Vintage Veerings

The rapid fall in prices of almost all used cars, and in particular of the older models, should give a fillip to the vintage cult.

Some enthusiasts keep the same vintage car season after season, others seek frequent changes, deriving much enjoyment out of discovering the characteristics and idiosyncrasies of each model they own. Whichever way you look at it, vintage motoring is undeniably enjoyable,  and all over the country this spring such cars are being prepared for the road, to give their owners surprises, mainly pleasant, sometimes less so, thus adding their share of interest to the daily round. With advertised prices down to the £25 level and lower, and serviceable cars obtainable for anything from £15 to £50, many new adherents should be gained this year.

On the subject of pleasant surprises, may I cite the case of a 1928 Sunbeam Sixteen tourer which I have been driving recently. Never enormously excited about these cars previously, I find the Sunbeam very pleasant to drive, with very light, accurate yet truly high-geared steering, more-than-adequate brakes, an easy, silken gear-change (if unhurried) and smooth, willing engine, flexible when really warm (which takes an appreciable time), if the noisy Claudel-Hobson carburetter is spared too-sudden throttle openings. Amongst pleasant surprises I rate the precision of the minor controls, a reverse-catch which is disengaged merely by depressing the gear-lever knob and a dip-stick for the 11-gallon rear petrol tank. Less happy discoveries, no doubt peculiar to this individual car, are a tendency for the brakes to stick on, precarious carburation, and the fuel consumption of 13.2 m.p.g. (since improved to 15/17 m.p.g.). Sunbeam owners may care to know that the car does not boil, running normally at 70°C.


 The Vintage S.C.C. of Australia recently held a 1/8-mile sprint meeting at Mt. Druitt.  F.t.d. was made by J. F. Crouch’s Cooper 1,000 and fastest vintage car time by B. Garner’s Frazer Nash.


The Vintage S.C.C. (of England) commenced the 1953 competition season with its Slough Rally on March 8th. An entry of 51 was obtained, divided into 16 vintage cars of under 1-1/2- litres, 25 vintage cars over 1-1/2- litres, and ten post-vintage thoroughbreds. The Trading Estate did not seem quite the correct setting for a V.S.C.C. rally—perhaps it was the unsightly site or maybe we prefer Bisley because it is nearer home. But a good collection of vintage cars scattered themselves over the barren wastes, while several of these and the more elite amongst V.S.C.C. personalities were filmed by a monstrous three-dimensional movie-camera manned by a staff of producers, operators and a continuity girl in a white duffle-coat, all braving the clouds of brown dust flung up by the animated motor cars.

There was a series of driving tests, the first comprising a dash forward and reverse into a bay, seemingly devised by vendors of spare crown-wheels and pinions, although, mercifully, the only casualty was the reverse and second-speed chains of R. A. Kellow’s 1936 Frazer Nash. Some there were who trundled over the marker-tins, like Boughton in his 1912 Renault, J. R. Gibson Jarvie in a fine 1925 40/50 Fiat open tourer, with its very big brakes and very neat engine which gives 20 m.p.g. in spite of a capacity of 4,766 c.c., C. J. Bendall in a long 1925 4-litre Voisin which emitted a sleeve-valve smoke aroma, R. L. Odell in a 1933 Riley Nine, J. A. Deane in his smart 1911 12/16 Sunbeam, and Major A. W-K. Condon with his 1930 Lea-Francis two-seater. Others there were who placed their motor cars clumsily for the reversing bit, such as E. Cattle in a 1927 Lancia Lambda, R. A. Dennis in a 1922 Belsize tourer which afterwards accelerated smartly, C. S. Elphinstone in his lengthy 1933 1-1/2-litre Lagonda and P. G. Bartlett in a 1927 2-litre Lagonda. Some were merely sedate or slow, including the bearded Bradshaw in his Austin Seven Chummy, I. Gipson, who changed cogs nicely in his 1927 11/22 Wolseley tourer, C. R. K. Peal’s 1927 Bean with horseshoe badge, A. Archer in a covetable 1925 OE 30/98 Vauxhall and J. M. Hill’s 1934 Type 49 Bugatti with a body which sagged in the middle—or was it the chassis ?

There were drivers who brutalised their gearboxes and had better be nameless. Neat manoeuvres were effected by C. W. Robertson in a 1929 Riley Nine, B. E. Brown in his potent 1930 Frazer Nash,  D.H . Gahagen in his evergreen (only it’s blue) 1926 G. P. Bugatti, L. J. Wickham with a 1928 beetle-back big-port 12/50 Alvis, J. J. Woodcock whose 1928 14/40 touring Humber has vivid, yellow wheels and good brakes, R.J.B. Leedal in a smart 1923 Morris-Cowley with little, weak brakes, J. H. Bingham whose 1927 Chummy Austin Seven had no brakes to write about, N. Routledge whose healthy-sounding 1924 Morris-Cowley sported f.w.b. and was brisk, M. Leo in his rasping 2-litre  Lagonda, John Vessey whose 1927 Lancia Lambda has its original-type windscreen, E. J. Laker in a 1934 Riley Nine, R. V. Denne in the venerable 1911 Fafnir, and J. W. Rowley in his imitation sporting Morris Oxford of 1925. Very good indeed were R. C. Carter (1915 16/20 Sunbeam) and J. C. Erskine Hill (1936 3.3 Bugatti); better still, H. W. Cox (1928 O.M.), W. P. H. Lockhart (1930 Frazer Nash), Dr. D. P. Harris (1934 Frazer Nash), J. A. Denne (1911 Humber) and F. E. Day (1929 4-1/2-litre Bentley).

Harry Bowler’s very beautifully restored 1921 Tamplin belt-drive cyclecar had no reverse gear and had to be pushed into the bay by its “tandem” passenger. A smart car was P. Brooke’s 1926 Austin Twelve tourer with railway door handles. Light cars for ladies were exemplified by Nancy Audsley’s spick and span 1923 11.9 Lagonda and Miss Murphy’s 1928 509 Fiat. Another very nice vintage small car was Dr. Watkins’ very clean 10/23 Talbot two-seater with big back brakes and sensible-size tyres. Other tests were a figure-of-eight, an acceleration frolic, blind-driving, and a “pit-stop” during which a wheel had to be changed, adding up to the results given at the conclusion of this report. In the pit-stop Routledge was fast, Brown’s Frazer Nash was lifted onto the jack with excellent results, Leedal did well, likewise Erskine Hill, Archer and Binns in his fast O.M. But the truly professional touch was given by Cox with his O.M.  Wreathlets to Miss Murphy for always signalling “turn-left ” even in mid-test, and to Grice for the potent sight and sound of his 1923 Jewett Seven.

Some of the thoroughbred post-vintage cars looked merely the latter!

Kent Karslake, Anthony Heal, Tim Carson, Margery Carson, Forrest Lycett (in his 4-1/2-litre Bentley) and other prominent V.S.C.C. personalities were present. Spectators’ cars which caught the eye and/or inspired the imagination were a Mettalurgique, a Gwynne Eight, two Hispano-Suizas, an early long-chassis Jowett, and a gaggle of Morgans belonging to members of the Morgan Three-Wheeler Club.—W.B.


Vintage Cars up to 1-1/2  Litres:

Ist Class Awards: D. F. H. Weed (1923 Riley 11);  J. A. R. Grice (1923 Jowett 7).

2nd Class Awards: Dr. P. F. A. Watkins (1926 10/23 Talbot),  J. H. Bingham (1927 Austin 7).

3rd Class Awards: D. H. Gahagan (1926 G. P. Bugatti).

Vintage Cars over 1-1/2 Litres:

1st  Class Awards: J. A. Donne (1911 Humber),  R. V. Deane (1911 Fafnir)

2nd Class Awards:  H. W. Cox (1928 O.M.),  N. Routledge (1924 Morris-Cowley,  J. W. Rowley (1925 Morris-Oxford Spl.).

3rd Class Awards: F. E. Day (1929 41 Bentley), J. G. Vessey (1928 Lancia Lambda).

Post-Vintage Thoroughbreds:

1st Class Award: Dr. D. P. Harris (1930 1-1/2 Fraser  Nash).

2nd Class Award: Capt. R. Baker (1933 Riley 9).

3rd Class Award: E. J. Laker (1934 Riley 9).

Vintage Light Car Award:  C. W. Robertson (1929 Riley 9).


Sunbeam Register Reading Rally (March 7)

A very fine array of Wolverhampton Sunbeam and Roesch Talbot cars attended this rally at the Falcon Hotel, Woodley Aerodrome, Reading. The oldest Sunbeam present was Chas. South’s beautiful 1913 tourer and the oldest Talbot P. B. Kingston’s 1928 14/45 tourer, from Towcester. Georges Roesch, the Talbot designer, who wrote a much-appreciated article on these (pre-Rootes) cars in Motor Sport  last November, attended and not only helped to judge the Sunbeams in the Concours d’Elegance, but also drove Macworth’s 1933 Talbot 75 in the Driving Test, being beaten only by Stanley Sears’ 1914 T.T. Sunbeam, ably driven by Mr. Sears, junior. The Talbots were judged by Sunbeam owners and vice-versa; the results are shown below. One Talbot owner came in his Auster.

After tea Mrs. Georges Roesch presented the prizes. The Register now lists 414 Wolverhampton Sunbeams and 28 Roesch Talbots and looks forward to many more owners enrolling. The Wolverhampton Rally will be repeated this summer and other events are planned. The Hon. Registrar is Mrs. W. Boddy, Carmel, Wood Lane, Fleet, Hants; the annual subscription 15s.

Results of Concours:

Best Sunbeam: C. F. South’s 1913 12/16 tourer.   Runner-up: S. E. Sears’ 1914 T.T. racing car (tie decided on age of cars).

Best Talbot:  E. J. Varden’s 105 saloon.    Runners-up: M. Kenyon’s 75 saloon and A. H. Perriman’s 75.


City & Guilds M.C

On February 26th a unique lecture was heard by members, when Gerald Rose delivered substantially the same lecture, with slides, on the subject of motor-racing from the early days up to 1907, as he had, in fact, delivered to the same body 46 years earlier!  Moreover, the chair was taken on both occasions by Lt.-Col. Mervyn O’Gorman, whose humour was loudly applauded. Amongst those in the enthusiastic audience who greatly enjoyed this historic occasion were Kent Karslake, the Editor of Motor Sport,  and other journalists.