May I respond to the editorial coat-trailing and “weigh in” upon the reference to Sir John Ellerman’s Lanchesters in your “Cars in Books” feature? I think the authors of “Being Geniuses Together, 1920-1930” may have got the story the wrong way round. I have always understood that it was Lady Ellerman who insisted on riding in the Lanchester as she found the motion of the Rolls-Royce unsettling. At this distance of time one cannot be dogmatic, but it is significant that from 1925 onwards Sir John Ellerman did not own a Rolls-Royce but relied entirely on his Lanchesters and a small car, a Standard 11.9 I believe, for local work, shopping, etc.
The much criticised “rolling” of the earlier Lanchesters was more in the nature of a slow list to starboard or port when cornering, and many people found it less trying to the stomach than the pitching experienced in Silver Ghosts and Phantom Is. Before the 1914-18 war the unconventional design of the Lanchesters inhibited people from having a Lanchester chassis fitted with bodywork by an “outside” coachbuilder, but this applied much less after the war. The Company tried to persuade their customers to have Lanchester bodies but many ignored the advice. The “outside” coachbuilder’s body-work was nearly always heavier than the Company’s own and often necessitated altering the rear suspension, with a bad effect on riding and handling. I discovered some years ago that a “Twenty-One” Lanchester with a Hooper landaulet weighed five hundredweight more than my Lanchester-bodied example of the same year.
In “Cars in Books” I was interested to see the reference to Sir John Ellerman’s cars. I remember in 1929 seeing two Lanchester Forties at St. Ives; they both had round 3/4-rear-lights, like portholes, and a private yacht was standing out in the bay. I have no authentic information, but I thought they belonged to the Ellermans.
W. Stuart Best.
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