Silverstone, 4th March
The Pomeroy Trophy competition at Silverstone once more gave VSCC members their annual opportunity to match their post-war tin, aluminium or fibreglass ware against traditional vintage and thoroughbred cars, using a formula devised by the late Laurence Pomeroy Jnr. taking into account such factors as age, capacity and the distance between the clutch pedal and rear axle. The winner is supposed to incorporate the qualities of the ideal touring car. Non-starters this year included David Roscoe, the Rolls-Royce PRO, whose 1937 4.3 Alvis Special had seized up at Deddington, Steve O’Rourke, whose 1960 Aston Martin Zagato had tragically fallen off its trailer on the MI, and Michael Scott, who drove his 1925 30/98 Vauxhall out of its garage after an extensive engine and clutch overhaul only to find its crownwheel and pinion were broken.
Early morning fog cleared to make way for a sunny though cold day, and the first test, a fast bending or wiggle-woggle affair down the Club straight resulted in not a single car spinning, which was unusual. Fastest time was put up by the remarkable 1973 Fiat Dino Spyder of Bill Summers, his time of 20.13 sec. just beating Martin Morris’s 1953 C-type Jaguar, with 20.31 sec. The 21.81 sec. of John Horton’s 1928 Type 43 Bugatti equalled the time of David Duffy’s 1964 AC Cobra, and beat such formidable opposition as Derrick Edwards’ 1955 D-type Jaguar and Chris Mann’s 1968 33/2 mid-engined Alfa Romeo which both returned 21.89 sec. Highly commended were Michael Bowler’s 21.03 sec. with his 1964 DB5 Aston Martin and the 21.71 sec. of Rex Kettell’s 1974 MG-B V8 was faster than Nick Mason’s 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (21.94 sec.), if not R. S. Mansfield’s 1951 Targa Florio Frazer Nash (21.46 sec.).
Fastest in the Modified class was Richard Bergel’s 1971 Porsche 911 with 21.42 sec. followed by Dick Smith’s 1968 Reliant Scimitar coup: (22.21 sec.) and David Rouse in Chris Bird’s ugly but effective 1936 Speed 25-engined Alvis Special (22.74 sec.). In order to avoid the 10 mark penalty for running in the first two tests without a hood, the latter car had been fitted out with a home-made hood fashioned out of deck chair material-from a vintage deck chair, we were assured.
The braking test, in which cars had to stop astride a line after a flying start, was hilarious because, as somebody put it, “most of the decent cars failed”. Derrick Edwards was a prime example, he was enjoying his D-type Jaguar’s acceleration so much that he just couldn’t bring himself to take his foot off the throttle early enough, with the result that he slid across the line with all four wheels locked in fine style, and recorded the most brilliant of the dozen failures out of the 47 starters. Michael Bowler’s Aston Martin was best here, with 6 sec. dead, followed by the Summers Dino Fiat (6.1 sec.) and the Morris C-type Jaguar, which tied with Bill Fone’s 1964 AC Cobra to record 6.2 sec. Second slowest of the non-failures was the 9.3 sec. of Paul Shaw’s 1950 Bristol, which bore a splendid patina of age, as if the owner had been going to work in it every day for the past 28 years, and is waiting for a fine weekend to give it its first polish. Slowest was Adrian Liddell’s 1918 Straker-Squire with 9.7 sec., but he was without the luxury of front-wheel brakes.
It is amazing how many cars start mis-firing as soon as they realise they have got to do a standing and flying quarter-mile against the watch. Amongst the culprits here were Conway’s and Horton’s Type 43 Bugattis, and Mann’s Alfa Romeo. John Batt’s 1936 LG45 Lagonda was quieter than Anthony Blight’s 1931 Talbot 105, which surely is historically incorrect. The reason for Derrick Edwards’ delight on the run up to the brake test was explained when he recorded the fastest flying quarter time of 7.68 sec., in which he was followed by David Duffy’s 1964 AC Cobra (7.77 sec.) and Nick Mason’s Ferrari (7.89 sec.). Bill Fone’s AC Cobra was best in the standing quarter (13.98 sec.), and next best were Nick Mason’s Ferrari (14.24 sec.) and Michael Bowler’s Aston Martin (14.72 sec.). In the Modified class, Richard Bergel’s borrowed Porsche, which he had sat in for the first time that day, was second fastest with 15.32 sec., despite the driver changing momentarily from 2nd to 5th gear by mistake, being beaten by the 15.29 sec. of Tom Threlfall’s 1963 Reliant Sabre Six, borrowed from Robin Rew. Some revealing flying quarter times were 12.20 sec. by Roland Duce’s 1977 Jaguar D-type Replica, based on E-type components it seems, 12.78 sec. by Threlfall’s 2,698c.c. Reliant and 12.69 sec. by Adrian Liddell’s 1918 Straker-Squire, with a capacity of 3,921-c.c. to the Jaguar’s 4,200-c.c.
It is tempting to look upon the 40-minute High Speed Trials round the Club Circuit as races, although it is noticeable that the prize winners are often conspicuous by their apparent slowness, as most only do the required number of laps. For what it is worth, the first session was “won” by Mansfield’s Targa Florio Frazer Nash, after an initial long lead by Finch-Hatton’s 328 BMW, and it was remarked that Liddell’s 1918 Straker-Squire seemed to be capable of out-cornering a TR2 and a Bugatti at Woodcote. The second session was “won” by Bergel’s Porsche from Mann’s Alfa Romeo. The latter car looked and sounded as if it was the fastest car present, and the way Threlfall’s Reliant was chasing it when it led in the earlier stages was impressive, though Tom had to slow later as he was running short of fuel. At one period in the second session Dowell’s 1977 Ford Capri Ohio suddenly started treating Woodcote as if it was a series of S-bends until the driver got it under control, and Mason’s Ferrari and Joseland’s Reliant had some sort of a coming together on the slowing down lap.
Hugh Conway, that doyen of Bugatti owners, again carried off the Pomeroy Trophy in his Type 43 Bugatti as he had done in 1975 and as John Horton in his similar car did last year. As Michael Bowler remarked when the provisional results were posted up “I don’t know why the rest of us bother to run when there’s a Type 43 present”. – P.M.A.H
The VCC will hold its AGM at the RAC on April 1st, commencing at 14.30 hours.
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The first round of the Morgan Threewheeler Racing Championship takes place at the Velocette OC Meeting at Cadwell Park on April 16th and this active Morgan club is having another Night Trial at the end of the month.
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The Vintage MCC intends to hold another Founder’s Day Rally, at Stanford Hall, Rugby, on April 23rd. The Vintage Assembly in TT week will take place in the IoM on June 4th-8th.
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The Bentley DC announces that the WO 11 Memorial Fund now exceeds £30,400.
The following letter has shed further light on the whereabouts of MG K3004 and its Smith-modified body (see Motor Sport, February 1978).
I am writing in respect to your article on J.H.T. Smith’s K3 MG single-seater. The article was of particular interest to me as I have the K3 body from the Stuart-Wilton car that you believed to have been destroyed. This is the body that was lowered 4 1/2 inches and had a new tank made (by Gallay Ltd. 5-2-36 according to the plate on the filler neck) for the 1936 season and later sold to Billy Cotton and fitted to K3004.
As reader Peter May said in last month’s Vintage Postbag, his brother sold K3004 to Jim Gullan who brought it out to Australia in 1951 and raced it in 1939 form. He later removed the Smith modified body and replaced it with a much lighter fibre-glass body in an effort to improve the performance. The car still was not as fast as the 1933 TT-bodied K3 owned by Otto Stones, which is the ex-Eddie Hall car. The Smith body was sold and the new owner fitted it to a Ford Special; this was subsequently broken up and after a few more owners I acquired the body. With the help of a friend who is an ace welder, the body was fitted to a lengthened P-type MG chassis. We have retained all the original body, just welding in bits that were cut away when it was fitted to the Ford Special.
We have lengthened the P-type chassis to the K3 wheelbase, and if anyone has a 6-cylinder engine and gearbox for sale we’d like to hear from them. Or better still, if the original chassis of K3015 is for sale, we’d like it to have its body back. The Billy Cotton K3, number K3004 now has a replica TT-type body on it and is owned by Frank Betts in New South Wales.
East Ivanhoe, Australia JAMES McDONALD