Vintage Postbag

The Wolseley Viper
I was most interested in the article "The Story of the Wolseley Viper" in Motor Sport, January issue.

I remember the car well in the early 'twenties, when I was a member of the B.M.C.R.C. and used to race a Coulson-J.A.P. motorcycle at Brooklands. What used to astound me was the way you could see the whole chassis flexing up and down every time the car went over a bump. It was certainly a hairy monster—how on earth Kaye Don ever managed to hold it was a complete mystery to me! It was only out-monstered by Count Zborowski's "Chitty-Bang Bang."

In your final paragraph you ask for information as to what happened to the Viper. I think I can tell you that. An old school friend of mine bought it—I am practically certain. What he bought it for and where he used it, I can't imagine but I remember him telling me that the clutch was a bit fierce and it used to leap off the ground when he started off. This was in the early 'thirties.

Ashford. F. Vernon Jones.
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Speed Trials at Southsea
You mention the 1922 Southsea Speed Trials. Born in Southsea but living in Portsmouth, and being seven years old at that time my imagination was fired by my father's ejaculations of "Chitty-Chitty-Bang Bang" from which I gathered that a "motor race" was to be held in Southsea.

On the appointed day, fine and warm as I remember, I hoofed it down to Southsea Beach but by late afternoon had drawn a blank. On my return journey, I saw a notice on a hoarding in Castle Road confirming the date and showing two "racing motor cars" locked in combat and with the legend "Chitty (in the singular)-Bang Bang."

Was this meeting ever held? If so in what part of Southsea and at what hour?

This was the most exciting race I never saw and I have been frustrated ever since.

Could some kind soul give me a little more information?

Ruislip. A. E. Rose.

[Yes, this event definitely took place, on Wednesday, August 23rd, 1922, over a kilometre course, with a slight bend, starting from the eastern end of the esplanade. F.t.d. was made by Zborowski's "Chitty I," in 30.6 sec. (73.07 m.p.h.), the runner-up being Eldridge's Isotta-Maybach, as described elsewhere in this issue. It seems that Mr. Rose went to the beach by mistake, but surely he should have heard the cars from there?—Ed.]
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Motor Coaches in Competitions
Reading about that "pilote" Mlle. Lamberjack last Month, I was reminded that her intrepid father used to race motor buses—and I was also reminded of the tale told to me that, like Europa, she had once had a misunderstanding with a bull and subsequently gave birth to Lamberjeannie; perhaps your Continental correspondent could elaborate.


[Could these "races" have been the Monte Carlo Rally?—Ed.]
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"What Is It?"
In the December 1967 Motor Sport Mr. W. S. Cordon asks it anyone can identify a very beautiful air-cooled single-overhead-camshaft engine.

I can offer the following information: The engine was designed and built by a Mr. Haythorn who was an ace home-built engine builder. Records show that he must have produced several engines. Mr. Gordon's engine was installed in a Ner-a-Car chassis. It was lengthened by 5 in. to take the engine. Ner-a-Car front suspension was retained and also the original front wings. An 8 in. diameter four-blade fan drove air on to the engine and was operated from the dog on the top front of the overhead camshaft shown clearly in Mr. Gordon's photograph. It had miniature car-type exhaust manifold which branches at the front of the engine and led the bulk of the gases into the main frame members, which were of box section. Either side of this assembly there were two 10 in. diameter wheels with cushion tyres on a suitable framework to form the landing gear which was used when the machine was at a standstill. In fact an occasional four-wheel motorbike. The machine weighed 370 lb. and tyres were 4 in. rear and 3 in. front and the finish was green cellulose.

The entire assembly was done by Mr. E. Alec Lawson who was managing director of Sackville Ltd., Beach Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham 11, who used the machine regularly on the road and its registration number was HON 473. The machine presumably was broken up. For cold days Mr. Lawson had it so arranged that hot exhaust gases would heat the handlebars making for comfortable riding. This must surely be the world's first centrally-heated motorbike!

Crowborough. P. Foulkes Halbard.
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1914/18 Air Aces
In your criticism on "McCudden V.C." we are led to believe that James McCudden was the second highest scorer. In fact the British Ace lists reads as follows:

Major Edward Mannock (British) .. 73
Colonel William Bishop (Canada) .. 72
Major Raymond Collishaw (Canada) .. 68
Major James McCudden (British) .. 58

If we go further other higher scoring aces than McCudden are:

Rittmeister Manfred von Richthoven (Germany) .. 80
Captain Remé Fonck (France) .. 73
Oberleutenant Ernst Udet (Germany) .. 62

Tadworth. H. Tawe.

I read with interest your review of the book "McCudden V.C," by Christopher Cole, but was somewhat dismayed to find him credited as the top-scoring U.K. ace in the 1914-18 war.

Whatever happened to Major Edward Mannock V.C.? He was born in England, and although working for a British company in Turkey at the outbreak of war, he was later repatriated because of ill health.

He was known as the ace with one eye, because of an affliction in his left eye, and although he did not register his first kill until April 7th 1917, seven months after McCudden, he went on to register 73 officially confirmed kills, thus making him the top-scoring U.K. ace.

Mannock was shot down by a sniper's bullet which pierced his Petrol tank, but his grave is unknown.

Major J. T. B. McCudden was second in the U.K. list, and fourth in the British list, as Lt.-Col. R. Collishaw was third with 60 victories. Like Lt.-col. Bishop V.C. he was a Canadian.

Information from "Air Aces Of The 1914-18 War," Harleyford Publications.

Chelmsford. A. S. Bishop.

The publishers comment as follows:
Many thanks for your letter and also for the review which we read with great interest, and pleasure.

The business of scores is a difficult one but Mr. Cole is quite certain that basically he is right and Harleyford wrong. The basic source for Mannock's score of 73 is I think the Jones biography of 1934 or so, and Cole is quite certain that it includes "possibles" and "doubtfuls." To consider McCudden and Mannock alone: McCudden's citation for his V.C. (1918) gives a figure of 54; that for Mannock, awarded posthumously and the citation published in 1919, credits him with 50. The other official source is the R.F.C./R.A.F. records and communiques—a careful analysis of these produces a figure of 57, or possibly 58, for McCudden and 43½ for Mannock—but as this is partly made up of fractions where Mannock is not the only claimant, it can be increased to nearer 50 by allowing him the benefit of all doubts.

Major Collishaw was not included in our calculations, which are restricted to R.F.C./R.A.F., because he was in the Royal Naval Air Service and Mr. Cole has not had an opportunity to go through their records. I don't know how definitive the figure of 68 is for him; it is not easy obviously to compare figures given by one service with those of another which may be calculated on a slightly different basis. I gather from Mr. Cole that the R.N.A.S. experts think that the figure may be on the highs side, but they did not produce anything sufficiently definite for us to include in the present book.

I think all this is really covered in two passages of the book, one on pages 12 and 13, and the other on pages 197 to 199. I will look forward very much to seeing if you publish anything further on this theme.

London, S.W.1. Francis De Salis.
William Kimber & Co. Ltd.
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A Matter of Identity
The caption to the photograph (page 32, January issue) has the combination as a B.S.A., but it is a Rudge-Multi with 20 speeds, 48 clutch plates, 80 spokes in rear wheel and two pedals for starting the engine.

It probably had a 500 c.c. or maybe a 750 c.c. single-cylinder, inlet-over-exhaust engine; the bigger with a 132 mm. stroke which meant the piston had a long way to go.

That engine was fitted to the still-born Rudge Cyclecar of 1913. Incidentally, there is X to be seen on the registration plate; registration letter X was for Northumberland just over the river from here.

Gateshead. H. K. Freeman.

[The garage concerned were B.S.A. agents, but we stand corrected.—Ed.]
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Busy Secretary
I was extremely interested to read David Goode's reply to a certain letter in your January issue's "Vintage Postbag."

My brother and I recently purchased a 1932 12 h.p. Armstrong Siddeley, which is in almost 100% condition bodily and mechanically. I wrote to Mr. Goode in the first week of November 1967 asking his advice on various matters concerning the vehicle. I enclosed a stamped addressed envelope to aid his reply. After waiting three weeks I once again put pen to paper, and once again enclosed a stamped addressed envelope.

I still have not received a reply (which makes Mr. Goode's remark that, "It has always been our strong point that we reply to letters within 48 hours," laughable).

At the time of writing to you, I have once again written to Mr. Goode; perhaps it will be a case of "third time lucky."

Banbury. P. W. Jackson.