A section devoted to old-car matters
Racing car out of retirement (photo feature)
The 1912 Coupe de l’Auto Sunbeam, formerly owned by E. Barrington Haynes, which has been acquired by the Montagu Motor Museum, who are restoring it. The car was last used in 1933, since when it reposed in a furniture depository on the Harrow Road.
The “Boxing Night Informal”
In Motor Sport last December the Editor announced that he proposed to follow his customary habit of recovering from Christmas celebrations by driving a vintage small car over the route of the 1924 M.C.C. London-Exeter-London Trial on Boxing Night. He duly did so and this time he was accompanied by eighteen other vintage cars, so that the scene before the intrepid adventurers started out from Staines at 10 p.m. on December 26th resembled those at real “Exeter” trials in the nineteen-twenties and ‘thirties.
With rain falling, a number of interested onlookers milling around, and a police car keeping a watching brief, the cars slipped past the illuminated Christmas tree and out of Market Square, leaving on their left the site of the now-extinct Bridge House Hotel from which the 1924 “Exeter” had started. They were led by Tim Nicholson’s 1927 9/20 Humber (which carried a young enthusiast who had turned up in the hope of finding a spare seat) and soon the cavalcade was running westwards through Basingstoke, Middle Wallop and over the commencement of Salisbury Plain, to the first check, operated by Tom Lush and Dr. John Nelms from a Thames ‘bus, in the carpark of the Haven Café just beyond Lobscombe Corner. One car, alas, had failed to start, Warth deciding that his 1924 Trojan was unequal to the run after having brought it all the way front Huntingdon to London.
The Editor, returning from Brands Hatch, had met the Continental Correspondent in Staines and was now snug and warm at the wheel of his recently-acquired 1924 12/20 Calthorpe, hood and sidescreens erect against the night’s torrential rain downpour. There had been momentary panic when the petrol tank ran dry, the consumption, estimated at 35 m.p.g., turning out to be 25, and in Lobscombe a carburetter leak had to be cured.
Here most of the cavalcade was intact, although Peacock was in trouble in the 1926 Trojan brougham, all its lamp bulbs having “blown” after a passenger had trodden on a battery lead, while Nicholson’s Humber had a rapidly declining battery.
Leaving Lobscombe the cars threaded their way through Salisbury, as nearly as possible by the 1924 route, and here Hayward’s 1927 Fiat 503 joined in. The rain almost stopped, the night was warm, and the Calthorpe was running well, when suddenly its engine rattled as if about to shed all its bearings, and power fell off, so that, at Oborne, Jenkinson was seen to be changing the plugs.
Outside Honiton, at the grisly hour of 4 a.m., another check had been instituted and here some of the other cars were found to be in trouble. Doyle’s 1929 Swift Ten tourer had lost its dynamo charge and boiled dry its engine, which was tapping alarmingly, a noise thought to be big-end trouble but found subsequently to be caused by a slipping dynamo chain, the 1920 Austin Twelve tourer (which had come up to Staines from Wales in company with Collings’ 1922 11.9 Lagonda two-seater) required slight attention to its clutch. Berrisford’s 1925 aluminium duck’s-back 12/50 Alvis was on two cylinders, and the Calthorpe was having more plugs changed.
Soon, however, the procession was on its way to the first hill, Peak, by way of Sidbury and Sidmouth, Claydon’s 1925 Austin Seven having joined in at Chard — which, with Yarcombe, had been quite a tough main road climb on the way down — its driver being en route to Torquay. In the dark Peak had its terrors, a seemingly easy climb steepening towards the summit, so that Peacock’s Trojan stalled, although restarting impeccably, and Boddy in the Calthorpe and Hayward in the Fiat were brought down to first gear. In contrast, Jones’ blue 1929 Austin Seven saloon reversed back to where the marshals were standing and re-started with ease to complete the climb, a performance all the more impressive because the little car has the three-speed gearbox, the original 18 mm-plug head and is seemingly quite standard except for a somewhat lightened flywheel.
The run now went towards Exeter, rejoining A 30 a few miles from the Black Horse Café, where many breakfasts were served, although the first cars arrived before 5.30 a.m., an hour ahead of schedule, and the proprietor had not got to bed until 3 a.m. that morning! The stricken Swift was towed in by the Thames and before it was light the marshals were on their way to Salcombe Hill, followed by most if the competitors although Nicholson had to wait for dawn to break, having no lights, and his Humber also had fuel feed trouble, while Graham’s Trojan was short of petrol.
In Honiton Giles’ smart 1926 11.9 A.C. two-seater., in company with two of the Trojans, missed the turning for Marlpits Hill near Moor’s Garage, at which garage 1924 “Exeter” competitors checked in on their outward journey. Marlpits proved a winding, stiff hill, the Calthorpe just getting up, using first gear, Jenkinson almost having to become a pedestrian for a few yards but luckily the revs rose again after the steep bit before the summit.
Next it was steeply downhill back to Sidmouth, for the climb of Salcombe Hill. This, too, proved difficult particularly at one of the corners near the top, although the surface is hard, which in 1924 it certainly wasn’t. The Calthorpe only just made it, Jenkinson having to hop out for a few yards, and the engine was boiling at the top. Peacock’s Trojan had needed a push and even Miss Stocken’s famous blue 1924 Trojan. which carried an AIsatian dog in the back had found this a difficult hill.
As the route took in some good country towards Beaminster the weather became spring-like and some of the cars which had appeared to have retired, like Wright’s 1928 Lea-Francis two-seater and Sweetland’s yellow 1926 Austin Seven Chummy, were seen to be still in the run. Anne Teague’s 1928 Austin Seven Chummy had dropped out, however, for the very good reason that she was on her way to Land’s End for a holiday.
Around 10 a.m. the inhabitants of Beaminster were astonished to find their Square full of vintage motor cars and here, as Collings removed the gearbox cover of his delightful little Lagonda to check the oil-level, a smart Lancia Lambda tourer arrived with some more keen spectators. The Calthorpe had been sounding like a well-used mangle and power had diminished seriously, but the indefatigable Jenkinson now discovered that the tappet clearances had opened up to something like 1/4 in.; when readjusted power returned, the horrid noises under the bonnet grew less and the plugs ceased to oil up! Thus Boddy, curiously garbed (but then, a host’s dress should not outshine that of his guests !), was able to proceed with the others in good spirits to White Sheet Hill, the last “observed section.” In 1924, when this was a slimy gradient calling for chains on the back wheels of many cars, drivers had to climb non-stop almost to the summit, where they were made to restart and cover 20 yards within 15 seconds, to qualify, amongst other requirements, for their gold medals. This time there were no gold medals (no prizes of any sort, in fact, enthusiasm being adequate reward) but Lush and Nelms did provide the restart test.
The Calthorpe managed it, with some clutch judder, the Austin Heavy Twelve was superb, making best time, so that it seemed unnecessary that its driver made his charming girl navigator walk up, but the 1922 Lagonda, Sweetland’s Austin Seven, Peacock’s Trojan and the Super Sports 12/50 Alvis failed through lack of power, Berrisford unable to slip his clutch because the Alvis now has a preselector gearbox. Nicholson’s Humber saloon had but a second in hand. The actual times (seconds) recorded were:
Daniels (1928 Ausin 12) — 6.2
Wright (1928 Lea-Francis) — 6.8
Jones (1929 Austin Seven) — 7.0
Spencer (Alvis 12/50) — 7.0
Claydon (1925 Austin Seven) — 7.0
Boddy (1924 Calthorpe) — 7.8
Mitson (1927 Alvis 12/50) — 8.0
Miss Stocken (1924 Trojan) — 8.0
Hayward (1927 Fiat 503) — 9.2
Giles (1926 AQ.C.) — 9.8
Graham (1928 trojan) — 10.0
Abrahams (1928 Singer Junior) — 11.5
Nicholson (1927 Humber 9/20) — 14.0
Failed: Peacock (1926 Trojan), 8.2, flying start; Collins (1922 Lagonda), 17; Sweetland (1926 Austin Seven), 19.5; Berriswford (1925 Alvis), 28.
The run was now virtually over and before Dorchester several drivers turned off for home, but the Lea-Francis, Singer, the Swift, which had recovered from the calamities of the night, the A.C. Jones’ Austin Seven, Berrisford’s 12/50 Alvis and Peacock’s Trojan went the entire way back to Staines, bringing their total mileage to some 320, the Trojan arriving at 4.30 p.m.
One final check was made at the Haven Cafe on the return run and here Boddy and Jenkinson suffered a queer quirk of Fate. The Calthorpe had been running beautifully, cruising at over 40 m.p.h. across Salisbury Plain after Blandford, its occupants drowsy in the mid-day sunshine. They lunched in the café, bid goodbye to other “competitors,” and the engine refused to start. The dreaded shellac trouble had struck ! Nobly, in a blustery wind, the Continental Correspondent twice dismantled and reassembled the Simms magneto, with the Editor handing him tools as a theatre nurse hands instruments to a surgeon. Two hours later all was well and they were on their way. But Fate hadn’t finished with them. Soon the ammeter showed full discharge and as darkness closed in near Basingstoke, the luckless passenger was obliged to unravel most of the car’s intricate wiring system by the light of a torch, before the Calthorpe was eventually driven home in triumph, incidentally showing a 9 amp. charge with all the lights on! The 1958 “Boxing Night Informal” was over.
The V.S.C.C. Measham Rally (January 3rd/4th)
Fifty-nine entries, 50 finishers, six awards, as follows:
Measham Trophy: D. C. Dunphy (1929 Riley).
Silver Bowl (best vintage touring car): W. F. May (1927 14/40 Vauxhall).
Silver Cup (best invited Club member): M. J. Webb (1958 Sunbeam Rapier).
First Class Awards: G. C. Chase (1933 Alvis) and R. H. Stretton (1958 Volkswagen).
Second-Class Award: T. Keartland (1958 Ford Anglia).
One for the Rhode
Nowadays it is fashionable for motoring journalists and broadcasters to drop casual references to vintage and veteran cars into their works — and it is astonishing (or is it ?) how many mistakes they commit. For example, Bill Hartley, B.B.C. Motoring commentator, wrote somewhere recently that his family owned a Rhode in 1925 which covered 40,000 miles or more at a cost in repairs of only 18s. 9d. Splendid! But he goes on to explain that the car was rated at 11.9 h.p. If so. it must have been a special one, because the largest Rhode manufactured from 1924 to 1928 normally had an engine rated at 10.8 h.p. Moreover, Hartley dismisses this car as having been made “for a very short period.” We disagree— the Birmingham-built Rhode came into being in 1921 and did not go out of production until 1935….
A 1923 model-T Ford, complete but with a cracked chassis, is said to be deteriorating in the open in Chepstow, and a 1921-23 A.C. two-seater is believed to exist under a junk heap in a garage in Cardigan.
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A reader living in Birmingham is anxious to trace the present whereabouts of a Rolls-Royce, Reg. No. HU 3132, which his father bought new in 1924-25 and sold about ten years ago.
We are informed by their P.R.O. that Messrs. Simms Motor & Electronics Corporation, Ltd., are anxious to obtain a Simms-Welbeck. They offer a reward of £100 to any reader who may prove instrumental in enabling them to obtain such a vehicle, or even a bare chassis.
In Tunbridge Wells a 1928 14/40 Humber tourer, not at present in running order, is apparently for sale for a sum in the region of £12 10s.
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We hear that a breaker in the South Harrow area has a 1929-30 Singer Junior for sale, to anyone who will first move two wrecked cars lying in front of it.
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Welsh readers may be interested in a 1920-22 Chevrolet standing in a shed at a scrap yard in Llanyravon, Monmouthshire.
In Warwick a rather sorry 1928 Singer Junior with 1/4-elliptic back suspension and a post-1929 engine is offered free by the owner to anyone who cares to tow it away.
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In connection with the above paragraphs, letters enclosed in stamped envelopes can be forwarded to the addresses concerned, but Motor Sport can take no further responsibility in connection with these matters.