Archie Butterworth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Archie Butterworth
Born Archibald James Butterworth
(1912-06-19)June 19, 1912
Waterford, Ireland
Died February 12, 2005(2005-02-12) (aged 92)
Occupation Engineer, inventor, racing driver
Known for Butterworth Engineering
Notable work The Butterworth flat-four engine
The A.J.B. Special four-wheel drive racing car

Archibald James Butterworth (19 June 1912 – 12 February 2005) was an inventor and racing motorist who, in 1948, designed and constructed the A.J.B. Special, a four-wheel drive Formula One car. He was winner of the Brighton Speed Trials in 1949 and 1951. After a serious accident in 1951, he gave up competition, but continued to supply race car engines of his own design, notably to Bill Aston for the Aston Butterworth Grand Prix car and Archie Scott Brown for the Elva-Butterworth sports racing car.

Early life[edit]

Educated at the Mount St Mary's College, attended University College, London, but left to join the army: Irish Guards, then RASC-MT as driving instructor. Posted to special unit in Egypt. Left the Army in 1937 but returned at start of WW2. After Dunkirk he spent the duration of the war, and up to 1950, on armament design, when he established Butterworth Engineering, of Frimley, Surrey. He raced a Bentley 4½ Litre from 1946 and became a member of the BRDC in 1947.[1]

The A.J.B. Special[edit]

The A.J.B. Special, dubbed S2, was built for £300 in 1948. The car was powered by a war-surplus air-cooled Steyr V8 engine. Butterworth was inspired by Sydney Allard's Steyr-powered single-seater, which went on to win the British Hill Climb Championship in 1949. The A.J.B. ran on a mixture of: "80/12/8 methanol, benzole, petrol." [2] The A.J.B. was entered for the hill climb at Stanmer Park, Brighton, Sussex, held on 5 June 1948 but was a non-starter.[3]

Archie Butterworth: A.J.B. race results
Year Event Result Notes
1948 Brighton Speed Trials 31.32 sec [4] 4 Sept. Standing Start Km. Debut of A.J.B. 3rd in class.
Prescott Speed Hill Climb 56.12 sec [5] 12 Sept. 5th in class.
Weston Super Mare Speed Trials 23.16 sec [6] 9 Oct. 6th O/A, tie with E. Lloyd-Jones, Triangle Skinner Spl.
1949 Silverstone Retired. [7] 2 July. Four lap scratch race for racing cars.
Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb 43.15 sec [8] 11 July. 4th in class. 5th R.A.C. Championship class.
Prescott Speed Hill Climb 48.07 sec [9] 17 July. 3rd in class. Team prize with Poore and Fry.
Bouley Bay Hill Climb 59.2 sec [10] 21 July.
Great Auclum National Speed Hill Climb 23.75 sec [11] 14 Aug. Class record. 3rd FTD.
Brighton Speed Trials 24.91 sec, FTD [12] 3 Sept. Standing Start Km.
Prescott Speed Hill Climb 47.11 sec [13] 11 Sept. 3rd in class.
Weston Super Mare Speed Trials 24.6 sec [14] 8 Oct. ½ mile curving course. Fastest unsupercharged.
1950 Rest and Be Thankful Speed Hill Climb 67.97 sec [15] 1 July. 2nd to Allard in over 3,000 c.c. non-S/C class.
Great Auclum National Speed Hill Climb 23.50 sec, FTD [16] 23 July.
Blandford Hill Climb 30.36 sec, FTD [17] 29 July.
Daily Express Int'l Trophy, Silverstone Retired Lap 1. [18] 26 Aug. Heat 1 broken crankshaft.
Prescott Speed Hill Climb 47.85 sec [19] 10 Sept. 3rd in class.
Shelsley Walsh Speed Hill Climb Accident. [20] 23 Sept. Crash in practice.
1951 West Essex C.C. Speed Trial, Boreham 25.12 sec, FTD [21] 1 April.
Gosport A.C. Speed Trials 12.69 sec, FTD [22] 17 June. Straight ¼ mile sprint.
Shelsley Walsh Speed Hill Climb 39.44 sec [23] 23 June. Fastest unsupercharged car.
Boreham Airfield Second. [24] 30 June. Scratch race won by Rolt's E.R.A.-Delage.
Scottish Grand Prix, Winfield Retired Lap 13. [25] 21 July.
Brighton Speed Trials 26.63 sec, FTD [26] 1 Sept. Standing Start Km.
Prescott Speed Hill Climb 47.45 sec [27] 9 Sept. 3rd in class.
Shelsley Walsh Speed Hill Climb Accident 22 September.
Goodwood Non-starter. [28] 25 Sept.

Key: FTD = Fastest Time of the Day; non-S/C = Unsupercharged.

At Shelsley Walsh on 22 September 1951: "An unfortunate accident happened to A.J. Butterworth when the A.J.B. hit the bank at Kennel Bend, tore off a rear wheel and left the road. Butterworth was badly hurt." [29] The Manchester Guardian reported: "A.J. Butterworth, the racing driver, of Frimley, near Aldershot, was injured when his A.J.B. car (4,425 c.c.) crashed down a steep bank at the Midland Automobile Club's hill-climb at Shelsley Walsh Hill in Worcestershire on Saturday. A wheel of his car caught a guttering on the edge of the track and came off. Butterworth was picked up unconscious and was stated at Worcester Royal Infirmary on Saturday night to be in a serious condition.[30] Motor Sport published a photograph of Butterworth in the #79 A.J.B. leaving the road at Shelsley Walsh.[31] He recovered from his injuries.

The 'Butterball Special'[edit]

AJB/FWD 'Butterball Special' at the FWD Museum, Clintonville, Wisconsin. Note the car carries #90 from last race at Watkins Glen in 1957.

Bill Milliken visited Prescott Hill Climb in England in 1951, where he saw the A.J.B. in competition. An offer to purchase the car was declined, but subsequently accepted following Archie Butterworth's accident at Shelsley Walsh.[32] The remains of the A.J.B. were exported to the U.S.A. early in 1952, rebuilt and renamed the Butterball Special, a play on Butterworth's name. The rebuild was carried out in Buffalo, New York: "It has since been extensively redesigned with longer wheelbase, new rear suspension, improved steering, brakes, chassis and body. This work was performed in the Flight Research and Vehicle Dynamics Department of Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory under the direction of William Close." The car was then driven in competition by Bill Milliken:[33]

Bill Milliken: AJB/FWD 'Butterball Special' race results
Year Event Result Notes
1952 Watkins Glen, NY, Seneca Cup DNF 20 Sept. #24 pole position. Lost control after Milliken's Corner. Ret'd due to flex in steering.
1953 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, CO. DNQ 7 Sept. #46 shift lever broke.
Watkins Glen, NY. DNS 19 Sept. #1 crankcase webs cracked.
1955 Edenvale, Ontario DNF 18 June. #22 panhard rod failed.
Giant's Despair Hillclimb, PA. 63.771 sec 22 July. #111 3rd O/A.
Watkins Glen, NY. DNF 17 Sept. #47 clutch failure.
1956 Mount Equinox Hillclimb, VT. 5:30.02 sec [34] 17 June. #15 unplaced. O/A winner Bill Lloyd, #16 Maserati, 4:55.2.
Giant's Despair Hillclimb, PA. 1:02.441 sec [35] 20 July. Unrestricted class: 2nd #57 W. Milliken, AJB/FWD.
Watkins Glen, NY. 15th 15 Sept. #2 third in class and 15th O/A.
1957 Holland Hill Climb, NY. 0.8672 min FTD 25 Aug. Set track record.
Watkins Glen, NY, Seneca Cup 7th [36] 21 Sept. 11 laps, #90 7th O/A and 5th in unrestricted.

Key: FTD = Fastest Time of the Day.

In autumn 1957 the car was shipped to the Four Wheel Drive Company Museum in Clintonville, Wisconsin. The car was still there in 2010 (see photograph).

Aston Butterworth[edit]

Aston Butterworth NB42 displayed at Motor Sport at the Palace Crystal Palace circuit, 25 May 2015

For 1952 Butterworth teamed up with Bill Aston to build the Aston Butterworth, an F2 car that competed in Grand Prix races, but was unreliable. Butterworth built the 1,986 c.c. air-cooled, flat-four-cylinder motors.

Kieft Butterworth[edit]

At the 1954 Motor Show in London Kieft Cars displayed a motor described by Bill Boddy as: "the Kieft/Norton air-cooled flat-four 1½-litre which gives over 100 b.h.p." [37] This was a version of the Butterworth motor fitted with Norton cylinder heads. Ian Richardson successfully used this engine during the 1970s in the Moonraker drag racing motorcycle.[38]

Elva Butterworth[edit]

Archie Scott Brown drove the Elva-Butterworth Mk III sports-racing car in a support race at the Silverstone International Trophy meeting in 1957 where: "The Elva-Butterworth retired with a broken valve-Butterworth will have difficulty living this down but, in fact, it was an exhaust valve and not a Butterworth flap valve which dropped." [39]

Tojeiro Butterworth[edit]

The Tojeiro-Butterworth sports-racing car was built by R.C.C Palmer over a period of more than three years to 1960. Although built as a race car, it was never raced. Only one example was produced.[40] "Mr. Palmer was especially keen to get the cooling right as he felt that inefficient cooling was part of the trouble with the Elva-Butterworth which Archie Scott-Brown (sic) drove on several occasions." [41] The car was road registered XNK 900.

Later life[edit]

Following the death of his friend Archie Scott Brown in 1958, Archie Butterworth was less involved in motor racing. He was instrumental in founding the British Sporting Rifle Club in 1962.



  1. ^ Motor Sport, November 1984, Pages 1330-1334.
  2. ^ Motor Sport, October 1949, Page 406-407; See also Centre Spread for photograph.
  3. ^ Motor Sport, July 1948, Page 213.
  4. ^ Motor Sport, October 1948, Pages 317, 319, 320.
  5. ^ Motor Sport, October 1948, Pages 327-328.
  6. ^ The Motor, 13 October 1948, Page 13; See also: Motor Sport, November 1948, Page 467.
  7. ^ Motor Sport, August 1949, Pages 313, 315, 316.
  8. ^ Motor Sport, July 1949, Page 261-262.
  9. ^ Motor Sport, August 1949, Page 309.
  10. ^ Motor Sport, August 1949, Page 333.
  11. ^ Motor Sport, September 1949, Pages 373-374.
  12. ^ Motor Sport, October 1949, Pages 395-396.
  13. ^ Motor Sport, October 1949, Pages 396-398.
  14. ^ Motor Sport, November 1949, Pages 453, 455.
  15. ^ Motor Sport, August 1950, Page 320.
  16. ^ Motor Sport, September 1950, Page 428.
  17. ^ Motor Sport, December 1950, Page 616.
  18. ^ Motor Sport, September 1950, Page 446.
  19. ^ Motor Sport, October 1950, Pages 495-496.
  20. ^ Motor Sport, October 1950, Page 485.
  21. ^ Motor Sport, May 1951, Centre Spread.
  22. ^ Motor Sport, August 1951, Page 375.
  23. ^ Motor Sport, August 1951, Page 375.
  24. ^ Motor Sport, August 1951, Pages 380, 382; See also Centre Spread for photograph.
  25. ^ Results: Motor Sport, August 1951, Page 376.
  26. ^ The Observer, 2 September 1951, Page 5.
  27. ^ Motor Sport, October 1951, Page 478.
  28. ^ Motor Sport, November 1951, Page 538.
  29. ^ Motor Sport, November 1951, Page 532.
  30. ^ Manchester Guardian, 24 Sep 1951, Page 6.
  31. ^ Motor Sport, November 1951, Page 574, photograph.
  32. ^ Mister Supernatural by Karl Ludvigsen, Automobile Quarterly, First Quarter, 2004.
  33. ^ An Engineering Autobiography by William F. Milliken, Equations of Motion - Adventure, Risk and Innovation, Bentley Publishing, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8376-1570-7
  34. ^ National Newsletter, S.C.C.A., No.25, 10 August 1956.
  35. ^ National Newsletter, S.C.C.A., No.25, 10 August 1956.
  36. ^ National Newsletter, S.C.C.A., No.32, 30 September 1957.
  37. ^ Motor Sport, November 1954, Page 614.
  38. ^ Keith Lee, Drag Bike Racing in Britain: From the Mid 60s to the Mid 80s, Page 71, Veloce Publishing, 2010.
  39. ^ Motor Sport, October 1957, Page 568.
  40. ^ Thorson, Thor (February 2012). "1956 Tojeiro-Butterworth AJB Racer". Sports Car Market. 24 (2): 62–63. 
  41. ^ Motor Sport, August 1960, Page 664.


  • John Bolster, Specials, Pages 31–33, G.T. Foulis & Co Ltd, Reprinted 1971.