Tag Archives: Webster

Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club Autumn Sprint- Debden Airfield

At the beginning of October I received an e-mail asking for volunteers to marshal at the Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint being run at Debden Airfield in Essex, a couple of days later I received a request to attend an interview in Scunthorpe and proposed to the Clerk of the course Pete Walters that if he could find me somewhere to stay on the night after the event I would be delighted to go up from Bristol to help out.

Ford Escort RS1600_6187sc

Lionel Reeves kindly stepped forward to offer me accommodation and so off I trekked to Debden the day after the Autumn Classic at Castle Combe. Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club established in 1903, the year the Wright Brothers made their first powered flight, is one of the oldest in the county, the Aero refers to the sport of ballooning. Among the random selection of cars I photographed is the immaculate 1974 #62 Ford Escort which finished 3rd in class B10 driven by Howard Lester.

Leyland Mini Clubman, Julian Kirwan, Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint, Debden Airfield, Essex

Julian Kirwan finished second in Class A3 driving the 1970 #16 Mini Clubman with a 1400 cc / 85.4 cui engine.

Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo Hatchback, Tim Morrison, Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint, Debden Airfield, Essex

Flying the flag for Estates / Wagons was Tim Morrison driving his 2003 #38 Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo Hatchback, who was classified 3rd in class A6.

Ford Escort 1300 GL Auto, Charlie French, Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint, Debden Airfield, Essex

Kicking up the dust above in his #63 Ford Escort Mk2, which I believe has been modified from it’s original 1980 1300 GL Auto spec, is Charlie French who finished 4th in class.

Davrian Imp Saloon, John Webster,Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint, Debden Airfield, Essex

I’m looking forward to finding out about the history of John Websters #71 Davrian Imp Saloon in the fullness of time, on this occasion he finished second in Class C12.

Merlyn Mk 30, Colin Glass, Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint, Debden Airfield, Essex

Finally Colin Glass won class D16 in his Merlyn Formula Ford with what I believe is 1977 Mk 30 bodywork, fastest time of the day was set by Tony Beesley in his 1 litre / 61 cui Jedi Mk 4.

My thanks to everyone at the Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club who made me feel most welcome and especially Lionel and Margret Reeves for their hospitality.

Thanks for joining me on this “Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club Autumn Sprint” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Talbot Matra. Don’t forget to come back now !


Nice Door Handles – Morris Marina ADO 28

With the merger of Jaguar with British Motor Corporation in 1966 the new merger was renamed British Motor Holdings and after a further merger with Leyland commercial vehicles the corporation became known as British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. British Leyland as it was known decided that the Austin and Morris brands should be differentiated in the early 1970’s with Austin vehicles being based around the front wheel drive (FWD) concept pioneered by Ales Issignosis with models like the Mini, 1100 and 1800 series vehicles while Morris vehicles would be more traditional with front engines driving rear axles (RWD) as they had on the Morris Minor and Morris Oxford models.

Morris Marina, Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet

The design of the Marina coded ADO 28 was started by Roy Haynes who’s CV included the design of the popular Mk II Ford Cortina, however a disagreement over a common floor pan to share between models as espoused by Roy led to him quitting and Triumph Designer Harry Webster finishing the job by which time the intended Macpherson strut front suspension had been abandoned in favour of Morris Minor style tortion bars and a new gearbox design was abandoned in favour of an existing item from the Triumph parts bin.

Morris Marina, Atwell Wilson Museum, Calne

All in all the development costs of the conservative RWD concept Marina ended up exceeding those of the more radical FWD Allegro which was developed to be Austin’s competitor in the small family car market. Production facilities at Cowley had to be upgraded which included some comedy as an overpass was built so that the motors could be sent from a plant on the opposite side of a municipal road to the assembly plant, no sooner had the overpass been completed than the municipality offered to sell the road which British Leyland did not think twice to accept.

Morris Marina, Qwara, Malta

On a positive note the AMC Ambassador inspired vertical hinged door handles were a huge hit with Lotus founder Colin Chapman who specified them for use on the Lotus Elite, Eclat and Esprit models, Marina door handles were also adopted by Scimitar for the GTE shooting break while British Leyland used the same handles on the Triumph TR7/TR8, Austin Allegro and they eventually even found their way, finished in matt black, onto the Land Rover Discovery Series I.

Morris Marina, Cotswolds Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

Marina cars were powered by a variety of motors most common of which for the UK market was a 57 hp 4 cylinder A series which did not do much for performance but kept the handling within safer limits than the heavier more powerful motors which promoted lane changing understeer / push which induced the odd brown trousers moment for some Marina pilots.

Morris Marina, Cotswolds Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

The Marinas seen here are in order top to bottom a ’72 Coupé at the Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet, ’74 Twin Carburettor saloon sedan at the Atwell Wilson Museum, a Maltese 1500 saloon / sedan with after market alloy wheels and waist trim in Qwara, a ’79 Estate and ’72 Coupé both at the Cotswolds Classic Car Club meeting held at Frogsmill, Andoversford and below a saloon / sedan with an unusually straight rear bumper seen at last years Classics at the Castle, Sherborne.

Morris Marina, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

Although much derided for almost every detail apart from the door handles the undemanding early 70’s British public lapped up Marina’s painted in tepid colours like Russet Brown, Harvest Gold, and Limeflower Green for the car to peak at second in the sales charts behind the Ford Cortina in 1973 and remain in the top 3 or 4 until 1980. Eventually over 897,000 Marina’s were sold in the UK of which 745 are thought to remain on British roads.

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


Rise and Fall – Euclid R210

It’s always a thrill to bring you something remarkable here on Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres and today’s humungous story comes courtesy of Gray Chandler with whom I became acquainted on The Nostalgia Forum a couple of weeks ago.

Gray from Adelaide, Australia, spent 14 years working as a heavy equipment fitter looking after 60 plus Euclid R105 mining trucks, each with a 100 ton carrying capacity, on the open cast copper mines on the then troubled tropical Bougainville Island between Papua New Guinea and the Soloman Islands north east of Australia on the South Western Pacific rim.

Gray informs me that it was possible to execute a 360 degree spin in an R105… if it was empty !

One day in the early 1970’s a new $500,000 piece of kit arrived for testing and evaluation the Euclid R210.

It was carefully assembled with a crane to lift the heavier parts into place…

… the biggest crane on the Island was on the back of this 4 axle chassis. Euclid the Greek mathematician would have surely been impressed with the geometry.

The completed Euclid R210, which dwarfed the hitherto ubiquitous R105, had an empty weight of 250,000 lbs. Power came courtesy of a 1,850 hp Avco-Lycoming gas turbine engine, running on jet fuel which was used to drive a Euclid AC generator and AC/DC transformer which provided power for the DC wheel motors, the turbine and generator weighed ‘only’ 6000 lbs.

The R210 was soon put to work carrying 210 tons of material or 140 cubic yards at a 2:1 heap SAE.

The R210 met a premature end when the turbine ‘flamed out’ (self destructed) which immediately caused the generator to stop and thus the braking AND steering system to fail. The operator who gallantly stayed with his vehicle, I am not sure I would have jumped 12 feet to the ground either, became a passenger as 250,000 lbs of rolling steel brushed a puny Euclid R105 aside like a match stick, after crushing first a 3 axle CAT 14e road grader and then a 3 axle Isuzu cherry picker the R210’s wheels were sufficiently fouled for it to come to rest.

Amazingly everyone involved managed to get out of the way and no one was hurt.

The mining company tried to hush the story up, but our man Gray seen here in front of the Euclid R210 managed to get some photo’s anyway.

Despite it’s tropical paradise location Borurganville Islanders were fighting for their independence from Papua New Guinea at the time something that was not achieved until 1997. Anyone like me interested in mining communities in the 1970’s will be interested to follow this link to a website which gives a fascinating insight to life in the Bougainville Copper Mining community.

I am sure you will all join me in thanking Gray Chandler for today’s outsize story and photo’s along with Dave Webster who took the three photo’s of the Euclid R210’s construction.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s trip to a tropical paradise and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !