Veteran - Edwardian - Vintage, February 1967

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A section devoted to old-car matters

The V.S.C.C. Measham Rally, January 7/8th: This traditional winter rally of the Vintage S.C.C. no longer finishes at Measham in the centre of England, where there used to be Motor Museum but there isn’t any longer. But the Long Mynd Hotel at Church Stretton makes an admirable, indeed far more accommodating, venue for the start and finish of what is one of the Club’s more arduous events, for it is comfortable, efficiently run, and stays open all night to attend to the creature comforts of marshals, officials and competitors who are engaged on the Measham, this long, tough navigational rally open to vintage and p.v.t. cars, with a shorter route for those less well-endowed in respect of performance. The first of 63 entrants in the 1967 event, Stretton in his Frazer Nash, was flagged away into the frosty blackness at 10.30 p.m. by Max Hill, followed at discreet intervals by 22 vintage sports cars, 23 p.v.t. cars and 16 vintage touring cars, give or take about five non-starters. Nigel Arnold-Forster, navigated by Lt.-Col. J. Weeks, was the second driver to leave, in his well-known Anzani Frazer Nash, complaining that it was now merely frosty, whereas the snow and fog which had but recently dispersed would have suited him far better, a solid axle and chain-drive being line on the former and the fact that both occupants sit looking over the windscreen at least enabling them to cope with the latter.

Hamish Moffatt had brought his O.M. instead of one of his Bugattis, perhaps understandably, his bare-headed navigator having the benefit of non-dazzle blue dashboard lighting. Peter Binns in his O.M. got away with a jerk, almost stalling the engine, a determination, had we but known it, that marked him out as the driver who was to win outright the Measham Trophy. Several sports cars kept their hoods up, such as Felix Day’s really massive 1929 4-1/2-litre Bentley 2-seater, Tony Jones’ 30/98 Vauxhall, and Air-Commodore Buckle’s Lancia Lambda, a navigator working by lamplight in the tonneau of the last-named car.

Bendall’s 30/98 Vauxhall possessed a big, very bright spotlamp, Bowman’s Frazer Nash a fruity exhaust note, while Preece’s 1926 3-litre Bentley was notable for an attractive if unusual touring body, hood up, and a tap in its engine. Quite a crowd gathered at the start, where they were regaled by seeing Wickham’s beetle-back Alvis, which wears its hare mascot on the scuttle, do its best to smoke out Heath’s Alvis, which is of the ” pseudo-racer ” variety and the next car in the line. A swivelling spotlight was part of Wickham’s equipment. Hill’s 1930 Lea-Francis tourer looked very civilised, all its bad weather equipment rigged and “knobbly” tyres on its back wheels.

Bell’s 1924 12/50 Alvis looked absolutely magnificent, being a duck’s-back with straight-through outside exhaust plumbing, ending in a fish-tail, and one intrepid passenger inserted into the little seat in the tail; in the light of day the replica body might have been apparent, but all else is apparently authentic 1924. The car behind was in direct contrast—Clarke’s 1925 touring 12/50 Alvis with artillery wheels and a fine leather hood. Nuttall’s ” pseudo-racer ” 3-litre Bentley was very spartan, its occupants wearing splendid period leather helmets. It left rather late, ahead of another car in which the Measham would at least be comfortable — Durnsford’s 1930 Sunbeam Twenty close-coupled saloon. Another grand sight was Payne’s Amilcar, now in a new coat of blue paint but still on beaded-edge tyres of mediocre dimensions, the navigator sitting so far behind the driver that they presumably communicated by sign language or blows on the back of the latter’s head. Lock had the inevitable Austin 7 Chummy and R. S. Weeks had at long last revealed his Vernon-Derby, which has a Singer Junior engine and a Morris radiator but was nevertheless transferred from the touring to the sports-car category.

There were no fewer than eleven Rileys in the entry list, but only two of them were vintage, a reflection perhaps on the impossibly high prices asked for pre-1931 cars these days, and a reminder that the Riley Register is commendably well-equipped for helping enthusiasts to find low-priced p.v.t. cars of this breed. The most courageous entries were Mitchell’s 1912 Hispano-Suiza, which non-started, and President Ronald Barker’s 1922 Peugeot Quad, which did. The latter had taken some 7 hours to arrive from Surrey, having but 668 c.c. and being so small that there was a very real problem in accommodating Barker, Paxton and the map-board. Miss Footitt was celebrating her 21st birthday by competing in the 1930 flat-twin Jowett, and Mrs. Hill was again at the wheel of the singularly successful A.J.S. Both won awards—good show, girls!

It was disappointing for Gibbs when a noise from the engine of his 1931 Frazer Nash was heard on the starting line, its affinity with a run big-end causing him to retire forthwith. D. J. Clarke was more fortunate, the engine of his big Lagonda tourer being coaxed into activity after the car had been pushed up and down the hotel’s approach roads. So they got away from this exciting venue 1,000-ft. up in the Shropshire clouds, and it was time to wend our way home over the Clun mountains in our 1930 Sunbeam hack-transport.

To attempt to report the night’s activities is next to impossible, although it will no doubt all be pieced together in a future V.S.C.C. Bulletin. We do know that Butt’s Lagonda and Dr. Harris’ Frazer Nash retired and that it eventually worked out as follows.—W.B.

Measham Moments: A moment for winner Peter when he thought he had lost a tooth from the O.M.’s and gear and was talking of draining and refilling the gearbox before setting out for home. And for Nigel Arnold-Forster when a coat covering a dented mudguard on the Frazer Nash had to be removed for him to do the final test! And for Weeks, when the Vernon-Derby hybrid had transmission trouble.—W. B.

***

Results:

Measham Trophy : P. J. E. Binns (1927 2-litre 0.M.).

P.V.T. Trophy : J. A. McEwen (1935 1-1/2 -litre Riley).

Jeddere Fisher Trophy : M. Bromley-Johnson (1930 7/17 Jowett).

Light Car Trophy: M. Bromley-Johnson (1930 7/17 Jowett).

Frazer Nash Cup: F. G. Giles (1931 1-1/2-litre Frazer Nash).

Best Team: S.W. Centre.

Vintage Sports Cars: First Class Awards : H. P. :Moffatt (1927 2-litre 0.M.) and F. E. Day (1929 4-1/2-litre Bentley); Second Class Awards: L. J. Stretton (1929 1-1/2-litre Frazer Nash) and N. Arnold-Forster (1925 Anzani Frazer Nash); Third Class Award: N. R. Buckle (1928/9 2.6-litre Lancia Lambda).

P.V.T. Class: First Class Awards: F. E. Giles (19311-1/2-litre Frazer Nash) and J. Stoton (1937 1-1/2-litre Riley); Second Class Award : E. R. Fuller (1937 4-1/4-litre Bentley Special).

Vintage Touring Cars: First Class Award : Mrs. J.M. Hill (1930 A.J.S.); Second Class Award: C. P. Marsh (1927 Chummy Austin 7); Third Class Award : Miss I. Footitt (1930 7/17 Jowett).

***

V.S.C.C. eligibilities:

The Vintage S.C.C. has announced some changes in the rules governing cars eligible to take part in its competitive events. Although the details concern only members, the overall picture is of interest to a wider circle of enthusiasts, inasmuch as public admission is permitted to several V.S.C.C. race meetings and the Prescott speed hill-climb.While some critics might suggest that the rulings are extremely complicated and need a legal brain to fully comprehend them, the Committee of the V.S.C.C. is obviously determined to ensure that only cars within the definitions traditionally recognised and encouraged by this Club are permitted at its meetings, while at the same time taking steps to ensure that desirable cars are not excluded due to shortage of original spares following a breakdown, and that safety factors are not overlooked. In this it is to be congratulated; complicated its “Eligibility of Cars” document may be, but this is far better than casually accepting any old vehicle to membership, as some people want to do with any kind of ’30/40’s rubbish, even to pressing for a grandiose (and misleading) overall designation for them.

Suffice it to remark that the V.S.C.C. now recognises cars in the following categories : Edwardians, vintage cars, post-vintage thoroughbreds (of 50 specific makes—the Austin Nippy is amongst these but not the M-type M.G. Midget, and the F.W.D. Citroën remains, but let’s not raise all that again!), and historic racing cars, the last-named sub-divided into five groups. The respective age limits are prior to 1919, 1931, 1941 and 1961, but the last-named dating applies only to ” certain front-engined, single-seater cars used for International races held outside Europe.” There is also a sub-division of all non-racing cars into Modified, Modified Sports, Standard Sports, Touring and Light cars, while vintage racing cars also have their own category.

The rules make sense, having evolved out of something like a quarter of a century of experience of organising competitions for vintage cars. There is still strict control to prevent old cars being unduly modernised and particularly to prevent them being turned into “racers.” Thus even in the modified category, disc brakes, altered springing, a change in the type of front or back axle, the use of limited-slip differentials, and fitting Cotal or Wilson gearboxes or 4-speed boxes where 3-speeds were standard are disallowed unless part of the original specification. Cars built before 1944 are not allowed to have tyre sections exceeding 5.5 in. in the under-2,000-c.c. category or 7.00 in. if of over 2,000 c.c.

Incidentally, that nearly every serious competitor is well catered for is evident from the fact that no fewer than two dozen annual aggregate trophies are applicable to V.S.C.C. competitions.—W. B.

***

V-E-V Miscellany:

Chain Gang Gazette, journal of the Frazer Nash Section of the V.S.C.C., has from last December taken on the printed, as distinct from duplicated, form, elevating editors David Thirlby and William Court nearer to the King/Thomson level! This issue contained some more very erudite Anzani engine data, a description of a 1925 Frazer Nash which has recently found a new owner after being laid up since the war years, and a fine piece of deduction by Sherlock Holmes, proving that the modified sprocket layout introduced by the Aldingtons at a cost of an extra £10 was done because it was cheaper and not as a technical improvement. Such Club magazines reflect the very great one-make enthusiasm that is a feature of the vintage movement. Another example that arrived by almost the same post was The Bentley Drivers’ Club Review, from which it is seen that this Club now has a membership of approximately 2,000, of which 1,000 members own vintage Bentleys and the remaining 800 with cars have Derby or Crewe-built models.

References to old cars occur in the most unlikely places these days; for example, the enthusiastic article about a vintage Sunbeam still in use in The Lady last year. Seen on the road during the Christmas holiday period, a well-kept f.w.d. B.S.A. Scout coupe and vintage Rolls-Royce and Bentley tourers. A vintage Fiat, reported to be in restorable condition, has been seen on a Suffolk farm, and in Surrey some Gwynne 8 parts, mostly electrical, are available free on collection. Letters can be forwarded.

The Liphook Fire Service Social Club is holding a veteran and vintage Transport Rally on June 10th, in aid of the Fire Service National Benevolent Fund. Details from D. Jacobs, 88, Sydney Road, Gosport, Hants (Gosport 81469). Entries close April 30th.

We deeply regret to announce the deaths last year of Maurice Falkner, who raced Aston Martins at Le Mans and elsewhere before the war, and of Richard G. J. Nash, who was a famous sprint exponent with the Frazer Nash ” Terror ” and other cars, founded the International Horseless Carriage Corporation, Inc., at Brooklands, where he rebuilt vintage cars and aeroplanes, and who owned the 1912 G.P. Lorraine-Dietrich ” Vieux Charles Trois.”

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