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   The story of the light sports roadster

             Part two. Roaring Twenties 1920-1930

At the beginning of the decade it was only Bugatti with the “Brescia”,a development of the type”13”, a light sports roadster First seen in 1920, with GN, and Morgan producing sporting cyclecars, all developments of their prewar cars, introducing new ideas learnt in the hard school of motor racing. They didn’t have their own way for long, as other motor manufacturers were soon to discover the light sports roadster. In 1921 Wolseley joined them with the “Sports 10”, then in 1922 there were three more, with the “Bamford & Martin” , the beginning of the Aston Martin line, the “Riley Redwing”, the start of another great line of sporting roadsters and the “Horstman Sports” a single model venture made up the trio. The Alvis “12/50” made an appearance in 1923. Another one model venture was the Rhode” sports model of 1924. The Fraser Nash series of cars started in 1925 with the “Anzani”, after the GN team went their separate ways. This year saw another one model venture into sports roadsters, the “ABC Supersports”.1926 brought a batch of second and third generation models,, Aston Martin with series of cars including the “Inter Le Mans”and the Ulster, and Bugatti with the “Type 37”. With the notable exception of the Bugatti’s, so far all the cars had come from Great Britain, but now the Bugatti was joined in France by the “Senecal T53 Sports”and the Amilcar “Six”. The year 1927, saw two other entries from France into the fray, the Amilcar “Grand Sports and the Salmson Grand Prix. The Alvis “12/75” from England, a front wheel drive car, also appeared in 1928 as did the Singer “Porlock”, and the Vernon Derby. A complete round up of the years new models, was completed by the Lea Francis “1 1/2 litre Hyper”, the Alfa Romeo “6C 1500”, and the Standard “Sports”. 1929 the year that saw the first of a line of “MG” light sports roadsters, the “M type Midget”, that continued with only a break in world war two, for over fifty years, until the Healey designed” Midget”, was dropped in 1979. A strong competitor to the “Midget”, on the road and in competition, was the Austin7” Ulster” which appeared in the previous year, finally Riley joined in with the Brooklands.

Brescia Bugatti1920-1926 Light Sports Roadster France

In 1920, Bugatti introduced the sixteen valve head on the “Type 27”, engine, seventy years before it was the in thing in the nineteen nineties. The “Type 13”, cars fitted with that engine became known as the “Brescia”, after a great racing success in 1921. Due to it’s potential the “Brescia” was very successful in competition, and forty of the two thousand made were racing versions, driven by among others Henry Segrave and Raymond Mays, the first later to become holder of the world land speed record and the other, founder of “ERA”. The “Brescia was steadily improved, getting four wheel brakes by 1925 and better electrical equipment by the time production stopped in 1926.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Pressed steel channel.

Engine. 4.I.L. W.C. S.O.H.C. 16 valve.

1368cc/1453cc/1496cc.

Transmission.4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam,1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle, reversed 1/4 elliptic

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 2 metres.

Engine output. 40 to 50 bhp.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed. 100 to 120 kph.

Wolseley Sports 10 1921 Light Sports Roadster England

One of the oldest English motor-car manufacturers, the Woleley Company did not produce a sports car for public sale until 1921 when, through the auspices of Captain (later Sir) Alastair Miller, who was managing their competition department at the time, they brought out a sports version of the o.h.c. Ten, the engine of which owed a good deal to the Hispano Suiza airplane engines which Wolseley had built during the war. This sports Ten had an attractive aluminium body with vee windscreen and flowing wings and an airship-like tail. They probably did 70 mph. but very few were sold. One of them covered over 71 miles in an hour at Brooklands, driven by Mrs Knox. In 1923 the Price was £695.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.O.H.C. 1261cc.

Transmission. 3 speed reverse.

Suspension front.

Suspension rear.

Steering.

Brakes front.

Brakes rear.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 8ft 3inches.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed. 70 mph.

“GN” Vitesse 1922 Sport Cyclecar England

After the war the Vitesse model, which had formerly been the G.P. model with tuned engine and steel pistons, was revived with alloy pistons and both valves in the head. Much more exiting was the later Vitesse version with a camshaft above each cylinder operating inclined valves, these camshafts being driven by a long exposed chain at the back of the engine, so that the intrepid pilot not only left a fine aroma of burnt caster oil in his wake but had his face and chest liberally spattered with unburned lubricant. This engine is not to be confused with the racing Akela with separate shafts up each “pot” to drive the overhead camshafts. Had it’s makers pursued these sporting lines of thought the G.N. might have survived. As it was they tried to enter the Rover Eight market by adding a dash of refinement, the additional weight killed performance, and the Austin Seven dealt the G.N. it’s knock-out blow. After trying a terribly dreary shaft drive version on the public, a sporting 4 cylinder Anzany engined G.N. was introduced, but the old magic was gone and the initials lapsed, to be revived in spirit under the name Frazer-Nash.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Steel channel ladder.

Engine. 2 V.T. A.C. S.O.H.C. 1087cc.

Transmission. 3 speed chain & dog clutch

Suspension. Tubular beam, 1/4 elliptic.

Suspension. Axle shaft, 1/4 elliptic.

Steering. Crown wheel & bevel pinion.

Brakes front. None.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase.

Engine output. 35 bhp.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed.

Bamford & Martin 1922 Light Sports Roadster England

One of the greatest of all sports cars, the Aston Martin was scarcely ever made in any other form. The car originated as aside valve 1 1/2 litre machine very carefully built in Kensington by Bamford and Martin; in those days the names were hyphenated and a minimum speed of 65 mph. was guaranteed for a full lap of Brooklands track. The side valve was the production model, but ventures with o.h.c. engines were made and twin cam racing cars were built with money paid into the company by Count Zborowski, who used the cars to break into road racing. When Zborowski was killed at Monza in 1924 while driving for Mercedes the financial death knell sounded for the Bamford and Martin cars, but the firm was resuscitated in 1926 by Renwich and Bertelli.

Layout.Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Steel channel frame.

Engine.4.I.L. S.V. W.C. 1496cc.

Transmission.4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle 1/2 elliptic.

Steering. Brakes front.Drum.

Brakes rear.Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 8 ft 7 1/2 inches.

Engine output.

At r.p.m. Max speed.65 mph plus.

Riley Redwing 1922 Light Sports Roadster England

The first sports Riley was the husky side valve Redwing, preferably in polished aluminium form with outside copper exhaust pipe and flowing wings, but also available as a comfortable and smart 4 seater, the type name derived from the red painted mudguards.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Steel channel frame.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.V. 1498cc.

Transmission. 4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle 1/2 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. None.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 9ft.

Engine output.

At r.p.m.

Max speed.

Horstman Sports 1922 Light Sports Roadster England

The Horstman light car, prodigy of Mr Sydney Horstmann of Bath, exhibited more initiative than was the case with many such small cars. It had Daimler fluting to it’s pointed radiator, could be commenced from the cockpit if you could master the kick starting mechanism found therein, and later models had an early and ingenious system of hydraulic four wheel braking. Horstmans were entered for the 200 Mile Race at Brooklands, for which purpose pioneer experiments were conducted with supercharging the side valve anzani engine. In this form the car driven by Major Coe was faster than most. Inevitably, from a firm with such advanced ideas, a sports model was amongst the catalogued cars, one of which was virtually the racing job with sketchy road equipment. However, there was also a normal sports version, less exiting but more practical and perhaps aided by an anti roll device applied to the cantilever suspension.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.V. 1440cc Anzani.

Transmission. 3 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle 1/4 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle cantilever springs with anti roll device.

Steering.

Brakes front. None.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 9ft 4inches.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed.

Alvis 12/50 1923 Light Sports Roadster England

The sports Alvis belongs largely to the vintage period, the 12/50, which appeared in 1923 in polished aluminium “duck back” style with short stroke big port 11/2 litre engine with duralumin con rods, sparked it off. A racing version won that years J.C.C. 200 mile race at Brooklands convincingly after both Fiats had retired, and those who could afford some £550 for a light sports car found plenty of performance in the 12/50, even if fines had to be allowed for in the motoring budget due to police interest in its straight through outside copper exhaust pipe. Later came the “beetle back” version, sometimes with exhaust underneath, where it wasn’t so obvious.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.V. 1440cc Anzani.

Transmission. 3 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle/1/4 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle/cantilever.

Steering.

Brakes front.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 9ft 4inches.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed.

Rhode Sports Model 1924 Light Sports Roadster England

The Birmingham built Rhode was a rather crudely constructed light car of the vintage era which had a single o.h. c. engine with dynamo magneto mounted to form a vee at it’s front end. Lubrication of the rather casual rocker gear was contrived by letting the flywheel scoop up the lubricant and hurl it through a vertical tunnel into the valve chamber. A solid back axle assisted the mildly sporting tendencies.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 4I.L. W.C. S.O.H.C. 1232cc.

Transmission. 4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front.

Suspension rear.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 8ft 6inches.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed.

Frazer Nash Anzani/Boulogne/Ulster 1925-1932 Light Sports Roadster England

One of the greatest of all the genuine sports cars, the Frazer Nash, like the Aston Martin, was made in scarcely any other form. The Frazer Nash went on when the G.N. cyclecar entered the doldrums, Archie Frazer Nash having been a successful G.N. racing driver and, indeed the “N” of G.N. The car of his name retained the famous dog and chain transmission and a slightly refined version of G.N. suspension, wherein the front shock-absorbers were mounted below the 1/4 elliptic springs to act as radios arms for the tubular front axle. Because it was very light and the all chain transmission was efficient, with speeds that swapped almost instantaneously, the vintage Frazer Nash was a fast car, capable of motoring almost as quickly in third as in top after it had been indeed with four forward speeds. Historians will argue fiercely as to whether the original Frazer Nash had a Ruby, D.F.P. or Powerplus engine,but by the time the car was established it made very good use of a 40 b.h.p. side valve Anzani power unit to propel it’s 13cwt., and any undergraduate unable to afford a 3 litre Bentley was happy with an Anzani Nash, which went nearly as well and was a quite eye catching affair in polished aluminium, even the wings and running boards being of this material. In 1927 these delectable sports cars cost under £300 and a racing bodied Boulogne model was listed for serious minded speedmen.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Steel channel frame.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.V. 1496cc. (Anzani).

Transmission. 3 speed & reverse, chain & dog clutch.

Suspension front. Tubular axle 1/4 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Axle shaft 1/4 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight. 13cwt.

Wheelbase. 9ft 9inches.

Engine output. 40 bhp.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed. 75 mph.

A.B.C. Super Sports 1925 Light Sports Roadster England

The air cooled flat twin A.B.C., with it’s reliable rugged back axle and unusual vertical gear gate, steered like a good sports car but was really an economy light car. But this Granville Bradshaw designed Surrey built small car made a fairly decent pretence of being a sports car when it came out in Super Sports guise with airship tail in 1924-25. With enlarged cylinder bores and twin carburettors hung on a common manifold, power output and speed were enhanced by approximately ten, to 40 bhp. and 70 mph., respectively (0-55mph. occupied 14.2 seconds). S. C. H Davis had an early A.B.C. called “Grandpa” which he drove in M.C.C. trails, but the Super Sports model, apart from it’s special body, used the later engine with enclosed push rods and rockers, which obviated the distressing tendency these cars had originally of shedding push-rods, which were apt to leave in their wake mysterious examples of apparent hooliganism such as shattered shop windows. Gordon England used to race an A.B.C. at Brooklands, using a diversity of bodywork but ending up with a fully streamlined 2-seater. When he found the A.B.C. engine unsuitable he was not against installing a Bristol Cherub light aeroplane power unit, which was also an air-cooled flat-twin.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 2 Flat twin. A.C. O.H.V. 1326cc.

Transmission. 4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front.

Suspension rear.

Steering.

Brakes front.

Brakes rear.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 8ft 6inches.

Engine output. 40 bhp.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed. 70 mph.

Bugatti Type 37 and 37A 1926-1930 Light Sports Roadster France

The Bugatti Type 37, the replacement for the Brescia, was the simpler of the two cars based on the Type 35 Grand Prix car, introduced in 1925 and 1926, the first was the Type 35A with an eight cylinder engine, the other the Type 37 was fitted with a four cylinder engine. It had coil ignition, plain main bearings, a single overhead camshaft and three valves per cylinder, two inlet and one exhaust. Being based on the Type 35, it inherited that cars outstanding handling and a similar beautifully proportioned body but with wire wheels. With a top speed of 95 M.P.H. and price in Britain in 1927 of £550 it was in a class of it’s own. The Type 37A was a supercharged development of the Type 37. Introduced in 1928 and made until 1930, it was raced successfully at Brooklands and in the Voiturette class at other venues.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Pressed steel channel.

Engine. 4.I.L. W.C. S.O.H.C. 1496cc. (37A supercharged.)

Transmission. Multi plate wet clutch, 4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Forged tubular axle 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle, reversed 1/4 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum with cable operation.

Brakes rear. Drum with cable operation.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 2.4 metres.

Engine output. Type 37, 60 bhp. / Type 37A. 80-90bhp.

@ R.P.M.

Max speed. Type 37. 95 mph. / Type 37A. 100+ mph .

Aston Martin Series One to Ulster 1926-1935 Light Sports Roadsters England

Renwick and Bartelli were engine builders with their first engine, designed by Claude Hill one of their employees. This they used in the new Aston Martin designed by A Bartelli, soon after taking over the company. A 1500cc unit, it is the common feature of the following car, “Series One & Two”, “International”, “Le Mans”, “Mark two” and “Ulster”. The four cylinder engine had inline inclined valves operated by a single overhead camshaft and eccentrically mounted rockers. the camshaft was chain driven and the head could be removed without disturbing the timing.Cooling was by pump to the cylinder head but thermos siphon to the block. The new car, the “Series One”, was made in a new factory at Feltham, and first seem at the 1927 London Motor Show. Early cars had an underslung worm drive back axle but with the introduction of the “International”, in 1930 this was changed to a spiral bevel drive, a separate gearbox completed the transmission all made in house. You could buy an “International”, for £598 in 1929, it was made until 1932 and around 150 were produced The “Series Two”, was introduced in 1932 using many proprietary components in an effort to reduce production costs. This and other design changes allowed the price to be reduced to £475. The “Series two International”, was soon superseded by the “Le Mans”, this had a lower body line than the “International and a 70 bhp engine, the “International”, being 60 bhp 130 were make of these models. The next step the “Mark 2”, came along in 1934, it had a deeper stiffer chassis and other detailed changes to improve roadholding. Power output was increased to 73 bhp at 5200 rpm The high performance version of this was the “Ulster”, which had a 80 bhp engine, could reach 100 mph and cost £750. A replica of the team cars that competed in the 1934 Ulster TT, they had a narrow body a full length undertray and a boat tail enclosing the spare wheel. 21 were made out of a total of 166 “Mark 2” cars. The last of the 1 1/2 litre cars this was one of the best pre-war Ashton Martins.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Pressed steel channel.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.O.H.C. 1494cc.

Transmission. 4 Speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle 1/2 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight. Le Mans, 19cwt.

Wheelbase. Various.

Engine output. Series One, 56 bhp. Inter, 60 bhp. Series Two, 60bhp. Le Mans, 70 bhp. Mark Two, 73 bhp. Ulster, 85 bhp.

@ R.P.M. 4250 to 5250.

Max speed. Series One & Series Two, 80 mph. Le Mans, 85 mph. Mark Two, 84 mph. Ulster, 100 mph.

Senechal TS 1926 Light Sports Roadster France

The Senechal, called after the would be racing driver who jumped over the railings and offered to replace a team driver when the G.P. Delage racers were frying the feet of the occupants, a gesture which earned the bearded Frenchman a place in the works team, can be said to complete the trio of successful small French sports cars which were well known in England in vintage times, the other two being the Amilcar and Salmson. In fact, the Senechal, which was evolved by it’s designer to enable him to race in the Bol d’Or endurance race, was of more simple design than the others. The chassis employed transverse leaf spring front suspension, 1/4 elliptic tat the back and was content with a tube radiator. The engine came between Amilcar and Salmson, inasmuch as it was a push rod o.h.v. unit which drove through a cone clutch to a solid back axle. The beret hatted sportsman of 1926 could buy a 3 seater pointed tail Senechal for a mere £255, or £270 if he deemed front brakes desirable to curb the top speed of something in the region of 70 m.p.h.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 4I.L. W.C. O.H.V. 1094cc.

Transmission. 3 speeds & reverse.

Suspension front.Beam axle transverse elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle 1/4 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum (optional.)

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 8ft 2inches.

Engine output.

@ R.P.M.

Max speed. 70mph.

Amilcar Six 1926 Sports Light Roadster France

Another version of the Amilcar was the beautiful little twin-cam 6-cylinder Roots-supercharged model, it was much more exciting than the Grand Sports, It appeared in 1926 and was a pure racing car, which you could buy for £695. The 1,094 cc. engine possessed dry-sump lubrication but relied on plain bearings. The Amilcar Six looked like a small G.P. Bugatti but it was another half-dozen years before Bugatti went over to a twin-cam engine! An out-and-out small racing car which was soon in demand amongst British amateurs, and in the hands of professional drivers was dominating the 1,100 cc. class, the Amilcar Six could be had with sketchy sports equipment, and even before this was freely available Vernon Balls evolved a means of endowing these very rapid little cars with a dynamo and starter.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Engine. 6 I.L. W.C. D.O.H.C. 1096cc.

Transmission. 4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front.

Suspension rear.

Steering.

Brakes front.

Brakes rear.

Weight. Wheelbase. 7ft.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed.

Amilcar Grand Sport 1927 Light Sports Roadster France

The sports Amilcar belongs entirely to the vintage era and is of two quite distinct versions. This fast little French car started life as a lively small car with splash lubricated 4 cylinder engine of 55X95mm. and a skiff body. This soon developed into a real small sports model with larger engine (60X95mm.) which in spite of side valves gave a very reasonable supply of power, and a typically French, pointed tail, door less sports body enhanced by long combined wings and step boards. Road holding was of a high order, aided by stiff 1/2 elliptic front springs mounted outboard of the frame and a 1/4 elliptic sprung back axle which eschewed a differential. In it’s later C.G.S. “Grand Sports” form with cowled radiator and cycle type wings the 1100cc. Amilcar found considerable favour with young sportsmen in England until ousted by national products such as the Riley Nine and M.G. Midget. Vernon Balls was an agent who achieved much success with Amilcar in races, and Boon and Porter did a brisk trade in them. A Ricardo head gave the game little engine even more power and the specification included front brakes with ribbed drums, applied through the unusual medium of steel strips on the later “Surbaisse” cars, the engine now having full pressure lubrication. The young bloods of the 1920s could do some 70-75mph. in his light and rakish Amilcar and still obtain nearly 40 mpg.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.V. 1074cc.

Transmission. 3 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle 1/4 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 7ft 7inches.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed. 75mph.

Salmson Grand Prix Special 927 Light Sports Roadster France

Commencing shortly after the armistice as a French 2-cylinder G.N. built under licence, the Salmson soon developed into one of the first production twin-o.h.c. cars, with a splendid racing background. For a time a small car was made with 4 push-rods to actuate it’s 8 overhead valves, which the uninitiated find terribly baffling. But soon all production was concentrated on the 1,100 c.c. twin-cam cars. Of these, the G.P. model with it’s long racing tail appealed to sportsmen in England as well as in France who were prepared to overlook the rapid tyre wear caused by a differential-less back axle and limitations of a 3-speed gearbox. The light weight of the car, with it’s staggered-seat body, the occupants in which were protected by a vee windscreen, gave very good performance for the English price of only £265 in 1927. The maximum speed was 70-75 m.p.h. and the appearance was enhanced by a coweled radiator with X-motif and long flowing mudguards. There were rather dubiously secured centre-lock wire wheels. Later models were given pressure lubrication and the Grand Prix Special had tubular con-rods and a 4-speed gearbox. The best version was the San Sebastian, with two plugs per cylinder, which could be obtained with a Cozette supercharger. All manner of drivers raced Salmsons at Brooklands before the end of the vintage period and the works cars continued to build up victories at Le Mans, Montlhery, in the J.C.C. 200 Miles Race, and elsewhere.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Pressed steel channel.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. D.O.H.C. 1087cc.

Transmission. 4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear.Live axle 1/4 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase.8ft 6inches.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed.70-75 mph.

Singer Porlock 1928-1930 Light Sports Roadster England

The pre-1914 Singer Ten was an economy car with a typically Edwardian engine and its’ gearbox incorporated in the back axle. Lionel Martin tuned up these little Singers to good effect before he thought of making the Aston Martin and the Singer Sporting Model was listed by the makers after the Armistice, one being entered in stripped form for the 1921 Mile Race at Brooklands. However, the first true Singer sports car was the Porlock, which was a 2-seater edition of the 850cc. Singer Junior which had been introduced as an economy car in 1927. The engine had slightly inclined overhead valves operated by a chain-driven overhead camshaft, which was well suited to development with enhanced performance in mind. The Porlock was so called because a publicity stunt consisting of 100 ascents of Porlock Hill in a day was staged in 1928, the year of its’ inception. The Porlock had only a small performance advantage over the normal Singer Junior; it remained virtually unchanged, except for a slightly altered body line, while it was in production, but it paved the way for a sports Nine in 1930.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.O.H.C. 848cc.

Transmission. 3 speed & reverse.

Suspension front.

Suspension rear.

Steering.

Brakes front.

Brakes rear.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 7ft 6inches.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed.

Vernon Derby 1928 Light Sports Roadster England

The Vernon Derby was yet another of the small French sports cars which possessed racing-type bodywork and no means performance. It was rather better finished than some of these sports voiturettes and could be had with various power units, of which the Chapuis-Dornier, Ruby or S.C.A.P. were popular. Suspension was by 1/2-elliptic front, and 1/4-elliptic back, springs and no differential was used. Although it was more handsome than many of it’s counter-parts and had the advantage of a 4-speed gearbox, the Vernon Derby never achieved the acclaim of the Amilcar and Salmson. In 1928 the 2-seater was priced in England at a modest £275.

Layout.Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. O.H.V. 1100cc.

Transmission. 4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front.

Suspension rear.

Steering.

Brakes front.

Brakes rear.

Weight.

Wheelbase.7ft 8inches.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed.

Lea-Francis 1 1/2 Litre Hyper 1928-1931 Light Sports Roadster England

After making good motor cycles, Lea-Francis of Coventry built a better than average light car, the Meadows powered 11/22. The late F.L.M. Harris, when he was editor of the The Light Car, enthused over a special car with Meadows 4ED power unit in this light chassis, and thus the first sports Lea-Francis was born.With the power of a later-day Frazer Nash and the low weight of the 1924 small car, aided by a differential-less back axle, the performance can well be imagined. When the makers adopted the 1 1/2 litre Meadows engine in production models they, too,Produced some worthy sports cars. The Cozette-supercharged Hyper model with fabric or metal 2-seater body was a very rapid car in spite of the width and height of the bodywork and ensured a permanent niche in the hall of fame by winning the first Ulster T.T. race with Kaye Don at the wheel. There was also a rather more slender Brooklands model.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 4 I.L. O.H.V. W.C. 1496cc.

Transmission. 4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle / 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle / 1/2 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 9ft 3inches.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.
Max speed. 85 mph.

Standard Sports 1928 Light Sports Roadster England

The worm -drive Nine which saved the day for the Standard Company in 1927 was available in sports 2-seater form in 1928 for £225. A Gordon England fabric body with aluminium top decking was used and, greatly daring, the makers spoke of a supercharged version capable of 15 mph. above the 60 mph. top speed of the unblown Sports Standard.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis.

Engine. 4 I.L. S.V. W.C. 1155cc.

Transmission. 3 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle / 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle / 1/2 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 7ft 8inches.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed. 60 mph unblown 75 mph blown.

Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Sports & Super Sports 1928-29 Light Sports Roadster Italy

The 6C 1500 Sports and Super Sports were created because Alfa Romeo needed new cars to continue their involvement in motor sport after the 2 litre P2 Grand Prix car became obsolete with the change to the 1 !/2 litre GP formula. The answer was to develop cars for sports car racing from the current 6C 1500 touring cars. The six cylinder S.O.H.C. engine of the 6C 1500 owed a lot to the eight cylinder 2 litre P2 Grand Prix engine, having the same designer Vittorio Jano,and layout. With the substitution of a D.O.H.C. for a S.O.H.C. arrangement and increased compression ratio, the power was increased from 44 bhp to 54 bhp a reduction in weight of 40 Kg for an open touring body, gave a top speed of 78mph Introduced in 1928, one hundred and fifty seven sports were sold that year. This was in no small part due to the highly developed road holding qualities and finger light steering. In 1929 came the 6C 1500 Super Sports with a raised compression ratio and a power output of 60 bhp with a shortened chassis and weight reduced by 110Kg acceleration was improved. The next step was the fitting of a Roots supercharger, bringing the power to 76 bhp with a top speed of 87mph. Alfa Romeo used the cars to good effect in motor racing, taking first and second places in the 1927 Circuit of Modena and winning the Mille Miglia with a 84 bhp far from standard supercharged car driven by Campari, and second in the Targa Florio. Production for 1929 was only thirty nine for all the 1500 sports models as the next development took this line out of this study with the creation of one of the greatest sports cars of all time the 6C 1750.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Pressed steel channel.

Engine. 6 I.L W.C D.O.H.C 1487cc.

Transmission. 3 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle 1/2 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum.

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight. Sports 960kg. Super Sports 860kg.

Wheelbase. 2.92 metre.

Engine output. Sports 54 bhp Super Sports 60 bhp.

@ r.p.m. 4500 & 4800.

Max speed. 79 & 99 mph.

Alvis 12/75 1928-30 Light Sports Roadster England

The 12/50 engine was used as a basis in a pioneering front wheel drive car the 12/75, it had all independent suspension using four transverse leaf springs at the front in a “Wishbone” configuration, behind the front mounted radiator was the final drive with the brakes mounted inboard, then the four speed gearbox and finally the engine, mounted back to front by contemporary standards, this necessitated a long bonnet. When a Roots supercharger was fitted, speeds of 85 mph. were attained. Being a pioneering venture, the transmission was noisy and the handling difficult.

Layout. Front engine/front wheel drive.

Chassis. Pressed steel channel.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.O.H.C. 1481cc.

Transmission. 4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Independent 4x 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear.Independent 1/2 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum .

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase.

Engine output.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed. 85 mph.

Austin 7 Ulster 1928-32 Light Sports Roadster England

Introduced in 1928, the Ulster was the first production sports roadster made by Austin on the Seven chassis. Before that a two-seater tourer the Chummy, and a few specially tuned and light weight cars were made by Gordon England. The Seven chassis was lowered by three inches for the Ulster, with the aid of a drop front axle that had the usual transverse leaf spring but this was bound with cord to increase stiffness, two quarter elliptic leaf springs at the rear to the live axle. Four wheel drum brakes as on the basic Seven and a close ratio gearbox were fitted, also a pointed tail body and an outside exhaust system. The 747c.c. four cylinder water cooled side valve two bearing engine produced 24 bhp. or with a Cozette supercharger 33 bhp. with the latter the Ulster was capable of 75 mph. 168 were made before production ceased in 1932.

Layout. Front engine/front wheel drive.

Chassis. Pressed steel channel.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.V.747cc.

Transmission. 3 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle, transverse 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle 1/4 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum .

Brakes rear. Drum.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 6ft 3inches.

Engine output. 24bhp. or blown 33 bhp.

@ r.p.m.

Max speed. mph. Blown 75 mph.

Riley 9. Brooklands & Speed Model 1929 Light Sports Roadster England

The sensational advent of the Riley Nine in 1926 paved the way for a sports version of this advanced little car with its inclined overhead valves operated by high-set camshafts and short, light push-rods, one each side of the cylinder block. Parry Thomas became interested and, aided by Reid Railton, shortened and drastically lowered the chassis and incorporated other modifications, to form the exceptionally low-slung “Brooklands” Riley Nine, from the cockpit of which the occupants could easily touch the ground with their hands. Indeed, low build was a keynote of the car, for a tiny radiator kept the body line and the long tail very low. Thomson and Taylor commenced production at Brooklands after Railton had won the first race there which the car was entered, a victory which, alas Thomas did not live to see. The Riley Company took over manufacture and as the “Speed Model” this exiting British sports car competed in many important races, such as the T.T. It is a matter of history that many famous drivers raced the Nine, which was developed to an extent not required of production sports cars. Freddie Dixon was perhaps the most successful of all the Riley exponents.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Pressed steel channel.

Engine. 4.I.L W.C. O.H.V. 1089cc.

Transmission. 4 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle, 1/2 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front.

Brakes rear.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 8ft.

Engine output.

@ R.P.M.

Max speed.

MG “M Type” Midget 1929-1932 Light Sports Roadster England

The “M “ Type was the first of the “Midgets” and was a lowered mildly tuned version of the “Morris Minor”, the roadster model having a simple wood and fabric body with a pointed tail. The “Minor “ engine, a water cooled four of 849cc, was based on the single overhead camshaft six of the “Wolseley 10”. It used the vertically mounted dynamo to drive the camshaft through a bevel gear and had two main bearings. Producing 20bhp at 4000rpm, the “M type Midget” could reach 65mph. With a dry plate clutch and three speed gearbox, a four speed being optional in 1930, conventional beam and live axles with half elliptic springs all round and four wheel cable operated brakes, they were the beginning of a popular line of at £175. inexpensive sports cars. Production of 3235 including coupes, showing that the right car at the right price was a winning formula.

Layout. Front engine/rear wheel drive.

Chassis. Pressed steel channel.

Engine. 4 I.L. W.C. S.O.H.C. 847cc.

Transmission. 3 speed & reverse.

Suspension front. Beam axle 1/2 elliptic.

Suspension rear. Live axle 1/2 elliptic.

Steering.

Brakes front. Drum, cable operated.

Brakes rear. Drum, cable operated.

Weight.

Wheelbase. 6ft 6inches.

Engine output. 20 bhp.

@ r.p.m. 4000.

Max speed. 65 mph.
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