A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
V.S.C.C. Northern Lakeland Trial (November 9th)
“I suppose if someone had entered a modern heavy lorry for the 1927 Mille Miglia it would have won!” These words were spoken, with feeling, by Jack Knight after he and his 1928 O.M. had diced with the juggernauts all the way up the M6 during their long journey from Gloucestershire to Cumberland to take part in this year’s Northern Lakeland Trial. Whether a modern heavy lorry would also have been capable of winning an award in the trial like Jack’s O.M. is quite another matter, even if it could have beaten the victorious O.M.s in the 1927 Italian race.
Everybody seemed to agree that the decision to hold the well-established Northern Trial amidst the glorious scenery of the Lake District was a real stroke of genius. The main credit for the organisation must go to the V.S.C.C. Cumberland members led by Secretary of the Meeting, Dick Smith, and Clerk of the Course, Frank Rushton. These two put in an immense amount of hard work, and were given invaluable advice and encouragement by Harry Spence, the organiser of so many successful Northern Trials in the past in Yorkshire. Three Cumberland farmers and the Cockermouth Castle Estate kindly allowed the trial to be held on their land, and Mr. and Mrs. Jo Habens, of the Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater, not only gave a fine trophy for the best performance, but also arranged accommodation in the district for nearly 100 people.
The entry of 45 cars was the largest for the Northern Trial for many years, and a high percentage of them made the long trip from the south. Less than half a dozen entrants brought their cars on trailers, and at least one of these had a very sound reason for doing so. As it happened, only one of the award winners was a trailer user, and even he had the decency to tow his car from the south behind a prewar saloon. Probably those Austin Seven owners who trailed their cars had neither the time nor the patience to drive them to Cumberland, which reminds one of the rude story in a V.S.C.C. Bulletin several years ago about the member who arrived at a meeting driving an old Austin Seven because his doctor had told him to give up motoring.
Strangely enough, the Scottish V.S.C.C, members were not tempted to leave their but-and-bens to take part in the trial, the only Scottish entrant being a new member, Timothy Hallam, who brought his 1927 Austin Heavy 12/4 saloon from Edinburgh. One car, a 1930 TJ12/50 Alvis driven by T. B. Richardson, had a Scottish registration number, but this turned out to be the Secretary of the Meeting’s business car. Dick Smith is a Frazer Nash dicer who uses the Alvis every day to attend his dental practice in Whitehaven. It is fitted, of course, with dentist’s coupé bodywork.
The trial started in Buttermere (where two television cameramen were recording the scene), and the first lot of four hills were just off the “B” road that runs beside Crummock Water. It was a beautiful day, not too cold, and the vintage cars made a fine sight as they tackled the gradients beneath the Gasgale Crags and Grasmoor, whose 3,000-foot summit was just capped with cloud. The first hill, which was routed through a fast-flowing mountain stream, was for Class A cars only, the short-chassis sporting entries, though one long-chassis car, Bernard Kain’s Type 43/44 Bugatti, tried it by mistake. All the hills were tackled twice by the competitors.
On the first attempt at Hill 1, the following made clean climbs: Christopher Winder (1925 Frazer Nash), Dick Batho (1927/8 Amilcar-Riley), Leslie Winder (1924 Humber), Geoffrey Winder (1930 Ulster Austin), Bill May (1926 Frazer Nash) and Tony Mitchell (1930 Frazer Nash). Tony Mitchell was driving his ex-Roy Cutler ‘Nash he recently acquired from Bertie Brown, and was accompanied by E.R.A. dicer, Bill Morris. This car is more used to circuit racing than trials. For the second runs the organisers altered the hill a bit to make it more difficult, and this time only one car got up, which had been less successful on its first run. This was Barry Clarke’s 1929/33 Ulster Austin, which was spreading a delightful aroma of Castrol “R” over the crags. David Weeks (M-type M.G.) broke his gear lever and had to stay in bottom gear, but did quite well all the same.
The vast majority of the entry had little difficulty in climbing Hills 3 and 4, but Hill 2 was an interesting one. The ground was so wet it was just like a sponge, and a morass developed before the hill got at all steep. This morass caught many people out, and only one of the Class B cars reached the summit. This was Bernard Kain’s Bugatti, which scored 20 on its first climb, but just failed with 18 points on its second. Other commendable Class B attempts were by Jack Knight (1928 O.M.) with 18 and 17 points and Roy Heath (1929 12/50 Alvis) with 18 points on both his attempts. John Rowley (30/98 Vauxhall) had post-morass trouble on his first run, but found the right gear on his second to score 17 points.
Clean on both their attempts in Class A were Chris Winder, May and Harris (Frazer Nashes) and Leslie Winder in the Humber Chummy. Clean on one run were the H.R.G.s of Young and Clark, the Austin Sevens of Clarke, Roberts and Bowman (who drove a most attractive Gordon England Cup model), and the 328 B.M.W. of Mark Oddie. Oddie was complaining that his engine was running badly, whilst Geoffrey Winder’s Ulster Austin became so down on power that he removed the cylinder head, expecting a blown gasket. Much to his annoyance, he found the gasket was intact, and the trouble proved to be the simple one of a loose distributor. Moffatt (1923 Brescia Bugatti) scored 19 points on both his runs, and, in fact, both he and Geoffrey Winder, plus Barry Clarke, narrowly missed getting into the awards list in the trial as a whole.
After all this come the lunch stop at the Kirkstile Inn. Having heard a rumour that the V.S.C.C. once drank a Welsh village dry, the proprietor, determined not to have the Lake District humbled in this way, wisely laid in beer stocks to allow 12 pints per head per V.S.C.C. member over the whole period of the trial. The proprietor won.
The afternoon’s proceedings started with two sections, lit by the autumn sunshine, on a hillside overlooking Loweswater. The first section was a long one without much of a gradient over grassland, and there were no failures amongst the entire entry. This pleased John Mitchell, who had sportingly entered his 1912 Alphonso Hispano. With its high gearing and beaded edge tyres, this is definitely not a trials car, but it can never convince its owner of this, as he says he likes a challenge. Having lost no marks over a complete section, the Alphonso is obviously in for a further difficult time in trying to convince John of its unsuitability.
The next hill also appeared easy, until several cars became stock at the bottom, just after turning the corner into a lane. Most of the Class A cars made it, but the only undefeated in Class B were Blake, Bell and Heath (12/50 Alvises), Kain (Bugatti), Griffiths (Austin 7 Chummy) and Milling (30/98 Vauxhall). Good efforts were made by C. N. G. Hobbs’ (1938 Lancia Aprilia saloon), Max Hill (1929 O.M.) and Cecil Bendall (30/98 Vauxhall).
The next two hills, also on private land, were near the village of Mosser. The first was over a long grass track, and was much appreciated by the competitors. Ten of the Class A cars were clean here, but only three of the Class B, consisting of the 12/50 Alvises of John Blake and Roy Heath and the 1930 Austin Chummy of J. A. Griffiths. Griffiths performed really splendidly throughout the day, his car running with the hood down, but the sidescreens erect.
Motor Sport’s reporter, having spent too long at the Loweswater sections, arrived rather late at Mosser, and missed most of the attempts on the first hill. He watched from the start for a time, but found it extremely tiring as most of the Class B cars failed shortly after the line. Nick Sloan’s 1924 Crossley (complete, as usual, with a crew wearing Scott motorcycle badges in their coats), Hill’s O.M., Richardson’s Alvis and Mitchell’s Hispano Suiza struck him as being particularly heavy to push, and he soon beat a hasty retreat to watch the ascents of the last bill.
This was another interesting one, with several bends, one on an awkward camber before the finish. Just near this there was soon established an S.A.S.P. (Standard Alvis Stopping Point), which also defeated Moffatt’s Bugatti, Spence’s Lea-Francis, Kain’s Bugatti, the two O.M.s and a great many other cars. The only Alvis to pass it was David Bell’s duck’s-back, which has unnaturally quiet timing gears amongst its many virtues. Ivor Phillips’ Jowett and Griffiths’ Austin both had their brief moments of glory on this hill, which was only climbed clean by Chris Winder’s Frazer Nash, the next best attempts being by Robert Clark’s H.R.G. and Bill May’s ‘Nash. The largest men in the trial drove two of the smallest cars, Ivor Phillips in the Jowett and C. D. Roberts in his Chummy Austin. They had to avoid bouncing on the soft going or they might have hammered their poor little cars into the ground.
When the results were announced at the Kirkstile Inn in the evening it was seen that it had been a Frazer Nash day, an Alvis day and, perhaps most of all, a Winder day. For many years Leslie Winder, who came third in the results behind his son Chris and Bill May, has been known as Father Winder. Today he is actually Grandfather Winder, but he has lost none of his skill at trials acquired over the last 40 years or so. He owns the winning ‘Nash that Chris drove, according to Thirlby’s book the actual car which H. J. Aldington used on his honeymoon.
Would Ettore Bugatti be proud of Bernard Kain’s success at trials with the rather svelte Type-43 Bugatti with the unblown Type-44 straight eight engine? Probably not, for, although the car has the Type-43a body with the special golf club locker, it seems unlikely Ettore anticipated that any future owner would deliberately drive off into the rough quite as often as Bernard does.
Altogether a wonderful day, after which it was unanimously agreed that the Lakeland Trial must become an annual event.—P. M. A. H.
Our recent comments on The Nomad or Gnome cyclecar of 1926 concerned a very simple vehicle. Even more simple was the Orient Motor Buckboard, about which a reader has sent us a 1905 catalogue. The British agents for this runabout were The Blackfriars Motor and Engineering Works, of Stamford.
First exhibited at the 1903 New York Show, the Orient Buckboard was made by a company which did not consider modesty a virtue, inasmuch as it described public interest as “almost phenomenal”, and stated that although they made the smallest and lowest-priced automobile on the market, the Orient had been “able to excel almost all others in speed on the road, while on the track the Buckboard has won races repeatedly, beating fields of the best American machines of four times its horse-power and six times its price”. [American historians, please confirm.—Ed.]
The device was just a buckboard made of two pieces of 1¼ in. x 3 in. flexible hickory, with cross-strips of ash bolted across them to provide a mounting for the seat. There were full-elliptical springs at the front and special springs at the back, which “with the long flexible platform, allow the rider to spring softly up and down in a most luxurious manner”. The finish was in natural hardwood, highly polished, with maroon-enamelled running gear, nickel trimmings, and dark-green leather cushions.
The Orient Buckboard ran on 26-in. piano-wire wheels with wood rims, and 2½-in. Goodrich tyres. The rear-mounted engine, claimed to be “the best in the World”, was a single-cylinder 3¼ in. x 4¼ in. of 4 h.p., claimed to run at from 250 to 3,000 r.p.m.—a high speed for 1905. Transmission was by a two-speed (no reverse) planetary gear, giving the Buckboard “a hill-climbing power of 18 to 1, which is sufficient for any grade up to 25%, which is steeper than is ever met with on public roads”. The direct speed, of “about 6 to 1”, involved an 18-tooth pinion on the motor shaft and a 105-tooth gear on the back axle. Orient made their own carburetter, of which they were obviously very proud. They claimed 3 to 35 m.p.h. and a gasoline capacity sufficient for about 100 miles. The device cost £90, weighed 500 lb., and extras included a child’s seat (£5 10s.), a delivery case (£4) and a brass horn (12s. 6d.). Cylinder oil cost 5s. a gallon. A four-seater Surrey Orient, weighing 60 lb. more and capable of 20 m.p.h., cost £100.—W. B.
G.N. Oil Consumption
J. S. Hirons writes to say that his 1922 G.N. uses a gallon of oil every 750 miles, not every 50 miles as we stated. But heavy consumption from total-loss systems was not unknown—John Bolster mentions an uncle’s pre-1914 75 h.p. Mercedes in a recent V.S.C.C. Bulletin which got through 15 gallons on a run of some 400 miles—about 27 m.p.g.
V.E.V. Odds and Ends.—A Lagonda chassis has been stored for years in a Berkshire garage. A 1932 6-cylinder Austin 20 is in danger of being made into a farm trailer in Herefordshire (it probably needs new bearings), and in the same area a 1936 Hillman is available and possibly a number of other old cars. The November issue of The Bulletin of the Morgan Three-Wheeler Club contained an interesting article about Sandford three-wheelers. Next year an International Bugatti Rally will be held on June 15th in conjunction with the Bugatti O.C. 24th Members’ Prescott hill-climb. A reader is anxious to trace two Aston Martins he once owned, and of which the A.M.O.C. has no knowledge. They are a 1934 long-chassis Le Mans car AUL 635 with modified body and short-chassis type petrol tank, and the 1921/22 s.v. four-seater XT 7626, which was Lionel Martin’s personal car and was owned later by Bernard Rubin and Michael May.
A pre-war Coventry Riley, thought to be a Kestrel, was seen coping admirably with the lorry congestion on the A422 last month, with a brief stop, possibly to adjust the screen-wipers, at Alcester. A Mr. W. Rice, possibly of Dagenham or Romford, wrote to Weybridge Museum recently about the Locke King booklet referred to in Motor Sport. He omitted to give his address: if he writes again to the Museum they will acknowledge his order.
Vintage Sports-Car Club Eastern Rally (November 3rd)
The Eastern Trophy: A N. Farquhar (1928 Riley 9 Biarrit), 2 marks lost.
The Barret Memorial Trophy: (Navigator of winning car) S. H. Smyth.
Light Car Award: C. M Thomas (1927 Wolseley 11 22), 7 marks lost.
Vintage Touring Cars:
First Class Award: T. Ely (1930 Riley), 5 marks.
Second Class Awards: D. MacMillan (1928 Rolls-Royce), 6 marks, and C. M Thomas (1927 Wolseley), 7 marks.
Third Class Award: J. T. Woodhouse (1923 Lea-Francis), 14 marks.
Vintage Sports Cars:
First Class Awards: I. P. L. Newton (1929 Lea-Francis), 7 marks, and P. R. Hill (1910 Alvis), 7 marks.
Second Class Awards: A. D. Jones (1923 Vauxhall), 8 marks, and R. L. Heath (1929 Alvis, 8 marks.
Third Class Awards: F. E. Day (1929 Bentley), 9 marks, and B. B. D. Kain (1929 Bugatti), 11 marks.
P.V.T. Touring and Sports Cars:
First Class Award: R England (1931 Alvis), 3 marks lost.
Second Class Awards: B. Sismey (1934 Alvis), 10 marks, and J. Dymond I. Hannis (1934 Riley), 13 marks.
Third Class Awards: V. P. Staford (1932 Riley), 15 marks, and H. Collis (1934 Alvis), 16 marks.
Miscellany.—Bentleys have been faring badly in the magazines lately. The Fort Lauderdale News had a picture purporting to show Vice-Presidential candidate Muskie in a 1929 Bentley at Madison, but the car was obviously an American, probably a Ford, and The Daily Telegraph Magazine for October 18th published an article on “The Bentley Boys—And Girls” which included a colour picture, taken on the Brooklands banking, with W.O. Bentley, S. C. H. Davis, Nobby Clarke, Jack Barclay, Wally Hassan, Leslie Pennal and Jack Sopp gathered round YW 5758, winner of the first B.R.D.C. 500 Mile Race rebodied, which must have been an expensive picture to get, and they ruined it all by captioning the car a 3-litre! After which, we hasten to correct an error of our own—the Morris-Cowley shown on page 894 of the October issue is a 1930 car, not 1927 as stated.
The vintage race at the B.R.D.C. Clubmen’s Championship Meeting at Silverstone was combined with the Griffiths Formula Race and had only two finishers. For the record the winner was J. H. Bailey’s 4½-litre Bentley, at 78.3m.p.h., followed home by Elwell Smith’s Le Mans Aston Martin. They were faster than Cook’s odd-looking p.v.t. Riley, which easily led its class but did only six of the seven laps.
In much the same way post-war cars raced with vintage and p.v.t. at the Bugatti O.C. race meeting Thruxton on October 27th, except in the last race, which was for vintage and p.v.t. sports cars. This was won by Martin Morris in A. BIight’s Talbot BGH 23, at 76.27 m.p.h., from Bergel (Type 35T Bugatti) and Bishop (2-litre Aston Martin). In other races Blight’s Talbots were outstanding—see page 1132. Schellenberg’s 1930 8-litre Bentley Special was specially prepared for the London-Sydney Marathon which is now in progress by Basset Down Farms Ltd., under the energetic Arnold-Forster. The special work included rebuilding the wheels to take Michelin tyres, putting in a Vickers-made 75-gallon fuel tank, armour-plating the sump and restoring the engine internals.
We regret deeply having to report the death, on October 26th., after a very long illness, of H. R. Godfrey, the “G” of G.N. A 1935 Jowett 7/17 two-seater is still used daily in the Midlands by the lady who has had it almost since it was new but it may soon go into retirement in some museum or other. Brian Morgan and his son are building a replica of the supercharged Lagonda Rapier single-seater which Roy Eccles and his wife raced in Brooklands before the war. The STD Register, which now admits Lago Talbots to its membership, is holding a special Boesch Talbot Rally in London on April 27th next year, which will include a visit to the former Talbot works (now belonging to Rootes) at Ladbroke Grove, where the old test track can still be seen.