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Reg Parnell's Challenger


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#1 Doug Nye

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Posted 14 April 2022 - 08:12

A couple of days ago I stumbled across one of the late Geoff Goddard's print files - marked 'Challenger'.  Here's what it contained.

 

All Photos: The GP Library

 

Presumably 1938-39 in Reg Parnell's Derbyshire workshop - his 'Challenge' (as then entitled) putative GP car under construction.  Note coil-spring front suspension...

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-2.jpg

 

As compared to this postwar front suspension shot - of which more shortly... - taken at the 1947 British Empire Trophy meeting at Douglas, Isle of Man.  That front suspension tower was plainly something of "a blacksmith job". 

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-3.jpg

 

This print (below) is inscribed on the back "R. Parnell's 'Challenge' - new body, November 1940".

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-4.jpg

 

The following print is similarly captioned on the reverse: "Reg Parnell Derby visit Challenge January 16, 1945".

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-5.jpg

 

Cockpit - uncaptioned but probably from the 1947 Douglas, IoM, set.

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-6.jpg

 

This next one bears on the reverse "Challenger 1947" - and it shows the car at the British Empire Trophy meeting, Douglas IoM, when it was driven by the Parnell/Ashmore equipe's oppo David Hampshire...and used the straight-8 Delage engine in place of the ERA unit with which it had made its isolated debut at Prescott hill-climb, 1939.

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-7.jpg

 

B.Bira with David Hampshire and 'Challenger' in the Douglas, IoM, pits before the 1947 British Empire Trophy race there.

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-10.jpg

 

This next one is captioned "1947 Empire Trophy - Front of Challenger showing IFS by Lockheed Strut hydro-pneumatic (300lbs per sq in) with wish bones (sic)"

This reflects how Parnell had acquired a set of the aviation undercarriage-derived Lockheed struts under development for the BRM GP car project - the very items which caused such ructions within the BRM Trust when Raymond Mays had his personal sprint special built with ERA engine...and using similar strut suspension. Avuncular Reg - with great connections within Rolls-Royce at Derby - certainly benefited from them.

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-8.jpg

 

Below: "Challenger Isle of Man"

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-9.jpg

 

Next: "1947 Br Empire Trophy IFS of Challenger by Lockheet Strut (pneuma-hydraulic)"

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-11.jpg

 

"1947 Empire Trophy Rear suspension of Challenger (De Dion)"

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-12.jpg

 

"Challenger IFS"

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-12-B.jpg

 

Uncaptioned but this is the 1926-27-originated straight-8 Delage engine installed in the Challenge/Challenger chassis postwar.

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-14.jpg

 

DCN


Edited by Doug Nye, 14 April 2022 - 15:10.


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#2 Dipster

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Posted 14 April 2022 - 09:54

Thanks for posting these pics. What a solid-looking car! My ignorance is shameful, but was it successful? Who drove it?



#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 April 2022 - 11:33

A superb set of photos, Doug...

 

More for me to send on to our good friend. I'm sure he'd have something to say about the oleo-pneumatic struts.

 

Interesting that they've got a pivoting mount between the arms of the lower wishbone for the suspending medium.



#4 Vitesse2

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Posted 14 April 2022 - 13:25

Thanks for posting these pics. What a solid-looking car! My ignorance is shameful, but was it successful? Who drove it?

It was conceived as a car for the 1.5 litre Formule Internationale which was expected to be introduced in 1941 - with the added advantage that (if ready earlier) it could also be run under the 1938 rules, as it would have complied with those as well under the sliding weight scale. Originally intended to be powered by an MG-based engine which (AFAIK) was never even commenced, let alone built - although there were drawings of it published in Light Car in 1940. As Doug says, it only appeared once in 1939 - at Prescott - when it was fitted with an ERA engine and disgraced itself by dumping all its oil in the paddock. Reg did run it up the hill, but it was slowest in class. Post-WW2 Reg did fit it with a spare Delage engine he had hanging around, but he soon sold it, having presumably decided that an off the shelf Maserati 4CL was a better bet than wasting more time and money on it. It was later converted into a Lagonda-engined sports car by Paul Emery, but it's now been restored as a single-seater.

 



#5 cpbell

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Posted 14 April 2022 - 14:15

I wasn't aware of this car - fascinating, and very pretty.



#6 uechtel

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Posted 14 April 2022 - 14:40

AFAIK, with the Delage engine, it appeared at least twice at circuit events, 13th July 1947 Gransden (FL) and 21st August 1947 Douglas (Empire Trophy, "F1"), both times driven by David Hamphsire and both times retired. I donĀ“t have records about hillclimb or sprint events...



#7 SteveJones

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Posted 14 April 2022 - 18:45

Challenger is owned by Duncan Ricketts and restored by him. Competed with the VSCC in both races and hill climbs in recent years. In 2021 was at VSCC Oulton and Mallory

 

SJ



#8 Odseybod

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Posted 14 April 2022 - 21:22

A couple of pics of Challenger making its post-restoration debut at Prescott in 2018.

 

Challenger-1.jpg

 

Challenger-2.jpg



#9 cooper997

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Posted 15 April 2022 - 00:46

Here's part of The Motor's report of IoM, Reg Parnell is mentioned in the bottom half of column 2. There's also brief Challenger suspension info.

 

1947-The-Motor-Io-M-part-report-TNF.jpg

 

 

Stephen



#10 Porsche718

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Posted 15 April 2022 - 03:02

DCN - love the photos.

 

As a suspension person, I am fairly horrified by both the original design, and the 1947 version. I'm trying not to look at it through "modern" eyes, but I still see some glaring issues - mainly around upper and lower control arm roll centres.

 

I am guessing Parnell would have had trouble with the initial design getting a balance between front ride height and spring "crush", the point where the front spring would crush solid, with ensuing chronic understeer.

 

Even with the very "agricultural mods" for 1947 they still have the front ride height very high, although they at least have a reasonable amount of bump and droop travel for the spring/shock unit.

 

BTW - is this the car that ended up with a Duesenberg engine? Or am I thinking of something else?


Edited by Porsche718, 15 April 2022 - 03:03.


#11 fuzzi

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Posted 15 April 2022 - 05:04

I think the car that was fitted with the Duesenberg (Cummins) engine was the Emeryson of Bobbie Baird. 



#12 Porsche718

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Posted 15 April 2022 - 06:08

Of course, thanks "fuzzi".

 

As I was asking the question I kept thinking of Baird, but then said to myself "no he had the Griffin-Maserati" ... not him. 

 

I talk to myself a lot hoping to get right answers ... not so much it seems.

 

Thank again.



#13 Charlieman

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Posted 15 April 2022 - 11:08

As compared to this postwar front suspension shot - of which more shortly... - taken at the 1947 British Empire Trophy meeting at Douglas, Isle of Man.  That front suspension tower was plainly something of "a blacksmith job". 

 

GPL-TNF-PARNELL-CHALLENGER-3.jpg

 

 

It is somewhat brutal, but owing to circumstances of the time it seems a sensible and potentially effective change. The construction technique is very similar to production Formula Junior Volpinis from a few years later.



#14 Steve L

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Posted 15 April 2022 - 15:37

Very interesting pictures, thanks for posting these. I wish there was more of this era posted on TNF.

It is also interesting and a good example of how bodylines seemed to regress from the dropped transmission lines and low seating of the pre war Mercedes types, to the sit-on styles of the immediate post war years.

#15 Doug Nye

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Posted 15 April 2022 - 17:11

It is somewhat brutal, but owing to circumstances of the time it seems a sensible and potentially effective change. The construction technique is very similar to production Formula Junior Volpinis from a few years later.

 

Yes - bunch of grapes welding is a common sight on unmessed-about original Ferraris and Maseratis of the 1940s-early '60s period, never mind the etceterini constructors, Taraschi, Stanguellini, Volpini and so on.  It was unsightly but generally effective.  

 

To 'further west' constructors neat and consistent welded seams were a greater source of craftsman pride. BRM and Vanwall's best used to talk of 'sewing' rather than Italian 'darning'.  It showed. 

 

DCN



#16 BRG

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Posted 15 April 2022 - 17:51

Yes - bunch of grapes welding is a common sight on unmessed-about original Ferraris and Maseratis of the 1940s-early '60s period, never mind the etceterini constructors, Taraschi, Stanguellini, Volpini and so on.  It was unsightly but generally effective.  

 

To 'further west' constructors neat and consistent welded seams were a greater source of craftsman pride. BRM and Vanwall's best used to talk of 'sewing' rather than Italian 'darning'.  It showed. 

 

DCN

Some things haven't changed.  There were pictures of chicken sh!t welds on the quite recent Ferrari 458 road car.  Ron Dennis would never have allowed such a thing on his road (or race)  cars, and I doubt if that has changed since his departure.



#17 Doug Nye

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Posted 15 April 2022 - 18:37

When McLaren Cars was launched as a production company and Gordon Murray told the press they were going to make a standard-setting supercar one keen journo asked "Oh - so you're going to make a British Ferrari then?".  To which Gordon famously replied "Oh no - I don't think we've got anyone who can weld that badly...".

 

One - nil.    :smoking:

 

DCN



#18 Odseybod

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Posted 15 April 2022 - 21:17

For completeness. here are Challenger's frontal arrangements as currently presented.

 

Challenger-3.jpg