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Harry Ferguson Research

From: Philip Dingle
Category: Technical
Remote Name:
Date: 07 Jun 2003
Time: 23:45:54


Does anyone have information on the Harry Ferguson Research flat four engines designed by Claude Hill? In many ways, these engines are the spiritual successors to the Javelin/Jupiter engine. Recall that Harry Ferguson Research, based in Coventry, UK was in business to research and develop advanced chassis and driveline concepts, with the expectation that the motor industry would potentially license the ideas. Although supported by the patent-derived wealth of Harry Ferguson, the company HFR Ltd. was a consultant like Ricardo, but in a different niche.

In the early and mid 1950's, HFR designed and built a series of advanced prototype chassis which incorporated 4-wheel drive and anti-lock braking systems amongst other features. These were built as technology demonstrators, with the design work done by Claude Hill who previously had been Technical Director at Aston Martin. It is likely that Roy Lunn knew him there? It is well known that the first prototype, R1, used a Javelin engine and gearbox, possibly acquired through the Lunn connection? R2 had a vertically mounted scotch yoke flat four engine. R3 had a Javelinesque pushrod engine, but hopefully better, since Hill would have been familiar with the Jowett engine problems. The really interesting engine was the 2.2 litre OHC R5 flat four which had a tunnel crankcase, and is the powerplant I would like more information on. From a retrospective article in Autocar, dated 12 August 1966, I see that R5 gave 125 BHP at 5400 rev/min with two SU carburetors. From the internet, I see a suggestion that the R5 may be displayed at the Museum of British Road Transport in Coventry. Can anyone confirm that?

[img R5.jpg]

Interestingly, the original 2-bearing prototype Javelin crankcase was a tunnel design, and in his autobiography, Palmer noted that if he had to do it again, the production engine would be a tunnel design too for maximum rigidity. Also of interest is the fact that Jowett were looking at new engine designs to replace the problematic Javelin unit. Stokoe's book "Jowett 1901-1954" page 115 notes that Grandfield was recommending a new 90 X 90 mm 2.5 litre (sic, actually 2.3 litre) flat four engine in March 1950. Other writers, including Nankivell "The Jowett Jupiter" have noted that an (in-line ?) 6-cylinder OHC engine was actually in design for future cars, at the time that Jowett Cars Ltd. folded. One assumes that JCL were bemused by the stunning success and acclaim that Jaguar Cars were reaping from the release of the 3.4 litre DOHC XK engine in the 120 sports car. JCL had been building engines for years, but here was a competitor with a less extensive history demonstrating with their very first in-house effort that a boldly specified high performance engine, could ignite the export market and deliver the steel allocation and sales necessary for company growth. In the Javelin and Jupiter, Jowett had the performance oriented chassis, all they needed was a powertrain comparable to Jaguar's XK. In retrospect, perhaps taking a Claude Hill HFR Ltd. design would have been the smart move.

Philip Dingle

Last changed: November 19, 2008