TO BRIGHTON WITH THE VETERANS
Once again the R.A.C. annual outing of veteran cars to Brighton was a signal success, really nice weather favouring the eighty-seven competitors and the crowds that lined the route or followed in modern cars. A telegram from R. ( J. Nash, offering us a seat 011 his Nvell-known 1900 two-cylinder rear-engined Pettcot, necessitated breaking open the bedclothes in a remote part of Kent at :5 a. m. and of being very kind to the Austin ere it could be persuaded to convey us to Hyde Park. That two members of the fair sex arose to accompany us. and tail the Peugeot during the run, now seems something to marvel at. Certainly it was cold in London, but at the start the familiar faces of Burney, Colyer, Reynolds, Chambers, Chaplin and others who gather at such events, seen above a large sandwich, did much to cheer us
up. Nash, having seen that the lorry was ready to follow ” Bira,” who had hired from him a 1902 Peugeot after ascertaining that a hood and screen formed part of the specification, was able to attend to his own affairs. That we only had a small alarm clock between us did not seem very hopeful, as it was rumoured that at the checks and secret checks introduced this year, timing was being done to within 10 sees. of one’s standard time of passage or arrival. We had no ‘screen before us, but Nash has rigged up a useful shield for the legs, in the form of a ” tonneau ” cover lu Id by turn) attons He wore two coats, no hat, no gloves, and a pair of goggles, while the writer got what comfort he could from an ancient leather coat, Scarves, and flying hat. Definitely our start was not brilliant, for the engine, usually an easy starter, refused to obey Nash’s commands, and a push start cost us a valuable minute. However, the little horizontally placed motor soon responded and we were bowling out of the starting park between truly Paris-Madrid rows of spectators-who thought it worth while rising very early to see the fun. The Peugeot bowled along at a steady 15 m.p.h., Nash crouched over the tiller or occasionally leaning over the back of the seat to twiddle the row of lubricators above the engine boot. The Austin picked us up surprisingly soon and over Westminster Bridge we had got ‘quite accustomed to cheering, laughing crowds and a trail of hilarious cyclists. It was evident that our time schedule Of 12 m.p.h. was *going to prove much too easy, as if we had not stopped outside checking points the Peugeot would have been sonic twenty minutes ahead of time. Nash uses about 14 gallons of Aviation petrol on this run and could average about 16 m.p.h. Near Brixton a friend went by in a palatial Godfrey Davis Hillman, on the hill itself police yelled from a police car that we could ignore the traffic lights, and though we were baulked by trams at the top the Peugeot made an excellent ascent, though lower down we observed others not so fortunate. Incidentally, these veteran cars have primitive brakes, which not only fail to stop them as quickly as one would desire in an emergency, but which are apt to let the automobile run backwards on hills if any of the occupants sc., much as move an eyelid. The Peugeot’s stopping powers on the push-forward hand-brake were quite re-assuring, but it suffered from the other shortcoming, so that Nash asked us to prepare to alight if a stop on a gradient seemed likely to he prolonged. Actually it was never necessat y. • Nash’s driving is a study in itself, whether he is coaxing in the Peugeot’s lower ratios (the gearbox gives three speeds and Nash would prefer four) attaching Shelslev with the UnionSpecial, or grappling with his 15 lit !e Lorraine or Clutton’s Sixty Itala on the cambered road at Brooklands Just recently he has displayed the s rue prowess in controlling his 19t9 Mel jet fIN ing machine, in stiff breezes and wiegwarped turns The Peugeot is the same
as in previous years, save that the back of the front seat, from which the passengers were apparently expected to drape tueir feet out in front of the car, has been moved forward to provide accommodation for a suitcase full of tools and a two-gallon
can of water. The herring-hone tread Dunlops do not date back thirty-six years but they lend confidence on wet tramlines.
From Purley Way onwards congestion increased, and this ultimately resulted in the old cars being baulked on nearly every gradient, and sent the time schedule on which awards were based, all to pieces for most people. After Reigate, we had our first adventure, yells on all sides indicating that our rear number plate was trailing, while, of much greater concern, Water was issuing quite last from the water pump.
At the bottom of the hill Nash applied a spanner to the pump. Later on we had a further stop to refill and tighten the pump. Traffic blocks grew chronic as the lunchstop at Crawley was approached, in spite
of yeoman woi k by the police. Eventually we were safely parked. alongside Burge’s delapidated Peugeot which had got this far quite happily. Most corngetitors voted the stop too lengthy,. though Wylie was obviously most concerned that the new riding should please. On the run down we had little time toobserve the progress of other competitors, but now it transpired that adventure had not been completely lacking. Barnes’s Boll6e had wavered right at the start on account of new crank bearings, and at Brixton Hill three Benz had to takecra cooling fluid, while Sammy Davis in c•stigated, and cured, ignition ills in the famous blue Boll0e. The Blake brothers pleased us mightily as they came st on a straightbit with the ’03 Gordon Bennett Napier, now repainted. The
Napier does its seventy or more miles. per hour, and its exhaust’s protestations when it is asked to observe built-up areas are as awe-inspiring as ever_ Near Purley it visited a supplies garage for further supplies of benzine. Near Reigate Britton’s Oldsmobile shed a lot of its rear axle.
At the lunch check., The Crestmobile, Burney’s New Orleans. the Dennis,. Taylor’s De Dion, and the Lagonda tri-car were all very late, many were niuch too early, and only Wood’s Bollee, Mrs. AlIday’s Benz, Parsons’s De Dion, Shearznan’s De Dion, Brown’s Cadillac, the Siddelev, :-.;innnon’s Renault, the va Sunbeam, Oliver Bertram’s Panhard with Fairtlough as co-driver and Hassan in its sternsheets and Prince’s Panhard were nearly correct, and Wylie shamed everyone by Coming in on the tick in the Wolseley. We got on famously during the second half, stopping occasionally to kill time, or to attack the pump, cruising at 20 m.p.h. until the crowds at Brighton made us about seven minutes late at the final check. Others were not so fortunate, Rowe spending a couple of hours putting on a Morris wheel *here a 1904 spring-wheel should have been, Porter’s De Dion, four up, broke an inlet valve cotter, Davis’s Bollee was having anxieties over a crankshaft bearing, and the Hurtu had lost many ponies. The Cannstatt Daimler was giving its crew a warm time, but Fotheringham-Parker came past really fast, his wife away out in front • on the 1899 Century-Triear, looking quite unconcerned, wrapping a scarf round her terrier, which obviously enjoys this motoring. So to Brighton, where all but four cars checked in. The missing ones were Rowden (Star), Lord (Benz), Britton (Oldsmobile) and Bolster (Pan
hard). Charlie Martin and R. 0. Shuttleworth, clad in magnificent goathair coats, dismounted from their 1898 International Benz just behind us. Both were depressed by the congested roads, Shuttleworth remarking that he had given up modern motoring and was now giving up riding to Brighton on a veteran, while Martin said he had done some of the hardest driving in his life and that what was wanted was another war to thin out the population. But from the look on Shuttleworth’s face as he inspected the broken belts, hastily repaired en route, we imagine he will be seen again next time. As we turned away to seek the Austin, Torn Rolt’s Humber sailed in with the ever-cheery Clutton as ballast, and a worried individual was enquiring anxiously for Sammy Davis. The adventure was over, and thanks to Dick Nash’s knowledge of the old ‘uns and his careful preparation only the system of timechecks had excluded us from the lime
light. A glimpse of the sea, and we started back to London, impressed profoundly with the modern car—even in the back seat of an Austin Seven. Stories of other people’s adventures
continue to • filter in. Bennett had to attend to transmission maladies on his Cadillac, the 1898 Lutzmann made Stanton seek for similar bothers, E. K. H. Karslake had to deal with the motor of his 1902 De Dion, while Corry’s Benz and House’s earlier car of the same marque did not have completely troublefree runs. The Napier was for a time en-panne with ignition difficulties beyond Caterham and those mentioned as late arrivals at the lunch check had mostly had their tools out. H. Fairhurst hit a modern car and damaged the steering of his 1903 Baby Peugeot and A. G. Reynolds was forced into an island, buckling a wheel of his Benz, though both were able to pro
ceed. Allday’s Panhard had transmission bother right on the starting line. Definitely it was a good day’s sport, though the heavy traffic was a nuisance, and next year a less strict method of speed regulation would be appreciated. In the main the run is now undertaken by owners of historically valuable cars carefully prepared and in original trim. The very delapidated veteran, run with an eye to endless adventure, is less in evidence, probably because the Veteran Car Club wisely frowns on that sort of thing, and because ” new ” veterans, representing an unknown quantity, are expensive to -acquire these days. That only four retired out Of eighty-seven in a 50-mile run is a tribute to the sincerity of members of the Veteran C.C. There were six non-starters. Albeit the adventures did not all cease at Brighton. Porter had to uuseize his De Dion’s engine before it would take its crew home, and the Sunbeam stopped for a time with petrol starvation on a long
.gradient. At around 2 a.m. a coachload of weary drivers arrived back in London, having stayed on to the celebrations. The niece of Gottlieb Daimler came with them, though she had journeyed to Brighton the previous morning in a suitably ancient Daimler. A good Sunday’s outing, even though at one time it took on almost a Vintage S.C.C. attitude, The Bentley that acted tender to Passini’s De Dion certainly got in, the Ford lorry came to look for Dick Nash, whereupon irate policemen turned away a cream 3-litre Sunbeam caught in the act of entering by the other gate. RESULTS
Group Winners. —Group 1: (1894, 1895, and 1896 cars ; set average speed, 10 m.p.h.) : E. L. Wood (1896 Leon-Bollee).
Group 2: (1897-1900 cars ; speed 12 m.p.h.) : Mrs. J Allday (1898 Benz).
Group 3 : (1901 and 1902 cars ; speed 14 m.p.h.): J. Shearman (1901 pe Dion).
Group 4 (190) and 1904 cars; speed 18 m.p.h.): Capt. J. IL Wylie (1903 Wolseley).
Team Prize : Cadillac team : (F. S. Bennett, NV. R. Brown and W. H. Arthur and W. M. AndersOn) lost 10 points.
Runners-up : Panhard team (A. C. Fairtiough and O. Bertram, J. A. Turner and J. M. Turner) lost 14 points.