A section devoted to old-car matters
The V.S.C.C. Richard Seaman Trophies, Oulton Park Race Meeting (June 24th)
One of the highlights of the vintage year is the Vintage S.C.C.’s Race Meeting in the delightful setting of Cheshire’s OuIton Park road circuit, and last June, on the hottest day of the year so far, the racing and the Parade of the Pre-War Racing Drivers combined to make this a memorable occasion – another landmark in the life of this active Club.
The appearance of the pre-war drivers, at the wheels of appropriate cars, was the idea of the Club’s President, Kenneth Neve, and it turned out to be an enjoyable and nostalgic occasion. Not all the drivers invited were able to accept, Earl Howe and Kaye Don being regretted absentees, and of those who did accept, Reg Parnell, Lord Essendon and Louis Chiron defaulted on the day – that Louis Chiron, who should have driven the President’s G.P. Bugatti as he had in pre-war days, offered no explanation for his absence reflects badly on the great French driver.
On the Friday evening the V.S.C.C. held a most enjoyable dinner party for the drivers and many guests, the only speeches thereafter being a humorous one by Kenneth Neve and a reply by S. C. H. Davis. An ash-tray bearing the Bugatti radiator motif was presented to each of the invited drivers, these having been given to Philip Mann, when he was in New York, by Rene Dreyfus, expressly for this purpose – a very nice gesture. In return the drivers autographed a menu with suitably scurrilous comments and this was sent to the French Champion. For the nostalgic parade on the following day these warmly-remembered, if no longer quite so young, racing drivers made four laps of the course after they had been liberally photographed, two laps behind Tim Carson in the pilot 30/98 Vauxhall – Carson himself is a pre-war racing driver – and four on their own, which allowed “Buddy” Featherstonhaugh really to get cracking at the wheel of Sir Ralph Millais’ beautiful 1932 Le Mans Alfa Romeo, Basil Davenport to crackle at impossible speeds into the corners in his razor-slim original 1-1/2-litre V-twin G.N. “Spider,” with Sir Francis Samuelson – a youthful 7I – in his 1914 T.T. Sunbeam and Tony Rolt in the E..R.A.-Delage in close pursuit.
Behind, rather more respectfully, carne Issigonis in the rasping Lightweight Special, charming Kay Petre going really well and confidently in the works side-valve Austin Seven, Cecil Bianchi, who goes back to Gordon Bennett days, driving Rippon’s smart Jarvis-bodied Brescia Bugatti (Bianchi was Team Manager in 1922 for the Crossley-Bugatti team), “Sammy” Davis, now bearded but entirely master of the gearbox of a 3-litre Bentley, John Eason Gibson sedately lapping in a neat “Brooklands” Riley Nine, Kenneth Evans getting round fast in a rather oddlooking Q-type M.G. (not a bit like the M.G.s he used to race), George Eyston thoroughly enjoying himself and looking delightfully “Boulogne,” in linen helmet, in Eckersley’s Type 35 Bugatti which George helped to rebuild in practice, Eddie Hall, enormously cheerful, all the way from Monaco via Montreal, driving a Le Mans 4-1/2-litre Bentley, Mrs. Jennings, née Margaret Allan, progressing blissfully in Padgett’s 6-1/2-litre Bentley (she is not, as the commentator told the world, the wife of the Editor of Motor Sport!) and Jack Lemon Burton looking completely the same as he did at Brooklands and Shelsley Walsh and quite at home in Bergel’s Type 35T Bugatti (Mrs. Petre’s first racing car). Then we had the splendid sight of Reggie Tongue again mastering an E.R.A. (A. S. Cottam’s) and Clive Windsor-Richards, his warm smile as “wicked” as ever, driving the actual 30/98 Vauxhall 2-seater he used to race at Brooklands, now owned by the Darbishires. The only car to default was John Bolster’s twin-J.A.P.engined “Bloody Mary,” which stopped on its first circuit; it was eventually restarted and tail-slid its way back into the paddock, but what a shame it didn’t behave and chase the “Spider.”
It was all a simply grand sight, and I was very impressed to note how many of the drivers wore the same headgear – indeed, looked just as they did when they competed at Brooklands, Donington, Montlhéry and elsewhere. Thus slim Kenneth Evans had on a white linen helmet, Tongue a helmet and vizor and Burton a crash-hat which I’m sure were originals, while Eason Gibson wore blue dicing trousers and his pre-war tartan helmet. The outwardly unmoved Featherstonhaugh was bare-headed, Bianchi sported a French beret and his blue jersey bore the Ettore Bugatti insignia, Davis also wore a Basque beret, while Issigonis had his white cloth helmet. Kay Petre, attractive as ever, settled for a head scarf, and the elusive Bolster’s crash-hat was yellow, reminder that he is a racing motor-boat driver! Rolt hasn’t changed a bit, or did he find the E.R.A.-Delage just a little tight under the arm-pits?
This was a truly worthwhile innovation, for which Neve and the V.S.C.C. deserve our heartfelt congratulations. In fact, I hope they will do it again in 1962, bringing in another batch of pre-war personalities.
There was also the traditional sedate paired parade of Concours d’Elegance entries – nearly all 52 of them – during the afternoon. Interesting cars in this included Ardran’s 35/120 Daimler and his very fine 1907 5-litre Napier coupé de ville with Bleriot gas headlamps, Jones’ rare 1920 Roamer tourer with unusual Roamer-Duesenberg 5.6-litre engine, Merrick’s 1923 23/60 Vauxhall all-weather, and J. Thomson’s 1927 long-chassis 19/100 open Austro-Daimler with flared wings. There were also a fabric saloon Austin Twelve, two very fine blue Amilcars, a very beautifully restored 1923 push-rod Singer Ten 2-seater, Rogers’ pleasing Calthorpe light car and the 1925 Daimler laudaulette with its single “black-out” headlamp and very bald spare 835 x 135 Dunlop that appeared last year, and an original Lancia Lambda tourer with the cranked windscreen, matching a fine Lambda pick-up truck seen in the public car park. A 12/70 Alvis concluded this parade, as if to remind, us that the V.S.C.C. recognises p.v.t. cars.
There was also plenty of racing!
The first of the races was a 5-lap Handicap for vintage and p.v.t. cars – and it was terrific. C. E. Naylor’s ex-Eldridge 260-h.p. aero-engined chain-drive Fiat, driven very capably by J. Gresham, started from the 2 min. 15 sec. mark and, apart from presenting a stirring spectacle, went motor-racing seriously. Tenth after a lap, it moved comparatively silently through the field, side chains (now covered by guards in deference to today’s scrutineers) rattling, taking Ewart’s beetle-back 12/60 Alvis on lap two, a whole string of cars the next time round, so that it ran fourth, until, under a lap from the end, the huge red monster was second, with only Radcliffe’s 1926 beetle-back 12/50 Alvis in front of it, this having started from the same mark but gone more quickly through the field. Gresham was getting some 1,200 r.p.m. in top, or around 80 m.p.h., down the straight. As they came round Lodge Corner for the last time he found the Alvis in his path and tried first one side, then the other, to go by. Choosing the left-hand side he put his foot down and the 1908 Fiat responded with all its 21.7-litres, accelerating past the Alvis to lead by perhaps the length of its long bonnet over the line. When I congratulated him after he had regained the paddock, Gresham asked “how many were ahead of us? “, knowing he had beaten the Alvis but unaware that he had won. Splendid! Winder’s original early Frazer Nash was third.
A similar Handicap followed, in which Bromley-Johnson’s 1935 Frazer Nash, after a tussle with Edwards’ big Lagonda on lap three, came through to win strongly from Read’s 1935 2-seater-with-slab-tank Lagonda Rapier and Binns’ well-known 1927 O.M.
After the Pre-War Drivers’ Parade the vintage sports cars indulged in a 5-lap class scratch race, Footit’s remarkably effective A.C.-G.N. pressing on magnificently to dispose of the regular vintage Bentleys and Frazer Nashes until the final lap, when Ashley’s fast 1930 Frazer Nash beat it to the line – with the big cars out of sight. Spence’s Lea-Francis was third, ahead of Quartermaine’s 30/98 Vauxhall, which won the over-3-litre class. Martin’s Riley Nine won the up-to 1,100 c.c. division.
Three races had been won by chain-driven cars and the fourth had to be, for it was the Frazer Nash and G.N. handicap. Going away from the start Reeve’s 1932 Meadows’-Nash shed its silencer, which obligingly rolled to the roadside. In spite of bouncing front wheels, Spence’s 1934/8 3-1/2-litre Alvis-powered ‘Nash had a strong lead by lap four and won easily from BromleyJohnson, who was comfortably ahead of Ashley.
The 23-lap Richard Seaman Memorial Trophies Race was what the big crowd had come to see, and a fine race it was. There should have been eight E.R.A.s challenging the elite of historic racing cars of other makes but Murray had to withdraw his because of negative oil pressure. Incidentally, this one is in almost authentic E.R.A. green – good show! The start was terrific and the Hon. Peter Lindsay emerged in the lead, of which his E.R.A. “Remus” was never robbed: Hull’s 2-litre E.R.A. held second place for two laps, then Dan Margulies, sawing at the wheel of his 3-litre Maserati, moved up one. They stayed like that until the start of the 15th lap, when Hull had closed right up on Margulies, with Waller’s E.R.A. close up to Hull. The big Maserati now began to smoke and did not seem happy. By lap 19 Waller took Hull and a lap later Syd Day regained something of his old form at the wheel of his mis-firing E.R.A. and came fast into third place.
Lindsay was now too far ahead to be caught but Day was really motoring. He was second on lap 21 and so they finished – Lindsay, Day, Margulies, Waller, Hull and Brown’s E.R.A. In a sort of second race, far behind, Berry drove his beautiful Type 35B Bugatti impeccably to lead the vintage class from McDonald’s 4-1/2-litre Bentley, which won the handicap from Tozer’s AmiIcar Six. Neve’s Bugatti spent much of the race coming in to see if its pit staff were still there, Gahagan’s 2-litre E.R.A. broke an oilpipe, luckily without damage, a fire burned for a long time in the ex-Abecassis yellow Alta, exhausting a tenderful of extinguisher, and the ex-Trossi 6C Maserati went over a bank, but was well held by its undamaged driver. Alas, Fidler’s Type 37 Bugatti hit a tree at Lodge Corner, head-on. It was all so exciting that Chief Marshal Cunliffe collapsed and got a ride to hospital in an ambulance exhibiting L-plates!
Three more 5-lap Handicaps concluded a fine day’s sport; the big Fiat looked well handicapped to pull off another win in the last race but it was now driven by Briggs, who treated it too respectfully. In the first of these races St. John’s Frazer Nash won from Sutherland’s Invicta, the Rapier, and Scott’s sports-equipped, very fast aluminium-bodied 1928 Riley Nine. Hull made up for dropping back in the Seaman Trophies Race by winning the All-Comers’, with very little road between him and Lindsay (or the front wheels of his E.R.A.!), at any stage of the race. Just as close in third place was Day, these three E.R.A.s leaving Waller and Spence some way behind.
Waller won the last event, a gift from the handicapper, so almost everyone who had tried hard got a place in one race or another, including the courageous Lockhart, who, unable to start earlier because his little Peugeot-J.A.P. had dropped a valve, now took over Day’s E.R.A. from the scratch position normally the preserve of Syd himself, and came home third behind Gibson’s nice 1927/39 Fraser Nash. All the big Lagondas, including Deardon Briggs’ twin-blower 4-1/2-litre, retired, as did Bill Mason’s Bentley. Husband’s Talbot 105, this year with an enormous Roots blower of anonymous make driven by dual chains, necessitating some fascinating additions to its complex plumbing, didn’t start.
If you want to see these individualistic cars and their exceedingly keen drivers in action, don’t overlook the V.S.C.C. Prescott Speed Hill-Climb on August 27th. – W. B.
Race 1: G. P. H. Gresham (1908 21.7-litre Fiat) – 58.25 mph.
Race 2: M. Bromley-Johnson (1935 1-1/2-litre Frazer Nash) – 65.17 m.p.h.
Race 3: R.W.Ashley (1930 1-1/2-litre Frazer Nash) – 69,74 m.p.h.
Race 4: H. Spence (1934/8 3-1/2 litre Frazer Nash-Alvis) – 72.13 m.p.h.
100 km. Seaman Trophies Race: The Hon. Peter Lindsay (1936 1-1/2-litre s/c E.R.A.) – 75.77 m.p.h.
Race 6: G. S. St. John (1939/57 1-1/2-litre Frazer Nash) – 66.49 m.p.h.
Race 7: D.H.C. Hull (1936 2-litre s/c E.R.A.) – 76.18 m.p.h.
Race 8: P. Waller (1936 1-1/2-litre s/c. E.R.A.) – 75.16 m.p.h.
Fastest lap of the day: The Hon. P. Lindsay (E.R.A,), 79.14 m.p.
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The excellent programme gave an amusing and informative commentary on the pre-war drivers, but surely it was the Gush Special, not the Jappic, that Windsor-Richards drove at Brooklands and has it been proved that his aero-engined Mercedes was Chitty III? A set of quarter-plate photographs of the 16 pre-war drivers is available from the Motor Sport offices for 24s. post free.
New Milton Carnival includes an old-car Concours d’ Elegance and parade on August 5th, the latter starting at 5.45 p.m. Details from G. R. Rawlings, Brooklyn, Silver Street, Hordle, Lymington, Hants.
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Reports from readers tell of two Lagonda Rapiers, one rather rough, the other with a faulty gearbox, at a Herefordshire garage, of a circa 1920 model-T Ford in a field in Norfolk, of a Patterson tractor working near Loch Lomond, and of a 30-cwt. G.M.C. lorry, which has never been registered, being used on Trade Plates as a recovery vehicle, in good condition, that should be easily restorable. Letters can be forwarded. There are some spares for a “Light 30” Daimler, including a set of cylinder blocks, iron sleeves, pistons, junk heads, etc., in good condition, as well as Bosch and Watford magnetos and part of a Daimler multi-jet carburetter, in Sussex. There is also an almost complete set of points for a Bosch 2-spark Z4 magneto in their original box, circa 1912, if anyone requires these. Letters can be forwarded. A reader in Assam, India, seeks data about a 1931 Bianchi chassis and similar information is sought by someone in Perth, Australia, about a vintage Cottin et Desgouttes. original except for a model-T Ford carburetter, once fitted with a 3-door tourer body by a Melbourne coachbuilder but since converted into a utility.
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The four Sentinel steam wagons that were to have been taken in part-exchange for new Bedfords were sold to enthusiasts before the deal went through, as a charming letter from Garlick, Burrell & Edwards Ltd., the Liverpool Bedford dealers concerned, informs us. These wagons belonged to the United Africa Company and are presum!bly all in good hands.
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This month’s old-car fixtures include the Littlewick Show near Maidenhead on the 7th (details: W/C. Reid, 9, Webster Close, Tittle Row, Maidenhead; entry 2s. 6d.); the City of Leicester Abbey Park Flower Show on the 8th (details: K. Higgs, 48, Curzon Avenue, Birstall); New Milton Carnival (see p. 675) on the 12th; the Burnham-on-Sea Rally on the 13th, starting from Southill House Hotel, West Cranmore, at 2 p.m., finishing with tests at South Esplanade at 4.55 p.m. (entries have closed); and the Egham Agricultural Show (details: Miss Bayley, 3, Braywood Avenue, Egham) and Wanborough, Swindon, Rally (details: H. Bangs, Littledean, Manor Orchard, Wanborough, Wilts; entry 5s.), both on the 26th. If you like watching old cars in action, go along and spectate!
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Miscellany. – E. J. Bowles, who races a 6-cylinder Marendaz Special, has the E.N.V. drawing of the c.w. and p. of these cars and is contemplating getting new sets made up. These would cost around £25 if several sets could be ordered. If other Marendaz Special owners are interested, will they write to him at Garfield House, Blagreaves Lane, Littleover, Derby. Thinking of vintage Daimlers, whose was the very well turned out saloon which followed us along Oxford Street and into Newman Street at the end of June, before getting away in the traffic? Another 1928 Standard Nine saloon seeking a good home has turned up in Cheltenham. Jim Apps, who worked on Ernest Eldridge’s racing cars and who made a fabulous journey over the Alps in a 1-ton model-T Ford truck with an Eldridge Special when Eldridge raced at Monza, lives in retirement at Swalecliffe, fit and well, although somewhat troubled by a leg injury he received in an aeroplane crash at Brooklands in 1922.
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Taunton M.C. is holding a Cavalcade of Motoring on August 7th starting from Bridgwater and Taunton at 11 a.m. and following a 30-mile route to Walford House Park for a parade, at about 3 p.m. Entries have closed.
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Mr. G. de Freitas, M.P., has at last found the Ruston-Hornsby car he has been seeking. A 1922 tourer was spotted in a poor condition in Sydney, N.S.W. and the Lincoln M.P. decided to have it shipped back to England for renovation. It is believed that only one other Ruston-Hornsby is in existence.
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Old cars are still being discovered. In Nottingham a circa 1914 Bebe Peugeot that had been standing idle since 1927 has found a good home and in Suffolk a 1908 2-cylinder Renault, laid up in 1938, is being restored. In both cases parts, data and tyres (550 x 65 for the former, 710 x 90 for the latter) are required. We also hear of a 1930 model-A Ford in somewhat sad condition needing a kind home (at present it is in a Sussex implement shed), of a Talbot with self-change gearbox in a Tottenham breaker’s yard and of the remains of an S.S. Jaguar rotting away in Eire. In London an ironmonger has unearthed some brass compression-taps and some original coachbuilder’s paint in colours such as Humber grey and Harley Davidson khaki, and hopes he will not have to scrap these “finds” – try ‘phoning PAD 1158/59, asking for Mr. James Matts.
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Over August Bank Holiday Week-end the Bedford Steam Engine Preservation Society will hold what claims to be the biggest steam engine rally in the world, at Woburn Rally. The engines arrive on Saturday, August 5th, and will be on display on the Sunday and Monday, giving, it is hoped, demonstrations of cable-ploughing, mole draining, and possibly steam-cultivation by the cable method, as well as threshing, rolling and providing electricity for fairground organs. Details from J. Crawley, Field House, Turvey, Bedfordshire (Turvey 248).
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Recent reference to an 1892 typewriter has brought in a letter from a reader who regularly uses an 1896 Remington Standard No. 7, which has cost only 9s. for replacements in 13 months, these being a new ribbon and a new fabric band connecting the spring to the carriage. “All the keys produce letters and all the mechanics work as they are meant to,” says our correspondent, who, like many vintage car owners, concludes: “I certainly would not part with it for any modern machine; I consider the £5 it cost well spent.” Any others?
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Owners of rare vintage and Edwardian cars should be getting them ready for the intriguing “Lost Causes” Rally at Beaulieu in September. Regulations are obtainable from the Montagu Motor Museum, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire.
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Stop Press: Entries for the Newbury Racecourse Concours d’Elegance on September 2nd close on August 21st (details: J. Lester, “Furze Acre,” Adbury Holt, Newtown, Newbury, Berks; fee 5s.). The International Edwardian and Vintage Car Rally to Turin occupies September 1st/3rd. There is a £10 subsidy for British entrants. Details from the V.S.C.C. or from the Segreteria Generale del Comitato, Trofeo Museo dell’Automobile, Corso Polonia 140, Turin.