Veteran Edwardian Vintage, December 1974
A Section Devoted To Old Car Matters
VSCC Lakeland Trial, November 9th: On the way to this year’s edition of that notoriously tough vintage event, the Lakeland Trial organised by Dick Smith and Frank Rushton, I came to the conclusion that whether competitors drive or trail their cars to the event is now about 50/50. At all events, on the excellent M6 I passed Peacop driving his 1930 Morris Minor tourer but Adnams’ Parker record-breaking Austin 7 replica was on a trailer. In Keswick an Ulster on a trailer was followed by a Chummy being driven, a Frazer Nash occupied by two helmeted enthusiasts, but Moffatt’s Bugatti on a trailer. Later Keith Hill arrived, having driven his Alvis Silver Eagle all the way from Wales, with Johnny Thomas as passenger, and the Presidential Anzani-‘Nash was later seen sleeping in the open, to the detriment of polished aluminium.
The morning of the trial dawned with more torrential rain than even Lakeland usually boasts, so that, short of deep-sea diving attire and a rain-sealed tape-recorder, which I do not possess, reporting it was virtually impossible; my Functional coat kept out all the wet but my extremities were immediately soaked to the bone. The observed sections could be taken in any order but a field of driving tests was already too far under the water for them to take place. Barker was snug in his Model-A Ford saloon, with stop lights brighter than many rear lamps and ground clearance that defied the floods, whereas I feared for the flat-four engine of the Alfasud—fortunately it proved to be immune to immersions. Drivers and passengers sat in pools of water, Batho in the Amilcar-Riley and Newton in the HRG with windscreens flat but some, like Reed in an Austin 7 Mulliner saloon, were more fortunate.
The first two sections stopped no-one but the next two, on Whin Fell, were severe, even Hamish Moffatt for once being unable to conquer them, his Bugatti on a very high axle-ratio. At Wood Farm we were able to save Price’s Austin Nippy from running out of fuel and Max Hill delved into the bowels of his Type 49 Bugatti to find a couple of gallons (in a vintage can, of course) for Stewart-Gordon’s 1924 Model-T Ford pick-up, which seemed to have rain in its under-seat fuel tank. By 11.30 the earlier numbers were back and drying out at the Kirkstile Inn. Here we were given an entry list and discovered that 65 brave souls, their cars divided into two classes, putting thoughts of financial speculation behind them, had decided to commit their aged machinery to the rigours of Lakeland off-road motoring. It was nice to see a Trojan out again, in the care of Williams-Raahauge, and Jowetts were there in force, of which Buttle’s 1929 7/17 was later to have the honour of getting up the dreaded Drumhouse. Interesting runners included the Vernon-Derby, a “Cream Cracker” MG, the sports-replica Austin 20, the Invicta Special and Lockhart’s D-type Vauxhall tourer. But there was only one 30/98, Gray’s, and no Bentleys this year.
As in the proverb the rain had now given over, to be replaced by a howling gale. At Lanthwaite Green in the afternoon there were two sections, closely divided up for marking purposes, on the open moorland, although a third had been abandoned when what was formerly a teasing water-splash was found to have turned into a raging torrent. Here Mark Joseland in his 1926 Frazer Nash Fast Tourer got higher than most and Clifton’s 1927 Jowett was having its carburetter dismantled in an attempt to cure mis-firing which threatened to prevent it from getting over Honister to the final section. This stiff main-road climb caused Collis’ Sunbeam 20 tourer to be enshrouded in water vapour.
So they came to Drumhouse, that sensational hill winding up from the quarry at the top of Honister Pass in a series of zig-zags until successful cars vanish literally over the sky-line. It can be a complete “stopper” and this time had a slippery patch close to the start-line, while slate washed onto the approach road seemed likely to endanger those with little ground clearance: Anzani oil-pumps for instance. When we arrived, clean ascents had been made by several Frazer Nashes, a Riley Lynx, McEwen’s Mk. IV Riley 9 tourer, Adnams’ Austin and the Jowett. Those who conquered this formidable hill included Barker’s dignified Model A Ford but, surprisingly, Freddie Giles and Nigel Arnold Forster failed to make it, in their respective Frazer Nashes, although most of the other ‘Nashes, both Vauxhalls, many Alvises, the Vernon-Derby and Box’s Jowett were successful. Indeed, 28 drivers defeated this once-dreaded section.—W.B.
Kirkstile Trophy (best performance): R. G. Winder (Austin), 125 pts.
Kirkstile Plate (best in opposite class): B. Gray (Vauxhall), 93 pts.
R.P. 1951 Cup (best performance by member of 20 years standing): H. Moffatt (Bugatti), 113 pts.
First Class Awards : Ft. Moffatt (Bugatti), J. S. Box (Jowett), R. J. Clark (HRG), R.. G. Winder (Austin), D. R. Marsh (Morris Sports), I. Grant (Vernon-Derby) and B. Gray (Vauxhall).
Second Class Awards: M. T. Joseland (Frazer Nash), H. Spence (Lea-Francis), R. Adnams (Austin), R.J. Odell (Riley), M. Hirst (Alvis) and F. Hyland (Alvis).
Third Class Awards: R. I. Heath (Alvis), K. W. Hill (Alvis), I. Woolstonholmes (Alvis), C. E. Ayre (Alvis) and J. A. McEwen (Riley).
* * *
Apart from the special display of National Motor Museum vehicles, the older cars at this year’s Earls Court Motor Show included a single-cylinder Rover bearing a 1904 VCC plaque, on the Rover stand, a 1930s Austin 7 saloon which is normally in regular use, on the Weathershield’s stand, as it had this make of sliding roof, and some interesting models on the Castrol stand, including replicas of the “Golden Arrow'” 200 m.p.h. Sunbeam, a fine one of Campbell’s “Bluebird” in 1935 form, a 1907 GP Fiat and a very big Rolls-Royce model. In North Wales a 1912 TT Premier motorcycle is still in the hands of the owner who bought it as a new machine; over the years he has modernised it somewhat, converting it to chain drive and dynamo lighting, and has fitted a sidecar. Reverting to the 1974 Motor Show, the Editor said Panther must have deliberately put those cars which resemble the SS100 and Bugatti Type 49 opposite the Motor Sport stand! Next to them was the Morgan stand, where the exhibits could be described as in the traditional, rather than the imitation, vintage style. During the period of the Show Partco Ltd. issued a nicely-done illustrated history of British Motor Shows from 1903 to 1974 and on the opening day Lord Montagu of Beaulieu was driven there in a 1903 De Dion Bouton driven by Baron Berti De Dion, nephew of the Marquis De Dion. Later the car, which was the first-ever Montagu Motor Museum exhibit, paraded at the Horse Show-Jumping Championships at Wembley—more veteran car gimmickry.
* * *
A most painstaking record of all known surviving bull-nose and flat-nose Morris cars has been compiled on behalf of the Bullnose Morris Club by Mr. Goding and his wife Margaret. It lists car no., engine no., date of manufacture, model Reg. No., present condition and owner, of cars from 1913 to 1933, flat-nose Morrises being dealt with separately. We have been told that our appeal for information about pre-1931 non-30/98 Vauxhall cars to be included in John Price’s Register has been helpful and that, as he is revising it, he would like further information to be sent to him at 22a, Leyland Road, Lee Green, London, SE12.
* * *
Whose was the Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce tourer abandoned in the middle of the road without lights in the Camden Town area of London during the evening of October 15th, we wonder ? We trust that it escaped unscathed and that its dynamo has now been repaired!
* * *
D. Bristow, who is restoring a 1922 Calthorpe, wishes to form a register of these cars, solely for the exchange of information and spares. His address is: 11, Rock Lane, Warminster, Wilts., BA12 9J2.
A Sunbeam with twin SUs, AT instruments, etc., alleged to have belonged to the Chief Draughtsman of Bentley Motors, has been found in scrap condition. Aubrey Edwards shares his home with a 1910 Austin town-carriage, which was too tall for his garage. He stores it because British Leyland has insufficient space for its historic cars! A 1921 Silver Ghost, a 1925 P.1 and a 1934 20/25 Rolls-Royce escorted Lord Strathcarron when he presented a Silver Cloud III to Baden-Baden City Tourist Office; it will be used for trips by VIPs and honeymooners.
* * *
Welsh Trial Correction
Reading your otherwise excellent report on the VSCC’s recent Welsh Trial, I note that the driver who put up the best performance of the day, John Rowley, was not mentioned, either in the report or in the list of results which followed. John was driving his splendid 2-seater “E” type 30/98, and despite two broken ribs (as a result of a fall the previous day) he cleared all hills except the very last one.
Newbury, Berks — JIM WHYMAN
* * *
V-E-V Odds and Ends
The Editor says he can tell a vintage Riley from an Invicta; the error in the October Thruxton caption arose because he was asked to identify the cars from an impossibly muzzy negative; thanks, however, to those readers who sought to put him right. The Isle-of-Man Vintage and Veteran Rally is now scheduled for July 3rd to 8th next year. In 1975 the VCC will be holding an ambitious event in the form of a John O’Groats-Land’s End Rally. It will take place during May, occupying ten days, a sort of emulation of Henry Sturmey’s pioneer run on a Daimler, and should be high adventure for those driving pre-1905 cars, which will have to travel some 160 miles per day. Christopher Neve had an article in Country Life on the Barron poster collection and he also appeared in the fashion section, with his ex-Birkin “Double-Twelve” Bentley. In Stroud Patrick Mather is rebuilding a 1919 Baughan “1-1/2”- seater cyclecar, a very sporting looking vehicle which should be popular at next year’s proposed cyclecar rally.
Somewhere in the North, a private garage contains a 1908 single-cylinder Rover, not used since the 1930s, two vintage Austin 12-4s, one a 1922 two-seater, some belt-drive motorcycles including 2-1/4 BSA, two Rovers and Royal Enfield, a Powell stationary engine and a large stationary steam-engine. They are not for sale but it is good to know they are likely to be restored. Two pre-war Austin Cambridge saloons in rough condition were ignored by bidders at a recent Powys farmsale. A 1910 Hotchkiss is likely to receive a replica touring body to replace its two-seater one. Stanley Sedgwick has produced another masterpiece for the Bentley OC, in the form of a register of all known blower 4-1/2 Bentleys, but references to Motor Sport articles on these cars, of which there are several, are conspicuous by their absence. A big stationary-engine rally is to take place at Beaulieu. In Wales a 5-h.p. 1920s Lister fetched £40 recently and a damaged Bentall engine nearly as much, whereas a 1950s Austin in going order only made £8 with 10 gallons of oil!
* * *
VSCC 40th Anniversary Dinner
It was a happy inspiration on the part of Harold Powell, who was elected a member of the VSCC in November 1934, a month after the Club was formed, and who won a 1st Class Award with his Amilcar in its very first trial, to hold a dinner for pre-war members, during the Club’s 40th anniversary. This duly took place at Mecca Colonial House in Mincing Lane, after we had found parking space for our bath-chairs and left our crutches in the cloakroom! In fact, those present looked remarkably well-preserved and proved as keen as ever to discuss cars of around their own age.
The consumption of steak-and-kidney pie should have been supported by 40 members and 15 guests; but there were some nonstarters, including John Rowley, on account of ribs broken in the Welsh Trial, Johnny Geen, because the date clashed with that of the BDC dinner, and others because of the ‘flu bug. There were even pioneer members overseas who greeted the occasion, including John Clarke, who used to race the Frazer Nash “Patience” pre-war, and Barson, of Specials fame, who is still building them, now with Honda bits, in an outpost of Empire.
Those present in person included Cecil Clutton, CBE, from the loM, who with the 1908 GP Itala holds the record for driving this car throughout the racing history of the VSCC and taking the Prescott Edwardian record with it, John Bolster, who would be a challenger if he were to bring “Bloody Mary” out of retirement, Peter Wike, who has owned some exciting cars in his time including the Fiat “Mephistopheles” and who had for once forsaken his voluntary task as VSCC doorman, Tim Carson, MBE, naturally, and the current Secretary, Peter Hull, who was thought to be present only on account of his vintage perambulator. Clive Windsor-Richards, whom one forever associates with indecently-fast 30/98 Vauxhalls, definitely a pre-war performer, was so enthusiastic that he missed the last train home. Kenneth Neve, OBE, was there, an ex-President who has raced his 1914 TT Humber consistently throughout the post-war era of-the VSCC, and a very early Committee member, Anthony Heal, was, as expected, dispensing Sunbeam lore.
Marcus Chambers, who had that big 1907 Renault, various Bentleys and a racing Austin 7 before the war, came as a guest, as he is no longer a member, and Donald Monro, of Invicta memory, who was the first Lycett Trophy winner, attended, as did Michael May, MBE, who still has that fast Alvis but, like Chambers, is no longer of the VSCC. Alan Southon must have been thinking of his HE Special, before leaving to sleep it off at the RAC, accompanied by Major Wool, and Cecil Bendall, who is to be congratulated on retaining his fine 30/98, was sitting with his friend Brown, now more concerned with VCC affairs but who used to own such unusual vintage cars as an Ansaldo and a Chenard-Walcker, apart from a Lea-Francis, and who was enthusing about a four-push-rod Salmson and the fun he had with it at a recent Amilcar Salmson Rally. I noticed Max Hill, Peter Hampton, Dr. Wright, Douglas Tubbs, who still tames a 40/60 Gobron-Brillie dating back to 1904 when not motoring in his splendid little Bamford-and-Martin Aston, Johnny Swainson who ran the first Welsh Rally for the VSCC, and many more of the real old-timers. Present-President Nigel Arnold-Forster was meeting those who were in at the birth of this remarkable club, the health of which Clutton proposed. Tim Carson, who gained his MBE for services to motor racing in general and vintage racing in particular and was Secretary almost from the start, replied, and proposed the health of the guests. After which conversation and drinking were resumed and one recalled so many things—”The Phoenix”, the great advent of Edwardianism, the first post-war race meetings, following that ambitious Elstree speed-trial, those enjoyable VSCC Bulletins, notably when Clutton and then Barker edited them and Wike did those scandalous Motor Show reports, the Club’s present growth and embracement of p.v.t.s., and, for my part, inexpensive fun before the war in ABC, Rhode, and vintage Austin 7s and, during the war, with Lancia Lambda, 12/50 Alvis, and Gwynne Eight motor cars. So rather sadly, one drove home, reflecting that if it had once all been enormous fun, it will never ever be quite so carefree again.—W.B.