IGHT, sable goddess, from her ebon throne in rayless majesty stretched forth her leaden sceptre o’er a slumbering world.” And I was firewatching. And round about the witching hour, on my post-prandial patrol (if the term may be applied to a ” subsistence” supper) under the very same stars which have lighted long night journeys in days of peace, I fell to thinking of all the things that at various times I had promised myself I would do if I had
he space, the equipment and the time in which to do them. Intentionally the all-important clause ” wealth ” is omitted because it is too easy to dream of presenting Mr. McKenzie with a blank cheque and requiring him to build a Bentley to out-Lycett ,Lycett. Our dreams therefore are bound by an arbitrary financial horizon which shall keep them within the limits of what most of us can achieve by begging, borrowing, pawning, pinching, or, more usual, selling our worn-out automobiles to those less wary than ourselves.
I am conscious that some of the following ideas are not worth the work involved, that some will not excite you, that some may be too exciting. I disclaim all responsibility for the ideas expressed— blame theni on “Night—sable goddess ” and the ” subsistence ” supper.
Whimsey the First.—There are many of us who shrink from running our wellpreserved vintage cars through trials because of the possibilil y of damage attendant thereupon, yet who, if the cost were not too great, would like to compete is various club trials in a motor car of vintage tradition a little out of the ordinary. Peter Clark must have had the idea when be planned his ” Blue Label ” trials Bentley. but 16 h. p. is a bit high for a second car for most. Could !nit a cheap trials car. and effective, he niade from an early Frazer-Nash or G.N. chassis into which could go a MorrisCowley engine ? Dull, you say ; hut wait. Retain the gearbox and keep also two chains to give a high and a low final drive ; high to give reasonably fast road cruising at low revs., and low to belittle In activities ! In short, the amateur’s rdrive.” The Morris engine fits the G.N. with no more trouble than the drilling of four holes ; it has the dynamotor giving ready-made starting and lighting. Engine spares are legion, and the horse-power, while enough to be interesting with the ” overdrive,” would not give sufficient torque to do the elderl? and by me it lern standards somewhat li iii. final drive a mischief.
The chassis, if you can find it, will cost between 10s. and tin. Say t5. The Morris engine 50s., plus t3 for ” doing up.” Allow t5 for putting the two together. and the rest depends On how ” pansy ” you want the body. I commend a glance at Barbara Marshall’s ” Annie.” To build such a car is much cheaper and infinitely less exacting than the construction of a ” sprint special,” and the opportunities for using it so many more in number that I marvel that so many people attempt the latter and so few the former. Whimsey the Second.—This applies particularly to those who live somewhere near a sand-racing centre. Procure a ” Speed Six ” Bentley, or a “30/220 “
Soon we shall be furiously planning for peace. In this article Kenneth Neve ventures some suggestions as to things we might do.
Merce&s, or a “Black Hawk ” Stutz, tear off the body and mount a bucket seat and, if you insist, a very light body, and take it on to the sands for a good blind. If the car is reasonably reliable, you’ll finish the race, and even if you do not win, you will have had some healthy entertainment and a satisfying drive. If the motor blows up, give it to the first bloke who offers to buy your beer for the evening. And now, before horrified hands are raised to heaven in protest against this last advice, I had better say that during the last five years I have seen examples of all the cars mentioned, for sale in running order for less than £30 each. (It Will save paper and postage if I state categorically that I know of none just now !) Whimsey the Third.—This idea was born during one of the famous convivial evenings of the Northern Section of the V.S.C.C., but it will bear the sober light Of day : to take a Model T Ford through the ” Land’s End ” Whimsey the Fourth.—I am doubtful if even the most rabid enthusiast, once he attains years of discretion (if enthusiasts ever do) likes going to parties or the pictures in a stark, hoodless, oily diligence. Nly personal metamorphosis occurred on the day when I donned a boiled shirt, and, with profanity, achieved a passable tie. and then went” out to swing the 30/08.” At first I turned the handle awkwardly thinking more of the shirt than the job. With rising ire and all sartorial co us ide rat ions subordinated, I wound the harder until worked up to a demoniacal fury, the desired result Was obtained. The shirt was past redemption, its virgin %smoothness now befurrowed and, if somebody whose mother used Persil had Stood close by me, his supercilious smirk would have been cOMpletely justified. What I wanted, I decided, was a nice; clean, comfortable coupe with large doors and a docile power unit, and to hell with the pseudo-racer for social occasions. But the sort of car I wanted cost so much to tax, and certainly could not be justified for evening use alone. Why not put a 7-h.p. engine in a Rolls-Royce. At one time there was running about London a Rolls powered by a 000-e.c. Scott engine, and quite recently in Lancashire I drove a short way in a V8 Ford which had nothing larger than a Morris Eight engine to provide the power, and quite nicely it went, too. There is little to be proud of in the appearance of an ungainly American pressing as a body, but in a Rolls one could ‘Wept 30 m.p.h. and still look out with haughty dignity on the lesser breed who, in their vulgar haste, .go scurrying by. [Or, why not afford an old “Twenty” Royce ?—Ers.]
Whimsey the Filth.—The ill wind of petrol paucity has true to tradition, blown a bit of good in that it has introduced, or rather reintroduced, to two wheels many who would not otherwise have gone back to motor-bicycling. But for it, I doubt whether Pork Lees, Sam Chalon or I would have ridden a I.,000c.c. Arid l “Square 4,” which being the case, there would not have been born in at least three minds the idea of putting one, two or even four of these amazing power units into a car chassis. How it could be done effectively none of us professes to know, but if it could, what a machine would result ! The bicycle is as smooth as a Lincoln, and has the getaway of an E.H.A., and the music of eight (or could it be sixteen ?) cylinders would -alone4nake the job worth while.
Whimsey the Sixth.—If you want to go really fast, and really cheaply, you buy a motor-cycle, and if your thoughts turn to sprint racing you get a dirt-track engine which will shoot you off the mark with no mean effort • What a pity that having but two wheels you are barred from the car classes. But stay, two and two make four. Why not ride two hikes? D.T. Douglas were conveniently low and possessed eommendable power, so take two and stand them up about a yard
apart and join them together with what an. Italian mechanic of my acquaintance called “iron sticks.” Sit between the two bicycles or, if you prefer it, ride one and use the other as a kind of powerdriven sidecar, but remember to put in a track-rod to marry the two wheels. The cost? Well, about two bottles of whisky to get you fearless enough to ride the thing, and the price of three ,weeks in a high-class nursing home whither you might be borne by kind friends at the termination of the ride. Or would it work ?
Whimsey the Seventh.—Many months ago the Editor was good enough to publish 1ny plea for a post-war Class I in sprint competition, which drew forth the fact that John Bolster, Lowry, Molyneaux in Urmston, and one or two others were all interested enough to start building if somebody else did. As a “30/98 ” owner I find that three generations of Roget have included in the ” Thesaurus ” no phrase eloquent enough to express my distaste for the “buzz-box ” and the doodlebug,” and if I thought Class I would encourage either, I would never mention it again. Contrariwise, I still believe that Class .1, with its hearty, thumping, man-sized cylinder and its (probable) chain drive, would be in the best vintage tradition. ‘Who will start ?
Whimsey the Eighth.—Is it really necessary in a special,” such as one would build for a 500-c.c. engine, to spring the back wheels ? Normally we fit springs and then burden the vehicle with shockabsorbers screwed up so tight as to render the springs almost inoperative. Would not a simple rubber buffer do as well ? Whimsey the Ninth.—The Bol d’Or had always interested me intensely until it became the playground of the low horsepower, professionally-built racer. In England the amateur constructor has little chance of prolonged activity other than an occasional run of a few seconds duration on a speed-trial course. In France the builder drove his mechanical progeny single-handed for (if it would keep going) 24 hours. There is the almost inadmissible story of the man who com
pleted the motor-cycle race, washed his face, consumed two oranges, then drove his car for a further 24 hours.
Is it beyond hope that as a curtainraiser to a more serious afternoon at Donington or Crystal Palace or the Mountain Circuit, a 50-mile race for ” specials ” could be run ? Judging by the reaction of the Shelsley-Walsh crowd, such a race should la’ as popular a spectacle as a Mays “Bira “duel any clay; and what an encouragement to the amateur builder. Is it too much to hope for a race of the “specials” ? Whimsey the Lasi.—The financial horizon.goes a bit misty here—but it would be worth it. Vintage Bentley enthusiasm is now about at its highest ever ; would it be possible in some post-war sports-car race to enter a team consisting of at least one of each size ? At Le Mans—could this final ” fling of the ha ttleships ” possibly happen there ?—in 1929 13irkin and Barnato in the “Speed Six ” covered 1,797 miles to aVerage 73.62 m.p.h., and in 1930, Barnato and Kidson did 1,821 miles at 75.8’7 m.p.h. A little earlier (1928) thc imhlown ” 41 covered 1,658 miles. In 1939 Wimille and Veyron (Bugatti), covering just over 2,000 miles, averaged 86.8 m.p.h., the two Lagondas 83.5 and 83.2 respectively, at which speeds they filled third and fourth places, while Gordini and Scarton (Fiat) found that an average of 74 m.p.h. gave them tenth place in the G.P. d
‘._.1(.1franee. No one expects that a 13-year-old car could Win the race, but that would be no disgrace. If they could equal their form when new, a blown ” ” or ” Speed Six ” could’ still finish within the first dozen, while a good 8-litre could be still higher. There might be one example of each size from 3-litre to 8-litre, each car, still privately owned, of course, and driven by its owner and A. N. Other, would have to be overhauled by one of the well-known Bentley specialists—not necessarily the same Min in each ease— and the whole team sponsored by a representative body (who better than the V.S.C.C. [or Bentley Drivers’ Club.—
EP.] which might persuade its vicepresident, S. C. H. Davis, to control I he cars and drivers and ensure a properly. serious attitude to the affair). There would be no lack of competent amateur crews for the pits who would snhordinate themselves to ” ani who, by so doing, would have 011C of IIII• finest holidays ever. It is difficult to estimate the linances of such a venture, Init. 1 al I I FCNIladed that this is not an insuperable difficulty. If it could he done, it 11111tit 1JV in the first. post-war race before a new generation or 30-11.p.,
oo m.p.h. animated tear-drops changes tIn’ complexion of sports-car racing entirely . . . and if any or the ears these vultures denwdees so scathingly dismissed as obsolete by so many who have driven nang-ht hut the products or .thingdonIf even one of tliem finished, would not the sight of it crossing the line at the end of’ the 24th hour make it all v cry much worth while ? •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••