Westcott Village Fete and Funday
I joined Clive for this event on Sunday 9th July – another beautiful sunny summer day. There were a few other classic cars assembled, including Ian Smith’s veteran Austin Taxi that we saw at our PoO, and a lovely old Humber. But the car that really attracted my attention was a 1920’s Lafitte, a car I had never heard of.
This small (and actually quite deceptively insignificant looking) car was particularly interesting because it has a 3-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, with 4 drive ratios, but no gearbox! Attached to the rear of the engine is a convex plate about 15” in diameter, and to the drive shaft is attached a compressed paper-lined concave plate of the same size. In the highest ratio these two plates are completely mated together to give a 1 : 1 ratio for normal driving.
To change to a lower ratio, the clutch is depressed to separate the two plates, and by use of a gear lever attached to the top of the engine, the engine pivots around its east-west axis so that the rear end is lowered, and when the clutch engages, the drive plate attached to the engine mates with the other plate lower down its face, thus giving a lower ratio. Ingenious! Only an engineer would have thought that one up. The lafitte, and a lovely Austin Seven Chummy are owned by George Stanton, a chap I had heard much about but never before met, so it was a real pleasure to meet and chat to him. He is the former owner of the Lodge Mazda Garage in Kingswood, and is well known as a collector of unusual cars.