Tag Archives: G-Type

Braving The Elements – Bristol 450

Bristol Cars introduction to motor racing came as a supplier of 2 litre 6 cylinder motors which were used by chassis manufacturers that included AFN who produced Fraser Nash cars, Cooper, Lister, Lotus and smaller operations like Warrior.

Bristol 450, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

The first use of a Bristol 2 litre engine at Le Mans came in 1949 when Norman Culpan drove his Fraser Nash High Speed from Yorkshire to the La Sarthe circuit where he was joined by AFN director HJ Adlington and the pair recorded a third place finish 11 laps down on the winning Ferrari 166MM driven by Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon, after the race Norman drove his car back to Yorkshire and AFN produced a run of 34 cars known as Le Mans Replica and Le Mans Mk II’s, these cars have also since been replicated by Crosthwaite & Gardiner, Werner Oswald and others.

Bristol 450, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

In 1952 Percy Kemish and Stan Ivermee were responsible for setting up the Bristol’s Racing Department which included employees Ken Evans, Rupert Gildersleeve, and Stan Sparks.

Bristol 450, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

The chassis for the first Bristol 450 Le Mans challengers were based heavily on the Bristol powered ERA G-Type, an open wheeler with an unusually wide chassis and offset driver which had been bought from ERA proprietor Leslie Johnson at the end of the 1952 season, while the aerodynamically tested coupé body appeared remarkably crude with lights that looked like they had been added as an after thought.

Bristol 450, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

Two Bristol 450’s made the grid for the 1953 Le Mans race one retired when a connecting rod broke causing the car to skid off the Mulsanne Straight on the 30th lap and the second retired after a crankshaft balance weight sheered through the sump and exhaust causing a fire after completing 70 laps.

05 Bristol 450_4569sc

With the crankshaft balance weights removed Peter Wilson and Jack Fairman drove a 450 to a 2 litre class victory and 5th place overall in the Reims 12 hour race in July 1953.

Bristol 450, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

For 1954 the 450’s received refined coupé bodies with faired in headlights and two pronounced tail fins, this time the team finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in class at Le Mans as Peter Wilson with Jim Mayers, Tommy Wisdom with Jack Fairman and Mike Keen sharing with Tommy Line brought their cars in 7th, 8th and 9th places overall, at Reims the 450’s came home in 10th, 11th and 12th places overall, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the 2 litre class.

Bristol 450, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

For 1955 more speed was sought by taking the roofs off the cars and running them with a screen for the driver who now had to brave the elements and deck over the passenger seat as seen in these photos taken at last years Autumn Classic meeting at Castle Combe.

Running with the same driving squad as 1954, the now 150 mph cars achieved exactly same result at Le Mans as in 1954, this time with Mike Keen and Tommy Line pipping Tommy Wisdom and Jack Fairman for 8th place.

The teams prize monies for the 1955 race were donated to the fund set up to help the victims of the 1955 Le Mans disaster and the Racing Department was disbanded before the Bristol Cars Division was separated from the Bristol Aeroplane Company in Autumn 1955.

The teams cars were all broken up bar today’s featured car, which is said to have been built up from the best parts of the broken up cars but without one of the motors built for the 450 racing programme, for many years this 450 belonged to Bristol Cars proprietor Tony Crook.

Thanks for joining me on this “Braving The Elements” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 1990’s Mercedes Benz Le Mans Challenger. Don’t forget to come back now !

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Neville’s e-bay Find – DOHC Jaguar V12

A couple of years after retiring the works Jaguar Racing Team, from front line competition in 1955, Sir William Lyons and Chief Enginner William Heynes discussed building a team of 3 mid engined “G-type” models and returning to Le Mans the scene of five Jaguar victories with their XK 120 C, C-Type and D-Type models.

Jaguar DOHC V12,

In 1963, according to Jaguar records, the board of directors agreed to progress the first Jaguar V12 motor with a view to returning to Le Mans in 1965.

Jaguar DOHC V12

The first of two 5 litre / 302 cui double overhead cam (DOHC) V12’s, essentially 2 x 6 cylinder XK blocks sharing a common crank, ran for the first time in July 1964, it was started by the same Jim Eastwick that is seen at the control panel in today’s blog.

Jaguar DOHC V12

A number of factor’s including the planning for the production of the XJ6, launched in 1968, and a shortage of cash which led to the merger of Jaguar into British Motor Corporation which became British Motor Holdings in December 1966 meant the XJ13 project saw just one prototype completed in May 1966, but nothing was done with it until the following year.

Jaguar DOHC V12

At some point the second DOHC V12, today’s featured motor, was run in a prototype Mk 10 Jaguar and by 1969 it was run for the last time by the works for comparison emissions tests with a single overhead cam (SOHC) V12 that would go into production for the V12 E-type, XJ12 Saloon / Sedan, XJ 12C, Daimler Sovereign equivalents and XJ-S Coupé.

Jaguar DOHC V12

Today’s featured motor was then tidied up for a career on Jaguars exhibition stands at motor show’s in the UK and abroad, complete with chrome flywheel, it would appear that in the early to mid 1970’s it got left behind by the Jaguar works, by now part of the British Leyland empire in Germany.

Four years ago Jaguar enthusiast and racer Neville Swale was thinking about building a replica Jaguar XJ13 when a fellow racer who had similar idea’s but insufficient funds Richard Woods from the Avro Shacketon Preservation Trust told Neville about today’s featured motor which appeared on the German e-bay sight.

Jaguar DOHC V12

Neville knew he had to have it and as he boarded a train a few hours before the end of the auction he put in a bid by mobile phone and promptly lost reception.

Some hours later still on the train Nevilles reception returned and he was surprised to learn he won the auction and one of the rarest Jaguar motors ever built.

When he got the motor home from Stuttgart Neville determined not just to build a replica but a tool room replica XJ13 as close to the original 1966 version, sans big wheels and flared arches, as humanly possible.

I’ll cover the build of the car in future edition, but over the last 4 years Neville has converted the motor back to dry sump lubrication and built up a new fuel injection to replace that which was missing when he bought the motor.

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the first start of this motor in 45 years and the video shows the start and shut down.

At the end of the film Jonathan Heynes a former Jaguar apprentice who worked on the XJ 13 and son of the late Chief Enginner William Heynes who oversaw the development and build of DOHC V12 is seen shaking the hand of Jim Eastwick. Apologies for bad sound on the film.

My thanks to Neville and his wife Lizzie for making me feel so welcome during the start up proceedings. You can see more of Nevilles work on the project on his Building the Legend website linked here.

Thanks for joining me on this “Neville’s e-bay Find” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be taking a look at what is believed to be the oldest surviving stock car to take part in a NASCAR event. Don’t forget to come back now !

5/11/14 Correction this text originally stated Peter Crespin alerted Neville to the presence of the motor on e-bay it was in fact Richard Woods from the Avro Shacketon Preservation Trust who informed Neville. Apologies for any confusion.

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