This year’s Brighton Run coincided with the laying up of the 1951 Editorial car for additional repairs, aimed at making its front wheels less hysterical when meeting bumps at 30 m.p.h. and of converting its exhaust note from sounding like a stub-piped fighter aeroplane of the ’30s to being quietly respectable.
Luckily, a chance circumstance put into our hands a few days before the Run a 1925 Morris-Oxford two-seater, smartly turned-out in green with yellow (three-stud artillery) wheels. Moreover, the rims of the Lucas lamps, lid of the scuttle ventilator and the Lucas No. 10 bulb and No. 10 Lucas “King of the Road” electric horn were of polished brass, the bull-nose radiator in shining nickel-plate. In this vintage carriage we elected to follow the fortunes of some of the 163 entrants in this year’s pilgrimage to Brighton.
The Morris of a quarter-century ago was a stubborn but staunch companion and the example we were permitted to use re-kindled an old affection for the breed. Its engine started, providing the battery in the dickey held any charge, promptly and silently on the dynamotor, after which the “rich” control for the S.U. carburetter could be moved at once to “normal” and the car would pull away on the job without spluttering or hesitation, a merit of cored-in induction piping.
Driving was simplicity itself, the central gear-lever of the three-speed box going easily into the desired gear, although it could play odd tricks, disappearing entirely at night until located up a trouser-leg, or be found wrestling manfully with the handbrake. The thick-rimmed steering wheel controlled a generous lock with commendable lightness, going the whole gambit from one direction to the other in two turns. The clutch was smoothness personified— it slipped but occasionally—and the brakes were what we scribes term “entirely adequate” and devoid of the squeal associated with the small drums of the Oxford’s young brother Cowley. They took effect on all four wheels, as a red triangle round the rear lamp reminded those behind.
Speed and fuel consumption couldn’t be checked, because the speedometer didn’t function. No doubt the owner claims legality by reason of the sensitivity of the ammeter to speed changes, 15 amps. showing at full sail in top cog. This was the only working instrument, the absence of an oil gauge being an antidote to odd rumblings suggestive of enlarging engine bearings.
This Morris-Oxford had a lofty hood and sidescreens on the passenger’s side that really kept the weather out. It stepped-off briskly if you did not mind the racket set up by the indirect gears as they approached maxima—especially when your foot on the central accelerator became jammed under the other pedals. On a dark, wet evening when the Spanish driver on the Pegaso stand at Earls Court refused to take out the four-carburetter Pegaso demonstrator, this aged Oxford, with which we were quite unfamiliar, took us through the press of home-going traffic, its Trico screenwiper going great guns, and 30 miles beyond the Metropolis, in much the same elapsed time as modern motor cars. But entry and egress would be virtually impossible for the stout, so close is seat to wheel, and the generous curves of the body could he mistaken as due to old age instead of a fashion of the car’s youth.
It did not “pink” or run-on, kept to a sane temperature vide the classic calormeter thermometer on the tall filler cap of the perky bullnose radiator, and really was a lot of fun, riding solidly on its ½-elliptic front, ¾-elliptic rear springs. Simmons of Mayfair was offering it for sale at around £100. All the tyres were sound, the engine used very little oil and blemishes were confined to a patch on the radiator, a slight slit in the side of the hood, and a tatty cockpit. Non-standard fittings were a Middleman’s fume-extracting oil-filler cap surrounding the usual flexible dipstick, and a useful wing-mirror.
Car: 1925 Morris-Oxford two-seater with dickey. 14/28 four-cylinder, 75 by 102-mm. (1,802 c.c.) s.v. engine with alloy head. Lucas GA 4 magneto. Wheelbase 8 ft. 6 in.
Loaned by: Simmons, 12, Rex Place, London, W.1 (Grosvenor 1188).
Mileage: Milometer inoperative.
Maximum in gears: Speedometer inoperative.
Tyre size: 4.75/5.00-19 (two Goodyear de luxe all-weather, one John Bull remould, one Regent remould, Goodyear spare).
Oil: Castrol XL.
We travelled recently to see P. J. Harris-Mayes’ Chitty-Bang-Bang II, going down to Deal in the company of Lt.-Col. Clive Gallop, who was so closely associated with this famous aero-engined car. The journey was made light of by Gallop’s Jowett Javelin, which has various special gadgets, including extra instruments, a special Servais silencing system, Tyresole tyres, Jupiter gearbox, Lucas and Notek spotlamps, Jowett radiator muff, a special oil radiator, etc. We were glad to find Chitty splendidly restored and its young owner very conscious of what an historic car he owns. He is having the gearbox rebuilt by T. & T.s, at Brooklands.
The year 1953 looks like being a vintage year, what with the more favourable rate of taxation, sales of new cars delayed because of’ uncertainty over purchase tax, and the return of the buyers’ market—the last-named means that you state your price to the vendor instead of vice versa and that, except for a few particularly well-preserved or historic cars, usually means about half the advertised price!
From “Peterborough’s” column in the Daily Telegraph:
“Driving along the Watford Bypass recently, an acquaintance was stopped by a police patrol, who showed great interest in his Rolls-Royce car, built in the reign of King Edward VII.
” ‘ We must test the brake of such an old vehicle,’ they said. ‘ Drive along the road, and when we sound our horn apply your brakes hard.’
“The vintage motor set out and, as instructed, stopped dead when the following police car blew its horn. The police car crashed into the back of the Rolls-Royce.”