V to C Miscellany, December 1986

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A 1906 Nordenfelt with a 30 hp Barriquand et Marne engine and a Darracq front axle has been found in a shed in Ulster and the intention is to restore it, it is hoped in time for the 1987 VSCC Prescott hill-climb; the chassis, which has been brought to England, is complete except tor the bodywork. The Alvis Silver Eagle-owning discoverer would appreciate information on this rare Belgian make.

***

Last October the Price brothers were reunited with an A7 which Gordon Price, an Austin Company apprentice, had made up in 1933 using a left-over Super Sports engine and chassis and the discarded body from one of the 1929 Ulster TT A7s. They used the car until war broke out and then sold it; in recent times it has been run in competitions by the present owner, John Hinchcliffe.

***

Chris Gould has brought out another edition of his book about how to build a sports A7 based on the original Ulster model, and has altered the title from “A Guide To Building Replica Austin Ulsters” to “A Guide To Building Reproduction Austin Ulsters” in deference to the point made in Motor Sport by Denis Jenkinson that “replica” means a copy made by the original artist or maker — so in future, chaps, call your imitation A7s of this sort Reproduction Ulsters, on pain of death or worse…   Joking apart, this book has gone into its third edition, with revised notes on the original cars, a road-test report on an unblown Ulster taken from a 1931 issue of The Light Car & Cyclecar, and plans and illustrations for building up a reproduction based on the Gould bodyshell.  This edition appeared in 1983 and is available from the author at 8, Georgia Avenue, Worthing, Sussex BN14 8AZ, for £6.00 post free.

***

We hear that the workshop used by the Hon. C. S Rolls in London, which had been converted into a small one-bedroom cottage, but which at the time was part of the South Lodge Estate which was used by the Rolls family as their London home, sold recently for £185,000.  The mansion itself, built in 1826, on a prominent site on the corner of Knightsbridge and Trevor Place, with some 50 rooms, was sold by the same agents in 1967 and was demolished a year later to make way for a block of flats.

***

Paul Dutoit, whom we have mentioned more than once in recent articles, was incorrectly described as a Belgian, whereas he was, in fact, a Swiss, on his father’s side, with a grandmother, Marie de Bourgoyne, who apparently originated from a Huguenot family chased from France in the 17th century. Incidentally, Dutoit’s daughter celebrated her 70th birthday not long ago and lives in Switzerland.

***

Hugh Torrens, of the Alvis Register, is attempting to compile a biography of Joseph Day, pioneer of the two-stroke engine, who patented a valveless two-stroke gas-engine in 1891-2 and after failing for many years to obtain proper finance for their manufacture, started production in London in 1906, these stationary and marine engines being made later by the Day Motor Co. in Putney from 1908. This firm went over to munitions manufacture during the war but apparently resumed engine production in 1923, having been reformed as the Day Foundry and Engine Co. in Richmond, but manufacture ceased by 1927.  Day died, aged 91, on Christmas Day, 1946, near Twickenham, quite forgotten, but examples of his pioneer two-strokes can be seen in the Kensington Science Museum and the Deutsche Museum in Munich; the former organisation has appealed unsuccessfully for information about Joseph Day and Torrens appeals to Motor Sport readers who may have information or know of the existance of Day engines, perhaps in small boats. Letters can be forwarded.

***

Among the new exhibits at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu is a 1914 ModelT Ford van in the livery of a bakery company, and it was expected that the 1904 100hp Gordon Bennett Napier and the 1905 20hp Rolls-Royce might be on show there for a brief period, on their way from the Harrah auction, where the Napier sold for £175,000, to the Dutch National Motor Museum which bought them.  Incidentally, the NMM is putting on another rally for Austin 7s next year, and as this will be the 25th birthday of the National A7 Rally which had 186 entries at Beaulieu in 1963, it is hoped that there will be some 750 A7s there next time. The date is July 5th, 1987.

***

In his book “Croissants at Croydon”. the story of Air France at the London Air Terminal (see “Book Reviews”), the author, the late Jack Bamford, refers to his first car, which was a circa-1920 Wolseley two-seater bought, when it was about eight years old, for £40, which he drove home without having driving lessons, and which used to be started on the handle and carry four people, two in the dickey-seat. “Handmade, with solid metal fittings”, it would never completely wear out, its owner said. When it proved impossible to find reverse gear on that initial run passers-by helped to push the Wolseley backwards and, later, even gently bowling the local traffic policeman over because of weak brakes brought nothing more than advice as to where they might be fixed.  Happy days — the couple’s first house cost them £650. With promotion, late in 1930, the old Wolseley was changed for a Vauxhall, and later for a Rover, a more presentable house acquired, for £1,200, and a maid employed, for 10/-(50p) a week all found.  Still happy days, in spite of the prevailing depression.  Incidentally, the author’s father’s cousin was the Norton of motorcycle fame, whose name was inscribed in large letters on a factory chimney near Le Bourget aerodrome in 1921, as Bamford saw when arriving there in a Breguet biplane. The book has a painting of a 1926 Dodge van which, with Model T Fords, brought Air Union freight from London out to Croydon, its driver, Charles Taylor, remembering this to have included a baby bear, a coffin and gold bullion. The book costs £5.95, and is available from the London Borough of Sutton Libraries and Arts Services, Central Library St Nicholas Way, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 1EA, postage extra. An unusual book, for aviation followers, but the author was wrong in thinking that driving licences were not needed in 1928, and where he refers to the nauseating odour of Castrol fumes, a vegetable oil, from the engines of Air Union’s early Breguet and Spad passenger-carrying aeroplanes, surely means Castrol castor-based oil?

***

Thomas Robinson, who worked on Parry Thomas’s racing cars, has died peacefully at the age of 85, thereby removing one more link with those days. We published some of the reminiscences of those Brooklands days in Motor Sport some time back; after Thomas death at Pendine in ”Babs” Mr. Robinson, was given a first-class reference by Ken Thomson himself, of the Thomas Inventions Development Company Ltd, of Whitehall, when that company was wound up in March 1927. — WB