Vintage Postbag, April 1981

More on Vauxhall


I was interested in Mr. Adkins’ references to Mr. Baldwin’s “ugly Cadet”. I cannot confirm that he had a Cadet, but think some comment is worthwhile.

Yes, indeed, the Vauxhall Cadet was of 17 h.p., for the home market at least. The Colonies had a 26 h.p. engine. In fact, it did sell well; 10,000 were produced between 1931 and 1933; nearly twice as many as any previous Vauxhall. Since 40% of these were the larger-engined variety, presumably the Colonies preferred robustness to prettiness. Later Vauxhalls sold better, however, and the Cadet was replaced by the B-model (8,000 made), available in 20 and 26 h.p. versions.

The 12 and 14 h.p. cars referred to by Mr. Adkins were the DY and DX models of which 74,000 were made. They replaced the model A of similar horsepower (23,000 made).

An example of this latter model was used by “Mr. Baldwin” in the ITV series “Edward and Mrs. Simpson”.

Incidentally, Vauxhalls of all classes, both pre- and post-General Motors, could be had with an unusually wide variety of specialist coachbuilt bodies to satisfy those who considered the factory bodies ugly.


John Mullen, Vauxhall OC

The Albion Lubricator


I was most interested to read of your recent participation of the 1980 Brighton Run, and refer particularly to page 1910 of the December 1980 Motor Sport in which you give a brief specification of the 1903 Albion car (No. 140) which successfully completed the run to Brighton.

I would, however, like to make one small correction in that the mechanical lubricator incorporated on the engine is in fact the “Albion Murray” lubricator, and was one of my father’s earlier patents which contributed much to the reliability of Albion products, both as a private car and as a commercial vehicle.

In fact the “Albion Murray” mechanical lubricator was a feature of all Albion “heavies” produced at the Scotstown factory until 1926!

It might also be of interest to your readers to know that the “Albion Murray” mechanical lubricator was held in high regard by the Air Ministry in World War 1 and the much discussed ABC “Dragonfly” radial aero engine – which was to have been produced in large numbers –  towards the end of World War 1 incorporated the “Albion Murray” mechanical lubricator, so as to cope with engine lubrication problems encountered in aerial combat.

Indeed, when I last visited the South Kensington Science Museum in 1973, amongst the earlier aeronautical exhibits was displayed the ABC “Dragonfly” aero engine with the ‘Albion Murray” mechanical lubricator mounted “in situ” on the engine in question.

Kloofnek, Cape Town

John L. Blackwood Murray (Elder son of Dr. T. Blackwood Murray, Joint Founder of the Albion Motor Car Co. Ltd.)



May I correct a statement by Dan Lambert in you letters column – page 299 current issue – nearly all the Armstrong Siddeley spares and drawings were indeed lost during the coventry blitz – both by explosion and fire – which is precisely why the club has so very few pre-war parts – I should know as I worked for the company during that period.

Always a joy to get your magazine at the start of every month – especially the reminiscences of the more pleasant days of motoring.


H. Wainwright

Puzzle Solved


With reference to “An unidentified propeller-driven cyclecar” photographed in VEV Odds and Ends for March, I should say the vehicle is a 1921 Leyat airscrew car powered by an ABC flat twin engine and later a three cylinder Anzani unit.

The Leyat was made between 1913 and 1921 at Meursault, Cote d’Or in France.

Seaford, Sussex

R.D. Shaw

Inter-Varsity Speed Trials


Your most interesting account in the current issue of the cars of the Summers, father and son, prompts me to add by way of a footnote some further information relevant to the Inter-Varsity Speed Trials at which R.F. Summers did so well with the Vauxhall 30/98.

At the 1923 event at Aston Clinton the 30/98 only narrowly beat the splendid 2LS Ballot driven with such verve by J. Lucas-Scudamore. I am much indebted to Lady Patricia Lucas-Scudarnore for some further information and photographs of this car, in one of which it is portrayed outside the family seat at Kentchurch Court in the lovely “Golden Valley” of Herefordshire. At the event Summers, as you remark, was driving for Cambridge, while Lucas-Scudamore and the Ballot represented Oxford. Some interesting notes were pencilled on the reverse of one of the photos of the Ballot, quoting 4,800 r.p.m. at peak with racing camshaft, 100 m.p.h. in top, 75 m.p.h. in third and 68 m.p.h. in second. It also remarks that one of these splendid 2-o.h.c. cars went to the United States, while in this country, apart from Lucas-Scudamore’s own car, one was owned by Lord Cunliffe and another by Warwick Wright. The latter’s car is portrayed in the Autocar of September 29th, 1922. So, despite the difference in overall capacity, the 30/98 had a worthy opponent in the Ballot.

The table of comparative tests undertaken by Summers and his friends was most interesting, though it is a pity that in some sections there are no figures given for some of the cars. Perhaps Rollason had hit upon some secret method of improving the legendary lack of stopping power of 30/98s, for his car, as well as being the fastest, occupies second position in the deceleration tests from 50-0 and 60-0, despite only achieving 6th equal in stopping from 30 m.p.h. At the highest speed it even narrowly vanquished the Lancia Lambda! By contrast the Aston Martin, a car always thought to have very good brakes for the period (and which from my own experience I can vouch for), comes out rather poorly. Perhaps it was all a rnatter of adjustment!

Tenbury, Wells, Worcs.

A.B. Demaus

Summers’ Cars


I was much interested in the article in the current issue of Motor Sport on R.F. Summers’ cars, and the registration number of the Rolls-Royce at Shelsley Walsh (CA 480) in 1922 seemed familiar. Reference to my copy of the “Wonder Book of Motors” first edition, that grand boy’s book on motors of the vintage years, revealed on page 33 a photo of this car at the hair-pin near the top of Hard Knott Pass, the occupants are five in number.

In March of the year 1919 an article appeared in the Autocar entitled “A Day on Lakeland Heights” by George D. Abraham, this article described the climb from Eskdale to the top of Hard Knott Pass in the Rolls-Royce and states that an officer on leave was at the wheel while the lady of the party is described as an ambulance driver on leave from her hospital unit. The climb is claimed to be the first by a heavy car from the Eskdale side.

I have come upon several photographs in the periodicals of the day of this Lakeland expedition which appears to have taken place in the summer of 1918. In The Graphic of August 14th 1920, a photograph by Abraham depicts the Rolls in Skye. . . .

George D. Abraham was a photographer and journalist who wrote many articles on motor touring in many periodicals and was the author among other books of “Motor Ways in Lakeland”, he lived in Keswick and many of his articles were about the Lake District. Abraham in fact did for the Lake District what Charles Freestone did for the Alps.


James N. Savage

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The photograph on page 158 of R.F. Summers competing at the Boulogne Speed Trials in 1923 is the first photograph I have seen of that undulating and heavily-cambered French road, where, in 1926, I was fortunate enough to watch the most stirring bit of driving I have seen in all my subsequent years of spectating at motoring events.

In chapter 12 of his book “The Lure of Speed”, Segrave graphically described his sensations while averaging 140.6 m.p.h. for six kilometres of that road in his Sunbeam. Just one sentence of his account has stuck in my mind: “In a blur I passed that finishing line, and it was only then that I realised I had been thoroughly and completely frightened for the first time in my life in a car”.

No wonder that drive was so spectacular and that modern Grand Prix racing, courageous work as it is, seems rather tame in comparison.


C.S.F. Hole

Supercharged Frazer Nash


The photograph on page 295 of the March issue of Motor Sport showing a supercharged Gough engine in a TT Replica Frazer Nash is of the first Gough engine. This was bought by Phillip Jucker and had a type 110 Marshall supercharger mounted on a steel nosepiece on the front of the crankcase. It required a certain amount of cutting away of the front crossmember.

The car was converted into a single-seater for Jucker by Hore and Wise of Hammersmith and it was this car which encouraged AFN to build subsequent single-seaters and to develop the twin-Centric supercharger layout for the Shelsley model.

The Jucker car eventually became the Norris Special and exists today in the form as raced by Guy Smith, with Alvis power.

Hartford, Cheshire

David Thirlby, Registrar Frazer Nash Section, VSCC

Supercharged V16 Cadillac


In 1972 while in the UAE, an Indian employee of ours had an early 1930s V16 Cadillac which was fitted with a Delco-Remy supercharger, which I was able to inspect. The engine, though running, had a very bad oil leak. It was fitted with a neat 2-seater body and the speedo read just over 14,000 miles.

During my leave, the local agent, while trying to get spares for the engine, contacted an agent in the USA. They, not believing the request, came to see the car and purchased it upon seeing it. They reported that only about six of this model had been made and believed this was the only one still in existence.

Some time in the early 1960s, I owned a special comprising, I believe, an Invicta chassis and a Ford V8 engine — the registration number was CLH 367 and I wonder if any readers know if it still exists.

Byfleet, Surrey

F.P. Bracken

Maybach Special


I was interested to read reference to the Maybach engine Special raced by Stan Jones (“Fathers, Sons & Brothers”). You refer to this car as an aero-engined special, I was under the impression that it was listed with the single-overhead-cam car (or commercial vehicle) engine of 4.2 litres.

My interest lies in the fact that in the middle ‘sixties I was given a chassis with this same engine fitted, by Alan Southon. After about twelve months I was able to complete what Alan had started in the late ‘forties and the enclosed photo is of the rather peculiar result. I had only one short run in it and it gave the impression of having plenty of urge. I sold it, as the VSCC, quite rightly, would not accept it as a PVT, the reason being that it had a Humber Pullman chassis. Having sold it to a local trader I was amused to see it advertised in Motor Sport the following month as an ex-Outer Circuit car!

Fowey, Cornwall

J.E.B. Little

Pre-war Austins Are Used on the Road


In your review of the road impressions of the Lancia Delta 1500 (“My Year’s Motoring”, February 1981) I was alarmed to find that, in an effort to identify the prospective buyer of this car, you called upon the “ghost” of the proud Austin 10 owner of 1935.

Whilst pointing out that there are a large number of drivers that still find the humble Austin attractive, may I suggest that the original owners of these cars may have been considering qualities that are more than metal-skin deep when making a decision to buy. The legend of the Austin advertising campaign was that you “Invest in an Austin”; the modern legend of the Lancia is that of a car that reaches the recycling plant in a very short time indeed.

Incidentally, the Austin 10 (and 12,16, etc.) has not survived until the present day by being in suspended animation in garages and museums, as the number that can be seen on the road today demonstrates.


David J. May, Austin Ten DC Magazine Editor

Mercedes Warning Light


With reference to your question “Nothing New” relating to 33/180 h.p. Mercedes-Benz.

I’m afraid it is nothing as novel as a warning light. I believe the 33/180 has the same water pump arrangement as my SS, in that the pump is hidden behind a large cover on the o/s of the engine, a plunger forces grease into the water pump gland.

The “tell-tale” is a little glass window in the cover through which one can see how far the plunger is in.

I would imagine they fitted the window because of the considerable time taken to remove the cover to even get to the pump.

South Benfleet

Bob Burrell

[I thought it would turn out to be something of the kind, but no less respect for the pre-war supercharged Mercedes-Benz sports cars! And once again, a Motor Sport reader knew the answer. — Ed.]