Mark Garfitt’s New Year Day assembly at The Verzons, near Ledbury, for celebrating VSCC members, was again a full-house success this year, in spite of the Arctic weather. The hotel car park was literally filled with older cars of every kind and many makes, 80 having arrived by lunch-time. Members mounted in moderns and the grass-verge-parked public flocked to see the fun. If variety is the spice of life, this was it. Rolls-Royce towered over fully-stripped GP Bugatti, half-a-dozen Morgan three-wheelers sought to cock-a-snoot at the A7 brigade, the Welsh Seven contingent decimated this time when Seymour Price’s fast Ulster produced symptoms of bearing failure as an excuse for giving up en route and my Gould Ulster refused even to start; no blame to an excellent 2½-year-old battery from The Seven Workshop, the culprit perhaps the SU petrol-pump. So, of those three, only the 1930 saloon got over the border into England.
Of larger Austins, two 12/4s stood out, a somewhat decrepit two-seater wearing a bonnet-strap, surely not hoping in its dotage to ape the 12/4 in which Cutler lapped Brooklands at 74.33 mph in 1925? The other was, shall I say, a wellused pick up with hood-hoops but no hood. The star turn was the arrival of Hamish Moffatt in Stuart Saunders’ 27-litre Liberty-engined MAB, driver protected by its spectacle screen, a fine substitute for his aeroplane, which I am sure Moffatt would have flown in, had soggy fields not precluded a landing. A humourous touch was the notice “Baldwin Must Go” in the rear window of an Essex Terraplane saloon. Rolls-Royces came in some numbers, a couple of Twenties, ale tourer and saloon, Parked side-by-side, horizontal radiator shutters closed against the cold, another’s vertical shutters likewise, while some used the magic of the thermostat to dispense with shuttering, notably SR Southall’s 1920 40/50 tourer.
lmmaculates included a Talbot 65 saloon and a 1500 Alfa Romeo two-seater, and eyes roved over black radiator Model-T Ford, open Railton, a lonely Marendaz Special, a Morris Ten van advertising a classic-car restoration business, the badge of which read “Morris Van”, a 30/98, all manner of A7s from neat Pick-up to Ulsters, Box saloons and Ruby, to two low-chassis 4½-litre Invictas, coupe and open sports car. The distance prize, the Marston’s Shield, was awarded to the latter, which R C J Browning motored down from Cheshire’s Foden country, the Talbot that for smartest car present, Chris Gordon another, for surviving from Malvem in his Tamplin cyclecar, and an A7 for possessing the prettiest tail. A consolation award was made to Veronica Newton, who knocked the oil pump off Paul Bullett’s Frazer Nash on a kerb while entering the car park.
HE Six tourer, Singer 9 coupe, a Singer Six sports special of unknown antecedents, Edwardian Renault, an MG labelled MGCC N-type Special — the list is a long one! For what it is worth, which means a few more lines filled, Garfitt’s “counter” gave the score as: Austin 16, Morgan 15, Alvis 9, Rolls-Royce 7, Riley 6, Morris 5, Frazer Nash 4, 3 each of Bentley, Bugatti, Singer, Lagonda, Sunbeam and 30/98, 2 each of Delage, Humber, Talbot, Invicta, Lea-Francis, one each of Alfa Romeo, Edwardian Buick, Essex Terraplane, T-Ford, FN-BMW, HE. Lancia Lambda, Marendaz, MG 18/80, MAB, Railton, Renault, Sima-Violet, Tam plin, Triumph Gloria and Wolseley Hornet Special, plus and seven motorcycles, four MS, Norton, Douglas and Ariel.
Parked in the background was Marston’s 1938 Leyland Hippo brewer’s lorry, its many barrels of their Burton ale enough to make anyone thirsty! This 49.8 hp six-cylinder overhead-camshaft ten-wheeled truck was purchased at the instigation of Marston’s directors to represent the Leyland Hippos that the Company had used from 1930 to 1957, when the last of their TSW9s was scrapped and the last TSW I dismantled in 1953. The original Marston’s Leylands, which replaced RAF-type Leylands, each carried 60 barrels of beer from Burton-on-Trent to Marston’s Winchester and Southampton depots, at 4.82 mpg of petrol, costing 1/1d (6p) a gallon, although the first one had to reverse up Warmington hill. Five had been bought by the transport manager, Tom Savidge, and run with Marston’s two Sentinel DG6 steam-waggons.
A diesel Hippo was added in 1934, which did 7.8 mpg at 5¾d (3p) a gallon — compare with today’s respective petrol/oil costs. The petrol Hippos were converted later to oilburners by the transport department and rebodied to take 65 barrels each; 13 Hippos were in service by the end of 1937, five seeing war service, while Marston’s transport department repaired the remainder and made parts for tanks. The present Hippo, EWB 95, is thought to be the only petrol-engined example still in existence, out of seven in preservation. Type TSW8D, with an E40 engine, it has a replica body, made by Marston’s staff, like those used on the pre-war Winchester run; the chassis has an 16ft 10in wheelbase, its worm-drive axle a ratio of 8.66 to 1.
Having strayed again into HCVS territory, in which this Leyland has won the Aubrey Lymer Trophy, I beg your forgiveness and hastily close.