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Austin Seven-based Grand Prix engine


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#1 D-Type

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 22:29

The Murray Jamieson designed twin overhead camshaft Austin Seven engine produced probably the highest horsepower per litre of any prewar engine. I believe that I read somewhere that Mercedes Benz stripped one down to see how Austin did it.

Did anybody ever consider building a Formula 1 engine from two of them either as in V8 or a straight 8 configuration?

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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 23:02

As it became increasingly clear that there would be a 1500cc formula for the years 1941-43 there was speculation in the UK press that a 1.5 litre Austin might be a possibility. but there seems little or no substance to the rumour, even though Sir Herbert could probably have afforded to do it if he wished. The fact that TMJ was dead wouldn't have helped though :well:

I've been looking at the possibilities on the 1941-43 formula for some time now and it's my belief there is an untold story there: if I'm correct then the Austin engine probably wasn't an option. And no - that sentence is not contradictory to the first!

I've not seen any suggestion of the Austin block being used as a basis for an engine for the 1947-53 F1 though - it was probably considered a bit long in the tooth by then.

#3 onelung

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 04:07

The Murray Jamieson designed twin overhead camshaft Austin Seven engine produced probably the highest horsepower per litre of any prewar engine.


Would the MG R have been close enough to equal it or at least modify that statement to "arguably the highest"...?

#4 Roger Clark

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 06:17

The Murray Jamieson designed twin overhead camshaft Austin Seven engine produced probably the highest horsepower per litre of any prewar engine. I believe that I read somewhere that Mercedes Benz stripped one down to see how Austin did it.

Did anybody ever consider building a Formula 1 engine from two of them either as in V8 or a straight 8 configuration?

I know that Daimler-Benz stripped down an MG engine when developing the M154 but I don't think I've heard of them doing the same for an Austin.

The twin cam Austins were a wonderful achievement but the very high power figures were only available for the shortest sprints. They had 90-100 bhp available for longer races.

I think there's no doubt that Austin had the financial and technical resources to develop a successful Grand Prix engine but they closed down the racing department in 1937. We will never know whether a 1.5-litre racing Austin would have been derived from the 750 or a clean sheet of paper but successful Grand Prix engines need factory involvement. They are not cobbled together by small racing teams.

Edited by Roger Clark, 13 November 2011 - 06:18.


#5 David McKinney

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 06:44

Slightly OT, but in 1931 W E Harker mounted two Austin Seven engines in a vee and geared them together. The whole lot was then supercharged, but the 1494cc Harker Special was unable to show its true potential before it crashed very badly at the July Shelsley Walsh hillclimb.

On the matter of bhp/litre, I'm sure the 1100cc Appleton Special was right up there (166bhp/litre in 1937) but again it was a sprint car and probably never ran more than a mile at a time

#6 Roger Clark

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 07:24

Didn't the Harker have two crankshafts, rather than a vee?

#7 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 07:25

I know that Daimler-Benz stripped down an MG engine when developing the M154 but I don't think I've heard of them doing the same for an Austin.

The twin cam Austins were a wonderful achievement but the very high power figures were only available for the shortest sprints. They had 90-100 bhp available for longer races.

I think there's no doubt that Austin had the financial and technical resources to develop a successful Grand Prix engine but they closed down the racing department in 1937. We will never know whether a 1.5-litre racing Austin would have been derived from the 750 or a clean sheet of paper but successful Grand Prix engines need factory involvement. They are not cobbled together by small racing teams.

Since an Austin 7 engine is a very primitive sidevalve with a crank made for a bent paperclip I suggest that they would have started with a clean sheet of paper.
Plenty of people have made a better engine from the A7 engine but really it is little more than the original block. Everything is aftrermarket or from something else, eg Renault conrods. Which were not even manufactured pre war.

#8 Catalina Park

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 07:56

Since an Austin 7 engine is a very primitive sidevalve with a crank made for a bent paperclip I suggest that they would have started with a clean sheet of paper.
Plenty of people have made a better engine from the A7 engine but really it is little more than the original block. Everything is aftrermarket or from something else, eg Renault conrods. Which were not even manufactured pre war.

Lee, have you ever seen the Murray Jamieson designed Austin engine that they are talking about? The only thing it has in common with the Austin Seven is the name. It is a specialised racing engine. It is not the mass produced road car motor. Sort of like comparing a Ford side valve V8 with a DFV.


#9 David McKinney

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 08:43

Didn't the Harker have two crankshafts, rather than a vee?

I thought it was a vee, but I've been wrong before - 1978, I think :)

#10 Allan Lupton

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 08:46

Didn't the Harker have two crankshafts, rather than a vee?

That's what he wrote!

Slightly OT, but in 1931 W E Harker mounted two Austin Seven engines in a vee and geared them together. The whole lot was then supercharged, but the 1494cc Harker Special was unable to show its true potential before it crashed very badly at the July Shelsley Walsh hillclimb.

After the crash Harker moved on to using MG Midget blocks - which I never quite understood as the MG block is not separate from the crankcase as is the A7.
It survives in that form.

However as pointed out above no amount of discussion of Austin Seven engines can change the fact that the Jamieson twincam had nothing in common with the production engine - not even bore and stroke dimensions.

As for horsepower, claims are all over the place. The MG Q and R are normally said to have produced 113 b.h.p. (from 746cc) mainly due to good (Zoller) supercharging rather than the hemispherical combustion chambers but roots blower of the Jamieson Austin which I think made it to 116 b.h.p. in sprint form.

#11 Roger Clark

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 09:16

After the crash Harker moved on to using MG Midget blocks - which I never quite understood as the MG block is not separate from the crankcase as is the A7.

Didn't he fit the Austin-based engine in a Lombard chassis first?

#12 D-Type

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 09:57

Would the MG R have been close enough to equal it or at least modify that statement to "arguably the highest"...?

Purely semantics. I did say "probably" as there is uncertainty. The piece that sparked this off suggested the Austin was more powerful. (You can't use a statistical argument as there were only three 2 OHC Austins while the R-Type was sold in larger quantities.)

I know that Daimler-Benz stripped down an MG engine when developing the M154 but I don't think I've heard of them doing the same for an Austin.

~

Thanks for the clarification. As one of the three Austins found its way to Germany I recalled the Daimler-Benz story and put two and two together to make five.

Edited by D-Type, 13 November 2011 - 17:33.


#13 Glengavel

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 19:59

Coincidentally, there's an article about the Austin in this month's Classic and Sportscar. It is said that the only thing it shares with the Seven is the badge and the gearbox casing. Despite its promise, Lord Austin wasn't keen and Jamieson left to join ERA. There's no mention in the article of the M-B connection, although it does say that there are spare engines unaccounted for.


#14 RogerFrench

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 18:04

D-Type, I know that Walter Baumer hillclimbed an OHC car in Germany in 1936 and 37, but I didn't think one went there to stay, so to speak.
There were only 3. One was destroyed in July 1936 in Driscoll's crash at Blackwell, and after that whenever Austin entered 3 cars, one of them was the Jamieson Side-Valve, often driven by Kay Petre.

They were lovely little cars. Jamieson's target was 120bhp at 10,000 rpm. I don't think he got there, though, and there has been some discussion about a redesign of the cylinder head, which had very wide-angle valves. It came to nothing, and Jamieson went to ERA and was sadly killed in 1939 anyway. But the cars he left, once they'd been sorted out in 1936, were pretty much unbeatable in their class anyway, and from time to time even made ERAs look out!

#15 Vitesse2

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 18:27

D-Type, I know that Walter Baumer hillclimbed an OHC car in Germany in 1936 and 37, but I didn't think one went there to stay, so to speak.

I have seen suggestions that Mercedes Benz did at least "look it over" - and Bäumer did later secure a seat as an MB reserve driver ;)

There were only 3. One was destroyed in July 1936 in Driscoll's crash at Blackwell, and after that whenever Austin entered 3 cars, one of them was the Jamieson Side-Valve, often driven by Kay Petre.

They were lovely little cars. Jamieson's target was 120bhp at 10,000 rpm. I don't think he got there, though, and there has been some discussion about a redesign of the cylinder head, which had very wide-angle valves. It came to nothing, and Jamieson went to ERA and was sadly killed in 1939 anyway. But the cars he left, once they'd been sorted out in 1936, were pretty much unbeatable in their class anyway, and from time to time even made ERAs look out!

In the interests of accuracy, "Blackwell" should of course read "Backwell" and TMJ was killed in 1938, not 1939. :)

Difficult to know how much credit to give to Bert Hadley, but the Austin was so dominant at Crystal Palace in 1939 that there were suggestions that class handicapping might have to be abandoned there in favour of individual handicaps. Bert and the Austin were certainly streets ahead of the 750cc MG drivers - and even the 1100cc MGs and Rileys, come to that - and 'Bira' (admittedly driving Romulus rather than the newer Hanuman) decided to withdraw from the August meeting rather than get soundly beaten!

Edited by Vitesse2, 14 November 2011 - 23:08.


#16 D-Type

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 19:09

Thinking about this a bit further.

Immediately postwar Austin would have been focussed on getting production going and in a market where they could sell every car they made there was no need to produce racing specials to publicise the marque. A similar situation existed at MG, particularly once the US market took off.

That leaves the specialist engine makers, Anzani, Meadows, Coventry Climax etc, assuming they could have done a deal with Austin or MG to use their basic design to develop a racing eight. They too would be focussed on postwar reconstruction.

And in addition, the whole of the British motor industry, if they had any interest in racing, were backing BRM in cash or in kind. A development of the Austin or MG designs would be in direct competition with it.



#17 RCH

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 19:44

I was expecting one of you clever chaps to have said this because I'm not 100% sure about it but in a way the OHC Ausin 7 engine WAS a GP unit. I'm sure I read somewhere that the 38/39 GP formula which we know as being for 3 litre supercharged; 4.5 normally aspirated actually had a sliding scale of capacities and minimum weights all the way down to 750cc. I'm sure I've seen it mentioned that the "less well informed" press suggested that the Austin may be a competitive GP car because of this?

#18 Doug Nye

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 20:25

I believe that Tom Murray Jamieson certainly had ambitions to produce a Voiturette-class car and ultimately - if backing could have been secured for it - a Grand Prix car and that both straight-8 and V8 developments of the 750 OHC Racer power unit were considered. A rear-engined configuration was also sketched out, I believe. Both Bert Hadley - who was a lovely bloke - and Charles Goodacre - who came across as being rather too pleased with himself - told me some of this one day at Donington when we reunited the surviving members of the old works team with their cars there. Pat Driscoll and Kay Petre attended that day, too.

It might have been a little bit of self aggrandisement - but I doubt it - when all these former works team members were unanimous in declaring that the 750 OHC Racers were absolutely the apple of Lord Austin's eye, and he was both extremely enthusiastic about them, and supremely proud of them.

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 14 November 2011 - 20:27.


#19 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 21:29

It might have been a little bit of self aggrandisement - but I doubt it - when all these former works team members were unanimous in declaring that the 750 OHC Racers were absolutely the apple of Lord Austin's eye, and he was both extremely enthusiastic about them, and supremely proud of them.

DCN


And in the later 30's they were entered in events (and financed )by the good Lord himself, rather than by the no-longer-interested company that bore his name.

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#20 Vitesse2

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 23:04

I was expecting one of you clever chaps to have said this because I'm not 100% sure about it but in a way the OHC Ausin 7 engine WAS a GP unit. I'm sure I read somewhere that the 38/39 GP formula which we know as being for 3 litre supercharged; 4.5 normally aspirated actually had a sliding scale of capacities and minimum weights all the way down to 750cc. I'm sure I've seen it mentioned that the "less well informed" press suggested that the Austin may be a competitive GP car because of this?

Correct up to a point. Blown cars of as little as 666cc were eligible. However, the sticking point was the bodywork regulations, which specified a minimum width of 85cm at the cockpit, whatever the engine size: I think the Austins are about 60cm. There's an article in the August 1936 Motor Sport which goes into this at considerable length, but is to a certain extent redundant in that it refers to a version of the rules which had to be scrapped. At that point, the minimum was expected to be 750cc, so the Austins' engines would have had to be increased in size by a smidgin.

#21 Roger Clark

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 23:16

They may have been eligible - it would be easy to extend the width of the bodywork - but they wouldn't have been remotely competitive.