Sunbeams at Wolverhampton (June 23rd)

Members of the S.T.D. Register have been taking their Sunbeams back to the place of origin of these fine Coatalen cars since 1951, with Roesch Talbot owners corning as their guests. So it was this year, with two Stars and a couple of vintage Sunbeam motorcycles joining in, as they, too, were made in Wolverhampton.

After a pace-led parade through the town the entry assembled in West Park for examination by interested members of the public and the Concours d’Elegance judges. The traditional pause had been made outside the rather sombre buildings which once constituted the proud and extensive factory of the Sunbeam Motor Car Co. Ltd. Here Cookson’s smart 1925 14/40 two-seater had temporary ignition trouble, but a fellow member promptly came forward with a spare magneto. In the park, Phelps was pulling down the head studs of his 1930/31 Sixteen coupé which carries a mysterious small tank strapped on the n/s, presumably a removable brandy supply, and Paget was ruefully regarding the damage to his otherwise immaculate and glossy Dawn, caused when a brakeless American car ran into the back of it. The absence of Gates’ 1924 24/70 tourer was offset by his very nice 1926 twin-cam 3-litre on 820 x 120 Goodyear tyres. It was supported by two non-competing Sunbeams of this exclusive model, one of them a Weymann saloon, of which only one other is thought to have survived, and Forshaw’s impressive racing version, of Phœnix Park and Brooklands memory. Incidentally, there were some interesting combinations of tyres to be seen, Peter Moores’ ex-show model Talbot 110 saloon, which has the Roesch “Traffic” clutch and pre-selector gearbox, using Michelins on the front wheels and Dunlops on the back wheels, although his splendid 1921 24 h.p. Sunbeam saloon, still with its original bores and hearings, is shod, like most of the older cars. by grace of Dunlop’s special supply of h.p. tyres in the old sizes, The Ashen/Eccleston 1932 23.8 h.p. coupé, in an immaculate hand-paint finish, was on a mixture of Indias and Dominion Royal retreads, and Wiggin’s 1924 10/23 Talbot had a wavy-tread Firestone on one front wheel.

As the public closed in they noted things like the labelled pressure-filter on the engine of Selwyn’s 1928 Twenty Weymann saloon, a fabric body by Penman of Dumfries on the 1929 Sixteen of Harper, a car which had only one owner up to last year, who drove it a mere 27,000 miles, and the dual ignition and oil-cooler on Durnford’s rare coupé 1930 Twenty. Neate and Allan had brought a nice pair of 1925 14/40 tourers, Secretary Fidgen rode on real horsehair (fully visible) in his 1923 Fourteen tourer, and Burley came in a typical 1927 Sixteen tourer.

Fox’s 1931 Twenty was a roomy saloon with a sexy mascot, and Stone’s 1934 23.8 h.p. was even bigger. Many S.T.D. members are family men; perhaps it is the size of the cars which appeals to them? The Sunbeam motorcycles were interesting, with leaf front springs, one having a band front brake, and both being lit by gas and having their chains encased in the famous Sunbeam oil-baths.

Reverting to Sunbeam cars, there was a remarkable example with an elegant coupé cab and a truck behind, built up by F. W. Joyce, without whom no S.T.D. event would be the same, and who had come in one of his two Speed 20s, a car which is in daily use, has covered more than 140,000 miles, and still has the original paint on its elegant body. Roger Carter was also there, up from Devon in his 1934 Twenty tourers which had a spot of overheating trouble en route and had broken its crown-wheel and pinion on the Friday, while Walker made his usual pilgrimage from Halifax in his 1919 Sixteen tourer, accompanied by a Rolls-Royce.

Owing to a misunderstanding, the Concours d’Elegance results could not be announced at tea, but the Register’s President, Mrs. Boddy, was able to hand the Rootes Trophy, for the oldest car coming the greatest distance, to A. James, who had driven from Milford Haven in the aforesaid Sunbeam Twenty, and the Perkins Trophy, for the year’s most meritorious restoration effort, to D. Cookson, who had worked industriously on re-timbering and re-upholstering his, also aforesaid, 14/40 two-seater. Incidentally, I was told that the rather similar building opposite the old Sunbeam factory was once occupied by Star, which, if correct (Doyle quotes Frederick Street), should have interested the owners of the two Stars present, a 1908 12 h.p. and a 1930 18/50, and might explain why later Star models closely resembled certain Sunbeams, for the draughtsmen could almost copy one another’s drawings by looking through the windows.

The Register’s next main event will be the Sandhurst Rally and Driving Tests in September. The Secretary is F. J. Fidgen, 5, Woodlodge, Lake Road, Wimbledon, S.W.19.—W. B.


Rolls-Royces at Blenheim (June 16th)

Rolls-Royces of all ages, types and condition converged on Blenheim Palace for the R.-R.E.C. annual Rally and Concours. The spacious venue, lent by kind permission of His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, on payment of a usage fee, was well marked out and the event was most efficiently organised. An excellent programme was available and Dunlop had a service van in attendance.

It would be quite impossible to refer to all the cars present, in half a page, but they ranged from the unbelievably immaculate to some very rough specimens, proof that you need not be reluctant to take your R.-R. to one of this Club’s events even if restoration isn’t anywhere near complete. Apart from the Rolls-Royces, vintage Bentleys were invited, these being, as the R.-R.E.C. put it, “a splendid and rugged foil to the esoteric silence and luxury of the Rolls-Royce”.

Among the especially interesting cars present were W. J. Oldham’s splendid 1935 Barker Continental touring saloon built for the Amsterdam Show of that year and just like those great Phantoms we used to admire in colour plates in the books of our schooldays, a Mk. VI Bentley Park Ward d/h built for the King of Denmark, a 1934 20/25 Hooper saloon used by the Marquess of Zetland, a 1937 P.III sedanca owned by the Editor of the R.-R.E.C. Bulletin and formerly by the Lord Mayor of London, down to Jack Barclay’s 1930 20/25 truck. Lord and Lady Montagu came in a 1925 Phantom I Barker barrel-sided tourer previously owned by Lord Montagu’s father and which was out for the first time in his son’s hands.

I liked the replica sports tourer with flared wings on a 1926 Twenty chassis, which a young member, M. Pickwoad, has rebuilt from a shooting brake; it was unfinished, with a Perspex windscreen held on by woodworker’s clamps, but should be light enough to give some performance and is a car in keeping with the sporting spirit of its period. (Pickwoad is a student of Southampton University who clearly spends his time far more sensibly than some of today’s students!) There was even a hand-controlled Silver Shadow, driven by a very keen disabled owner.

The classes included a Selling Plate, but I do not think anyone wrote out a cheque for £7,000, which was the price being asked for one of the exhibits! Of cars not for sale, there was a 1925 Jarvis-bodied Twenty tourer which has served one family faithfully for 42 years and has their 1904 Reg. No., a 1922 Silver Ghost with the test-rig body with which it was driven back to England from a Baghdad junk-yard for restoration, and a 1922 Barker limousine which had come all the way from the Netherlands. Altogether it was quite a day and one which I know, from personal hearsay, is still remembered with pleasure and awe by garages in the vicinity of Blenheim, where some of the entrants stopped for petrol. The Club’s next fixture is the Arundel Castle Rally on August 24th. The Hon. Secretary of the R.-R.E.C. is Lt.-Col. E. B. Barrass, O.B.E., T.D., “Lincroft”, Montacute Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent.—W. B.