Rumblings, February 1940

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Big Stuff

BIG cars are few and far between these dark days. Forrest Lycett put his Bentleys away and tried a Fiat 500 when war started, John Bolster’s Delage and Isotta-Fraschini are in store and he relies on Barbara Bolster’s Fiat 500, Clutton has laid up his Bentley and is car-less at present, Peter Clark has stored his Lambda Lancia, trials Bentley and F.M. and motors in his H.R.G., Allard uses a Ford Eight for general transport, Ken Hutchison seems to be thinking in terms of a blown Ford Ten, and D. B. Tubbs has forsaken his “30/98” Vauxhall for a Type 45 Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. However, last month we described in “General Notes” how Anthony Heal took the road with his “30/98” Vauxhall and 1919 5-litre Ballot—quite an epic outing under war conditions. The relationship between the Ballot’s rev-counter readings and its road speed has now been worked out more accurately and it transpires that the car actually did 109 m.p.h. along the Oxford By Pass. Incidentally, quite how we managed to imply that Heal and his merry men unlawfully got hold of P.M.S.1 racing dope and used it on the Ballot we do not know. It has a compression-ratio of around 5 to 1 and ran perfectly well on straight Shell. Another point that might as well be cleared up is that the Vauxhall car no longer has the Munday engine installed. This engine OE 220, broke a gudgeon pin at the Stanley Cup Crystal Palace meeting early last year, and considerable damage resulted. So Heal is now using standard OE “30/98” engine, merely, retaining the Munday cylinder head, which has larger inlet valves than standard. In any case, he only used the Munday engine, with special camshaft, the large valve head, and twin Zenith triple diffusers, for competition work. It will be recalled that this Munday engine achieved fame by lapping Brooklands at nearly 115 m.p.h. in a stripped four-seater “30/98,” driven by R. J. Munday, the fastest lap ever put in by one of these cars. Later Munday put the engine into one of the 1921 Straight-Eight Sunbeams, which Daybell had run once at a IB.A.R.C. meeting about 1930. Then Bainton acquired this car, repainted it, and re-named it the Bainton-Special. After some special magic on the engine it went extremely well at one Brooklands meeting. Tubbs’s “30/98” is the Munday chassis, it is believed, with a quite standard motor. By the way, Tubbs has found a 1908 28 h.p. Talbot in nice order.

We have observed that such big motor cars must be few and far between nowadays, but it is very good news to learn from the November 1939 New Car Registrations that ninety-one cars over 20 h.p. were taxed. This is a decrease of 1,092 against November 1938, but even so . . . .

Your War Plans?

The number of cars on our roads has been cut to about half the peace-time volume. Lots of people seem to assume that purely pleasure motoring has come almost to a stand, with the exception of fortunate luxury owners of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, and that commercial travellers and business folk now have exclusive use of the highways. We fear that a very great many family-car motorists, who in happier times have derived untold pleasure from small saloon cars, have had to give up their major pastime–if one can call the ownership of such a versatile servant as the modern car a pastime. We imagine that a lot of big cars used for both business and pleasure have been laid up in favour of smaller cars. But we refuse to believe that your true enthusiast has laid up his car in large numbers, either in despair or as a punishment against Sir John Simon. The Government has never suggested that it wants pleasure motorists to give up motoring; it does not question how one’s basic annual rationed mileage of approximately 2,400 is enjoyed. And we feel sure that the sports-car owner is the last person to lay up his car. Observation since January 1st certainly indicates that a large number of sports models, many driven in the coolest weather in open form, even with the screen flat, as evidence of enthusiasm, were still on the road. It is just possible that a few owners may have foolishly used their cars during the fourteen days of grace with no intention of re-taxing in 1940, and the writer has to confess that as he went into hospital for a while on the 14th, his intention of noting how many sports motors were about in the London area after this date has not been fulfilled. However, we are confident that the hard-hit motor trade will find a fair measure of support from enthusiasts this year. Incidentally, the modern sports-car offers rapid, safe transport facilities with complete reliability, so there is no reason to assume that everyone you see in use is squandering fuel on purely idle pottering. Even if the enthusiast does not continue to run his sports-car he will go very carefully into a suitable means of war-time transport. Also, remember that lots of really high-performance cars which we hold in high esteem, even if they are not sports-cars in the true sense of the word, are owned by really keen motorists. We suggest that it is these people who will keep the motoring flag flying, during the war, not only by paying up to the National Exchequer, but because they will keep their cars properly serviced and decently equipped even under small mileage operation, which will be heartening to an already seriously disrupted motor trade. With a view to confirming how enthusiasts are meeting the depressing conditions that now prevail, and because it would be most interesting to hear which fast cars are, and which are not, still in use, and how smaller cars are in some cases replacing them “for the duration,” we are going to ask you to submit to a census. We would like you to send us a postcard giving your name and the make and type of your car, stating whether it is still in use or laid up, or, if you are using something humbler nowadays, giving the make and type of this car. For the purpose of this census only cars now taxed should be described as “in use,” and only those definitely stored away as “laid up.” If you use your car for business to the extent of extra fuel rations, please include the word “Supplementary,” and if you have been courageous enough to tax the car for the whole of 1940, we think you should say so! If there is a sufficient response to this request we may be able to give some encouraging information next month and perhaps prove that in war-time, as in peace, the sports-car owner does his share towards supporting the motor trade and swelling the Exchequer.

Address your card : MOTOR SPORT Census, 21, City Road, London, E.C.1.

Odd Spots

Sydney Allard, Guy Warburton and Ken Hutchison will probably take their Allard-Specials down to Wales for the Easter holidays.

In the next issue we hope to give you the reminiscences of F. L. M. Harris, who was with “The Light Car” during the post-1914-18 period and has an intimate knowledge of early small cars. He is now General Secretary of the M.G.C.C., an officer in the Balloon Barrage, R.A.F., and Editor of “The Sports Car,” which has suspended publication for the duration.

The Frazer-Nash works at Isleworth are now occupied by militia-men being trained in vehicle maintenance for the R.A.O.C., in which H. J. and D. A. Aldington hold important positions.

A. F. P. Pane is a Flying Officer in the R.A.F.

Congratulations to the Ford Motor Co. Ltd., on introducing the first new model of the war.