Tag Archives: GN

VSCC Spring Start – Silverstone

A couple of weeks ago I headed over to Silverstone for the VSCC Easter Spring Start meeting during which 11 races took place.

GN Ford Piglet, Doug Cawley, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

Dougal Cawley headed the opening lap of the Fox & Nichol Trophy in his GN Ford known as Piglet, but after 12 mins it was a surprised Rudiger Friedrichs who took the flag on his debut on the 1932 #138 Alvis Firefly seen above in third place.

Frazer Nash Targa Florio, Ian Dalglish, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

Eddie Lees won the race for Frazer Nash and GN cars from Martin Hunt both driving Frazer Nash’s, Tony Lees in COGNAC is seen above about to relieve Ian Dalglish in the #172 Frazer Nash of third place while Martin Stretton is seen with head lights blazing on a mission to make up ground from a fall to eight
place on lap 2, he finished an eventual 5th.

Lotus 18/21, Peter Horsman, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

After a first corner in which Connaught driver Micheal Steele was sent airborne to the detriment of his car but fortunately without injury to the driver, the Pre 1966 HGPCA race for Grand Prix cars was restarted and Peter Horsman in his 1961 #22 2 1/2 litre Lotus Climax 18/21 led all the way after starting 3rd on the grid.

Frazer Nash Fast Tourer, Chris Chilcott, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

Chris Chilcott and Andy Bush are seen dicing for fourth on the opening lap of Race 4 for pre war sports cars, aboard Frazer Nash and Riley respectively, Chris never made it to the end of the first lap and Andy retired on lap 6 of the 8 lap race leaving Jo Blakeney – Edwards to win aboard her Frazer Nash.

Amilcar Hispano Special, Tom Walker, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

Seen blasting past Astrophysicist Robin Tuluie’s #20 Riley Menasco Pirate above is the GP Italia Trophy race winner Tom Walker in his Amilcar Hispano Special.

Lagonda V12 Le Mans, Darren McWhirter, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

The longest race of the day, half an hour, was the Tom Cole Trophy Race for 1950’s sports cars, won by Darren McWhirtter in the 1954 #64 Lagonda V12 Le Mans seen lapping the 1952 #10 Nash Healey Le Mans driven by Sam Stretton.

Riley 12/4 Special, James Whitmore, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

The longest race of the day was followed by the shortest, the 5 lap All Comers Short handicap that was won by James Whitmore in the 1934 #156 Riley 12/4 Special seen leading a gaggle of earlier starters above.

Farrallac Allard Sports, Tony Bianchi, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

After early leader Lister driver Roberto Giordaneli out braked himself on the end of the Club straight on the opening lap, Tony Bianchi took the lead of the 50’s Sports and Sports Racing cars race in his Cadillac powered #7 Farrallac and holding off eventual winner Mark Lewis in his #100 Lister Chevrolet for four laps of the ten lap race.

Lotus 12, Andrew Smith, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

For the first 11 laps of the 13 lap Patrick Lindsey Memorial and Amschel Rothschild Trophy Andrew Smith looked set to finish 2nd in his #10 Lotus 12, seen above being followed by eventual third place finisher Frederick Harper in his Kurtis Roadster, until pole sitter and leader Philip Walker spun his Lotus 16 and had to settle for second.

Morgan Plus 8, Keith Ahlers, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

Keith Ahlers smoked the field in the the AR Motorsport Morgan Challenge Series race leading all 18 laps from pole and setting fastest lap of the race to win by nearly half a minute in his fire breathing #29 Morgan Plus 8.

ERA E-Type GP1, Duncan Ricketts, VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

Three ERA’s took turns leading the final All Comers Scratch Race for Pre War cars but Terry Crabb aboard ERA 12C, Nick Topliss aboard ERA R4D both gave way to 3rd place starter Duncan Ricketts aboard the ERA E-Type GP1 who took the lead on lap 3 and help it to the finish 5 laps later.

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


COhen GN & AC – COGNAC Frazer Nash Special

S.A. COhen was responsible for building the first iteration of today’s featured car using I believe a 1925 Frazer Nash chassis with a solid axle and chain drive as originally developed by GN.

COGNAC Frazer Nash Special, Mallory Park,

The triple carburetor 2 litre / 122 cui aluminium block iron head six cylinder AC motor, that lent it’s initials to the last two letters of the cars name, is of a design that dates back to 1919 and remained in production up until 1963.

COGNAC Frazer Nash Special, Tony Lees, Chateau Impney

My understanding is that COGNAC was originally fitted with a two seat body that originated from an Amilcar with the radiator coming from a Hampton of a type I have not yet identified, if you know which model Hampton is shown in this linked image please do not hesitate to chime in below. and that the tail was modified to fit a spare wheel across the back of the car.

COGNAC Frazer Nash Special, Mallory Park,

It appears that the tail of the Amilcar body was modified to fit a spare wheel across the back of the car.

COGNAC Frazer Nash Special, Tony Lees, Mallory Park,

I am not sure exactly when S.A. Cohen competed with the car, the only report I have found so far describes him suffering with a slipping clutch at the Lewes speed trials in the June 1937 issue of MotorSport.

COGNAC Frazer Nash Special, Mallory Park,

A chap called Duchy at the Nostalgia Forum recalls his father owned the COGNAC Frazer Nash Special and used it as a road car in the mid 1950’s and that it was not converted into the single seater form seen here until the 1970’s.

COGNAC Frazer Nash Special, Tony Lees, Chateau Impney

Ron Footitt is the man responsible for converting the COGNAC Frazer Nash Special into a single seater for vintage racing in the 1970’s.

COGNAC Frazer Nash Special, Mallory Park,

I have seen several accounts of the story that Ron wanted his ashes scattered onto a racing circuit upon his death and that COGNAC’s next owner Freddie Giles obliged at Oulton Park, after winning a race he is said to have scattered Ron’s ashes from a glove on his slowing down lap.

COGNAC Frazer Nash Special, Tony Lees, Mallory Park,

Current owner Tony Lees is seen testing COGNAC at Mallory Park soon after he bought it in 2013 and at last years Chateau Impney Hillclimb.

Thanks for joining me on this “COhen GN & AC” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow far a look at the last in the current series of ERA’s. Don’t forget to come back now !


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 !


Wetherby Record In Perpetuity – GN Wasp

Jack Moor’s original Wasp was a motorcycle combination with a yellow and black stripped petrol tank and cigar shaped sidecar.

In 1923 he bought a 2 seat GN Vitesse which fellow comeptitor Basil Davenport advised be converted to a single seater, while carrying out the conversion Jack shortened the chassis by a foot.

GN Wasp, Winston Teague, Chateau Impney,

Later, to avoid perpetually finishing second to Basil in the 1.5 litre / 91 cui class, Jack enlarged his engine to 1510 cc / 92 cui so that he could compete in the up 122 cui class, which was not so keenly contested.

In 1931 the Vitesse based Wasp was wrecked against a telegraph pole after coming adrift of the towbar on the to Shelsley Walsh and Jack built a new vehicle based on a GN Akela.

GN Wasp, Winston Teague, Loton Park

After winning the 1.1 litre / 67 cui class at Shelsley Jack replaced the 4 valve cylinder heads with a pair of Norton motorcycle cylinder heads which involved building a new crankcase using pattern borrowed from Basil.

With the Norton heads fitted Jack set a new record at the Wetherby Speed Trials which will remain in perpetuity since the venue is now defunct.

GN Wasp, Winston Teague, Loton Park

After the 1939 – 45 hostilities Jack reassembled Wasp in just 33 days so that he could compete at Shelsley in 1946, but Jacks event ended with an impressive fire.

He rebuilt Wasp yet again with a box section chassis Morgan independent front suspension and Rudge motorcycle wheels.

GN Wasp, Winston Teague, Chateau Impney,

In August 1948 the engine blew up after a drive chain broke but once again the car, seen as the fore runner of G.N.A.T. which I looked at last week and Spider which I shall be looking at next week, was repaired.

Winston Teague is the current custodian of Wasp, seen in these photographs with him at the wheel at Chateau Impney and Loton Park, and he drives it no less enthusiastically than did Jack Moor, setting a record that still stands at Prescott in 2011.

My thanks to Tim Murray for lending me his copy of the 1971 edition of Special by John Bolster.

Thanks for joining me on this “Wetherby Record In Perpetuity” 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 !


No Body One Brake – GN G.N.A.T.

GN cars founded by H.R. Godfrey and Archibald Frazer-Nash in 1910 were were made in London up until 1923 and were initially notable for being built with wooden chassis with chain driven JAP engines or belt driven Peugeot engines.

GN G.N.A.T., John Wiseman, Chateau Impney,

By 1919 GN adopted steel chassis and engines of their own design, I believe today’s featured GN G.N.A.T. special has a 1919 steel chassis that was lightened, shortened and lowered by E.G.Sharp who fitted a front axle with a wider track than the rear starting the work in 1925.

GN G.N.A.T., Richard Wiseman, VSCC, Prescott,

Sharp acquired an unusual 1088 cc / 66 cui aircooled V twin JAP engine for the car that featured modified Vitesse cylinder heads that dispensed with the original overhead cam shafts in favour of pushrod operated overhead valves.

GN G.N.A.T., John Wiseman, Chateau Impney,

It was only after the valve gear had been redesigned by E.G.Sharp that the twin carburetor engine produced any useful power.

GN G.N.A.T., John Wiseman, VSCC, Loton Park,

Since the chassis had been lowered a much smaller diameter clutch was fitted with a length of rope tied to the clutch pedal for the driver to pull if the clutch failed to engage properly.

GN G.N.A.T., John Wiseman, Chateau Impney,

Originally E.G.Sharp omitted any bodywork as was common practice in the period and had only one break drum operational on the rear axle to slow the car down.

GN G.N.A.T., Richard Wiseman, VSCC, Prescott,

The car is described in “Specials” by John Bolster as “Very fast, but only moderately reliable” with it’s most notable achievements being a fatest time of the day, FTD, recorded at Stalybridge in 1928 and a class win at Shelsley Walsh in 1930.

Richard Wiseman is seen driving the GN G.N.A.T wearing blue overalls at Prescott while John Wisemann wearing white overalls is seen driving the car at Chateau Impney and on the start line at Loton Park.

My thanks to Tim Murray for kindly lending me his copy of “Specials” 1971 edition by John Bolster.

Thanks for joining me on this “No Body One Brake edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Layout By Committee – Hardy Special III

Having built a Riley based special Dick Hardy undertook his work on his second special in 1955 starting with a 1921 GN chassis he found under a pile of rubble at Micheal Meo’s garage in Hamstead around 1953.

Inspired by pre war Auto Unions Dick fitted a supercharged 1928 JAP twin engine, that he bought in 1954, behind the drivers seat in the Hardy Special II.

Hardy Special II, Rachel Williams, Chateau Impney

The Hardy Special II was quick but the period engines were weak, today the Hardy Special II is owned by the Gray family who still compete with it.

The VSCC committee appears to have refused to let Dick build another rear engined special, no doubt for fear of too many others being encourage to build similar vehicles and so the Hardy Special III came to be built with the engine in the front.

Hardy Special II, Rachel Williams, Chateau Impney

I gather Dick did not begin work on the Hardy Special III until he was already in his seventies around 2001.

He started by fitting the steering gear from a three wheel van to a 1922 GN chassis with 1932 Morgan front suspension.

Hardy Special II, Rachel Williams, Chateau Impney

Dick again chose a super charged motor for his third special, but this time a 1096cc / 66.8 cui V twin JAP KTOR.

Rachel Williams is seen at the wheel of the Hardy Special III in these photographs at Chateau Impney last year.

Hardy Special II, Rachel Williams, Chateau Impney

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


Schoolboys And A Handrill – Bloody Mary

Half brothers John and Richard appear to have been born in 1910 and 1912 respectively to Vary who married Richards father Richard (Snr) Bolster in 1911 the same year in which she and John’s father were granted a Decree Absolute. Richard (Snr) was killed in action in 1917 while serving with the rank of Major in the Royal Field Artillery. During the 1914 to 1918 Great War Vary, who was very interested in cars and motoring, is said to have driven her own Napier and a Mercedes as part of her contribution to the war effort. After the war Vary Bolster is said to have driven a 3 litre Bentley and spectated at Brooklands events organised by the BARC who’s strap line ran “The right crowd and no crowding”.

Bloody Mary, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

While still at school John and brother Richard set about building a special with the object of “driving around a field as dangerously as possible”. To build the tapered from the front to rear chassis the boys fashioned three longitudinal chassis rails from ash and joined them together with with steel brackets to two cross members front and rear. It would appear the most sophisticated tool at the boys disposal was a hand drill.

Bloody Mary, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

The original front axle had no suspension other than that afforded by the balloon aircraft tyres fitted to the wheels or brakes. The 1914 13 hp vee twin JAP motor, mounted between the center chassis rail and left chassis rail drove a chain attached to the Juckes, motorcycle, gearbox which in turn drove a rubber belt attached to a solid rear axle, carried in a pair of bronze bushes in gunmetal housings sourced from a Grahame White cycle car, mounted below the chassis rails and suspended by quarter elliptic springs. With the driver sitting to the right almost alongside the motor and gearbox the contraption in it’s original guise weighed around 230 kgs / 507 lbs and was said to be capable of 55 mph, and was slowed using “negligible” band brakes on the rear axle.

Bloody Mary, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

Not having scared them selves sufficiently, over time the car was developed, a GN tube front axle with leaf springs bound with “best quality blind cord” to the chassis replaced the original though again without brakes. The output was more than doubled to over 30hp with the acquisition of a more modern 4 cam JAP vee twin motor which required the rubber final drive be replaced by a chain twixt gearbox and rear axle. A semblance of a body was added along with the name “Bloody Mary” which has been interpreted as a jest against the stuffy preeminent establishment still prevalent in Britain between WW1 and WW2. Described as a determined “bon viver” John would later become well known for his “very blue“, language, after dinner speeches.

Bloody Mary, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

As the boys became undergraduates, John at Oxford and Richard at Cambridge, they started entering the road registered car into speed and trials competitions which meant wiring torches to the mudguards for illumination and obliging the passenger to perch precariously twixt hot exhaust to the front and above the rear chain. After finally scaring himself in Bloody Mary Richard eventually went on to build a second GN based special of which John said “owing to some oversight on the part of the licensing authorities, both cars had the same registration number” meaning care was taken that the two specials were never seen together.

Bloody Mary, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

John persevered with Bloody Mary fitting a new tubular front axle carrying 1928 vintage Austin Seven brakes and wheels. After two unfortunate “wild” young men fell off their Brough Superior motor cycles John replaced the 4 cam JAP which had given as much as 40 hp after much development, with first one over head valve KTOR JAP motor and fitted the second when it unexpectedly also became available using an ingenious spring loaded sprocket to compensate for firing irregularities between the two motors. In order to avoid back fires which would destroy the drive train John always needed four strong blokes to give him a push start, it was a tribute to Johns good standing in the paddock that he never had a shortage of volunteers.

Bloody Mary, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

On his first outing at Lewes Speed Trials in the now twin engined junk yard special the hubs burst as John was accelerating, while John fought to control the car through a series of wild slides he switched off the motors and coasted over the line with a time fast enough to win his class. The hubs were subsequently replaced with sturdier Frazer Nash items and in 1937 John was just a shade over 3 seconds slower than Raymond Mays’s supercharged ERA R4B up the Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb, a performance described in one contemporary report as ‘a miracle of wheel-winding’. At this point John retired Bloody Mary to build a new, faster, special with independent suspension augmenting the two JAP engines from Bloody Mary with two more to fashion beast with four JAP vee twins.

Bloody Mary, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

After the 1939 – 1945 war, in which half brother Richard lost his life serving in the RAF over Germany, John rebuilt Bloody Mary and from 1948 to 1953 he held the VSCC course record at Prescott with the machine in which he sat a mere 5″ off the ground. As Bloody Mary was becoming increasingly less competitive John’s competition driving career came to an end after a major accident in a race at Silverstone while driving a borrowed ERA.

Bloody Mary, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

John became a well known author one of his most popular books was called “Specials” and journalist with Autosport Magazine, he never used a type writer preferring to use Biro and paper as the tools of his trade. His activities included commentating on motor racing events for the BBC and in a similar role he was immortalised on film with a cameo role in the comedy The Fast Lady.

Bloody Mary eventually found it’s way to the National Motor Museum with ownership passing to his widow Rosemary Bolster upon John’s death in 1984. The car is seen in these photo’s at the 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend run at Gurston Down earlier this year.

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