The Ex-George Eyston, RAG Carburettors/L.C Rawlence team 1930-31 Maserati Tipo 26 Sport Road Racing Two-Seater Registration no. ELM 510 Chassis no. 2516 Engine no. 2516
Here we offer the sister car to Lot 128, offered here direct from the Hartley Collection of Maseratis. It has been revived and rebuilt to running order by Mr Anthony Hartley himself after many years of hunting down original components from this much raced supercharged straight-8. For the origination and early racing exploits of this Maserati Tipo26, and of both chassis '2516' and its sister '2518', please see the description for the latter under Lot 128.
After the original purchasing company, RAG Patents Limited, failed to survive the Depression year of 1932, and R.F. 'Dickie' Oates assumed ownership of both cars in lieu of professional fees left owing, he appears not to have used the second chassis '2516' until 1935. However, in 1934-35 two Maserati Tipo 26 cars competed in British events, driven by J. Cumming and by Sir Ronald Gunter who competed in the Southport and Saltburn beach races. Gunter also appeared in his car in 1936, when he raced concurrently with Oates' sister Maserati. It seems therefore that if Oates' 1936 car was '2516' then Gunter's must have been '2518'. Spooling back, Adrian Boyd had raced concurrently with Gunter in 1934 inferring that his car was '2516'. By 1935 Dickie Oates had revived the car by fitting a new cylinder block which served to enlarge the rebuilt engine's capacity to just over 2.8-litres.
He also raced the car at Brooklands in 1936 before selling it in 1937, as the "ex-Eyston/Cumming" Maserati, to Steve Chiappini, a visiting owner/driver from South Africa. Before Mr Chiappini took delivery, he had Oates shorten the chassis by some 150mm to match the standard Maserati 8C Grand Prix car length. The RAC sports car-regulation four-seater body was also scrapped and replaced by sleekly aerodynamic single-seat racing car paneling by Bertelli, giving the car a very much more modern appearance.
Steve Chiappini then raced this re-bodied, GP-length chassised Maserati in South Africa until its straight-8 cylinder supercharged engine suffered a major failure. The power unit was sold to a gentlemen who planned to repair it for use in a motor boat, while Chiappini installed a replacement Chevrolet power unit in the Maserati chassis.
Steve Chiappini was very friendly with contemporary racing drivers Pat Fairfield and Cyril Paul with whom he had spent much time when he was in England in 1937. At Donington Park he had also got to know Maserati's star young driver, and later expert author of the book 'The Technique of Motor Racing', Piero Taruffi.
In South Africa for the international race series there of 1937-38, Taruffi drove Chiapinni around the Pollsmoor and East London circuits in a Lancia, recommending cut-off points and racing lines. Steve Chiappini then drove Maserati Tipo 26 '2516' to finish third in the South African Grand Prix at East London and also competed with it in Cape Trials and hill-climbs, winning several Cape Town events.
In 1964, Mr Chiappini wrote to South African Maserati researcher Ken Stewart, recalling: "The Big Mas was a very difficult car to handle, the road-holding was really tricky. It was a car which went magnificently, but it was very temperamental. Bought this car in England in 1937 from R.F. Oates who had raced the car. I understood from him that Nuvolari had also raced the car at one time. It was a 2.4 or 2.9-litre supercharged straight-8 twin-overhead camshaft. I bought it with a 2-seat body, but Bertelli's, at Feltham in England, built a single-seater racing body, allowing for oil tank on the left-hand side by the transmission, as dry sump lubrication necessitating large oil supply, which circulated from oil tank to sump via oil-cooler, and back to tank. 4-speed gear lever; reverse lever was separate lever mounted on side of gearbox. I think the engine No was 14" (incorrect). "One of the first cars to have tubular con rods, which in the early days gave a lot of trouble; these were later modified and thickened. Straight front axle made this car's road-holding very tricky. (Mr Hartley counters this misty memory since straight-axled '2518' "...is a dream to drive") Drove in practice at Brooklands and entered for race at Donington, but car unfortunately not finished in time. Drove at East London where had fastest standing lap of 108. Temperamental car. I sold it after the war, having converted into a sports car, fitting P100 headlights."
Post-war the car was acquired by South African enthusiast Hugh Linton, who fitted another Chevrolet engine, and christened the result a 'Chevrolati', which he subsequently passed on to future South African champion driver (and Porsche exponent) Ian Fraser Jones. Ultimately it seems that the car was completely dismantled, its mechanical parts being offered for sale while the obsolete chassis frame became part of a children's playground climbing frame somewhere in the Johannesburg area. Its removed mechanical parts were located and acquired by local Vintage car enthusiast Dr Hugh Gearing, who collected together as many as he could find, including finally the surviving original Maserati straight-8 engine.
Seeking information upon the car, in 1966, Dr Gearing contacted the Vintage Sports Car Club in England. Dudley Gahagan there advised him of the existence, in Anthony Hartley's ownership, of the sister Tipo 26, and put the two owners in contact whereupon it became apparent that each wanted to buy the other's Maserati material.
A hand-written letter from Dr Gearing to Mr Hartley survives in the comprehensive document file accompanying these cars. It is dated June 22, 1966, and tells how: "The motor I have here is an 8C-2500 supercharged sports car engine - No '2516'. It came out of the ex-Oates Brooklands car which was bought by Chiappini...It passed through many hands. It eventually blew up and was replaced (the motor) by a Chevrolet - the original motor then being sold to a motor boat racing enthusiast, who went to a lot of trouble getting spares from England to rebuild it. Subsequently it was only bench run and did one outing in his boat before being replaced by a huge supercharged Yank motor. It then stood for many years in his garage before I obtained it from him. The motor is complete with all accessories. The only bits missing being some parts from the carburettor. Being the sports car motor it has the starter motor and generator plus magneto. I also got the Brooklands silencer, and oil tank (scuttle) and oil cooler from him... There is also a spare top half of crankcase and a box of bits and pieces comprising valves, springs, a few connecting rods and pistons, and spark plugs...".
He related how: "I've been trying to locate the car for some time and only recently traced it to the North Cape Province. Since when I've managed to acquire the clutch, gearbox and back axle from some hair brained individual who took them out of the chassis but left the rest. Now I'm trying to find what happened to the rest of it..."
Into 1967 the situation in South Africa changed, as Dr Gearing had discovered that the original chassis frame had finally been scrapped, barely a month before he had located its whereabouts.. On February 27 he wrote again to Mr Hartley, having agreed to sell his collection of Maserati parts to him: "I hope you will have fun rebuilding your car. At least now there will be one original car of this type. At one stage it looked like I would be able to find all of my car, and I was very disappointed when I heard the chassis had indeed been scrapped. Anyway...I have enjoyed the chase...it has taken me four years to find what I've got."
In 1968 Mr Hartley wrote to Peter Hull of the Vintage Sports Car Club, announcing that: "You are quite right, I have now got engine, gearbox and rear axle (engine no '2516') and the top half of the crankcase of '2518', these parts came from South Africa and I am deeply indebted to Dr Gearing who showed the true spirit of the VSCC by selling them to me rather than selling them off as spares. It was Dr Gearing's intention to rebuild '2516' and he located all these parts, but unfortunately the chassis and body had been broken up, and he then decided it would be better to sell to me to enable at least one car (to) be rebuilt.
"The rad cowl was chromium plated, cable brakes, oil tank fitted in bulkhead, oil cooler mounted on front cross members, interesting as the oil cooler came from South Africa complete with some rather original brackets fitted. The bolt holes lined up with those already drilled in cross member..." evidently from Dickie Oates's tenure parts of both '2516' and '2518' had done duty in both chassis, and once in Mr Hartley's ownership the two cars could be fully revived as individuals with one '2516' offered here requiring a replacement chassis and body.
Now as offered here, '2516' has been rebuilt by Mr Hartley around a replacement chassis made to the original drawings 150mm longer, 120mm deep side members, all in 4mm thick stock - by leading specialist Gino Hoskins, with two-seater aluminium bodywork to original Maserati drawings,hand-built by Mr Hartley himself. This well-presented car's engine has not been totally rebuilt. It incorporates its original hard-used crankcase stamped number '2516' original cambox and timing case containing original gears. At some time in its life the bell housing has been welded back into place, while probably when adapted for marine use a section of it had been cut out. The power unit features a new cylinder head, cylinder block with 69mm bore instead of the original 65mm, plus new high-compression pistons - and supercharger, with original crankshaft and connecting rods. Also original are the gearbox, front and rear axles (except the torque tube), brakes and brake shoes. This is a mouth-watering straight-8 supercharged road racing two-seater which will surely provide a new owner with an entry ticket to all the world's leading classic and Historic car events, and which promises many miles of thoroughly enjoyable Vintage-style Maserati motoring.