Welsh Vintage

For the popular VSCC Welsh Trial of October 10/11, 116 cars were entered. Competitors are able not only to test their driving skills but penetrate into some rather nice scenery. Presteigne High Street was well infested with aged motor cars, but fortunately is now by-passed; here evening festivities were laid on by Sotheby’s at the ancient Radnorshire Arms, the Club’s HQ. There were plenty of American cars in evidence, such as the Buick, a hammer resting on its exposed push-rod overhead-valve engine, the Marion, Roscoe’s Overland, a Dodge Brothers saloon, Chrysler and various Model-B Fords, one of which, masquerading as a Frazer Nash, was seeking more throttle-opening in view of the hills ahead, another having a back wheel changed.

The eye was caught, as they say, by Firth’s 5.5-litre Nordenfelt, smart in blue and brass, and very sporting, made 86 summers (or winters) ago one knows not where; or at least, I don’t. In Class 1 more than half the entry was of A7s, and as we looked at some of them in the chilly thin sunshine we were reminded how the Bard had pontificated: Blow, blow, thou wintery wind, Thou art not as unkind (to the VSCC’s awards-store) as a score of Longbridge mites…” In fact, the score was 25 A7s out of 44, and one of the “others” had an A7 engine. Saturday saw three fresh sections to tackle, Black Hill, Lower Litten and Llan Fawr, at Old Shop Farm. Sunday’s trial contented itself with the well-wheel-spun Lloyd’s, Cwmheyop, Railway, Forest Wood, etc, ending with the three steep ones at Pilleth, where there is generous free parking for rubber-neckers.

Here I noted that the Nordenfelt was well endowed with 500 x 21 tyres for its back wheels (Edwardians now seem inclined towards non-original-size tyres) and saw Keith Hill’s Crouch Helix arrive on a rope, with transmission trouble. Riddle was more fortunate, managing to replace a recalcitrant top-speed chain, on his GN with the 1.7-litre push-rod ohv engine. Dr Gray had a side-valve 980cc air-cooled JAP vee-twin in his 1928 A7, with A7 gearbox, 5.25 axle and a replica sports body based on that which the Austin Motor Co had tried early in 1924, before changing to their Super Sports model. It went well, with a little persuasion to get it moving.

At Pilleth II, Carlisle’s Trojan ascended slowly but surely ahead of a cloud of blue oil smoke, but the lhd Buick stopped high up. Mrs Shoesmith’s A7 seemed to have a fierce clutch. So the seemingly endless ascents continued but results were produced commendably quickly and it was seen that Roger Collings, driving the 1903 Mercedes 60 with its four-seater “interim” body and on 500 x 20 back tyres, had tied for the Presteigne Trophy (best performance) with S Baxter’s 1928 4-litre Chrysler. At one point young Diffey’s A7 had been well in the running, until he stopped to help with his brother’s ailing A7.

The Harry Bowler Trophy for the best result in Class I was won by Richard Odell (Riley). The Road Rally winner was R Burnett navigated by J Warburton (Alvis) who gained the Jubilee Mug. Reverting to the two-day trial, the Smatcher Trophy went to P Weston (A7) and as Dr Isobel Gray had contrived to roll her Ulster A7 completely over and into the river at Cwmgilla, with no apparent damage to herself or passenger Winston Teague, and very little to the car, and as they continued, they well deserved the Leslie Winder Trophy to which was added a life belt! In Class 1 First Class Awards went to Odell, H Stringer (A7), P Longhurst (Riley), and R Felton (Bugatti), Second Class Awards to P Blakeney-Edwards (Frazer Nash), R Low (A7), J McEwen (Riley), W Hall (Riley), J Diffey (A7) and J Blake (GN). Third Class Awards to B Clarke (A7-GN), Rebecca Gunn (A7) and F Giles (Frazer Nash). The Class 2 awards were Firsts to Collings/Baxter, the joint overall winners, J Ghosh (30/98), B Collings (Bentley), W Urry (Riley) and J Proctor (Chrysler), Second Class Awards to A Jeddere-Fisher (30/98), A Joding (Morris), R Thwaites (Ford), R Harcourt-Smith (Alvis), H Monro (30/98), M Thompson (Buick), M Hirst (Alvis) and J Wheeler (Morris) and T Riley (Ford). In the Road Trial there were four Firsts, four Second and three Third Class Award takers but however did Donald Parker/John Howell (Chrysler) net the Novice Award!?