Go back to Marques and Men pageMilli-Union

Gerry Millington was a telephone engineer working in Bristol and had always been interested in and owned various motor cycles prior to the war. From the Dick Caesar's "Iota" chassis and drawings he proceeded to construct such a car during the next year. The tubular chassis, giving independent suspension to all four wheels, and a rear mounting for the motor cycle engine and gearbox was of 2.5-inch round steel tube, 12swg in thickness.

At the rear, a cross member of the same size material supported a pair of bearing housings, wherein races carried a short shaft. On the shaft was mounted the driven sprocket for the chain from the gearbox, and also the brake drum and back-plate from an AJS motorcycle. Outboard of the two bearing housings were a pair of universal joints for the independent half shafts. It was left to the individual constructor to decide upon the suspension details and in this case Millington followed the most common form of a transverse spring to take the weight, a pair of long radius arms to position the wheels fore and aft, and to let the universal joints take all lateral loads. At the centre of the frame another tubular cross member formed a front mounting for the engine and a rear abutment for the seat, and although it was optional what form the front suspension should take, the complete front end of a Morgan three wheeler fitted very well. This provided helical spring independent suspension on the sliding stub-axle principle. Damping was provided by fitting Luvax double acting shock absorbers.

Millington on arrival at Towcester, 1947

Millington at Towcester.jpg (156432 bytes)

Initially Gerry Millington fitted a Norton ES2 engine and it was in this form that the “Milli-Union” first appeared at the Naish Hill climb in 1947, and at the aborted Silverstone rally which was transferred to Lord Hesketh`s estate at Towcester (See "From Acorns to Oak Trees"). Although he had been beaten in producing the first car by the “Stromboli” of fellow Bristolians, Adrian Butler and Bruce Mardon, he had achieved success whereas many of the original group who had expressed interest dropped by the wayside.

Gerry changing plugs at Lulsgate 1948

Milli 3.jpg (28261 bytes)

Rear of the Milli-Union showing Rudge engine. Taken at Lulsgate (now Bristol Airport) in 1948.

Milli 1.jpg (33338 bytes)

The front wheels were from a Rudge motor cycle incorporating   8.0-inch brake drums and back plates, which were located by a piece of angle iron suitably slotted to match a protrusion on the sliding upright. The rear wheels were of three stud fixing and fitted over a machined boss through which passed a 2.0-inch 14 gauge tube to form the half shaft. After assembly of the outboard bearing assembly a collar was brazed onto the half shaft tube to prevent lateral movement of the bearing housing. Body work was virtually non existent except for a small front cowl and the seat was from either a Beaufighter or Blenheim aeroplane complete with the depression in the base for the parachute.

Weston Super Mare Speed Trials 1948

Milli 2.jpg (36928 bytes)

It would appear that within a very short time the engine was changed to a Rudge probably with a Sunbeam cross over drive gearbox, together with a larger fuel tank mounted behind the seat as shown in the photograph taken during 1948 at Lulsgate. The car ran in the 1948 Weston-super-Mare speed trials which was an event similar to Brighton over a measured distance along the seafront promenade and also again in that years Naish Hill-climb.

During the winter of 1949 it would appear that the engine was changed again, to a more powerful Manx Norton specially tuned by Steve Lancefield.  Additionally the bodywork had a major facelift and at the April 1950 meeting at Lulsgate it sported a fully enclosed body with conical air intakes immediately behind the seat. In this form the appearance was not unlike the Iota P1, perhaps supplied by Caesar and Bickerton.  When it appeared at Castle Combe during that year yet another change had been made insofar as cylindrical side fuel tanks had been fitted.

Gerry at Lulsgate in April 1949 on his way to third place.

The car continued to be raced throughout that season and the last recorded outing was at the May meeting at Castle Combe 1951 after which it appears to have disappeared from the scene. Whilst Gerry Millington never achieved any outstanding results with the Milli-Union it was probably the second car built from the original drawings produced by Dick Caesar and therefore must rate as one of the earliest 500cc cars.

Go to 500 Owners Home Page