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1936 Alta 2-Litre Grand Prix

The name of Alta may not have the aura of ERA, Maserati, Bugatti or Alfa Romeo, but nonetheless it holds an important niche in the history of British motor racing and was the result of the endeavors of one man.”- Denis Jenkinson, Motor Sport. Geoffrey Taylor was a small specialist manufacturer with a difference. Where others assembled hybrids from proprietary bits and pieces, he not only designed but also made every part of the Alta sports and competition models, even down to the superchargers. The little Alta factory near the Kingston bypass was largely put up with his own hands. Completed in 1929, Taylor’s first Alta was an 1,100 cc sports car. The Alta engine featured cast-iron wet liners, twin overhead camshafts with vertical shaft/skew gear drive, hemispherical combustion chambers, and Nitralloy steel crankshafts, making it one of the more advanced designs of the day. Engines were available in supercharged and un-blown form, producing 76 or 49 bhp, respectively. Lightness and low build were two of Taylor’s objectives, so the frame was under-slung, and even the little 1100s wore 13-inch brake drums. It is estimated that 13 cars were made, of which five are believed to survive. In 1934, Taylor produced the first Alta to be designed solely for competition: an offset single-seat model. Though supercharged and un-charged 1100s, 1500s, and 2-Litres were catalogued up to the outbreak of World War II, very few cars were made; a fair estimate is four single-seater racers, six offset single-seater racers, and 19 sports types. This Alta, chassis 52S, was the first true Alta single-seater and was originally delivered on 20 July 1935 to Alastair J. Cormack in Scotland. Cormack was the original driver of 52S, racing it extensively through the 1936 season.


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