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Bob Lea Wright Singers


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#1 jackal

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 15:06

Hello

I am very interested to know more about Mr Wright and the prewar Singer cars he used. I have found a small article on the internet about his mechanic who rode with him during the 1934 Australian GP and one small pic of the 'stripped' Singer Le Mans, that I have seen mentioned here and there, but that is it so far.

I have also seen that he had a Singer Le Mans special with a larger engine fitted, but I haven't been able to find out anymore than that. If you have any information about the cars and/or pictures I would be very grateful if you could share them with me.

Best regards

Carl

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#2 Gary C

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 16:26

you see, by the way the title for this thread was worded, I thought it was about some sort of singing group!

#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 20:18

And if it had been titled "Bob Lea-Wright and his Terraplanes," what would you have thought then?

Bob Lea-Wright, from what I recall reading, was a big man, so any Singer he had under him had a job on its hands. An interesting character, born of British parents in Shanghai, he was 6'5" tall and was a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps in WW1. After the war he participated in swimming competition and won the 1922 200 and 400 yards Australian Freestyle Championships. He was also a boxer, his size must have made him a formidable opponent!

His first entry in the Australian Grand Prix was in the 1929 event. His entry was listed as being a Singer of 848cc, but this failed to make it to the event. This car, owned by Overseas Motors, caught fire en route and was apparently too badly damaged to continue.

The next entry of a Singer in the AGP was that of Jack Sidebottom in the 1931 event, this car was listed as being 1792cc and a 6-cylinder. Its entry was repeated in 1932, then in 1933 there were no Singers entered. The return of Bob Lea-Wright to the entry list in 1934 was one of note, for even though his engine tossed a rod in practice it returned for the race and won by 14 seconds. The capacity was listed as being 1972cc.

The following year was the same, a Singer Le Mans 9 with a 1972cc engine. Sidebottom was back with his 1792cc car. Could the historians have mixed up those engine capacities?

That was the final entry of Lea-Wright in a Singer, he switched to a Terraplane Special when the race moved to Port Elliot in 1936 and the entry was opened to cars of over 2-litres. Singers returned to the entry list in 1938 when two 'stripped Le Mans' models were entered, one of them for John Pike.

There's a photo of this car sitting alongside of Lea-Wright's Terraplane in the pits in the AGP book. It looks remarkably similar to Lea-Wright's car as it ran in 1935 and the engine capacity is down at 972cc.

Could it be that the larger capacity recorded for 1934 and 1935 is in error?

Does anyone have any information to correct this if it so?

#4 David McKinney

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 21:59

Standard Singer LM capacity was 972cc. As you suggest, I suspect the references to 1972cc are a confusion with the 1792cc six

#5 jackal

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 10:38

Hello

Thank you Ray for all that info. I have found these larger capacity engines interesting as Singer did have 6 cylinder engines in the capacity of 1792cc side valve and 2 litre(or thereabouts) OHV in that period.

Did these chaps indeed use these engines or are they period typo's???

I have seen pics of a six in a Le Mans chassis so they do fit.

Best regards

Carl




#6 David McKinney

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 10:55

Part of the problem is that Singer used the 'Le Mans' nomenclature for both the 972cc four and a larger six

#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 12:11

I'm sure Jack Sidebottom's car was a six...

It's entered as such on two separate years.

#8 jackal

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 17:44

Hello

I have just stumbled upon a result sheet for the 1931 AGP. Jack Sidebottom didn't finish(?) but he was running in "class D" which was the big capacity class. The various mentions of the car being 1800cc and the fact that Singer had a 1792cc engine can't all be mistakes.

So....if Jack Sidebottom did that then it could be that Bob Lea Wright was running the 1972cc six pot engine in his Le Mans. It kind of ties in as I think the bigger unit came into existence when Wright made his return to the AGP.

To win against MG K3's I think that a severe power hike was required and the small 4 pot was swapped out. Much easier to do than re-engineer the Singer 972cc engine for a supercharger. for example.

If it is indeed true that the six cylinder engines were used in the 972cc Le Mans chassis I wonder if they went all out and had them on triple carbs???

Oh for some photos.....

Best regards

Carl

#9 David McKinney

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 19:02

Don't forget, the 1934 AGP was a handicap. The Singer was nowhere on scratch. Thompson's MG K3 made fastest time from Jennings (MG Magna), Terdich (Bugatti), Dentry (Riley Nine) and Warren (MG J2).

This confirms in my mind at least that the Lea-Wright car was a 972cc job (especially as it's described elsewhere as a Singer Nine...)

#10 jackal

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 19:17

Ahhh.....thank you for that info David.

Carl

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 22:27

As mentioned above, the capacity given for Lea-Wright in the AGP book was 1972cc, not the 1792cc of the Sidebottom entry...

Hence it's easy to see that it's simply an error.

You don't want to know about Jim Bertram's Singer, do you?

#12 GMACKIE

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 22:58

How did you know that, Ray?

#13 jackal

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 08:14

Hello

Ray - to be honest I would like to know as much as possible about any, or all of the prewar Singers that were in Australia.

Maybe this thread should be re-titled to Australian Prewar Singers as I am starting to realise that there were a great many used in Australian racing.

Carl

#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 14:28

Originally posted by GMACKIE
How did you know that, Ray?


How did I know what, Greg?