Earliest memories are of a Calthorpe Ten of 1915 vintage, which I drove in 1920. The Calthorpe was a 2-seater, the body having a large bulbous tail ; in fact, it was a very handsome job. No doors were fitted, and it was a work of art to enter or leave with the hood up. Calthorpes were noted for being goodlookers and for their lively engines, reaching quite high revs, for those days. However, their reliability was open to question ; they would just pack up for no accountable reason, but experience showed if left alone for the night they would probably be all right the next morning. Pre-ignition and poor magneto were undoubtedly the cause. Universal joints gave trouble, largely due to misalignment of engine and gearbox, yet many thousands of miles were covered in this car, and speeds up to 60 m.p.h, obtained without much difficulty.
My next car was a ” 12/40 ” Darracq, with o.h.v. engine. A trial run in the open tourer proved the car to be very lively, the engine being smooth and having good acceleration. A spot of cold weather brought to light some carburation deficiencies. The trouble was traced to over-cooling, this resulting in excessive spitting-back through the carburetter, until the engine was really hot after about two-miles’ running. The car VMS returned for rectification of the trouble, but no cure effected. Once warmed up the Darracq ran well, and I had some fine motoring, the car having a maximum of 65-70 m.p.h. However, when the winter came along and spittingback started in earnest, it was reluctantly decided to part company. Incidentally, in my experience all o.h.v. engines have this tendency of” spitting-back,” whereas it is practically non-existent with s.v. engines. I have never seen a satisfactory explanation why this occurs. I then saw an advertisement of the 8-h.p. Mathis. Evidently they were being disposed of before the arrival of a later model, as they were being offered for exactly £100. The specification included an engine of, I believe, Wit c.c., four-speed gearbox, differential-less back axle, body was a boat-shaped 2-seater, the car being on the same lines as the 7.5-h.p. Citroen. The cars were disposed of by the firm of Allen Bennett, Ltd., Croydon, where I took delivery and set off for home, 160 miles away, this distance being covered without any untoward incident. A run like this gives one a good chance to sum up one’s purchase, and the performance was somewhat disappointing. I liked the quiet and smooth-running engine, also the fourspeed gearbox handled very nicely. The body was of smart appearance and comfortable. Certain snags were evident, one. being the small tyres (700 by 80) fitted, brakes were also largely non-existent. Some good fun was had with the Mathis,
but the low maximum speed of 48-50 m.p.h. soon palled on one, and I began to look around for a successor.
My choice fell on a sports Austin Seven listed at 2160. This was the standard chassis fitted with a 2-seater body, incorporating pointed tail and flared wings, and excellent all-weather equipment. The weight came out at roughly 8 cwt., and a trial run was a revelation for those days. The balloon tyres gave comfortable riding at speed, the seating being of the upright style, and one had complete view of both wings. Acceleration on second gear was something I had not experienced before, and top gear was also good between 20 and 50. This was a grand car in every way, and gave me no trouble over some thousands of miles—a tour of 1,500 miles in Scotland will always remain a pleasant memory. The excellent power-weight ratio was, of course, responsible for the lively performance, and though I was aware of this, it was brought home to me more forcibly when I exchanged this Seven for a later model fitted with a special body, to wit, a Taylor job, which had taken my fancy. It was roomy and gave better luggage accommodation, but the weight was increased by some 1 cwt., and thus much of the liveliness was lost. My next purchase was a 1935 B.S.A. tw.d. Nine 2-seater, one of the nicest cars you could wish for. It provided good acceleration, with a top speed of 58-60 m.p.h. It gave one the true sportscar feeling, being noted for its excellent steering. No snags were encountered in the engine or transmission, but the front springing was too flexible for my liking, and efforts to stiffen up same were unsuccessful. There was one fault with the bodywork, which always annoys me when I come across it ; this was a shallow
windscreen, with consequent low hood top, giving the feeling of being shut in.
The general high quality and sound workmanship in this car were highly appreciated.
I now come to my present car, a 1938 Morris Eight 2-seater. This chassis is fitted with one of the most practical and pleasing sports-type bodies I have come across. It has first-class luggage accommodation, all-weather equipment, and can carry three in front, if required, for short runs. I should like to be able to purchase, after the war, a car of similar size but fitted with an engine of 1,000 c.e. and four-speed gearbox. I feel sure that if any manufacturer puts such a car on the market, making same from first-class material, with a good power-to-weight ratio, to sell at about 1250, it would be a success. Well, my cars will not appear very exciting to lots of MOTOR SPORT readers, but it should be remembered that with the exception of the Darracq, their original list price was under £200, yet I
have had very many thousands of miles of interesting and economical motoring from them. I am, Yours, etc.,
S. C. CurvEns.