Bill Boddy

Economical with the truth

The Winter edition of the always welcome Morris Register Journal has Roger Bird’s account of the stunt sponsored by Sir William Morris in 1931 to publicise the new range of side-valve cars, induding a £100 two-seater. The ploy was to advertise a 100mph/100mpg/£100 Morris. This entailed Thomson & Taylors and Wolseley Motors building a single-seater racing car with a Powerplus supercharged engine, which certainly cost more than £100!

But it worked, and the mechanical problems involved, as described by Mr Bird, are most interesting. Eventually a flying-start kilometre was timed at 101.96mph and the mile at 100.39mph, which earned BARC Certificates Nos 2469/70, as stated in my Brooklands history. I was not aware that they had hoped to achieve the first official 100mph Class-H (750cc) record, but were beaten to this when four days earlier Leon Cushman took this record in a works A7, with 102.28mph. But MG had been first anyway. G E T Eyston (103.13mph) and the Ridley Special went faster, nor must we forget that in 1930 Gwenda Stewart in a 741cc Morgan three-wheeler had set the 5km Class-J record to 100.65mph.

The 100mpg was achieved on the Birmingham-Coventry road in a 15mph ‘coast-go’ drive. The ‘triple-100’ car later became the well-known Skinner Special, as described in Vintage Specials by John Bateman.

You shouldn’t take it too seriously

Somewhere I have seen an explanation over the initials ‘TJT’, whose reports are so scholarly and pleasing to read, of why results of last year’s VSCC Goodwood Autumn Sprint were held up. It was because a competitor protested that the timing was inaccurate.

Reminds me that, in the infancy of the VSCC, protests were not encouraged. The then-secretary, Tim Carson, whose facial expression never told you what he thought of you or whether he was happy or angry, was confronted by a young man who had a protest to register. Tim said it had to be accompanied by a fee, under RAC regulations. A fiver was laid on the bar counter. Tim picked it up, ordered drinks, and that was the end of the matter!

I sadly confess to having once told the Bugatti OC that in one of their speed-trials the car I was driving had been sent out for the incorrect class, giving me a place just behind a lady driver’s Frazer Nash, which result would otherwise have been reversed. I was young and keen and had borrowed the car from a manufacturer to whom I was anxious to give some sort of success.

To my mild letter of complaint the BOC replied, in effect, that it ran these events for the pleasure it hoped they provided but that they should not be taken too seriously. I never forgot this, and it has caused my eyebrows to rise metaphorically whenever I hear of protests relating to friendly Club contests and competitions.