Rumblings, April 1949

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44

Across the Channel
We have already commented on the very full fixture list and the increased number of classic events which British enthusiasts will have a chance of attending this year without leaving their native shores. However, many of us, sickened by severe petrol rationing, are planning to take cars across the Channel this year where the scope for a true motoring holiday is considerable.

The two great sports car races, at Le Mans and Spa, are likely to attract a large number of spectators from this country, if only because the new Aston-Martin won so magnificently at the latter venue last year and because Le Mans is steeped in British motor-racing tradition — we were victorious in the 24-Hour Race in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930 with Bentleys, and in 1935 with a Lagonda.

After all, there is 24 hours’ racing to watch, both at Le Mans and at Spa. The A.C. de l’Ouest is holding the famous Le Mans race for the first time since the war, on June 25th and 26th. Entries are limited to 60 cars by invitation, the list closing on April 5th, and, as before the war, there are really three separate races in one, the Annual Cup for best performance on handicap, competitors in this category also attempting to qualify for the 1949-50 Biennial Cup, the final round of the 1939-49 Biennial Cup Race, and the Annual Cup race won by the fastest car irrespective of category. Those eligible to run in this year’s Biennial Cup race are Lagonda, Ltd., Walter Watney, Lord Selsdon, the 1939 winner — Gordini, Mrs. Trevelian, Count Heyden, the Ecurie du Lapin Blanc, Joseph Chotard and A. W. Jones, all possessing the right to one entry each. It is to be hoped that all will nominate a car, but at the moment only Peter Clark’s special H.R.G. seems a certainty.

Interest in the Annual Cup Race, however, is likely to be enormous. Handicapping is on a given minimum mileage per class, the winner being he who exceeds this set figure by the biggest margin. The categories are: 500 c.c., 750 c.c., 1,100 c.c., 1,500 c.c., 2 litres, 3 litres, 4 litres and. over 4 litres. The minimum average speed per class for non-supercharged cars works out at about 43, 50 1/2, 56.9,61.2, 64 1/2, 68.4, and 70.4 m.p.h. (this last for 4-litre cars) respectively. Supercharged cars are allowed but pay an additional handicap penalty. The entries must be catalogue models and comply with set regulations relating to body dimensions and equipment, all tools required must be on the car, pit-stops can only be made at intervals of over 200 miles and apparently only one tyre change will be permitted, seriously Iimiting the speed of the bigger cars. Two-seater bodies are permissible and the type of fuel will be specified. Reading of this race all the Le Mans nostalgia comes back with a bang and we hope Britain will be well represented. Peter Clark’s diminutive H.R.G.s will undoubtedly run and most interesting entries are those of Hay’s over-drive, aerodynamic 4 1/4-litre Bentley saloon, Pitt’s ex-Birkin “blower” 4 1/2-litre Bentley two-seater and Peter Robertson Rodger’s ex-blower single-seater 4 1/2-litre Bentley, now with two-seater body. If these three Bentleys finish the course spectators from this country could wish for nothing better.

At Spa, on July 9th and 10th, you again get 24 hours’ racing for your money, but on somewhat different lines. There are two categories, one for catalogue sports-cars modified within the usual limits, the other for that mythical vehicle, the standard touring car. The main prize is the King’s Cup, for the team of three cars considered to have made the best performance and cars in a team may be of different capacity if desired although, should a tie occur, then the team with the smallest aggregate c.c. wins. Additionally there are capacity classes, 1,100 c.c., 2 litres, 4 litres and unlimited, at present, with the promise of additional divisions if required. Other features of Spa are a dead-engine start, pump fuel brought up to 80 octane and return of the entry fee to every finisher. We hope Aston-Martin will be making a determined effort to uphold the prestige it gained last year and that many other British cars will run. Entries close on June 30th.

If you are going to Holland for your holiday, take note that the Zandvoort circuit has been placed on a permanent footing with John Hugenholtz as Clerk-of-the-Course. New grandstands, grass banks to obviate the sand-storm nuisance, big car parks, new internal roads and a new surface for the course are promised. It is interesting that you can take your car round the course for fees very similar to those prevailing at Silverstone — cars will be charged approximately 17s. an hour or £5 10s. a day, with a reduction to £3 15s. for every consecutive day. Details are available from Foundation “Touring Zandvoort,” Ons Huis, Dorpsplein, Zandvoort, Holland and the telephone number is Dorpsplein 2374. The circuit is backed by the municipality and is three miles west of Haarlem, 12 miles west of Amsterdam. The dates of particular interest to us are May 28th, when the K.N.A.C. Formula B and/or 1,100-c.c. race is due, and July 30th, when the same body proposes to hold the International Grand Prix of Holland, for Formula I cars. Note: If meanwhile the Sunday driving ban is lifted, these races will take place the following day, May 29th and July 31st.

It is noteworthy that excellent Zandvoort Bulletins go out at intervals in English and Dutch to clubs, the Press, racing stables and individuals in England, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Spain, etc. Goodwood and Silverstone, please copy!

Incidentally, Montlhèry Track is open again and anyone feeling like some outer-circuit. lappery might do worse than make enquiries in Paris as to what facilities exist for indulging such a whim.

Certainly the air-lines and air charter companies, the shipping agents and British Railways all seem determined to do their utmost to help us get abroad this year, to places where comparatively big wads of petrol coupons are yours for the asking. Important fixtures to align with your holiday include the Monaco Grand Prix on June 5th, a full-length formula Grand Prix at Spa on June 19th, the Swiss Grand Prix at Berne on July 3rd, and Italy’s Grand Prix d’Europe on September 11th.

Veterans and the Industry
Those of our readers — and they are many — who enthuse over veteran cars must be heartened by the interest which prominent manufacturers display over the preservation of such vehicles. Although there is the thought that each car so restored and preserved is lost to the private-owner, at least the care lavished on rebuilding and subsequent storage will be of a truly high order. Nor need such cars finish their days solely as “museum-pieces” while such good excuses for using them as those excellent Cavalcades of 1946, and similar events, are held.

To the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain and the late Captain Wylie goes a very great deal of the credit for placing ownership of historic motor cars on a firm footing. Indeed, most of the big manufacturing concerns which, to-day, boast a proud collection seem to have looked round in haste for suitable material after seeing what private individuals had succeeded in getting together. Be that as it may, their interest is encouraging. For example, a 1903 Siddeley resides at the Armstrong-Siddeley works, even if A.C. Cars Ltd., perhaps reminded sufficiently of the past by certain features of their current production car, have, we believe, let all known examples of the Auto-Carrier “Sociable” slip through their hands.

The Austin Motor Company, Ltd., possesses a really fine collection of Edwardians, including one of the single-cylinder Sevens, a very dignified mid-engined landaulette, the six-cylinder 1908 Grand Prix Austin racer and others. Moreover, they have in the past allowed the V.C.C. to stage a meeting at their airfield and have brought out their own cars with which to compete. More recent models, such as two specimens of the original-style Baby Austin and Austin Twenty, are also preserved at Longbridge.

The Daimler Company is fully conscious of its long and noble history and got Mr. St. John Nixon to write it up not long ago, and they are quite aware of the publicity value of running early Daimlers in veteran-car events and of photographing such cars alongside their current models. The Ford Motor Company Ltd., of Dagenham, used, before the war, to have cars such as its model-N, of the 1907-9 era, which it sent for display tours to its agents all over the country, where they attracted much comment and amusement. It would seem, however, that they cannot have a good model-T of the later sort, or even a good photograph of one, judging by the difficulty A. R. Whitear seems to have had in painting one for a recent Ford advertisement. However, in the States the wonderful Ford museum covers almost every aspect of automobile development, Ford progress included, and not content with that, there is the legendary Greenfield Village.

An excellent example of an early “chain-gang” Frazer-Nash is usually to be seen outside the works of A. F. N. Ltd., at Isleworth, although we believe that this is nothing to do with the Aldingtons! Rootes Securities Ltd. are as veteran-conscious as any manufacturer. They have an excellent collection of beautifully-restored Humber, Sunbeam, Talbot and Darracq cars, which periodically appear, individually or collectively, at displays and most of which run in suitable competition events.

Jowett Cars Ltd. carefully preserve one of their tiller-steered 1910 7-h.p. two-seaters at their Bradford works, Lagonda Ltd. recently photographed and had filmed a 1924 “12/24” Lagonda coupé owned by a private individual and would not be averse to acquiring a pre-1914 bull-nose car of this sort, while the Lanchester Motor Co. has one or more early examples of its products at the works, George Lanchester himself being prevailed upon to drive on suitable occasions, such as in the Brighton Run.

Not to be outdone, the Nuffield Organisation has acquired and retained one of the first Morris-Oxfords some magnificently turned-out early Wolseleys and even the late Cecil Kimber’s original M.G. Sports, which form nearly as imposing a display as those of the Austin and Rootes concerns.

At Derby, visitors to Rolls-Royce Ltd. will encounter one of the 1905 two-cylinder Rolls-Royce cars which a sentimental owner asked the famous firm to accept as a “museum-piece” in 1923, after it had covered well over 100,000 miles without suffering undue deterioration. The Rover Company has one of its 1905 single-cylinder tourers at its disposal and, at Cavalcade time, pushed out some rather clever photographs showing it refuelling at a service station alongside a far more modern product. They also seem to encourage such displays amongst their agents, for in a single day we encountered two examples of those rugged 1912-14 Rover tourers, one in the showroom of a Hampshire distributor, another in the window of a Surrey garage.

Firms like Singer and Standard, if they have no actual veterans to bring forth, make good use of professionally-built scale models of their more historic types, as, indeed, do many of those manufacturers already mentioned. We believe, too, that Singer’s have one of the 1907 T-head six-cylinder Singers in their possession. But Renault Ltd., at Acton, are not, in our experience, aware of the past.

Last but not least, Vauxhall Motors Ltd. have held fine exhibitions at Luton of their original cars, dating back to 1903, backed by a 25-h.p. “Prince Henry” and an OE “30/98,” with which to off-set examples of General Motors’ methods of production. And they published their history in book-form, in 1946.

Even Napier, who have not made passenger cars for many years, display a “40/50” engine at Acton, own a fine “40/50” saloon and would like a really early Napier car, while Guy Motors would very much like to discover one of the s.v. V8 passenger cars they made in the early nineteen-twenties.

Enough has been written to show that British manufacturers are not unaware of the appeal of the veteran movement. It is a pity so few of them have preserved their more-famous racing cars. Only Austin, and Rootes with the 200-m.p.h. Sunbeam and the 231-m.p.h. Irving-Napier “Golden Arrow,” can claim to have such glorious heirlooms.

The thought of so many veterans so beautifully restored for purposes of commerce turns our heart warmly to the large numbers of such cars put into equally good order by the painstaking efforts of private individuals. Dare we whisper that, looking at the 1949 V.C.C. Fixture List, it seems that their owners are going to need a mighty lot of petrol if they are to compete in more than one event during the coming season?

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