1909 S.C.A.T. Mont Ventoux style racer

1909 S.C.A.T. Mont Ventoux style racer

Former owner Martin Shelley tells of his experiences with a 1909 S.C.A.T. racer restored in the style of the 1909 Mont Ventoux car.

1909 SCAT Mont Ventoux racer drifts through a corner. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley

1909 SCAT Mont Ventoux racer drifts through a corner. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley

 

“I owned the SCAT for three years and had a lot of fun with it.  It had been found in the late 1980s on a property in South Australia, and was sold as a job lot back to the UK. It was rebuilt as an Edwardian racer for V.S.C.C. [Vintage Sports Car Club] Edwardian era car events. A friend from Australia helped me prepare the car. We used a 9 Litre Simplex engine of nominal 60hp which was essentially the same design as the original pair-cast, T-head [crossflow side-valve] S.C.A.T. engine.”

It just had twice the capacity! “The larger engine makes an impressive under-bonnet view.”

1909 SCAT racer, Fraser prepares the car for Mallory Park, 2005. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

1909 S.C.A.T. racer in preparation for Mallory Park, 2005. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

 

The bore and stroke of the S.C.A.T.’s Simplex engine is 5 1/2″ x 6″, (approx. 140mm x 152mm), which comes out just over 9.3 litres.  Tax rated horsepower is 60, but b.h.p. is rather more. It has dual ignition, with spark plugs fitted to both sets of valve caps’ On the inlet side, they are fired by a coil and on the exhaust side, fired by the magneto.  “It runs best when both ignition systems are used. Like Malcolm’s car, it has electric starting to aid the practical use of the vehicle.”

“When I owned the car it still had iron pistons and splash lubrication, but the new owner has spent a fair bit improving things and it now has forged alloy pistons and an upgraded lubrication system.”

Racing the S.C.A.T.-Simplex

The big engined S.C.A.T. racer was taken to many events, both in the UK and Europe. A highlight was Sicily in 2006 for the Targa Florio centenary celebrations. En route to this event was a visit to the old S.C.A.T. factory in Turin.

1909 SCAT and 1913 Nazzaro racers at the old SCAT factory, Turin, May 2006. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

1909 SCAT and 1913 Nazzaro racers at the old SCAT factory, Turin, May 2006. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

 

“I had a German co-driver for the Targa Florio centenary event, which was held on the Piccolo Circuito Madonie,” remembers Martin. “This was used for the later Targas, but was still over 70 kms per lap, with countless bends.”

1909 SCAT racer on second lap in Targa Florio centenary event. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

1909 SCAT racer on second lap in Targa Florio centenary event. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

 

“There is also a shot of me taking Orchard at Prescott Hillclimb in 2005.  There was also Mallory Park, where we were caught in a huge downpour which made for an interesting race!”

1909 SCAT racer takes the Orchard corner at Prescott, Aug 2005. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

1909 SCAT racer takes the Orchard corner at Prescott, Aug 2005. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

 

“With the S.C.A.T. came enough spares to build a second car, and this is what we are currently trying to piece together to make a more genuine car, but probably not as much fun as the big engined racer.”

“The 60hp Simplex unit dates from 1910 and delivers effortless power at relatively low revs, making for a wonderful driving experience,” relates Martin. “Having driven this car many road miles as well as track miles convinced me of the pleasure of owning a powerful Edwardian, but I hankered after a more genuine original car.  My original plan was to build a second car based on the original S.C.A.T. engine and four-speed gearbox and all the remaining S.C.A.T. components, and we are well on with this project.”

Pictures show what Martin Shelley is trying to recreate: the S.C.A.T. as run in 1909 by Ernesto Ceirano at the Mont Ventoux hillclimb in France.

Another look at the 1909 SCAT Mont Ventoux racer. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

Another look at the 1909 SCAT Mont Ventoux racer. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

 

“This has the pair-cast T-head engine, bore and stroke of 100mm x 140mm, four speed gearbox and 8′ 6″ wheelbase, but only 765 x 210 mm wheels (which we have had to rebuild as 815 x 105mm because the smaller tyres are unobtainable). Its most recognisable feature is a fine cast alloy bulkhead which divides the engine from the driver.”

The other racy SCAT featured in Vintage Car Heritage (Malcolm Garthon’s) is larger than the Tipo C chassis that was adapted by the factory for racing. “I think Malcolm has done an excellent job but I think he has ended up with a car which is quite a lot larger than the Tipo ‘C’ SCAT was originally.”

Martin reflects an expert’s knowledge of S.C.AT. “By the way, I think Malcolm’s engine is a bit later than 1909, as its an L-head pair-cast engine, which was made for late 1910 and 1911 only, before being replaced with a monobloc L-head engine.  There is a fine web site about all matters SCAT at http://www.scat-automobiles.com .

Newton & Bennett versus Rudge Whitworth Detachable Wheel Systems

Martin Shelley is the V.M.C.C.’s O.E.C. and Blackburne Marque specialist as well as being a member of the V.C.C. and V.S.C.C. Of necessity, he has researched the detachable wheel systems used by S.C.A.T.

“The early Rudge Whitworth beaded edge, wire wheels we fitted are complex things compared with the Newton & Bennett patent detachable wheels that S.C.A.T. employed.  Rudge used dual locking devices which are not only complex, they have the unfortunate habit of falling off on the road, leaving the wheels prone to loosening off.  Soon after this design was proved unreliable, Rudge redesigned them with the familiar finer splines and with left- and right-handed threaded retaining caps. These caps tend to lock tighter as the car is driven, so there is no need for any auxiliary locking device.  This design proved highly successful and enduring, being used right up until modern times.”

After S.C.A.T.

Martin sold the Simplex-engined S.C.A.T. to finance the purchase of a unique vehicle. It was the first car of famous Aussie cattle king, Sir Sidney Kidman: a 1909 Thornycroft 18hp touring car.

“This was discovered in a burnt-out shed on a cattle station in South Australia in the late 1950s.  It lay forlornly for about fifty years before returning to the UK to be restored.”

“The discovery of Sir Sidney Kidman’s Thornycroft car eclipsed the plan to build the second S.C.A.T., and although I am involved in the second car project, my role is as consultant, not owner, as this S.C.A.T. too had to be sold to finance the purchase and restoration of the Thornycroft.”

Only truckies seem to remember Thornycroft, and most people would be surprised to learn that the truck maker built any cars.

1909 SCAT Targa Florio tailpiece. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

There it goes! 1909 SCAT racer in Targa Florio heritage event. Photo courtesy Martin Shelley.

 

Martin Shelley is well underway with the Thornycroft chassis and body and this project vies with the second S.C.A.T. restoration for his time and resources   Progress is steady but interruptions happen.

We wish Martin all the best in his endeavours.

For some history on the ex-Kidman Thornycroft, Martin recommends:

http://www.southaustralianhistory.com.au/thornycroft.htm

- Igor Spajic, V.C.H. correspondent

 

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