Veteran Edwardian Vintage – Miscellany, December 1985, December 1985

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Too late to record last month, it was sad to learn of the death of David H. Murray, which severs another link with the old “Chain-Gang” and Frazer Nash-BMW world. After racing, rallying, and using for trials a Frazer Nash in 1934 and 1935, Murray took to a Type 319/55 Frazer Nash-BMW cabriolet, which he drove in the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally, after which, having joined the Board of Directors of AFN Ltd, he competed at Le Mans and in the TT with a 328 BMW. After the war he continued his competition activities with a Le Mans Replica Frazer Nash and used Bristol 400s in the Alpine Rally, etc. In fact, although coming from a wealthy Scottish family, Murray came south in the 1930s intent on his hobby of competition motoring, taking over a garage in London, but in his retirement he lived quietly in Sussex. His Frazer Nash TT Replica (BMC 450) is today owned by John Aldington.

It may have escaped the notice of some British enthusiasts that at last summer’s Miss World Cancours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach, USA, the organisers had achieved. the remarkable feat of assembling all six of the surviving Bugatti Royales. Four were in America anyway, but two more came, it is good to note, from the Schlumpf Museum. The only one in running order seems to have been Briggs Cunningham’s, to whom all credit. These Royales included the prototype of these 14.7-litre “Golden” Bugattis, dating from 1926/27, fitted originally with a y from a Packard tourer, then with a Weymann body, until it was crashed and. damaged by fire. It was subsequently rebuilt for the Bugatti family and given a Jean Bugatti-designed coupe body and is now in the Mulhouse, Museum. From the Harrah Collection came the Royale that was built for Armand Esders with a two-seater body but was later given a Binder coupe-de-ville body. Also from the Harrah Collection came the remarkable Berline-bodied car styled by Bugatti and used by his family for some years. The Henry Ford Museum sent their Weinberger cabriolet built for Dr Fuchs of Germany but which suffered frost damage at his Long Island home in the USA in 1937/38. Mr C. A. Chayne of General Motors restored it after the war and used it in the 1947 VMCC of A Glidden Tour, etc. Mulhouse sent the other car from that Museum, which had been delivered in 1933 to Capt Foster in England, with a Park Ward saloon body, and which was once a familiar sight in Leominster. The Briggs Cunningham car is the Royale which came to the Olympia Show in 1932, with a two-door Kellner saloon body, priced at £6,500, and was later used by L’Ebe Bugatti for some time. What an occasion! Incidentally, at this American Bugatti Rally Hugh Conway counted no fewer than six Brescias at rally headquarters, the largest number he could remember seeing together at one time, which perhaps sets David Sewell the chance of surpassing this at a 1986 BOC even …

We were reminded that the STD Register, for Wolverhampton Sunbeams, Roesch Talbots, and Darracqs of this period, is as active as ever (it now has some 500 members) when a nice selection of pre-war and vintage Sunbeam 16 hp and 25 hp saloons brought members to Wales on a social visit that took in a woollen-mill and the Elan Valley reservoirs, and tea at their President’s house, before dinner at “The Commodore” in Llandrindod Wells, where the more active Sunbeamists swam beforehand. Among those who participated were Secretary Jeremy Grammer, Sunbeam technical expert Roger Carter, Ben Yates, Bill Barrott, Bob Frost, Paul Easter and Dr Lawson, with J. Dodd among the Talbot party. Anyone who needs information about the Register should contact Harry Tennant, North Hill Farm, Membury, Axminster, Devon. A quarterly Journal and a monthly Newsletter are issued and the Sunbeams return to their birthplace annually. We hear that, for the time being at least, the old Talbot Ladbroke Hall factory in London is safe from destruction.

Some photographs of the memorable time when Hans von Stuck brought an Auto-Union to Shelsley Walsh (June 6th, 1936) that I have been looking at clearly show how the only instrument in the cockpit was a large central tachometer (calibrated in large figures every 1,000 rpm, with smaller markings for the 500 rpm between, the warning sector beginning at 3,500 rpm and going “into the red” at 4,500 to 5,000 rpm), that even the frame of the aeroscreen had lightening holes, and that treaded twin rear tyres and detachable steering-wheel were used. A Bellevue Garage single-seater MG, also with twin rear tyres, is seen parked behind the Auto-Union, with its Ford van; and Kenneth Evans and the Bellevue mechanics led by “Wilkie” Wilkinson are taking a keen interest. In another picture Raymond Mays, whose ERA was to clock 41.4 sec on that wet afternoon, against Stuck’s 45.2 sec, is chatting to the Auto-Union driver and Kay Petre is seen looking in the Auto-Union’s cockpit.

There are also pictures of the big Horcl coupe in which Stuck drove to Shelsley, a BRDC badge in pride of place on it; one notes that it had knock-off hubs even for the side-mounted spare wheels. – W.B.