ERAs - Significant Changes in Specification by Chassis

R1A
During Bill Humphreys’ rebuild in 1938/39 he incorporated a chrome radiator surround. This disappeared during Wilkie Wilkinson’s modifications in 1947/8. These produced a distinctive profile: the bonnet line was lowered and extended and subsequently piston-type dampers were fitted front and rear with a horizontal connecting bar at the front. Rear axle radius roads were also added, as they were to a number of other ERAs during the late 1940s. In the late 1970s Sandy Murray and Tony Merrick restored the body to its original dimensions, the Hartford dampers were re-instated and the rear axle radius rods removed. The car has had a 1500cc engine throughout its life.

R2A
Three main changes: the first was the fitting of Tecnauto independent front suspension by Embiricos in 1936/7 which it has retained ever since; the second was the substitution of the ERA radiator grille and surround for one that was narrower with vertical slats by Abecassis and Heath in 1946/47 (the original grille was reinstated when they sold it) and the third and final major change was made by Ted Lloyd-Jones in the mid-1950s when the car was lowered. Some re-profiling of the front and the tail was carried out during Brian Classic’s ownership. Initially, R2A had an 1100cc engine fitted for most of the 1934 and 1935 seasons, but since its sale to Embiricos in late 1935 it has had a 1500cc engine.

R3A
The least altered of all the cars. This was the first ERA to be fitted with a two litre engine but in mid 1935 it was fitted with a 1500cc engine, before it was sold by the works, which it retained until 1976 when it was returned to two litres.

R4A
Fitted with de Ram shock absorbers by Norman Wilson in 1938. When Gerard first appeared with this car at Cockfosters in July 1945 the radiator grille had been slightly altered and subsequently he made further changes – a smaller radiator was fitted and the bonnet and radiator surround were lowered and inclined. This car was another to which rear axle radius rods were fitted (in 1948), a modification Bob Gerard also made to his two other ERAs, R6B and R14B. However they were later removed from all three cars. The car started out in 1935 fitted with an 1100cc engine before being changed to a 1500 for 1936. However when it was sold to Humphreys, and then Wilson, it had reverted to an 1100cc engine. When first run by Gerard post-war it had a 1500cc engine, but in 1948 he installed a two litre engine which the car has generally had ever since (except for the 1950 season, and a brief period in Rhodesia when a Chevrolet engine was substituted).

R1B
Small changes were made to the radiator and grille with hydraulic dampers and rear radius rods from the late 1930s onwards which persisted up to the 1960s when Patrick Marsh removed these modifications and returned the car to standard B type specification and appearance. The car has had a 1500cc engine throughout its life.

R2B
De Ram dampers were fitted by White Mouse Garage from 1937 otherwise only the colour scheme was changed (from blue to blue and yellow in 1939). In the mid-1970s Bill Morris carried out a thorough overhaul for the car’s return to competition but there was no alteration in its appearance or specification. The car has had a 1500cc engine throughout its life.

R3B
This car had only a brief life in 1936 and no alterations were made. It was always a 1500cc car.

R4B/C/D
A standard B type when it first appeared in 1935 and through 1936 although often fitted with Zoller supercharger, instead of the standard Jamieson. In 1936/7 it was converted to C type specification and henceforward known as R4C until 1938 when, with a new chassis frame, it became R4D. Rear axle radius rods were fitted by Raymond Mays in the early post war years which remained on the car for many years. R4D was fitted with both 1500cc and two litre engines at various times up to 1949 but since then has always been two litres.

R5B
Various changes made by Freddie Dixon for Tony Rolt in 1938/9 many of which were reversed by George Boyle (for Peter Bell) in 1947. Boyle then made some changes of his own when two-stage supercharging was installed for 1949 and the radiator and bonnet line were altered to give the car a reduced frontal area which it has had ever since. It had a 1500cc engine until 1979 since when it has been two litres.

R6B
Ian Connell tried two Arnott superchargers for a short while in 1937 and the bonnet was extended to accommodate them. During Bob Gerard’s ownership the car was modified in a similar way to R4A and R14B – i.e. smaller radiator, lower bonnet line, inclining the radiator; rear radius rods were also fitted in early 1948. From 1947 to 1948 Gerard’s two litre engine was fitted. However when the car was sold to Lord Ebury it had a 1500cc engine, which it has retained ever since. When owned by Jeffrey Pattinson Duncan Ricketts modified the radiator and grille to reverse the inclination but the frontal area is still smaller than on an orthodox B type.

R7B
The first owner, Arthur Dobson, had a silver radiator surround fitted but this disappeared in April 1947 only being restored in the early 21st century by Paul Mullins. Various changes were made in 1948/49 by Robin Jackson for Ken Hutchison which included a two litre engine and hydraulic brakes, which have been retained ever since.

R8B/C
Lord Howe substituted de Rams for Hartford dampers in 1937. In 1938 it was rebuilt as a C type using R4C’s chassis frame and then known as R8C. Substantial changes were made by Cuth Harrison during the 1948/9 close season using a D type chassis frame (possibly ex-White Mouse Garage) and a more streamlined body. After Shawe-Taylor’s accident at Goodwood in September 1951 the car reverted to its C type chassis but the streamlined body was retained until Bruce Spollon rebuilt it to Lord Howe’s 1938/39 specification, which meant a return to an orthodox body. A two litre engine was installed in 1983.

R9B
Fitted with a Wade supercharger by Bob Ansell in the early post-war years which was retained until the late 1950s when an orthodox Roots/Jamieson was substituted. It used piston-type dampers front and rear with a transverse cross bar at the front from 1948 until the 1970s when they were removed and replaced by the original Hartford friction type. Rear radius rods were also fitted for many years but have now been removed. At some stage the tail was built up but it was reduced to orthodox proportions in the early 1980s. The car has had a 1500cc engine throughout its life.

R10B
Fitted with piston type dampers front and rear, with a transverse bar at the front, by Peter Whitehead in 1948 and, as it was painted a similar colour to R9B, it is not always easy to distinguish these two cars in the late 1940s. In 1949 Whitehead fitted a two litre engine and a two-stage Wade supercharger but from 1950 it reverted to a 1500cc unit. When Nick Mason acquired the car it was rebuilt to orthodox B type specification.

R11B
In the post-war period hydraulic dampers replaced the original Hartfords (and there was also a short period in 1948 when de Rams were used) until 1958 when Koni piston-type units were fitted at the rear with the same alteration at the front in 1962/3. The Konis were removed at the front in 1979 for hydraulics and at the rear in the late 1980s; in the latter case Derby Bentley dampers were substituted. Reg Parnell fitted a two litre engine in 1948 which it has had ever since. There were major changes during Peter Bell’s ownership: the engine was moved back six inches in the chassis and wet sump lubrication adopted; also, for a couple of years, a rounded tail was substituted for the standard pointed one. Roy Bloxam re-fitted a pointed tail but this was destroyed in an accident at Silverstone in 1958. A new tail was then crafted by the Gray brothers, who had built the original ERA bodies, and this gives the car a distinctive profile.

R12B/R12C
This car was a B type (with a 2 litre engine) for only a few months in 1936 before it was converted to a C type in the winter of 1936/7. It was then known as R12C. After R12C was badly damaged at Rheims in July 1939 the car was rebuilt on the B type chassis frame of R8B (i.e. without its IFS). It then reverted to its B type identity as R12B. From 1946, following its post-Rheims reconstruction, R12B raced as Hanuman II. The damaged C type chassis was not scrapped but kept with R12B as a spare and every time R12B changed hands it was accompanied by R12C’s chassis. Bill Morris and David Kergon initiated the reconstruction of R12C in the mid-1960s with Tony Stephens taking over the project and completing it in 1982. When R12C resumed racing it was painted in blue and yellow and known as Hanuman (the name given to it by Chula and Bira in 1938). Between 1995 and 1998 Bill Morris rebuilt R12C to its 1937 specification so the blue and yellow colour scheme and the Hanuman identity were then dropped.

R14B
Bob Gerard carried out similar changes to those on R4A and R6B though taking them a stage further on R14B by dropping the square radiator grille in mid-1949 (after initially reducing and inclining it) in favour of a small round grille with a central dividing strip. The car generally ran with a 1500 engine during Gerard's ownership, although his 2 litre engine was fitted for a brief period during 1952. In the early 1970s Donald Day restored the original bonnet line and frontal appearance including working the grille around the bar connecting the de Ram dampers (much later the de Rams were replaced by Hartfords). The engine has been bored out to just over two litres – the initial change from a 1500cc unit to two litres was made by Jimmy Stuart in 1956.

GP1
After Peter Walker’s accident in the Isle of Man in June 1950 GP1 disappeared from view. Motor Sport (November 1951) reported that it was being reconstructed for Walker to use as a sprint car. Walker did have a new sprint car in 1952 but it was an almost standard Cooper Bristol chassis and body powered by the two litre ERA engine that had been used in R10B during 1949. GP1’s chassis was fitted with a Jaguar XK120 engine at some stage in the early 1950s and then returned to the ERA works at Dunstable from where it was bought by Ken Flint. When Flint bought GP1 it had neither body nor engine. Flint and Verdun Edwards combined the two E types (the chassis of GP1/the body of GP2) with a Jaguar XK engine to create a sports car. Gordon Chapman later bought GP1’s chassis from Jim Berry and a long-term recreation was initiated.

GP2
The car was bought by Leslie Johnson from Les Brooke in 1947. Johnson had succeeded Humphrey Cook as the owner of the ERA company at the end of 1947. Johnson drove the car in a few races between 1948 and 1950. It was then used for some development work on the G type ERA and fitted with a Bristol engine. Peter King, who was an employee at the ERA Company, subsequently bought the car intending to fit another engine but this was never done and King sold the car to Ken Flint. When Flint sold the car in turn it was subsequently fitted with an all enveloping body, made by Williams and Pritchard, and a Jaguar XK engine and it then functioned as a sports car. It was in this form that Gordon Chapman bought the car in 1966.