|The Preston Racing Associates car is in the
collection at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley.
It was built by Mr. C. Preston in 1953
and has a 500c.c. Manx-Norton engine. Jim Evans has found the
following information in "A to Z of Formula Racing Cars" by David Hodges and
in Classic and Sports Car Magazine, July 2002.
||PRA is an abbreviation either of Preston Racing
Associates or Preston Racing Automobiles. No competition
history is known for the 500c.c. PRA, which was designed
by C. Preston in 1953 and built along the lines of
a pre-war Mercedes Benz.
It has a tubular frame, in the front of
which is mounted a single overhead camshaft Norton engine, which
uniquely for a British 500, drives the rear wheels via a shaft. Like
the Mercedes W 163, the front suspension is by coil springs and wishbones.
de Dion rear axle is used, and like its inspiration, it has wire
|In the March 1953 issue of IOTA the
in-house magazine of the 500c.c. Association there is a snippet about the
car being built by a Mr. C. Preston of Wolverhampton. Ray Jones the
Black Country Living Museum's honorary curator of
vehicles thinks the man who
built it could have had connections with Boulton Paul, as it is built to
aircraft standards and designs. There is a possibility that he
||In the item, Preston states his belief that the power of
the 500c.c. racing engine would be too much for a chain drive, hence the
location of the engine (originally believed to have been a ‘double
knocker’ Norton unit) and shaft drive.
He said "if one has to lift the foot to save the
chains, one may just as well accept the slightly lower
mechanical efficiency of gears and shafts and press on
The car is known to have been purchased by Tim Squance who left it in
his shed for 20 years before selling it to Duncan Rabagliati.
|The restored car, as seen in
the Bradburn and Wedge Garage at the Black Country
Living Museum in February 2016.
Despite exhaustive efforts he was unable
to learn more of the PRA’s origins before he auctioned it off in the late
1990s. It was purchased by the Marston Wolverhampton Heritage Trust, and
later the Black Country Living Museum.
The car still has most of its aluminium bodywork intact,
but is less drive shafts and springs. The rear axle unit is
an aluminium casting with "PRA" cast into it, and appears to be a combined
gearbox–differential–crown wheel and pinion unit. The Black Country Living
Museum is hoping to restore it to working order.
If anyone has any information about the car, it will be gratefully received
by the Webmaster.
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