— By a coincidence a reader who saw the picture of a vintage Chevrolet tourer with which we illustrated “Motoring As It Was” in the June issue and, as he is an accountant, remembered its Reg No NT 74, saw the same car being worked on as late as June 1957, when he was walking along the tow-path near Windsor. So is the car still about, one wonders? Mr C. Wood Penn of Northampton is anxious to trace the Riley 9 tourer, Reg No NJ 3330, which his father, Cecil Thomas Wood Penn and R. S. Winslade drove in the 1935 RAC Rally, covering the 1,031-mile Leamington-Eastbourne route without any penalties, in 39 hr 39 min, the same year, incidentally, as my 1922 8 hp Talbot-Darracq also managed the road-section without loss of marks, driven by Ivan Hill. Letters can be forwarded and if anyone knows the whereabouts of Mr Winslade our correspondent would like to know. Incidentally again, he wonders if a run might be held next year over all or part of the Rally route, on its 50th anniversary, as he has the necessary documents detailing the event.
Another reader is trying to discover more about a Withers car made by his grandfather, Alfred Withers, who had a garage in the Edgware Road about this time, the cars seemingly having been made from 1906 to 1918, when the firm went bankrupt. Not quite in the spirit of this pre-1940 column, it is nevertheless intriguing to learn that when a Wensleydale shed was sorted out recently a prototype Curlew car came to light, after having been used as a hen-roost. It seems that it was conceived in 1947 as an economy car, to be made at Newton Aycliffe, but when the clutch proved inadequate to the power of the two-stroke, twin-cylinder engine after only 25 miles, the project, said to have cost over £10,000 and to have involved those who had a part in the design of the Spitfire fighter, was scrapped. A reader has sent us a postcard depicting Canadian and American journalists arriving at the Victoria Hotel, Sidmouth, in 1910, for some purpose unspecified, in at least six cars, of which Wolseley-Siddeleys seem to predominate. A later motor-scene, from “An Oxford University Chest” by John Betjeman, shows 1930s cars like a Morris Minor, a Daimler, what may be a large Darracq saloon, an Austin, and London type Austin taxis, the latter obviously consecutively registered, those shown being BFC I, BFC 9 and BFC 22.
Something else for historians to sort out — in “Old Worthing As I Remember It” by Jack Watts (Sharp Bros, 1982) the author says a Mr Wade opened a cycle shop in Chaple Road, Worthing, and later he “built one of England’s first petrol-driven motor cars”, becoming a well-known garage owner. However, a picture of the alleged pioneer vehicle, which looks like a De Dion Bouton with tonneau body, is dated 1906, which ruins the story! Another reader sends us the accompanying picture of a special that he thinks was associated pre-war with a person who gave the RA lectures at the School of Engineering & Navigation at Gloucester in the first years of WW2 and who may have been in the Inn of Courts Regiment. Can anyone identify it? — W.B.