ERAs - Notes on Chassis History and Specification



The ERA marque is almost unique, as a major racing marque, in that, for each one of the twenty cars which were built by the company in period (1934 to 1952), the complete ownership history is known at every point in each car’s life.

The most comprehensive information on ERA ownership can be found in David Weguelin: The History of English Racing Automobiles - White Mouse Editions (1980).

Since David Weguelin’s masterly book was published in 1980, the ERA Club has set itself the task of maintaining the cars' significant technical histories, with changes being noted here on the Club’s web site.

Anyone who has further information which adds, corrects or disputes anything herein should contact Adam Ferrington at


During its first, 1934, season R1’s steering drop arm was mounted outboard, as it was on the other two cars built in 1934, R2 and R3. For 1935 their drop arms were mounted inboard, as they were on all the cars built subsequently.
When Bill Humphreys carried out his rebuild in 1938/39 he incorporated a chrome radiator surround.
This disappeared during Wilkie Wilkinson’s modifications in 1947/8, which 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 rods were also added 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 were removed.
The car has had a 1500cc engine throughout its life.

The first major change to the car was the fitting of Tecnauto independent front suspension by Giulio Ramponi for Nicky Embiricos in 1936/7, which it has retained ever since.
The second (temporary) change 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 the car in 1948.
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, the car had an 1100cc engine for most of the 1934 and 1935 seasons, but ever since its sale to Nicky Embiricos, in late 1935, it has had a 1500cc engine.

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

The car was fitted with de Ram shock absorbers by Norman Wilson in 1938.
When Bob Gerard first appeared with it post-war, 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 1500cc for 1936.
However when it was sold to Bill Humphreys, and then Norman Wilson, it reverted to an 1100cc engine.
When first run by Gerard post-war a 1500cc engine was fitted, but in 1948 he installed a two litre engine which the car has generally had ever since (except for the 1950 season and one race in 1951 when it reverted to 1500cc, and for a brief period in Rhodesia when a Chevrolet engine was substituted).

Small changes were made to the radiator and grille with hydraulic dampers and rear radius rods fitted 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.

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.

This car had only a brief life in 1935 and 1936 before it was destroyed in Lehoux’s accident at Deauville in July 1936 and was broken up.
With the exception of the engine, no alterations were made.
It ran as a 1500cc car for most of its race appearances, with a 2 litre engine being fitted for four appearances in 1935, plus for its final appearance at Deauville in 1936.

The car was a standard B type when it first appeared in 1935 and through 1936, although often fitted with a Zoller supercharger, instead of the standard Jamieson.
The car was unique in having, from 1936, its steering box reversed, with the linkage on the left hand side, to accommodate Mays’ childhood deformity.
In 1936/7 it was converted to C type specification and henceforth known as R4C, until 1938 when, with a new chassis frame, it became R4D.
R4C’s redundant chassis frame was used for R8B’s conversion to ‘C’ specification.
Rear axle radius rods were fitted by Raymond Mays in the early post war years which remained on the car for many years.
The car was fitted with both 1500cc and two litre engines at various times up to 1949 but since then it has always had a two litre engine.

Various changes were 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.
The car had a 1500cc engine until 1979 since when it has been two litres.

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 his other two cars, R4A and R14B – i.e. smaller radiator, lower bonnet line, inclining the radiator; rear radius rods were also fitted in early 1948.
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 car.
Up until Bob Gerard’s post war ownership the car had a 1500cc engine.
From 1947 until Bob Gerard’s June 1948 Brighton Hillclimb accident his two litre engine was fitted. When the car was rebuilt by Gerard in late 1948 it was returned to a 1500cc engine, which it has retained ever since.

The first owner, Arthur Dobson, had a chrome radiator surround fitted but this disappeared in April 1947 only being restored in the early 2000s by Paul Mullins.
Up until the end of 1948 the car had a 1500cc engine.
Various changes were made in 1948/49 by Robin Jackson (for Ken Hutchison) which included hydraulic brakes and a two litre engine, both of which have been retained ever since.

Earl Howe substituted de Rams for Hartford dampers in 1937.
In 1938 it was rebuilt as a C type using R4C’s chassis frame and from then onwards known as R8C.
R8B’s now redundant chassis frame was re-used by White Mouse Garage in the rebuild of the crashed R12C in late 1939
Substantial changes were made to R8C 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 Brian Shawe-Taylor’s accident at Goodwood in September 1951 the car reverted to its C type chassis but the streamlined body was retained.
During the early 1980s Bruce Spollon rebuilt the car to Lord Howe’s 1938/39 specification, which meant a return to an orthodox body.
Throughout its competitive life the car had a 1500cc engine.
However, since 1983 a two litre engine has been installed.

The car was 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 supercharger was substituted.
It had piston-type dampers fitted front and rear with a transverse cross bar at the front from 1948 until the 1970s, when these were removed and replaced by the original Hartford friction type dampers.
Rear radius rods were also fitted for many years but have now been removed.
At one 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.

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

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 to be replaced by hydraulics, at the front in 1979, and at the rear in the late 1980s; in the latter case Derby Bentley dampers were substituted.
During Peter Bell’s ownership the engine was moved back six inches in the chassis and wet sump lubrication was adopted.
For a couple of years during Bell’s ownership 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 its distinctive profile.
Up to the end of 1947 the car always had a 1500cc engine.
In mid-1948 Reg Parnell fitted a two litre engine, which was at first retained when the car was sold to Peter Bell later in 1948.
However, for the 1949 season a 1500cc unit was fitted once again.
The two litre engine was then refitted for the 1951 season and the car has had a two litre engine ever since.

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, then being known as R12C.
R12C was badly damaged in Bira’s accident at Reims in July 1939.
From this point onwards R12C ceased to exist as contemporary racing car, until it was reconstructed from the 1960s onwards.
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.
The car has had a 1500cc engine throughout its life, both in the Works / Chula era, and after its 1982 rebuild.

After R12C was badly damaged, at Reims in July 1939, the car was rebuilt on the B type chassis frame of R8B (i.e. without its IFS), with the car then reverting to its B type identity as R12B and racing as Hanuman II.
The car has had a 1500cc engine throughout its life.

Bob Gerard carried out similar changes to those on his other two cars, 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.
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 car had a 1500cc engine up to and including Bob Gerard's post war ownership, although his two litre engine was fitted for a brief period during 1952.
In 1956 Jimmy Stuart changed the engine, replacing the 1500cc unit with the two litre engine from the RRA, which the car has retained ever since.
During the latter part of Donald Day’s ownership the engine was bored out to 2044cc.
However, since being purchased by Chris MacAllister, the engine has reverted to the more traditional capacity of 1980cc.

After Peter Walker’s accident in the Isle of Man in June 1950 GP1 disappeared from view.
In early 1951 GP1’s engine was fitted into Rob Walker’s 1 1/2 litre Delage, thus creating the ERA Delage.
In November 1951 Motor Sport reported that GP1 was being reconstructed for Peter Walker to use as a sprint car.
Walker did indeed have a new sprint car in 1952, but it was instead an almost standard Cooper Bristol chassis powered by the two litre ERA engine that had been used in R10B during 1949.
GP1’s chassis was eventually returned to the ERA works at Dunstable.
It was bought in late 1954 by Ken Flint and Verdun Edwards.
When Flint and Edwards bought it it had neither body (destroyed in Walker’s Isle of Man accident) nor engine (fitted in ERA Delage).
They combined elements of the two E types (the chassis of GP1 and the body of GP2) and fitted a Jaguar XK engine to create a sports car (TKD 100), which they then raced and subsequently sold to Jim Berry.
Gordon Chapman bought GP1’s chassis from Berry in 1959 and a long-term recreation was initiated.
During its 1939-50 racing period the car always had a 1500cc engine.
After Gordon Chapman’s rebuild a two litre engine was fitted which the car has retained ever since.

Leslie Johnson, having succeeded Humphrey Cook as the owner of the English Racing Automobiles company at the end of 1947, bought GP2 from Les Brooke, racing it between 1948 and 1950.
GP2’s chassis, fitted with a Bristol engine, was then used for development work on the G type ERA.
Peter King, who was an employee at the ERA works at Dunstable, subsequently bought the car in 1952, intending to fit another engine, but this was never done.
In 1955 King sold the car to Ken Flint and Verdun Edwards, who removed the body and fitted it on their Jaguar-engined sports car, based on GP1’s chassis.
In 1958 Flint and Edwards sold GP2’s chassis to former Formula 3 driver Jack Nicholson. He fitted it with an all-enveloping body, made by Williams and Pritchard, and a Jaguar XK engine, and it was then raced in this form as a sports car (933 BAO) during the early 1960s.
The car was then sold to Peter Lee, of Chorley, who advertised it for sale in Autosport in 1966.
Gordon Chapman bought the car, and eventually began its restoration.
The car had a 1500cc engine throughout its racing life in the Brooke / Johnson post war era.
At some point after Gordon Chapman’s rebuild (maybe from the start) a 2 litre unit was fitted, which the car has to this day.

G Type (R1G)
The rather unattractive offset-seated body, with which the car was fitted during the 1952 season, was only intended to be temporary, with the car being intended to have an all-enveloping single seat body.
As it turned out, the car always raced with this temporary body.
The car was fitted with a 6-cylinder two litre Bristol engine which had been modified by ERA to have dry sump lubrication.

This car was built up between 1984 and 1986 by Tony Merrick using a great number of original ERA spares from the stock of Thomson and Taylor which had been bought by Sandy Murray during the 1960s and which were then later passed on to Tony Merrick.
The car was built to B type specification, and has always been fitted with a 1500cc engine.