A recent visit to the Le Mans Motor Racing Museum has paid great dividends.
The existence of the TA 14 racing car, chassis 20528, has been known and documented in the past but now there is more!
In the circular Exhibition Room, display cabinets contain models of the post-war racing cars. Bated breath approaching the 1st Cabinet for 1949. There she is, a model of number 32, ‘The Tank’ in her yellow Belgian National racing colours and sporting the number 32.
The colours allocated to National Teams originated with the 1st Gordon Bennet race in 1900. Britain did not race with a team until 1902 and by then the colours red, white and blue had already been allocated so Olive green (Shamrock Green) was chosen as the race was held in Ireland and that developed over a short space of time to become British Racing Green.
For Le Mans the entry was from Belgium and so yellow was used despite the Alvis originating from Great Britain.
Not only do we now have photos of the model but there were also 2 more photographs that actually show her racing.
The first photo shows the start of the race and demonstrates a good start with other competitors still on the grid or behind.
The icing on the cake is the photo below showing her overtaking 2 cars on a bend. On of the cars being overtaken is number 34, an HRG 1500 lightweight that lasted 13 hours.
Sadly after an hour covering 6 Laps a big end failed and the race for our valiant TA 14 was over. Had there not been searing heat on the day and perhaps more ventilation under the bonnet, who knows what she might have achieved?
Tyres are a topic where many have fixed views and Fourteens are up amongst the serious discussions, radials versus cross ply.
Some points for either should be born in mind. Some tyres, particularly those on Special Offers, could have sat on the shelves for up to 5 years and still be legal to be sold as new. It is a good idea to specify the age a tyre should be when it is purchased. There is a lozenge stamped on the side wall of all new tyres. The first 2 numbers show the week the tyre was made. The second two numbers show the year. A tyre made in The 32 week of this year would show 3217. Thus buying if buying tyres now it is worth specifying they must not be older than 2017 even if this means missing the Special Offers. Another point to bear in mind is the tyre age when buying a car as the tyres could look pristine but be years old. Interestingly tyres age faster if not used frequently or stored away.
A life of a safe tyre should be about 5 years and then checked regularly by professionals who usually recommend 10 years as an absolute maximum. For those whose tyres have a 3 digit number on the sidewall, do not look away now. The 3 digit number shows the tyre was manufactured before the Millenium and should be replaced as soon as possible if the car goes on the road. You may find that the pristine but aged tyres could be very useful for other owners carrying out long term restoration and needing tyres whilst the project is underway.
Tyres used to be checked during an M.O.T.. When checking them do not stop at the sidewalls. It has been known for cracks to develop between the treads.
Finally Cross Ply or Radial? The longevity of radials should be academic for our cars. For most of us hard cornering does not come high on the list. The noise of the tyres can be greater with radials and the steering is heavier at slow speeds. The cost of cross ply tyres is usually cheaper than radials.
To assist with the decision making process it is worth asking to see the EU tyre assessments for differing tyres. They must be available for all new tyres since 2012 and are the colourful ‘sash’ wrapping around the new tyre. This enables you to compare:
‘Aunty May’ has been delighted with her Avon Tourist cross ply tyres for many years and would not want to run on anything else. They are a softer tyre and grip well in the wet.
November 4th is the big day for the sale of the Late Tom Poole’s Alvis Car Collection. In addition there is a Shooting Brake that was formerely owned by Tom plus a recently added Special that should interest those with ‘A need for Speed’. See last month’s Post for more details.
Google Anglia Car Auctions and see the whole range of the cars with their details. The sale will be held at Kings Lynn starting at noon with the viewing day on Friday 3rd November. The 4 TA 14s range between the Tickford we believe to have been owned by Einstein’s pupil, 2 Shooting Brake restoration projects that could produce fascinating examples of that delightful period style. There are not many Shooting Brakes of that style left and they epitomise the 1950s style and elegance.
The Special has been owned by the same family since 1991.
For those wanting less of a restoration project the AOC site and Pink Calendar show another Shooting Brake, Coachwork by Jones, available for sale at £16900, chassis 22186. Again a long term owner selling the car.
The above Fourteens would have been significant in themselves but the title of this month’s Post is World Exclusives!
Earlier in the month a communication was received from Belgium. A Barn find had been uncovered and information was wanted about the car. Fortunately from the photos sent we could immediately identify the car as one of the lost TA 14s bodied by Belgian Coachbuilder F.J.Bidee. That Company built the prototype TB 14 as exhibited at the 1948 Motor Show. In modified form the 100 TB 14s were then produced in Coventry by British Coachbuilder, A.P.Metalcraft.
We know of at least 70 running chassis that were exported to Belgium to the importer S.I.N.C.A. Ltd., 19 Rue de la Chancellerie, Brussels, Belgium.
The majority were very early in the production run starting with the second chassis no. 20501.
Checks on the Barn find car show that she has engine no. 23509 and further checks are to be made to see if the chassis number can be found. It may well be that she will become the earliest TA 14 known to be still in existence. Certainly one of the rarest. Also checks are being made to see if the registration number can be identified.
Below is a period photo of a Bidee Alvis.
Looking rather similar! A Bidee Jaguar !!
A Bidee Alfa Romeo!!!
‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ they say but who is flattering whom.
Follow up enquiries are to be made with the Jaguar and Alfa Romeo Clubs.
Finally keep the garage doors tightly closed and locked tonight against the ghouls and hobgoblins, Halloween is upon us.