Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Miller 91

One last back-ordered item turned up earlier this week: the lovely little Miller 91 from Historic Racing Miniatures. It's tiny next to the leviathan Renault from the same period; more on the scale of the little Honda RA272E of 1965.

It illustrates that there is nothing new under the sun: the Miller 91 had a 1500 cc, DOHC supercharged motor making up to 250 hp, in a front-wheel-drive chassis. Honda Civic hot-rods, anyone? The name relates to the displacement; 91 cubic inches is just about 1500 cc. I'll build it up to mimic the Packard Cable Special as found in the Smithsonian collection; this is the car Ralph Hepburn ran in the 1929 Indianapolis 500, and which later set speed records of 143 mph (230 k/h) in Europe. Contrast this with the Renault's 9 litres and 130 hp, which was the last gasp of the Edwardian automobile era.

Unlike today’s blown motors, it only had two valves per cylinder, probably at least partly due to the fact it was an inline 8 cylinder with a bore of only 55.5 mm, limiting valve area. (It was a typical long stroke prewar motor, with a stroke of 76.2 mm). Also it had a centrifugal blower as the metallurgy for turbos wasn’t there yet, even though GE put a turbo on an airplane engine in 1919 in a bid for a new record of 28,500 feet. Nonetheless over 200 hp from a 1.5 litre motor, in 1928, is incredible.
The kit is gorgeous, with lovely pre-wired wheels and very high-quality resin bits. The instruction 'manual' is a little thin on pictorial detail but this is what you get from a one-man operation. The box has the handwritten notice 47/100, so I am assuming the current run is at least half sold by now; I ordered it in late December (from and was told it would ship as kits got made. Get your order in now! 
With this delivery, there is nothing left on backorder. The count now stands at about 53 kits complete, 55 unstarted, and as many as 10 in progress. Time to start building and stop buying.
OK, OK, who am I kidding. I'll continue buying as oddball stuff crops up. I just added a Lancia Delta S4 from the 1986 Monte Carlo, recently reissued by Profil 24; I've got 9 or 10 of their kits with only two (DBR1 and Renault 40) even remotely started.

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