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Query; three British specials


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#1 alessandro silva

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Posted 13 September 2003 - 13:10

I would like to know something about the following cars:

Raberlo Spl. (2L 6-cyl. AC engine) owner Nigel Orlebar, post WWII
4WD (1100cc JAP engine) owner Vic Patterson, pre/post WWII
Semmence (2L engine ??) Leslie Hawthorn, pre/post WWII

I suppose asking for a photo is too much?

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#2 Egon Thurner

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Posted 13 September 2003 - 15:35

Semmence:

- constructed on the basis of a Frazer-Nash chassis, very well finished by H. Whitfield Semmence.
- A.C. engine; 6 Cyl; 2Litre
- single seater body
- looks a bit like an ERA, somewhat rounded

The marriage of A.C. engines and Frazer-Nash or GN Chassis has been the basis of a lot of british specials between the wars.

And yes, there is a picture of L. Hawthorn, at a Hants and Berks C.C Sprint meeting. I've to scan it first, that will last a time, cause my scanner is damaged.

#3 Egon Thurner

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Posted 13 September 2003 - 15:39

Raberlo:

The name is an anagram of Orlebar. ;)

- constructed on the basis of a Frazer-Nash chassis, too.
- A.C. engine; 2Litre
- single seater body, very narrow
- 'razor blade' like

sorry, no pic :(

#4 Egon Thurner

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Posted 13 September 2003 - 15:44

Cant't find anything about a Patterson Special, so probably it was named somehow else. Who was involved in it's construction and assembling? I remember, I've read something about it, but it is hard to find without more information ...

#5 fbarrett

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 01:22

Alessandro:

Here's current a photo of the Orlebar Schneider Special, owned by my friend Roger Morrison in Kansas, at the Rocky Mountain Concours d'Elegance in September 2008. When I first saw this unusual (perhaps unique) car, it totally stumped me. Roger is sending more details, and when they arrive, I'll post them.

Posted Image

Frank

#6 David Birchall

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 02:32

This was either the Semmence Special or a very similar car at Prescott about a month ago:

Posted Image
[URL=http://g.imageshack.us/img399/p1000481nk3.j

#7 Geoff E

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 07:58

Semmence Special

http://farm2.static....97818db.jpg?v=0
http://www.britishmm...ory.asp?id=1079

#8 Allan Lupton

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 10:18

It's Rabelro (Orlebar backwards) not Raberlo, and This is a website with as much detail as you could possibly need!

#9 David McKinney

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 10:31

So where does the Orlebar Schneider Special fit int?

#10 Allan Lupton

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 14:35

Originally posted by David McKinney
So where does the Orlebar Schneider Special fit int?

No idea, but in that photo it looks like a skimpy-bodied BMW-based special - I'd guess a supercharged 327 motor.
I doubt it was as shiny when Orlebar built it!

It might well be a different Orlebar: in 1931 Sqn. Ldr A.H. Orlebar was the Officer Commanding, the RAF High Speed Flight that won the Schneider Trophy outright that year and to call a car the Orlebar Schneider Special must imply some direct connection with that event.

Rabelro's owner was Nigel Orlebar, a relation of A.H. I'm sure I was told, but not the same man.

#11 alessandro silva

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 20:32

Thanks Frank, but I meant Allan's Rabelro. The link to the exhaustive page pointed out by him was not available when I first posted my query.

As for the Special entered by some Patterson at Gransedn 1946, it was probably an all-wheel drive Skirrow-JAP sprint car.
Could somebody elaborate on this?

#12 David McKinney

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 20:48

Originally posted by alessandro silva
As for the Special entered by some Patterson at Gransedn 1946, it was probably an all-wheel drive Skirrow-JAP sprint car.
Could somebody elaborate on this?

I can't see any mention of a person of that name in the MotorSport report of the meeting

#13 alessandro silva

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 20:58

David, from the official programme, number 35 V. Patterson JAP Special 880cc. Class 2b.

#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 21:05

Originally posted by Egon Thurner
.....there is a picture of L. Hawthorn, at a Hants and Berks C.C Sprint meeting. I've to scan it first, that will last a time, cause my scanner is damaged.


Use your digital camera... outside in good light, but not in the sun, no flash, get the pic square as you can in the viewfinder and snap it... in some ways better than scanning.

#15 Allan Lupton

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 09:17

I wonder if the "4WD (1100cc JAP engine) owner Vic Patterson, pre/post WWII" might be Dorcas, but I can find no reference to her after John Bolster's "Specials" when she was still owned by the Clegg bothers who built her.

The Bolster text is here

#16 alessandro silva

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 13:48

No, I do not think it was the Dorcas. I found somewhere a link between Patterson and a Skirrow sprint car, but I cannot find where, now.
Not in Bolster's book, anyway.

#17 David McKinney

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 16:52

I had a look through all my 1946 copies of Motor Sport with out finding any reference to either Patterson or an 880cc JAP-powered car

#18 David McKinney

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 19:09

Originally posted by alessandro silva
David, from the official programme, number 35 V. Patterson JAP Special 880cc. Class 2b.

In a friend's programme the car is struck out, suggesting it was a non-starter
Which still doesn't help us with an ID

#19 David McKinney

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 19:26

If two post is a row is frowned on, what do I get for three?

Historian David Venables, a friend of the Orlebar family since back then, reports that the red Orlebar Schneider is the second Ford 10 based car built by Nigel Orlebar in 1948/49.

The Ford 10 project followed the earlier AC-powered Rabelro, as Orlebar had decided he wanted to be “the Allard of the Ford 10”. He raced one car at Goodwood in 1948 and elsewhere, but it was later broken up. Bits of it were still in the barn at his house at the time of his death in 2004. The second Ford 10 car was sold when the project folded for want of finance. The Schneider bit of the name seems to have been added in recent years.

In response to Allan Lupton's post, David also points out that Sq Ldr A H Orlebar was Nigel's cousin. Another cousin is Christopher Orlebar who was a Concorde pilot and has written the definitive history of the aircraft. Nigel's brother Rupert raced at the Crystal Palace in 1939 was in the RAF in WW2, trained in Florida with Lofty England, flew Spitfires in North Africa and Italy and took over command of 145 Squadron from Neville Duke.

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#20 RogerFrench

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 05:52

I think Christopher Orlebar was Nigel's nephew, maybe? At any rate, he gave a very interesting talk to the VSCC about Concorde back in '78 ot '79, and was also the captain of a BA 757 from Aberdeen to London some years ago, when I had a very intesting chat with him in the cockpit. My father had known Nigel reasonably well, and during the mid-70s some time one of the Ford 10 Rabelros was mouldering in a garden on the Wirral, and I briefly considered buying it, asking my father what he knew about it and did Nigel know anything. It was curiosity about its fate made me ask Christopher years later. He didn't know.
I do have an autographed copy of Christopher's Concorde history which is rather nice.

#21 Dutchy

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 13:13

The car pictured in post no 6 is a recently constructed car very much on the same lines as the Semmence and Rabelro. The car was I believe built by Weston Mitchell and was inspired by arguably the most famous GN/AC cocktail, the CoGNAC Special.
Before the CoGNAC began its vintage racing career in the hands of Ron Footitt, it was a road car and my Father owned it in the mid 1950s. In those days it wore an Amilcar body with the tail modified for mounting the spare wheel a la Alfa 1750. It also featured the Hampton radiator (which it lost for a brief time in the 1970s when it was made into a single seater).

#22 fines

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 13:23

Sorry to butt in here, but a "CoGNAC Special" driven by a "Ron Footitt" - priceless! :kiss:

#23 david venables

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 14:50

At David McKinney’s suggestion I have joined the Forum. A correction to David’s posting about Nigel Orlebar (my mistake not his). Nigel died in September 2003, he was 87. He was a bit vague about the number of Orlebar-Fords he made, it seems there could have been four, but third and fourth may not have been finished. I have known the Orlebar family since I was a school boy and I can definitely confirm that Christopher Orlebar is Nigel’s cousin, not his nephew.

Nigel built the Orlebar-Fords in out-buildings behind his mother’s house at Hurstpierpoint, near Brighton. As the result of a pre-war road accident, he was unfit for military service in World War 2, so worked in Vickers factory at Brooklands as an AID inspector. He was a graduate of the Chelsea College of Aero & Auto Engineering in the ‘30s then worked unpaid for Granville Grenfell, the silencer and blower expert at Brooklands. I believe the idea of the Ford specials began during WW2. At a panel beaters’ in Weybridge, he found a body intended for an MG for Le Mans in 1940. This was the body fitted to the first Ford special and was the pattern for the others. After racing it at the first Goodwood meeting in 1948, he fitted a blower and ran it in some sprints and hill climbs. For various reasons, he lost interest in cars after the Orlebar-Ford project was abandoned and took up boats. He came back to cars again in the mid-60s.

#24 David McKinney

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 17:50

Originally posted by fines
Sorry to butt in here, but a "CoGNAC Special" driven by a "Ron Footitt" - priceless! :kiss:

The best thing about 'Cognac' was how it got its name :cool:

And a warm welcome to DV :wave:

#25 fines

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 18:48

Originally posted by David McKinney
And a warm welcome to DV :wave:

Seconded, absolutely! :clap:

#26 david venables

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 18:56

Thank you for the greetings! I thought the Cognac was CO for Cohen the originator GN and AC, but do you know a better one David? A nice sentimental touch, when Ron Footitt died he wanted his ashes spread on a racing circuit. Freddie Giles who had bought the car, raced at a VSCC Oulton meeting with the ashes under the seat and spread them in the slipstream on the slowing down lap. A fine end which Ron would have applauded.

#27 David McKinney

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 19:53

No, I thought that origin was good enough (ie, it had nothing to do with fine brandy. At least not directly)

I've seen a photo of Freddie G spreading the ashes at Oulton - in fact it might even have been taken by another TNFer

#28 Dutchy

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 07:18

CoGNAC did indeed stand for Co(hen) GN and AC

#29 fbarrett

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 03:33

Friends:

Well, I do like cognac...

Here's more from the owner of the 1939 Orlebar Schneider Special:

Posted Image

"Following RAF officer Nigel Orlebar's prototype, which broke the class record at the Brighton Speed Trials, this car was conceived and christened "Mach I." Based on a 1939 English Ford chassi, it was designed to compete in the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was not completed in time and was sold after World War II to Leslie 'Tom' Allard (Sidney's brother), who 'completed the mechanical specifications.'

"Accoridng to Orlebar's hand-written 1963 letter, 'It was the first Mach I production Orlebar, but the coachbuilder went broke, and we could get no more bodies.' Unfortunately, the name of the coachbuilder has been lost. A letter from Allard states, 'The origin of the body is obscure, except that as it closely follows aircraft practice, it can be assumed that the maker was associated with Orlebar in the Air Force.' Allard also recalled, 'The engine had an aluminum head and two carburetors and went very well indeed...!'

"Allard sold the car to Richard W. Evans, who actively campaigned it in the popular British relay races with the 1952 1172 Formula Team, the 1953 Lloyd's Motor Club, and the 1954 Ecurie Tudor. It placed first in the National Six Hours Relay race at Silverstone in August 1954.

"The first engine, a supercharged Ford unit [note the bulge on the left side of the hood in the concours photo in my earlier post] was supplanted by its currrent engine, a 100E Elva-Ford from the Cox Autosport championship (1961) Lotus XI.

"A previous owner's written admonition says, 'I keep it to 5,800 rpm. Don't over-rev it in first. The power comes up fast, so it's over the limit before you can lift off, and the penalty is broken rocker arms! Keep it to 5,800, and you'll still leave anything.' Weighing only 1,340 lb, with 50/50 weight distribution, it is nimble and delightful on the road.

"The name is a combination of the last name of the builder, Nigel Orlebar, and his cousin, A.H. Orlebar, AFC. He was a squadron leader in 1931, when the Schneider Trophy was won by England, setting a new speed record for a seaplane at 340.08 mph."

The present owner, Roger Morrison, commented that he had the side view above shot without the wheel discs, as that's how it ran in period. If anyone has comments on or additions to the above, feel free to make them...

Frank

#30 Alan Cox

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 20:31

Welcome to TNF, Mr Venables, from a former colleague at the Bulletin. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am sure we will enjoy, and be educated by, your observations.

#31 david venables

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 00:50

Thank you Alan, I think my earlier comments about the Orlebar shold be read in conjunction with the observations of the present owner. It certainly was not conceived in 1939. it was a pure post-war creation and as I stated, Nigel was not in the RAF.

#32 275 GTB-4

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 10:06

Originally posted by david venables
At David McKinney’s suggestion I have joined the Forum. A correction to David’s posting about Nigel Orlebar (my mistake not his). Nigel died in September 2003, he was 87. He was a bit vague about the number of Orlebar-Fords he made, it seems there could have been four, but third and fourth may not have been finished. I have known the Orlebar family since I was a school boy and I can definitely confirm that Christopher Orlebar is Nigel’s cousin, not his nephew.

Nigel built the Orlebar-Fords in out-buildings behind his mother’s house at Hurstpierpoint, near Brighton. As the result of a pre-war road accident, he was unfit for military service in World War 2, so worked in Vickers factory at Brooklands as an AID inspector. He was a graduate of the Chelsea College of Aero & Auto Engineering in the ‘30s then worked unpaid for Granville Grenfell, the silencer and blower expert at Brooklands. I believe the idea of the Ford specials began during WW2. At a panel beaters’ in Weybridge, he found a body intended for an MG for Le Mans in 1940. This was the body fitted to the first Ford special and was the pattern for the others. After racing it at the first Goodwood meeting in 1948, he fitted a blower and ran it in some sprints and hill climbs. For various reasons, he lost interest in cars after the Orlebar-Ford project was abandoned and took up boats. He came back to cars again in the mid-60s.


Welcome David...looking forward to more anecdotes :up:

(PS A certain aussie Mini racer said he could not remember the surprise party at Goodwood :) )

#33 fbarrett

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 19:06

Friends:

Just happened to be reading Sir Peter Masefield's history of the R101 rigid airship, To Ride The Storm, and came across two mentions of the Orlebar name in connection with the Schneider Trophy. In 1929, Britain's Schneider team was headed by Squadron Leader A.H. Orlebar, AFC, psa. In September 1929 he is said to have set a speed record of 357.7 mph in the Supermarine-Rolls-Royce S.6 (N.247), which had won the race. So that explains the Schneider moniker. Perhaps an aviation historian can add more...

Additional information and photographs of the Orlebar Schneider (at a Gooding auction) can be found at http://www.conceptca...ecial.aspx.aspx.

Frank

Edited by fbarrett, 12 January 2011 - 19:39.