Terry Collins, Y-41
Terry Collins in Imp-engined Y-41

The Imp Site

Hydroplane powerboats

Hydroplane racing was very popular during the 70s.
In the R1 class (the smallest inboard class - 1000cc) Imp engines could be used. According to the RYA regulations (Royal Yachting Association) the car engines used must be to the same specification as those homologated with the equivalent car body (being the RAC) for Group II competitions.

Hydroplane racing has classes for outboard and inboard hydroplanes, based on engine capacity.
The outboards are normally highly tuned two-strokes, running on methanol. Capacities ranged from under 250cc to 700cc.
Hydroplanes are raced over short distances. The 998cc Imp engine could rev to 10,000 rmp non-stop for 15 minutes without seizing up.
The little Leyland, Fiat, Ford, etc. engines could not. This plus a good power to weight ratio made the Hillman Imp especially popular by British hydroplane enthusiasts.

Burt Noone was the man who had put British hydroplane sport back on the map, when he started racing the first inboard to be used in Britain. When he started using Imp engines, he got them from the Rootes Competition Department, where Ernie Beck built them for him. In his time he won everything. In the late sixties and seventies everybody who wanted a chance to win, would use a hull designed by Burt Noone.
Burt Noone, Andy Chesman and the rest of Britain's top men of the early 70s were members of the Midland Hydroplane Club. Their home circuit is on the water at Podimore Heath, near Coleshill, Warwickshire. Racing took place there fortnightly from March to October.

Master-builder of high-performance Hillman Imp engines, Andy Chesman ran Greetham Engineering, Edgewick Road, Coventry. He made Greetham Imp engines with GE camshafts and more. Catering to in particular to motor sport and hydroplane enthusiasts.
His company is still in business.
Andy Chesman was competitive in this sport. He raced hydroplanes since 1969. 1970 saw him use the first of his Avengers. Burt Noone won the 1971 world championship, Andy Chesman came second and John Mousley third. John Mousley also used the Imp engine. (Ernie Beck built them for him until his death in 1976.) In the summer of 1972 Chesman won the British and the World championship. He won race after race in his Avenger IV, which had a pair of 40-mm Webers and special manifold.
Every win showed how much Chesman and his staff knew of engine preparation and Imps in particular - as Burt Noone was using an Imp, too: a factory prepared Imp engine.

At the BP-sponsored Windermere records week, October 1972, he raised the R1 Class water speed record to 89mph.

Spring 1998 he was in the middle east, organising a world powerboat championship. In July he was killed in a powerboat accident outside of the UK.
Apparently he still held the speed record for the class of boats he was involved in, as he had been involved with the boats quite a lot during his last months.

I think they were mounted vertically like a conventional outboard motor, so must have been dry-sumped in this configuration.

Olivier Guerin (Caen, France) owns a 3 point hydroplane in the R1 class which he is restoring. The transom hull (a bluefin one) is HY 1017.

He sent (sept. 2001) me this photo, HydroFlury saying it contains an Imp marinised engine of 998 cc, the same as in his own hydro. It could be found on the former site of the Midlands Powerboat Racing Club (www.powerboat.org.uk seems to have disappeared?). He also says a friend of his owns a brand new boat with an Imp engine.

Bob Belf (owner) & John Lukezich drive a 13' 4" wood and fiberglass hydroplane with a Sunbeam Imp 875cc engine. This page shows a nice photo (95 Kb) of the very pretty boat.

[27 May 2003] "Terry Collins and I live in the same metro area (Detroit, Michigan) and along with Dick Delsener, we were the last three running the Imp.
Terry has since retired and sold his boat. I am the last running the engine and now all three of us are working to build a new 998 with a .400 lift cam. We will be using a slide injection and we are in the process of building this beauty right now."

Yahoo group: 1litrehydros - list for all 1 and 1.5 litre hydroplane drivers owners and fans from around the world

Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 17:10:16 +1200
From: Brian Foote, New Zealand
Subject: [imps] Re: sidecar

In the mid 60's I built a 13 foot ply runabout and powered it with an Imp engine fitted right up against the stern and built an outdrive from 1/8" plate, sprockets, chains and tensioners.
I made my own heat exchanger to keep salt water away from the alloy.
It would do 30 mph and pull a water skiier !

From: Bob Foley
Subject: Motor madness
Date: February 22 2002
on the message board for The Vintage Hydroplanes

Here is where I jump in with 'Crosleys Forever!' but I made that mistake in the 1970s... should have switched to the Imp like almost everyone else in the class was doing.

Racing Hovercraft ???

motorboatmuseum.org.uk: The Noone Family
Hydroplane History Home Page
Conventional Wisdom
page with links on racing boats

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