Amongst all front-engined 2½-litre Historic Grand Prix cars the beautifully-made 'Syracuse' Connaughts are certainly the most numerous British contenders. The original B-Type design from the tiny little factory at Send beside the A3 arterial road in the Surrey countryside was developed during 1954 and emerged in 1955. The original concept featured a wheel-enveloping centre-seat streamlined body shell, but this was soon deemed impracticable and too-easily damaged in workshop, paddock and pits. It was replaced by a neat and extremely handsome conventional 'slipper body', with fully-exposed wheels and using highly-developed Alta 4-cylinder dohc engines carried British racing green to war for three hectic seasons.
Connaught cars as created by ex-RAF company principals Rodney Clarke and Michael Oliver always out-performed their constructors' tiny budget, not only in terms of achievement but also absolutely in terms of technical sophistication, innovation and sheer manufacturing quality.
Right at the end of the 1955 Formula 1 season the Syracuse Grand Prix was run in Sicily. It was not a qualifying race contributing towards the Formula 1 World Championship but it was nonetheless significant, not least as a money-earning opportunity for interested entrants. Despite the daunting distance from home base in southern England to Syracuse on Sicily's eastern coast a round trip of more than 3,000 miles in their converted Greenline coach transporters - Connaught entered two of their latest B-Type cars, and invited a novice 23-year old dental student to drive one of them. His name was Tony Brooks. He had shown promise in a 2-litre A-Type Connaught but this was to be his Formula 1 debut. And he promptly demolished the hopes of a fleet of works Maseratis, and won outright...
Thirty-one long years had passed since any British car/driver combination had last won a significant Continental Grand Prix Sir Henry Segrave winning for Sunbeam at San Sebastian in Spain, in 1924.
On Easter Monday, 1957, Stuart Lewis-Evans drove his B-Type Connaught with latest 'Toothpaste Tube' bodywork to win the Glover Trophy Formula 1 feature race at Goodwood. But Connaught Engineering's primary financial backer had decided to wind-up his racing interests, and after that year's Monaco Grand Prix the team was disbanded, and the always admired, exquisitely-built works cars were sold into private hands.
Connaught had built seven B-Type cars, numbered 'B1' to 'B7' and many years later two facsimiles would be built, serialled 'B8' and 'B9' to continue the original series. The car now offered here is a sister B-Type serialled 'B10' whose manufacture has been undertaken over a 15-year period.
Manufactured by marque and model specialist Roger Hart, 'B10' now offered here has been created by engineers who have over the past twenty years restored and race prepared for their owners original B-Type cars 'B1', 'B2', 'B4' and 'B5'. Car 'B3' is now Jaguar-engined and is back in the UK, while 'B6' is an untouched original example displayed in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, and 'B7' has been exhibited long-term in the Donington Collection.
This example 'B10' features (most significantly) original ex-works engine No 6, as originally fitted to chassis 'B1' which was the 1955 Syracuse-winning Connaught driven then by Tony Brooks. This is the Alta-derived power unit which has run in period at Syracuse, Monza, Brands Hatch, Goodwood and Silverstone. Its original works team service logbook is included within the extensive documentation file offered with this Lot. Freshly rebuilt a latest dyno test sheet records its peak power output as a very healthy 213bhp at 6,000rpm.
Connaught 'B10's entirely distinctive appearance is generated by its use of an all-original 'Monaco nose' cone, as made by the original team specifically for use around the Monte Carlo street circuit shorter, sturdier and less vulnerable in the hectic opening stages of the race there than the standard B-Type body section. The dash panel and instruments fitted in 'B10' today are also ex-works originals, having been taken from 'B3' in the distant past, the fuel tank, undertray and seat are all from B4 having been removed from that car when it was rebuilt many years ago.
Created around an exact replica chassis built for Stephen Langton in the 1970s. We are advised that 90 per cent of 'B10's suspension/brake components are also from original-series B-Type cars, each of them having been extensively inspected and crack-tested before re-use here. The B-Types were notable for their use of the Wilson-type pre-selector gearbox, and the unit installed in 'B10' here is Bill Morris-built to original B-Type specification. The back axle differential-cum-drop gear unit has been re-manufactured to original specification, together with the rest of the drive train.
The body paneling offered here is all-new, but has been formed on bucks acquired from the late Soames Langton whose father Stephen had accumulated a most considerable collection of B-Type hardware into the mid-1980s. As offered here this Connaught B-Type is presented in the works team's original shade of British racing green livery, complete with the appropriate insignia. It is offered complete with RAC MSA Historic Technical Passport papers, dated December 2009.
The Connaught B-Type cars are extremely highly regarded. They provide their owners with extremely enjoyable and reliable Historic Grand Prix car competition in an affordable manner but with great style. Connaught 'B10' as offered here complete with its original Send-prepared 'Syracuse' engine is a realistically-estimated passport to some terrifically enjoyable motor sport, wherever Historic Grand Prix cars are campaigned.