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500cc racing car?


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#1 IGSYA

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 18:41

A friend of mine has just discovered the attached car. Any idea what it may be? :confused:

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It is believed to be a '40s 500 car. It has no engine although the rear diff is chain drive suggesting a bike engine?

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#2 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 21:38

Crikey, I've seen some poor images in my time but............ The front suspension looks like VW Beetle.

#3 elansprint72

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 21:44

Post the images about a quarter that size and maybe you will get an answer. ;)

#4 Allan Lupton

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 21:46

Originally posted by Paul Rochdale
The front suspension looks like VW Beetle.

So does the rear, though not the differential assembly.
Where is this thing located?

#5 HiRich

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 13:45

There are links to more shots here

It's a tricky one, but it could well be an early 500 special. Things I note are:
- From the link, the car appears to be in Bristol. Interesting, because that's where the movement started.
- Size certainly leads towards a 500. I'm struggling to think of any other class it could be.
- Wire wheels and small brakes suggest an early car, probably built for the early hillclimbs and short races.
- It doesn't match any production car I can see - particularly not the Iotas or Marwyns which would be more probable.
- If that is VW suspension, does that give us an earliest date (the Trimax used similar components and was designed in 1949)
- The chassis is a remarkable design if it is as early as I think. Four tubes was very rare, and the rear-ed treatment is tidier than you would expect.
- The fuel tank is similar to the Cooper Mk II. That suggests quite a small, tight tail.

So I am thinking an early 500 Special, probably from the South-West. Form there it gets tricky. I've ruled out every car I have an image fo. from Aikens to White-Lloyd - wrong chassis, wrong suspension, or the chassis survives. But there are a host of specials for which I don't have an image or description yet.

Any more information would be appreciated. And it's certainly worth preserving until we pinpoint it.

#6 Dutchy

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 15:14

It's most peculiar. I can't think why the whole chassis is offset to the right - look how far the axles come out to the left.

The thought occurs to me that it might have been built for the later 250cc Formula , hence our lack of knowledge of it.

#7 D-Type

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 15:59

Originally posted by Dutchy
It's most peculiar. I can't think why the whole chassis is offset to the right - look how far the axles come out to the left.

The thought occurs to me that it might have been built for the later 250cc Formula , hence our lack of knowledge of it.

In the late forties / early fifties there was an attempt to produce US-Style midget racing to Britain. If they raced clockwise then that could explain the offset. Just a thought ...

#8 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 20:09

Originally posted by HiRich
- If that is VW suspension, does that give us an earliest date (the Trimax used similar components and was designed in 1949).....


That's a huge 'if'...

I've never seen a VW front end that looked like that. Certainly, it's a trailing arm design as on VWs, but the arms look different, the shock mounting is different altogether and I don't see any second cross tube, though that might be a deficiency in the pictures.

Were they taken with a camera or a phone, I have to ask?

Here I've slightly improved the rear suspension shot:

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From memory, VW trailing arms had two bolts locating them to the front of the axle tube, unlike this.

What I'd suggest is that the bits are from some pre-war car, possibly German, that had this kind of suspension.

#9 Twin Window

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 20:53

Pics are now fixed.

Could members wishing to post their images please stick to a file size no wider than 800 pixels.

Thanks :up:

#10 IGSYA

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 21:13

Thank you guys. Apologies for the photos - taken quickly on the phone.Will post further photos on the weekend - but if is quite exciting
I saw this on the 500 site - it has similar low steering column but equally poor photo!!!
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#11 ianselva

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 21:47

Originally posted by Ray Bell


That's a huge 'if'...

I've never seen a VW front end that looked like that. Certainly, it's a trailing arm design as on VWs, but the arms look different, the shock mounting is different altogether and I don't see any second cross tube, though that might be a deficiency in the pictures.

Were they taken with a camera or a phone, I have to ask?

Here I've slightly improved the rear suspension shot:

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From memory, VW trailing arms had two bolts locating them to the front of the axle tube, unlike this.

What I'd suggest is that the bits are from some pre-war car, possibly German, that had this kind of suspension.

That's the front suspension , not the rear.

#12 HiRich

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 12:02

Originally posted by Dutchy
It's most peculiar. I can't think why the whole chassis is offset to the right - look how far the axles come out to the left.

The thought occurs to me that it might have been built for the later 250cc Formula , hence our lack of knowledge of it.

I think the offset you see is an optical illusion, but perhaps the OP can add that to his list of things to check.

Formula 250 is a possibility. Whilst started in 1955, there were apparently some rather ramshackle designs (although the only example I've seen was the Birsay at the GRM 2008 auction, which very light and tidy). I'd still tend towards a 500. However, another possibility is that it might be an earlier CAPA grasstrack car - 250cc, and the Bristol-based progenitor of the 500s.

I'm pretty sure it isn't a dirt-track midget. I believe these ran anti-clockwise, and seem to be front-engined.

Another question is, where's the third pedal? I can't see how it would fit in.

So no real progress yet. I've ruled out about two dozen specials, but know of at least a dozen more for which I don't have images on the computer.

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 12:07

Originally posted by ianselva
That's the front suspension , not the rear.


Quite right... I made a mistake while posting the pic and was on a dodgy mobile internet connection and couldn't correct it this morning...

Now Twinny has fixed the pics it's easy to see what I was saying, anyway.

#14 Pete Stowe

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 17:12

Originally posted by HiRich
However, another possibility is that it might be an earlier CAPA grasstrack car - 250cc, and the Bristol-based progenitor of the 500s.


CAPA wasn’t 250cc ): . Post-war some local 500s, for example the Iota-based MilliUnion, ran in CAPA, but generally CAPA specials were based on stripped down ordinary cars, Austin, Morris, Triumph, etc. and usually front-engine, rear-drive.

IGSYA, are there any clues in the address where this machine was found, or the family name of the previous owner? Either of these could be cross-checked against the 500 Club membership lists which appeared in some late 1940s issues of the club magazine Iota.

#15 IGSYA

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 18:20

A few more images! The car was found in the proverbial barn in Cornwall although we are not certain this was was its original location. Note there are 3 pedals in the photo

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#16 rbm

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 22:05

I can only think of one 500 with the same front suspension set up, and that is the 'Kaspar', but the chassis is of the wrong constuction to be this missing 500. However that would get me looking towards the continental constructors.


and what is the rear suspension/axle and diff casing out of? - it look to be production rather than home made.

#17 ghinzani

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 22:17

Cornwall eh? I wonder whether it ran at Davidstow then? Or on the hills (many of them now lost).

#18 RogerFrench

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 03:18

The rear suspension isn't really clear, but seems to be a mix of trailing arm and swing axle, relying on the distortion of the trailng arm (a flat plate) to work at all.
Could it really be so? I wonder if it ever ran?

#19 Allan Lupton

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 10:34

Originally posted by RogerFrench
The rear suspension isn't really clear, but seems to be a mix of trailing arm and swing axle, relying on the distortion of the trailng arm (a flat plate) to work at all.
Could it really be so? I wonder if it ever ran?

IIRC that's what the VW had. Can't find a picture, only a description.
The rather fancy H-section front trailing arms are not normal VW (but apart from the section, seem very similar), but the torsion-bar-carrying crossmembers and the uprights between them seem to be.

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#20 HiRich

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 13:17

With the new photo's, I'm pretty confident it is a 500. The size looks right, and the external handbrake is correct.
Killer features are the source of the suspension, and that distinctive dip in the top tube around the cockpit. As I said earlier, I've elininated a lot of possible chassis, including all the production models I can think of. Many specials were very poorly documented, and I suspect we're looking at hours of fun with old Iotas and a magnifying glass.

So does anyone have an idea for that front end?

#21 IGSYA

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 18:32

Thank you guys for all the replies. Will have a look at the diff casing on Saturday. I assume VW is not Volkswagen?

#22 Allan Lupton

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 18:59

Originally posted by IGSYA
Thank you guys for all the replies. Will have a look at the diff casing on Saturday. I assume VW is not Volkswagen?

Why?
VW is surely the international shorthand for the Volkswagen?

#23 bradbury west

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 20:28

Perhaps you might think of sending the better, detailed, shots to Duncan Rabagliati
http://www.formulaju..... Details.html
Duncan organises all things F3. 500 for the major series, and will no doubt post your photographs on his Mysteries pages, if he cannot come up with the answer.
I am intrigued to think just how much that rolling chassis weighs....... especially as the engine bay looks short. I am no engineer, but there seems to be a singular lack of diagonal bracing in the large rectangle on each side of the driver's legs, feeding into the bulkhead. Might it be a hillclimb spl, to take a large V twin? The seat seems very upright
Roger Lund

#24 Bonde

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 00:24

I think the front trailing links are indeed VW, but with channels machined out to save weight, and the cross tubes are also shortened VW, I think. The rear suspension is pure VW. Actually the front damper location is VERY early VW, possibly wartime Wehrmacht Kübelwagen or even pre-war KdF?

#25 Stephen W

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 09:36

Originally posted by bradbury west
Might it be a hillclimb spl, to take a large V twin? The seat seems very upright
Roger Lund


I thought that once the smaller images were posted. I have been scowering my records and can't find anything. It may well have been a South West Special used purely in that region.

:wave:

#26 HiRich

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 12:33

Originally posted by bradbury west
Perhaps you might think of sending the better, detailed, shots to Duncan Rabagliati
http://www.formulaju..... Details.html
Duncan organises all things F3. 500 for the major series, and will no doubt post your photographs on his Mysteries pages, if he cannot come up with the answer.
I am intrigued to think just how much that rolling chassis weighs....... especially as the engine bay looks short. I am no engineer, but there seems to be a singular lack of diagonal bracing in the large rectangle on each side of the driver's legs, feeding into the bulkhead. Might it be a hillclimb spl, to take a large V twin? The seat seems very upright
Roger Lund

I've already passed it on to Duncan, and the 500 website (no response from the former, no joy from the latter).
The lack of diagonal bracing is to be expected. The Cooper Mk VI & VII (1952-3) had only vertical straps linking the upper & lower tubes. The Beart-Cooper Mk VIIa was "revolutionary" for replacing the straps with tubes. Given my suspicion that this is indeedan early 500, the 4-tube design alone is pretty advanced.
It looks a bit optimistic to me to fit a JAP Twin in the back there, but I wouldn't rule it out. And the upright, well-upholstered seat (on old office chair, by chance?) was hardly uncommon in the early post-war days

#27 Allan Lupton

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 13:04

Originally posted by Bonde
I think the front trailing links are indeed VW, but with channels machined out to save weight, and the cross tubes are also shortened VW, I think. The rear suspension is pure VW. Actually the front damper location is VERY early VW, possibly wartime Wehrmacht Kübelwagen or even pre-war KdF?


You are on to something there, Anders. The photo of the V3 (first series) Volkswagen in v Frankenberg's "Porsche - the man and his cars" shows it to have six (I think) wheel-studs on a much smaller PCD than the post-war five stud arrangement we are used to. This racer seems to have that.
I cannot find a photo of the production KdF-wagen or Kübelwagen that has this arrangement, and I think VW38 was already on large PCD five-stud

#28 Bonde

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 23:11

Allan, off hand I would think that Porsche's earliest components would have been too rare to find their way onto a 500 cc special anywhere - yet I can't really imagine these being from anything other than something made to Dr. Porsche's patented design. The damper attachment here is on the upper rather than the later lower link, and the trailing link "turkey legs" are straight rather than kinked (for more steering lock), which to me indicates KdF or very early VW.

The hubs and spindles would appear to be off another car, pehaps the source that donated the wire spoked wheels and/or the hydraulic brakes (early VWs had mechanical brakes, of, for the time, fairly large diameter) - the brakes here certainly aren't VW.

For those of you fortunate enough to own TNF's 'own' Michal Velebny's excellent Ceskoslovenské Formule book, the 'Mono JK' illustrated on pages 10-11 has the straight 'turkey legs' seen on this thread's mystery car, and the source is indeed given as KdF. So, I vote for KdF as the suspension donor, unless there's a VW Typ 1 expert on this forum that can identify them and set the record straight for us. When and where Formula Vee was run with the link-pin suspension it was not uncommon to try to get hold of very early (pre 1953?) items as the damper mounting towers of these were quite a lot lower than on the subsequent versions, thus reducing drag and mass and improving aesthetics, too [it got worse when the ball joint front beam appeared, but at least people were eventually allowed to trim these down - in Europe from 1972, in the US ca. 2000 in the Formula First incarnation...] - but, as the good colonel would say, I digress...

I've seen at least one other example of a '500' with the VW front beam, so it may not have been such an unusual choice. Although that VW front beam is possibly the easiest ever off-the-shelf front suspension to install, and would later be cheap and abundant (hence Formula Vee), I would have thought it rather too heavy for a '500'.

Looking at that car, I sometimes wish (only sometimes!) that I lived in an earlier age when something as simple and basic as this car provided pleasure and exitement to build and to drive on a scale we simply cannot imagine today where we're spoilt for choice, aren't encouraged to build our own cars, and where the only real obstacle is one's ability and willingness to spend money. The early '500' racers and their ilk really had to be resourceful in such austere times and they achieved so much with so little...

#29 HiRich

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:06

I've had an email from Ducan that gives no leads, and I think he's correct that the only option os to trace ownership.

He suggests:
- Ownership of the building where it was found (Land Registry)
- Tracing births, deaths & probates.
- Visit the village where it was found and start knocking on doors. Someone will eventually remember the owner or seeing the car. You might just find someone with a story to tell (and fact could be significant. If for example it raced at Davidstow, the list gets very short very quickly).

With possible names, we can search the list of drivers and look through the 500 Club membership details we have.

#30 bradbury west

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:19

There is a whole raft of West Country motor clubs with good archives and long memories
Roger Lund

#31 IGSYA

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 19:14

Thank you guys for all your help. I have pm'd HiRich with the situation regarding the location and former owners. The german componentry would maybe confirm that this car could have come from Germany in wartime. Any other bright ideas would be much appreciated

Regards

Richard

#32 David McKinney

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 19:56

Originally posted by IGSYA
The german componentry would maybe confirm that this car could have come from Germany in wartime

So that's where the idea for the British 500cc class came from :lol:

#33 HiRich

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 13:19

Originally posted by Bonde
I think the front trailing links are indeed VW, but with channels machined out to save weight, and the cross tubes are also shortened VW, I think. The rear suspension is pure VW. Actually the front damper location is VERY early VW, possibly wartime Wehrmacht Kübelwagen or even pre-war KdF?

Because pre-War is outside my field would someone explain this all to me, please.

VW I understand. What is the earliest date this could have been? (I'm guessing the original car was a couple of years pre-War).
I think I know the Kübelwagen, probably from The Great Escape. Obviously that would make salvaging of the parts a post-War effort.
I don't know KdF - How early could that have been?

I'm comfortable with the suspension being German. The implication may well be that these parts (and perhaps more) were "salvaged" by a British military-type who served over there. Apart from Hellmut Deutz's Scampolo recently discussed, very few German cars (apart from Coopers) crossed the Channel.

Timing would also be an issue. I'm only aware of racing restarting in Germany (East and West) in 1948. At this size of car, that would be the Klennstreinwagen class. Was there anything immediately pre-War of a comparable size?

#34 David McKinney

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 14:52

1948 was indeed the first year of the Kleinstrennwagen class for 750cc cars in Germany

Gottfried Vollmer raced a Neander-JAP in 1938 (and again after War) and there was another Neander with a Harley-Davidson engine. These were both sportscars but - forgive my ignorance - I don't know whether central-seat configurations were permitted. And I don't know whether either or both Neanders were rear-engined

Edit: scrub that - both pre-war motorcycle-engined Neanders were front-engined, and the driver sat on one side of the centre-line.

#35 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 23:04

Is there any hope that we might get a photo (or three, preferably, from different angles) that shows the housing from which the swing axles emerge?

#36 Bonde

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 23:31

HiRich,

I don't think it likely that there would have been enough pre-war VW (KdF) parts available as donor parts for a racing car, especially not a rear-engined device with a space frame of sorts pre-war. I think the car is from the late forties at the earliest - VWs had to be in general circulation in order to provide donor parts. It certainly is a mystery...

#37 Stephen W

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 12:12

Originally posted by Bonde
HiRich,

I don't think it likely that there would have been enough pre-war VW (KdF) parts available as donor parts for a racing car, especially not a rear-engined device with a space frame of sorts pre-war. I think the car is from the late forties at the earliest - VWs had to be in general circulation in order to provide donor parts. It certainly is a mystery...


A gentleman I used to work with was in the RAF during the 1939-45 conflict and when he was finally demobbed he returned home from Germany on a BMW motorcycle that he had 'liberated'. Apparently a lot of German vehicles were brought home to Britain as souvenirs; one officer that my friend knew brought home a truck load of motorbikes and a car!

:wave:

#38 BarryD

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 17:25

A snippet.

I can confirm for certain that the steering reduction box is Morgan .....anywhere between 1929 and the late '40s.

Nothing else I can see is remotely Morgan.



Barry D.

#39 Dutchy

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 06:31

I see the car is now up for auction and has acquired some history which seems highly improbable to me http://www.brightwel...ils.php?id=1305

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#40 rbm

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 20:03

yes the history just seems to follow the ideas in the above threads, heck we must be getting good at this :rolleyes:

#41 kiwi a110

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 10:31

yes the history just seems to follow the ideas in the above threads, heck we must be getting good at this :rolleyes:

Looking at what there is, is it possible that it is the Scampolo, featured on p22 of Colin Rawlinson's book?

#42 dretceterini

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 03:59

There was actually a class for 250cc sports racing cars in the Mille Miglia...it was in 1947 or 1948 I think. There was a class for 500cc sports-racing cars in Italy as far back as the 1930s. The class later became up to 750cc...

#43 rbm

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 07:58

Looking at what there is, is it possible that it is the Scampolo, featured on p22 of Colin Rawlinson's book?


it may or may not be the remains of "scampolo", for me the issue is purely some bod comes on here
asks a few questions which the TNF'ers with usual enthusiasm try and help with, then 5 minuets later the
car is for auction with full history that follows what has been discussed, now call me a sceptic but I
find it amassing that after coming on here suddenly again in 5 minuets the true history is found just
from the ideas on here!

just wish I had the same luck, maybe I should post a picture of my 1952 Cooper chassis with no chassis plate,
hey guess what suddenly its the one Stirling drove - NOT

#44 Dutchy

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 12:54

I note it sold at auction for £5,600

#45 D-Type

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 16:01

I note it sold at auction for £5,600

Does anybody know how to weld rusty old steel and make it look old? If so, I know this scrapyard with a lot of old cars, old bed frames etc ...


#46 uechtel

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 17:45

1948 was indeed the first year of the Kleinstrennwagen class for 750cc cars in Germany

Gottfried Vollmer raced a Neander-JAP in 1938 (and again after War) and there was another Neander with a Harley-Davidson engine. These were both sportscars but - forgive my ignorance - I don't know whether central-seat configurations were permitted. And I don't know whether either or both Neanders were rear-engined

Edit: scrub that - both pre-war motorcycle-engined Neanders were front-engined, and the driver sat on one side of the centre-line.


In the thirties Neander had his own vision of mass motorization for the people. This was before the introduction of the KdF/Volkswagen and coming from the two wheels his idea was a compromise between car and motorcycle, just a step further from the sidecar, and he called the result "Fahrmaschine". Hence the unusual layout with tandem seat for driver and passenger. In some way a predecessor of the post-war Messerschmitt "Kabinenroller". One dogma of him was that the engine had to be at the very - very - front, "just like a horse pulls a carriage", another one was, that there had to be "enough power". With the prospect of the KdF-Wagen coming up in the late thirties he of course did not have any chance to fulfill his plans, but the existing vehicles with their power-to-weight-ratio did make some pretty quick "sports cars". I think what was required to make a sports car were two seats, fenders and headlights, as certainly nobody had such imaginations in mind...

Back to the subject of this thread: The suggested pre-war origin in combination with the KdF/Porsche connection sounds very far-fetched to me. The tube frame would have been extremely advanced and I wonder in what categroy of races this one could have run in then. In contrast a post-war racer of the Kleinstrennwagen (midget) class makes every sense. Kübelwagen mechanics plus motorcycle engines from military scrapyards were not an unusual platform.

Edited by uechtel, 01 July 2009 - 17:47.


#47 bradbury west

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 16:53

In this month's C≻... a barn-find single-seater thought to hail from 1935 and to have been raced in Germany before WW2.
"In 1945 Major Ivan Hirst was given the job of attempting to restart production in the heavily bombed Volkswagen factory, but there was an acute shortage of materials. Hirst was aided in his endeavours by Michael McEvoy, who was known pre-war as a racing driver.
he suggested the idea of a club-racing class using VW companents in a spaceframe chassis, with a mid-mounted 1131cc VW engine. Hirst was sympathetic and suggested the McEvoy go to the aprentices with his drawings to see if they could build one.
Until the car appeared at Brightwell's its existence was unknown, and it is not known whether it has ever had an engine. It is thought that McEvoy brought back the car - which pre-dated Formula Vee by some 16 years- when he returned to England after the war."

I am surprised it took all this time for the "story" to emerge. Besides, I believe Major Hirst's efforts at VW post-war are well known and presumably well documented, certainly I recall a detailed piece some years back about the re-birth of VW due to Hirst's efforts, so the romantic tale of the old car coming back over might have been aired earlier. It's a mystery...
Roger Lund

Edited by bradbury west, 03 April 2010 - 16:54.


#48 bradbury west

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 23:52

In a letter to C&SC this month one keith Seume of Ultra VW Magazine rejects totally the explanations given for this chassis, especially any involvement by Ivan Hirst, indeed just the opposite. Having interviewed Hirst in 1993 and discussed the concept of such a project chassis and the potential involvement of Uhlenhaut no less, he suggests that he would hate anyone to have been misled about the origins of this chassis and opines that it is probably the remains of one of the dozens of home built racers popular in Germany in the years post WW2, many of which relied on the VW engine.
For those of an inquisitive nature I will be happy to scan and e mail a copy of the letter as it is long and has much detail.
Roger Lund

#49 arttidesco

arttidesco
  • Member

  • 5,779 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 28 July 2010 - 13:31

Does anybody know how to weld rusty old steel and make it look old? If so, I know this scrapyard with a lot of old cars, old bed frames etc ...


There is nothing a little sea water can't age Duncan, fancy entering into a business partnership ?