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Homepage. This page: Collectable LPs & records from the 1940s-1970s featuring the sound of road and racing cars.

Motoring vinyl records (33s, 45s, 78s).

Lots of different collectables are featured on oldclassiccar, some of which (for example motoring games) can be read about via the homepage, and other obscure items via the motoring collectables main page. This section will feature some of the old records that I've come across over the years, and one or two that I'd like to find.

Car-related vinyl recordings have been available since the 1930s, and are in the main quite hard to find now. Many relate to road cars, but perhaps the majority feature contemporary racing cars, and it is the latter that usually turn up for sale now. Occasionally the sound of motor cars can turn up on general 'sound effects' records, and a couple of those are featured here too. Earlier LPs often play at 78 rpm, and are known as 78s, whereas later singles play at 45, and LPs at 33 rpm. Here are some examples of motoring LPs and singles..

45 rpm records

BRDC record from 1957   British Racing Drivers Club 19th British Empire Trophy Race 1957, Oulton Park (Sound Stories)
This 45rpm record was produced by Stanley Schofield (SS) Productions Limited, and features sounds of cars competing in the '57 BRDC Empire Trophy sportscar race, with commentary by John Bolster (of Bloody Mary special fame). Archie Scott-Brown would win in a Lister-Jaguar, with Roy Salvadori 2nd in an Aston Martin, and Ron Flockhart picking up 3rd place in a Lotus, ahead of the company's founder (Colin Chapman) also in a 1460cc Lotus.

The Oulton Park track in mid-Cheshire was still a relatively new venue in 1957, having hosted its first race in 1953 (more info on this circuit here).
Mercedes at Oulton Park record   Mercedes at Oulton Park 1958 (Sound Stories)
Again from Sound Stories, and again at Oulton Park, is this recording of a special event held on June 28th, 1958, the weekend of the Richard Seaman Memorial Trophy Meeting, where a pair of single seater Mercedes Benz Grand Prix cars took to the Cheshire circuit, driven by Tony Brooks and Peter Collins. The cars were a 1937 W125 and the 1938/1939 W163, straight from the factory museum at Stuttgart.

Interestingly it wasn't just Sound Stories who were at this event with microphones to hand, as Riverside flew over from the States to also record this historic demonstration (see further down). Commentary was by Neville Lloyd, and the interview with Collins and Brooks by Laurence Pomeroy.
EMI car sound effects   Sound Effect Record - Cars (EMI EFX106)
This 45rpm record, issued by EMI, solely features sounds associated with motoring, and was produced in 1967. It is one of a set of sound effect records, I wouldn't mind finding record #102 (Aeroplanes), and #112 (City Traffic and Transport). The rear of the sleeve describes the ten different sounds recorded on this 45. I've not played this one as yet, but apparently it contains exciting sounds such as a car drawing up, the engine being switched off and the door being slammed. The third track will strike a chord with learner drivers everywhere, as this 20 second clip is titled "Trying to put car in gear". The remaining tracks cover engine sounds, cars driving by, a horn and a car doing a three-point turn. Heady stuff.

33 rpm records

Mercedes at Oulton Park by Riverside USA   Mercedes Benz W125 W163 (Riverside)
This LP gives more extensive coverage of the Mercedes Grand Prix car gathering, held at Oulton in 1958. Several small photographs feature on the album sleeve, including one of the fabulous high-speed transporter (scrapped, then re-created some years later by the factory!).

Side 1 has sounds of the W163 warming up, chat between Collins and Brooks, Brooks pulling away in the W163, high-speed coverage of the W125, with further comments from both drivers. On Side 2 is the history of both cars, narrated by former Mercedes driver Carl Kling. The final track is both cars running at the start line, and powering away, with further snippets of both cars being driven at speed.
Mercedes Grand Prix car record   Fortissimo Racing Cars (Riverside)
Whereas the Mercedes Benz at Oulton LP is fairly easy to find, this seems to be much rarer. It is also produced by Riverside Recordings, but this time in the 'electronic research and development' section. Unusual is the red vinyl on which the tracks are placed, and the fact that it plays from the inside edge, outwards, which can confuse some record players!

The cover folds out to give more information of this Mercedes GP car recording. The idea was to combine the sounds of the W125, the W163, W165, W196 and 300SLR, as if they had taken part in a race meeting, head to head. The cars range from 1937 through to 1955, so this would never have happened in reality: "... this is a record of the sounds of an utterly impossible race. Actually these are the sounds of a motor race that never happened!". This is a fascinating stereo record to listen to, with different engine notes easily noticeable as the various cars 'race by'.
Grand Prix film   The exciting racing sounds of Grand Prix (MFP, EMI)
Still rated by racing anoraks as the best racing film, is 'Grand Prix' by John Frankenheimer. Brought out at the same time, this LP which contained audio footage of many great cars and drivers.

Side 1 has interviews with Frankenheimer, 1961 World Champion Phil Hill (for Ferrari), and Graham Hill, who lifted the title the following year. Various cars in action at Monza wraps up side 1.

Side 2 has racing cars from Monaco, Spa, and Brands Hatch. This pressing was produced in 1967. The album sleeve contains notes on the featured races and drivers, with circuit diagrams.
US Grand Prix 1960   The Grand Prix of the United States 1960 (Riverside)
Another stereophonic recording by Riverside of New York. This LP was recorded at Riverside, California, November 20th 1960, where Moss and Phil Hill (driving a Ferrari) did battle, finishing first and third respectively. Brabham had problems, but battled back to finish fourth, with Innes Ireland clinching second position behind Moss.

This was to be the final year for the '2.5 litre unblown' era, with 1.5 litre GP cars lined up for the following season.

78 rpm records

Shelsley Walsh 1947   M.A.C. Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb, 1947 (Antone)
I found this old 78 on eBay a few years back. It didn't come with a proper sleeve (did it have one?), just a brown paper envelope. It was recorded and produced by The Antone Company, of Ewell in Surrey.

On both sides are various soundtracks of cars competing on the MAC hillclimb course, at this early postwar meeting.

The main reason I bought it is that the final track features the 8 cylinder s/c Alfa Romeo that my old transporter once carried, and would have been at this meeting, parked down in the paddock.
British Grand Prix 1948   RAC British Grand Prix Silverstone & B.A.R.C. Jersey Road Race 1948 (Antone)
This 78 record came from the same source as the Shelsley one mentioned before. Side 1 features the noise and action from the postwar GP meeting at Silverstone.

Side 2 features the BARC Jersey Road Race, also in 1948. Again it was produced by Antone, with a note that F. & E. Stoneham, New Bridge St, London EC4 (booksellers to the motorist) were sole distributors for these recordings. Sometime I'd like to get them recorded onto CD.
Vauxhall Motors record   Vauxhall Motors presents Power for '57
This old 78 was produced by Vauxhall Motors themselves, although quite who they were for I'm not sure - perhaps sales staff at Vauxhall/Bedford dealerships. As soon as I re-discover my record player, I'll give this one a spin. Presumably it features cars such as the Vauxhall Cresta and the Victor.
Bedford commercial vehicle 78rpm record   Vauxhall Motors presents Bedfords for '57
A partner to the previous LP, again produced by Vauxhall for their dealerships. This one concentrates on Bedford commercial vehicles in 1957, a time when their CA van was proving to be a popular buy.

Sound collections that also feature cars.

BBC Sound Effects album   BBC Sound Effects No.1 (BBC Mono 33rpm)
While some of the sounds are not terribly interesting, there were enough on this LP to make it worth buying (in a charity shop!). In the 'Outdoor Events' section, there is a 40 second clip of a Le Mans start, and another of cars passing others out on the circuit. Aviation fans can be satisfied listening to a BEA Trident taking off, landing, and taxying. A propeller-powed DH Devon also features. Various seagoing vessels have their few seconds of fame, as do both steam and diesel locomotives. More excitement comes in the sound of a Wolseley 16/60 starting up, driving away, and other noises made by this car, from outside and inside the cabin. Traffic sounds, and a few clips of a police car and fire engine, round off this BBC production.
BBC Sounds of Speed album   BBC Sounds of Speed (BBC Stereo 33rpm)
Another selection of fast-moving vehicle sounds. Featured on the cover (G-BOAA), and recorded during take-off and taxying, is a BA Concorde c1980, from the days when we still had a supersonic service. Following this are sounds of an SRN4 Hovercraft (like this one), a Jetfoil, and the Inter-City 125 train. Side 2 presents some more tempting audio delights - a fire engine in various situations, a police car (including a skid and several 100mph drive-bys!), an ambulance, and sounds of a lifeboat.

I found another of these sound effect LPs, which featured a 50s Aston during a race, a while back but didn't buy it for some reason - what was I thinking of, doh!?

Yet more interesting old records.

Austin A40 vinyl record   Austin A40 Launch (Austin Motor Company Limited)
This old vinyl was issued by the Austin company on the launch of the new A40 Devon model. It featured Mr. L. P. Lord (Leonard Lord) announcing the Austin A40, and would have been sent to Austin dealers and distributors around the country, and perhaps the rest of the world, so that they would know something about the car when they turned up on the transporters. It was recorded by Levy's Sound Studios Ltd of London. It played at 78rpm, and was catalogue number 412.

Noise of the BRM V16 record   Noise of the BRM.
Stewart dropped me a line, with a photograph of an interesting record he's found. It was issued by ORMA, the Owen Racing Motor Association, a badge for which he also owns. The record, a 78, enables the motor racing enthusiast to annoy their neighbours with the shrieking (magnificent) racket produced by the V16 BRM.
Interestingly, they chose not to call it the "Sounds of the BRM", but "Noise of the BRM".

If anyone has a copy of the BRM LP that they'd like to sell, please drop me a line.
I'm interested in hearing about any old records that feature cars, whether road or racing cars, and if you have one that you're willing to part with, please drop me an email via the link above. I'm also interested to see sheet music that relates to the early days of motoring (such as The Motor Chase).

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