Those Clockwork P2s

Re: those clockwork P2 Alfa Romeos… At a very tender age I was at a certain boarding-school in the North-West, where we were allowed to send for Gamages’ Christmas catalogue. Our selected purchases arrived in two large packing-cases, towards the end of the Winter term. One lived for nothing else but that day—even forgot cracked chilblains for a time!

It was everyone’s dream—in our particular coterie, at any rate—to have one of the P2 Alfa Romeos„ which were advertised as, such and sported the Alfa badge on the radiator and the Quadriloglio on the bonnet ; they cost 25s. This must have been some time between 1924 and 1927. Two of my fortunate colleagues got them and everyone else was emerald-green with envy.

25s. was quite beyond the rest of us and I spent many hours deciding between a Renault “Torpedo” and a 5 CV Citroen “Cloverleaf” at around 7s. 6d. to 10s. each. These were fairly accurately scaled and some 12 to 15 in. long. (One notes that all the scale models appear to have been Continentals—mostly French—in those days.) They could be steered, but not as nicely as the Alfa, which had a proper rack-and-pinion. I finally plumped for the Citroen—finished in canary-yellow, with black wings and wheels (“disc”, of course, as opposed to the Alfa’s very pretty “wires”) and tan upholstery; the screen was of transparent mica ( ?), in a metal frame, and could be opened. The Renaults were a sober dark blue or green and, to my chagrin, proved considerably faster that the Citroens. The Alfas, incidentally, were the quickest of the lot and won all the subsequent “Grands Prix”, even beating an artillery-wheeled Panhard -Lavassor limousine (!),which had a surprising turn of speed.

As you say, Sir—Happy Days!

Betley, R.H. Canter