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Mystery 1920s race car


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#1 fivestar

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:14

I saw these pictures in the Stilltimecollection site. The description says Alta but that is incorrect.
Does anybody have any idea what make of car this is.
The sedan behing the rear view has a Shefield, Yorkshire registration.

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thanks - 5*

Edited by fivestar, 10 November 2012 - 10:15.


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#2 Sharman

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 11:10

Something from JCC 200 Mile Race?

#3 Allan Lupton

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 15:35

The sedan behing the rear view has a Shefield, Yorkshire registration.

I can't see why you write that unless it refers to a photo that we can't see.
The Austin 12/4 in the background of the first has a London CC Registration issued in 1926, namely YN 6***

#4 Allan Lupton

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 15:56

There is also a workshop photo which seems to show the car(s) being made:
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The chassis looks unconvincing, possibly wooden, there are no front springs and the rear springs don't seem to have rear mountings of any sort.
Perhaps they are making a mock-up for film purposes - this view was advanced in Another Place by folk I often agree with as I do here and now!

#5 David Birchall

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 16:13

My first thought was Maserati 8c 2500 but this has six cylinders if the exhaust is to be believed.
The outside brake linkage-on both sides-looks unconvincing--I think AL is right--its a Mocker.

#6 f1steveuk

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 16:18

The radiator reminded me of a Vale, but the body doesn't resemble the race version they built.

#7 Vitesse2

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 16:36

My first thought was Maserati 8c 2500 but this has six cylinders if the exhaust is to be believed.
The outside brake linkage-on both sides-looks unconvincing--I think AL is right--its a Mocker.

And if you blow that workshop picture up you can see that the part-completed one appears just to have a solid hunk of wood where the engine should be. Plus the "steering column" on the bare chassis doesn't look designed to connect to anything.

I agree it's very Maserati-esque, so I'd guess it's probably an early 30s film prop. Note also the reference drawings on the wall above the work bench.

Perhaps something to do with Dick Nash? I know he was in business renting out old cars as film props, but I don't know whether he went as far as building dummy ones.

#8 JMH

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 17:32

I agree, the chassis doesn't look very functional at all. It doesn't extend far enough for the rear spring mounts for starters! There is also no provision for the front suspension, with the side-rail arch being mocked up in wood, then just covered in.

Still, quite a pretty car though (compared to some modern "period" racers), a bit of a miniature Delage. One for the film buffs to place perhaps?

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#9 fivestar

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 23:51


All first three chassis appear identical using the wooden buck over the front axle as a basis.
The rear axle on the first car has the differential opening facing upwards, which is unlikely if they were really trying to fit the rear axle.
Maybe the car drawings on the wall are an inspiration for whatever is being carried out.

#10 Ted Walker

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:08

Could it be a Talbot ??? Or maybe Amilcar 6c

#11 Sharman

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:48

Could it be a Talbot ??? Or maybe Amilcar 6c


You've been looking at the same pictures as I have Ted, but I think the radiators are wrong in both cases, I still fancy a Brooklands solution. A lot of guff about "props" for a film or mock ups in the 30s. Why? There were enough defunct obsolete race cars around to obviate the need for building property substitutes.

Edited by Sharman, 12 November 2012 - 09:50.


#12 Bloggsworth

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:01

My immediate thought on seeing the first picture was "Delage". In the pre-war days, when welding wasn't the simple business it is now, wooden mock-ups were often used, remember, they were well versed in using wood for making frames and they were much easier to alter than welded steel when working on layouts and positioning, measuring and getting dimensions right. Remember, no science of ergonomics then, if you wanted to check how the driver fitted in, you made a dummy seat, stuck it in place and said "Well, the pedals can be here, the gear leaver there..."

#13 nicanary

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:53

That does seem an awful lot of trouble to go to just for a film prop, what with the brake cables and friction-style shocks et al. Surely filmgoers in those days would have been satisfied with a lot less, and wouldn't have expected the level of realism we demand today? *

All very odd. Real suggestions of Delage/Talbot there in the shape/style. But if it's a one-off, why the three mock-ups in the workshop?

*I take that back - all films have the car exploding into a ball of fire as it plunges over a cliff, for no apparent physical reason.

#14 robert dick

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 10:47

I think the car is a special built by A. F. Ashby in his workshop at Hendon.


#15 David McKinney

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 11:10

So a Riley then?

#16 Allan Lupton

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 11:24

I think the car is a special built by A. F. Ashby in his workshop at Hendon.

That would be if it were a car rather than the wooden mock-up many of us see it as.
I can see a little similarity with Ashby's special as seen in this LAT photo on Austin Harris's site:
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#17 robert dick

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 11:32

Not necessarily Riley engined.

The workshop on the photo looks definitely like Ashby's (see for example Motorsport, April 1930, page 27).

#18 Allan Lupton

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 11:48

Not necessarily Riley engined.

The workshop on the photo looks definitely like Ashby's (see for example Motorsport, April 1930, page 27).

My collection of MotorSport doesn't go that far back.
However whoever the workshop belonged to I cannot see a credible car in the workshop photo above.

#19 f1steveuk

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 12:04

As I see this, the workshop picture shows what appears to be mere jigs, for what looks like pretty well made body panels. I don't doubt they're not "cars", but it is a lot to go through for mock ups. The top picture shows what appears to be a complete car. The rear springs puzzle me, as they still look like the "wooden" dummies, although these could, as was the practice, have been bound with string, to keep the leafs together. They do appear to have a more substantial rear mounting and proper rear shackle plates. There's also a lot of detail in first picture, like the rad' pressure blow off hose, that's a lot of detail for a film mock up, as in the louvering, that would have been painted on.

The fact that in the background of the workshop picture, there appears to be a saloon car, my guess is that it's coachshop, preparing body panels for an outside customer. Still doesn't answer what the first picture is of though!!

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#20 Sharman

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 13:52

I don't suppose we are looking at an early blossoming of SAPCDAEB with its revolutionary wooden engine :rolleyes:

Edited by Sharman, 13 November 2012 - 13:53.


#21 robert dick

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 09:00

Advertisement in Motorsport, April 1933:

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#22 uechtel

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 10:47

Great find! So one of the first independent customer tuning service and devices?

#23 Sharman

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 11:25

We're back on "Go Faster" stripes, guaranteed to increase the stationary speed of any car by 20mph.

#24 Dutchy

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 13:15

Advertisement in Motorsport, April 1933:

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Looks to be spot on though one or two details don't quite stack up.
The car in the archive photo does not have a sprung Ashby steering wheel. It is a rather ordinary looking celluloid covered wheel and it did bother me that it was a decidedly unsporting bit of kit for what otherwise looked to be a "proper" racing car. Also what about the Perrot shaft operated front brakes which are not featured on the car in Ashby's advertisement? Quite an expensive item I would think - perhaps the car in the archive photo is an amalgam of all sorts of bits to show off Ashby's goodies to best advantage?

#25 Sharman

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 16:54

I can find a photo on the AustinHarris site going back to 1928, my original hypothesis of a Brooklands Solution and the JCC proves to be correct. i started looking for too early an entry because nearly 60 years ago I had association with the 1923 200 Mile Race Alvis.

#26 Bloggsworth

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 14:54

Not necessarily Riley engined.

The workshop on the photo looks definitely like Ashby's (see for example Motorsport, April 1930, page 27).


Now, just what did I do with that issue...?

#27 David McKinney

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 17:01

Wot? You don't have the DVD?

#28 mouserat159

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 11:23

Could it be a 1930ish Napier?

#29 Tim Murray

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 11:54

Unlikely. Napier ceased car production in 1924, and their last model was significantly larger than the mystery car.