A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
THE V.S.C.C. MEASHAM RALLY (January 4/5th)
This tough annual fixture of the Vintage S.C.C. took on a rather different form this year. It was confined to vintage and p.v.t. cars, and started and finished at the Long Mynd Hotel at Church Stretton, going nowhere near Measham. Like the pre-war “Brighton-Beer” Trial that eventually neither started from Brighton nor finished at Beer, the Measham belies its former name, and has been re-termed the Measham Trophy Rally. The route remained a difficult one, suitably testing both drivers and cars although the average speed set was a modest 25 m.p.h. Whoever plotted it is to be congratulated on finding 200 miles of varied, sinuous and often narrow going that embraced a minimum of civilisation and scarcely touched any towns – I think we saw only two sets of traffic lights all night, and one of those guarded a rural bridge so narrow that it could only accommodate one-way traffic. There were some rather rough sections and some exceedingly muddy ones, but they were chassis breaking only if taken fast.
Plenty of marshals were on hand, a very reasonable entry of 43 had been received, and fog which blanketed much of Britain on the Saturday miraculously cleared before the start, returning patchily only for the closing stages of the route.
I set out to help marshal, along with the Continental Correspondent, but the latter persuaded me – not that much was needed – to ride in one of the competing cars. I had little hesitation in asking John Rowley, the V.S.C.C. President, if I could stow away in the back of his fine 1927 30/98 Vauxhall, to which he willingly assented. As we had fixed the photographer up with a ride in Tony Jones’ 1923 30/98, this seemed only right and proper, on the grounds that the Captain should not ask his crew to do anything he is not prepared to suffer himself. . . .
What a ride I had! It was not possible to see much beyond flying hedgerows and occasional glimpses of twisting, narrow lanes. But the exhaust-note of the 30/98, blending with the shrill whine of its frequently-engaged 3rd gear, and the big car’s rock-steady negotiation of the corners, were sheer ecstasy It was also extremely exhilarating!
Nor was it unduly cold, because the wide, taut hood and the three sidescreens give ample protection – the driver requires elbow room, so his side curtain had to be left behind. The night air, laden at times with the heady scent of mud on a hot exhaust pipe, and diverse farmyard smells, was quite refreshing.
The V.S.C.C. is fortunate in having a President who is not only very popular but, far from being a figurehead, enters real motor cars for vintage events and drives them with genuine enjoyment and no mean skill. John Rowley worked very hard to get that big car round the course on time. Pulling on the outside handbrake to retard the 30/98’s progress into the tight corners that loomed up continually and very suddenly, especially in the fog, diving his right hand inside the body to change gear, then outside again to release the brake, meanwhile taking handfuls of high-geared steering and adjusting the ignition lever, was no task for a novice, or the timid-at-heart! And that splendid 30/98 seemed to enter into the very spirit of the Measham, as well it might, with such an appreciative crew – a superlative navigator, Tony Bird on the watches, the writer silently contemplating and enjoying our purposeful meteoric progress; and a driver who only once, during a very full and strenuous night, muffed a gear-change. How our navigator kept us on route I shall never know – such men have hair-trigger brains and stomachs of cast-iron. Only in the fog, towards the end, did we go wrong momentarily once or twice. There were times when it seemed we must be lost, as we traversed endless miles of moorland and forest in the region of Newbridge, but time after time, turning by hidden turning, he with the Ordnance Sheets and map-light proved to have been correct.
When we did go wrong that precious and elusive commodity – time – began to run out and the final 20 miles in a damp dawn became an enthralling drive, to clock-in absolutely on the last minute of the permitted half-hour-late allowance. Jones was less lucky, missing several check points, to finish ahead of us.
It was enormous fun, the Vauxhall a live thing as the throttle was opened and it hurled itself throatily forward. The ride, in the lanes, was of the airborne variety to Bird and Boddy on the hard back seat, but there was no denying the power of the brakes (Delage front axle) or the stability of the stiff suspension.
In those busy 200 miles a little water, and petrol at the rate of about 14 1/2 m.p.g. (remember all that low-gear work), had been consumed, no trouble was experienced beyond failure of a spotlamp bulb, and no castor-base oil was added to the sump. Rowley believes in being thorough, changing his speedometer (its trip reading so valuable to a navigator) to suit the small back wheels (small in a comparative sense) used for trials. I found him a keen fast driver who, however, never indulged in risk-taking.
It is difficult to glean news of other competitors when you opt for a ride. But early on Court’s 1935 A.C. Six-engined Frazer Nash blocked a lane when its petrol pump chose to cut in and out, and after that delay Rowley overtook the trilby-hatted Abbott in his 1932 3 1/2-litre Bentley shooting brake on the off-side just as Arnold-Forster’s Anzani ‘Nash did likewise on the near-side. We saw a lot of Arnold-Forster during the dark hours, the Frazer Nash handier than the Vauxhall in the lanes, but it would disappear when its radiator demanded water, only to catch up again, until he, too, got lost. Then for a time we swapped and swapped about with Day’s 1929 4 1/2-litre Bentley 2-seater, until he sportingly waved us by. Court’s Frazer Nash was in the garage at the halfway halt, having transmission and oiling-up plugs attended to. Another Frazer Nash being repaired at the half-way halt was Stretton’s 1929 model, a pin having sheared and allowed the stub axle assembly to turn in the axle-tube.
Hamish Moffat was rushing along in a 1927 O.M. with but one spot-lamp, Batho’s Amilcar-Riley was very spartan, and doing well, but I believe no Aston Martins finished. Edwards’ Ulster breaking a half-shaft. A Riley left the road, Milner’s normally reliable 1926 A.C. had to be towed-in a few miles from the final control, and Hastings’ 328 Frazer Nash-B.M.W. broke a shock-absorber and retired.
It was nice to see a Meadows H.R.G. competing, one of the Bentleys was a blower-4 1/2, which rushed noisily about, Millar drove his Lea-Francis with Mrs. Millar as usual on look-out duty in the dickey, Weld ran his sporting 1930 Crossley tourer, Graham a 1928 Hillman 14, while amongst the small cars were a couple of Jowetts and Charity’s 1928 Swift Ten.
There were two tests, one, on the road, involving coasting down a hill in neutral and coasting up the other side, a measure of driver bravery and free-running machinery. The Vauxhall stopped short of bogey by 9 ft. The other test consisted of two timed laps of the island at the entrance to the Mynd Hotel, immediately on returning. The 1964 Measham was tough enough for the appended results to be worth contemplative study, – W.B.
Measham Trophy: P. E. Day (1929 4 1/2 Bentley).
Light Car Award: M. Bromley-Johnson (Jowett).
P.V.T. Award: Dr. D. P. Harris (1934 Fraser Nash).
First Class Awards: W. E. Court (1934 Fraser Nash), N. Arnold-Forster (1925 Frazer Nash), H. F. Moffat (O,M.). J. M. Cartwright (1930 Riley).
Second Class Awards: A. Young (t1936 4 1/2 Lagonda), J. W. Rowley (1927 30/98 Vauxhall), L. J. Stretton (1929 Fraser Nash), G. R. Footit (Jowett).
Third Class Awards: R. J. Clark (1937 H.R.G.), L. J. Wickham (1929 12/59 Alvis), F. Giles (Bentley), S. E. Charity (1928 Swift),
40 started; 20, failed to finish.
Miscellany. – The 1936 Show model 3 1/2-litre Talbot 110 Freestone & Webb coupé, in very good order, is for sale in Hampshire. A Herefordshire breaker’s yard contains most of a circa 1935 Sunbeam 20 hearse and a Morris-Cowley lies in another yard. Another Ulster Aston Martin is being rebuilt.
A series of very pleasing colour pictures of historic racing cars is issued to their clients by John Wyeth & Brother Limited, of Taplow, Berks, to interest veterinary surgeons in Penidural Fortified Injection. To date six such cards have been issued, featuring, respectively, Type 35 Bugatti, 1922 TT. Vauxhall, 1922 G.P. Fiat, 1920 3-litre Ballot, 1914 4 1/2-litre G.P. Peugeot and 1911 Coupe de l’auto Delage, the latter incorrectly captioned.
Daimler-Benz have issued a high-quality brochure and folder describing their museum at Stuttgart-Unterturkheim. The brochure lists every exhibit on all three floors of the museum building, and illustrates some of the more important ones. The text is in English and conducted tours of the Daimler-Benz at Museum at Stuttgart can be booked for Monday-Friday between 10.20-14.30 hours, or Saturdays, 10.20 hours, by telephoning 3352-2578, detailed information being available at the Municipal Information Service, Stuttgart Main Station, Arcade. The museum is open every day except on Sundays and public holidays, from 8.30-16.00 hours on weekdays, 8.30-13.00 hours on Saturdays.
The December 1963 issue of Standard-Triumph Review contained the usual Standard Register news and an article by J. R. Davy On “Six Decades of Standard Cars.” The Register hopes to interest technical colleges in the restoration of vintage Standards in need of such attention. It announces that the remains of a 1919 9.5 h.p. Standard have been found serving as the basis of a footbridge in Hampshire, that a Nottinghamshire Distributor has taken over a very fine 1914 9.5-h.p. Standard Rhyl 2-seater formerly owned by a firm in Nottingham, that a 1929 8.9-h.p. Fulham saloon and a 1930 Avon Special 2-seater require new homes, also a 1924 11.4-h.p. Kenilworth tourer, and that recent Register discoveries include a 1930 Selby tourer in Cheshire, while a member is restoring a 1930 8.9-h.p. model. A rare 1934 10/12 Speed model with Salmons d/h. coupé body, a two-owner car, has turned up in Harrow.
That Austin 16/6 ice-cream van of circa 1934, illustrated in these columns last year, got its picture in the Austin journal Payload and a 1923 Humber 8/18 was illustrated in the Total Times: but how did the latter find itself on Trade Plates, swamped by 25 youths, outside Manchester United football ground ?
More discoveries. – A 1934 14.9 BF Fordor Ford and a 1935 8-h.p. Y-model Ford seek new homes in Suffolk. A vintage A.C. is rotting in Yorkshire. Various old cars and commercials, including Bentley, R.-R. and a Harrods’ electric van, were seen in a field in Middx. Buick data and 20-mm. plugs for a restored 1921/3 model are wanted. A Bleriot-Whippet and a Salmson have been found in a breaker’s, but not for sale. A straight-8 Packard coupé languishes in Lincolnshire. That Colibri is safe in Castle Museum, York.
The first V.S.C.C. “First Thursday” of the New Year, at Hartley Wintney, was so well attended that both private and public bars of The Phoenix were no place for the claustrophobic. Incidentally, it is a failing of many motor clubs that such social evenings bring drink and drivers in close proximity.
The reassuring presence of Tim Carson at the bar was missing on this occasion, but Cecil Clinton was present. In the packed car park Bentley, Lagonda and Fraser Nash were represented and the p.v.t. aspect seemed to be dominated by B.M.W.s, contrasting interestingly with Sprites and an Elan of the present day and age. The rarest transport was a fine Crossley saloon, in lofty eminence over Michael Burn’s Saab mini-omnibus.
A. S. Gosnell told us that he has a 1914 Warrick carrier which he hopes to run in the H.C.V.C. Brighton Run.