Vintage Postbag, August 1959

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Sir,

The Edwardian chassis you saw at the Andover Steam Engine Rally on May 9th was the 11.4 Hupmobile, two of which we had in the “stud” in 1914. It was thought to be a 1907 model, but I should put it a bit later than that, probably 1911. These cars are usually identifiable by the two-speed gear, and the curious oiling system, consisting of a reservoir on the offside of the engine containing a pump, operated by the accelerator pedal.

I noticed that this particular chassis had a Bosch magneto, whereas Splitdorf or Eisernann were commonly fitted.

The cars were quite pleasant to drive on the flat, but lazy on hills, whilst they had a tendency to run their big-ends if over-driven. Not many reached us from America, hence I am glad to see that at least one has been very nicely restored. The owner, told me that the touring body is also intact and restorable.

I am, Yours, etc., C. R. Wood. Ealing.

*

Sir,

I wonder if any of your readers know the whereabouts of Riley 11.9 h.p. VE 1048?

It was built in 1926 for my mother and was originally black, and had a scarlet chassis, wire wheels, twin spare on the back. We had the car in our possession until 1931 and it then went back to Victor Walsgrove at Binley Road, Coventry — it was then resprayed grey, and we borrowed it back in 1934 — when a car of that year’s manufacture went wrong!

I should be very interested to hear from anyone who has, or still does own it.

I am, Yours, etc., George Bunker. Leighton Buzzard.

[Letters can be forwarded. — Ed.]

*

Sir,

You may be interested to know that three friends and myself have recently unearthed a vintage Austin 12/4 in Melbourne. The car has been unused and stood on blocks since 1941 and in the preceding years covered a genuine 6,000 miles.

After cleaning the Autovac, carburetter and the magneto, the engine fired with very little trouble or noise. The car is a tourer, and includes a patented retractable second windscreen attached to the rear of the front seat, for the comfort of the rear seat passengers when the hood is down. It has magneto ignition, C.A.V. electric starting, a petrol tank which is filled by removing the front seat and a large Zenith carburetter.

After removing three-quarters of an inch of dust the original paintwork was exposed and now shines as new. The tyres were inflated and have held their pressure for eight days.

I am, Yours, etc., A. F. Williams. Melbourne, Australia.

*

Sir,

Your correspondent T. J. R. Woodman of Newark, writing in “Vintage Postbag,” refers to the Old Armstrong Whitworth.

There were, if I remember, two types, the 15.9 and the 20.28, which were similar and both distinguished by classic design strictly in accordance with engineering practice of the time. By contrast with today’s teaching this meant they were intended to go for ever and I suppose there must be some pre-World War I versions still running, as per your correspondent’s fire-engine.

I have happy memories of a 1913 15.9 with a caravan body which took me without incident to both Land’s End and.John o’ Groats in the 1920’s and after.

A few details of Armstrong Whitworth design are to be found in a “Text Book on Motor Car Engineering” by A. Graham Clark which was published by Constable & Co. Ltd., in 1917. They amply justify the description “For ever.”

I am, Yours, etc., C. A. Kate. Newthorpe.

*

Sir,

In your July issue, Mr. S. Pleeth asks for information about the Stearns-Knight. Perhaps I can enlighten him on this subject.

Frank B. Stearns built his first car in 1896, and two years later the F. B. Stearns Co. was organised and twenty cars were built and sold the following year. In 1912, the Stearns-Knight was born when the company discontinued poppet valve installations. Stearns sold his interests in the company in 1918, and in 1925 Stearns-Knight was bought by Willis Overland, who continued to build silent sleeve-valve cars until 1929. The company quit in 1930.

I am, Yours, etc., H. J. Kennington. Bolsover.

*

Sir.

You mention having seen a 1927 Wolseley in a Birmingham garage. I have since become the owner of this vehicle and thought you might like to know a little more about it. It is the 16/45 h.p. 2 litre model otherwise known, I have been informed, as the “£100,000 car,” being the last model produced by Wolseley before being taken over in ’27.

This particular car is of interest in that the original owner was Sir John Horsfall, whose family crest still appears on each door of the car.

The vehicle is completely pure and original, the suppliers originally being John Bryant’s of Bromsgrove, whose plate still remains, in perfect condition, on the dash. There has been a succession of enthusiastic owners, the most recent of whom won a silver cup in a rally in which he participated in 1958.

If any reader has any useful literature on this model, other than the handbook normally supplied with the vehicle, which I already have, I would be pleased to hear from them.

I am, Yours, etc., N. G. Bragger. Sutton Coldfield.

*

Sir,

In reply to Mr. Rex Warner’s letter concerning the Porthos car, I would like to say that the Porthos was certainly not a “one off.” They were made, according to Doyle in France, by the Societe Generale des Automobiles Porthos, at Rue du Dome, Billancourt (Seine) from 1907 until 1914.

After only three years of production, the company had nearly died out, but was revived in 1912. As far as I can gather from my reference books, the following models were made:–

See table

Whether any more models were made during 1913 and 1914, I could not say, but perhaps other readers will have more information about this point.

I am, Yours, etc., E. O. C. Goddard. Pembroke Dock.

*

Sir,

Reference Mr. Goddard’s letter regarding the Gwalia car said to have been made in Wales in 1921, I have a copy of ‘The Motor Car Index’ (published by Fletcher & Son Ltd., Norwich) which gives “essential details of the specification of each model of chassis made or sold in U.K. by British or Foreign Motor Car Manufacturers from 1916 to 1927.”

Unfortunately, there is no record of the Gwalia or any other car manufactured in Wales during the period 1916 to 1927.

You may be interested to know that the Chambers is, apparently, the only car in the above period which was manufactured in Ireland. The manufacturers are given as Chambers Motors Ltd., University Street Works, Belfast. It appears that from 1916 to 1924 there were two models of 15.9 and 18.3-h.p. and in 1925 two models of 13.9 and 17.9-h.p., the latter model only being continued in 1926 and 1927.

The names are also recorded of a number of cars without the address of the manufacturers, and it is, of course, possible that some of these were manufactured either in Wales or in Ireland. Examples are:— C.F.B.; H.F.G.; Thanet; Castle; Lothian; Thor; Cheswold; Stafford; Thurloe; Duplex.

I am, Yours, etc., Arthur G. Finch. Husthwaite.