THROUGH THE BRIGHTON RUN IN LUXURY
The Editor of “Motor Sport” Rides in George Lanchester’ s 1902 Lanchester
TI IE Lanchester was a remarkably advanced and refined car in 1902, and consequently I was distinctly intrigued to learn that F. W. Hutton Stott had kindly arranged for me to see this year’s R.A.C. Veteran Car Run from the tonneau of a car of this make and age, entered by Frank Lanchester for his brother George to drive. It is a beautifully preserved car with horizontallyopposed twin-cylinder engine, replete with 1.t. ignition involving the classic Lanchester ” tweekers ” and wick carburetter (see MOTOR SPORT, June, 1946) amidships, epicyelic gears and 1903 system of water cooling. George Upton quite rightly occupied the front com partment with Mr. Lanchester and I had a delightful seat over the rear axle, the cushion folding up to the door to permit egress—actually it is a three seater tonneau, with useful foot wells, shelves and pockets for the occupants’ belongings, but I rode in company with the cans of water and oil, tools, coats and suit cases. There were three other Lanchesters entered—Francis Hutton Stott’s 1903 12-h.p. two-cylinder, Col. Alcock’s 1904 model, in which rode a charming young lady passedger, and the hastily-finished water-cooled 1904 12-h.p. of James Allday, M.B.E., which Richard
Dimbleby drove. Our number was 58, these others were 77, 90 and 91, respectively. At the start we noticed Stiles’ 1901 Charette proving a bit obstinate and Martin’s 1902 Mors having last-minute replenishment. Then it was time to enter the Lanchester, Upton wound on the detachable side starting-handle, the engine broke into a subdued N ibratory rumble and we were away—and mercifully it was fine this year I Ahead of us Knight’s
1902 de Dion emitted a truly healthy note, although almost stalling momentarily. Behind, Lightfoot’s wondrous 1902 Arrol Johnston, with full crew, closed up in happy leaps and bounds. The start,
through a lane of sightseers, was rather Paris-Madrid, but the Lanchester settled down to a steady chug, its indirects quiet when engaged and the suspension offering a supple ride. Ere we left Hyde Park Berry’s 1902 Panhard was observed to be stationary,
likewise Kidner’s 1902 Gillet Forrest. Knight’s de Dion took a bit of passing as he was busy at the controls, and a 1920 Singer Ten, with fiat tyre, was seen beside the road. Hyde Park corner produced enthusiastic crowds, causi ng our driver to sound his warning bell. At Grosvenor Gardens we passed Rowden’s 1898 Star and approved of the note of Knight’s de Dion in low gear ! Victoria Street saw us over hauling Knight and Mrs. Hutton-Stott’s 1902 Wolseley, until hostile traffic lights caused the Lanchester to stop behind Hampton’s 1902 Peugeot and the Goff/ Lane 1902 de Dion and its tender-car. The Peugeot was rather slow making up its mind to recommence, while Southon’s 1901 10-h.p. Decauville was in trouble a
little further on. We sailed majestically over Westminster Bridge alone, but leaving it we closed up on Eyre’s 1902 Norfolk, which was emitting distressing explosions. As time-checks were in use, Mr. Lanchester contented himself with an easy run along the Kennington road, the Norfolk and Major Swiney’s recently rebuilt 1901 Sunbeam Mabley in front of
us. Later, spurred on by the fast passage of Porter’s 1902 vis-a-vis de Dion, we passed these two. We were going strong at Kennington crossing, catching Capt. Cullimore Allen’s 1902 two-cylinder Wolseley. The run up to Brixton was comparatively clear of traffic and the Lanchester was going beautifully, while it was really warm for
a November morning. Before Brixton we encountered Moss’ 1899 3.1-h.p. 0.H.B. Crestmobile with its bonnet up, and work in progress on the off-side rear wheel of Powys-Lybbe’s 1900 F.I.A.T. We seemed to clonk a bit as we made for Brixton’s dreaded Hill, but Lanchester noises, if peculiar, are normally nothing to worry about and the ascent was made in fine style, even if a Southdown (sign
of the times) coach passed us. We caught Pro:tor’s 1900 6-h.p. tube-ignition Daimler and Dugard-Showell’s 1900 267-c.c. Argyll and dealt manfully with a traffic block at the summit. The next competitor we caught, beyond Brixton Hill, was the Gillet-Forrest, which later repassed repeatedly, as its and our driver coped with secret timecheeks. At Telford Avenue tram terminus Vernon Balls took his 1902 Oldsmobile outside a parked tramcar and we followed. We eased up through Streatham, and had time to appreciate the promising sky, but not the pre-fabs on Streatham Common. Stopped by the traffic lights at the foot
of the Common a 1913 bull-nosed Lagonda light-car caught up with us, and an odd, non-competing veteran three-wheeler was being vigorously cranked.
As we left Streatham Miles’ 1899 Benz was seen to be re-starting after a pause. Into Norbury we fairly flew, passing Balls’ Oldsmobile, another car we were to see time and again, later on. At Thornton Heath Pond, with the crowd waving, the Charette passed Mrs. Wood’s 8-h.p. Pieper and Capt. Alcock, waving to a chance friend in the crowd, took his 1902 de Dion past both of them. At Purley Way Hodson’s 1901 Renee de Knyff Panhard was resuming its journey, Cecil Clutton an intrepid passenger, and we had a friendly tussle with the Charette, a huge umbrella in its basket ready to
shield the girl passenger if need be, our acceleration leaving it some way behind.
We also passed Wood’s 1899 Benz while a Standard “Vanguard” looked on superciliously from an adjacent showroom window. We lost time purposely for a while, many competitors passing us, while
Upton cast an eye behind for a glimpse of the other Lanchesters, which, however, were not yet in sight. The rise from Croydon Aerodrome was great fun and we overtook the 1899 Benz, steaming, the Pieper, the Charette, Capt. Rayment’s very sedate 1900 Clement Garrard tri-car and the Oldsmobile which was being passed by a small invalid
carriage. Again traffic was congested at the summit, but this didn’t stop John Bolster coming by at a great lick in his 1903 Panhard “Centaur.” This year trouble seemed more prevalent, judging by the unfortunates seen on the drop down the other side of the hill. Justesen’s 1901 James & Browne was being attended to with rags, in the driving compartment, work was pro
ceeding on Ford’s 1897 Benz, but its engine continued to ” turf ” cheerfully.
Pidgeon’s 1897 Hurtu dog-cart, accompanied by his wire-wheeled Trojan, was halted also, and people were busy at the back of Olorenshaw’s 1900 tiller-steered de Dion voiturette. At Purley cross-roads traffic was thick, casual motor-cyclists rather baulked us and the crowds were dense and enthu
siastic. Parked cars included a fine Bentley and a “14/40” Sunbeam tourer.
The Clement-Garrard’s passenger had taken refuge on the running-board of the 1913 Lagonda, and again Bolster thundered past. Pilmore-Bedford’s de Dion and, on the wrong side of the road, the Gillet Forrest were stationary, possibly ahead
of time. Our Lanchester was finding it difficult to keep down to the 15 m.p.h. average and, going grandly, we caught the 1899 Voiturette (surely a Wolseley ‘1) with the passenger changing gear for a
worried Tommy Wisdom (these journalists ! But there, we only go as passenger in the things !), Reeves’ 1899 Benz and the Oldsmobile. Further on Tyler had stopped and was vigorously winding a tiny handle at the side of his air-cooled 1899 Decauville,
Bolster had dismounted, and Allday’s 1903 Mercedes was having a breather. Harlow’s 1901 M.M.C. had also stopped, its lorry in attendance. Just as we congratulated ourselves at passing Guest’s
1901 de Dion and Major Mills’ Benz, the latter, with two ladies beside him on the three-abreast seat, repassed and Hobbs’ 1903 Panhard came by. At the ” Jolliffe Arms” Abbott’s beautiful Mercedes came up, but Jarvis’ Panhard had stopped, although its engine was running. Very soon Guest went, by as a Jowett Javelin passe :I him and the Parkinson/Foord 7-h.p. Darracq caught us, as did the Allday Mercedes, one occupant sitting, racing style, on its step. The later numbers were now coming up, including Hayward’s 1903 Wolseley and Prince’s 1903 Panhard. Moss’ 4i-h.p. Swift de Dion was being cranked,
its bonnet up as we passed a group of onlookers, from whom the comment,.
“Silent, eh I “is made of the Lanehester. In Reigate a dog yapped at the astonishing spectacle from an upper window,
the crowd smiled or cheered as took its fancy, and here Capt. Alcock’s de Dion.
was receiving attention to its engine and Guest had paused.
Now Hutton-Stott’s Lanchester closed up on ours and soon all three Lanchesters were together and engaged in such shortlived duels that the passengers soon tired of smilingly acknowledging one another. At times our car must have been doing some 40 m.p.h., but always HuttonStott and Col. Alcock had the legs of us, for their cars were higher geared. Alas, had we known it, Dimbleby, in the fourth Lanchester, was having gear-shaft trouble, and had to slip his top-gear band or, if acclivities became too steep, return to the bottom, turn round, and ascend in reverse ! Even so, he finished and did the parade. By Reigate Moss was backwards-winding his de Dion’s engine, Bennett was smilingly attending something an mt a rear wheel of his 1903 Cadillac, and Sir Clive Edwards was inspecting the engine of his 1901 beltdriven New Orleans. At Povey cross roads, where we spotted a fine bull-nosed M.G. Sports, we were twenty minutes ahead of schedule. Later a new A.C. saloon and a very old Riley Nine saloon passed, while Guest added a vital fluid to his engine and Prince replenished at a garage. With a fine whirr of driving chains Lucas’ James & Browne came by. Major Dove’s tintage Lea-Francis was a frequent encounter from now on, the mysterious tight car observed last year was seen again, also a Gwynne Eight. Browning’s New .Orleans was passed, Allday’s 1898 Benz was seen stationary and unattended
and into Handcross we caught Milligen’s M.M.C. Ahead Sammy Davis’ blue Bollee was seen, No. 1 in the Run, going well. By Bolney, Smith’s 1903 Clement was rugged-up in a hotel yard, a diversion was provided by the mobile policeman who lost his hat, which an Austin Seven
• driver neatly retrieved, and the bonnet of Commander Woollard’s 1903 de Dion was raised for inspections beneath. The weather, meanwhile, was holding and a trouble-free run seemed assured when, 81 miles or so from the finish, we stalled on a hill. The engine was obviously very hot and a blockage was found in the water circulating system. This Upton cured, and we then added some six gallons of ;water, slowly at first, then normally, to the tank. After quite an appreciable delay we moved off again. One more stop, accompanied by much
smoke, was our lot, but the final miles found the Lanchester fully recovered. Not everyone was so fortunate, Mrs. Hutton-Stott’s Wolseley needing a brake pin replaced and attention to a valve cage, although it then did a cheerful, paced, 41 m.p.h.—on solid tyres, at that ! A cooling breeze dispersed our tendency to boil, but Capt. Alcock’s de Dion and Major Mills’ Benz were seen to have stopped—although the final time-check may have been the reason. Very near the end Lawson, in white helmet, brought his 1904 Tony Huber along at a fine pace. Then, so far as we were concerned, it was into Preston Park, and more ” Paris-Madrid ” to the finish. I fear we were early in spite of our driver’s attempts to lose time ; it would be nice if a 30 m.p.h. average could be permitted next year. And so ended, for us, the most luxurious ” Brighton ” so far experienced, for the Lanchester of forty-six years ago was, and is, a really comfortable and delightful car. And that admission is no insult to the Hurtu, Peugeot and de Dion cars which have borne the Editorial burden in previous years. Actually it wasn’t quite the end, for after lunch there was the parade, during which many competitors got somewhat lost (we spent quite a time in the forecourt of the Grand Hotel !) others had fun and games taking the hairpin on Madeira Drive, where our Lanchester required fulltiller, and in which parade S. C. H. Davis had a spot of bother, which he cured, Dimbleby’s Lanchester was found across the road, and Major Mills’ Benz, Hampton’s Peugeot, Cullimore Allen’s Wolseley and Pierpoint’s Siddeley, not to mention the R.A.C.’s motor-cycle
combinations, all stalled at one place or another, while Jarvis’ Panhard needed manual assistance on the intriguing ” round-the-houses ” section.
It was all the greatest fun, as this Brighton Run always has been. Even if, so far as we were concerned, a car that first saw the light of day 37 years after the Lanchester that had carried us through so nobly, disgraced itself in no uncertain fashion on the journey home. W. B.