Tag Archives: Roots

Classic & Retro Action Day – Castle Combe

The day after attending Goodwood Festival of speed David Roots invited me along to Castle Combe for the Retro & Classic Action Day which was a mixture of car show and track day.

MG TC, Classic & Retro Action Day, Castle Combe

In between the rain and thunder there was a fascinating array of vehicles to see like this 1946 MG TC.

Healey Duncan Drone, Classic & Retro Action Day, Castle Combe

Like some of the storied vehicles at Goodwood, some at Castle Combe had tragic tales to tell. The Healey Duncan Drone was built with a throw away body to keep the list price, and attendant 66% taxes, down on the domestic market. Extras for this car would have included a second seat and the spare wheel. This particular car took the start of the 1949 Mille Miglia at 6:25 am with James Cohen and Reg Hingett aboard. 35kms later Reg was dead after their car collided with a bridge and while James would eventually be repatriated back to the UK, he too would succumb to his injuries.

Ford Squire Cosworth, Classic & Retro Action Day, Castle Combe

In Latvia the Ford Prefect was built under licence as the Ford-Vairogs Junior I am not sure they would have had an estate / station wagon variant because the UK Ford factory was so busy they farmed out production of the Prefect Estate known as the ‘Squire’ to the coach builders Abbots of Farnham who were given brand new off the assembly line Prefect saloons / sedans to convert. This particular vehicle, built in 1960, is officially shown as no longer having it’s original 1,172 cc / 71.5 cui side valve motor good for 71 mph, but instead the official capacity is given as 1993 cc / 121.6 cui which is usually the sign of the presence of a 200hp motor taken from a Ford Sierra Cosworth or similar.

Datsun Fairlady 1500, Classic & Retro Action Day, Castle Combe

Before Datsun got the Jaguar E-Type inspired Fairlady ‘Z’ series up and running in 1970 their sports cars tended to follow the lines of the slightly more mundane MG’s and Triumph’s of the day. Above is a 1965 Fairlady with a 1500 cc / 91.5 cui 4 cylinder motor.

Ford Escort Cosworth Estate, Classic & Retro Action Day, Castle Combe

In 1969 I was lucky enough to travel overland from Durban in South Africa to Mufulira in the back of a Ford Escort Estate Mk 1 with my folks, over following holidays we made it as far as Malindi in Kenya in the same car. In 1977 when my folks came back to the UK they bought a Ford Escort Estate Mk II not unlike the one seen above. The gentleman who own’s the yellow car tells me it was his first car, unlike my folks, he has swapped out the original 1300cc / 79.3 cui motor for a 200hp Ford Sierra Cosworth unit which would probably get him from Durban to Malindi days if not a week faster than we could ever have hoped to do it.

ALFA Romeo 33 Cloverleaf 2, Classic & Retro Action Day, Castle Combe

My first visit to Castle Combe in 1987 is indelibly linked to the memory of friends race winning #143 ALFA Romeo 33 which got wrecked, after he had abandoned the car at Quarry, by an errant ALFA Sud. My friend was unhurt and he came back toward the end of the season with another car to score a win. Seeing the later Red ALFA Romeo Cloverleaf 2 33 above in the paddock brought those memories flooding back like it all happened yesterday.

TVR Tamora, Classic & Retro Action Day, Castle Combe

Finally I was parked opposite this lush Opal White Pearlescent TVR Tamora and couldn’t take my eye’s off it while sat in my car waiting for the thunder and rain to abate. The owner tells me that while the car was undergoing various mechanical upgrades by ex TVR factory personnel he had the car resprayed, at £300 pounds a tin the paint is not cheap the whole respray came in at an eye watering £7,500. About ten times the value of my Golf and probably two or three times the sum I have spent on every one of the twenty or thirty cars I have ever bought combined ! Still it was without question worth it, there is only one other Tamora painted the same colour.

My thanks to David Roots for inviting me along to Castle Combe.

Thanks for joining me on this “Classic & Retro Action Day” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. 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 !