V.E.V. Miscellany, April 1969

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John Howell tells us that the V16 Maserati is going together again. The single-seater Austin 7 which W. D. Castello raced at Brooklands (he was killed during the war) has been restored in Norfolk, is in its original colours again, and has been introduced to Martin, the mechanic who worked on it when it was raced, its speed being kept down until experience was gained, and to fox the handicappers. It is original except for hydraulic brakes and remote gear-lever, and the target in pre-war days was 110 m.p.h, at 10½ m.p.g. Taskers of Andover have been taken over by the John Brown Group and this has most unhappily led to the disbanding of Taskers’ private museum or their products, which included the only known surviving Tasker steam wagon. Christies auctioned the bulk of the exhibits last February but a Tasker Museum Appeal has been opened to keep some of the collection together and in Hampshire. Donations should be sent to Barclays Bank, High Street, Andover; as the H.C.V.C. Newsletter says : “Export or die is the current shout but it seems unwise to direct all effort to the future, leaving a Nation’s heritage to fend for itself.” The bogus Ford-Chittys have got themselves on Ambrosia milk pudding packets, in conjunction with a £100,000 Chitty competition!

As if to offset the outbreak of modern imitation model Type 52 children’s Bugattis, a splendid half-scale Type 59, with “piano-wire” wheels, has been constructed in France. The film people are at it again—a vintage 12/40 Lea-Francis coupé, apparently very original, has been decked out with creeper-tracks, eight horns, cow-catchers, etc., and is to appear, with other old cars, in Paramount’s “Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies”. (Ugh!) We have referred to vintage typewriters, lawn-mowers and such like, as adjuncts to vintage cars. Now we have a letter from a reader who has restored a 1926 Trilox invalid carriage. It was found abandoned in a shed six years ago; the engine is an industrial-type Villiers two-stroke, but with flywheel magneto, and the drive goes through a 3-speed Albion gearbox and triple chains to the o/s rear wheel. It runs on an original Avon Supreme tyre on one 19-in. rear rim but the front wheel is non-original, as one for a 20 x 2½ tyre could not be found. It is hand controlled and described as “a handful to drive”.

To clarify the complexity resulting from the many organisations specialising in pre-war Austin 7s, The Austin Seven Clubs Association has been formed, comprising the Bristol Austin 7 Club, Pre-War Austin 7 Club, Derby/Southend Austin 7 Club, Austin 7 Register, Vintage Austin 7 Register, and the Cambridge University Austin 7 and Vintage C.C., while associated with it are the Austin Swallow Register and the Austin 7 Van Register. Other similar bodies are invited to join; the Secretary is John Ward, North House. Fillongley, Warwicks. The Austin Ten Drivers’ Club announces that it now caters for owners of Austins of above 10 h.p., built between 1930 and 1939; as well as the 10/45 it was originally confined to. Details from: A. A. Milliner, 2, Ralph’s Cross, Leatherhead Road, Gt. Bookham, Surrey. In view of recent and continuing correspondence in “Vintage Postbag” about Gordon and Gordon England bodies on Austin chassis, it is interesting that an Austin 18 with a Gordon d/h. coupé body is being restored in Essex. Derelict examples of circa 1932 Austin 12 and 1338 James van are referred to by a reader in N. London, and a f.w.b. Morris Commercial chassis, less engine, with large tanker body is reported in Essex. Letters can be forwarded.