The main feature of the second VSCC Silverstone meeting of 1988 was a demonstration by three historic Grand Prix Mercedes arranged by President Roger Collings, who himself owns the oldest regularly-competitive Mercedes.
John Surtees drove a 1938 W154 with two-stage-supercharged 3-litre V12 M163 engine to 1939 specification, and John Miles a 1955 W196 with M196S sportscar engine (both from the Daimler-Benz Museum). Meanwhile Neil Corner ran his own 1938 W154 with two-stage blown 1939 engine (which came to Rowlands of Byfleet after the war, before a chequered career in the USA, which was rebuilt for him by Crossthwaite and Gardiner, and which we hope Neil will race one day). The sight, sound and waft of “boot-polish” fuel from the three Mercedes-Benz was especially nostalgic for those who had seen them running in anger…
Turning to the racing, Dutton’s “new” T35B Bugatti would have won the Boulogne Trophy easily had it not been penalised for a jump-start, which dropped it to second place behind the hard-trying Bob Roberts in the 1925 4-litre V12 Sunbeam. The latter was hampered by erratic brakes but lapped at 80.51 mph, just quicker than the Bugatti.
Peter Morley’s 24-litre Napier-Bentley was smoking badly but still took third place, ahead of Cardy’s T35B Bugatti and Caroline’s Morgan three-wheeler, which had a fine battle with the older Morgan before Harper’s early retirement. Next home, in its first race, was Hulbert’s neat Alvis SE with a huge Godfrey-Marshall blower on its Speed20 engine. The four-carb Barnato-Hassan was towed in with clutch failure.
Anthony Mayman had no difficulty in winning the Hawthorn Spanish Grand Prix Trophy race in ERA R4D. He finished 9.4 seconds ahead of Bill Morris in ERA R12B, in the process setting a new class lap-record of 91.59 mph. Sir John Venables-Llewelyn’s ERA R4A was pipped to second place by 3.3 seconds, and Ricketts was next home in ERA R1B, comfortably in front of the Attenborough, which was in turn very closely hounded by Bscher’s 4CL Maserati. Felton’s Alfa Romeo had a plug lead come off, and the stop to replace it put him down to eleventh place. After this, all manner of Bentleys, one of which had a “foreign” chassis, contested their own ten-lap race, won by Morley’s by now even more smoky Napier-Bentley – which gained him the Driver of the Meeting Award, and presumably an engine rebuild! The sealed handicap went to Majzub’s vintage 4 ½-litre.
Mayman had a second victory in the Hawthorn Memorial 15-lap scratch race after a duel with Corner’s 1960 3-litre Dino Ferrari – his ex-Halford Lotus 16 being overtaken by Neil after six laps but repassing four laps later. Corner’s clutch was slipping, and after 12 laps Mayman had things well sewn up, apart from a hectic moment on locked wheels into Woodcote. Mayman won by 15 seconds, lapping at 93.37 mph compared with Corner’s best of 94.74 mph, and the Ferrari just held off Chris Mann’s Lotus 16.
The Hon A Rothschild was fourth in his P25 BRM, and Bill Morris took the Ashley (pre-war) Trophy after a fine duel with Charles’ post-war C-type Connaught, which the ERA lost by two seconds. Lucas in Corner’s 250F Maserati and Bell in another 250F failed to finish, but Lodge was tenth in his, behind Venables-Llewelyn, Duffy’s Connaught and Whitehouse’s Cooper-Bristol. And the venerable 3-litre Rover lapped as fast as the Dutton Bugatti, outpacing Walton’s Connaught – variety in good measure!
The rest of the races were over five laps. Spollen’s Alfa Romeo won the Philips Trophy scratch event from Corner in the ex-Symondson T57S Bugatti and Ricketts’ Riley Falcon. Hector Monro beat Quartermain in a duel of the 30/98s, but sadly crashed at Woodcote in a later race, being flung out uninjured but badly damaging the Vauxhall. Jamieson’s 4.3 Alvis led Fletcher-Jones’ Lagonda Rapier and Watney’s MG KN Special home in the next scratch event.
The first of the handicaps included the Edwardians. Sam Clutton’s 1908 GP Italia was third overall, lapping 4 mph faster than the winning lowered Chummy A7 of Brewster and outpacing as well as dwarfing batches of little “moderns” into Woodcote. Second place went to Venables’ blown L-type MG. it was good to see Heimann driving his ex-Hampton 1913 chain-drive Bugatti “Black Bess”, which has been absent for far too long.
The next two handicaps were won by Harris’ big blue 1914 Renault (from King-Smith’s 12/70 Alvis and Poynter’s Lea-Francis) and by Wigglesworth in the MG-engined Bolster Special (from Fox’s Delahaye and the aforementioned Rapier). Faster cars contested the final handicap, but a lap at 90.31 mph availed Mayman nothing, for the winner was Gillies’ Treen Riley, with the Rover next up and St John’s T51 Bugatti third. WB