A change of perspective

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A change of perspective

With a membership of over 7000 and rising, the VSCC today is far removed from the position it saw itself in when war ended in 1945. Its original constitution was as a club for owners of pre-1931 cars, but to ensure a secure membership at this time it took the bold decision of admitting cars made up to 1940 — but only those of which it approved. This dismayed some whose ideals embraced 30/98 Vauxhalls, Bentleys and similar well-made, unpretentious, fast cars providing driving pleasure.

Because of the move to recognise these ‘post-vintage thoroughbreds’, Michael May, that splendid character who raced his Alvis Silver Eagle with hearty determination, resigned, with others. Was it the inclusion of the SS100 as a PVT which offended? Fine car that it proved to be, it was unacceptable to some of those early VSCC members. With its long and many-louvred bonnet housing a side-valve engine, flamboyant lines, and allegedly usually occupied by those wearing white linen racing helmets, it was a nogo. I knew one garage owner who refused to sell petrol to people in these cars. Yet years later I was led by an excited VSCC person to see at one of its meetings that they had three SS100s lined up together. History moves on. The 1945 PVT acceptance list was difficult to finalise, all those years ago. It took in front-wheeldrive Citroens, which vintage folk discounted as being commendably advanced but nevertheless massproduced family conveyances (but which were still used by several prominent VSCC members, as also were Volvos later on). Only genuine or Le Mans Singers, Ballila Fiats, and Minervas and Packards with no fewer than eight cylinders, were of good enough breeding, as was the Austin 7 Nippy, which I

thought a nice little car but not in the vintage Ulster class. Lincolns, Zephyrs and Mercurys were rightly excluded, Cadillacs to be regarded with caution, and of the ‘AngloAmerican bastards’ only the open Railtons were accepted.

A piece of history, not intended to denigrate cars you favour, not even the SS100, if only because it led to all those excellent twin-cam Jaguars, the Xl(s and the E-type especially, and to domination of important sportscar races, for which we now mourn.