Vintage Postbag, April 1964

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Historic Car Racing

Sir,

With reference to the letter from Mr. Watts (page 158, March Motor Sport) I would confirm that the Salmson to which he refers has been accepted by my Committee as a Special of particular interest and not an Historic Racing Car, as I informed Mr. Watts when he wrote to me.

At our own race meetings we run “Allcomers” scratch races, designed for Historic Racing cars, but if the race is not filled by these we make up the field with sports and special cars of a suitable speed to make a good race as far as possible. I assume that other clubs which run invitation races for HRCs do the same, although the name for these events is not strictly accurate if they include cars not classed as Historic.

The definitions that Mr. Watts inquires about are as follows: Historic Racing cars (a) Cars of a type raced before December 31st, 1930, (b) Cars of a type raced before December 31st, 1943, (c) Single-seater racing cars with four or more cylinders, of a type raced more than 12 years ago.

Sprint of special cars of particular interest raced more than 15 years ago are also accepted for our events. ALL the above being subjected to approval by the Committee. Sports/racing cars are not included, emphasis being, as far as post-war cars are concerned, on F.1 cars.

[Why, then, were two team Talbots and a couple of sports/racing Aston Martins seen in the last Seaman Trophies Race?—Ed.]

Vintage cars are those manufactured before January 1st, 1931, P.V.T. cars are cars of the make and model shown on our list of selected cars, subject to being in good condition. Certain modifications are allowed, such as brake improvements, tyre sizes (with a minimum laid down) and some others; details can be obtained from me.

We have recently warned members, and I would like this chance to warn non-members, in their own interests to check with me before buying any cars advertised as Historic or P.V.T. as the terms are very loosely used by some advertisers.

Kingsclere. T. W. Carson.

Secretary, V.S.C.C.

[But why “of a type raced?”—just say “as raced” and the borderline cases could be easily eliminated.—Ed.]

* * *

Boillot in 1914/18

Sir,

Referring to “Cars in Books” I quote the following passage from “The Guns of August” by Barbara Tuchman—the American paper back edition by the Dell Publishing Co., Inc., New York—on page 210. It appears to identify Joffre’s chauffeur:—

“Unlike Moltke who during his brief tenure as Commander in Chief never went to the front or visited field armies’ headquarters, Joffre was in constant and personal contact with his commanders. Placidly ensconced in the back seat of his car, he would be driven on his rounds at seventy miles an hour by his appointed private chauffeur Georges Bouillot, three times winner of the Grand Prix auto race.”

Lots of people speak their mind, but not many magazines print their mind. Motor Sport does. Good on you.

Ealing, W.13. P. H. Crumley.

[Boillot is the correct spelling—he won the French G.P. for Peugeot in 1912 and 1913. But he became a pilot, shot down early in the war; so the mystery deepens!—Ed.]

* * *

More Trumbull Memories

Sir,

For many years I have read your excellent magazine and hoped that one day I should see mention of the Trumbull.

My father’s second car (the first was a 1906 8 h.p. 1-cylinder Rover with the chassisless construction and the quadrant gearbox. I can remember my father breaking his wrist trying to change down descending Box Hill in Surrey but that is another story) was a Trumbull and many of Mr. Bagshaw’s experiences I can confirm. The exacting steering above 20 miles an hour became positively breath-taking over 30 miles an hour. The garage who sold it to my father always maintained that if you could survive this wanderlust and exceed 50 miles an hour everything straightened out again but my father never had the courage! We always used to reckon that any journey at over 20 miles carried with it the very fair chance of a collapsed wheel. The body was very akin to the subsequent Austin Chummy.

I remember my father purchasing the car in 1922 for £55. He sold it in 1924 for £17 10s. and of all strange coincidences I casually read through the second-hand columns of a motoring journal a few years later when the same car was offered for sale for the magnificent sum of £5.

Leicester. J. H. De la Rue.

* * *

Hillman 14 Lore

Sir,

Further to Michael Burn’s letter in your February issue, I would like to emphasize the fact that unless a keen interest is taken in Vintage Hillmans, they will become extinct and just another memory of the “Golden Era of Motoring.”

I own a 1928 “Fourteen” saloon and recently travelled some 900 miles in one week with no trouble at all. It has proved to be a most practical machine to run, though, after nearly a quarter of a million miles without a rebore. No. 2 piston disappeared into the sump. I am most grateful to Mr. Burn since the engine from the chassis he towed up from Exeter is now in my possession and my car will be on the road again at Easter. Such is the importance of having spares available. Other Vintage Hillman owners may well not be so lucky as I was. A combined effort by owners in the form of a Register will make things much easier for all.

It might be of interest to Fourteen owners to note that I have various engine spares available from my old engine.

Camberley. A. W. Leslie.

* * *

Still in Service

Sir,

Perhaps you may be interested in the photograph I took recently at Dum Dum Airport, Calcutta. The Rolls-Royce is used as a general workhouse, on most occasions it is used to haul aircraft servicing trolleys of the type shown on the left of the photo, sometimes a line of three being coupled up. The Airport staff say it is a 1925 model. The car is in daily use, and is often seen with its trailer load and an army of technicians aboard literally “chugging” around the airport. The aircraft in the background is Major Gagarin’s Ilyushin airliner, employed to bring him to India on his recent goodwill tour.

Kings Lynn. D. Needham, Flt. Lt.

* * *

The T.-B.

Sir,

Mr. Wardle’s letter mentioning the T.-B. 3-wheeler has prompted me to reply, as I once owned a “Thompson-Bennett” (which I understood the initials T.-B. stood for). The period was about 1930-31 and we were then living in Cambridge.

Features of interest that I can remember were:—a general similarity to the current Morgan, but with the refinement of shaft-drive, and a quickly detachable rear wheel; a 3-speed and reverse gearbox and an oil/cork clutch (of Morris origin, I think). Steering was via a reduction box, and this, whilst lighter than the Morgan’s direct steering, complicated things somewhat as regards twisting the Bowden cables from the throttle and magneto controls on the steering wheel; this latter was mounted rather high up so that the driver had to peer through the spokes.

The Bugatti-like radiator evoked quite a bit of comment, I remember, and so did the surprising feature of having to start the engine by winding it backwards, i.e., anti-clockwise, though the starting handle was in the conventional position in front—this, I think, was related to the use of one of the cam wheels of the vee-twin J.A.P. engine for coupling to the handle! Though no electric starter was fitted, there was quite a respectable lighting set with dynamo, and an impressive headlamp “dimmer” rheostat on the dashboard. The little car provided quite a bit of fun and served as my transition from motor-cycles to cars, and was therefore something to remember.

London, N.W.9. C. W. Goodchild.

* * *

A Le Mans Riley?

Sir,

When I was in the South of France last year I discovered a car which I think might be of interest to your readers.

The owner told me he intended to rebuild it.

The car was discovered near a place called Toreilles in the Pyrénees Orientalis district. The owner told me that it is the only remaining one of its type of which four raced at Le Mans. It is a 1937 1,490 c.c. Riley which raced at Le Mans in 1938, coming 13th, in the General Classification, out of 42 starters. It completed 1,713 km. 484 m. but retired after 127 circuits. I was told that it was driven by Louis Ferret and Francis Noiraux and started with the number 36.

Enfield. B. H. Pearce.

[Two French-owned Rileys competed in the 1938 Le Mans race, driven by Forestier-Caron and Ferry-Noiraux, both retired. Sorry to disappoint!—Ed.] 

* * *

A Nice Gesture

Sir,

I feel that other readers would like to hear of an example of real service and courtesy in these days of apathy and inefficiency.

A few days ago I wrote to Messrs. Tufnol Ltd., of Birmingham, asking if they would supply me with a piece of their product (Tufnol—a resin-impregnated laminated plastic material, ideal for bushes, bearings, etc.) to manufacture a clutch withdrawal bearing for my 1913 Morgan. Two days later I received the required piece cut to shape and thickness, together with a most courteous covering letter asking me to accept it with their compliments. Usual disclaimers.

Sheffield, 7. C. M. Weston.

* * *

A 1929 Morris on the Continent

Sir,

Perhaps your readers would be interested to hear of the performance of a 1929 Morris Minor (albeit fitted with hydraulic brakes and 1931 side-valve engine).

During a period of three weeks last summer, my friend and I, together with a back seat full of camping equipment, travelled through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and Italy—a total distance of 2,500 miles, at an average fuel consumption of somewhat over 40 m.p.g.

There is no doubt of the enthusiasm in the above countries for vehicles of vintage years. Whenever we stopped crowds gathered and the inevitable questions were posed: “How old?” “What make?” and “How fast?” Indeed, the only other cars of like age that we encountered were a 1931 Alvis Beetleback and a pre-1930 Bentley. More than one enthusiast equated our M.M. with the German “Dixie” (were these cars produced for the German market under this name?).

Troubles were few; the distributor carbon came adrift, but was quickly fixed, and we suffered one puncture. Incidentally this same tyre decided to go down again—just as we were about to drive onto the ferry at Calais! Our main concern, though only in the Alpine regions, was with overheating. This occurred with prolonged use of 1st gear and necessitated frequent halts on some of the passes, while we refilled our 5-gallon water container from mountain streams.

I still have this car and, apart from replacing the diff. unit a few weeks ago (I counted 27 broken teeth in the old one!) she is giving trouble-free daily use.

London, N.1. Gary D. Sims.

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