The VSCC runs an extensive program of events during the course of the year, at venues all around the UK, ranging from driving tours to meets at race tracks, hill climbs and a number of locations where there are driving tests for those who wish to take part. Whilst those with competition cars probably take part of the largest number of these, plenty of members with cars that are really not designed or suitable for motor-sport also stage an appearance in their pre-war cars. Biggest event of the season takes place at the Prescott Hill Climb in early August, though such is the popularity of the venue that there is a second VSCC presence here as well towards the end of September. I’ve never managed to attend that, as I tend to be out of the country, on vacation, but the August event is one of my favourites, since as well as enjoying seeing a program of close on 300 historic cars vying for honours on the hill, the site just fills with hundreds of fabulous old cars. You are highly unlikely to see this many in one place anywhere else, certainly in the UK and probably the whole world. Almost all of them arrive having driven to the site, too. Both days are well attended, but as always, Sunday is busier than the Saturday. On the Sunday the entirety of the Orchard is reserved for pre-war cars and every year, it is full, with several hundred fabulous cars there to be enjoyed in their own right. You always spot many cars which come year after year but there’s usually some surprises, and more than a few cars from marques that you’ve probably never heard of. The majority of attendees do come from the UK, but you usually spot a few cars on foreign plates and that was certainly the case this time, Couple this will all the attractions of the Prescott site and there are all the ingredients for something very special indeed. For the past few years I’ve been able to attend on both days and that was the case once again in 2019. Here is what I saw.
THE VSCC CAR PARK
VSCC cars are allocated around half of the Orchard on the Saturday and the entirety of it on the Sunday and the space is always filled with the most amazing array of cars almost all of which have driven to the event, some of them starting out from quite a distance away. Although some people clearly meet up outside the circuit and convoy in, and others do their level best to try keep an area for other cars of the same marque, so you get a mix of car types randomly sequenced and some that are a little more thematic. The field across the road is used as a camp site for the weekend, and I wandered over to see if there were interesting cars that had been left by the tents. There were, so this provided added interest. I spent a large proportion of the weekend meandering amongst these fabulous machines, taking in the splendours of the pre-war motor car.
This is a 1924 Royal 12 HP. It had a disc clutch three speed gearbox in unit and worm axle, and quarter elliptic suspension Originally powered by British Anzani engines but Cubbit were able to build later ones more cheaply. Early models still had two wheel braking, with four wheel brakes becoming available from the mid-1920’s but were still an extra in 1927. The chassis cost was £ 475 in 1921, falling to £ 255 by 1928.
Financial difficulties saw AC taken over by the Hurlock brothers in 1930 and from then on the firm concentrated on sporting cars aimed at the discerning enthusiast. Successful motor dealers, the Hurlocks had bought AC as a means of expanding their existing business and only restarted the manufacturing side in response to customer demand. Existing stocks of spares were used at first but when these began to run out the brothers had no option but to make a fresh start. This they did using a bought-in chassis from Standard, into which went Weller’s six and a conventional ENV gearbox, replacing AC’s traditional three-speed transaxle. The marque’s reputation for producing well engineered and equally well finished cars continued under the Hurlocks’ ownership, enabling AC to prosper despite the higher asking prices that these exemplary standards necessitated. An improved, under-slung chassis of 9′ 7″ wheelbase was adopted for AC’s 1934 range, which was first displayed at the London Motor Show in October 1933. By 1935 a flat radiator with mesh grille had replaced the previous rounded type, only to be superseded for the following season by the classic slatted version. A synchromesh gearbox was standard by this time, while other noteworthy features included automatic chassis lubrication, built-in jacks and Telecontrol shock absorbers, all of which were incorporated in the 16/60hp and 16/70hp models launched in 1936. The combination of a generous wheelbase and low-slung chassis made it possible for the six-cylinder AC to accommodate sports-touring coachwork that was both stylish and comfortable. Among the most elegant was the four-seater sports tourer designed by Freddy March, heir to the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, whose design team was responsible for some of the finest sporting coachwork of the period. Its is believed that fewer than 600 of these standard 16hp cars were built before production ended in 1939, of which only 23 featured ‘Earl of March’ coachwork.
There are always large numbers of Alvis cars here, usually beaten in number only by Riley, and this year there was an added reason to come, as the marque was celebrating its centenary and as a result there was a special display of their cars, especially the early ones here. These were the 12/50 and 12/60 series of cars, which went through a series of versions, with the last ones being made in 1932. A range of factory bodies (made by Carbodies and Cross & Ellis) could be specified in two- or four-seat form, with either open or closed bodies. The first 12/50s were produced in late 1923 for the 1924 model year. The cars from this first year of production were designated SA and SB. The SA had a 1496 cc 4-cylinder overhead valve engine in a chassis with a wheelbase of 108.5 in (2,756 mm), while the SB had a wheelbase of 112.5 in (2,858 mm). The SB was initially fitted with the 1496cc engine, but after the introduction of a 1598 cc version of the OHV engine this became the standard fitment. The engines of these early cars were carried in a subframe bolted to the relatively slender ladder chassis. The SA usually carried two-seat bodywork, typically the Super Sports 2/3-seater nicknamed “duck’s back” because of its pointed rear end, said to resemble that of a duck. The majority of SB cars carried Super Sports four-seater bodywork, but a good number were also fitted with touring bodies from the standard Alvis range. The SA and SB 12/50s were built with (twin shoed) brakes on the rear wheels only. All the 12/50s had a four speed non-synchromesh gearbox with right hand change. The clutch was a fabric-faced aluminium cone. The cars were right hand drive. The SC arrived in Autumn 1924, with the larger 1598 cc engine as standard (though the 1496 cc unit could be specified for sporting use). Most SC 12/50s were built on the longer chassis, which would be standard for the 12/50 until the end of production. Front wheel brakes were offered as an option on this model: a front axle of new design could be supplied with or without brakes. Power transmission was via a roller-bearing prop shaft of new design. The 12/50 was redesigned for the 1926 model year.
This elegant car is a Speed 25 from 1938. The Alvis 4.3-litre and Alvis Speed 25 were luxury touring cars announced in August 1936 and made until 1940 by Alvis Car and Engineering Company in Coventry. They replaced the Alvis Speed 20 2.8-litre and 3½-litre. They were widely considered one of the finest cars produced in the 1930s. The Speed Twenty’s 2½-litre, 2.8-litre or 3½-litre engines with four main bearings were replaced in the 4.3-litre and 3½-litre Speed Twenty-Five with a strengthened new designed six-cylinder in-line unit now with seven main bearings. For the 3½-litre version an output of 110 PS at 3,800 rpm was claimed (and proven) along with a top speed of almost 160 km/h (100 mph). It propelled the occupants at high speed in exceptional luxury accompanied by the attractive sound of a powerful deep and throaty exhaust. Its beauty is also confirmed as it is the only car to win the prestigious Ladies Choice VSCC Oxford Concourse prize two years in a row. The clutch, flywheel and crankshaft were balanced together, which minimised vibration. The cylinder head was of cast iron but the pistons were of aluminium. Two electric petrol pumps fed the three SU carburettors, which were protected by a substantial air filter. A new induction system incorporated an efficient silencing device. Rear springs were 15 inches longer than in the previous model. The brakes had servo assistance. Alvis did not make any of the bodies for the Speed 25. The cars were supplied in chassis form and firms such as Cross & Ellis (standard tourer) Charlesworth (standard saloon and Drop Head Coupé) as well as Vanden Plas, Lancefield, Offord and others would fit suitably elegant open touring or saloon car bodies. The car was built on a heavy steel chassis with a substantial cross brace. With its sporty low slung aspect, all-synchro gearbox, independent front suspension and servo-assisted brakes, this was a fast, reliable and beautifully made car, although at almost £1000 it was not cheap. The survival rate for what was after all a hand-built car is surprisingly good. Later models featured increased chassis boxing, and to reduce the car’s weight Alvis cut numerous holes in the chassis box sections, which was also a solution tried less successfully earlier in the decade by Mercedes-Benz when confronting the same challenge with their enormously heavy Mercedes-Benz SSKL. Minor improvements to both cars announced at the October 1938 Motor Show included a dual exhaust system said to quieten the engine and improve power output. From the show the press reported the 4.3-litre four-door sports saloon to have “a most imposing front with very large headlamps, fog and pass lights, and post horns.” A chassis for bespoke bodywork was still listed but a range of standard coachwork was made available. On the standard four-door saloon there were no running boards and the wings were streamlined. The luggage locker was lined in white rubber. Dunlopillo upholstery eased muscular fatigue. The rake of both the driver’s seat and its squab were now easily adjustable. There was a system of no-draught ventilation. The double sliding roof might be opened from either back or front seat. There were twin tuned electric horns and twin electric windscreen wipers. The instrument panel included a revolution counter and there were ashtrays and a smoker’s companion. There were to be only detail changes for 1940.
The Alvis Fourteen also known as TA 14 was the first car to be produced by major defence contractor Alvis cars after World War II. The entire car factory had been destroyed on the night of Thursday 14 November 1940. Announced in November 1946 it was made until 1950 when its postwar austerity 1900 cc engine was replaced by the 2993 cc Alvis Three Litre or TA 21. The Fourteen was available as a four-door sports saloon built for Alvis by Mulliners of Birmingham but there were also Tickford and Carbodies drophead versions. When compared with the 12/70 car it replaced the interior is 4 inches wider and the distance between rear-seat armrests is increased almost 5 inches. The 1892 cc engine is a slightly larger-bore version of the one used in the 12/70 and produced 65 bhp. It is fitted with a single SU type H4 -inch side-draught carburettor. Inlet valves have been enlarged. The triplex chain drive has been given an automatic tensioner. The engine’s exhaust system has been extensively revised and the direction of flow of cooling water around the engine has been substantially changed. The bodies were mounted on an updated pre-war Alvis 12/70 chassis that was widened and lengthened but retained the rigid-axle leaf spring suspension. Employing Silentbloc bushes (except at the front of the front springs to maintain steering precision) it is controlled by double acting Armstrong hydraulic dampers. Hypoid bevel final drive was fitted for the first time and greatly reduced the height of the transmission tunnel. Steering is by Marles with a spring spoked steering wheel. Mechanically operated brakes are two-leading-shoe type by Girling. Disc wheels replaced the 12/70’s wire wheels and are fitted with larger tyres. The top speed is around 74 mph and acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 22.2 seconds.
With more short chassis cars than tourers being produced in 1929, the efforts of the Aston Martin works were clearly going towards the sports end of the market. By the end of the year the ‘Standard Sports Model’ had developed into the ‘Four-seater “International” Sports Model’, more commonly known simply as the “International”. It was quickly and widely regarded as one of the best light sports cars of the day. The name “International” was coined to cash in on the works’ racing efforts. The appearance of the cars at Brooklands race track and in rallies, sprints and hill climbs all around the country alongside the works team cars, increased the cars’ sporting reputation. The “International” was truly a sports car in the best tradition of the earlier Bamford and Martin cars. Now with twin 1⅛” carburettors it had dry sump lubrication as standard, which kept the temperature of the oil at least 10 degrees cooler than in the wet sump engines. It was fitted with relatively large fourteen inch diameter brakes operated by Perrot shafts at the front. The “International” was expensive but performance was good enough for the motoring press to praise the car highly. A significant amount of advertising was placed in the popular motoring press highlighting competition successes. The “International” had a similar but dimensionally different chassis to the ‘Standard Sports Model’. Also slightly different, was the brake arrangement, and the gearbox was moved back in the chassis to leave more room in the driver’s side foot-well. These small modifications were typical of the subtle development that all the Bertelli cars went through. This was in part a result of Bertelli driving the cars himself in competition. For example, he would have been well aware that the gearbox of the early cars needed to be moved back; he would have had a pain in his left leg where they constantly rubbed! Renwick and Bertelli had designed and developed a simple yet rugged 1½ litre sports car. The build quality was very high with the best standard of materials used throughout. The entire car (with the exception of the steering box) was designed and built at the factory (from November 1929, now Aston Martin Ltd). It was very carefully assembled with engines, rear axles and gearboxes all tested on their own dynamometers, after which they were stripped and checked. This made it very expensive to produce. However, the simplicity and elegance of the design made for an efficient little sports car, which had the legs of many of its competitors. Built on the short chassis, most of the first series cars were bodied by E. Bertelli Ltd. The standard “International” coachwork was a slightly perpendicular open 2/4 seater, with minimal space in the back for passengers. It was characterized by a rather high profile stemming from a tall ‘wet case’ radiator (the shell forming the water tank) which was further emphasized by the 21″ wheels. The fuel tank was enclosed beneath the rear of the body and the spare wheel bracketed on to the body at the extreme rear. The exhaust system was taken from the cylinder head in a simple manifold with the downpipe going down inside the bonnet to the tail pipe and exhaust box below the car. The windscreen folded forward from the base, not flat onto the scuttle (with the exception of the “International Le Mans” model).
The Aston Martin Le Mans was a two or four seat sports car made by Aston Martin between 1932 and 1934. Aston Martin’s single-overhead-cam engine with a Bore/Stroke of 69.3 mm x 99 mm, had first been seen in the 1927 models, was highly efficient and now had an output of 70 bhp at 4750 rpm from 1.5 litres, an outstanding development by early 1930s standards. Twin Horizontal SU carburettors were fitted. The aluminium body was mounted on a separate steel chassis which had beam axles front and rear with semi-elliptic leaf springs. 4-Wheel drum brakes, mechanically operated at the rear, and by cable at the front were used. During 1932 the Aston Martin International Le Mans had slowly sold at £650; the 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans model retailed at £595, thereby increasing the chance of the car selling faster.
Aston Martin, encouraged by the car’s reception, began to offer alternative wheelbase lengths: 102 inches/2591 mm or 120 inches/3048 mm and a choice of open two-seater or four-seater bodywork. The cars were long, low and immediately recognisable by their unique radiator style and had great character making all the appropriate mechanical noises that characterised Aston Martin. Aston Martin made the cars exclusive; between 1932 and 1933, only 130 were produced.
After the success of the Team Cars in the 1934 Ulster TT, Aston Martin made replicas available for the public to buy. With a lightweight two seater body and with the engine tuned to produce 85 bhp, they were guaranteed to reach 100 mph. The low, sleek, narrow body was fitted with a boat shaped tail to house the spare tyre. All this for just £750 – which was actually a large amount of money in 1934, especially for a car with only a 1.5 litre engine. Twenty one customer Ulsters were built in total and it is believed that every single car is still in existence.
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.
The Aston Martin DB3 and later DB3S were sports racing cars built in the 1950s. Although they used some DB2 parts, they were quite different, being designed especially for racing. The original modifications were done by ex-Auto Union engineer, Eberan von Eberhorst, though others handled the later DB3S work. The DB3 was introduced in 1951 with a 133 hp 2.6 litre Lagonda straight-6 engine from the DB2 Vantage. The car was unsuccessful, so a larger 2.9 litre engine, producing 163 hp, was introduced in June 1952. The car was placed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at Silverstone May 1952 (in 2.6 litre form) that year behind a Jaguar C-Type. The cars were forced out of Le Mans, but did claim the 9-hour race at Goodwood. In 1953 a DB3 driven by Parnell/Abecassis placed 2nd at the Sebring 12 Hours, the opening race in the World Sports Car Championship, behind a Cunningham CR4 and then at the second round at the Mille Miglia, Reg Parnell drove a DB3 to 5th place, the highest position ever reached by a British sports car in the Italian classic. The car was then replaced as Astons front line car by the DB3S. In total 10 DB3s were made between 1951 and 1953, with chassis numbers from DB3/1 to DB3/10. Cars 1 to 5 being used as works cars and cars 6 to 10 being sold as customer cars. Several Aston Martin DB3s have received coupé style bodies over the years. The DB3S was a lighter version of the car, introduced in 1953. It was somewhat more successful, and was produced until 1956. Originally two ‘works’ coupé versions were also built.
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.
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 ater 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.
The Bentley 8 Litre was a large inline-6 cylinder super-luxury car made in various configurations by Bentley Motors Limited at Cricklewood, London. Announced 15 September 1930, it was also the last completely new model by Bentley before the company’s financial collapse and forced sale to Rolls-Royce Limited. Introduced a year into the Great Depression. the 8-litre and its smaller 4-litre sibling were unable to turn the company’s finances around. Less than nine months after the 8-litre’s introduction, Bentley Motors was placed into receivership. The straight-six engine used a one-piece iron block and non-detachable cylinder head with a crankcase made from Elektron, a magnesium alloy. It featured an overhead camshaft driven by a Bentley patented “three-throw drive” system of triple connecting rods with, like all earlier Bentleys, four valves per cylinder and twin-spark ignition (coil and magneto), which were state-of-the-art at the time. The engine had a bore of 110 mm and a stroke of 140 mm giving a capacity of 7,983 cc. Pistons were of an aluminium alloy. Both engine and gearbox were mounted each at three points on rubber to isolate the chassis and body from vibration. An entirely new design of four-speed gearbox provided four speeds (constant mesh third) and reverse with a single-plate dry clutch which sent power through a hypoid bevel final drive to the rear axle and its 21″ Rudge-Whitworth wire centre-lock wheels. The 8 Litre was built on Bentley’s largest rolling chassis, a ladder frame with large tubular steel cross-members downswept from the front and rear axles towards the centre to lower the centre of gravity. Neither engine nor gearbox contributed to the bracing of the chassis. Suspension by long semi-elliptic leaf springs was controlled by double acting dampers, friction on the front and hydraulic on the rear axle, and all four wheels were fitted with Dewandre vacuum-servo-assisted 15.7 in drum brakes, the forward brakes being of Bentley-Perrott design. Steering was by worm and sector and castor action could be adjusted to suit individual taste. There was centralised chassis lubrication including the gaitered springs but not for the front axle or the clutch withdrawal system. The 8-Litre chassis was available with either a 144-inch (3,700 mm) wheelbase or a longer 156-inch (4,000 mm) wheelbase. Three were built with a 138-inch (3,500 mm) wheelbase. The manufacturer claimed a maximum speed of approximately 125 mph (201 km/h). A speed in excess of 105 mph (169 km/h) was guaranteed by the manufacturer. Announced on 15 September 1930 and launched at the London Olympia Motor Show in October 1930, the 8 Litre Bentley was noted for its tractability and smoothness; it could be driven from walking pace to highway speeds in top gear without effort. As a result of the worldwide Great Depression, the 8 Litre did not sell well enough to improve Bentley’s financial situation. The chassis was priced at £1,850, roughly equivalent to £293,000 in 2010. Only 100 of these cars were made, of which 35 were on the shorter wheelbase and 65 were on the longer wheelbase. Fewer than 25 were fitted with open bodies. It is suggested that the cost of the development of the car was a prime reason for Bentley Motors going bankrupt. Bentley made one more attempt at financial recovery by installing modified Ricardo 4-litre engines in a shortened 8-Litre chassis and selling the result as the Bentley 4 Litre. Announced on 15 May 1931, only 50 were made before Bentley Motors Ltd. was placed into receivership. When Rolls-Royce bought Bentley Motors from the receiver in November 1931, it discontinued production of the 8-Litre and disposed of all spare parts for it. 78 Bentley 8 Litre cars were known to survive as at mid-2011. Many of these have had their original limousine or saloon bodies replaced by new replica tourer bodies. As a result, Bentley 8 Litres with original bodies are much sought after by collectors.
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.
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 steel bodies did not prove to be that durable, so a number of owners took these off and replace them with a bespoke style which looked more like the cars of the 1930s. These cars are generally known as “Specials”.
The Mark VI 4 1⁄4-litre used an F-head straight-6 engine, 4,257 cc in size. The manufacturer refused to disclose a horse power value for the car (other than Tax Horsepower of 29.4 hp according to the old RAC formula), merely with the contention that power, along with low speed torque, were “adequate”. In 1951, a 4 1⁄2-litre, 4,566cc to be exact, version of the engine was introduced and then referred to as the big bore engine. A four-speed syncromesh manual transmission was fitted with the change lever to the right of the driver on right hand drive cars and on the column on left hand drive versions. The chassis used leaf springs at the rear and independent coil springing at the front with a control on the steering wheel centre to adjust the hardness of the rear springing by hydraulically adjusting the rear dampers. A pedal-operated central lubrication system allowing oil to be applied to moving parts of the suspension from a central reservoir was fitted. The 12.25 in drum brakes were assisted by the traditional Rolls-Royce mechanical servo. Employing its experience with the steel bodies made in short runs since 1936 by then partly-owned subsidiary Park Ward the Car Division of Rolls-Royce offered their lowest priced chassis with a factory-supplied body all-steel so it could be exported all over the world. The factory bodies with a Gurney-Nutting-Blatchley refined shape were made by Pressed Steel Ltd of Cowley and sent to the Bentley works at Crewe for painting and fitting out with traditional wood and leather. They featured rear hinged “suicide” doors at the front with concealed hinges, a sliding sunroof, a permanently closed windscreen with a defrosting and demisting unit hidden in the scuttle and an electrically controlled heater beneath the front passenger’s seat. Twin screenwipers were fitted and provision was made for the fitting of a radio with a short and flexibly mounted aerial that could be swung up above the centre of the screen. The Mark VI was introduced at a time of steel shortage across Europe which translated into a serious shortage of new cars for sale on the UK market. By the end of 1952 order-books had shrunk and the Mark VI was replaced by the R-Type, featuring an extended boot/trunk, along with other less visible modifications and newly available home-market options, leading up to the introduction of the completely redesigned S series in 1955. The Mark VI was a success, though, with production volumes of the 4 1⁄4 litre amounting to 4000 (including 832 with coachbuilt bodies) and of the 4 1⁄2 litre a total of 1202 (including 180 with coachbuilt bodies).
The Historic BMW Car Club are staunch supporters of this venue and event have mounted very impressive displays of early BMW models in previous years. There were fewer here, but they were still representative of the sort of models that were available in the 1930s. There is a linkage here to the British marque Frazer Nash, of course. 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. 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.
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.
This is a Type 23 Brescia. An evolution of the earlier Type 13, Bugatti capitalised on its success by producing this full-production postwar Brescia Tourer. It used the multivalve Brescia engine, and 2,000 examples were built from 1920 through 1926, making it the first full-production multi-valve car ever made.
Very well known as a model, indeed many would tell you that this is THE classic Bugatti, is the Type 35 and there were a number of these here. 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.
Also here was a Type 37. Sharing the same body as was used on the Type 35, The Type 35 chassis and body were reused for the Type 37, which was fitted with a new 1496 cc straight-4 engine, This engine was an SOHC 3-valve design and produced 60 hp The same engine went on to be used in the Type 40. A total of 290 Type 37s were built.
This one is also a Type 40. a model introduced in 1926 and produced through 1930, used the 3-valve 1496 cc engine first used in some Type 37s. It was an enclosed tourer or (as the Type 40A) small roadster. About 830 were built. The Type 40A shared its block with the Type 40 and displaced 1627 cc. All 40 Type 40As were built in 1930.
A car that is often seen here is what is known as Lydia’s car, a 1928 Type 40 with a one-off Fiacre body built in secret by the 19 year old Jean Bugatti for his sister, Lydia, and retained in the family until the 1970s. The Fiacre body style had been a favourite of Ettore Bugatti for some time, but this car was a more modern reinterpretation with rakish proportions and a lower roof line, the epitome of chic 1920s French design. The design includes a fully folding leather top, retractable side windows, and features a large trunk and a pair of spare wheels. The interior was very luxurious, with lots of leather and mahogany. There are two small rear seats for occasional use. When Ettore found out about the project, which had in fact been going on in the Molsheim coachworks, he said that the car would be too heavy a problem he addressed by fitting the superchargers and drive train from the Type 37 and the brakes were upgraded to the spec of those used in the Type 46.
Another evolution of the basic 8 platform, the Type 43 borrowed the supercharged 2.3 litre engine from the Type 35B and combined it with the basic chassis of the Type 38. The engine produced about 120 bhp bringing the little car to 60 mph in less than 12 seconds. The Type 43 was noted at the time as the world’s first 100 mph production car — in fact, it could hit 110 mph when most fast cars could only reach 70 mph. 160 of these “Grand Sport” cars were made from 1927 through 1931, with a Type 43A roadster appearing that year and lasting through 1932.
The Type 44 was the widest-production variant of the 8 cylinder range which started with the Type 30, with 1,095 known to have been built. A larger and sometimes enclosed tourer, it used a new 3-valve SOHC 3 litre (2991 cc) engine derived from the Type 43’s unit. It was built from late 1927 through 1930.
The 1930 to 1933 Bugatti Type 50 is in essence a scaled-down sporting coupe version of the Type 46 Royale. The gearbox is in unit with the rear axle and the car has the large twin cam 5-liter eight-cylinder engine, which was perhaps based on the Miller racing engine. The Type 50 was a direct replacement for the Type 46, and very luxurious by any standard. There was a choice of two wheelbases and several different body styles. It sold in small numbers because of its high price. Aimed at the sporting motorist, it was designed as a high performance ‘daily-driver.’ A team of Bugatti Type 50s first ran at Le Mans in 1931 and continued for the next three years, when a Type 50 led the race for some time before retiring. Depending on the body style, a Type 50 could reach around 105 mph and had a zero-to-sixty time of under 8 seconds, an impressive figure for a 1930s sports car.
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.
1934 saw the introduction of the Rosalie’s mould-shattering successor, the front-wheel-drive semi-monocoque Citroën Traction Avant. The Traction endured a troubled and prolonged birth process, however, and was part of an ambitious investment programme which involved, also in 1934, the bankruptcy of the business, and its acquisition by Citroën’s principal creditor. The patron himself died in 1935. In this troubled situation, availability of the larger Rosalies (although re-engined with a turned-around version of the new Traction’s OHV four-cylinder engines) continued till 1938: it is only through the distorting prism of subsequent events that its reputation has been diminished when set against the technical brilliance of its successor. There were three examples of the Traction Avant here. Produced for over 20 years, many different versions were made during that time, all with the same styling outline, but with power outputs ranging from 7 to 15CV, and different wheelbases, as well as some with Coupe and Convertible body styles. There was even one model with a large opening tailgate, the Commerciale.
This 1907 Daimler Type TP 45 is a very famous car. Originally owned by the 4th Earl of Craven and his family but, perhaps with even more renown, next owned from 1983 by the greatest watchmaker of the 20th Century, George Daniels. This 10.6-litre four-cylinder four-seater tourer pre-dates the sleeve-valve era of Daimler and is therefore a conventional side-valve car, albeit with twin plugs per cylinder. According to George Daniels’s autobiography it was his favourite car – and he also owned the Birkin single-seater Bentley.
This is a motorise tricycle dating from 1898.
Automobiles Delage was founded in Paris in 1905 by Louis Delage, an ambitious young engineer who had been working for the Peugeot car company. The cars he built quickly established themselves as beautifully made sportscars for discerning motorists, the reputation of the road cars being boosted by the notable success of Delage race cars on the track, one of which famously won the Indianapolis 500 in 1914 with another Delage finishing third. As time went on they became ever more sophisticated, leading the way in racing design and engineering. Throughout the 1920s they dominated the racing scene, winning the first ever British Grand Prix in 1926, among a host of other victories. Englishman Dick Seaman shunned his ERA in the mid 1930s in favour of a 10 year old GP Delage, breaking his own records set by the more modern machine and running for a whole season without any mechanical work whatsoever. The Great Depression of the 1930s took its toll and by 1935 the company had been forced into voluntary liquidation. It was finally absorbed into the famous French marque, Delahaye. The racing pedigree showed through into their road going models, perhaps the most famous of which was the iconic DI range. The tough but lightweight 2 ¼ litre 4 cylinder delivered refinement and smoothness unknown to all but the very best thoroughbreds and could be ordered in more sporting DIS and DISS forms. These were replaced by the updated DR and lower chassis DM models, the former using a reliable 2.5 litre side valve six, whilst the more sporting DMs had a lusty 3.2 litre overhead valve unit. Most sporting of all was the DMS, which added a hotter cam and double valves springs. In all some 2,500 DMs and 5,000 DRs were to leave the Levallois-Perret plant located just outside Paris. This example was purchased in kit form from the late Paul Foulkes Halbard and was assembled by Tom Bowhill about 15 years ago for a customer using a DR chassis and a DMS engine and gearbox. The coachwork, which is a replica Bentley 3-litre VdP body was modified to fit – the end result, not surprisingly making for a most attractive sports tourer. Once completed it was delivered to the customer in Ireland where it has remained ever since.
Dating from 1928 is this DR70 six-light saloon.
Ian Ferguson, of the VSCC library and serial creator of fascinating vintage specials, brought this speedy machine. It started life as a 1927 Delage and Ian fitted it with a Mercedes-Benz straight-eight engine from a Mercedes-Benz Nürburg. The Nürburg, designated the W 08 model by Daimler, was introduced in Autumn 1928 and was Mercedes-Benz’s first eight-cylinder passenger car. It remained in production with various modifications and upgrades until the later summer of 1939. The car and its engine were developed by Ferdinand Porsche as a competitor for the Horch 8. The first Nürburg model was big, old-fashioned and expensive and was replaced by a more stylish car for 1929. It took six years for the company to sell off the 1928 inventory at discounted prices. This perhaps explains why a stock of engines was found in Norway, being used as hospital power generators – and it is from this stock that Ian found the engine. The cabin blower supercharger is not yet connected but possibly soon will be. And then the car will be even more speedy.
In 1934 the new Delage D6-65 appeared, powered by a 6-cylinder engine with a capacity of 2678 cc. By 1938 financial difficulties led to the takeover of Delage by by Delahaye – and a transfer of production to the Delahaye factory. The 1939 D6-75 was the final pre-war development of the D6-65 line. Examples such as this one, bodied in England by Coachcraft, are especially handsome machines.
The Delahaye 135, also known as “Coupe des Alpes” after its success in the Alpine Rally, was first presented in 1935 and signified Delahaye’s decision to build sportier cars than before. The 3.2-litre overhead valve straight-six with four-bearing crankshaft was derived from one of Delahaye’s truck engines and was also used in the more sedate, longer wheelbase (3,160 mm or 124 in) Delahaye 138. Power was 95 bhp in twin carburettor form, but 110 hp were available in a version with three downdraught Solex carbs, offering a 148 km/h (92 mph) top speed. The 138 had a single carburetor and 76 bhp, and was available in a sportier 90 bhp iteration. The 135 featured independent, leaf-sprung front suspension, a live rear axle, and cable operated Bendix brakes. 17-inch spoked wheels were also standard. Transmission was either a partially synchronized four-speed manual or four-speed Cotal pre-selector transmission. Competition 135s set the all-time record at the Ulster Tourist Trophy and placed second and third in the Mille Miglia in 1936, and the 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans. The list of independent body suppliers offering to clothe the 135 chassis is the list of France’s top coachbuilders of the time, including Figoni & Falaschi, Letourneur et Marchand, Guilloré, Marcel Pourtout, Frères Dubois, J Saoutchik, Franay, Antem and Henri Chapron. Production of the 3.2-litre version ended with the German occupation in 1940 and was not taken up again after the end of hostilities. A larger-displacement (3,557 cc) 135M was introduced in 1936. Largely the same as the regular 135, the new engine offered 90, 105, or 115 hp with either one, two, or three carburetors. As with the 135/138, a less sporty, longer wheelbase version was also built, called the “148”. The 148 had a 3,150 mm wheelbase, or 3,350 mm in a seven-seater version. On the two shorter wheelbases, a 134N was also available, with a 2,150 cc four-cylinder version of the 3.2-litre six from the 135. Along with a brief return of the 134, production of 148, 135M, and 135MS models was resumed after the end of the war. The 135 and 148 were then joined by the larger engined 175, 178, and 180 derivatives. The 135M continued to be available alongside the newer 235 until the demise of Delahaye in 1954. Presented in December 1938 and built until the outbreak of war in 1940, the Type 168 used the 148L’s chassis and engine (engine code 148N) in Renault Viva Grand Sport bodywork. Wheelbase remained 315 cm while the use of artillery wheels rather than spoked items meant minor differences in track. This curious hybrid was the result of an effort by Renault to steal in on Delahaye’s lucrative near monopoly on fire vehicles: after a complaint by Delahaye, Renault relinquished contracts it had gained, but in return Delahaye had to agree to purchase a number of Viva Grand Sport bodyshells. In an effort to limit the market of this cuckoo’s egg, thus limiting the number of bodyshells it had to purchase from Renault, Delahaye chose to equip it with the unpopular Wilson preselector (even though the marketing material referred to the Cotal version). This succeeded very well, and with the war putting a stop to car production, no more than thirty were supposedly built. Strong, wide, and fast, like their Viva Grand Sport half sisters, the 168s proved popular with the army. Many were equipped to run on gazogène during the war and very few (if any) remain. An even sportier version, the 135MS, soon followed; 120–145 hp were available, with competition versions offering over 160 hp. The 135MS was the version most commonly seen in competition, and continued to be available until 1954, when new owners Hotchkiss finally called a halt. The MS had the 2.95 m wheelbase, but competition models sat on a shortened 2.70 m chassis. The type 235, a rebodied 135MS with ponton-style design by Philippe Charbonneaux, appeared in 1951. The 135 was successful as racing car during the late 1930s, winning the Monte Carlo rally 1937 and 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1938. The Le Mans victory, with Chaboud and Trémoulet at the wheel, was decisive, with two more Delahayes coming in second and fourth. A regular 135 came seventh at the 1935 Le Mans, and in 1937 135MS came in second and third. Appearing again in 1939, two 135MS made it to sixth and eighth place, and again after the war the now venerable 135MS finished in 5th, 9th, and 10th. 135s finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 11th and 12th in the 1936 French Sports Car Grand Prix at Montlhéry. John Crouch won the 1949 Australian Grand Prix driving a 135MS.
Made in a factory at Alvechurch, near Birmingham, between 1949 and 1956, Dellow Motors Ltd was started by Ken Delingpole and Ron Lowe to produce road-going sports cars for the enthusiast to use in trials, rallies and hill-climbs. A small number of very early cars used Austin 7 chassis as per Ron Lowe’s special, FUY 374. The other prototypes included OP 3835 owned by Earl “Mick” Heighway, HAB 245 (Eric Penn) CAB 282 (Lewis Tracey) and EDE 384 (Merrick). From 1950, with scrap Austin 7’s in short supply, an 1172cc Ford 10 engine was utilised in an A-frame chassis with a very light tubular steel framework welded to the chassis and panelled in aluminium, early cars having no doors. The chassis frames were made partly from government surplus chrome-molybdenum rocket tubes, the rockets being RP3 types as used by Hawker Typhoon and Bristol Beaufighter aircraft. The design emphasis was on light weight and a rearward weight bias for trials. Many sporting awards were won by drivers of Dellow cars in the early 1950s, not only in trials but also in other events such as driving tests and hillclimbs. Dellows also took overall honours in the MCC organised Daily Express National Rally and the Circuit of Ireland Rally. Dellow drivers often shone in other forms of motor sport, Tony Marsh from Kinver went on to become RAC Hill Climb Champion on no less than 6 occasions. Peter Collins from Kidderminster, later drove for HWM, BRM and Vanwall, then for Ferrari. Dellow styling was created by Lionel Evans at his Radpanels coachbuilding business in Kidderminster. The car evolved through several variants known as Mk I to Mk V. Early cars had the Ford beam front axle with transverse spring and short Panhard rod, quarter elliptics at the rear and Andre Hartford friction dampers all round. The Ford torque-tube was suitably shortened and the vast majority of cars used the 3-speed Ford gearbox but a very small number of cars (KOX 300 being one of them) were produced to customer order with a 4 speed gearbox, from the 10M series Morris. The Ford E93A engines were mildly tuned and many used twin SU’s on a cast alloy ‘Dellow’ manifold. However, as an option the factory also offered the car with a Wade-Ventor (Roots type) supercharger installation. The MkII saw the introduction of a new and much more robust rear chassis section with coil springs, separate telescopic shock absorbers and a Panhard rod. This stiffer chassis allowed doors to become an optional fitting. The Mk V version was derived from the “Lightweight” Dellow (WRF 81) constructed by Tony Marsh for speed events in 1954. It saw coil springs introduced at the front (over telescopic dampers) although still with a one-piece Ford beam axle. About 300 Dellows in total are believed to have been constructed.
The DKW F5 is a sub compact front wheel drive saloon launched by Auto Union’s DKW division in 1935 as a replacement for the DKWs F4 (Meisterklasse) and F2 (Reichsklasse) models. The appearance of the F5 was little changed from those of the F2 and F4. However, the timber frame construction of the central portion of the body was, in the F5, replaced with a steel frame. The outer skin of the body remained of fabric construction, with plywood support. There were two broadly similar F5 saloons, sold as the Reichsklasse and Meisterklasse. They shared the same track and wheelbase, but the Meisterklasse was 3.5 cm longer. There were also two-seater cabriolet versions of each, along with a lighter bodied ‘Front Luxus Sport’ sports cabriolet for which a higher top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph) was claimed. The cars had the two-cylinder two-stroke engines of their predecessors. The Reichsklasse engine was of 584 cc with an output of 18 bhp. The Meisterklasse’s 692 cc engine had an output of 20 bhp. Respective claimed top speeds were 80 km/h (50 mph) and 85 km/h (53 mph). DKW had been producing small front wheel drive sedans since 1931. The incorporation of front wheel drive in the F5 was at this time still strikingly innovative in terms of the wider auto market, however. The car featured a three-speed manual transmission system. Production of the F5 saloon ended in 1936 while production of the 20 bhp cabriolet versions continued for a further year. The car was replaced by the DKW F7. By the time that happened, approximately 60,000 F5s had been produced, placing this car among Germany’s top sellers.
I’ve seen this car, a Donnet G2 at Prescott before, but did not really know anything about it. Writing this article prompted me to do a little more research on this long extinct marque. In 1919, five years after founding the successful flying boat manufacturer Donnet-Denhaut at Neuilly-sur-Seine, designer François Denhaut parted ways with co founder Jérôme Donnet who then switched from aircraft manufacturing to become an automobile manufacturer with the acquisition of Automobiles Zedel of Pontarlier in the Doubs area of France from whence he marketed the Donnet-Zedel CI-6 a Zedel design originating from 1912. In August 1924 the production of a chassis for the all new four cylinder 1098 cc Donnet Zedel Type G commenced in a new factory at Gennevilliers, Seine with final assembly of the new model taking place at the former and Donnet flying boat factory on the Ile de la Jatte. The 16 hp side valve engine featured magneto ignition and a two bearing crankshaft and it drove the rear wheels through a four speed gearbox. A foot brake operated on the drive shaft and the hand brake operated the drums on the rear axle. The Donnet G2; with a revised chassis, standard 2 blade engine cooling fan, four wheel drum brakes, relocated hand brake lever, and more substantial rear axle, was launched in May 1926 when Zedel was dropped from the brand name. The car seen here is believed to have originally been resident near Avignion. It came to the UK in 1981, and was rescued from a field in 1989 and then underwent a restoration which resulted in it being first registered in the UK in October 1992. A total of 13,400 Donnet G2s are believed to have been built between May 1926 and October 1928 and this example is one of only two G2s and three Donnets known to exist in the UK.
The Ford Model A was the Ford Motor Company’s second market success after its predecessor, the Model T. First produced on October 20, 1927, but not introduced until December 2, it replaced the venerable Model T, which had been produced for 18 years. This new Model A (a previous model had used the name in 1903–04) was designated a 1928 model and was available in four standard colours. By February 4, 1929, one million Model As had been sold, and by July 24, two million. The range of body styles ran from the Tudor at US$500 (in grey, green, or black) to the Town Car with a dual cowl at US$1200. In March 1930, Model A sales hit three million, and there were nine body styles available. Prices for the Model A ranged from US$385 for a roadster to US$1400 for the top-of-the-line Town Car. The engine was a water-cooled L-head inline four with a displacement of 3.3 litre. This engine provided 40 bhp. Top speed was around 65 mph (105 km/h). The Model A had a 103.5 in (2,630 mm) wheelbase with a final drive ratio of 3.77:1. The transmission was a conventional unsynchronized three-speed sliding gear manual with a single speed reverse. The Model A had four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. The 1930 and 1931 models were available with stainless steel radiator cowling and headlamp housings. The Model A came in a wide variety of styles including a Coupe (Standard and Deluxe), Business Coupe, Sport Coupe, Roadster Coupe (Standard and Deluxe), Convertible Cabriolet, Convertible Sedan, Phaeton (Standard and Deluxe), Tudor Sedan (Standard and Deluxe), Town Car, Fordor (five-window standard, three-window deluxe), Victoria, Town Sedan, Station Wagon, Taxicab, Truck, and Commercial. The very rare Special Coupe started production around March 1928 and ended mid-1929. The Model A was the first Ford to use the standard set of driver controls with conventional clutch and brake pedals, throttle, and gearshift. Previous Fords used controls that had become uncommon to drivers of other makes. The Model A’s fuel tank was situated in the cowl, between the engine compartment’s fire wall and the dash panel. It had a visual fuel gauge, and the fuel flowed to the carburettor by gravity. A rear-view mirror was optional. In cooler climates, owners could purchase an aftermarket cast iron unit to place over the exhaust manifold to provide heat to the cab. A small door provided adjustment of the amount of hot air entering the cab. The Model A was the first car to have safety glass in the windshield. Model A production ended in March 1932, after 4,858,644 had been made in all body styles. Its successor was the Model B, which featured an updated inline four-cylinder engine, as well as the Model 18, which introduced Ford’s new flathead (sidevalve) V8 engine.
Ford produced three cars between 1932 and 1934: the Model B, the Model 18, and the Model 46. These succeeded the Model A. The Model B had an updated four cylinder and was available from 1932 to 1934. The V8 was available in the Model 18 in 1932, and in the Model 46 in 1933 & 1934. The 18 was the first Ford fitted with the flathead V‑8. The company also replaced the Model AA truck with the Model BB, available with either the four- or eight-cylinder engine. Rather than just updating the Model A, Ford launched a completely new vehicle for 1932. The V8 was marketed as the Model 18 in its initial year, but was commonly known as the Ford V‑8. It had the new flathead V8 engine. The Model 18 was the first low-priced, mass-marketed car to have a V8 engine, an important milestone in the American automotive industry. The 221 cu in (3.6 l) V8 was rated at 65 hp but power increased significantly with improvements to the carburettor and ignition in succeeding years. The V8 was more popular than the four-cylinder, which was essentially a variant of the Model A engine with improvements to balancing and lubrication. Model B was derived with as few technical changes as possible to keep cost low. Other than the engine, and badging on headlamp support bar (later: grille) and hub caps, it was virtually indistinguishable from the V-8. Its intention was to be a price leader, and as it offered more than the popular Model A, this should have been a winning formula. In fact, the new and only slightly more expensive V-8 stole the show, and finally made it obsolete. The V8 engine was previously exclusive to Lincoln products, which in 1932 switched to V12 engines only. Although there is a certain visual similarity with the predecessor Model A, the car was new. While the Model A has a simple frame with two straight longitudinal members, the new car got a longer wheelbase, and an outward curved, double-dropped chassis. In both models the fuel tank is relocated from the cowl as in Model A and late Model T, where its back formed the dash, to the lower rear of the car, as is typical in modern vehicles; thus requiring Ford to include an engine-driven fuel pump rather than rely on gravity feed. While the V8 was developed from scratch, the B just had an improved four-cylinder Model A engine of 201 cu in (3.29 L) displacement producing 50 bhp. When Ford introduced the Model A in late 1927, there were several competitors also offering four-cylinder cars, among them Chevrolet, Dodge, Durant, or Willys. That changed within a few years, soon leaving the new Plymouth the sole major make in the Ford’s price class with a four. Although sharing a common platform, Model Bs and Model 18s came not only in Standard and Deluxe trim, they were available in a large variety of body styles. Some of them, such as the commercial cars described below, were only available as Standards, and a few other came only in Deluxe trim. There were two-door roadster, two-door cabriolet, four-door phaeton, two and four-door sedans, four-door “woodie” station wagon, two-door convertible sedan, panel and sedan deliveries, five-window coupe, a sport coupe (stationary softtop), the three-window Deluxe Coupe, and pickup. The wooden panels were manufactured at the Ford Iron Mountain Plant in the Michigan Upper Peninsula from Ford owned lumber. One of the more well known and popular models was the two-door Victoria, which was largely designed by Edsel Ford. It was a smaller version of the Lincoln Victoria coupe, built on the Lincoln K-series chassis with a V8 engine; by 1933 Lincoln no longer used a V8 and only offered the V12, with the V8 now exclusive to Ford branded vehicles. Prices ranged from US$495 for the roadster, $490 for the coupes, and $650 for the convertible sedan. Production totals numbered from 12,597 for the roadster to 124,101 for the two-door sedan. Ford sold 298,647 V8-powered 18s in 1932, and except for the fact Ford could not keep up with V8 demand, the essentially identical four-cylinder B would have been a sales disaster: dealers switched customers to them from the V8, and even then sold only 133,539, in part because the V8 cost just US$10 more. The B was discontinued because buyers disliked four-cylinder models in general, and because of the huge success of the V8, not for being an inferior car. In fact, it persisted a little longer in Europe, where in many countries the tax system heavily favoured smaller-displacement engines. Today, the 1932 Model B, although always a little bit in the shadow of the V8, is a highly collectible car and people will pay thousands of dollars to restore one to original specification, which is ironic, as they were once cheap “throwaway” cars popular with hot rodders who would tear them apart and use them as the basis for a “build”, which is partly why it is so hard to find an unaltered specimen today.
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.
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.
The Le Mans Replica was the most sporting model produced by Frazer Nash in its post-War era. Initially called the Competition model, it was renamed in honour of the Frazer Nash that came 3rd overall at Le Mans in 1949. Only 29 were made between 1949 and 1954, of which 21 were the prettier Mark 1 version. Powered by a six-cylinder 2-litre Bristol engine, the Le Mans Replica was a quick and nimble vehicle which was competitive against the period Ferraris and Jaguars. Le Mans Replicas were successful in competition and raced with distinction at events as diverse as the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Le Mans 24 Hours and Goodwood Nine-Hours.
The original Minx was announced to the forewarned (in August) public on 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” (slightly under £2.40) painted. A Commer-badged estate car was added to the range. A variety of saloon, tourer, drophead and coupe bodies were offered.
This lovely example was ordered new in 1926 by Mr. Manuel Coutinho of Sao Paulo in Brazil and delivered directly to Million-Guiet to be fitted with a Double Phaëton body. The car stayed in the same family until the 1970s. The H6B was considered at the time to be one of the best passenger cars in the world. Marc Birkigt’s design included an overhead-cam 6.5-litre six-cylinder engine and four-wheel brakes with mechanical servo.
Hotchkiss cars were made between 1903 and 1955 by the French company Hotchkiss et Cie in Saint-Denis, Paris. The badge for the marque showed a pair of crossed cannons, evoking the company’s history as an arms manufacturer. The company’s first entry into car making came from orders for engine components such as crankshafts which were supplied to Panhard et Levassor, De Dion-Bouton and other pioneering companies and in 1903 they went on to make complete engines. Encouraged by two major car distributors, Mann & Overton of London and Fournier of Paris, Hotchkiss decided to start making their own range of cars and purchased a Mercedes Simplex for inspiration and Georges Terasse, previously of Mors, was taken on as designer. The first Hotchkiss car, a 17 CV four-cylinder model, appeared in 1903. The AM models were replaced by a new range in 1933 with a new naming system. The 411 was an 11CV model with four-cylinder engine, the 413 a 13CV four and the 615, 617 and 620 were similar six-cylinder types. The 1936 686, which replaced the 620, was available as the high-performance Grand Sport and 1937 Paris-Nice with twin carburettors and these allowed Hotchkiss to win the Monte Carlo Rally in 1932, 1933, 1934, 1939, 1949 and 1950. The new naming scheme introduced in 1936 consisted of the number of cylinders, followed by the bore of the engine (in millimetres). After the war, car production resumed only slowly with fewer than 100 cars produced in each of 1946 and 1947, but by 1948 things were moving a little more rapidly with 460 Hotchkiss cars produced that year. This volume of output was wholly insufficient to carry the company, although truck production was a little more successful with more than 2,300 produced in 1948, and it was support from the truck volumes and from the Jeep based M201 that enabled the company to stagger on as a car producer slightly more convincingly than some of France’s other luxury car makers, at least until the mid-1950s. The cars that represented the business in the second half of the 1940s were essentially the company’s prewar designs. The 2,312 cc four-cylinder car was now branded as the Hotchkiss 864 while the six-cylinder car was badged as the Hotchkiss 680 with a 3,016 cc engine or as the Hotchkiss 686 with the 3,485 cc engine. The automobile range was modernised in 1950 and a new car, the four-door saloon Anjou, was available on the 1350 (renamed from the 486) and 2050 (686) chassis. The Anthéor cabriolet was added in 1952. In 1948 Hotchkiss had bought the rights to the Grégoire front-wheel-drive car and this car entered production in 1951 but was expensive. Sales in general were falling, and on reaching his 65th birthday in 1949 Ainsworth retired, to be succeeded in the top job by Maurice de Gary. The Peugeot family sold their interest in the company. Coupé and cabriolet versions of the Hotchkiss-Grégoire were announced in 1951, but sales did not improve, and production stopped in 1952 after only 247 were made. Hotchkiss merged with Delahaye in 1954 to become Société Hotchkiss-Delahaye, but car production stopped in 1955 to be replaced by licence built Jeeps. In 1956 the company was taken over by Brandt, a household appliance maker, to become Hotchkiss-Brandt, who were again taken over in 1966 by Thomson-Houston. Military vehicles were made until 1967 and trucks until 1971. Seen here is an AM2 car.
Dating from 1908, this a 10-12, the staple product in the firm’s range for several years.
This is a 9/28, dating from 1918.
In 1923 Humber adopted new inlet-over-exhaust engines (replacing the earlier side-valve units) across their entire range. At the same time they introduced a new luxury small car, the 985cc 8hp (later called the 8/18hp). It was very much a ‘big car in miniature’ and was generously equipped by the standards of the day. It developed into the 1,056cc 9/20hp that was to be seen here.
This is a Low Chassis S Type. Invicta was founded by Noel Macklin with Oliver Lyle of the sugar family providing finance. Assembly took place in Macklin’s garage at his home at Fairmile Cottage on the main London to Portsmouth road in Cobham, Surrey. Macklin had previously tried car making with Eric-Campbell & Co Limited and his own Silver Hawk Motor Company Limited. The Invicta cars were designed to combine flexibility, the ability to accelerate from virtual standstill in top gear, with sporting performance. With the assistance of William (Willie) Watson, his mechanic from pre-World War I racing days, a prototype was built on a Bayliss-Thomas frame with Coventry Simplex engine in the stables of Macklin’s house on the western side of Cobham. The first production car, the 1925 2½ litre used a Meadows straight six, overhead-valve engine and four-speed gearbox in a chassis with semi elliptical springs all round cost from £595. Two different chassis lengths were available, 9 feet 4 inches (2.84 m) SC and 10 feet (3.0 m) LC to cater for the customer’s choice of bodywork. As demand grew a lot of the construction work went to Lenaerts and Dolphens in Barnes, London but final assembly and test remained at Fairmile. The engine grew to 3 litres in 1926 and 4½ litres in late 1928. The larger engine was used in the William Watson designed 1929 4½ litre NLC chassis available in short 9 feet 10 inches or long 10 feet 6 inches versions, but the less expensive A Type replaced the NLC in 1930. In 1930 the S-type, the best known of the company’s models, was launched at the London Motor Show. Still using the 4½ litre Meadows engine but in a low chassis slung under the rear axle. About 75 were made.
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.
The Jensen S-type was built from 1936 until 1941 as both a saloon and a convertible. It was the firm’s first volume production car, based on Ford motors from the United States, and chassis parts from Ford of Britain sourced through M B K Motors. The car was built on a steel chassis and used aluminium for the body panels. The car was sold with either a 2,227 cc or a 3,622 cc, Ford Sidevalve V8 engine, equipped with two downdraft carburetors, Vertex ignition, and a Columbia overdrive rear axle. The cars were available in three body styles: 2-door convertible, 3-door tourer, and 4-door saloon. The very elegant 1938 S-Type Tourer is one of just 8 that were built.
This is a 2 Litre Llow Chassis Tourer. Lagonda was responsible for the production some of the prettiest of the all the British Sports cars made before the outbreak of The Second World War. As with most manufacturers of any note, Lagonda participated in sporting events in order to help improve the breed. In 1929 the “Low-Chassis” Speed model was introduced and featured a revised chassis, fitted with the Arthur Davidson designed, 2-Litre Twin-Camshaft four-cylinder engine, with higher compression pistons and a twin carburettor set up. In this form, Lagonda took the new model to The Le Mans 24 Hour Race in 1929 where they finished a creditable 11thOverall bettering a number of much larger capacity cars. One drawback of Davidson’s design were the inlet tracts and thus a supercharged version of the model was introduced in 1930 to try and overcome this issue. Although originally designed with a PowerPlus supercharger most were ultimately fitted with a Cozette blower, mounted at the front of the engine. The 2-Litre Supercharged Low Chassis Speed Model represents the ultimate incarnation of the pure Lagonda, prior to the firm moving to the use of proprietary engines supplied by Crossley and, most notably and successfully, by Meadows.
First registered on April 12th 1933, chassis S10309 began life in London (or so its ‘AGO 295’ number plate would imply). Bodied as a S.W24P four-door saloon by the factory, the 16/80 survived World War Two unscathed. Reputed to have belonged to a Mr Cook of London, W.R. Close of Scotts Garage, Wooler, John James of Chathill and J.C. Boylan of West Monksheaton thereafter, the Lagonda participated in the 1966 Newcastle Summer Exhibition and was displayed at the Melrose Motor Museum before entering the current ownership some twenty-five years ago.
The Lagonda M45 production car was first revealed to the public at the London Motor Show in 1934. A race-modified variant, the M45R Rapide, was introduced a year later in 1935. British racecar drivers Johnny Hindmarsh and Luis Fontés won the 1935 24 Hours of Le Mans in an M45R Rapide, driving a total of 1868.24 miles at an average speed of 77.85 mph. However, this victory was not met with increased sales of the M45, and marketing of the vehicle ceased during the second year of its production. In total, only 410 M45 production cars and 53 M45R Rapides were built.
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.
In an effort to try to increase sales, the struggling Lagonda company introduced a much cheaper model with the Rapier which was launched in 1934. It was only produced for a couple of years, though 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.
The Lagonda 2.6-Litre is an automobile produced in the United Kingdom by Lagonda from 1948 to 1953. It was the first model from that company following its purchase by David Brown in 1947 and was named for the new straight-6 engine which debuted with the car. The so-called Lagonda Straight-6 engine was designed by Walter Owen Bentley and would propel Lagonda’s new parent company, Aston Martin, to fame. The 2.6-Litre was a larger car than the Aston Martins models which were being produced under David Brown’s ownership and was available as a 4-door saloon and, from 1949, as 2-door drophead coupé, both with 4 seats. The drophead was bodied by Tickford, at the time not part of Aston Martin. A Mark II version appeared in 1952, in saloon form only, with engine power increased to 125 bhp. The car sold reasonably well, in spite of being an expensive car and being launched so soon after the war, with 510 examples made when production ended in 1953. The car had a separate chassis and all independent suspension using coil springs at the front and torsion bars at the rear. At introduction it was believed to be the only all-independently sprung British car. The Lockheed brakes had 12 in drums at the front and 11 in (279 mm) at the rear with the latter being mounted inboard. Rack and pinion steering was used. The car was replaced by the 3 litre model in 1953. 510 were produced.
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 an Augusta, as produced by Lancia between 1933 and 1936. It made its première at the 1932 Paris Motor Show. The car was powered by a 1,196 cc Lancia V4 engine. During the 1920s, Lancia had been known as producers of sports cars and middle sized sedans: the smaller Augusta represented a departure from that tradition, and contributed to a significant growth in Lancia’s unit sales during the 1930s. Nevertheless, in terms of volumes sold, the Augusta was overwhelmed by Fiat’s much more aggressively priced 508 Ballila.
There were a couple of examples of the P Type here. 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.
185 of the Hyper models were made between 1928 and 1931, by which time, Lea Francis had acquired something of a reputation for producing sporting vehicles, much like fellow Coventry marque, Riley. The Hyper (also called the S-type) was the first British supercharged production car with a 1.5 litre Meadows engine, and in 1928 a Lea-Francis Hyper 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.
The MG 14/40 or MG 14/40 Mark IV is a sports car that was made by MG and launched in 1927. It was based on the contemporary Morris Oxford flatnose and was a development of the MG 14/28 and was built at Edmund Road, Cowley, Oxford where MG had moved in September 1927. During production it became the first model to carry an MG Octagon badge on its radiator, the previous cars had retained a Morris Oxford badge. The change of name from 14/28 to 14/40 seems mainly to have been a marketing exercise and the reason for the Mark IV is unclear although it has been suggested that it represented the fourth year of production. Externally the cars are very difficult to tell apart. There were some changes to the 14/28 chassis and suspension and the brake servo was deleted. Production ended in 1929, after approximately 700 cars had been built.
The MG 18/80 was produced from 1928 to 1931 as a successor to the types 14/28 and 14/40. While its predecessors were very closely based on the “Bullnose” Morris Oxford, the MG 18/80 was the first model in which the factory had designed the chassis itself, and was the first car to have the typical MG grille with vertical standing slats and vertical centre bar and higher set headlights. It was initially known as the ‘MG Six’. The MG 18/80 derived from the Morris Light Six/ Morris Six, for which Cecil Kimber had MG build a stronger chassis. The Mark I and Mark II were available in a variety of body styles, two- and four-door, two- and four-seater and both closed and touring cars. The Mark I was built from 1928 to 1931, to a total of 501 examples. From 1929 onwards, the Mark II was offered in parallel, with 236 built. The cars were equipped with six-cylinder inline engines with chain-driven overhead camshafts. They were of 2468 cc displacement and had a double carburettor with only one float chamber. The power was about 60 bhp, giving a top speed of 80 mph (128 km/h), as indicated by the ’80’ in the product designation 18/80. The Mark III was referred to variously as ’18/80 Tigress’ and the ’18/100′ and was a racing version launched in 1930. Only five vehicles were produced. This version had dry sump lubrication and its engine was rated at 80 hp. There was no direct successor. Only in 1936 would the MG VA, the next large MG, come on the market.
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. .
This is a Midget C Type, also known as the Montlhery Midget, and what today would be known as a homologation special. The engine used a shorter stroke than the M type, to qualify the car in the 750cc sports car classes, there was a new crankshaft and there were three different engine options. Normally aspirated using the standard AA type head, normally aspirated with a cross flow AB head or blown with an AB head and 52.5bhp at 6500 revs, coupled to a four speed ENV gearbox, with brakes adjustable from the cockpit. The cars came with an engine cover strap, scuttle mounted oil supply tank and rad cowl (not on this car), quick release fillers, and fold flat screen. It sold for £295 unblown or £345 with a Powerplus supercharger, which is what was fitted to this one. 44 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.
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.
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. Seen here was an SA Saloon that I have admired on a number of occasions here in the past 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.
The MG VA, or MG 1½-litre as it was originally marketed, was produced between February 1937 and September 1939 and was the smallest of the three sports saloons MG produced in the late 1930s. The car used a tuned version of the push-rod, overhead valve four-cylinder Morris TPBG type engine that was also fitted to the Wolseley 12/48 and Morris Twelve series III. The MG version had twin SU carburettors and developed 54 bhp at 4500 rpm. Drive was to the live rear axle via a four-speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on the top three ratios, though on some early cars it was only on the top two speeds. Nineteen-inch wire wheels were fitted, and the 10-inch (250 mm) drum brakes were hydraulically operated using a Lockheed system. In-built hydraulic jacks were standard. Suspension was by half-elliptic springs all round with a live rear axle and beam front axle. Luvax shock absorbers were fitted, the rear ones adjustable from the dashboard. The four-door saloon body was made in-house by Morris and had the traditional MG grille flanked by two large chromium-plated headlights. Unlike the SA the front doors did not have separate quarter light windows. The spare wheel was carried on the left front wing, with a second spare on the other side as an option. Inside there were individual seats in front and a bench seat at the rear, all with leather covering. A fitted radio was an option. A special version of the car was made for police use and had a 1707 cc engine and calibrated speedometer. The factory could also supply the car as a Tickford drophead coupé or as a 2-door open four-seater tourer. The saloon was priced at around £325, the four-seater tourer £280 and the Tickford coupé £351 all prices depending on exact specification. 564 tourers and 591 coupés were made. A very few chassis, probably only two, went to external coachbuilders. Production stopped with the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
There were a couple of TA models, 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.
The T Series continued after the war, evolving through three generations, from TC to TF series. There were further examples of these in the main car park for post-war cars, but somehow this TD had sneaked in here.
Started by Henry Fredrick Stanley Morgan (HFS) in 1909, the Morgan story all began on three wheels. With motoring in its infancy, HFS’ first foray into vehicle manufacture was with The Morgan Runabout, launched at Olympia in 1910. This was a new type of vehicle, commonly known as a Cyclecar and combined a light weight tubular chassis with a 8 hp twin-cylinder motorcyle engine and basic transmission. The first models were single seaters and steered by a tiller, which attracted interest but few sales. Quickly adapting the model, 1911 saw the advent of a two seater Runabout with modifications that included a hood and a steering wheel. With just two transmissions and no reverse gear, it was usually fitted with JAP V-twins engines. Such was its impact, that Harrods featured it in it shop window – the only car it’s ever displayed – and became Morgan’s first dealer. Other variations followed later in the year, including the first Morgan four-seater or Family Runabout. The Runabouts impressed and between their launch and the start of the First World War the various models notched up 10 British and World Records and won 24 gold medals in major reliability trials.
Tax advantages meant that the early Morgans were three-wheelers and they quickly became very fashionable. 1920 saw the development of the first Aero, named in honour of the famous aviator Captain Albert Ball. Captain Ball described the exhilaration of a Morgan as the closest thing he had found to flying. It was followed by the Super Aero in 1927. Still with two gears but it was no slouch. It’s 10hp engine allowed it to achieve over 70 mph on the flat and up to 40mph uphill. On the hills trials it won more than any comparable vehicle, and at Brooklands its speed earned it a one lap handicap, behind the four wheeled cars in its class. So good was the design that the 3-wheeler remained in production – relatively unchanged – until the 1930s. During this period, modifications included front wheel brakes, overhead valve V-twin engines, electric lights and starters. The three-wheeler chassis did not limit what went “on top”. Models ranged from the standard to the deluxe and included a 4-seater Family model and even a Delivery Van. Popularity peaked in 1933 with the development of the F-type, which came with a Ford engine as either a two-seater (F2) or four-seater (F4).
The Continental Cowley, shown to the press in April 1915, was a larger engined (1495 cc against 1018 cc), longer, wider and better equipped version of the first Morris Oxford with the same “Bullnose” radiator; in addition it could carry a four-passenger body. To reduce the price many components were bought from United States suppliers. The 1495 cc, side valve, four cylinder engine was made by Continental Motor Manufacturing Company of Detroit, and the clutch and three speed gearbox by Detroit Gear & Machine Co. Back axle, front axle and steering gear also came from the USA. Supply of these components was badly affected by World War I. The suspension used semi elliptic leaf springs at the front and three quarter elliptics at the rear. The central position of the handbrake and ball change gear lever revealed the gearbox’s US origin. It also made for easy entry through the driver’s door and no cold steel up a driver’s leg. The petrol tank was in the scuttle and its filler was above the gear lever in the centre of the dashboard. The US-made back axle was the first helically cut drive in a quantity produced British car. Electric lighting was standard. It was the first Morris car to be sold like that. The 6-volt Lucas lamps were a set of five, powered by a belt-driven dynamo fixed to the engine by its cylinder head studs. The cost of these few electrical components was equivalent to 59% of the cost of the imported engine. The delivery van body was not provided with electric lighting. There was no austerity for the Cowley though it was at first slightly cheaper than the Oxford. There was diamond patterned buttoned upholstery in real leather set off by mahogany cappings, and a proper door for the driver. The mudguards were black and the standard body colour was a chocolate brown. The Cowley did not become a stripped down Oxford until 1919. Although first shown to the press in April 1915 the new car was not generally available until late summer that year just when the government suddenly imposed the McKenna duties. A tax of 33% was imposed on imported “luxury” goods but demand for the Cowleys seemed to ignore the price rises. The last Continental Cowley was assembled in 1920 finishing the stock of original engines. Three thousand engines were despatched to Morris but more than half were lost by enemy action while crossing the Atlantic leaving around 1,500 sets of certain chassis components unsold. More recent research suggests that there may have been only one shipment of about 150 lost through enemy action and orders for more shipments were cancelled. Excellent American automobile engineering and production techniques made the first Cowley a great success. The cars were the right design for quantity production when Morris entered quantity production in the 1920s and their high quality engineering created a reputation for utter reliability and resistance to the most shocking abuse. The updated Cowley for 1919 had an engine made by the British branch of the French Hotchkiss company, which was essentially a copy of the early Continental unit which was no longer being made. It was the basic model of the Morris two car range of the time with the Oxford, which used the same 1.5L 26 bhp engine until 1923, having leather upholstery and upgraded lighting as the de-luxe version.
The Bullnose radiator was replaced by a more conventional flat radiator announced 11 September 1926 on new cars now with doors either side and a longer list of accessories supplied as standard. All steel bodies were coming available. The engines remained the same, but the Cowley unlike the Oxford, retained braking on the rear wheels only as standard, although a front brake system was available at extra cost (featured car has this fitted). The chassis was new and the suspension was updated with semi elliptic leaf springs all round plus Smiths friction type scissor shock absorbers. The brakes are rod and spring operated with cams inside the drums to actuate. Interesting to note that the rear brake drums include two sets of shoes, one of which is connected directly to the handbrake. The chassis was further modified in 1931 to bring it in line with the Morris Major. Wire wheels became an option instead of the solid spoked artillery ones previously fitted. A new model arrived for 1932.
Although the Minor name is associated with the Issigonis-designed car (that will feature) below, the first time the name was used was with this car. Beginning in 1922, the tiny Austin Seven had brought motoring to a new public and broadened the market. Against that Morris’ Oxfords and Cowleys had taken 41 per cent of the entire 1925 British private car market. Morris sales had begun to slow in 1926. They were revived by a new face for the Morris Oxford and Cowley and an expansion of Morris’ range both up and down the scale. The same year William Morris realised millions from the sale and stock market listing of preference shares in his business and he privately bought Wolseley, founded by Herbert Austin, which up to a few years earlier had been Britain’s largest car manufacturer. This gave Morris ample wherewithal to go after Herbert Austin’s little car with his own small Morris. With a surplus of production facilities, and Wolseley’s design engineers added to his own at Morris Commercial Cars, little time was taken for development of the Morris Minor. A more complex design than Austin’s Seven the all-new car was revealed in 1928. The launch was on 11 October 1928 at the opening of London’s 22nd Olympia Motor Show. A 4-seater tourer was displayed and a 4-seated saloon with sliding windows. Both had two doors. The Times’ motoring correspondent tested the fabric saloon and reported at length in December finishing with “I liked the general control and one does not get the impression that one is driving a very small car”. The fabric covered bodies used so much wadding to smooth their corners birds learned to peck through the fabric for the felt to build their nests. Coachbuilt, steel-panelled cars with a folding “sunshine” roof, for £9 more than the fabric car, were announced in August 1929 and all three cars were given rear-hinged doors with their forward ends sloping towards the front at the bottom. A 5-cwt van was added to the Minor range for 1930. It was displayed as Morris’ smallest van offering at the 1929 Motor Transport Show. The following year, in August 1930, a new 2-seater semi-sports joined the range with a hood and side screens. It was designed for two adults and their luggage and was cheapest in the range by £5. The tourer and two saloons, fabric and steel-panelled, remained in production. Advertisements referred to improved coachwork comfort and finish and improved lubrication and electrical systems. Tyres were now 19 x 4.00-inches. The coachbuilt saloon might now be had in black as well as blue. This last saloon came with automatic windscreen wiper, rear-vision mirror, safety glass and the new chromium finish. Morris’ stand at Olympia displayed just a chassis of the Minor. Just before Christmas 1930 Sir William Morris released a statement saying that he would put on the market very soon a new car to sell at £100 and it would be known as the Morris Minor S.V. two-seater. The body, he said, is to be coach built—steel panels on a wood frame—has as few bright parts as possible “to reduce polishing” and is finished in naval grey with red upholstery. Decarbonisation and valve adjustment were very simple and contributed to the new car’s low running costs. Within a few months 2-door saloon models with the S.V. type engine were also in production. A 4-seater S.V. tourer was announced in April.The overhead valve engine was proving to be expensive to make and Wolseley’s design—the six-cylinder version powered their successful Hornet saloon, and racing MGs—suffered from oil getting into the dynamo. So in 1931 a version with valve gear re-designed by staff of Morris Engines using side-valves and giving nearly the same power output, 19 bhp was introduced. On the road, the tester advised, the new Morris Minor S.V. exceeded 50 mph. A certain amount of wheel-bounce consumed a lot of power when testing standing-start times. The tappets could have been adjusted more finely, the accelerator needs a steadier spring and there should be a rest pedal beside it. Speed and brake levers were rather distant, top speed was apt to jump out when the load came off, some wheel bounce and movement with such a short wheelbase is acceptable, the foot brakes pulled to the near-side. The lower cost of the new engine allowed the Minor to be sold for the magic £100 as a stripped-down two-seater. The S.V. 2-seater cars were priced exactly 25 per cent cheaper than the SOHC cars had been. For a while both overhead and side valve versions were produced. The overhead-camshaft unit survived until 1932 in the four-door model, which also gained hydraulic brakes. In August 1931 a new radiator shape was revealed. The overhead valve version was renamed Morris Family Eight and was given a 7 ft 7 inches wheelbase, an extra 13 inches. The Family Eight was placed within the range between the Minor and Cowley. This saloon has four doors and has enough room for four grown persons. 17 x 4.50-inch tyres were fitted to the new Magna type wire wheels. Magna wheels were now fitted throughout the entire Morris range. The saloon bodies were slightly restyled with a more rounded look being given an “eddyfree” front, the standard size was roomier, their front seats could be adjusted and their doors were widened and fitted with safety glass winding instead of sliding windows. New colour schemes were made available. The fuel tank moved from the scuttle area below the windscreen to the rear of the car. An electric fuel pump or “automatic petrol-lift” was fitted. These Morris Family Eight cars were fitted with hydraulic brakes. Their new smooth sloping screen and rounded front allowed smooth passage of air and less resistance. The use of hydraulics distinguished the Morris from the competing Austin 7 with its less reliable cable brakes. The S.V. cars continued now known as Morris Minors in contrast to the Morris Family Eight cars. Morris displayed at the next Motor Show in October 1932 a Minor chassis for £87.10.0. For £90 the same chassis came equipped with a four-speed twin-top gearbox (“silent” third), cam steering and deep radiator. The 2-door Minor coachbuilt saloon was £125 or with fixed head £122.10.0. By the end of August 1933 all Morris cars had synchromesh four-speed gearboxes, dipping headlights, hydraulic shock absorbers, leather upholstery, hydraulic brakes, rear petrol tank, direction indicators and safety glass. The Family Saloon and Minor added to that illuminated direction indicators and pneumatic upholstery. The Minor and Family Saloon were replaced by the Morris Eight in August 1934 with an entirely new body and a slightly larger 918 cc engine.
There were a number of the Morris Eight cars here. This was produced from 1935 to 1948, inspired by the sales popularity of the similarly shaped Ford Model Y. The success of the car enabled Morris to regain its position as Britain’s largest motor manufacturer. The Eight was powered by a Morris UB series 918 cc four-cylinder side-valve engine with three bearing crankshaft and single SU carburettor with maximum power of 23.5 bhp. The gearbox was a three-speed unit with synchromesh on the top two speeds and Lockheed hydraulic brakes were fitted. Coil ignition was used in a Lucas electrical system powered by a 6 volt battery and third brush dynamo. The body which was either a saloon or open tourer was mounted on a separate channel section chassis with a 7 feet 6 inches wheelbase. The tourer could reach 58 mph and return 45 mpg; the saloons were a little slower. The chrome-plated radiator shell and honeycomb grille were dummies disguising the real one hidden behind. In September 1934 the bare chassis was offered for £95. For buyers of complete cars prices ranged from £118 for the basic two-seater to £142 for the four door saloon with “sunshine” roof and leather seats. Bumpers and indicators were £2 10 shillings (£2.50) extra. Compared with the similarly priced, but much lighter and longer established Austin 7, the 1934/35 Morris Eight was well equipped. The driver was provided with a full set of instruments including a speedometer with a built in odometer, oil pressure and fuel level gauges and an ammeter. The more modern design of the Morris was reflected in the superior performance of its hydraulically operated 8 inch drum brakes. The Morris also scored over its Ford rival by incorporating an electric windscreen wiper rather than the more old-fashioned vacuum powered equivalent, while its relatively wide 45 inch track aided directional stability on corners. The series I designation was used from June 1935 in line with other Morris models, cars made before this are known as pre-series although the official Morris Motors designation was by the model year even though they were introduced in October 1934. Of the 164,102 cars produced approximately 24,000 were tourers.
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. From 1936 two smaller 6 cylinder engines were available producing 21.6 and 16.9 HP in order to supply demand for cars in the lower road fund tax charges bracket. In 1938 Railton Cars also launched a small 10 HP car. This was based on a Standard Flying 9 chassis fitted with a 10 HP engine. These were effectively a miniature copy of the Coachcraft Fairmile Drop Head Coupe and Cobham saloon which were available on the larger chassis. Some 50 of these little cars were made. As the 1930’s progressed, the Hudson 8 cylinder chassis became longer, wider and heavier which resulted in the engine being installed with a twin choke carburettor and manifolding. As a result the power increased slightly to 122 BHP at about 3800 r.p.m. This was fairly impressive at the time for an un-tuned side valve engine but could be increased easily by the fitment of the optional alloy cylinder head. All 8 cylinder chassis, when combined with light coachwork, produced a car with staggering acceleration, torque and top gear flexibility. Seen here was a 1935 Railton Berkeley.
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.
The Falcon was the first model to be launched on the new 12/4 chassis, with its neat swept tail and comfortable interior it was a more conservative design than the sporty Kestrel, and as such took a large number of the sales in that first year. It also helped that the Falcon was in production for longer than the Kestrel, which was slow to get started. For the first year the bodies were still hand made, but somewhat different from the previous years Falcon which had been sold on the Nine chassis. The design was further updated for the 1935 Falcon model. Indeed, for 1936 there were three 12/4 models competing for the sales that the Falcon attracted in that first year, with the Adelphi and cheaper Briggs Bodied Merlin sitting alongside the refreshed Falcon. Being the best seller, with around 1200 built during the year, should have meant that more survived than the Kestrel, or for that matter the Lynx. However, to many this was the dowdy saloon, and so unloved as it was, many were scrapped in the 1950s and 60s, or cut down into Specials. This is a shame, as the car was a stylish model at the time, with its swept tail and low roof line making it stand apart from the opposition, even if it was more conservative than the Kestrel.
The Kestrel body, being one of the more popular styles was one of the first to be launched, and in the end, one of only 3 that were produced in any numbers on the original 12/4 chassis. Approximately 700-800 of the 4-light Kestrels were produced in 1934/5, including a few Kestrel ‘Sprites’ although there is no differentiation on the chassis number, unlike the 6-light Kestrels. The body itself was essentially the same as that already fitted to the larger 6 cylindr cars, but mounted on the new chassis with the shorter bonnet. Inside the interiors are likely to have been midway between the 9 and 6 cylinders in terms of trim-level. For the following year, the whole 12/4 range was revised and launched as the 1½ Litre, albeit still referred to as the 12/4 by most people. There were a whole host of improvements to the chassis, but the biggest visual change was that the Kestrel had a new 6-light body.
Of all the new 1½ Litre models, the Lynx was the least changed from its 12/4 predecessor. The chassis featured the same upgrades as the Falcon and Kestrel which were the only other bodystyles carried forward, but the Lynx body was carried over virtually unchanged. Some identifying points, however, are that these later cars often had bumpers fitted, and first mesh then chrome-slat radiator grilles were fitted. It remained the only 4-seater open car in the range, although by the end of 1937 production had almost ceased as the publics love of open 4-seaters had faded. Whilst the body remained almost unchanged, with the traditional cut away front doors, the Lynx was now also offered as the Lynx Sprite with the Sprite version of the 12/4 engine. For the 1937 model year these seem to have outsold the standard or special series offerings.
For 1937 (ie late 1936), the 15/6 Kestrel received the new 6-light body, but mechanically it remained largely unchanged. The new style remained as popular as ever, making the Kestrel the most common model on this chassis. Updates continued throughout the life of the 15/6 models, and it is thought that a few Kestrel 15/6s were built to special orders after the receivers had been called in. As with other 15/6 models, there are few obvious differentiating features between the 15/6 Kestrel and it’s contemporary models with the 14/6, Big 4 and V8 engines. Indeed, towards the end it is thought that the last 15/6 Kestrels had the later Big 4 chrome slatted radiator shells, further reducing the differences. The smooth 6 cylinder engine remained popular in a fast sports saloon, however, and the well appointed interior would have been another draw to potential purchasers.
Despite producing some fine small saloons and sporting cars, and carving out an enviable competition record for itself during the early 1930s, Riley had lost its battle to remain independent by the decade’s end and was part of the Nuffield Organisation. One of the last models introduced by the ‘old firm’ was the 16hp ‘Big Four’, which used a new and extensively redesigned 2½-litre version of the four-cylinder, twin-cam Riley engine that had first seen the light of day in 1927. The gearbox was an ingenious three-speed unit with overdrive available on 2nd and 3rd gears, giving five ratios in total, the overdrive being engaged automatically by lifting off the throttle at any speed over 40mph. When tested by The Motor in January 1938 a Big Four Adelphi saloon achieved a top speed of around 85mph. Manufactured in 1938, this Riley Big Four carries ‘Redfern’ four-door tourer coachwork by Maltby, a company founded during the Edwardian era in Sandgate, Kent. In 1926 company founder John Maltby sold out to a Mr Redfern, chairman of whisky distillers, Johnnie Walker, whose sons took over the running of the coachworks. The revitalised Maltby acquired a number of agencies and provided catalogued designs for several manufacturers, which included its ‘Redfern’ brand dropheads. Maltby is noteworthy as the first British coachbuilder to automate the folding/unfolding of the convertible hood, initially (in 1935) using the ‘Jackall’ system’s hydraulic pump and subsequently by means of an electric motor. ’38BX 1224′ is the only known example of a Big Four chassis bodied when new by an independent coachbuilder, and is featured in the Riley Register Series Vol. 2 section dealing with the 16/4 models (pages 88 and 89). In the last year the car has undergone extensive yet sympathetic restoration to its current beautiful condition after being in storage for many decades (see photographic record on file). The engine has been completely rebuilt and as a result behaves beautifully, starting easily and pulling strongly with excellent oil pressure.
At first glance this looks like an Alfa Romeo, and that was probably the idea of its creator. But it is actually a Riley. The basis for this car is a 1937 Riley Adelphi, but the body does indeed look very like an Alfa 8C 2300 Monza. Information online beyond that is somewhat lacking.
The Riley RM Series was the last model developed independently by Riley. RM vehicles were produced from 1945, after the Second World War, until the 1952 merger of Riley’s parent company, the Nuffield Organisation with Austin to form BMC. They were originally made in Coventry, but in 1949 production moved to the MG works at Abingdon. The RM models were marketed as the Riley 1½ Litre and the Riley 2½ Litre. There were three types of RM vehicles produced: the RMA was a large saloon, and was replaced by the updated RME, both of which had the 1.5 litre engine; the RMB was an even larger car, and was replaced by the RMF, and these cars had the 2.5 litre engine; the RMC and RMD were open topped cars produced in limited numbers, intended largely for the all important export markets, with about 500 of each being made. These were nicely produced quality cars and considered quite sporting in their day, with the sort of appeal that many years later would be inherent in a BMW. Ironically, of course, BMW now own the rights to the Riley brand. It is an RME Saloon that was seen here. as well as an RMC. The RMC (Roadster) was an open 2-door, single bench seat, 2/3-seater version of the RMB, with a large rear deck area and fold-flat windscreen. Instead of side windows it was supplied with flexible celluloid-glazed side curtains with a hole for hand signals and, when deployed, flimsy synthetic roofing over a light metal frame. It shared that car’s 2.5 litre 100 hp engine, and could reach 100 mph. The car was primarily designed for the North American export market, and just over 500 were built from 1948 until 1951. The gear change lever was moved to the steering column on left-hand-drive models.
The Twenty was aimed at the owner driver, though many were chauffeur driven. Introduced with a centre gear change, which was later dropped in favour of the more traditional left hand change. Four wheel brakes were adapted from 1924, the horizontal radiator shutters, were initially enamelled.
This elegant car is a 1934 Phantom II with Thrupp and Mabberley coachwork. The Rolls-Royce Phantom II was the third and last of Rolls-Royce’s 40/50 hp models, replacing the New Phantom in 1929. It used an improved version of the Phantom I engine in an all-new chassis. A “Continental” version, with a short wheelbase and stiffer springs, was offered. The Phantom II used a refinement of the Phantom I’s 7,668 cc pushrod-OHV straight-6 engine with a new crossflow cylinder head. Unlike on previous 40/50 hp models, the engine was bolted directly to the 4-speed manual transmission. Synchromesh was added on gears 3 and 4 in 1932 and on gear 2 in 1935. Power was transmitted to the rear wheels using an open driveshaft, a hypoid bevel final drive, and Hotchkiss drive, replacing the torque tube from a remotely mounted gearbox used on earlier 40/50 hp models. The chassis of the Phantom II was completely new. The front axle was mounted on semi-elliptical leaf springs as on earlier 40/50 hp models, but the rear axle was now also mounted on semi-elliptical springs instead of cantilever springs. This, along with the drivetrain changes, allowed the frame to be lower than before, improving the handling. The 4-wheel servo-assisted brakes from the Phantom I were continued, and the Bijur centralized lubrication system from the Springfield-built Phantom I was included on all Phantom II chassis. The standard wheelbase of the Phantom II was 150 inches (3,800 mm). A 144 inches (3,700 mm) short-wheelbase chassis was also available. Royce had body designer Ivan Evernden build him a one-off short-wheelbase Phantom. Designated 26EX, the car had a tuned engine, five-leaf springs that were stiffer than standard and a Barker four-seat lightweight close-coupled saloon body painted with an artificial pearl lacquer made from ground herring scales. The sales department initially showed no interest in 26EX but, when Evernden returned to the office from the 1930 Biarritz Grand Concours d’Elegance, where 26EX had won the Grand Prix d’Honneur, he found that the sales department had already announced the new “Phantom II Continental Saloon”, prepared a brochure for it, and costed it. According to Evernden, neither he, Royce, nor the Rolls-Royce sales department had written specifications for the “Continental” model, although he and Royce had a clear specification in mind. Based on Evernden’s writings and examination of company records, historian Ray Gentile determined that the common specifications of the Continental chassis were the short wheelbase and stiffer, five-leaf springs. By this definition, two hundred and eighty-one Continental Phantom II’s were produced, including 125 left-hand drive versions. Regarded as the two most important P-II Continentals are 20MS and 2SK, the only two P-II Continental Roadsters ever built. 20MS has been in a private Mid-Atlantic collection since 1989, 2SK, the Thrupp and Maberly Roadster once owned by Tyrone Power, was in the Fred Buess collection since 1958 but was sold at auction in 2010. All Phantom II rolling chassis were built at Rolls-Royce’s factory in Derby. The factory in Springfield, Massachusetts was closed upon ending production of the US-market Phantom I in 1931. Two US-market series, AJS and AMS, were built at Derby. Only the chassis and mechanical parts were made by Rolls-Royce. The body was made and fitted by a coachbuilder selected by the owner. Some of the most famous coachbuilders who produced bodies for Rolls Royce cars are Park Ward, Brewster, Thrupp & Maberly, Mulliner, Carlton, Henley, and Hooper. A total of 1,281 Phantom II chassis of all types were built.
As the depression began to bite, sales of the Phantom slowed as this ‘Baby Rolls’, the 20/25 sales increased. Built between 1929 and 1936, it was tremendously popular, becoming the most successful selling inter-war Rolls-Royce. Its success enabled Rolls-Royce to survive the economic difficulties of the Great Depression years and remain one of world’s great brands. A total of 3,827 20/25s were produced, of which over 70% are still on the road today. More owners were now doing more of their own driving, but many of the cars retained more formal coachwork. Dating from 1935, this 20/25 has a Freestone and Webb body.
This is also a 20/25.
This is a 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.
Rover’s 14/6 model was launched in 1934 on a lengthened under-slung chassis but retained its predecessor’s 1,577cc, six-cylinder, overhead-valve engine. The new frame enabled the adoption of low-line bodies, among them attractive ‘streamline’ versions of both saloon and coupé. Chassis specification included a four-speed freewheel gearbox, hydraulic brakes, Luvax-Bijur automatic lubrication, and electric windscreen wipers. For 1939 the 14hp was revamped with a new 1,901cc ‘six’ developed from the four-cylinder unit of the contemporary Ten. This 1.9-litre 14hp wears Tickford coachwork by Salmons & Sons of Newport Pagnell. The car was sold new to a lady owner in London, subsequently spending many years in Bristol before being purchased in the 1970s by Mr Philip Kassel, an American collector, who sold it to the BMIHT in 1995
An “entirely new” car was announced on 14 October 1938 with a more powerful engine, 1901 cc, new coachwork, “easy-clean” wheels and additional refinements including synchromesh on 3rd and top gears (not essential on cars with freewheel), automatic chassis lubrication and anti-roll stabilisers front and back. The track is now 48 inches, tools are now in a rubber-lined tray. This model was part of the Rover P2 range, along with Rover 10, Rover 12, Rover 16 and Rover 20 variants. In 1945 another 2½ inches was added to the wheelbase as well as 2½ inches to the track. Production ceased in 1948.
Attracted to its quaint simplicity and somewhat abstract, the present owner of this 1921 Salmson AL2 faux cabriolet was quick to make enquiries when he spotted a classified advertisement tucked away in the VSCC Bulletin. Not only was it an extremely original, Oily Rag example of an unusual light car, the years of patina revealed so much history and raise questions about even more. For one thing, it was probably the only Salmson AL coupé ever built and, for another, it is believed to be the oldest example of a Salmson constructed to the firm’s own designs (as opposed to a licence-built GN). You’d think the car was interesting enough without its peculiar construction. What of the construction? For a start, it’s flimsy on account of there being no supporting A-post where the door meets the scuttle, and hence quite unsuitable for production. Then there’s the boot, which is reached internally rather than externally and has resulted in the passenger seat sacrificing most of its backrest for the sake of access, so the passenger is uncomfortable and luggage storage is impractical.
In 1920 the Société des Moteurs Salmson embarked on the production of GN’s under licence. The French GN was almost identical to the English version, and was offered with the IOE engine, or the OHV version fitted to the ‘Sport’ model. This is a 1921 GN Salmson Légère. In August 1922 the Company announced the Sports Model in an advertisement in the Light Car & Cyclecar. The model did not appear in any brochures, but was apparently built in the French factory, and replaced the Légère model. Trevor Tarring states that 1,563 Salmson GN’s were manufactured.
The Škoda Popular is a small family car that was made in Czechoslovakia by Škoda from 1933 to 1946. It was the company’s most affordable car at the time. In the early 1930s Škoda introduced a new line of cars that significantly differed from its previous products. A new design of chassis with backbone tube and all-around independent suspension was developed under the leadership of chief engineer Vladimír Matouš and derived from the one introduced by Hans Ledwinka in Tatra. First used on model Škoda 420 Standard in 1933, it aimed at solving the lack of torsional stiffness of the ladder frame. The new design of chassis became the basis for models Popular (845–1,089 cc), Rapid (1,165–1,766 cc), Favorit (1,802–2,091 cc) and Superb (2,492–3,991 cc). In 1933 Škoda had 14% share of the Czechoslovak car market and third position behind Praga and Tatra. The new range made Škoda the market leader by 1936, with 39% share in 1938. The first car in the series was the Škoda 420 Standard, launched in 1933. It was a two-door saloon with 2,430 mm wheelbase and 995 cc, 20 bhp four-cylinder sidevalve engine. 421 were built. In 1934 Škoda introduced a smaller version, the 418 Popular. This had a shorter chassis and smaller engine, displacing only 902 cc and producing 18 bhp. A two-door saloon, two-door four-seat convertible and two-seat convertible roadster were offered, along with a commercial van with a 300 kg (660 lb) payload. In 1934 a team of seven Czechoslovaks including Dr Zbislav Peters, Baron Jan Nádherný z Borutína and racing driver Zdeněk Pohl drove four Škoda Popular convertibles from Czechoslovakia to India. They left Prague on 12 May, drove 14,900 km (9,300 mi) through Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan and India and reached Calcutta on 10 September. Production of the 418 did not continue after 1934, and only 200 were made, but Škoda applied the “Popular” name to subsequent versions of the 995 cc model 420. In 1935 the 420 Popular body was revised and the wheelbase was increased from 2,300 mm to 2,430 mm, the same as the original 418 Standard. Noticeable changes included the increased rake of the radiator grille to give the car a more streamlined appearance. Škoda continued to offer a two-door saloon, two-door four-seat convertible, two-seat convertible roadster and commercial van versions, and enlarged the range with a four-door saloon with suicide doors. From 1934 to 1937 Škoda built 4,200 model 420 Populars. They included 330 two-door convertibles made in 1936–37 for the Czechoslovak Army. In 1934 Škoda launched the Popular Special Sport, which was an enclosed two-seater. Its engine was the standard 995 cc size but with its output increased to 26 bhp. It had a revised, streamlined body with a curved radiator grille and swept, fastback rear. From 1936 its name was shortened to Popular Special. In January 1936 Zdeněk Pohl and Jaroslav Hausman drove a Popular in the Monte Carlo Rally, coming second in the 1,500 cc class. Škoda launched a Popular Monte Carlo model with a 1,386 cc, 31 bhp Škoda Rapid engine and ATE-Lockheed brakes. Its chassis was wider but had the shorter 2,300 mm wheelbase. It was offered in enclosed or convertible Roadster, Roadster de Luxe and Coupé Sport versions. King Peter II of Yugoslavia had a two-door convertible. In 1937 Škoda applied overhead valves to the 995 cc engine to create the Popular OHV model. This produced 27 bhp and had a top speed of 100 km/h but was as economical as the sidevalve. Wheelbase was slightly increased to 2,440 mm. The Popular OHV was produced until 1938 and a total of 5,500 were made. In 1938 Škoda enlarged the OHV engine to 1,089 cc, which increased its power to 30 bhp. The Popular 1100 OHV also had hydraulic brakes. Versions offered included a two-door four-seat saloon, two-door four-seat convertible, a two-seat convertible roadster, a commercial van and an ambulance. Production continued until 1946 and a total of 6,600 were made. Škoda Popular 995 “Liduška” In 1939 Škoda revised the body of the 995 cc model and called it the Popular 995 “Liduška”. The radiator grille is more curved but also more upright. Versions offered included a two-door saloon, commercial van and an ambulance. The model was produced until 1946 and a total of 1,500 were made. In 1940 Škoda gave the 1,089 cc model the same body as the 995 “Liduška”, increased its power to 32 bhp and called it the Popular 1101. Versions included a two-door convertible for the Royal Hungarian Army. Production continued until 1944 and a total of 1,019 were made. After the Second World War Škoda revised the body of the Popular 1101 to create its successor model, the Škoda 1101/1102 “Tudor”.
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.
Also here were examples of the Speed 20, a model introduced in 1927 which were cheaper and less powerful models, using a 3 litre 6 cylinder ohv engine rated at 20.8 HP. It was available in a variety of body styles including a Weymann saloon and with a long wheelbase. Over 2500 were built. In 1930 a more powerful 3317cc engine rated at 23.8 HP was fitted and with this production continued until 1932 at which point the engine was changed again, to a 2916cc unit. Thus equipped it carried on until 1935 and the Rootes takeover of the brand.
Clément Talbot was founded during 1903 and despite the French-sounding name it was, in fact, an English company; the name being taken from two of its directors, the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot and the French car manufacturer, Adolph Clément. Initially the company imported the popular French Clément cars into Britain, although from 1905 Talbots were producing cars of their own design in London. Edwardian Talbot cars soon gained an enviable record in competition and a special bodied Talbot 25hp, driven by Percy Lambert, was the first car to complete 100 miles in the hour, here at Brooklands in 1913. Following the Great War, Talbot along with Sunbeam, was acquired by the Darracq Company, creating the STD combine. The chief designer at this time was Georges Roesch, a gifted engineer who had joined the organisation in 1916 following a spell at Daimler. Roesch’s design philosophy of lightness and the increase of output by means of higher rpm was vindicated with the 10/23 model announced in 1923, a development of the successful 8/18 light car. A model of high quality, it was powered by an OHV engine of 1074cc and featured a plate clutch, in-unit three-speed gearbox with central change, torque tube, spiral bevel back axle and quarter-elliptic suspension. It was capable of brisk performance for its size, with a top speed of some 55mph, allied to extremely good fuel economy and was regarded as the outstanding light car of its time.
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”.
As a Swiss, Talbot Chief Engineer, Georges Roesch, designed his cars with Alpine motoring in mind. With their combination of a strong and powerful push-rod six cylinder engine, powerful brakes, light and accurate steering and a compact, light yet sturdy chassis it is no surprise that Talbots excelled in the Alpine Trials of the 1930s, then undoubtedly the foremost long distance rally and an incredible test for both car and driver. Coupled with their successes at Le Mans, Ards and Brooklands the Talbot was clearly the most effective British sporting car of its size in the period. These successes culminated in the 1934 Alpine Trial where the famed Talbot Team of specially bodied and prepared cars, registered BGH 21, 22 and 23, got through this most arduous of events without losing a single mark. This success has been echoed today and Talbots have been hugely successful in rallies such as the Flying Scotsman, 1000 Mile Trial, Alpine Trial and countless others. Abandoning the one-model programme, Roesch developed the 14/45 to produce the 75 and 90 models, the latter setting Talbot on the path towards renewed sporting success. 1931 saw the arrival of the 3.0-litre 105 powered by a new ‘six’ featuring staggered valves, a Roesch stratagem allowing for improved breathing. There was more technical innovation for 1933 in the form of Luvax adjustable dampers and the Roesch-designed, Wilson pre-selector gearbox, the latter augmented for 1935 by Talbot’s famous automatic ‘traffic clutch’ enabling automatic upward gear-changes. Also new for ’35 were a dropped chassis frame and a 3½-litre model: the 110. The ultimate Roesch Talbot, the latter had 120bhp on tap and provided 95mph performance while offering class-leading refinement. This top-of-the-range model featured such luxuries as driver-controlled hydraulic shock absorbers, centralised chassis lubrication, and DWS permanent jacks. The final version was the BG110, which featured an improved and strengthened chassis: of box section and with a cruciform cross-member. One of the great cars of the 1930s, the Talbot 110 was axed by new masters Rootes in 1937, the subsequent models progressively incorporating more and more standardised Rootes components. The BG110 was the last of the 3½-litre Roesch Talbots, and this rare survivor is one of only 89 completed. Almost all of Talbot’s tourers were bodied in house with steel panelling apart from the 13 or 14 3½-litre tourers bodied in aluminium by Vanden Plas. The latter’s body was much lighter, releasing more of the chassis’ potential, as well as being both slimmer and considerably more stylish than Talbot’s offerings. Beautifully proportioned, Vanden Plas Limited’s alloy-bodied sports tourers are highly attractive and the most coveted of all Talbot 110 models. Almost all survive but they are only rarely offered for sale.
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.
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.
The Trojan company was founded by Leslie Hayward Hounsfield, who went into business as a general engineer in a small workshop called the Polygon Engineering Works in Clapham, South London. He got the idea to make a simple, economical car that would be easy to drive and started design work in 1910. In 1913 the prototype was ready. It had a two-stroke engine with four cylinders arranged in pairs, and each pair shared a common combustion chamber – a doubled-up version of what would later be called the “split-single” engine. The pistons in each pair drove the crankshaft together as they were coupled to it by a V-shaped connecting rod. For this arrangement to work, it is necessary for the connecting rod to flex slightly, which goes completely against normal practice. The claim was that each engine had only seven moving parts, four pistons, two connecting rods and a crankshaft. This was connected to a two-speed epicyclic gearbox, to simplify gear changing, and a chain to the rear wheels. Solid tyres were used, even though these were antiquated for car use, to prevent punctures and very long springs used to give some comfort. Before production could start war broke out and from 1914 to 1918, Trojan Ltd, as the company had become in 1914, made production tools and gauges. In 1920 the first series of six cars were made from a works in Croydon and the final production version was shown at the 1922 London Motor Show. An agreement was reached with Leyland Motors to produce the cars at their Kingston upon Thames factory where work on reconditioning former Royal Air Force wartime trucks was running down. This arrangement would continue until 1928 when Leyland wanted factory space for truck production. During the nearly seven years of the agreement 11,000 cars and 6700 vans were made. The Trojan Utility Car went onto the market at £230, which was reduced to £125 in 1925, the same as a Model T Ford. Nothing was conventional. Rather than a chassis the car had a punt shaped tray which housed the engine and transmission below the seats. The transmission used a chain to drive the solid tyre shod wheels. The 1527-cc engine to the ingenious Hounsfield design was started by pulling a lever on the right of the driver. To prove how economical the car was to run, the company ran the slogan “Can you afford to walk?” and calculated that over 200 miles it would cost more in shoes and socks than to cover the distance by Trojan car. A modified car was released in 1920 with a smaller 1488-cc engine to bring it into the sub-1.5-litre class and with pneumatic tyres available as an option. The car was guaranteed for 5,000 miles. A major contract was agreed with Brooke Bond tea for delivery vans making the car familiar all over Britain and with a top speed of 38 mph not causing too much worry over speeding drivers. With the ending of the Leyland partnership, Leslie Hounsfield took over production himself back in Croydon but at new premises with Leyland continuing to supply some parts until the early 1930s. In spite of new body styles, sales of the cars were falling and so a new model, the RE, or Rear Engine capable of 45 mph was announced in 1931. It still did without an electric starter and had only rear-wheel braking, and was beginning to look very old fashioned, and although new modern bodies were fitted, only about 250 were sold. A final attempt was the Wayfarer of 1934 with the engine back in the middle, but now with three-speed gearbox and shaft drive, but only three were sold, and the 6-cylinder Mastra did no better, with only two produced. The original van continued to sell well, however, and the Utility car could still be ordered; the last one was delivered in 1937. Leslie Hounsfield had left the company in 1930 to set up a new enterprise making amongst other things the “Safari” camp bed which would be made in thousands during World War II. Trojan Ltd continued to make vans until war broke out and during hostilities made bomb racks and parachute containers. With peace, van production restarted still with the original engine until 1952 when it was replaced by a Perkins diesel. In 1959 the company was bought by Peter Agg and from 1960 to 1965 he built under licence Heinkel bubble cars selling them as the Trojan 200, the last vehicle to bear the Trojan name. The company acquired the rights to build the Elva Courier sports car in 1962, producing 210 cars between 1962 and 1965 when production switched from road cars to the McLaren-Elva racing car. The company existed as Trojan Limited (Company No 134254 having been incorporated on 27/02/1914) until 19/03/2013, though no longer operating from the Croydon factory which has been sold, on which latter date it was dissolved via “Voluntary Strike-off”.
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 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.
The Vauxhall 23-60 is a four or five-seater touring car manufactured by Vauxhall of Luton that was announced in July 1922. The 23-60’s standard tourer Kington body was described as “preserving that greyhound look so characteristic of the Vauxhall car”. It shared many parts with Vauxhall’s much more powerful 30-98. The 23-60 replaced the Vauxhall 25 which had given sterling service during World War I and from which the 23-60 was developed. Its reliability made Vauxhall’s name for dependability. The 23-60 remained in production until the introduction of the ultra-smooth six-cylinder Burt-McCollum type single-sleeve-valve Vauxhall 25-70 was announced in October 1925. General Motors took control of Vauxhall 16 November 1925.
The Vauxhall 20-60 is a four or five-seater saloon, limousine, tourer or coupé-cabriolet manufactured by Vauxhall of Luton. It was announced on 28 September 1927 with a six-cylinder engine and a four-speed gearbox. A cautious move downmarket. “The first time any six-cylinder Vauxhall has been sold under £1000!” “British & Vauxhall”. The initial 2.7-litre engine was enlarged to 3-litres after twelve months. Priced to be at the lower end of the luxury market with six cylinders, four speeds and five brakes, the better endowed 20-60 replaced the 4-cylinder Vauxhall 14-40. Though the new engine’s capacity or swept volume was enlarged just 465cc the vagaries of the RAC or tax formula moved its tax rating from 14HP to 20HP. This tax increase was a significant impost for owners. Its design was completed before General Motors took control in late 1925 making the car “in construction and plan British”. The 20-60 – it was given a 3.3-litre engine in October 1930 and renamed 80, later Silent Eighty – remained in production until the introduction of Vauxhall’s first true General Motors large-car design, the Vauxhall Big Six, announced and displayed in October 1933 but not delivered until August 1934 long after the GM-designed medium-sized Cadet released in October 1930. This gap in Vauxhall’s programme may reflect the sales-failure of their very expensive 25-70 sleeve-valve car.
This is a 1932 Hornet, the first of two I would see at the event, as another one was competing on the hill.
Dating from 1935 is this rather dignified looking Fourteen. Powered by a 48bhp overhead camshaft engine, the NF (New Fourteen) was lower shorter and wider than its predecessor, with a reduced 102 inch wheelbase and riding on pressed steel wheels. costing £ 220. Like all post 1933 Wolseleys it carried the famous illuminated badge, and was a model that help forge a longstanding link with His Majesty’s Constabulary.
THE VSCC PADDOCK
As this is a VSCC organised event, then it is only VSCC cars that compete on the hill over the weekend. Many of the cars that were entered are familiar sights not just at this event and other Prescott meets but also other venues such as Shelsley Walsh and Chateau Impney before, but as always. there’s also stuff which is new, or rather different. Even if the cars are familiar, the action is always entertaining, with drivers trying their very best for a class-leading time. Sixteen classes were defined, ranging from the Under 750cc class, which largely covered Austin Sevens of various types, through Edwardian Cars, Standard and Modified Sports cars by engine size, and Racing Cars again by engine size. Competitors used the mornings for practice runs and the afternoon were competitive, to determine class honours. The short course, that does not take in Ettore’s tricky curves was used.
There were a couple of the 6C 1750 cars here. 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.
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.
Quite why the Alvis Car & Engineering Company of Coventry introduced their innovative frontwheel-drive car in 1928, when they had a highly successful range of very fine normal models, is something of a mystery. Those who have driven them say that these FWD Alvis seemed noisy, from the transmission and supercharger gears, with a difficult gear change and that intimidating long flat bonnet. But it was not to be despised. It brought considerable fame to the Alvis name in racing, besides being a landmark in British motoring history. It took on much of the technical form of the racing Millers in America, although it is debatable whose FWD racing cars were first. We should never forget that these FWD Alvis almost won the first Ards TT race — some say the results were muddled and that Leon Cushman’s Alvis should have been placed ahead of the winning Lea-Francis driven by Kaye Don. They certainly won the 1½-litre class at Le Mans in 1928, and did well in long-distance races in England, with private owners also driving them at Brooklands. Nor should it be overlooked that the straight-eight FWD Alvis, with two different valve arrangements, the first akin to very early Lanchester thinking, used later for racing by Delage, the second the prevailing hemi-head twin-cam layout, was one of Britain’s few contributions in the field of proper Grand Prix cars. One of the good things about the FWD Alvis itself is that quite a number have survived. This one has a Cross and Ellis body and dates from 1928.
This distinctive looking car is a 1930 Avon Alvis Special. It was constructed by the current engineer owner, an Alvis afficionado, and is well known on the historic race circuits of the UK. This special was built up using a Standard Avon chassis as the basis of the car. A highly tuned & race prepared Alvis 12/50 engine was built & fitted, enlarged to 1824cc and with a number of modifications.
From 1921 to 1937, Amilcar was a successful French sports-racing car manufacturer. These diminutive cars dominated the 1,100-cc racing class into 1927; this one placed second overall in the Brooklands J.C.C. 200-mile race, trumping numerous 1.5-litre Bugattis. It even won its first competition event, the 24-hour test of endurance held on a 3-mile circuit in the Forest of St. Germain. Weighing just 850 lb, the CGSS has an 1,100-cc supercharged four yielding about 35 hp.
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.
A number of the legendary 3 litre models were to be seen in action here.
This aero-engined 1907 Berliet Racer is a Prescott regular and never ceases to impress, with its open engine, so you can see the valves lifting up and down. Marius Berliet left his hat band factory to start building engines and then complete cars in a small shed in Lyon in 1894. At first they were simple single-cylinder creations, adding a two cylinder model in 1900 then four cylinder cars after taking over Audibert et Lavirotte in 1902. By 1907, Berliet had a 9500cc six clyinder car, a racing version of which competed in the 1908 Targa Florio. During World War One, Berliet planned a lorry department for the French Army, and as commercial production expanded, interest in building cars tailed off. By 1933 only two models were listed and the final 2.0 Berliet Dauphine was made in 1939. After the Second World War, Berliet built only trucks and buses. The company was taken over by Citroen in 1967. then ten years later it was sold to Renault and merged with Saviem. The badge disappeared in 1978. This car was created from a kit of parts that consisted of a bent chassis from a Berliet that had been either a heavy car or a light commercial vehicle, accompanied by its gearbox, axles and steering. From the number stamped on it, the chassis could be dated to sometime between 1904 and 1910. John Dennis, who created this car chose 1907, fitting for the car’s debut at the Brooklands Centenary celebrations in 2007. It was not an easy task to create this wonderful machine. The straightened chassis need 132 unwanted holes welding up. Taking styling cues from the racing Berliet that competed in the 1908 Targa Florio, it was made in the traditional way with aluminium panels over an ash frame. The rear half is attached by three Anti-Loose tailgate fasteners, and can be removed in under a minute. The radiator was made to be narrow enough to sit between the chassis rails and the fact that the bonnet only partially covers the engine adds to the drama. And that engine is an 8219cc alloy Curtis OX-5 V8 aero engine. It is not big on revs, but has oodles of torque. the 105 bhp it generates is at just 1800rpm. There is a four speed transmission connected to the rear wheels by a chain drive, and the car can travel between 70 and 100 mph, depending on the gearing, if you are feeling brave enough. And don’t forget, there are only brakes on the rear wheels.
This is a Frazer-Nash BMW 319 with the less commonly seen saloon body. Certainly a car I’ve not seen in action at this event before.
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.
There were also a number of Type 35, Type 37 and Type 51 cars entered.
This is a 1913 Chalmers 17. Chalmers Motor Company was an American car company headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. It started in 1908 and continued production of high-end vehicles until 1923 when it merged with Chrysler. Hugh Chalmers started working at NCR in Dayton, Ohio at age 14 and eventually become vice president. In 1907, car-maker Roy Chapin at Thomas-Detroit began to make offers to Hugh Chalmers come to Detroit. Initially, Hugh Chalmers rejected the proposals, but he finally accepted. in 1908, the company was renamed Chalmers-Detroit.[Hugh Chalmers purchased ER Thomas’s interests in the Thomas-Detroit company in 1908. The first car that came out was the Chalmers 30 in 1908. The company acquired the Brush Runabout rights. Hugh Chalmers set up Joseph E. Fields as a distributor in Fargo. Fields moved to Detroit and began to set up dealerships across the US. In 1907 or 1909 Chalmers built a factory on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit which would survive until 1991 under Chrysler. while the headquarters was in Highland Park, Michigan. Chalmers marketed the company’s visibility by hiring professional drivers and entering races. In the first two years, they won 89 first place wins, 32-second-place trophies, 21 third-place victories in road races, and hill-climbing events, and reliability contests. The best known as the Vanderbilt Cup in 1909 and the Glidden Trophy in 1910. On October 28, 1908, Chapin, Coffin, and others formed the Hudson Motor Car Company to pursue their desires to build a smaller car. The largest investor was a department store owner, Joseph Hudson. Hugh Chalmers was also a large investor in Hudson. In 1909–10, Hugh Chalmers and his partners sold their shares in Hudson to Chapin, and Chapin sold his stake in Chalmers Motors to Hugh Chalmers. Hudson built a factory across the street from the Chalmers plant to be close to suppliers and the railroad. Chalmer’s best year was 1911 when it became the number eight auto producer in the U.S. In 1916, Chalmers set up a Canadian factory in Walkerville (Windsor), Ontario. Chalmers Motors’ early success was due primarily to the engineers, Roy Chapin as Treasurer & general manager and Howard Coffin, as Chief Engineer. Chapin and Coffin left Chalmers-Detroit to start the Hudson Motor Car Company in 1909. Hugh Chalmers then went on to build larger, more luxurious cars. At first, engines were manufactured by three outside suppliers, but later engine manufacturing was brought in house. An advantage of the new Chalmers plant was its self-sufficiency. The plant had a foundry to make engines, transmissions, axles, nuts and bolts Chalmers wanted to make as many parts as house and only bought specialised parts like sparkplugs & tyres from outside suppliers. The high point in sales was in 1911 when Chalmers sold 6,250 cars.Chalmers shareholders also did well. Preferred stock dividends paid out 7% per year and the common stock paid 2.5% annually.Beginning in 1912, sales of Chalmers fell. Hugh Chalmers created Saxon Motors in 1913. By 1915 the auto-business was changing and became more competitive. The Chalmer’s survival was always at risk with over 250 automakers in the U.S. Pre-World War I, the automobile economy was booming, but sales of Chalmers’ cars were declining. The company’s finances improved in mid-1916 with better engine performance and improved body design, and the company moved from 14th to 12th place, but by late 1916 the company was close to bankruptcy. Benjamin & Frank Briscoe and Jonathan Maxwell started The Maxwell Motor Company in 1904. In September 1917, Hugh Chalmers reorganised the company to be called the “Chalmers Motor Corporation.” It leased all the factory space to the Maxwell Motor Company for 5-years. Maxwell also produced the Chalmers car and Walter E. Flanders, President of the Maxwell Motor Company, became President of Chalmers. Hugh Chalmers remained Chairman of Chalmers Motor Corporation. Hugh Chalmer left for Washington, D.C. to work with the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce (NACC) as one of the “dollar a-year-men.” During 1917, following the April United States Declaration of War against Germany, Maxwell Motor Co took over Chalmers’ operations to make cars and trucks for the U.S. Government. Chalmers merged with the Maxwell automobile Company in 1922. With a 115 in (2921 mm) wheelbase on 34 in wheels, When the U.S. entered World War, demand weakened for the Chalmers while the Maxwell cars were outselling them. In 1917, Chalmers agreed to make Maxwell cars in the Chalmers’ Jefferson Avenue plant while Maxwell would sell Chalmers cars through their dealer network. This worked well for a while. Between 1919 and 1923, Chalmers merged with the Maxwell Motor Company. In late November 1921, prices were reduced for all models, and production was down to about 20 cars a day while Maxwell was selling more than 100 vehicles a day. Walter P. Chrysler reorganised the company and finally merged them into Chrysler in 1923. When Hugh Chalmers returned to Detroit in 1919, both companies now had financial problems, and in mid-1920, the bank creditors formed a reorganization committee. Chase National Bank at that time had recruited the help of Walter P. Chrysler to rescue of Willys Overland Company and Chalmers. Chalmers and Maxwell sued each other for millions of dollars. The Chalmers-Maxwell reorganization committee found that the lease agreement too loose and poorly constructed. Maxwell and Chalmers were hurt by a lack of material and rising costs. In 1921, Maxwell stopped producing cars in the Chalmers plant. The Maxwell Motor Corporation bought Chalmers Motor Corporation for $2 million in 1922. Maxwell had financial problems and, in 1923, hired Chrysler to sort matters. Chalmers and Maxwell were placed into bankruptcy in 1923 by Chrysler, and the Maxwell Motor Corporation was formed from the assets. The last Chalmers branded car was built in January 1924. The old Chalmers plant started to produce Chryslers in 1924, but Maxwell cars were produced until 1925. Thirty-two thousand Chryslers were sold in 1924, which was a record for a first-year. The Model 17 was a 36HP car which was produced between 1912 and 1914.
This is a further example of the DR70, dating from 1928.
There were three examples of the ERA competing this time.
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.
Anthony J. Merrick prepared and raced R1A until its then owner sold the car. Being without a car the resourceful Merrick shuffled his stock of genuine ERA parts and came up with AJM1. The 1980s brand new 1930s car is said to be an 80% original ERA B-type car using a 1.5litre engine and light green early works colour scheme, though it has since been repainted in red.
This one is R12C, a car whose complete history 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 1.5litre 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).
The standard 508 was Fiat’s family car of the early to mid 30s, with a boxy saloon body but there were plenty of other styles available. A lower sleeker shape than the “Spider”, characterised the styling for the 2-seater “Spider Sport” which included a distinctive tail treatment which attracted the catch-phrase “insect tail”, designed in 1933 by Ghia and said to have been inspired by small roadster bodied English cars of the period. The early “Spider Sport” models came with the same crash gearbox as the other cars, but the engine was fed by a special carburettor, which with its raised compression ratio of 7:1 gave rise to a maximum output listed as 30 hp at 4,000 rpm. The final drive ratio was also altered, and top speed went up to 110 km/h (69 mph). Fiat 508s with this body type were assembled by Fiat in Italy, and were also included in the production schedules of Fiat affiliates/subsidiaries Germany, France and Czechoslovakia. Various small scale enhanced versions appeared, including the Fiat 508S, known as the “Fiat 508 Coppa d’Oro” (“Gold Cup”), especially prized by collectors 75 years later. The “Spider Sport” received the transmission upgrade to 4 speeds in 1934 together with a special overhead valves (at a time when other 508 variants still came with a side valve engine) and other technical enhancements which pushed the power up to 36 hp. The most sporting versions advertised their performance aspirations with a more steeply tapered Tail section.
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, including GN Thunderbug and GN Gispy.
This is one of the three Hardy Special cars that have been built.
This is the 1935 Hudson Spikin Special. It features a 4185cc straight-8 engine.
185 of the Hyper models were made between 1928 and 1931, by which time, Lea Francis had acquired something of a reputation for producing sporting vehicles, much like fellow Coventry marque, Riley. The Hyper (also called the S-type) was the first British supercharged production car with a 1.5 litre Meadows engine, and in 1928 a Lea-Francis Hyper 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.
This unique motorcar was assembled 20 years ago by Robin Baker as a semi-scale replica of the 1904 Panhard-Levassor World land Speed Record/GP car and used for hillclimbing. Its Edwardian components comprise a Curtiss OX-5 aero engine mounted in a pre-WWI Amilcar chassis – the latter serves as a sub-frame that is in turn mounted in a Peugeot frame. The unit drives through a two-speed chain-drive Peugeot transmission. The axles hails from a 1918 Le Zèbre cyclecar and braking is via the rear wheels only. Since acquiring the machine, the vendor commissioned Tony Bianchi of Personal Plane Services to make it more usable on the public roads.
This splendid machine is a 4CS, a car which I have seen at Prescott and Shelsley many times before. On one of those occasions I had the chance to talk to Ken Painter, the man responsible for recreating it after purchasing little more than a few parts in 1969, and he told me a lot about the car’s history. This particular car won its class on the 1935 and ’36 Mille Miglia. Later in 1936 this car, chassis number 1126 was sold to Ignazio Radice Fosatti who recorded a second in class run on the Coppa Mercanti run on the Stelvio hillclimb before going to Monza for an attempt at the 1100cc 12 hour distance record. Unfortunately Ignazio was killed in the 9th hour of the attempt after hitting a dog that strayed onto the track. The car was badly damaged, but once repaired it was sold on. Between 1937 to 1939 it was owned and raced by Count Giovanni (Jonny) Lurani and Luigi Villoresi, and Ken showed me a long type-written letter he has from Lurani, dated 1970 which records Lurani’s memories of the car from the time when he raced it. Subsequent research has revealed that not everything recorded there is quite accurate, but this is still a splendid piece of history to go with the car. However, it was what happened next that makes its history particularly fascinating. By 1942 the 4CS was in Singapore, and was confiscated by the Japanese army and its then owner killed. The late owner’s family recovered the car, and had it dismantled and buried for the remainder of the War. The last recorded competition entry for the car as at the 1950 Jahore Grand Prix, by which time a 3.5 litre SS Jaguar engine had been fitted. Some time after this, a De Soto V8 motor replaced this, and the body work underwent several changes. Ken acquired the car in 1969, and spent 18 years restoring it. More recently he gave it to his son, Adam, who now owns and races it.
Numerous MG models were entered, of course, as you might expect from a brand that made its reputation from selling small and relatively affordable sports cars in the 1930s. Competing cars included M series Midgets and an F Type Magna as well as a more unusual car with twin rear wheels.
This was a first outing at Prescott for this little machine. It has a small twin-cylinder engine of only 964cc. OTAV is an acronym for Officine Turckheimer per Automobili e Velocipedi, an Italian car manufacturer in Milan between 1905 and 1908. Max Turckheimer was a Milanese industrialist, already known and respected for his Turckheimer bicycles and motorcycles. In 1906 an OTAV won its category in the “Coppa Milano-Sanremo” race – so the marque has racing pedigree.
This car has not been used for nearly 100 years and has been reconstructed from a pile of bits by local enthusiast Hickey Hickling. The car was built in 1904 and competed in the US and the 1905 Gordo Bennett Trophy (where it came a resounding last!) and even entered the 1907 Pikes Peak race.
The Sprite is nearly always pictured with its distinctive cowled grille, but the early models had a more traditional Riley Radiator. The Sprite is essentially the 1½ Litre version of the MPH / Imp model. Indeed, it shared the chassis of the 6 cylinder cars, meaning that in theory at least the engines can be swapped. However, with the cowled grille giving the car a very different look to almost any other Riley, this heritage is rarely understood by the lay man. The car was (and indeed still is) successful in many classes of racing over the years. Of the 60 or so believed to have been produced, over 50 have been identified, a remarkably high rate for any Riley. The out-and-out racing attitude of the MPH models had been toned down for the Sprite, with full wings in place of the almost cycle-wings of the earlier cars. This was a design developed by the pre-production models, which had different profile wings. They also omitted the cowls, and had a variety of other detail differences. The tail was also modified to suit the new wings, and always seems to have enclosed the spare wheel, as opposed to the twin spares often mounted on the rear of Imps and MPHs. As the last of the factory produced sports cars, the Sprite has proven popular, with a great many replicas being built on cut down saloon chassis over the years.
This is the 1929/34 Salmson Special
This is a 1933 Vale Special. The Vale Motor Company was established in 1931 by Pownoll Pellew (later 9th Viscount Exmouth) as a ‘gentleman’s hobby’ in a rented workshop behind The Warrington pub in Maida Vale. It was initially funded by Pellew (helped by his mother and his actress girlfriend Kay Walsh) and his two business partners Allan Gaspar (with help from his bank manager father), and Robert Owen Wilcoxon (thanks to early film proceeds of his film actor brother Henry Wilcoxon). It was Henry who designed the striking Vale Motor Co. badge. The cars were initially handmade and based on Triumph Motor Company components. The first cars used the 832 cc side-valve engine from the Triumph Super 7 fitted to a chassis bought in from Rubery Owen, semi-elliptic leaf springs all round, and the hydraulic brakes and axles from the Triumph. Most of the cars had lightweight two-seater open bodies with fold-flat windscreens, but a four-seat version on a long-wheelbase chassis, called the Tourette, was available with the larger-engined versions. This is one of fewer than 30 Vales surviving.
In addition to the array of 30/98s that I had seen in the Orchard, there were a number more competing for honours on the hill.
This dramatic looking car is a 16/20.
The Wolseley 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. The last Hornet was replaced, following acquisition of Wolseley by Morris Motors, with Morris’s badge-engineered Wolseley 12/48, announced 24 April 1936.
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.
Renowned auction house Bonhams had a number of cars displayed which will be offered in their auction sale at the Goodwood Revival in September, all of them from the collection of the late Barry Burnett.
1924 Bentley 3 litre: The car offered here is a fine and original example of a ‘Blue Label’ Bentley 3-Litre Tourer on the standard long chassis, unusual in so far as it has survived intact and unmodified, unlike so many of its contemporaries. Chassis number ‘365’ was dispatched from Bentley Motors in rolling chassis form, fitted with engine ‘372’, and sent Melbourne, Australia. It had been ordered by dealer A B Howlett together with two other chassis, numbers ‘289’ and ‘383’. According to a fascinating article (on file) written by a previous owner, Russel l Tapp, the Bentley’s first owner was, reputedly, a Mr O J Syme, who commissioned Damyon Brothers of St Kilda to construct the four-seat tourer coachwork that the car carries today. According to Bentley The Vintage Years by Dr Clare Hay (Third Edition) the coachwork is thought to have had an aluminium bonnet “finished bright and then tooled to a uniform finish before application of a varnish tinted green, upholstery to match”. By 1925, ‘365’ was owned by a Mr Arthur Lyttle, printer to the Government of Victoria, and at this time was fitted with rear wheel brakes only, the standard arrangement. Russell Tapp: “Mr Lyttle, drove 365, at the time equipped only with rear wheel brakes, into a 27 ton Melbourne tram. The tram driver apparently ‘froze’ with fright while the tram continued around a corner under full power before becoming completely derailed and bolting up the front stairs of the Town Hall as the passengers clung on like grim death. The tram was a complete wreck. Contemporary newspaper articles recounted, that, after apologising nicely and seeing nobody was seriously hurt, Mr Lyttle proceeded to drive quietly home in his Bentley. Subsequently half of Melbourne’s roads were torn up so that the radii of all its tramways could be increased as a result of this incident. The public good humouredly thenceforth referred to ‘365’ as ‘HMS Hood’, after what was then the largest battleship in the world, and the car was promptly fitted with 4 wheel brakes by the factory.” The article goes on to tell as much of the ownership history of ‘365’ as is known, but it is fails to top the story of Lyttle’s calamity. Various well known figures of the Australian Vintage motoring community owned the Bentley at various times including Alan Glenn (who also owned a supercharged 4½-Litre); Neville Webb, who had all sorts of interesting machinery over the years; and Ross Barwick, the son of Attorney General Sir Garfield Barwick. In March 1999, Russell Tapp purchased ‘365’ and registered the car in Queensland. In 2000, he had the engine overhauled, and a description of the works carried out is his aforementioned article. In 2004, ‘365’ was brought to Europe for the Bentley Drivers’ Club tour of France and then was used by Russell and Jennie Tapp on a trip to Scotland to see relatives. At this time the car was sold, remained in the UK and was registered for the road here. The current owner, who has a collection of significant Bentleys, has used ‘365’ for touring in Scotland and has kept the car on his estate there. With a fascinating and rather amusing early history, this fine and original Vintage-era Bentley will surely give the fortunate next owner one of the best stories to tell at any evening function.
1929 Bugatti Type 44: Considered the finest touring Bugatti of the 1920s, the Type 44 was introduced towards the end of 1927 and lasted in production until 1930. 1,095 were built, of which around 10 percent survive today. The model was powered by Bugatti’s classic single-overhead-cam straight eight engine, one of the most famous automobile power units of all time. Because of its lengthy run of success, Ettore Bugatti remained committed to his single-cam design, only adopting the double-overhead-camshaft method of valve actuation, after much prompting by his eldest son Jean, on the Type 50 of 1930. The Type 44’s twin-block, three-valves-per-cylinder, single-plug engine displaced 2,991cc and produced approximately 80bhp, an output good enough for a top speed of over 75mph. Driving via a four-speed gate-change gearbox, this superb motor was housed in Bugatti’s familiar Vintage chassis featuring a circular-section front axle and rear quarter elliptic springing. This particular car’s history is detailed in the accompanying and typically thorough 56-page copiously illustrated report compiled by independent Bugatti consultants David Sewell and Mark Morris, which prospective purchasers are encouraged to read. Chassis number ‘44923’ is documented in the factory records on 23rd April 1929 and was delivered to Colonel W L Sorel, the manager of Bugatti’s London Depot. Four Type 44s were delivered in this order batch: ‘44923’, ‘44924’, ‘44925’, and ‘44926’. The original coachwork chosen for this car was that of a well-appointed four-seater tourer with full weather equipment. Delivered to London in rolling chassis form, the Bugatti was then despatched for bodying to coachbuilder Thomas Harrington Ltd, at that time based in Brighton, Sussex. Founded in 1897 and known to have been bodying cars as early as 1905, Harrington had become a major producer of motor coach bodies while keeping up the car-bodying side of its business, concentrating on high-quality European makes, Bugatti included. Though the exact number of Bugattis that carried Harrington coachwork is not known, it is believed that they completed only two or three coupés and perhaps as many as five cars with touring coachwork, of which this example is one of two known survivors. The Bugatti’s first owner is not recorded. The earliest reference found is photographs of the car carrying a 1938 New York State Licence Plate, but without a link to the owner’s name during that period. The first clear record with owners’ names appears in the 1979 American Bugatti Register, which lists John M Gill Jr of Massachusetts as owner at that time and Messrs John King and William W Marsden as former owners. John M Gill owned ‘44923’ twice, and after the second period of ownership it was sold to John North of Easton, Maryland, USA before returning to the UK in 1988 when it was advertised by London-based dealer Dan Margulies. Upon returning to the UK the car was registered as ‘UL 4703′. This was from a series of numbers issued by the London County Council commencing in December 1928/January 1929. From Margulies the Bugatti passed to Ed Hubbard and was advertised for sale by Ivan Dutton UK Limited. Copies of Margulies’ and Dutton’s advertisements are on file. It then came into the ownership of Peter Parkinson of West Sussex, During his custodianship the car was re-trimmed by Mike Thomas of Sidlesham, Chichester, while mechanical work was entrusted to Ivan Dutton Limited and servicing to Taylors of Chichester. Peter used the car and attended various events including the BOC’s Garden Party and Concours of 1993 and 1994, on both occasions winning the George Harris Cup for the Best Touring Bugatti (see photograph on file). He also took the Bugatti to the 100th Anniversary Harrington Gathering in June 1997. The current vendor bought ‘UL 4703’ from Peter Parkinson circa nine years ago and has used it sparingly, with any necessary maintenance carried out by his own mechanics. As presented today, ‘44923’ is a very fine touring Bugatti, capable of seating 4/5 people and equipped with full weather equipment (hood and side screens). The coachwork has been restored but retains original details such as the twin side-mounted spare wheels; the central air vent on the top of the scuttle; the scuttle side vents; and the two-piece opening windscreen with side deflectors. One of the great joys of this car is the coachwork’s originality. Although it has been restored, and the main body’s fabric covering replaced, some of the original fabric survives on the underside of the passenger-side rear door. These samples show the original colour to have been maroon, subsequently over-painted black. Thus, the fabric used in the body’s restoration has returned the car to its originally specified maroon colour. Another remarkable attribute of the car is the original ash frame body structure and original floorboards, all of which appear in remarkable condition. Nicely appointed with red leather trim, both front door openings retain their original Harrington nameplates, while a period-correct Jaeger instrument panel and Marchal-Vaucanson switches adorn the dashboard. A rare Schebler choke cable pull is fitted to the left of the setting column, while the ignition advance/retard lever and hand throttle are to the right of the steering column, with a Bosch horn button alongside. A battery master switch is mounted on the driver’s side below the bodyline. The car’s original Bugatti–Alsace chassis plate stamped ‘44923’ and ’17 HP’ is mounted on the bulkhead together with an original patent plate. The original Molsheim chassis frame has matching numbered components stamped ‘636’; these include the engine, cam box, gearbox casing and lid, plus both the front and rear axles. The bonnet, which was standard supply when Bugatti sold a complete rolling chassis, also is stamped ‘636’, which again helps to confirm the car’s correctness. The frame number is ‘1035’, consistent with what one would expect given the chassis number. Repusseau/Hartford friction shock absorbers are fitted to both front and rear axles. On the engine, the upper and lower crankcase are stamped with assembly number ’51’ and are thus an original matched pair. Although its number is obscured by the radiator, the cam box is without question an original Molsheim component. The engine number ‘636’ is correctly stamped on the driver’s-side front crankcase arm, with an additional ‘C’ below the number. The chassis number ‘44923’ is stamped on the passenger’s-side rear arm. Ignition is supplied by a period Bosch distributor, and a replacement coil has been fitted to the bulkhead. The cylinder blocks still retain their aluminium cover-plates, concealing the fixing nuts on the upper crankcase/cylinder block interface. The other great rarities on this engine are the clutch under-tray and the louvered valance panel under the carburettor. The latter is an updraft Carter BB1 manufactured in the USA, rather than the standard Bugatti-issue Schebler SX 280. Originally fuel would have been fed to the carburettor from the main tank at the rear of the car via an Autovac tank. This has been replaced by a neatly installed electric fuel pump, which is mounted in the driver’s chassis side rail. The starter motor and front-mounted dynamo are period Marchal-Vaucanson components, while lighting is supplied by Marchal headlights and Hella-Saturnus ‘Marchal’-pattern taillights. Outstandingly original and correct, well detailed and with its original coachwork fittings intact, ‘44923’ represents a rare opportunity to acquire a practical and very usable example of Bugatti’s Vintage-era 3.0-litre eight-cylinder touring car. Affording the fortunate next owner the opportunity to enjoy open-top touring in unmatched pre-war style, this wonderful Bugatti is also eligible for many of the world’s most prestigious historic motoring events.
1935 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante: By the early 1930s Ettore Bugatti had established an unrivalled reputation for building cars with outstanding performance on road or track; the world’s greatest racing drivers enjoying countless successes aboard the Molsheim factory’s products and often choosing them for their everyday transport. Because of its lengthy run of success, Ettore Bugatti remained stubbornly committed to his single-cam engine, only adopting the more advanced double-overhead-camshaft method of valve actuation, after much prompting by his eldest son Jean, on the Type 50 of 1930. From then on Jean Bugatti took greater responsibility for design, his first car being the exquisite Type 55 roadster, a model ranking among the finest sports cars of the 1930s. He followed that with a design of equal stature, the Type 57. A larger car than the Type 55, the Type 57 was powered by a 3.3-litre, double-overhead-camshaft straight eight of modern design housed in Bugatti’s familiar Vintage-style chassis. Showing the strong influence of Jean Bugatti, it at last gave the marque a civilised Grande Routière to match those of rivals Delage and Delahaye. The Type 57 attracted coachwork of the finest quality executed in a startling variety of styles but was no mere rich man’s plaything, as evidenced by two outright wins at Le Mans; proof, if it were needed, that ancestral virtues had not been abandoned when creating a car fit to rank alongside Rolls-Royce or Bentley. Its success is revealed by the production figures: some 670-or-so examples of all Type 57 models were produced between 1934 and 1940, and the post-war Type 101 was based on its chassis. However, although many Type 57s were fitted with bespoke bodies, the most popular coachwork was built to Jean Bugatti’s designs by the marque’s preferred carrossier, Gangloff of Colmar, just a few miles from the Bugatti works at Molsheim. Factory offerings on the Type 57 chassis included the Galibier four-door saloon, Stelvio cabriolet, four-seater Ventoux coupé, and two-seater Atalante faux cabriolet (coupé). In Greek mythology, the athletic huntress Atalanta would only marry a man that could out-run her; it is thus a most appropriate appellation for this fast, exotic and very stylish Bugatti. The Type 57 in all its forms attracted discerning owners who were only satisfied with the best, among them speed king Sir Malcolm Campbell. Himself the owner of a Type 57, he wrote: ‘If I was asked to give my opinion as to the best all-round super-sports car which is available on the market today, I should, without any hesitation whatever, say it was the 3.3 Bugatti… it cannot fail to attract the connoisseur or those who know how to handle the thoroughbred. It is a car in a class by itself.’ This fine Bugatti Type 57 – number ‘57252’ – started life as one of 10 ‘Grand Raid’ two-seater sports roadster chassis but actually left the factory as one of three completed with Atalante coachwork. As we have seen, the Type 57 had been intended as a Grande Routière rather than an out-and-out sports car. However, during the autumn of 1934 Bugatti began exploring the possibility of a building a Type 57 two-seater roadster, and on 15th September 1934 a design (number ‘1067’) for such a model was produced. By the time the car was presented at the Paris Salon de l’Automobile in October ’34, the name ‘Grand Raid’ had been adopted. This car carries the earliest chassis number of the three Atalante versions made; the fate of the other two cars is not known. It should be noted that the name ‘Atalante’ was not recorded in the sales register until later on; early examples, including the three mentioned above, were classified simply as ‘faux cabriolet’ (i.e. fixed-head coupé). Factory records list the coachwork as ‘Usine Fx cabriolet’. ‘57252’ left the factory on 18th May 1935 and went to the agent Monestier in Lyon, France for their client named Perrot. The next owner’s name was Docime. Sold subsequently by Paris-based motor trader, Ben Saschoua, the Bugatti passed into the ownership of Michel Dovaz, whose fabulous collection is the subject of the book ‘Fate of the Sleeping Beauties’. This car is featured in the book. In 1956 the Bugatti was purchased from Dovaz by Jean De Dobbeleer, who sold it on in 1957 to a collector named Greenlee in the USA. Greenlee was followed by John North (1979), then Messrs Dixon, Jones, Guido Artom (Italy, 1988), Peter Rae (in the UK) and the late Barry Burnett (from 2008). Barry acquired the Type 57 from Peter Rae as a straight swap for a unique Delage. Unusually, 57252′ retains its original chassis, engine (number ‘195’), gearbox, and body, etc, all numbered and matching. The only component that has been changed is the rear axle/differential; indeed, the failure of the original differential in the 1950s and the Bugatti’s resulting immobility is what preserved it in such remarkably complete and original condition. Apart from some private correspondence on file, ‘57252’ has evidently been relatively unknown for the last 50 years, even to the extent that it has been referred to as ‘whereabouts unknown’ in the last two authoritative works on the Type 57s and Grand Raid cars by Pierre Yves Laugier and by Simon/Kruta. ‘57252’ was completely restored during Peter Rae’s ownership, there being numerous related invoices on file. Dating from 2005 to 2008, they were issued by various recognised specialists including SCA Classic Restoration, Mitchell Motors, KA Developments, Coachbuilt Horsepower Ltd, Ian Skinner Coachbuilding, Crosthwaite & Gardiner Ltd, Ivan Dutton, and Tula Engineering, the latter being responsible for the engine rebuild. Over £100,000 was spent on the engine alone! The car was restored with extremely close attention paid to conservation and originality; everything possible has been conserved and every single component refurbished to the very highest possible standard. Sadly, the wings had endured a hard life and were deemed unusable, so new examples were faithfully fabricated to the original pattern. The complete rear axle was replaced using what is believed to be the last ‘new old stock’ example available, and the Bugatti also benefits from an overdrive conversion and fluid-filled damper by Ivan Dutton. This car now carries the registration ‘DYF 4’, which once graced the Type 57S belonging to Sir Malcolm Campbell. Following a period in storage, the Bugatti has recently been serviced and brought to running condition by Edwards Motorsport.
1936 Lagonda LG45 T8 Replica Tourer: Having established its reputation by winning the Moscow – St Petersburg Reliability Trial of 1910 with a 30hp six, Lagonda concentrated mainly on the production of light cars before reverting to sporting and luxury models in the mid-1920s with the introduction of the 14/60. This four-cylinder, 2-litre model was joined in 1929 by the first of Lagonda’s own sixes – the 3-Litre – but by the mid-1930s the Meadows-engined cars were seen as the way forward. Introduced at the 1933 Olympia Show and based on the preceding ZM 3-Litre model, the M45 deployed Meadows’ 4½-litre, twin-plug six to good effect, saloons being capable of reaching 90mph and tourers the ‘ton’ under favourable conditions. Shortly after the M45’s introduction, The Autocar got its hands on one. “A short run on one of the first of the 4½-Litre Lagonda models, with an open four-seater body, left a vivid impression not only of brilliant acceleration and sheer performance, but of a car delightfully silent and easy running in a way that can be achieved to the fullest extent only by a big-engined machine working well inside its limits.” A team of three specially prepared short-chassis cars (effectively the soon-to-be-announced M45 Rapide) prepared by Lagonda main agents Fox & Nicholls performed creditably at the 1934 RAC Tourist Trophy at Ards, and the following year one of these TT cars driven by John Hindmarsh and Luis Fontes won the Le Mans 24-Hour endurance classic outright. Under W O Bentley’s technical direction the big Lagonda became more refined: the M45’s successor – the LG45 – gaining synchromesh gears, flexible engine mounts and centralised chassis lubrication among many other improvements. Endowed with such an impeccable pedigree, the 4½-Litre Lagonda quickly established itself as a favourite among the wealthy sporting motorists of its day. In its road test published on 10th April 1936, The Autocar declared: “The 4½-Litre has always given a fine performance; in its latest form it provides all the performance that anyone can reasonably require, and at the same time has been silenced, smoothed out and made a much more comfortable car, so that in comparison with the earlier versions it is hardly recognisable on first driving it. It can only be said that the appeal of the car has been considerably widened, for the people who today set great store by noise and a harsh suspension are greatly outnumbered by those to whom refinement in a fast car is far more desirable.” One of only 278 LG45s produced during 1936/37, chassis number ‘12017 was ordered by main dealers Kevill Davies & March in November 1935 and subsequently shipped, unregistered, to Burton & Tweedy, Lagonda’s dealers in Glasgow. The car was purchased new by Mr Alexander Shanks of Falkland, Fife (bill of sale on file). In 1954, the Lagonda was traded in (for a Mark VII Jaguar) by Mr Harry Shanks, son of the original owner. In the early 1960s the original body was destroyed and the damaged car purchased later in the ’60s from a garage in Glasgow. It would appear that no renovation was attempted, as when the car next changed hands again (in October 1986) its purchaser intended it only to serve as a source of spares for another car. Happily, that fate was avoided and ‘12017’ was subsequently fully restored, all the mechanicals being rebuilt and a new tourer body manufactured to 1935 Lagonda T8 pattern in 1990/1993 (see restoration photographs on file). The rebuilt Lagonda was acquired by the late Barry Burnett in 2005 from a Mr Michael Hallowes of Gloucestershire, its owner since December 2002.
1938 Lagonda V12 Le Mans Replica Tourer: A quite remarkable piece of automotive engineering, the W O Bentley-designed Lagonda V12 was one of the outstanding British models of its day and one of the exclusive handful of 1930s road cars that could exceed 100mph in standard tune. Not only that, but the magnificent, 4½-litre, V12 engine produced sufficient torque to endow the car with a walking-pace-to-maximum capability in top gear. Approximately 185 V12s of all types were built before the coming of WW2 prematurely ended production. For Lagonda, the year 1935 had brought with it bankruptcy and rescue, its benefactor being a young solicitor named Alan Good. Good reorganised the company and recruited W O Bentley, by then disillusioned with life at Rolls-Royce, which had acquired Bentley in 1931. Bentley succeeded in refining the muscular, Meadows-engined Lagondas while working on a vastly more-advanced design that many consider the great man’s finest. First seen in 1936, the Lagonda V12 did not commence deliveries until 1938 and only 189 had been built before the coming of WW2 ended production. The advanced chassis employed double-wishbone independent front suspension and was available with a varied choice of coachwork, including limousine. Frank Feeley, stylist of Aston Martin’s post-war ‘DB’ cars, was responsible for the elegant factory bodywork. As usual, the short-chassis Rapide roadster provided even more performance. The V12’s announcement demonstrated that the revitalised company was very much back in business, an impression Lagonda’s decision to enter the 1939 Le Mans 24-Hour Race can only have enhanced. The marque already possessed a creditable Le Mans record, a short-chassis 4½-Litre driven by John Hindmarsh and Luis Fontes having won the endurance classic outright in 1935. In October 1938, Earl Howe had set a new national record by covering 101.5 miles at Brooklands in a single hour, despite having to stop to change a burst tyre, driving the car offered here, which at that time carried saloon coachwork. This magnificent achievement, together with other high-speed tests during which the Lagonda V12 had shown complete reliability, indicated that it would be a highly suitable candidate for reviving British prestige at Le Mans. Accordingly, it was decided to enter a two-car team in 1939 with the aim of securing valuable data, and then to mount a full-strength challenge the following year. In the race the two streamlined two-seater Lagondas fared better than expected, Messrs Brackenbury and Dobson finishing in third place with Lords Selsdon and Waleran fourth. Had a less conservative race strategy been employed, then either might have won. In a letter on file, Lagonda Club Honorary Registrar Arnold Davey states that the car offered here, originally registered on 16th November 1937 as ‘FPK 550’, may have been the prototype displayed at the 1936 Motor Show and is definitely the press car that appeared in all the early road tests. Superseded by a true production car, it was retained by the factory and used in modified form for Earl Howe’s aforementioned ‘100-miles-in-the-hour’ national record of 1938. Davey: “The Lagonda factory kept ‘FPK 550’ throughout the war as a hack and afterwards it was rebuilt (but not altered) and re-registered as ‘NPJ 680’, presumably to take advantage of the post-war flat rate tax. It was also given the one-off chassis number of ‘19221’, which is totally unique in Lagonda numbers.” An old-style continuation logbook on file takes up the story in 1949 when the Lagonda was registered to Guildford-based Jaguar dealer and motor racing team owner John Coombs, who was followed by one George Wilkins (1950), Patrick Kelly (1951), and lastly Arthur Guy Warne (1952). In 1980 the Lagonda was acquired by Stanley Mann and it was photographed to appear in ‘Lagonda: An Illustrated History, 1900-50’ by Geoffrey Seaton (page 249). Davey: “It was then just as it was in 1949 and the mods done for the 1938 record run were quite evident… We found all the EX part numbers stamped on every bit and there were all manner of parts made from fabrications that on production cars are forgings. All in all, it obviously was ‘FPK 550’.” Eventually, Stanley Mann split the chassis and body and recreated ‘19221’ as the Team Car Replica it is today. The body went onto an LG6 in Denmark. The ex-Earl Howe Lagonda was acquired by the late Barry Burnett in 1989, and since Barry’s death in 2007 has belonged to his daughter. The car has been serviced for the sale by Edwards Motorsports (near Bristol). Contained within a substantial history file, accompanying documentation includes the aforementioned registration records and Lagonda Club correspondence; various other registration and MoT certificates; DVLA correspondence; SORN paperwork; current V5C; and various instruction manuals. W O Bentley’s Lagonda V12 is one of the most sophisticated, attractive, and exclusive cars of the pre-war era and this example, with its tremendous and well-chronicled provenance, is an opportunity not to be missed.
1936 Talbot T23 Le Mans Replica: On the dissolution of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine in 1935, automobile engineer Major A F ‘Tony’ Lago bought the Darracq factory at Suresnes and continued production, selling his cars as Darracqs in the UK and Talbots in France. The revitalised marque embraced both sports car and Grand Prix racing, and in 1937 achieved victories in the French Grand Prix and the Tourist Trophy; from then onwards it was an uphill struggle against the state-subsidised might of the German and Italian opposition. There were, however, many notable successes in the immediate post-war years, including three Grand Prix wins for French Champion Louis Rosier. The first Lago-built cars retained the existing X-braced, independently front suspended chassis, but were powered by new six-cylinder engines of 3.0 and 4.0 litres designed by engineer Walter Becchia. ‘Baby’, ‘Minor’, ‘Major’, and ‘Master’ models of varying wheelbase lengths up to 3,450mm were produced, while a 2.4-litre four-cylinder model was offered on the French market only. Lago had assisted in the development of the Wilson pre-selector gearbox in England, and this form of transmission was retained on the larger models. The marque’s ultimate pre-war road car, the 4.0-litre T150 Lago Special, featuring inclined overhead valves set in hemispherical combustion chambers and opened via crossed pushrods, produced 140bhp and was good for more than 100mph, while for competition purposes there was the T150C on the shortest available wheelbase of 2,650mm. Right-hand drive, like all quality French sports cars of the pre-WW2 era, this 4.0-litre example was built by VSCC stalwart Peter Wigglesworth. In the early 2000s, Peter went to France with friend and collector John Guyatt, and met a respected figure within the Talbot Lago Owners Club who owned a Talbot Lago T23 long-wheelbase rolling chassis. The car consisted of the chassis, engine, gearbox, rear xxle, most of the instrumentation, and the original bulkhead which was stamped with correct Talbot Lago number stamping. Upon purchase, Peter commenced the restoration to T23 Le Mans specification and shortened the chassis appropriately. Mick Sharp of Weston Coachworks, Derby then re-bodied the car in the style of one of the Talbot Lago Le Mans tourers. The interior was re-upholstered by respected pre-war trimmer Ron ‘Ozzy’ Osborne, since retired. The engine was fully rebuilt and the gearbox overhauled by renowned specialist, Cecil Schumacher. Once completed, the rebuilt Talbot Lago was used enthusiastically by Peter, who recently told Bonhams: “we found that the car had very impressive performance and the handling was superb”. Sold to Barry Burnett in the mid-2000s, ‘754 UXJ’ has recently been re-commissioned by Edwards Motorsport ready for sale. It is offered with a V5 document but no other paperwork.
This time, a second dealer in classic cars was on site, this was Tom Hardman, who had several fabulous machines on offer.
1936 Lagonda LG45
This Maserati 6CM was recently sold. but the new owner very kindly allowed it to be displayed here for the weekend.
OTHER CAR PARKS
Whilst the VSCC cars are the undoubted star attraction of this event, that does not mean that there are not also interesting cars from more recent times to be seen here as well. So a walk around the main public car parks will yield a large number of rare and unusual cars as well as plenty of the cars of the type which are currently common-place on our roads. On the Saturday, a part of the Orchard is available for modern cars, but on the Sunday this space is completely filled by VSCC machinery, so all modern (and that generally means Post War, with just the odd exception) cars park up in the adjoining and rather bumpy field. Certainly great care is required when driving across this. My early arrival on Sunday meant I was fairly near to one of the main aisles, but others had a lot of often hidden lumps and bumps to traverse. Interestingly, many of the cars that are featured here can be seen in reports from this event in previous years, suggesting that it is not just me that comes to this event year after year.
There were a number of Abarths to be found here on both the Saturday and Sunday. None of them had plates which I recognised, but it was good to see this modern classic well represented. All of them were from the 500 family with a mix of the early 500-badged cars and the more recent 595 models.
Based on the open two-seat AC Ace, the Aceca was a hand-built grand tourer in the British tradition, with ash wood and steel tubing used in their construction. One notable feature was the hatchback at the rear, making the Aceca only the second car, after the 1953 Aston Martin DB2/4, to incorporate this element. It was produced from 1954 until 1963. The car originally had an AC engine but the similar Bristol-engined Aceca-Bristol was also available alongside the original from 1956 to 1963 when production of the engine ceased. A few cars were built from 1961 to 1963 with a 2553 cc tuned Ford Zephyr engine and sold as the Aceca 2.6. The main difference between the Aceca and Aceca-Bristol was the engine. Both used a straight-6 unit, but the Aceca shared its 90 hp 1,991 cc overhead camshaft AC engine with the lighter AC Ace, while the Aceca-Bristol used a 125 hp “D-Type” 1971 cc unit sourced from Bristol Cars. The Aceca-Bristol was also available with a milder “B-Type” Bristol engine of 105 hp. In the UK, the basic car cost £1722. The front-end styling of the Ace and Aceca reportedly traces back to a design done by Pinin Farina for AC in the late 1940s. An alternative theory is that it was inspired by the Ferrari Barchetta of the day. The car is rather light owing to a tubular frame, aluminium engine block and aluminium body panels. Large 16″ spoked road wheels and near 50/50 weight distribution allowed exceptional handling on substandard road surfaces. Later Acecas feature front-wheel disc brakes (added in 1957), while all share transverse leaf spring IRS, articulated rear half-axles, worm-gear steering, an optional overdrive on 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears, curved windscreen, and leather-covered bucket seats. The suspension is independent at the front and rear using transverse leaf springs. 151 Acecas, 169 Aceca-Bristols and 8 Ford-engined models had been built when production halted in 1963.
Definitely the rarest of the Alfa Romeo models to be seen here was this F12 pickup. Many people will be unaware that Alfa Romeo have produced Vans in their past. The first the Autotutto was launched back in 1954, and it was updated three times in the following 11 years before being replaced with by the Giulia engined Alfa Romeo F12 and A12 vans in 1967. The front of the vehicle was updated with wider chrome and mesh grille, and the 1,290 cc Alfa Romeo Twin Cam engine was updated now having 52 hp. The front-engined van had four-speed gearbox and front-wheel drive. In 1973 an inline-four 1,760 cc Perkins diesel was also offered, with 50 hp. This same engine was also available in the Giulia Berlina from 1976. The van had top speed of around 115 km/h (71 mph). The front brakes were discs and rear ones drums. Abandoning the use of a model name, “F” denoted a furgone, or van, “A” depicted an autocarro or light truck, while “12” indicated the carrying capacity of 12 quintali (1 quintale = 100 kg (220 lb)). Motor Ibérica took over of FADISA in 1967, this company made Ebro trucks and these FADISA trucks were merged to this same division. As a result, the Alfa Romeo F12 was named as Ebro F-100 in Spain and after the facelift it was sold as the F-108. In 1987 Nissan Motors took control of Motor Ibérica and Ebro trucks were renamed “Nissan Trade”. They continued to be made until the beginning of the 2000s at the Ávila plant in Spain. Between 1967 and 1971 a “light” A11 or F11 version was also available. This has a lighter payload and a lower horsepower rating. All Alfa Romeo vans were facelifted in 1977 with a new black plastic radiator grille, and chrome badging was replaced with black adhesive stickers. Production stopped in 1983. The total production of all A11, A12, F11, and F12 was around 17,300 units.
There were a number of examples of the very elegant 105 Series coupe here, the Giulia Sprint and later called GTV and GT Junior family. This 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 were a Giulia GT and the later 1300 Junior.
Alfa replaced the Giulia-based Spider model with an all-new design which finally made its debut in 1966 together with the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce at an event organised in Gardone Riviera. With its boat tailed styling, it quickly found favour, even before taking a starring role in the film “The Graduate”. The original 1600cc engine was replaced by a more powerful 1750cc unit at the same time as the change was made to the rest of the range, and the car continued like this until 1970, when the first significant change to the exterior styling was introduced on the 1750 Spider Veloce, with the original’s distinctive elongated round tail changed to a more conventional cut-off tail, called the “Kamm tail”, as well as improving the luggage space. Numerous other small changes took place both inside and out, such as a slightly different grille, new doorhandles, a more raked windscreen, top-hinged pedals and improved interior trim. 1971 saw the Spider Veloce get a new, larger powerplant—a 1962 cc, 132 hp unit—and consequently the name was changed from 1750 Spider Veloce to 2000 Spider Veloce. The 1600 Spider restarted production a year later as the Spider 1600 Junior, and was visually identical to the 1300. 1974 saw the introduction of the rare, factory request, Spider-Targa. Based upon the Spider, it featured a Porsche style solid rear window and lift out roof panels, all made out of black GRP type material. Less than 2,000 models of such type were ever made and was the only part solid roof Spider until the introduction of the factory crafted hard top. The 1300 and 2000 cars were modified in 1974 and 1975 respectively to include two small seats behind the front seats, becoming a “two plus two” four seater. The 1300 model was discontinued in 1977. Also, between 1974 and 1976, the early-style stainless-steel bumpers were discontinued and replaced with black, rubber-clad units to meet increasingly stringent North American crash requirements. 4,557 examples of the 1300 Junior were made and 4,848 of the 1600 Junior as well as 16,320 2000 Spider Veloces and 22,059 of 2000 Spider Veloce US version. There were also 4,027 1750 Spider Veloces produced. Examples of the Series 1 and Series 2 cars were to be seen here.
When it came to replacing the 33, Alfa decided that they needed not just a five door hatch, but a three door as well, just as had been offered with the AlfaSud. The three door model, the Alfa Romeo 145 (Tipo 930A) was first to appear, making its debut on static display at the April 1994 Turin Motor Show and then at the Paris Motor Show in July. A simultaneous European commercial launch was planned for 9 September, but it was delayed until October. It was only in April 1992 that work had begun on a second car, the 146 or Tipo 930B, derived from and to be sold alongside the 145; with its more traditionally Alfa Romeo style it was aimed at a different clientele, that of the outgoing Alfa Romeo 33. The 146 premiéred in November 1994 at the Bologna Motor Show and went on sale in May 1995. The two cars shared design plans and interior components from the B-pillar forwards, but with very different looking rear ends. Based, as they were, on the Fiat Group’s Tipo Due (Type Two) platform, the 145 and 146 had a unibody structure, front MacPherson strut and rear trailing arm suspensions. A peculiarity of these cars is that they were designed to be fitted with both longitudinal engines (the older Boxers) and with transverse engines (the diesels and the Twin Spark). The former were mounted in the same configuration as on the 33 or Alfasud, that is longitudinally overhanging the front axle with the gearbox towards the cabin; the latter in the conventional transverse position with the gearbox to the left side. All engines were coupled to 5-speed manual transmissions. Steering was rack and pinion, with standard hydraulic power assistance. At launch the engine line-up for both cars comprised a 1.9-litre inline-four turbo diesel and the boxer petrol engines from the 33, in 1.3 8-valve, 1.6 8-valve and range topping 1.7 16-valve flat four forms. Depending on the market, the engines were available in either or both base and better equipped L (for “Lusso”) trim levels; L trim standard equipment was richer on larger engined cars. Flagship sport models with the two-litre 16-valve Twin Spark inline-four engine from the Alfa Romeo 155 arrived a year after the début: the 145 Quadrifoglio and 146 ti. Each of the two-litre versions had a unique trim level; both included richer standard equipment than L trims, like ABS, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob and available Recaro sport seats. The 145 Quadrifoglio (145 Cloverleaf in the UK), launched at the September 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show and on sale from October,had deep body-colour side skirts with “green cloverleaf” badges and 5-hole alloy wheels. The 146 ti went on sale in February 1996. It came with painted side skirts, a boot spoiler and 12-hole alloy wheels. Two-litre cars were equipped with stiffer suspension, uprated all-disk braking system, ABS, wider, lower-profile tires and ‘quick-rack’ direct steering (also seen on the 155, GTV and Spider) which improved responsiveness, but also compromised the turning circle. The sporty suspension set-up was harsher than many others in its category at the time, but this was in line with the Fiat Group’s marketing of Alfa Romeo as a sporting brand and it is said to have resulted in class leading handling. From January 1997 all the boxer engines were phased out in favour of 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8 versions of the Twin Spark 16-valve engine.1.8-litre cars adopted the sport chassis, steering and brakes of the Quadrifoglio/ti, and also offered some of their optional equipment such as the sport seats. At the same time the interior was updated: a new air conditioning system, a redesigned dashboard an upholstered insert were fitted. Outside changes were minor: new wheel covers and alloy wheels and a wider choice of paint colours. In late 1997 Alfa Romeo introduced the Junior, a trim level targeted at young buyers that combined the sport styling and chassis setup of the range topping models with the affordable entry-level 1.4 powertrain, later with 1.6 engine too. Based on the 1.4 L, Junior cars were distinguished by the Quadrifoglio’s side skirts with “Junior” badges, specific 15 inch alloy wheels, and by the stainless steel exhaust tip (as well as, on the 146, the boot spoiler) from the ti. A year later 1.8 and 2.0 Twin Spark engines received the updates first introduced on the Alfa Romeo 156; thanks to variable length intake manifolds the two powertrains gained 4-5 PS and reached peak torque at engine speeds some 500 rpm lower. At the Geneva Motor Show in March 1999 Alfa Romeo introduced the restyled ’99 line-up for both models. The new common rail direct injection 1.9 JTD turbo diesel replaced the 1.9 TD. The main changes outside were new, body-colour bumpers with round fog lights and narrow protection strips; the interior got new upholstery and detail trim changes such as chrome vent surrounds. Optional side airbags complemented the already available passenger and standard driver airbags. The Junior trim level was discontinued, in favour of “pack sport” option package that included side skirts, rear spoiler, alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel and sport seats, all standard features on the two-litre models. A second “pack lusso” package offered leather steering wheel, velour upholstery and mahogany wood trim. In September of the next year, at the Paris Motor Show the all-new Alfa Romeo 147 was presented Eventually, in 2000, the 145/146 cars were superseded by the all-new 147, which was a far bigger commercial success, with its acclaimed styling front end and improved quality. Still, many enthusiasts feel that it lost a little of the special feel and Alfa Romeo that the 145 had. 221,037 145s and 233,295 146s were built, There are depressingly few survivors of either model in the UK, and there was just one example here, a 145.
The 916 Series cars were conceived to replace two very different models in the Alfa range. First of these was the open topped 105 Series Spider which had been in production since 1966 and by the 1990s was long overdue a replacement. Alfa decided to combine a follow on to the Alfetta GTV, long out of production, with a new Spider model, and first work started in the late 1980s. The task was handed to Pininfarina, and Enrico Fumia’s initial renderings were produced in September 1987, with the first clay models to complete 1:1 scale model made in July 1988. Fumia produced something rather special. Clearly an Italian design, with the Alfa Romeo grille with dual round headlights, recalling the Audi-based Pininfarina Quartz, another design produced by Enrico Fumia back in 1981, the proposal was for a car that was low-slung, wedge-shaped with a low nose and high kicked up tail. The back of the car is “cut-off” with a “Kamm tail” giving improved aerodynamics. The Spider would share these traits with the GTV except that the rear is rounded, and would feature a folding soft-top with five hoop frame, which would completely disappear from sight under a flush fitting cover. An electric folding mechanism would be fitted as an option. Details included a one-piece rear lamp/foglamp/indicator strip across the rear of the body, the minor instruments in the centre console angled towards the driver. The exterior design was finished in July 1988. After Vittorio Ghidella, Fiat’s CEO, accepted the design, Alfa Romeo Centro Stile under Walter de Silva was made responsible for the completion of the detail work and also for the design of the interiors, as Pininfarina’s proposal was not accepted. The Spider and GTV were to be based on the then-current Fiat Group platform, called Tipo Due, in this case a heavily modified version with an all new multilink rear suspension. The front suspension and drivetrain was based on the 1992 Alfa Romeo 155 saloon. Chief engineer at that time was Bruno Cena. Drag coefficient was 0.33 for the GTV and 0.38 for the Spider. Production began in late 1993 with four cars, all 3.0 V6 Spiders, assembled at the Alfa Romeo Arese Plant in Milan. In early 1994 the first GTV was produced, with 2.0 Twin Spark engine. The first premiere was then held at the Paris Motor Show in 1994. The GTV and Spider were officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1995 and sales began the same year. The cars were well received. At launch, many journalists commented that Alfa had improved overall build quality considerably and that it came very close to equalling its German rivals. I can vouch for that, as I owned an early GTV for eighteen months, and it was a well built and reliable car. In 1997 a new engine, a 24-valve 3.0 litre V6, was available for the GTV along with bigger, 12.0 inch brakes and red four-pot calipers from Brembo. The console knobs were changed from round central to rectangle ones and to a three-spoke steering wheel. Some versions were upgraded with different front bumper mesh to bring the wind noise down to 74 dBA. In May 1998 the cars were revamped for the first time, creating the Phase 2 models. Most of the alterations were inside. The interior was changed with new centre console, painted letters on skirt seals, changed controls and switches arrangement and different instrument cluster. Outside, the main changes included chrome frame around the grille and colour-coded side skirts and bumpers. A new engine was introduced, the 142 hp 1.8 Twin Spark, and others were changed: the 2.0 Twin Spark was updated with a modular intake manifold with different length intakes and a different plastic cover. Power output of the 2.0 TS was raised to 153 hp. Engines changed engine management units and have a nomenclature of CF2. The dashboard was available in two new colours in addition to the standard black: Red Style and Blue Style, and with it new colour-coded upholstery and carpets. The 3.0 24V got a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and the 2.0 V6 TB engine was now also available for the Spider. August 2000 saw the revamp of engines to comply with new emission regulations, Euro3. The new engines were slightly detuned, and have a new identification code: CF3. 3.0 V6 12V was discontinued for the Spider and replaced with 24V Euro3 version from the GTV. 2.0 V6 Turbo and 1.8 T.Spark were discontinued as they did not comply with Euro3 emissions. By the 2001-2002 model year, only 2 engines were left, the 2.0 Twin.Spark and 3.0 V6 24V, until the Phase 3 engine range arrived. The Arese plant, where the cars had been built, was closing and, in October 2000, the production of GTV/Spider was transferred to Pininfarina Plant in San Giorgio Canavese in Turin. In 2003 there was another and final revamp, creating the Phase 3, also designed in Pininfarina but not by Enrico Fumia. The main changes were focused on the front with new 147-style grille and different front bumpers with offset numberplate holder. Change to the interior was minimal with different centre console and upholstery pattern and colours available. Instrument illumination colour was changed from green to red. Main specification change is an ASR traction control, not available for 2.0 TS Base model. New engines were introduced: 163 hp 2.0 JTS with direct petrol injection and 237 hp 3.2 V6 24V allowing a 158 mph top speed. Production ceased in late 2004, though some cars were still available for purchase till 2006. A total of 80,747 cars were made, and sales of the GTV and Spider were roughly equal. More V6 engined GTVs than Spiders were made, but in 2.0 guise, it was the other way round with the open model proving marginally more popular.
Oldest of the post-war Astons here were a number of versions of the DB2 family of cars. This was the first new post-war design, and the first car to adopt the now legendary DB naming convention, reflecting the fact that in 1947 David Brown had bought the Aston Martin and Lagonda companies and incorporated them as Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. Lagonda’s 2.6 litre dual overhead cam, straight-six engine, more powerful than the pushrod 1.9 litre unit in the Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports, was the main objective in Brown’s acquisition of the company. W. O. Bentley had supervised the engine’s design, which was largely by William (Willie) Watson, an engineer with the pre-war Invicta company who had collaborated on Lagonda’s pre-war V12 and also designed the short-lived post-war version. Work then started on producing a new car, which was called the DB2. This new model would utilise a version of the Lagonda engine in a shortened version of the tube-frame chassis designed by Claude Hill for the Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports, with a fastback coupé body designed by Frank Feeley. Three pre-production cars were entered for the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans. One, which would become the development car for the production DB2, had the Lagonda straight-6, while the four-cylinder Aston Martin 2-litre unit powered the other two. After six laps the Lagonda-powered car, driven by Leslie Johnson, retired with overheating caused by failure of the water pump. One of the 2-litre cars was in 4th place and running without brakes when it crashed two hours short of the finish, fatally injuring driver Pierre Maréchal. The other finished 7th, crewed by Arthur Jones and Nick Haines. A month later, the larger-engined car, driven by Leslie Johnson and Charles Brackenbury, finished 3rd in the Spa 24-hour race, where one of the 2-litre cars was driven to 5th by Nick Haines and Lance Macklin. For 1950 all three factory team cars were equipped with the Lagonda engine. At the 1950 Le Mans race the one driven by George Abecassis and Lance Macklin finished 5th, with Brackenbury and Reg Parnell bringing another home 6th, which won Aston Martin 1st and 2nd in the 3-litre class. Across the Atlantic, Briggs Cunningham drove his DB2 to 2nd in its class at the inaugural Sebring race meeting in December 1950. The factory team cars continued racing in Europe throughout 1951, including at Le Mans, where Macklin and Eric Thompson took 3rd overall, with Abecassis and Brian Shawe-Taylor 5th. David Brown soon embarked on a series of Aston Martins designed specifically for competition use, starting with the DB3. Meanwhile, the production DB2 debuted at the New York Auto Show in April 1950 and continued in production until April 1953, by which time 411 had been made. The first 49 had a chrome-framed front grille in three separate parts, and large rectangular cooling vents in the front wings. Subsequent cars had a one-piece grille with horizontal chrome slats, and no side vents. The single-piece bonnet was hinged at the front. At the rear of the fixed-head coupé (FHC) a small top-hinged lid gave access to the spare wheel, and luggage space was behind the front seats, accessible only from inside the car. Later in 1950, a Drophead Coupé (DHC) variant was introduced. At least 102 were built. In April 1950, an engine with larger carburettors, inlet camshaft the same as the exhaust (for increased duration), and higher compression ratio pistons (8.16:1) was made available. Aston Martin’s first Vantage upgrade option offered 125 hp. Initially the higher compression ratio made the engine unsuitable for the British market, as the postwar austerity measures of the early 1950s restricted UK vehicles to 72 octane “Pool petrol”. The first DB2 Vantage, LML 50/21, was delivered to, and raced by, Briggs Cunningham in the United States. A revised version of the DB2 was launched in 1953, called the DB2/4. It was available as a 2+2 hatchback, marketed as a Saloon, as a Drophead Coupé (DHC) and as a 2-seat Fixed Head Coupe. A small number of Bertone bodied spiders were commissioned by private buyers. A further update in 1957 created the Mark III, and this was produced until the launch of the DB4 in 1958.
Technically the DB4 was a development of the DB Mark III it replaced but with a completely new body. The DB4’s design formed the basis for later Aston Martin classics, such as the DB4 GT Zagato, the Lagonda Rapide 4-door saloon. It was eventually replaced by the Aston Martin DB5. The lightweight superleggera (tube-frame) body was designed by Carrozzeria Touring in Milan, and its Continental looks caused a sensation on its unveiling at the 1958 London Motor Show. Although the design and construction techniques were Italian, the DB4 was the first Aston to be built at the company’s Newport Pagnell works. The 3670 cc engine, designed by Tadek Marek, was a double overhead cam straight-6, with cylinder head and block of cast R.R.50 aluminium alloy, a further development of the earlier engine. The engine was prone to overheating initially, but the 240 hp produced by the twin-SU carburettor version made buyers forgive this unfortunate trait. Servo-assisted disc brakes were fitted all round: early 11.5 in Dunlops were replaced by Girlings. The independent front suspension used ball-jointed wishbones, coil springs and rack-and-pinion steering. The live rear axle also used coil springs and was located by a Watt’s linkage. The normal final-drive ratio for British and European use was 3.54:1: in the United States the ratio was usually 3.77. Customers wanting a car with an especially high top speed could choose a 3.31:1 ratio. A car with the British standard 3.54 final drive ratio tested by The Motor magazine in 1960 had a top speed of 139.3 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 9.3 seconds. A fuel consumption of 17.7 mpg. The test car cost £3967 including taxes. There were five “series” of DB4. The most visible changes were the addition of window frames in Series II and the adoption of a barred (rather than eggcrate) grille in Series IV. The Series III cars differed from the earlier ones in having taillights consisting of three small lamps mounted on a chrome backing plate. Earlier cars have single-piece units and the last Series V cars of September 1962 have similar taillights but recessed. The Series V also has a taller and longer body to provide more interior space, though the diameter of the wheels was reduced to keep the overall height the same. The front of the Series V usually was of the more aerodynamic style as already used on the Vantage and GT models, a style that was later carried over to the DB5 cars. A convertible was introduced in October 1961. It featured in-house styling similar to the Touring saloon, and an extremely rare factory hardtop was also available. In total, 70 DB4 convertibles were made from a total DB4 production run of 1,110 cars. 30 of these were Series IV, with the remaining 40 belonging to the Series V. 32 of the total convertibles built (11 and 21 of the different series respectively) were equipped with the more powerful Vantage engine. Top speed for the regular version is about 136 mph.
Needing little in the way of introduction, as thanks to its starring role with James Bond, this has to be one of the world’s most recognised cars, is the DB5, a couple of examples of which were on show. The DB5 was 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 litre to 4.0litre; 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 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. These days the DB5 is the most valuable of all the DB models from the 1960s, with many of them heading towards the £1 million pound mark.
After a production run of over 20 years, Aston came up with a new body shape for the 1988 Birmingham Motor Show, and called the new car the Virage. Initially announced solely as a close coupe, it was not long before an open-topped model was added to the range and then in 1993, these were joined by the high-performance Vantage. The name of the base model was changed to V8 Coupé in 1996. The V8-powered model was intended as the company’s flagship model, with the 6-cylinder DB7, introduced in 1994, positioned below it as an entry-level model. Although the DB7 became available with a V12 engine and claimed a performance advantage, the Virage remained the exclusive, expensive and hand-built flagship of the Aston Martin range. It was replaced in 2000 with the Vanquish. By the end of the 2000 model year, 1,050 cars in total had been produced
Also here from the current range was this example of the Rapide.
In the late 70s, it was the D-Segment that mattered more than anything else in the UK. Britain’s best seller, the Ford Cortina had in excess of 10% of the entire UK car market. BL had no serious rival, offering the Marina, and subsequent Ital, that were conceived as hasty stop-gaps in the early 70s and forced to live on long beyond their reasonable model life. After the cancellation of ADO77, a conventional four door saloon that was more like a revamped Marina than a truly modern family car, the next set of plans called for a 3 box version of the Maestro. As that car was half a class smaller than the Cortina and Cavalier, that would have been a difficult strategy, and fortunately, a change of management in the early 80s saw it as such and the LM11 car that was then being developed both grew in size, and also underwent some very late styling changes as new designer Roy Axe was somewhat aghast at what had been planned. The result was the Montego, launched in late April 1984. Aimed directly at the Sierra and Cavalier, this 3 box saloon came with the new S Series 1600cc and familiar O Series 2 litre engine in 5 trim levels, priced to take on its rivals head on. Sales projections once again were somewhat optimistic, but the Montego quickly reached the Top 10 list, and many would tell you that the car was actually “better” than its Ford or GM rivals in many respects. A capacious Estate model was added to the range in the autumn of 1984. My father bought one the following summer. He did nearly 100,000 miles in it, before it was sold and then I used to see it driving around Cheltenham, as a taxi, for several years, so I am guessing that it probably did around a quarter of a million miles. Some people had problems with their cars, but it seemed to be down to luck whether you got a bad one or not. My first company car was a 1.6L model, in Targa Red, chosen not just because of the good experience from my father’s car., but because by this time it had a standard five speed gearbox when the Ford and Vauxhall did not. I was so impressed with mine and the improvements made in 1988 when a new and very plush interior was put in the car, along with the substitution of the VW gearbox for a Honda one on the 1600cc models, that I ordered another one in early 1990. By this stage, of course, it was not fashionable to like the car at all, but the reality is that whilst not exciting, except in the MG and MG Turbo guises which I coveted but could not afford, this was a practical and roomy car.
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 was an example of the regular factory saloon body.
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 Prescott regular, a splendid car with a rather stylish Freestone and Webb body, as well as a standard S3 saloon and one of the “Chinese Eye” Mulliner Park Ward S3 convertibles.
This is the new third generation Flying Spur, and when I looked at it, I could see that it had various bits taped up and was evidently a works car rather than a proper production model that had been sold to a customer. That comes later in the year!
The first car to bear the 6 Series nomenclature was the E24, which was launched in 1976, as a replacement for the E9 model 3.0 CS and CSL coupés first produced in 1965. The 3.0 CS was almost changed by adding a few centimeters in height to make it easier for customers to get into the car. However, Bob Lutz rebelled against the decision and rough drafted an alternative version that soon became the 6 series. Production started in March 1976 with two models: the 630 CS and 633 CSi. Originally the bodies were manufactured by Karmann, but production was later taken in-house to BMW. In July 1978 a more powerful variant, the 635 CSi, was introduced that featured as standard a special close-ratio 5-speed gearbox and a single piece black rear spoiler. The bigger bore and shorter stroke facilitated max 218 hp at 5200rpm and a better torque curve. For the first year, the 635 CSi was offered in three colours (Polaris, Henna Red, Graphite), and could also be spotted by the front air dam that did not have attached fog lights. These simple cosmetic changes reportedly worked to reduce uplift on the car at high speeds by almost 15% over the non-spoiler body shape. This early model shared suspension components with the inaugural BMW 5-series, the E12. In 1979 the carburettor 630 CS was replaced with the 628 CSi with its fuel injected 2.8 litre engine taken from the BMW 528i. In 1980 the 635 CSi gained the central locking system that is also controlled from the boot. Also, the E24 body style converted from L-jetronic injection to a Bosch Motronic DME. In 1982 (Europe) and 1983 (US), the E24 changed slightly in appearance, with an improved interior and slightly modified exterior. At the same time, the 635 CSi received a new engine, a slightly smaller-bored and longer-stroked 3430 cc six to replace the former 3453 cc engine and became available with a wide-ratio 5-speed manual or an automatic. This slight change was in fact a major change as pre-1982 cars were based on the E12 5-series chassis; after mid-1982, E24s shared the improved E28 5-series chassis. The only parts that remained the same were some of the exterior body panels. E24s produced after June 1987 came with new, ellipsoid headlamps which projects beam more directly onto road surface (newly introduced E32 7-series also sporting them). The sleeker European bumpers were also discontinued. Previous cars had either a European-standard bumper or a larger, reinforced bumper to meet the US standard requiring bumpers to withstand impact at 5 mph without damage to safety-related components. 1989 was the last year for the E24 with production stopping in April. The E24 was supplanted by the considerably heavier, more complex, and more exclusive 8 Series. BMW Motorsport introduced the M 635 CSi in Europe at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1983. It is essentially an E24 powered by the powerplant of the BMW M1 – the M88 with 286 PS). Most of the cars were equipped with special metric 415 mm diameter wheels requiring Michelin TRX tyres. A catalysed, lower compression ratio version of the car with the S38 engine (260 PS ) was introduced in the U.S. in 1987. All M6 cars came standard with a 25% rear limited slip differential. U.S. models included additional comforts that were usually optional on models sold in Europe such as Nappa leather power seats and a dedicated rear A/C unit with a centre beverage chiller. 4,088 M635CSi cars were built between 1983 and 1988 with 1,767 U.S. M6 built. Seen here was a rather nice M635 CSi.
There was also a Z1 here, 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.
This is a 405 Drophead. The Bristol 404 and Bristol 405 are British luxury cars which were manufactured by the Bristol Aeroplane Company. The 404 was manufactured from 1953 to 1958, and the 405 from 1955 to 1958. The models were successors to the Bristol 403. The 404 was a two-seat coupé and the 405 was available as a four-seat, four-door saloon and as a four-seat, two-door drophead coupé. Unlike previous or later Bristol models, there is considerable confusion in nomenclature when it comes to the Bristol 404 and 405. The 404 was a very short-wheelbase (8 feet (2,438 mm) as against 9 feet 6 inches (2,896 mm)) version of the 405, but was introduced in 1953, whereas the 405 was not introduced until 1955 and continued until 1958. The 405 itself was seen in two versions. The more common (265 of 308 built) is a four-door saloon built on the standard chassis of the previous Bristols, whilst the 405 drophead coupé or 405D (43 built) had a convertible body by Abbotts of Farnham. The body used aluminium panels over a steel and ash frame, mounted on a substantial horse-shoe shaped chassis. Most cars built had a highly tuned (through advanced valve timing) version of the 2 litre six-cylinder engine called the 100C which developed 125 bhp as against the 105 bhp of the standard 100B 405 engine. Even the 105 bhp engine was fitted with Solex triple downdraft carburettors. With UK fuel supplies no longer restricted to the low-octane wartime “pool petrol”, all engines for the 404 and 405 came with higher compression ratios than predecessor Bristols — 8.5:1 as against 7.5:1. Rack and pinion steering was fitted and the car’s handling won accolades from press reports when the car was introduced (and subsequently). Compared to the 403, the 404 and 405 had an improved gearbox with much shorter gear lever which improved what was already by the standards of the day a very slick gearchange. The 405, though not the 404, had overdrive as standard apart from the earliest models, and front disc brakes became an option apart from the earliest models, and were fitted to almost all 405 drophead coupés. A few late 405s were fitted with the higher torque 2.2 litre engine introduced in the later 406. Externally, a notable feature of the 404 and 405 was the abandonment of the BMW-style radiator grille for one much more like an aero-engine. The 405, although the only four-door car ever built by Bristol, had styling that the company was later to refine for many years on their later Chrysler V8-engined cars during the 1960s. It was also the model that introduced the Bristol feature of sizable lockers in the front wings accessed externally by gullwing doors. The locker on the nearside held the spare wheel and jack, whilst that on the offside housed the battery and fuse panel. There were 52 examples of the 404 and 308 of the 405 built.
Pure Americana, this is a 1952 Super. This Buick is rare in a very special way. It is a right-hand-drive car because it was originally sold in South Africa. Beautifully restored, it is powered by a 263 cu. In. (4.3-litre) straight eight.
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 side-members and rear suspension swing-arm bearing box, similar to, but not identical to the Break/Safari frame.. Seen here was a DS23.
I’ve seen this car at Prescott many times before, but now have a bit more detail on its history. When the owner of this beautiful machine was asked whether it was a Chapron Décapotable he answered very honestly: “Sort of.” He very kindly responded to our interest by emailing us some of its fascinating history – and we give here an extract from his reply. He saw his first Décapotable in 1972 and immediately wanted one but never thought he would own one. But in 1978 he did buy a saloon: a 1974 DS23efi Pallas. Then in 1982 he found an old Décap in Radlett in Hertfordshire – a 1963 Chapron-bodied car and reputedly one of the first RHD cars in the UK. The chassis had turned banana-shaped with rust and there were various bits missing; it was really beyond restoration as a complete car. He bought it for £300. He then had the Chapron body put onto the chassis of his DS23 and acquired two genuine Chapron doors (7 inches longer than saloon front doors which meant having new window glass made). He then gradually acquired more Décap bits: rear indicators at £600 a pair in 1990, correct Lucas rear-light lenses to replace Dyane ones that were all he originally had, and various bits of chrome unique to the Chapron Décapotable cars. In the late 90s he decided to have the car rebuilt properly. This took about 7 years, including the superb respray in red that you see here. Consistently with the owner’s instant admission to us of the truth, he confirmed that he has never pretended that the car is a genuine Décapotable. For one thing, it is built on a saloon not a special Décapotable chassis (which was similar to that of the estate). And of course it has the later 1974 twin-headlamp front end – there are believed to be only one or two genuine RHD cars of 1974 vintage. The wonderful thing about this lovely car is that it looks like quite a few convertible DS examples – because you can now get conversions with reproduction bodies. But this is a genuine hybrid with a 1974 front and a 1963 Chapron rear. Finally, to quote its enthusiastic owner: “It is a delight to drive, a little faster than the original (which had the 1911 cc engine) and I have taken it to the DS 50th anniversary in Paris in 2005, to Rétrofolies in Spa in 2014, several times to the Circuit des Remparts at Angoulême and the Citroën Centenary meeting at Coventry last June.”
Also rather splendid is the SM, an example of which was here. This glamorous Sports/GT Coupe still wows people over 45 years since its debut. The Citroën SM was first shown at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, but work on the car had started way back in 1961, with ‘Project S’, which was envisaged to be a a sports variant of the revolutionary Citroen DS. For the next few years, many running concept vehicles were developed, and these became increasingly complex and upmarket from the DS. In 1968, Citroën purchased Maserati, with the intention of harnessing Maserati’s high-performance engine technology to produce a true Gran Turismo car, which would combine Citroen’s advanced suspension with a V6 Maserati engine. The car was a sensation when revealed, with its distinctive styling, an amazingly low drag coefficient of just 0.26, and as well as the advanced features from the DS such as lights that swivelled with the steering and the advanced hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension there were numerous technical innovations such as variable assistance for the power steering, rain sensitive wipers and the option of lightweight wheels of composite alloys. It was a further six months before customers could get behind the wheel, with the SM finally going on sale in France in September of that year. The origin of the model name ‘SM’ is not clear. The ‘S’ may derive from the Project ‘S’ designation, and the ‘M’ may refers to Maserati, hence SM is often assumed to stand for ‘Sports Maserati’. Another common hypothesis is that SM stood for Série Maserati and others have suggested it is short for ‘Sa Majesté’ (Her Majesty in French), which would aligns with the explanation that the DS model was so called as a contraction of the French word ‘Déesse’ (The Goddess). Regardless of the origins of the name, it attracted lots of attention, and came third in the 1971 Car of the Year competition (behind Citroen’s own revolutionary GS model). For a couple of years, sales were reasonable, but they fell off dramatically in 1973, not just because of the Oil Crisis that struck late that year, but largely because the SM’s technical complexity came with a price tag of some terrible reliability problems, something which owners of rival cars simply did not experience. To compound the owner’s misery, they needed to find and pay for Citroen specialists who understood the hydraulics and a Maserati specialist for the engine. Both categories were kept busy. Citroen declared bankruptcy in 1974 and the company was purchased in May 1975. Thanks to changes in US legislation, sales in that market, which had hitherto been the SM’s largest had ceased, and so with global sales of under 300 SMs in 1974, having divested itself of Maserati, new owner Peugeot took the obvious decision to cease production of the SM almost immediately. During the SM’s 5 year product life, a total of 12,920 cars were produced. With the exception of a handful of conversions for the Australian market, all SMs were made in left hand drive, which is perhaps one reason why UK sales amounted to just 325 cars from that total. Although this is often labelled as one of the 4 “nightmare cars of the apocalypse” (along with the Triumph Stag and Alfa Montreal), the reality is that the surviving cars have largely been “fixed” and they are now not the fearsome ownership proposition that many still assume.
This is a Conquest saloon and it belongs to Peter Baker, an automotive journalist who specialises in historic motorsport. The Conquest was produced from 1953 to 1958. Based on the Lanchester Fourteen, the Conquest replaced the Daimler Consort. Sales were affected by increasing prices and by the fuel shortage caused by the Suez Crisis, and production ended by January 1958, before a replacement model was in production. The standard 1953 Conquest used a straight-six engine developed from the inline-four engine used in Lanchester’s Fourteen and Leda models. The engine was made from cast iron and had a single Zenith carburettor and a compression ratio of 6.6:1. With a bore of 76.2 mm and a stroke of 88.9 mm, the engine displaced 2,433 cc and delivered 75 bhp. The 1954 Conquest Century model had an alloy head with larger valves, higher compression, high lift cams, and twin SU carburettors. These modifications raised the power to 100 bhp at 4400 rpm. The body was a slightly modified version of that used on the earlier Lanchester Fourteen. Apart from the grille and fog lamps, the Conquest was identical to the Lanchester Fourteen and Leda. While the Fourteen had been coachbuilt of steel on a timber frame, the Leda had an all-steel body, on which the Conquest’s was based. The whole car appeared to have been developed within four months of Bernard Docker, then managing director of BSA, taking on the additional responsibility of managing director of Daimler in January 1953. Presented as a new car, the 75 hp Conquest originated in the 1950 Fourteen or Leda, produced by Daimler’s subsidiary, Lanchester. The chassis was suitably modified to accommodate its new 2.4-litre 6-cylinder engine. The usual Daimler large cruciform chassis had a double wishbone front suspension, with laminated torsion bars, telescopic dampers, and an anti-roll bar, while the rear suspension used leaf springs with telescopic dampers. All cars featured automatic chassis lubrication to 21 points, using a pump controlled by exhaust heat at startup. Cam and peg steering was used, and Girling hydro-mechanical brakes: hydraulic front, mechanical rear. The cars had an 2,642 mm (104 in) wheelbase. The Century specification included a stronger four-pinion differential, replacing the Conquest’s two-pinion differential. The Century’s brakes were also upgraded with increased lining area. In January 1955, a number of upgrades were announced. There was four inches more leg-space for rear seat passengers. In addition, doors now opened wider and there were “further interior embellishments”. In October 1955, the Mark II models were announced for the Earls Court Motor Show, available as before in Conquest (75 bhp) and Conquest Century (100 bhp) form. However, the Daimler Conquest Century was now called the Daimler Century in marketing literature. The built-in fog lamps were now replaced by independent valance-mounted fog and driving lamps and their former location became ducts for the heater and air vent.
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.
Launched late in 1962, the Daimler V8 Saloon was essentially a rebadged Jaguar Mark 2 fitted with Daimler’s 2.5-litre 142 bhp V8 engine and drive-train, a Daimler fluted grille and rear number plate surround, distinctive wheel trims, badges, and interior details including a split-bench front seat from the Jaguar Mark 1 and a black enamel steering wheel. Special interior and exterior colours were specified. Most cars were fitted with power-assisted steering but it was optional. Automatic transmission was standard; manual, with or without overdrive, became an option in 1967. The 2.5 V8 was the first Jaguar designed car to have the Daimler badge. A casual observer, though not its driver, might mistake it for a Jaguar Mark 2. The Daimler’s stance on the road was noticeably different from a Mark 2. In April 1964 the Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmission was replaced by a D1/D2 type, also by Borg-Warner. A manual transmission, with or without an overdrive unit usable with the top gear, became available on British 2.5 V8 saloon in February 1967 and on export versions the following month. Cars optioned with the overdrive had the original 4.55:1 final drive ratio. In October 1967, there was a minor face-lift and re-labelling of the car to V8-250. It differed only in relatively small details: “slimline” bumpers and over-riders (shared with the Jaguar 240/340 relabelled at the same time), negative-earth electrical system, an alternator instead of a dynamo and twin air cleaners, one for each carburettor. Other new features included padding over the instrument panel, padded door cappings and ventilated leather upholstery, reclinable split-bench front seats and a heated rear window. Power steering and overdrive were optional extras. Jaguar replaced its range of saloons—the 240, the 340, the 420, and the 420G—with the XJ6 at the end of 1968. The company launched the XJ6-based Daimler Sovereign the following year to replace the Daimler saloons—the 240-based V8-250 and the 420-based Sovereign. Henceforth all new Daimlers would be re-badged Jaguars with no engineering links to the pre-1960 Daimlers.
The DKW 3=6 was a compact front-wheel drive saloon launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in March 1953 and sold until 1959. It was also named as the DKW Sonderklasse and, following the factory project number, as the DKW F91. From 1958, by which year the car’s successor was already being sold and the earlier version had therefore become, in essence, a ‘run-out’ model, it was badged more simply as the DKW 900. The DKW 3=6 in due course replaced the DKW F89 / Meisterklasse, although the Meisterklasse remained in production until April 1954. In its turn, the 3=6 was succeeded by the more powerful Auto Union 1000, offered already from 1957. The name ‘Sonderklasse’ differentiated the car from the previous model which had been known as the ‘Meisterklasse’. Both names had also been used for commercially successful DKWs in the 1930s. Sonderklasse is a German verbal concatenation that does not translate comfortably into English: it is based on the word ‘Sonder’ of which one translation is ‘special’, linked to the word ‘Klasse’ which translates as ‘class’, or category’. The name ‘3=6’ started out as an advertising slogan, but by the time of the 1955 face lift, the name was to the fore, and the car was advertised as the ‘Large 3=6’ (Großer 3=6) differentiating it from the earlier version which already carried the script ‘3=6’ ahead of the door on its left side. The point of the advertising slogan was to highlight an equivalence between the car’s two stroke three cylinder engine and a four stroke six cylinder engine. The underlying logic was that with the two-stroke cycle there is engine power produced by a combustion within each cylinder for every rotation of the crankshaft: with the four-stroke cycle there is power produced by a combustion within each cylinder only for each alternate rotation of the crankshaft. Thus it was asserted that the two-stroke engine was working twice as hard per rotation of the engine. In terms of torque the two-stroke system does indeed appear to have conferred substantial benefits when compared to a four-stroke engine of similar size, but in terms of bhp much of the theoretical energy gain in terms of power output seems to have been dissipated as additional heat which in turn required a larger energy consuming cooling fan, all of which made the arrangement rather noisy when placed just ahead of the driver and front-seat passenger. The name F91 was the factory project number of the car. ‘F’ stood for ‘Frontantrieb’ (Frontwheel drive). The F91 was an evolution from the DKW F9 which had been a prototype presented in 1938, planned for production at Auto Union’s Zwickau plant from 1940. By 1950 the F9 itself had been made production ready and was being produced as the IFA F9 in Zwickau, so that name was in practice not available to ‘old’ Auto Union’s western successor. The DKW F91 was replaced by the F93 followed by the F94, their names also taken from factory project numbers. Because the other names have proved increasingly unfathomable, the names F91, F93 and F94 are the ones commonly used retrospectively. It was perhaps in recognition that any perceived marketing advantages available from the unconventional namings had been exhausted, that from 1958 the car was sold simply as the DKW 900, the name being now conventionally based on the car’s approximate engine displacement. The successor model, already in production in 1957, also benefitted from this less challenging nomenclature. The F91 was presented as a two-door saloon with front opening doors which presumably facilitated access. A ‘pillarless’ coupe version, first seen in 1953, was produced from 1954, as well as a cabriolet, bodied by Osnabrück coach builders Karmann. In addition there was a three-door estate version, called the ‘Universal’, which continued to be offered unchanged until June 1957, by which time saloon buyers had been offered the F93, an upgraded version, for two years. Modifications came progressively. The coupe version had been launched with a ‘panoramic’ three piece wrap around back window, and in the back end of 1954 a similar wrap-around back window appeared on the two-door saloon. Advertising highlighted such features as a fuel gauge and an interior light that could be set to come on automatically when the door was opened. 1955 saw the launch of the F93 version, also known as the Grosse 3=6. This shared the 92.5 inch wheel-base of the F91, but was slightly longer, wider and taller. The track was also increased by 3.9 inches. In place of horizontal metal slats, the new model featured an oval shaped front grill containing five horizontal metal coloured slats. The oval grill was modified again in 1957 when the slats were replaced by a chrome coloured grid design. Inside there were improvements to the instrumentation and the heating. In 1957, with the introduction of the F94 version of the car, a four-door version finally became available. The four-door saloon’s wheel-base was extended by 3.9 inches over that of the two door: advertising continued to emphasise the DKW’s class leading interior spaciousness. 1957 was also the year when the F91 ‘Universal’ estate version was upgraded to an F94: it now incorporated many of features introduced two years earlier on the saloons. The cars were continually updated in the 1950s, and by 1953 the name 3=6 Sonderklasse had been adopted. Three cylinder two strokes were somewhat ambitiously touted as being as smooth as a 6 cylinder motor. Seen here was a 1955 3=6 Sonderklasse Limousine.
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.
A front-engined grand tourer, the 456 was produced from 1992 until 2003, as an overdue replacement for the long-defunct front-engined 412 as the company’s V12 four seater. Pietro Camardella and Lorenzo Ramaciotti at Pininfarina designed the original 456 which was available in GT and from 1996 in GTA forms. The difference in name signifies the transmission: the former has a six-speed manual and the latter has a four-speed automatic developed in partnership with FF Developments, in Livonia, MI (which was later purchased by Ricardo Engineering in the UK). This was only the fourth automatic transmission ever offered by Ferrari. The 5473 cc 65° V12 engine was derived from the Dino V6 rather than the more conventional 60° V12s used in the 412 and Daytona. It produced 442 PS with 4 valves per cylinder and Bosch Motronic M2.7 engine management. It could push the 1690 kg car and four passengers to 302 km/h (188 mph) making it the world’s fastest production four-seater. Acceleration to 100 km/h was just 5.2 seconds, with a 13.4 second quarter-mile time. At the time of its development it was the most powerful road car ever developed by Ferrari (aside from the F40). In 1996 engine was changed with Motronic M5.2 management and typed as F116C. The name 456, as was Ferrari practice, came from the fact that each cylinder displaces 456 cubic centimeters. This was the last Ferrari to use this naming convention. Despite its supercar performance, the 456 has a relatively unstressed engine, which has proven to be a very reliable unit. The chassis is a tubular steel spaceframe construction with a one-piece composite bonnet and body panels of aluminium. The body panels are welded to the chassis by using a special “sandwich filler” called feran that, when laid between, allows steel and aluminium to be welded. The Modificata 456M appeared in 1998, starting with chassis number 109589. Many changes were made to improve aerodynamics and cooling, and the interior – still featuring Connolly Leather – was freshened with new seats and other conveniences (fewer gauges on dash, and a new Becker stereo fitted in front of gear stick rather than behind as in the very shallow and special Sony head unit in the 456 GT). The 456 has a smaller grille with fog lights outside the grille, and lacked the bonnet-mounted air scoops. The undercarriage spoiler on the 456M is fixed, where the older 456 had a motorised spoiler that began its deployment above 105 km/h (65 mph). Power remained unchanged on the Modificata using Bosch Motronic M5.2 engine management at 442 PS; the cylinder firing order was changed for smoother running, and the torque remained the same for later versions of the 456 GT. The Tour de France Blue with Daytona Seats was the most desirable colour and leather combination. Approximately 3,289 of all versions were built, consisting of: 456 GT: 1,548; 456 GTA: 403; 456M GT: 688; 456M GTA: 650.
First deliveries of the Portofino, the replacement for the California T, have finally started and these cars will gradually become more evident at events, but with only a few out with their owners, this is still a rare car for the next few months at least.
Smallest Fiat here was this example of the Nuova 500. Known as project 110, the brief for the Nuova 500 was to create a micro-car that would not only carry on the tradition of the earlier Topolino, but which would also take sales away from the ever popular Lambretta and Vespa scooters of the day. It clearly needed to be smaller than the 600 which had been released with a conventional 4 cylinder engine. Not an easy task, but development started in 1953 and by August 1954, two designs were ready to be shown to Fiat management. They selected one, and serious development began. At first the car was referred to as the 400, as it was going to have a 400cc engine, but it was soon realised that this was just too small, so a larger 500cc air-cooled engine was developed. It was signed off in January 1956, with production starting in March 1957 in advance of a June launch. Fiat’s marketing department got busy, with hundreds of the new car taking to the streets of Turin, each with a pretty girl standing through the open sunroof that was a feature of all the early cars. The press loved it. 50 units were shipped to Britain, where the car made its debut at Brands Hatch, and again the reception was enthusiastic. But the orders just did not come in. Fiat went for a hasty rethink, relaunching the car at the Turin Show later that year. power was increased from 13 to 15 bhp, and the poverty spec was lessened a little, with headlight bezels, brightwork on the side and chrome hubcaps, a Nuova500 badge on the engine cover, winding side windows (the launch cars just had opening quarterlights) and the option of a heater fan. It was enough to get sales moving. The original car was still offered, at a lower price, called the Economy. In the first year of production, 28,452 Fiat 500s were made. Over the next 19 years, the car changed little in overall appearance, but there were a number of updates with more power and equipment added. A 500 Sport was launched in August 1958, with a more powerful version of the 499cc engine. It lost the soft top, having a ridged steel roof, to increase strength of the body. It was only available in grey with a red side flash. The first major changes came in 1960 with the 500D. This looks very similar to the Nuova, but with two key differences. One is the engine size: the D features an uprated 499 cc engine producing 17 bhp as standard, an engine which would be used right through until the end of the L in 1973; and the other is the roof: the standard D roof does not fold back as far as the roof on the Nuova, though it was also available as the “Transformable” with the same roof as the Nuova. The D still featured “suicide doors”. There were larger rear light clusters, more space in the front boot thanks to a redesign of the fuel tank and new indicators under the headlights. A year later, Fiat added a light on the rear-view mirrors and a windscreen washer, but the car still lacked a fuel gauge. Sales increased from 20,900 in 1960 to 87.000 in 1961, 132,000 in 1962 and by 1964, the last year of production, they hit 194,000 units. The D was replaced in 1965 by the 500F, which finally moved the door hinges from back to the front, owing to changes in Italian safety laws. There was a deeper windscreen and thinner door pillars, which increased the height of the car by 10mm, improving visibility for the driver. The 500F ran through to 1975, from 1968 alongside the more luxurious 500L which was added to the range in 1968. The L is easy to tell apart, with its bumper overriders. The final updates created the 500R, which incorporated many changes from the 126 under the skin of the classic shape, and in this form production continued alongside the newer 126 until 1976.
Sporting Escorts appeared only a matter of months after the launch of the regular 1100 and 1300cc cars. The first of these was a higher performance version designed for rallies and racing, the Escort Twin Cam. Built for Group 2 international rallying, it had an engine with a Lotus-made eight-valve twin camshaft head fitted to the 1.5 L non-crossflow block, which had a bigger bore than usual to give a capacity of 1,557 cc. This engine had originally been developed for the Lotus Elan. Production of the Twin Cam, which was originally produced at Halewood, was phased out as the Cosworth-engined RS1600 production began. The most famous edition of the Twin Cam was raced on behalf of Ford by Alan Mann Racing in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1968 and 1969, sporting a full Formula 2 Ford FVC 16-valve engine producing over 200 hp. The Escort, driven by Australian driver Frank Gardner went on to comfortably win the 1968 championship. The Mark I Escorts became successful as a rally car, and they eventually went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time with arguably the Escort’s greatest victory in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, co-driven by Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola and Swedish co-driver Gunnar Palm. This gave rise to the Escort Mexico, which had a 1600cc “crossflow”-engined, as a special edition road version in honour of the rally car. Introduced in November 1970, 10,352 Mexico Mark I’s were built. In addition to the Mexico, the RS1600 was developed with a 1,601 cc Cosworth BDA which used a Crossflow block with a 16-valve Cosworth cylinder head, named for “Belt Drive A Series”. Both the Mexico and RS1600 were built at Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) facility located at the Aveley Plant in South Essex. As well as higher performance engines and sports suspension, these models featured strengthened bodyshells utilising seam welding in places of spot welding, making them more suitable for competition. After updating the factory team cars with a larger 1701 cc Cosworth BDB engine in 1972 and then with fuel injected BDC, Ford also produced, in the autumn of 1973, an RS2000 model as an alternative to the somewhat temperamental RS1600, featuring a 2.0 litre Pinto OHC engine. This also clocked up some rally and racing victories; and pre-empted the hot hatch market as a desirable but affordable performance road car. Like the Mexico and RS1600, this car was produced at the Aveley plant.
There was a nice example of the Mark III Capri here, as well. Referred to internally as “Project Carla”, and although little more than a substantial update of the Capri II, it was often referred to as the Mk III. The first cars were available in March 1978, but failed to halt a terminal decline in sales. The concept of a heavily facelifted Capri II was shown at the 1976 Geneva show: a Capri II with a front very similar to the Escort RS2000 (with four headlamps and black slatted grille), and with a rear spoiler, essentially previewed the model some time before launch. The new styling cues, most notably the black “Aeroflow” grille (first used on the Mk I Fiesta) and the “sawtooth” rear lamp lenses echoed the new design language being introduced at that time by Ford of Europe’s chief stylist Uwe Bahnsen across the entire range. Similar styling elements were subsequently introduced in the 1979 Cortina 80, 1980 Escort Mk III and the 1981 Granada Mk IIb. In addition, the Mk III featured improved aerodynamics, leading to improved performance and economy over the Mk II and the trademark quad headlamps were introduced. At launch the existing engine and transmission combinations of the Capri II were carried over, with the 3.0 S model regarded as the most desirable model although the softer, more luxurious Ghia derivative with automatic, rather than manual transmission, was the bigger seller of the two V6-engined models. Ford began to focus their attention on the UK Capri market as sales declined, realising the car had something of a cult following there. Unlike sales of the contemporary 4-door Cortina, Capri sales in Britain were to private buyers who would demand less discounts than fleet buyers allowing higher margins with the coupé. Ford tried to maintain interest in 1977 with Ford Rallye Sport, Series X, “X Pack” options from the performance oriented RS parts range. Although expensive and slow selling these proved that the press would enthusiastically cover more developed Capris with higher performance. In early 1982, the Essex 3.0 V6 which had been the range topper since September 1969 was dropped, while a new sporty version debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, called the 2.8 Injection. The new model was the first regular model since the RS2600 to use fuel injection. Power rose to a claimed 160 PS, even though tests showed the real figure was closer to 150 PS, giving a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph), but the car still had a standard four-speed gearbox. The Capri 2.8 Injection breathed new life into the range and kept the car in production 2–3 years longer than Ford had planned. The four-speed gearbox was replaced with a five-speed unit early on – at the same time Ford swapped the dated looking chequered seats for more luxurious looking velour trim. A more substantial upgrade was introduced in 1984 with the Capri Injection Special. This development used half leather seating and included a limited slip differential. Externally the car could be easily distinguished by seven spoke RS wheels (without the customary “RS” logo since this was not an RS vehicle) and colour-coded grille and headlamp surrounds. At the same time the 2.0 Capri was rationalised to one model, the 2.0 S, which simultaneously adopted a mildly modified suspension from the Capri Injection. The 1.6 model was also reduced to a single model, the 1.6 LS. The car was finally deleted at the end of 1986, 1.9 million cars having been made over 18 years, and having been sold only in the UK for the final months of production.
Ford played much the same guessing game about whether there would be an RS version of the third generation car as they had done with the earlier versions. Production of the regular cars started in late 2010, but it was not until the 2015 Geneva Motor Show before the production ready MKIII Ford Focus RS was unveiled. It came packing the turbocharged 2.3-litre inline-four engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost. In the Focus RS, the engine itself produces 350 hp. Power is sent to all four wheels via Ford’s all-new Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive system with a rear drive unit designed by GKN, as well as upgraded suspension and brakes. As well as that, the new Focus RS will be fitted with Drive Modes – including an industry-first Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts – and Launch Control. The RS will boast a model specific aerodynamic package that helps to differentiate it from other Focus models. The RS is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds. Sales finally started in mid 2016, with long waiting lists having been created, though Ford did eventually catch up with expanded production levels allowing them to meet the demand.
In the early 1990s, Ginetta decided to re-enter the complete car business with the mid-engined G32 with a choice of 1.6- or 1.9-litre four-cylinder engine, available as a coupé or convertible and the G33 speedster which was equipped with a 3.9-litre Rover V8 capable of a top speed of 233 km/h (145 mph) and a 0-97 km/h acceleration time of 5 seconds. In 1990, the G32 coupé cost £13,700, the convertible £14,600, and the G33 £17,800.
The Minx sold between 1945 and 1947 had the same 1185 cc side-valve engine, the same wheelbase and virtually the same shape as the prewar Minx. This postwar Minx became known as the Minx Mark I (or Minx Phase I).This was the first Minx with a protruding boot (trunk) that nodded to the Ponton, three-box design by then replacing the ‘flat back’ look, inherited from models that had debuted in the 1930s. Between 1947 and 1948, Hillman offered a modified version they called the Minx Mark II. A much more modern looking Minx, the Mark III, was sold from 1948. Three different body styles were offered initially, these being saloon, estate car and drophead coupé (convertible). Beneath the metal, however, and apart from updated front suspension, little had changed: the Mark III retained the 1185 cc side-valve engine of its predecessor. Claimed power output, at 35 bhp, was also unchanged. However, in 1949 the old engine was bored out and compression ratio increased, for the Minx Mark IV, to 1265 cc, and power output increased by 7 per cent to 37.5 bhp. A Mark IV saloon tested by The Motor magazine in 1949 had a top speed of 67 mph and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 39.7 seconds. A fuel consumption of 32.1 mpg was recorded. The test car cost £505 including taxes, the price including radio (£36), over-riders (£5) and heater (£18). The Mark V, introduced in 1951, featured side chromium trim and a floor mounted handbrake. The Mark VI of 1953 featured a new grille, revised combustion chambers and a two-spoke steering wheel. A fourth body variation was added, badged as the Hillman Minx Californian, a two-door hard-top coupé with, slightly unusually, a b-pillar that wound down out of sight along with the rear side window to give an unbroken window line when all windows were fully opened: the rear window assembly was of a three-piece wrap-around form. The wheelbase and overall length of the car remained the same as those of the four-door saloon and convertible permutations. The Mark VII, also introduced in 1953, featured longer rear mudguards and a bigger boot. For the Mark VIII, in 1954, a new ohv 1390 cc engine was installed. This engine, two years later, went into the first of the new “Audax series” Minxes.
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 was a further examples of the SS100 here.
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.
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.
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.
Bringing things right uptodate was the latest addition ot the range the SVR version of the F Pace.
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.
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. There was a B20 GT coupe model here.
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.
Although their sales only amounted to a small fraction of the total number of first generation Delta cars produced, it is the Integrale models which are best known these days, and the ones you most often see. It may be over 20 years since the last one was produced, but everyone, even youngsters, knows what they are, and just about everyone lusts after them, declaring them as a clear candidate for their Dream Garage. I know that I would certainly have one in mine! Seen here were a number of examples, with Mike Butcher’s lovely car that I had first seen at the January photo shoot joined by some red models. The Integrale evolved over several years, starting off as the HF Turbo 4WD that was launched in April 1986, to homologate a new rally car for Lancia who needed something to fill the void left by the cancellation of Group B from the end of 1986. The Delta HF 4X4 had a four-wheel drive system with an in-built torque-splitting action. Three differentials were used. Drive to the front wheels was linked through a free-floating differential; drive to the rear wheels was transmitted via a 56/44 front/rear torque-splitting Ferguson viscous-coupling-controlled epicyclic central differential. At the rear wheels wa a Torsen (torque sensing) rear differential. It divided the torque between the wheels according to the available grip, with a maximum lockup of 70%. The basic suspension layout of the Delta 4WD remained the same as in the rest of the two-wheel drive Delta range: MacPherson strut–type independent suspension with dual-rate dampers and helicoidal springs, with the struts and springs set slightly off-centre. The suspension mounting provided more isolation by incorporating flexible rubber links. Progressive rebound bumpers were adopted, while the damper rates, front and rear toe-in and the relative angle between springs and dampers were all altered. The steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. The car looked little different from the front wheel drive models. In September 1987, Lancia showed a more sophisticated version of the car, the Delta HF Integrale 8V. This version incorporated some of the features of the Delta HF 4WD into a road car. The engine was an 8-valve 2 litre fuel injected 4-cylinder, with balancing shafts. The HF version featured new valves, valve seats and water pump, larger water and oil radiators, more powerful cooling fan and bigger air cleaner. A larger capacity Garrett T3 turbocharger with improved air flow and bigger inter-cooler, revised settings for the electronic injection/ignition control unit and a knock sensor, boosting power output to 185 bhp at 5300 rpm and maximum torque of 224 lb/ft at 3500 rpm. The HF Integrale had permanent 4-wheel drive, a front transversely mounted engine and five-speed gearbox. An epicyclic centre differential normally split the torque 56 per cent to the front axle, 44 per cent to the rear. A Ferguson viscous coupling balanced the torque split between front and rear axles depending on road conditions and tyre grip. The Torsen rear differential further divided the torque delivered to each rear wheel according to grip available. A shorter final drive ratio (3.111 instead of 2.944 on the HF 4WD) matched the larger 6.5×15 wheels to give 24 mph/1000 rpm in fifth gear. Braking and suspension were uprated to 284 mm ventilated front discs, a larger brake master cylinder and servo, as well as revised front springs, dampers, and front struts. Next update was to change the engine from 8 valves to 16. The 16v Integrale was introduced at the 1989 Geneva Motorshow, and made a winning debut on the 1989 San Remo Rally. It featured a raised centre of the bonnet to accommodate the new 16 valve engine, as well as wider wheels and tyres and new identity badges front and rear. The torque split was changed to 47% front and 53% rear. The turbocharged 2-litre Lancia 16v engine now produced 200 bhp at 5500 rpm, for a maximum speed of 137 mph and 0–100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Changes included larger injectors, a more responsive Garrett T3 turbocharger, a more efficient intercooler, and the ability to run on unleaded fuel without modification. The first Evoluzione cars were built at the end of 1991 and through 1992. These were to be the final homologation cars for the Lancia Rally Team; the Catalytic Evoluzione II was never rallied by the factory. The Evoluzione I had a wider track front and rear than earlier Deltas. The bodyside arches were extended and became more rounded. The wings were now made in a single pressing. The front strut top mounts were also raised, which necessitated a front strut brace. The new Integrale retained the four wheel drive layout. The engine was modified to produce 210 bhp at 5750 rpm. External changes included: new grilles in the front bumper to improve the air intake for engine compartment cooling; a redesigned bonnet with new lateral air slats to further assist underbonnet ventilation; an adjustable roof spoiler above the tailgate; new five-bolt wheels with the same design of the rally cars; and a new single exhaust pipe. Interior trim was now grey Alcantara on the Recaro seats, as fitted to the earlier 16V cars; leather and air conditioning were offered as options, as well as a leather-covered Momo steering wheel. Presented in June 1993, the second Evolution version of the Delta HF Integrale featured an updated version of the 2-litre 16-valve turbo engine to produce more power, as well as a three-way catalyst and Lambda probe. A Marelli integrated engine control system with an 8 MHz clock frequency which incorporates: timed sequential multipoint injection; self-adapting injection times; automatic idling control; engine protection strategies depending on the temperature of intaken air; Mapped ignition with two double outlet coils; Three-way catalyst and pre-catalyst with lambda probe (oxygen sensor) on the turbine outlet link; anti-evaporation system with air line for canister flushing optimised for the turbo engine; new Garrett turbocharger: water-cooled with boost-drive management i.e. boost controlled by feedback from the central control unit on the basis of revs/throttle angle; Knock control by engine block sensor and new signal handling software for spark park advance, fuel quantity injected, and turbocharging. The engine now developed 215 PS as against 210 PS on the earlier uncatalysed version and marginally more torque. The 1993 Integrale received a cosmetic and functional facelift that included. new 16″ light alloy rims with 205/45 ZR 16 tyres; body colour roof moulding to underline the connection between the roof and the Solar control windows; aluminium fuel cap and air-intake grilles on the front mudguards; red-painted cylinder head; new leather-covered three-spoke MOMO steering wheel; standard Recaro seats upholstered in beige Alcantara with diagonal stitching. In its latter years the Delta HF gave birth to a number of limited and numbered editions, differing mainly in colour, trim and equipment; some were put on general sale, while others were reserved to specific markets, clubs or selected customers.
Introduced in 1967, the Elan +2 had a longer wheelbase and two rear seats and so was intended for those Lotus customers who needed space to carry (small) people in the back, without sacrificing the same basic principles which made the Elan so appealing. A fast and agile sport coupe, a number of different engines were fitted over the years, with the later models having 130 bhp and a 5 speed gearbox at their disposal, which gave a top speed of 120 mph and 0–60 acceleration of 7.9 seconds and 0-100 mph 21.8 seconds. 5,200 Elans +2 were made, with production ceasing in 1975. Fewer than 1,200 of these cars remain on the roads today. Their relative rarity, beautiful lines, impressive performance and practicality are the main factors for the rising interest on these cars among collectors.
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.
Sole Maserati that I came across, apart from my own, which I don’t appear to have photographed was this GranTurismo.
The Mercedes range of the 1960s was quite complex, with body styles and mechanical updates proceeding at a different rate, and even by referring to the cars by their internal development codes (the “W” number), they are still quite hard to define unambiguously. In the W111 family, the Coupe was the first to appear, a replacement for the two-door W120 “Ponton” models, and work on it began in 1957. Since most of the chassis and drivetrain were to be unified with the sedan, the scope was focused on the exterior styling. Some of the mockups and prototypes show that Mercedes-Benz attempted to give the two-door car a front styling almost identical to what would be realised in the Pagoda (W113), but ultimately favoured the work of engineer Paul Bracq. The rear featured small tailfins, subtle compared to the fintails’ and evocative of the later squarish styling of the W108/W109. Production began in late 1960, with the coupe making its debut at the 75th anniversary of the opening of Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart in February of the next year. The convertible followed at the Frankfurt Auto Show a few months later. Almost identical to the coupe, its soft-top roof folded into a recess behind the rear seat and was covered by a tightly fitting leather “boot” in the same colour as the seats. Unlike the previous generation of two-door ponton series, the 220SE designation was used for both the coupe and convertible; both received the same version of the 2195 cc M127 engine. Options included a sliding sunroof for the coupe, automatic transmission, power steering, and individual rear seats. In March 1962, Mercedes-Benz released the exclusive two-door M189-powered 300SE. Like the 300 sedan, it was based on the W111 chasis but shared both Daimler’s top-range 2996 cm3 fuel-injected engine and the unique W112 chassis designation, efforts on Mercedes’ part to distance it from the maker’s modest W110 and W111 lineups and link it to the prestigious W188 300S two-door luxury sports tourer. It was distinguished by a chrome strip, and featured air suspension and a higher level of interior trim and finish. In summer of 1965, Mercedes-Benz launched replacements for both W111 and W112 sedans, the W108 and W109 respectively. With the tailfin fashion well eroded by the mid 1960s, the new design was based on the restrained W111 coupe, widened and squared off. Work on a future new chassis that would fully replace the Ponton-derived W111/W112 and W108/W109 was well under way. With a concept car of the first S-Class shown in 1967, Daimler declined to develop a two-door W108/W109 vehicle, instead continuing production of the aging W111/W112 with modest changes. The 220SE was superseded in early autumn 1965 by the 250SE, which featured the new 2496 cm3 M129 engine. Producing 150 hp. it gave the vehicle a significant improvement in top speed, to 120 mph. Visibly the only changes affected the new 14-inch rims, which came with new hub cabs and beauty rings accommodating the larger disk brakes and new rear axle from the W108 family. In November 1967 the 250 SE was superseded by the 280 SE. It was powered by the new 2778 cc M130 engine, which produced 160 hp. The top speed was hardly affected, but acceleration improved to 10.5 seconds. Inside the car received a wood veneer option on the dashboard and other minor changes, including door lock buttons and different heater levers. The hubcaps were changed yet again to a new one piece wheelcover, and the exterior mirror was changed. Despite its smaller engine, the 280 SE could outperform the early 1950s M189 powered 300 SE, resulting in the more expensive model’s retirement. The coupe and cabriolet retained their shared model model designation until replaced by a new-generation chassis in 1968. A final model was added in August 1969, the 280 SE 3.5. The car was fitted with the brand-new M116 3499 cc V8. It produced 200 hp, and had a top speed of 130 mph and a 0-100 km/h at 9.5 seconds. To accommodate the large engine, the car’s front grille was widened; front and rear bumpers were also modified with the addition of rubber strips. The rear lenses changed to a flatter cleaner design. This change was carried across the standard 280 SE. As the top of its range, the 280 SE 3.5 is seen as an ideological successor to the W112 300 SE, though it lacked the W112’s air suspension. The last 280 SE was produced in January 1971, with the 280 SE 3.5 ending in July. The total production over the decade was: 220 SEb – 16,902, 250 SE – 6,213, 280 SE – 5,187, and 280 SE 3.5 – 4,502 units. Not including 3,127 W112 300 SE models, the grand total of 2-door W111 models was 32,804 of which 7,456 were convertibles. These days the cars are much sought after and prices, especially for the convertible, are high and still rising.
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.
Successor to the Y Series was the Magnette ZA, announced on 15 October 1953 and debuted at the 1953 London Motor Show. Deliveries started in March 1954. Production continued until 1956, when 18,076 had been built. It was the first monocoque car to bear the MG badge. The Magnette was designed by Gerald Palmer, designer of the Jowett Javelin. It was the first appearance of the new four cylinder 1489 cc B-Series engine with twin 1¼ inch SU carburettors delivering 60 bhp driving the rear wheels through BMC’s new four speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on the top three ratios. Suspension was independent at the front using coil springs and had a live axle with half elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The steering was by rack and pinion. Hydraulically operated Lockheed 10 in (254 mm) drum brakes were fitted to front and rear wheels. When leaving the factory the Magnette ZA originally fitted the recently developed belted textile-braced, radial-ply Pirelli Cinturato 165HR14 tyres (CA67). The car had leather trimmed individual front seats and rear bench seat. The dashboard and door cappings were in polished wood. Although the heater was standard, the radio was still an optional extra. Standard body colours were black, maroon, green, and grey. The ZA was replaced by the Magnette ZB that was on announced 12 October 1956. Power was increased to 64 hp by fitting 1½ inch carburettors, increasing the compression ratio from 7.5 to 8.3, and modifying the manifold. The extra power increased the top speed to 86 mph and reduced the 0-60 mph time to 18.5 seconds. A semi-automatic transmission, marketed as Manumatic was fitted as an option on 496 1957 Magnettes. A Varitone model featured larger rear window and optional two tone paintwork, using a standard Pressed Steel body shell, the rear window opening enlarged in the Morris Motors body shop, Cowley, before painting 18,524 ZBs were built.
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.
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.
In advance of the all-new MX5 rival that was still some way off production, MG decided to re-enter the open topped sports car market in 1992 when they launched the MGR V8, which combined new body panels with the standard MGB body shell to create an updated MGB model. The suspension was only slightly updated, sharing the leaf spring rear of the MGB. The boot lid and doors were shared with the original car, as were the rear drum brakes. The engine was the 3.9-litre version of the aluminium Rover V8, similar to the one previously used in the MGB GT V8. A limited-slip differential was also fitted. The interior featured veneered burr elm woodwork and Connolly Leather. The engine produced 190 bhp at 4,750 rpm, achieving 0–60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which was fast but largely due to the rear drum brakes and rear leaf springs, the RV8 was not popular with road testers at the time. A large proportion of the limited production went to Japan – 1579 of the 2000 produced. Only 330 RV8s were sold initially in the UK, but several hundred (possibly as many as 700) of these cars were re-imported back to the UK and also Australia between 2000–2010 with a peak number of 485 registered at the DVLA in the UK.
Following the successful showing of the Mitsubishi HSR and Mitsubishi HSX concept cars at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show, Mitsubishi unveiled the new GTO as a 2+2 seating grand touring car in order to compete with the Mazda Cosmo, Nissan 300ZX, Subaru SVX, and the Toyota Supra. They resurrected the GTO name, and the car went on to serve as Mitsubishi’s flagship for the remainder of the decade. Despite the cachet of the badge at home, it was marketed as the Mitsubishi 3000GT and as the Dodge Stealth outside Japan; the company was concerned that connoisseurs would object to the evocative nameplate from the highly regarded Ferrari 250 GTO and Pontiac GTO being used on a Japanese vehicle. Each was built on the same production line at Mitsubishi’s plant in Nagoya, Japan. Its Japanese introduction coincided with the softening Japanese economy, subsequently known as the “bubble economy”. Early models were internally designated Z16A and incorporated full-time four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, active aerodynamics with automatically adjusting front and rear spoilers, sport/tour exhaust modes and electronically controlled suspension (ECS). The GTO, 3000GT and Stealth featured pop-up headlights and articulated blister caps on the hood to accommodate the ECS controllers at the top of the strut turrets. The Dodge Stealth featured a signature cross-hair front bumper fascia and crescent-shaped rear spoiler — and did not include active aerodynamics. In 1993 the engine went to a 4 bolt main and a forged crankshaft, some of the early models in 1993 still received the cast crank present in the first years. In the U.S., both the 1991 to 1993 Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo and Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 received the transversely mounted 24V V6 paired with a long ratio 5-speed manual. The base model Stealth was the only model to feature crank windows, without the sunroof it weighted at 3075 pounds or 1395kg. All the other models received electronic windows (automatic on the driver side). Automatic climate control was standard on all turbo models. The Stealth turbo weights 3800 pounds compared to the 3814 pounds of the VR-4. The non turbo 3000gt (with sunroof) weights 3373 pounds and 3200 without the sunroof. Electronically adjustable leather seats were standard on all US VR-4 while the GTO in japan were offered with slightly lighter cloth seats. Magazines from the era praised its brutal acceleration and AWD grip. By 1993 all electronic gadgets were still standard on the VR-4 model, with magazines quoting 0-60 mph acceleration times ranging from sub 5 seconds to 6.3 seconds and quarter mile times of 13.6-13.9 seconds at 95–98 mph. A number of updates were made during the next few years, though the car remained very much a low-volume model in the UK, the majority of sales being in the US and Japan.
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, as well as the recently launched 3 wheeler.
Also here was an Aero 8, the first new design from the Malvern Link company for over 35 years. Morgan’s first supercar, the first run of Aero models was unveiled at the Geneva motorshow in 2000 by Charles Morgan, it was in his words “the result of the biggest development project ever undertaken by the Morgan Motor Company”. The result of many years of hard work, a development programme that included racing in the FIA GT series and a partnership with BMW. Whilst the car structure comes as pre-formed bonded aluminium elements significant work goes into hand making the overall vehicle continuing the handmade history of the company. The method of building the car was ahead of most companies in the marketplace and represented a dramatic shift for the company. The superformed and bonded aluminium chassis has elements of an ash frame to provide a link to the more traditional cars. It was designed by Chris Lawrence who had a long standing relationship with Morgan and included many features of racing cars of the time. Items such as in-board shock absorbers, double wishbones all round, a flat floor, centre lock magnesium wheels, rose-jointed suspension and other elements were included providing significant handling improvements over previous models. Complete with a bespoke aluminium chassis, all independent suspension and powered by a 4.4 litre BMW V8 engine (M62TUB44) producing 286 bhp at 5500 rpm and 322 lbs-ft (430Nm) at 3750 rpm this was a radical departure from the traditionally built Morgans. Performance was 0 to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 160 mph. The interior had a turned aluminium dashboard, unusual asymmetric design and a custom made Burberry case for use as a removable glovebox, along with nods to modern services such as cruise control, air-conditioning and a heated windscreen. With many elements from BMW including the engine, gearbox and axle to push 1100kgs the performance was on a par with Ferraris, Porsches, TVRs and other supercars of the day. Whilst the car did include an LSD the absence of other stability and traction aids mean the driver had total control over the car. Famous for its cross-eyed squint courtesy of the reversed VW Beetle headlamps, this was a culmination of both aerodynamic requirements and availability of light units at the time. Initially Porsche lights had been trialled along with the yet to be released new Mini units, the Mini lights were a favourite but BMW didn’t want the first model to launch their new headlights to be the Aero so these were not an option. Aerodynamically (extensive wind tunnel testing was carried out at MIRA – another Morgan first) Morgan needed a way to allow the leading edge of the front wings to be forward of the radiator, thus providing space to incorporate a front splitter. The VW Beetle headlamps were spotted by Chris Lawrence who invisaged reversing them to give the perfect angle to meet the aerodynamic requirements, and thus the cross-eyed look was born. Around 210 Series 1 cars were made with many smaller changes being made to the car over this period internally and externally. The Series 2 of the Aero 8 was launched at the 2004 Los Angeles Motor Show. This was the first Aero that was made for sale in North America. It was called the Aero Series 2 or Aero America as a result. The back of the car was changed in a number of ways. The petrol tank was repositioned to comply with US rear impact regulations. The boot lid was raised to improve aero-dynamics and storage. The previous folding roof was changed for a pram style changing the shape from the previous low “gangster” style roof of the Series 1. Now using the BMW V8 4.4L engine N62B44 333 bhp at 6,100 rpm and 331 lb-ft (450Nm) at 3,600 rpm using VarioCam on the inlet manifold. The factory offered single side exit exhausts as an option with the exit just in front of the rear wheels on each side. The new V8 provided a top speed of 160 mph with 0 to 62 mph acceleration in 4.8 seconds. Further revisions included a conversion to standard 5 stud wheels, uprated gearbox, brakes and other elements of the running gear. The car retained the same overall dimensions but internal space was increased by moving the doors further out and making the wings/running boards narrower over the Series 1. The unusual asymmetric dashboard of the Series 1 was replaced with a more conventionally styled dashboard however the fly-off handbrake was retained. Something in the region of 60 cars (both LHD and RHD) were produced. The third iteration of the Aero was largely around adding the new style Mini headlamps with changes to the wings and front panels resolving the famous squint of the earlier cars. It retained the interior and mechanical platform of the Series 2. This new front design went on to be used on the new AeroMax and subsequent Aero models. Version 4 of the Morgan Aero 8 saw the 3rd new engine in the life of the vehicle; the BMW 4.4 V8 has been replaced with the BMW 4.8 V8 (N62B48) with 362 bhp and 370 lb/ft of torque. This 13% power increase over the previous Aero gives the new Series 4 Aero 8 a power to weight ratio of 315bhp per tonne. A first for the Aero 8 also comes in the form of an optional automatic transmission; Morgan state: – ZFs 6 HP26 six speed gives even better performance than a manual gearbox due to its special lock up clutch, low power loss design and instant change characteristic. The automatic is usable either as a full automatic for more relaxed driving or in sport manual mode when the bespoke gear lever will hold the engine revs up to the maximum in each gear, increase change speed and blip the throttle to smooth down changes. In addition to these technical changes, a repositioned fuel tank (to improve the weight distribution), revised instrumentation (from cream dials with blue numerals to black with white), an increase in luggage space, revised air vents, a move to a conventional handbrake lever and air intakes and exits on the front wings distinguish the Series 4 Aero 8 from previous models. 179 of these were produced between 2007 and 2010.
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.
Now rare, this 180B Estate was once quite a common sight on our roads. Nissan nibbled away at the market sector dominated throughout the 1970s by the Cortina with their rival, the Bluebird which scored on equipment and reliability even if the styling was not to everyone’s tastes. The range launched in 1980, the last to be conventionally engineered with rear wheel drive, even addressed the styling, with much more conservative and western-looking lines. The cars came with four door saloon, two door coupe and estate bodies and most of them had a 1.8 litre engine. Production ceased in 1984 when a new front wheel drive car arrived.
This is a replica of the 550RS. Inspired by the Porsche 356, and some spyder prototypes built and raced by Walter Glöckler starting in 1951, the factory decided to build a car designed for use in auto racing. The model Porsche 550 Spyder was introduced at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. The 550 was very low to the ground, in order to be efficient for racing. In fact, former German Formula One racer Hans Herrmann drove it under closed railroad crossing gates during the 1954 Mille Miglia. The first three hand built prototypes came in a coupé with a removable hardtop. The first (550-03) raced as a roadster at the Nurburgring Eifel Race in May 1953 winning its first race. Over the next couple of years, the Werks Porsche team evolved and raced the 550 with outstanding success and was recognized wherever it appeared. The Werks cars were provided with differently painted tail fins to aid recognition from the pits. Hans Herrmann’s particularly famous ‘red-tail’ car No 41 went from victory to victory. Porsche was the first car manufacturer to get race sponsorship which was through Fletcher Aviation, who Porsche was working with to design a light aircraft engine and then later adding Telefunken and Castrol. For such a limited number of 90 prototype and customer builds, the 550 Spyder was always in a winning position, usually finishing in the top three results in its class. The beauty of the 550 was that it could be driven to the track, raced and then driven home, which showed the flexibility of being both a road and track car. Each Spyder was individually designed and customised to be raced and although from the pits it was difficult to identify the sometimes six 550s in the race, the aid of colouring tail spears along the rear wheel fenders, enabled the teams to see their cars. The racing Spyders were predominantly silver in colour, similar to the factory colour of the Mercedes, but there were other splashes of blue, red, yellow and green in the tail spears making up the Porsche palette on the circuit. Each Spyder was assigned a number for the race and had gumballs positioned on doors, front and rear, to be seen from any angle. On some 550s owned by privateers, a crude hand written number scrawled in house paint usually served the purpose. Cars with high numbers assigned such as 351, raced in the 1000 mile Mille Miglia, where the number represented the start time of 3.51am. On most occasions, numbers on each Spyder would change for each race entered, which today helps identify each 550 by chassis number and driver in period black and white photos. The later 1956 evolution version of the model, the 550A, which had a lighter and more rigid spaceframe chassis, gave Porsche its first overall win in a major sports car racing event, the 1956 Targa Florio. Its successor from 1957 onwards, the Porsche 718, commonly known as the RSK was even more successful. The Spyder variations continued through the early 1960s, the RS 60 and RS 61. A descendant of the Porsche 550 is generally considered to be the Porsche Boxster S 550 Spyder; the Spyder name was effectively resurrected with the RS Spyder Le Mans Prototype.
The 911 continued to evolve throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, though changes initially were quite small. The SC 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 colour-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.
Based on the 964 model, just 930 of these were built – most with the narrow body. The 964 Speedster had no air conditioning, electric windows or airbags, but it did get specially-trimmed seats from the 911 Carrera RS and a top that was supposed to be easier to operate.
I’ve seen this 1963 Ambassador 990 at a number of Prescott events in recent times. The Ambassador was the top-of-the-line automobile produced by the American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 1958 until 1974. The vehicle was known as the AMC Ambassador, Ambassador V-8 by Rambler, and Rambler Ambassador at various times during its tenure in production. Previously, the name Ambassador had applied to Nash’s “senior” full-size cars and indeed the Ambassador nameplate was used continuously from 1927 until 1974 (the name being a top-level trim line between 1927 and 1931); at the time it was discontinued, Ambassador was the longest continuously used nameplate in automotive history. The car seen here was the fourth generation of the Rambler-badged cars to bear the name. In 1962 Romney had left AMC to run for Governor of Michigan, a position that he won. The automaker’s new president, Roy Abernethy, who was responsible for the increasing sales under Romney, reacted to the mounting competition (in 1963 AMC built as many cars as they had in 1960, but overall total car sales had increased so much that it gave AMC only sixth place in production; the same output in 1960 had put them third) in a logical way: “Let’s get rid of this Romney image.” A completely redesigned larger Rambler line-up appeared. The new cars continued the philosophy in building smaller cars than its larger “Big Three” competitors that also had a high degree of interchangeability in parts to keep tooling costs and production complexity to a minimum. The company, which pioneered “styling continuity”, introduced all-new styling for the 1963 model year Ambassadors and claimed that these were “functional changes …. not change just for the sake of change.” The Ambassadors featured a 4-inch longer wheelbase, but were 1.2-inch shorter due to reduced front and rear body overhangs, as well as a 3-inch drop in over-all height. Designed by Richard A. Teague, the 1963 Ambassador’s shape was much tighter, cleaner, and smoother, with almost all of its parts interchangeable between it and the new Classic. All Ambassadors used unitised structure instead of the more rattle-prone, traditional body-on-frame construction which was still the industry standard. In 1963, AMC’s new 112 in wheelbase cars (Ambassadors and Classics) used a revolutionary method of unit construction which has since been almost universally adopted by automobile manufacturers. AMC Ambassador and Classics used outerpanels stamped from single sheet metal panels which included both door frames and outer rocker panels. This resulted in an extremely rigid and rattle-free structure, better fit of doors into frames, production cost savings and reduced noise, vibration and harshness. The “uniside” structure was superior to the conventional production methods in which multiple smaller pieces were welded together. There were 30% fewer parts and the result was greater structural rigidity, quieter car operation, and an over-all weight reduction of about 150 pounds. Curved side glass and push-button door handles were new and costly upgrades, but contributed to the new Rambler’s handsome, elegant, and modern Mercedes-like bodyside styling, by adding greater elegance in detail. At the time, curved side glass was used only in much more expensive luxury cars, but increased interior room and visibility, as well as reducing wind noise and improved proportions and styling of the cars. The Ambassador also featured a squared-off Thunderbird-type roofline. The front end featured a forward-thrusting upper and lower ends with a vertical bar “electric shaver” chrome grille insert. The Ambassador’s grille was differentiated from the Classic’s grille by its use of the Ambassador name in script in the small horizontal bar between the upper and lower grille sections. Round quad headlights were slightly recessed in chrome bezels mounted side-by-side within the grille at its outermost edges. Overall, the new Ambassadors were described by the staff of Automotive Fleet magazine as “probably the finest looking cars ever produced by American Motors.” Ambassadors once again came in 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan, and 4-door wagon body styles, but new trim lines debuted. A “Mercedes-like three-number model designation was developed” with the 800 as the Ambassador’s base line (replacing the previous year’s Super model) for the police, taxi, and fleet market, a 880 model (in place of the Custom), and the up level 990 trim (replacing the previous 400 models). The 1963 Ambassadors were offered only with the 327 cu in (5.4 litre) V8, in either 250 hp 2-barrel or 270 hp 4-barrel versions. AMC’s smaller 287 cu in (4.7 litre) V8 engine was only offered in the Classic line. The automatic transmission was controlled by a steering column mounted lever, replacing the previous pushbutton system. Maintenance was reduced with service intervals of the front wheel bearings increased from 12,000–25,000 miles, the recommended engine oil change was at 4,000 miles, and all Ambassador models included an alternator and an electronic voltage regulator as standard equipment. Sales were brisk, and the redesign was billed a success, with Motor Trend Magazine bestowing Car of the Year status on the entire 1963 Rambler line, including the Ambassador. The marketing formula for the Ambassador generated record sales for the model with buyers favoring more luxury and features as evidenced by the Ambassador 990 models outselling the 880 versions by nearly 2-to-1, while the base 800 model had a total of only 43 two-door sedans built. The automaker did not have the resources of GM, Ford, and Chrysler, nor the sales volume to spread out its new model tooling and advertising costs over large production volumes; however, Richard Teague “turned these economical cars into smooth, streamlined beauties with tons of options and V-8 pep.” The 1964 model year introduced minor trim changes and new options. The “electric-shaver” grille on the 1963 model was replaced with a flush-mounted design, and the engine and transmission options were widened. A two-door hardtop body style called 990-H was added for the first time since 1957. Base 880 and the 880 models were dropped from the line. The 1964 Ambassadors featured the 250 hp 2-barrel 327 cu in (5.4 litre) V8 as standard, with the 4-barrel 270 hp version as optional. The automaker did not offer a 4-speed manual transmission to compete with the sporty mid-size V8 offerings from Ford or GM. Instead, AMC offered its innovative “Twin-Stick” manual transmission. The “Twin stick” option consisted a three-speed manual transmission, operated by one of the two console mounted “sticks” in conjunction with an overdrive unit that was controlled by the second “stick” in both 2nd and 3rd gears. This gave the driver the option of using five forward gears. One magazine noted the Twin-Stick, 270 hp Ambassador was heading for a sub 16-second quarter-mile when they blew up the clutch. A new generation 990 model was introduced for 1965.
The Megane Renault Sport 230 Renault F1 Team R26 is a version that commemorates the success of Renault in the Formula 1 World Championship with the 2005 Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship titles. It is based on the facelifted Mégane RS. The engine is rated at 227 hp at 5,500 rpm and 310 Nm (229 lb/ft) at 3,000 rpm. It incorporates the improved version of the Cup Chassis package, which includes 18-inch Anthracite spoked alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 235/40 R18 tyres, Brembo front and rear red brake calipers and an increased brake master cylinder diameter, plus revised stiffened steering. Other features include a sport exhaust, Recaro seats, climate control, 4×15-watt RDS radio single CD/MP3 player with 6 speakers, Renault F1 decals, numbered plaque, limited slip differential and a rear spoiler. The car weights 1,355 kg (2,987 lb) kerb, 1,820 kg (4,012 lb) gross. It was widely regarded as one of the best hot hatches of its era.
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.
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.
Oldest of a number of TR models here was a TR2. By the start of the 1950s, Standard’s Triumph Roadster was out-dated and under-powered. Company boss Sir John Black tried to acquire the Morgan Motor Company but failed. He still wanted an affordable sports car, so a prototype two-seater was built on a shortened version of the Standard Eight’s chassis and powered by the Standard Vanguard’s 2-litre straight-4. The resulting Triumph 20TS prototype was revealed at the 1952 London Motor Show. Black asked BRM development engineer and test driver Ken Richardson to assess the 20TS. After he declared it to be a “death trap” a project was undertaken to improve on the design; a year later the TR2 was revealed. It had better looks; a simple ladder-type chassis; a longer body; and a bigger boot. The car had a 2 litre four-cylinder Standard wet liner inline-four engine from the Vanguard, fitted with twin H4 type SU Carburettors and tuned to increase its output to 90 bhp. The body was mounted on a substantial separate chassis with coil-sprung independent suspension at the front and a leaf spring live axle at the rear. Either wire or disc wheels could be supplied. The transmission was a four-speed manual unit, with optional top gear overdrive. Lockheed drum brakes were fitted all round. It was loved by American buyers, and became the best earner for Triumph. In 1955 the TR3 came out with more power; a re-designed grille; and a GT package that included a factory hard-top. A total of 8,636 TR2s were produced before it was replaced by the TR3 in 1955. A surprising number have survived with over 400 believed to be in the UK and a further 1800 in the United States.
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.
Replacement for the TR4 was – predictably – the Triumph TR5, which was built for a 13-month period between August 1967 and September 1968. Visually identical to the Michelotti styled TR4,the TR5 hid the main differences under the body. The most significant change from the TR4 was the 2.5-litre straight-6 fuel-injected engine, developing around 145 hp, and which was carried forward to the TR6. At the time, fuel injection (or PI petrol injection, as it was sometimes then called) was uncommon in road cars. Triumph claimed in their sales brochure that it was the “First British production sports car with petrol injection”. Sadly, it was also somewhat troublesome, with mechanical issues a common occurrence. A carburetted version of the TR5 named Triumph TR250 was manufactured during the same period, to be sold in place of the fuel injected car on the North American market. A few of these have now been brought over to the UK and indeed there were both TR250 and TR5 cars here. The Triumph TR250, built during the same period for the North American market, was nearly identical to the TR5. But, because of price pressures and emission regulations the TR250 was fitted with twin Zenith-Stromberg carburettors rather than the Lucas fuel injection system. The reasons for this difference came down to price pressures of the American market, and tighter emissions regulations. The TR250’s straight-six engine delivered 111 bhp , 39 bhp less than the TR5; 0–60 mph acceleration took 10.6 seconds. Standard equipment on both models included front disc brakes, independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering and a four speed gearbox. Optional extras included overdrive and wire wheels. Both the TR5 and the TR250 were available with the “Surrey Top” hard top system: a weather protection system with rigid rear section including the rear window and removable fabric section over the driver and passenger’s heads.
Also here were that car’s successor, the TR6, and 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.
Envisioned as a luxury sports car, the Stag 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.
Three years after the launch of the Herald, Triumph created a more sporting version by putting a 1600cc 6 cylinder engine under the bonnet, calling the result the Vitesse. Handling of the early cars, on their swing axle suspension was best described as “interesting”, but Triumph worked hard to revise (tame!) it so by the time that the 2 litre models were launched in 1965, the car was rather easier to drive briskly on bendy roads. A Mark 2 version was launched in 1968, with new front end styling and other trim differences, and the model lived on until 1971.
The first Turner models were produced between 1951 and 1966 by Turner Sports Car Company Limited, a company established by Jack Turner near Wolverhampton, England. As well as complete cars, Turners were available in kit form. From the late 1940s, Jack Turner built a series of one-off specials, and prepared racing cars, including building his own engines. The first cars for sale were based on one of the specials, and consisted of chassis, independent suspension units using transverse leaf springs, and Turner’s own alloy wheels. It was up to the customer to arrange engine, transmission and body. Eight are thought to have been made. The first complete car was the Turner A30 Sports, a two-seater also known as the 803 and using an 803 cc Austin A30 engine, transmission and suspension. The car featured a simple ladder frame chassis and open fibreglass two-seater sports bodywork. As BMC would not supply components directly, they had to be purchased from dealers, which increased the price of the car. In 1956, the uprated 948 cc unit from the Austin A35 was adopted, and the model renamed Turner 950 Sports, but, apart from fully hydraulic brakes with optional front discs, was otherwise unchanged. The majority were exported mainly to the United States and South Africa. In 1959, the Turner Sports Mk I was introduced, and although similar to the outgoing model, featured substantial revisions to the body and chassis, and front disc brakes became an option. The 948 cc Austin engined version was named the Turner Sports Mk I, and versions known as Turner-Climaxes were also available with the powerful Coventry Climax 1,097 cc FWA and 1,216 FWE units. Almost 40 of the Sports Mk Is were made. In 1960, a Turner Sports Mk II model appeared, with improved interior trim and further minor styling revisions. From 1960, the front suspension became Triumph Herald-based. In 1961, as well as the Austin and Coventry Climax engines, other options were introduced, such as the Ford 105E 997 cc and 109E 1,340 cc units. Finally, in 1963, the new Ford Cortina 1,500 cc engine was also made available. About 150 Turner Sports Mk II models were made. Many Turners had illustrious racing careers such as the legendary VUD 701 driven by John E Miles in the Autosport National Race Championship of 1963–64, winning outright 15 of the 17 races against the works cars of Jaguar, Lotus and Aston Martin. Fully developed as a space-framed Modsports Race Car using a Cosworth engineered Ford 1824cc, VUD 701 is known to be the fastest of all the racing Turner Sports Cars, holding many UK class lap records to the present day. Throughout the UK, USA and Australia, the owner drivers of these lightweight nimble Turner Sports Cars are still winning in their class and overall, beating much more powerful cars. In early 1962, a completely new, larger, fixed-head Turner GT had been introduced, at the London Racing Car Show. It had a glass fibre monocoque centre section and could be had with a choice of Ford or Coventry Climax engines. Only nine of this model were produced, all believed to be fitted with the Ford 1,500 cc engine, before the model was discontinued in 1964. In late 1963, the final model was introduced as the Turner Sports Mk III, and featured a tuned version of the Ford 1,500 cc engine as standard. Externally, the bonnet gained a large air scoop. This model remained in production until the company went into liquidation in April 1966, when approximately 100 had been produced. In 1966, the company closed, after the founder had a heart attack. The company’s demise may also have been due to the development cost of a completely new coupé model with a rear-mounted Hillman Imp engine, the prototype of which was incomplete.
The Griffith was the first of the modern generation TVRs. First seen as a concept at the 1990 British Motor Show, it wowed the crowds sufficiently that unlike the Show Cars of preceding years, may of which were never seen again, Peter Wheeler and his small team in Blackpool immediately set about preparing it for production. It took until mid 1992 before they were ready. Like its forerunner namesakes, the Griffith 200 and Griffith 400, the modern Griffith was a lightweight (1048 kg) fibreglass-bodied, 2-door, 2-seat sports car with a V8 engine. Originally, it used a 4.0 litre 240 hp Rover V8 engine, but that could be optionally increased to a 4.3 litre 280 hp unit, with a further option of big-valve cylinder heads. In 1993, a TVR-developed 5.0 litre 340 hp version of the Rover V8 became available. All versions of the Griffith used the Lucas 14CUX engine management system and had a five-speed manual transmission. The car spawned a cheaper, and bigger-selling relative, the Chimaera, which was launched in 1993. 602 were sold in the first year and then around 250 cars a year were bought throughout the 90s, but demand started to wane, so iIn 2000, TVR announced that the Griffith production was going to end. A limited edition run of 100 Special Edition (SE) cars were built to mark the end of production. Although still very similar to the previous Griffith 500 model, the SE had a hybrid interior using the Chimaera dashboard and Cerbera seats. Noticeably, the rear lights were different along with different door mirrors, higher powered headlights and clear indicator lenses. Some also came with 16-inch wheels. Each car came with a numbered plaque in the glove box including the build number and a Special Edition Badge on its boot. All cars also had a unique signature in the boot under the carpet. The SEs were built between 2000 and 2002, with the last registered in 2003. A register of the last 100 SEs can be found at TVR Griffith 500 SE Register. These days, the Griffith remains a much loved classic and to celebrate the car, the owners have a meet called “The Griff Growl.”
Final TVR present was a Tamora. This car was launched in 2002, as the entry point of the range, taking over from the Chimaera. It was fitted with TVR’s in-house ‘Speed Six’, a DOHC 3605 cc six-cylinder engine rated at 350 hp and 290 lb/ft of torque at 5500 rpm, mated to a five-speed manual. Brake rotors were 12.0 inches up front, and 11.1 inches in the back, both clamped by AP Racing calipers. The suspension is a double wishbone setup at all four corners. Standard wheels are 16×7 inch aluminium, with 225/50ZR-16 Avon ZZ3 tyres. The Tamora was built on a 93-inch wheelbase, and the car’s overall profile measured 154.5 inches long, 67.5 inches wide and 47.4 inches high. It weighed 2,337 pounds, with 58/42 weight distribution. Keeping with the TVR tradition, the Tamora lacked driving aids such as traction control and ABS as well as air bags. It was still in production when TVR went bankrupt in 2006.
The VX220 is the only true sports car that the marque has produced in the last 90 years. Quite unlike any Vauxhall that had ever come before it, the VX220 was the result of a deal between GM and Lotus, struck to generate enough funding for the latter to be able to develop a replacement for their Elise model, something forced on them owing to changes in European crash safety regulations for the 2000 model year. Lotus agreed to develop and produce a 2 seater sports car for GM, on the new Series 2 Elise chassis, with a concept version of the proposed GM model being shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999. Although the body styling was different, clearly the economies would only work if as much else could be shared, and that presented a challenge as it was planned to use a 1.8-litre Toyota engine, similar to that found in the Toyota Celica, in the second generation Elise, whereas the GM cars clearly had to use a GM engine, namely the 2.2-litre GM Ecotec engine from the Astra. As neither engine had been used in the original Elise, which had been fitted with a 1.8-litre Rover K-Series engine, this simply became one of the many design challenges .In order to accommodate the production of the new cars, Lotus expanded its Hethel factory to a capacity of 10,000 cars, with around 3,500 slots allocated to Speedster production. Production of the Speedster commenced in 2000. The car was hailed by the motoring press as a great drivers’ car and won several accolades, including Top Gear’s Car of the Year in 2003. The lesser naturally aspirated 2.2 version was considered easier to drive than the potent Turbo model, and some journalists suggested that the Opel/Vauxhall car was better value for money than the Lotus, among them one Jeremy Clarkson in his 2003 DVD Shoot Out. However, the market did not really agree, and sales were limited. The car was deleted in 2005, with no successor.
I really enjoyed this event. There is more than enough to keep you entertained for the whole of he two days, with constant activity in the paddock and on the hill. as well as the hundreds of vintage and veteran cars in the Orchard, quite apart from what you can find among the more modern stuff in the other car parks. The weather was generally kind this year, too, which further added to the wonderful ambience of this event. It is good to see so many people still delight in bringing their now rather venerable cars to an event like this for the enjoyment of so many others. A definite for my 2020 events diary.