I was very pleased to read in last month’s MOTOR SPORT your suggestion that groups of enthusiasts should organise “War-time Scuderias,” and would like to tell you of one to which I belong run by a group of young enthusiasts in the Purley locality. We are affectionately known as “L’ecrie de L’elphant Blanc” and at the moment our “works” consist of two hired lock-ups, behind a service station, though we have greater ambitions and hope at some time to be able to get ourselves a decent place somewhere on its own. There are four of us at the moment, and we are all decidedly “vintage,” and are 100 per cent. enthusiasts. Our equipe consists of a 1929 ex-Whitney Straight ex-Victor Gillow “Brooklands” Riley, a 1929 “12/40” Lea-Francis and a 1929 350 c.c. Raleigh motor-cycle. On the occasions when we organise high speed runs we rope in friends, who run a J2 M.G., “Monte Carlo” Triumph, 1,100 c.c. Fiat, Singer “Le Mans,” 3½-litre Bentley and Type 57 Bugatti, though actual members are requested to have a vintage trend.
At the moment the Riley is the only active bolide and is used regularly at week-ends, running on basic rations, and on more than one occasion has had to be pushed the last 200 yards to the lock-up, due to furious ticking on the part of the fuel pumps! The Raleigh is spread all over the place at the moment, waiting to be rebuilt. The Lea-Francis is a comparatively new acquisition and was purchased from it local breaker for a little over the proverbial fiver. The day of collection of the Leaf was a rather wet one, but rain and air-raids have no effect on enthusiasts who have an object in view, and the Riley was called upon to tow our new find back to the “ecurie,” as there was no one else available. After putting out a jolly little carburetter fire on the Riley, due to a sticking ignition control, we set off far the breaker’s. Three up in the Brooklands was just a wee bit tight! Unfortunately, the owner of the Leaf had forgotten to leave us the key to the yard, so not, to be outdone we picked the lock in true professional style, with a piece of wire, albeit from the breaker’s own fence, and then hitched the Leaf behind the Riley and made for home. Controlling the Leaf proved somewhat, exciting due to the absence of seats, but a spare wheel and a cushion sufficed and we arrived back at H.Q. with nothing other than a broken tow rope, due to a misunderstanding when entering the “ecurie” garage. Almost, immediately work was started on the motor and now the chassis stands resplendent in its nakedness, waiting for its new light weight body to be made. The engine will be “warmed” slightly and possibly a double carb. head will be fitted instead of the single now in place, and new manifolds made up. We haven’t yet decided when we hope to get the motor on the road but hope the time won’t be very far ahead.
MOTOR SPORT is a regular entrant into the “ecurie,” and I can assure you that in our little group you have readers who will support you to the very end, for as the pre-war sporting days get farther and farther away MOTOR SPORT becomes appreciated and looked forward to even more, if that is possible.
If anyone should happen to be in the Purley-Croydon district during a weekend and would like to drop in to the “ecurie,” they can be sure of a welcome. We are to be found behind John Wilson’s service station near Sanderstead Southern Railway station, but we do insist upon them being enthusiasts!
DENIS S. JENKINSON.