BLUE THUNDER!

Now endowed with a replacement gearbox worthy of its role, the fully rebuilt 18.3-litre V12 engine of the 1925 land speed record-breaking Sunbeam 350 hp will now be capable of being driven dynamically…

The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu has recently completed the restoration of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s record-breaking 350 hp Sunbeam, with the long-awaited installation of a replacement gearbox, following the complete rebuild of the original V12 engine which took place in 2014. 

This car dates from the period following the first great war, when the world of motor racing was dominated by a number of racing cars powered by huge aircraft engines. One of the most famous was the brainchild of Sunbeam’s chief engineer and racing team manager Louis Coatalen, constructed at the company’s Moorfield works in Wolverhampton during 1919 and early 1920. It was powered by a modified 18.3-litre V12 engine, a hybrid derivative of the Sunbeam Manitou and Arab aero engines that were used on naval seaplanes. 

Little more than the powerful drivetrain mounted within a simple channel section frame chassis, the Sunbeam race car had a four-speed gearbox with a drive shaft to the back axle with differential, rather than the hazardous chains used by other cars of the time.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

WILLIAMS BROTHERS RACING (WBR)

Part of the OCS Group, Williams Brothers Racing (WBR) provides a one-stop service for the restoration and performance engineering of classic American cars, with a particular emphasis on drag racing…

We first encountered Williams Brothers Racing (WBR) at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show at the NEC Birmingham in November last year, where they staged a very impressive display of their engineering prowess.  The company is part of the OCS Group, primarily a bodywork and paint specialist which has developed a reputation for the top class modifying, customising and restoration of classic American cars. Inevitably there is a strong interest in drag racing, a field of motorsport in which the brothers Nic and Dan are heavily involved themselves, with a particular affinity for building high-performance V8 engines.  On show at the NEC were four engines, a WBR in-house built and specified small block 383, a Chevy 427 big block restoration project, Ford 331 Dart block for street/strip and a small block 434 (minus Procharger) destined for the Street Eliminator class.

LONDON CLASSIC

CAR SHOW

A new home this year for the London Classic Car Show, and certainly no shortage of interesting engines on display…

The Olympia exhibition centre in Hammersmith was the new home for this year’s London Classic Car Show (February 20-23), previously held at the ExCel. Arguably the perfect venue for any major international indoor static event in the capital city, it was the home of the British International Motor Show for a great many years until it moved to Earl’s Court and then Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre. With its vast open spaces, light and airy atmosphere and high quality facilities, it certainly lends itself well to a classic car show that favours the upper end of the market. Several special themes were evident this year, including a special tribute to Bruce McLaren that marked 50 years since his passing, the 50th anniversary of the Range Rover, 50 years of the TR Register, and a special display celebrating 40 years of Audi’s iconic Ur quattro.  A special feature this year was The Car Stories stage, which celebrated some of the world’s most iconic and interesting cars, featuring interviews with personalities from the industry, including designers, racing drivers and owners of cars including the 1987 Rothmans Porsche 962C, Aston Martin DB5, Adrian Newey’s Lotus 49, and Sir Stirling Moss’s Maserati 250F.

Building upon a long motorsport heritage, Ark Racing now provides an extensive range of engineering services, from design through to manufacture of a great many high quality components for high-performance and motorsport applications…

ARK RACING

Some companies like to put on a big show, with flashy frontages and prominent signage combined with a plush reception area and a foyer full of prized examples of their work. Others prefer a more discreet approach, with little outward sign of the business, almost in the same way that a Q-car looks very nondescript from the outside but harbours a highly modified drivetrain and provides phenomenal performance. Ark Racing falls very much at the extreme end of the latter; in fact, it took several trips up and down the quiet cul de sac in an industrial area of Willenhall before we eventually noticed a discreet plaque high up on a wall that said simply ‘Ark Racing Building’, although the off-road Land Rover parked in a gateway might have provided a clue. Nevertheless, by the end of the visit we were left in no doubt as to the considerable capabilities of this specialist engineering firm and the highly experienced skill set of its staff.  It’s a business that has a long history, dating right back to 1968.

AUTOMECHANIKA FRANKFURT 2020

Staged every two years, Automechanika Frankfurt – the leading international trade fair for the automotive aftermarket – will open its doors for the period from September 8 to 12, 2020…

A truly international event with worldwide appeal, the previous event – attended by The Engine Rebuilder magazine in 2018 – saw over 130,000 visitors from 194 countries, many of them first-time visitors, and nearly 5,000 exhibitors from 76 countries covering almost every aspect of the automotive aftermarket. Now with its 26th edition this year, it will almost certainly improve upon those figures. With the exhibits segregated into 10 major product groups, including such themes as Body and Paint, Tyres and Wheels, Diagnostics and Repair and many more, of particular interest to readers of The Engine Rebuilder is that Automechanika Frankfurt and RETRO Messen have decided to continue their partnership this year. At the most recent event in 2018, the trade fair added classic and collectible cars to its programme, and it will be expanding these areas even further this year. After all, the classic car business is also lucrative for the aftermarket – and for workshops in particular.

VERTICALLY CHALLENGED…

The Editor investigates an interesting air-cooled aero engine, and comes away with just as many questions as answers…

An impromptu visit to the Army Flying Museum at Middle Wallop, while passing on a return visit to Salisbury, revealed an interesting array of exhibits – from armoured cars and helicopters to Horsa gliders and man-lifting kites – along with the usual wonderment at the challenging logistics of physically installing them all into such fairly limited spaces. Exploring further and turning a corner at the far end of the building revealed a display that would inevitably attract the instant attention of this long-time enthusiast of air-cooled Volkswagen and Porsche engines. Displayed vertically in a metal framework in front of a dramatic yellow and black striped backdrop, bearing the heading ‘Sikorsky Hoverfly’ along with a cartoon-style image of an angry-looking bug-eyed fly, was an impressive looking air-cooled horizontally-opposed 6-cylinder engine. With no other explanatory information on display, further investigation was clearly necessary but close inspection of the engine revealed very little in the way of identification marks other than the word ‘FRANKLIN’ and the accompanying numbers 13246B and 12436 cast in relief on the crankcase.

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POLLUTION SOLUTION?

The Editor asks whether, in the rush towards electrification, a more effective solution to pollution has been largely overlooked?

So, our new Prime Minister has pledged to ban the sales of all brand-new petrol and diesel-engined cars from 2035, rather than the original target of 2040, while some of his independent climate advisers are still pushing for an even earlier ban by 2030 – just 10 years away!  The change comes after experts claimed that 2040 would be too late if the UK wants to achieve its target of emitting virtually zero carbon by 2050. Surprisingly, the ban will also include hybrid cars and plug-in hybrids that hadn’t been included in the original proposals, which means that only brand-new electric or hydrogen-powered (fuel cell) cars and vans will be sold. The ban only applies to the sale of brand-new vehicles. What is not fully clear is the situation regarding existing petrol and diesel-engined cars. There is currently no suggestion of a UK-wide scrappage scheme, even if it is remotely feasible, although London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced a £25m scrappage scheme to help take older polluting cars and motorbikes off the capital’s streets.

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