Tag Archives: Curtiss

Silver Jubilee – Silverstone Classic

A couple of weeks ago I popped along to the Silverstone Classic Press Day to find out what will be happening at this years event that will be held on the 24th, 25th and 26th of July.

Benetton, Bentley, Silverstone Classic, Press Day,

This years event will see Silverstone Classic celebrating it’s own Silver Jubilee and a programme of races and demonstrations which will include prewar sports cars like the 1928 4 1/2 Litre Bentley driven by Clive Morley and Duncan Wiltshire and demonstrations by early 1990’s Formula One cars like Lorina McLaughlin’s ex Micheal Schumacher championship winning Benetton B192.

Silver Sunday, Silverstone Classic, Press Day,

One of the highlights of this years Silverstone Classic will be a parade for silver coloured cars of any age on “Silver Sunday“, might be tempted to enter my Golf IV for that one.

Maserati Quattroporte V, Silverstone Classic, Press Day,

Porsche, Maserati and Caterham Cars are official partners of this years event with Maserati having the honour of supplying the official pace car a Maserati Quattroporte V.

Lister Jaguar Continuation, Silverstone Classic, Press Day,

Above the first of the ten 2015 Continuation Knobbly Lister Jaguars is seen testing, this 1958 designed car is fully FIA compliant and should be taking part in the Stirling Moss Trophy for pre 1961 Sports Cars, I believe Stephen Bond may be the lucky owner of this one.

Alexis HF1, Silverstone Classic, Press Day,

Duncan Ragabliati holds the distinction of being the only driver to have competed in every Silverstone Classic since 1990 driving his 1959 #7 Alexis HL1 Formula Junior car seen above.

John Denis, Berliet Curtiss, Silverstone Classic, Press Day,

During the course of the day I took the opportunity of going on a couple of rides around the track, firstly aboard John Denis’s Curtiss OX5 V8 powered 1907 Berliet which was seriously sensational while sitting over three feet up with no windscreen when pulling all of 1,400 revs, fourteen hundred, hanginig onto a grab handle behind the drivers seat, on the Hangar Straight.

Talbot 105, Silverstone Classic, Press Day,

Equally sensational was Nicholas Pellet’s 1931 Talbot 105 team car which finished 3rd in the 1932 Le Mans 24 Hour Race, the cornering abilities of this car on the smooth Silverstone circuit have to be experienced to be believed.

VW Type 2, Silverstone Classic, Press Day,

Along with three days of on track entertainment Silverstone Classic will be hosting live performances from Paul Young, Status Quo with tribute perfomances by Fleetwood Bacs and The ZZ Tops, in what promises to be the most full on advance ticket only Silverstone Classic yet.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Silver Jubilee’ edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psychoontyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Geoffrey Horton’s first concours d’elegance of the year. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Car With The Silver Wheels – Monarch Curtiss

It appears at least two companies attempted to sell cars with the Monarch brand name prior to 1916, the first the Monarch Automobile Company of Aurora Illinois sold runabouts with guaranteed air cooled motors in 1906 and the second Monarch Motor Car Company of Detroit Michigan was founded by Joseph Bloom in 1913.

Monarch Curtiss, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol,

Today’s featured car has a chassis plate identifying it as a product of the later which is said to have used the the strap line “The car with the Silver Wheels”.

Monarch Curtiss, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol,

Joseph Bloom employed his brother in law Robert C Hupp, later of Hupmobile fame, to design at least three models, before the company was bankrupted in 1916, two with four cylinder motors and a third which was designed for a V8 motor.

Monarch Curtiss, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol,

Today’s featured Monarch is believed to have been built up by Mark Walker in the early 1990’s to replicate the Curtiss powered Romano Demon Special which 22 year old Rea Lentz drove to win the first Pikes Peak hillclimb in 20 mins 55.6 seconds.

Monarch Curtiss, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol,

Interestingly it has emerged that the Curtiss V8 motors originally had a life of just 20 mins before they were expected to be replaced in their training aircraft application.

Monarch Curtiss, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol,

One of motor sports great mysteries is about the fate of Rea Lentz, he has not been heard of since his unexpected triumph on the Pikes Peak Hillclimb.

Monarch Curtiss, Pittaway, Griffin, Bridgeyate,

These photo’s show current owner Duncan Pittaway at the wheel of the Monarch Curtiss in and around Bristol.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Car With Silver Wheels” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at some off road action. Don’t forget to come back now !


A Wonderful Doohickey – Franziss

Today’s featured car is another VSCC Special with an aircraft engine.

Franziss, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone,

The chassis for this one was sourced by Roger Sweet from a 1928 chain drive Frazer Nash and the motor is another WW1 era Curtiss OX5 V8.

Franziss, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone,

The motor on this car features a Miller roller rocker conversion which gave the motor an additional 10 hours of life, when used in aircraft particularly Jenny training aircraft, these motors were considered disposable and simply replaced when they had run out of hours.

Franziss, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone,

OX5 motors were available for as little as US$20 after WW1, today these fetch over £10,000 at auction, if you can find one.

Franziss, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone,

One Australian described Roger Sweets Franziss which was completed in 2004 as “a wonderful doohickey“.

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


Feisty Under The Bonnet – Berliet Curtiss

Berliet was founded by self taught mechanic Marius Berliet in 1894.

Berliet Curtiss, John Dennis, WB Memorial, Brooklands,

By 1907 when the chassis of today’s featured car was built Berliet had become France’s seventh largest vehicle manufacturer producing vehicles from 8 to 60hp that included a petrol/electric hybrid.

Berliet Curtiss, Silverstone Classic,

Jean Porporato competed with a Berliet on the 1907 and 1908 Targa Florio races finishing a best 4th in 1908.

Berliet Curtiss, Silverstone Classic,

Denis Brothers Limited was formed in 1901 when brothers John and Raymond Denis went into the vehicle manufacture business having started with bicycles manufacture in 1895.

Berliet Curtiss, Silverstone Classic,

By 1985 the company was best known for it’s commercial products particularly buses and motorised Fire Appliances when Bill Gunner, Bert Forrest and John Dennis (grandson of one of the original Dennis brothers) headed a group of a dozen ex-employees who pooled their redundancy money to set up a new company, John Dennis Coachbuilders to salvage part of the business that was being cut by the company which had evolved to become Helstair Dennis.

Berliet Curtiss, Silverstone Classic,

John Dennis is credited with having taken part in over 50 London to Brighton runs and when retirement beckond decided to build a Veteran vehicle with something “feisty under the bonnet.”

Berliet Curtiss, Silverstone Classic,

The fusion of 1907 Berliet chassis and 1916 8.3litre / 506 cui Curtiss V8 aero engine was completed just in time for the 2007 centenary of the opening of the Brooklands track.

Berliet Curtiss, Silverstone Classic,

Like Dennis Brothers Limited, now known as Alexander Dennis, Berliet became better known for it’s commercial and in particular military vehicles, in the late 1950’s it’s 600 and 700hp 6×6 T100 trucks built for the oil industry were the largest trucks in the world.

Berliet was first swallowed up by Citroën in 1967 and in 1974 it the company was sold on again to Renault under who’s ownership the marque and brand disappeared under the Renault Véhicules Industriels banner in 1978.

John Dennis is seen arriving at the summit of the Brooklands Test Hill at the wheel of the Berliet Curtiss in the top photo.

Thanks for joining me on this “Feisty Under The Bonnet” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be visiting Race Retro. Don’t forget to come back now !