Vintage Postbag, February 1981

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The 20/60 Vauxhall

Sir,

I was very interested in the article in the November issue concerning E. W. Hancock and Vauxhall cars. Many years ago The Autocar or Motor ran a similar article, but no mention was made of the 20/60 model. Your article is the first I have seen to refer to it.

My father bought his in May 1928, and the first we knew that it was connected with GM is when we stripped it and saw GM stamped on the flywheel.

This car was unique in many ways. Body wise, it was one of the first with an all metal Fisher body. and was tested by tipping it over a hill in Richmond Park, when it rolled over a few times, landed upright and all the doors and windows operated perfectly. This, of course, was streets ahead of the standard wooden body of the time. The engine had a 9-bearing crankshaft — the centre and flywheel bearings were split. Steel pushrods and heavy, stout duralumin rockers and masked inlet valves. All this in 1928, 4-speed gearbox and top was 4.73/1, 3rd. 7.25, and 2nd and 1st about 10 and 14 respectively. The engine was not flexibly mounted, but was exceptionally smooth for its day. Top speed an indicated 71. The brakes, too, were exceptional. All bearings were knife edge and were very powerful, the front drums having a large flange for stiffness and cooling. But, even so, fade was severe, and after a hard pull up from 70, the last phase – from 30 to a standstill — was merely a slow down. From this point of view they were dangerous. The utter top speed in 3rd was 43 m.p.h. There was other trouble — wheel judder. At maximum speed, wheel wobble developed and was highly dangerous, and left the front tyres as if they had been rasped. The cylinder top water pipe was an expensively engineered tapered aluminium casting, and the curved gear lever expensive to make also. The tyres were 31 x 51/4.

All in all, a very good car. £495, and we had Triplex glass and wire wheels — total cost, £525.

Norman Siggers, LDS, RCSEng

London SE21

Packard Slogans

Sir,

You invited a reply from “The Packard Club” to your recent correspondence about Buick slogans. In 42 years of Packard interest I have certainly never heard any Packard slogan other than “Ask the man who owns one”, or variations thereof! One of these was “Ask the man who in paying for one”, and of course, “Ask the woman who owns one”!

Stevenage, Herts

Hans Edwards, Regional Director, Packards England.

BSA Cars

Sir,

By W.B.’s diligent researching over the years for the unconsidered trifles of motoring history, Motor Sport has provided for me a wealth of snippets on my own particular bent, the front wheel drive BSA cars.

However, my own researches have so far failed to turn up a contact involved in the pre-war trialling of these cars, both the Threewheeler and the Scout, and I would like to ask Motor Sport’s indulgence in advertising my cause.

Apart from Bert Perrigo and George Savage from the BSA works, the names of Gordon Norchi, Frank Cope, K. J. Davies, W. H. Julian, W. F. Gowlett, A. H. Hutchinson, R. H. Aldworth, V. R. Cowley and many others appear as trials entrants on BSA cars. Where are they now? The tales of driving a front wheel drive car with a limited slip differential on the open road between sections are worthy of something better than my third hand efforts!

I would be more than glad to hear from anyone who has any reminiscences of BSA cars, both trailing and in more normal forms of motoring.

Tonbridge, Kent

G.J.R. Skillen

[Letters can be forwarded — Ed.]

SU Car

Sir,

My enquiry concerning the SU car has produced some very interesting correspondence. Austen May, with whom I used to share the commentary at Prescott, remembers seeing the car around Birmingham before the war, and thinks that the body was built by Jensen. Roy Taylor states that the car was later owned by the late Donald Monro, of Invicta fame. He it was who drilled the front axle (and also removed the glass from the windows) as he was a fanatic for “adding lightness”. The windows have now been replaced!

John Bolster, who, of course, knew the car well, says that its correct name is TCS. The radiator badge now certainly says SU — a later owner most have altered it. John confirms that most of the chassis parts are Morris, but the frame members are special. Harry Edwards, of the Morris Register, says that Donald Monro had the tail locker added by Jarvis to improve the road holding. He also provides some very interesting facts about the two Skinner Morris Minors.

As always, Motor Sport readers have been able to provide the answers — my thanks to the four gentlemen who took the trouble to write.

Guildford, Surrey

John Willis

Ford V8 TT Special

Sir,

I am anxious to trace the history of my 1934 Ford V8 Ulster TT Special and any assistance from your readers will be most welcome.

The registered number of my car is BCD 174 and I understand it was one of three cars produced by the Ford Main Dealers in Northern Ireland for the Ulster TT in 1934; photographs on Page 73 of the Ulster Vintage Car Club’s Book of the Ards TT would appear to be proof of this. However, this is not sufficient to convince the VSCC that my car is not a replica and consequently I am in search of evidence to show that this car is one of the three originals.

I believe Sydney Allard purchased one, the other went to Jersey before the last war and my car was sold by the Cresta Car Co., Worthing, to John Robertson Miller and registered in Brighton.

Ideally, I require a photograph showing my registration number in an event between 1934 and say 1939, preferably with a write-up on the event quoting that this car was one which had been in the 1934 Ulster TT. How about Brighton Speed Trials or the Firle Hill Climb?

Pinkstone, Dorset

David Bowles

That “Ugly Little Car”

Sir,

The controversy in your correspondence columns regarding the car used by Mr. Baldwin when visiting Edward VIII at Fort Belvedere stirs my memory into action.

For many years my late father was a Director of a large printing company in Westminster (now many years gone), and for a very long time they printed Vauxhall owners instruction books etc. etc., therefore when at a youthful age I took great interest in everything Vauxhall.

I clearly remember that at the time the national press printed pictures of Mr. Baldwin leaving Fort Belvedere in a Vauxhall Cadet (17 h.p. was it not?), and no doubt some pictures must be existence in the files of some newspaper to verify this fact. This was indeed an ugly car and no doubt caused the comment in the memoirs referred to in the correspondence. The “Cadet” never seemed to sell well and quietly disappeared, being apparently replaced by the 1935 14 h.p. series, which was also available with a 12 h.p. engine (both 6 cylinders), selling for £195 upwards. Sunshine roof (sliding) was £5 extra, and a fine looking luggage boot at the rear was also £5 extra; for many years I had copies of the catalogues, but in a weak moment threw them away, alas!

Weston-Super-Mare, Avon

C. Adkins

The Elkinton Carriage Co.

Sir,

I am surprised to note from Mr. Ian Pratt’s letter that the National Motor Museum have no record of the Elkington Carriage Co. Ltd. They were regular exhibitors at the Motor Show in the twenties, their last appearance being in 1931. They usually showed three cars, and seemed to favour Minerva, as an example of this make nearly always appeared on the stand. However, they also built on Talbot, Sunbeam and quite a number of other makes, including Rolls-Royce. Their original address was Lacland Place, Kings Road, Chelsea, but these premises were taken over by Gurney Nutting in 1929, when Elkington moved to the Great West Coach and Motor Works at Chiswick.

Mr. Pratt may be interested to know that their exhibit in 1924 included a carmine saloon limousine of “Sumptuous appearance and spacious porportions” mounted on a six-cylinder Buick chassis!

Guildford, Surrey

John Willis

Another Cycle Car

Sir,

I have a cycle car chassis which I propose to restore and would be most grateful if any of your readers could provide any information which may assist in dating the machine.

The engine which was manufactured by Messrs. Blumfields of Birmingham is a vee twin and bears the number 182B 397T.

It has a bore of 67 mm. and stroke of 70 mm., the capacity being 493 c.c. (It looks larger than this — Ed.)

Enclosed is a photograph of the chassis which also shows the two-speed gear arrangement.

I have been unable to identify the maker of the chassis.

Southport, Lancs.

Norman Tidd