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Homepage. This page: Major Gardner in his MG, and the Napier Railton, feature in two copies of Modern Wonder from 1937 & 1938.

Major Gardner's MG features in Modern Wonder 1938.

Prior to the war, record-breaking cars often featured on the cover of children's magazines, annuals and newspapers. Shown here is a copy of Modern Wonder dating to w/ending September 10th, 1938. The cover features Major 'Goldie' Gardner at speed in his MG speed record car, officially known as EX135. A seasoned speed-record contender, his next run had been due to take place in October where he hoped to achieve a speed in excess of the 148.8mph he'd achieved in October 1937 on the Frankfurt autobahn. In September the event was cancelled with just a few weeks notice, meaning that he'd have to wait until the following year. In 1939 he'd compete in the annual record week held on the German Frankfurt-Darmstadt-Heidelberg autobahn, where a driver could turn up with their car and, for a nominal sum, do a timed run.
In May 1939, Gardner achieved a maximum of 203.5mph in his streamlined MG, and won three distance records for cars in the 750cc-1100cc category. Following an overnight rebuild of the engine, and re-bore that saw the car fall into the next (1100cc-1500cc) category, the 2nd June saw Gardner and his MG achieve a further three class records, again over 2 kilometre, 1mile, and 5 kilometre distances.
As well as attaining a number of speed records prior to the war, EX135 in the hands of Gardner would continue to top the timesheets at a number of post-war record meetings too, with runs at Bonneville Salt Flats proving successful in 1951 and again in 1952. He retired from record attempts in 1952, and died in 1958.
Goldie Gardner in his record-breaking MG
The first page within this copy of Modern Wonder takes the reader through the basic design of the car in 1938, and is illustrated by a number of photographs showing the car bereft of it's wind-cheating coachwork. The car started out in life as a six cylinder, supercharged, MG K3 Magnette before being significantly re-developed and fitted with a single-seater, offset body. A subsequent rebuild resulted in EX135, with, what the paper refers to as a "... beautifully streamlined body built under Jaray (German) patents ...". Design and construction of the car was headed by MG's Cecil Kimber, while Reid Railton developed the streamlined bodywork.
Length for the car was quoted as 16ft 5ins, the width as 5ft 3ins, standing at just 2ft 2ins high. The wheelbase was 8ft 3ins.
The engine was 1,086cc in capacity, boosted by a vane-type supercharger driven from the front end of the crankshaft, drawing air through twin SU carburetters. Magneto ignition, sodium-cooled exhaust valves, and a bronze cylinder head all featured, driving the rear wheels via a four speed gearbox.

Elsewhere in Modern Wonder.

Elsewhere, there is a small piece looking at a new development in motor-car lighting. Rather than dazzling oncoming motorists while driving in hilly areas, motorists with this new design of lamp would see their car's headlamp beams continue to illuminate the road, even when tackling steep gradients. The reflector unit within the headlamp housing tilted, thus directing the beam onto the road even when the outer headlamp shell was pointing heavenwards. The reflector was mounted on a pivot at its top edge, with a weight and damper mounted down below.
Tilting car headlights
The remaining articles within Modern Wonder look at a variety of engineering subjects, all designed to open a youngster's eyes to the world around them, and the amazing inventions that were to be found all around. Topics covered include the use of wax models when designing large ships, the way in which a gyroscope keeps a torpedo steady when fired, the stages that went into a developing photographs from a roll of film, rotary ploughs (or "gyrotillers"), plus miscellaneous developments in the world of science, technology and engineering.

2. Another copy of Modern Wonder, from 1937.

This copy of Modern Wonder dates to 1937 so is over a year older than the copy featured above. The 1937 issue is noticeably larger than its 1938 cousin, but again features a stirring illustration of modern motor car racing. Sub-titled as Record Breakers of 1937, this issue from June 5th 1937 features three cars on its cover, Captain George Eyston behind the wheel of "Speed of the Wind", and John Cobb pounding around the Brooklands circuit in the Napier-Railton, in hot pursuit of another driver (ERA?).
1937 copy of the Modern Wonder
The first article in this week's paper looks at the achievements of Cobb, Eyston, and also of Ab Jenkins in the Mormon Meteor, battling as they were to be the fastest men on earth. Stirring stuff, what child could fail to be inspired by such tales of daring adventure and technological progress?
An eye-catching full-colour centre spread dissects the (then) most powerful steam engine currently in passenger service on the UK's railways, named the "Cock O' The North". The designer was Mr H. N. Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer at LNER's Works in Doncaster.
Another article looks at the still-to-be-built sister ship to the Queen Mary, which would later be named the Queen Elizabeth, while a further installment in the exciting story "Martians on Earth" keeps its reader on tenterhooks for another week. All this and more for just Two Pence per week, wizard.
More items relating to motoring, including other publications like this that also feature land speed record cars on their covers, such as Blue Bird and Babs, can be found in the Motoring Collectables section of oldclassiccar.

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