A little over 50 years ago this La Licorne (The Unicorn) belonged to the brother-in-law of the King of Afghanistan. The owner raced it on the sands of Parame in Brittany, and subsequently sold it to the late Mr. Raymond J. Searle, then a resident of Sunninghill, Berkshire, who bought it whilst holidaying in France. I am not sure how many of the cars were made but I gather there were only a few. They were made in France and fitted with a Ballot engine with a long stroke and of low horse-power.
This clover-leaf sports-car, wherever it stood, commanded a lot of attention. The body and wings were thickly enamelled in blue, and the disc wheels in scarlet, the upholstery being of red, Moroccan leather. The third seat was provided with a removable metal cover which could be locked in position by a coach key. On each side of this seat metal-panels covered the tool-boxes.
The gearing provided three forward speeds with a somewhat high top. Constant gear changing was necessary in built-up areas but when once the car gained speed on the open road (there was not much traffic at that time) it maintained that speed with comparative ease. The clutch was heavy in operation and the accelerator travelled up and down a ring connection around the base of the steering column.
The exhaust pipe was hinged so that the silencer and tail pipe could be raised to give a straight-through exhaust by pulling a ring attached to a ratchet.
When the car was shipped to England, dockers surrounded it at Southampton, showing a keen interest in it. But the engine noise was an exceedingly loud “blub-a-lub-a-lub”, and one of the dockers told Mr. Searle and his brother that they stood a strong chance of being stopped by the police because of it. The dockers therefore directed the Searles out of the town along a roundabout route, to avoid such an incident. After about half-a-mile and having about 6o miles to go, the Searles decided to try and do something about the noise. It was then they discovered that the straight-through exhaust was in operation and that they only needed to release the ring by the driver’s scat, to close it.
On one occasion Mr. Searle’s brother covered a distance of 415 miles in the car in one day. It eventually met its demise at Goody’s scrap yard in Twyford, Berks., after Mr. Searle had sold it to another owner.
Wokingham JULIE GALLAGHER (MRS.)
(Any further details about this make would be appreciated by our correspondent. Ed.)