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Ridley Special


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#1 RogerFrench

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 12:50

While looking through some of my father's old correspondence the other day, I came across a letter that seems to me to be well worthy of sharing. It is hand-written, so I take the liberty of interpreting it as best I can.


BLAGDON
SEATON BURN
NORTHUMBERLAND

Telephone:-
Stannington 6

Station:-
Plessey


27.5.44


Dear Mr. French,
I was very interested to have your letter enquiring about my racing car & was pleased that it is still remembered somewhere. The original car was smashed to pieces by going over the edge of Brooklands, but fortunately the engine and gearbox were undamaged. As it was all specially made throughout I could not afford to repeat the chassis, though I intended to, and did in fact do some work on the engine & develop it a bit further, with a view to trying again for the records.

Afterwards I detuned the engine and fitted it into an Amilcar 6 cyl 1100c racing chassis, for use on the road & in actual fact I only used the axles, radiator, front springs & petrol tank of the Amilcar, but it made a useable car with a great saving in money. It was ready to have a body made when the war began, & there it now is.

After all the time and thought I have spent on it I would never sell it if I could keep it – as an enthusiast you would no doubt appreciate this. I think it was the first 750cc engine ever designed specially for racing from the beginning – at that time the Morris & Austins were adaptations of touring engines , so it had a good chance to beat them for a time. As far as I can remember it developed 82 HP when I first put it in the car, it now develops 62 on pre-war Cleveland Discol – or did. Both the engine & the car had several original features, some good, some less good.

I enclose two photographs of the chassis as it now is, please send them back as they are the only ones I have. By all mean shave them copied if you are sufficiently interested.

Yrs sincerely

Ridley

Sadly, there are no photographs with the letter.

I am aware of the history of the Ridley Special, and also of the car on display in the Brooklands museum, though sadly I have never seen it. Does it still have the Amilcar chassis? I know it has bodywork like the record-breaker, and not the road-going body that the Viscount would presumably have intended. I’d like to know it’s post-war history and I’m pretty sure this forum will know it.

As for the letter itself, I’d like some ideas about what to do with it. There’s a very good chance that when I’m gone it will be lost forever, which seems a shame. Can anyone suggest an appropriate home, please?


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#2 Tim Murray

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 13:31

This doesn't assist your query, I'm afraid, but here are some photos of the Ridley Special in 1931 and as it now is in the Brooklands Museum:

http://www.motorsnap...Ridley Special/

and there's a brief biography of its creator here:

http://www.blagdones....uk/famhist.htm

(scroll down to '(IX) Matthew White, third Viscount Ridley CBE (1902-1964)'). He turns out to have been the father of the Nicholas Ridley who served in Margaret Thatcher's government.

#3 Dutchy

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 13:46

I do recall seeing the Ridley engined Amilcar chassis at the NMM many years ago.

The replica body appears to be most unlike the original in several key respects which renders it rather pointless to my mind.

Does it still have the Amilcar chassis or has that been rebuilt as a C6? I suspect the latter.

#4 Vitesse2

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 13:55

There was a reasonably comprehensive history of the Ridley Special published in (IIRC) The Automobile some time in the past 10 years or so. I probably have it somewhere in this chaos ...

#5 Dutchy

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 16:04

It was the March 2003 issue but I don't have a copy to hand

#6 D-Type

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 18:26

~
As for the letter itself, I’d like some ideas about what to do with it. There’s a very good chance that when I’m gone it will be lost forever, which seems a shame. Can anyone suggest an appropriate home, please?

Can I suggest the Brooklands Museum.

#7 RogerFrench

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 02:57

Can I suggest the Brooklands Museum.


Indeed you can - I shall get in touch with them. Seems obvious, really, doesn't it?


#8 Simon Thomas

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 07:46

Indeed you can - I shall get in touch with them. Seems obvious, really, doesn't it?


I have found the Brooklands people to be very helpful. Perhaps an enlarged version framed for the general public to read easily with the original in one corner? Most interesting letter.
Simon Thomas