Tag Archives: Allen

A Q Car – 1955 Ford Popular

To say I have found it irksome to discontinue my daily psychoontyres blogs for the last couple of years would be an inderstatement. It has not been for want of encouragement or indeed enthusiasm, I nearly got it going again during lockdown but there were a million other things to sort out while everything went quiet and before I knew it I was off furlough and back at work. I am afraid future posts will be sporadic, if I can get one done every month I’ll count that as a success for now.

So excuses over I have author Mike Allen to thank for an e-mail he sent 18 months ago which has been needling my conscience to extract the proverbial digit and find my log in details to get the show back on the road. Mikes Dad James Neil Allen, known as Neil, bought a Ford Popular in 1955 and here in his own words is a description of the modifications he made to it.

Allen Ford Pop

The Ford Pop was produced from 1953. It was based on the pre-war Anglia but was stripped of every refinement originally on the Anglia, the most important from my point of view was the opening windscreen (In those days it could get VERY foggy). However the original capacity was increased from 933cc to the Prefects 1172cc giving 30bhp, Max speed 60mph. It only weighed 16cwt so didn’t feel underpowered. I bought mine on Sep 2nd 1955 for £395 from Frank Guest of West Bromwich.I drove away with a Ford 8 cylinder head (£2) in the boot. This had a ground surface but the cylinder heads were “as cast” and I spent many evenings recovering the sandy surface.

The Pop had transverse leaf springs front and back and was dangerous to drive especially on cabered profile roads as it had a tendancy to dive into the kerb. I saw an advert in the classifieds section of “Autocar” for a Panhard rod (16/10d). This came as a short rod silent block ends and replacement (longer) shackle pins. It fitted on one side of the leaf spring anchored to a point on the chassis. It therefore allowed the wheel (front steering) to move in an arc up and down but stopped any lateral movement of the steering. To fit it you jacked up the end of the spring to take the weight of the car off the spring so that when the Ford shackle pin was knocked out, the spring didn’t fall on the ground. The supplied longer pin was then inserted and the rod attached. A nut was then tightened to secure the joint. The same procedure at the outer fixed end.

I still remember the effect this simple mod had. You could drive on a cambered road “hands off” without any ill effects. I then bought a set of “Ridemaster” springs for the rear transverse suspension. This was mainly to stabilise the car if you were towing and consisted of two stout coil springs in line with a tensioning thread in the middle.

Unfortunately I was unable to fit it myself as the clip end was a force fit around the end of the leaf spring. Fortunately one of my minor customers ran a bit of a garage on the side. He put my car on a ramp and using a lump hammer drove the clip over the end of the spring. I then tightened the tension until it was just taut with the car at rest. On cornering it added massively to the strength of the leaf spring. I used to chuckle at the rear view mirror at hapless motorists following me through fast bends.

Back to the Ford 8 cylinder head. I didn’t fit this until we moved to Manchester. As purchased the compression ratio was a laughable 6.16 to one. With the 8 head the CR was a super modern (for 1956) 8:1!!

Obviously it was going to ‘pink’ so I bought a spare choke control which the cabling enabled the control to stay put. The engine end of the cable was attached to the side of the distributor which was mounted on a lug on the side of the cylinder head. I fitted a washer here which allowed free rotation of the distributor.

Any sign of pinking and I pulled the knob on the dashboard out slightly until the pinking stopped. This was during petrol rationing and if I stopped out in the sticks for petrol and bought super shell 100 octane I was often offered more than I had coupons for.

Windscreen washing was achieved by fitting a bracket on the dashboard to hold a narrow polythene bottle which you squeezed and hey presto a small jet hit the windscreen!
The wipers worked by the vacuum in the inlet manifold. At a steady 30mph on a flat road they worked perfectly, they slowed and stopped if you accelerated, going up a long hill you had to keep lifting your foot to get a few wipes. Solution a vacuum reservoir which gave you a few more vital seconds.

You have to remember that in the 50s there were specialised shops for car bits and pieces for maintenance or modification. Cars were simpler then. My piece de resistance however was my own invention. Castrol oil was sold in round tins with a conical top and screw top about 1 ½ ins in diameter. I sawed off the top (all the conical bit and a bit of side) I then found some electrical protection tubing of push fit diameter to the screw and which stayed in the shape you curled it.

Next I discovered that brazing wire could be tapped, 16BA. Top 4” of radiator blanked off
except for about 4” at one side with tin plate. Same at engine side of the radiator but at the other side so I was forcing hot air in at the left and out at the right. A radiator has horizontal plates so the ram air (only when car in motion) passed across the full width of the rad and not up or down. The can top was soldered at the opening of the back piece. The length of electric bendy pipe was pushed on and fed through a hole I cut in the lower bulkhead to come into the cab just above the passengers feet. The plates were held in place by VERY carefully feeding the tapped brazing wire through holes in the plates and through the radiator being secured by tiny nuts ! There was no temperature control, the passenger just pushed the tube to one side if things got too hot!

On a trip to Wragby, the racket from the engine suddenly stopped. At 40mph I tentatively switched off the ignition which caused immediate deceleration, so I switched on again and stopped to look. I had shed a fan belt. I fitted another and pressed on. It then dawned on me that the fan was the source of the noise, so I took it off and never replaced it till I sold the car. As long as the water pump was going the water temp never got too hot even when commuting via Oxford St in Manchester.

The tiny headlights (6 volt!!) were useless so I fitted twin “Notek” spotlights, in the process finding out that the painted bumpers were made from spring steel and were undrillable. Fitted a Mangoletsi inlet manifold swirler. A Servais straight through silencer and a short circuit plug which put the circuit breaker to earth as an immobiliser.

Nobody ever kept up with me 0-30 but tyre wear was a problem till I fitted Michelin X to the 450-17” wheels.

My thanks to everyone including the Mike and Neil Allen for your continuing support, looking forward to the next edition of Gettin’ A l’il Psychoontyres, don’t forget to come back now !


Lost Luck Of The Irish – Wyedean Forest Rally

Following last weeks blog on the 40th Weir Engineering Wyedean Forest Rally today’s blog features the remaining prize winners on the event who did not get a mention.

Peugeot 106, Matthew Davis, Ryan Taylor, Mailscot, Wyedean Forest Rally

The Rex Paddock Memorial Trophy for the best prepared car entered by a Forest of Dean Motor Club member went to the 1400 C class #251 Peugeot 106 that Matthew Davis and Ryan Taylor drove to a 91st place overall finish.

Subaru Impreza, Nigel Drew, Pauline Nash, Mailscot, Wyedean Forest Rally

The Lionel Ward Trophy for best finish by a Forest of Dean Motor Club Crew was awarded to Nigel Drew and Pauline Nash who drove their #29 Subaru Impreza to a 22nd place finish overall.

Nissan Micra, Nigel Jenkins, Kirsty Walby, Mailscot, Wyedean Forest Rally,

Nigel Jenkins and Kirsty Walby driving the RF1.4 #239 Nissan Micra won the Finishing Touches Hair and Beauty Cup for finishing 98th overall and last of the Forest of Dean Motor Club entered crews.

Peugeot 106 Rallye 2, Rachel Patterson, Tom Wood, Blaze Bailey, Wyedean Forest Rally,

The Bob Brain Trophy for highest placed lady driver was won by Rachel Patterson who along with co driver Tom Wood brought their 1400C class #246 Peugeot 106 Rallye 2 home in 105th place overall.

Subaru Impreza WRC, David Weston, Kirsty Riddick, Blaze Bailey, Wyedean Forest Rally

Kirsty Riddick who navigated David Weston’s #2 Subaru Impreza WRC to a second place finish overall won the Lilian Turley Trophy for best placed lady co-driver.

Ford Focus WRC 05, Damian Cole, Jack Moreton, Mailscot, Wyedean Forest Rally

Jack Moreton navigated Damian Cole’s #6 Ford Focus WRC 05 to a 6th place finish and earned himself the Michael ‘Beef’ Park Trophy for highest placed under 22 co-driver.

Mitsubishi EVO X, Gunnar Karl Johannesson, George Gwynn, Blaze Bailey, Wyedean Forest Rally

The Forest of Green District Youth Cup for the highest placed under 22 driver was won by Gunnar Karl Johannesson who with George Gwynn finished 29th overall in their class N4 #51 Mitsubishi Evo X.

Land Rover Freelander M Sport, Spence Price, Chris Hands, Mailscot, Wyedean Forest Rally

There was only one off road vehicle in the event namely the #105 Land Rover Freelander M Sport driven by Spence Price and Chris Hands to a 96th place finish overall and the B G Landrovers Ross on Wye Trophy for highest place off road 4×4.

Citroën C2 VTR, Dan Moss, Sam Allen, Mailscot, Wyedean Forest Rally,

The Gwynne Speed Rally Championship honours for best Citroën C2 finishers went to the #110 Citroën C2 VTR crew of Dan Moss and Sam Allen who finished 94th overall.

Lancia Stratos, Steve Perez, Paul Spooner, Blaze Bailey, Wyedean Forest Rally,

I’ll add a couple Psychoontyres awards of my own first for best sounding car to make it past the last corner on the opening Blaze Bailey Stage was the Ferrari Dino V6 powered #44 Lancia Stratos crewed by Steve Perez and Paul Spooner, which unfortunately retired with suspension problems after finishing stage 2.

Volkswagen Lupo Sport, Danny O'Reilly, Karen Phelps, Mailscot, Wyedean Forest Rally,

Finally the Psychoontyres best sense of Humour award goes to the #264 Volkswagen Lupo Sport crew of Danny O’Reilly and Karen Phelps who posted their retirement as “Lost luck of the Irish after SS6”.

Thanks for joining me on this “Lost Luck Of the Irish” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 1969 NASCAR contender. Don’t forget to come back now !


Drawin To It – Little Hotrod

In 1947 a two year old Charlie Lindmar was taken by his Dad to the races at New Jersey bullrings that included Hinchcliffe and Dover. He claims not to remember anything about these events as around that time he fell out of a 2nd story window and landed on his head !

The flowing year his Dad built a race car up around a red ’37 Ford with yellow wheels on to which Charlie’s Mom painted the #69, it was around this time Charlie got into drawing race cars an activity he has continued to this day.

Charles Lindmar, Limited Sportsman '37 Ford

While the car was being prepared Charlie would sit in the seat making car noises and it was not long before the crew working on the car gave Charlie the “Little Hotrod” nick name.

Limited Sportsman '37 Ford

Charlie’s Dad, who worked at an oil terminal near Linden airport only raced the #69 once and after starting and finishing last he decided to enter the #69 for better drivers most often at Rupert Stadium where he once earned $140 after a particularly good meeting.

'37 Limited Sportsman Ford

After moving the #69 had to take a back seat while Charlie’s dad was busy making a living, but even then Lindmars kept going to see the races. In 1953 Charlie’s Dad registered to enter his ’37 Ford as the #56 to race on the new 1 mile Old Bridge dirt oval, but he never did get around to taking the #56 car to the track, although the family regularly spectated at events there.

While a Senior at High school, where Charlie was especially good at art, he started drag racing a ’53 Mercury and working at a Sunoco gas station before taking a course in auto mechanics which got him a job at the Linden GM plant. By 1964 the 19 year old Charlie started building a race car up from a rough ’37 Chevy Coupé and like his Dad picked the #69 to go on the doors.

'51 Ford Pickup, '39 Chevy Limited Sportman.

With a ’52 Ford, Bonus Built F1, Pick Up that ran on only seven cylinders to tow the car Charlie’s first couple of meetings were steep learning curve experiences. He broke a drive shaft first time at Wall Stadium and forgot to check the transmission fluid the second time at Weissglass Stadium on Staten Island in New York.

At Ft Dix Charlie finally made the races and eventually had a career best 2nd place finish in a semi feature there. One time Charlie arrived early at Ft Dix and his truck overheated while waiting for the pit boss to show up, when he did eventually show Charlie had to push the truck, which refused to start, into the garage area with his race car !

In 1965 Charlie took his #69 Chevy to the Garden State Classic at Wall Stadium where he started his heat from the front row, but was punted off when his motor would not pull cleanly on the green flag. Later in the summer Charlie had the most fun when he raced at East Windsor.

Last time out at East Windsor Charlie qualified for the 100 lap final, even though he had not taken any account of the centrifugal forces acting on a new fuel tank in the turns which resulted in the tank slipping through it’s longitudinal securing straps and on to the track. He retired from the race because he ran out of time to secure the fresh race battery properly.

Joe Racz Headstone By Charles Lindmar

When Uncle Sam called on Charlie he joined the US Marines and the #69 Chevy was sold after Charlie’s Dad insisted he would not look after it. Charlie became a tractor trailer instructor before his enlistment ended in 1969.

Charlie never got back behind the wheel of a racing car, but instead got into making a living driving tanker trucks, getting married and starting a family. Eventually Charlie took his son to Wall Stadium.

After retiring from long haul driving Charlie returned to drawing old race cars, after cleaning his truck while waiting for lab tests and paperwork during loading or unloading for short hauls.

One day he was at Racz’s Garage which had been home to Joe Racz’s yellow #41 cars that Charlie had seen as a kid. A friendship between Joe’s nephew, Tom Rhodes and Charlie ensued which led Tom to commission Charlie to make a drawing for the headstone of his Uncle Joe’s grave many years later.

Charlie now has a web site for his art and his interest in drawing scenes from early stock car racing has led to him being invited to see the France, as in NASCAR dynasty, family archive.

Charles Lindmar, '39 Limited Sportsman Chevy

In 2010 Charlie was reunited with his old #69 Chevy, which in his dreams he had never sold or stopped racing, at an Old Bridge reunion after it had been sold for a $1,000 to the good home of the Allen family, some of whom Charlie had met long before the sale.

My thanks to Ray Miles at the Limited Sportsman Racers site and Chalie Lindmar, who’s erudite and unexpurgated story can be found in the “Articles” section of the lsracers site.

Thanks for joining me on this “Drawin To It” edition of “Getting’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Wonder Bread Special – Rigling #0113S

It’s the month of May where the focus of open wheel racing fans traditionally descends on Indianapolis of the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing” run, inclement weather not withstanding, on Memorial Day weekend. As in years passed this months Sunday blogs will look at some of the vehicles from Indy’s 103 year history starting with this 1933 Rigling.

Rigling & Henning Buick, Wonder Bread Special, Concours on the Avenue, Carmel by the Sea

Getting the story of US built cars that participated in the Indy 500 up to 1964 right is probably one of the more difficult challenges a motor historian can undertake, in part because the open wheel scene was largely a cottage industry with only a hand full of people in the know and in part because naming rights were sold in return for sponsorship. Identification and histories of cars from the low tech low cost so called Junkyard Formula of the post depression years 1930 – 1939 are particularly hard to discern because of the low budgets and many unannounced deals that took place to keep the grids full.

Rigling & Henning Buick, Wonder Bread Special, Concours on the Avenue, Carmel by the Sea

So far as I know the earliest appearance of a chassis credited to Herman Rigling was in the 1931 Indy 500 when 8 of the 40 starters are credited with being built by Rigling. The Rigling built cars were powered by either Buick, Miller, Studebaker, Clemons or Dusenberg motors. Top Rigling finisher was Phil Shafer in his Buick powered example known as the Shafer 8 he was classified 12th.

Rigling & Henning Buick, Wonder Bread Special, Concours on the Avenue, Carmel by the Sea

There is a photograph showing what appears to be today’s featured car, the #54 Wonder Bread Special, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1933 with rookie George Barringer at the wheel with Earl Allen his riding mechanician. George and Earl appear to have failed to qualify for the race.

Wonder Bread, a brand invented by the Indianapolis based Taggart bakery, did however sponsor the #18 Duesenburg driven by Joe Russo who classified 17th and running with 192 laps completed, while H.W. Stubblefield driving the #8 Abels and Fink Auto Rigling Buick did finish 5th in the The 21st International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race.

George Barringer made his first Indy start in 1934 driving the #18 Boyle Products Miller being classified 15th completing 161 laps before a front axle problem intervened. His best Indy 500 result came in 1939 when he finished 6th driving Bill Whites Well Offy.

Some of the above is at variance with the information displayed with the car at Concours on the Avenue in Carmel by the Sea some years ago, if you have evidence to show my information is incorrect please do not hesitate to chime in below.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing his photo’s of the #54 Wonder Bread Special seen at Concours on the Avenue, Carmel by the Sea in 2012.

Thanks for joining me on this “Wonder Bread Special” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me for Maserati Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Flower Power – Lotus 51A

Conceived by Geoff Clarke, manager of the racing school at brands Hatch, Formula Ford was introduced in 1967 for novice drivers as a means of getting a start in racing at an affordable cost.

Lotus 51A, Prescott

The original Formula Ford cars were based on those used at the racing school but fitted with a stock 1500cc / 91.5 cui pre crossflow Ford Cortina GT motor in place of the much more expensive to maintain Formula 3 race tuned motors.

Lotus 51A, Prescott

Brands Hatch played host to the very first Formula Ford race on July 12th, 1967. The race was one by Ray Allen driving a Lotus 51 similar to the one featured in todays blog.

Lotus 51A, Prescott

The first batch of Lotus 51 frames, including Ray Allen’s car, were actually welded up as Lotus 31‘s for use in Formula 3 but were retrospectively given the Lotus 51 tag when built to Formula Ford spec.

Lotus 51A, Prescott

Differences between the Lotus 51 and later 51A, seen here at Prescott, were minimal. For example brackets for an oil reservoir were not required on many 51A’s, if they ran with wet sump motor’s.

Lotus 51A, Prescott

Of the estimated 251 Lotus 51’s built, one, known as the 51R and unofficially as the Flower Power Lotus, was built as a road legal car complete with lights and mud guards.

Today’s featured Lotus 51A is driven by hill climber Briony Serrell.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Flower Power’ edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !