A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
The V.S.C.C. Pomeroy Memorial Trophy Competition, Silverstone (March 1st)
The Vintage S.C.C. had another very cold day for the annual Pomeroy Trophy contest, the occasion when moderns mingle with their elders to discover which of them is the best all-round touring car in the 30/98 Vauxhall tradition, to regulations laid down by the late Laurence Pomeroy. This year no 30/98 or Vauxhall of any sort was defending the illustrious honour, for Tony Jones was a non-starter, but there was an excellent entry of 60 cars that were, of which 20 were pre-1931, 33 were post-Second World War, not normally eligible for V.S.C.C. events, and the remainder were in-betweens, made after the end of the vintage era but prior to the outbreak of another war. They ranged from President Phillip Mann’s 1918 Straker-Squire which, although it lapped Brooklands at nearly 104 m.p.h., is rather more sedate these days, especially as it had been given a temporary hood for the “Pom”, to Wall’s Ferrari 250GT and the exciting cars of Neil Corner and Colin Crabbe, respectively a 1965 Ferrari 275LM and a 1957 4½-litre Maserati 450S.
The first test was a steering affair but I have in my time written so much nonsense wiggling and woggling about wiggle-woggles that I didn’t walk the half-mile or so to where it was happening. Instead, I decided to see how brakes were working, in the combined accelerate/stop test. Vintage enthusiasts were happy to see so many modern motor cars slide beyond the stop-line, stall their engines, and in many cases have some difficulty in getting them to start again. Hugh Conway’s Type 43 Bugatti stopped all right, front tyres smoking, Dean’s Monza Replica Alfa Romeo came to a gentle halt, but Merrett really locked up the front wheels of Chitton’s Type 43 Bugatti. Then we had Russ-Turner approaching in the famous Birkin blower Bentley with one blip, one stop-light, to a soft retardation, stalling the propellant machinery. Woodhead’s clean 2½-litre Riley saloon, its boot lid tied down, pulled up very well, with squealing drums, Bailey just stopped sliding in time with all four wheels locked, on his “racer” 4½-litre Bentley Special, which also stalled, Forrest slid almost out of sight in his Peerless GT, and Venables-LIewelyn also slid, but stopped in ample time, in his Type 57 Bugatti with fastback saloon body by an unknown maker.
Allin’s B.M.W. 2000TT came at it fast but slid straight, stalling the engine, Bell in a Volvo 144 slid too far but reversed, Berrisford in a 3-litre Reliant Scimitar tried the cadence trick but still overshot, last year’s winner, Anthony Blight in Talbot BGH 23, was extremely cautious, apparently having worked out that time-saving was of less value here than a proper pull-up, which he achieved. Curtis, in Talbot GO 54, was a bit quicker but was likewise taking no chances, while Smith in his 1924 3-litre Bentley was also very careful.
Saunders in a splendid Type 35A G.P. Bugatti just stopped in time, in a sideways slide, Harry Bowler was extremely good, on a fast, sure run in his 1929 4½-litre Bentley, Michael Bowler, with several jabs at the brake pedal of his Sebring Frazer Nash, was o.k., but killed the motor, Shaw in a sister car one year younger looked able to stop but let the car roll beyond the line, Comber’s Sebring Fraser Nash was careful and neat, and Carmichael was very neat, in his modern B.M.W. 2002.
Eaton’s post-vintage T.T. Replica Frazer Nash approached carefully, using the outside handbrake to lock the back wheels, Edwards, driving an Aston Martin DB2/4 instead of his Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire, almost over-slid, tyres squealing, Fidler’s A.C.-Bristol with the back window of its Aceca body open, did two prods on the brakes, slid too far, and stalled, and Baxter’s 1930 M.G. 18/80 two-seater with odd-looking wheels and MG Registration letters, was cautious and stopped in time. A high-speed, effortless stop went to the credit of Gilbert-Smith’s A.C. Ace-Bristol, Mrs. Griffiths-Woodley was fast, too, but her E-type Jaguar went on too far and had to come back to the stop-line, Grist’s Jaguar XK120 slid too much, Harbord’s 1934 Lagonda LG45 drophead showed how to do it without shedding rubber and Taylor’s Triumph TR3 skidded beyond the line, veering to the n/s. Wide-tread tyres on Cottingham’s lightweight E-type Jaguar probably contributed to a satisfactory performance, and Johnson’s 1938 V12 Lagonda with very odd bodywork had no difficulties, Potter’s Fiat 2300S, determined to do a fast run, suffered the worst slide to date, Scott’s special ex-Stamer Lancia Aurelia did it properly, as did Stretton’s Targa Florio Frazer Nash, but with much braking on its front wheels. Woodley’s neat Healey Silverstone went on too long, on smoking tyres, as did Terry’s Austin Healey 3000 Mk. 3, whereas Morris’ Aston Martin DB4GT just unconcernedly stopped. Gue’s gull-wing Mercedes-Benz 300SL was yet another that lost marks for not stopping soon enough, Wall in the Ferrari was o.k., but Crabbe just failed to do it in his flame-spitting Maserati and Corner also went too far. So that was the brake test—what curious things I do to earn my bread-and-Stork, but it gives an idea of the variety of the entries (the ContinentaI Correspondent, who reports nothing less than Grands Prix and suchlike, was still on the way to Silverstone, driving an ex-Vokes 1932 3-litre Lagonda tourer in very original condition, a remarkable recent unearthing, whose lady-owner is a very new Driving Member of the V.S.C.C. and Lagonda C.C.).
There followed the traditional s.s. and f.s. ¼-mile sprints; after the electricity in the timing apparatus had been unfrozen. These require no comment, but the better times in them are listed later. Alas, Palmer’s 1924 supercharged Targa Florio Mercedes had already retired, because a nasty noise suggested serious things amiss, which turned out to be a false alarm. There remained two one-hour High-Speed Trials round the Club circuit. Conway ran his Type 43 Bugatti with hood erect, as did some others. Black’s Monza Alfa Romeo pulled in early, to secure a wing, but soon continued, Harbord circulated with lights on and had more than one stop in the Lagonda, which was misfiring and afterwards proved difficult to restart, Crabbe non-started because the Maserati’s brake pedal had snapped off (shades of Moss in a Mille Miglia) and Saunders unhappily had had a key work loose in the crankshaft of his G.P. Bugatti, before these runs started. The first test was led for a time by Russ-Turner’s Bentley, until Bailey’s cut-and-shut p.v.t. Bentley overtook it, and in the second trial Corner was so far out in front. that there were rumours that he was going to stop at his pit for a nice cup of tea. Penny Griffiths was fast in her new E-type Jaguar, until stopped by a burst tyre.
When all the complicated figures and formulae were resolved it was found that Blight’s famous Talbot 105/110 BGH 23 had won, as it had in 1966 and again in 1967. It did 23.42 sec. in the steering test, 8.6 in the braking gambit, and it covered the s.s. ¼-mile in 17.36 sec., the f.s. ¼-mile in 10.47 sec. As the last two were run somewhat uphill, on a damp-track, this delectable 1934 sports/racing car can presumably devour a s.s. ¼-mile in something like 16½ sec!
Indeed, the results were eminently satisfactory. No-one will deny that the winning Talbot was the best all-rounder of all the competing cars. And if you study the list of award winners you will probably agree that all of them come pretty close to being ideal tourers, for there were people who toured in Monza Alfa Romeos and even the A.C./G.N. has seen service as a shopping-hack, although it may be more suited to short runs than long-distance work. Congratulations, therefore, to the late L. H. Pomeroy and to the V.S.C.C. for an enjoyable and informative contest. The V.S.C.C. will commence racing at Silverstone on April 19th.—W. B.