Vintage Postbag, April 1975

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British Salmson

Sir,
I was very pleased to see reference to British Salmson cars in the correspondence of your Nov./Dec. issues and thought you might be interested in the enclosed photograph of a rare 1939 20/90 with an S4C in the background. These cars were standing outside a garage in the Liverpool area and belonged to the proprietor with whom I had a friendly chat on the subject of British Salmsons—this was about I 3 years ago.

The reason for my interest was that just after the war I joined the design staff of British Salmson Aero Engines Ltd., at Baynes Park hoping that the firm would start car production again but alas, no. Instead I became involved in the production of the Vincent HRD 1,000-c.c. engine for the Rapide motorcycle and incidentally, learnt to ride on the prototype around the works yard thus catching the two-wheel bug—but that’s another story!

At that time the factory provided a comprehensive service to owners of BS cars including complete re-builds. Cars that had been standing through the war years were brought by their owners and left at the works for about a month. I recall that the average cost for total re-conditioning was about £400, quite a lot in those days when new cars (if you could get one) could be bought for around this figure—but the result was superb. It was always an exciting moment when an “as new” S4C or S4D drove out of the service department. Even more so when a 20/90 turned up. Only a handful of these fine cars were built just before the war each with individual bodywork. It was said that the Scottish Police ordered a quantity but cancelled due to the outbreak of war. I should be interested to know how many 20/90s have survived. I wish now that I had made an offer for the one at Liverpool—was it the 20/90 advertised about a year ago in Motor Sport under a box no. ? I wrote but did not get a reply.

Basingstoke, D.H. Freeman.