On returning home full of enthusiasm, many ideas for building Specials were considered. One of these was an aero engine car using the small radial Pobjoy motor and although with the help of friends one was located, it could not be secured. A further interesting scheme was to use two Triumph Thunderbird motors, each driving one pair of wheels, the throttles being coupled to twin pedals so that power in proportion front or back could be controlled by rocking the foot. It was as well that these problem schemes came to nought, particularly the latter, which may have been more suited to a driver even better than Stirling Moss!
Many other possible motors were considered and among them was the 1930/36 BSA air-cooled V-twin used in their three wheelers. After much searching finally a four wheel 1931 chassis, with this same motor was obtained from where it had been stored under a hedge. These BSA models incorporated a 1,021 c.c. 90-degree V-twin engine with a wet cork clutch, three-speed gearbox and worm drive unit, mounted in front of the engine driving the front wheels. Suspension was independent at the front using four quarter elliptic springs each side.
A special sports car was built with the chassis cut and lowered from a point behind the motor and new rear spring mountings made. Body framework was fabricated from duralumin angle cut from surplus aircraft wings and aluminium panels were rivetted onto this frame, forming a stressed skin construction. Plywood was used for the floor and top of the scuttle. As the car was front wheel drive, every effort was made to keep the weight forward. The tail was kept very light and simply provided luggage space when touring.
The original brakes comprised a single eight-inch drum for the front wheels, mounted on the differential cage and a pair of seven-inch drums on the rear wheels. This arrangement was retained, but a new fully compensated rod and cable operating system was fitted. Braking applied through the differential gave even braking action on the front wheels in all conditions, and the system proved fairly satisfactory, although the front drum did suffer from fade during hard use.
Engine development went on over a period of four years. It was found possible to bore out the valve seats by approximately a quarter of an inch and fit Speedway J.A.P. valves and springs, which with 15/32 inch Amal carburettors greatly improved the breathing. Lack of lubrication at the exposed push rod ends caused rapid wear of the top ball joint ends, so these were replaced by a flat top acting against a radiused adjusting screw on the rocker. This provided a rolling instead of rubbing motion. At the same time lighter push rods and tappets were made and fitted.
The original big end had loose rollers without cages and as these needed replacing, the crank pin was ground to take standard roller bearings. This turned out to be a bad mistake as the bronze cages wore rapidly due to the centrifugal load, and the whole assembly seized up while testing the car, before what would have been its first race. It was obvious the job had to be done according to best engineering practice as one seldom gets away with less when working on a racing motor.
A new crank pin was made and cages to take 1/4 x 3/8 inch rollers were machined using material from a surplus aircraft propeller blade. The lubrication was altered from jets into the cylinders, to a feed through the crankshaft to the big end. A small crack, which was possibly due to the seizing problem, was found in one conrod. Two replacements of improved design were made from Nickel Chrome steel. I was thankful at this time to have the use of a milling machine to complete this job.
Except for normal wear this big end gave no trouble, but the bearings lasted only about 8,000 miles. Later standard roller bearings were again used, but with the bronze cages replaced with duralumin ones. It is interesting to note that if the inner race creeps around a little on the crank pin, but not so much as to cause it to wear, the life is increased due to the load being distributed around the race. Otherwise with the load concentrated in one place the case hardening eventually fatigues and breaks up.
The car was run at this stage of development for the 1952 racing season. The first event was a standing quarter mile sprint and a time of 19.1 secs was recorded. Next came a race meeting at Seagrove airstrip and a handicap win. Most of the opposition came from Ford Ten Specials and notably from Don Tilsley, whose car at this stage proved faster than mine.
After this I had an enjoyable tour to Ohakea and Waikanae in the BSA as pit crew for Ron Roycroft, who was racing his Type 35 Bugatti. On the way down the Desert Road Ron passed me laughing and pointing behind. Arthur Cowper, in a Ford Ten Special, had been following him closely. Arthur, it turned out, had found the sun in his eyes at a critical moment. The tail of the Bugatti vanished from his view and a wall of rock appeared in its place, so he spun the car. Ron had vanished because he had made a quick left hand turn over a bridge.
At Waikanae, having some 400 miles to drive home, I had not intended to race an unproved and possibly fragile BSA, but the Club persuaded me to enter the two supporting handicap races, run together with the main event. The first I won at touring speed, without having to stress the motor.
On the start line for the second race, George Smith, who had just won the championship, must have had an idea of how things might go as he came over and enquired about my handicap. I again took it easy but at about half distance got a wave from the pit and had to hurry a bit as a Ford V8 Coupe was catching up. At about this time George took me by surprise when his GeeCeeEss Ford V8 Special came past with a shower of sand and at what seemed 40 m.p.h. above my speed. However he was still a lap behind which he could not make up, but I should not have forgotten about him.
Home again and feeling more confident in the ability of the BSA to keep going, I entered for the North Island 50 Mile Championship Beach Race at Muriwai, and finished the 50 miles in third place, behind Ron Sutherland driving a Willys Special and Fred Zambucka in his De Soto Special. Behind were some V8 Fords. George Smith and Ron Roycroft were not at this meeting.
As usual when racing I ran with the silencers removed and the exhaust pipes terminating about level with the back of the seat. My ears were painful for a week afterwards and I resolved never to do this again. In view of the fact that a pipe of the correct length would have finished level with the front of the seat, all ideas of exhaust tuning were abandoned. A set of stub pipes, about four inches long were made, resulting in much less exhaust noise and these were used in future competition.
The next event was the North Island Championship Sprint at Napier. Here the BSA managed a time of 35.4 secs for the standing kilometre. Other interesting times included Herb. Gilroy's 33.6 secs in the Brooklands Austin Seven single seater. George Smith was fastest time of the day at 29.4 secs with his Ford V8 GeeCeeEss Special and Ron Roycroft recorded 33.4 secs with the Type 35 Bugatti.
Ron suggested returning to Auckland from Napier, via Lake Waikaremoana and staying at the Tourist Lodge. When I mentioned having been turned away after arriving in a dusty condition in a Singer Le Mans, Ron promptly overcame this problem by making a telephone reservation. On arrival, covered in dust, we were met by a disapproving porter waiting to carry our bags.
Ron, perhaps because of Speedway experience, seemed to accept driving in a cloud of dust and I remember him saying that when flying stones appeared among the dust, it meant you were close enough to get past! By the time we were home again the BSA had done many miles trying to keep the tail of the blue Bugatti in sight.
Not long after the Napier trip, when driving back from Orewa one hot day, the head came off one exhaust valve and of course went through the piston. The pieces seemed to be safely out of the way in the sump, so the two push rods were removed from the damaged cylinder and the BSA driven home on the other cylinder. It was decided to retire the engine as during the Ohakea tour I had acquired another BSA motor, which had been replaced with a side valve Hillman unit.
Later inspection of the newly acquired engine, revealed that the cylinders had cracked off around the base flange at one time, and had been welded on again and sleeved. Although this was not a very good motor it became useful for town running in the wintertime. Later I managed to get a three wheeler chassis with motor and gearbox, so now had a reasonable stock of spare parts.
For the next season a much-improved motor was prepared. Long holes were drilled through the cylinder fins and long holding down studs fitted to avoid any possibility of the cylinders breaking off at the bottom flange. At the same time the rockers were enclosed and an oil feed to them was fitted. It was found possible to bore out the cylinders by three m.m. to give a capacity of 1,095 c.c. and pistons were fitted to provide a compression ratio of eight to one. The inlet cams were altered by building them up with welding and grinding to the same shape as the exhaust cams.
Also fitted were new valves with 1/32 inch larger diameter stems, made from those originally out of a Rolls Royce Merlin aero engine, as well as bronze guides and triple valve springs giving 169 lbs. A twin cylinder Bradford distributor, with reground cam, was used so as to take advantage of a centrifugal advance mechanism.
These changes increased the torque so much that the clutch slipped. This was cured by fitting twice the number of springs and increasing the pedal leverage to cope with the added pressure.
The small cooling fins and high cylinder temperatures made alcohol fuel desirable but the cost was a limitation. I checked the specifications covering the racing fuels available from all the oil companies and compared the latent heat values relative to cost. As a result I ended up making a mixture of blends from Shell and Mobil giving a ratio as a percentage of 44 Ethanol to 18 Benzol and 37 Petrol. The cost worked out at 67 cents per gallon, compared with the then current price of petrol at 45 cents.
I set off on a Thursday to do some testing at Muriwai beach using the special brew and with jets, based on calculations, fitted in the carburettors, as well as spare jets. This turned out to be one of those wonderful days when every adjustment made resulted in the car going faster. I came home really thrilled with the BSA, having reached over 80 m.p.h. on half-mile straight runs.
Winning the Northern Sports Car Club 1,500 c.c. ten mile scratch race the following Saturday against the Ford Ten Specials, was almost an anticlimax to that best ever test day. The BSA went on to win this race for three years in succession, the last time in the hands of a new owner, Dave Long.
Another interesting event was a Sprint where 16.6 sec. was recorded for the standing quarter mile and 10.2 secs for the flying quarter, ( 88 m.p.h. ).
A later effort to race at Ohakea aerodrome was not so successful. After driving 300 miles to the meeting on normal compression, the eight to one pistons were fitted on the roadside outside the circuit and alcohol added to the fuel. During practice, a mixture check by observing the spark plug colour seemed to show the mixture too rich on one cylinder, so the jet was leaned down two sizes. At the beginning of the race the BSA was lapping comfortably with a supercharged MG TD for eleven laps, but then one cylinder cut out. Inspection showed the plug points (platinum type) had fused together. The only spare plugs on hand were intended for touring. After these were fitted the car was nursed along at slightly lower speed, for the remaining twelve laps to the finish.
In hindsight it appears that as much of the circuit around the curves by the hangars was done on part throttle, the appearance of the plugs may not have been an indication of full throttle mixture. A check down the straight by partly closing the air slides would have been more reliable. The platinum point plugs were not used again and cooler grade Champion type R1 plugs were substituted.
Many miles were completed with the BSA being in almost daily use during the four-year period of ownership, with either pistons or motor being changed for competition events. The front wheel drive was suited to a car of its performance and made it very easy and safe to drive. With driver only, the weight distribution was 58 percent on the front. The reasonably light small section tyres and wheels with no brake drums, made for a good sprung to unsprung weight ratio and provided excellent front wheel adhesion on sealed surfaces. Conditions at the rear were not nearly as good, as the beam axle was rather heavy and had very little sprung weight over it, except when the luggage space was full.
Best speed through the corners was obtained with just a little power on, using most of the tyre adhesion for cornering force. If more power was applied the tyres would lose some of their cornering power and the radius of the turn become larger. Reducing power immediately tightened the turn, there normally being no possibility of spinning up, however the car would spin up on a bumpy road if the rear broke away. The cure was to quickly apply plenty of power and if a hump in the road was in the right place, this could indeed result in very fast cornering!
Traction in mud was poor and it was of little use to attempt any slippery sections in car trials. As the power of the motor was increased it became easier to spin the front wheels, until the point was reached where they would spin in top gear on a metal road, with all steering control being lost and feeling almost as if it was disconnected. The BSA was a good town car, as the front tyres could act as a soft bumper and the rear was so light it could be lifted into a small parking space.
Driving the open car in the rain was usually not too bad, if the correct speed could be maintained. At 45 to 50 m.p.h. the screen deflected most of the water over the head of the driver, but a cap with a good peak was essential. At higher speeds heavier droplets could get through and at 30 m.p.h. much water was thrown forward from the top of the rear wheels into the cockpit, when mudguards were not fitted.
Plans were made for further improvements, such as a lighter rear axle to improve road holding and a higher gear ratio for both touring and the longer circuits. The performance had been increased so much that the standard 5.25 ratio was now only ideal for sprints. The r.p.m. limit was easily exceeded on any reasonable straight and the risk of a blown engine became greatly increased. As making a worm and wheel would be a very expensive job, it appeared that the car had now reached the end of its economic development.
Also by this time I had been test driving some much faster cars and I had acquired two Lycoming aircraft engines, having had thoughts of another special. Therefore the BSA was sold, but not without some regret.
The new owner, Dave Long, required a spare engine modified for racing and it was only after working on this, that I realised how many hours had gone into the first one. This proved a wise move as one engine later blew up in a big way, while being raced at Ardmore.
In 1950, when building the special, new front axles were made of 4340 heat treated steel because the key ways in the originals were badly worn due to the failure of previous owners to tighten the hub nuts properly. One of these axles broke through fatigue when Dave was racing the car at Ohakea. Here the circuit was laid out on airfield concrete runways, which generated high cornering loads.
The car slid to a stop on the steering arm and the wheel took off across the track bouncing over the head of a spectator and embedding itself in the wall of a shed behind. Dave quickly ran over and retrieved his wheel while the spectator was recovering from the shock. “You might have killed me”, he exclaimed.
This was an unlucky meeting for Dave as during practice the BSA engine suffered broken a valve rocker. In order to get a spare he phoned a friend back in Auckland who took one off the spare motor and found some Air Force aircrew who were flying down to Ohakea to see the race and they took it with them. The valve clearances needed to be checked often, as the setting increased by 0.012 inch when the cylinders warmed up. Two new front axles were later made 1/16 inch larger in diameter and with splined, instead of tapered ends.
The BSA went on racing for about two years after I sold it and was driven by Bob Hugill, Mal Roberts as well as Dave Long. After this it seemed to disappear.
During the early 1950 period another BSA was being used for competition in Christchurch by the Stanton brothers. This car was a three-wheeler to which a tubular rear axle with a transverse spring had been fitted, to convert it to four wheels. The Stantons also modified the front suspension by replacing the eight quarter elliptic springs with wishbones and a single transverse spring.
When first meeting the Stantons in 1953, I was a little secretive about my performance times, but need not have been as the opportunity to race the two cars together never occurred. At the time the Stantons were working on an aircraft engined special, as I was to do later, so that perhaps it is natural to graduate from an air-cooled BSA to aero engines.
Thirty years later the two BSA cars were found together in Wellington where they had been stored for a considerable time. My car was in bad condition, the body having been removed and much of it lost. The best motor however was there and showed little wear, but had suffered from rust through being left partly dismantled. After some negotiation and sorting of parts, the remains of my car came back to me. After examining it again after such a long time, the lightness of the body construction was a surprise. Even after bringing out my old notebook. it took some time to remember all the important details.
Restoration work took nearly two years. A complete new body was required and the workmanship this time was of a much higher quality. The concept and shape were kept the same as the original, but it was now possible to incorporate some improvements, based on the sketches and calculations I found in my old notebook.
The rear axle weight was greatly reduced and a new worm and wheel made to replace the worn components and at the same time to raise the gear ratio from 5.25 to 4.4. This higher ratio would reduce stress on the engine. The car could now be driven longer distances at modern motorway speeds, as well as on racing circuits with long straights, with much less fear of blowing up the engine.
The first drive with the restored car along city streets felt so bumpy that I had doubts as to whether I would be using it very much. A second trial run early one morning along the motorway was much different, as at 60 m.p.h. the ride smoothed out and all the old sensations came back. There was promise that it might yet become a delight to drive after all. The fitting of thinner front spring leaves brought the frequency down from 160 to 124, and after many road tests to adjust shock absorber settings this brought about a decided improvement in the ride.
During the summer of 1985 the BSA and I attended some historic car meetings and hill climbs. I drove cautiously being troubled by the thought that the early model connecting rods could come apart. They had some stress risers near the small end and were improved for later 1934 models. However much worse than this, was the fact that it had been impossible to polish out rust marks which penetrated right into the steel, possibly indicating inter granular corrosion. Also the tappets, although built up with hard welding, were wearing rapidly and the cams having lost their correct shape were giving the valve gear a rough time.
During the winter a suitable cam profile was designed, with help from textbooks by Ricardo and others, and a new camshaft and tappets were made. The connecting rods, which I had previously made, were in a motor which blew up at Ardmore, when Dave Long had the car. Unfortunately I never saw the remains of the engine and do not know what became of them. Reports were that there was little left unbroken and no one could really say what gave way first. The pistons were New Zealand made Y-alloy castings of light section, and the piston pins were 3/4 inch, instead of the more usual 7/8 inch. The connecting rods had a stress riser where the shank joined the small end although this was not as bad as the BSA rods from which they were copied. From memory they had been cut from across a bar of steel, so that the grain would have been running the wrong way.
Hardness tests to find the strength of the steel used for the BSA rods and calculations showed that they would be stressed to their fatigue limit in the modified engine. Although I had six rods to choose from none were free from damage, corrosion, or manufacturing faults. Therefore it was decided to make new ones from 4340 steel and this time to make a special effort to avoid all previous faults.
New big end bearings were fitted, these being standard RHP 30X62X16 roller races, but with duralumin cages made up so as to be guided on the outside of the cage where the oil is, instead of on the inside of the inner ring as previously. For safety the clearance to allow for expansion, at an estimated emergency limit of 300 degrees centigrade was calculated. The figure arrived at was 0.018 inch and this was quite a surprise.
The differential cage, which holds the single front brake drum, was found to be another over stressed component, the spline onto which it fits being twisted. No doubt improvements to the brake system and modern linings were largely responsible. However tests showed the part to be made from soft steel and this made it easy to select material twice as strong to make a better replacement.
Four new gears were made for the gearbox to replace those which were worn. It was also hoped that the scream in second gear could be reduced, but this was only partly successful. Closer ratios along with a lighter flywheel, made gear changing faster and easier on the gears, as they were no longer being used as synchromesh cones to the same extent when in a hurry.
At the same time needle rollers were fitted to the main shaft spigot bearing replacing the original bronze bush. At some time this had become hot enough to soften the surrounding gear and its ball bearing. My guess was that this could have happened in competition and possibly during the second gear section of the 70 secs long Wairamarama hill.
After all this work and 1,000 miles of local running, with no real problems, I had enough confidence to drive the BSA on a nostalgic 2,500 mile tour to Dunedin and back, so as to attend historic race meetings and visit old friends. The last occasion I had been this far south was nearly thirty years before in a rather similar car, but with four times the power, so there were some interesting memories along the way.
A few laps of racing were completed at Wigram and Dunedin but it was not until I returned home that any proper attempt was made to check on performance. Although no accurate times were taken, some testing was done on the Pukekohe racing circuit using a 50 percent alcohol fuel.
The BSA pulled the higher gear ratio now fitted, very well. The top speed appeared to have improved as a result of the restoration. The maximum engine speed reached was lower by 850 r.p.m. proving that the car had originally been under geared. Acceleration was not quite as good as it had been with the lower final drive. The most useful improvement was the increase in the comfortable touring speed from 50 to 60 m.p.h. as well as increased engine life.
Editor: - An account of a trip South touring racing circuits in the BSA, appears later in this publication.
After the above was written, there was further development involving a quite unique rotary valve modification of the engine. Smaller 15 X 4 inch wheels were also built and fitted. A comprehensive article, covering development the radical rotary valve engine, is included later in this text.
A Half Century Ago. The BSA racing at the Ohakea Airfield Circuit, 1955. Driver, Ralph Watson.
Wheel base, 90.5 inches.
Track, 50 inches.
Height (to top of screen), 36.5 inches.
Body width, 40 inches.
Dry, 860 lbs. With driver and 2/3 of fuel, 1,020 lbs.
Weight distribution, Front 58 & Rear 42 percent.
CHASSIS. (Original chassis lowered and modified.)
Channel section, ladder frame, two tubular cross members.
BRAKES. (Much modified and originally not compensated.)
Fully compensated mechanical operation by rods, cables and levers.
Front, single inboard drum, 8 X 1 1/2 inches.
Rear, two drums, each 7 X 1 3/8 inches.
Front. Independent, utilising eight quarter elliptic springs and friction shock absorbers.
Rear. Four quarter elliptic springs and friction shock absorbers.
TYRES. 400 X 19, alternatively 350 X 19.
STEERING. Quadrant and pinion.
(Original specifications are shown in brackets.)
Horsepower Estimated, 55 h.p. at 6,000 r.p.m. (22 h.p. at 4,000 r.p.m.)
Capacity, 1,095 c.c. (1,021)
Bore, 88 m.m. (85 m.m.), Stroke, 90 m.m. (90 m.m.)
Carburettors, Two Amal 1 5/32 inch. (One Solex type 26 FV)
Pistons, Castings by Fisher in Y-alloy. (Polson in silicon alloy)
Piston Rings, two compression and one oil ring.
Compression Ratio, Varied between 6 & 8 to 1, (4.6 to 1)
Valve timing in degrees. Inlet, 34 - 60, (16 - 64), Exhaust, 60 -34, (60 -26).
Valve throats in inches. Inlet, 1 17/32 , (1 3/8),
Exhaust, 1 15/32 , (1 3/8).
Valve springs open, 150 - 160 lbs. (75 lbs).
Valve lift, 0.380 inch. (0.338)
Valve clearance cold, Nil. (Nil). When hot increases by approx. 0.012.
Big End Bearing, 30 X 62 X 16 m.m. Roller with Dural Cage.
(Originally, 5/16 X 7/16 inch. Loose Rollers.)
Lubrication, Oil feed to big end and rockers. (Oil feed to cylinders.)
Top gear, 5.25. Second gear, 7.8. First gear, 15.356.
Speeds at 5,000 r.p.m. and on 400 tyres.
Top gear, 75 m.p.h. Second, 52 m.p.h. First, 26 m.p.h.
When modified with new worm and wheel, close ratio gears and on 350 tyres.
Top gear, 4.4. Second gear, 5.86. First gear, 9.53.
Speeds at 5,000 r.p.m. on 400 tyres.
Top gear, 86 m.p.h. Second, 64 m.p.h. First, 40 m.p.h.
Events entered with car in the first stage of tune, i.e. speedway J.A.P. valves and springs, 6 to l compression ratio, 1 3/32 inch Amal carburettors and running on commercial petrol.
An asterisk ( * ) prefix indicates a winning entry.
24/09/50. Hillclimb Don Buck Road.
Driver - Gordon Brown. Class - Racing Cars. Time 33.4 secs. Placed third behind F. Zambucka, Do Soto Special and George Smith, Ford V8 GeeCeeEss Special, l. 31 secs.
28/04/51. Hillclimb Ridge Road. ( Loose metal road ). Class, under 1,100 c.c.
* Driver - Gordon Brown . Placed first. Time 48 secs.
10/02/52. Seagrove Airstrip sprint and race meeting.
* Driver - R. Watson. Class 1,100 c.c. Standing quarter mile, placed first. Time, 19.1 secs. Class 1,500 c.c. handicap race, placed first. Top speed approx. 75 m.p.h. Ford Ten Specials and a Jowett Jupiter were faster.
08/03/52. Wellington Car Club Beach races held at Waikanae.
* Driver - R. Watson. Five mile handicap for sports and saloon cars, placed first.
* Ten mile handicap for all-comers, placed first.
22/03/52. North Island Championship Beach Race, Fifty miles.
Driver - R. Watson. Placed third behind R. Sutherland, Willys Special and Fred. Zambucka, De Soto Special.
12/04/52. North Island Championship Sprint Standing Kilometre, Hawkes Bay.
* Driver - R. Watson. Class under 1,100 c.c. Placed first. Time 35.45 secs.
Herb. Gilroy, Brooklands Austin 33.6 secs. Ron Roycroft type 35 Bugatti 33.4 secs. George Smith Ford V8 Special 29.4 secs and fastest of the day.
15/06/52. Northern Sports Car Club, Sporting Trial.
* Driver - R. Watson. Placed first.
07/12/52. Mt Wellington Road Races (Road partly loose metal).
Driver - R. Watson. Scratch race for Specials. Placed second to Tilsley, Ford Ten Special. Not placed in two handicap races.
18/04/53. Auckland Car Club, N.Z. Hillclimb Championship, Muriwai.
* Driver - R, Watson, Class under 1,100 c.c. Placed first. Time, 47.7 secs.
Events entered when the car was in the next stage of tune, i.e. bored out to 1,095 c.c., compression ratio 8 to 1, altered camshaft, 1 5/32 inch Amal Carburettors and running on alcohol fuel.
09/05/53. Northern Sports Car Club Beach Race Champs. Muriwai Beach.
(Races each six miles using a half mile straight.). Driver - R. Watson.
* Class under 1,100 c.c. Placed First.
* Class under 1,500 c.c. Placed First. Time, 6 mins 54 secs.
20/09/53. Northern Sports Car Club Hillclimb, Wairamarama. (Sealed Road)
Driver - R, Watson. Class under 1,100 c.c. Placed first. Time 1 min, 6.9 secs. Second place, D. Tilsley, Ford Ten Special, time 1 min. 3.8 secs.
06/12/53. Northern Sports Car Club Sprint, Port Waikato Road.
* Driver - R. Watson. Class under 1,100 c.c. Standing quarter mile, time 16.6 secs. Flying Quarter, time 10.2 secs (88.2 m.p.h.). Both these times were second fastest for the day. Fastest times, R. Sutherland, De Soto Special, 16.3 and 9.3 secs. Best under 1,500 c.c. class, D, Tilsley, Ford Ten Special, 18.6 and 12,1 secs.
27/02/54. Northern Sports Car Club Beach Race Championships.
* Driver - R. Watson. Class under 1,500 c.c. Placed first.
08/03/54. Ohakea Trophy Meeting. Handicap Race. Driver - R. Watson.
--1954. Auckland Car Club Beach Races, Muriwai.
Driver - R. Watson. Handicap race. Placed second.
- -1954. Rotorua Sprint. Standing Quarter mile.
Driver - R Watson. Placed fourth. Time, 17.4 secs.
Fastest time, G. Palmer, De Soto Special, 15.2 secs. Second, P Harrison, 1,100 c.c. J.A.P. Cooper, 16 secs.
19/09/54. Northern Sports Car Club Wairamarama Hillclimb. (Sealed Road)
Driver - Dave Long. Class under 1,100 c.c. Placed second. Time, 61.8 secs.
First, D. Harrison, 1,100 c.c. J.A.P. Cooper. Time 56 secs.
26/09/54. Auckland Car Club Hillclimb, Muriwai. (Loose metal road)
* Driver - R. Hugill. Class under 1,100 c.c. Placed first. Time 42.7 secs.
09/10/54. Northern Sports Car Club Beach Race Championships, Muriwai.
Driver - D. Long. Ten-Mile Races, half mile straights. Class 1,100 c.c.
* Placed first. Time 12 mins 13 secs. Class 1,500 c.c. First, 12 mins 2 secs.
11/12/54. Auckland Car Club Sprint Meeting.
Drivers - R. Watson and D. Long. Class under 1,100 c.c. Standing quarter mile.
* Placed first. Time 17.2 secs. Flying quarter mile. Placed first. Time 10.6.
Fastest time. Ron Roycroft, Bugatti Jaguar. 15.9 and 9.3 secs.
--1954. Ohakea Trophy Race. Retired with broken front axle.
08/01/55. Ardmore Airfield Circuit Racing. Driver - D. Long. Retired with severe motor damage.
15/01/55. Northern Sports Car Club Wairamarama Hillclimb. (Sealed road)
* Driver - D. Long. Class under 1,100 c.c. Placed first. Time 61.8. Second place, P. Harrison, 1,100 c.c. J.A.P. Cooper. Time 62.1 secs.
27/03/55. Northern Sports Car Club Sprint Meeting. Driver - R. Hugill.
* Class under 1,100 c.c. Standing quarter mile. Placed first. Time 18.2 secs.
* Flying quarter mile. Placed first. Time, 13.4 secs.
30/10/55. Northern Sports Car Club Sprint Meeting. Driver - M. Roberts.
* Class, under 1,100 c.c. Standing quarter mile. Placed first. Time 18.4 secs.
--1955. Northern Sports Car Club Wairamarama Hillclimb. (Sealed road)
* Driver - D. Long. Class, under 1,100 c.c. Placed first. Time 51.8 secs.
Around about 1980, Ralph found himself at a loss for a project and thoughts of restoring the Lycoming Special surfaced. However the suggested price for the remains, was more than he was prepared to pay. It is probably not surprising that his mind then ticked further back in time, resulting in the location of what remained of the BSA special.
It was indeed fortunate that Martin Ferner, a well known collector of notable cars, had come across what was a sad relic. Realising the importance of his find, he purchased and put into storage, all that was left of the BSA Special, with the hope of restoration at some time in the future. Although there was largely simply a jumble of components, the car was more or less complete, with some spares included.
After Ralph made this welcome discovery, a mutual arrangement and friendship was soon established and Ralph soon had the project underway.
Much painstaking effort resulted in the car being restored to a condition even better than original. Once again the BSA was on the road heading for an even more illustrious future. The interesting saga continues here.
The following events were entered after the car had returned early in 1985 to where it began its second life as a special, here to be restored for an even third turn of the wheel.
Classic Car Race Meeting, Whenuapai Airfield.
Two hillclimb events.
Two race meetings at Pukekohe Racing Circuit.
Road circuit sprint event, Span Farm Housing Development.
Demonstration runs, Taupo Racing Circuit.
Feb. 1986. Extensive tour of the South Island, which included Historic Races at Wigram Airfield, as well as the Dunedin Street Races.
April 1986. New Plymouth Rally.
1987. Nelson and Wigram Tour, which included Classic Car Races.
Feb. 1986. Extensive tour of the South Island, which included
N.B. The BSA remained in competition after conversion to a rotary valve engine. This quite amazing competition record therefore continues here.
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