Vintage Postbag, August 1967

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A 30/40s Rover

Sir,
Under V.E.V. Miscellany, June issue, I noticed Morrises sold for 30s,, etc. You may be interested to know that I bought my 1937 Rover Ten for £2 with 2 gallons of petrol, a month to run on the tax and M.o.T. I’ll admit it ran very badly, but a new thermostat and blowing out the petrol filter and pump cured her engine faults. Why owners of these good old cars let them go to rust when they only need a little looking after is beyond me.

I think a good name for cars of the 1930s would be “The Uncrowned Edwardians,” named after the Uncrowned King Edward, both unrecognised by their society but both about to be, perhaps.

A. D. Heard.
Ilford.  

*   *   *

The Csepel-Fiat

Sir
I was interested in Mr. Smetacek’s letter regarding the possibility of a Csepel-built Fiat 1100-508C car.

The Csepel works of the Manfred Weiss Company (official name: Weiss Manfred R.T., Csepel) near Budapest, were owned and run by Baron Alphons Weiss de Csepel until 1944, when the company was confiscated and he left Hungary. There was also Baron Eugene Weiss, believed to be a brother and co-director. Manfred Weiss was probably the founder’s name.

The late Nicholas Straussler, well-known Hungarian-born consulting engineer and designer of various ingenious military and civilian cross-country vehicles, had strong ties with Baron Alphons Weiss, who, during the 1930s, built several prototypes for him and also produced some of Straussler’s designs in series for the Hungarian Government. Mr. Straussler had come to England in about 1914 and later became a British subject. Several of the Csepel-built prototypes were later produced in this country for the war effort (Alvis, Brockhouse, Garner). Before his death last year, Mr. Straussler kindly gave me some photographs of Csepel-built Manfred Weiss trucks, tractors, aircraft engines, etc. Some of the trucks were not unlike Fiat designs and one vehicle (Pavesi P4-100 4 x 4 artillery tractor) looks identical to the Fiat-built version and was in all probability built under licence for the Hungarian army. To the best of my knowledge the above vehicles were known as MW or Manfred Weiss, except for the agricultural tractors (and sewing machines!) which were definitely marketed under the Csepel name.

I think it is therefore quite possible that the Csepel name was also used for any passenger cars they may have produced, and in view of the above apparent ties with the Torino concern these could well have been Fiats.

Since the war the now-State-owned Csepel works have produced Steyr-inspired trucks, full-track tractors, motorcycles and probably other sorts of equipment, usually if not always under the Csepel name.

I look forward to other readers’ comments which I hope will be forthcoming.

B. H. Vanderveen.
Redhill. 

*   *   * 

Memories

Sir,
I was interested in the recent correspondence about the Sheffield Simplex car as I once had the job of rebuilding completely a two-seater car of this make which had been the property of the Earl of Lonsdale, and was at the time I worked on it the property of a “Major Smith” of Kirk Bromwith Hall, near Doncaster. For some reason best known to himself the chauffeur had completely dismantled it, engine, gearbox, back axle, chassis, etc., and after piling all the bits in a corner of the garage he absconded with the ladies’ maid in an 80-11.p. 4-cylinder Berloit which he left in a street in Leeds and which we had to go and bring back. It took about two days to sort out the various parts and as we started to build up we found a number of pieces were missing. On inquiry at the Hall one of the maids said that she had seen the chauffeur put something down the well in the courtyard. Fortunately this was not very deep and almost dry, so down went the gardener’s boy and up came the missing bits. When the car was finished it ran very nicely and the Major, after asking if I was satisfied it was a good job, gave me a £5 note, which was money in those days (two weeks’ wages for me). Reads like a fantasy, doesn’t it, but it’s true. While we were working on the Simplex the Major used his wife’s Saxon 4-cylinder, which was surely the crudest American ever, and came in one day complaining that it had made a funny noise five miles back and had missed ever since. When we opened the bonnet there was a large hole in the side of the engine and No. 3 piston and rod complete lying in the side tray. Mrs. Smith was not pleased and stated it in terms not fit to print — she was very outspoken. But the Major had his revenge a little later when she went out of the Hall gates, accelerated, and by some means got into reverse gear and the back axle shot out from under. The axle was about 10 yards from the car, which sat down neatly on the ends of its springs.

Robt. J. Arrett.
Doncaster.

*   *   * 

Those Twin-Cam Touring Darracqs

Sir, 
In your review of that excellent Alvis book, you ask about the twin-cam Darracq tourer that beat Harvey at Shelsley in 1924.

These cars were of limited production and had the standard long touring chassis with cantilever rear springs. They were successful in competition and led their class for many hours before retiring from the 1925 Le Mans, under the name of Talbot of course.

For full details and pictures, get Serge Pozzoli’s “Album du Fanatique,” No. 6.

John V. Bolster.
Edenbridge.

[Thank you, John, for this information. The remarkable thing is that I can find no reference to these cars in “Motoring Entente,” the S.T.D. history, in the Temple Press Le Man’s history or The Autocar’s report of the race. Which makes the Pozzoli series. all the more indispensable! — Ed.)

*   *   * 

Car Books in Public Libraries

Sir, 
As another librarian reader of Motor Sport, I feel I must add to, and in one respect correct, Mr. Hughes in last month’s issue. The Metropolitan Special Collection as it is known, dealing with Motor Vehicles (including their history), is housed at the Homerton Branch (Brooksby’s Walk, E.9) of Hackney Borough Library.

In addition to this London area collection, the South Eastern Regional Library Scheme (SERLS) operates a similar subject specialisation scheme and Luton Public Library holds the Automobile Engineering collection. A very comprehensive catalogue (180 pp.) is published by Luton (price 2s.. 6d) and any of the books mentioned should be available for loan via SERLS and readers’ own local libraries.

P. J. Goom, Librarian,
Crosse & Blackwell Ltd.
​London, S.E.1.

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