Vintage postbag, December 1964

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The G.P. Delage Cars

Sir,

Mr. W. B. Scott is to be congratulated on his most interesting account of the G.P. Delage. I lent the gearbox to Seaman. It was one of the numerous spares belonging to the 1925 supercharged 2-litre Pelage which I bought from Mr. Scott. Later, I fitted this car with independent front-suspension and sleeved her down to 1,493 c.c. preparatory to the 1936 1,500 c.c. Avus Race. Unfortunately, the car suffered a major blow-up during her final practice at Brooklands, where she threw a con.-rod.

It would be interesting to know the present whereabouts of this historic racing car (I found the name “Divo” scratched on the metal back of the driving seat) and its host of spare parts, more than enough to build a complete second car.

Geneva. Adrian Conan Doyle

* * *

Sir,

I have written to Louis Chiron concerning the 1,500 c.c.. Delage he drove and have received the following reply:—

“I have received your letter on the subject of the 1927 1,500 c.c. Delage, which gained the Championship of the World with Robert Benoist as driver. I purchased this car from Louis Delage in 1928, and ran at Indianapolis in May 1929, finishing 7th. I was lying third during the middle of the race, but was stopped by a faulty magneto which we had to replace, and after 22 minutes rejoined the race. It is this very car that I sold to Senechal, and the same car which Dick Seaman owned, and is the car which Rob Walker now has. When I sold the car to Senechal I also sold a spare engine; this I had bought with all the spare parts from Delage for 360,000 francs.

I prepared for the 500-Mile Race at Indianapolis three months in advance and drove with the same engine for 1,000 kilos without even changing a plug, but changed to the other engine for the race. I always ran on Champion R2 plugs and never had any troubles, even for warming up the engine. Unfortunately, I do not remember the chassis number of my car. It certainly was a formidable vehicle, and was only sold because I had rejoined Bugatti on my return from America. It was the same car in which Dick Seaman won the 1,500 c.c. Swiss Grand Prix at Berne.

Signed: Louis Chiron, Monte Carlo.”

Swanmore. Alan B. Burnard, A.R.I.N.A,

[This correspondence resulted in a useful meeting between some of the letter-writers concerned. It is now closed so far as publication is concerned but further data about the 1½-litre G.P. Delage cars would be welcomed by those concerned, and letters can be forwarded.—ED.]

* * *

E. & O.E.

Sir,

Thank you for your very fine report on the 30/98 Register meeting at Luton and for publishing the previous notice of it, in response to my request.

There were a few errors and omissions in your report, and as this was the only generally published complete account of the event I would like to bring to your notice to those errors which I noticed.

(a) M. E. Allsop’s 1904 12/14-h.p. car was a non-starter.

(b) Vauxhall Motor’s 1909 car is a 16-h.p. not an A-type, 20-h.p.

(c) However did you manage to overlook Pomeroy;s Prince Henry?

(d) A. T Darbishire’s Owen 2-seater was unable to come. The 2-seater present was R. Cooper’s Mayfair-bodied car (a late entry, not on the programme) but Stanford was right about it – so don’t blame him!

(e) There are no such things as kidney box hydraulic brakes! Brydon’s car has cable brakes, Rowley’s has a kidney box-type axle by has been converted to Lockheed actuation. (Surely OE 293 would have originally had hydraulics anyway?)

(f) No. 34 belongs to Paul Waring.

(g) Omissions: R. V. Lorrenzato’s 23/60 Kingston tourer; M.W. Ferguson’s 14/40 Princeton tourer.

(h) NOT Princetown, please! I suppose Princeton was someone’s bright idea for a junior edition of the Kington. (Was the Grafton intended for the German market?)

(i) Did Crabbe’s F-type ever arrive? Messages were received to the effect that it was on its way from Aberdeenshire but I never saw it. I do hope you were right—it was a fine effort to attempt such a journey as he only bought this car a few weeks ago.

John Stanford has asked me to make the point that references to Newport’s and Allsop’s cars being “scruffy” were not taken owner’s commentary. Both these cars have been in their present owner’s hands a very short time, and were essentially “as found.” We were very pleased to see them there and to know that they are now in good hands.

Finally, we are not the 30/98 Register of the V.S.C.C., the latter club being in no way responsible for our actions! Of course we are closely associated with the V.S.C.C., the 30/98 being the most vintage of all vintage sports cars but membership of the club is not a condition of inclusion in the Register.

GEOFFREY W. SAMSON. Hon. Registrar, 30/98 Register.

[Sackcloth, Sir; and ashes.—ED.]

* * *

In Books and in Reality

Sir,

I read with interest your article “Cars in Books.”

Living only 20 miles from Passos I am quite familiar with the airport and local taxis. The airport closed about two years ago but the model-A taxi which served it is still in daily use in the town.

All in all there are some twelve model-As still running in the district and a few old Chevrolets, too. There is also one 1928 Fiat still with original wooden wheels.

Rio-de-Janiero. J. M. Ingham.

* * *

Riley Nine Horsepower

Sir,

The Editor’s article on Riley factory methods in the Vintage era was as interesting and informative as ever.

However, the average brake-horsepower figure quoted for the Riley Nine engine of 46.5 b.h.p. is surely a misprint and should read 36.5.

I believe that the early engines gave 26 or 29 b.h.p. depending on type of carburetter fitted, and 35 b.h.p. with twin Zeniths. The sports engine with twin Zeniths and two exhaust camshafts fitted gave 41 b.h.p. (this engine was in the Imp) and the Brooklands engine 46 b.h.p. These figures are for the standard engines fitted to production cars.

Since a 1932 Monaco weighing 22 cwt. had a 0-50 time of 36 sec. under test, one rather doubts that it had 46.5 b.h.p. under the bonnet.

AIdingbourne. J. G. Ireland.

[We thank Mr. Ireland for drawing our attention to this matter. Although no less an authority than The Autocar quoted 46½ b.h.p. for the standard Riley Nine engine, we think the correct figure to be 32 b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m., or 38 b.h.p. with higher c.r. and twin S.U.s, as quoted in Motor Sport’s article ” Riley Nine Recognition ” in October 1949.—ED.]

* * *

Racing model-T Fords

Sir,

I should like to refer to your report on the May 24th Ford model-T London to Brighton Run, in connection with Mr. Bradshaw’s car. Excellent photographs of this car appear in the article and one is unfortunately wrongly captioned “Another ex-Indianapolis Car” when it is in fact a model-T Speedway Racer.

I first saw this car earlier this year when I was marshalling on the Manchester to Blackpool Veteran/Vintage car run and I learned later that day some of its history, from the father of a friend of mine. I was told that this car had been raced at Blackpool and Morecambe but in one of its races, when it reached 100 m.p.h., it was disqualified because of the modifications that had been carried out to its engine. This car was built in this country, as far as I can ascertain, and fitted with the ordinary Ford model-T engine to start with. A conversion on the engine was carried out for the present owner’s grandfather, under the supervision of a Mr. Walsh who worked for Bradshaws the Ford Main Dealers: at Preston until recently when he retired, in the form of a single overhead camshaft Indianapolis speedway head. When the car was modified they had trouble with the engine overheating and that is why the Wolseley radiator was fitted.

I would like to add that a Ford T Frontenac did also run in the Manchester to Blackpool and I was advised by its two occupants that it was the only one of its kind in this country. It came from down South where all these dear cars seem to like—perhaps it is the dry weather they have?! This Frontenac was an ex-Indianapolis car—red and lined in gold. The radiator was chromed. This car had also given a demonstration lap at Aintree the previous day.

Bradshaw’s T Speedway Racer was lined up at Blackpool near this Frontenac and the difference in these two cars would appear to be that Bradshaw’s was a racer and the Frontenae a two-seater sports car.

Nelson. Barry R. Jaques

* * *

Deemster Antecedents

Sir,

Your article on the Deemster was of interest to me as there are a few points upon which I ant able to comment, of interest perhaps to the old motorcyclists in our midst.

The article refers to Mr. J. N. Ogston, designer and joint managing director of the Ogston Motor Company; this name seemed to have some significance to me as I recall a 4-cylinder motor-bicycle called the Ogston Four in the pre-World War One days. Reading cm, I see Mr. Ogston and Mr. Scofield, his partner, took over part of the Wilkinson Sword Co.’s factory in Southfield Road, Acton, to manufacture the Deemster car, in 1919. This fact is very interesting; the Wilkinson Sword Co. produced 4-cylinder motorcycles in the 1910/12 period and I was once told that they were originally called Ogston Fours. Is it therefore possible the designer of the Wilkinson, or T.A.C., motorcycle was in fact the Mr. Ogston of Deemster fame ?

Continuing with this line of thought it may well be that the first Deemster cars were made in the old Wilkinson-T.A.C. motorcycle workshops. Perhaps the Deemster’s engine design and overall low weight were influenced by the T.A.C. motorcycle layout; even if Ogston was not the motorcycle designer as I have supposed, it is reasonable that his way of thinking was influenced by contact with the Wilkinson people!

I must add that all the above is just supposition on my part, and I await comments from Mr. Hester and from more knowledgeable motorcyclists of that era.

The T.A.C. 4-cylinder motor-bicycle of 1911 was certainly a novel machine, having a beautiful little power unit of 7 h.p. with four separate cylinders air cooled, side mechanically-operated exhaust valves and overhead automatic inlets. The engine was mounted in-line with the frame, driving the rear wheel by a worm shaft via a 3-speed gearbox. Comfort was certainly a prime factor in the machine’s design as the seat was rather like an armchair and long running boards were provided. The engine was enclosed, the rear wheel leaf-sprung, in a “parallelogram” arrangement of quarter-elliptics. It must have been a very flexible and luxurious motor-bicycle, one of which I should like to ride today, given the chance!

I believe a T.A.C. exists today—I remember Rex Judd, Of Brooklands fame, riding one in vintage rallies a few years ago.

Southport. Frank Farrington