Vintage postbag, April 1983
I have followed the in-depth articles on the TT Vauxhalls with great interest and would like to make some comments on the Villiers Supercharge after Raymond Mays disposed of it.
I think it was S. E. Cummings (not Sydney G.) who had a most successful season with it — virtually rebuilding it in a week for the Brighton Speed Trials after crashing it at Wetherby.
J. L. Hanson took it over in 1938 but I feel certain he put the engine into the ex-Kaye Don Type 54 Bugatti (the engine from that car going into the newly-built BMW). Peter Walker drove it at Wetherby and, I seem to remember, got out of control.
If Mr. Shaw (page 190, February issue) will look at a copy of The Autocar somewhere around mid 1932 he will find a picture of the Mayor of Maidenhead “blessing” the first Marendaz to leave the factory there.
I am afraid the Earl Howe has got a little mixed-up in his letter (page 164, February) for surely his late father’s run with the Lagonda was some 15 months after Sammy Davis’ BMW attempt.
Finally, what a fascinating issue the February one is! I suggest The Autocar times for the Frazer Nash were from 10-to-30 m.p.h. (page 162) and I’m delighted with the stand taken by the VCC and the sentiments expressed by Mr. Anthony Jordon with regard to “fakes.”
David L. Gandhi
(Our on-the-ball corresponent is right. It was S.E.)
* * *
A royal Daimler?
The car in this photograph belonged to my grandfather (at the wheel) — William Llewellyn of Ogmore Vale, Glam. I would be very interested to know if this car is still in existence and if so where it is. The car was a Daimler and reputed to have belonged to Edward VII. The original of the photograph was dated 1910.
(Mrs.) Mary Rankin
* * *
Your mentions of the B-Type Citroën interested me . . .
Some years ago, while scouting round Majorca for the odd bargain, I just missed one of these skiff-bodied cars. The farmer had just sold it “for a very good price” of about £150 when I would have happily paid nearer £1,000 — whether it’s a sports car or not! It had staggered front seats, which I don’t think you mentioned, and for some time I thought all B-Types were thus apart from the later “12” and “14”. In fact now I wonder if perhaps the “sports” model is called a B3?
Les Brigues, France
* * *
Your December mention of Moon cars is the first I have noticed in many years of taking Motor Sport, and reminds me of the only one I have knowingly seen: in the early 1930s, my parent’s previous house at Cannon Hill, Birmingham, was left vacant, pending its sale, and, visiting it one day, we found a Moon tourer in the drive. A week later, it had gone, and we never found out anything about it. I was too young to note any details, but does any reader perchance recall the incident and the car?
K. F. Viles
* * *
“Bogus Sports Cars”
With reference to the recent correspondence on “Bogus Sports Cars”, I would comment that in the immediate pre-war years there were a number of cars in this category, and the current models which are now available do fill a demand for a usable open car.
To make comparisons with pre-war SS and Jaguar cars is somewhat unkind as they were not accepted as true sports cars, but built and sold basically on appearance. I cannot recall just what the SS 100 was famed for, though in the hands of a capable yachtsman a fairly straight course was occasionally obtainable.
No, let as not be too unkind to present day efforts to produce a vehicle that differs from the run of “boxes”, and to remember that some makes, including Jaguar, started off in much the same way before developing into the fine vehicles of to-day.
Finally, I never cease to be amazed at the general expression of “Classic” as is usually applied to any pre-war vehicle, a large proportion of which were undoubtedly a load of rubbish, and I repaired and sold quite a few of them. Strange, but the one pre-war car that still produces considerable nostalgia in me was the Lancia Aprilia, in my book the best designed pre-war vehicle, and one which would indeed hold its own to-day with modem trimmings.
* * *
I am somewhat surprised to learn from a letter of Mr. Grossmark that the VCC had given “considerable thought” to an application for their blessing in regard to a veteran can in which, as Mr. Grossmark tell us, only the engine was of original manufacture, and even this was incomplete. I appreciate that the VCC eventually decided, apparently somewhat reluctantly, that the car would not be acceptable in VCC events but why was it even given any thought at all, let alone “considerable” thought. My own opinion is that it should have been rejected politely, but flatly and irrevocably.
Doubtless the car in question is the result of considerable engineering skill and could be of some considerable interest as a museum exhibit but only on the same grounds as, for example, the absolute replica of Daimler’s first motorcycle at Stuttgart. To have it performing in public with genuine 80-year-old vehicles would be just farcical.
Personally, I can see absolutely no object in driving a “replica” veteran or vintage car. Surely the whole pleasure of veteran motoring is the achievement of getting from A to B in a vehicle which is basically anything up to nearly a hundred years old. The fundamental design of cars has really changed very little. Most of the early-days troubles were resultant upon poor oil and inferior materials and lack of precision machining techniques. If one reproduces an old car now, using modem techniques and materials, and runs it on good oil, there is no reason why it should not be as roadworthy and as reliable as a modern car — so why bother?
With an engine to start with, any respectable DIY enthusiast could build a replica. I suggest beginning with an early Benz. This has no radiator, no fan, no gearbox. The chassis is a couple of pieces of gaspipe and the belts, pulleys and chains can be obtained from any good ironmonger. A firm in Birmingham makes Benz wheels and another in Ashford will supply and fit solid tyres, and anyone with a nodding acquaintance with a saw could make the body. The finished product could be as reliable and driveable as anything on the road, albeit perhaps a little slow. (This failing could of course be overcome by fitting a turbocharged Renault engine without any very obvious difference to its outward appearance.)
I recall an exhibit somewhere, it must have been in an Irish museum, of a stone-age axe. It was reputed to be thousands of years old but it was admitted that it had, during its existence, been fitted with four new heads and five new handles. This must be the ultimate in “non-originality”. I believe that in America it is possible to buy any one of every single item making a Model T and that it is quite simple, although expensive, to build a complete Model T from parts made within the past few months. Also of course one can buy a brand new 1902 Oldsmobile (with electric starter!). It is to be hoped that the idea does not spread.
E. D. Woolley
[This correspondence is now closed — Ed.]