|A collection of notes and pictures from various editions of our magazine
By Club Chairman Peter Cook
Members will have seen references in 'Front Wheels' to my recent acquisition of a RWD BSA special.
Having owned FWD BSAs for nearly forty years the purchase of a RWD car may seem a little strange, but yes, I have acquired the sole survivor of two BSA McEvoy specials produced in the early 1930's.
In 1986 Roy Brewer contacted the Club, searching for information on a BSA based McEvoy special he had just purchased. Roy described the car as being based on the 1933 BSA 1OHP RWD car fitted with an open body by Jensen's. The engine, based on the standard RWD unit, was supercharged and prepared by McEvoy's of Derby, who were UK agents for Zoller superchargers.
The car is described in the 22nd September 1933 edition of 'Light Car', along with other models from BSA's 1933/34 RWD range. From the two pictures accompanying the article it is clear this car is different from anything else produced by BSA. The car was dubbed the 'Alfa Beta' in the article due to its appearance. The article described the car in some detail and implied that the model would be available to the motoring public. The key features were the McEvoy prepared engine featuring a Zoller supercharger with 28mm downdraught SU carburettor, high compression head manufactured in a special material, modified camshaft providing considerable overlap in the valve timing and a finned sump.
Other features include the smart two/three seater Jensen body, a tuned chassis, with flatter springs, which it was claimed was lower than the standard RWD chassis, a modified rear axle ratio, a higher ratio steering box and a large petrol tank holding 18 gallons. The instrument panel was black faced and was well appointed with large (5ins) speedo and rev counter and five other dials, all white faced.
The article shows the car fitted with cycle wings, full screen and Brooklands style screens and steering wheel. All in all a very attractive car.
The only other published picture of the car discovered to date, featured in 'Autocar' for 23rd March 1934. This shows a car, registration number OC 3865, driven by M A McEvoy leading a parade of cars following the 1934 RAC Rally. This car is different from the one shown in 'Light Car', being fitted with full wings and not cycle wings. The same magazine, reporting on the rally, referred to the 'Alfa looking supercharged BSA having fine acceleration' and describes the car as 'M. A. McEvoy's red BSA two-three seater'.
The results show that McEvoy finished 13th out of 117 cars listed for class III (cars up to 10 HP). Not a bad performance when the majority of cars finishing ahead of McEvoy were MGs, Rileys and Singers. Other magazines of the period refer to a second car driven by L. E. W Pomeroy and this certainly took part in the 1934 Scottish Rally along with a BSA driven by McEvoy. The Picture to the left shows this car, OC 3865 Michael McEvoy in the driving seat, Pom in the passenger seat and Mrs McEvoy in the rear. It was taken outside the London factory and HQ of A Dunhill, which was located on High St, Notting Hill. Checking local records this turns out to be directly out side the London Depot of M.A.McEvoy Ltd. Several Club members were aware of the car's existence from the article in 'Light Car', and I like others was intrigued by a BSA that was to all intents an attempt to produce a sports car with true sports car performance. Definitely not BSA's style, and one has to wonder how the company was persuaded to fund such a venture.
Roy discovered during his researches that two cars were produced in 1933 as a team and that these may have been funded by the BSA Company.
Costs for the cars were reported to Roy by one of the first owners as being £1,000 per car but this seems exceptionally high. The car shown in 'Light Car' was found to have the registration number AOB 884 and was driven by L. E. W. Pomeroy who later became the editor of 'The Motor'. The second car, OC 3865, as featured in 'Autocar', was driven by Michael McEvoy.
The picture in 'Autocar' shows McEvoy, his wife, who appears to have navigated on most of the events, and Pomeroy in the third seat. The two cars appear to have been competed for two seasons, with OC 3865 driven by McEvoy being entered in most of events.
« 'Photo taken in the late forties
or early fifties
In late 1934 or early '35 the cars were returned to the Factory (Small Heath) and OC 3865 was scrapped. This tends to confirm that both cars were factory funded. It was reported to Roy by one of the early owners that AOB was converted into a road car.
The modified car was to be used by someone from the factory, but this never occurred. The supercharged engine was removed and replaced with a standard RWD unit and the wings, and possibly the bonnet, from OC 3865 fitted to AOB to replace the cycle wings. AOB is the surviving car and is this car that I purchased from Roy.
The factory sold AOB some time in 1935 or '36 to Mr John Linnell. The car changed hands several times after it left BSA and it eventually went off the road in the early 1960s following the introduction of the MoT test. In the 25 years after it left BSA, AOB was subject to several minor modifications. Telescopic shock absorbers were fitted in place of the Luvax units, a different hood and side screens were fitted at some time, the Brooklands screens were removed and a different instrument panel fitted in place of the black-faced one shown in the 'Light Car' article.
AOB eventually ended up in a garage in Ipswich where the then owner started to restore the car before it passed to Roy in 1986.
In the first two years of ownership Roy did a tremendous job of researching the history of AOB 884.
He was successful in tracking down McEvoy's daughter, all but one of the former owners and acquired a number of photographs of both cars taken before 1939. In addition he located and acquired one of the two supercharged engines, possibly from OC 3865, which he located in Birmingham not a million miles from several Club members.
Roy also undertook a significant refurbishment of the chassis and body, repairing the wings, having the wooden frame repaired, new floors made and the skinning repaired where necessary. Life got in the way sometime in the 1990s and the rebuild stalled, and after the car was repainted nothing much happened to AOB.
Roy wrote a brief article on the car, published in the August 1988 edition of 'Front Wheels'. The article described the car and included a number of photographs showing the car as purchased, the remains of the supercharged engine and OC 3865.
I and other Club members corresponded with Roy for a number of years and I hoped to persuade Roy to bring the car to the rally we held at the Patrick Collection in 1989. I then lost track of Roy, the car and his search for historical material. Roy eventually contacted the Club again three years ago requesting help in valuing AOB 884 with the aim of offering the car for sale.
After discussions with various Club members a value was arrived at and we placed an advert in 'Front Wheels','and I believe that Roy advertised the car in a number of magazines.
At that time I was in no position to do anything about the car. The situation changed earlier this year and I decided to see if the car had been sold. I tracked down Roy in Norfolk and established that he still had the car and was keen to sell. I arranged to visit Roy in May and inspected the car. It proved to be everything I had anticipated, and more. A price was agreed and we arranged to have the car plus Roy's research files collected in June. The car was transported by former Club member Damian Rathburn and joined my two Scouts in Guildford.
My intention is to have the car rebuilt and on the road in 2005 and hopefully available for Beaulieu or the AGM. The engine and gearbox are already with Mike Scott-Coomber who will strip and rebuilding the units. I hope to have these back in the chassis late 2004. Several parts are missing and I am trying
«This was taken during collection
to acquire a RWD hand brake complete with pawl (loan will be acceptable), engine mounting rubbers, rear spring (front) pin and brake rod pivot and most importantly a steering box mounting bracket. So if you can help let me know. I need the brake parts and steering box bracket in order that I can move the car. Before the body and upholstery are restored I want to drive AOB, if on only on the track near Two Chimneys.
I will keep members updated with progress in rebuilding the car and the history of AOB as I discover more from Roy's mountain of material. Meanwhile I have included several photographs of the car taken over the past twenty years.
Now the car is safely in the garage as I have tried to bring together the McEvoy Special and establish what is missing. I have had one or two items in repair and some have now returned to Guildford. Mike Scott-Coomber got to grips with engine that was in the car in the 60s. I decided to remove the single SU and fit a pair of SUs I acquired years ago from the late Eric Sleigh. Mike has produced a neat twin conversion, which was married with an early trike exhaust manifold. Every- thing else has been left very much as standard.
I had read some years ago, in an early issue of the Club magazine, that the oil pump on the RWD engine was much bigger than that fitted to the two bearing engines. This proved to be the case with the pump
Picture of the McEvoy taken a few months back when Peter had fitted the windscreen support and put the Hood up »
being required to provide much greater flow to the plain main bearing. During the rebuild Mike fitted a FWD engine sump plug instead of the RWD item by mistake. The gauze mesh on the FWD plug turns out to be much smaller than on the RWD engine, which resulted in the pump
being starved and giving low pressure.
The next job was the gearbox. The Daimler Wilson pre-selector gearbox is very different from the unit on the FWD cars, and after careful study of the various manuals and books I have collected I decided this was a job for a specialist. I was recommended to contact Len Stoller, who was well known in the Daimler Lanchester Club and specialised in rebuilding the smaller preselector gearbox.
In his 80s, Len was well known for his work on Daimlers and RWD BSAs and had undertaken work on various RWD cars in the FWD Club. In December Len was given the two boxes that came with the car. One of the gearboxes it turns out may be an original unit from one of the McEvoys, as it was acquired with the supercharged engine. A phone call a week later gave me the bad news. The gearbox that had been on the car in the 60s was basically scrap. The brake bands had been over adjusted and the box was virtually burnt out. Len told me that in his many years of rebuilding preselector gearboxes he had never seen one so badly damaged. I asked Len to see if he could do anything with the other box, which he started. Unfortunately Len passed away in March. Len's son Richard, who had worked with his father for many years, intends to continue rebuilding gearboxes and he was able to complete my first box, which I have collected and it is now installed in the chassis.
Like many cars that have been taken apart and left apart for years, the biggest difficulty facing the rebuilder is to establish what is missing. In trying to re-fit the gearbox I found that all the studs had been removed from the flywheel surround and needed to be sourced. After a very long day over the Easter break I finally managed to get the gearbox attached to the engine and the complete assembly installed in the chassis. Mike, who recently rebuilt a RWD engine for another Club member, mentioned that the engine and gearbox were difficult to manoeuvre back into the chassis and this proved to be the case.
I have also had the pedal assembly and hand brake looked at. I was not able to use the approach I had adopted for the Series 4 Scout of fitting an oversized shaft as all the mounting
The engine in place »
brackets are riveted to the chassis. The McEvoy body, being much lower than the standard 10HP RWD BSA, presents considerable difficulties when you attempt to remove items such as the brake cross shaft and re-fit items such as the pedal shaft and the hand brake. I eventually had to disassemble the hand brake before I could get it in place on the chassis. I suspect that I will need to lift the body off the chassis in the near future if I am to get the brakes working correctly.
Other tasks involved sourcing the various missing items, lan Tuck from South Wales found me a steering box, which was still attached to the mounting bracket. This bracket, which is riveted to the chassis, had been removed from the McEvoy and lost years ago, so lan's find saved me considerable time. He also located the various missing items for the rear brakes including one of the spring pins from which the rear brake rods are suspended. This should now enable me to get the car mobile.
Another task I have been undertaking over the winter is sourcing a supply of the various engine and gearbox mounting rubbers. I have found someone who can mould these at a reasonable price. He has produced three items for the RWD cars and is currently producing a further two. Steve already has a number in stock and within a month we should have all the various rubber mountings available. Most of the steel retaining cups are in stock, these having been produced by club member Nick Bainbridge. We have one or two items that still need to be produced but hope to have everything in stock by the summer. I am also looking to have the RWD rear engine mounting spring, the spring caps and the mounting bolt sourced and hopefully these will be available later this year. I have been surprised over the last few months by the number and range of drawings available from the Club for the RWD cars. I am well aware of the vast range of FWD drawings available to Club members via Tony Meade, having purchased many hundreds over the years. At a recent committee meeting Tony Meade estimated that we have over 1,500 drawings for the RWD cars. Tony has provided the majority of the drawings I have requested and these have covered everything from small brake and suspension parts to the complete exhaust system. So if you are having problems finding that missing part do not forget to contact Tony for a drawing and get one made.