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Romulus for sale?!


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#1 Steve L

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 15:13

I see from Simon Taylor's column in the latest C&SC magazine that the ERA Romulus is being sold out of the Chula family at last.

And for the lover of fine 1930s machinery there are other rich pickings in the same issue - a 1931 MG "C-Type" Midget (p70), a 1933 MG K3 (p105) and perhaps most interesting of all, the 1935 SEFAC GP car (p102)!

Oh, for a spare £million......;)

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#2 macoran

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 15:26

Originally posted by Steve L
I see from Simon Taylor's column in the latest C&SC magazine that the ERA Romulus is being sold out of the Chula family at last .


Now what is that supposed to mean ???

#3 Steve L

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 15:33

Nothing sinister Macoran!

It just means that after around 70 years in Chula ownership the car is coming onto the open market.

#4 macoran

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 15:39

I met Prince Bira quite a few times in my 24 years in Thailand, and he always wished for it to
remain "at home".
I wonder what he would now think ?

#5 bill moffat

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 16:04

Interesting point. Watching "Babs" grenading itself up the hill at Goodwood a couple of weeks ago got me ruminating as to what Parry Thomas would have thought of his car's burial, exhumation and renovation.

Campbell would probably have the utmost scorn for those who have lifted his boat from the waters and are now left with half a Bluebird and nothing to do with it (but that's another thread). Gilles would probably have wanted his wrecked Ferrari rebuilt and racing 2 weeks later.

I guess it just tells us that the original owner/driver of any prominent car has little control over its destiny, perhaps this is inevitable especially when £$£$£$ is involved.

#6 dretceterini

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 16:16

I hope it winds up with someone who appreciates it, rather than someone who can "afford" it....

#7 Stephen W

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 16:19

Truely Historic racing cars belong on the track NOT in a museum or private collection where they never get run. So what if they crash or blow up - they can be rebuilt. After all they were designed to race and not stand around looking pretty!

I am glad that this ERA will be up for sale. I just hope the person that buys it actually wants to race it!

:wave:

#8 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 16:32

Originally posted by Stephen W
Truely Historic racing cars belong on the track NOT in a museum or private collection where they never get run. So what if they crash or blow up - they can be rebuilt. After all they were designed to race and not stand around looking pretty!


Which means that at some point that they become like the handle for George Washington's axe....

#9 philippe charuest

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 17:00

Originally posted by dretceterini
I hope it winds up with someone who appreciates it, rather than someone who can "afford" it....

now what is that supposed to mean ??? : (just joking ,but puzzle too)

#10 Stephen W

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 18:37

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps


WHich means that at some point that they become like the handle for George Washington's axe....


There again how many racing cars are as they left the factory? Things break or wear out and have to be replaced - it is in the nature of the beast.

My Elan is on its third chassis but it still carries the same chassis number!

Rather than have racing cars wrapped in cotton wool and sat in museums I would much rather they be used for what they were built for.

:wave:

#11 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 20:46

This is the car as shown at Retromobile?

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#12 macoran

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 21:01

Yes Arjan,
E.R.A R2B "Romulus" White Mouse Racing Team

R2B only became "Romulus" after a year in service, when the Thai Royal Family bought
a second E.R.A, R5B. The two became known as Romulus and Remus.
Later E.R.A R12B was added to the racing stable as "Hanuman"....the Monkey warlord.

#13 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 21:44

No, Marc, Arjan's picture shows R12B Hanuman. Different mirrors to both Romulus and Remus and distinctive metal plate on the side showing the god.

#14 Alan Cox

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 22:01

Romulus at one of his rare post-war outings, in the hands of Bill Morris.

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Strictly speaking, R12B is known as "Hanuman II", as "Hanuman" (R12C) was crashed at Rheims in 1939, and rebuilt to B-Type specification.

#15 macoran

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 22:09

Originally posted by Vitesse2
No, Marc, Arjan's picture shows R12B Hanuman. Different mirrors to both Romulus and Remus and distinctive metal plate on the side showing the god.


Sorry, yes of course you are correct.

I got confused as I am sure over the years Hanuman has frequently been exhibited as being Romulus.

Can you confirm if Hanuman was ever actually raced in the Thai Bira blue and yellow.
Edit myself: yes I am sure it was.

#16 Scuderia SSS

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 23:00

Funnily, i have only just finished reading "Bits & Pieces" by Bira.
A lovely little book with some great little stories.
I think i would have love to have met Bira and seen him racing "Romulus".

#17 ensign14

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 23:10

*checks piggy bank*

*checks Lloyds Bank security*

#18 dretceterini

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 01:09

Originally posted by philippe charuest
now what is that supposed to mean ??? : (just joking ,but puzzle too)


I know any number of people who know nothing about classic cars, yet have a number of them which just sit as monuments to their wealth. I would like to see this car get used.

#19 cosworth bdg

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 02:39

Originally posted by dretceterini


I know any number of people who know nothing about classic cars, yet have a number of them which just sit as monuments to their wealth. I would like to see this car get used.

Here, Here, well put...... :up: :up:

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#20 Roger Clark

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 07:37

Originally posted by Stephen W
Truely Historic racing cars belong on the track NOT in a museum or private collection where they never get run. So what if they crash or blow up - they can be rebuilt. After all they were designed to race and not stand around looking pretty!

I am glad that this ERA will be up for sale. I just hope the person that buys it actually wants to race it!

:wave:

I don't fully agree with that. There are some cars whose whose originality and historic significance is so great that they should be retained in their original condition and not put at risk. Romulus was one such. He was retired when the White Mouse Racing Stable was wound up and retained in his original condition, the only ERA to remain so. When he was presented to the Montagu museum in 1964, it was on condition that he remain untouched. When he returned to racing in 1976, there was a vigorous correspondence in motor Sport which concluded with an article by Denis Jenkinson:

"It was a very special ERA and it was unique. It is still a very special ERA but some of its character is gone. It is no longer the ERA as Bira last drove it. it is now an immaculately rebuilt ERA immaculately driven by Bill Morris. The sight of Romulus racing again is giving a lot of people a lot of enjoyment, but I still feel that Prince and Princess Chula were right in letting it rest in peace, for sentimental reasons. There are plenty of other ERA cars to race, but there is only one Romulus and he was unique, and he had been unique for thirty years, but no more."

#21 Allan Lupton

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 07:42

Originally posted by dretceterini

I would like to see this car get used.


There was a certain amount of outrage when Bill Morris raced Romulus as it was held (probably correctly) that it had only ever been raced by one man, Bira, and it should have remained like that.
As it was still owned by the family, it was their prerogative to do as they liked, and after many decades of disuse, Bill prepared and raced it for them.

Edited to say: Roger Clark beat me to it while this was being written.

#22 grocons

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 09:56

As this is a thread on ERA's thought this would be of interest. I have been going to the VSCC meet at Wiscombe Park Hill Climb for the last 5 years or so having moved to this neck of the woods. Its a great day out extremely relaxed and intimate. Chris Williams should also be there with hi awe inspiring Napier Bentley, all 24 Litres. Anyway here is the VSCC info:-

On 13 May, Wiscombe Park Hill Climb remembers Martin Morris, the great ERA driver from the south-west, as well as the two Majors, Chichester and Lambton, who established the hill climb venue at Wiscombe Park. Martin’s son, David Morris, has been cajoling ERA owners to enter and is thrilled to now have twelve cars confirmed to appear.

David commented, “I am overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of ERA owners to support the commemorative meeting. I expected half a dozen cars to compete, but to receive confirmation that twelve ERAs will be in attendance is wonderful; spectators are in for a real treat”.

Bob Wimmer, VSCC Competition Secretary said, “It is wonderful to see so many of these popular racing cars participating in VSCC events over the next two months. The Spring Start meeting at Silverstone is panning out to be a wonderful season opener and Wiscombe Park Hill Climb will be really rather special”.

At both events spectators will be able to enjoy a day of high speed motor sport featuring a wide range of historic and pre-war racing and sports-cars.



Is this the largest gathering of ERA's ever???

#23 David McKinney

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 11:23

Originally posted by grocons
Is this the largest gathering of ERA's ever???

No, there were more at a Silverstone gathering a few years ago. I forget how many, but it was certainly more than 12

#24 JohnB

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 12:27

There were 19 (according to the programme) at the Donington VSCC/See Red meeting in 2004, or which 15 or 16 raced in an ERA-only race for the 70th anniversary (the programme says 16, but there are only 15 in the entry list).

I remember standing behind one revving the engine with the rear axle on stands (warming the gearbox oil I think) - wonderful!

Edit - and the programme also mentions the last all-ERA race before that at Siverstone 5 years earlier.

#25 EcosseF1

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 14:07

Wasn't Romulus removed from the National Museum by the family because they had let it deteriorate?

#26 Gary C

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 14:33

anyone remember the TV programme / video 'Romulus Returns to Siam', made about 15 years ago??

#27 Sharman

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 14:41

Every body is talking about £1000000, and saying they wish they had it. Spare a thought for me, I didn't have £500 at the time or else I would have bought "Remus"

#28 Alan Cox

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 17:37

Am I right in saying that Bill restored Romulus to racing condition with a view ultimately to it appearing back in Thailand (Siam) for a celebratory meeting to honour Bira, when it was to be driven by owner Narisa Chakra? This meeting formed the subject of the video "Romulus returns to Siam" mentioned by Gary C.

#29 dretceterini

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 17:46

Originally posted by Sharman
Every body is talking about £1000000, and saying they wish they had it. Spare a thought for me, I didn't have £500 at the time or else I would have bought "Remus"


I think most of us (well, maybe not to this extreme) have been in a similar situation...

#30 David Beard

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 20:25

Originally posted by Gary C
anyone remember the TV programme / video 'Romulus Returns to Siam', made about 15 years ago??


I have that video...bought it at the Donington museum. Recommended. :up:

#31 Cynic

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 21:09

It is my understanding that Romulus has gone to an individual in the United States who understands and appreciates important cars, and has a rather nice collection.

I expect that Romulus will be raced on occasion, but will be carefully preserved rather than being modified to be the fastest car on track. It is not in the hands of someone whose ego requires that he win at all costs.

#32 Ralf Pickel

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 16:24

Originally posted by JohnB

I remember standing behind one revving the engine with the rear axle on stands (warming the gearbox oil I think) - wonderful!


:wave: ;)

#33 T54

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 04:31

I remember seing Romulus on display at the London Toy Museum, that belonging to publisher Allan Levy, married then to Narisa, and David Pressland, then married to Sotheby's Hillary Kay. The car looked like it had just been restored. It must have been there for 5-6 years before the museum was dismantled after the business partners... parted ways. :

#34 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 08:49

On a slight tangent to this - when did the yellow paint on the chassis first appear ?
Most pre war shots of Bira's three cars show them painted blue all over.

#35 Vitesse2

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 08:55

1939, when Siam became affiliated to the AIACR and was officially assigned international racing colours. Bira then raced on a Siamese rather than a British licence.

edit/ Which is why Chula's book on 1939 and 1946 is called "Blue and Yellow" ;)

#36 robert dick

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 11:46

ERA armada at Wiscombe Park hillclimb :




#37 West3

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 02:34

Romulus made an appearance at the Western Washington All British Field Meet yesterday in Bellevue Washington (USA). His new caretaker is a certain Gregory Whitten, formerly of Microsoft, a true petrolhead who will no-doubt give the vehicle a proper home. I spoke with Mr. Whitten briefly and got the impression he intends to run Romulus after restoration, although competitive events are not necessarily on the cards. Demonstration runs would be my guess. Currently not in running condition, there is much work to do. From what I could see, he requires somewhat more than just a sympathetic restoration. Car, not owner that is!

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"What a grand to-do about something so wonderfully unimportant." -DCN

#38 Alan Cox

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 09:07

Interesting news, West3. It's amazing how many ERAs have found their way accross the Atlantic in recent years, having spent all their lives in Britain, or northern Europe.

As an aside, I learned that the late Rodney Smith's ERAs (and his other cars) remain in a family trust and will continue to be raced. Good news.

#39 ianselva

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 11:16

Restored ??? Why ? It looks fine to me , it is a racing car after all, with a lot of history, why lose all that with a Pebble Beach standard over restoration. Re- prepared by all means.

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#40 Alan Cox

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 11:29

It was restored about 15 years ago by Bill Morris, and did a number of races. It will certainly need some works of restoration if it is proposed to race it, but from what you say, West3, that isn't the new owner's intention.

#41 West3

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 17:21

I may very well have misinterpreted the owner's words regarding the extent of his intended restoration/ refurbishment, but my pictures do make Romulus look to be in far better condition than he actually is. I would not be surprised if EcosseF1 wasn't correct about the car being allowed to deteriorate in the museum.

Mr. Whitten is very aware of the previous restoration of 30-odd years ago and, I am quite sure, will take great pains to preserve whatever may remain of the car's true originality.

#42 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 19:14

Did Whitten say who would be carrying out the restoration?

Jack.

#43 EcosseF1

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 20:27

Hopefully it'll just be re-commissioned rather than restored. That's what Bill morris basically did AFAIK after it came out of the National Museum.

#44 Greg W

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 23:31

Thanks for all of the people who have expressed concerns about Romulus.

Romulus is being sympathically refurrbished at this time to return him to full running condition without disturbing the patina of the car. Some late '70's and '80's items like clamps, hoses, etc. that were used in Bill Morris's refurbishment will be corrected. He is not being restored. Romulus is currently in a disassembled state and has been fully crack checked andrepaired and the rust cleaned and stopped. The motor had a cracked block and crankshaft. The orginal block has been repaired by pinning and sleaving the affected cylinder and a spare crank was obtained. He will get new rods and pistons. The internals in the gearbox are being rebuilt. In time I will try to obtain a spare motor to use in racing.

Romulus is a remarkably original pre-war Grand Prix car. It is the most original car that I have seen. I do not want to change that. People that have seen my 1932 Alfa P3 know that a car can be well kept in this condition.

I do believe that a car is kept in better condition by limited actual use. Romulus was deteriorating slowly by sitting unused. I will race Romulus on very limited occasions in the US at the Monterey Historics and hopefully bring him back to the UK for some big events. Vintage racing is exhibition racing. I don't care where I place. I just try to drive my cars well and safely and put on a good show for the people who love these cars.

I expect that Romulus will be fully back together and running in August in California.

#45 Ruairidh

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 01:05

Originally posted by Sharman
Every body is talking about £1000000, and saying they wish they had it. Spare a thought for me, I didn't have £500 at the time or else I would have bought "Remus"


Sounds like a story worth sharing?

#46 green-blood

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 08:29

thanks for the update, sounds like the car is in the best possible hands (other than mine :cool: )

#47 bradbury west

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 09:22

Originally posted by Greg W
[B]Thanks for all of the people who have expressed concerns about Romulus.

People that have seen my 1932 Alfa P3 know that a car can be well kept in this condition.]

Is your car the ex Don Lee car which Neil prepared so well?
Roger Lund

#48 Sharman

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 10:57

Originally posted by Ruairidh


Sounds like a story worth sharing?


In the mid 50s I was late teens, about to do National Service, and rabid about motor racing. Ken Flint was trying to sell Remus and asking £550 ono. I tried to get the old man to lend me the money (I actually had about £300 saved from birthdays, Xmas, Vac Jobs etc which was going to buy me a road car eventually) but, wisely I suppose, he declined. I probably would have sold it for the proverbial pittance later as something modern for the road would have had more appeal as a crumpet-catcher.

#49 Greg W

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 11:15

My P3 is sn# B5001 (first P3). It is the Nulovari 1932 Italian GP winner, Guy Moll 1934 Monaco GP winner, and Pintacuda 1935 Mille Miglia winner (converted to Biposto form in late 1934). Basically, it became the fastest sports car in the world in 1934. It was the first time a full GP car was converted into a sports car. The early Monzas were sports car based and prep'ed to be a GP car. On something like a hillclimb the P3 with its much greater torque and lower weight toasts an 8C2300 or 8C2600.

Alain de Cadenet owned the P3 for awhile after it came out of Argentina.

#50 Allan Lupton

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 13:46

Originally posted by Sharman


In the mid 50s I was late teens, about to do National Service, and rabid about motor racing. Ken Flint was trying to sell Remus and asking £550 ono. I tried to get the old man to lend me the money (I actually had about £300 saved from birthdays, Xmas, Vac Jobs etc which was going to buy me a road car eventually) but, wisely I suppose, he declined. I probably would have sold it for the proverbial pittance later as something modern for the road would have had more appeal as a crumpet-catcher.


Normal sort of price at the time, I'd say. Young readers should remember that £550 was a good year's wages then!
Others in your financial position bought an ERA between two or three of them, which is how Sid Day started IIRC.
Bill Morris and David Kergon started that way too (with Hanuman).
I didn't buy a B type Connaught in 1961/2 for £600 (I had the money (just)) as it wasn't eligible for anything but sprints and hillclimbs (until the VSCC Rules changed a year or so later, of course)