I could not agree more strongly with your sentiments on high-powered advertising of vintage and “specialist” cars: in fact it would seem that not a few firms never built anything “ordinary” until after 1930, while we are soon going to have to revise our estimates of British private-car production in 1918 since F.I.V.A. extended the “Veteran” date-line to that point. Stoneguards and aero-screens are most heretical on 1930-type open Humbers, which have always seemed splendidly pro-consular to me.
But, curiously enough, I don’t think the fold-flat screen was a heresy. I do not at present have access to the 1930 Humber catalogue, but the screens on 1931 tourer models of both “16-50” and “Snipe” were said to fold flat.
Midhurst. Michael Sedwick
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Converting Lamps on the Older Cars
Nothing could be worse than the suggestion in your March issue that owners of pre-war cars should convert their headlights by the method described on page 223.
By far the best and, incidentally, cheapest way to comply with the law on vehicle lighting is to obtain a matching solenoid dipping reflector for the offside and wire it in parallel with the nearside headlamp. These dipping reflectors are easily obtainable from car breakers for a few shillings and can be re-silvered for about 1s. 9d. per inch diameter. The light from these reflectors in good condition is far superior to modern “light units” and keeps the car looking right. Nothing looks more hideous than headlamps of more than 7 in. diameter adapted to take the modern insert. This is especially so when dealing with P.100s and similar lamps.
If this method is not possible for any reason, then one can fit twin-filament bulbs to existing reflectors by simply changing the single contact bulb holder for a double contact one and wiring them in Parallel. This again keeps the car’s appearance original.
It has always been a source of amazement to me as to why people go and spend about £3 10s. to ruin the look of the car they obviously prize when, for about half that amount, they can fulfil the letter of the law and still retain the correct appearance as when the car was new. I have used both the above methods and have found they work excellently.
Beckenham. R. O. Wilson-Kitchen.
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Another Jarrot Austin 7?
I was most intrigued to read the letter in February’s Motor Sport concerning the Jarrot Motor Body Co. Austin 7s.
Could one of these little cars possibly be the type my father drove in the sand races at Southport in 1930? He often spoke of his Jarrot Austin but until this letter appeared I had always assumed it to have been a one-off special that had been named “Jarrot” by its builder.
I never saw any pictures of the car, but, it was described as having a pointed tail and external exhaust, also I believe it originally had a vee-windscreen which my father replaced with two aero-type screens. I do not think he had any success at Southport, possibly because the engine was almost standard with the exception of a high-compression head. Later, however, he fitted twin S.U. carburetters from a crashed M.G. Midget.
He ran the car up to 1935, breaking the crankshaft twice. The second time he re-assembled the engine, the flywheel came loose on the taper, and the car was sold in this condition, as my father married shortly after this.
Incidentally he borrowed my uncle’s 12/60 Alvis for the honeymoon!
Kirkudbright. R. Frears.
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Pre-War Less-Expensive Cars
In September 1967 I purchased a 1934 Humber Vogue, price £40, 80,000 on the clock, stored for two years. Engine, clutch, and brake cables were seized up, radiator decomposed. All these parts were freed and refitted, radiator rebuilt by expert firm at Bagshot.
Cost ?—Some sweat, some Redex, and £16 for the radiator! The car passed its M.o.T. last June first attempt, did 500 miles last summer with no trouble; off to Devon this year and don’t expect any trouble!
Windsor. P. W. Hill
Two and a half years ago I bought, in the Midlands, a 1931 two-seater Morris Minor for £100 (the same as its original price in 1931). It was then in near concours condition, and all renovation by the previous owner was strictly to specification. The car had new tyres and battery, professionally renovated upholstery, relined brakes, stove-enamelled wheels, etc.
I used the Minor daily and have just completed over 20,000 miles with no mechanical failing whatsoever, despite gruelling treatment in the Welsh hills during the summer.
The Morris now requires “minor” attention to the engine (valves burnt out) and a general tidy up.
The reward in maintaining or renovating such a car is deep satisfaction and pleasant jog-along motoring.
Prices advertised for 1931-1939 regular vehicles are ridiculously high. Anything over £500 must be vintage or p.v.t. for me. It is up to the everyday enthusiast to encourage fair prices by good example. Let us remind the prospective buyer that the price of a car, new or old, should be on its market value, and not what it cost to build or renovate.
Paisley. J. Michael Wollerton.
[I have no objection to non-p.v.t. cars of 1931-40 providing their owners realise that they are not eligible for Full Membership of the V.S.C.C., do not count as vintage cars, in many cases not as p.v.t.s, and that they do not pay stupidly-high prices for them. So I include these two letters under the “Vintage Postbag” heading, with these reservations. Are there any more examples of inexpensive but satisfactory cars of this kind, bought recently?—Ed.]
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Gordon England Bodies on Morris Cars
Following the excellent article on the Gordon England Austin Seven in the October 1968 issue of Motor Sport, we have been entertained by a number of interesting letters on the subject of Gordon England cars. Whilst the theme is still “hot” may I mention that as historian for the Morris Register I have been—and still am—doing research on Gordon England’s contribution to the Morris chassis of the ‘twenties and the ‘thirties.
The special system of body-building patented by Gordon England can be seen at the Science Museum, London, where a demonstration model is listed (“Cat. No. 424. Inv. N0. 1930—103”); this model is to a scale of 1 : 4.
The well-known overhead-camshaft Morris Minor chassis of the 1930 season was available in October 1929 with 3 two-seater fabric covered body similar to the Stadium Austin. The same chassis was also offered with a Gordon England saloon body. Both models were fitted with electric windscreen wiper, Tecalemit chassis lubrication, winding windows and pneumatic upholstery—items which were not fitted to the basic Morris models. The latter model appeared at the Motor Show at Olympia between October 17th and 26th, 1929 (Stand 41).
The Morris Isis was another chassis to which Gordon England turned his attention, and at the same Motor Show the “England Isis Club Coupé” and “England Isis 4-door Saloon” were on the same stand. The Club Coupé was listed in the Morris programme for the 1930 season. The latest Gordon England (1929) Ltd. advertisement I have recorded (Morris-wise) is one which appeared in the Morris Owner for June 1930. Like your correspondent L. R. Hawke’s example, this announcement invited the reader to write for a descriptive booklet “The Body is Half the Car”. Does any reader today possess a copy of this?
It is interesting, if something of a digression, to note in Fletcher’s Index that Gordon England Ltd., of Felsham Road, Putney, was quoted as holding spares for the Palladium car.
I would like to mention, in closing, that so far the Morris Register can boast no Gordon England Morris models amongst its membership, and I would be more than pleased to hear from any past or present owners.
Galleywood. Club Historian, Morris Register.
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The 1901 Panhard “Le Papillon Bleu”
I was very interested to see the illustration and to read the reference to this car on page 126 of the February edition.
I found “Le Papillon Bleu” in the corner of a garage at Henley-on-Thames in 1926 when I was at Oxford, and through my interest in rowing a frequent visitor to Henley. I bought it and made a lot of use of it for four years at Oxford and in the New Forest and occasionally In London, and I drove it in the first revival of the London-Brighton Run, having a very successful run down and back. I sold it (not at today’s kind of price!) to someone living in Reigate.
And by chance my frequent co-driver was mentioned on page 124 of your same issue—A. N. L. Maclachlan, who in the same years occasionally allowed me to drive his very-sports Austin 7. If he is alive and “Le Papillon Bleu” extant it would be a special pleasure for me if this letter could lead to me seeing either or both of them again. I live at the same address where I saw them last.
Ringwood. G. P. Wakeling.
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Gordon and Gordon England Bodies
My letter about Mr. Nicholas’ Austin Seven saloon induced Mr. P. Hitchman of the Riley Register to loan me a copy he has of the Austin 1928 catalogue.
My memory was obviously at fault, as witnessed by the copy I enclose of the illustration in this catalogue of the Austin 7 Gordon England saloon, which differs only from Mr. Nicholas’ car in the absence of a beading strip under the side windows.
However, I would still be most interested if someone could tell me whether there were ever any Gordon-bodied Austin Sevens built.
Uxbridge. Colin W. Hughes.
May I take this opportunity to thank you for publishing my letter and photograph in the December 1968 issue of Motor Sport? On reading the February issue I noticed a letter on page 124 from Colin Hughes stating that my “Gordon England” car is really a Gordon.
Unfortunately he is barking up the wrong tree if he is trying to find details of special bodies built on an Austin chassis in an Austin catalogue.
Gordon England published his own catalogues, one of which I have with my car. There is also an enamel badge on the n/s just behind the door stating that the car is as I described in my December letter.
I also have, in my possession, an Austin Seven catalogue given out at the 1924 Motor Show. If any of your readers would like a photostat copy and would like to write to me I can forward any details to them.
Enfield. P. A. Nicholas.
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Early Petrol Pumps in Wales
I was interested to read Mr. David Dewar’s letter mentioning the installation by my father of the first roadside petrol pump in Wales.
There were, in fact, two hand-operated one-gallon Bowsers, initially without globes on top. One served “Pratts” and the other “Shell”, but it is said that the attendant, who died not many years ago, could always oblige a fastidious customer with “National Benzole Mixture”—or any other brand—on request!
In the mid-‘twenties probably one of the very first “help yourself” pumps was installed to give day and night facilities for customers. It dispensed a shilling’s worth at a time but the ingress of foreign coins and tiddlywinks soon turned it into an unprofitable venture.
Llandrindod Wells. Tom Norton, Managing Director, The Automobile Palace Ltd.
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The Martin Special
The letter from Mr. Tregenza has recently been brought to my notice.
The Martin Special, BPK 40, the chassis of which he has acquired, was built by my father in the years 1930-34 as a one-off. The mechanical basis of the original car was 14/45 Rover very extensively modified. The chassis frame was cut in half and shortened; the rear half was reversed, giving an underslung back axle. The axles came from a Delage, model unknown, the wheels were specially made, using the Delage hubs and wider rims to enable the largest available section tyres to be fitted. The body was entirely fabricated by my father. I enclose pictures of the car in its original form.
My father used to aver that the car had the best steering and road-holding of any car he ever drove. According to my mother, it was very fast, very noisy, and had very good brakes!
Unfortunately the car had a short history in its original form. It was involved in a had accident returning from Shelsley Walsh in 1939, in which my lather was badly injured (it was being driven by Tim Carson). He never had the heart to start rebuilding it to the very exacting standards he set himself, especially as he wished to make a number of modifications in the light of experience, and he sold it as it was.
Launceston. Graham Facks-Martin.