Rhodes and the 1932 Super Aero, registration YY49, formed a potent partnership throughout the 1930s taking on all comers in a variety of races including circuit and relay grands prix.
Despite competing YY49 as part of the Morgan works team in the Light Car Club Relay Grand Prix races of the 1930s, the car was always owned by Rhodes rather than an official works team car. Despite this, YY49 always had new or experimental parts direct from the Morgan works, none of which were ever invoiced for!
The Light Car Club Relay Grand Prix series was a handicap relay for cars up to 1500cc, which allowed three-wheelers to compete with four-wheelers. After finishing 12th in the race in 1932, the team went on to finish second in 1933, with Rhodes driving a substantially rebuilt YY49, with a new 996cc JTOR engine.
The addition of the engine propelled Rhodes to be the fastest driver on the track, constantly lapping at over 90mph and reaching a top speed of 100mph, before the engine failed after an hour into the race.
The following year saw Rhodes and the Morgan relay team again finished the Relay Grand Prix in second place, while later that year Rhodes hit 95.6mph in the car at the flying kilometre at Southport, an event which he won a few years before.
In 1935, the Morgan team entered the Relay Grand Prix once again but came home in a disappointing 13th place. This not only spelled the end of Rhodes’ involvement with the Morgan works team, it also marked the end of his competition career.
The Morgan stayed in Rhodes’ garage until 1952, when it was bought by J Gordon King. King raced the car three times in 1953 and 1954, finishing in second place each time, before deciding to overhaul and rebuild YY49. But in 1955, after one final race, he decided to break the car up.
The engine went to Rhodes’ former teammate, HC Lones, the body went elsewhere, while the remainder of the parts were collected by Bill Wallbank, who owns the car to this day.
Wallbank spent a long time putting YY49 back together as faithfully as he could, including managing to find a suitable J-Type motor. Although, while the car was red under the ownership of Rhodes, he painted it blue, citing his historical bad luck with red cars.
He raced the Super Aero from 1973 right through until 2002, campaigning YY49 at a number of leading circuits and venues, including Cadwell, Mallory, Donington and even the Nurburgring.
The car also undertook a number of sprints and hill climbs over the years, as well as competing on the circuit, placing first in the ¼ mile at Blyton MTWC in 1987 and achieving its best ¼ mile time at Long Marston in 1984, completing the course in a time of just 19.86s.
The Super Aero still has its original strong C-type chassis and many of its parts are original or historic but its racing days are over. Still used as a road car, YY49 can still shift, reaching speeds of 80mph in a nod to its competition pedigree.
View the other entries for the Footman James Concours d'Elegance by clicking on the button below.