RUMBLINGS, December 1936



Forty Years On

This year eighty-seven veterans started On the Brighton run and in the fifty miles only four fell by the wayside. To the general public these historic vehicles are merely a source of amusement and to certain motoring enthusiasts they are just a means of courting unusual adventure. But the majority of members of the Veteran Car Club take their cars very seriously, and now that they have restored them to practically original condition the different makes and types are beginning to fall into their original categories of per formance and reliability. Reading early motor books enables one to appreciate the status of the different makes and models of the past, and it would be interesting to know if the individual shortcomings experienced in those times are reproducing themselves in the same quarters with the restored veterans of

1936. At all events, it is characteristic of the thoroughness of British motoring sportsmen that these pre-1904 motors are regarded so seriously. All praise to the Veteran Car Club, which has fostered this respect for the historic, and which has unravelled the specifications and histories of the cars for which it caters. Its secretary is Capt. J. H. Wylie, of 38 West Cromwell Road, London, S.W.5, who will be glad to help anyone genuinely anxious to renovate an early car.

On the silver screen the other day I saw a few shots of a veteran run of about fourteen miles, staged for the amusement of the citizens of Johannesburg. A few really early cars took part, including a tillersteered Oldsmobile, but stripped model T Fords and Crossley tenders appeared to predominate.

Bits From Books

These winter da v those of us who have not gone south in search 01 tht, :-,un have more time to re-explore the library shelves. It is surprising how interesting pieces of information crop up in unexpected places. For instance, looking through ” My Thirty Years of Speed ” by Sir Malcolm Campbell, I unearthed some little-known facts about the 15-litre 1912 LorraineDietrich which R. G. J. Nash now owns, and has rejuvenated. After the War, Campbell found the car in Paris and promptly purchased it. Hemery, who had

raced the Darracq used by Sir Malcolm before the War, had taken eleven world’s records at Brooklands with it, covering nearly 98 m.p.h. in one hour and taking the 200 miles record at 951 m.p.h. Campbell had some difficulty with the customs, describing the car as having been used for staff duties, which two bucket seats and a big petrol tank did little to substantiate. He entered it for the very first post-war Brooklands Meeting, held at Easter, 1920. The day turned out wet and racing was abandoned, but later the Lorraine beat Major T. W. Woodhouse (Matchless motor-cycle) in a one-lap duel, averaging 78.9 m.p.h. for the stand

ing lap. Before the Whitsun meeting Campbell had sold the car to Hawkes. Clutton is anxious for Nash to pit it against his Itala at the next Shelsley meeting. Big motors will be in demand next season, and Nash is looking for

ex-Brooklands racers. Which reminds me that in the same book it is mentioned that the big V12 Sunbeam, now owned by Billy Cotton, was driven from Povey Cross Station when Campbell bought it. In 1924 Amherst Villiers, then looking after Raymond Mays’s Brescia Bugattis, was asked to design new camshafts for the Sunbeam but when delivered everything was found to be cut the wrong way round ! How many owners of A.C. cars have read Filson Young’s quaint little book describing a tour of the

West Country in an A.C. six, circa 1925? And it was certainly a surprise to read the following passages in a definitely non-motoring book I drove up from Tenmere to Aberdere yesterday in thirteen and a quarter hours, including stops for breakfast, lunch and tea : less than eleven hours’ driving, and a distance of 516

miles on the speedometer.” ” . . . after averaging exactly fifty from Glasgow to Carlisle, the car broke down again at Penrith. It sheared the drive between the two magnetos.” The author, moreover, doesn’t leave us to guess the make, but tells us his weakness for the Bentley. This comes from “England Have My Bones” by T. H. White, though I doubt if he will thank me for referring to it here.

Famous Designers

Amherst Villiers, who advised Raymond Mays with his Hillman and Bugattis, designed the VauxhallVilliers and evolved the blower system for the 44-litre Bentley, this year introduced his Villiers-Maya light aero-engine to the aeronautical world. When Mrs. Amherst-Villiers gives a party it draws reporters

from all the society papers. Louis Coatalen, famed designer of the Grand Prix Sunbeams and the 200 m.p.h. Sunbeam record-breaker, showed his latest child at the Paris Aero Show—a V12 600 h.p. diesel aero-motor. It was very well received.


Walking alongside a South London common on a recent Sunday when fog descended suddenly, I heard an exhaust which signified a very lusty ” 80/98 ” moving in a series of short jumps. Out of the yellow blanket emerged an old Chenard-Walker tourer. ins owner was anything but a sportsman, scorning’, any assistance as to direction, and standing up to peer through the murk, because be had the screen shut

and all the side curtains erect. I was interested, because Chenard-Walker perhaps did quite a lot to popularise front-wheel braking over ten years ago. When all-wheel retardation was seeking popularity, views about it were very diverse and many people could see no other advantage than a doubling of shoe area. Then Chenard-Walker came out with brakes on the front wheels only, which doubtless did much to convince French road-devourers that this location of the brake drums had far more to commend it than mere duplication of lining area. Brakes were taken very seriously in those times. The Chenard-Walker had Perrot operation via the Hallot system of proprietary mechanical servo motor.

Over here, Daimler was grappling with Magnetic actuation.

A Sensational Announcement

The 1,100 c.c. and 1i-litre Altas have been quite popular in speed events and trials during last season, and the 2-litre cars which appeared at the end of last year have put up some excellent performances in sprints and on the Mountain Circuit. Now Taylor announces that he is planning an entirely new chassis for 1937, with coil-type independent suspension, weighing, with single-seater bodywork, less than the International limit of 750 kg.

It is proposed to test every chassis at Brooklands in the presence of the customer. The sensational part of the announcement concerns a new V8 engine of 4-litre capacity, with which a maximum of 200 m.p.h.. is associated. The prices will be 1,750 with 8-litre or 4-litre V8 engine, or E1,820 if change of capacity is made after delivery.

The ii-litre and 2-litre engine can be used in the new chassis, when the single-seater is priced at 0,250. These engines will have modified con-rods and pistons, new methods of lubricating the camshaft and supercharger, a new oil filter, larger fuel tank and other changes in detail. For those N1110 specialise

in class combat the 1,100 c.c. engine can be used in the new chassis and capacities can be varied at the works for a specified sum. When we can get drawings. or photographs we shall publish them.

The Greatest Adventure of All

Entries are coming in for that great winter adventure, the Monte Carlo Rally. This time the final section from Le May to Monte Carlo has to be covered at exactly 31.06850 m.p.h. if the marks so far retained are to suffer no curtailment at the last hour ! There will be very little opportunity to prepare hard-driven cars for the acceleration and brake test this time. • As before, two categories are recognised, 1,500 c.c. and over. The average speed is 24.8 m.p.h. excepting for the last, strictly observed, section of 620 miles. The Harrogate and London controls are now a thing of the past, Doncaster and Folkestone replacing them. Starters from Athens, Bucharest, Palermo, Stavanger, Tallinn and Umea leave with 500 marks, and John o’ Groats carries 488 marks, though the Scottish section is considered to have a very good chance this time. The final tests will comprise accelerating from the start to a line 200 metres, distant, stopping after the front wheels have crossed this line, reversing until they have re-crossed it, and then accelerating to the finishing line 100 metres further on. An ingenious arrangement is that for 50 metres before and 25 metres after the stop line, the width of the course will he 31 metres, and marks will be lost if the barriers are touched—a severe test of brakes, heavily applied after days of hard motoring. The Monte Carlo Rally is confined to unsupereharged catalogued cars, and. for 1937 rather more emphasis is being placed on this stipulation. Entries close on December 24th, at an approximate cost at the pre vailing rate of exchange of 12 for small cars and 10 for those of over 1Is-litres capacity. The first prize is 6380, with 05 for the best If-litre and some for the winner of the Ladies’ Cup. As usual, a .Concours de Comfort follows, also an Engine Appear.a.nce Competition. The Monte Carlo is adventure of the grandest, admirably described by Humphrey Symons in his recent book, but it is also a useful begetter of big business. British cars triumphed in

1926 (Victor Bruce in an from John o’ Groats) and in 1931 (Donald Healy in a Triumph, from Stavanger). Last year a Ford V8 won the premier honours. There is not Much amiss with motor sport while this classic winter test attracts big entry lists. So far we have S. C. H. Davis (Wolseley) and A. C. Scott (H. R. G.) to maintain British prestige and other entries comprising last year’s co-winner Cristea, again with a Ford, E. A. C. Cornelius (D.K.W.), L. Zamfirescou (Hotchkiss), Foch and Labourelle (Citroen), J. F. C. Westerman (Ford), J. Hofmans (Ford) and J. Nowak (Ford). The date is January 26th-31st.

That Great Little Man

Freddie Dixon has now moved from Middlesbrough to Reigate in Surrey. He is just now extremely busy on plans for the 1937 season. The Land Speed Record is, perhaps, Freddie’s principal ambition, and it seems that he now has no intention of driving the Sunbeam .” Silver Bullet.” Instead his ideas relating to a medium-powered car of about 10-litres capacity, which one believes will have a tubular-backbone form of chassis and four-wheel drive, begin to crystalise. Dixon definitely believes that supercharging for ordinary cars is on the way, and it is even possible that if his unblown multi-carburetter Rileys get a dangerous challenge next year he will apply supercharge. As his 2-litre laps Brooklands at 132 m.p.h. as it is, we should certainly see some very brilliant fireworks !

Brave New World A to a wrote

correspondent to a weekly contemporary wrote to say that his 1935-36 car costing over £300 had certain shortcomings. These included an oil-filter only removable by crawling under the engine and using a special spanner, rear brakes adjustable only by jacking-up and removing both wheels, oil-clip stick difficult to remove and awkward to replace, filling gearbox an hour’s job because pre-selector gearbox cover held by thirteen metal thread-screws has to be

removed and replaced, rocker-box covers held by six barrel nuts, all awkwardly placed, and three on inlet side masked by carburetter and controls, battery fell into the road after eight months, rain enters front windows if open a fraction, arm-rest in rear squab can only be tightened by removing the whole squab, .a day’s work. Some weeks later another correspondent wrote to say that with the same car his battery also fell into the roadway, that the exhaust system is an anxiety on mountain roads and lanes, that there is no room for the clutch-foot save on the pedal itself, and that oil-filler and dip-stick are on opposite sides Of the engine. Yet the writer concludes by suggesting that ” this little car is a sheer delight . . .”

If we give up quill-driving and go in for designing instead, don’t blame us ! Fortunately sports-car folk are a deal more fastidious . . .

Richard Seaman

It is now common knowledge that Richard Seaman came through his test on a Grand Prix Mercedes-Benz in Germany with flying colours. But he still does not announce his arrangements for the coming season. At present he is in Italy with Mercedes and he drives the Delao in South Africa next month. This car he has sold to ” Bira,” who takes delivery after the African races, and as Seaman always said this was his favourite racing-car, you can conclude what you will.

Seaman bought the 2-litre Aston-Martin which he drove in the T.T. and recently he took delivery of a 570 c.c. Fiat, also an exciting line in motor-cycles. ” Bira “may get Delage to build him an independentlysprung chassis.

Odd Spots

Delahaye announces that a team will be entered for the 1937 T.T. race.

Alvin” Spike” Rhiando is back in England for some more cinder-shifting. His new mount will have an R-type M.G. Midget engine driving the front wheels and a 48 b.h.p., single-cylinder J.A.P. engine connected to the rear wheels. He is also forming a model car club.

Austin Dobson is rumoured to have bought the 200 m.p.h. Ferrari bimotore Alfa-Romeo.

The tuning organisation that has been responsible for ” Bira’s ” racing-cars is now open to do tuning work for all and sundry.

A fire at Malvern Link has destroyed part of the Morgan works, which will to some extent delay deliveries of the Morgan 4-4, which is already conspicuous on our roads.

Unfortunate : The driver of a Bedford van who was shot by the horn button, which shook loose and sprang from the centre of the steering-wheel. The man who pays National Health, Unemployment and horse money every Friday, having a long while ago collected a valuable gee-gee on the front of his employer’s B.S.A. van.

A movement is afoot to form a club for Invicta owners, and a rumour is circulating to the effect that the marque is going into production again.