Tag Archives: Kim

Shelsley Giant Killer – Spider

Today’s featured Spider was inspired by Capt. Archie Fraser Nash’s successful GN hill climber known a “Kim”.

Spider was built by Basil Davenport who bought a GN chassis from the Captain which he then shortened and converted to a single seater with central steering and fitted a Kim inspired body built from chalk drawings on his workshop floor in 1924.

For 1925 Basil replaced the prototype GN Vitesse 1087cc / 66 cui V twin engine he had originally bought with the chassis for the unique 1500 cc / 91.5 cui V twin with four valve aluminium bronze heads and twin spark plugs from the works GN racer known at Mowgli that had lapped Brooklands at 92 mph.

Spider, Charlie Martin, Chateau Impney,

After fitting lighter pistons and stronger JAP connecting rods Basil turned up at Shelsley Walsh on September the 4th 1926 and became the first man to climb the hill in under 50 seconds.

Further modifications for 1927 including lighter valves and new cam shafts made the car quicker but the engine blew at Colwyn Bay leaving Basil just five weeks to build a new crankcase and motor before Shelsley.

The new crankcase allowed one cylinder to be mounted slightly ahead of the other for added reliability of the connecting rods and the engine compression was raised so the 40mm Solex Carburettors could now feed the engine with an alcohol fuel mixture.

Spider, David Leigh, VSCC, Prescott

At Shelsley in 1927 Basil knocked another second of his record, despite the rain !

The following season Basil left the Shelsley record at 46.4 seconds and it was not until 1929 that Raymond Mays driving a 3 litre / 183 cui supercharged Villiers relieved Basil of the Shelsley record.

In 1930 Basil proved to be quicker up Shelsley that none other than Rudolf Caracciola driving a supercharged 7 litre / 427 cui Mercedes Benz SSK.

Spider, VSCC, Prescott

At the same meeting his temporary 44.6 second record eventually fell to Hans Stuck who drove his 3.5 litre / 213 cui Austro Daimler to a new record of 42.8 seconds leaving Basil and the Spider in second place.

There after Basil fitted new heads to the car and even front wheel brakes, but these did not help make the car any quicker and he retired to look after his business interests in 1931.

In 1946 Basil brought Spider briefly out of retirement to set the best unsupercharged time at Shelsley but elected to cannibalise Spider particularly of it’s body, held on by six bolts and chain drive transmission for the 2 litre / 122 cui Big Spider.

Spider, Charlie Martin, Chateau Impney,

While still at school in 1979 David Leigh started helping Basil rebuild the original Spider.

After Basil’s death David bought bought Spider from Basil’s longstanding mechanic Ron Sant in 1994.

Three years later David managed to drive Spider up Shelsley in under 40 seconds which had been Basil’s dream since breaking the 50 second record in 1926.

Spider, David Leigh, VSCC, Prescott

David modestly credits the achievement to the improvements in the track surface and latest Avon GP motorcycle tyres which sit on period correct size 19 inch rims.

David Leigh is seen at the wheel, recovered from a Handley Page bomber, of Spider in the 2013 photographs taken at Prescott.

At Chateau Impeney Charlie Martin, better known for driving the Morgan RIP Special became only the third person to drive Spider as seen in the above 2015 dated photographs.

My thanks to Tim Murray for kindly lending me his copy of John Bolsters “Specials” 1971 edition with out which this blog would be very brief.

Thanks for joining me on this “Shelsley Giant Killer” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at another ERA. Don’t forget to come back now !


Der Großer Ultra Luxury – Mercedes Benz 600 SWB

So here is a little teaser question to start the week, what do American actor Jack Nicholson, Cambodian totalitarian dictator Pol Pot and Colombian drug dealer Pablo Escobar all have in common ? Answer at the end of this blog.

In order to compete with Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Cadillac, Lehmann-Peterson stretched Lincolns and the Chrysler Imperial Crown Ghia in the Ultra Luxury market segment Mercedes Benz built the 600 also known as “Der Großer” which was launched in September 1963.

Mercedes Benz 600 SWB, Brooklands Double Twelve

Since the biggest Mercedes Benz 3 litre 183 cui was never going to be up to the job of propelling this heavy weight, Mercedes Benz developed it’s first V8 engine, featuring single overhead cam shafts, with a capacity of 6289 cc / 383cui that produced 250hp.

To ensure the silent operation of the air conditioning, power window’s, sunroof, seats, auto door and boot/trunk closure and the suspension damping Mercedes Benz eschewed complex electrics and developed a complex hydraulic system that operates at a nominal 3200 psi, all well and good until it develops a leak and or the system gets refilled with synthetic automatic transmission oil, which eats the all rubber seals, instead of the correct mineral based oil.

Mercedes Benz 600 SWB, Brooklands Double Twelve

The windows are hydraulically activated by door switches that have a variable rate of closure depending on how hard one presses the switch, whack it inadvertently and someone could loose an arm, similarly if one touches the open boot/trunk lid it will close automatically, try and push it shut and one will likely as not break the hinges.

To keep ones hydraulics in order Mercedes Benz thoughtfully equipped the car with a hydraulic spares kit that contains brass spacers to keep the power seats from collapsing in the event of hydraulic system failure, three hydraulic blocks, three line connections, a set of hydraulic line plugs and clips, four wooden wedges to insert in to the window channels to keep the windows up, a spare hydraulic flex line, an oil container and an instruction manual to help you use all of the above correctly.

Mercedes Benz 600 SWB, Brooklands Double Twelve

The design of the 600 is credited to Italian Bruno Sacco, German Friedrich Geiger and Paul Bracq, the latter allegedly helped in the design of 600 pick up and hearse conversions that were built by Karl H. Middlehauve in the United States.

In all 2,677 Mercedes Benz 600’s were built up until 1981 they include; 2,190 Saloons, like the 1965 example seen at Brooklands Double Twelve a couple of years ago in these photographs, 304 4 door Pullmans, 124 6 door Pullmans and 59 Landaullets and 2 Coupé’s one of which was given to Mercedes Benz 300 SLR designer Dr. Rudolf Uhlenhaut upon his retirement.

By now you have probably guessed that Jack Nicholson, Pol Pot and Pablo Escobar have all owned a Mercedes Benz 600, the latters was destroyed in an attack in an attack in 1988 five years before his death. Other entertainers who owned a 600 include; Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon, George Harrison, Karen Carpenter, Elvis Presley and Rowan Atkinson, politicians who owned 600’s include; Josip Broz Tito, Nicolae Ceaușescu, Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, F. W. de Klerk, Leonid Brezhnev, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, Ferdinand Marcos (times 4 !), Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, Saddam Hussein and Chairman Mao Tse-tung / Zedong, no other drug dealers are recorded as having owned a 600.

Thanks for joining me on this “Der Großer Ultra Luxury” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a vehicle said to be responsible for the cancellation of a rivals model amid accusations of industrial espionage. Don’t forget to come back now !