THE VCC / RAC Brighton Run for veteran cars has in recent times become to some extent a Show-Biz charade. This year Lord Montagu took Tommy Steele on the 1903 24 h.p. De Dietrich, and Terry Wogan and family had the RAC’s 1904 Thornycroft (actually a BL Heritage car) all to themselves, and he got a whole-page picture of himself in the official RAC programme! It is now claimed that the oldest car in the Run was an 1896 Lutzmann, a true horseless-carriage, inasmuch as removal of its front axle reveals attachments for shafts for a horse. The Duke and Duchess of Manchester shared the National Motor Museum’s 1901 Progress, which we thought belonged to the Automobile Palace in Landrindod Wells, and Lord Montagu’s 17-year-old daughter drove the Museum’s 1903 6 h.p. De Dion Bouton that was the very first exhibit at Beaulieu.
Motoring enthusiasts were represented on most of the cars, such as Saloon Car Racing champion Jack Sears driving the well-known 1903 Clement-Talbot.
But what motivated Ernie Warmington to fit CB-radio to a 1903 De Dion Bouton (call-sign “T-Ern”), and the RAC to issue a Motor Sports hand-out about it, is beyond our comprehension.
Brighton Breezes. — The Brighton Run is an excuse for all manner of vehicles apart from the veterans to launch themselves along the A23 — “launch” was about right on the afternoon of November 7th! I saw a perambulating, nice 3-litre Bentley, a Trojan, AC, and many other genuine vintage cars, several terrible moderns masquerading as vintage sports-cars, even more awful, two imitation oldsters, a fine Morgan 3-wheeler and another tricar using transverse Mini-Minor power, a solid-tyred Sentinel steam-waggon, a fire-engine, and the vintage De Dion ‘bus for the Press gang. Then the vintage bicycles were out, including one obviously dedicated “penny-farthing” rider going extremely well. We encountered only one driver of a modern car, who could easily have moved over, who disliked a veteran taking up some of the off-side of the highway — he was in a Volvo. Mostly the Policepersons were doing their usual fine job of getting the veteran cars through, even to a line of cones at one place to give a clear run on the outside of the road for us. But, curiously, there were isolated traffic-lights left un-manned, and it was only slightly better in this respect this year in Brighton itself. Overhead, three light ‘planes were banner-towing in the stiff breeze, one for the Lombard Finance people.
The RAC-entered 1904 Thornycroft driven by Terry Wogan had been given a recent major overhaul by BL Heritage but was reported as retiring with overheating problems — which the rain did nothing to cure. (When I went on it in 1979 it took only 4 hr. 35 min., inclusive of a 45 min. delay caused by a puncture.)
We met Lord Montagu at the finish-Iine, obviously very pleased that his 17-year-Old daughter was taking part— on his well-known De Dion Bouton.
First to arrive was the 1900 Stephens Dog-cart of R. Eastmead, followed by a 1902 Mors. dnven by D. W. Llewellyn, and a four-cylinder Peugeot of 1901.
D. Segal’s 1899 Benz towed a period-type trailer and some passengers faced backwards for the 57-mile journey, as on the Albion dog-cart.
Surprisingly, “new” veterans still turn up and some were on the Run. McArdle’s 1903 Cadillac had been off the road since 1942, languishing in a Yorkshire barn, Moore’s 1898 Panhard was new to the Run, after 1,300-hours’ restoration, and Rose’s 1902 Darracq was returning to the road after having been idle since 1912.
Give BEN a Good Christmas
THE Motor and Cycle Trades Benevolent Fund, BEN, does splendid work for old and sick ex-employees of the motor and cycle trades, and maintains its Old Peoples Home, Lynwood. It asks you to aid its funds by buying its Christmas cards, depicting an SS 100 in a snowy Christmas setting, with an Austin 7 Ruby saloon in the background, by Lionel Rouse. Packs of ten cards, with envelopes. cost £2.00, from Bentrade Ltd., Lynwood, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 0AJ. — W.B.
V-E-V Miscellany — The Alvis 12/50 Register’s monthly Circular is full of information which should be useful to its very active membership. It has calculated that probably the fastest-ever 12/50 Alvis time up Prescott to date is 53.48 sec. achieved in 1976 by Robert Wickstead’s 1923 Racing Car No. 1, but run close by the 53.76 sec. achieved by Eric Benfield’s 1924 200 Mile Race Alvis in 1981 — something to watch for during next year. The ex-Foxlee 12/50 Alvis Special, YT 8742, has reappeared in the hands of D. Christian, a shortened-chassis car with elliptic back springs. Incidentally, perhaps the prices of these ever-desirable cars are dropping, judging by a 1931 12/50 two-seater offered by the Trade recently for less than £4,000. It has been reported to us that while the owner, Mr. Riley, was in hospital recently, the engine and gearbox of his single-seater K-type MG Magnette were stolen from Worcestershire, the thief cutting the chassis about to remove these units. A reasonable cash-reward is offered for any information leading to the recovery of the engine and gearbox — to 021 445 2551 — or we can forward any letters appertaining to the theft — W.B.
V-E-V Odds & Ends. — A reader has an MAG water-cooled vee-twin engine, probably from a Morgan three-wheeler, No. 2C21-6596, which he would like to exchange for an o.h.v. vee-twin JAP engine usable in a motorcycle. Letters, as to the identity of his engine, etc., can be forwarded. Another reader seeks information about a 1926 3-litre Speed Model Bently he is restoring, Reg. No. YM 8663. chassis no. SR 1423, with a two-seater body by the Surbiton Motor Works, about which information is also sought. The car’s first owner was Hugh Lang of Worpleston and he sold it to someone in New Zealand in 1930, the Bentley returning to this country in the 1950s. The very good and enthusiastic service received from SU’s Service Department at West Bromwich is warmly praised by J. F. Bailey of Crewe, who had the carburetters of his 1930 Riley Lynx dealt with most thoroughly and with enthusiasm one morning, for a well-spent sum of less than £50. He would like to know where his 1932 Riley Gamecock WD 3647, 1936 Riley Kestrel Sprite DLC 364, 1938 Riley Adelphi DSM 393, and 1964 Alfa Romeo Spider UEW 2L are today.
When we referred to the Gosport tube communication between pilot instructors and pupils in Avro 504s and other early aeroplanes we called it a telephone system for expediency but should perhaps have made it clear that this Gosport system was simply composed of speaking tubes. The new Chairman of the Historic Vehicle Clubs Committee, which does so much invaluable work for the entire old-vehicles movement, is Bernard Kain, well-known Bugatti exponent and solicitor. James Crocker, who has held the position for 12 years, is standing down due to business commitments. The Sunbeam MCC’s well-established Pioneer Run from Epsom to Brighton will be held next year on Sunday March 20th. Regulations and entry forms will be ready later this month, from Mrs A. J. Ayers, 59, Beechwood Road, Sanderstead, Surrey, CR2 OAE, the Run being for pre-1915 motorcycles holding eligible Pioneer dating-certificates. Incidentally, the Chairman of the Sunbeam MCC, Lt.-Col. Ayers, has almost completed restoration of his 1919 Douglas small-car. Just out of this column’s usual orbit, a reader wants to discover the history of his circa 1948 14 h.p. Lea-Francis, Reg. No. MNW 772, chassis no. 7020, which was prepared as a “works” car for racing at Goodwood. Letters and any photographs can be forwarded. — W.B.