From the Vintage Postbag, February 1952

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56

Sir,

I was interested to read your vintage veerings towards American cars (September) as I am running a Dodge circa 1925— the year of manufacture has provoked quite a number of arguments—we don’t have log books in Kenya. I’m afraid that while definitely a car of character not to mention temperament, she can hardly be said to be in perfect order or original condition. I bought her for £10 with a lorry body, but have since put on a sort of sports body; the Indian registration clerk put it down as a “box body,” though this refers to a type of car favoured by Kenya farmers and not to the fact that it is constructed of damaged (slightly) tea chest panels and old machinery packing cases. She has wooden spoked wIteels, external contracting foot brakes on the back wheels which work remarkably well, and internal expanding hand brakes which don’t; the dynamotor, which weighs about half a ton, has been removed and a push bike dynamo, run off the fan belt pulley, substituted for the very occasional night trip. I enclose a photograph in case it might be of interest—please note that it is not me in the driving seat.

There are still plenty of vintage American cars in Kenya. Ford A and B models being very popular and fetching three figures if in good order, being most suitable for farm cars. As for longevity, most of these, with box bodies. have stood up to twenty years of doing the job of a 15 cwt truck on the most appalling roads, half the year wallowing in a sea of mud, the other half battling along in a cloud of dust (no air cleaners), over potholes and corrugations, loaded down with posho (maize meal), barbed wire, nails, piping. cement, fertilizer, kerosene. and maybe a plough, topped off for good measure with a couple of Africans (reminiscent of Masefield’s “Dirty British Coaster”). I have also seen a few Chevrolet fours, the odd Buick or Chrysler, an Overland Whippet, and once just missed buying a very ancient Hup.

Before leaving the North of Ireland I ran a delightful old 1926 Standard Fourteen tourer and would have bought a 1924 Deemster if my passage to Kenya had not come through earlier than expected.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Barry C Howards. Kenya.

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