Posts Tagged ‘1937 Crystal Palace Cup’


Prince Bira grabs a nip of ‘Red Bull’ between practice sessions in his Maserati before the Crystal Palace Cup on 14 August 1937…

Bira is standing beside his Fiat Topolino, these cars in some ways the ‘Cooper S’ of their day. The Franco Fessia designed car was noted for its safe road-holding, good ride and willing performance. The ‘mouse’ had hydraulic brakes, independent front suspension and a synchro 4 speed ‘box.

In an article about the cars in MotorSport’s November 1995 issue Bill Boddy noted that they were the ‘in-thing’, the cars competition history included entries and finishers at Le Mans in 1937-9 and a class win in the 980 Mile Tobruk-Tripoli race which replaced the Mille Miglia in 1939.

Post-War the cars components were a feature of the Cooper 500 and thirteen other Italian racing cars.


Bira in his ex- Whitney Straight, Reid Railton modified Maserati 8CM at Crystal Palace in 1937 . The car was fitted with a Wilson pre-selector box and other tweaks, the ‘heart shaped’ radiator giving the car, very successful in both drivers hands, a distinctive look (Dennis Oulds)

Bira raced his Maserati 8CM in the Cup Race, having rebuilt it after its International Trophy race blow up, Lord Austins cars were driven by Hadley and Kaye Petre. Hanson and Aitken raced 1.5 litre Masers and Connell a 1.5 litre ERA. ‘Crack-runners’ (rather a different meaning that phrase these days!) were non starters included the brothers Dobson ERA and Maserati, Tony Rolt’s Triumph and Peter Whitehaeds ERA.

The race was a handicap Bira giving away 75 seconds to the 1.1 litre cars, and 25 seconds to the 1101-2500cc cars.

Hadleys Austin lead away with Bira eventually away with lots of wheelspin and by lap 15 all cars were on the same lap. Bira was up to 2nd and within striking distance by the last lap but he ‘got into a slide at Ramp Bend’ but despite restarting finished 44 seconds behind Hadleys Austin 744cc, Reg Parnell was 3rd in an MG Magnette 1087cc and P Maclure 4th in a Riley C 1486cc.


Bira in the Maser again, this time practicing at Brooklands in March 1938 (David Savill)


Imagno, David Savill, John Stephenson, MotorSport September 1937

Tailpiece: ‘White Mouse Stable’ Dalling Road, Hammersmith, Maser 8CM preparation in 1938…


Bira’s Ex-Whitney Straight Maser 8CM #’3011′ in 1938. Car still alive and well in Peter Gidding’s loving care (John Stephenson)