The perfect car to drive down to to the Cote d’Azur for les grandes vacances? Today’s diesel SUVs be blowed, what could be more exciting than an Edwardian cycle-car powered by an aeroplane engine?
Tearing up the French RNs in this 1914 British GN is all part of the fun for the car’s owner, Richard Scaldwell. ‘It’s a simple car that’s easy to drive and great for touring,’ he tells us when we drop in on him. ‘We take it to the South of France for our holidays.’
Before this year’s continental adventure, however, there’s a rather more pressing engagement: joining a host of equally barmy Edwardian specials on the grid at the 74th Members’ Meeting on 19-20 March. The car is entered for Annie Scaldwell to drive in the S.F. Edge Trophy, Goodwood’s new tribute race to the giants of the Brooklands era of motor racing.
This car is no physical giant but it promises to stand out even in such elevated Edwardian company. There’s its distinctive cyclops headlight for one thing, the see-through bodywork (even the floor is see-through!), an exquisite patina and, best of all perhaps, its beautiful exposed overhead valve engine. As you can hear from our video, it also emits a very pleasing purr.
‘The engine’s the most important thing in this car,’ Richard tells us. It is actually earlier than the GN, dating from 1908. The air-cooled 5.0-litre V8 was made by JAP as a prototype aeroplane engine, and is almost certainly the only one still powering anything.
What is does power is a wooden-chassis GN cycle-car, originally fitted with nothing more than a belt-drive V-twin, that Richard built up to take the JAP engine at the end of the 1990s. Since then this sensational car has been a regular sight, not just on the Promenade des Anglais but at many VSCC events… and now at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting.
Enjoy the video and make a date to see it race in the S F Edge Trophy. One person who is sure to be enjoying that is Richard. As he says, the car is ‘completely responsive, completely forgiving… and utterly joyful’.
Photography by Tom Shaxson