Competitive years: 1934-1938
Horsepower Range: 180-225
While the MG, Alta, Riley and Austin 750 did remarkably well for Great Britain, the Raymond Mays/Peter Berthon ERA combined a production based supercharged Riley engine with a solid conventional chassis and to launch the best known British upright of all time. It was fast, mostly reliable, and attracted top notch drivers from the U.K. and one from Thailand. Prince B. Bira (for short) was a grandson of King Mongkut, the hero of the book and musical, “The King and I”.
Bira was encouraged and financed by his cousin, Prince Chula Chakrabongse, and the pair bought three ERAs, naming them Romulus, Remus and Hanuman under the White Mouse Stable.
ERAs first appeared in 1934 and production of the B-Type cars began along with sales to clients. The engine design was similar to that of the BMW 328, with two camshafts high in the head and operating short pushrods to affect a hemispherical combustion chamber.
The C Type was the factory model, derived from B Types. Equipped with a huge Zoller supercharger, some were able to develop 225 hp, and in 1937 ERAs completely dominated the 1500cc classes outside of Italy (where Maseratis always outnumbered the competition and usually won). The last ERA was the E Type, but the Riley based engine was no longer sufficient, and the arrival of the Alfetta sealed its fate. After the war, Mays and Berthon established B.R.M.