As most aviation followers will know, when the de Havilland Aircraft Co was one of the premier aeroplane builders the name Francis E N St Barbe was very well known. He was, in fact, one of the founders of this famous company, for whom he worked on the sales and publicity side, and he was largely responsible for the worldwide fame and popularity of the DH Moth. He became a director of the DH Company and its overseas branches, and the Deputy Chairman of DH Holdings. He was to attain high office within the SBAC. Not the sort of man to have time for an unusual sports-car, you might think.
Consequently I have been intrigued ever since I first saw it by an advertisement in a 1926 issue of Motor Sport for a very rakish-looking Model-T Ford Special, which was for sale at £100. Described as “a Special High-Performance Ford”, the advertisement refers to it having an o h v Montier cylinder head, balanced and lightened moving engine parts, a special carburettor, magneto ignition and a six-speed gearbox.
Nor was that all, for the description refers to a lowered chassis, wire wheels with oversize tyres, electric lighting and full instrumentation. The radiator was cowled, the mudguards distinctly sporting and not much use for their purpose and the rakish body ended in a bolster tank. There was even an outside exhaust pipe. This sporting Ford was said to have run only 4600 miles, to be ”extremely fast and in faultless condition”, to possess numerous minor improvements, indeed, “to be ideal for high-speed touring”. The Reg No looks like ?? 2443. The advertiser was — St Barbe, Stag Lane Aerodrome, Edgware, where you could ring him.
One might have thought that by 1926 Mr St Barbe would be too busy, even too old at the age of 33, to need a spartan motor-car of this sort. But good to know that this great aviation personality read us, even when we were a comparatively new paper. I wonder who drove away over the Edgware Road tram-lines in this exciting Model-T?