Veteran to classic miscellany, August 1991

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Heatwave Shelsley

The thunderstorm moved away and VSCC weather prevailed for its Shelsley Walsh hillclimb and at Mallory Park the next day. On the way to the historic MAC hill in the twin-cam Ford Sierra (no troubles, in 11,000 miles), we encountered 35 modern Morgans, and on the Sunday, historic farm-tractors and exotic sports cars on their way to Weston Park, and other old vehicles going to the Bromyard Festival, reminder that fun motoring was in full swing.

The VSCC Shelsley Walsh meeting was sponsored by the Penrite Oil Company, which knows about oils for the older cars, and which not only laid on an excellent reception for its guests, but also a display of Frazer Nash and other cars outside its marquee; Alex and Kate Moore of the associated Classic Oil Company own a 319 FN-BMW and a T44 Bugatti Weymann saloon. The course was opened by the ex-Fane 328 BMW and the Cognac as a mark of respect for the late AFP Fane, record-holder in 1937, who was killed on active service in 1942, and the late Ron Footitt, Captain of the VSCC Frazer Nash Section from 1969-72 and very fast driver of the Cognac, into his 60’s. After the meeting two paddock shelters, renovated by sponsorship from John Aldington, had their plaques unveiled in memory of these two drivers. (These rows of shelters, very Brooklands-like, were erected in 1937; you can have one dedicated to you for £250, or £400 plus VAT for companies).

Shelsley specials were a bit thin on the ground, but Grey’s Hardy Special won its class (39.69 sec) and Leyland ran his immaculate GN Grub (55.85 sec), built up by parts supplied by the late Basil Davenport who held the course record with the GN Spider three times, (46.4 sec in 1929). The 1991 class winners were Dunn’s Riley in 40.91 sec, a new class record, Stretton’s Frazer Nash, best vintage car (41.98 sec), the Avon-Bentley (39.63 sec), Smith’s Frazer Nash taking the vintage section (41.39 sec). In the racing car classes, the winners were the Hardy, Hernandez’s low-hung A7 quickest vintage runner (43.10 sec), A Mayman’s ERA R4D with a record ascent in 34.97 sec, vintage best Majzub’s Bugatti, also in record time (36.23 sec), while the 1908 Panhard-Levassor set a fresh Edwardian record in 47.10 sec, a contrast to the 135.85 sec taken by the 1913 belt-drive GN. Collings’ veteran Mercedes 60 won on handicap, (clocking 52.55 sec), beating the 1908 Napier 60 (59.02 sec) and the 1913 Th-Schneider climbed in 50.69 sec). Gould used drastic methods to cure the Silver Hawk’s clutch slip, driving against a Paddock telegraph pole, which seemed to have made things too fierce, as he stalled the Sage engine on the line but then won the class-handicap (57.95 sec).

The Harker Special was a non-runner, with a crack in one of its two V8 cylinder blocks and Tim Walker’s Frazer Nash had its engine exposed to show that it is a Parry Thomas creation from the Young Special, another oddity being back wheels smaller than its front ones.

So Mayman made FTD, the runners-up to R4D being Martin Morris in R11B in 35.79 sec and Bruce Spollon’s R8C (36.25 sec). — WB

***

Following our review of the new book on the Voisin cars, a reader has reminded us that the Charbonneaux Museum in the Avenue Georges Clemenceau in Reims houses a fine collection of car and aeroplane exhibits, including a 1932 Voisin saloon once owned by Gabriel Voisin himself. The cars date back to 1897 Bollée and 1898 De Dion Bouton three-wheelers and the between-wars exhibits include Henri Farman’s personal 1912 Farman, King Alfonso XIII’s 1925 Panhard-Levassor tourer, two Lorraine-Dietrich with Weymann and Vizcaya aluminium bodies, a Citroën Rosalie owned by HM Queen Alalia of Portugal, a 1910 Sizaire-Berwick Labourdette saloon, two 1934 Hispano Suizas, one formerly the property of dancer Ida Rubinstein, the other a 1934 V12, a Villars-bodied 1936 Unic, a Bugatti Atlante coupé, a competition V12 Type 145 Delahaye, Marshal Petain’s Renault Vivastella, a 1930 Delage saloon and a 1931 Messier with hydra-pneumatic suspension — we quote from the museum catalogue.

More modern French classics include JP Wimille prototypes, Type 235 Delahayes, a 1953 Salmson, the armoured 1948 Delahaye of Maurice Thomez, and Facel Vega, Alpine, Matra, DB Panhard, Monopole, and other competition cars. In addition there are some 2000 model cars, posters, childrens’ cars, etc. and there are the aviation exhibits, covering three Bugatti aero-engines, a Voisin aeroplane, and much else besides. The museum was the scene of the recent Exposition L’Automobile et L’Aviation and the Curator is M Claude Viry. For those of our readers who may be in the area, the museum is open daily until November from 10am to 7pm, (but closed during the two-hour French lunch-break!), charge FF30 per adult, students FF20, children from six to ten years old FF10. — WB

***

Dating back to 1951, the annual Coatalen-Sunbeam rally was attended this year by STD Vice-President Roger Carter who came in his well-known 1934 Twenty tourer, and John Coombes, both of whom were at the original event. The Age-Distance Award was won by J Grundy (rebodied 18.2hp tourer), from Aberdeen, H Harrison (rebuilt Mann Egerton Speed 20) won the Pride-of-Ownership Award, from A Heal (who had driven his twin-cam 3-litre Super Sports Sunbeam up from Beaconsfield) and C Tyrer (1927 Sixteen tourer, which he has owned for 37 years, bought over from IoM). Bill Barrott, the recently retired Secretary, was presented with the Walter Coombes Trophy for meritorious service to the Register and his Monte Carlo Rally saloon took the prize for best under-bonnet condition. Present among the 40 or so cars attending were two Sunbeam Dawns, a 1921 sv Sixteen, and the 1930 Sixteen shared by WB and DSJ for many years, now renovated, with a new tourer body replacing its one-time estate car body.

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