by the Editor-1 No. 5. B. S. Marshall.
WE rather fancy we placed Mr. B. S. Marshall on the horns of a dilemma. He didn’t want to be interviewed—he dislikes publicity of any kind, and particularly personal publicity—and he very flatly told us so, or tried to, being, as a matter of fact, prevented by his other outstanding characteristic, the other horn of the dilemma, his gracious personality and will to please. It may be that a little of our ultimate success was due to our own powers of persuasion, but a proper modesty forbids us to claim it.
Mr. Marshall’s interest in motors, motoring sport and, ultimately, motor trading, commenced to be real and concrete in 1912, when he joined Argylles, being known as a ” Helper.” The term does not convey much information as to the kind of work upon which Mr. Marshall was actually engaged, but he tells us, and we can well believe him, that he had a great deal to do with the tuning of Argylle cars, and that his training there was the best that could possibly be had, for the kind of motoring which he has since made his speciality. It is of interest to note that in those days Argylles were fitting sleeve valve engines–as of course they are today—and front wheel brakes of the Perrot type. In fact, Mr. Marshall was acquainted with Mr. Perrot then, before his name became the household word amongst motorists that it is to-day. Many of us remember the controversy which raged concerning these brakes and their arrangement—diagonal braking it was then called.
After the war, Mr. Marshall ,tarted in business on his own account. He had already, even before the war, acquired a leaning towards the small car, his imagination being fired, to a considerable extent, by the perforn lances of some of the early Singers and Bugattis, in the hands of such stalwarts as Haywood and H. Lambert. He foresaw, even so long ago, that the time would soon come when the vast majority of motorists would look to the small economical light car as their means of locomotion and of enjoying the sport and pleasure of motoring. He therefore made his own plans accordingly, and decided to devote himself to this type of car both as a medium for sport and for trade. After the war, therefore, when the time came for him to strike out for himself, as it were, in business, he took
up the small car, making it his work to sell them, and his pleasure and sport to ride them in races and competitions of all kinds. Of his success in the former department, there is as little doubt, amongst those who have no more even than an inkling of the facts, than there is of the latter, which is, by its very nature, more easy to discern, since the results of competitions and the like are the rt’ for the world to see, which those of industry are not. The way to succeed in after-the-war business, he foresaw, would be to have some special line, and some special way of proceeding, and he chose to deal in cars which, although of the sporting type, and excellent in their way in that department of motoring, would also be many good for the purposes of the ordinary motorist. Mr. Marshall’s views are particularly interesting to us because, in a way his methods are in line with the policy of this paper, which is being conducted in the belief that, in time to come, those makes of cars which are well and properly entered as sporting cars and which come to have the best reputations on the road and track in competition with like machines, will eventually be known as the best cars for the ordinary user, for reasons which should be fairly obvious. Ultimately, as the natural outcome of this train of thought, he established the principle that he would never race a car, or enter a car for any competitive trial, which was not in every way a type which he could sell, as it competed, to the general public. He would not race cars which were specially built for competition work, or which had to be coddled and cossetted in order
that they should give of their best in competitions. Every trial that Mr. Marshall has entered, for example, with Bugatti cars, has been run using a car which has travelled under its own power from London to the course for the test, the distance covered that way being sometimes as many as two hundred miles. It has then competed and has subsequently been, driven back to town again. It is in this spirit, so far as circumstances will allow, that he has entered for, and taken part in the following races : The Grand Prix des Voiturettes, at Le Mans, 1920 and 1921; the 200 miles J.C.C. Race of 1921; the last T.T. race for cars, in the Isle of Man, 1922 ; the Grand Prix des Voiturettes, 1922; the 200 miles J.C.C. race of 1922; the Grand Prix des Voiturettes. Boulogne, in 1923; and again the 200 miles race of the J.C.C. in the same year: the Grand Prix des Voiturettes this year, again at Boulogne, in which race Mr. Marshall was successful in winning the cup. Stress of business interfered with his programme this year to the extent of compelling him to scratch from the J.C.C. 200 miles race and, as matters are now trending, and as it
becomes more and more impossible for any ordinary car to compete with even the remotest chance of success at Brooklands, in such races as the 200 miles, then Mr. Marshall, true to his principles, will have to regard that race and others like it, as outside his sphere of operation.
In the above list of events we have confined ourselves, of course, to mention only of the big things in the world of motoring sport. Mr. Marshall is a familiar figure at all the principal hill climbs all over this country, Scotland, and on the Continent. In all of them he uses, not a racing car, but one which is saleable for use on the road in just the condition in which he uses it for competitions.
Although at the present time, most of Mr. Marshall’s competition work is being done on Bugatti cars, that has not always been the case, as may be seen by rererence to some of our illustrations. He has been successful also on the Mathis, Aston Martin, Hampton, and Crouch, to mention a few, and he still preserves his interest, both from the business and competition points of view, in all those makes of car.
Mr. Marshall confirms, from an entirely different standpoint, the views already expressed by Mr. Edge, through the medium of our columns, as to the benefit which racing confers on that make and type of car which is bred up on it, as it were. Mr. Marshall finds that his competition experience is extremely valuable in enabling him to assist his clients in diagnosing mysterious troubles which they encounter with their own cars. All that happens in racing eventually occurs to the touring car in the ordinary course of use. Racing and competition work is merely ordinary car use speeded up, as it were, or compressed, so that quite a long spell of normal use is covered in a very short time. Facts about springing and steering soon come to light in connection with a car which is so used, while other less direct matters, less directly concerned with the racing aspect, such as ignition troubles, quickly come to the notice of the racing driver. Mysterious loss of power in a certain make of car has been shown, as the outcome of racing experience, to be due to overheated plugs, causing pre-ignition, and depriving the engine of power.