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This month’s cover picture is a tribute to the late Percy Maclure, who died recently in Coventry at the age of 37, after an illness lasting for Percy many months. He is shown at Don Maclure ington at the wheel of one of his famous Rileys, driving, as was characteristic of him, without goggles. Because of family connections Maclure drove Riley cars, and it was common knowledge that he received some works support, but, nevertheless, the modifications made to his cars were his own, and he did most of his own work. Indeed, his successes can be largely attributed to the fact that he was a first-class mechanic, although his driving ability was also of an exceptionally high order —many people put him amongst the first flight of British drivers, and all would have liked to have seen him at the wheel of an E.R.A. He used 1,100-c.c.,
if 1 fare and 2-litre Riley cars and, running unblown, they were adversely handicapped even before they commenced a race. Even so, Maclure’s successes included winning the 1987 Coronation Trophy at the Crystal Palace, where he was certainly a favourite with the crowd, and the 1938 International Trophy race at Brooklands. On the latter occasion we well remember the tremendous reception Percy received when he returned to the paddock—it was a very long time before he could shake off the autograph hunters and hero-worshippers and enter his battered Riley Nine saloon, and it was typical of the man that he was genuinely surprised and embarrassed at his popularity. He also scored class wins in the 2-litre category of the 1936 French G.P. and the ii-litre class of the 1938 Nuffield Trophy race. He was reserve to the V12 Lagonda team at Le Mans in 1989, but, unfortunately, did not get a drive. Of recent years he evolved i.f.s. for his cars and, unsupercharged, his Riley held the Crystal Palace lap record for a time, a feat otherwise the prerogative of blown machinery. Only three men have been round London’s road-circuit more rapidly than Percy Mac. He represented the very best class of British driver, and it is terribly sad that one so rugged in his racing should die as be did, at such an early age. For that, this war is certainly indirectly responsible. A great deal has been written about the new Capacity Tax. This is clearly an imposition imposed on the
motoring community by a greedy Capacity Tax Chancellor, advised by the S.M.M.T. The industry in general will welcome it as a means of making the public more little-tin-boxminded than ever, and a country so devoted to 10-h.p. cars is unlikely to bother very much about the change. Certainly not enough to agitate for a reduction in the excessively high rate of t1 per 100 c.c., with, as yet, no announcement as to the minimum tax. But if the industry hopes that the new tax will prevent people buying American cars or bringing on to the road old cars which have been carefully stored for the duration of hostilities, we think it is likely to receive a rude awakening. The value for money and quality of vehicles in the tin-box class is likely to be so low for some years after peace is restored, that many people will decide to buy low-priced imported large cars or to keep their existing cars, even if this entails an annual tax increase of some /15 to £20 under this very unfair method of taxation. It is evident that we are meant to be an unambitious nation so far as our road transport is concerned, tied to little cars of low h.p.—this, in spite of what our Army transport is doing to regain peace for us. A well-known racing driver recently reminded us in The Motor that there will be no more great British cars and that, in time, the by-word in all countries for quality may pass from ” Rolls-Royce ” to ” Cadillac ” or “Packard.” We fear that this is partially true, and the enthusiast may well feel proud that the sole remaining examples of classic British engineering practice to be seen on post-war roads, will be his. More seriously, we hope that Rolls-Royce, Ltd., will find that their products will command as ready a market under the new tax as they did before— we consider that they are very likely to do so. It will certainly be a dismal happening if cars of this sort, which so ably uphold British prestige all over the world at no cost to the Government, are killed off by the capacity tax—especially remembering the part Rolls-Royce, Ltd., played in winning the decisive Battle of Britain. Whatever the effect of the new tax on the new-car market, it is grossly unfair to apply it to cars designed to operate under the old h.p. tax. All enthusiasts who care for the old, long-stroke order of things, and who appreciate big engines turning over lazily to produce a reasonable, but not high, power output, should take steps now to oppose application of the capacity tax t9 cars made before January 1st, 1946. Papers like the Manchestcr Guardian and the
, Economist have not been enthusiastic about the change and would doubtless give space to readers’ opinions, and you can write to your M.P. ‘We believe Lt. Peter Hampton has paved the way. . . At the 8th A.G.M. of Brooklands (Weybridge) Ltd., the chairtimti, C. W. Hayward, stated that no reply could yet be given as to the future of
Brooklands the Track. This is a very bad thing. Of recent years enthusiasts have become increasingly road-circuit-minded, and a proportion of them have been rather apt to scorn the old motor-course built’ nearly 40 years ago. The fact remains that no road circuit can be as useful from the testing point of view as Brooklands. You cannot have Pressmen conducting performance tests., engineers carrying out research, sportsmen going round for fun and .racing drivers practising, all at one and the same time, on a road course, unless you subject everyone Concerned to very grave danger. And if different periods • of the day are allocated to all these divers functions, no one will get any work done at all; or, if any is done, accurate results Will be upset by cornering, and the course will soon • need re-surfacing, That, very briefly, is why we need to know, and at an early
date, the fate of Brooklands—which has been an asset to this country never properly appreciated. Will Mr. Haywood or Sir Malcolm Campbell please tell us what steps are being taken to save Brooklands for the nation? Apart from this major issue, subscriptions to the B.A.R.C. have been solicited since the Track closed in 1939, and members and shareholders have some reason to ask where their money will go.
We regret to have to announce the death of Major Gordon Watney, at the age of 68. He raced Mercedes cars at Brooklands at a time when cars were cars, and those who drove them were anything but fragile blueeyed playboys. He began later to tune cars for his friends, and from 1908-1914 developed his abilities into a suctesSful business employing 100 men, specialising in preparing cars for the Track and rebuilding old racing cars—rather as Hann Partners, Ltd., did after the Armistice, and Thomson & Taylor, Ltd., did up to the outbreak of this war.
Good news—J. A. Masters has announced that the M.C.C. “Land’s End” trial will be held again as soon as practicable, not necessarily waiting for an Easter week-end to come round. • * The next meeting of the Midlands Motoring Enthusiasts’ Club will be on February 7th, at the Crown Hotel,. Corporation Street, Birmingham, and on February 8th Laurence Pomeroy will give a talk at the “Queen’s,” Stephenson Place, Birmingham. The Hon. Secretary is now G. G. H. Couzens