Club news, August 1942

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24

Northern C.C.

David Gandhi’s club up in the North is shaping very well. The annual subscription is 5/- and a Bulletin is published bi-monthly. Meetings are held monthly, at which film shows, debates, etc., are held. Before the middle of June membership totalled 26 persons, owning a total of 37 cars, and it is probable that many more enthusiasts have since joined. The club numbers amongst members’ cars two s.v. Aston-Martins; Potter’s T.T. Lea-Francis and newly-acquired “Hyper” 4-seater Lea-Francis; a 1910 Leon-Bollée; a “Montlhèry” M.G. Midget, which is the car D.S. Handley raced at Donington in 1935, now fitted with Q-type body and brakes; “12/50” Alvis; Frazer-Nash; two 4 1/2-litre Bentleys and a 3-litre Bentley, etc. Gandhi’s own 4 1/2-litre Bentley was first registered in 1930, but seems to be a 1928 car. It has a two-door, 4-seater body, D-type gearbox, 25-gallon tank, Speed Six radiator, horizontal S.U. carburetters and a V-screen and is probably a special car. The engine number is FT 3201 and chassis number FT 3202, if anyone can supply Gandhi with her history; he also wishes to correspond with owners of blower Bentley and Frazer-Nash cars and to collect car catalogues. Hon. Sec. and Treasurer, D.L. Gandhi, 134, Heaton Moor Road, Heaton Moor, Stockport, Cheshire. (‘Phone: Heaton Moor 3838.)

750 Club

The 750 Club showed its looked-for initiative by holding another meeting at the Osterley Hotel during July, for those who cared to come along in public service vehicles or who had a drop of basic left. And a goodly number did and had. The most interesting car present was undoubtedly Harmer’s ex-Craig 3.3-litre G.P. Bugatti, magnificently presented. No one could claim that it was wasting fuel by attending, because it was pushed to the venue from a garage close at hand! After lunch, Ballamy gave a show of films, which included his own presentations and an excellent Raymond Mays colour film. It is very pleasing to learn that another Zoo gathering (carless, of course) is being arranged this month, and that another “Rembrandt” party is scheduled for October. But we hope monthly Saturday evening meetings will be possible in London throughout the winter.

Hon, Sec., S.H. Capon, 156, Upper Tulse Hill, London, S.W.2.

Bugatti Owners’ Club

The annual general meeting was held at the R.A.C. on July 21st, unfortunately this time unaccompanied by the usual dinner and film show. D. Monro and G.E. Mayo-Smith retired from the Council by rotation. The club’s finances showed a deficit at the end of 1941 of £139 0s. 10d.

Hon. Sec., Eric Giles, 2, Queen Street, Mayfair, W.1.

We hear….

Still the veterans continue to be unearthed. A 1902 Wolseley is for sale at £25 in a junk shop in Derby and Vernon Balls’s “Brighton Run” Oldsmobile is believed to have turned up in a garage occupied by the Government. Then an early Wolseley-Siddeley in very fine order, which ran in a hospital fete quite recently, has found a new home in the North and could be acquired for £20-£25 on application to L.N. Noake, The Manor House, Burton Latimer, Northants. Quite a number of enthusiasts seem to have had a last fling by taxing their cars for June and the Exchequer must have shown an unexpected upward trend! Lacy ran his F.W.D. Alvis 2-seater and Partridge made this an occasion for a dice over in his F.W.D. 4-seater Alvis, accompanied by Mrs. Partridge and John and Mrs. Ogle. Birkett has no fewer than five Austin Sevens around his premises and has just acquired a hack 500-c.c. s.v. solo Ariel. Mick Pringle, one-time Hon. Sec. of the C.U.A.C., is overseas with the R.A.F., on engineering duties, with the rank of Pilot Officer. On the ship with him were A.W. Jones, who used to race Singers, and is now a 2nd Lieut., R.A.O.C., and A.W. Lucas, also an R.A.F. engineer, who owned and tuned the Riley “Sprite” which Mrs. Hague later drove, lapping Montlhèry at over 80 m.p.h. during the 1939 Paris-Nice Trial.

A London garage mechanic who used to tune carburetters at Louis Mantell’s brother’s firm in the early nineteen-twenties, getting something like 100 m.p.g. from a faked Deemster and 5 m.p.g. from an L.G.O.C. omnibus, is now running a Lanchester Eighteen saloon into which he has installed a Windsor engine, driving through the Lanchester’s Wilson gearbox, to reduce taxation costs and fuel consumption. He reports that the old engine pulls splendidly. The Calthorpe reported last month to be amongst a collection of old cars in a Southampton cellar, turns out to be a beautifully preserved Calcott 4-seater, and there is one of the 11.9-h.p. push-rod o.h. inlet Lagondas there as well. Then a 1910 15.9-h.p. Vulcan tourer is offered by a Salisbury garage for £25 in really fine order, this probably being a car we encountered some years ago and included in the Register. The ex-Bowler Anzani-engined Lea-Francis has found a home with A.J.F. Kenyon, who accomplishes very long-distance journeys of national importance in a sports Singer, and a gas-producer S.S.I. is functioning in Hampshire. John Bolster, most busy in the Home Guard, is getting excellent results from a gas-producer Rolls Royce Twenty. Rivers-Fletcher has left the N.F.S. and is with Peter Berthon, the E.R.A. designer, engaged on the design of “things a good deal more grim than motor-cars.” He has recently enjoyed some excellent high-speed runs in connection with his work, with Richard Booth, who used to be Esplen’s spare driver, in a 1,500-c.c. Fiat drophead, and with Charles Follett in an Alvis “Speed Twenty-Five” saloon. On the latter occasion 600 miles had to be covered very rapidly, and Rivers-Fletcher speaks very highly indeed of Charles’s driving. Berthan, he tells us, has forsaken his Fiat “500” for a Lancia “Aprilia” and is doing, incidentally, prodigious amounts of important war work with a minimum of rest.

Lord Howe was seen in Bond Street recently; he is keenly anticipating a return to racing after the war. Reverting to interesting cars known to be for disposal, there is a Bentley, believed to be one of the rare 4-litres, at Windlesham, and a “monoposto” Bentley chassis, a Lancia “Lambda,” a rather rough £8 10s. Alvis “12/50” 4-seater and a F.W.D. Alvis lie at a scrap dealer’s on the Poole-Ringwood Road. A blitzed Hispano-Suiza has been seen in Chelsea and a 21-h.p. six-cylinder fabric boat-bodied Delage was being sacrilegiously turned into a trailer on a Hampshire farm. Just as we go to press comes news that the special Straker-Squire, which Granville-Grenfell built, was flung on to a pile of wreckage when his premises were bombed, but escaped serious damage; it is now stored at Staines. Mr. and Mrs. Grenfell now live at Weybridge and are both actively engaged on matters aeronautical. Granville also does some “free-lance” magic in his home workshop, perfecting autocycles and larger two-wheelers. He has been testing a teledraulic 500-c.c. Sunbeam, while his own mount, also ridden very frequently by his wife, is a 1929 500-c.c. Ariel with one of Bicknell’s cylinder heads and a Bowden carburetter, which does very nicely on “Pool” in spite of a 7 to 1 compression ratio. Peck, who is doing rather specialised war work and collecting potent motor-cars as a sideline, has acquired another T.T. Austro-Daimler to replace the chassis of the T.T. car that he crashed on the road recently. What is more, he is storing the ex-Dorothy Paget Straight Eight 2-litre Mercédès-Benz, which has a huge blower at the rear of the engine rather like that on a Zoller E.R.A. and which should be one of the most potent vintage racing cars after the war. Lots of Straker-Squire and “40/50” Napier spares are believed to have been broken up for scrap recently. Rumours circulate of a big sports centre to come into being in Norfolk when peace comes and Percy Bradley and Raymond Mays are said to be interested in the car racing aspect. H.L. Biggs wants to find a sidecar chassis for his Ariel “Colt,” which is coming along nicely, and Eason-Gibson has lost his button-hole B.R.D.C. badge and seeks a replacement. Hugh Hunter is now an ardent motor-cyclist, and Clutton is recovering from a 80 m.p.h. departure from his two-wheeler.

Bad journalism?

Many people believe that the abolition of the “basic” petrol ration is due to agitation on the part of the lay Press and is not related in any way to a precarious fuel situation in this country. The following is the work of H.S. De Vere and is reproduced from The Orkney Blast dated June 12th:

On Sunday I went up Shelsley Walsh, the famous Worcestershire hill-climb.

I walked up this time.

There were primroses on the grassy banks, masses of palest gold mingling in pure harmony with the wild violets and soft spring greens. And here and there a coney skipped, among the deserted seats, flashed a snowy tail and was gone.

Gone, too, was the surging roar of rowerful cars, the staccato echo from the wooded slopes, the smell of oil and the scream of tyres as the monsters skidded into the bend.

My mind went back to those far off peacetime days. The same setting crowded with spectators, the tortuous slope an arena for modern gladiators and their steeds. English sportsmen at their best.

Yet not only English, for French, German and Italians were frequent competitors in the friendly rivalry of the Shelsley meeting as they were also at Donington Park.

These huns were our friends. They little realised in the thrill of the race that we were soon to be plunged into the dread holocaust of war. That friendly faces would be turned to hate to gratify the lust of the beast of Berchtesgarten.

There came a distant thunder. A growing crescendo that shattered the bird-loud silence and echoed through the trees. A giant car, blood red In the sunlight, crashed up the hillside, tyres screeching, engines raging with hidden power within.

Was this some ghost of peaceful days? Some phantom car, haunting the scene of past triumphs on the hill?

It was an Englishman showing off his car to his lady-love. Three times he climbed the winding hill to the tune of tortured tyres and spilling oil.

An Englishman, yet an enemy within the gates. A foe more deadly than those former friendly huns. Burning the vital fuel to waste, ripping the tread from precious tyres, trading in British seamen’s lives to please the painted lady by his side.

Of course it was just thoughtless – for no man wastes necessities if he stops to think. But thoughtlessness could lose the war.

General notes

The one month’s grace on “basic” motoring has resulted in a few more much appreciated runs, behind which is the chilling realisation that it must all cease very soon, and for how long now no one can foresee. There was, then, a good day’s journeying to the Zoo gathering in the old Lancia, four up from Virginia Water onwards, or earlier, for that matter, for two enthusiastic A.T.S. girls were helped on their way that far. And something like seven souls got in, for conveyance to the nearest tube station after this so enjoyable link with the past, ere we ran rapidly homewards to a friend’s, and food, and solitude amid homely surroundings. On another occasion a cross-country business trip had to be completed without loss of time after a full day in the office, and the “Lambda’s” qualities, in spite of shortcomings that can be attributed to much-needed and long-overdue attention, were appreciated to the full. It was during that outing that beautifully preserved specimens of pre-1905 de Dion and Darracq were shown to us by a great enthusiast and a big port “12/50” Alvis run-up for a very brief spell. Then the back of a motor-cycle has provided much pleasant transport, over rough stuff as well as roads, and another 750 Club meeting was attended in the back of a fully loaded, distinctly Special 4-seater Austin Seven, after vital work thereon had been completed by traditionally early rising before the commencement of the run. More recently still there was an exhilarating cross-country dice in an “Ulster” Austin Seven of the unblown variety, in sunshine that brought out the scent of flowers and trees after heavy rain, the little car driven most mightily, the exhaust roar behind mingling with the lively engine note and the wind round the aero screens. Of course, someone had to be crammed in the tail, for no seat must go wasted these precarious times, and, in all, we were only away about 90 minutes, when once we should have left at sunrise and not returned until nightfall…. Throughout there was the realisation of all that motoring has meant, to one person at least, over a period of years, and a sense of bitter desperation at the prospect of its curtailment in the near future that is best left unexpressed.