A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
THE V.S.C.C. RICHARD SEAMAN TROPHIES MEETING (June 23rd)
This V.S.C.C. Race Meeting, the most important on the vintage calendar, was again highly successful, even if the spectators at Oulton Park seemed fewer than in previous years, probably because Le Mans is such a magnet for the British. But the rain kept off except for a shower during the very last race and the attraction this time was an exhibition of ten record-breaking cars spanning 50 years. These ranged from the 350-c.c. M.G. Ex 135 (but was it in 350-c.c. form on this occasion?) to the 44,888-c.c. twin-engined 200 m.p.h. Sunbeam. This Sunbeam, the earlier 350-h.p. V12 Sunbeam, and the beautiful Irving-Napier “Golden Arrow” were provided by the Montagu Motor Museum, and the M.G. Car Company showed Ex 135 and the rear-engined M.G. Ex 181. Not all these famous cars were static exhibits, which, if well known to visitors to Beaulieu, were new to many Northerners. Lord Montagu contrived, not very successfully, to drive the 350-h.p. Sunbeam and two laps were covered by Brian Morgan’s 200-h.p. Benz 4-seater, Briggs in the ever-popular 1907 Fiat “Mephistopheles,” Smith in Sir Ralph Millais’ 4-litre V12 Sunbeam, Schellenberg in the Barnato-Hassan and the Hon. Patrick Lindsay in his Napier-Railton. Apparently the Benz got in because the V.S.C.C. think it could be Hornsted’s car. In fact, the Hornsted Benz, in the form in which it was raced after the 1914/18 war at Brooklands by Barlow, is in the Daimler-Benz Museum at Stuttgart and it seems far more likely that Brian Morgan’s car is the one entered for the August Brooklands Meeting in 1920 by B. Roberts, the 4-seater body of which has since been shortened. However, it did attack minor International records in the late-vintage period. The Barnato-Hassan isn’t strictly a record car, although it broke the Brooklands lap-record. The 4-litre V12 Sunbeam has been meticulously rebuilt with twin blowers, etc. but it has the big hydraulic brakes and pre-selector gearbox as rebuilt for Sir Malcolm Campbell, so one wonders why it is painted red; when last raced surely it was blue ?
Apart from this display of record-breaking machinery, the usual two-lap parade of Concours d’Elegance entrants took place, cars that stood out including a 2-seater Austin 12, Rogers’ delectable Calthorpe light car, Ireland’s boat-bodied 1924 Delage, Galloway’s 1923 Rolls-Royce 20 and rare small cars in the form of Woodhouse’s 1923 11/22 Lea-Francis 2-seater and a 1923 pushrod Singer Ten 2-seater. The winner was Rothwell’s 1924 Rolls-Royce 20 and the best-kept car Boover’s 1930 Ulster Austin 7.
The racing provided the real excitement and those who attended practice on the Friday saw two splendid sights. The first was Delage II, unloaded from a trailer behind Arnold Forster’s Volvo. It has been been rebuilt literally as new, and a very passable replica built of its original body. The 5-litre push-rod engine with three triple-diffuser Zeniths on the off-side and six exhaust pipes protruding from the opposite side, is as spotless as the rest of the car, block and valve cover in shining stove-enamel. Arnold-Forster had only completed this monumental rebuild in the early a.m. and was still trying out different carburetter jets to persuade the engine to exceed 2,000 r.p.m. He is to be warmly congratulated for one of the most painstaking rebuilds of recent years. This lofty silver Delage runs on 5.50/6.00 x 20 front and 6.50/7.00 x 20 rear Dunlops, with blue chassis parts and machine-turned instrument panel and body, with many intriguing oil pipes beneath its engine.
The second splendid sight was the tough young Hon. Patrick Lindsay feeling his way round to extremely good effect in the 24-litre Napier-Railton. He went so well that he caught and passed the White Horse Stable’s ex-Dobbs four-wheel-braked Riley easily in a lap, the huge car a fantastic spectacle as flames stuttered from the exhaust stubs, steam issued from a vent and smoke from the rear Dunlop disc brakes. Stopping the car was a problem that left Lindsay outwardly unshaken, although the brakes were on fire for a long time after he returned to the Paddock… He got into top gear twice per lap. He is a brave man.
Saturday’s program commenced with a 5-lap Handicap for Vintage and P.V.T. Cars, in which Higgs’ Anzani Frazer-Nash although it built up a big lead, was caught on the second lap by Batho’s nice Amilcar-Riley, which later retired to let Reeves’ 1932 Frazer Nash win by 1.4 sec. from Miles’ Ulster Austin 7, with Poynter’s Lea-Francis 3rd. Watt’s Peugeot-J.A.P. trailed a front number plate, apparently conscious it no longer had to be road-equipped and Stanton hung the tail of his 1928 2-litre Lagonda tourer well out round Old Hall Corner.
There followed the popular Handicap for Frazer-Nash and G.N. Cars, also over 5-laps, as were all but the big race. It had an entry of 30, including four G.N.s, of which 19 had the correct engines. Higgs was again on “limit” and was never caught, his neat Anzani Nash, with alloy bonnet and sans front mudguards, leading Reeves’ Meadows Nash home by 18.2 sec. Bickerton’s. Blackburne Nash just lost 3rd place in the run-home to St. John’s 1929 car which has an A.C. Six engine.
Charnock drove extremely well to bring his 4.3 Alvis Special home first in the next Vintage and P.V.T. Handicap, coming up from sixth place on lap 3 to third place on lap 4. He finally got his long silver car over the line 2.4 sec. in front of Binns’ Riley 9. Easdale’s Alfa Romeo was 3rd. Charnock lapped even faster than Freeman’s scratch Aston Martin, at 75.33 m.p.h.
Vintage Sports Cars next indulged in a hand-fought scratch race. The commentator’s fancy, Morris’ Speed Six Bentley, being outclassed. Chain-gangsters must have been delighted when St. John’s and Ashley’s Frazer Nashes remained comfortably ahead of Morley’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley. This trio of giants chasing the chain-drivers was followed, ineffectually, by the very quiet Williamson 4 1/2-litre Bentley, Footit’s A.C.-G.N., Moffat’s Brescia Bugatti, Millar’s 30/98 Vauxhall Wensum and the Speed Six Bentley, so the Chain-Gang has every reason to be proud. In fact, 0.8 of a second separated the ‘Nashes at chequered flag fall, and the Bentley was 10.4 sec. behind Ashley, who, moreover, made fastest lap at 75.53 m.p.h. Is “heavy-metal” becoming white-elephantits?
So to the 23-lap Seaman Trophies Race, which attracted a large and nostalgic field, to be depleted as the laps wore on. Murray’s R1A E.R.A. just led the Barnato-Hassan and Lindsay’s E.R.A. “Remus” from the starting-grid and in a furious opening lap the intrepid Schellenberg led the lot in his 8-litre Bentley-engined single-seater. He even continued to lead for another lap, before Syd Day in R6B E.R.A. and Lindsay’s “Remus” got by. On lap 5, Lindsay, driving his blue E.R.A. with controlled enthusiasm, led from Day, Schellenberg in 3rd place, until Waller’s R9B E.R.A. passed him a lap later.
Lindsay had the measure of Day and gradually increased his lead, to win for the second year in succession. The Barnato-Hassan gave up on lap 15 and the race became the expected E.R.A. procession, in the absence of Margulies’ Maserati, in the final order, Lindsay, Day, Waller, with Brown in his i.f.s E.R.A. a lap behind. Lindsay averaged 80.65 m:p.h., compared to 75.77 m.p.h. last year, easily the fastest “Seaman” to date, and lapped at 82.83 m.p.h. – proper motor racing but not quite a lap record for historic racing cars, for Bill Moss, has done 82.97 m.p.h.
Bergel’s Bugatti won the vintage section and the handicap. A fine race-long dual between Binns’ Riley 9 and D. K. Brown’s 1.8-litre Riley was rendered exciting when the former had to stop for fuel while the latter developed serious engine trouble, to Binns’ ultimate advantage – and he ran in sports car trim. Clifford’s Alta seemed to have valve trouble, Day’s E.R.A. was so hot that he pulled up promptly and only just got his second place, and Cottam’s E.R.A. was in and out of the pits. Arnold-Forster retired in Delage II, which suffered severe front-wheel tramp at Old Hall on lap 3, and Neve’s Bugatti was 3rd behind Tozer’s Amilcar Six in the vintage category.
As if this excitement wasn’t enough, Lindsay drove the Napier-Railton in the next race, for Vintage and P.V.T. Cars that somehow included a couple of Edwardians. Moreover, as if to give modern youth a faint inkling of what old Brooklands was like, the Napier Lion’s battle-cry echoed round the circuit, the young driver working hard, the monster track car actually leading from lap 2 until the last corner. With such a stupendous lead he could have coasted home as winner, Linday got a little too keen and spun at Lodge Corner without any damage to himself or his splendid car. What a man! A pity he didn’t win, for this would have re-enacted the great car’s achievement on its first appearance at the Brooklands August Meeting of 1933.
All this drama rather over-shadowed a well-deserved victory by Moffat in his short-wheelbase Brescia Bugatti, from the doughty 1907 21.7-litre aero-engined Fiat “Mephistopheles” now driven by Gresham. Wood’s low chassis 100 m.p.h. 4 1/2-litre Invicta was 3rd. Lindsay actually made the fastest lap, at 74.18 m.p.h., a most courageous effort.
Two more races concluded a day of exemplary vintagery. In the Allcomers Scatch Race Waller’s E.R.A. ran home a comfortable winner from Morley’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley and Charnock’s irrepressible Alvis, after Murray’s E.R.A. had tangled with other cars at Old Hall Corner. Cottam got his E.R.A. going properly for the last 5-lap Handicap, winning by the very narrow margin of 0.4 of a second from Waller’s E.R.A. which failed by that amount to wash out Conam’s 60 sec. start. Mudd’s Monza Alfa Romeo was 3rd. Just over the line Waller ran out of fuel … – W.B.
Miscellany. The Editor gratefully acknowledges still more historic sparking plugs for his collection, including a fine double-pole Lodge, a dozen assorted old Champions, a brass-bodied Apollo, as used in model-T Fords, and a self-priming plug contibuted by J. Chalcroft who owns the beautifully-maintained 1923 Morgan Family-model 3-wheeler, referred to in the June issue. An old Albion van and a bull-nose Morris engine used to drive a winch are in a Surrey breaker’s year. Eric Bamford’s Model-T Ford 2-seater recently completed a 1,265-mile trip through Denmark, Holland and Germany, including crossing Bremen on its oil side and tail lamps. The English Electric Co.’s house magazine for March, April and May contained interesting articles on the Dorman Engine Co. of Stafford, from which we learn that their 1,496-c.c. small-car engine of 1919 sold for £47 and completed a 10,000 mile R.A.C. Official Trial in a Westwood car. The article illustrates Palladium and Airecale light cars that also used this engine.
SUNBEAMS AT WOLVERHAMPTON (July 1st)
Members of the S.T.D. Register paid their customary visit to the birthplace of their Sunbeam cars on the first Sunday in July. An impressive assembly of 31 was present, the only non-arrival being Fidgen’s 1923 Sunbeam 14, which had broken a con.- rod. A similar disaster had befallen Forshaw’s blown twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam shortly before the day, but he was able to substitute his 1935 Sports 21 saloon, which, the programme told us, was acquired last year in appalling condition after having run 148,000 miles but which has been completely restored and is good for another trouble-free 148,000 miles.
The Age/Distance contest was won by W. Charlton and P. Carnegie, who motored from Newcastle to Wolverhampton via Mill Hill and M1, in a 1928 Sunbeam 20 that had already covered 200,000 miles when they acquired it. They notched up 462 miles and thoroughly deserved the handsome Rootes Cup. Second place went to South’s well-known 1913 Sunbeam 12/16 tourer which came 130 miles and, at its age, was entitled to 490 points.
The usual Police-escorted cavalcade to West Park, via the old Moorfields works in Villiers Street, came after lunch, and the Pride of Ownership Contest was judged by Mrs. Boddy, A. Cameron Millar, who came in his twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam but naturally was not, on this occasion, an official entry, and D. May.
Some interesting cars were present. L. Moon had the only fabric saloon, in the form of a 1928 Sunbeam 20. A. Alexander came in one of the rare 14/40 sports tourers, on 815×105 Dunlop Cord tyres, a car supplied originally by R. F. Fuggle and rebored for the first time last year. Oldest car present was M. Foster’s 1912 12/16 tourer, with C.A.V. lighting conversion. Peter Moore’s lofty 1922 24-h.p. limousine brought his entire family, and a very attractive car, from Abergavenny, was a 1926 20/60 landaulette with head folded down in deference to the sunshine that greeted the Sunbeams on this 10th return to the town of their origin. It was observed to carry a spare cylinder head on the floor of the spacious back parlour.
Not all the cars were Sunbeams, Roesch Talbots being represented by a smart 1934 75 Darracq-bodied saloon, J. Gray in Moores’ very racy-looking 1931 105 sports tourer and two 14/45 tourers, of which Brett’s AD-model is the earliest Roesch Talbot on the Register. The third branch of the S.T.D. combine was ably represented by R. Brooks’ 1925 type DC 12/32 Darracq tourer, which had one owner from 1925 to 1938 and is gradually being restored.
Back at the Castlecroft Hotel for tea, Mrs. Winifred Boddy presented the prizes and was herself presented by the S.T.D. Register with a very nice memento in the form of an inscribed silver tray and set of coffee cups, saucers and spoons as an appreciation of the work she put in between founding this organisation in 1950 and her retirement earlier this year. The present Hon. Secretary is F. W. Joyce, Tor Hill, Wotton-u-Edge, Glos. – W. B.
During June Major Jennings of Freshwater Bay attempted to cover just over 1000 miles during a week-end in his 1912 24.8-h.p. Renault tourer, which he has owned since 1930. The car travelled from Yarmouth to Edinburgh and then returned South, covering 825 trouble-free miles before a gasket failed on the Preston by-pass. No doubt he will since have been in touch with James Walker of Woking for a reliable replacement! Incidentally, the Renault cruised at around 32 m.p.h., gave some 19 m.p.g. averaging 28 1/2 m.p.h., and ran its 880 x 120 tyres at 93/91 lb./sq. in. front/rear.
Corby Village Fair was opened when a 1905 car drove through the “toll-gates.” This car was described by the Corby Chronicle and Echo as an “old days and onions “.
Finds. Amongst reports of recent “finds” by readers are the following: An Armstrong Siddeley 12 open tourer, said to have been used last during the ‘bus strike, is rotting away behind a cafe in Bucks. A 1930 Austin Seven “Swallow” in poor order has been seen in the yard of a garage in Surrey, while in a Bristol scrapyard exist circa 1926 Minerva and Citroën cars in rough condition. A 1929 Morris Minor saloon has been noticed in a Wolverhampton breaker’s, while an Armstrong Siddeley Light 17 saloon in running order and a 6-cylinder Delage chassis are being saved for the time being by a scrapyard near Coventry in the hope of finding appreciative buyers.
A reader in Kent has four Morris Cowley and a Bean artillery wheels, a 1923 Cowley front axle, a Phoenix front axle and some Cowley parts, available for the price of a drink (what drink isn’t specified!). Letters can be forwarded.
Wants. D. A. McDonald, 16 van der BijI Street, Sasolburg, O.F.S., S. Africa, seeks a handbook for a 1929 M-type M.G. and N. A. Ward, 87, Church Leys, Harlow, Essex, wants to know how to drop the sump of his 23.8-h.p. Daimler.
A Swift Rally will be held at the Montagu Motor Museum on Sept. 9th, a worthy attempt at “lost causery.” Details from The Administrator (tel.: Beaulieu 374).
A Fiat lorry that saw service in the 1914/18 war, a la Hemingway, is for sale at a Staffordshire garage, and the R.B. prototype of the Bertelli Aston Martin, now with an Aston Martin “International” engine, in its Enfield chassis, has cropped up again and is for sale for about £50. Someone else has for disposal a Powerplus engine from an early Frazer Nash.
The A.W.R.E. Recreational Society’s Gala Day at Aldermaston, Berks, on Sept. 1st will include classes for veteran, vintage and pre-1941 Cars, with tea for driver and passengers. Details from: K. W. Alderson, 60, Woodlands Road, Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants.
We hear that the late Mr. G. H. Wait’s old Clyde car has turned up again, in retirement at Billesdon, where, incidentally, live the daughters of this Leicester car manufacturer who made Clyde motorcycles and cars from 1899 to 1914. An old Peerless chaindrive lorry, said to have seen war service in France, which was laid up about 1928 when its owner went over to Leylands, lies in a Somerset barn but is not for sale.
A 1928 9/15 Renault tourer is being restored at Staverton. It was purchased new by a Swansea shoemaker, who used it until 1931, when it was laid up in a barn. An agricultural student discovered it and used it for two years, until the magneto failed. The present, third, owner has had the car, believed to be the only surviving 950-c.c. 9/15 in England, since 1957 but is now badly in need of 720 x 120 tyres. Another Deemster has been reported, in Bridgwater. The 1923 Meadows engine, with a radiator from the Salmons car it was in, is now for sale. Letters can be forwarded.
Vintage lawn-mower lovers are offered a 1928 Dennis by Oakley C.C., Hants, “for a song.”
Next V.S.C.C. Fixture: The Cheltenham Edwardian and Light Car Rally has been scrubbed but the enjoyable Prescott Speed Hill-Climb will be held on August 29th.
ISOLATED ITEMS OUT OF THE PAST
Among Napier owners was W. W. Hewitt of Lower Park, Dedham, Essex, who owned a 15-h.p. 1909 landaulette (F3266); this car served him well till 1915, he then bought a 30/35 6-cylinder Napier (F 7314). Mr. Hewitt’s associates viewed his benevolent actions in giving enormous help to the Colchester Hospital as the action of a transcendentalist. He liked the larger model Napier for being a restful car; he could complete his diary for every day while travelling, jotting down notes in comfort.
Another 15-h.p. Napier was owned by R. Goodspeed of Birchwood House, Dedham; this car was in use from 1909-1920 (F 4180).
Dedham Grove by 1913 was owned by Sir William Collingwood, a prominent figure in the Lancashire firm of Palmer, Tritton & Rendall, railway locomotive engineers. He was knighted for his services. He owned an 18/25 Renault limousine 1912 model (M2040) and a 1915 15/20 Studebaker open touter (LK 9460) with gearbox and axle combined. The Renault charmed him, while the Studebaker infuriated him, for it was always breaking down. When it did behave properly it was sold to the Calvert family of East Bergholt, who maintained it for many years.
Close by, at Stratford Hills, lived Sir Gorrell Barnes, afterwards Lord Gorrell, owner of a Panhard landaulette (LN 777) which did constant journeys between London and Stratford St. Mary.
Over the river at Dedham was E. Clover & Co., flour millers and farmers, at Dedham Hall. The head of the family was Mr. John Percy Clover, who attended Ipswich and Colchester markets regularly in his 1909 16/20 Vulcan 2/3-seater. For delivery from the flour mill a Milnes-Daimler-Mercedes lorry was used and was supplied by Berry’s of Colchester, expert engineers in road transport of the day.
Leonard Waller of Stratford St. Mary, enterprising horse-carriage proprietor, bought a second-hand 1909 Mors landaulette, the type with a band clutch, advertised as “The clutch which is possessed of a beautiful action.” The time was 1912. Every time he engaged the clutch the car leapt forward in an alarming way. . . .
Nearby, in Stratford, was another member of the Collingwood family who owned a Phoenix car with transverse engine, with drive by a massive Coventry chain, always running dangerously slack, or it seemed to be. But with extreme care in handling, nothing happened.
In Dedham we had Dr. James R. Lowndes, physician and surgeon, living at “The Hillands.” He loved horses (as well as human beings) and travelled the district on horseback till, as time passed, he said, “I get tired of this (Dick Turpin) way of travel at night. I do not like disturbing the horse, and carrying a lantern attached to the saddle when being called out at night; then having to find someone to look after my noble animal.” So he kept the horse as a pet, and bought, in 1904, a second-hand 1903 de Dion single-cylinder 6-h.p. (F 5235). The difficulties that beset him were perpetual, but the local blacksmith repaired the cardan axle, the village harness maker kept replacing steering leathers and cardan axle leather sleeves, the local and very skilful wheelwrights repaired wheels and sometimes replaced them complete, even to shoeing the beaded rim on to the wooden part of the wheel, and Dr. Lowndes went from exasperation to happiness once more. The single-cylinder ran for three years; after that, the Doctor bought a 1907 Model AD de Dion.
This was supplied by Botwoods of Ipswich, who were agents for de Dions. It was an open tourer (DX 304) and did big mileages till 1912, when the Doctor bought a model-T Ford (DX 761). In 1916 he bought an American Briscoe with a headlamp in the radiator. He called this his William Syke’s bullseye. In 1920 he retired, after a long, active and strenuous life, remarking: “It is said I have been kind to the people of Dedham. I am grateful for the varied skills of the village tradesmen who kept my motor cars running.” – J. HARVEY.