Tag Archives: Vitesse

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 !


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 !


Power & Roadholding – Bond Equipe 2 Litre Convertible

In 1967 Bond expanded it’s range of four wheel vehicles from the hitherto single Triumph Herald based Equipe 4S to include a Triumph Vitesse based Equipe 2 Litre GT.

Bond Equipe Convertible, Bristol Classic Car Show

The following year the chassis was upgraded to the new Mk II Vitesse type which featured improved power and rear suspension leading to the marketing strap line “The New Bond is great on power, great on road holding.

Bond Equipe Convertible, Bristol Classic Car Show

1968 also saw the launch of the Convertible version of the six cylinder Equipe 2 litre which was marketed like all Equipe’s through Standard Triumph dealerships.

Bond Equipe Convertible, Bristol Classic Car Show

With an envious eye on Bond’s distribution agreement with Standard Triumph, Reliant, manufacturers of Scimitar cars, purchased Bond in 1969 with a view to expanding the distribution of it’s own vehicles. However these plans came to nought in the wake of Triumphs merger into the British Leyland conglomerate which rationalised that the sales of Bond’s alongside Triumphs own products was superfluous.

Bond Equipe Convertible, Bristol Classic Car Show

The 1969 model seen here is one of just 841 convertibles built between 1968 and 1970 when production of all Bond’s in Preston was wound down and the manufacturing facilities closed by their new owners Reliant.

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


1977 ECotY – Rover Vitesse

There were not many four door executive vehicles that would look comfortable parked along side a Ferrari or Maserati in the 1970’s but the Rover SD1 powered by the familiar alloy Buick derived V8 and designed by David Bache is certainly one that could keep such company in any car park and not look out of place.

Rover SD1 Vitesse, Atwell Wilson MM

Thanks in part to a painfully slow process of rationalisation that was occurring at British Leyland during the early 1970’s involving many duplicitous departments and management within the nationalised organisation it took 54 months for the SD1 to move from drawing board to production.

Rover SD1 Vitesse, Atwell Wilson MM

David Bache was not in the least shy about his design influences incorporated into the SD1 including these indicator lights which are almost identical to those found on a Ferrari Daytona.

Rover SD1 Vitesse, Atwell Wilson MM

Built in a new purpose built £31 million factory in Solihull the SD1 was marketed as the Rover 3500 and launched in July 1976 to an ecstatic reception regarding the styling and performance, though the quality of some of the materials used and build were short of the market leaders particularly the emerging BMW brand. The deep front spoiler and BBS pattern wheels on this model signifies a later model in this case built in 1986.

Rover SD1 Vitesse, Atwell Wilson MM

The Vitesse badge hitherto associated with Triumph models belies the fact that the SD1 had technical and marketing input from the still separate and competing Triumph design and management offices. In late 1980 the Rover Vitesse, seen here at the Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, was introduced as the performance version of the Rover 3500 and the Vanden Plas the Luxury version that included leather seats.

Rover SD1 Vitesse, Atwell Wilson MM

While the styling of the SD1 was ahead of it’s time the rear suspension was actually a technological step back from the de Dion suspension used on the previous Rover P6 to a live rear axle, though this made the cars easier and cheaper to build the move did not compromise the handling, much praised in the contemporary press, in anyway.

Rover SD1 Vitesse, Atwell Wilson MM

Since British Leyland had so many competing brands in its range the 1977 European Car of the Year award winner was not the money spinner that it should have been because it was priced so as not to compete directly with the Jaguar XJ6 against which it was seen in an extremely favourable light.

Thanks for joining me on the 1977 European Car of the Year edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres’, I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a fully loaded turbocharged competitor of the Rover SD1. Don’t forget to come back now !


All about the anodised alloy – Triumph Vitesse 6

The Triumph Vitesse 6 was a four seat sports car available as a four seat convertible.

Styled like the Triumph Herald, with separate chassis and body panels, by Michelotti, the Vitesse 6 is distinguished by the twin head light bonnet, a 6 cylinder engine and up rated brakes and front suspension.

From the rear there is little to help distinguish a Vitesse from a Herald apart from the anodised alloy bumper bar in place of the white plastic covered item of the Herald and the chrome mid rift trim of the Vitesse goes all the way back to the tail lights.

The twin carb 6 cylinder engine of the Vitesse 6 can trace its origins back to the 4 cylinder Standard 8 of 1953, a weld seam on the block shows where the ‘extra cylinders’ were added.

This model registered in Guildford in 1966 with around 80 hp has a top speed of 91 mph. The Vitesse was superseded by the Vitesse Mk2 in 1968.

I’d like to round out today’s edition with congratulations to ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ contributors Ed and Steve Arnaudin, father and son who celebrate their wedding anniversaries today, not forgetting to congratulate their undoubtedly better halves 🙂

Hope you have enjoyed todays 6 cylinder edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres and that you’ll join me tomorrow for Ferrari Friday any one for seven Ferraris on 7th day of Christmas ? Don’t forget to come back now !


Sunday Best – Triumph Vitesse

Yesterday, like to day, there was no racing going on locally, but it would have been criminal not to go out and enjoy the fresh autumn air and unbelievably bright sunshine that turns the world of photographers such as my self into a super illuminated paradise.

So I headed out to my local track Castle Combe where there was an event billed as a ‘Mini Festival’, there were hundreds of the cute critters in a variety of states of tune to be seen and I’ll post pictures of them in due course, because the vehicle that leapt out at me as the subject for today’s blog was this convertible Triumph Vitesse MKII.

The 1968 – 71 Triumph Vitesse 2 originally featured a 104 hp 6 cylinder 2 litre / 122 CUI engine with two carburettors which gave it a 0 – 60 mph performance time of 11 seconds. As can be seen above this 1968 model has been upgraded with triple carburettors.

The Vitesse was outsold, in the UK, by its smaller 4 cylinder sibling the Herald, at a rate of 10 to 1, and was no match for the cheaper Ford Mustang in the US, however as is the way of these things the Vitesse has a strong following amongst aficionados of performance convertibles.

Slightly off topic, I tuned into JTV to watch the Nationwide NASCAR race at Dover last night just in time to see Kyle Busch taking his victory bow in a cloud of smoke of his own making, congratulations to Kyle on winning his 11th Nationwide race of the season thereby beating the Sam Ard’s record of 10 wins which he set in 1983.

Further off topic, I see Kevin Harvick took the NASCAR ‘have at ’em’ policy to heart during practice for the Dover Cup race ! Much as I’d like to see Kevin take the Cup home at Miami Homestead, these actions do not inspire me, sitting in the peanut gallery, with confidence about his chances.

These play ground antics probably make great headlines and are sure to provoke a further on track response from “Dangerous ‘I am owed four cups’ Denny” Hamlin, I just hope they are not a distraction from the real job in hand for Kevin, which is to make sure he beats Jimmy Johnson in the infernal #48 to the big trophy at the end of the season.

Looking forward to tonight’s race at Dover hope to catch some of you on Rowdy Chat.

Look forward to to hearing from you all, ‘y’all come back now ! Hear !