V to C Miscellany, December 1995

The Development Directorate of Coventry’s City Planning Services has produced an extremely interesting and well-contrived folder showing the location of the sites of existing buildings which were devoted to car production in that city. This Centenary Guide misses nothing, and a clear map is an invitation to look at such sites, a happy outing for bicycling car enthusiasts, for example.
Over 130 locations have been identified and there is text describing them, with overlays of some of the car’s badges or logos, and the maps are very precise. There are also photographs of some of the factories, and reproductions of advertisements for Velox, Duryea (which was built here as well as in America) and the Coventry Victor three-wheeler. The sites on the map are those of the Daimler Motor Mills, Triumph, Cluley, Coventry Motette, Rudge, Rover, New Beeston/Swift, Maudslay, Singer, Garrard and Blumfield, Lea-Francis (three sites), Hubbard, Calcott, Morris (ex-Hotchkiss), Endurance, Velox/Iden/Deasy and Armstrong Siddeley. The map references show large, medium and small sites and those which are largely intact, partially intact, or completely developed. Essential for those interested in motoring history.

Looking ahead to next year, Amman & DMC is to run an historic rally for inexperienced competitors only, their Novices Rally. On simplified Targa Rusticana lines, with Tulip navigation, a 50-mile Welsh lanes thrash and a night run, this sounds like just the job for training beginners, for an entry fee of £85. Apply in December to Mrs Veronica Gale, 13 Wellfield Avenue, Neath, West Glamorgan SA11 1EZ, or call her on 01639 635860.

There is plenty of Brooklands history available, with recent books, the Society magazine and the much improved Museum journal “Spirit of Brooklands.” In addition, the Brooklands Society has sponsored a revised edition of R H Beaumont’s book 25 Years at Brooklands Track, a most interesting account of recollections of his time with Parry Thomas, from 1924-27 into the Railton era. The text, formerly published in Motor Sport, has been enlarged and the pictures computer-improved. This 104-page, A5 size soft-cover book is available for £8 post free (£9 outside the UK) from the Society’s Hon Secretary, Len Battyll, Cleeve Cottage, Cobham Way, Surrey KT24 5BH. It is fascinating reading, our only quibble the misspelling of Hawkes and Warde in the Index (as if the Arrow Press had run out of “e”s…)

December’s LE JOG appears to be nearing its total entry of 120 cars. We hear that team discounts on the £795 entry-fee have brought in at least 10 “works” three-car teams, of Jowett Javelins, MG Magnettes, 1.5 Rileys, PV544 Volvos, Austin Healey 3000s, Ford Cortina GTs, MG-BS, MG-As, and vintage Alvises. A dozen crews are coming from Holland, and pre-war cars for this 1600-mile Marathon include a 1929 Chrysler 77, a Brough Superior and also from Holland a Le Mans 4½-litre Lagonda. Sue Shoosmith needs a third crew-member for her vintage Bentley. The date is December 2/5; details from John Brown on 01886 833505.

We hear that Coys International Historic Silverstone two-day Festival, at which there was some unpleasantness due to overmuch red-tape this year, will move to an August date in 1996, with the Brabham marque honoured.

The major International Rally next year looks like being the Rover-RVA World event. Lord Montagu, Chairman of the organising committee, expects a global entry of some 400 cars. There are to be six car age-groups, ranging from pre-1905 to 1973, assembling in Edinburgh for the start on June 15, with the conclusion at Gaydon on June 22 with a Gala dinner, and a final parade through the motor-Midlands on June 23. Richard Lawson Transport of Dundee are offering free vehicle road/rail transport to Edinburgh from various ports, with return from Oxford, and Rover will further arrange free return shipping from USA, Japan, S Africa, Australia and NZ to this country. Call John Pullen, on 01268-775711, if you are interested.

It is a pleasant surprise to learn that in the unlikely area of the new St John’s retail park in Wolverhampton, occupied among others by a McDonalds, Currys, and Homebase, the town’s Motor Industry associations with Sunbeam, Clyno, Star, Guy, Briton and NS, etc. are commemorated by a number of decorative tiles depicting this past history. At the gateway to the development area, adjacent to the ring road, these tiles, the work of bronze founder Chris Butler, John McKenna, the sculptor, artist Steve Field and transport historian and Star Registrar Ray Jones, show racing achievements from 1925 to 1930 of Sir Malcolm Campbell, Sir Henry Segrave and Kaye Don, which you can see on the wall of Homebase Stores. A relief map at the park’s entrance points to the sites of the old Sunbeam and AJS factories, and incorporates the Guy trademark.

The Leeds Extra newspaper has been asking its readers to recall their first cars. A nice idea, which brought in memories of a Standard Eight, later replaced with a Standard Ten Gold Star saloon, a £40 Swift Ten fabric saloon and a Standard Flying Ten saloon, the first two bought just after the war, the last in 1938 — even if a caption writer did think that Morris made the Standards. Curiously, the contributors wrote of having to crank up their engines, whereas we know that all these cars had self-starters. Presumably the batteries were not up to turning these, or the starters themselves were faulty!