VSCC Measham Trophy Rally

(JAN. 4th/5th)

This normally-annual event wasn’t run last year because of the petrol-panic but was resumed last month in spite of the return of the 50 m.p.h. speed limit, which seems to indicate that the VSCC doesn’t believe that this has been imposed for fuel conservation reasons, any more than we do.

Whereas, before the war, it would have been possible to enliven the 200-mile night drive with some tests, that would have taken into account vehicle performance as well as map-reading ability, the RAC no longer allows such diversions on the public highway, even in remote public lanes or up deserted public hills. Why this is so is difficult to determine, because properly-marshalled tests, as the VSCC’s always are, would be no more lethal than unsupervised driving about the countryside. However, that is the way it is, so the Measham in good weather is really a vast navigational exercise, and maybe an ancillary test of such vintage lamps as are still relied on. It was fine this year, so that is mostly how it was.

The entry of 49 pre-war cars was led by Keith Hill in his Silver Eagle Alvis, navigated by Rosemary Burke, with Tony Jones’ 30/98 Vauxhall, John Weeks in the hot-seat, hot on his heels. Tony Mitchell had substituted his wife’s 1927 Austin 7 for his 328 BMW. Early check-points saw most competitors ahead of time but careful not to fall foul of the secret checks. Binns„ driving his Riley 9 for the first time since the Measham three years ago, had been held up momentarily when meeting a lady driver of one of today’s automobiles on an up-gradient and Freddie Giles was already sans hot filaments in some of his lamps. Most of the cars were a blaze of light, like modern rally cars, and those who had hoods had mostly erected them before the start—the open cars, with some exceptions, were so either because their hoods were unserviceable or they hadn’t one. Waine’s navigator preferred a hood to the coupe-top this driver had used on his Riley Special in 1973. As the night wore on it was apparent that even Hill had less time in hand and before the halfway check Giles was reported stationary by the roadside, working on his engine. He was far behind schedule.

At the refreshment break at the garage near Welshpool Stephens’ 1928 8th-Series Lancia Lalabda came in 19 minutes too early, obviously having missed several checkpoints, and much time was spent working by the light of a leadlamp to restore charge to the complicated magdyno. Hill came in on time, with slight evidence of having experienced abnormal understeer at a left-hand corner, but an unintentional detour had put Tony Jones three minutes behind. Cameron Millar made his usual change-over of battery on his 1928 Lea-Francis tourer and Barwell’s covetable 1924 blue 30/98 Vauxhall, with the Wyverrt proud on its radiator cap, had a dose of Comma-50 premium oil poured into the sump, presumably to ensure longer engine life, after which the back-axle nuts were tightened.

Wickham’s 1929 beetle-back 12/50 Alvis with outside exhaust and McDonald’s 1930 12/50 Alvis, with the No. 1 Wilkinson replica duck’s-back body, rear fuel tank, and spare wheel on the n/s running-board, appeared to be trouble-free but McEwen was obliged to retire his 1930 Mk. IV Riley 9 fabric tourer because the dynamo-drive had sheared.

Very spartan was Adnams’ 1928 Austin 7, with two oil cans and a funnel tied to its tail, and a breath of the Continent was conveyed by Payne’s 1925 Amilcar, which had had an easy run (although all things are relative!), on beaded-edge tyres. Whether the French had such motoring night-frolics in the nineteen-twenties, however, is open to conjecture.

Price looked very tired as he brought his 1935 Austin Nippy in, and for some unaccountable reason Mather had been obliged to stop and change a buckled wheel on his 1929 M-type MG Midget. The Frazer Nashes of Roger Richmond, Newton and Malyan arrived in convoy, only the last-named with hood erect, and the BMWs of Tony Hutchings and Daniel, and Fearnley’s hooded Frazer Nash with drilled gear and brake levers came in, but there was no sign of Giles. Johnson was drying-out the magneto, wetted by water blown back from the radiator, of his 1933 Frazer Nash, while Dodds reported having got considerably lost, in his 1928 Riley 9 fabric tourer.

After which I drove the VSCC President back in the modern BMW to Church Stretton, the Headquarters of the event, where he had left his Fiat 128, and will hand you over to the restrIts.—W.B.

Results :

Measham Trophy : K. M. Hill (Alvis).

Best Performance by a Post-Vintage Car : A. P. Costigan (BMW).

Jeddere Fisher Trophy : Mrs. (AJS).

First Class Awards : A. D. Jones (30/98 Vauxhall) and S. Price (Austin Nippy).

Second Class Awards : A. C. M. Millar (LeaFrancis). R. McDonald (Alvis), C. R. Newton (Frazer Nash), N. M. Daniel (Frazer Nash-BMW) and R. J. R. Sevier (Sunbeam).

Third Class Awards : P. J. E. Binns (Riley). R. Adnams (Austin), T. Hutchings (BMW), D. Johnson (Frazer Nash) and R. Barker (Ford).

Navigators : To Keith Hill—Rosemary Burke; to A. P. Costigan—Mike Costigan; to Mrs. Hill— Vaughan Jones.