A section devoted to old-car matters
INTEREST in vintage cars is spreading rapidly in Belgium. Stopping at a Shell garage just outside Charleroi recently, we met George Rapailde and his wife, who proudly showed us their Amilcar, which they described as a Type CGS, being a 1925 s.v. Gran Sport in a very nice rebuilt condition. Purchased last year in Belgium they overhauled it and have already taken part in a number of Belgian vintage and veteran rallies. We were also shown a recent acquisition, in the shape of a 1924 Type 30 Bugatti, found in France in a rather dirty state but mechanically and bodily intact and completely original. This Type 30 had the usual early H-section front axle, but we viewed with surprise the hydraulically-operated front brakes, these being actuated by the foot pedal, while the rear brakes were operated from the hand lever by cables. Querying this as being a modification, M. Rapailde showed us bow the mastercylinder was bolted to a bracket on the aluminium bulkhead, and how the reservoir was attached, it all being very obviously original. In addition, he produced an original 1924 instruction book which not only illustrated the hydraulic front brakes but also gave a complete description of the whole braking system.
The body on this Type 30 is a very pretty sporting two-seater with pointed tail containing two small seats, and it looked like an early version of the classic Type 43 body. The new owner looks forward to many happy hours restoring this early sporting Bugatti, and—while talking Bugatti—he took us to see a Type 35A that was in a garage nearby, where a friend was rebuilding the three-bearing eightcylinder engine. This was one of Ettore Bugatti’s care for the sporty-boys of that era, having a Grand Prix Bugatti chassis and body but a Type 30 engine, unblown and with plain bearings, whereas the true G.P. engine had roller bearings. We call this model a G.P. Modifie, whereas M. Rapailde produced a period catalogue in which it was described more accurately as a “G.P. Imitation”
There was one other car of interest at this Shell station, and this was a single-cylinder Metropolitan reputed to be 1903 but about which M. Rapailde had to knowledge, other than that it was built in Paris. The car lacks any engine or chassis numbers, or any similar information plates, and the owner would like to learn more about it if anyone can help.—D.S.J.
Historic commercial vehicle rally, Leyland (June 1st)
This, the second event organised by the H.C.V.C., attracted only 20 entries. compared to more than 30 for the 1957 Beaulieu Rally. However, with some regretted absentees, such as the 1920 Daimler lorry, there was some new blood at Leyland. Leyland Motors, being on their borne ground, put in a 1917 36-h.p. Class A Leyland 3-ton lorry and their 1921 model FE2 fire-engine, as well their well-known 1908 X-type 3-tonner. G. Hocking drove the 1912 Unic taxi, Sparrow a 1916 Foden steam wagon, and the Walls Ice Cream 1926 model-T Ford van was present this time. A 1927 Leyland Lion ‘bus broke down on its way from Kent but was salvaged in the early hours, the Montagu Museum 1929 Dennis “toastrack” ‘bus was there, and the newcomers were completed by a 1934 Type 168 Gilford coach and a 1939 Trojan van.
We feel concerned when the H.C.V.C. lets in private-car chassis fitted with commercial bodywork, which is surely not in keeping with the spirit of the Club and open to abuse. At Leyland Lord Montagu’s 1922 Daimler motor bottle (a Bass advertising stunt vehicle) and G. D. Empson’s 1923 Rolls-Royce Twenty breakdown crane were in this category.
Commercial Motor Cup (1900-1916): W. D. J. Sparrow (1916 Foden).
Motor Transport Cup (1917-1930): J. H. Sparshott (1923 Leyland).
Commercial Vehicles Cup (Post-1930): E. B. lnneson (1939 Trojan).
Routes Cup (best in tests): C. H. Peacock (1926 Trojan).
Le Mans 1923-39
On the Friday before the Le Mans 24 hours the Sarthe circuit echoed to the gentle throbbing of vintage engines, for the Automobile Club de l’Ouest organised a one-hour regularity run on the famous circuit, complete with traditional start, for cars built between 1923 and 1939 and similar to models actually raced at Le Mans. Of course, any genuine Le Mans competitors of the pre-war era were welcomed with open arms and it was interesting that one of them was Charles de Cortanze, a director of the present series of races. Altogether 27 cars were assembled for this nostalgic gathering, most of them in superb condition and retaining a high degree of originality and while the majority of cars came from the 1930s there were nevertheless some early Le Mans cars and of particular interest a 1925 Chenard-Walcker, one of the 1.100-c.c. “tank” bodied vehicles which must have appeared as advanced in its day as a Lotus does today. Another interesting French entry was a 1926 Lorraine 4-seater, while Daimler-Benz sent a 1927 4-seater 26/180 of 6.8 litres capacity from their museum and while it was not an actual Le Mans car it was representative of that era. For old times’ sake it was driven by Caracciola.
The Bentley Drivers Club sent along a fine collection of actual Le Mans cars, all in original condition and not the cut-and-shut “boys racers” we are used to seeing in England. There were two unblown 4 1/2-litres and the beautifully restored blower 4 1/2-litre owned by Stanley Sears, while in addition there were five typical Le Mans type 3-litre Bentleys, one driven by Hawthorn. Aston Martins were well represented by an immaculate selection of Ulster T.T. models and earlier Le Mans types of 1931 and Kehoe had a lone Brooklands Riley. The later Le Mans years were represented by Fitzwilliam’s Talbot-Lago, a very beautiful genuine Le Mans 3-litre Delage of 1937, Delahaye, Singer, Bugatti and Dal’Mat-Peugeot, while from Munich came a works streamlined 1939 B.M.W. driven by Hans Stuck—this special 328 would not have been out of place in the 1958 event! Alfa-Romeo were represented by Rohll’s 19.31 straight-eight 2.3-litre car and Lagonda by a 4 1/2-litre 1934 car. As a representative cross-section of typical Le Mans cars down through the ages no one could have wished for better and as they all rumbled or buzzed their way round the Sarthe circuit there was a heavy air of nostalgia around the place and it made one realise that Le Mans has not changed much over the years, they merely go a little faster now.
The object of the event, apart from giving a fine fillip to the Vintage and P.V.T. movement, was to circulate for one hour at a set average speed depending on the size and age of the car, marks being lost if early or late. This was an excellent affair and we could well do with more in the same character, especially at events with history behind them. As a matter of academic interest, Pozzoli with the Lorraine lost fewest marks, but for most competitors the real joy was to drive their cars round the famous circuit as if in a proper race.—D. S. J.
The Itala’s anniversary
July 7th was the fiftieth anniversary of the 1908 French Grand Prix, the very earliest Grand Prix from which any cars have survived to the present day. The best-known of these is of course that familiar sight at Vintage Prescott and Silverstone, the very fine 12-litre Itala; its owners, Cecil Chutton and Jack Williamson, had the happy idea of celebrating the car’s fiftieth birthday with a party at Silverstone highlighted by an attempt to put 100 kilometres into the hour round the Grand Prix circuit.
Standing ready for the attempt in the scrutineering bay on the morning of the 7th the Itala looked immaculate, as glossily red and black and brass as a fire-engine and much more comely. But those beautiful brand-new 895 x 135 beaded-edge tyres were the subject of a certain amount of anxious speculation, for the Itala is no lightweight. By twelve o’clock a line company of vintage and Edwardian cars were assembled in the sun-lit paddock, and Mr. Chutton set off round the circuit, with Mr. Pomeroy beside him, for the flying start of the attempted 100 kilometres. During the first half-hour the Itala averaged a nicely calculated fraction over the required 62 1/4 m.p.h., emerging out of Woodcote promptly every three-and-a-bit minutes and always in the same undeviating line, for the car handles beautifully. In fact the only noticeable change in demeanour as the kilometres chalked up was that the riding-mechanic’s (or timekeeper’s) seating position settled lower and lower as Pomeroy hunched out of the wind. The Itala had to cruise at seventy, a speed comfortably within its maximum—but hard work all the same for a whole hour in such overbeautiful weather. At half-time a very quick pit-stop was made for fuel, and the car’s over-heating pronounced not to be dangerous. Mr. Williamson now took over. But a few laps later the inevitable happened—a tyre was lost at the very furthest point of the course and although observers said the car seemed to steer just as well without it, the resultant delay made it impossible to complete the remaining kilometres in the time left. So the Itala retired with honour.
But if the weather had not been quite suitable for the first part of the day’s programme it was certainly ideal for the second. The paddock wore its garden-party air with unexpected grace, the Itala cooling off beside the guests in the pleasant shade of the scrutineering bay with champagne corks popping around it. Among those present were several very old friends of the Itala’s, including Gerald Rose (author of “Ten Years of Motor and Motor-Racing”) who had reported the car’s debut fifty years earlier. Among distinguished vehicles were Doctor Pinkerton’s racing Fiat and Hutton-Stott’s Hutton; earlier in the day Sam Clutton had rashly refused to believe that this 1908 T.T. winner couldn’t be started on the handle and a very cautious half-turn had caused it to rotate so rapidly in an anticlockwise direction as almost to achieve perpetual motion. Jimmy Skinner’s white Silver Ghost was of course the most splendid of the more dignified breeds assembled.
It could hardly be expected that the circuit would be left entirely alone by the Itala’s guests. The four Edwardians went out for a little brief exercise before lunch, carrying varying amounts of passengers—Nigel Arnold-Forster, managing to retain his seat in the very unsafe dickey of Clarke’s Talbot by the same miracle of unaided balance displayed by riding-mechanics in the Hutton. No one has ever been observed falling out of the Hutton, but we may hardly believe that it has never happened. After a few laps the Itala joined them for a lineup across the circuit and the five cars under the bright blue sky, red, green, white, red, green, will make an implausibly trim and gaudy picture in some of the coloured photographs people were taking.—S. C.
From Mr. Floyd of Staines comes a copy of Country Illustrated dated May, 1923. This is of interest because it brings with it a whiff of the freedom of the ‘twenties, when Staines was in the country instead of merely on the fringe of it and before kerbstones and ugly concrete lamp standards became an obsession, obliterating the charm of so many English villages. It also contains a description of the G.W.K. motor works at Maidenhead, one illustration to which shows thirteen complete 4-seater versions or this friction-driven vehicle, if no photographic trickery had been indulged in. The Staines built Lagonda gets lots of publicity and we see pictures, of local garages and repair works as they looked 35 years ago—Joyce Bros. of Farnborough, Hants; Wootten’s Garage in Oxford, wherein are a fascinating assortment of light cars, Catena, Morgan, A.C., Swift, etc., the Oxford City and County Garage, Oxford, run by J. Coxeter & Co. Ltd., who had the front cover picture, showing, a Fiat 501 tourer, chauffeur-driven, outside and Standard, Buick, A.C. and 11-h.p. Riley in the window; Fred Parker’s garage in Slough. We also see what the premises of Christie’s. Ltd. in Egham and F. Coney’s cycle shop in Farnborough. Hunts looked like in 1923—Mr. Coney made the excellent Farnborough Reliance cycle; it would be interesting to know if any are still ridden locally. The Egham Motor Co. is illustrated; they were then agents for Fiat, Daimler, Wolseley, etc.
Radio and aviation were included in this (now defunct?) 2s. 6d. journal. We particularly like the Oxford-built Wootophone Super Sensitive 3-valve receiver (price £25) “for receiving the British Broadcast concerts . . . and making limit use of reaction which is fully approved by the Postmaster General.” Workmanship was “of the highest order,” which meant three bulbous valves exposed on the top of the “highly polished mahogany case.” Headphones and a coil of aerial-wire and china insulators were part of the equipment. The aeroplane described is the Westland limousine, built by Petters Ltd. in sheds at Yeovil “built as recently as 1915.” A speed of 115 m.p.h. was claimed at 1,000 feet above sea level, using a Rolls-Royce “Falcon III” engine, and climb to this height with full load in one minute. For the record the registration was G-EARV. Not the sort of machine in which we would care to fly to distant motor races today!
Another article deals with an open-air system of pig-breeding and is by—S. F. Edge.
It is pleasing that Mr. Floyd’s own hardware business in Staines, which had then been founded over 30 years earlier and was agent for New Hudson motor cycles, is still in existence in 1958. A pleasing link with the past!—W. B.
August Bank Holiday will be the occasion of the Woburn Park Traction Engine Rally. It is expected that sixty engines will be present and “in Steam,” making this the largest rally of its kind ever held. His Grace the Duke of Bedford is challenging the Marquis of Bath to a match race.
A 1908 Humber is said to have been found in the London area.
The V.S.C.C. is becoming disturbed about the the use of the word “vintage.” in other clubs’ titles and to avoid confusion, points out that any competitions organised by such clubs are not held under the aegis of the Vintage Sports Car Club Ltd.
A near-vintage car in the form of a 1932 14-h.p. Star “Comet,” which has ran a mere 4.000 miles since its second owner bought it in 1936, changed hands recently in Kittybrewster, Scotland. The car is the 1952-show model sunshine saloon and may be sold to a museum.
Lord Montagu now owns the ex-Brooks “Prince Henry” Vauxhall as well as the ex-Clutton OE 30/98 Vauxhall.
The big vintage fixture for August is the V.S.C.C. Prescott Speed Hill Climb on August 24th, preceded the day before by the Cheltenham Light Car and Edwardian Rally.
Other fixtures catering for vintage cars include the B.D.C. Silverstone
Meeting on the 2nd, a vintage sports car race at the W.E.C.C. Snetterton Meeting on the 9th, the Burnham-on-Sea M.C. Veteran and Vintage Rally on the 17th and the Wilton, Salisbury, rally on the 31st. On August Bank Holiday the traditional Veteran and Edwardian race will take place at Brands hatch.
The Bugatti O.C. magazine Bugantics continues to appear in pre-war style and high quality. The Spring issue contains an appreciation of Brooklands Track by J. Lemon Burton.
In Australia, K. Catt’s Lancia Lambda won the vintage-car section of the V.S.C.C. of 1 1/2-day Trial from C. J. Bollitho’s Chrysler, a Wolseley and a Crossley. In the Silverdale event the Chrysler turned the tables on the Lancia, with another Lancia Lambda third.
Variety is welcome now that events for vintage and veteran cars abound. A class for historic commercial vehicles would be welcome, while the recent display of vintage shooting brakes in Norfolk struck a “different” note, as did a prize for “other locally-built makes” (won by a 2-seater A.J.S.) in the recent Sunbeam Register Wolverhampton Rally. Another innovation will be an all-steam rally, the B.L.S.P.S. contemplating inviting veteran and Edwardian steam cars to its September gathering.
Not used since its appearance in a carnival last year, a 1926 11.4 Citroën tourer has since been standing in a garage on the Kent coast, while an ex-competition Gwynne Eight “hip bath” 3-seater is being rebuilt in a Middlesex garage, and a reader informs us that a 1923 de Solo and a couple of circa 1929 General Motors’ Vauxhalls exist at Norton-cum-Studley and two Chrysler 75s, a Morris Commercial one-tonner and a Morris-Oxford in a yard near Newbury, Berkshire. The last seven are probably for sale.
In E. Africa a 1926 Rolls-Royce once used by H.M. King George V for grouse shooting won a veteran car rally. A model T Ford which competed was General Smuts’ staff car during the First World War. The oldest car was a 1909 Talbot which had been literally dug up after burial in a farm.
A reader, well-known to the motor racing public, seeks a side valve 2-seater—not tonner—sports Riley “Redwing” for restoration purposes. If anyone knows of such a car letters can be forwarded.
Exhibits formerly belonging to the Rootes Group Museum are on permanent loan to the Montagu Motor Museum. These include the 1924 G.P. Sunbeam “The Cub,” the 200 m.p.h. 1.000 h.p. twinengined Sunbeam and the Irving Special “Golden Arrow”, Lord Montagu already owns the ex-Campbell 350 h.p. vee-12 Sunbeam single-seater.
Statistics issued by the Bull Nose Morris Club show that 36 cars ranging from 1912 to 1926 attended the Beaulieu Rally, won by Sharp’s 1912 2-seater. 18 were Oxfords, 17 Cowleys, with an equal number of 2-seaters and 4-seaters and only two saloons. Most popular year was 1926, followed by 1923. The car coming the longest distance, 250 miles, from Leeds, was Hempsall’s 1926 Morris-Cowley 2-seater.
News is to hand from readers of more oId car discoveries, concerning vehicles which may become available for restoration. These include a model T Ford chassis in Dorset, another model T Ford converted into a roller and a Trojan standing on a sports ground in the London aera, a Ford one-tonner used on a Cornish farm, as well as a bull-nose Morris saloon, a similar Morris van, an early A.C. converted into a van, with the possibility of model T Ford spares, a vintage Standard tourer, an Edwardian Humber and a low-mileage 1922 M.A.G.-engined Matchless combination, all these being rumoured to exist in the West Country. Also, there are, or were, two early Austin Sevens at a breaker’s yard at Warsash, Hampshire, one a tourer, the other a saloon,while the 7.5 Citroën which competed in the 1955 Daily Express Rally has found its way into a breaker’s yard near Abingdon, Oxon.
The practically unused 1922 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost chassis which was rescued by Bob Walker from a Poole garage where it had been stored unused since its delivery journey from Derby, has been bought by J.A. Frost of Michigan and equipped with a Brewster “Pall Mall” touring body by T. F. Ford & Son Ltd. of Shepherd’s Bush, before being shipped to America. Rolls-Royce, after examining the car, issued it with their three year guarantee!
A reader in Gloucestershire offers a 1930 Morris-Cowley chassis as spares (letters can be forwarded) and near Blacon, Chester, at a battery service station, there is a 1927 Clyno “Royal” with non-original body “collecting a coat of dust.” Near Clacton Station an Essex Six, circa 1928, looking in good condition, had the price of £25 marked on.
A member of the Fiat Register was recently presented with the oldest Tipo 501 yet discovered in this country—a 1920 d.h. coupé. Its radiator was missing but within four weeks the new owner, Ian Smith, had found this and other parts needed to restore the car. He even found, in a ditch, a lamp-glass etched with the name “Fiat.” Other 501 and 503 spares have been located in a field in Buckinghamshire.
—N.B. From time to time old-car discoveries are listed in these columns. Some readers may wonder why this is done when no address is quoted to which those interested can apply. The explanation is that in such cases either the exact location is unknown or we are not able to ascertain if, in fact, the vehicle is for sale, so that to publish its exact whereabouts would be tactless. We believe that even rogue references are worth publishing, however, for there is much interest in old cars which have come to light; moreover, as in the case of the “Glasgow Mercedes,” such cars can sometimes be located by intelligent sleuthing. In such cases, however, no correspondence can he entered into nor can MOTOR SPORT accept responsibility, although we are always glad to hear of a successful search. In other cases, when such is stated, letters can be forwarded, if sent to us in plain stamped envelopes, to the owner or discoverer of the car in question. If no reply is received it can he assumed that a sale has been already effected, but we can enter into further correspondence. We are always glad to hear of readers’ “discoveries” but the only announcements applicable refer to vehicles and spares which would be unlikely to be advertised in the normal manner. Vehicles and spares, etc., seeking a change of owner gratis and those of purely nominal value or so rare as to be unlikely to provoke a big response come within this category but otherwise owners who wish to dispose of their old cars or parts are requested to avertise them in our advertisement columns. In any case, the Editor reserves the right to publish or withhold such information at his discretion, although as much of this information as possible will be used with the object of furthering the vintage movement.