Cars in Books, February 1987

There is one item of interest to this column in the well-written book by Janet Hitchman, Such A Strange Lady — A Biography of Dorothy L Sayers (New English Library, 1975).

In 1921, after she had joined Benson’s advertising agency, Miss Sayers bought a Ner-a-Car motorcycle, “which she rode with dignity, sitting bolt upright as if driving a chariot”.

She drove the machine from London to her parent’s house in Christchurch when six months pregnant, which is regarded by the book’s author as a dangerous procedure.

In its road-test report on a Ner-a-Car in 1925, MOTOR SPORT observed: “With its 3-inch tyres and excellent springing one can ride gullies, pot-holes and bumps without discomfort, at all speeds.” That from Arnold Radclyffe when following part of the ACU Six-Days Trial, smoking his pipe as he rode.

From that easily read book on a popular subject, A Life Among Antiques by the late Arthur Negus (Hamlyn, 1982), we discover that as a substitute for his bicycle and later his motorcycle, Negus’ mother bought him a bull-nose Morris Cowley when he was 21. It cost £199.10s, so was presumably new at the time. Unfortunately it overturned in an accident in Reading and Negus’ mother died from her injuries. Negus tells of travelling in the yellow Rolls-Royce (Reg No CXY 19) round England following the old coaching routes for the BBC “On The Road” programme, and of being told off by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu for referring to the cars in his museum as “Old Crocks.” WB