THE KEY TO IGNITION
When I was kindly invited to exhibit at the 2017 Cotswold Model Railway Show I had to come up with a presentation to top the 2016 appearance of my N gauge layout Runport St Nicola. At the time the media was full of the Government announcement that production of petrol and diesel engined road vehicles would end in Britain in 2040. As such I felt that a look back at the past century of liquid hydrocarbon fuelled transport was in order. And what better name for petrolhead heaven than Clarkson’s End ? Not least as the most famous motoring journalist … in the World .. lives in the Cotswolds at Chipping Norton.
However, neither Jeremy Clarkson nor Richard Hammond – whose helicopter G-OHAM is based at Staverton airport – are Gloucestershire’s only links with high octane racing. Londoner Ivor Bueb (pictured left) moved to Cheltenham in 1945 and allied himself with the garage business of Geoffrey Turk. Ivor also joined the Cheltenham Motor Club and through it met Jack Welton, who raced a single seat 500cc Cooper. In 1954, Ivor Bueb bought a new Cooper and proved so successful in that year’s racing season that Cooper signed him up for their Works team. He finished second in the 1955 British 500 cc Championship and then moved to Jaguar, partnering Mike Hawthorn to victory in the Le Mans 24-hour sports car race. Ivor Bueb was to go on to win the 1956 Rheims 12 Hour event and Le Mans again in 1957 alongside Ron Flockhart before he tragically died in a racing accident at Clermont Ferrand, France, on 1 August 1959.
Mike MacDowel from Sheepscome, near Stroud, joined Coopers as a Works driver in 1956 after winning a national sports car championship in 1955. After success with Cooper Works sports cars he moved to a single seat car in which Cooper contested their first World Championship races in 1957. However, in that year’s French Grand Prix, the other Cooper team vehicle had to be retired half way through the race and Mike handed his car over to Jack Brabham – thus ending his only Grand Prix drive. Nonetheless, in a career stretching from 1968 to 1979, Mike MacDowel captured the British Hillclimb Championship in 1973 and 1974 even if he never took the outright Prescott Hill record.
Stroud’s Jack Lewis meanwhile started at the Cooper Racing Driver’s School at Brands Hatch, Kent, in 1958 and then bought the 500cc Cooper previously driven by Ivor Bueb. After winning races in this car, Jack went on to capture the British Formula Two Championship in another Cooper in 1960. His best result in Formula One was fourth in the Italian Grand Prix of 1961.
On the face of it, cars, lorries and buses might seem to be the natural enemies of railways. And under laissez-faire capitalism this situation has sadly come to pass. From the opening of the Preston Bypass ( now part of the M6) in 1958, Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government invested heavily in a network of motorways and bypasses which in turn paved the way for Margaret Thatcher’s “Great Car Economy” of consumer choice and factories adapting to “just in time” production methods rather than stockpiling components. At the same time, despite the 1955 Modernisation Plan, the nationalised railways of Britain were denied the same levels of investment that had been lavished on the post War rebuilding and electrification of railways in Germany and France.
Indeed, on Continental Europe, a better “joined up” approach to public passenger transport united long distance and local trains with civic bus networks and in turn reduced the demand for private car use. In Britain meanwhile, passing the driving test is seen as a more important rite of passage – especially in rural areas where buses are infrequent and the branch lines closed half a century ago.
In the 21st Century however, Britain’s roads are congested with ever increasing car numbers which in turn slow the journeys of the lorries that bring food to supermarkets and components to factories. As a result, new parkway stations and old branch lines are being re-evaluated along with cycle ways, more containerised goods travelling on the railways for supermarkets to take lorries off the roads (pictured left behind a Direct Railway Services Class 68 diesel electric locomotive) and hybrid buses. Alongside congestion, the challenge of climate change and particulate pollution from large volumes of road traffic is being addressed by developments in hybrid and pure electric cars and other vehicles. Despite battery technology improving though, the question of charging infrastructure and larger scale electricity generation remains. How many power stations using which kind of fuel will be needed when all the commuters plug in their electric cars at the end of the working day?
Hopefully, the industrial civilization that brought us cars – and trains and aircraft – will once again rise to the challenge of maintaining our ever more abundant lives. First of all there were the pioneers of steam driven pumping engines that drained mines. The plentiful coal that was then available allowed cheaply smelted iron and steel to be forged into rails and trains. Which could move coal, iron ore and everything else so that people in cities could eat fresh fruit and milk. Then came Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz who gave us our own personal horseless carriages and Orville and Wilbur Wright who invented the globe-shrinking aeroplane. Indeed, both more traditional railway and automotive technology was to combine with aerospace construction methods in the racing sports cars of the 1950s. Which is where the story of Clarkson’s End begins….
ON THE STARTING GRID
Seventy years ago, in 1947, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) was founded in Paris to co-ordinate World motor sport. This included what developed into the Formula 1 Grand Prix series, World Land Speed Records and, from 1953, the World Sportscar Championship.
This was, of course, not the start of one car being tested against another for speed and endurance. Nine years after Daimler and Benz drove their first experimental tricycle in 1885, 22 June 1894 saw Albert Lemaitre drive his Peugeot to victory in the first organised race between Paris and Rouen. Then, In 1899, the flamboyant American millionaire James Gordon Bennett Junior offered the Automobile Club de France the Gordon Bennett Cup for a series of international races on public roads. Each national racing club could field up to three cars – each of which had to be built entirely in the country they were representing. These cars had to have two side by side seats – one for the driver and one for a riding mechanic – both of whom had to weigh no less than 60 kg.
National colours were identified as red for the USA, white for Germany and blue for France with Great Britain using olive green in 1902 when Australian driver Selwyn F. Edge won the Gordon Bennett race from Paris to Innsbruck, Austria, in a 35 bhp 6.4 litre Napier. This was designed by Montague Napier, the grandson of David Napier whose firm would later build aero engines and the famous rail and marine Deltic diesel engine.
As a result of its first ever international motor racing victory, Britain hosted the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup. However, as road racing was banned in Great Britain, the race was held in Ireland on a circuit of ordinary roads especially closed and marshalled for the event. This was the first ever closed circuit motor race and followed numerous fatalities during 1903’s Paris Madrid race, after which road racing was banned in France.
The 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup also saw Irish Shamrock Green renamed British Racing Green and applied to British racing cars thereafter. Red was adopted by Italian racing cars after 1907 with the USA eventually settling on blue and white. Germany stopped painting its cars white in 1934 – apparently to save the weight of paint – and the Reich’s racing teams became known as “silver arrows”. By this time riding mechanics had been dispensed with in 1925 and the 1933 Monaco Grand Prix was the first in which starting grid positions were determined by qualifying sessions.
Following the end of the Gordon Bennett Cup races – held on closed circuits in 1904 and 1905, the Automobile Club de France had held its first Grand Prix event at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans in 1906. However, the mixture of purpose built closed track and public roads which could be closed became known around the World simply as Le Mans from 1923 for a different kind of race.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans was designed to test not only the speed of cars but their ability to reliably run for as long a distance as possible in 24 hours. By the same token, fuel efficiency would be prized as fewer pit stops for petrol would maximise racing time. Indeed, cars which have to stop for fluids other than fuel in the first hour of racing are disqualified and engines have to be switched off during pit stops – ensuring that only the cars which can be reliably restarted are able to finish.
During the 1930s, Bentley, Bugatti and Alfa Romeo dominated the 24 hour race at Le Mans although when racing resumed in 1949 after the Second World War it was the turn of Ferrari, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz. At this time the rules allowed one driver per car for the entire race ( further cutting down on pit stops) although this practice was later banned and today each car must have three consecutive drivers. Similarly, until 1970, the drivers would begin the race by running across the track, getting into their cars and starting off unaided – the famous Le Mans start.
TRACKS OF THE JAGUAR
The Jaguar Company was founded by Blackpool born William Lyons (1901-1985, and knighted in 1956) who originally manufactured motorcycle sidecars and then special “Swallow” bodywork on other manufacturer’s chassis. His first pre-Second World War SS (Standard Swallow) cars introduced in 1931 had Standard chassis and engines but in 1948 the XK120 was manufactured entirely by Jaguar Cars Ltd having been designed by Claude Baily, William Heynes and Walter Hassan. From this Coventry built car, designed for 120 mph but having set a record of 172 mph, sprang the even more famous C and D Type Jaguars.
The 1951 vintage C Type, designed specifically with the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in mind, featured a more powerful version of the 3.4 litre 6 cylinder inline XK engine but more radically had a tubular steel chassis – designed by William Heynes – and a normal rear axle connected to a single transverse torsion bar by trailing links and damped by Newton hydraulic shock absorbers. On the off side a reaction member above the axle tube provided rigid placing, taking all the various axle forces and providing excellent road holding. The front suspension was by wishbones and torsion bars in similar units to those used on the XK120.
Jaguar C Types first appeared at Le Mans with Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead the clear winners in their class. In 1952 modifications made to the nose caused overheating troubles and none of the Works C (for Competition) Types finished Le Mans but in 1953 Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton finished first with second place going to a C-Type driven by Stirling Moss and Peter Walker.
Following on from the C Type with its minimalist Barchetta style aluminium body, the D Type of 1954 kept many of its predecessor’s mechanical components including the basic XK engine. The body however was an innovative monocoque, comprising sheets of aluminium alloy and bringing aviation technology to competition car design. The monocoque was built up round an elliptical tubelike centre section. From the rear of this section the rear axle was attached in a similar manner to the C Type. From the front of the centre section, a sub frame assembly went forward to take the power unit and front suspension.
The aerodynamic bodywork was largely the work of Malcolm Sayer, who had joined Jaguar following a stint with the Bristol Aeroplane Company during the Second World War and later worked on the C-Type. For the D-Type, he insisted on a minimal frontal area. To reduce the XK engine’s height, Jaguar’s chief engineer, William Haynes, and former Bentley engineer Walter Hassan developed dry sump lubrication and it has been said that the car’s frontal area was also a consideration in canting the engine at 8½° from the vertical (which necessitated the offset bonnet bulge). Philip Porter, in his book Jaguar Sports Racing Cars, says that “[a] more likely reason was to provide extra space for the ram pipes feeding the three twin-choke Weber carburettors.”. Reducing underbody drag further contributed to the car’s high top speed
The distinctive tailfin added aerodynamic stability and was aimed specifically to gain maximum speed on the long Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans. Fuel was also carried in the tail and the designers followed aviation practice by specifying a deformable Marston Aviation Division bag in place of a conventional tank. Another recognition feature was the one-piece wrap-around windscreen that extended along the sides of the car to the edge of the doors.
In the June 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the D Type finished second on its first outing to a 4.5 litre Ferrari. However, the substitution of the original nose for a 7 1/2″ longer one was to give the sports racing car a speed advantage, as did larger engine valves and asymmetric cylinder heads to accommodate them. As a result, D-Types won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1955, 1956 and 1957.
On 2 December 2017 The Sun reported that a 1954 D-Type Jaguar capable of 173 mph and raced at Le Mans by Sir Stirling Moss was for sale at £11 million by Sotheby’s in Arizona. It has the racing number 12 and the registration OKV2.
However, the victory of Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb in 1955 was hollow after the worst crash in motor sport history. 84 spectators were killed when Pierre Levegh’s Merecedes 300 SLR collided with Lance Macklin’s Austin Healey and flew into the crowd behind the pit lane. The organisers decided to continue with the race to stop the crowd leaving en masse and blocking the path of ambulances. Unfortunately fire crews tried to douse the burning Mercedes with water, making SLR’s magnesium body burn more fiercely.
British Racing Green D-Type Number 1 – with the chassis number XKD605 and trade registration 393RW at the rear and under the right wing – was driven to sixth place at Le Mans by Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb in 1956.
This was the penultimate D-Type, built in March 1956 but despite having an improved fuel injection engine, a cracked pipe hindered performance. In that year, the Le Mans 24 hour race was held at the end of July – later than usual to allow for reconstruction work after the disastrous 1955 event. Cars were also required to be fitted with a passenger door, a full-width windscreen, and a smaller fuel tank. The winner that year – 20 laps ahead of them – was D-Type Number 4, driven by Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart in the blue and white colours of Edinburgh based Ecurie Ecosse ( literally translated from French as Scottish Stable). Sanderson and Flockhart’s machine – with the chassis number XKD501 – raced more than 2 400 miles, completing 300 laps at an average speed of 104 mph. Second place that year was Stirling Moss and Peter Collins in an Aston Martin DB3S while in 2017 the winning D-Type changed hands for £ 15 000 000.
On 13 October 1956, Jaguar announced the company’s withdrawal from racing. and XKD 605 was then lent to the American Cunningham/Momo team and was temporarily repainted in the American racing colours of blue and white. In the 12-hour race at Sebring in 1957, the car was driven by Hawthorn and Bueb who finished third. The car stayed in the USA until 1961 and then returned to England.
It was subsequently painted in its original British Racing Green again, and was lent to Italy’s national motor museum, the Museo Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia in Turin, where it remained for almost twenty years before again returning to its place of birth, the Jaguar factory at Browns Lane, Coventry.
Although not the oldest road racing circuit in North America, Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park circuit is unique in staying exactly the same since 1957 and it was here in its first year of racing that 1955 built D-Type XKD507 was driven to the Sports Car Club of America National Championship by Walt Hansgen. Wearing the racing Number 58, it was also painted white with blue stripes.
In 1957 neither Mercedes and Jaguar entered works teams but D-Types took the first four and sixth places, the chequered flag going to Number 3 in the blue and white markings of Ecurie Ecosse: driven by Ron Flockhart and Ivor Bueb. In this race, 3.8 litre engines were permitted – and used by the competing D Types but in 1958 cars were limited to 3 litre engines. Although Jaguar made a 3 litre engine available for racing D Types in 1958-60 this proved under powered and unreliable and D Types were never to take another podium finish at Le Mans.
Some remaining D Types were completed as road user friendly XKSS sports cars – which were eligible for production sports car racing in the USA – but a fire at Jaguar’s Browns Lane, Coventry, works on 12 February 1957 destroyed nine out of 25 unfinished cars as well as the jigs and tools used for conversion.
“THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CAR EVER MADE”
E Type Jaguar, successor to the D Type, shared a 3.8 litre variant of the six cylinder D Type’s XK6 engine and was in production from 1961 to 1975. Its combination of beauty, high performance, and competitive pricing established the model as an icon of the motoring world. The E-Type’s 150 mph (241 km/h) top speed, sub-7-second 0 to 60 mph acceleration, monocoque construction, disc brakes, rack and pinion steering and independent front and rear suspension distinguished the car and spurred industry-wide changes. Enzo Ferrari himself ( who also owned three BMC Minis) called the Jaguar E-Type “the most beautiful car ever made” and it was portrayed as a Union Jack covered “Shaguar” in the Austin Powers films. It was the epitome of William Lyon’s maxim of cars with “Grace, Pace and Space”. The first 500 cars built had flat floors and external bonnet latches. These cars are rare and more valuable. After that, the floors were dished to provide more leg room and the twin hood latches moved to inside the car. From 1971, the Series III E Type – built on a different chassis with a multi-tube nose piece – was fitted with a thirsty 5.4 litre V12 engine. These cars were distinguished by a longer bonnet bulge, four exhaust pipes and flared wheel arches to accommodate the bigger tyres on disc wheels.
GUNS AND COMPETITION
The 3.8 litre engine fitted to the E Type Jaguar was increased in capacity to 4.2 litres in late 1964 and from 1973 the same powerplant appeared inside the British army’s new Alvis Scorpion Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked. Back in 1961 however, an alternative two-door two-seat sports coupe was the Volvo P1800 – which had a similar production life until the last example was finished in 1973.
The roots of the rear wheel drive P1800 lay in the need for Volvo to produce a sports car to compete in the US and European markets. Project development was the brainchild of Volvo engineering consultant Helmer Petterson and the car was designed by his son Pelle Petterson. However, due to opposition from rivals who feared a drop in sales of their own cars, difficulties arose in actually getting a car manufacturer with the capacity to tool and build it. Finally, Jensen Motors agreed to make an initial 10,000 in their Scottish plant for assembly at their West Bromwich factory. In 1963, production moved back to Volvo’s Lundby plant in Sweden, following which the car name was changed to 1800S and the badge on the car body changed accordingly.
Despite engine upgrades over the years, the Volvo 1800 which also offered three gearbox options – 4-speed manual ; four speed with overdrive; or 3-speed automatic, only ever reached a top speed of 118 mph and was deemed more of a high end tourer than a sportscar. However, during its lifetime, nearly 40,000 of the coupé version were sold and around 8000 of a 3-door sports estate model. Volvo is noted for the longevity and reliability of its cars and it is interesting to note that in 2013, a P1800 in the hands of its original owner was acknowledged as the highest mileage private car in original ownership, having clocked up over three million miles. Oxford Diecast’s product 76VP001 (pictured left) bears the 1967 British registration RYN 480E with the 1800S logo indicating its manufacture in Sweden post 1963. The blue and silver Volvo badge sits on the front of the bonnet above the silver radiator grille.
While Volvo and other manufacturers made memorable sports cars in the 1960s, coupes with even longer pedigrees were available from Le Mans competitors Mercedes Benz and Aston Martin.
Mercedes has once again become a popular girl’s name in recent years – just as it was in 1901 when Austrian businessman Emile Jellinek named the car he had just financed after his daughter rather than the manufacturer Paul Daimler or the designer Wilhelm Maybach. This was to appeal to French car buyers, still resentful of all things German after the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. The ruse worked and in 1924 Mercedes was amalgamated with the Benz company.
The Mercedes Benz 300 SL is still one of the most distinctive and stylish cars ever made. The fastest production model of its day, the 3 litre grand tourer with gull wing doors also broke new ground in offering a fuel injection engine. The 300 SL (standing for Sports Light) was a development of the Mercedes Benz W194 Grand Prix car aimed at affluent American performance car enthusiasts. It was thus launched at the 1954 New York Auto Show rather than in Frankfurt or Geneva. The gull wing doors in fact made a virtue of a necessity. To make the most of the engine power available, the 300 SL body was made of lightweight magnesium on a tubular framework. The low side members of this framework meant that conventional hingeing doors were impossible, although after a three year production run the 300 SL coupe was adapted as an open topped roadster and was sold from 1957 to 1963. A smaller, slightly heavier, less luxurious and much cheaper 1900 cc roadster using the Ponton class 4-cylinder engine was introduced in 1955 as the 190 SL. The 155 mph 190 SL featured a low pivot swing axle at the back and a compensator coil spring. A total of 1 858 190SLs were built and both the 300 SL and the 190 SL (pictured above) were followed in the Mercedes line by the 230 SL. This in turn led to the 280 SL of 1967, pictured below.
Also derived from Rudolf Uhlenhaut’s W194 Grand Prix design in 1954 was the Mercedes Benz 300 SLR (Sports Light Racing) with a straight-eight three litre engine and two seats rather than one with the aim of competing at Le Mans and other long distance races. At 0722 on the morning of 30 April 1955 for example, one of the nine 300 SLRs built began the Mille Miglia (1 000 mile race) at Brescia, Italy, and returned in triumph ten hours, seven minutes and 48 seconds later. Stirling Moss and Dennis Jackson had driven race number 722 to Rome and back at a never-to-be-surpassed average speed of 97.94 mph, with Jackson, a motoring journalist, giving Moss guidance from prepared geographical notes. This practice later became standard in rallying.
After a number of closed circuit victories, Mercedes won the 1955 World Sportscar Championship while at that year’s Le Mans the competing 300 SLRs were also equipped with a large rear mounted “wind brake” that hinged up above the rear deck to slow the cars at the end of the fast straights. The idea came from director of motorsports Alfred Neubauer, who’d been seeking to reduce wear on the huge drum brakes and tyres during long-distance endurance races where cars repeatedly had to decelerate from 180 mph. The 0.7m² light-alloy spoiler also improved the 330 SLR’s cornering, helping to compensate for the superior new disc brakes on the Jaguar D-Type. However, even this aerodynamic feature could not prevent Pierre Levegh’s tragic and deadly collision at Le Mans in June 1955. As a result, Mercedes would not participate in motor sport for another three decades.
As mentioned earlier in this article, second place in the 1956 Le Mans 24 Hour race went to Stirling Moss and Peter Collins in an 3 litre Aston Martin DB3S. Despite having half a litre less engine capacity than Sanderson and Flockhart’s winning D-Type, the DB3S ended within ten miles of the Ecurile Ecosse Jaguar. This was an improvement on even the very credible 1955 result when Peter Collins and Paul Frere’s Aston Martin came home 63 1/2 miles behind Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb.
Like Sir William Lyons, Lionel Martin had a background on two wheels and in improving other manufacturer’s cars before he built his own in 1913. The name of the company he founded with Robert Bamford was partly derived from the unofficial Aston Clinton hill climb near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire where the Old Etonian used to race his tweaked up Singer Tens.
Aston Martin became, according to legendary motor sport writer William Boddy, “one of the greatest of all sports cars” and unlike a number of wind-in-the-hair British marques of the 1930s, it survived. This was mainly due to Huddersfield born tractor magnate Sir David Brown who bought Aston Martin and Lagonda between 1947 and 1949 and then added coachbuilder Tickford to his Newport Pagnell based operation.
Or as the back of the Oxford Diecast Aston Martin box puts it:
“The very essence of Aston Martin is something you feel each time you look at one of our cars. It sweeps over you on every unforgettable drive. Powerful, exhilarating and precise yet timelessly elegant and sophisticated; our cars blend iconic design, exceptional engineering and unrivalled craftsmanship to create an unforgettable, emotional experience. Each car is the essence of Power, Beauty and Soul.
Possibly the most famous of the post Second World War Aston Martins was James Bond’s DB5, but the 1959 vintage DB4 should be remembered for its pioneering platform frame allied to a tubular framework body and six cylinder 3.7 litre light alloy engine.
With a top speed of 140 mph the DB4 could accelerate from 0 to 100 mph in 20 seconds and 1390 units were built. Within that number however was a much smaller number of Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, introduced by the company at the London Motor Show in October 1960. It was effectively a DB4 GT lightened and improved by Italian designer Ercole Spade at the Zagato factory in Italy, where an initial 25 of this grand tourer coupé were planned. Unfortunately, the demand proved disappointing and only 20 were actually made between the 1960 and 1963, which came with a straight 6-cylinder 3 670 cc engine and 4-speed manual gearbox. Although commercially short-lived, subsequent demand saw a few cars being turned into ‘Zagatos’. With the co-operation of both Aston Martin and the Zagato works, four further cars were produced which became known as Sanction II and Sanction III models.
One of the Zagatos, registered 2 VEV was driven by Jim Clark at the Goodwood Tourist Trophy Race on 8th August 1961. Racing as No. 3 for the Essex Racing Team, he came fourth, covering 107 laps. His other great British rival, Stirling Moss won the race in a Ferrari. In those days, the cars which took part on the racetrack soon reverted to their normal and much tamer road car role afterwards.
Jim Clark was almost certainly the only Formula One world champion as comfortable with a shepherd’s crook as with a steering wheel. Had he not died racing in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on 7 April 1968, his family’s farm in the Scottish borders is the place to which he would have returned when his days on the globe’s racetracks were done. His death stunned the world as profoundly as that of Ayrton Senna a quarter of a century later, and for much the same reason. The two champions shared a virtuosity that lifted them to a level above their rivals and made them seem invulnerable. The only witness to Clark’s car leaving the track on a curve at 160 mph was a German track official who reported seeing the driver’s efforts to take control of the car before it plunged straight into the trees, where it was torn apart. Clark, his neck broken by the impact, died instantly. The immediate assumption was that something had broken on the car. It was a Lotus, the team with which Clark had secured both his F1 world titles and become the first British winner of the Indy 500. Lotuses were fast but sometimes fragile. Nowadays the best guess is that a slow puncture led to the tyre rolling off the rim when the car turned into the curve.
When he died Jim Clark had won 25 grands prix from 73 starts, a success rate putting him behind only Juan Manuel Fangio (24 wins from 52) and Alberto Ascari (13 from 33) and ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Jackie Stewart, Senna and Alain Prost. There were fewer races per season in those days, of course, but the competition against the likes of Stewart, Gurney, Jack Brabham and John Surtees was just as strong.
All his life Colin Chapman – the man behind Lotus Cars – was fascinated by speed, by cars and by ‘making things’. He was also a serial entrepreneur, from his teens to his fifties setting up new enterprises with friends and colleagues, always eager for new ventures. Like so many great British engineers, his products were a combination of thorough theoretical grounding with extemporised solutions which often cut corners. He could be alternately charming or abrasive, both qualities necessary to push forward a single-minded vision. To understand his motivation we must remember that, unlike larger car makers who raced occasionally to publicise their road cars, Colin was a racing team owner who had to sell cars to pay the bills. He had no patience with anyone who didn’t immediately grasp a concept, and he had little interest in his customers, who were regarded as a necessary evil to finance his racing. Always needing to raise funds for the racing team, he also pioneered sponsored liveries on Formula 1 cars. He didn’t build his cars to last; Chapman’s ideal was that a racing car should be built just strongly enough to win a race. If it then collapsed in a pile of scrap, that was fine with him. Colin’s innovative engineering solutions often became standard practice in the industry, including ‘Chapman’ suspension struts, monocoque racing car bodies, structural use of engine blocks, ground effect design, and carbon composite construction. That is how he is remembered in the automotive industry and by enthusiasts. Lotus continued after Colin’s death in 1982 under a series of ownerships, the racing team becoming detached from the sports car company. The Lotus road cars ranged from the immortal Six, Seven and Eleven, though the Elite, Elan, Europa, Esprit, Eclat and Excel road cars to the 18, 25 33, 38 and 72 racing cars and hotted up road cars including the Lotus-Cortina and Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. As such, I was pleased to be able to acquire a Lotus Elite at the 2018 Hucclecote Model Railway Show. First introduced in 1958, the Elite pioneered the use of lightweight glass fibre bodywork to maximise speed and acceleration. I just hope that in the case of this blue example with a white stripe, Lotus does not stand for Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious!
By the 1968 however, Britain and the World was changing. Old concepts of deference were being challenged by new upwardly mobile meritocrats such as David Bailey, Twiggy and The Beatles and motor sport similarly became more accessible
Originally conceived as an inexpensive and economical means of transportation following the 1956 Suez Crisis, the fuel-sipping Mini designed by Sir Alec Issigonis – first produced by the British Motor Corporation in 1959 – had been transformed into the hot-blooded Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S thanks to the legendary John Cooper of Formula 1 fame.
John Cooper recognized the transverse-engined Mini’s excellent attributes as a quick and nimble performer with great potential on the motorsport circuits. As well as combining its gearbox and engine casing, the ” traction avant” Mini had a “wheel at each corner” with all-independent variable-rate rubber suspension, letting it hug every curve like a Kart. The Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S clearly stood out as the “every man’s sports car”. There was truly no other car in the market able to offer the same kind of sporting performance for so little money and providing outstanding driving pleasure within such compact dimensions.
Wherever the Mini – either in standard trim or in highly modified form – appeared at the start of a race, newspaper headlines were never far behind. And from 23 January 1964 Belfast born Paddy Hopkirk – hunched over the wheel next to his skilled navigator Henry Liddon -gave the press plenty to write about.
On snowy sections of the route from Minsk over twisting mountain passes, red, white-roofed Mini 37’s front-wheel-drive proved advantageous over the more powerful – albeit heavier and larger – rear-wheel-drive competition. “The snowplow had been on the roads, they were very narrow so it suited a small car,” Hopkirk said. “We were also well prepared; it was a very … grounded car.”
And in the final moments of the rally on the Grand Prix circuit, Paddy and Henry pulled a sensational victory over the second place contender by little more than 30 points. After his victory, Hopkirk was feted as a hero. His fame was such that he was invited on Britain’s biggest television programme, Sunday Night at the Palladium, and he even got to meet the Beatles.
Around the country too, young men were adding rally style spotlamps to the front of their own Minis. Or failing that, attaching saucepan lids and covering them with rally style covers to save money!
PIT STOP FOR FUEL
Just as there would be no steam railway locomotives without coal (or at least wood) so there would have been no road motor traffic without fuel. One of the earliest of these was the Standard Oil Company founded in Ohio, USA, by John D. Rockefeller in 1870. As well as refining and transporting its kerosene heating and lamp oil in larger amounts than rival companies to achieve economies of scale, Standard Oil made better use of all the products that crude oil could yield. While other companies were dumping “waste” gasoline in rivers, Standard Oil used it to power machinery and were thus in a strong position to embrace the first automobiles. Rockefeller’s firm also produced the first synthetic alternative to beeswax.
So successful was Standard Oil that Rockefeller disengaged from the business in 1896 to concentrate on philanthropy while in 1911 the break up of Standard Oil into 34 smaller companies made him the richest man in the World and even a today his name is a byword for wealth. Emerging from these 34 companies were such household names as Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Amoco – and Esso : the red word in the blue oval being a phonetic derivative of Standard Oil.
At the 2018 Hucclecote Model Railway Show I was lucky enough to be able to acquire an example of Oxford Diecast’s Ford Anglia van in Esso Home Heat livery. With the catalogue nomenclature 76ANG024-SD, this Dagenham product was derived from the first reverse angle back windowed Ford Anglia, the 105E. Although more conservative Ford cars had carried the Anglia name in the 1950s, the 105E appeared in 1959 and when it ceased production in 1967 over 1,000,000 units had been produced. With a top speed of 73.8 mph it could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 26.9 seconds. Variants included an estate and a panel van. Much as Clarkson’s End has focused on racing and performance cars, many more people have enjoyed warm, dry homes courtesy of the central heating oil derived from mineral crude. 76ANG024-SD also boasts the Esso coat of arms – as opposed to the oval logo- on the side doors.
In the 1920s, Esso fuel was delivered to kerbside pumps in Britain by Foden steam lorry and the first UK Esso filling station opened in 1934. At the end of World War II, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was strung up by his feet from an Esso petrol station in Milan. Later, in the UK, two and a half million Esso bumper and petrol cap stickers urged motorists to “put a tiger in your tank”. The slogan created in 1959 by Emery Smith, a young Chicago copywriter who had been briefed to produce a newspaper ad to boost sales of Esso Extra. However, the tiger wasn’t Smith’s invention. The big cat had first appeared as a mascot for Esso in Norway around the turn of the 20th century. But it wasn’t until the end of the Second World War – and the resumption of petrol advertising – that the tiger made his US debut. He was a very different character back then. Cute, amiable and in cartoon form, he closely resembled Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh and was intended to represent a new post-war optimism after years of shortages. He also gave an identifiable face to Esso in a market where brand differentiation has never been easy. It was in 1964 that the character really hit his stride with a campaign developed by McCann Erickson. As Esso sales soared and the advertising be-came the talk of adland, Time magazine declared 1964 to be “The Year of the Tiger” along Madison Avenue.
Meanwhile, The Anglo Persian Oil Company was founded in 1909 after eight years of exploration in the Iranian desert by wealthy Englishman William Knox D’Arcy. In the face of rising costs, difficult terrain and an uncertain political situation, oil was struck in the south west of Iran in 1908. The new company then promised secure supplies of oil to Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, in exchange for an injection of £ 2 000 000 of new capital. With the British government as a controlling interest, APOC explored for new oil reserves in Canada, South America, Africa, Australasia and Europe after World War I before being renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1935.
During World War II the oilfields of Iran were threatened by German advances both in North Africa (halted by the 1942 British victory at El Alamein) and in Russia. Despite Nazi access to Romanian oil in November 1940, one aim of Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa in 1941 was to capture the oilfields of the Caucasus – just north of Iran. However, this aim was to be frustrated by the siege of Stalingrad and the Nazi’s unsustainable efforts to take the city on the River Volga.
In 1951 meanwhile Iran nationalised what was then Britain’s largest single overseas investment and in 1954 Anglo-Iranian was rebranded as British Petroleum, which went on to explore for oil in Kuwait, Libya, Iraq, the North Sea and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Despite establishing the biggest oilfield in the United States however the British government sold its last company shares in 1987 and BP, like other oil companies, is now investing heavily in hydrogen power and other renewable energies. In 2000, British Petroleum abandoned its classic shield, designed by Raymond Loewy who also was also responsible for the Shell logo, in favour of the Landor designed “Helios” and the slogan “Beyond Petroleum. In 1984 San Francisco based Landor Associates also designed the British Airways Concorde livery with the white crown on the blue upper tail fin.
The Regent Oil Company was founded in 1947 with the merger of Texaco Petroleum Products and Trinidad Leaseholds. Prior to the war the Regent brand name had been used by Burt, Boulton & Haywood Ltd, a small distributor of high grade motor spirit who had been taken over by Trinidad Leaseholds in 1931. The company had a refinery at Regent’s Wharf, London, and sold – ‘Regent’ and ‘Regent Motor Spirit’. The Regent Oil Company expanded into branded petrol sales in Britain in the 1950s. It also shipped and refined petroleum products abroad before being taken into the full ownership of Texaco in 1967 when the now-familiar Texaco star logo began appearing on filling station forecourts. However, some Regent petrol stations still exist, including at least one in Budleigh Salterton, Devon. Just before this rebranding however, Regent Petrol invested heavily in a wild west themed promotional campaign built around the slogan “Get out of town fast!” and using the image of “Regent Girl” – in fact a Kensington based model named Caroline Sanders (pictured above, and below by Brian Duffy). A promotional package sent to Regent filling stations included a vinyl LP record entitled “The Lively One ’67” and ‘sensational’ new posters in various sizes, a new pump bezel, a ‘fabulous’ life-size cut-out of the Regent Girl and ‘bullet hole’ stickers and T-shirts. The album liner notes also gave suggestions for garage managers to help run their new promotion campaign including ‘Dress your attendants in Caroline kit’, Play the “Lively One” record’, Use water pistol window washers’, ‘Have holsters round pumps to hold nozzles’..
While the story behind the petrol tank wagons can be found elsewhere on this website, the origin of the “Planet” locomotive can be traced back to the Ashford based Kent Construction & Engineering Co. Ltd which entered the light railway locomotive market after 1918 War when they purchased a large number of War surplus petrol locomotives and associated spares.
These locomotives included some built to the American Baldwin Locomotive Works design but more importantly a number of the familiar Motor Rail “Simplex” with internal combustion engines set across the frames. During the next four or five years Kent Construction brought out a range of locomotives to their own designs which were based almost entirely on the Motor Rail “Simplex” but which were sold as “Planet” locomotives. There were both narrow and standard gauge designs with either petrol, paraffin or alcohol engines which may have incorporated some of the ex-Government Motor Rail “Simplex” spares, and indeed some appear to have been rebuilds on Motor Rail underframes. These locomotives were sold by Honeywill Brothers Ltd of London.
The largest Kent Construction “Planet” for standard gauge track was an 8 ton 40hp machine and from Ashford the manufacture of “Planet” locomotives was transferred to the wagon building firm of Stableford & Company, of Coalville, Leicestershire until they went out of business in 1928 – the cudgel then being picked up by crane makers Bedford Engineering Ltd until they too failed in 1932!
The Planet name, drawings and goodwill then passed to fellow Bedford engineering firm James and Frederick Howard and via their liquidators to internal combustion locomotive builders Hibberd who in turn moved into the Park Royal Works, London. Hibberd’s Planets included designs with longitudinal as well as transverse engines, many of the small machines also featuring roller chain final drive although some larger ones had side-rod drive and resembled Hudswell Clarke products.
In the late 1950s Planet locomotives were distributed by Thos. Hill (Rotherham) Ltd., but the connection was severed on 31 March 1960 as Hill’s considered that their newly introduced “Vanguard” locomotive would be a competitor.
The manufacture of “Planet” locomotives was moved again during 1963, when Hibberd became part of the Butterley Group based in Ripley in Derbyshire and the last Hibberd designed locomotive was built there in 1968.
The 4mm scale model seen above is from the Roxey Mouldings kit and is based on works number 3438 – built in 1950 but strongly resembling pre 1939 designs. The real locomotive – powered by a Dorman engine was supplied to the National Benzole refinery at Stanlow and is today preserved on the East Lancashire Railway.
Both the British Thomson-Houston Class 15 and North British Class 16 “hood” Bo-Bos evolved from LMS 10800 and the Class 15s – introduced in October 1957 – continued the pairing of British Thomson-Houston electrical gear with a Paxman engine, albeit a 16YHXL powerplant developing 800 bhp at 1 250 rpm. Styling, meanwhile, was by Allen Barnes, Bowden Limited – who modified BTH’s curvier original concept – and the ten pilot batch locomotives were constructed by Yorkshire Engine at Attercliffe, Sheffield.
They were initially allocated with the first Class 20s to Britain’s first all-diesel depot at Devon’s Road, Bow, and were mainly used on transfer freights across London – hence the not-implausible appearance of D8233 at Feltham.
Unlike the ten Glasgow built pilot batch of Class 16s, the better-designed Class 15s were selected for a production run of 34 examples with the first leaving Clayton Equipment of Tutbury, Derbyshire in October 1958 and the last in February 1961. Allocated to Eastern Region – Finsbury Park included – the BTH Bo-Bos were however known to haul occasional summer seaside excursions.
By March 1971 however, Class 15 had been totally withdrawn. Unlike LMS 10800, D8200 – D8243 had been envisaged as freight locomotives with no train heating boiler yet were still built with a central cab. This meant that visibility was limited in both directions, in contrast to the English Electric Class 20 design with a cab at one extremity. These locomotives had a superb look-out one way and the problems of sighting along the bonnet length was overcome by pairing them with cabs outermost. In addition, the English Electric 8SVT Mark II powerplant of the Class 20s was far more reliable than the V-16 Paxman on the Class 15s. Dirty, prone to piston seizure, engine fires and excessive maintenance, these pressure charged prime movers were the undoing of both the D800s and their NBL Class 16 cousins.
Despite being used on King’s Cross outer suburban and Liverpool Street carriage pilot duties, the Class 15s were deemed surplus to the requirements of the 1968 National Traction Plan following the decline of wagon load freight traffic and withdrawals began in September that year. Four Class 15 locomotives – D8203/33/37 and 43 remained after 1971 as departmental carriage heating units but only D8233 ( latterly ADB96801 ) survives into preservation while Class 20s are still hauling trains on Network Rail.
D8233 was built as BTH / Clayton works number 1131 and was introduced to traffic in August 1960 at 30A Stratford Depot in the east end of London and was withdrawn from there after 3090 days in traffic in February 1969. It is currently being restored at Bury on the East Lancashire Railway and further details can be found at www.d8233.org.uk
However, the August 2010 edition of Railways Illustrated was able to report:
“On 19 June at 1100 preservation history was made as Class 15 D8233’s Paxman 16YHXL engine burst into life. It was allowed to run for a short period then shut down to allow vital checks to various items, and was then restarted and run for an hour. The loco is currently minus its cab and one nose end. The start up is the first time a Class 15 has run in two decades; D8233 last ran in the early 1980s as a heating unit. The start up is the result of four years hard restoration by a dedicated team and went successfully with only a few minor snags to address. The successful firing also tested other areas of the loco, such as the cooler group, oil and fuel systems which have all been completely stripped for restoration. Around £ 60 000 has been spent to get to this stage and it is estimated it will require at least the same again before it hauls its first passenger train, and another five years work is required. The engine and generator will now be drained and stored until D8233 has its own control system in place to be able to start it again.
The Sentinel Wagon Works Ltd was founded in Glasgow in 1875 as Ally & MacLellan and after a number of name and location changes it became part of the Rolls Royce family as Sentinel (Shrewsbury) Ltd in 1957. Production of steam locomotives and lorries ceased in 1958 and in 1959 a Sentinel prototype diesel shunter was trialled on the military controlled Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway – once a Colonel Holman F. Stephens line. 1963 saw the introduction of the 34 ton chain drive 4 wheel Rolls Royce diesel powered Sentinel shunter rated at 233 bhp. This engine was later uprated to 255 bhp and similar six and eight wheeled locomotives later found work in collieries, dockyards, quarries, foundries and even on Portuguese Railways.
The weathered Clarkson’s end 4wDM version was supplied as Hornby item R3180 in Tarmac livery. Much as I liked the shade of green though, I did not want my Sentinel tied down to any one company and so covered the Tarmac logos with the straight slab serif nameplate “Fowey”. This after market product was made by Kings Cross and was intended for GWR locomotive 3281. This was an 1899 built 4-4-0 of the “Duke” or 3252 Class, previously numbered 3272 and 9072 and carrying the Swindon works number 1683. First allocated to Banbury 3281 was denamed in 1930 and withdrawn from Tyseley in February 1937. Some of the “Dukes” had the more familiar curved splasher nameplates while others had straight nameplates attached to either boilers or fireboxes.
The Class 08, or Class DEJ4 as it was originally designated, owes its genesis to early experiments carried out by the LMS for diesel powered shunting engines as early as 1932. By 1945, a standard design of 0-6-0 shunter had been developed, and British Railways adopted this as the mainstay of its shunting fleet, albeit after implementing further alterations to to conform to their standard L1 loading gauge. This allowed for greater operational versatility in all regions. Construction of the locomotives took place between 1953 and 1968 and totalled 894 units. These included air, vacuum and dual braked units.
The LMS favoured the use of a six cylinder English Electric 6KT engine Type 506 traction motors and associated equipment while both the GWR and LNER had experimented with Brush engines in their equivalent 0-6-0 diesel electric shunters. Some outwardly similar engines received Crossley or Lister Blackstone powerplants, later to become Class 10 unter British Rail’s Total Operations Processing System. D3729 was built at BR’s Crewe Works and allocated to 64A (St Margarets) in January 1959, becoming 08 562 in November 1973.
Having mentioned The Yorkshire Engine Company as the sub contractors for British Thomson Houston’s ill fated Class 15s, the Sheffield company’s own 0-6-0 diesel electric design became the subject of an Oxford Rail 00 gauge model locomotive in 2018. I bought a BP liveried example and presented it for the first time at the 2018 Hucclecote Model Railway Show. Named after the two faced Roman god of the past and future, the Janus class weighed 48 long tons (49 tonnes; 54 short tons) and had a maximum speed of 23 mph (37 km/h). Two Rolls-Royce C6SFL diesel engines gave a total power output of 400 hp (300 kW). Each engine had its cooling system at the outer end, and the its generator at the inner end. There were two traction motors, each being powered by one generator, thus simplifying the electrical system. Production began in 1956, and ended in 1965 Eventually, 102 Janus locomotives were built: mostly for the British steel industry, but other customers included Imperial Chemical Industries (12 locomotives), the Port of London Authority (10), and the National Coal Board (7). Three locomotives were exported. In 2008, 23 were still in industrial service, and seven had entered preservation.
The similarity in power and speed would indicate that this type of locomotive could have been use in a similar role to the British Rail Class 08 shunter. In recent years Class 08 shunters owned by EWS have replaced Janus locomotives on some industrial railways and one model was loaned to BR for tests. it is not known if anyone will ever model the London Rubber Company’s “Hugh”.