Club news, April 1941

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C. U. A. C.

The Cambridge University Automobile Club’s dinner of March 8th, so ably organised by J. B. Jesty, was highly successful. Forty-five persons attended, in spite of existing difficulties. Those who sat down to dinner were: Guests: Laurence Pomeroy, Gordon Wilkins, Anthony Heal and Arthur Hyde; Veteran Members: Michael May, D. B. Tubbs, Andrew Fairtlough, D. Hampshire, R. Habershon, A. J. Hobson, D. Yarborough-Bateson, A. Moulton, M. Pearce and B. Helps ; Resident Members: J. Jesty, I. Howitt, R. Lees-Jones, P. Ward, K. McCosh, J. V. Bigg, L. Pyman, C. Clingan, L. Mordell, P. McCormick, C. Quiggan, T. Easdale, S. Higgins, C. Trench, R. Maguire, A. Payton, A. Coles, H. Sowter, D. Crick and C. Crosfield ; Non-Members: Peter Clark, Harold Hastings, Cecil Clutton, G. Symonds, K. Nixon, K. Symons, A. Rosengarten, J. Norris, D. Wilcox, R. Alston, and G. Orr. Clutton reports on this happy function in our drab motoring world as follows:

Michael May was in the chair, as senior veteran member, but he said that it was rather an uncomfortable one, and at different times during the evening it was seen to be occupied by Andrew Fairtlough (a veteran member and now a pilot officer) and by Gordon Wilkins, of the Temple Press, both of whom made neat and witty speeches. The health of the club was proposed with great spirit and a wealth of bawdy anecdote by the incorrigible Pomeroy, and Jesty spoke of club doings. Incidentally, the twenty-five veteran members and other visitors who had used their precious coupons to attend from far and wide shows how highly appreciated are these cheerful functions which Jesty continues to organise in a drab and naughty world.

Raymond Mays, John Cobb, Forrest Lycett and Monkhouse were among prominent guests who were prevented by unforeseen circumstances from attending, and the time which should have been devoted to a film show by Monkhouse was filled by the chairman by calling for speeches from anyone who appeared sufficiently coherent to be capable of controlled speech. In all, there were fifteen speeches (excluding utterances ex cathedra, so to speak) of varying length, merit and coherence, G. H. Symonds alone devoting his remarks to matters motorial.

Among others present was Yarborough Bateson, in his recently-attained Air Force uniform; the recently-married Anthony Heal, Peter Clark and Arthur Hyde. A good and memorable party.

WE HEAR—

We hear that the charming lady who usually sat on Anthony Heal’s left-hand during his dicing expeditions and who sometimes drove the 1912 Fiat has, since March 1st., been Mrs. Theodora Heal; our warmest congratulations. Talking of the Fiat, the happy couple departed in it after the ceremony, so onlookers—of which there is always a liberal sprinkling at these functions—had a real thrill and, in fact, it is doubtful if any other wedding journey has been so exciting, not excluding those of aviator-folk who, on isolated occasions, have flown to the Unknown Destination in early small aeroplanes. Apparently the Heals considered the Fiat, which was out for the first time since its post-Prescott accident, with the now abbreviated tail which vastly improves it, fast enough not to be followed. . . . though the engine was left ticking over outside the registry office during the ceremony. Then Roddy Seys had his 4½-litre Bentley out of retirement for a month, and something of a party happened at John Morley’s place at Welwyn, Peter Robertson-Roger (B.M.W.), Anne Robertson-Roger (Fiat 500), Peter and Ariel Clark (gas-producer Delage) and Seys all attending. The latter tells a nice story of a fourteen-year-old garage-hand who regarded his Bentley with awe and asked the make. “What make do you think she is?” queried Seys. “Standard, mister,” was the prompt reply, “because of the Union Jacks on ‘er bonnet.” As Roddy says, the younger generation just isn’t educated.

At a certain R.A.F. aerodrome one flight is very bucked that its cars include M.G., Riley, Lea-Francis, H.R.G., Hornet-Special coupe and f.w.d. Tracta, all of which will soon be in use again. The late E. K. Rayson’s 1½-litre Maserati, which finished second in the Campbell Trophy Race of 1937, at 68.25 m.p.h., is to be seen in a showroom window at Egham—but is not, it seems, for sale. Speed Services of Blackwater, Hants, have the short-chassis Windrum and Garstin 4½-litre Bentley formerly driven by Marcus Chambers and James Allison. It is now owned by Hamilton-Moore, is in mint condition, and is said to have been made into the fastest unblown 4½-litre in existence, 115 m.p.h. being spoken of. At last we have discovered what became of the ex-Dunfee 3-litre Targa Austro-Daimler. Hamilton-Moore acquired it and Marston, who once tuned O.K. motorcycles, now has the body and radiator, cut about, on an Alfa-Romeo chassis in which he has installed a twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam engine developing some 115 b.h.p. The Austro-Daimler engine has vanished, but the chassis is available. At a garage near London a neat special was observed, consisting of a Vernon-Derby with M.G. radiator and M type M.G. Midget engine, the well-louvered dumb-iron apron and bonnet, with racing strap, being well carried out and blending nicely with the French pointed tail, narrow cockpit body. At a certain London breakers reposes a 1911 chain-drive Martini equipped with a van body, inside which reposes one of those delightful vacuum-cleaning machines which they used to connect up to your house with huge pipes, before houses became possessed of bread-and-butter walls which rendered such operations hazardous in the extreme. Someone enquires whether the M.G. “N” Magnette which he owns, with external slab fuel-tank, has an outstanding difference from the normal Magnette. He only knows of one other like it. In London, Boddy has discovered what seems to be one of the 1922 Grand Prix Bugattis, with the long-tailed streamlined body intact but most of the components of the straight-eight engine missing. He cannot think where it has been all the years, as he has never seen it in action; it is to be preserved in a place of safety. Incidentally, Boddy has an economy complex and now motors in a perfectly standard, if well-preserved, 1929 “Chummy” Austin Seven, though said to have a hybrid Gwynne up his sleeve. On the subject of old racing cars, news comes to hand suggesting that the Lanchester single-seater and Wolseley “Viper” track cars were broken up. There is a 2-litre road-equipped racing Mercedes and a 2-seater “30/98” Vauxhall for sale at Berkhamsted. Benn recently sold his Type 40 Bugatti and a G.P. Bugatti was seen being towed from London not long ago.

THAT AMAZING STAFF!

In the course of a most interesting article on Brooklands reminiscences, entitled “I’ve Remembered Some More,” in “Motor-Cycling” of March 13th, J. J. Hall refers to this paper as follows: “I remember Lionel Hutchings, who, with ‘Wackers,’ ran MOTOR SPORT years ago. I remember he rode with me on one of my ten-hour attempts. Then he went in for grass-track racing and the Amateur T.T. at a very fast Velocette, with which ‘Wackers ‘ later smacked a lamp-post at high-speed and gave up motor-cycling on the spot. Lionel later joined the R.A.F. and was killed in a flying accident. I remember Walter Braidwood, who was the best amateur road-racing rider in the country in those days, with his self-tuned A.J.S. I remember him making a new layshaft from a bit of Ford steel, and it stood up for ever. He joined the amazing staff of MOTOR SPORT at one time, became its Editor later, ran a garage with ‘Wackers’ at a later date, and then got married and became a doctor—all with equal facility. Genius!”

PARTY

These days, with the clubs inactive, you have to get married or christen your offspring, or something of that kind, as excuse for a motoring gathering. Peter and Ariel Clark duly christened their infant at the superb Norman parish church at Hemel Hempstead on March 16th. Marcus Chambers was prevented by war-time pursuits from carrying out his god-fatherly duties, but Cecil Clutton came along as the other sponsor and also played the Organ. Forrest Lycett, Anthony and Theodora Heal, and Laurence Pomeroy came along too. The last-named balanced a bottle (full) of champagne on his head at the subsequent party to the anxiety of all present but without casualty. Oh, the baby was named Anthony Phillip.

GENERAL NOTES

These days it takes a mighty long time to accumulate as much motoring experience as was once packed into a moderate week-end, but, nevertheless, motoring fun and games go on. And, in a way, one’s occasional escape from exile is appreciated even more for its rarity, albeit it is a trifle disturbing that neither the quiet piece of road running for some two miles from one’s present place of abode—situated, appropriately enough, just opposite two de-restriction discs—nor the very-near-at-hand mud-section, that even last month could not be negotiated on foot without recourse to gum-boots, have yet been motored over or through to any purpose. Indeed, many evenings have had to be spent in solitary tramps down long, straight, pine-fIanked lanes, dreaming of happier days. Supposing there was a Shelsley to attend, tomorrow . . . ! However, things might well be a lot worse and, as has been said, there have been some reasonable runs. One into Kent looking, as usual, for trace of some odd car which reason should have told us would have been broken-up long since. A lazy sort of day, which terminated in towing a terrible, home-bodied Austin Seven away to a place of safety behind the saloon Austin Seven for the sake of the genuine “Ulster” engine in the former, a start being made from Central London just as the sirens went for a daylight raid. That over, we changed places and towed away a crashed Austin Seven saloon, for the sake of its engine—no one remembering whether or not the all-clear had sounded. Then there was a most fantastic Saturday going cross-country from Hampshire to a far part of Kent in search of a 1912 Renault, the exact whereabouts of which had escaped us entirely. One member of the party had spent the previous night fire-watching, but great good humour prevailed for all that. The run progressed through Guildford and Newlands Corner to Dorking, where the traffic congestion was akin to that of pre-battle times. After what seemed an endless drive, for one is badly out of practice these days, the depressing Kentish coast-road was struck and, although we went to quite the wrong breakers in quite the wrong village, by real good fortune, some detective work, and some expensive telephoning, we got the correct address and by tea-time had discovered that the Renault’s owner was away in the R.A.F., but that the little car was still intact, mechanically, if a little more dilapidated externally than when we first discovered it, perhaps two years ago. Indeed, grass grows out of its seat. The return was as hurried as our eight horses permitted, so that it was possible to get in to and right across London, snatch a hurried meal, and return to the place of exile, some 35 miles beyond, with still a little time in which to celebrate the day’s motoring with another exiled one, summoned by frantic telephoning, before they closed. Sad that the owner of the car we used should arrive with a friend in a resplendent and badge-bearing Talbot Ten to retrieve it on the following Wednesday, when we had only had a couple of gala nights in it. . . . Then there was the magnificent and rapid journey from London to Cheltenham in all the security, not to mention luxury, of the Mark V Bentley, a friend riding with, or mostly behind, us on his Vincent H.R.D. motorcycle, a plot hatched while at a startling variety show in a military town, to the intense concern of the Canadian soldiers who, of course, wanted to listen to the jokes. The return run took in a breaker’s yard near Reading, wherein reposes a really early de Dion tonneau tourer, alas, in poor order and sold, and another vendor whose most interesting exhibits were an elderly but apparently sound o.h.c. Aston-Martin four-seater at £30 and an Austin Seven on which someone had managed to fit what appeared to be an Amilcar body. The Great West arterial at last, and that aforenoted sense of security of the Mark V to isolate one’s thoughts from the war-evident world without. Then, the very next week-end, a last run in the Gwynne to attend the 750 Club meeting, lots of anxiety beforehand, appalling rain on the day, and the car in none too good humour. But get there we did, and runs in a well-kept Morris Eight tourer, a D.K.W. and, all the way home after dumping the Gwynne, in a silent “Nippy” Austin Seven possessed of excellent road holding and performance, made it all very well worthwhile.