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Ridley Special

1931, ERA Shed, On long term display

750cc Record Breaker (Class H)

This is the second of Viscount Ridley’s personally designed racing cars for record breaking attempts. Constructed in workshops on his estate at Blagdon, Northumberland, it was described at the time as a brilliantly designed and beautifully executed racing car.

Ridley’s engine drove a 5 speed gearbox through a Parry Thomas-type multi-plate clutch. The car’s appearance was probably influenced by the “flat iron” Thomas Specials.

Around 1930-31 a tremendous battle was being fought between Austin and MG for possession of the International Class H Record, known as the ‘Battle of the Babes’. Then, on the 12 August 1931, Lord Ridley took the flying kilometre and mile records to 105.42mph and 104.50mph in the Ridley Special at Brooklands. This shocked Austin and MG and the press had a field day with articles on the Newcastle Peer and his “secret car”.

On the 28 October 1931, Lord Ridley had a serious crash while trying to improve his record. The car was wrecked and Lord Ridley was lucky to escape with his life.

This exhibit has been rebuilt over many years by Mike Miles and Maurice Gleeson, incorporating many surviving original Ridley parts into the restoration. Other original components are in storage including the gearbox and parts of the engine.

Loaned by Lord Ridley