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What is it? Quiz #438 Fast and faithful, but not so glorious

Quiz #438 Fast and faithful, but not so glorious

The cars of this brand were “fast and faithful”. Thanks to a certain innovative dealer, that could make the cars faster than they originally were and raced with them. For the makers it was a pity that the same dealer decided to build his own cars after 1919, inspired by the makers’car. Quickly they started to loose clientele, also due to some tactical failures in their model range. When a leading car magazine described their latest car as  "The Last Scrap", it was the kiss of death for the company. The company was sold to another car maker, that already stopped two years later.

This car in particular had a 4-cylinder engine from another company.

Anyway we want you to tell us more about the car shown here. Give us your best shot regarding Make, Year & Type plus any (trivial) information you may have at hand. As you know the details often determine the winner! And as usual, also in 2017, take care not to use more than 100 words, send in your answer before Monday and don't forget to check the rules under 'Read more'.


Saturday, 04 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Lady in sports car!

Friday ladies 
That was the title for this photo for a long time. Or in fact 'Mademoiselle en voiture de sport', as on the back of the photo was written: Chambéry, Clos Savoiroux, Mai 1911. In the Parc du Clos Savoiroux, now a place for peace and meditation, you will find a statue of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (the man who inspired the leaders of the french Revolution and who was also at the roots of the Age of Romanticism). Moreover the parc has a monument to commemorate the victims of the wars of the 20th century. In 1911 however the age of Romanticism was over, and the great wars hadn't started yet, at least not in Europe. So why not drive your sports car into the parc to pose for this photo, in a time when nature and technology hadn't become fierce enemies yet?

Recently I found out more about the photo. E.g. that the car is a ca 1909 Motobloc, recognizable by the grips on top of the bonnet, and belonged to her father. The family resided at the Château de Beauregard in La Bazoche-Gouet, so sometimes you could spot her in more lady-like outfit. Her name? I still don't know, though I do know now that a certain Adrien Harmand, an artistic painter, was the owner of the castle in the early '20s. If he already was living there around 1910 is still a mystery. But do not worry, the lady will be the subject of another post in the near future, together with another interesting car. This will give me some time to do more research. And of course if you can help me, please share it in a comment.....

Words and picture: Ariejan Bos
Friday, 03 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Will Tipo B Alfa P3 No. 46 find a lucky buyer?

Will Tipo B Alfa P3 No. 46 find a lucky buyer?RMSothebys have  assembled a delicious choice of cars for their auction on 8 February at Paris Retromobile and we seized upon a car with just 3 gears, one seat and no roof.
The very mention of the Tipo B P3 Alfa Romeo was sufficient to make us dive into the bookshelves and refresh our memory. Legendary names leap from the page - designer Jano, driver Nuvolari and of course Scuderia Ferrari.

p3aThe lines of this legendary car are perfect. The first 'monoposto' grand prix car and a successful one at that, winning races as soon as it appeared in 1932.
Jano's clever design kept the weight down to 700kg, making it a formidable racer in the right hands.

p3fA new formula in 1934 demanded wider and heavier cars, and Alfa complied by widening the bodywork on the original five P3 cars. A batch of seven additional examples was then built to the newer specifications, and these cars received larger engines ( see below). Numbering sequentially from chassis number 50001, these wide-body cars were often identified by their Scuderia Ferrari number.

alfa-p3-engineThe weight increase was the perfect excuse to enlarge the engine capacity to 2.9 litres. Effectively two 4 cylinder blocks each with their own Roots supercharger which gave tremendous torque at low revs. Jano recognized that smaller superchargers put less stress on the engine, had less rotational inertia and were more thermally efficient.

p3gThe differential is behind the gearbox and the split drive train uses two short driveshafts running at angles to simple bevel gears just inside each rear wheel driving stub axles. The axle tube itself is very light and the centrally located driver sits low, between the two driveshafts.
Great attention was paid to the road-holding and lightness - keeping all masses low and unsprung weight to a minimum.

p3hBy 1935, The P3 was out-gunned by the superior German cars ( but we recommend you read about Nuvolari's victory at the German Grand Prix that year!) - so the car was sold in 1936 and by 1946 ended up with Ken Hutchison, a wealthy British enthusiast who wrote about his experiences with the car in an extended cover feature in the January 1948 issue of Motor Sport magazine.
It's a marvellous record of his enjoyment of this car and how he developed it with his mechanic (' The Great Man') - he fitted  Lockheed brakes and described the Alfa-Romeo brakes as  'erratic and rather unsafe'.

p3eImagine youself at the wheel and read this quote from Hutchinson... "The maximum speeds and performances of the “2.9” have been somewhat loosely spoken of in the past, and it may interest readers to know that with a high axle ratio of 3.79 to 1 and 700 by 16 covers my car is capable of a maximum road speed of 152 m.p.h. at 6,500 r.p.m.—but you need a mighty long road to reach this and so far, at any rate, I have never exceeded 6,200 r.p.m. At Brighton Speed Trials we only attained 5,800 over the line at the end of the standing kilo".
We make that 135 mph !!  He must have trusted his brakes.


alfa-tipoB-50006Ed.  Reader William Hearne has sent us a picture of this Alfa P3 in New Zealand C 1955 at the
International G.P. at Ardmore, Auckland. ( Other pictures HERE.)

He has also identified the who, what & when of this picture
as British amateur Frank Ashby and team rebuilding 50006 after buying it from Scuderia Ferrari in 1936.

The sight of a Riley wheel behind the Alfa reminds us that Thompson and Taylor were building Brooklands Rileys before Rileys themselves.  Food for thought....

Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy RMSotheby's.

Thursday, 02 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

PreWarWorkshop: a monocylinder repair

PreWarWorkshop: a monocylinder repair
In this case there was a cast-iron cylinder that was cracked on a very tiny bridge between the 2 valve plugs. The area has a diameter of some 2,5mm and had been welded multiple times already, but kept cracking again. After each weld, the cracks got worse and a solution had to be found.

Of course this is a single idea of how to solve this and I would be very curious to find out how you would have approached this problem. For future reference, any tips and tricks are most welcome!

In this case, we milled the top 5mm off the cylinder, revealing the crack and start with new material. A 3-layer copper crush gasket, made to my own design by advertiser Gaskets-to-Go, is fitted and a new 4,5mm top-plate is made, in the shape of the part that has been milled off. When assembled, the part looks as it did originally, and the cylinder seals perfectly well now.

The 2 large brass plugs on top of the cylinder hold the plate and crush the copper rings and copper gasket for a tight seal. The whole assembly can be fitted with plenty of torque on the plugs to seal everything.

Please view my photo album at

Article and work by Jos van Genugten
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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