Odd and retrograde things are happening in this little Island. In August the petrol ration may be reduced, while in future purchase tax doubles on cars priced at over £1,000. Gransden was almost washed out by bureaucracy and only saved by the diplomatic intervention of David Hodkin and Cecil Clutton, necessitating much rushing hither and thither in the latter’s powerful Bugatti. These things all seem wrong to us, but we are confident enthusiasm for things motoring will refuse to be subdued. It is generally accepted that during the war such enthusiasm rose to new heights. Even when “basic” petrol ceased, talk, discussion and work on good motor-cars flourished. So will it be in this miserable time of Peace. The cut in the petrol ration may result in some people changing to smaller cars and will certainly mean that enthusiasm which cannot be expended in driving will be unleashed in the workshop. In the long run, this cannot do the movement very much harm, and to those who are about to despair we can only say “Motoring enthusiasm survived the war and a complete pleasure-petrol cut.” Not that this sentiment in any way belittles the unpleasantries associated with peacetime in Britain.
There is a home from home at Staines for Lagonda enthusiasts, for Davies Motors Ltd. do today what Lagonda Ltd. on the other side of the river used to do for owners of 2-litre, “16/80,” 3-litre, 3 1/2-litre and 4 1/2-litre cars. Mr. Davies was with Lagonda Ltd. for 26 years and left them with an illuminated address and a vast experience of all the Lagonda types. His last task with Lagonda Ltd. was the development of flame-throwers, when the war was at its height. After that he ran the premises he now occupies for Lagondas, then took them over for himself with Lagonda’s blessing — an altogether satisfactory state of affairs. Thus, Davies Motors offers quite unique facilities to those who motor, or seek to motor, in any one of the older Lagonda cars.
In the first place, Mr. Davies took over from the manufacturers a whole host of brand-new spares. His stores looks, indeed, as if it serves a small factory, whereas, in fact, it is merely proof against Lagonda fans ever having to lay-up their cars on account of lack of spare parts. To his comprehensive stock of new spares this far-sighted man has added certain entirely reconditioned parts, such as oil pumps, which Lagonda Ltd. made during the war, as well as a considerable stock of used parts. Over and above all this, he is very good at fabricating new parts from old, so saving owners a lot of expense. For example, we were shown a “16/80” camshaft to which a new driving gear had been grafted, thereby obviating scrapping a sound camshaft because of a stripped pinion. When all else fails, Davies Motors can cast many parts themselves, being in possession of the necessary patterns. So spares problems just do not trouble them. Then they were lucky in being able to take over ex-N.F.S. premises as well as a big garage, so that, if their various departments are somewhat disjointed, at all events space is not unduly restricted and all is located at one central spot — which is not easy of attainment these difficult times. The electrical shop, which employs four electricians, was once the shower-bath where weary N.F.S. men refreshed themselves, and opposite it is a charging plant able to look after, if the phrase can be excused, batteries of batteries. Upstairs, in what one suspects were N.F.S. rest rooms, are the various stores and an upholsterers’ shop with two sewing machines. Other outbuildings comprise the paint shop, the panel-beating shop (set as far away from the main block as possible, for the sake of peace and comparative quiet!) garages, and storage for bulky used spares like axles and gearboxes. An engine test-bed was noticed, on which engines can be run-in after overhaul without any chance of leaks or fumes going undiscovered. It was simple but effective and naturally used an old Lagonda radiator as its cooling element. In the shops engine-stands facilitate assembly of overhauled engines and complete rebuilds of chassis and coachwork comprise much of the work undertaken.
The atmosphere at Davies Motors is cheerful and singularly free and easy, perhaps explained by the fact that many of the old-time Lagonda mechanics are employed there and Mrs. Davies, who owns a 4 1/2-litre Lagonda saloon, takes an active part in the firm’s affairs. While we were there we saw several complete rebuilds in process, notably on a fine 4 1/2-litre open 4-seater and a 2-litre. A Le Mans 2-litre, with very smart 4-seater body and large rear tank, was having its high-compression engine rebuilt; a blown 2-litre, and Harry Bowler’s well-known 3 1/2-litre awaited attention. Outside, 2-litre, 3-litre, “16/80” and 4 1/2-litre cars awaited extensive servicing and very impressive was a late-model 4 1/2-litre saloon with magnificent coachwork appointments, owned by a Maharajah. Cars for sale included two “16/80s,” a 4 1/2-litre and several 2-litres, while a blown 2-litre, externally sound, awaited attention to its engine before re-sale.
Davies Motors now operate a postal supply service in respect of Lagonda spares, while another very interesting development is that of “service” engines, radiators, gearboxes and rear-axle units. We saw a row of 3-litre engines, reconditioned, constituting part of this valuable service and were told that changeover with a client’s old engine takes about a week, whereas, of course, a complete overhaul would put the car out of commission for a far longer time: Altogether, this is a very go-ahead specialist firm and owners of the older Lagondas will find it, as we have said, quite a home from home.
P. R. Hodge is taking over “Fuzzi,” the four-wheel-drive Special into which Pat Whittet and Co. have installed a Mercury V8 engine.
Hutchison talks of installing a self-change gearbox and “ZF” differential in his very potent, R. R. Jackson-tuned Alfa-Romeo, which ran second to Mays at Shelsley Walsh.
Parnell’s latest acquisition is the ex-Whitehead “E” type E.R.A. We understand that his famous 16-valve Maserati will change hands.