Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mowgli and it's hill climbing mastery

Equipped with a one-and-a-half litre twin engine bought from Archie Frazer Nash,  a man called Basil Davenport built ‘Mowgli’ based on a 1923 GN chassis, for hill climbs. He was quite successful with it, beating countless Bugatti´s and even Carraciola´s Mercedes. It still exists and is campaigned regularly by David Leigh.

He scored more than a hundred firsts, and was even seven times outright victor at Shelsley Walsh.

The engine had a unique T shaft drive to the overhead cams  called "The Duke or Argyll Drive" and that it still lives on in another GN.

The enthusiasts guide to Vintage Specials’ by John Bateman,  features Spider I on the cover. According to the book the Mowgli engine was bought by Davenport for GPB 95,

 It could be overrevved by 1500 rpm above Frazer Nash's advised limit of 3500 rpm. And there’s also another book 'Frazer Nash’ by David Thirlby, that says: (Mowgli) was specially developed for Brooklands, and had a extra long wheelbase.

Spider was inspired by the success of 'Kim', a GN produced by Frazer-Nash in 1922. This was, incidently, the first of the 'Shelsley Specials' of which there are or have been 50 to date. Davenport obtained various GN parts from Frazer Nash and fitted a 1087cc prototype Vitesse engine.

 In 1924 Davenport visited the Nash works at Kingston where L A Cushman, Capt Nash's mechanic, suggested that he buy the 1500cc engine out of 'Mowgli' which had lapped Brooklands at 92mph. This 1500cc twin was the only one of its type ever made - 4 valves, 2 plugs per cylinder, bore 89mm stroke 120mm, 2 magnetos and 1 Solex carburettor.

 This car gave Davenport great success especially at Shelsley.

Spiders 1 and 2 are, indeed, seen annually at Shelsley and other venues. Indeed Spider 1 appeared at the Entretat hillclimb in France this year. At the Shelsley Walsh Centenary in August David Leigh went up the hill in Spider 1 wearing a brown 'cow gown' symbolic of Basil Davenports 'mechanics' clothes.  via

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