V to C: A Matter of Identity

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98

In the last but one issue of the now-defunct magazine The Automobile two questions of veteran-car identity were posed, which the demise of the journal prevented us from replying to. But as it may be of general interest to tie up these loose ends, may I say that in the case of the Hurtu recently acquired by motor-trader Peter Harper, from someone who had owned it since about 1956, a  3-1/2 hp dos-a-dos said to have “totally original paint and upholstery”, that this was the car owned by the late Capt. J. H. Wylie before the war, when he was Secretary of the VCC of GB.

I know this because I was lucky enough to ride on it as his passenger in the 1937 London-Brighton Veteran Car Run. We started first, experienced some problems en route, including loss of the cotter-pin from the automatic inlet valve, which by an impossible to ever repeat fluke, I managed to replace while the valve rested on the piston, the Run being completed with the candle lamps alight. I see that The Automobile is uncertain of the Hurtu’s dating, which it thinks never came under the VCC’s careful dating-scheme; it puts it as “about 1899”, but says that Michael Sedgwick thought it was earlier. All I can add is that in 1937 it was declared as an 1898 veteran .  It was probably the one owned by Capt. Bliss in 1928, when, if so, it was declared as 1896.

The other veteran over which the magazine raised some queries is an American Duryea, discovered by another trader, David Baldock, after it had been in the ownership of the same family in Solihull since the 1920s or earlier. Although disentombed and dismantled with a view to restoration 39 years ago, this never happened and the body has since been vandalised by children and the car exposed to the elements after the shed in which it was kept disintegrated. It is certainly not in anything like as good order as the Hurtu, but an interesting find nevertheless. This Duryea with its three-cylinder, horizontal engine is thought to have taken part in a Veteran Car Brighton Run, although no record seems to confirm this, at all events before 1930. — W B