My rebuild of the Steyr single-seater started with a close look at what needed to be done to return the 1949 Hillclimb Championship winning car to it’s former glory. When Sydney sold the car, it had a four wheel drive system, along with rather ungamely nose cone – no nicely shaped front with a small version of the Allard grille. At the Valence hill climb in 1964 there was still a lot of work to do, however the engine was running well and the opportunity to ‘have a go’ could not be missed. The car sported a new nose cone complete with a modified M type grille and a bonnet air scoop.

The centre body section was not the correct shape, and on the top of the cockpit shroud was an external rev. counter. When Sydney was competing with the car, he never bothered with a rev. counter, arguing he would not have time to look at it, plus it was an unnecessary weight penalty !

The tail section was as original, still baring the ‘scars’ of previous off-course excursions. Likewise, the original 15″ inch Palm Beach wire wheels were still fitted to the correct axle beams, leaf springs, stub axles and friction type shock absorbers. The stub exhausts had been replaced with the original type exhaust system which had flex pipes to each cylinder head, with a long tail pipe finishing at the rear. Finally twin rear radius rods had been replaced with the original single radius rod each side. The original deDion axle had square section coil springs mounted as the J2, along with Armstrong lever shock absorbers – at this time suspension units were still fitted, however it was my plan to make a new dead axle tube of it’s original design along with coil springs and lever type shock absorbers.

A joy to drive
I had previously entered the AOC Eelmoor Plain sprint meeting which was an ideal site to try it in ‘anger’ – apart from the need to bed in the brakes, it was a joy to drive and a challenge to adapt to the ‘reversed’ gear change – first and top were forward, but once in second gear that problem was solved.

One feature of starting the Steyr was to ensure that the high level carburetor float chambers did not flood. To ensure this didn’t happen the engine was spun over with the plugs removed and the pressurised fuel system turned off. Once any surplus fuel had been expelled platinum pointed plugs were fitted, the magneto and fuel switched on – with its own starter, and external battery, it fired up without any trouble. It was however, very important to turn the fuel off a few seconds before stopping the engine.

My runs at Valence in 1964 were made without any drama, managing to round the final sharp right hand bend without getting too close to the banks on either side.

(Above left) – The Steyr, Sydney and the team at Shelsley Walsh. (Above right) – Jim Mac fitting the hot platinum plugs as Sydney looks on. 

(Title photograph) – David Hooper and The Steyr Allard at the Valence hill climb in 1964.