Vintage Postbag, December 1995

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Brighton Double

Sir,
This year I drove the London to Brighton twice on the same day in my 1901 single-cylinder 7½hp Renault. Do you know if I have set a record, or has a double run been achieved before?
I left Hyde Park at 07.48 hrs and was the first car to arrive at Madeira Drive at 10.17 hrs. The RAC will not list me as first as their control was not open, and I only stopped for a few photographs.
I then drove back to Hyde Park, getting there at about 13.00 hrs. After a quick photo there, I set off back to Brighton for the second time, following the official route. After lapping some 5 or 6 cars still running, I reached Brighton for the second time that day at about 16.15 hrs, having driven some 173 miles in 8½ hours virtually non-stop. What a car, it did not miss a beat and the engine only stopped twice whilst I was refuelling.
Incidently, the Renault and I have also achieved a “HAT TRICK” by being the first car to reach Brighton on 3 consecutive years.
Roger R E Heminway,
London,

Fiat Enlightenment

Sir,
I would agree with you that there is a case that can be made for the pre-war Fiat 500 to be recognised by the VSCC as a Post-Vintage Thoroughbred. However, I fear that you have been misled on the subject of dating them by the rear suspension arrangements. While it is true that the pre-1939 cars had quarter-elliptics, the 1939 cars had semi-elliptic rear springs and the cruciform chassis, which like the earlier ones was more or less an assembly jig. The strength came from the body as the few brave souls who tried to convert the cabriolet-style body into a true open tourer very quickly discovered. Pre-1939 in this case is not synonymous with pre-war.

My own first legal miles on the roads of this country were covered in one of these rather endearing machines (EPO 387 — is it still out there?), and like most ex-Topolino drivers I remember the change from first to second which on a cold morning had to be carried out at the speed of light, or the drag of the cold oil in the box would bring the gearwheels to a halt. Also I wonder how many other owners, on approaching the car with the roof furled down, were tempted to vault in over the back of the car and found themselves sliding down into the driving seat with the gear-lever disappearing up their left trouser-leg. Believe me, there are easier situations to get out of!
R N Robinson,
Kenilworth, Warks.

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