Almost three years ago, while I Was in course of a sea voyage for service in a distant clime, I heard, via the B.B.C. news service, that the basic ration of petrol was to be drastically reduced and finally completely cut at the end of June, 1942. I was profoundly thankful llutt I had not been called upon to endure the miseries of a motorless existence in lJIlmmI(l. After two years abroad I returned home and have endured twelve months of service in basicless England. Looking back across several thousand miles at those twelve months (I am overseas again), I realise that far from being miserable from the motoring point of view, they have contained some incidents which are quite highlights in my motoring career.
Firstly, a beneficent govern n tc.nt allowed me coupons for ten gallons of petrol and the privilege of licensing my Austin ” Nippy ” for a month for 10s. during my disembarkation leave. I found that my method of laying up the ” Nippy ” by changing the sump oil and then pouring oil into the carburetter choke (with the engine running) until the surrounding neighbourhood was covered with a pall of thick blue smoke, had been fully effective, and she started with a very short tow although the petrol in the tank was two years old. The “Nippy ” was used quite a bit during my two weeks’ leave, and I found that I still got a lot of i?Iea sure out of driving her—I wits afraid t hal experience with high-powered Yanks mht have spoilt her for me, but this was ma. so. During my leave I visited Inv good friend Harold Biggs at Adlards Motors, and with his connivance and Sydney Allard’s blessing I was able to make a short (essential) journey in South London in the Mercury-engined 4-seater Allard Special. To one new to the modern Anglicised Yank, the Allard Special was a revelation in brilliant aceleration and effortless performance, combined with excellent roadholding and good brakes, although I still remain a small-car enthusiast. This particular car was fitted with the Columbia 2-speed axle which gives a pre-seleetable, vaeuum-engaged alternative higher ratio in the rear axle by means of a planetary gear fitted alongside the crown wheel. The extent to which the very high top gear 2.9 to 1, I think can be used even in London traffic is, indeed, remarkable, though the gap between the two ratios is rather wider
than one would desire in a sports car. However, the power and flexibility of the Mercury engine, whose f-in. larger ports give about 10 b.h.p. more than the 30-11.p. Ford V8 at the expense of a very few pounds weight, render this quite a minor snag. One other point that impressed me was the way in which a trans-Atlantic gear-change can he improved by fitting a decent remote control.
The next high spot was the collection of the blue W-Special Austin Seven from Kew and its delivery to its new home in Surrey, but as this has already been dealt with at length in the August, 1944, Mama SPORT, I will say no more about it now. I am, however, reminded of a shocking trip up from Norfolk to London (by the alternative means of transport) to introduce the future owner of the blue Austin to Williams, of groping our way out to Kew by District in the thickest of London pea-soupers, laden with a supply of petrol lighter fuel in countless bottles for the purpose of trying the Austin out (it was much too thick to try out the car and, anyway, it already had plenty of fuel in the tank) and, finally, of an even more nightmarish return to my station in Norfolk.
Due to the incidence of Christmas during my disembarkation leave, and the accompanying jollifications, I still had a tankful of fuel when I had to return, so that on my next leave I went gaily along (very honestly) to the local county council and took out a licence and used up the petrol. The event of that leave was a short trip on a 500-c.c. Type R51 B.M.W. motorcycle. This is the twin-carburetter transverse 11.0. twin job with shaft drive. To one whose motor-cycling is of limited extent and more or less confined to orthodox W.D. types, this again was an experience describable only in superlatives that I hesitate to re-inflict. This machine now has as a stable companion
another sports this time the ” 600,” which is almost a replica of the ” 500 ” except for its larger tank and sprung rear frame. I have not yet seen this, but it must be about the last word in motor-cycling. Nly next leave was a motorless one, but y nmbarkation leave which followed was veilCd by one decent journey in. the ••
Nippy” undertaken for the purpose of using up the last of a stock of Cleveland Disco’ which was purchased on September 2nd, 1969, and which had been stored in a pressure-tight tank ever since. This treatment was not very effective (perhaps because I had been in the habit of opening it up quite often to remind myself what Disco’ smelt like) as the unfortunate Austin literally stank of paraffin when running on it, and considerable carburetter tuning was required to produce any semblance of decent running. The Austin performed as faithfully as ever, but she is getting a little tired—her garage had been buzz-bombed over her in the meantime, which, I have no doubt, did no good at all, and my first job on my return home will be to give her a thorough overhaul, as I cannot at present see much hope of buying another motor that would do all that she does in the same way.
These periods of leave without or with very limited Motoring have given me plenty of time to get on with the building of the special which I commenced in September, 1939, and have been buildirw on and off ever since. This time I 1,va. very reluctant to leave it, as the end begins to appear in sight, so that it should be motoring within a few months of my next return home.
This letter would be incomplete without mention of my Service motoring, which has been by no means inconsiderable. Several thousand miles were covered on motor-cycles, B.S.A.s and Nortons, and latterly some thousands more in a Jeep. Of the Jeep I am not going to write now except to say that although it is certainly not a, sports car (though one correspondent to a motoring weekly described it as such), and has certain well-defined snags, it is a very enjoyable car to drive and has made my duty journeys a pleasure. Incidentally, the Jeep was assaulted by an L.P.T.B. bus in Oxford Street one da >and drove off the victor, leaving the I in, derelict by the roadside. This worthy end was reached by knocking the yak., off the bus’s nearside front tyre !
To my • regret, two ” Rembrandt ” meetings have coincided with military engagements, so that I have not been able to get along, but two headline occasions have been two meetings of the London graduates’ section of the I.A.E., at which John Bolster read his paper on racing ears (subsequently printed in Moron SPORT), and the late Cecil Kimber’s exposition on the past and future of the sports car.
I also recall with much pleasure many casual conversations with various enthusiasts who have seen me reading MOTOR SPORT and other magazines during tedious railway journeys and have made themselves known to me.
And now my participation in motoring Sport has again to be largely through the pages of MOTOR SPORT. Don’t you let me down, sir ! I am, Yours, etc., J. S. MOON (Capt,