Offset Monoposto Engine no. 15/2777
In the early 1930s the British motor industry did not produce a true single-seater racing car, but a number of privateers converted two-seat chassis to single-seat configuration using offset bodywork. Hector Dobbs was probably the most famous exponent of the offset single-seater and his two Riley specials of 1935 were by far the most successful of this genre. He raced the cars in 1935 and '36, but the arrival of the first ERA in 1934 changed the racing landscape and the offset style of body was soon to be a thing of the past.
Offered today is the Dobbs 2-litre car, which raced in 1,808cc form in 1935 and was upgraded to a full works 2-litre race unit in 1936. The car has a continuous history and has been in the same ownership for the last 50 years (1958-2008). It raced in the 1935 British Grand Prix at Donington Park and had some notable successes at Brooklands including 3rd in the 1936 International Trophy behind the ERAs of Mays and Bira. Hector Dobbs was an exceptional privateer who became something of a national hero in the mid-1930s. In 1933 and '34 he experimented with aerodynamically bodied Riley Nines, but appeared at the start of the 1935 season with two six-cylinder cars, abandoning the search for aerodynamic perfection and opting instead for lightness. The cars were based on Riley TT Sprite chassis and used running gear provided by the Riley works competitions department. The axles, brakes and some other parts came from the 1934 Riley Racing MPHs, which had run at Le Mans that year. Dobbs owned a third chassis but prepared and ran only two cars, selling the spare chassis when he stopped racing.
The Dobbs cars featured the distinctive offset body, racing 'silent 3rd' gearboxes, extensive use of Elektron and highly machined KE 805 steel components, almost of all of which are retained on this, the 2-litre car. At the start of 1936 the works provided Hector Dobbs with a race-prepared 2-litre 15/6 engine, which incorporated a number of unique components. The engine was effectively an un-supercharged version of the ERA unit using the same design of crankshaft and connecting rods, but with the traditional Riley cast-iron cylinder head. Dobbs ran the engines on Amal carburettors and methanol fuel with a modest compression ratio of 11:1, relying on the car being considerably lighter than the supercharged and more powerful opposition.
In the two years he raced the cars Dobbs recorded many wins including three at one Donington race meeting in 1935 and 11 first, second and third places in 1936. The wins and trophies were mainly at Donington and Brooklands but also included a class win and the Gavanagh Cup at Shelsey Walsh.
In 1937 both cars were sold. The 1.5-litre went to Billy Cotton and then Buller Mayer in South Africa, and was destroyed in the late 1950s after a serious crash. The 2-litre car was first owned by motor cycling champion Eric Fernihough, who was killed in a world motorcycle land speed record attempt before he could campaign it. It was then used by the Billy Cotton stable, being raced on a number of occasions by Wilkie Wilkinson. At the end of 1939 the car held the un-supercharged lap record for the Brooklands mountain circuit and had set the 2-litre un-supercharged class record at Shelsley Walsh.
In 1946 the car came into the hands of Roy Salvadori who used it for sprint meetings. He then shared the car with Joe Kelly, of Alta fame, who fitted it with a body from the Grand Prix Alta. In this form it competed in the UK and Ireland, before being passed to Clive Clairmonte who used it for Formula 2 events at Silverstone and Goodwood. Clairmonte liked the Riley engine so much that he commissioned Colin Chapman to build a modern chassis for it so that he would be more competitive. The chassis number 'VII', which was built immediately after the kit car Lotus MkVI that was to make the company's name, was never fully completed and in the end ran with a Lea Francis engine.
The Dobbs 2-litre car was bought by the current owners in 1958 and the Alta body modified to reflect the original offset form. It has been run consistently over the last five decades, competing at the highest level and recording notable finishes against period opposition. The 2-litre six-cylinder engine, close-ratio 'box, lightweight back axle and braking system are all as used by Dobbs. The car has run for the last two years at the Goodwood Revival meeting and been rebuilt over the winter of 2007/08 with a new exhaust manifold and the addition of twin rear wheels as used by Wilkie Wilkinson at Crystal Palace, Brooklands and Shelsley in 1939.
The Riley is prepared for the season and represents a unique opportunity to acquire a most historic and famous Brooklands single-seater that has been owned by a number of famous British racing drivers. The car is renowned as one of the best handling of all Rileys and excels on challenging circuits. As the only surviving Hector Dobbs offset single-seater six-cylinder car, it offers the collector or racer an opportunity to own an important part of British motor racing history.
Recently the car have participate to the Grand prix historique de Monaco (2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016), the grand prix historique of Pau 2013 (Victory in the two races) and a lot of hill climb.
New FIA papers
Price : POA
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