ON THE CHESSINGTON RALLY
DEFINITELY, the Chessington Rally was an immense success, and reflects the very greatest credit on the organising clubs, Vintage S.C.C., Bugatti Owners’ and E.R.A., of whom I take it that Sam Clutton, Eric Giles and Rivers-Fletcher were the personnel to whom we should direct our thanks. Heavy rainfall, following something like a month of unbroken hot weather, fortunately gave over after lunch, but must have been both worrying and discomfiting to the organisers. Nevertheless, when I arrived there was already a group of racing ears on view and a number of spectators’ cars already parked, evidence of enthusiasm, if such is needed, for the rain was truly torrential ; 17-year-old coupes leak like the dickens, incidentally, and drying h.t. leads in the midst of large lakes does not contribute to a party appearance . . . ! By tea-time I almost wished I had not started to make a list of every car present ; altogether, I counted something like 62 spectators’ cars and two motor-cycles. One of the latter was a B.M.W. ridden by Leslie Johnson, with his wife on the pillion, substitute for his 328 B.M.W., now in store. ” Bunny” Tubbs was present and in great form in his somewhat bomb-scarred D.K.W. and Mr. and Mrs. Laurence Pomeroy came in their D.K.W.—Pomeroy had persuaded “The Motor” to issue a most interesting folder about the rally in general, and the eichibited cars in particular. Everyone who was anyone in our world seemed to be there, although actually so many old friends Mira have been absent that one wonders if the memory is becoming a thought rusty as to what gigantic social functions the peace-time club meetings were. Walter Norton, just back from the U.S.A., came in his ” Jabbervvock Junior” Fiat 500 and Mrs. Heal, in sou’wester and mackintosh, had braved the elements at the wheel of the racing Ballot; while her husband drove the Alvis “Silver Eagle” saloon towing car. A bearded gentleman ran up the engine of the exMalcolm Campbell ” 38/250 ” MercedesBenz early in the proceedings, but Arbuthnot came along later and ScottMonerieff was there, too, just returned from the Balkans. Peter Clark’s 1914 Mercedes was admired by everyone and worshipped by lots of us, and Peter himself was also present later. It was good to see Eric Giles again and to hear he has at last let Prescott, and particularly appropriate that he should come in a beautifully-turned-out 3.3-litre Bugatti, of which two other magnificent specimens were present, including the ex-Noel Rees saloon, with notably square lines. Curiously, only one Bentley presented itself, but it was a beautiful specimen ; Woods’s red-label 3-litre, recently purchased from Breen, with a spotlesslyturned-out, deep red, decked touring body. Brother Gordon, too, was present and correct, his well-known Alpine Trial Frazer-Nash alongside. The lone AlfaRomeo attracted plenty of attention, being a late specimen 2.3 litre, the actual car, I am told, which overturned at Le Mans about 1934, after which it was given first a fixed head and then the present, very neat, drophead coupe body. Unobtrusively smart was Martin Wells’s Type 55 B.M.W. coupe, with 40,000 miles to its credit and pushing it up all the time now, on important official journeys. The three carburetters are fed, incidentally, by pump, in spite of a gravity-tank, to obviate drying-up. Reverting to the Bugattis, the unblown Type 37 Grand Prix, its aluminium-spoke spare-wheel correctly carried in the triangular strapmounting on the near-side, was a most welcome sight. Rivers-Fletcher was seen closely examining Jesty’s 1,100 c.c. 2-seater, twin-carburetter Alta, and was heard to remark : “That’s my idea of a motor-car I” after inspecting Joe Lowrey’s 1,100 c.c. H.R.G. Lowrey had Lacey with him, and another person from Farnborough was Campl?ell with his “12/50” Lea-Francis 2-seater; it sounded
most healthy sitting on my tail up the hill out of Cobham on the run home. M.G.s there were of all sorts and sizes, including Thursby Pelham’s muchdiscussed “96 m.p.h.” T-type Midget, replete with ash-tray and St. Christopher
badge, etc., and a 100 m.p.h. speedometer on which I burnt my fingers on its arrival. One plug grew a miniature bomb during the afternoon, which regrettably failed to go off. Incidentally, I understand that Pelham is going to let Gordon Sutherland, of Aston-Martin Ltd., check his speedometer, and the sweepstake on the percen tage error discovered should be quite something. This M.G. rejoiced in the name (displayed) of “Girl Pat III.” It is astonishing how nearly every M.G. has something of the sort about it. I found a ” J2 ” with “M.G. Special” on the bonnet, and an open 11-litre tourer also with some touching nickname (it escapes me now) and a gigantic display of badges, swelled by the addition of a ” Redex ” Tune-Up Club symbol, a Wembley Lions’ Supporters’ badge, and a badge pro claiming the owner a member of the “National Society of Expert Drivers “interesting, that, for expert drivers are
not so numerous. I hope the ” Lions ” are suitably flattered. . . . There were several other M.G.s, mostly late-type “Midgets,” quietly parked and free of badgery and comic names. An “N “-type Magnette looked essentially serviceable, and one owner had hastily deleted “Blue Heaven” from the bonnet on buying his Midget, to his everlasting credit. Harry Ashwood was there with his Lea-Francis and has plans for forming a club-room in South London, avec bar, where his friends may congre gate; he started motoring with an air cooled flat-twin Rover Eight and came south from Scotland because there was so little sporting motoring up there. Don’t imagine we have yet exhausted the discussable cars at the Rally. Ballarny brought his imitation Alfa, Marshall blown Ford Ten, which Claton agreed was ” a most workmanlike job,” while Vereker had hidden the ” Airflow ” Chrysler, in which I recently went to Scotland, in an outside park, but was seen to be in keen conversation with Tubbs— about Yanks, I suspect. HuttonStott was there, and Klemantaski came in
his special-bodied 1,100 ex. Fiat, quite ready to have his claim to 105 m.p.h.
disproved in return for a couple of gallons of petrol ! Another black-and-white ” Balilla ” Fiat displayed some few badges and, apart from Norton, H. L. Biggs came in his Fiat ” Mouse ” and there were at least a couple more present, one with an ” end ” gone. Naturally, there were lots of ordinary cars, three Hillman Minx saloons in a group, two more Minx saloons, an Essex Terraplane coupe, a Ford V-8 saloon, two Austin Ten saloons, Capon’s Riley ” Kestrel ” saloon, two more closed Rileys, a cheeky Austin Seven “Chummy,” a Standard Eight tourer, a Ford Ten tourer, a Vauxhall ” 25 ” saloon, the inevitable Morris and Ford Eight saloons, a rear-engined Mercedes-Benz saloon with Arnott blower and an Opel saloon, amongst then:. But I really think it can be said that sports stuff predominated. The marque H.R .G. was additionally represented by a blue Meadows 2-seater, Moon brought his ” Nippy ” Austin Seven, Alallock his special Austin and Frost his ” Ulster ” 2-seater. A row of cars modestly parked some way from the rest had a front-drive four-cylinder Alvis 4-seater, once owned by Ken Farley, at one end and a Riley ” Sprite ” 2-seater at the other. A black Singer ” Le Mans,” Peter Clark’s gasproducer Delage saloon, a very attractive and unusual Riley sports 2-seater, my comic Gwynne Eight, and a saloon ” Speed Twenty ” Alvis, went to swell the number. An Ariel Square Four rider stayed for a time, and I was pleased to see that the cheery person whom 1 had encountered the previous week-end riding a tricycle very fast behind the Humberette in which I was being towed had got along ; he owns a shaft-drive Trojan and has had a rearengined Crossley. John Sniythe was there, too. I am only sorry that I cannot record all the interesting snatches of conversation
heard—such as W. 0. Bentley’s exploits with his autocycle and the famous firms who look like cribbing B.M.W. ideas for their post-war productions. It is quite impossible, also, to mention every one individually—a full list of those who applied for admission will be found in “Club News.” Certainly, the celebrities were there: Vaughan, in Guards’ uniform; Bolster, Gordon Sutherland, Gordon Wilkins, arriving in a Renault, I believe, McKenzie, and many more. I do not know if II. S. Linfield carried out his threat and came on his bicycle or his flat feet ; I believe, actually, he used a car. Mostly everyone looked very party-fled, although those in uniform were easily the smartest, all three Services being represented. I should say the Army predominated. The tea was excellent and the Prescott-like meadow used as a car park just right. I did not stay to supper, so I cannot report the speeches, and I did not go to the film show, so I cannot tell you what George Monkhouse said about German racing cars. But what I did experience was all truly enjoyable. To all those persons who expressed appreciation of MOTOR SPORT I Wish to
express my sincere thanks and would say, again, that it is all the hard-working voluntary contributors that make possible its continued existence. To hear of more articles. that are coming along was truly encouraging. The idea of staging a simple exhibition of famous cars was as effective as it is praiseworthy. The ex-Campbell “38/250″ Mercedes-Benz, Peter Clark’s 1914 G.P. Mercedes, Chit ton’s 10-litre Delage, the John Cobb 4-litre Sunbeam, the Le Mans Lagondli, Monkleausc’s sports Darracq, Ileal’s 1919 5-litre Ballot, and the streamline 2-litre Aston-Martin saloon, gave an almost ” Shelsky ” atmosphere to the place, even if there were five ” enemy ” ears to three British. Some technical and historical details appear in ” Club News.” Everyone was sorry Forrest Lyeett did not get along with his 44-litre Bentley which was to have been exhibited and the 328 B.M.W. and Type 55 Bugatti were also missed. The S.S. Mercedes-Benz went off for a demonstration dice (I gather it is for sale), Starting it involved much rapid waggling of the ignition lever by the bearded, homburg-hatted driver. The mounting of the twin rear-tyres is typical, the Mtge and intricate filler-cap most awe-inspiring and the huge exhaustpipe extending well beyond the tail no less so. Clark went for a short run in the 1914 Mercedes, but really hadn’t room to extend it. Even so, the acceleration is quite breath-taking, although the gearchange seems a brute. I liked the leather covers of the front shock-absorber mechanism and the engine is a work of art. The silencer, I gather, is partly Bedford lorry. Presumably the hastily applied silver finish will in time be replaced by all-white paint. The gas Dehtge towed the Mercedes all the way save up the final slope tx.) the field. The 4-litre Sunbeam’s
engine is sombre in comparison, but very, very workmanlike. The traditionallySunbeam bulb-horn was not missed, and the tappet inspection-plates are slightly suggestive of Bugatti practice. Twin Roots blowers deliver into vertical pipes which merge beautifully with the inletpipe, the forward extension of which houses a bkew-off valve with an exhaustpipe led to an aperture in the bonnet on the near-side. The Le Mans Lagonda is most attractive, although the shining radiator-shell and horns inbuilt in the wings formed A remarkable contrast with the stark lines of the veterans. The quick action filler-cap on the offside valvecover is retained, although there is a seperate Oil-tank behind the engine, and the passenger’s left shoulder is noticeably out in the slipstream. Even the reverse catch is drilled for lightness. Monkhouse’s pale blue Darraeq–nothing will make me say that it is the fastest sports car !—is most business-like, with three downdraught carburetters and precious little wasted space under the bonnet, and the hood looked very. continental. Hears Ballot is a picture, period even to whitesided tyres, and the ” rippled ” inlet Manifolds are a work of art. I am glad I did not examine the brake cable layout so closely before my ride in the car at some 96 m.p.h.,. however. The streamline Aston-Martin naturally came in for leads of comment and is very creditably finished for an experimental effort. Clutton’s V 12 10-litre Delage was almost the most imposing of the racing cars, and the hot-spot arrangement to the four carburetters was well worthy of inspection. The streamline Aston-Martin saloon represented a most interesting contrast to the older cars, and was aptly described in “The Motor’s” leaflet as the ” post-war ” Aston-Martin. I hope to have a chance of testing it in the future, and meanwhile coesider it a very stout effort for a war-production, work of a
conscientious-objector mechanic, although the appearance, faintly reminiscent of the last Willys, might be enhanced by the employment of wheel-discs, don’t you think ? The only notable absentees amongst the humans were Forrest Lyeett, who was expected to bring a ,14-litre Bentley, as I have already mentioned, but failed to arrive, Stuart-Wilton, who was down in the country, presumably with insufficient cormons to get his Talbot Ten to the venue (it is, I believe, rather heavy on fuel), Raymond Watley, and Rodney Seys, who, while hitch-hiking his way home from Cheltenham recently, after he had put away his Talbot, had been fiercely driven by the A.T.S. in a military Humber into painful coLtact with a
owned M-type LG., being in a London hospital in consequence.
I must apologise to the ladies for not mentioning them until now. They were present, as at any pre-war motor meeting. Married men came with their wives, for there have been no recent. divorces in the motoring world, and -others brought girlfriends or sisters, all Ionising charming, and. taking an intelligent interest in fast motors. Yes, the Chessington Rally went over big, as our American friends would have it. Whetlier we shall have another in a hurry is debatable, for an event like this takes a dickens of a lot of organising with it war to win as well. That we have had this worthwhile, cunt& tiotis and henetieial break puts as all very noich in the debt of Clutton, Pomeroy and heal, who did all the work, although I am certain they seek nothina beyond our appreciation. It definitely was a first-rate show, as those V. ail peace-time experience of the organising dubs fully expected it would be.