Vintage postbag, April 1985

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Pomeroy Trophy Competition

Sir,

I will try to be brief and not too earnest on a matter intended only to provide fun for time-warped motoring enthusiasts.

The Pomeroy Trophy Regulations make the Trophy winnable by any car which is unusually powerful for its year and engine size, and unusually long in the wheelbase. The ideal contender for this “ideal touring car” competition should therefore combine a racing engine in a touring chassis: in a word, the Type 43 Bugatti.

I do not know how a supercharged car of the ‘twenties with a roller-bearing crank whose life — so my Bugatti friends tell me — can be as short as 5,000 miles, can claim to be any sort of touring car, let alone an ideal one. It would not be very ideal for a New Yorker, who could not leave for San Francisco without arranging for an engine rebuild in Illinois on the way home. Nor do I think (though there must always be one exception somewhere) that any of these cars were bought for purposes other than competition.

However, the Type 43 has another enormous Pom advantage. Until recently the general category of the competition was confined to catalogued production cars, and the Type 43s must have been as close to complying with this as any of the entrants.

This brings me to Simon Phillips and the case of the 328 BMW. 328s we see in present day competitions, BMWs we do not. Over the past thirty years they have been “Bristolised” with engines which, though visually identical, are much more powerful than their BMW ancestors. An “as catalogued” 80 bhp 328, with its tiny 7 ft 10 in wheelbase, would never, I think, have been very competitive in the Porn. The 328 was probably the best sports car ever made, but the Pom is about touring, not sports cars.

My own Talbot BGH 23, with 150bhp in a 9 ft 6 in chassis, was just about the equal of the Type 43 in Pom terms. It competed five times and was placed 2nd and 3rd (after driver errors) on the first two occasions, and first on each of its last three appearances — in one of which it beat Harry Rose’s 41/2-litre Le Mans Bentley, another well-handicapped car, only because the Talbot exhaust failed to register on the decibel meter used in the “Noise Test” that year. BGH 23 was then ruled out of any further participation in the general category, on the entirely proper grounds that a 1934 105 with a 110 engine fitted in 1936 was not a catalogued model, even though the more powerful engine was identical apart from cylinder bore and had been installed in the factory. As this had always been the case, BGH 23 should presumably never have won the Pom at all, so that like Simon — though for reasons the reverse of his — I was very pleased to win the Trophy again in 1974 with a 105 Team car GO 52, even though this was almost entirely due to the absence of most of the strongest competitors, who had wrongly assumed that there would be no Pom that year on account of the international fuel crisis. This had fortunately by-passed me, as I had filled my 35 gallon tank six months earlier and was thus able to manage the whole competition and the 500 mile road journey to Silverstone and back entirely on pre-crisis petrol.

I leave it to you to decide whether the 1974 Pom was won and lost at Fox and Nichol in Tolworth, in Callington, Silverstone, or the Persian Gulf, but certainly all the best contests are won as much off the battlefield as on it. [Like the Battle of Britain over Calshot Water! — Ed.]

The Pom is a great competition. The rules are not perfect, for they fail to take into account such vital touring car qualities as passenger accommodation and convenience, but these are impossible to apply in practice and attempts to do so can only spoil a unique event. Much of whose pleasure derives, in the end, from the fact that it really proves very little except that there are some mighty fine cars in the Vintage Sports Car Club.

Callington, Anthony Blight

[And copy for Motor Sport! W. F. Bradley used his Type 43 for 6,000 miles in France and Col. G. M. Giles ran one for 18,000 miles in this country, but whether or not the cranks were re-rollered I do not know— W.B.]

The Speed Model Hillman

Sir,

I read with great interest WB’s article on the Speed Model Hillman.

My late father owned one of these cars in the mid 1920’s when he lived in the New Mills area. Although not used by him for competition it was at very sporting trim with its polished aluminium body with long pointed tail and the name “Silver Bullet” on the bonnet. I know nothing of its history prior to his ownership but I do know it finished its days towing the gang-mower at High Lane golf course in the late 20’s.

Warrington, Geoffrey A. W. Clarke

[These cars were quite popular in their tine — one Guildford owner decked his out for a flower carnival and a team of these competed in a 1923 speed trial apart from others I referred to — Ed.]

Thoughtful Gesture

Sir,

Like, no doubt, a number of other one make clubs, the Amilcar-Salmson Register received a letter from GKN Pistons Ltd, who are ceasing operations, offering to donate original piston drawings. The offer was taken up with gratitude, and a valuable collection of drawings is now’ in our possession, and will be of great use to our members in the future. I feel that this generous and thoughtful gesture on the par, of GKN Pistons should receive wide recognition. Locating the relevant clubs and then sending off the drawings must have involved quite a lot of work for the officials of the company, and it would have been all too easy just to throw them away. A Mr Hessey was the person involved and we are most grateful to him.

Wanborough Manor, J. F. Willis

The Amilcar-Salmson Register

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