It was clearly a slip of the pen or of the printer that rendered the name of the sponsor of the Sheffield-Simplex incorrectly— the chairman and sole proprietor of the company was of course The Rt. Hon. the End Fitzwilliam, DSO, not Fitzgerald. He would doubtless have been pleased that Alec Ulmann considers his cars to have been superior to the Rolls-Royce, which was indeed his and Percy Richardson’s avowed intention from the outset.
The company’s catalogue for the 1913 season confirms this aim. Apart from having offices and showrooms right on the “enemy’s” doorstep at 20 Conduit Street (Rolls-Royce were, and still are, at 14 and 15), they state that their persistent policy is “that of endeavouring to produce the finest six-cylindered car possible, without sparing trouble or expense”, and that they have recognised the need to devote their “whole organisation . . . to the development and perfection of the six-cylinder car. In fact we believe we are correct in stating that there is only one other factory besides our own in England that specialises in the manufacture of six-cylinder cars only.” Rolls-Royce were obviously the unnamed other factory, but theirs was a “one-model” policy whereas S-S produced a range of 25 h.p., 30 h.p. and 45 h.p. models. This “specialisation” is given as one of the main reasons why the S-S “is so far ahead of all its competitors”. Qualities of extreme SMOOrillaCSS, absence of vibration, simplicity of design and accessibility of the engine, absence of complication in any shape or form, and exceptional refinement are endlessly extolled (all good Edwardian sales patter)) but the embodiment of these in practice was still insufficient to topple Rolls-Royce from its dominant position as the Best Car in the World. Much to Earl Fitzwilliam’s disappointment the initials S-S were not to become any more than the merely alphabetical successor to those of R-R…
Liversedge, W. Yorks. STEVE DICKINSON