Amherst Villiers Superchargers. Charles AMHERST VILLIERS.

Amherst Villiers Superchargers.

Motormedia Publications, Surrey. Printed at the Ditchling Press Ltd., no date [circa 2000]. Facsimile brochure for Amherst Villiers Superchargers. Printed blue card covers, magazine format (23 x 17cm). Illustrated throughout. Fine/unread. Charles Amherst Villiers was an automotive and aeronautical engineer who was the only man to work with both motor racing legends Ettore Bugatti and W.O. Bentley. After a successful winning period with the Brescia Bugattis (1923-4), through supercharging the Rolls Royce Phantom I, then producing the 'Vauxhall Villiers' race car in 1927, Amherst Villiers was commissioned to design and build a new speed record car by then current holder Malcolm Campbell; the result, one of the most famous vehicles in history, named 'Bluebird', raised the Land Speed Record to 174.883mph (at Pendine, 1927). After revisions by Villiers, Bluebird then smashed that figure at Daytona Beach a year later, breaking the mythical 200 barrier when clocking a massive 206.956mph. Villiers then designed a supercharger for the 4½ litre Bentley racing at Brooklands, and 50 'blown' Bentley production models were made to fulfil qualification requirements for the LeMans 24hr.race, in which it fared well on debut, setting a new lap record before slowing through tyre problems. A Bentley 'Blower' also took the Brooklands Outer Circuit lap record which stood for two years. Villiers becames somewhat of a celebrity, and was profiled in the series 'Leading Men in the British Motor Industry' (reproduced in this brochure). Ian Fleming [1908-1964], who was a young journalist working for the Reuters News service, was devoted to cars; he had won his class driving a 4½ litre Invicta in the 1931 Alpine Rally with Donald Healey, and had reported the Le Mans 24hrs in the thrities where he witnessed the epic battles between Bentley and Mercedes-Benz; British Racing Green versus Deutschland über alles- a fierce contest which so impressed Fleming he recast the duel in his 'Moonraker' novel; Bond's 1930 4½ litre Bentley engaged in a thrilling chase with villain Hugo Drax's Mercedes. Only treachery led to the Bentley being wrecked. Superchargers fascinated Fleming and he became friends with Amherst Villiers and the Bentley Boys, selecting the 'blower' as his famous character's own vehicle, which featured in his first three novels; 'Bond's car was his only personal hobby. One of the last of the 4½ litre Bentleys with the supercharger by Amherst-Villiers he had bought it almost new in 1933 and kept it in careful storage throughout the war. It was still serviced every year and, in London, a former Bentley mechanic, who worked in a garage near Bond's Chelsea flat, tended it with jealous care. Bond drove it hard and well with an almost sensual pleasure. It was a battleship-grey convertible coupe, and it was capable of touring at ninety with thirty miles an hour in reserve.' (from Casino Royale, 1953). For the remaining novels affter the collision with Drax, Bond, Bentley to the core, used a Mark II Continental which was also supercharged. During the Goldfinger affair Bond is issued with a company car, an Aston Martin DB3, with certain modifications, which one must assume is retunred to the car pool following the case, as it does not feature again in subsequent episodes. When Fleming started work on a series of adventures concerning a vintage car he approached Amherst for some designs. After working on aircraft engines, Amherst was back in racing, busy developing Grand Prix cars for Graham Hill- he was therefore only able to donate a few quick sketches to Fleming, who subsequently ran with the idea of basing his car on Count Zborowski's 1920 Zeppelin-powered Mercedes with coachwork by Blythe Bros. Artist John Burningham illustrated the three published books. Around this time (1964), Fleming sent a copy of his recent Bond novel to Amherst, who never had the time for reading- Fleming knew this, and inscribed the book in no uncertain terms 'For Amherst - read it, damn you!'. Amherst's 'Chitty' designs were unused, but kept by Fleming and eventually surfaced when the manuscript of the story 'and some sketches' of the flying car were auctioned by Sotheby's (12 Dec.2002); this lot was in fact mis-catalogued as the drawings were not attributed correctly to Amherst-Villiers. On Monday 15th October 2007 this cataloguer, Jon Gilbert of Adrian Harrington Ltd. interviewed Amherst's daughter Jane [Janie], and appraised her father's books, inscribed to him by Fleming. Whilst some of the above information can be obtained from general sources, much was gleaned from my conversations with Ms. Villiers. Item #54501

Price: £45.00

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