Posts Tagged ‘Maserati 4CL’

On the Port Adelaide wharf, January 1951. Type 35 Bugatti, GP Lago Talbot and 4CL Maserati (Bob King)

This whole online caper is interesting not least for the people you meet in the virtual world and as a consequence subsequently in the real one.

Greg Smith is one such fellow, he is a well known Melbourne racer/engineer/restorer who wrote an article for us a while back. We were discussing some arcane topic online the other week which led to an invitation to one of Smithy’s wonderful Wednesday night feasts in honour of the late Italian/Australian hotelier/racer/raconteur Lou Molina- who looks down on proceedings from the wall with approval at Greg’s execution of some of Lou’s Italian dishes.

There were some fine car/racing identities there on the night including Perth boy Rod Quinn, and locals Ron McCallum, David Ogg and Bob King. Since then Bob and I have joined the Automotive Historians Australia Inc (many of you would be interested in this several years old group, a topic for another time) and the two day AHA conference gave me the chance to twist Bob’s arm into contributing an occasional article or two.

Bob King hustling the Anzani Bugatti around the Adelaide GP road circuit (Bob King)

He is a retired medical practitioner who has had a lifetime interest in vintage and racing cars and Bugattis- his particular passion. As well as racing and rallying these cars, he has maintained a deep interest in their history which culminated in the publication of three books on Australian (and New Zealand) Bugattis as well as one on the Brescia Bugatti. Bob has had historical articles published in many journals. He continues to enjoy restoring and driving his small collection of a Bebe Peugeot, Bugatti T35B and an AC Ace.

Bob is a wonderful, knowledgeable chap, its great to have him involved, his first ‘Words from Werrangourt’ piece is titled-

‘The Dale brothers, importers of important cars- Part 1’

Anyone who is fortunate enough to have old copies of Australian Motor Sport (January 1946 to April 1971) will be aware of wordy advertisements for exotic cars imported by the Dale brothers: Peter Durham Dale and Henry K H Dale. Their origins are something of a mystery, but it is thought they had some Egyptian ancestry mixed with more recent English blood – Henry may have been born in England.

Dale brothers on the 1936 AGP grid at Victor Harbor in December 1936, Bugatti T37A. Henry driving, Peter alongside- DNF after 9 laps in the race won by the Les Murphy MG P Type (Bob King)

 

Dale boys during the Victor Harbor race, I wonder if he caught it! (Morris Family)

They are recalled as two rather pompous single men who lived the life of gentlemen in a terrace house in Williams Road, Toorak in Melbourne. Well remembered is a large round ‘coffee’ table in the drawing room on which was displayed the latest copy of every motoring magazine. The garage on the side street was opened to reveal the latest, newly acquired exotica. Peter, known as ‘Durham’ had some mundane job with an insurance company as well as being a journalist on the ‘Truth’ newspaper; he wrote a three part history of the pre-war Australian Grand Prix in AMS, which piqued the interest of the writer in these races. Henry, christened Hylton, was usually engaged in the wool trade in Egypt.

The writer’s earliest memory of Peter was at Fisherman’s Bend car races in the late 1950’s. A friend and I were gazing in awe at Miles Ryan’s 100mph Low Chassis Invicta. I commented to said friend that the radiator badge was not straight. We were addressed in a stentorious tone by one whom were later told was Peter Dale: “That is how you know it is handmade” – a lesson well learnt. We do not have a chronology of cars imported by the Dales, but let us start with three on a wharf.

Peter Dale in ‘37160’ with its unusual ‘Touriste’ body by Jarvis of Wimbledon (Bob King)

The Bugatti 35A is not an ‘A’, but a 1925 Molsheim works racing Type 35, chassis no. 4575.

It was Jules Goux’s 2 litre car for the French and Spanish Grands Prix of that year. The French GP was a 1000km race held in torrential rain over 9 1/2 hours. The Bugatti team finished intact with Goux in fifth place. What endurance.

Henry spotted its radiator in the back of a garage in Neuilly-Sur-Seine in about 1950 and bought it for about $150. Although it had not been run since before the war, he had the oil changed and then undertook a delightful Autumnal drive to Marseille, from where the car was shipped to Adelaide.

Fisherman’s Bend Races – don’t be fooled by the blower blow off hole in the bonnet, Herb Ford had swapped bonnets with his supercharged Type 37A, ‘37332’. (Dino Lanzi)

Peter collected it, had it registered by Bob Burnett-Read who actually substituted a Ford Prefect from his used car lot for the Bugatti – the weigh bridge man seemed satisfied with this. The car was driven by Peter to Melbourne and from there to Bathurst for the Easter races where it performed creditably in the hands of Lyndon Duckett and Peter Dale.

They had driven there in a convoy of 4 Bugattis – the Type 35, the Anzani Bugatti, a Type 51A and a Type 57C – Dales ‘Ecurie Pur Sang’. The next owner of the 35 was Bugatti enthusiast Herb Ford who sold it on when it emitted expensive noises from its roller bearing crankshaft. In the words of Peter, it was ‘a mass of fatigued stresses’.

Some more photos of Bugatti Type 35 ‘4575’…

(P-Y Laugier)

This photograph above is thought to be M Poret in the car pre-war, he was a Parisian owner.

(B Burnett-Read)

This photograph was taken shortly after arrival in Australia. Bob Burnett-Read has just had the car registered prior to Peter Dale’s drive from Adelaide to Melbourne.

(Bob King)

Herb Ford only used the car once or twice, including a sprint on or near the Geelong Road (accounts vary). It is said he made the fastest 1/4 mile time- finishing at astronomical revs in third, maybe this is why the engine was making unpleasant noises.

He sold the tired car to John Martin who did not keep it long enough to dismantle the complicated built-up roller bearing crank before passing it on to John Thomson. Here it is with Martin- note the ill-fitting bonnet from the 37A- when adding a supercharger to an unblown GP Bug, the steering box is moved up and back, to make space. Hence the steering drop arm being in the wrong place.

(unattributed)

The next owner, John Thomson had the good fortune to be friendly with Bugatti expert Peter Menere, at his Brighton ‘Pier Prestige Garage’.

John was dead keen to have a GP Bug, and after prolonged and unsuccessful haggling with Ford, he eventually bought the dismantled car from Martin for an astromonical 870 pounds, the Brighton Buggattisti thought he was mad. After spending a further 700 pounds with Moore Hydraulics getting the crankshaft ground, and untold hours toiling over the rest of the car, he eventually had a going car- an original, unmolested factory racing car, no less. Not long after completing the car in the mid-sixties John moved to London, the car following him in 1972. In 1974 50 years of the Grand Prix Bugatti was celebrated in Lyon with an amazing turn-up of Grand Prix Bugattis. John is seen in the car on that occasion.

(unattributed)

On the starting line at Limonest Hillclimb, Lyon.

A great action shot of John on Prescott Hillclimb- the hillclimb owned and run by the Bugatti Owners Club (unattributed)

A well known photo of the Talbot-Lago ‘110007’ below but worth seeing again. Doug Whiteford AGP, Albert Park, 21 November 1953 – ‘Yes Doug, your tyre is missing’.

Lago Talbot GP chassis no. 110007 was the car with which Louis Chiron had won the 1949 French Grand Prix. Henry was contemplating purchasing Raymond Sommer’s Lago, but was advised by Chiron to speak to Paul Vallee, patron of Ecurie France, as he might sell Chiron’s car which was being prepared for the Barcelona Grand Prix. It was entrained to Marseille and thence to Adelaide.

Its first owner in Australia was Tom (Happy) Hawkes who only drove it once or twice. Its serious debut was at the 1951 Easter Bathurst meeting, 1951; Hawkes drove it to third in the Bathurst 100 and Whiteford was third in another scratch race, setting a new lap record of 3 minutes.

The ‘Maestro’ Whiteford won the 1952 GP at Bathurst and the 1953 race at Albert Park, in spite of the tyre issue.

Here the car is pictured below during the December 1956 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Albert Park, by then the ‘6 plug’ chassis ‘110007’ was owned by Owen Bailey, whose race was shortlived with axle failure on the line.

(S Wills)

AGP Albert Park paddock with the ‘6 plug’ Bailey ‘110007’ in front of the car Doug Whitford replaced it with- an earlier car, chassis ‘110002’ but to more advanced specification inclusive of more powerful ’12 plug’ 4.5 litre motor. Stirling Moss won the feature race aboard a Maserati 250F.

(S Wills)

Beautiful shot of ‘Dicer Doug’ Whiteford with Peter Dale during the 1956 AGP carnival. Car is Talbot-Lago ‘110002’. It would be interesting to know how many AGP’s in total the various cars the Dales imported over the years contested.

(S Wills)

Cockpit below is ’12 plug’, ‘110002’, Spencer Wills photograph again taken in the Albert Park paddock. Quadrant for the pre-selector gearbox clear.

(S Wills)

Photo below of Owen Bailey at Albert Park, am intrigued to know which meeting. It appears he has spun into a gutter, or been rammed from behind.- the shape of the dent suggests the former.

(S Wills)

Shot below is of Whiteford in the ’12 plug’ ‘110002’ at Fishermans Bend on 12 February 1956.

(S Wills)

 

(unattributed)

‘The Maserati 4CL, chassis No. 1579 is first recognised as Raymond Sommer’s 1946 Marseilles Grand Prix winning car.

In the photo above Sommer is being led by Tazio Nuvolari in another 4CL during the second heat. Sommer won both this 15 lap heat and 35 lap final, the great Mantuan failed to finish the preliminary and therefore did not qualify for the final run on the Marseille Prado Street circuit on 13 May.

It was painted blue for its French owner. Again it was Louis Chiron who suggested Henry should buy it from Sommer’s widow – Sommer had been the owner of one of Europe’s largest carpet manufacturers.

Via an advertisement in Australian Motor Sport, the car was soon in the hands of Victorian Peter Vennermark. He soon had trouble with the highly supercharged 1.5 litre engine, which had developed an appetite for cylinder blocks. Unlike the other two cars featured which have returned to Europe, this car remains in the caring hands of the Victorian owners.’

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘Bugattis in Australia and New Zealand, 1920 to 2012’ Bob King and Peter McGann

Photo Credits…

Bob King Collection, Herald-Sun, G Griffiths, S Anderson, Morris Family, Spencer Wills, Bob Burnett-Read, Pierre-Yves Laugier

Finito…

jersey pit

Jersey Maserati line up of ; #1 Chiron 4CL, #2 Pagani 4C, #3 Sommer 4CL, #4 Bira 4C…

‘MotorSport’ announced the first British post-war international race at St Helier, Jersey on 8 May in its April 1947 issue…

‘The course embraces 1.5 miles of the St Helier promenade and measures 3.5 miles per lap, the race is a scratch contest over 160 miles, under Formula Rules ie; supercharged 1.5 litre and unsupercharged cars of 4.5 litres. There are no fuel restrictions and lady drivers are barred…Already everyone in the country seems to be booking accommodation…for the Jersey Road race will attract immense crowds of spectators’ MotorSport said.

Saint Helier is the capital of Jersey, the largest of the North Sea Channel Islands which had been liberated from the Germans less than two years before. The race was the first of five held on the island (1947-1950 and 1952), Brooklands having been bomb damaged during the war and there were problems with the authorities using a circuit on the mainland…

jersey ray era workshop

Raymond Mays supervising the preparation of his ERA D Type ‘R4D’ on 1 April 1947. The workshop shot is of interest as is the girder chassis of the car, 6 cylinder supercharged engine awaits installation on the bench (Getty)

Starved of racing opportunities the race was well supported by British entrants and was also the first meeting supported by drivers from the continent; Maserati 4CL’s were entered for Reg Parnell, Louis Chiron and Raymond Sommer, 4C’s for Bira, Ian Connell, Nello Pagani and Robert Ansell.

chiron

Louis Chiron surrounded by his team and well-wishers on race-day. Maser 4CL 2nd but probable winner of the race…(Bert Hardy)

A swag of ERA’s were entered; George Abecassis and Joe Ashmore in A Type’s, B Types for John Bolster, Bob Gerard, Peter Walker, Cuth Harrison and Billy Cotton/Wilkie Wilkinson, a D Type for Raymond Mays and E Type for Peter Whitehead.

Other notable entrants were Pierre Levegh’s Delage D6.70 these cars also entered for Henri Louveau and Jean Achard. Leslie Johnson was entered in a Talbot T150C.

jersey parnell

Victor Reg Parnell’s Maserati 4CL (Bert Hardy)

mays color

Raymond Mays ready to practice his ERA at St Heliers on 4 June 1947 (Getty/Popperfoto)

Bira set the quickest time during practice on the Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 2.6.6 but all three Scuderia Milano Maserati’s; Sommer, Chiron and Pagani were under 2.10.

bira in pits

Bira Maser mirror adjustment in the pits, fastest by some way in practice (Bert Hardy)

Melted pistons in several of the blown cars was a problem causing MotorSport to speculate about the impact of missing fuel company expert technicians. Whitehead ran well until a split fuel tank in the ERA E Type dumped its contents on the road, the tank was repaired for the race, not well as it turned out!

maser mechanics

Maser mechanics fetting (Bert Hardy)

Johnson did a good time of 2.17 in the sports Talbot, the ‘Ecurie Delsac’ Delages of Louveau, Levegh and Achard slower.

The front row comprised Bira on pole from Pagani, Chiron and Sommer with Mays, Gerard and Ansell on row two and Whitehead, Parnell, Walker and Dixon on row three.

parnell grid

Parnells Maser being pushed onto the grid (Bert Hardy)

chiron grid

Chiron’s Maser 4CL being pushed onto the grid (Bert Hardy)

jersey start

’47 Jersey Road race just prior to the start. The front row L>R Sommer, Chiron, Pagani with Bira on pole all in Maserati’s (Jersey Evening Post)

MotorSport reported ‘The start was quite colossal…the entire field hurtled off with a crash. Impressions were difficult to analyse during the first mad rush, with the howl of the engines rising to a scream and the confusion of the blurring colours. Pagani took a slight lead from teammates Chiron and Sommer while Whitehead’s ERA hung slightly on getaway so that the Talbot and two Delages of Johnson, Levegh and Achard closed up like a released rubber band’.

‘After about 90 seconds of silence the leaders dived out of the Bayview Hotel corner, brakes on and slowed for the pedestrian like hairpin, Sommer in the lead from Bira 2 seconds back then Pagani and Parnell. There was an appreciable gap…to Mays, Ansell and Whitehead’ the latter retired the ERA E Type with a recurrence of the split aluminium fuel tank.

jersey bira

Bira correcting a slide in his Maser 4CL on the harbour front road (Klemantaski)

Bira got in front of Sommer before lap 5 but the Frenchman got the lead back but couldn’t hold it, Bira pitted on lap 10 to change a wheel having boofed a kerb.

bira racing

Bira Maser 4C from Sommer Maser 4CL early in the race at Bel Royal corner (Jersey Evening Post)

The Thai Prince lost only around 24 seconds but Derby’s Reg Parnell was in front by 45 seconds, a lead he never lost.

Sommer set a lap record of 2.6.2, 91.28mph on this road circuit before retiring with a ‘worn engine’.

chiron

Chiron’s Maserati 4CL Klemantaski)

There was considerable confusion about race positions the scoreboard and broadcast announcer at odds ‘It was not until 3 laps from the end that Parnell was shown as the leader with Chiron 2nd …Certainly (Parnell) was driving as if he thought he was 2nd, unlike Chiron who was driving as if he was sure he was 1st’.

jersey spectators

Spectators as confused about race positions as the drivers and their crews? The scoreboard says its #7 Parnell from #4 Bira and #18 Gerard on Lap 15 (Bert Hardy)

jersey chiron pitstop

Chiron pistop for fuel (Bert Hardy)

Further back ‘Mays drove as he has seldom before, climbing ruthlessly up the ruck to 3rd place once he got the car running on all six’.

gilby

Sam Gilby in his Maserati 6CM ‘Went well indeed but he should remember that in his first race, style, driving manners and a complete lack of baulking are are more important than dicing hard. Style and correctness are still the first things to learn’ MotorSport noted! (Klemantaski)

‘Johnson, playing a waiting game behind Louveau’s Delage…lost top gear, just when his pit signalled him to take Loueveau during the last third of the race’.

parnell race

Parnell (Bert Hardy)

‘Final placings after all the protests and shouting had died down were’;

Parnell Maser 4CL from Louis Chiron Maser 4CL, Mays 3rd in ERA D Type then Ashmore’s ERA A Type, Henri Louveau Delage D6.70 and Leslie Johnson Talbot T150C.

Picture Post…

jersey pic post

For the winner the spoils; Reg Parnell on the ‘Picture Post’ 24 May 1947 cover (Bert Hardy)

The inspiration for this article is the amazing work of Bert Hardy who was the principal photographer for the ‘Picture Post’, Britains most influential news-pictorial magazine, who took many of the shots used in this piece.

The magazine’s life spans around 30 years from 1938 to 1957, very quickly achieving sales of 1.7 million copies per month. What took my breath away is the sheer breadth of coverage of Hardy’s work, pretty much the progress, daily lives, sport, politics, contemporary culture and all of the conflicts in which the UK became enmeshed is shown in the archive. If you are a Brit take the time to have a look at the work. The disadvantage of the Getty Images (who now own the archive) format is that the low res scans don’t have the details of each shot unless you click on them and it ‘kicks you out’ after every 5 0r 6 clicks but its worth persevering.

Here is a link to the images;

http://www.gettyimages.com.au/photos/bert-hardy?sort=mostpopular&excludenudity=true&mediatype=photography&phrase=bert%20hardy

And here is a long but very interesting article about Bert Hardy, as an Aussie i have never heard of the man but he was truly an amazing photo-journalist;

http://www.photohistories.com/Photo-Histories/50/the-life-and-times-of-albert-hardy-1913-1995

Etcetera…

bira gridding

Bira preparing for the off , Maser 4C (Bert Hardy)

jersey gay ray

The top shot is Parnell’s Maserati 4CL being refuelled, the lower one Ray May’s, preoccupied but looking after the autograph needs of young fans (Bert Hardy)

crowd

Car #15 the Leslie Brooke ERA B Type passes the pits DNF engine failure (Bert Hardy)

Bibliography…

Motorsport April and June 1947

Photo Credits…

Bert Hardy, Louis Klemantaski, Jersey Evening Post, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Ray Mays ERA D Type independent  front suspension detail…

ray smiling

22 April 1947

Finito…