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Pit Box

MCN Grand Prix Special Mercedes Railcar Joe Shelton's Borden Mite JT Wright Cars
Home built mystery Shelton Oliver Bottoms Up M&E Special 1066 Conquest
Walshaw/Baigent BRM Ian Moore #7 Replica Models Bugatti CE Smith's American cars


MCN Grand Prix Special
This car was introduced to readers of Model Car News in Nov 1949, designed by G. W. Arthur Brand and largely built by Paul Zere of ZN motors and utilising his commercial components. The car is not a model of a particular prototype but more of a guide to allow individual builders to work within a basic design. It was intended as an antidote to the influx of American 'proto' cars so that the builder could produce a fast model that still 'looked like a car'. Construction was serialised from the following month and concluded in Model Engineer after the demise of MCN. The most obvious departure is the scale like independent front suspension with lower wishbones and upper rocker arms with inboard springs, thoroughly modern in a way and again a reply to the American rubber bush single axle.  Thanks to Ron Reiter for this super example and photos, even if it has a Hornet instead of a Rowell?  Dec 2015


More superb sheet metalwork
Railcars are not a normal staple of the Pitboxes but this superbly built Mercedes had us intrigued, as another almost identical car is known to exist. Was it commercial or the work of a very gifted enthusiast? The multitude of louvres are so precise, especially in such a small scale. Similar cars can be spied in contemporary magazine reports, which suggests that it may have been a production model. More research required.
Thanks to John Lorenz again for another super find and photos. Nov 2015


Joe Shelton's Borden Mite

This Borden Mite was another of the cars run by Joe Shelton during his time in the UK. He claimed later in his life that it was his favourite car and the one he retained the longest. He started his involvement over here running his own 10cc car but then moved into the other classes with borrowed cars, so this may not have been his originally or it may be a replacement for the one he was running here. The car is an original with magnesium pan and body and unusually, a serial number, which is 3. The motor is a Dooling 29 built by Joe Ilg.

Through the efforts of John Lorenz and Ron Reiter we are gathering more information about Joe who played such a significant role in tethered car racing in the UK.      Thanks to John for photos and details of the car Oct 2015


'Wright Cars'
These two cars  are both British and built by J T Wright of Leicester. The streamliner is dated 1950 and is fitted with a MKI ED Racer, which would be spot on as that was the year they were introduced. The cobby little racing car has the earlier ED MKIII motor mated to an ED clutch, which is again just about right for the date on the plate of 1949. The bevel gearbox appears to have come from E&M models. The tyres are clearly marked 'Selfcraft' 'Cressite' whilst the blue car has what look like ED 'Speedicord'. The clutch and gearbox in this car do look as if they were purpose built by Mr Wright. It is believed that one car was run by Mr Wright and the other by his son. Whether they were members of the Leicester Mini Car Club requires more research. It is not often that a car is found complete with its pitbox, which makes it even more appropriate as a 'Pitbox' feature.

Thanks to John Lorenz for the superb set of photos and all the details of the two cars    Sept 2015


Lovely piece of panel beating

This car is a fascinating mix of parts. The motor is a DC Wildcat mated to a M&E clutch, driving through a purpose built and well machined gearbox to accommodate the offset driveline. Axle and engine mounts are bent steel plate all bolted to the pan with bearings for the axles. The fuel tank has seen service in a more

conventional car at some stage as it has an air scoop similar to the MCM Austin and many other cars of the late 1940s. It is however the pan and body that is the work of art and indicative of someone that really knew what they were doing with panel beating equipment. The 1066 tyres and wheels finish the job off and it would be wonderful to be able to identify the maker at some stage.

Thanks to Tim Dick for this item and the photos August 2015


An Oliver with history

This Oliver 'Bottoms Up' was owned by Joe Shelton, an American serviceman who raced in England and Germany whilst posted here in the late 40s and early 50s. What is unusual about this car is the very rare Oliver Tiger MKI rotary valve motor in wide wheelbase configuration. From the cutout in the pan, a MKII was fitted at some stage, but it gets even more odd as a curly carb has been fitted, which must be unique. The disc front wheels are Keil Kraft aeroplane items. Joe Shelton raced in every class, so whether this car did duty as a 1.5 and a 2.5 is open to conjecture, but a wonderful piece of tethered car history.

Thanks to Ron Reiter for this item and photos. June 2015


M&E Special

This is the twelfth of the Special bodied M&E Models to come to our attention. This has been in the owners family for a very long while during which they have run the motor. The threads on the axles are handed, but if the car is not on the ground, one wheel can unwind when the motor is running, whilst the other will unwind when it stops, as the owner discovered when it flew past him at a rate of knots. The tyres on this particular car are Cressite, which were fitted as standard alongside the more familiar Dunlop Fort.

Thanks to Alan Jones for this item and photos.  June 2015


New and unused Conquest.

Nothing unusual about this classic combination of a 1066 Conqueror 10cc motor and 1066 Conquest car, except that the car has yet to turn a wheel in anger after 65 years. The current owner was present at Praill's Garage Hereford in 1949 when Geoffrey Hastings and Mr Wheatstone demonstrated tethered car racing to 900 members of local youth clubs, including the ill fated 'two at a time' system. This car shows all the signs of being a factory version judging by the intake slots and cockpit cut-out.

Thanks to Roger Webb for this item and photos. May 2015


Walshaw/Baigent BRM
This delightful little car kit  was marketed from the beginning of 1951 by Bert Walshaw from Dorset. It is relatively small, and the tether points made from picture rings are hardly substantial. It is however the motor that is of more interest, being an ERE manufactured by Henri Baigent. These alone are rare, but this example is even more so, being a purpose made twinshaft with the mounting lugs cast in, rather than a converted aero engine with conventional lugs. A complete car was £12, but kits were available slightly cheaper, and a Ferrari version was also available. There may be other examples of this motor out there, but for the moment, this car that was lurking under the bench at Gildings sale is the only one known to exist.  
                                                                                            Thanks to John Lorenz for this item and photos.  April 2015


Ian Moore #7
The 5cc spur drive drive car designed by Ian Moore and raced primarily by his wife Ivy was probably the most successful 5cc British car ever. The original version that was scrapped had an ETA 29, whilst the record breaking car had a Dooling fitted. These two versions, identical to the original in almost every respect, were almost certainly built by someone in the Guisely or Ossett clubs up in Yorkshire. Coincidently one has a Dooling motor and the other an ETA. The one on the right still had the original glow lead and plug and fuel syphon. The plans were published in 1951, so the cars may well date from around then.
Thanks to Ron Reiter for photos and details of LH car. RH car OTW photo   March 2015


'Replica' Bugatti
Guy Rickard's company in Sloane Street, London supplied a kit of parts and other items from early 1947 to build a scalish version of this famous car . The one shown here was built by Fred Smith using the Replica parts, but with a simplified body compared with the one Guy had built for his wife, Vera. The offset rear axle is to accommodate a 6cc Stentor motor laid on its side. A photo of this car on its first test run and alongside Vera's original was published in Model Car in July/August 1947. This car was also passed to Des Cooke to whom we are grateful for the photos and details of these two cars.                  Photos again by Des Cooke. Feb 2015


In 1948 work took C.E Smith, the secretary of the Surrey Club, to the US. Whilst he was there he either built or obtained two American style tethered cars, one with a Dooling motor, and the other, pictured here, with a Hornet. On his return to competition in this country, he ran the Dooling car, giving his son Fred the Hornet engined one to race. This car is typical of those being raced by the more competitive element at that time with direct drive American 10cc motors in cast pans and no suspension. Fred retained the car for many years after the closure of the Surrey Club, eventually passing it, along with the subject of next month's 'Pitbox', to long time friend Des Cooke.                                                              Thanks to Des for all the photos and information.   Jan 2015