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United Kingdom HW Motors   |  Stats  |  1952 F1 Articles

HWM-Alta 52   By Jeremy McMullen
In 1951 HW Motors entered one round of the Formula One World Championship with their HWM-Alta 51, with its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. Against the likes of Alfa Romeo and Scuderia Ferrari it would have taken an act of providence just for the team to finish in the points…it nearly did. Then, in 1952, providence provided HW Motors its best chance to fight amongst the elite for the World Championship. The car to take on the fight was HW Motor's latest update of the 51. It was the HWM-Alta 52.

Years prior, the company, started by George Abecassis and John Heath, had successfully built racing cars for the Formula 2 category. The decision to focus on Formula 2 was primarily the result of the extravagant costs of Formula One. The pair wanted to build an inexpensive car that had a chance to compete. This led Abecassis and Heath to basically abandon the higher-level of grand prix racing. Ironically, Formula One would come to them.

It was known throughout 1951 that Alfa Romeo would not return the next season. This left Ferrari alone at the top in the very expensive Formula One World Championship. In an effort to increase competition, reduce costs, and save the brand-new racing series it was decided that 1952 and 1953 would be run to Formula 2 specifications.

Formula 2 had proven to be quite competitive at a fraction of the cost of Formula One. The move to run to Formula 2 specifications was a stop-gap move, but it provided HW Motors the opportunity to go down in the annals of World Championship grand prix racing history.

Prior to 1952, HW Motors had the chance to purchase Alta's cars. Alta had been providing the team with very successful engines, and it was thought the team may have wanted the cars as well. This was not the case. The team wanted to make their own cars, especially since the Alta chassis were considered extremely difficult to drive.

In 1951, HW Motors took part in the first round of the Formula One World Championship. Stirling Moss was able to take the small 2.0-liter HMW-Alta 51 to an 8th place finish in the only round the team contested. Given the might of the 4.5-liter Ferrari 375 and the Alfa Romeo 159 Alfetta, the HMW 51 proved it could have a chance were the field to be leveled a little. Heading into 1952 the regulations did level the playing field. Therefore, HW Motors had a car from which to start. Modifications were only needed, it was thought, to help make the car truly competitive.

To start with, HW Motors had their engine. They would stick with the 2.0-liter Alta four-cylinder they had used to great success. The longitudinal four-cylinder engine was capable of producing 150 bhp and had been able to push the HWM chassis up to 60 mph in under eight seconds. The main concern for the 1952 season would be endurance.

Should engine reliability be of concern, a good handling, nimble car could prove capable of making up some of the performance shortages, should it be necessary to back off a little. In the case of the handling and stability of the HWM-Alta 52, the team stuck closely to the design of the 51.

The 52 retained the 'O'-shaped grille at the front of the car. However, from the familiar grille backward there were a number of changes. One major aesthetic difference was found in the overall design of the chassis. The bodywork on the 52 was wider and sturdier looking. The majority of the wishbone suspension was hidden by flared bodywork. The flared bodywork was meant to direct outflow out around the nose of the car, making a narrow passageway between the body and the front wheels.

Overall, the same tear-drop shape was utilized on the 52, only it was widened a far bit. The wide base and narrow; rounded top of the chassis actually aided in the car's stability and handling. The wider base reduced the rolling effect of the car. It also helped to stabilize the higher center of gravity caused by the upright four-cylinder engine.

Similar to the 51, the exhausts for the four-cylinder engine protruded out of the right-side of the engine cowling. Instead of long exhaust pipes extending all the way back past the cockpit, four small exhaust pipes extended out the side. Being that the engine was run to Formula 2 specifications, a supercharger was not allowed. This meant the engine would have to be normally aspirated. The induction pipes for the cylinder extended out the left side of the chassis through a rounded, box-like bulge in the engine cowling bodywork.

The engine cowling bodywork also featured other bulges that were necessary to fit around the carburetors and other engine components tightly squeezed into the car's small frame. Because of the car's small size, and the tight fit around the engine, both sides of the car featured numerous louvers. These louvers, or slits, were meant to help draw out the heat within the bodywork. The passing air acted like a suction and pulled the hot air out and allowed cooler air, flowing through the radiator at the front of the nose, to also be pulled in over the hot engine.

Some of the 51 chassis featured little wedged-shaped bodywork to hide the rear-view mirrors. This was abandoned on the 52. Small round mirrors flanked the equally small one-piece windscreen.

Being such a small car, the driver sat high above the top lines of the car. The driver would, therefore, be greatly exposed to the elements and the dangers. In fact, many of the drivers sat so high the top of the bodywork covering the gas tank sitting behind the driver only extended up near the middle of the back.

Despite sitting up rather high, the cockpit of the 52 remained small and cramped. As was usual during the day, the driver's immediate world in front of him was dominated by the large steering wheel. The four-speed manual transmission ran down through the floor and to the rear wheels.

At only about 1230 pounds, the 150 bhp engine could accelerate the 52 with a very decent pace. Its small design made it nimble, and yet, stable, especially when compared to Alta's chassis designs. To control the performance and the stability, the car was dependent upon drum brakes for its braking power and wishbone suspension for handling and comfort.

HW Motor's 52 was a relatively economical race car compared to Ferrari's 500. All-in-all, it would also prove to be a very capable race car, though not capable of competing with Ferrari and its Formula 2 chassis.

Over the course of the 1952 season, the 52 would wane in its promise. It started out with good promise. It would even prove to be a top-five finishing car when Paul Frere would finish the Belgian Grand Prix 5th. However, as the season wore on, the performance seemed to wear down. The car's ultimate low point came when both Peter Collins and Lance Macklin failed to qualify for the Italian Grand Prix in September of '52.

However, for a team that usually focused on Formula 2, HW Motors, and its 52, performed rather well against the other Formula 2 competitors. Unfortunately, Ferrari; and its 500 F2, was in another league all its own.
United Kingdom Drivers  F1 Drivers From United Kingdom 
George Edgar Abecassis
Henry Clifford Allison
Robert 'Bob' Anderson
Peter Arundell
Peter Hawthorn Ashdown
Ian Hugh Gordon Ashley
Gerald Ashmore
William 'Bill' Aston
Richard James David 'Dickie' Attwood
Julian Bailey
John Barber
Donald Beauman
Derek Reginald Bell
Mike Beuttler
Mark Blundell
Eric Brandon
Thomas 'Tommy' Bridger
Thomas 'Tommy' Bridger
David Bridges
Anthony William Brise
Chris Bristow
Charles Anthony Standish 'Tony' Brooks
Alan Everest Brown
William Archibald Scott Brown
Martin John Brundle
Ivor Léon John Bueb
Ian Burgess
Jenson Alexander Lyons Button
Michael John Campbell-Jones
Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman
Max Chilton
James 'Jim' Clark, Jr.
Peter John Collins
David Marshall Coulthard
Piers Raymond Courage
Christopher Craft
Jim Crawford
John Colum 'Johnny Dumfries' Crichton-Stuart
Tony Crook
Geoffrey Crossley
Anthony Denis Davidson
Colin Charles Houghton Davis
Tony Dean
Paul di Resta
Hugh Peter Martin Donnelly
Kenneth Henry Downing
Bernard Charles 'Bernie' Ecclestone
Guy Richard Goronwy Edwards
Victor Henry 'Vic' Elford
Paul Emery
Robert 'Bob' Evans
Jack Fairman
Alfred Lazarus 'Les Leston' Fingleston
John Fisher
Ron Flockhart
Philip Fotheringham-Parker
Joe Fry
Divina Mary Galica
Frederick Roberts 'Bob' Gerard
Peter Kenneth Gethin
Richard Gibson
Horace Gould
Keith Greene
Brian Gubby
Stanley Michael Bailey Hailwood
Bruce Halford
Duncan Hamilton
Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton
David Hampshire
Thomas Cuthbert 'Cuth' Harrison
Brian Hart
Mike Hawthorn
Brian Henton
John Paul 'Johnny' Herbert
Damon Graham Devereux Hill
Norman Graham Hill
David Wishart Hobbs
James Simon Wallis Hunt
Robert McGregor Innes Ireland
Edmund 'Eddie' Irvine, Jr.
Chris Irwin
John James
Leslie Johnson
Thomas Kenrick Kavanagh 'Ken' Kavanagh
Rupert Keegan
Christopher J. Lawrence
Geoffrey Lees
Jackie Lewis
Stuart Nigel Lewis-Evans
Michael George Hartwell MacDowel
Lance Noel Macklin
Damien Magee
Nigel Ernest James Mansell
Leslie Marr
Anthony Ernest 'Tony' Marsh
Steve Matchett
Raymond Mays
Kenneth McAlpine
Perry McCarthy
Allan McNish
John Miles
Robin 'Monty' Montgomerie-Charrington
Dave Morgan
Bill Moss
Sir Stirling Moss
David Murray
John Brian Naylor
Timothy 'Tiff' Needell
Lando Norris
Rodney Nuckey
Keith Jack Oliver
Arthur Owen
Dr. Jonathan Charles Palmer
Jolyon Palmer
Michael Johnson Parkes
Reginald 'Tim' Parnell
Reginald 'Tim' Parnell
Reginald Harold Haslam Parnell
David Piper
Roger Dennistoun 'Dennis' Poore
David Prophet
Thomas Maldwyn Pryce
David Charles Purley
Ian Raby
Brian Herman Thomas Redman
Alan Rees
Lance Reventlow
John Rhodes
William Kenneth 'Ken' Richardson
John Henry Augustin Riseley-Prichard
Richard Robarts
Alan Rollinson
Tony Rolt
George Russell
Roy Francesco Salvadori
Brian Shawe-Taylor
Stephen South
Michael 'Mike' Spence
Alan Stacey
William Stevens
Ian Macpherson M Stewart
James Robert 'Jimmy' Stewart
Sir John Young Stewart
John Surtees
Andy Sutcliffe
Dennis Taylor
Henry Taylor
John Taylor
Michael Taylor
Trevor Taylor
Eric Thompson
Leslie Thorne
Desmond Titterington
Tony Trimmer
Peter Walker
Derek Stanley Arthur Warwick
John Marshall 'Wattie' Watson
Peter Westbury
Kenneth Wharton
Edward N. 'Ted' Whiteaway
Graham Whitehead
Peter Whitehead
Bill Whitehouse
Robin Michael Widdows
Mike Wilds
Jonathan Williams
Roger Williamson
Justin Wilson
Vic Wilson
Formula One World Drivers' Champions
1950 G. Farina
1951 J. Fangio
1952 A. Ascari
1953 A. Ascari
1954 J. Fangio
1955 J. Fangio
1956 J. Fangio
1957 J. Fangio
1958 M. Hawthorn
1959 S. Brabham
1960 S. Brabham
1961 P. Hill, Jr
1962 N. Hill
1963 J. Clark, Jr.
1964 J. Surtees
1965 J. Clark, Jr.
1966 S. Brabham
1967 D. Hulme
1968 N. Hill
1969 S. Stewart
1970 K. Rindt
1971 S. Stewart
1972 E. Fittipaldi
1973 S. Stewart
1974 E. Fittipaldi
1975 A. Lauda
1976 J. Hunt
1977 A. Lauda
1978 M. Andretti
1979 J. Scheckter
1980 A. Jones
1981 N. Piquet
1982 K. Rosberg
1983 N. Piquet
1984 A. Lauda
1985 A. Prost
1986 A. Prost
1987 N. Piquet
1988 A. Senna
1989 A. Prost
1990 A. Senna
1991 A. Senna
1992 N. Mansell
1993 A. Prost
1994 M. Schumacher
1995 M. Schumacher
1996 D. Hill
1997 J. Villeneuve
1998 M. Hakkinen
1999 M. Hakkinen
2000 M. Schumacher
2001 M. Schumacher
2002 M. Schumacher
2003 M. Schumacher
2004 M. Schumacher
2005 F. Alonso
2006 F. Alonso
2007 K. Raikkonen
2008 L. Hamilton
2009 J. Button
2010 S. Vettel
2011 S. Vettel
2012 S. Vettel
2013 S. Vettel
2014 L. Hamilton
2015 L. Hamilton
2016 N. Rosberg
2017 L. Hamilton
2018 L. Hamilton
2019 L. Hamilton

United Kingdom HW Motors

YearConstructorEngineChassisDrivers
1954HWM Alta GP 2.5 L4HWM 53 Formula 1 image Lance Noel Macklin 
1953HWM Alta GP 2.5 L4HWM 53 Formula 1 image Peter John Collins
Formula 1 image Jack Fairman
Formula 1 image John Cooper Fitch
Formula 1 image Paul Frère
Formula 1 image Yves Giraud-Cabantous
Formula 1 image Duncan Hamilton
Formula 1 image Lance Noel Macklin
Formula 1 image Albert Scherrer 
1952HWM Alta F2 2.0 L4HWM 52
51/52 
Formula 1 image George Edgar Abecassis
Formula 1 image Johnny Claes
Formula 1 image Peter John Collins
Formula 1 image Paul Frère
Formula 1 image Yves Giraud-Cabantous
Formula 1 image Duncan Hamilton
Formula 1 image Roger Laurent
Formula 1 image Lance Noel Macklin
Formula 1 image Sir Stirling Moss
Formula 1 image Dries van der Lof 
1951HWM Alta 2.0 L4s51 Formula 1 image George Edgar Abecassis
Formula 1 image Sir Stirling Moss 


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