the brake lamp) and white at the front (using a second brighter filament in the parking lamp bulb) which was legal in the UK and many export markets at the time (such as New Zealand). An upmarket car based on the Minor floorpan using the larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957: versions of this Wolseley/Riley variant were also produced by BMC Australia as the Morris Major and the Austin Lancer. In December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. To commemorate the achievement, a limited edition of 350 two-door Minor saloons (one for each UK Morris dealership) was produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read “Minor 1,000,000” instead of the standard “Minor 1000”. The millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists, who planned to use it as a prize in a competition in aid of the union’s Widow and Orphan Fund. The company, at the same time, presented a celebratory Minor to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, but this car was constructed of cake.The final major upgrades to the Minor were made in 1962. Although the name Minor 1000 was retained, the changes were sufficient for the new model to be given its own ADO development number. A larger version of the existing A-Series engine had been developed in conjunction with cylinder head specialist Harry Weslake for the then new ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range. This new engine used a taller block than did the 948 cc unit, with increased bore and stroke bringing total capacity up to 1,098 cc. Although fuel consumption suffered moderately at 38 mpg, the Minor’s top speed increased to 77 mph with noticeable improvements in low-end torque, giving an altogether more responsive drive. Other changes included a modified dashboard layout with toggle switches, textured steel instrument binnacle, and larger convex glove box covers. A different heater completed the interior upgrade, whilst the larger combined front side/indicator light units, common to many BMC vehicles of the time, were fitted to the front wings. These now included a separate bulb and amber lens for indicators while larger tail lamp units also included amber rear flashers. During the life of the Minor 1000 model, production declined. The last Convertible/Tourer was manufactured on 18 August 1969, and the saloon models were discontinued the following year. Production of the more practical Traveller and commercial versions ceased in 1972, although examples of all models were still theoretically available from dealers with a surplus of unsold cars for a short time afterwards. 1,619,857 Minors of all variants were ultimately sold.
Peugeot launched their new “supermini”, the 205 in January 1983, just one day after Fiat had presented the Uno, one of the car’s principal rivals. It was an immediate hit, with smart styling and a range of engines which combined with sharp handling made it good to drive. Mindful of the success of the Golf GTi, in the class above, and how a small car with good handling could take more power, as the Mini Cooper had proved, Peugeot came up with the GTi in early 1984. The first models had a 1.6 litre XU5J engine, producing 105 PS, which was uprated in 1987 with a cylinder head with larger valves thus becoming XU5JA, which took the power output up to 115 bhp. Visually the car retained the good looks of the 3 door version of the regular models, but it featured plastic wheel arch extensions and trim, beefier front and rear bumper valances and judicious use of red badging and trim. The shell also underwent some minor changes, including larger wheel arches (to suit the larger wheels , and the suspension was redesigned and sat lower on the GTI with stiffer springs, different wishbones and a drop-linked anti-roll bar. Red was a dominant colour inside. The car was an instant hit. At the end of 1986, Peugeot followed up with a more potent model, the 1.9 GTi, whose XU9JA engine produced 128 PS. Internally the engine of this car and the 1.6 model are very similar, the main differences on 1.9 litre versions being the longer stroke, oil cooler, and some parts of the fuel injection system. The shorter stroke 1.6 litre engine is famed for being revvy and eager, while the 1.9 litre feels lazier and torquier. Outside the engine bay the main differences between the 1.6 GTi and the 1.9 GTi are half-leather seats on the 1.9 GTi vs. cloth seats and disc brakes all-round (1.9 GTi) vs. discs at the front and drum brakes at the back; as well as the 14-inch Speedline SL201 wheels on the 1.6 GTi vs. 15 inch Speedline SL299 alloys on the 1.9 GTi. The 205 is still often treated as a benchmark in group car tests of the newest GTI models or equivalent. Peugeot itself has never truly recreated this success in future GTI models, although they came very close with the highly regarded GTI-6 variant of the Peugeot 306. A cabriolet version of the 205, known as the CJ (or CT in France), was designed and partially assembled by Pininfarina of Italy. A CTi version, with the same plastic arches and wheels as the 1.6 GTI was also available. Only minor changes were made to the car in the next few years, with the most obvious visual change being the switch to grey bumpers and trim from black ones in 1990, along with revised lights. A new dashboard had been incorporated across the entire 205 range a couple of years before this. Sales of the GTI in the UK in the early 1990s were badly hit by soaring insurance premiums, brought about by high theft and ‘joyriding’ of cars of this sort. Increasingly stringent emissions regulations meant the 1.6 GTi went out of production in 1992, while the 1.9 litre was sold for a couple more years thanks to re-engineering of the engine to enable it to work properly with a catalytic converter, which dropped power to 122 bhp. Many of them had a hard life, but there are some nice original cars out there and people are starting to spend serious money in restoring them. Seen here were cars from either end of the range, an entry level 205 XE and a GTi.
The 356 was created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche (son of Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the German company), who founded the Austrian company with his sister, Louise. Like its cousin, the Volkswagen Beetle (which Ferdinand Porsche Senior had designed), the 356 was a four-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car utilising unitised pan and body construction. The chassis was a completely new design as was the 356’s body which was designed by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, while certain mechanical components including the engine case and some suspension components were based on and initially sourced from Volkswagen. Ferry Porsche described the thinking behind the development of the 356 in an interview with the editor of Panorama, the PCA magazine, in September 1972. “….I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW and others. ….By the end of the war I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two seater that we built in Carinthia (Gmünd)”. The first 356 was road certified in Austria on June 8, 1948, and was entered in a race in Innsbruck where it won its class. Porsche re-engineered and refined the car with a focus on performance. Fewer and fewer parts were shared between Volkswagen and Porsche as the ’50’s progressed. The early 356 automobile bodies produced at Gmünd were handcrafted in aluminium, but when production moved to Zuffenhausen, Germany in 1950, models produced there were steel-bodied. Looking back, the aluminium bodied cars from that very small company are what we now would refer to as prototypes. Porsche contracted with Reutter to build the steel bodies and eventually bought the Reutter company in 1963. The Reutter company retained the seat manufacturing part of the business and changed its name to Recaro. Little noticed at its inception, mostly by a small number of auto racing enthusiasts, the first 356s sold primarily in Austria and Germany. It took Porsche two years, starting with the first prototype in 1948, to manufacture the first 50 automobiles. By the early 1950s the 356 had gained some renown among enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic for its aerodynamics, handling, and excellent build quality. The class win at Le Mans in 1951 was clearly a factor. It was always common for owners to race the car as well as drive them on the streets. They introduced the four-cam racing “Carrera” engine, a totally new design and unique to Porsche sports cars, in late 1954. Increasing success with its racing and road cars brought Porsche orders for over 10,000 units in 1964, and by the time 356 production ended in 1965 approximately 76,000 had been produced. The 356 was built in four distinct series, the original (“pre-A”), followed by the 356 A, 356 B, and then finally the 356 C. To distinguish among the major revisions of the model, 356’s are generally classified into a few major groups. 356 coupés and “cabriolets” (soft-top) built through 1955 are readily identifiable by their split (1948 to 1952) or bent (centre-creased, 1953 to 1955) windscreens. In late 1955 the 356 A appeared, with a curved windshield. The A was the first road going Porsche to offer the Carrera 4 cam engine as an option. In late 1959 the T5 356 B appeared; followed by the redesigned T6 series 356 B in 1962. The final version was the 356 C, little changed from the late T6 B cars but with disc brakes to replace the drums.
There were lots of 911 models in the car park, as you might expect. Although the name has remained for over 50 years, the model has evolved considerably in that time, and these cars are often referred to by their internal development codes to identify some of the many variants. Several of those present were the 911 cars, with the oldest a Carrera RS. It was joined by an SC, the version which appeared in the autumn of 1977, proving that any earlier plans there had been to replace the car with the front engined 924 and 928 had been shelved. The SC followed on from the Carrera 3.0 of 1967 and 1977. It had the same 3 litre engine, with a lower compression ratio and detuned to provide 180 PS . The “SC” designation was reintroduced by Porsche for the first time since the 356 SC. No Carrera versions were produced though the 930 Turbo remained at the top of the range. Porsche’s engineers felt that the weight of the extra luxury, safety and emissions equipment on these cars was blunting performance compared to the earlier, lighter cars with the same power output, so in non-US cars, power was increased to 188 PS for 1980, then finally to 204 PS. However, cars sold in the US market retained their lower-compression 180 PS engines throughout. This enabled them to be run on lower-octane fuel. In model year 1980, Porsche offered a Weissach special edition version of the 911 SC, named after the town in Germany where Porsche has their research centre. Designated M439, it was offered in two colours with the turbo whale tail & front chin spoiler, body color-matched Fuchs alloy wheels and other convenience features as standard. 408 cars were built for North America. In 1982, a Ferry Porsche Edition was made and a total of 200 cars were sold with this cosmetic package. SCs sold in the UK could be specified with the Sport Group Package (UK) which added stiffer suspension, the rear spoiler, front rubber lip and black Fuchs wheels. In 1981 a Cabriolet concept car was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Not only was the car a true convertible, but it also featured four-wheel drive, although this was dropped in the production version. The first 911 Cabriolet debuted in late 1982, as a 1983 model. This was Porsche’s first cabriolet since the 356 of the mid-1960s. It proved very popular with 4,214 sold in its introductory year, despite its premium price relative to the open-top targa. Cabriolet versions of the 911 have been offered ever since. 911 SC sales totalled 58,914 cars before the next iteration, the 3.2 Carrera, which was introduced for the 1984 model year. Coupe models outsold the Targa topped cars by a big margin. There were examples of the Cabrio and Targa here, too.
There were a couple of the front engined cars here, too, starting with the 924, in 924S guise. The 924 was originally another joint project of Volkswagen and Porsche created by the Vertriebsgesellschaft (VG), the joint sales and marketing company funded by Porsche and VW to market and sell sports cars, For Volkswagen, it was intended to be that company’s flagship coupé sports car and was dubbed “Project 425” during its development. For Porsche, it was to be its entry-level sports car replacing the 914. At the time, Volkswagen lacked a significant internal research and design division for developing sports cars; further, Porsche had been doing the bulk of the company’s development work anyway, per a deal that went back to the 1940s. In keeping with this history, Porsche was contracted to develop a new sporting vehicle with the caveat that this vehicle must work with an existing VW/Audi inline-four engine. Porsche chose a rear-wheel drive layout and a rear-mounted transaxle for the design to help provide 48/52 front/rear weight distribution; this slight rear weight bias aided both traction and brake balance. The 1973 oil crisis, a series of automobile-related regulatory changes enacted during the 1970s and a change of directors at Volkswagen made the case for a Volkswagen sports car less striking and the 425 project was put on hold. After serious deliberation at VW, the project was scrapped entirely after a decision was made to move forward with the cheaper, more practical, Golf-based Scirocco model instead. Porsche, which needed a model to replace the 914, made a deal with Volkswagen leadership to buy the design back. The deal specified that the car would be built at the ex-NSU factory in Neckarsulm located north of the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart, Volkswagen becoming the subcontractor. Hence, Volkswagen employees would do the actual production line work (supervised by Porsche’s own production specialists) and that Porsche would own the design. It became one of Porsche’s best-selling models, and the relative cheapness of building the car made it both profitable and fairly easy for Porsche to finance. The original design used an Audi-sourced four-speed manual transmission from a front wheel drive car but now placed and used as a rear transaxle. It was mated to VW’s EA831 2.0 litre 4 cylinder engine, subsequently used in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen LT van (common belief is that ‘the engine originated in the LT van’, but it first appeared in the Audi car and in 924 form has a Porsche-designed cylinder head). The 924 engine used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, producing 125 bhp in European cars, but a rather paltry 95 bhp for the US market models, though this was improved to 110 hp in mid-1977 with the introduction of a catalytic converter, which reduced the need for power-robbing smog equipment. The four-speed manual was the only transmission available for the initial 1976 model, later this was replaced by a five-speed dog-leg unit. An Audi three-speed automatic was offered starting with the 1977.5 model. In 1980 the five-speed transmission was changed to a conventional H-pattern, with reverse now on the right beneath fifth gear. Porsche made small improvements to the 924 each model year between 1977 and 1985, but nothing major was changed on non-turbo cars. Porsche soon recognised the need for a higher-performance version of the 924 that could bridge the gap between the basic 924s and the 911s. Having already found the benefits of turbochargers on several race cars and the 1975 911 turbo, Porsche chose to use this technology for the 924, eventually introducing the 924 turbo as a 1978 model. Porsche started with the same Audi-sourced VW EA831 2.0 litre engine, designed an all new cylinder head (which was hand assembled at Stuttgart), dropped the compression to 7.5:1 and engineered a KKK K-26 turbocharger for it. With 10 psi boost, output increased to 170 hp. The 924 turbo’s engine assembly weighed about 65 lb more, so front spring rates and anti-roll bars were revised. Weight distribution was now 49/51 compared to the original 924 figure of 48/52 front to rear. In order to help make the car more functional, as well as to distinguish it from the naturally aspirated version, Porsche added an NACA duct in the bonnet and air intakes in the badge panel in the nose, 15-inch spoke-style alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with five-stud hubs and a five-speed transmission. Forged 16-inch flat wheels of the style used on the 928 were optional, but fitment specification was that of the 911 which the 924 shared wheel offsets with. Internally, Porsche called it the “931” (left hand drive) and “932” (right hand drive). The turbocharged VW EA831 engine allowed the 924’s performance to come surprisingly close to that of the 911 SC (180 bhp), thanks in part to a lighter curb weight, but it also brought reliability problems. This was in part due to the fact that the general public did not know how to operate, or care for, what is by today’s standards a primitive turbo setup. A turbocharger cooled only by engine oil led to short component life and turbo-related seal and seat problems. To fix the problems, Porsche released a revised 924 turbo series 2 (although badging still read “924 turbo”) in 1979. By using a smaller turbocharger running at increased boost, slightly higher compression of 8:1 and an improved fuel injection system with DITC ignition triggered by the flywheel, reliability improved and power rose to 177 hp. In 1984, VW decided to stop manufacturing the engine blocks used in the 2.0 litre 924, leaving Porsche with a predicament. The 924 was considerably cheaper than its 944 stablemate, and dropping the model left Porsche without an affordable entry-level option. The decision was made to equip the narrower bodied 924 with a slightly detuned version of the 944’s 163 bhp 2.5 litre straight four, upgrading the suspension but retaining the 924’s early interior. The result was 1986’s 150 bhp 924S. In 1988, the 924S’ final year of production, power increased to 160 bhp matching that of the previous year’s Le Mans spec cars and the base model 944, itself detuned by 3 bhp. This was achieved using different pistons which raised the S’ compression ratio from 9.7:1 to 10.2:1, the knock-on effect being an increase in the octane rating, up from 91 RON to 95. This made the 924S slightly faster than the base 944 due to its lighter weight and more aerodynamic body. With unfavourable exchange rates in the late 1980s, Porsche decided to focus its efforts on its more upmarket models, dropping the 924S for 1989 and the base 944 later that same year.
Also spotted was an example of the car’s sort of successor, sort of stablemate, the 944. Whilst its precursor, the 924, had received largely positive reviews, it was criticised by many including Porsche enthusiasts for its Audi-sourced engine and although the Turbo model had increased performance, this model carried a high price, which caused Porsche to decide to develop the 924, as they had with generations of the 911. They re-worked the platform and a new all-alloy 2.5 litre inline-four engine, that was, in essence, half of the 928’s 5.0 litre V8, although very few parts were actually interchangeable. Not typical in luxury sports cars, the four-cylinder engine was chosen for fuel efficiency and size, because it had to be fitted from below on the Neckarsulm production line. To overcome roughness caused by the unbalanced secondary forces that are typical of four-cylinder engines, Porsche included two counter-rotating balance shafts running at twice engine speed. Invented in 1904 by British engineer Frederick Lanchester, and further developed and patented in 1975 by Mitsubishi Motors, balance shafts carry eccentric weights which produce inertial forces that balance out the unbalanced secondary forces, making a four-cylinder engine feel as smooth as a six-cylinder. The engine was factory-rated at 150 hp in its U.S. configuration. Revised bodywork with wider wheel arches, similar to that of the 924 Carrera GT, a fresh interior and upgrades to the braking and suspension systems rounded out the major changes and Porsche introduced the car as the 944 in 1982. It was slightly faster (despite having a poorer drag co-efficient than the 924), the 944 was better equipped and more refined than the 924; it had better handling and stopping power, and was more comfortable to drive. The factory-claimed 0-60 mph time of less than 9 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph which turned out to be somewhat pessimistic, In mid-1985, the 944 underwent its first significant changes. These included : a new dash and door panels, embedded radio antenna, upgraded alternator, increased oil sump capacity, new front and rear cast alloy control arms and semi-trailing arms, larger fuel tank, optional heated and powered seats, Porsche HiFi sound system, and revisions in the mounting of the transaxle to reduce noise and vibration. The “cookie cutter” style wheels used in the early 944s were upgraded to new “phone dial” style wheels (Fuchs wheels remained an option). 1985 model year cars incorporating these changes are sometimes referred to as “1985B”, “85.5” or “1985½” cars. For the 1987 model year, the 944 Motronic DME was updated, and newly incorporated anti-lock braking and air bags. Because of the ABS system, the wheel offset changed and Fuchs wheels were no longer an option. In early 1989 before the release of the 944S2, Porsche upgraded the 944 from the 2.5 to a 2.7 litre engine, with a rated 162 hp and a significant increase in torque. For the 1985 model year, Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, known internally as the 951. This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car’s engine that produced 220 PS at 6000 rpm. In 1987, Car and Driver tested the 944 Turbo and achieved a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The Turbo was the first car using a ceramic port liner to retain exhaust gas temperature and new forged pistons and was also the first vehicle to produce identical power output with or without a catalytic converter. The Turbo also featured several other changes, such as improved aerodynamics, notably an integrated front bumper. This featured the widest turn signals (indicators) fitted to any production car, a strengthened gearbox with a different final drive ratio, standard external oil coolers for both the engine and transmission, standard 16 inch wheels (optional forged Fuchs wheels), and a slightly stiffer suspension (progressive springs) to handle the extra weight. The Turbo’s front and rear brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 911, with Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs as ABS also came standard. Engine component revisions, more than thirty in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat. Changes occurred for the 1987 model year. On the interior, the 1987 944 Turbo for North America became the first production car in the world to be equipped with driver and passenger side air bags as standard equipment. A low oil level light was added to the dash as well as a 180 mph (290 km/h) speedometer as opposed to the 170 mph speedometer on the 1986 model Turbos. Also included is the deletion of the transmission oil cooler, and a change in suspension control arms to reduce the car’s scrub radius. The engine remained the same M44/51 as in the 1986 model. In 1988, Porsche introduced the Turbo S. The 944 Turbo S had a more powerful engine (designation number M44/52) with 250 hp and 258 lb·ft torque (standard 944 Turbo 220 hp and 243 lb·ft. This higher output was achieved by using a larger K26-8 turbine housing and revised engine mapping which allowed maintaining maximum boost until 5800 rpm, compared to the standard 944 Turbo the boost would decrease from 1.75 bar at 3000 rpm to 1.52 bar at 5800 rpm. Top speed was factory rated at 162 mph. The 944 Turbo S’s suspension had the “M030” option consisting of Koni adjustable shocks front and rear, with ride height adjusting threaded collars on the front struts, progressive rate springs, larger hollow rear anti-roll/torsion bars, harder durometer suspension bushings, larger hollow anti-roll/torsion bars at the front, and chassis stiffening brackets in the front frame rails. The air conditioning dryer lines are routed so as to clear the front frame brace on the driver’s side. The 944 Turbo S wheels, known as the Club Sport design, were 16-inch Fuchs forged and flat-dished, similar to the Design 90 wheel. Wheel widths were 7 inches in the front, and 9 inches in the rear with 2.047 in offset; sizes of the Z-rated tyres were 225/50 in the front and 245/45 in the rear. The front and rear fender edges were rolled to accommodate the larger wheels. The manual transmission featured a higher friction clutch disc setup, an external cooler, and a limited slip differential with a 40% lockup setting. The Turbo S front brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 928 S4, with larger Brembo GT 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs; rear Brembo brakes remained the same as a standard Turbo. ABS also came standard. The 944 Turbo S interior featured power seats for both driver and passenger, where the majority of the factory-built Turbo S models sported a “Burgundy plaid” (Silver Rose edition) but other interior/exterior colours were available. A 10-speaker sound system and equalizer + amp was a common option with the Turbo S and S/SE prototypes. Only the earlier 1986, 250 bhp prototypes featured a “special wishes custom interior” options package. In 1989 and later production, the ‘S’ designation was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbos featured the Turbo S enhancements as standard, however the “M030” suspension and the Club Sport wheels were not part of that standard. The 944 Turbo S was the fastest production four cylinder car of its time. For the 1987 model year, the 944S “Super” was introduced, featuring a high performance normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 190 PS version of the 2.5 litre engine (M44/40) featuring a self-adjusting timing belt tensioner. This marked the first use of four-valve-per-cylinder heads and DOHC in the 944 series, derived from the 928 S4 featuring a redesigned camshaft drive, a magnesium intake tract/passages, magnesium valve cover, larger capacity oil sump, and revised exhaust system. The alternator capacity was 115 amps. The wheel bearings were also strengthened and the brake servo action was made more powerful. Floating 944 calipers were standard, but the rear wheel brake circuit pressure regulator from the 944 turbo was used. Small ’16 Ventiler’ script badges were added on the sides in front of the body protection mouldings. Performance was quoted as 0 – 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and a 144 mph top speed due to a 2857 lb weight. It also featured an improved programmed Bosch Digital Motronic 2 Computer/DME with dual knock sensors for improved fuel performance for the higher 10.9:1 compression ratio cylinder head. Like the 944 Turbo, the 944S received progressive springs for greater handling, Larger front and rear anti-roll bars, revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 2.5 litre DOHC higher 6800 rpm rev limit. Dual safety air bags, limited-slip differential, and ABS braking system were optional on the 944S. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was available as was the lightweight 16 inch CS/Sport Fuch 16×7 and 16×9 forged alloy wheels. This SC version car was raced in Canada, Europe and in the U.S. IMSA Firehawk Cup Series. Production was only during 1987 and 1988. It was superseded in 1989 by the ‘S2’ 944 edition. The 1987 944S power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds thus matching the acceleration of its newer larger displacement 3.0 litre 944 S2 sibling. In 1989 the 944S2 was introduced, powered by a 211 PS normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 3.0 litre version of the 944S engine, the largest production 4-cylinder engine of its time. The 944S2 also received a revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 3.0 litre M44/41 powerplant. The 944S2 had the same rounded nose and a rear valance found on the Turbo model. This was the first example of the use of an integrated front bumper, where the fender and hood profiles would merge smoothly with the bumper, a design feature that has only now seen widespread adoption on the 1990 onward production cars. Performance was quoted as 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds with a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) via manual transmission. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was also available. Dual air bags (left hand drive models), limited-slip differential and ABS were optional. Series 90 16-inch cast alloy wheels were standard equipment. In 1989, Porsche released the 944 S2 Cabriolet, a first for the 944 line that featured the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. The first year of production included sixteen 944 S2 Cabriolet for the U.S. market. For the 1990 model year, Porsche produced 3,938 944 S2 Cabriolets for all markets including right-hand drive units for the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. This car was raced, including the British championship that was called the Porsche Motorsport Championship. Production was during 1989, 1990, and 1991. The 944 S2 power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. In February 1991, Porsche released the 944 Turbo Cabriolet, which combined the Turbo S’s 250 hp engine with the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. Porsche initially announced that 600 would be made; ultimately 625 were built, 100 of which were right-hand drive for the United Kingdom, Japanese, Australian, and South African market. None were imported to the U.S. and The Americas. In early 1990, Porsche engineers began working on what they had intended to be the third evolution of the 944, the S3. As they progressed with the development process, they realised that so many parts were being changed that they had produced an almost entirely new vehicle. Porsche consequently shifted development from the 944 S/S2 to the car that would replace the 944 entirely, the 968. The 944’s final year of production was 1991. A grand total 163,192 cars in the 944 family were produced between 1982 and 1991. This made it the most successful car line in Porsche’s history until the introductions of the Boxster and 997 Carrera.
Older of the Rolls Royce models parked here was this Silver Cloud, a car first introduced in 1955 and which was, with its later iterations the Cloud II and III, to prove the core of Rolls-Royce production until the arrival of the monocoque Silver Shadow in 1966. Construction of all Cloud models was body-on-frame, which allowed a number of creative coach-builders to work their magic, but over the course of its eleven years of production the vast majority were built with the standard Pressed Steel shell. The Silver Cloud II was notable for introducing a new engine, the essence of which is still used by Bentley today. The Silver Cloud III was the final version and deliveries to customers commenced in mid 1963. External dimensions were slightly altered with a one and a half inch reduction in grille height and by necessity, a slightly more sloping bonnet, but the most distinctive difference was the grouping of the headlights in a four headlamp unit which was sufficiently attractive to be carried over to the new Shadow. The car’s weight was reduced by over 100kg, and performance was improved by fitting 2″ SU carburettors and increasing the compression ratio to 9:1. One of the respected coach-builders who created something different on the Cloud III chassis was H.J.Mulliner (later Mulliner Park Ward), who offered a supremely elegant two door Drophead Coupe. These cars are now very sought after and are few and far between.
When new, the Silver Shadow was considered a big car, but looking at this one, it does not seem quite so massive any more. The Silver Shadow was produced from 1965 to 1976, and the Silver Shadow II from 1977 to 1980. Initially, the model was planned to be called “Silver Mist”, a natural progression from its predecessor Silver Cloud. The name was changed to “Silver Shadow” after realising that “Mist” is the German word for manure, rubbish, or dirt. The design was a major departure from its predecessor, the Silver Cloud; although several styling cues from the Silver Cloud were modified and preserved, as the automobile had sold well. The John Polwhele Blatchley design was the firm’s first single bow model. The original Shadow was 3 1⁄2 inches narrower and 7 inches shorter than the car it replaced, but nevertheless managed to offer increased passenger and luggage space thanks to more efficient packaging made possible by unitary construction. Aside from a more modern appearance and construction, the Silver Shadow introduced many new features such as disc rather than drum brakes, and independent rear suspension, rather than the outdated live axle design of previous cars. The Shadow featured a 172 hp 6.2 litre V8 from 1965 to 1969, and a 189 hp 6.75 ltire V8 from 1970 to 1980. Both powerplants were coupled to a General Motors-sourced Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic gearbox, except on pre-1970 right-hand-drive models, which used the same 4-speed automatic gearbox as the Silver Cloud (also sourced from General Motors, the Hydramatic). The car’s most innovative feature was a high-pressure hydropneumatic suspension system licensed from Citroën, with dual-circuit braking and hydraulic self-levelling suspension. At first, both the front and rear of the car were controlled by the levelling system; the front levelling was deleted in 1969 as it had been determined that the rear levelling did almost all the work. Rolls-Royce achieved a high degree of ride quality with this arrangement. In 1977, the model was renamed the Silver Shadow II in recognition of several major changes, most notably rack and pinion steering; modifications to the front suspension improved handling markedly. Externally, the bumpers were changed from chrome to alloy and rubber starting with the late 1976 Silver Shadows. These new energy absorbing bumpers had been used in the United States since 1974, as a response to tightening safety standards there. Nonetheless, the bumpers on cars sold outside of North America were still solidly mounted and protruded 2 in less. Also now made standard across the board was the deletion of the small grilles mounted beneath the headlamps. Outside of North America, where tall kerbs and the like demanded more ground clearance, a front skirt was also fitted to the Silver Shadow II and its sister cars. In 1979 75 Silver Shadow II cars were specially fitted to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the company with the original red “RR” badges front and rear, pewter/silver paint, grey leather with red piping, scarlet red carpets, and a silver commemorative placard on the inside of the glove box door. 33 75th anniversary cars were designated for and shipped to the North American market. 8425 examples of the Shadow II were made, which, when added to the total of over 16,000 of the first generation cars made this the biggest selling Rolls Royce of all time.
This is a Rover Ten, dating from 1940, and example of the final version of the Ten series of cars, which was launched in 1939. This was part of the Rover P2 range, along with Rover 12, Rover 14, Rover 16 and Rover 20 models. The chassis was slightly modified getting an extra half inch (12 mm) in the wheelbase and the engine got a new cylinder head increasing power from 44 to 48 bhp. Synchromesh was fitted to the top two ratios on the gearbox. The body was restyled in the Rover style of the time, and the car was available as a saloon or a coupe. The price was now £275 for the saloon but few were made before the outbreak of war and production stopping in 1940. The Coventry factory was damaged by bombing in November 1940 and when production restarted it was from the new Solihull works. The cars were little changed but a left hand drive version to help the export drive arrived in 1947 along with an optional heater. The final cars were made in 1947. 2640 were made in the post-war period.
The first new car that Rover announced after the war was the P4 model, known as the 75. It was launched at the Earls Court Motor Show in September 1949, to replace all previous models and then continued in production until 1964, though the car underwent lots of change under the skin in those 15 years. Designed by Gordon Bashford, the car went into production in 1949 as the 6-cylinder 2.1-litre Rover 75. It featured unusual modern styling in stark contrast with the outdated Rover P3 model 75 which it replaced. Gone were the traditional radiator, separate headlamps and external running boards. In their place were a chromium grille, recessed headlamps and a streamlined body the whole width of the chassis. The car’s styling was derived from the then controversial 1947 Studebakers. The Rover executives purchased two such vehicles and fitted the body from one of them to a prototype P4 chassis to create a development mule. In James Taylor’s highly regarded book ‘Rover P4 – The Complete Story’ he advised that this vehicle was affectionately known as the ‘Roverbaker’ hybrid. Another, at the time minor, distinctive feature but this one did not catch-on was the centrally mounted light in the grille where most other manufacturers of good quality cars provided a pair, one fog and one driving light often separately mounted behind the bumper. Known, unkindly, as the “Cyclops eye” it was discontinued in the new grille announced 23 October 1952. The earliest cars used a more powerful version of the Rover engine from the 1948 Rover P3 75, a 2103 cc straight-6 engine now with chromium plated cylinder bores, an aluminium cylinder head with built-in induction manifold and a pair of horizontal instead of downdraught carburettors. A four-speed manual transmission was used with a column-mounted gear lever which was replaced by a floor-mounted mechanism in September 1953. At first the gearbox only had synchromesh on third and top but it was added to second gear as well in 1953. A freewheel clutch, a traditional Rover feature, was fitted to cars without overdrive until mid-1959, when it was removed from the specifications, shortly before the London Motor Show in October that year. The cars had a separate chassis with independent suspension by coil springs at the front and a live axle with half-elliptical leaf springs at the rear. The brakes on early cars were operated by a hybrid hydro-mechanical system but became fully hydraulic in 1950. Girling disc brakes replaced drums at the front from October 1959. The complete body shells were made by the Pressed Steel company and featured aluminium/magnesium alloy (Birmabright) doors, boot lid and bonnets until the final 95/110 models, which were all steel to reduce costs. The P4 series was one of the last UK cars to incorporate rear-hinged “suicide” doors. After four years of the one model policy Rover returned to a range of the one car but three different sized engines when in September 1953 they announced a four-cylinder Rover 60 and a 2.6-litre Rover 90. A year later, an enlarged 2230cc engine was installed in the 75, and an updated body was shown with a larger boot and a bigger rear window and the end of the flapping trafficators, with redesigned light clusters. Further detailed changes would follow. Announced 16 October 1956, the 105R and 105S used a high-output, 8.5:1 compression version of the 2.6 litres engine used in the 90. The higher compression was to take advantage of the higher octane fuel that had become widely available. This twin-SU carburettor engine produced 108 hp. Both 105 models also featured the exterior changes of the rest of the range announced a month earlier. The 105S featured separate front seats, a cigar lighter, chromed wheel trim rings and twin Lucas SFT 576 spotlamps. To minimise the cost of the 105R, these additional items were not standard, however they were provided on the (higher priced) 105R De Luxe. The 105R featured a “Roverdrive” automatic transmission. This unit was designed and built by Rover and at the time was the only British-built automatic transmission. Others had bought in units from American manufacturers such as Borg-Warner. This unit was actually a two-speed automatic (Emergency Low which can be selected manually and Drive) with an overdrive unit for a total of three forward gears. The 105S made do with a manual transmission and Laycock de Normanville overdrive incorporating a kick-down control. The 105S could reach a top speed of 101 mph. Production of the 105 line ended in 1958 for the 105R and 1959 for the manual transmission 105S, 10,781 had been produced, two-thirds with the manual transmission option. For 1959 the manual model was described simply as a 105 and the trim and accessory level was reduced to match the other models. In 1959, the engines were upgraded again, with the 80 replacing the 60 and the 100 replacing the 90 and the 105. The four cylinder cars were not particularly popular, though and in September they were replaced by the six cylinder 95. Final model was the 110, seen here, which took its place at the top of the range until production ceased, a few months after the very different P6 model 2000 had come along. These cars are popular classics these days and there were a couple of examples of the 100 here.
There was also an example of the larger P5 model here, a car beloved of Government Ministers, who kept the car in service long after production had ceased in 1973, thanks to an amount of stock-piling. Now a much loved classic, the P5 is a quintessentially British motor car. Launched in late 1958, it was a partial replacement for the then 10 year old P4 model, but also an extension of the Rover range further upmarket. Early cars were known as the 3 litre, as they had It was powered by a 2,995 cc straight-6 engine which used an overhead intake valve and side exhaust valve, an unusual arrangement inherited from the Rover P4. In this form, output of 115 bhp was claimed. An automatic transmission, overdrive on the manual, and Burman power steering were optional with overdrive becoming standard from May 1960. Stopping power came originally from a Girling brake system that employed 11″ drums all round ,but this was a heavy car and by the time of the London Motor Show in October 1959 Girling front-wheel power discs brakes had appeared on the front wheels. The suspension was independent at the front using wishbones and torsion bars and at the rear had a live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. A Mark I-A line, introduced in September 1961, featured a minor restyle with added front quarter windows, intended to “assist the dashboard ventilation”. Under the skin, the 1A featured modifications to the engine mountings and the automatic transmission and hydrosteer variable ratio power steering as an option. By 1962, when production of the original Mark I series ended, 20,963 had been produced. The Mark II version was introduced in 1962. It featured more power, 129 hp, from the same 3 litre engine and an improved suspension, while dropping the glass wind deflectors from the top of the window openings which also, on the front doors, now featured “quarterlight” windows. The most notable addition to the range was the option of the Coupé body style launched in autumn 1962. Unlike most coupés, which tend to be two-door versions of four-door saloons, this retained the four doors and was of the same width and length as the saloon, but featured a roofline lowered by two and a half inches along with thinner b-pillars, giving it the look of a hardtop. Hydrosteer was standard on the Coupe and optional on the Saloon. Production of the Mark II ended in 1965, by which time 5,482 coupés and 15,676 saloons had been produced. The Mark III was presented at the London Motor Show in October 1965, described at the time as “even more luxuriously trimmed and furnished”. It was again available in two 4-door body styles, coupé and saloon. The Mark III used the same engine as its predecessor, but it now produced 134 hp. Externally it could be distinguished by the full-length trim strip along the body and Mark III badging; internally it replaced the rear bench seat with two individually moulded rear seats, making it more comfortable to ride in for four occupants but less so for five. A total of 3,919 saloons and 2,501 coupés had been sold by the time production ended in 1967. The final iteration of the P5 appeared in September 1967. Now powered by the 3,528 cc Rover V8 engine also used in the P6 model 3500, the car was badged as the “3.5 Litre”, and commonly known as the 3½ Litre. The final letter in the “P5B” model name came from Buick, the engine’s originator. Rover did not have the budget or time to develop such engines, hence they chose to redevelop the lightweight aluminium concept Buick could not make successful. They made it considerably stronger, which added some weight but still maintained the engine’s light and compact features. The Borg Warner Type-35 automatic transmission, hydrosteer variable ratio power steering and front Lucas fog lights were now standard. Output of 160 bhp was claimed along with improved torque. When compared to its predecessor, the aluminium engine enabled the car to offer improved performance and fuel economy resulting both from the greater power and the lesser weight of the power unit. The exterior was mostly unchanged, apart from bold ‘3.5 Litre’ badging, a pair of fog lights which were added below the head lights, creating a striking 4 light array, and the fitting of chrome Rostyle wheels with black painted inserts. The P5B existed as both the 4-door coupe and saloon body style until end of production. Production ended in 1973, by when 9099 coupés and 11,501 saloons had been built.
An important car not just for Standard, but also for generating significant export revenue, the Vanguard was launched in 1948, the first all new British design produced after the war. It replaced all the pre-war models, production of which had restarted in 1946. The fastback styling of the first models aped American designs of the era leaving little doubt where it was intended to sell the car. As well as the fastback saloon and estate models, a pick-up was offered for the Australian market. The Phase 2 came along at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1953. Not so much a new model as an extensive re-design, keeping the same front end but with a contemporary Ponton, three-box design “notch-back” design, which provided 50% more luggage space and improved rear visibility. Mechanically there were few changes, and the design was produced for a couple of years, including, from 1954 with the option of a diesel engine, the first British car to do so. The third phase Vanguard, launched in 1955 was very different. An all new design, it featured styling by the Italian Vignale styling house. As well as looking far more modern, with a larger and lower glass area, and a single one-piece curved windscreen, the model finally eliminated the separate chassis of its predecessors. As UK fuel was no longer restricted to the 72 octane “Pool petrol” of the 1940s and early 1950s, and with the modest increases in available octane levels, the Vanguard’s compression ratio was increased to 7.0:1, so the 2088 cc engine with its single Solex downdraught carburettor now produced 68 bhp. The front suspension was independent, using coil springs, and was bolted to a substantial sub-frame which also carried the recirculating ball steering gear. Semi-elliptic leaf springs were used on the rear axle. Lockheed hydraulic brakes with 9 in drums were fitted front and rear. The three-speed gearbox had a column change and the optional overdrive was operated by a switch on the steering column. A four-speed floor change became an option. The wheelbase increased by 8 in giving much better passenger accommodation. A heater was now a standard fitting. Bench seats were fitted in front and rear with folding centre arm rests. They were covered in Vynide, with leather available as an option. The car was lighter than the superseded model, and the gearing was changed to deliver better economy with performance virtually unchanged. This basic design was to live for 8 years, before being replaced by the Triumph 2000 in the autumn of 1963. A number of different versions were produced during that time, some more successful than others. The Sportsman was a short lived “performance” version with a tuned 90 bhp engine shared with the TR3, but it was a sales disaster and quickly withdrawn. Cheaper 4 cylinder 1670cc engined cars, with simplified trim and a lower equipment level, launched in 1957 and called Ensign, though, sold well. A face-lift of the Phase III was designed by Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti and coach-builders Vignale in 1958, and was introduced at the October 1958 Earls Court Motor Show. The windscreen and rear window were deeper, and there was a revised grille and trim. A floor change four-speed manual gearbox was now fitted, and the provision of a three-speed gear box with column change offered as an option. An overdrive was also offered an option, as was an automatic. One automatic car is known to have survived – there may be others. The car had front and rear bench seats, which were covered, as standard, in Vynide. Leather was an option on the home market and cloth for exported models. A heater and (unusual for the time) electric windscreen washers were factory fitted, although a radio remained an option. Final model was the Vanguard Six, introduced at the end of 1960, and that is the car seen here. The last of the Vanguards, it featured a six-cylinder 1,998 cc engine with push-rod overhead valves: this was the engine subsequently installed in the Triumph 2000. The compression ratio was 8.0:1, and twin Solex carburettors were fitted giving an output of 80 bhp at 4500 rpm. Externally the only differences from the Vignale were the badging but the interior was updated. This rather bulbous looking car is a Vanguard Phase 1.
The Sunbeam-Talbot 90 was a compact executive car produced and built by Sunbeam-Talbot from 1948 to 1954 and continued as the Sunbeam Mk III from 1954 to 1957. The car was launched in 1948 along with the smaller-engined Sunbeam-Talbot 80 but many features dated back to the pre war Sunbeam-Talbot 2 Litre. The body was completely new and available as a 4-door saloon or 2-door drophead coupe. The saloon featured a “pillarless” join between the glass on the rear door and the rear quarter window. The car went through three versions before the name was changed to Sunbeam Mk III (without “Talbot”) in 1954. The original version had a 64 bhp 1,944 cc side-valve four-cylinder engine derived from a pre-war Humber unit carried over from the Sunbeam-Talbot 2-Litre. The chassis was derived from the Ten model but with wider track and had beam axles front and rear and leaf springs. The brakes were updated to have hydraulic operation. Saloon and Drophead coupé bodies were fitted to the chassis and the rear wheel openings were covered by metal “spats”. 4000 were made. The Mk II got a new chassis with independent front suspension using coil springs. The engine was enlarged to 2267 cc. The increased engine block capacity was shared with the company’s 1950 Humber Hawk, but in the cylinder head the Humber retained (until 1954) the old side-valve arrangement. The Sunbeam’s cylinder head was changed to incorporate overhead valves, giving rise to a claimed power output of 70 bhp compared with only 58 bhp for the Humber. The favourable power-to-weight ratio meant that the Talbot could be “geared quite high” and still provide impressive acceleration where needed for “quick overtaking”.The front of the Talbot 90 body was modified; the headlights were higher and there were air inlet grilles on either side of the radiator. 5493 were made. Clming in 1952, the Mk IIA had a higher compression engine raising output to 77 bhp. To cater for the higher speeds the car was now capable of, the brakes were enlarged and to improve brake cooling the wheels were pierced. The Talbot MkIIA coupe/convertible is regarded as the rarest of the Sunbeam Talbots. The rear wheel spats were no longer fitted. 10,888 were made. From 1954 to 1957 the car continued, but without the Talbot name and was marketed as the Sunbeam MkIII and badged on the radiator shell as Sunbeam Supreme. The drophead coupé was not made after 1955. There were some minor styling changes to the front with enlarged air intakes on each side of the radiator shell and three small portholes just below each side of the bonnet near to the windscreen. Duo-tone paint schemes were also available. Engine power was increased to 80 bhp and overdrive became an option. Approximately 2250 were made.
The Tiger was based on the Sunbeam Alpine, and was created in 1964. Designed in part by American car designer and racing driver Carroll Shelby and produced from 1964 until 1967. Shelby had carried out a similar V8 conversion on the AC Cobra, and hoped to be offered the contract to produce the Tiger at his facility in America. Rootes decided instead to contract the assembly work to Jensen at West Bromwich in England, and pay Shelby a royalty on every car produced. Two major versions of the Tiger were built: the Series I (1964–67) which was fitted with the 260 cu in (4.3 litre) Ford V8; and the Series II, of which only 633 were built in the final year of Tiger production. This had the larger Ford 289 cu in (4.7 litre) engine. Two prototype and extensively modified versions of the Series I competed in the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, but neither completed the race. Rootes also entered the Tiger in European rallies with some success, and for two years it was the American Hot Rod Association’s national record holder over a quarter-mile drag strip. Production ended in 1967 soon after the Rootes Group was taken over by Chrysler, who did not have a suitable engine to replace the Ford V8. Owing to the ease and affordability of modifying the Tiger, there are few surviving cars in standard form.
There were lots of Triumph models here, reflecting the fondness which applies to these British classics some 32 years after the last car was made bearing the badge. Among them were several TR sports cars, of which the oldest present was a TR3 Launched in 1955, the TR3 was an evolution of the TR2 and not a brand new model. It was powered by a 1991 cc straight-4 OHV engine initially producing 95 bhp, an increase of 5 hp over the TR2 thanks to the larger SU-H6 carburettors fitted. This was later increased to 100 bhp at 5000 rpm by the addition of a “high port” cylinder head and enlarged manifold. The four-speed manual gearbox could be supplemented by an overdrive unit on the top three ratios, electrically operated and controlled by a switch on the dashboard. In 1956 the front brakes were changed from drums to discs, the TR3 thus becoming the first British series production car to be so fitted. The TR3 was updated in 1957, with various changes of which the full width radiator grille is the easiest recognition point and the facelifted model is commonly referred to as the Triumph “TR3A”, though unlike the later TR4 series, where the “A” suffix was adopted, the cars were not badged as such and the “TR3A” name was not used officially, Other updates included exterior door handles, a lockable boot handle and the car came with a full tool kit as standard (this was an option on the TR3). The total production run of the “TR3A” was 58,236. This makes it the third best-selling TR after the TR6 and TR7. The TR3A was so successful that the original panel moulds eventually wore out and had to be replaced. In 1959 a slightly modified version came out that had raised stampings under the bonnet and boot hinges and under the door handles, as well as a redesigned rear floor section. In addition, the windscreen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on the early “A” models. Partly because it was produced for less time, the original TR3 sold 13,377 examples, of which 1286 were sold within the UK; the rest being exported mainly to the USA.
Successor to the TR3a, and code named “Zest” during development, the TR4 was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the previous TR sports cars, but with a modern Michelotti styled body. The TR 4 engine was carried over from the earlier TR2/3 models, but the displacement was increased from 1991cc to 2138 cc by increasing the bore size. Gradual improvements in the manifolds and cylinder head allowed for some improvements culminating in the TR4A model. The 1991 cc engine became a no-cost option for those cars destined to race in the under-two-litre classes of the day. Some cars were fitted with vane-type superchargers, as the three main bearing engine was liable to crankshaft failure if revved beyond 6,500 rpm; superchargers allowed a TR4 to produce much more horse-power and torque at relatively modest revolutions. The standard engine produced 105 bhp but, supercharged and otherwise performance-tuned, a 2.2-litre I4 version could produce in excess of 200 bhp at the flywheel. The TR4, in common with its predecessors, was fitted with a wet-sleeve engine, so that for competition use the engine’s cubic capacity could be changed by swapping the cylinder liners and pistons, allowing a competitor to race under different capacity rules (i.e. below or above 2 litres for example). Other key improvements over the TR3 included a wider track front and rear, slightly larger standard engine displacement, full synchromesh on all forward gears, and rack and pinion steering. In addition, the optional Laycock de Normanville electrically operated overdrive Laycock Overdrive could now be selected for 2nd and 3rd gear as well as 4th, effectively providing the TR4 with a seven-speed manual close ratio gearbox. The TR4 was originally fitted with 15×4.5″ disc wheels. Optional 48-lace wire wheels could be ordered painted the same colour as the car’s bodywork (rare), stove-enamelled (matte silver with chrome spinners, most common) or in matte or polished chrome finishes (originally rare, but now more commonly fitted). The most typical tyre originally fitted was 590-15 bias ply or optional radial tires. In the US at one point, American Racing alloy (magnesium and aluminium) wheels were offered as an option, in 15×5.5″ or 15×6″ size. Tyres were a problem for original owners who opted for 60-spoke wire wheels, as the correct size radial-ply tyre for the factory rims was 155-15, an odd-sized tyre at the time only available from Michelin at considerable expense. Some original TR4 sales literature says the original radial size was 165-15. The much more common 185-15 radials were too wide to be fitted safely. As a result, many owners had new and wider rims fitted and their wheels re-laced. The new TR4 body style did away with the classical cutaway door design of the previous TRs to allow for wind-down windows (in place of less convenient side-curtains), and the angular rear allowed a boot with considerable capacity for a sports car. Advanced features included the use of adjustable fascia ventilation, and the option of a unique hard top that consisted of a fixed glass rear window with an integral rollbar and a detachable, steel centre panel (aluminium for the first 500 units). This was the first such roof system on a production car and preceded by 5 years the Porsche 911/912 Targa, which has since become a generic name for this style of top. On the TR4 the rigid roof panel was replaceable with an easily folded and stowed vinyl insert and supporting frame called a Surrey Top. The entire hard top assembly is often mistakenly referred to as a Surrey Top. In original factory parts catalogues the rigid top and backlight assembly is listed as the Hard Top kit. The vinyl insert and frame are offered separately as a Surrey Top. Features such as wind-down windows were seen as a necessary step forward to meet competition and achieve good sales in the important US market, where the vast majority of TR4s were eventually sold. Dealers had concerns that buyers might not fully appreciate the new amenities, therefore a special short run of TR3As (commonly called TR3Bs) was produced in 1961 and ’62. The TR4 proved very successful and continued the rugged, “hairy-chested” image that the previous TRs had enjoyed. 40,253 cars were built during production years. Most were sold new to the US, but plenty have returned, and it is estimated that there are not far short of 900 examples of the model in the UK at present.
The next bodystyle appeared on the TR6, the first Triumph for some time not to have been styled by Michelotti. By the mid 1960s, money was tight, so when it came to replacing the TR4 and TR5 models, Triumph were forced into trying to minimise the costs of the redesign, which meant that they kept the central section of the old car, but came up with new bodywork with the front and back ends were squared off, reportedly based on a consultancy contract involving Karmann. The resulting design, which did look modern when it was unveiled in January 1969 has what is referred to as a Kamm tail, which was very common during 1970s era of cars and a feature on most Triumphs of the era. All TR6 models featured inline six-cylinder engines. For the US market the engine was carburetted, as had been the case for the US-only TR250 engine. Like the TR5, the TR6 was fuel-injected for other world markets including the United Kingdom, hence the TR6PI (petrol-injection) designation. The Lucas mechanical fuel injection system helped the home-market TR6 produce 150 bhp at model introduction. Later, the non-US TR6 variant was detuned to 125 bhp for it to be easier to drive, while the US variant continued to be carburetted with a mere 104 hp. Sadly, the Lucas injection system proved somewhat troublesome, somewhat denting the appeal of the car. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with an electrically switched overdrive which could operate on second, third, and fourth gears on early models and third and fourth on later models because of constant gearbox failures in second at high revs. Both provided “long legs” for open motorways. TR6 also featured semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, 15-inch wheels and tyres, pile carpet on floors and trunk/boot, bucket seats, and a full complement of instrumentation. Braking was accomplished by disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. A factory steel hardtop was optional, requiring two people to fit it. TR6 construction was fundamentally old-fashioned: the body was bolted onto a frame instead of the two being integrated into a unibody structure; the TR6 dashboard was wooden (plywood with veneer). Other factory options included a rear anti-roll bar and a limited-slip differential. Some say that the car is one of Leyland’s best achievements, but a number of issues were present and remain because of poor design. As well as the fuel injection problems, other issues include a low level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. As is the case with other cars of the era, the TR6 can suffer from rust issues, although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. The TR6 can be prone to overheating. Many owners fit an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. Also the Leyland factory option of an oil cooler existed. Despite the reliability woes, the car proved popular, selling in greater quantity than any previous TR, with 94,619 of them produced before production ended in mid 1976. Of these, 86,249 were exported and only 8,370 were sold in the UK. A significant number have since been re-imported, as there are nearly 3000 of these much loved classics on the road and a further 1300 on SORN, helped by the fact that parts and services to support ownership of a TR6 are readily available and a number of classic car owners’ clubs cater for the model.
I did not spot any examples of the smaller Spitfire, but I did find its close relative, the GT6, seen in Mark 3 guise. In early 1963 Giovanni Michelotti was commissioned by Standard-Triumph to design a GT version of their recently introduced Spitfire 4. An unmodified Spitfire 4 was delivered to Michelotti’s design studios in Italy and late in 1963 the prototype Spitfire GT4 was returned to England for evaluation. The styling of the vehicle was a success but the extra weight of the GT bodyshell resulted in extremely poor performance from the Spitfire’s 1,147 cc power unit, and plans for producing the Spitfire GT4 were shelved. Michelotti’s fastback design for the Spitfire GT4 prototype was adopted by the Triumph racing programme for the 1964 season, as it was deemed to provide an aerodynamic benefit over the standard Spitfire body shape. Fibreglass copies of the Spitfire GT4’s fastback were grafted on to the race-modified Spitfires destined for competition. The Spitfire racing programme was successful, and in 1965 resulted in 13th overall and a 1st in class at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans (beating their main rivals, the MG Midgets). The Spitfire’s competitive success and the continuing commercial success of the production vehicle led Triumph to re-evaluate its shelved plans for a GT version of the Spitfire. To overcome the lack of performance inherent in the heavier body style the Spitfire’s 4-cylinder engine was replaced with the more powerful 1998 cc 6-cylinder engine from the Triumph Vitesse (which shared a similar chassis with the Spitfire and Triumph Herald). The car was further developed and refined and eventually launched as the Triumph GT6 (dropping the “Spitfire” prefix) to emphasise its GT styling and its 6-cylinder engine. Contemporary Triumph marketing advertised the GT6 as being developed from the “race winning Le Mans Spitfires” to capitalise on their aesthetic similarities, whereas the Le Mans Spitfires and the GT6 were actually two entirely separate development programmes (the GT programme pre-dating the racing programme). However, the marketing spin was so successful that many people erroneously believed the Le Mans Spitfires to actually be GT6s. The production car was introduced in 1966 and called the Triumph GT6. The new body was a sleek fastback design with an opening rear hatch which gave the GT6 the nickname “Poor man’s E-Type”. It was really a 2-seater, but a small extra rear seat could be ordered if required and was large enough for small children. The family resemblance to the Spitfire Mk II was strong, the longer 6-cylinder engine necessitated a new bonnet top with a power bulge and the doors were provided with opening quarter light windows and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The 6-cylinder engine was tuned to develop 95 bhp at 5000 rpm, and produced 117 lb·ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The increased power necessitated certain changes to the Spitfire mechanics; the radiator was new and mounted further forward in the car and the gearbox was the stronger unit from the Vitesse, with optional overdrive. Front springs were uprated to cope with the extra weight of the new engine. The overall vehicle weight unladed was 1,904 lb (864 kg). The interior of the GT6 was well equipped; a wooden dashboard housed a full complement of instruments, with carpets and heater included as standard. The new car had some very strong selling points. The new engine provided a 106 mph top speed and 0–60 mph in 12 seconds, a little better than the MGB GT. Moreover, the unit was comparatively smooth and tractable, in marked contrast to the MG’s rather harsh 4-cylinder engine. Fuel economy was very reasonable for the period at 20mpg, and the interior well up to the competition. The only major criticism was of its rear suspension; the GT6 inherited the swing-axle system from the Spitfire, which in turn was copied from the Herald small saloon. In the saloon it was tolerated, in the little Spitfire it was not liked and in the powerful GT6 it was heavily criticised. Triumph had done nothing to improve the system for the GT6 and the tendency to break away if the driver lifted off the power mid-corner was not helped at all by the increased weight at the front of the car. The handling was most bitterly criticised in the USA, an important export market for Triumph, where they were traditionally very strong. Similar criticism was being levelled at the Vitesse saloon, which shared the GT6’s engine and its handling problems. Triumph realised that they needed to find an answer to the handling problem, if only to maintain their reputation in the USA. Their response came with the 1969 model year, with the introduction of the GT6 Mk II, known in the States as the GT6+. The rear suspension was significantly re-engineered using reversed lower wishbones and Rotoflex driveshaft couplings, taming the handling and turning the Triumph into an MGB beater. The Vitesse was also modified, but the Spitfire had to wait until 1970 for any improvements to be made. There were other changes for the Mk II; the front bumper was raised (in common with the Spitfire Mk.3) to conform to new crash regulations, necessitating a revised front end, and side vents were added to the front wings and rear pillars. Under the bonnet, the engine was uprated to develop 104 bhp with a new cylinder head, camshaft, and manifolds. Performance improved to 107 mph but perhaps more noteworthy the 0–60 mph time dropped to 10 seconds. The fuel economy was also improved to 25 mpg. The interior was updated with a new dashboard and better ventilation, a two-speed heater fan and a black headlining. Overdrive remained a popular option for the manual transmission. A further update to the Series 3 came in the autumn of 1970, at the same time as the Spitfire Mark IV was launched, but sales remained low and the car was deleted in the autumn of 1973 with production having reached 40,926 examples.
Largest Triumph model here was the Stag. Envisioned as a luxury sports car, this car was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. It started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of aftermarket products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate that was never produced. This was probably included as a slightly “gimmicky” tribute to Triumph’s rallying successes. Nowadays, the Stag is seen in a very different light, with lots of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners who enjoy the good points of this attractive looking car and who revel in the fact that the market has not yet boosted prices into the unaffordable category, as one day will surely happen.
The TVR M Series cars were built between 1972 and 1979, replacing the Vixen and Tuscan models. The styling showed a clear resemblance to the models that the M replaced, with the centre section of the car being carried forward and conceptually, the cars were little different, with a front mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and body-on-frame construction. The bodies themselves were built from glass-reinforced plastic (GRP). The engines were bought in, sourced from Triumph and Ford, which resulted in a number of different models being made. These included the 1600M, 2500M, 3000M, 3000S, and Taimar, as well as turbocharged versions of the 3000M, 3000S, and Taimar. The first model to start production was the 2500M in March 1972, after being built as a prototype in 1971, which had the 2500cc engine from the Triumph 2.5PI and TR6 under the bonnet. Ford engined 1600M and 3000M models followed later. The American market was financially very important to TVR, and Gerry Sagerman oversaw import and distribution of the cars within the United States from his facility on Long Island. Approximately thirty dealers sold TVRs in the eastern part of the country. John Wadman handled distribution of the cars in Canada through his business, JAG Auto Enterprises.. A small number of 5.0 litre Ford V8-powered cars were finished or converted by the TVR North America importer; these were sold as the 5000M. A total of 2,465 M Series cars were built over the nine years of production. Because of the hand-built and low-volume nature of TVR production, there are many small and often-undocumented variations between cars of the same model that arise due to component availability and minor changes in the build process. The M Series was regarded by contemporary reviewers as being loud and fast and having excellent roadholding. This came at the expense of unusual ergonomics, and heating and ventilation systems that were sometimes problematic. The first major alteration to the M Series body was the hatchback Taimar, introduced at the October 1976 British International Motor Show and using the same mechanicals as the 3000M. The name was inspired by the name of Martin’s friend’s girlfriend, Tayma. The opening hatchback alleviated the previous difficulty of manoeuvering luggage over the seats to stow it in the cargo area, and the hatch itself was opened electrically via a solenoid-actuated latch triggered by a button on the driver’s doorjamb. Over its three-year production, a total of 395 normally aspirated Taimars were built. The final body style for the M Series, an open roadster, arrived in 1978 as the TVR 3000S (marketed in some places as the “Convertible”, and referred to at least once as the “Taimar Roadster”.) Like the Taimar, the 3000S was mechanically identical to the 3000M; the body, however, had undergone significant changes. Only the nose of the car was the same as the previous coupes, as the windscreen, doors, and rear end had all been reworked. The redesign of the doors precluded the possibility of using wind-up windows, so sliding sidecurtains were instead fitted. These could be removed entirely and stowed in the boot, which, for the first time on a TVR, was a separate compartment with its own lid. The boot lid was operated electrically in a manner similar to the Taimar’s hatch. Its design was not finalised by the time the first cars entered production, so the first several cars (including the prototype) were built with no cutout for boot access. The final styling tweaks and the production of moulds for the fibreglass were done by Topolec Ltd. of Norfolk. The styling of the 3000S was revived in a somewhat modernised form later, with the 1987 introduction of the TVR S Series (although the S Series shared almost no components with the M Series cars.) The windscreen and convertible top had been adapted from those used on the Jensen-Healey roadster. Because Jensen Motors had ceased operation in 1976, the windscreen and sidecurtain designs were done by a company named Jensen Special Products, which was run by former Jensen employees. The design for the convertible top was finalised by Car Hood Company in Coventry. One of the minor undocumented variations found on M Series cars is the presence of a map light built into the upper windscreen surround of the 3000S. It appears to have been included only on a very small number of cars built near the end of the production run. When production of the 3000S ended (with 258 cars built), it cost £8,730. Reportedly, 67 of these cars were in a left-hand drive configuration, and 49 were exported to North America. There were both a Taimar and a 3000S here.
The Tuscan was launched in 2000, by which time there had been a series of what we think of as the modern era TVRs produced for nearly a decade, the Cerbera, Griffith and Cerbera. The Tuscan did not replace any of them, but was intended to help with the company’s ambitious push further up market to become a sort of Blackpool-built alternative to Ferrari. It did not lack the styling for the task, and unlike the preceding models with their Rover V8 engines, the new car came with TVR’s own engine, a straight six unit of 3.6 litre capacity putting out 360 bhp. The Tuscan was intended to be the grand tourer of the range, perfectly practical for everyday use, though with only two seats, no ABS, no airbags and no traction control, it was a tough sell on wet days in a more safety conscious world, but at least there was a removable targa top roof panel for those days when the sun came out. The car may have lacked the rumble of a V8, but when pushed hard, the sound track from the engine was still pretty special, and the car was faster than the Cerbera, but sadly, the car proved less than reliable, which really started to harm TVR’s reputation, something which would ultimately prove to be its undoing.
There were a couple of nice examples of the Volvo P1800S, a sports car that was manufactured by Volvo Cars between 1961 and 1973. The car was a one-time venture by the usually sober Swedish Volvo, who already had a reputation for building sensible sedans. The project was originally started in 1957 because Volvo wanted a sports car to compete in the US and European markets, despite the fact that their previous attempt, the P1900, had failed to take off with only 68 cars sold. The man behind the project was an engineering consultant to Volvo, Helmer Petterson, who in the 1940s was responsible for the Volvo PV444. The design work was done by Helmer’s son Pelle Petterson, who worked at Pietro Frua at that time. Volvo insisted it was an Italian design by Frua and only officially recognised that it was by Pelle Petterson many years later. The Italian Carrozzeria Pietro Frua design firm (then a recently acquired subsidiary of Ghia) built the first three prototypes between September 1957 and early 1958, later designated by Volvo in September 1958: P958-X1, P958-X2 and P958-X3. In December 1957 Helmer Petterson drove X1, the first hand-built P1800 prototype to Osnabrück, West Germany, headquarters of Karmann. Petterson hoped that Karmann would be able to take on the tooling and building of the P1800. Karmann’s engineers had already been preparing working drawings from the wooden styling buck at Frua. Petterson and Volvo chief engineer Thor Berthelius met there, tested the car and discussed the construction with Karmann. They were ready to build it and this meant that the first cars could hit the market as early as December 1958. But in February, Karmann’s most important customer, Volkswagen forbade Karmann to take on the job, as they feared that the P1800 would compete with the sales of their own cars, and threatened to cancel all their contracts with Karmann if they took on this car. This setback almost caused the project to be abandoned. Other German firms, NSU, Drautz and Hanomag, were contacted but none was chosen because Volvo did not believe they met Volvo’s manufacturing quality-control standards. It began to appear that Volvo might never produce the P1800. This motivated Helmer Petterson to obtain financial backing from two financial firms with the intention of buying the components directly from Volvo and marketing the car himself. At this point Volvo had made no mention of the P1800 and the factory would not comment. Then a press release surfaced with a photo of the car, putting Volvo in a position where they had to acknowledge its existence. These events influenced the company to renew its efforts: the car was presented to the public for the first time at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1960 and Volvo turned to Jensen Motors, whose production lines were under-utilised, and they agreed a contract for 10,000 cars. The Linwood, Scotland, body plant of manufacturer Pressed Steel was in turn sub-contracted by Jensen to create the unibody shells, which were then taken by rail to be assembled at Jensen in West Bromwich. In September 1960, the first production P1800 left Jensen for an eager public. The engine was the B18, an 1800cc petrol engine, with dual SU carburettors, producing 100 hp. This variant (named B18B) had a higher compression ratio than the slightly less powerful twin-carb B18D used in the contemporary Amazon 122S, as well as a different camshaft. The ‘new’ B18 was actually developed from the existing B36 V8 engine used in Volvo trucks at the time. This cut production costs, as well as furnishing the P1800 with a strong engine boasting five main crankshaft bearings. The B18 was matched with the new and more robust M40 manual gearbox through 1963. From 1963 to 1972 the M41 gearbox with electrically actuated overdrive was a popular option. Two overdrive types were used, the D-Type through 1969, and the J-type through 1973. The J-type had a slightly shorter ratio of 0.797:1 as opposed to 0.756:1 for the D-type. The overdrive effectively gave the 1800 series a fifth gear, for improved fuel efficiency and decreased drivetrain wear. Cars without overdrive had a numerically lower-ratio differential, which had the interesting effect of giving them a somewhat higher top speed of just under 120 mph, than the more popular overdrive models. This was because the non-overdrive cars could reach the engine’s redline in top gear, while the overdrive-equipped cars could not, giving them a top speed of roughly 110 mph. As time progressed, Jensen had problems with quality control, so the contract was ended early after 6,000 cars had been built. In 1963 production was moved to Volvo’s Lundby Plant in Gothenburg and the car’s name was changed to 1800S (S standing for Sverige, or in English : Sweden). The engine was improved with an additional 8 hp. In 1966 the four-cylinder engine was updated to 115 PS, which meant the top speed increased to 109 mph. In 1969 the B18 engine was replaced with the 2-litre B20B variant of the B20 giving 118 bhp, though it kept the designation 1800S. For 1970 numerous changes came with the fuel-injected 1800E, which had the B20E engine with Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection and a revised camshaft, and produced 130 bhp without sacrificing fuel economy. Top speed was around 118 mph and acceleration from 0–62 took 9.5 seconds. In addition, the 1970 model was the first 1800 with four-wheel disc brakes; till then the 1800 series had front discs and rear drums. Volvo introduced its final P1800 variant, the 1800ES, in 1972 as a two-door station wagon with a frameless, all-glass tailgate. The final design was chosen after two prototypes had been built by Sergio Coggiola and Pietro Frua. Frua’s prototype, Raketen (“the Rocket”), is located in the Volvo Museum. Both Italian prototypes were considered too futuristic, and instead in-house designer Jan Wilsgaard’s proposal was accepted. The ES engine was downgraded to 125 bhp by reducing the compression ratio with a thicker head gasket (engine variant B20F); although maximum power was slightly down the engine was less “peaky” and the car’s on-the-road performance was actually improved. The ES’s rear backrest folded down to create a long flat loading area. As an alternative to the usual four-speed plus overdrive manual transmission, a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic was available in the 1800ES. With stricter American safety and emissions standards looming for 1974, Volvo did not see fit to spend the considerable amount that would be necessary to redesign the small-volume 1800 ES. Only 8,077 examples of the ES were built in its two model years.
And final car of the report was an example of the “Amazon” Volvo here, a 221 Estate. Although costly when new, thanks to the UK’s Import Duty which applied to foreign car imports at the time, the Volvo of this era was surprisingly popular with UK buyers. The cars were tough, as strong success in rallying evidenced, but not that many have survived. There’s a complex history to this model, with lots of different numbers applied to the car during a 13 year production run. When introduced, the car was named the Amason (with an ‘s’), deriving from the fierce female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazons. German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler had already registered the name, and the two companies finally agreed that Volvo could only use the name domestically (i.e., within Sweden), modifying the spelling to Amazon. Subsequently, Volvo began its tri-digit nomenclature and the line became known as the 120 Series. Under prototype designation 1200, following the PV444’s internal designation as the 1100, the Amazon was released in the press in February 1956, with production initially set to begin in July of the same year, and deliveries commenced in August 1956 — under the now modified internal designation 120 series. The Amazon sedan’s ponton genre, three-box styling was inspired by US cars of the early 1950s, strongly resembling the Chrysler New Yorker sedan and the Chrysler 300C hardtop Coupe. According to designer Jan Wilsgaard, the Amazon’s styling was inspired by a Kaiser he saw at the Gothenburg harbour. The Amazon featured strong articulation front to rear, pronounced “shoulders”, and slight but visible tailfins. These features became inspiration for Peter Horbury when reconceiving Volvo’s design direction with the V70 after decades of rectilinear, slab-sided, boxy designs. The Amazon’s bodywork was constructed of phosphate-treated steel (to improve paint adhesion) and with heavy use of undercoating and anti-corrosive oil treatment. The Amazon shared the wheelbase, tall posture and high H-point seating of its predecessor, the PV. In 1959 Volvo became the world’s first manufacturer to provide front seat belts as standard equipment — by providing them on all Amazon models, including the export models — and later becoming the first car featuring three-point seat belts as standard equipment. The Amazon’s handbrake location, outboard of the driver’s seat, was intended to accommodate subsequent bench seat models with column shift transmissions — which never materialised. Buyers began to receive the first cars in February 1957, and initial models were two-tone red and black with light grey roof, light grey with a black roof, followed by a dark blue with grey roof in 1958. Further iterations included the 121, the base model with a single carburettor 66 bhp engine, the 122S introduced in 1958 as a performance model equipped with a dual carburettor 85 bhp engine. The estate version was introduced at the 1962 Stockholm Auto Show, and Volvo manufactured 73,000 examples between 1962 and 1969. The Amazon estate featured a two-piece tailgate, with the lower section folding down to provide a load surface and the upper section that hinged overhead. The vehicle’s rear licence plate, attached to the lower tailgate, could fold “up” such that when the tailgate was lowered and the vehicle in use, the plate was still visible. This idea was used by the original 1959 Mini. In recent years a similar arrangement was used on the tailgate of the Subaru Baja. In 1966 the Volvo PV ended production, replaced by the Amazon Favorit, a less expensive version of the Amazon, without exterior chrome trim, a passenger-side sun visor or cigarette lighter, and with a three-speed rather than four-speed transmission — available in black with red interior and later white or black with red interior. The newer Volvo 140 was becoming the company’s mainstream model, and the last of the four-door 120 saloons were produced in 1967, the year which saw the launch of the 123GT, which was a Model 130 with high-compression four-cylinder B18B engine (from the Volvo P1800), M41 gearbox, fully reclining seats, front fog and driving lights (on some markets), alternator, fender mounted mirrors, special steering wheel, dash with a shelf and tachometer, and other cosmetic upgrades. In 1969 the displacement of the old B18 engine was increased and the engine was called the B20. The last Amazon was manufactured on 3 July 1970. By the end of production, 234,653 four-door models, 359,917 two-door models and 73,220 station wagons had been produced, of which 60% were exported; a total of 667,791 vehicles.
During the course of my weekend visit to this event, I struck up conversation with a number of people, all of them complete strangers, but all keen to share the enthusiasm for the location, the cars and the atmosphere. The one I remember the most clearly is a Swedish gent, who told me that he had come over from his native land, specifically so he could attend. He turned out to be quite an enthusiast, as you might imagine, for someone who has travelled quit such a way, and he owns an E Type Jaguar which he had exported out of the US. In his opinion, the UK is blessed with what he called the “best car events in the world”, and having enjoyed a weekend of glorious sunshine (that one is an added bonus, and far from guaranteed in the UK, of course) as well the vast array of lovely cars, the action on the hill and that special Prescott atmosphere, I am inclined to agree. To have events such as this that are so readily available is a joy and a privilege indeed. The 2017 VSCC at Prescott is definitely one of the events that will make my schedule for the year.