Tag Archives: Boyce

Hydraulics & Pre Selectors – Maserati 8CM #3011

Entering his third and final season of motor racing American born Whitney Willard Straight decided to pull out all the stops and create his own Grand Prix team with Reid Railton and the Earl of Brecknock for 1934 called Whitney Straight Ltd.

The team ordered no less than three Maserati 8CM’s of which chassis #3011 was the first, featuring a narrow 1933 specification 20″ inch wide chassis and a 3 litre / 183 cui straight 8 motor designed by Alfieri Maserati who died early in 1932 just before the first 8CM was completed.

Maserati 8CM, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

Unusually the 8CM was fitted with hydraulic brakes, a feature that had first been seen in the early 1920’s but an idea that had not been taken up by the likes of Bugatti on their Type 35’s for example.

Former Alfa Romeo mechanic Giulio Ramponi was employed to prepare the Straight cars and he was responsible for fitting a Wilson pre selector gearbox to #3011 and the remaining team cars.

Maserati 8CM, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

To the best of my knowledge Whitney drove the white and blue painted #3011 exclusively in 1934 and after recording a speed of 135.49 mph over a flying mile at Brooklands he won four events 2 at Brooklands one at Donington and another in East London, South Africa.

At the end of the year Whitney retired from the sport as he had promised his wife and #3011 passed onto Harry Rose who recorded a class win on the Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb in 1935.

Maserati 8CM, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

Richard Seaman, who had introduced Whitney Straight to motor racing while at Cambridge, drove #3011 to a victory at Donington Park in 1936 shortly before it was acquired by White Mouse Racing for the Siamese Prince Birabongse Bhanutej Bhjanubandh Bira.

Bira had the car painted blue and kept #3011 until 1947 winning events at Brooklands in 1937 and 1939 and following the end of hostilities recorded two second place finishes in the Brighton Speed Trials in 1946 and 1947.

Maserati 8CM, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

Kenneth McAlpine of the construction empire bearing the same name became the next owner of #3011 and raced the now black car through 1948 wining the Weston Super Mare sprint on what appears to have been his final drive in the car.

In 1951 Leslie W. Boyce drove #3011, painted red, for a final appearance at the Brighton Speed Trials where he finished with 8th fastest time.

Maserati 8CM, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

#3011 remained in the UK, spending some time on display in the Doune Motor Museum.

In the 1980’s #3011 went to San Francisco where it was reunited with it’s original motor that had been swapped out by Harry Rose in 1935.

Maserati 8CM, Robert Newall, Goodwood Revival

Today #3011 is one of the 10, from the original 17, 8CM’s built known to remain.

#3011 is owned by Christopher Jaques and is seen with Robert Newall at the wheel during the 2012 Goodwood Revival where it was demonstrated with the Silver Arrow’s some of which it was designed to, unequally, compete against in 1934.


Backyard Hi Tec – Amon Cosworth AF101

This month’s Sunday posts will feature 5 Formula One cars that ran in the 1974 season for which the then 31 year old Le Mans winner Chris Amon decided to follow in the foot steps of Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren by building a car bearing his own name.

Amon Ford F101, Maydon, Siverstone Classic

It would appear Chris had plans to build both Formula 1 and Formula 5000 cars the latter to race in the lucrative US series with up and coming Australian Larry Perkins; a driver, engineer and sofa surfer who was making his way through the junior ranks in the UK. However despite financial backing from amateur racer John Dalton only the Formula One spec AF101 featured here ever saw the light of day.

Chris commissioned Gordon Fowell to provide him “with a sophisticated chassis” powered by a Ford Corsworth DFV motor driving the rear wheels through a Hewland gearbox. Gordon had designed the attractive, if underpowered, Martini sponsored 1973 Tecno E731 that Chris drove in practice at three meetings in 1973 but had never raced.

Amon Ford F101, Maydon, Siverstone Classic

The AF101 chassis, fabricated by Thompson who were also responsible for fabricating the Tecno E731 and Ferrari 312 B3, was certainly sophisticated with unique, for the time, central fuel cell that would become deriguer once ground effects were better understood with the introduction of the Lotus 79 in 1978. The car also had titanium torsion bar suspension and inboard front brakes, as did the well proven Lotus 72.

Responsibility for the aerodynamics was handed over to Professor Tom Boyce, and almost every time the car appeared it had a different nose including a high wing when it was first tested, a chisel nose in Spain where it first raced, a shovel at Monaco where the car qualified but did not race and then a lower full width wing was tried when the car failed to qualify in Germany and Italy.

Amon Ford F101, Maydon, Siverstone Classic

Unfortunately the AF101 proved a little to sophisticated for Chris’s budget, despite Larry Perkins saving a fortune in hotel bills with his sofa surfing skills, the little team folded having clocked just 22 laps in the 1974 Spanish Grand Prix before a brake shaft broke. Looking back on the project Chris conceded that he had attempted to build, what turned out to be a fragile hi tec vehicle on a backyard budget when he might have achieved more with a vehicle that was a little less ambitious and a little more reliable.

Larry Perkins loyalty was rewarded with an attempt at qualifying the Amon in the German Grand Prix after Chris was taken ill, unfortunately the combination of the Nurburgring, a rookie driver and a fragile car proved too much of a challenge for the team.

Amon Ford F101, Maydon, Siverstone Classic

After out qualifying Ricky von Opel and his works Brabham BT44 in the 1974 Spanish Grand Prix Chris was offered the second works Brabham drive for the rest of 1974, but turned it down out of loyalty to his own employees. Just as in 1973 when Tyrrell stepped in to offer Chris a couple of end of season drives after the demise of the Tecno team, at the end of 1974 BRM stepped in to offer Chris a couple of drives in the wonderful BRM P201, a model I’ll be looking at in a couple of weeks.

Post Italy 1974 the Amon was abandoned, restored and languished in a German Museum before it was restored to running condition in 2005. It is currently owned and raced by Ron Maydon in the Grand Prix Masters Series, Ron is seen driving the AF101 at Silverstone a few years ago.

Amon Ford F101, Maydon, Siverstone Classic

Thanks for joining me on this Backyard Hi Tec edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be starting a new GALPOT feature “Maserati Monday”. Don’t forget to come back now !