Tag Archives: Westminster

Pape’s Progress – Austin A90

Richard “Ginger” Pape, born 1916 in Yorkshire, was a decorated war hero who had survived being shot down in a bomber and subsequent prisoner of war experiences that culminated in a daring compassionate prisoner exchange that involved identity theft and faked kidney disease with the aid of a prosthetic penis.

Immediately after the war Richard went to South Africa where he wrote “Boldness Be My Friend” about his wartime adventures.

Austin A90, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

After returning to the UK in 1953 to promote the book, Richard took on a new adventure to drive from North Cape, Norway in the Arctic Circle to Cape Town South Africa.

Richard drove an Austin A90 Six Westminster model which had been launched in 1954 powered by an 85hp 2.6 litre / 161 cui motor that gave a top speed of 86 mph.

Austin A90, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

Austin’s agent in Oslo supplied Richard with today’s featured car after Richards original A90 was lost down a ravine in a 60 mph incident which left his intended co driver sufficiently disinclined to start the adventure.

Starting on July 28th Norwegian Johan Brun joined Richard and they crossed Europe in eleven days, on reaching Gibraltar Johan fell ill and so Royal Air Force Sergeant Johnny Johnson was persuaded to go absent without leave and accompany Richard to Africa using Brun’s travel documents.

Austin A90, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

Richard and Johnny were perhaps unsurprisingly detained by the authorities in Morrocco and upon his release Richard attempted to cross the Sahara solo without official permission.

After damaging the Austin’s suspension in the middle of the Sahara Richard fell sick but managed to set out on foot to find help.

Austin A90, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

After being rescued by nomads Richard continued alone to Nigeria where he was rejoined by the recovered Johan Brun.

Mid rainy season the pair continued across Central Africa through swollen rivers, along washed out roads, among hostile natives and survived a crash in Congo.

Austin A90, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

On the 22nd of October Richard drove the Austin into Cape Town to finish his 17,500 mile adventure.

In 1956 Richard published an account of the journey called Cape Cold to Cape Hot in which he referred to the Austin as Pape’s Prigress.

Austin A90, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

After undertaking similar endurance drives in North America for the Rootes Group, more adventures in Antartica, where he fell in the sea at McMurdo Sound, Richard eventually settled down in Papua New Guinea on the advice of Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C. who advised Richard do something useful with his life instead of trying to repeatedly kill himself.

Nine years after establishing a Leonard Cheshire Home for sick children and marrying for a second time Richard and his wife, a Lawyer with whom he fell on love when she arranged bail for him for dangerous driving, left Papua for Australia where he continued to write until he died in 1995.

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


The Misfit – MG C GT Sebring Replica

During the endless mergers that took place in the British motor industry after 1945 many models like today’s MG C GT owe more to merged corporate parts bins than to fresh from the ground up planning.

MG C GT, Sebring Replica, Avenue Drivers Club, Queens Sq, Bristol

The rational behind the MG C roadster and GT models was too build a vehicle to replace the six cylinder Austin Healey 3000 whose ancestry can be traced back to the Austin Healey 100-Six launched in 1956.

MG C GT, Sebring Replica, Avenue Drivers Club, Queens Sq, Bristol

The recipe for the new MG-C was to use the MG B body shell first seen in 1962 and fit it with the 3 litre / 183 cui six cylinder Austin C series motor that was more commonly found in the Austin Healey 3000 sports car and Austin Westminster saloon/sedan.

MG C GT, Sebring Replica, Avenue Drivers Club, Queens Sq, Bristol

Unfortunately the cast iron block C series motor has 2 cylinders more than the motor around which the MG B was designed around and the C series motor was a good deal taller than the MG B 4 cylinder. This meant the chassis cross member that held the 4 cylinder motor had to be replaced, the front suspension strut suspension replaced with torsion bar suspension, the front bulkhead had to be modified and when all was said and done to accommodate an automatic transmission option the engine was not placed as far back as the engineers would have liked to achieve a 50/50 front rear weight balance.

MG C GT, Sebring Replica, Avenue Drivers Club, Queens Sq, Bristol

The new MG C also had to run on 15″ wheels in order to keep the oil sump off the ground, but all in all the engineers were pleased with their 120 mph creation which had a respectable 53/47% front to rear weight balance.

MG C GT, Sebring Replica, Avenue Drivers Club, Queens Sq, Bristol

Unfortunately the press panned the car in essence for not being different enough from the MG B but also because they found the handling tended towards understeer / push. It has been noted in some circles this characteristic may well have been exacerbated by the fact that the MG C was so much smoother than the MG B that journalists might not have been aware of the speeds they were traveling when experiencing the understeer push phenomenon.

MG C GT, Sebring Replica, Avenue Drivers Club, Queens Sq, Bristol

Completely oblivious to the handling criticisms Prince Charles took delivery of an MG C in 1967 and this car has apparently been passed onto Prince William. The car seen here has been turned into a replica of the triple carburetor MG C’s raced at Sebring in 1968 and 1969, though the tailgate spoiler was not used by the works cars of 1968 and 1969 which were racing in the same class as full blown racing cars like the Porsche 907 and 908 models.

MG C GT, Sebring Replica, Avenue Drivers Club, Queens Sq, Bristol

Of the 9002 MG C’s manufactured between 1967 and 1969 4458 were hard top GT’s. With the merger of British Motor Holdings with Leyland owners of the Triumph brand in 1968 the Triumph TR 6 was chosen as the newly merged corporations 6 cylinder sports car of choice and so the MG C died an early death, though in 1973 an even larger, but much lighter, engined MGB GT V8 would appear.

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


A day at Thompson CT – Austin Healey 100-Six

On the 20th of July 1958 Norris Crosby Chief Engineer at Orangeburg Plastics loaded up the trunk of his Austin Healey 100-Six and headed for the ‘Old’ Thompson Raceway in the North East corner of Connecticut, on the way he picked up Ed Arnaudin who took these wonderful photographs kindly provided by his son Steve for us to enjoy.

The Austin Healey 100 was designed as a private enterprise by Donald Healey to run on the historically disastrous Austin A90 Atlantic running gear including a 2660 cc /162 cui motor with a three speed gearbox fitted with overdrive on 2nd and 3rd gear the 100 name was chosen because the vehicle was capable of over 100 mph.

When Austin MD Leonard Lord saw the Healey Hundred prototype a deal was struck for the bodywork to be manufactured by Jenson and then shipped to Longbridge where assembly was completed alongside the Austin A90 Atlantic.

The #65 seen here is listed twice as being the 4 cylinder ‘100’ model however the horizontal crinkled grill bars and air scoop tell us that this vehicle is actually a BN6 ‘100 – Six’ manufactured between 1956 and 1959, fitted with a 117 hp 2639 cc / 161 cui in line 6 cylinder BMC C Series motor from the Austin Westminster and a four speed gearbox, overdrive if fitted was optional.

The car on the outside row of the grid from the #65 and the #114 are both earlier 4 cylinder ‘100’ models with distinctive vertical radiator grill bars and no air scoops .

Norris blew his exhaust muffler during the race and came in 5th overall 3rd in Class D in Race 5 behind the race winning smaller Class E AC Bristol of E Hamburger.

(Note results corrected 03/04/11)

In this shot Norris leads F Twaits in his rare Fraser Nash 100/163 down the yet to be finished Thompson CT pit road.

Ed Arnaudin describes riding in the car with Norris on the way home on a dark, cold evening as being “loud as hell” thanks to the muffler blown during the race.

A lovely fuss free way to go racing no trailers just get in your race car pick up your buddy on the way, race and go home.

With thanks to Ed and Steve Arnaudin for taking and providing these photographs, additional material from Northeast American Sports Car Races 1950-1959 * by Terry O’Neil.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s edition from the race in 1958, looking forward what tomorrow brings, don’t forget to come back now !

* Please note :- I do not in anyway endorse, or have any commercial interest in the products or distributors highlighted in today’s feature, I am merely passing information on as an enthusiast of all things motoring, I have no experience of handling these products nor have I used these vendors. I recommend anyone interested in these items or distributors do their own thorough investigation into suitability, reliability and particularly prices of both products and vendors before making any purchasing decisions.