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Hillman Avenger-BRM


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#1 AAGR

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 19:35

Almost the last time I had a real job, it was with the Rootes Group (a.k.a. Chrysler UK from 1970) in Coiventry.

I can confirm that a real on-going project at the end of the 1960s (i.e. post Cosworth FVA, and almost at the same time as the Cosworth BDA), was that the company commissioned a BDA-type project with BRM, for them to produce a 16-valve twin-cam version of the new Avenger engine, which was (I remind you) not announced until February 1970.

At that time, Avenger engines were either 1.2-litre or 1.5 litres, the enlarged 1.3/1.6-litre types not being launched until 1973/1974.

Two points - it was Product Planning/Engineering, NOT the 'works' Competitions Department, which commissioned the engine, and I am 99% sure that the first engines were all built around the 1.6-litre block. No larger versions ever existed in production in the UK - for as most of you will know, the 'Brazilian' block referred to engines built by a Chrysler subsidiary in South America.

Now (thank you for waiting ....) BRM eventually produced a handful of 1.6-litre engines which, frankly, were a disappointment, but somehow the ever-resourceful Competition Manager, Des O'Dell, got the engine homologated in the Avenger. How ? I wish we knew, for according to the rules, at least 400 engines/cars needed to have been made.

But - how many Avenger-BRMs were ever built ? Not on production lines at Coventry or (later) Linwood, for sure - and when have you ever seen a 'standard' road car ?

So that's the point of this rambling post - how many of those BRM engines were built, who built them, and how many Avenger-BRM cars (apart from the odd 'works' rally car were ever produced ?

Answers, please, on a postcard ....

GRAHAM ROBSON




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#2 sterling49

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 19:41


I think Colin Malkin drove a special engined Avenger in the British Open series, I recall that it was not much faster than the rapid Gp 1 Avengers of the time. However, I was always a fan of the model with the half vinyl roof (Tiger) on Minilites, fabulous !



#3 RS2000

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 20:43

We have several posts on this somewhere - possibly in a thread on BRM (Ford) twin cam engines?

As for homologation (above), up to the end of 75, Gp2 allowed option cylinder heads to be recognised without mainstream production eg. the Holbay 16 valve head for the Escort RS2000 and the disappointing Opel 16 valve head intended for the Ascona"A" but used on the Kadet "C" GTE in 76.
For 76 (later extended to include 77) 75 spec Gp2 cars were allowed to compete Internationally but entered in the appropriate capacity class in the Gp4 category. As I understood it, the works 16 valve Avenger ran under these rules, initially driven by Malkin, then by Sclater, after a "disagreement" between O'Dell and Malkin about where the problem lay...which proved the problem wasn't Malkin... I think Nigel Rockey may have driven a second car on one event?

This Gp4 aspect seems to be the origin of the widespread forceful assertion today, by every "fan" and aftermarket business who was never there, that all "works spec" BDA Escorts are "Gp4". Nonsense of course, as the separately homologated "RS" only ran as a works car in 78 and 79. I look forward to an expert like AAGR giving them a good kicking in this eagerly awaited definitive book and putting this to bed once and for all!

Edited by RS2000, 04 December 2011 - 20:45.


#4 BRG

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 20:45

How ? I wish we knew, for according to the rules, at least 400 engines/cars needed to have been made.

I would say, the same way that Volvo homologated their Gp A 240 Turbo, or several manufacturers homologated their Gp B rally cars. Not to put to fine a point on it, they cheated. Who didn't back then (apart from the naive ARG who actually made all those MG Metro 6R4s)?

Brazilian blocks were a bit of a...hmmm, let's say...... flexible interpretation of the rules, weren't they? Along with flat front RS2000s?

It might be better to ask who (apart from ARG as above) really complied with the rules...

#5 RS2000

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 21:00

Brazilian blocks were a bit of a...hmmm, let's say...... flexible interpretation of the rules, weren't they? Along with flat front RS2000s?
It might be better to ask who (apart from ARG as above) really complied with the rules...


For some of the earlier dubious homologations, there wasn't at the time actually a requirement to build the requisite number, just show "provisions for" production.
Iranian carbs (twin 40s) on the Avenger GT in Gp1 (not the Tiger in Gp2, which genuinely had them) was another Des O'Dell masterpiece.
"Australian production" flat front RS2s in Gp1 under "evolution rules" (500) was safer than we realised at the time, with knock down kits being assembled in Aus as an "Escort 2 litre". No one has shown me 500 but it may not have been so far out.

The real stunner around that time was: who pointed out to the RACMSA/FIA that the Mk1 Mexico had the same block as the RS1600 that had already been homologated at 1601cc, not its true average of 1598, so couldn't be claimed as a 1600 car? So no Mexicos in the 1600 Gp1 class with similar "emission" kits like the RS2 gained. Which car was it that then cleaned up 1600 Gp1? Let me think...wasn't it the Avenger.....?

Edited by RS2000, 04 December 2011 - 21:01.


#6 RS2000

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 22:03

Back to the question, I do recall an article in one of the now defunct classic car magazines that featured what seemed to be an otherwise standard GT with the BRM 1.6 16valve engine. A member of a then owners club? Maybe an ex-development car or simply someone who got hold of a factory engine and fitted it? I certainly can't recall ever seeing or hearing of such a car in any sort of real "production" - and I was around motor club people who were deeply into rally Avengers then and probably would have been interested. Someone like Gordon Jarvis (then rallying a Tiger and working for a dealer, talking with Des O'Dell) might be worth asking. Is there still an owners club to approach?

Edited by RS2000, 04 December 2011 - 22:03.


#7 Mistron

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 22:15

My pal bought a Jeffrey J4 (early '70s Lotus 7 style kit cat) and the previous owner had run an avenger BRM engine in it, but removed it prior to the sale. I bumped into this guy recently and mentioned the engine, and I'm sure he said he still had it.


#8 RCH

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 09:55

The real stunner around that time was: who pointed out to the RACMSA/FIA that the Mk1 Mexico had the same block as the RS1600 that had already been homologated at 1601cc, not its true average of 1598, so couldn't be claimed as a 1600 car? So no Mexicos in the 1600 Gp1 class with similar "emission" kits like the RS2 gained. Which car was it that then cleaned up 1600 Gp1? Let me think...wasn't it the Avenger.....?


I was under the impression that Ford made the basic mistake of trying to homologate the RS1600 and Mexico (same block, same bore & stroke, different capacities) at the same time? Some bright spark :confused: at the FIA thought, "This can't be right" although the idea that "someone" tipped them the wink is interesting.

Actually I think it may have done them a favour, had the Mexico been in the 1600cc. class it may just have been another Escort. As it was I like to think that not being in its proper class led to Ford devising the Mexico Championship which founded the Mexico "legend".

#9 AAGR

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 10:15

I was under the impression that Ford made the basic mistake of trying to homologate the RS1600 and Mexico (same block, same bore & stroke, different capacities) at the same time? Some bright spark :confused: at the FIA thought, "This can't be right" although the idea that "someone" tipped them the wink is interesting.

Actually I think it may have done them a favour, had the Mexico been in the 1600cc. class it may just have been another Escort. As it was I like to think that not being in its proper class led to Ford devising the Mexico Championship which founded the Mexico "legend".
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Sorry, no, not possible. The RS1600 was launched in January 1970, and homologated on 1 October 1970. The Mexico was not even anounced until December 1970.

It was Stuart Turner's idea to quote the RS1600 as 1,601cc so that the engine could then be expanded to its limits while still staying in the 2-litre class. If it had been homologated as 1,598cc, no enlargement would ever have been allowed in events where Group 2 homologation rules applied..

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#10 RCH

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 10:34

Great to see you posting here Graham, I'm not sure where I got that idea from but I'm sure I've seen it in print somewhere...

#11 elansprint72

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 11:48

Off topic but perhaps of passing interest as it concerns a (later) Avenger built with a somewhat different engine. This is one of two Avenger estates built as service barges to support the WCR Sunbeam Lotus effort. They were fitted with road-going Sunbeam Lotus engines.

Posted Image

As you can see they were two-seaters with a hefty expamet partition behind the seats.


Edited by elansprint72, 05 December 2011 - 16:45.


#12 Pullman99

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 13:09

Off topic but perhaps of passing interest as it concerns a (later) Avenger built with a somewhat different engine. This is one of two Avenger estates built as service barges to support the WCR Sunbeam Lotus effort. They were fitted with road-going Sunbeam Lotus engines.As you can see they were two-seaters with a hefty expamet partition behind the seats.


What a great survivor. Talbot Badge as well (!) Was the pic taken at one of the NEC Classic Motor Shows, or is that Race Retro?




#13 elansprint72

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 13:41

What a great survivor. Talbot Badge as well (!) Was the pic taken at one of the NEC Classic Motor Shows, or is that Race Retro?

Ian,
Actually it was at the 2005 Club Lotus show at Donington. I can just about read some of the inscription and it seems the car was restored by a chap in Stoke on Trent.
Unfortunately I didn't photograph the words properly (yet again :cry: ) here is the only other shot I have.

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#14 RS2000

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 15:54

Actually I think it may have done them a favour, had the Mexico been in the 1600cc. class it may just have been another Escort. As it was I like to think that not being in its proper class led to Ford devising the Mexico Championship which founded the Mexico "legend".


It may have benefitted Ford overall (although success in 1600 Gp1 with an "emission kit" etc. against the Avenger GT might have been better publicity) but it was a real pain for private entrants in Internationals. In those days, under Gp2, a good club engine and a suitable International engine could be the same thing. If you had a 1600 Xflow Escort it meant you couldn't use it Internationally with any real hope of class positions. A twin cam was never really the best bet for reliability on long events, even in mild spec for a private entrant. The only affordable choice (ie. no BDAs) was going 1300 (a relatively easy swap) or a 2000 Pinto (a relatively major conversion involving all ancilliaries) or, as someone I knew did, stick it in a Capri! (not a lot heavier actually but dire handling on the loose...). Oh how we hated Ford for that single act...

#15 Pullman99

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 07:21

Actually it was at the 2005 Club Lotus show at Donington. I can just about read some of the inscription and it seems the car was restored by a chap in Stoke on Trent.


Thanks for that. Should have recognised the Donington Exhibition Centre. So that's two Talbot pics in two days!

#16 RCH

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 08:17

It may have benefitted Ford overall (although success in 1600 Gp1 with an "emission kit" etc. against the Avenger GT might have been better publicity) but it was a real pain for private entrants in Internationals. In those days, under Gp2, a good club engine and a suitable International engine could be the same thing. If you had a 1600 Xflow Escort it meant you couldn't use it Internationally with any real hope of class positions. A twin cam was never really the best bet for reliability on long events, even in mild spec for a private entrant. The only affordable choice (ie. no BDAs) was going 1300 (a relatively easy swap) or a 2000 Pinto (a relatively major conversion involving all ancilliaries) or, as someone I knew did, stick it in a Capri! (not a lot heavier actually but dire handling on the loose...). Oh how we hated Ford for that single act...


I hadn't seen it that way I suppose, to me it seemed like Ford had at last shot themselves in the foot and allowed some other manufacturer a sniff of winning something :)

#17 Frank de Jong

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 20:08

Graham, I'm quite sure that no 16-valve Avenger was ever completed as such; for the very same reason you won't find a 24-valve Capri RS 3100 or a 24-valve BMW CSL out on the streets.
Only 100 different cilinder heads had to be produced to be homologated in Group 2 1970-1975, not necassarily attached to a car; you'll find cross-flow heads homologated for the Opel Commodore, 4-valve heads for the BMW 2002 (2 different ones!), Escort 1000, 1100 and 1300 and Opel Kadett - and for the 1600 cc Avenger, to my surprise - I didn't know that.

#18 AAGR

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 21:11

Graham, I'm quite sure that no 16-valve Avenger was ever completed as such; for the very same reason you won't find a 24-valve Capri RS 3100 or a 24-valve BMW CSL out on the streets.
Only 100 different cilinder heads had to be produced to be homologated in Group 2 1970-1975, not necassarily attached to a car; you'll find cross-flow heads homologated for the Opel Commodore, 4-valve heads for the BMW 2002 (2 different ones!), Escort 1000, 1100 and 1300 and Opel Kadett - and for the 1600 cc Avenger, to my surprise - I didn't know that.



Good.Thanks. As I thought ....

AAGR