Vintage postbag, February 1993



Bequet Finds


Please find enclosed a most interesting photo which I have received from France only recently, showing the Bequet-Delage in October 1932 at Gometz le Chatel hillclimb. The driver is named as B de Latour.

It proves that which I have long believed, that the Bequet had a much longer and more interesting competition history than it has ever been credited with. Also that the chassis was reunited with its original 1923 GP body subsequent to Bequet making his aero-engined modifications. When Bequet drove the car at San Sebastian in July 1926 it was fitted with a lashed-up body (with bolster fuel-tank). It is now clear that by the Montlhery meeting in October that year the original GP body had been refitted. The photo also shows the stub exhaust pipes which I have been using in 1992.

Roland Coty was a good friend of M Bequet and funded the building of their projectile. The two must have known Louis Delage well, the latter from his work at the neighbouring Spad factory, the former as a well-established Delage customer. The Bequet was of course latterly known as the Coty Special and in this guise it came third in the GP de la Baule in August 1926. Coty started four laps behind the leaders; there is little doubt that but for this handicap he, rather than Wagner in the “works” Delage, would have won.

You will notice two further interesting things in the photo. Firstly, the absence of the Delage radiator badge. This is consistent with all photos of the Bequet Special, and we can surmise that Delage insisted that the badge was removed before the Special was built. Secondly, the ropes around the front dumb-irons. Nigel A-F complained bitterly about the front axle being weak when he first rebuilt the Bequet. Obviously the creators thought likewise and solved the problem by this extra tensioning device!

Alexander Boswell,
Newport Pagnell, Bucks.

Upside Down

Sir, As it rather neatly, I think, links the article by WB on the Seabrook RMC with its upsidedown chassis and the piece by DSJ on Specials and gives me a chance to air my vintage motorcycle memories, I would like to take you back to the now University town of Loughborough in Leicestershire in the late Thirties. A regular sight was a low-slung sports car, unremarkable perhaps to non enthusiasts, but interesting to me because it was constructed from that worthy but quite hideous car of the twenties, the Gwynne 8. It was transformed both in appearance and no doubt road-holding because the owner had turned the engine upside-down, just like the RMC. I later came to know the owner, one Roger Castley, whose brother had in the early twenties ridden, with a chap named Cathrick, big twin BSA sidecar outfits round the world. Later Roger switched to a 12/50 Alvis, which figured because I always thought the Gwynne engine looked like an Alvis one.

When his car was off the road Roger rode the 1930 Scott Flyer which I acquired during the War and was so beguiled with it that I was determined to start a Vintage MotorCycle Club on the lines of the VSCC. With the support and encouragement of WB and SJ and many members of the VSCC, it came to pass (present membership 11,500 and still rising). WB is still a member though DSJ isn’t (because we didn’t get sprints and racing going quick enough for him and allowed in non-sporting machines). I often wondered what happened to the upside-down Gwynne.

CE “Titch” Allen,
lbstock, Leics.

MCC Trials


Congratulations on your most interestingly detailed article on the MCC Edinburgh Trial. I was particularly interested in your account of the events from 1926 onwards, that year marking my first MCC event as a competitor (I retired in the wilds of Yorkshire with the collapse of the well-worn rear tyre of my solo).

By the way, I did notice a slight “Oh Dear” in your description of the 1926 Triple Award as a “triple signpost”. This was, in fact, a later design. I happen to have a Triple Award for which I qualified in 1928 — this is a silver relief map with the routes of the three trials (Lands End, Edinburgh and Exeter) picked out in red.

Incidentally, you may be interested, even at this late stage, to know that solely due to your glowing reports of your VW Beetle I chose Beetles for trials use for many years, from the late 1950s onwards. May I say that I look forward to reading many more of your erudite writings in Motor Sport.

JP Davies (Vice-Pres, MCC)
Amersham, Bucks.

[The MCC “signposts” Triple Award was introduced after WWI; I did not realise its form was different in 1928. WB]

Military Packards


I thought you might be mildly interested in hearing that a British Army unit in World War II had an all-Packard staff car fleet.

During 1941/42 I was a despatch rider in the Royal Signals Special Communications Unit no3. I frequently visited the sister SCU no1 at Whaddon Hall, near Bletchley, and was intrigued to see that its staff car fleet consisted of upwards of 15 four-seater Packard saloons and a two seater coupe, the majority in military camouflage.

I recall meeting, briefly, a civilian driver there who was reputed both to be wealthy and a pre-war racer. I think his name was Peter Dudley Ward. He was certainly an ‘honourable’, and could well have been involved in the collecting and requisitioning of this unique fleet.

Phil Ives,
Truro, Cornwall.

In the Dirt


I was interested to read your piece “More Cinders” in the January issue because as a schoolboy before the war I often saw midget cars racing on the dirt-track at Bellevue Speedway in Manchester. They raced when the Bellevue Motorbike Team had an away fixture. One of the best drivers I remember was Spike Rhiando.

I was a bit surprised to see the photograph of Taylor’s Alta at Wembley going clockwise around the track. Every race I ever saw, bikes or cars, was run anti-clockwise. The little cars were very entertaining and surprisingly fast. I was sorry when they were not revived after the war. My regular circuit now is Oulton Park, the most beautiful in Britain I think, though spoiled now in my opinion by the stupid chicane before Knicker Brook. How can we breed GP drivers if all our circuits are made “Mickey Mouse”?

Roy Sandbach,