The ex-1928 Tourist Trophy Team-Prize winning
1927 AUSTRO-DAIMLER ADM 19/100 3-LITRE 4 SEATER SPORTS TOURER
Coachwork by Harrington of Brighton
Registration No. YX 7348
Chassis No. 11026
Engine No. 21259
Dark racing green with black leather upholstery
Engine: six-cylinders in-line, single-overhead camshaft, 2,994cc with twin carburettors; Gearbox: four-speed manual; Suspension: semi elliptical springing all round with friction type shock absorbers; Brakes: four-wheel mechanical drum. Right-hand drive.
Although not so well-recognised by name in Britain, the Austro-Daimler company produced successful sporting motor cars with a proud record pre-dating the Kaiser War, with noted achievements in the Prince Henry Trials and also in the early Alpine Trial events. With the cessation of hostilities production was resumed and the first production models of the ADM19/100 began to show their prowess in the various Continental hill-climb events in the early 1920s. The design owed much to the genius of the great Ferdinand Porsche, whose remarkable talents were to be utilised to great effect by Mercedes, Auto Union and of course the Company which ultimately bore his name, (synonymous with rear-engined sports cars). Mechanically the 19/100 disported a workmanlike, but well-engineered straight-six engine configuration, but beneath its purposeful somewhat plain exterior were incorporated a gear-driven overhead camshaft with its vertical shaft concealed at the rear of the aluminium cylinder block with a take-off point ahead of the flywheel, which itself incorporated an ingenious crankshaft damping device. Cast-iron liners were inserted in the block and the use of tubular duralumin con-rods, following aircraft engine design principles was a notable feature, allied to the well-balanced crankshaft. The chassis design allowed a marvellously low centre of gravity with the engine set well down into the frame, and the beautifully crafted front axle allowed for a low frontal area despite the large radiator surface area which provided effective cooling. The whole concept provided an excellent platform for a very sporting motor car - light, yet with plenty of power and a good torque-range. In standard form the 4-seater versions were quoted as good for 100mph, which when compared to the standard Bentley, gave them nearly 20mph advantage - and had far better road-holding and brakes as well, although it would set you back another #50 as a purchaser back in the mid 1920s! On the continent, both Ferdinand Porsche and Alfred Neubauer in particular made notable successes with lightened two seater versions of these cars in a brief spell of competition activity, prior to becoming more famous respectively in their differing ways within Motor Racing spheres of influence.
On the British home-front, Austro Daimler were marketed and sold through the London Agents from their showrooms in Great Portland Street. The first models available were four seater tourers with fabric bodies which featured attractive vee-shaped windscreen and a disappearing hood. However sales were somewhat limited in numbers, possibly because they were more expensive, and possibly a s a result of a hangover from the war memories, but most likely because the introduction of Bentley's rival 'Speed' model 3-litre was a more competitive alternative. Some creditable performances had been put up at Brooklands for instance, with a stripped AD19/100 by one J. Taylor, winning two handicap races with lap speeds over 105mph. Furthermore, Kenneth Eggar in a similar machine set new International Class records for 200 kilometres and 200 miles distances. Another afficionado was the debonair Leslie Callingham, the Shell Petroleum representative who was a keen sportsman, competing in numerous machines, he also took a keen interest in the Austro-Daimlers and he competed at Brooklands with one (possibly this car) in the Essex Motor Club's 6-Hours race, run along similar lines to Le Mans. Driving with H. Mason they put up a spirited performance in which they came second behind Headlam's Alfa Romeo.
After an absence of 6 years, the revival of the Tourist Trophy race, last held in the Isle of Man in 1922, was announced in 1928, to be run at a new road-course venue at Newtownards just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland. This news was received with great enthusiasm and attracted enormous interest from manufacturers and independent teams alike. The event was open to production standard sports and touring cars in full road-equipped configuration, and as at Le Mans, the cars would have to start the race with the hoods up, and carry a mechanic or co-driver for the full distance. Austro-Daimler, through their London offices, assembled a team of three cars to be driven by Lesley Callingham, Cyril Paul and Hugh Mason. In the interests of identification, of the three team cars two were already road-registered in 1927 with the numbers YT 4399 and YT1856, and these two were co-driven by Cyril Paul & J. Taylor, and H. Mason & AN Other. Their race numbers were 46 & 47 respectively. The third car wore race number 45 and was driven by Leslie Callingham & Luther, and has been identified in archive photos as being unregistered, but being driven on 'trade-plates' at the time of the event. (It was registered YX 7348 in London on 28th August 1928, some time after the event). For the race itself, the cars were somewhat unfancied, as opposed to the teams from Alvis, Bentley, Talbot, Alfa, Romeo, Riley, Lea Francis, and Austin: as well as individual entries of Mercedes and Bugattis, all of whom seemed much more recognisable as potential winners to the 'informed' race-going public and bookies alike. Thus it was that the more fancied faster runners fell by the wayside, and the rugged but lighter weight Austro-Daimlers steadily picked up places through sheer reliability, and road-holding. The race was run under a handicapping system where credit laps were given to the smaller-engined classes. This proved most effective and fair, and as proven by the results the spoils were evenly distributed. However, some competitors fell by the wayside for various reasons with mechanical failures, and not unnaturally, accidental mishaps. At the end of the race the only team still running all their original starters at the fall of the flag were the Austro-Daimlers, recording highly creditable overall positions of 3rd , 4th , and 10th finishing in the reverse order of their start numbers 47, 46 & 45, and thereby winning the coveted Team Prize outright. The race reports of the time do not seem to have taken huge notice of this somewhat unsung achievement, preferring to concentrate on the higher-profile failures and disappointments. However for the individuals concerned the Team Prize for this highly acclaimed revived road-race was a fine and justly-deserved reward.
Following this major success however the cars themselves seemed to fade from prominence, although in 1929 a single entry in the TT for a similar car driven by Kenneth Eggar, who had previously raced at Brooklands, was noted; whilst further outings of the cars were mentioned in race reports during the early 1930s. The known history of this car was that it was one of the three team cars for the 1928 event, identified from photographs and detail differences. It had a uniquely twin cowled scuttle top, which differed from the two 1927 registered cars, which sported added aero-type cowls to flat-top scuttles; it also had shorter cycle-type wings, whereas one of the other cars had flowing blade-pattern wings. There appear other detail differences in the coachbuilt aluminium body which identify it as the car on offer here. There is an unidentified gap in its history between its date of first registration and January 1935, when it is recorded as being in the ownership of a Mr. R. Anning living in Blackheath, south London. At some point it was clearly in the hands of the London 'Mews Trade' because it bears a highly rare and attractive dashboard distributors plaque in the form of a Grand Prix Bugatti: engraved and inscribed Jack Bartlett Ltd, Pembridge Villas, Notting Hill Gate" and he was of course a noted purveyor of sports and racing cars to the London fast set - in addition he was a fierce competitior at the Brooklands track, principally driving his favoured Alfa Romeos. This plaque is of interest because the design of his decorative dash-plaques changed in the mid 1930s, and the fact that this denotes the earlier style, suggests it must have passed through his hands in this 'missing' period of time. It is quite possible that it may have been his trade-plates on the car during its TT outing, before being sold to a private purchaser. Two months later in March 1935 the next ownership change is recorded in the name of the father of the current vendor, then also living in the London area. This old log-book denotes regular licensing for the road until the second world war, after which it appeared again in regular use until the early 1950s; at some point in time sharing a garage with a 1750GS Alfa Romeo and a Speed Model Bentley. Amazingly enough, despite appearances, the engine and mechanical components have been oiled an greased periodically as a precaution against terminal seizure, with the result that the engine still turns and is free, and the car can be rolled along. Over its period of half a century in hibernation its whereabouts have been known to certain keen motoring sleuths, but it has never been for sale in over 70 years. In general condition it appears remarkably sound and original still retaining its light-weight aluminium racing seats to the front and with the original leather still fairly intact. Instrumentation is nearly complete, however the clock and laptimer have for some personal reason, been replaced by an aircraft altimeter! There is little documentation with the car save for a very useful original owners handbook maintenance manual, and a rare spare-parts book, both contemporaneous with the vehicle. The car comes with the old-style brown log-book, dating from 1935, but it has not been registered with the DVLA, although it is almost certain that the original number could be re-constituted and allocated to the car.
Until very recently it was believed to be the sole surviving Team-car of three entered in 1928 Tourist Trophy, however last year at the Retrospective Tourist Trophy anniversary reunion on the Ards Circuit, another of the surviving cars turned up from far-away New Zealand, where it had remained incognito for so many years. In summary, this car has been unused since the mid-1950s, and in one family ownership since 1935. Registered in London in 1928, believed raced at Brooklands by Lesley Callingham and in the TT, believed sold through the showrooms of Jack Bartlett of Notting Hill c1930 and resident in London area until 1935, subsequently resident in Ireland. Off the road and stored in a barn since 1955, surviving the barn collapse, still basically sound and complete, and now in need of sympathetic restoration.