Tag Archives: Halford

Side Saddle With Romy – Maserati 250F #2521

Today’s featured Maserati 250F was a new factory racer for the start of the 1956 season when Jean Behra drove it to a second place finish on it’s debut in the 1956 Argetinian Grand Prix behind the Ferrari shared by Luigi Musso and Juan Manuel Fangio.

Maserati 250F, Silverstone Classic,

Jean drove the car, identified by the #2518 chassis tag on it’s forst two appearances, at least in six further races which included 3rd place finishes in the Grand Prix run at Monaco, Reims in France, Silverstone in Britain and the Nurburgring in Germany.

Maserati 250F, Silverstone Classic,

In 1957 Scuderia Centro Sud entered the car in possibly as many as three events in September 1957 for Bruce Halford who finished 7th in the non Championship International Trophy at Silverstone and Modena Grand Prix races.

Maserati 250F, Silverstone Classic,

In October ’57 Jean Lucas drove #2521 for American entrant John du Puy to an eight place finish in the Moroccan Grand Prix.

Maserati 250F, Silverstone Classic,

In 1958 Monegasque André Testut bought #2521 he failed to finish the 1958 Syracusse Grand Prix after which he had the car rebodied before appearing at the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix where André failed to qualify for the second consecutive year.

Maserati 250F, Romy Schneider, Monaco

However cinematic feté appears to have smiled kindly on #2521 as at the time of the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix Hungarian film director Géza von Radványi was making a German Romantic Commedy called Ein Engel auf Erden, An Angel on Earth, staring Frenchman Henri Vidal as a suicidal racing driver and Romy Schneider as an air hostess and angel sent to save him.

Maserati 250F, Romy Schneider, Henri Vidal, Nice Airport

In the film Henri is depicted driving #2521, with André Testut acting as his double in the racing scenes, to victory in the Monaco Grand Prix with a little devine intervention from above, at the end of the race he stops to pick up Romy and is seen driving to Nice Airport with Romy riding sidesaddle on the back of #2521.

If you speak German you can see the film on this link, or there is a version of the film called Mademoiselle Ange in French on this link.

Tragically soon after the making of this film Henri Vidal was to die of heart attack in December 1959. Coincidentally Romy Schneider also died of a heart attack in May 1982.

My thanks to Alan Cox at The Nostalgia Forum for confirming the identity of today’s featured car.

Thanks for joining me on this “Side Saddle With Romy” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I shall be looking at the last in the current series of Bugatti’s. Don’t forget to come back now !


Unfinished Business – Lister Coupe #

After building a successful range of open top sports racing cars powered by MG, Bristol, Jaguar and Chevrolet motors between 1953 and 1958 Brian Lister turned to Frank Costin to build an all new spaceframe chassis with an open body to be powered by a 3 litre six cylinder Jaguar XK motor for a crack at Le Mans which he considered “unfinished business”.

01 Lister Coupé_7625sc

However after the death of his lead driver Archie Scott-Brown at Spa driving a Lister in 1958 and the fatal accident which killed his 1959 leading driver Ivor Bueb, driving a Cooper open wheeler in 1959, Brian Lister was prompted to retire from building racing cars bearing his name leaving the 3 litre spaceframe project which had never been given a chassis number unfinished.

Lister Coupé, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

Rhostyllen, North Wales, garage proprietor Syd Diggory finished the open bodied spaceframe car off fitting a 3.8 litre Jaguar motor in 1960. Syd entered the car in several events for Bruce Halford, who won one race at Brands Hatch with it.

Lister Coupé, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

John Coundley acquired it in 1961 after his own Lister chassis #126 with the registration WTM446 had been damaged by Stephen Ouvaroff on the set of the film “The Green Helmet”.

Lister Coupé, Goodwood Revival

12 months later Le Mans racer Peter Sargent bought both the space frame Lister and the damaged, in former owner John Coundley’s eyes ‘written off’ tube framed #BHL126 registered WTM446. Peter commissioned the space framed car’s designer Frank Costin to design the double bubble closed coupé body fabricated from aluminium which is seen on the car today. Frank also made various chassis and suspension modifications to accommodate rising rate front suspension and 15″ Dunlop wheels.

Lister Coupé, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

Peter Sargent was joined by Peter Lumsden at the 1963 Le Mans test weekend to drive the barely finished unpainted rebodied car, bearing the registration number WTM446 from the older #BHL126 Lister and temporarily fitted with Webber carburetors.

Lister Coupé, Goodwood Revival

The Coupé proved to be quicker than the E-Type Jaguar the two Peters had shared at Le Mans in 1962 but was in need of further development which continued right up until the day before the race when it was found that a subframe was allowing the front wheels to toe out like a ‘barn door’.

Lister Coupé, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

With a fix for the suspension the Lister went to the grid with a fuel injected motor rebuilt by Jaguar fitted with oval exhausts in place of the round ones to raise the ground clearance. The Lister reached 16th place by the third hour of the event when it’s retirement was brought about by clutch failure.

Lister Coupé, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

Peters Lumsden and Seargeant continued developing and racing the Lister Coupé with some success in club meetings through 1963.

In 1964 John Coundley and Jack Fairman shared the car in the 1000 kms race at the Nurburgring where they qualified a lowly 68th and retired with rear suspension failure on the Coupé’s final international appearance.

David Harvey, now Jaguar owners club chairman become the next owner of the unique Lister and had it fitted with a D-Type motor and gearbox. David and his wife drove it competitively in sprints and hillclimbs, earning a class record at Gurston Down, and when his usual road car was off the road the Coupé was also used as a daily driver since it was registered and taxed with it’s WTM 446 registration.

The known chain of ownership of the Coupé includes historic owner and collector Neil Corner before it was acquired by Hexagon of Highgate who had the roof chopped off to return the car to the open top specification as it was raced from 1960 to 1962. In 1972 Gerry Marshall won the last ever motor race run at Crystal Palace in the open top space frame Lister. Some years later Gerry drove the car again under new ownership to win the 1980 Lloyds and Scottish Championship historic series.

The Coupé GT bodywork was returned to the car by Maurice Gomm for Dr Philippe Renault a private museum owner from Le Mans in the mid 1980’s.

More recently the Lister Coupé has become a regular competitor at Goodwood Revival where it survived major damage in 2006 and 2010. In 2012 the Lister Coupé was shared by 1970 Le Mans winner Richard Attwood and 1992 British Touring Car Champion Tim Harvey.

The two entities that have born the registration WTM446 became the subject of a court battle after the Lister #BHL126, which former owner John Coundley had considered a “write off”, was brought back to life.

The new owner of the rebuilt #BH126 took the owner of the spaceframe Lister Coupé and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to court in a dispute over who owned the WTM446 registration. The Court appears to have found that no car should have that number and has not issued it to either vehicle since.

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


To Turbocharge Or Supercharge – Halford Special / Aston Martin #1916

In 1922 Bamford & Martin built 2 cars to compete in the French Grand Prix, the spare engine for this project was fitted to Razor Blade in 1923.

Cheyne, Halford Special, VSCC, Prescott

Bamford & Martin also built a number of vehicles for customers to race and the Halford Special carrying the chassis number #1916 and the registration number OR 1 was one of these. In 1923 W G Barlow is known to have competed with #1916 at the Aston Clinton Hill Climb, from which Bamford & Martin adopted the “Aston” and merged it with “Martin” to arrive at the ‘Aston Martin’ Marque name, and at Brooklands where he finished 4th in the JCC Spring meeting.

Cheyne, Halford Special, VSCC, Prescott

Captain G E T Eyston, later of Thunderbolt Land Speed Record Fame, drove #1916 in a Voiturette, (up to 1.5 litre / 91.5cui) race at Boulogne where he crashed. Major Frank Halford, who along with Eyston had competed with Razor Blade bought the wreck and replaced the 55hp four cylinder motor with a new 1.5 litre / 91.5 / cui twin plug, twin overhead cam, 12 valve, six cylinder motor of his own design. The Major fitted the motor with a turbocharger, probably the first to fit such a device to a racing car, but it proved unreliable in testing and so he reverted to using Roots type super charger driven off the crankshaft to produce 95 hp.

Cheyne, Halford Special, VSCC, Prescott

Fitted with a new two seater body #1916 the Major raced the car in 1925 only to find the radiator was too small. After it was replaced with a larger one, a second 120 hp motor fitted with a Berk supercharger was also used in the car which was renamed Halford Special. In 1926 the Major drove his Halford Special to 3 victories at Brooklands on the long and short tracks and “podiumed” on at least half a dozen further occasions.

Cheyne, Halford Special, VSCC, Prescott

Captain Eyston bought the Halford Special in 1927 and won another race at Brooklands before finishing 4th in the French Grand Prix run at Monthléry. During the 1930’s Viscount Ridley dismantled the Halford Special fitting one of the motors to his Bugatti Type 35 and the other into a speed boat which sank to the bottom of a lake, where it remained for two years.

James Cheyne, seen at the wheel of the Halford Special at Prescott, collected all the pieces and rebuilt the Halford Special in the 1970’s, since when it survived an accident at Silverstone in 2008.

Turbocharging eventually started making an impact on racing, first in the Cummins Diesel Special at Indy, in 1952 and ’53.

Thanks for joining me on this “To Turbocharge of Supercharge” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psychoontyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Poetry and Motion – Aston Martin Razor Blade

During the course of the coming month “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” will be celebrating the centenary of Aston Martin with posts featuring the marque on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays and on Thursdays I’ll be celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Corvette, Friday’s will be devoted to Ferrari’s and Tuesdays to Automobilia.

Aston Martin, Razor Blade, Prescott

Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded Bamford & Martin in 1913 to sell Singer cars. The first car built by Bamford and Martin was given the marque name Aston Martin in 1915, but because of the Great War of 1914 – 1918 it did not go into production. The Aston name was adopted from the Aston Hill near Aston Compton where Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin were regular successful competitors.

Shaw, Aston Martin, Razor Blade, Prescott

During a period of post war financial turmoil and several bankruptcies up until 1926 Bamford & Martin built 55 cars for sale along with ‘Razor Blade’ which was built for in an attempt to become the first car to record an average speed of 100mph over one hour in a light car at Brooklands, however AC Cars pipped Martin & Bamford to the post recording 101.39 mph (163.17 km/h).

Shaw, Aston Martin, Razor Blade, Prescott

The chassis was specially made, but many of the remaining parts were standard Aston Martin items. The 55 hp 1.5 litre / 91 cui four cylinder motor, based on half a 1921 Ballot 3 litre / 183 cui 8 cylinder motor, was a spare Aston Martin had built for their 1922 French Grand Prix car.

Shaw, Aston Martin, Razor Blade, Prescott

The body work, built by the De Havilland Aircraft Company, is just 18 1/2″ wide at it’s widest point making it one of the, if not the, narrowest racing cars ever built. Originally an aerodynamic bubble was fitted on top of the cockpit and the car was temporarily known as “The Oyster”, but Lionel Martin could not find drivers diminutive enough to fit inside. SCH Davis managed to lap Brooklands consistently between 103 mph and 104 mph, faster than the one hour record set by AC Cars, but had to give up their record attempt because the front offside tyres repeatedly came off.

Shaw, Aston Martin, Razor Blade, Prescott

Major F.B. Halford was the first driver to race Razor Blade, crossing the line first in a handicap race, 5th on handicap, during the B.A.R.C. August Meeting at Brooklands and the following month the following poem appeared in the The Light Car and Cyclecar magazine :-

Major F. B. Halford
(The intrepid driver of the “razor blade” Aston-Martin racer)
With razor blades we’re all acquainted;
Some are good, others painted.
Halford Smiles; he’s found a winner;
Diet follows – make him thinner.

Later in 1923 the Major set a standing kilometer class record of 66.54 mph, while Herbert Kensington-Moir drove Razor Blade to a standing mile class record of 74.12 mph.

Halford Special, Aston Martin, Razor Blade, Prescott

Razor Blade is seen in these photographs at Prescott Hill Climb with Colin Shaw at the wheel, above Razor Blade is seen next to the Halford Special built by Major F. B. Halford on an Aston Martin chassis which I’ll be looking at in greater detail tomorrow.

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


Oblique Mounted Engine – Lotus 16

The Lotus 16 was Colin Chapmans second single seat / open wheel design built for the 1958 season with lessons learned from the Lotus 12.

Lotus 16, Silverstone Classic

Unlike the 12 which had an offset motor fitted so that the driver could sit next to instead of on top of the prop shaft running to the rear of the car, the Lotus 16 has an obliquely mounted motor running right side front to left side rear which made a big difference to the way the car handled.

Above Eddie McGuire is seen at Silverstone in the remains of the very first Lotus 16 chassis #362.

Lotus 16, Goodwood Revival

The Lotus 16 did not prove particularly successful with Graham Hill scoring a best 6th place in the 1958 Italian Grand Prix. Though it should be noted the cars motors were giving away 500cc / 30.5 cui to their rivals. Lotus persevered with the 16 the following season, now with full size 2.5 litre / 152.5 cui Coventry Climax motors with Innes Ireland scoring 4th and 5th place finishes in the Dutch and Portugese Grand Prix respectively.

For 1960 the Lotus 18, with it’s motor in the back replaced the 16 but the 16’s were used on four further occasions with out any further success. Bruce Halford who made an ill feted start in the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix driving a private John Fisher entered Lotus 16, bought a similar model in the mid 1970’s and turned it into a regular winner of historic events.

Jochuln Folch-Rusinol can be seen in the #12 above overtaking the 1959 Technica Mechanica Maserati of Tony Wood at the Goodwood Revival. These two cars along with the 1959 Ferrari 246 Dino represented the pinnacle of front engined Grand Prix racing cars that were comprehensively beaten and superseded by the rear engined Coopers in 1959 and 1960 when Lotus joined the rear engined revolution with the Lotus 18.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Oblique Mounted Engine’ edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 6 cylinder V8 star of the small screen ! Don’t forget to come back now !


Cars, Buses and Aeroplanes – Brooklands Museum

Late last year my appetite was whetted by the William Boddy Tribute Day at Brooklands for a second visit to the museum.


Brooklands lays claim to being the Worlds first purpose built motor circuit, it was the built, along with one of the Englands first purpose built airfields by Hugh Locke King on 330 acres of his estate at Weybridge in Surrey.

Halford, Brooklands

Among the many innovative exhibits is the Halford Special built on an Aston Martin chassis with a Halford 6 cylinder motor designed and built by Major Frank B Halford with a turbo charger in 1925. The turbocharger did not prove to be successful and was eventually replaced by a super charger with which the Halford Special recorded at least three wins at Brooklands. Halford was responsible for designing the air cooled de Havilland Gypsy and working on the Napier Sabre piston aircraft engines and the de Havilland Goblin ‘Gas Turbine’ jet engine.

Humber 14/40, Brooklands

I’m not sure if this late 1920’s Humber 14/40 is an exhibit or someones daily driver, it was one of numerous vehicles that are obviously still in regular use dotted around the museum.

Morgan, Brooklands

Above The Clive Lones Morgan was used by Clive at Brooklands from 1929 to 1935 winning 37 world records during that time, it was the first ‘Light Car’ to lap Brooklands Outer Circuit at an average speed of 100 mph in 1930. This car was also used in an experiment to test the viability of pits to driver radio contact, the loudspeakers eventually proved unequal to the task of competing with the noise from the JAP motor.

Napier Railton, Brooklands

The Napier Railton was comissioned by John Cobb in 1933, designed by Reid Railton with a 24 litre / 1461 cui 500 hp W12 Napier Lion motor the car was driven to the all time lap record at Brooklands in 1935 of 143 mph. It broke 47 World Records at Brooklands, Montlhéry and Bonneville Salt Flats. Capable of 168 mph the Napier Railton, which is regularly driven at Brooklands and Goodwood events, has rear wheel brakes only !

AEC Regent One, Brooklands

Brooklands is also home to the London Bus Museum which houses a splendid collection of public transport vehicles that have graced the streets of London for over 100 years. Above an early double deck 1933 AEC Regent 1 that was converted into a single deck use for attending break downs from 1949 until 1971. Apparently in double deck form it was hit by a flying bomb in 1944 and rebuilt as a double decker only to be rebuilt as a single decker.

Wellington, Brooklands

Flying has been apart of Brooklands history since 1907, AV Roe started trials with his first planes at Brooklands in 1908 during the Great War the Sopwith Pup and Camel were developed at Brooklands and during the Second World War Hawker Hurricane fighters and Vickers Wellington Bombers like the one above were built at Brooklands. Apparently my Grand Mother was involved in pre assembling parts for Wellington’s often bringing home parts which my Dad and Uncle helped put together after school. This is the only surviving Wellington built at Brooklands, it was recovered from Loch Ness in the 1980’s after some Loch Ness Monster hunters found her.

AEC Militant Mk 1, Brooklands

Miss Milly Tant is a six wheel drive AEC Militant built for the British Army in 1954, she spent most of her time in storage and was sold off as surplus to London Transport in 1966. Converted with to a Master Breakdown Tender with a ten ton lifting capability by Boughton’s of Amersham she was used by London Transport until 1980. In 1983 she was acquired by the National Rescue Group and based at Brooklands and regularly used to attend incidents on the A3 and M25 and has been on loan to Brooklands since the 1990’s.

Vickers VC10, Brooklands

From 1962 to 1970 Vickers manufactured 54 VC10 passenger aircraft at Brooklands. Capable of take off and landing from much shorter airfields than the rival Boeing 707 the VC10 was ideal for flying to Britain’s former colonies in Africa, indeed from 1970 to 1977 I clocked up well over 200,000 miles as a VC10 passenger with BOAC / BA and BUA / British Caledonian flying from London to Lusaka in Zambia. The VC10 was particularly quiet as a result of it’s 4 Rolls Royce Conway engines being mounted beneath the tail plane. The VC10 still holds the subsonic speed airliner record for a London to New York Atlantic crossing with only Concorde being faster.

Meteor, Brooklands

The 4 x 4 1987 Gloster Saro Meteor airport fire engine, above, is powered by a 12 litre / 732 cui motor and served at Heathrow Airport. The Meteor can carry a crew of 4 along with 600 gallons of water 50 gallons of foam concentrate amongst several tons of additional kit required to deal with airport fires.

I look forward to returning to Brooklands and exploring the collections of cars, commercial vehicles and aircraft in greater detail.

Thanks for joining me on this Cars, Buses and Aeroplanes edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !