VSCC Winter Driving Tests

On December 7 this fixture again took place at the Westcott Country Club near Waddesdon. The 12 tests were named after cyclecars, to endorse the support given to such oddities by the Light Car Section of the Club although, in fact, the only one competing was a genuine £100 two-stroke, two-cylinder Carden, which suffered from a rather sudden clutch but had a foot-starter to cope expeditiously with start-line stalls, if no means of reversing itself unaided by humankind. There were Caroline’s Morgan and a GN in the entry list, but for me they were overshadowed by the Carden and by Bullett’s immaculate Bedelia, which wasn’t taking part but was motoring about strongly and we all need one, don’t we, for sensible motoring?

In the dry but misty weather the event had brought in around 100 entries and the venue was well-suited to spaced-out tests, some of great complexity and thus in the get-lost mode. A brave effort had been that of Geraint Owen who had replaced a clutch plate on the vee-twin Morris-JAP during the event, and I was greatly taken by Basham’s cut-down, high-performance A7 Chummy, with four-speed gearbox and Ulster-style front-end, in which he was outdone by Miss Hirst for sheer determination and a quite wild finish to one test. I think this A7 may have been intended as a recreation of the “Earthquake” of Brooklands and Le Mans memory. Cockinga-snoot at such lack of weather protection and accommodation was a Singer Junior metal saloon, with a slight list to starboard, which was nothing to do with a fine electric horn carried externally.

How some competing cars contrive to look as if they had just left their respective showrooms is ever a mystery to me – Brewster’s 1929 Lea-Francis two-seater, for instance, along with several others, If Sloan’s 1925 Austin 12/4 was not exactly in this category it made up for this by thoughtfully having two additional seats for those compelled to ride in its truck-like rearend… Interesting, too, was Briscow’s 1937 4 1/4-litre Bentley with a single door on either side of its open fabric body, and it was nice to see Bell’s early (1924) open Lancia Lambda which has escaped, for all that time, the cut-and-shut merchants who ruined so many Lambdas.

Biggins was driving his 1924 Morris Oxford with his usual aplomb but Reg Nice in his Ulster A7 found Test Eight hard on the small car’s wheels. James Diffey wasn’t hanging about in the 30-98 and during the afternoon a very large and haughty Bugatti saloon had a look and departed, perhaps checking that the more racy Bugattis of President March and Conway were representing the marque adequately. WB

1st class awards D Ryder-Richardson (1910 Adler), H Colledge (1929 A7), R F Wills (1924 Jowett), R Firmin (1936 HRG), G Owen (1930 Morris-JAP).

2nd class awards P Rosoman (1930 A7), D Marsh (1925 Bugatti), T Tarring (1927 Frazer Nash), H Conway (1926 Bugatti), D A Robinson (1931 Riley), D Basham (1933 A7), C Firman (1930 A7).

3rd class awards C Hamilton-Gould (1930 A7), M Ballard (1931 Frazer Nash), N Bell (1924 Lancia Lambda), J Diffey (1924 30-98), W Mahany (1939 HAG), K Hill (1929 Crouch-Helix), P Bullen (1930 A7), R Fayter (1934 Riley), C R Marsh (1930 A7), A Costogan (1930 Vernon-Derby). Retired P Hirons (1922 ON), T Jones (1920 Carden).