A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
Golden Jubilee of the Vintage Bentley—1969
Nineteen sixty-nine marks the Golden jubilee of the vintage Bentley car. Fifty years ago, in Chagford Street, near Baker Street, London, W. O. Bentley and his small team heard the roar of the first 3-litre engine. To celebrate this Golden Jubilee of the birth of the vintage Bentley, the Bentley Drivers’ Club has arranged a detailed programme of events covering the whole of 1969. The “Bentley Golden Jubilee Book”, a special leather-bound volume designed to hold the signatures of as many members of the Club as can be obtained in the time available, began its journey round the World on January 3rd. After a small send-off ceremony at the Steering Wheel Club, London, it was carried to London Airport in the oldest Bentley in the Club, a 1924 3-litre owned and driven by Mr. J. C. Lock, of Atherstone, Warwickshire.
On arrival at London Airport the book was placed aboard a B.O.A.C. airliner for a night flight to Johannesburg, on the first leg of its Worldwide journey. From Johannesburg it will go on to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and across the United States, into Canada and back to England. A special feature of this global journey is that the book will be carried overland, whenever possible, in vintage Bentleys. It is due to be returned to this country in time for signatures of U.K. members to be added during the Bentley ‘500’, finally to be on exhibition at the Club’s annual dinner-dance in London in October. The B.D.C. is also planning many other events to commemorate Bentley Golden Jubilee year, and it has issued very clear and authoritative notes about W. O. Bentley, the old Bentley Company, Production Bentleys of 1921 to 1931, their history in the major races, and about the Club itself.
V.E.V. Miscellany.—A 1910 fan-type 3-cylinder Anzani aero engine, of the type used by Bleriot for the first Channel crossing, has been restored by W. Burrows of Havant for the owner. Mr. L. D. Goldsmith, and has been run on a test bed. Lady Segrave, wife of Sir Henry Segrave (they were married in 1917), died last year. We also report with deep regret the deaths of Mr. George Andrews, who from 1930 onwards was closely connected with the Lea-Francis Company, and who died, aged 74, last year, and of Mr. Albert Day, who founded the Day-Leeds firm which made some 150 light cars from 1913 to 1924, also last year. A reader asks if there is a Day-Leeds left, in running order. Another reader has unearthed a token 6d. coin inscribed with the name Cox-Atmos and would like to know when these originated and the story behind them. Dr. Bayley has disposed of his Type 37 Bugatti but it remains in this country. The Morgan Three-Wheeler Club (Hon. Sec.: B. Clutterbuck, 53, Wheeleys Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, 15) is putting up a strong stand against the short-sighted ruling of the A.C.U. banning three-wheelers from racing with sidecar outfits, which is provisional this year and likely to become fully effective by 1970, unless immediate steps are taken to put the case for Morgans. Up to last October the Morgan Three-Wheeler Club Registry had records covering 1,520 Morgans, of which 380 had Ford engines, 914 were 3-speeders, and the remainder earlier examples. Most popular is the Super Sports, with 625 on the books, while at the opposite extreme there were six Grand Prix, four De Luxe and three Standard Morgans. The most common preservation year is 1934, 290 twins and 45 F-types of that age being on the books, whereas, although 1927 is thought to have been Malvern’s most prolific production year, only 21 examples out of some 2,700 made are known to the Club. (The Editor of Motor Sport has a 1927 Family model.) As to engines, these are divided into 371 o.h.v. water-cooled J.A.P.s, 248 MX45, down to six M.A.G., three s.v. Blackburne, and a few oddly-engined cars. Of the F-types, 182 have Ford Eight power units, 192 the Ford Ten engine, and of these “refined” Morgans, 211 are four-seaters. Not all these have survived or belong to current membership but all have passed through the Club in recent times. Guy Warburton, one-time 30/93 Vauxhall and Allard exponent, is emigrating to New Zealand. The person requiring visual data or other information to assist him in restoring a 1932 o.h.c. Morris Eight Stewart & Arden Calshot/Cunard tourer is D. Saunders, “Oakwood”, 2, High Street, Maldon, Essex; please contact if you can help.
A reader has drawn our attention to an interesting article about early experiences with a 1902 Panhard-Levassor in Scotland, with which its owner was very satisfied, after covering 373¼ miles on it, which was published in The Scottish Field of last December, and has sent us clippings from Country Life about Alfred Charles de Rothschild’s estate at Halton at the turn of the century. For these it is apparent that Mr. Rothschild kept ten firemen, 13 gamekeepers, 11 kitchen staff, 12 estate carpenters and six chauffeurs, and that his motor-house contained two Renaults, one a 15/18 brougham, a closed Wolseley, with bee-hive radiator, a Zedel phaeton and an Elswick tourer. By 1918 the circus, zebra-drawn four-in-hand, private orchestra, breeding kennels, bowling alley, cricket field and full-scale laundry had all gone, the tents of the men of Kitchener’s Army being pitched in the grounds where the French-style house had been built in 1884. By 1922 the first R.A.F. apprentices arrived. . . . To resume a motoring note, all the cars were painted in the owner’s racing colours, blue picked out in yellow.
Further Fragment of T.T. Humber History
While we are no nearer solving the mystery whether there were three or four Humbers built for the 1914 T.T. race, which has been owning correspondents to Motor Sport in recent months, a little more light can be shed on the career of one of these cars. It is well known that the late C. D. Wallbank (who claimed to make a living out of motor racing, although the only cars he raced were two pre-war models, at Brooklands) won a 1929 B.A.R.C. handicap with his T.T. Humber, thus scoring the first victory on the part of one of these cars a decade and a half after they had left the Coventry factory, expensive copies of the famous twin-cam Peugeots.
In 1953 I was able to persuade Mr. Wallbank to write about his racing cars in The Vintage and Thoroughbred Car, a monthly which was subsequently bought by Lord Montagu and became his Veteran and Vintage Magazine. In this article Wallbank recalls how he found the Humber near Folkestone, drove it to Brooklands thinking it was a Peugeot, where it fooled John Cobb but not Douglas Hawke, and, finding it in poor mechanical condition, set about rebuilding it. He put in aluminium pistons which raised the c.r. and redesigned much of the valve gear, advised by the Humber’s designer, Mr. Burgess. He also rebuilt the wheels to take well-base tyres, fitted Hartford shock absorbers, put on a new Solex carburetter and made a streamlined aluminium body. Jack Emerson helped with this work and Humber were able to supply a lot of spare T.T. parts. Incidentally, Wallbank was under the impression that only three cars were built and that his had been the one which went to the Bentley works.
Wallbank found the car in 1925 but wasn’t ready to race it until 1927. It non-started at the Brooklands Easter Meeting, when it was blue, with black wheels. For Whitsun it had been bored out 1 mm. (84 x 156 mm., 3,458 c.c.) and repainted red. At the end of the season it lapped at 83.56 m.p.h.
The first sniff of success came at the 1928 B.A.R.C. Whitson Meeting, when, after a lap at 86.92 m.p.h., the old Humber finished third in a 75-m.p.h. Short Handicap behind an Austin 7 and a Riley 9. It was now blue again. The old Humber was going better than when it was built, for apparently Burgess put their top speed at around 85 m.p.h.
Busy with the 1912 Lorraine-Dietrich “Vieux Charles Trois”, Wallbank rested the Humber until the 1929 August Bank Holiday Brooklands Meeting. It was then that it won. Starting from the limit mark in the 36th 90-m.p.h. Short Handicap, the blue Humber, now with red wheels, did its standing lap at a sedate 75.8 m.p.h., slowest in the race except for the mysterious Auto-Speed-Special, but speeded up to a magnificent flying lap of 91.72 m.p.h., going over the half-mile at some 104 m.p.h. It won easily, which earned handicapper Ebblewhite’s displeasure, but Wallbank explained to him that the piston clearance was such that plugs oiled-up all too easily, so he didn’t dare lift off to save face in a closer finish, as Jack Dunfee’s green straight eight 3-litre Ballot, which had started 61 seconds later, being on scratch was in second position and bearing town on the Humber. This was when Burgess is said to have been the first to congratulate Wallbank as the car came back into the Paddock; I also approved, from the public enclosure, where I had gone, aged 17, in an Austin 7 fabric saloon.
The Humber was entered for the “75 Long” race at the Autumn Meeting, driven by P. C. Ashton, but in spite of laps at 77.21, 88.15 and 90.55 m.p.h. it was unplaced. That seems to have been the Humber’s last appearance at a major Brooklands Meeting. It passed into the hands of someone in the Basingstoke area and formed the subject of one of Kent Karslake’s “Veteran Types” articles in Motor Sport for May, 1931. I lost all trace of the car after this but now a letter has been received from Mr. J. Ashford-Fleet which gives an inkling as to the fate of the Wallbank Humber. He purchased the car from a Mr. Lawrence in 1929/30 and entered it for the Lewes Speed Trials, presumably in 1930 or 1931. It was apparently entered by Miss Victoria Worsley (who did not own it but whose competition cars included flat-twin Jowett, the 10/23 Talbot-engined Worsley-Harris-Special and M-type MG., and who is married to Roland King-Farlow), together with the 1914 G.P. Opel, which at the time had been bought by Mr. Ashford-Fleet from Capt. Warkins of Fleet, was the subject of another “Veteran Types” article, and which as a result was sold to Mavrogoradato. The Opel ran at Lewes carrying two passengers but the Humber threw a con.-rod on the way, and was towed back to Brick Street in London and sold to Berk Harris. As its Brooklands days were over and the engine was wrecked, it can he presumed that it was broken up.–W. B.
V.-E-V. Odds and Ends.—The Morris Eight Tourer Club has changed its name to the Morris Register, as more appropriate to an organisation embracing all Morris models, for which, some 18 months ago, a 10/25. h.p. section was introduced. The Hon. Sec. is B. D. M. Hicks, 24. Broughton Lane, Loose, Maidstone, Kent. The Register’s P.R.O. reports some 650 members and refers to two interesting restorations by members of The Register, a 1932 o.h.c. long-wheelbase Morris Family Eight Stewart & Arden “Calshot” saloon, discovered in Northamptonshire, and a 1935 Jensen Morris Eight, one at only two special bodied open Morris Eights known to exist. The Jensen brothers have assisted with data, etc.
Next April’s S.T.D. Register London Talbot Rally is to embrace not only Roesch Talbots but all Talbots from their earliest years up to 1939. Darracqs and all French Talbots, with Wolverhampton Sunbeams coming as guests. We regret to learn that Mr. P. W. White died last December, at the age of 93. Mr. White started his first motor business in Camberley in 1908, brought the first petrol pumps to that town, and sold his first Morris car in 1919. He competed in trials on Sunbeam motorcycles and Lagonda cars between 1914 and 1934 and in 1950, aged 75, took part as a passenger us the Lisbon Rally. He started the first London-Camberley ‘bus service in 1921 and founded Whites of Camberley in 1928. The recent correspondence about the Lea-Francis Special Reg. No. RPk 500 has led to D. E. Baldock, who bought it in 1963, to inform us that its chassis is definitely not of Lea-Francis manufacture. It was first registered for road use in 1952 and prior to that was a green singleseater. Mr. Baldock fitted a 12/40 Lea-Francis gearbox to replace a badly-damaged constant change gearbox. An A.J.S. with estate bodywork, in delapidated condition, is reported in a Suffolk scrapyard. A new French bi-monthly, L’Arithologie Automobile, commenced publication last year and is obtainable from Thierry B. Mantoux, 161, Rue Tabère, 92-Saint Clond, France, for 40 f. per annum. The first issue contains a very interesting illustrated history of the eight long-distance record-breaking “Rosalie” Citroëns, from which the illustration of “Rosalie VI” in our issue of last October was taken. Incidentally, the Yacio Oil Company which backed these second runs is still very much in existence.
Brooklands Society News
Last month we inadvertently quoted the B.D.C. “Hand and Spear” meetings as taking place on first Mondays each month. Will B.S. members and associates please note that the correct date is the second Monday evening. Details of where and when the A.G.M. will be held will be circulated in the near future.