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Lotus and the Hobbs Mechamatic


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#1 blueprint2002

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Posted 23 December 2019 - 05:27

In December 1963, “Motor Sport” reported that Colin Chapman had been considering the use of a 5-speed version of the Hobbs Mechamatic Gearbox for the Lotus 25, which of course dominated the GP world at that time.

I have not been able to find any other mention of this, in contemporary or later publications, including “Theme Lotus”, but there can be little doubt of the veracity of the report. Apart from the standing of the magazine, it is well known that ACBC was always looking for a better and quicker way of shifting gears (his “queerbox” being one example), and the clutchless-shift feature of the Hobbs must surely have appealed to him. The results achieved by David Hobbs with his Elite would also have made some impression. And, of course, he was right, though it took 25 more years before it was proved by Ferrari.

Does anyone know of any report or book in which Chapman’s findings or conclusions are covered? Or even a verbal mention of his views? Was the Mechamatic ever installed in a Lotus single-seater, possibly F2/F3/FJ, even if it was never raced? Or in any other single-seater, apart from Lotus?

Thanks in advance



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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 December 2019 - 06:51

Would it be worth contacting David Hobbs to ask?

He's the Honda dealer in Milwaukee, IIRC.

#3 Roger Clark

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Posted 23 December 2019 - 11:10

Karl Ludvigsen’s Inside the Innovator says that Chapman was very interested in the Mecha-Matic and that Howard Hobbs designed a version for the 25. However, the Hobbs company ran into commercial difficulties and were unable to proceed with development. In a footnote he repors that some sources say that a Hobbs gearbox was tested in a 25 but Bob Dance is adamant that this didn’t happen. 



#4 Rupertlt1

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Posted 23 December 2019 - 11:31

Motor Sport, December 1963, Page 984:

"Colin Chapman has been testing a five-speed version of the Hobbs box with a view to using it in the Lotus 25 but so far no decision has been made."

 

Denis Jenkinson, Motor Sport, May 1965, Pages 353, 361:

The victory of the Chaparral at Sebring focused a lot of atten-

tion on the 2-speed automatic transmission used on these cars,

and a lot of people were given the impression that this was the

first successful use of an automatic gearbox in racing, but the

fact that it was not was brought to mind recently when I was

reading Jim Clark's book about his racing career. On page 78

he is describing his racing in 1961 and mentions the Lotus Elite

fitted with a Hobbs "Mechamatic" (sic) transmission, with which

David Hobbs won the 1,100-c.c. sports class at the 1,000

kilometres race on the Nurburgring. Clark drove the car later

at Daytona and had his own road-going Elite fitted with a Hobbs

box. He remarks in his book : "Those who scorn automatics

take note!" The unfortunate thing was that the Hobbs auto-

matic box did not progress further, but it was not for want of

trying, but everything seemed to be against it. After a bit of

typical big-business and industry "shenanigans," the Ford

Motor Company took up the Borg-Warner automatic box in

favour of the Hobbs, even though everyone knew the Hobbs was

better, and dealers and people on the inside wanted it. A Hobbs

transmission was made up for a Lotus-Climax Grand Prix car,

but other problems were besetting Lotus at the time and the

project was not developed, which was a great shame, as it was so

obviously a trend in the right direction for high revving V8

engines. So don't let us get too starry-eyed because Jim Hall

used a General Motors automatic gearbox on his Sebring winning

Continued on Page 361

car. If things had gone the right way we could have had a British

car winning the Grand Prix Championship with a British auto-

matic gearbox.

 

Jim Clark, Jim Clark at the wheel, Arthur Barker, London, 1964, Page 78:

                                                     "This was the race in

which David Hobbs was to show everyone that automatic

transmission didn't necessarily mean that a car was not

competitive. Fitted with his Hobbs 'Mechamatic' (sic) transmission

he won the 1,100-1,600-cc class, despite having to run

his Elite as a sports car and not a GT due to homologation

bothers. This was a really interesting result and later I was to

drive the same automatic Elite at Daytona for Colin Chapman.

Later still I was to own an automatic Elite as my

private transport. Those who scorn automatics take note!"

 

The correct spelling is Mecha-Matic.

 

I'll dig out some more.

 

RGDS RLT


Edited by Rupertlt1, 26 December 2019 - 14:22.


#5 Rupertlt1

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Posted 23 December 2019 - 11:53

Jim Clark, Jim Clark at the wheel, Arthur Barker, London, 1964, Page 105:

 

Ref 1963: "We tried a new Colotti box at Zandvoort, we had

a Hobbs box and two VW Hewland boxes, one of which I

used in practice at Monza."

 

Quote from David Hobbs: "In '63 Colin Chapman had become convinced that auto was the way to go and we did have a prototype built for him that got slung out with everything else at the end."

This would indicate that the Hobbs box was last seen at the Hobbs factory in Leamington Spa.

 

RGDS RLT


Edited by Rupertlt1, 23 December 2019 - 12:23.


#6 blueprint2002

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Posted 24 December 2019 - 00:54

Many thanks, Ray, Roger and RLT. That seems to settle it. What a pity Lotus didn't take it any further: if they had, could be everyone else in F1 would have been using Hobbs gearboxes from 1964 onwards.



#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 December 2019 - 03:30

Only until someone devised something better...

Or until they drove Hobbs broke demanding free transmissions from them.

#8 Rupertlt1

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Posted 24 December 2019 - 12:33

Many thanks, Ray, Roger and RLT. That seems to settle it. What a pity Lotus didn't take it any further: if they had, could be everyone else in F1 would have been using Hobbs gearboxes from 1964 onwards.

 

That was just the end of a chapter. There is more:

 

Cecil Schumacher, record of interview, January 15, 2010:

 

Cecil Schumacher, ex-RAF, worked at Hobbs Transmission for a few years. He was Chief Draughtsman there when quite young. The company became Westinghouse-Hobbs (Not connected to Westinghouse U.S.) but a company connected to railway vacuum braking systems etc. They were cash rich, product poor. Howard Frederick Hobbs sold the manufacturing rights to W-H and Cecil Schumacher went to work at the development centre in Bolton, Lancs. The future of the Hobbs box came down to a contest between Westinghouse-Hobbs and Borg-Warner for the FoMoCo contract. It all "got messy" and W-H folded. Derek Gardner, also ex-RAF, worked at Hobbs Transmission departing for Ferguson.

 

At Leamington Spa Schumacher was involved with the Lotus Elite Programme, prototyping and testing. There were periodic clearouts of staff depending on the development budget. He found himself as chief draughtsman with some apprentices for staff. He did some test driving in the Lotus Elite, which was initially bought for Mrs Hobbs, but was turned into a highly-developed racer with plastic side-windows and no upholstery - a sparse racing machine. He used to test the car with HFH. He was asked to produce some technical displays for use at Motor Shows - he came to know how the transmission worked and could calculate changes to valves, springs, spring rates and orifices. He was known as "Sliderule Cec" which was the only way of calculation in those days. [There were no computers or electronic control systems.]

 

Jack Brabham took an interest in Hobbs Transmissions seeing the possibilities if shifted by the driver. He visited Leamington and Bolton but could see that with HFH out of the picture there was no possibility of a 5-spd pre-selector-like racing box, but with no pedal, shifted by lever. Some bits were made but no drawings now exist? The Elite box could be selected to run 1-4, 1-3 and 1-2 only.

 

Cecil Schumacher moved on to B-W in Baldock, living at Letchworth. He was advised by a careers adviser to "join the enemy." "I had got my IMechE by then." "I wasn't a graduate, I got my qualifications the hard way at night school." They made him very welcome at B-W, assisting with relocation. 

 

Meanwhile Howard Hobbs was working on the VKD transmission (Variable Kinetic Drive), at Napton in Warwickshire assisted by Godfrey Shiner (later embroiled in some gun-running affair with Colonel Gaddafi). Keith Duckworth entered the picture investing, buying shares, and the manufacturing rights to racing applications. Duckworth rang up to persuade Schumacher to work at Cosworth on the transmission project. Schumacher turned down the offer not wishing to leave B-W - in the end he agreed to visit Duckworth to tell him "no" face-to-face. He was talked into it, as it was a "wonderful opportunity." What was designed? See: Autocar & Motor, Volume 184, Page 74, 1990.

 

"Sketched by Keith Duckworth in 1973, but never built. F1 automatic 

transmission. Designed by ex-Borg Warner engineer Cecil Schumacher and an 

evolution of the Hobbs variable kinetic drive system...

 

Derek Gardner, ex-Hobbs Transmission - VKD intended for Tyrell F1 - Gardner acted as liaison.

 

Schumacher tested a prototype VKD transmission in a cell at Cosworth. He became unwell and the project stalled.

 

RGDS RLT


Edited by Rupertlt1, 24 December 2019 - 12:51.


#9 Allan Lupton

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Posted 24 December 2019 - 16:26

A point of information, as we say, is that Borg-Warner's factory was in Jubilee Road, Letchworth not in Baldock.

I remember Cecil S. racing a London Talbot in VSCC events and I know he had a reputation as an overhauler of  preselector gearboxes.

'Twas when the roll was called at a VSCC Drivers' Briefing that the implication of Cecil's surname struck and everyone turned to look . . . :lol:



#10 cedricselzer

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Posted 25 December 2019 - 15:58

Bob Dance is correct. It was mentioned only in passing. We never had one in the workshop. My recollection is that apart from not working properly it would have been too heavy.



#11 dolomite

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Posted 26 December 2019 - 09:39

I heard a very good podcast interview with David Hobbs recently where he talks at some length about his father's auto transmission. I don't recall F1 being mentioned though.
Link here: https://www.dinnerwi...49-david-hobbs/
Interesting to find out Cecil Schumacher was involved. I met Cecil a couple of times when I was doing R/C model car racing in the 1980s. He started his own company making R/C cars and parts which became one of the major manufacturers in the UK.

#12 Rupertlt1

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Posted 26 December 2019 - 15:04

Let us try and put the achievements of Howard Hobbs in context. He builds the 1015 automatic transmission and fits it to a Lotus Elite for the 1961 racing season.

In November 1960 David Hobbs acquired the Lotus Elite, 5649 UE, from the Chequered Flag Garage in Chiswick, London, that was to launch his racing career at international level. The engine of the Elite was then modified by Cosworth to Stage III tune producing 108 b.h.p. and a Hobbs Mecha-Matic gearbox was fitted specially modified for racing. Hobbs says: "Chapman was not involved in the project, but our engine was blueprinted by some young tuner by the name of Keith Duckworth."

The high point in the story of the Hobbs Mecha-Matic gearbox came at the Nurburgring-Nordschleife in the Eifel Mountains on May 28, 1961, when David Hobbs, son of the inventor, and Bill Pinckney, two lads from the Midlands, defeated the might of Porsche in the 1600c.c. sports racing car class in the Nurburgring 1000 kms with their automatic Lotus Elite. Bumped up to the 1600 c.c. class by the organisers for their non-standard gearbox, after protests from fellow competitors, they faced much more powerful opposition from Porsche. After this remarkable achievement the future of the gearbox looked set fair. A long trip to Italy for Le Quattro Ore di Pescara on August 15 was less successful. The car dropped a valve early in the race, mechanic Ben Cox remembers worrying about taking the blame for what turned out to be a material failure. 

Colin Chapman is sufficiently impressed to contact Hobbs so that Jim Clark can drive the car in the 3 Hours of Daytona, 11 February 1962.  As David Hobbs fought to establish himself as a professional racing driver he had also come to the attention of the Jaguar factory, and for 1962 he took over the privateer Peter Berry-entered 'E' type from Bruce McLaren for the season. He was entered in the Jaguar, 3 BXV, for the inaugural Daytona 3 hours with the Lotus sitting idle. As Hobbs tells it: "Colin Chapman rang up and asked if he could borrow the Mecha-Matic Elite for Jim Clark to race at the same event."  Thus it came to be that Clark drove the Mecha-Matic in Florida, streaking away in the class lead but retiring after sixty laps with a failed starter motor and being classified 29th. Jim Clark later had a road-going Elite, HSH 200, fitted with a Hobbs gearbox, as did Stirling Moss. Clark said in the book Jim Clark at the wheel: "Those who scorn automatics take note!"

THE MECHA-MATIC LOTUS ELITES:

I have found three:

The road car of Jim Clark Reg # HSH 200. This plate would have been issued in 1961 by Berwick C.C. Chassis No: EB-1659, Engine No: FWE10233 - SUPER 95 Specification. Bristol Plate No: EB-1659. Originally yellow and silver.  Subsequently sold in 1962 to a George V. Simpson, who painted it dark blue, Scottish racing colours.

Motor Sport, April 1963: Reg # 318 MNU.

Front Cover Picture AUTOMATIC ELITE ; Cedric Brierley

was well known in Club racing until a bad crash put him out

of racing for some time, leaving him with a disability which precludes the use of a manual gearbox. He has had a Lotus Elite fitted with a 1½ single cam Coventry Climax engine and Hobbs automatic gearbox and at the Southport Speed Trials he proved to be nearly as quick as the E-type Jaguars.

The Stirling Moss road car Reg # HRT 163D. Body/Chassis no.1789 and was fitted with a Twin-cam engine, make unknown. Colour yellow. This is a 1966 reg no. so car may have been re-registered that year on change of specification. Car thought to be in the USA, last known owner was a Richard Richardson.

So we have a story involving David Hobbs, Keith Duckworth, Colin Chapman, Jim Clark and Stirling Moss. Duckworth later put cash into developing the ideas of Howard Hobbs, Clark and Moss bought the cars.

An intriguing footnote. About the time Duckworth was taking up the VKD transmission for racing, Howard Hobbs was still battling his old nemesis Borg-Warner in the road car game:

http://archive.comme...ly-transmission

Whatever happened to those Humber Sceptre and Hillman Hunter road cars?

 

RGDS RLT  



#13 blueprint2002

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Posted 26 December 2019 - 15:34

When I started this thread, it didn't seem possible to get such comprehensive, meticulous and thoroughly researched responses. Not in my wildest dreams.

I have to say, RLT, that in my humble opinion, you seem to be the right person to write a history of the so-far neglected racing car transmission. I am of course assuming that your interest is not limited to Howard Hobbs and his inventions, but would include the likes of the Wilson pre-selector, the Citroen-based ERSA, Hewland, Colotti, Weismann and so on, hopefully going all the way back to the cars that competed in the town-to-town races 120 years ago. There is plenty of ground to cover, and to my knowledge no one has done it before.



#14 Rupertlt1

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Posted 26 December 2019 - 16:28

When I started this thread, it didn't seem possible to get such comprehensive, meticulous and thoroughly researched responses. Not in my wildest dreams.

I have to say, RLT, that in my humble opinion, you seem to be the right person to write a history of the so-far neglected racing car transmission. I am of course assuming that your interest is not limited to Howard Hobbs and his inventions, but would include the likes of the Wilson pre-selector, the Citroen-based ERSA, Hewland, Colotti, Weismann and so on, hopefully going all the way back to the cars that competed in the town-to-town races 120 years ago. There is plenty of ground to cover, and to my knowledge no one has done it before.

 

Thank you for your kind words. Although not specifically about racing I can recommend the book:

 

Changing Gears: The Development of the Automotive Transmission, by Philip G. Gott, Published by Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc. ISBN: 1-56091-099-2

 

RGDS RLT 



#15 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 26 December 2019 - 23:50

Problem with smaller companies offering alternate styles of transmissions is A. the cabability to deliver the volume required. B. the reliability of said product. C. The publics acceptance of it. 

All 3 would be  probably NO.

While this style of thing has been around since before WW2 it may have had applications, but it seems the applications were not commercially viable. 

As for the old Powerslide tranny with fast and faster gear set with a deal of slippage GM discovered 50 years ago it was inadequate, they went 3 speed, then in the 80s 4 speed autos.

Drag racers though are addicted to them. I have even seen them [on You Tube] behind rotaries and 2J engines. And some other turbo 4s.Neither engine blessed with huge amounts of torque. Which powerslides absorb lots of. The only thing they have in their favor is being quite strong, though these days like the Ford 9" diff  when you throw all the OEM stuff away and build it aftermarket.

And both the 9" and Powerslide are inefficient and replaced in the real world by more modern and efficient stuff.



#16 bradbury west

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Posted 27 December 2019 - 01:41

Coming to this thread a bit late now, having been away, I will put in my two penn'orth as I have liked these gearboxes since I first heard about them when they were launched.
Most of what I know has been covered, but,
The SCM car was regd on Feb 28 1962, qv the Lotus sales files, with a/ the signature SMoss in what looks like an early version of the great man's script. Other than an FPF which would have screwed the weight distribution, a twin cam looks a non starter. Besides, in all the Elite records and books etc, it is recognised that there was only one fitted with a Twin Cam, and that as an experiment in 66 by David Lazenby, MPW reg, the c b u sourced from the leftover ones after the production ended, and all the FWEs had been used. Moss enjoyed the car very much, I recall, featuring in a Lotus ad, if I recall correctly, saying on a trip back from Snetterton he could average 69 without exceeding 70, hyperbole I grant you.
He commented on the Hobbs box, although I have not checked in My Cars My Career for comments.
In addition to the David Hobbs racing activities with a Mechamatic box in an Elite, he also raced, I believe, an XK 140 soft top with such a box in many club events, the car 943 TAC later elegantly re bodied with an Ali coupe body, later "restored" back to a standard 140 coupe. Perhaps Mr Hobbs can clarify , but it is reported as such in Jaguars in Competition.
I recall a glowing road test in Autosport by Paddy McNally of a Hobbs box in a standard 1500 Cortina, also mentioned elsewhere in an Anglia IIRC, and similarly enthused about by JVB, with possibly a track test of the Elite. Somewhere I remember the start process, left foot on brake, box in first, throttle at 6000 pm, flag drops lift left foot. Just the sort of thing for JVB..... I imagine Jenks would have liked it too, conceptually and functionally.
Somewhere in my research records I have a Sporting Owners' Drivers' Club hillclimb, sic, at Woburn where one entry was a Singer Gazelle with a Hobbs box, thus noted in the event report or results, from memory. That was probably 1968 or 69 when Peter Voigt was blitzing the small sports racing class in his DRW, hence my interest in the event. That may have been another one of the Rootes cars mentioned in Rupert's linked article above.
Something which has not been mentioned is something reported in Autosport or MN in the sixties, and that is that Howard Hobbs received an Industry Award for the innovative design and perceived operational benefits of his gearbox design.
Roger Lund.

Edit, the Moss car was likely to have been regd SM 7, his regular number, which in 1963 was seen on a special Moss- ified fastback two door Cortina, around the time he got involved in a re spray business, IIRC.

Edited by bradbury west, 27 December 2019 - 01:54.


#17 DUFFY

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Posted 27 December 2019 - 08:15

The Lotus Elite with Hobbs automatic gearbox owned by Cedric Brierley parked in Eastgate Street, Rochdale at the rear of Cedric,s company Lancashire Wallpapers in 1962.

 

Cedric-Brierley-at-Lancashire-Wallpapers

 


Edited by DUFFY, 27 December 2019 - 11:46.


#18 bradbury west

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Posted 27 December 2019 - 12:56

Tests and reports in Motor Sport.
Cortina and gearbox description and cutaway drawing December 1963. P984
Road and track test of Hobbs Elite, December 1962 p20
Borgward had already agreed to take the box as the Hansamatic, but their bankruptcy out and end to that before it started.
The McNally Autosport test is in their High Performance Cars 1964/65, taken from a period issue. I notice that in it PMcN mentions Moss' dream car, possibly the modified Cortina, ref above, is fitted with a Hobbs box.
I always liked the idea of the Hobbs box, and in the mid 70s I had a 1750 Maxi with the Automotive Products auto box, 4 in a line quadrant with top as full auto. A pure joy of a box, different concept from the Hobbs, I grant you, but I loved it, especially when getting away from the traffic lights.... see above post.
Roger Lund

#19 RogerFrench

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Posted 27 December 2019 - 13:08

Mike Ostrov, an Elite specialist in California, assured me that the Moss car when he saw it had a Lotus TC engine.
There are certainly more than one, some with Elan chassis frames added, but well after they left the works.

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 27 December 2019 - 16:36

The public debut of the Ford Lotus twin-cam was about May, 1962...

So if Moss' car was first registered in February, 1962, such an engine would have been a transplant. And they were hard to get hold of for some time, initially.

#21 Bloggsworth

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Posted 27 December 2019 - 17:18

Mike Ostrov, an Elite specialist in California, assured me that the Moss car when he saw it had a Lotus TC engine.
There are certainly more than one, some with Elan chassis frames added, but well after they left the works.

Several built by Bob Curl. 1st, the green and white on with the 1500 pre-crossflow, last seen by me at Kelvedon Motors; then the twin-cam he built for himself; plus the twin-cam he built for Mike Adda which won the Autosport  Championship.



#22 Odseybod

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Posted 27 December 2019 - 18:37

For the sake of completeness, might mention that the Hobbs transmission was also fitted to the Lanchester Sprite (1954-6), though that never really got beyond the pre-production stage.



#23 Rupertlt1

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Posted 27 December 2019 - 18:46

For the sake of completeness, might mention that the Hobbs transmission was also fitted to the Lanchester Sprite (1954-6), though that never really got beyond the pre-production stage.

 

Howard Hobbs had countless projects on the go with car companies and individuals - Allard, Bugatti, Lancia, Borgward (Hansamatic), Tatra OTOH. I'll try to list more systematically.

We should also record David Hobbs first racer:

Beginning in May 1959 at Snetterton he raced an unlikely old Morris Oxford, MOL 44, fitted with a four-speed Hobbs Mecha-Matic gearbox designed by his father, green in colour with a green driver behind the wheel. First came an engine-swap, discarding the old side-valve motor: "We happened to have at dad's little factory, 5000 sq ft, in Leamington Spa, a BMC 'B' series engine, OHV 1.5 litre. This was the engine that was fitted to all susequent Morris Oxfords, Austin A55, MG A etc. I acquired from the obsolete parts department at Daimler, where I was an apprentice engineer a couple of SU carbs, bought an MG inlet manifold, and old 'Bill the pipebender,' in a black hole of a workshop, bent me up an exhaust manifold. Hey presto first racer! Mum did not like driving it much because it was a bit noisy, still there you go, and it was supposed to be her car. I really had no race car savvy, so it still had bench seats and I used street tyres, Michelin 'X', which were all the rage then.
"My first race was at Snetterton, which I and my school pal Tony Barrett went to together. Tony introduced me to Bill Pinckney, who lived close to him at Balsall Common, just outside of Coventry." Pinckney was racing a Healey Silverstone at this time, LLB 67.  "Anyway when I got there the organisers were a bit flummoxed by the auto trans and took me out of a saloon car class into the GT race! This of course had cars like TR2s, MGAs, Lotus Elite etc. A bit much for the old Oxford to say the least! Well it blew up anyway, a big-end went. Tony and I tried to fix it with the silver paper from a cigarette packet; needless to say it didn't work. Someone took us home and I went back the following Thursday with a friend, and towed it home at the end of a rope."
 
RGDS RLT


#24 bradbury west

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Posted 27 December 2019 - 21:36

Back to the SCM Elite, I have now checked in Ortenburger and he cites specifically just the two Hobbs boxed cars for JC and SCM, other than the original Hobbs modded car. Re the Moss car, the engine number fits nicely in the sequence of other Climax powered Elites.

For Cedric Brierley to have an FWB in his should have been a relatively straight forward installation, especially as the car may have gone to him as a kit and the box sourced direct from Hobbs, perhaps, if not Lotus.

BTW, Roger, roughly what year was it when the ex. Moss car was seen with a TC, presumably in the US?
Roger Lund

#25 blueprint2002

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 01:12

Thank you for your kind words. Although not specifically about racing I can recommend the book:

 

Changing Gears: The Development of the Automotive Transmission, by Philip G. Gott, Published by Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc. ISBN: 1-56091-099-2

 

RGDS RLT 

Hope I can find one. And I'll still look forward to you writing a history of racing car transmissions; there is so much potential there!

Incidentally, does anyone know who converted the Clark and Moss Elites to use the Hobbs 'box?



#26 Roger Clark

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 13:38

If I have understood, the Mecha-Matic was all-mechanical, apart from the hydraulics used to change gears. This meant that it had no power absorbing torque converter which made it much more suitable for racing than contemporary Aautomatics like the Borg-Warner. 
 

The gearbox investigated by Cosworth in the 70s, and presumably Hobbs’ VKD, could be run as an infinitely variable gear. Graham Robson, in his book Cosworth says: “to try to describe its technicalities would not only show up the author’s ignorance, but it would fill out the rest of the book”. 



#27 D-Type

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 14:00

If I have understood, the Mecha-Matic was all-mechanical, apart from the hydraulics used to change gears. This meant that it had no power absorbing torque converter which made it much more suitable for racing than contemporary Aautomatics like the Borg-Warner. 
 

The gearbox investigated by Cosworth in the 70s, and presumably Hobbs’ VKD, could be run as an infinitely variable gear. Graham Robson, in his book Cosworth says: “to try to describe its technicalities would not only show up the author’s ignorance, but it would fill out the rest of the book”. 

How refreshing to see such absolute honesty.  :up:



#28 Gary C

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 15:58

Tomorrow I'm meeting up with Lotus mechanics Bob Dance and Dave 'Beaky' Sims, I'll print this thread and see if Bob may remember anything.



#29 RogerFrench

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 19:53

I'll ask Mike Ostrov when the TC was fitted to the Moss Elite. He told me it was done at the factory, but not when or even if Moss still owned it. Maybe he remembers.

#30 RogerFrench

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 20:27

It seems the Moss Elite with TC engine also had a Ford gearbox, that was some years ago in the US. It was sold as such by auction in 1986.

Edited by RogerFrench, 29 December 2019 - 20:28.


#31 Gary C

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 21:02

Unfortunately, my meeting with Bob Dance today didn't happen, but I did take a print of the initial post on here (Bob doesn't have a computer) with me and left it, I was assured (by Beaky Sims) that he would see it within a week, so with any luck we'll get an answer from him pretty soon.



#32 Gary C

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 16:56

Have just spoken to Bob Dance, he certainly remembers the car being at Lotus Developments and that it spent a fair bit of time at David Hobbs' fathers' business...and that's about it. He certainly wasn't involved with it.



#33 RogerFrench

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 17:17

An update on the Moss Elite. It was fitted with a TC and Ford box in the UK, then went to the US and not long afterwards was "cremated", rebuilt (new shell?) and is now in boxes in Japan still with a TC engine.

#34 bradbury west

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 22:05

It seems the Moss Elite with TC engine also had a Ford gearbox, that was some years ago in the US. It was sold as such by auction in 1986.

Do we have any way of tracing which auction and where? When was the conflagration? With an Elite a new CBU changes its entity entirely, surely.
We saw that with claims made about the claimed ex Stoop Le Mans car last year.
Roger Lund

#35 Rupertlt1

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Posted 07 January 2020 - 16:30

More Hobbs than Lotus. Check out this set of photographs:

 

https://library.revs...s Transmissions

 

The motor sitting on a pallet covered in a cloth is a Tatra air-cooled V8? I think the carbs may be Solex?

Tatra also used Jikov carbs, so are they from the Comecon approved supplier in České Budějovice?

(Also seen on Wartburg and Škoda.)

I visited the Tatra museum in Kopřivnice, but sadly the English-speaking archivist was not there that day so I got no further with Hobbs and Tatra.

 

RGDS RLT  


Edited by Rupertlt1, 07 January 2020 - 16:44.


#36 cooper997

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 01:33

I've just stumbled upon the Hobbs Mechamatic as part of the 4 page 'Small Automatics' feature in October 1962 Small Car (later CAR). It also covers the MIRA Hydrostatic and DAF Variomatic. I will add here if of interest.

 

Stephen



#37 bradbury west

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 10:09

I would welcome seeing a copy, please.
Roger Lund

#38 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 11:22

Second the motion, Stephen...

 

Thank you.



#39 mariner

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 11:38

Here is a description of how the Mechamatic worked.

 

http://archive.comme...nsmission-works

 

Its basically an epicyclic box with hydraulic operation and friction clutches instead of a toque converter. So it eliminates the conventional automatics churning loses but has only fixed speeds.The aability to shift at full throttle due to the cushioned lock up would be big advantage in racing.



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#40 Odseybod

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 11:45

More Hobbs than Lotus. Check out this set of photographs:

 

https://library.revs...s Transmissions

 

The motor sitting on a pallet covered in a cloth is a Tatra air-cooled V8? I think the carbs may be Solex?

Tatra also used Jikov carbs, so are they from the Comecon approved supplier in České Budějovice?

(Also seen on Wartburg and Škoda.)

I visited the Tatra museum in Kopřivnice, but sadly the English-speaking archivist was not there that day so I got no further with Hobbs and Tatra.

 

RGDS RLT  

From a Tatra expert on Fizzbook:

 

170641_1796640322123_1406967_o.jpg?_nc_c
Kees Smit Tatra decided late in 1958 to try one of the Hobbs gearboxes in their T 603, considering to buy them or to agree to a license and offering an automatic transmission model. Testing was scheduled for the second quarter of 1959 but it took until 1960 before a Mecha-Matic gearbox was fitted on a 603 in the U.K. It was a lightweight four-speed epicyclic automatic gearbox with hydraulically operated friction clutches. It was apparently very smooth, propaganda telling the only way one knew if it was changing gear, was to see the rev counter move. Tests, however, proved unsatisfying and Tatra decided to discontinue the cooperation.
 
 


#41 Rupertlt1

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 12:15

 

From a Tatra expert on Fizzbook:

 

170641_1796640322123_1406967_o.jpg?_nc_c
Kees Smit Tatra decided late in 1958 to try one of the Hobbs gearboxes in their T 603, considering to buy them or to agree to a license and offering an automatic transmission model. Testing was scheduled for the second quarter of 1959 but it took until 1960 before a Mecha-Matic gearbox was fitted on a 603 in the U.K. It was a lightweight four-speed epicyclic automatic gearbox with hydraulically operated friction clutches. It was apparently very smooth, propaganda telling the only way one knew if it was changing gear, was to see the rev counter move. Tests, however, proved unsatisfying and Tatra decided to discontinue the cooperation.
 
 

 

This is a fascinating episode in the history of Hobbs. Is anything known about which vehicle was used for the tests?

(There can't have been many Tatra 603s in Blighty in 1960?)

Any feed back on the carbs?

 

RGDS RLT



#42 Odseybod

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 13:18

Sorry, no idea. When we lived in North London in the 1960s, we'd regularly see one parked outside a fairly nondescript house in New Barnet - always assumed it was attached to the Czechoslovakian Embassy in some way (maybe a chauffeur?), as I don't think they were available for sale to the general public here at the time.

 

The same Tatra Group on Facebook has a separate topic about the high-mounted fuel tank in early T603s and the possibility of a sticking float chamber valve in Jirov carbs, which can allow neat fuel to drain into a pair of cylinders if the car's left standing for some time (one carb per pair of cylinders), resulting in disastrous hydro-locking when starting the engine. A possibility rather than a certainty but probably why they relocated the fuel tank in later cars and fitted a fuel shut-off valve on the tank of early ones.

 

Sorry, nothing to do with the Hobbs transmission.



#43 elansprint72

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 21:31

Registration HSH200 is currently on a 2011 Lexus.  :well:



#44 cooper997

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 22:27

Four page October 1962 Small Car feature... larger file available via pm of email address.

 

1962-SC-Hobbs-01-TNF.jpg

 

1962-SC-Hobbs-02-TNF.jpg

 

1962-SC-Hobbs-03-TNF.jpg

 

1962-SC-Hobbs-04-TNF.jpg

 

Stephen



#45 Odseybod

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 14:39

My Tatra-loving chums have come up with these additional items. Must say I hadn't realised the Hobbs also had commercial applications/aspirations.

 

Hobbs-1.jpg

 

Hobbs-2.jpg

 



#46 Bloggsworth

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Posted 06 February 2020 - 20:15

DAF Variomatics were  hoot to drive - As fast backwards as forwards.



#47 cooper997

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 00:49

The December 2010 Vintage Racecar magazine has the first of a 2 part feature interview with David Hobbs. The family Mechamatic is discussed.

 

Stephen



#48 dolomite

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 09:23

David Hobbs talks quite a bit about the Mechamatic gearbox in this podcast interview https://www.dinnerwi...49-david-hobbs/