VSCC Pomeroy Trophy

(Feb. 28th)

The Vintage Sports-Car Club’s Pomeroy Trophy contest, which by means of a series of timed tests at Silverstone purports to find the ideal touring car of any age by means of a handicap formula, was held this year on February 28th and the 65 entries ranged from a 1918 Brooklands Straker-Squire to a 1975 264GL Volvo.

In the standard class there was a 1954 D-type Jaguar, OKV 3, driven by Martin Morris, which could conceivably be the ideal touring car for a slightly deaf man with no family, no friends and no luggage. With his usual skill Martin proceeded to put up fastest time in three tests, the steering test round markers with a time of 19.09 sec., the standing quarter-mile acceleration test in 13.34 sec. and the flying quarter-mile in 7.32 sec. He overshot the line in the braking test timed from a flying start, for which he received no marks, the best time for this test being 6.2 sec. by Robert Cooper in what must be the ultimate development of the Model T Ford, called the Model GT40, and manufactured in 1965. He was closely followed by Robin Rew (1963 Reliant Sabre), who was in the Modified class and who achieved 6.3 sec., whilst third best in this braking test was a car designed by a man who allegedly said that he made his cars “to go, not to stop”, a 1928 Type 43 Bugatti driven by John Horton with a remarkable time of 6.4 sec. Horton, in his 4-seater car, had been exciting to watch in the steering test, although his time of 24.23 sec. was slower than the 23.87 sec. by Hugh Conway in a similar Bugatti, but with 2-seater bodywork. David Black in his beautiful 1932 2.3 supercharged Alfa Romeo Spyder put up the best pre-war time in the steering test with 22.10 sec., and his was arguably the most polished performance to watch as he seemed to set his car up before each bend in true Nuvolari fashion.

The modern cars, however polished their drivers, did not look quite so tidy on the bends, even the D-type cocking a front wheel up in the air. Graham Harper’s vast 1964 7-litre Buick Riviera, recently bought from a Glasgow breaker for £70, was anything but polished so far as its acres of bodywork was concerned, and rolled madly on the corners, but Graham handled it magnificently to record 23.99 sec., whilst he took 7.1 sec. on the braking test, 15.91 sec. on the standing 1-mile, and 9.22 sec. on the flying 1-mile, faster than some considerably more valuable Aston Martins and Jaguars of comparable age, although smaller litreage. Black’s Alfa was the fastest pre-war car over the standing 1-mile with 17.12 sec., although Woolstenholmes’ 4.3 Alvis Special did 17.13, and Conway’s Bugatti was fastest over the flying 1-mile with 10.57 sec. to Black’s 10.85 sec., Black being pipped by the 10.78 sec. of the delectable 1931 V12 Hispano-Suiza of Bob Roberts which, like the Advis, was in the Modified class.

There was a fuel consumption test this year, so in the high speed trial’s round the Club Circuit the temptation to go flat-out had to be resisted, but R. Simpson (1966 MG-C) contrived to spin off at Woodcote and did not get going again, whilst Bob Fowler (1964 Aston Martin DB4 GT) did well to escape unscathed when a brake disc broke up on his car. The Hispano retired with overheating, not assisted by the fact that it was running with its radiator shutters closed.

Petrol consumption results showed that most of the competitors were not notable contributors to the “Save It” campaign, and ranged from 29.20 m.p.g. by David Marsh’s 1922 2-litre Bullnose Morris Sports to 6.35 m.p.g. by Stuart Bond’s 1960 DB4 GT Aston Martin. Commendably patriotic was Tom Threlfall’s 1974 Ford Escort RS2000 with 29.09 m.p.g., in view of the fact that it motored rather faster than the Morris.

When the results were worked out it was seen that the winner of the Standard class, and therefore of the Pomeroy Trophy, was Hugh Bergel in his 1926 2.3-litre unsupercharged Type 35T GP Bugatti. Hugh flew as a pilot with Air Transport Auxiliary during the last year, and is a previous Pomeroy winner. He recorded 25.33 sec. in the steering test, 8.0 sec. in the brake test, 17.31 sec. for the standing 1/4 mile and 11.11 sec. for the flying 1/4-mile, with a consumption of 25.74 m.p.g. The late Laurence Pomeroy would have been gratified to see a 30/98 Vauxhall win the Modified class, with the best performance of the day on formula. This was achieved by Patrick Marsh’s 1923 Wensum-bodied car, modified in that its engine has an E-type bottom half and an o.h.v. OE-tyre top half, giving it the larger capacity of the E-type side-valve engine. Patrick recorded 24.60 sec. in the steering test, 8.0 sec. in the braking test, took 18.71 sec. for the standing 1/4-mile and 11.41 sec. for the flying 1/4-mile, his 4.4-litre engine averaging a creditable 19.43 m.p.g.

Thus in 1976 a 50-year-old Grand Prix Bugatti has proved itself to be the ideal touring car. When Bunty Scott-Moncrieff used one for continental touring some 25 years ago, he said it was his habit to tape his luggage-a toothbrush-to the outside handbrake.- P.H.