Twenties low-cost motoring



The commemoration of the late Basil Davenport’s wonderful achievements with his racing GNs, notably ‘Spider’, and the pleasing fact that quite a number of these fascinating cyclecars have survived to enliven VSCC events, is a reminder of how popular the GN was. But it comes as a surprise to remember that when Godfrey and Nash offered a new model in 1921, they still expected customers to accept this with oil lamps and fixed wheels, if the price was kept down to £198. I should think sensible cyclecarists were only too glad to pay an extra £12 for detachable wheels, and have a spare wheel for another £6 10/-.

This new GN was distinguishable by a flat instead of vee dummy radiator. Improvements were adjustable pushrods in place of shimmed tappets.

It was submitted to an influential motor journal for a test and was generally liked for its 50mph-plus speed and good hill-climbing performance, good brakes, and roadholding. But it was unfortunate that a trail of petrol indicated a pipe had come loose and that it ‘pinked’ on No3 petrol until 50 percent benzole was added, that slow cornering tended to starve the engine, and that twice the plugs sooted up. And the testers would refer to its gears and radiator, instead of its chain-drive and air-cooled engine.

In those days GNs were prominent in races and trials. Sir Stirling Moss’s father Alfred raced a Fronty-Ford and a Crouch at Brooklands, and I rather think that the A E Moss who, before that, drove a GN there must have been the same gentleman.