Vintage postbag, August 1974

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Vauxhall Staff Car

Sir,

Your piece in the June issue about the Vauxhall D-type Staff-car was most interesting. Last year, quite by chance, I acquired two old War Department photographs showing a D-type Staff-car bearing the WD serial LC^0721. I recently sent them to Vauxhall Motors Ltd. suggesting that their car, serialized IC^0721, may in fact be the very car pictured, and should therefore read LC^0721.

As your article relates, when Alan Garland restored their vehicle the WD serial was only faintly discernible , and this could account for the initial letter of the serial. I can understand the Imperial War Museum not being able to answer the query regarding the dating of this vehicle, as they do not have the staff available to deal with such detail enquiries.

Personally, I feel that the cars are one and the same, LC^0721, as the chance of two such closely-serialized D-types is perhaps unlikely. What a splendid picture the car makes, with its collection of Staff Officers seemingly observing a flypast of aeroplanes. By the wicker-work and cane chairs, it could have been sited in the Middle East ? Who was that General and his lady ? Who was the A.D.C. ? Who was the Driver-Orderly ? Where and when were the photos taken ? If IC^0721 should be LC^0721 does this assist Dennis Field to date the car more precisely ?

Finally, I am at present doing some research on WWI, WD and RFC vehicle serials, especially the impressment of civilian vehicles into military service, and I would be glad to hear from anyone who has a like interest.

Freeland — PETER WRIGHT

***

Thermo-Syphonic Jowetts

Sir

I was interested in the piece about the two 1926 Jowetts being driven across Africa, and particularly the statement that they used only a quart of water between them. Having owned a 1924 Jowett with about 180,000 miles to its credit (bought for fifty bob in 1938), and one of the post-war Bradford vans, I can well believe this; and it proves again, if proof were needed, that properly-designed natural circulation cooling answers perfectly. For the Jowetts, you will recall, do not even have fans – and don’t need them. The radiator on my pre-war Jowett leaked slightly, and I daresay the circulation was not all it should have been because of the mustard, Hudson’s soap and what have you, used over the years to stop it weeping, but it only reached boiling point after a really long stint of ticking over in traffic. I was held up for nearly fifteen minutes once and it just began to steam, but went off the boil again in a very few yards after moving off again.

How ludicrous is Hendry’s attack on Rolls-Royce ! By all means criticise, and strongly, but for goodness sake intelligently. I suspect Hendry does not know what a sarcophagus looks like and he obviously does not know that the R-R radiator shells are not chromium-plated.

Potbridge — A. BIRD

[ The 12/50 Alvis was another engine that did very nicely thank you without the complication of water-pump or fan — ED]

***

Memories

Sir,

I was most interested in Anthony Blight’s letter as I, too, was at the 1948 Grand Prix Du Salon on Oct. 9th of that year, together with Rhona, my wife, and the well-known Bugatti driver R. M. (“Blom”) Blomfield.

I met Pat Garland previously at the Grand Prix des Nations in Geneva, together with the Delage and travelling bag and in addition at least five spare tyres lashed like a huge tower on the rear “deck” of the Delage. I enclose a picture I took of Pat with Rhona and “Blom” at Montlhery on the previous practice day. I also enclose negatives of other cars and people on the same day, and you will see that one shows Georges Grignard (who also drove later at Prescott in T.A.S.O. Mathiesen’s Maserati) climbing into his Talbot. “Blom” and I had in fact gone to the Salon in the endeavour to buy a Talbot for our friend John James, but we were received in almost disinterested manner, and after some months were quoted a price of £5000 delivered to Calais Docks without tyres ! I think by that time John James had lost interest and was involved with the big Sunbeam Tiger. I also enclose a post card of an early car, apparently made in Salford in 1907. I wonder if anyone can identify it. I can find no reference to a “Filde” car in Georgano.

Market Drayton– L. ROY TAYLOR

***

More Memories

Sir,

Mr. Robbin’s letter about the Leyland 8 in Wolseley’s Petty France Garage made me sit up, for I too, remember it well. I was then in the employ of Lord Donegall whose cars were also kept there. I was on talking terms with the Hon. David Tennant’s driver and used to hang about this wonderful vehicle when he was ministering to it. The tappet adjustment was an unusual arrangement with an internal screw inside the thick valve stem, with the leaf springs which were employed to close them. I remember that he also had at this time a beautiful Isotta-Fraschini with a 2-seater body and streamlined wings. The process of matching the two carburetters on this car consisted of opening the compression taps one at a time and comparing the flames that spat out at each firing stroke, a fascinating procedure.

There were other interesting cars in this garage. H.O.D. Segrave kept his monster 45 Renault and an Hispano-Suiza there. These were usually placed in a strategic position near the entrance, as he always seemed to be in a tearing hurry. I recall one dramatic moment when he rushed in, leapt into the Renault, and roared out of the “in” side of the entrance at the same instant that an Austin 7 turned in. Fortunately for the Austin owner, the Renault had a conductor of instantaneous reactions, for it practically stood on its nose and no damage was done.

I was taken for a ride in the Hispano one day — it had a Weymann 2-seater body covered with black patent leather — and was most impressed with its acceleration. Other exotic machinery I remember was a 16-cylinder Cadillac and an Excelsior belonging (I think) to the King of Egypt. It resembled a blown-up Invicta — polished aluminium bonnet and a huge searchlight on the running board. Another visitor was the Cummins diesel-engine racing car from America. The Bugattis rested here when the shows were on, complete with a team of mechanics who carefully warmed them up every morning, feeling various parts of the engine with the backs of their hands until the required warmth was achieved — then switching off and letting them get stone cold again. Jack Dunfee had his Talbot there, which was plug-troublesome and the exhaust pipes had to be spat on to find out which one was missing.

I could go on about this garage — known as the Westminster Garage when it was declared unsafe and unfortunately closed — for hours, but I had better stop.

Ryde, IoWE — T.P. CHIVERTON

***

Alfa Romeo Tipo 33

Sir,

While agreeing with Mr. Clark’s comments about the use of transporters to get so-called “road cars” to competitions, surely no harm is done unless an unfair advantage is gained in order to win. If, however, someone wishes to enter an entirely unsuitable sports/racing car in an event consisting in the main of driving tests, I can only wonder where Mr. Clark’s sense of humour is if he finds this objectionable. I was assured by most people concerned that the entry of my Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 in the Pomeroy Trophy was accepted in the spirit intended, and, of course, it in no way prevented pre-war cars quite deservedly winning the major awards. (Incidentally, I do drive it occasionally on the Devon roads and lanes but have never had any “slicks” as Mr. Clark seems to think; surely these would be illegal for road use? !) [He mulls your very wide back tyres, sir!— ED.] I feel that the correspondence columns of a National motoring magazine, however excellent, is not the correct place to suggest to the Vintage Sports Car Club what their policy should be, and there are surely channels within Clubs for protests to be made. [The freedom of the Press, sir!—ED.]

It was interesting to be criticised for my entry by the entrant of a Lola T70 which did not even turn up.

Totnes — RICHARD PILKINGTON (Totnes Motor Museum)

***

A Mysterious Alfa Romeo

Sir,

I am writing to you in the hope that you will be able to clear up a gap in the history of my 1929 6C. 1750 Alfa Romeo.

My car—a third series Turismo (SohI) eng./chassis no. 0412278, reg. YY709 apparently left Italy early in 1929 in chassis form, i.e. all bright components were nickel, split rim wheels, early Bosch control switch and early Jaeger instruments, etc., etc., presumably en route to Alfa Romeo Sales (Stiles) England.

However, the car was only registered in Middlesex in 1932 and bought new (?) by Mr. A. Stiano from Alfa Romeo sales with an attractive 4-seater open James Young body. Stiano apparently seized it on the way home from London after collecting it so the car was still tight at that stage. He ran it until 1939 and shipped himself and car to Ireland as war broke out. (Apart from severe damage after going through closed gate on A1 in 1934.)

After the war Stiano returned to England leaving the Alfa in storage in K.C.R. Garage, Dublin.

I bought it from him via K.C.R. Garage in 1956 and still have it—now running after a 10-year rebuild.

I.ast year I met Mr. Stiano and found out most of the history since 1932, but April 1929 to December 1932 is a complete mystery.

The car may have been used as a demonstration car, or been fitted with an unsaleable body, etc., or have been re-registered for some reason or other.

I thought perhaps some of the coach builders working in James Young works about that time might remember it, or indeed if James Young’s records go back that far.

If you are able to offer any assistance I would be most obliged and many thanks for the best motoring journal currently published.

Dublin — FREDERICK Z. W. NORMAN

***

The Last Morris Isis Tourer

Sir,

Thank you for mentioning my Isis tourer in the June issue. May I just correct a point that the vehicle which I described was not the last Isis made but probably the last tourer made? I quote from a letter about this car recently received from the then General Manager of the garage who sold it new:

“Having placed the order (Jan. 1935) I came up against disappointment for the manufacturers had decided to discontinue this model. However, after some considerable delays the car was eventually built—the last Isis tourer ever to come out of the factory.”

These facts are corroborated by the late owner’s family who saw it being made at Cowley. It was first registered in April 1935. Possibly the next Isis made is now being restored by Mr. Colin Causton of Bentley, Hants, who has a coupe with the next numbered engine to mine, but 47 later chassis number. (The chassis were shared by the Morris 25 at this time.)

Longshott Wood — M. D. F. COLE

***

“Salome” — GN or Morgan

Sir,

Having just read the June Motor Sport I feel I must comment, knowing your interest in reporting accuracy, on the description of Freddie Giles racer “Salome” as being the GN “Salome.” As you doubtless know, “Salome” started life as a 1928 Morgan Aero and was converted to four wheels for Speedway work by its owner Jan Breyer in 1931. At this time it was fitted with GN back axle and Grasshopper springs, with help from Tommy Sulman who had performed a similar conversion on a previous Morgan. The enclosed photo shows her after conversion. When Speedway days were over she was stripped of the Morgan body and remained “naked” in sprints and hillclimbs up to the Second World War, but following the war she again received a body, admittedly with GN dummy radiator, to satisfy RAC scrutineers and as such was purchased in sorry state, by Freddie Giles, fitted with an ABC engine. Despite the addition of the various GN parts “Salome” remains three-quarter Morgan, still retaining the Aero chains, clutch, front wheels, steering linkage, front suspension, bevel box and two-speed transmission, and as such surely qualifies as a Morgan special or, if you must, Morgan GN?

Finally, may I take the liberty of asking any pre-war Morgan competition drivers or agents to contact me, as I am hoping to compile yet more historical information for the present-day Morgan Three-Wheeler Club members. Many thanks for such a balanced motoring magazine.

Sheffield — J. D. ALDERSON (DR.)

***

Maybach Matters

Sir,

I was very interested in your article on free wheels, having had pre-war cars so fitted. I thoroughly enjoyed them though the Startix was a bit of a nuisance at times.

One of the earliest cars so fitted was the Maybach which was their own design and which was subsequently developed into their Mekydro transmission used in locomotives and high-speed vessels with power inputs up to 4,000 h.p.

Good luck to the continuance of Motor Sport, the very best car journal of all.

Heathfield — R. M. TUFNELL