Vintage postbag, August 1975

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The Truth, At Last, About That Renault Missing Link

We publish hereunder a most interesting letter from the one person who really knows about those straight-eight Renaults intended for the 1930 Ulster TT, proving that MOTOR SPORT’s far-reaching circulation is generally able to close the rifts in motoring knowledge:

Sir,

The car illustrated on page 360 of April’s MOTOR SPORT is not the one we took to try out on the Newtownards circuit. Garfield brought a Renault straight-eight over to London and I joined him to take it to Belfast and time it over the TT circuit. This run was intended to be completely unofficial as we had no idea of what speed we could attain in it. It would have given the game away and attracted unwelcome attention if the car had had a racing number on the side of it.

I also remember that it had a fixed wind screen and I always wondered how Garfield and I managed to fly o’er it when we were catapulted out of the car as it crashed. When the horse-cart came out of a side road on our left, some 150 yards away, Garfield realised that his brakes would not enable him to avoid a direct impact in a straight line and he therefore slewed the car sideways as he braked to reduce our speed by skidding sideways on all four wheels. Unfortunately the front wheels hit the left bank, lifted the near side and the impact shot us out and we landed on the road. The steering wheel crushed Garfield’s chest and injured his abdomen and he died a few hours later. I cracked my skull and broke a collarbone and some ribs in landing but, thanks to the wonderful skill, care and kindness of the staff of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, made a quick and complete recovery.

We had worked out that, allowing for reduced speed in the villages, we had been lapping at an average of 70 m.p.h. for four laps—traffic was very light in those days and at 1 o’clock Garfield thought everyone would be at lunch and we could try an almost “allout” lap, and you know the rest. Louis Renault was never keen on any racing after his brother Marcel was killed and he stopped the programme at once.

You mention my first name but my second name is Marcel, which my father gave me because he was a close associate of the Renault brothers and was very fond of Marcel who, of course, was alive at the time.

Chichester C. M. de WILDE

Oulton Park Vindicated

Sir,

Most of the people at the VSCC Oulton Park race meeting in June will join with “W.B.” in regretting the changes that have overtaken this circuit. But in fairness to the circuit proprietors it should be pointed out that the second of Morley’s accidents did not occur on the new link. The Bentley-Napier took charge on the first lap on the approach to Cascades and had not reached the revised section when it clouted the railway sleepers.

Abingdon JOHN McLELLAN

Hon. Press Secretary, The Vintage Sports-Car Club

[I am glad to hear this—but why wasn’t the Press Secretary in the Press Office, to explain this to us after the meeting, at a time when one didn’t wish to pester other officials about an accident? Sufficient criticism was heard about the shortened course to justify the report, and I am glad Mr. McLellan agrees.—Ed.]

A Frazer Nash Mystery

Sir,

I have just seen the May issue of MOTOR SPORT and was particularly interested by the photograph of the Frazer Nash MV 3357 on page 481. My father and I have owned this car since 1964. When we bought the car we got several photographs taken before the war when she was owned and raced by W. Peters. Yet neither in those photos, nor in David Thirlby’s book “The Chain Drive Frazer Nash”, nor yet in talking to the Chain-gangsters, have I met any sign of the car being fitted with the unusual and rather striking bodywork shown in your picture: the louvred undertray, scuttle and tail treatment, as well as the unusual number-plate, all seem very different from the car as she is now or as described on page 196 of Thirlby’s book.

I should be most grateful if you or your readers could give me more information about the car.

Dover ZAC WATTS

Napier Green

Sir,

May I comment briefly on your recent article about paint (MOTOR SPORT, June I975)? During my search for Napier Green, reported in the Bentley Drivers Club Review for May 1975, the possibility of colour card fade was discussed with Sherwood Parsons. They were inclined to discount this because their master set had been kept away from light—and air too–pretty well.

In fact, the formulation in question had never really been discontinued; only the name had been changed. For these reasons, I would remain satisfied that Napier Green is still readily available ex-stock.

Tadworth HUGH YOUNG

Editor, Bentley Drivers’ Club Review

A Daimler Puzzle

Sir,

The Daimler car on page 480 of your May issue is very likely a 1906, or 1907, model TR 20 h.p., with a four-cylinder, 35 b.h.p. engine of 3,308 c.c., Knight sleeve valve type.

The Army used the same model as staff limousine and other body styles in WWI.

Looking forward to the next issue of the best motor magazine in the world.

Herkenbosch, G. BRAAD-RUBEN The Netherlands,

AYL 2

Sir,

The Talbot 105 featured in MOTOR SPORT last month looks splendid, but it is not the ex Dr. Roth car.

Without having seen it, I can only surmise that it still is what your article says it once was, namely the car registered as JJ 93. This was a 1933 Model registered late 1932) with chassis number 35277 and engine number AV 78.

The Dr. Roth car was a 1934 Model registered AYL 2 with chassis number 35499 and engine number AV 398.

The history of the Dr. Roth car is well documented. The original four-seater body was removed in 1935 and the car converted to a single-seater, when amongst several easily identifiable details the bumper supports were removed from the front dumbirons. (These supports are visible on the car featured last month). The registration number was surrendered at the same time.

At the end of the War the single-seater body was removed and the car rebuilt with a home-made two-seater body, retaining the Brooklands single-seater radiator cowl, and re-registered as JKJ 869.

Some years ago JKJ 869 came into the hands of Arthur Archer, Motor Engineer of Great Dunmow, Essex, and its remains, together with the log book, now belong to Ian Polson in Felsted.

In 1973 I borrowed from Arthur the Dr. Roth back axle with high Brooklands ratio, which suited BGH 23 admirably for the Cinquantenaire at Le Mans.

Ian Polson is now commencing restoration of the car, and he holds a letter from the London County Council confirming that the car now registered JKJ 869 is the car originally registered AYL 2.

I do not know the history of JJ 93, but in fairness to its present owner, it does appear to have acquired the original Dr. Roth fourseater body during its career, which no doubt contributed to the idea that it was the Dr. Roth car and encouraged someone to apply for the registration number AYL 2. The story about the learned Doctor and his cuff-links is a nice one, but I fear is pure fantasy. Talbot steering wheel controls are zinc alloy castings, and break off all too easily—apart from which, the Dr. usually raced in a short sleeved shirt.

It would be nice to think that the present owner of JJ 93 could get together With Ian Polson and arrange for the complete Dr. Roth car to emerge from the union of the two cars.

Callington ANTHONY BLIGHT

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