- Post is under moderationTHWARTED BY A FUEL GREMLIN
CAR: Alfa Romeo 8C
Run by Alain de Cadenet
Total mileage 150,230
Owned since 1972
Miles since February
Latest costs £50 (petrol)
/ #Alfa-Romeo-8C / #Alfa-Romeo / #1931-Alfa-Romeo-Touring-Spider / #1931-Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300-Touring-Spider / #1931 / #Alfa-Romeo-Touring-Spider / #Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300 / #Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300-Touring-Spider /
For various reasons, FLC didn’t get much use during last summer. So, when an 8C Monza drive at the Goodwood Revival fell through, I had no option other than to nominate FLC instead. Short of time to prepare her properly, I paid most attention to the motor.
There’s nothing like a nice fresh oil change as you know – cheapest maintenance you can ever do for a car. I bought a 20-litre container of Extol 20w50 and added a couple of pints of Torco MPZ concentrate. Traditionally, flat tappet surfaces – as often encountered on overhead- cam engines – are in need of the lubricating properties afforded by the presence of zinc. Coupled with phosphorus, these two elements offer great benefit to an #8C-motor , but they are usually lacking from today’s oils. Something to do with the environment, perhaps. The valvegear on an 8C is simple but effective, with Vittorio Jano’s version of the instantly adjustable tappet. The valves have the upper stem threaded (8mm x 1.25), with two grooves cut down the sides.
The actual tappet has serrations around the periphery and an 8mm female fitting that threads onto the valve. Underneath this tappet is another fitting with a larger diameter, also serrated, that acts as a locking device to stop the tappet self-adjusting while in use. Between the two discs are interlocking ridges that give a satisfying ‘click’ when rotated against each other. A special tool anchors into the hole adjacent to each valve and thus enables it to be rotated, either opening or closing the tappet clearance.
The 8C feeler gauge allows ‘Passa’ at 0.45mm and ‘Non Passa’ at 0.5mm. In fact, this is another process that is easier done than said because it takes me only about half an hour to remove the cam boxes and check all 16 tappets. Like all Jano engines, the valve springs are not stiff and the valves can easily be pushed open with your thumb.
Checking the differential housing for oil allowed me to let out a little EP90 and put it back into the gearbox, from whence it had dribbled over time. Quite normal. The diff mounting bolts needed a tighten, which they always do. I’ve been meaning to drill off the bolts and lock-wire them for 40 years.
Must do it next time, of course. Using this car spiritedly tends to wear the front brake linings, which allows the rears to lock up – especially the offside – so I undid the adjusting nuts two turns to fix that. The only other prep I had time for was to change the Blockley 500-19 tyres on the front wheels. I did this and the balancing myself because I have the use of a machine and have the right mandrel to fit the hubs. Anything under 20 grams out is excellent going for old wires.
The drive down was great – no trouble pulling 4000rpm in second and third. So I saw no reason why I couldn’t hit the revs in top. I have rather a lengthy crownwheel and pinion fitted to FLC, which gives 27mph per 1000rpm. Anything over 4000 at Goodwood would be good enough. Before practice, I put in five gallons of Lord March’s 110-octane rocket fuel to give me a little more advance on the sparks and tightened up the front friction dampers with my special spanner. The lovely Siata knob on the dashboard got three turns, too, which sorted the rear dampers.
Practice was a disaster. The motor wouldn’t pull over 3400rpm in top, although the handling and brakes were brilliant, plus the oil pressure and water temperature etc were fine. What little spare time I had to rectify the problem was spent believing that I had fuel vaporisation in the copper pipe down to the single Weber. David Biggins, with whom I worked on Sicilian Dreams, gave me the silver foil from his Naafi wagon bacon bap, which I wrapped around the fuel tube. This, surely, would cure the problem.
Idiot that I am, that wasn’t the fault. My race was spent trying to keep in front of Chloe Mason in her Aston Ulster and I couldn’t. I think I may have come last. Back in the paddock, I discovered that a tiny sliver of polythene had lodged in the float valve – starving the carb of fuel. So I picked it out. Problem solved. It pulled 4800 on the way back to London that night. Very boring because the next Brooklands Trophy race probably won’t be for another three years. Doubt I’ll get an entry after 2015’s effort…
Not so glorious Goodwood, when de Cad was stymied by the Alfa’s unwillingness to rev – traced to an errant piece of polythene in carb. Inset: slotted valve visible through tappet adjuster.
Alfa valve adjuster tool and feeler gauge. Valve is grooved and threaded for setting. It slots in and engages on ‘teeth’ of tappet.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCar #Alfa-Romeo-8C / #Alfa-Romeo / #1931-Alfa-Romeo-Touring-Spider / #1931-Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300-Touring-Spider / #1931 / #Alfa-Romeo-Touring-Spider / #Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300 / #Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300-Touring-Spider /
Run by Alain de Cadenet
Total mileage 150,286
Owned since 1972
Miles since February
Latest costs nil
PLUG SHORTAGE TURNS OUT WELL
I’ve not done too much on the car recently, due to not being around and the ghastly weather. All quite normal for winter of course, but I have finally got over the nightmare of finding original-style 18mm spark plugs. From the 1930s right up to the late ’70s, the ideal fitment for the Alfa was a Lodge platinumelectrode long-reach item that was listed as an HL1P, and for which you needed a 1in AF long socket to put them in and take them out.
Today, such plugs are unobtainable. I used to advertise for them in the 1980s, and was surprised when the late Hon Patrick Lindsay called to say that he’d bought some brand new from the old KLG/Lodge office that used to be down by the Kingston bypass. Originally they were 15s each (75p), which was expensive for the time. You can’t clean a platinum plug using glass beads without causing damage to the electrode, but I’ve used a baking soda blaster and done quite a good job over the years. The only real solution is to fit 18-14mm adapters and run modern alternatives.
So, after spending many hours on the Myford drilling, turning and threading some phosphor-bronze hexagonal bar, I’ve ended up with eight inserts that now enable me to use #NGK #BP6ES plugs for tootling around and B7ESs for racing. I even have some B7EVs for use with methanol. Three different types, whereas one used to do all three jobs. If I was judging 8Cs at Goodwood, Pebble Beach or Amelia Island, would I penalise an owner for not having 18mm plugs? Yes, I would. Going is one thing, showing is something else. I notice that new-manufactured heads are all drilled for 14mm plugs, anyway.
Alfisti par excellence, Chris Mann, runs an early Weber carb on his 8C, as indeed do I. He told me of his modification that lets him adjust the main jet needle from the cockpit by way of a cable drive. This enables him to fine-tune the mixture with a lambda sensor placed in the exhaust.
He leans off in towns to avoid stinky black smoke and richens up when on the open road. Healthier for the environment and his wallet. Considering that these old birds were always run rich in period (to lessen the likelihood of combustion chamber cracks), this struck me as something that I had to try myself.
It works beautifully. I do plug ‘cuts’ at various settings and can get them from off-white on the electrodes via the ideal coffee colour to black and sooty, just by twiddling my home-made cable system. Horrible ethanol petrol works fine with this device, as does Goodwood Mega Gas. Thank you, Chris, for that one.
All this makes me realise how terribly boring modern cars are in comparison, and how lazy we get letting science do all the work. I much prefer being the #ECU myself.
Our Leica stalwart pays a visit to the camera manufacturer’s Mayfair outlet – the Alfa isn’t afraid of London traffic.
Old 18-14mm adaptor served as template. Lodge HL1P plugs are no longer available. Electrode is easily damaged by cleaning. Weber carburettor has been modified to allow adjustment of main jet needle on the go.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCAR: #Alfa-Romeo-8C / #Alfa-Romeo / #1931-Alfa-Romeo-Touring-Spider / #1931-Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300-Touring-Spider / #1931 / #Alfa-Romeo-Touring-Spider / #Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300 / #Alfa-Romeo-8C-2300-Touring-Spider /
Run by Alain de Cadenet
Total mileage 151,187
Owned since 1972
Miles since May 2016 report 901
Latest costs £374
MUCH ADO ABOUT ALMOST NOTHING
I was out on a run in the Alfa in March when a loud screech started coming up from the front of the gearbox. I was stationary with my foot off the clutch, and pressure on the pedal stopped the sound immediately. The clutch worked fine, but I couldn’t work out what could cause such a din. I didn’t think it could be the thrust bearings, which are beefy, modified affairs that run on a throw-out ring manufactured by Paul Grist.
For some reason, I jumped to the conclusion that the ’box had to come off to investigate the problem. So, floorboards out, pedal board out, pedals off, bell-housing nuts off… With the chassis perched in the air on decrepit axle stands I withdrew the cart spring through-bolts to drop the banjo/diff unit complete. Next came the oil lines, speedo cable, front brake rods et al. After hours on my tod, cussing like a navvy, I finally got the gearbox/ torque tube/propshaft and banjo on its brake drums rolled back to investigate the cause of the problem.
You’d think that after looking after the old dear for more than 45 years I’d know better than to go through the above. What a goon I am. All that had happened is that the clutch pedal rear limit bolt and lock nut had worked loose. As a result, the two thrust roller races were able to come back too far and mill away the aluminium collar that goes over the input shaft to protect the bearing from ingesting grit.
A 10-second adjustment was enough to cure the fault, but trying to get everything back in place was going to be impossible without skilled help. Fortunately, I managed to recruit C&SC’s international editor Mick Walsh, who’s even more afflicted by 8Cs than I am. He even turned up with his own overalls – eschewing my offer of genuine Alfa factory gear – and with work shoes, to boot. Impressive. Cool colleague to have come and sort it out.
The old bird is back to exactly how she was again, having had one over on me right royally. I’ll have my revenge. At least it gave me the chance to grease the shackles and bolts, and re-adjust the speedo drive, which is on an eccentric bronze mounting that has to be correctly positioned to give a gnat’s of backlash on the gearbox internal drive.
While everything was down I decided to replace the exhaust gaskets, which had to be made from solid copper and then annealed. I also fitted an in-line petrol filter to avoid a recurrence of the fuel starvation that I had at Goodwood a few years ago.
I have also finally managed to obtain a pair of the desirable Bosch tail-lamps that contain a 5W festoon bulb for the rear light and a 15W single filament brake light. I’d been after some of these for years, but when I took them to pieces I discovered that one of them was only made with the festoon, and no cutout for the numberplate light or a brake light. Should I perform surgery on it, or try to find another partner for the good one?
The total cost of repairing FLC was four gallons of Exol 20/50 oil, one paper filter, a cartridge filter, gearbox oil (EP90) and a Thai lunch for Walsh, all of which came to 130 quid. Labour would have been costly, I suppose. Thankfully, I still have a decent toolkit and a sort of brain from the old days.
‘The old bird is back to how she was again, having had one over on me right royally. I shall have my revenge’
Just who needs a fancy workshop, anyway? De Cad with the Alfa Romeo after stripping and rebuilding it in his London mews garage.
Only one of the recently acquired lamps is correct type. Offending clutch-pedal stop bolt and nut. The bronze eccentric speedo drive housing. Races were grinding the input shaft collar. Outside The Black Lion on Chiswick Mall.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCase histories de Cadenet’s heroes. The defiantly eccentric LJK #Setright was a profoundly knowledgeable and largely self-taught engineer whose writings polarised opinion, but never failed to entertain. #LJK-Setright /
History is not an account of what happened. History is people’s perception of what happened.’ So wrote the quite exceptional Leonard John Kensell Setright. Obviously a man who determined his own journey because he gave up law, joined the RAF, played clarinet in the band and served as an air-traffic controller. He then had an abrupt change of direction, settling into a comfortable profession as a writer.
I don’t think this epiphany owed anything to that of Saul on the road to Damascus, but coming from an engineering background LJK initially wrote for Machine Age before finding his true bent as a motoring scribe. What he brought with him was a lucid, fluid way of telling a story or explaining a happening. Coupled with in-depth, mostly self-taught engineering knowledge, this often gave readers a controversial version to consider. Car kept him on its books for more than 30 years. What always struck me was the inspiring way in which he introduced his history lessons, interspersing them with anecdotal offerings, snippets of wisdom and factualities that were very much the icing on his cakes. It conferred an insider’s view, giving subjects a fourth dimension through his knowledge, enthusiasm and erudition.
His book Bristol Cars and Engines (published by MRP in 1974) got me well stoved up about the marque, while A Private Car (his Palawan Press tome on the same firm) must be one of the most profound histories ever written about a single manufacturer.
A veritable adventure in words and deeds, it is transcribed in his inimitable way and copiously illustrated. Did you know, for example, that you get wear at the top and bottom of a piston because as it comes to a halt on each stroke the oil is lost at the extremities? The answer was the sleeve valve – made from Brivadium – which never allows the piston to be stationary relative to the valve. That’s why Bristols were so reliable. This in a book about car manufacture, from a man who could have earnt a PhD on Bristol cars and aviation.
Setright seems to have been more of a Latin scholar than a Greek one: ‘Tradition is a responsibility not a privilege’ is the sort of quote that pops up all over his work. I first met him at the 1981 launch of Pirelli’s History of Motor Sport, which he wrote. Fangio was the main guest and, while I came away with great memories of him, what amazed me was LJK’s knowledge and understanding of prototype racing. His comprehension of aerodynamics and handling eclipsed mine, yet I had actually been trying to build and compete in such cars for 10 years.
His knowledge spread over every transport front but especially into motorcycles: Bahnstormer all but converts BMW ownership into a religion. I had always thought that if I ever got stranded on a desert island, I’d want to have Michel de Montaigne’s Collected Essays to keep the brain from addling. That was before I read Drive On!, which must be as good a volume as any to take with you to achieve the same result. You have to respect a man who, having heard that the post-war racing fraternity began to share with car dealers a reputation for criminal tendencies, consulted ‘an eminent forensic psychiatrist’ to discover whether there was any validity in this.
No stone left unturned in his search for truth. If collecting ‘cool’ experiences is today’s mantra for an exciting life, LJK was way ahead of the game. In our world of frivolous worship of virtual reality, it is refreshing for some of us to still become entrenched in one man’s perception of history that is so inspirational. I’m off to buy Setright’s final book, Long Lane with Turnings: Last Words of a Motoring Legend.
Born 10 August #1931
Died 7 September #2005
Career highlights Wrote for magazines including Car, Bike and C&SC; won the Gwen Salmon Trophy for photography.
LJK was almost as famous for his sartorial elegance, flamboyant whiskers and love of Sobranie cigarettes as he was for his writing.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMany believe they are pioneers in their lifetime. Believes himself to think again. But when things are tested by history's bright light appears very little truly new and lasting. Modernism brave geniuses are still highly relevant. We visit the Bauhaus School in Dessau with a Tatra T87 and T600. A charged meeting. Text & Photos Claes Johansson.
During long periods Bauhaus practically been a ruin. Renovation and reconstruction has been done without sacrificing authenticity. An experience in every detail.
Bauhaus is today school and museum. Students missed, however, this basic course in modernism.
The Tatra T87 was a autobahn - 75 horses from a three litres large and yet easy V8. And streamlined it. The sharpness characteristic modernism.
As to sit freely in the sky. Marcel Breuer's "Wassily Lounge Chair" as it is known today originated in bike technology. The bent handlebars showed the way.
We roll into a teardrop #Tatra-T600 and an equally teardrop Tatra T87 in front of the camera. With facades of glass and stucco that fund.
It's not gourmet dining or shopping. To Dessau in Germany pilgrim man with a single explicit purpose. Therefore Nor is there any awkward questions, and the sense of presence and worship is for real, when we gently roll into a teardrop Tatra T600 and an equally teardrop Tatra T87 in front of the camera. With facades of glass and stucco that fund. Everyone who sees understand why. And how it fits together.
Bauhaus school was inaugurated in 1926. It was not long before international visitors was noticed among the hundreds of people each month were guided by students in workshops, classrooms and in the famous auditoriums. It's October 2014, and behind my back is a whole bunch of concentrated Japanese. Architecture People. Design Freaks. Bauhaus is a very strong magnet and a World Heritage Site.
In all its tranquility is a shudder through the spectator, they seem to think that there is a carefully directed happening or workshops. The topic would be how modernism considering goods and ideals flowed between engineering and architecture in the young the 1900s. Or it is a practically oriented course in the understanding of two of the 1900s great geniuses, Walter Gropius and Hans Ledwinka. But it is a holiday and the cars are here thanks to planning, a generous welcome by the Bauhaus Foundation, plus a little luck. The latter underlined when a taciturn, round man with disproportionately large bunch of keys unexpectedly shows up and wonder in what room the gentlemen wish to rig his camera tripod. He has worked as the Tatra mechanics during the GDR years and is now the caretaker of the Bauhaus!
There are so many dizzying angles in this masterful building complex that completely lacks a given viewing point. A walk around the reduced the buildings open constantly new and startling perspective where everything is about proportion, reflections, shadows, surfaces, materials meetings. Where features that window mechanisms and balkongräckens fixings are subtly decorative element, even if just the word decoration is the most taboo of all. The precision is striking, an experience that deepens when you look closer and experience tactile craft techniques in simple basic materials like concrete, plaster, glass and steel. It never gets cold, however, human and indeed - romantic.
Key man's question is almost paralyzing. I have dreamed a half life of getting to find myself right here and do just that. But the light indicates a direction, a calm. The light also led the architect Walter Gropius, placing the school in an open field near the train station in a town unlike other German cities realized that it took courage to shape the future. Here was already cutting-edge industries in the chemicals and air manufacturer Junkers.
Exactly what would come out of the Gropius experimental school was a little more difficult to predict. Concretely, he would contribute with new housing for the growing city, but the big things was to be expected, there was no doubt. The premises was quickly filled by the works that the murals, light fixtures and furniture - made of teachers and students. Gropius was a visionary and functionalist of a unique kind (although the word was barely invented).
As early as 1911 was the super-modern, beautifully shimmering skolästfabriken Fagus Factory in Alfeld clear. Modernism's first standard works. Gropius had designed the building volumes and glass walls disposed in a completely new and unprecedented ways. A sumptuous yet light and inviting function building - without pompous Classicist elements. A tribute to the industry, and the machines, but just as much to man. As Bauhaus School.
The operations of the Bauhaus, founded in Weimar in 1919, was about getting young and extremely talented students in hands-on experimentally find forms of expression that broke with the old, traditionssnärjda, heavy. Disciplines flowed together. It was craftsmanship paired with basic theoretical arguments about the nature of light, colour and space makes the man. And outside the school walls sprouted machines and aviation age. The circumstances were ideal, a window was opened in time - would soon be crushed by the Nazis. It was architecture, music, art, photography, theatre and design. It was avant-garde and still today incredibly modern.
The modernist movement started in several places simultaneously at slightly different times. As with the school in Dessau, it is difficult to find a fixed viewing point. Portal The characters are many and the international exchange large, with distinct offshoot to Sweden and Finland. But it was Gropius school that was to become the mother ship where the movement both deepened, given a practical expression but also was questioned. It was an energy zone which despite its short operation time schooled global name in furniture design, architecture, graphics and art. Nazi proposals to demolish this example of "degenerate architecture" in #1931 was averted, but the party managed to close the school for good the following year and in #1933 dissolved the last remnants of Berlin. The buildings became the training center for female Nazis and then bombed during the war. The hard distorted the buildings were given a certain restoration and renovation during #GDR times, but it was after the reunification that area, including the amazing teacher residences, restored with devout German class.
Walter Gropius is one of the few architects who also engaged in automotive design. The car at this time was a product of its technology. The quest for its own visual identity was strong, albeit tentative. Architects found a strong allure in this creative task, but few achieved any lasting beyond the sketchbook. Gropius model series from Adler 1931 was characterized by objective, still a bit dated lines. The French fixed star and Le Corbusier participated in 1936 with great energy in a state proclaimed the small car project. His proposal Voiture Minimum built on geometry and mathematics and was no point Citroëns before Citroën itself found there by the 2CV. But the recent full-scale models have shown that Le Corbusier car despite its small size was perceived as clunky.
If the production of the house is all about-borne and carrying, light and volume are cars additionally moving, volatile and above all, very little fuss. With wheels. There was some parameters too much for even the most independent-minded architects. Rather, it was the cars that architects themselves admired, sometimes also drove, which approached it a new future spirit. Le Corbusier loved his Voisin. They populated his city plans to small signatures and return to private photographs in front of his newly erected buildings. The lines correlated with the buildings objectivity, but yet was missing a crucial element. Something that corresponded to the underlying aspirin the architecture.
If aviation pioneer and futurist Gabriel Voisin was France's universal genius at this time, filled his Ledwinka same role in what has just been Czechoslovakia. Tatras unique among the icon brands that embody Modernism looking rooted in the tanks His Ledwinka developed during the 1920s. And it was his gentle nature and lack of grandiose ego that was the key to the creation of automotive and design history's most revolutionary model, pre Citroën DS, which always should be added.
Just as the modern architects were Ledwinka questioning. He took up the issue without preconditions, but no more risk than he picked up the existing design ideas, which were refined and combined with their own and others' solutions. The ability made him a true pioneer. He paved the way for Ferdinand Porsche's unprecedented success with the great German people car project and a custom sports car than a decade later. Horse carriages stiff shoulders were perhaps not optimal for self-propelled cars. And why should an engine be heavy? Then it was something with the air impact as soon as automobile rolled out in rural and left squares and cobbled streets behind.
Ledwinka had taken a short period of employment in 1897 as 19-year-old in the company then called Nesseldorfer Wagenbau. After some years of exile in Vienna and constructing he was back in 1905 and was responsible for a fairly conventional car called the Model S - but with hemispherical combustion chambers and overhead cam!
After the First World War saw a new radical people's car lights. The surrounding mountains were renamed the company to the tympligare Tatras, and Ledwinkas T11 / T12, the latter with four-wheel brakes, turned on all the concepts. Gone were the heavy frame rails and the inflexible suspension. An eleven cm thick tube with three mm wall linking the drive unit and the split rear axle. Although the front suspension was individual. On top of the easy central tube was screwed bodywork, the engine was an air-cooled two-cylinder boxer that drove the rear wheels through a cardan in the tube. The model came in 1923. The idea of the Rector Gropius could have placed a self-contained chassis that outlook objects in any of the Bauhaus airy studios located not far away.
But technical brilliance and innovation was not enough. Modernity needed a suitable costume, nothing spectacular. The answer lay in science. The development of the engines had passed quickly in the 1920s and suddenly the sprawling bodies were identified as an obstacle in the development of faster and more efficient cars. With airplanes and airships due had experiments with the car body in a short time gained a more systematic character. The Hungarian-born engineer Paul Jaray (who worked with seaplanes and airships) demonstrated with practical studies of models and prototypes to the entire body drop shape was close to ideal. The last straw lent itself exceptionally well to an artistic interpretation of a body, and it was not just where the very definition of modernism was to be found? The fusion of function and art.
Droplet harmony and effective beauty got a completely new kind of density with an air-cooled V8 stern. Ledwinka made sure it happened. The central spine sagging thus gimbal and the engine liberated the front could be rundkindad and effective. Pendulum shafts lived on and became a hallmark of the way to today's eight-wheel-drive trucks from Czech Republic. 1934 Tatran with the sharp-sounding model T77 a world sensation. The technical composition resulted in an ultra-low silhouette that surpassed the more traditional Chrysler Airflow with his pompous and easily over decorated figure.
It could thus be 1930 before there were cars, streamlined cars, which could seriously capture the radiance of Central Europe whitewashed luxury homes. In Sweden, called the International Style functionalism, launched at the Stockholm Exhibition in 1930, reflected by the Volvo PV36 Carioca.
Walter Gropius came to be relieved by including Marcel Breuer as starting from the bicycle industry created the precise tubular steel furniture, which forever changed our view of its force as a modern and highly active function. The steel tubes are also found in car interiors, just one example of how the feature embossed shape solutions quickly reduced to powerful symbol carrier for the new time. Raymond Loewe's most streamlined product was not Hupmobile or Studebaker without one - pencil sharpener!
Bauhaus movement never had time to take the step toward popular appeal. Like the #Tatra-T77 , most objects are handcrafted in small batches for wealthy clients. The legacy was sprawling all the way to the present day, via derailed mega projects in the communist Soviet Union to the flashy movie star homes in California and lick skyscrapers in New York, but in a figurative sense even coat hanger from Ikea as an almost teasingly way melts into my lovingly restored rooms in the accommodation wing at school.
The successor T87, Ledwinkas favourite car, approached anything resembling mass production. More than 3000 were made until #1950 . The model was short and contained a higher proportion of steel, yet it was 430 kg lighter. Weight distribution was more favourable and when it debuted in 1936, it was one of the fastest production cars with a top speed of 160 kph. A autobahn - Even more popular appeal of embossed T600 Tatraplan. The model was born into a completely reversed reality, as so often in this geopolitical spin. The model name Tatraplan came out of the concept of planned economy which describes the new political situation. Although some export success could be shown up was this four-door Volkswagen with two-litres boxer engine soon as an obscurity from another world - hardly faded with followers, V8 monsters, state limousines 603 and 613. More than 6000 #Tatra-Tatraplan was built in #1946 - #1952 and construction founded entirely on Ledwinkas ideals although by this time he left the company.
The sober dark grey 50-ball is temporally misplaced the 1920s facades, but the spirit of modernism lingered in its body thanks to a conservative political system. It has got to go flatbed truck from Dresden and the company Oldtimerwelt. Dessau has been a hit for streamlined cars at Junker Museum. Some small Swedish stickers on the car arouses suspicion - and that is something vaguely familiar with the specimen.
- We bought it recently in Palsboda said Robert Pfandke, and after a bit of common mental work, we concluded that it stood on Holmgren's Volkswagen museum and before that had been owned by a private person in Orebro.
The rolls with the occasional cough and a little oil drip and requires little love before the next owners will take over, specialist firm McPheat Automotive in England.
With T87: an #1939 is different. Its air-cooled V8 (from 603) revels steadily in the back and Fritz and Kana Katharina Müller has arrived from Munich in grand style, with the panoramic sunroof wide open.
- It is superb on long distance, we run a lot with it, says Fritz and talks about his long, almost torturous journey to become Tatra. It started in #1993 in St. Petersburg, where Fritz managed to intercept a T87 which reportedly would be restored. It had come to Russia during World War II, but rebuilt several times.
- I gave 12,000 German marks but there were some 100 000 before it was finished, sighs Fritz. The car was in the roasted and ground as real warped after crashed several times. By means of original drawings successful to build a completely new floor. The job was done by experts in the Czech Republic, but unfortunately died, two of them of old age during the process - and the project dragged on. Step by step re-created interior. The seats were like sacks of potatoes, which Fritz puts it, and the ceiling was full of rebuilt.
- And so was the original engine stolen! Quarter of standard German house is already in shadow. The light would not really leave the Bauhaus School. Some final images will it be with Mr and Mrs Kana Müller airships vehicle parked outside Walter Gropius personal residential garage. There's a lot to say about modernism garage. But after a full day of constant adrenaline flow must be content to state that it does not get much prettier than this.
On the eve of a beautiful, modern world. Engineering. Architecture.
Just as the modern architects were Ledwinka questioning.
The last straw lent itself exceptionally well to an artistic interpretation of a body, and it was not just where the very definition of modernism was to be found? The fusion of function and art.
Wing where you can stay! Extremely affordable accommodation in completely renovated original rooms. It is possible to park #Tatra outside.
The #Tatra-T600 had air-cooled boxer and #Tatra-T87-V8 . Mr Kana Müller received the original motor stolen, but #Tatra-603 and fits nicely.
House is about airborne and carrying, light and volume. Cars are mobile, volatile and above all very small. With wheels. Get the architects created a permanent car design outside his sketchbook.
New additions have been made, as the wall in the background and new school buildings some distance away.
Spatial design at a high level. #Tatra-T87 is a machine. A fuss. An airship on wheels.
Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCentre of Gravity
Morris, Hillman & Austin Oxford meets Minx and Somerset. The post-war British ca r m ark et of gravity revolved around saloons such as the #Morris-Oxford , #Hillman-Minx and #Austin-Somerset , but which is best? Jon Pressnell decides. Photography Tony Baker.
These were the bread-and-butter of mid-century British motoring. The cruel would say that these three saloons are so stodgy that the word ‘porridge’ might be more appropriate. But before you sneer, each one of them was a mainstay for their manufacturer, keeping factories turning, bringing in valuable foreign exchange, and providing hundreds of thousands of motorists with no-nonsense family transport. The #Hillman Minx, #Morris Oxford Series MO and #Austin-A40 Somerset between them accounted for more than 700,000 cars, and that’s a figure at which one should not sneeze.
The three cars were similar in price when new – about £700 including Purchase Tax in #1952 – and they are closely matched in terms of accommodation and performance. Unsurprisingly, in an era when conventional engineering was king, at least as far as Britain was concerned, the mechanical configuration is also broadly the same: independent front suspension, a leaf-sprung live back axle and hydraulic drum brakes. Only the Morris has rack steering, and it also has torsionbar front suspension, rather than the coils of the Hillman and the Austin. Dampers are old-fashioned lever-arms all-round on the Somerset and the Minx, while the Oxford has lever-arms at the front and telescopics at the rear. As for construction, the Austin is built on a separate cruciform chassis while the other two have a unitary shell.
Turn to the engines, and an eyebrow might be raised at this comparison. The Hillman has a seemingly weedy 1265cc sidevalve unit that can be traced back to the first Minx of #1931 , the Oxford has a rather bigger flathead of 1476cc, and in the middle sits the only car with a halfway modern engine, the Somerset with its 1200cc pushrod unit. The Minx might only dispose of 37½bhp, but its kerb weight of 2117lb makes it a full 560lb lighter than the 42bhp Somerset. The Oxford’s plodding sidevalve, however, supposedly insisted upon by an ageing and conservative Lord Nuffield, musters a slender 41¾bhp, but has to haul along a less porky 2386lb of motor car. The bottom line is that the Minx – marginally the shortest, narrowest and lowest of the lot – has the best power-to-weight ratio. Don’t get too excited, though: none of these cars could quite hit 70mph when tested in period, and their 0-60mph times were hardly bodice-ripping.
The Minx and the Oxford were both #1948 Motor Show debutantes. The Hillman began life with its predecessor’s 1185cc unit, along with its four-speed column-change gearbox, but was otherwise all-new, with a transatlantic-tinged body designed with input from Loewy Associates – hence its vague hints of Studebaker. This Phase III Minx became the Phase IV when the 1265cc engine arrived for #1950 . It evolved up to Phase VIIIA, before being deleted in mid- #1956 .
Key changes from 1953 to 1956 were a new grille and lower bonnet line, an enlarged rear window, a 1390cc overhead-valve engine for the Phase VIII (estate and low-rent Special excepted), and ‘Gay Look’ duotones (along with standardisation of the pushrod engine) for the Phase VIIIA. There was a Carbodies-built drophead and, from the Phase VI onwards, a hardtop coupé called the Californian. Over eight seasons, a healthy 378,705 Minxes left the Rootes factory in Ryton.
The Oxford, meanwhile, was a big sister to the Issigonis Minor, and was virtually a pantograph enlargement of the smaller Morris. Originally intended to have a flat-four, as was the Minor, it was hastily given a sidevalve engine extrapolated from the overhead-cam unit of its Wolseley 4/50 sibling. There was much agonising about the Oxford in the higher reaches of the Nuffield Organisation, because it was felt that in going up a size from the preceding Ten the firm would hand the key ‘Ten-Horse’ market to the opposition. In fact, the MO acquitted itself adequately, with 160,482 made over roughly five calendar years – plus 43,600 vans and pick-ups. The only body style other than the four-door saloon and the commercials was the timber-framed Traveller, introduced in October 1952. Replaced in January #1954 by the Austin-powered Series II Oxford, the MO was barely modified during its life, other than receiving a bolder grille for #1953 .
As for the Somerset, it was basically a rebodying of the A40 Devon that had been launched in #1947 . A whisker over 6in longer than its predecessor, and 2in wider, it shared its doors with the bigger A70 Hereford. Roomier than the Devon, it was about 110lb heavier, but its two extra body mounts were said to contribute to a 50% increase in torsional rigidity. Current from February #1952 to October 1954, 173,306 Somersets were made.
Finished in a perky pale green and sitting on whitewall tyres, Denis Young’s Somerset is arguably the most striking of the cars, thanks to its exaggerated roly-poly profile that is almost baroquely rotund, an effect compounded by the brio of that ocean-wave wingline. Dumpy it might be, but with its broad-bottomed rear it also appears to be the biggest of the three; it’s not, the Morris being 7½in longer and 2in wider.
The interior couldn’t be considered inspiring. There’s a brown crackle-painted dash with a full set of gauges, plain door trims with carpeted bottoms, and two individual front seats set against each other to form a bench. Upholstery is in coarse leathercloth with contrasting piping, while there is rubber matting to the front and carpet to the rear. More importantly, the rear doors open wide to reveal ample legroom; a nice ‘Olde Worlde’ Austin touch is that the backs of the front seats are cut away, and in each recess there lurks a footrest.
You sit high, behind a predictably big wheel, a nautical position that seems eminently appropriate when you start driving, as the Somerset rolls and bobs like a ship in a swell. The camand- peg steering is a plus, however, being quick, at 2½ turns lock-to-lock, and with no play or untoward stickiness. The column gearchange is okay, if stiff and lacking precision. Likewise, the brakes are firm, short-travel and effective, even if they need a lean for ultimate stopping.
At 50mph the #Austin is happy enough – not that refined, but not rough, and with sufficient vim to the acceleration. This is helped by the low gearing, as was then the norm: the first three ratios seem particularly short, and you can pull away in second. Change down for a bend, and you feel a jolt if you’re casual about smoothing your way through the ’box. In all this, however, one should issue a caveat. Bought off eBay, the Somerset has been refurbished rather than ever having been fully rebuilt – all Young has done is to overhaul the brakes – so a freshly spannered example might feel crisper. That said, these Austins all suffer from over-soft front suspension.
Mike Redrup’s Phase V Minx has been in his family from 1952, when his father bought the Hillman new – having ordered it in 1946, several iterations of the model before. Redrup learnt to drive in the car, which had a respray back in the ’70s and an engine rebuild about five years ago but has never been restored.
The Minx loses out in the style war – strangely, given the input of top designer Loewy. It simply looks dull and frumpy, with no delight to any of its details. The cabin, alas, is no more tempting, with lots of exposed metallic beige paint, not least on the deep embossed door cappings. Nor does the dash warm one’s cockles, with its sparse instrumentation and two open trays. Upholstery is again plain leathercloth, but you slump lower on the seats and lean back more. Access to the rear is tighter – you winkle yourself in – but you sit upright enough to have reasonable legroom.
In fairness, some of these criticisms would be addressed by later models, which had extra chrome and brighter colour schemes. More significantly, the Minx acquits itself well on the road, making a better fist of things than the Austin. The long-stroke engine puts out 58.3lb ft of torque at 2200rpm and is peppy, and about as refined as the Somerset’s pushrod unit. Again the first three gears are low, but fourth is quite high, making for relaxed 50mph cruising. The column change is well oiled but loose and responds best to a delicate touch. Feel your way into the firstsecond plane, though, and thereafter your passage through the ’box is undemanding. The suspension is soft at the front, possibly because the only anti-roll bar is on the rear axle (it migrated to the front on the Phase VIII); as a result the Minx bobs about on poor roads, but not as much as the Somerset. As for the worm-and-nut steering, that’s free of slack and smoother in action than the Austin’s set-up. The brakes are board-firm, but work well enough, while the Minx is the only car of the three with a pull-up handbrake.
Nigel Anderson’s Oxford starts off with an advantage: it has only 33,000 miles on the clock and was rebuilt in the ’90s, after being in the family since 1956. So any observations on how it drives must be tempered by the fact that it is being compared with two unrestored cars that have loosened up over their greater mileages.
To my eyes at least, the Morris starts out with the major plus of being the most attractive of our trio. There might be bits of 1940s #Chevrolet and #Packard in its make-up, but the lines are neat and harmonious, lifted by the vee ’screen and the brightwork. Longer and wider-tracked than the Minx and Somerset, the Oxford looks more planted. There are also lots of attractive details: pull handles for the doors, a flip-up cover for the starting handle, a painted coachline on the colour-coded wheels. Particularly delightful are the little running boards, with their kickplates, that are exposed when the front doors are opened.
Inside, the brown-crackle instrument panel and gold-painted dash are more obviously styled, right down to the concealed glovebox release. The front bench means a cosier rear, but there’s plenty of legroom, with overall space being similar to the Somerset. As a standard model rather than a De Luxe, the seating is in leathercloth rather than hide – just as there are no bumper overriders, nor a heater and only one sunvisor.
Start driving the MO and the first thing to hit you is that here, at last, is a car with steering that is genuinely good. The Oxford’s rack is needle-sharp, accurate and not at all heavy; it’s delicious. Building on this, the Morris feels more poised over pockmarked Fenland roads with a shifting camber and the poor surface doesn’t throw the car about as it does the other two. The MO has firmer responses, and that extends to brakes that are more progressive plus a crisp column shift.
The sidevalve engine could reasonably be expected to be the deal-breaker, but bear in mind that it is the biggest of the three power units, and delivers its 65lb ft of torque – 3lb ft more than the Austin – at just 2000rpm, against the Somerset’s 2500rpm. Despite the usual low gearing, acceleration is not good in third, but the Morris cruises happily at 50-60mph, the engine never becoming coarse. You can also keep the car on the boil by driving it in a more spirited manner than its rivals, taking advantage of its secure handling to keep speed up through the corners.
The Oxford is in fact the only car of the three that feels to be the work of people who wanted you to enjoy driving. For that reason it stands as the easy winner of this comparison. The Hillman, meanwhile, is a thoroughly acceptable if unemotional transportation device – a sweet, easy car, with decent performance. As for the Austin, its cuddly looks will probably win over more hearts than its less-flamboyant rivals. It does the job – compromised by its suspension – with perfect adequacy, but nothing more. The advantage, sidevalve engine notwithstanding, goes to Cowley.
Thanks to the Austin Counties Car Club: www. psimmonds.org.uk; the 6/80 and MO Club: www.680mo.org.uk; the Hillman Owners Club: www. hillmanownersclub. co. uk; and Tom Clarke.
From top: well-designed cabin – glovebox button is on dash top; sidevalve unit lacks zip; pushing centre of badge releases bonnet; on the road, the Oxford outshines the other two.
‘IT’S THE ONLY ONE THAT FEELS TO BE THE WORK OF PEOPLE WANTING YOU TO ENJOY DRIVING’
Above, l-r: auxiliary dials are just fuel and amps, but only the Minx has a pull-up handbrake; improved prewar sidevalve; badge shows three spires of Coventry. “Whatever gear you’re in, it pulls well,” says Redrup.
‘REDRUP LEARNTTO DRIVE IN THE HILLMAN, WHICH HIS FATHER BOUGHT NEW IN 1952’
From top: sprung wheel and simple dash with two gloveboxes; engine has A40 Sports head, but with larger inlet valves; Flying A opens bonnet; Austin’s performance is fair, but the ride is a bit lively.
‘THE AUSTIN’S ALMOST BAROQUE PROFILE IS COMPOUNDED BY THE WAVE-LIKE WING LINE’
Morris is every inch the overgrown Minor; Minx has Studebaker touches (thanks to Loewy input); Austin cherub shares its doors with larger Hereford.
Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.