Further Views on the Vintage-Car Controversy

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(See also pages 484/5)

Sir,
Being amused and not incensed by Mr. Rawnits somewhat callow “snook” at Vintagents, the following may help him to discover the “tick” that definitely exists.

I became a Bentley devotee at the age of 12, sitting on the factory gates at Oxgate Lane. 33 years later the beauty of that peerless radiator still enchants me, and the sound of a Bentley rumbling by in the night never fails to awaken some answering chord within me.

The few I have owned were closed carriages, with dual silencers. Speed, as an ultimate aim, never being an obsession, for no good driver “rowels” a beast that is all heart.

Freely admitting to being old-fashioned. Readily conceding that design has advanced beyond all measure since 1931. All this reason tells me, yet for me the Bentley of W.O.’s day has no peer. Others have the same regard for Hispano, Bugatti, Delage and Alfa, but some insular streak forbids me paying more than grudging respect to these handsome strangers from foreign climes.

The truth is, Mr. Rawnit, that all vintagents worship at the shrine of craftsmanship, a familiar of my generation, and its forbears. Now alas, seeming old-fashioned and of little value.

No blame to modern workmen. Shareholders must eat, and dividends assume a greater importance than mere legendary fame, in this age that may have so few more legends.

I am, Yours, etc.,
“Longstroke.”

Sir,
Motor cars today and for the last generation or so have been built to a price and not a standard. There are economic reasons for this, of course, but the result is an article of utility, not a thing of joy or pleasure or envy or pride. Not even a thing of beauty, although they tell me that this depends on the beholder. As far as this beholder is concerned no car can be beautiful if it has anything in front of the front axle other than half the front wheels and wings and the headlamps. For that reason I no longer raise my hat to any Rolls, but only to those who, like myself, have achieved an elegant maturity. The younger ones succumbed to the craze for overhang, or forward bulge, or whatever you call it, some years ago.

Additionally, I get as much fun out of working on my car as from driving it, and the creations of the twenties and thirties present a far more satisfying field of labour than the monstrosities of the forties and fifties.

To be fair, I do envy the m.p.h. and m.p.g. of the modern car, which is the product of its flimsiness. But this flimsiness inevitably results in shoddiness, (30,000, old boy, what you really need is a rebore), and I want none of that.

So that is why I restrict myself to pre-1935 machinery, although I rather dislike the inevitable advertisement, being a somewhat unostentatious type. But I have yet to see a car made since the late thirties for less than £1,000 which gave me the slightest desire to own it, drive it, work on it, or even to be seen dead in it.

I am, Yours, etc.,
G. E. Lillywhite (Wing/Cmdr.)
Northwood.

[The “vintagents” thus rally in support of their cult! I wonder, however, if there is really any need to justify a love of the older vehicles? I shall continue to derive pleasure from my 1922 8/18 Talbot-Darracq on Boxing Night, from a Mercedes-Benz 300SL, if and when Stuttgart lends me one, and from my VW tin-box on most other occasions, no matter what scorn Mr. Rawnit pours over the blue Valspar of the oldest of this trio. Vintage-car owners harm no one except the susceptible Mr. Rawnit, consequently they have little need to justify their beliefs. If, as I am told in some quarters, the vintage movement is on the decline. I shall not be sorry, for then we may revert to the atmosphere of 1935, when the V.S.C.C. came into being amid lighthearted fun and games, not taking itself too seriously. In an age when small-boat sailing, gliding and traction-engine racing look like competing in popularity with TV viewing, it will be nice if the veteran and vintage cult remains the prerogative of genuine enthusiasts. Either way, I shall continue to drive old and odd cars on occasions because I like doing so, which for me is sufficient reason. — Ed.]