Ernest Eldridge was a Brooklands driver of some
note in the 1920's but appeared only once on the
world record scene. His first racing appearance was
in 1921 with a rare chain-driven Isotta-Fraschini
which was lapping at more than 90 mph.
The following year Eldridge startled the Brooklands
crowd by appearing with a 240 horse-power Mayback
aero engine in his 1907 I.F. chassis, which had been
stretched to accommodate the giant power plant.
20 litre racer had a tiny two-seater body made by
Jarvis of Wimbledon and caused something of a sensation,
even when monstrosities were not uncommon in motor
It won its first race at more than 101 mph. Eldridge
then turned to a 10 litre Fiat, which he drove with
some success. Meanwhile he was busy fitting the 21
litre A12 Fiat aero engine into old Mephistopheles'
He retained chain drive and had a two-seater
body fitted with the cockpit right on the end of
the enormously long chassis. The whole thing eventually
weighed the best part of two tons in racing trim.
Eldridge's car was among the last to use chain drive,
but the reason for this was that the car started
life as a sprint model back in 1907, and was approaching
20 years old when it took the world record.
was originally a (very) open two-seater with a four-cylinder
engine, cast in two pairs, which could achieve around
120 mph. After languishing in a shed during the first
world war, it appeared again at Brooklands in 1922
in the hands of John Duff of Bentley fame.
But time took its toll in a big way during a race,
when the entire engine disintegrated about the heads
of driver and passenger. Back into a shed it went,
until Eldridge bought it and welded eighteen inches
of bus chassis into the frame to enable it to withstand
the size and weight of a 21.7 litre Fiat aero engine
which produced 300 horse-power at 1,800 rpm. on a
5 to 1 compression ratio.
The unit, from an Italian
warplane, had a single overhead camshaft operating
four valves for each cylinder. The car also had the
extraordinary number of four plugs per cylinder,
but only two carburettors.