letters from readers, January 1939





It is very heartening in these days of .chromium plated “pansy wagons” to find any support for motors of that stark era when owners were expected and even encouraged to have some knowledge of .cars.

Even so, interest seems to concentrate around the Austin Seven and the Bullnose Morris on the one hand, and such Olympians as the Bentley and 30/98 on the other.

What about the upper middle class back bone of the car world ? The Delage DI, Sunbeam 16.95, Vauxhall 14/40 and 23/60, Humber 12, etc.

Working for a firm of machinery merchants the need was felt for some -reliable means of transporting men, tools, small machines, and it was decided to use old touring cars. During the last four years I have bought all the above models at various breakers’ yards at prices between £5 and £10. No major repairs have been necessary, and although running costs are slightly above the average, this is offset by the low purchase price. Depreciation is of course only a matter of £2 or £3 per car.

I used all these cars in my spare time, and for holidays, and derived considerable pleasure therefrom. Although somewhat sluggish by sports standards, these old motors showed much more promise than the average £20 saloon, and were surprisingly rapid from A to B. The last of the line, a 1924 Humber 12, will always have first place in my memory. She cost £2 including a month’s taxation, and when I scrapped her I drew £4110/0

for the bits. Incidentally I still have quite a few of the bits left. Although her appearance belied it she could roar along at nearly fifty, which was far more e-Nhilarating than ninety in a modern saloon. Owing to a change in employment I can no longer afford to run a car of my own, and my present mount is shared with a friend. This is a 1927 Alvis 12/50 with a heavy touring body. It was purchased With the idea of using it in the machinery business, and for taking four fellows and camping gear on holiday. She cost rather more than breaking up price but for an eleven-year-old car she is in

splendid order. I had one run of 231 miles on seven gallons of petrol, and only used a quart of oil in 1,720 miles. As far as I am aware she has never been rebored.

However, the prize for mileage was taken by the 1923 Vauxhall 23/60. This had previously belonged to a Territorial Officer, and was painted War Office green. This gentleman did 95,000 miles in twelve years. and I added another 7,000, giving a total of 102,000 miles without rebore, and at the finish she still used no oil whatever. Apart from my own cars I have been offered a Blue Label Bentley Tourer

in splendid order for £9, a 1929 Lagonda 2-litre sports-job for £8, and a Red Label Bentley for £10. So why run a ” buzzbox ” ? I recently saw a pre-war 25 h.p. Talbot in the local breaker’s yard, but discovered nothing of its history. The most interesting car I have seen for Some time is a 1912 Hispano Suliza. This is a very stark looking motor with a neat round-backed tonneau and no doors. The gear lever is outside and there is no facia board, the instruments being on the dashboard right under scuttle. The speedometer has two dials, one recording speed and the other

distance. The “1′ “-head engine is resplendent with brass and copper, and is fitted with eight plugs. It apparently had trembler coil ignition as well as a huge Bosch magneto. It is interesting to note in these days of forward engine mounting that the front end of the cylinder block is about level with the rear of the front wheels, and the dynamo is housed between the engine and radiator.

I would be very glad to hear from anyone who has had experience with this type of car, as if it is at all possible I may put the old Hispano into commission again. I should also be glad to see still more letters and articles about old cars in your splendid magazine.

Youngsters like myself know nothing about such mythical beings as the ninety Mercedes, 100 h.p. Spyker, Napier Ninety, Alpine Rolls, and Crossley, and the Prince Henry Vauxhall, and AustroDaimler. Could one of your enthusiastic contributors. oblige ?

I am, Yours etc.’




Sir, From time to time the special short chassis 8-litre Bentley owned by Mr. Forrest Lycett is mentioned in your admirable paper. I have heard many

tales of the phenomenal acceleration which this car possesses, and I am sure I am not the only “old school” Bentley enthusiast who would be greatly interested in the real, tested figures for acceleration, and the maximum speed of the car on each gear. I wonder if it would be possible for such figures to be printed in MOTOR SPORT in SOME future number, accompanied by a photograph of the said ” bolide,” as pictures of it seem to be few and far between ? Also would if ever be possible to carry

out a road test of 1927 Red Label 3-litre Bentley ? I feel sure a number of your readers must possess 3-litre Bentleys, as your paper has a special appeal to vintage sports-car enthusiasts, so such a test would probably have a wide appeal.

In conclusion, may I compliment you on the excellence of your paper ? invariably find myself looking forward to its publication each month. I am, Yours etc.,


Bristol. !These have already appeared in a Previous issue of MOTOR SPORT.—Ed.]


Sir, The interest aroused by the R.A.C.’s annual Horseless Carriage Drive to Brighton and the enthusiasm engendered by the Veteran Car Club’s competitions

have been the means of bringing out of retirement and preserving many interesting motor cars and ” light locomotives” which first saw the light of day before 1904. Many people have wonderee what is happening to the cars which were produced during the following decade. Are they to be allowed to fade away uncared for ?

The Vintage Sports-Car Club has already done much. to preserve the larger and faster cars of the pre-war period and the inclusion of special classes for these exciting monsters in so many Speed Trials this year can be traced directly to the activity of the Club. It is now proposed to provide an organisation to foster the more sedate but none the less interesting Edwardian touring cars.

Many of these fine motors deserve to be saved from oblivion (or worse) and there is no doubt that they provide magnificent opportunities of re-capturing the real joys of motoring.

These cars can be (and many are) really practicable for everyday use on the roads and at the present time they can be acquired ridiculously cheaply.

Early next season the Vintage SportsCar Club will launch a programme of suitable events. It has been suggested that portions of some of the famous early trials should be run again. Rallies offer an excellent means of bringing the cars and their owners together, and a formula will be used to allow cars of every size and age to compete on level terms. In the meantime will all interested people communicate with me at No. 1, Norland Square, W.11. I shall be particularly pleased to hear from : (1) Those people who have cars manufactured between 1905-1914 (inclusive) and who would like to support the scheme ; (2) Those who are keen to acquire a suitable car but haven’t got one ; (3) Those who have suitable cars for sale or who know where such cars are lying hidden and

(4) Any other interested bodies or persons.

All information and suggestions will be welcome. I am, Yours etc.,

CEcu, Ci,urroN.


On behalf of the Vintage Sports-Car Club.


Sir, I read with interest “The Trend of Racing-Car Design” in the December issue. From it one can draw certain conclusions. On Altas we have potentially the greatest prospect of all racing-cars. The b.h.p. of Beadle’s 2-litre Alta is 325, developed at the very low revs. of “5,800.” Compare these figures with the 3-litre Grand Prix cars. Maserati are getting 350 b.h.p. at about 7,500 r.p.m. In addition the Alta weighs only 13 cwt. and has a most efficient stream

lined body. As regards road holding this car may not excel but next year’s model with tubular frame and new independent suspension should be improved in this respect. It seems a great pity that Altas should remain almost unknown owing to lack of detailed constructional work and petty troubles. I am, Yours etc.,





I am appealing on behalf of a comely tumbril of ancient vintage ; to wit Lagonda No. 99. She is decrepit and in no state to maintain herself—her front springs have been removed.

Her radiator is round and consists of tubes reminiscent of curtain poles. Her front wheels are covered in sprockets,. and the remains of tyres. Her entrails. are rudely exposed to the coarse gaze of the multitude. Her push rods have lost one of their number, and her aged rocker arms vainly signal their distress. The shabby remains of her once smooth body drape themselves forlornly round her frame, which is supported on bricks. She is on a scrap heap, unwanted ! Though of good family and through no fault of her own she is in these strait

ened circumstances. If anyone wishes to provide for her remaining life, I would be glad to assist this noble deed as much as I am able, with the one condition that I be permitted to interview her on my return to England. I am, Yours etc.,