Letters from readers, January 1943

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It becomes increasingly apparent that there are still a large number of enthusiasts who are interested in old-type Bentleys.

As I have some knowledge of these cars and a few notes on them, I should be very happy to answer any queries from owners if they will write and give me full particulars of the size of engine, chassis number, gearbox type (or if not known the description of the shape of box and number of nuts on the lid), also wheelbase and tyre sizes. I have not got many of my notes with me, but will try to help as much as I can, more especially with technical details such as tuning and modifications.

I am, Yours etc.,

Marcus Chambers, Eng. Lieut., R.N.V.R. 142, Hatherley Court, Grove, London, W.2.

[Which seems a very generous offer in these times of hard work, little enough relaxation and few leisure hours.—Ed.]


I draw your attention to the recent formation of the N.Z. Sports and Racing Car Club.

The Club has been formed with the idea of bringing enthusiasts together during wartime and providing an organisation to promote motoring sport on the cessation of hostilities. The entrance fee is 5/- and annual subscription 5/-.

A Club bulletin will be produced at regular intervals, and I am enclosing a copy of our first number.

If this should reach the eye of any New Zealand enthusiast in England who would care to become associated with us, I should be very pleased to arrange for entry into the Club.

I might mention that members favour vintage English and Continental cars, and that we very definitely disapprove of .American machinery.

I am, Yours etc.,

G. Easterbrook-Smith, Sec. The N.Z. Sports & Racing Car Club. Wellington, New Zealand.


In the December, 1942, issue of Motor Sport the editorial columns deal with the proposal that a permanent motor sport exhibition be instituted in the London area.

This is an idea which has been mooted to me personally by quite a number of people for months past, and I have been working on thoughts in this direction for some time. Now, to quote an extract from the editorial, “The club would not be under the auspices of any one motor firm, which might be suspected of advertising motives.” As, therefore, the powers that be would not support any personal work that I, as a motor dealer, might contribute to this good cause, I am writing to offer my services and am willing to collaborate with any people who might put forward any constructive proposal to achieve such success as I am sure we all desire in this direction.

I might say that my original intention was to invite, as a preliminary, all and every enthusiast, particularly the impecunious ones, to hop on a train any convenient Saturday or Sunday (journey 35 minutes from Waterloo) to my establishment at Shepperton and browse over the sports and racing cars which I have here, the object being to discuss the sport and generally foster interest in the purely vintage car. The cars shown are well known in their class and are not for sale!

Adjacent to the premises are the two well-known houses where a plentiful supply of the necessary life-giving ale can always be obtained, to wit, “The King’s Head” and “The Anchor,” both haunts of the regular pre-war visitor to Brooklands track. There one can continue discussions while reclining in comfortable armchairs! Incidentally, I have no financial interest in either of these two houses.

If petrol-rationing regulations still permitted the small amount of essence to be used for pleasure purposes, I would suggest that enthusiasts made full use of the car park here and spent their week-end leisure moments making this a meeting ground.

I feel sure that something can still be done, and shall be interested to read of any concrete proposals put forward by people of similar thoughts to myself. It appears to me that the two hardest working people at the moment, Boddy and Capon, should have all the solid help that can be given them. I am sure that we all agree that we can never repay these two for the tremendous efforts that they have made in their leisure time to promote our interest in the greatest of all sports.

I am, Yours etc.,

For and on behalf of Eaton Motors, Ian Metcalfe, Director. Shepperton, Middlesex.

[While not in any way associating ourselves with this suggestion, we consider that enthusiasts might very well study what appears to be a sound plan and a generous offer. There seems to have been no general attempt in the past to exclude the Trade from club activities, so Ian Metcalfe should have no qualms on that score, albeit we are rather surprised to learn that the cars at Eaton Motors’ premises are not for sale.—Ed.]


I note with interest your reference to a Hampton car in the “We Hear” column of the November issue.

This car lives in Kenilworth, and is not a 6-cylinder as you suggest, but a straight eight rated, I believe, at 16 h.p.

It is owned and driven by the man who claims to have designed it, but, unfortunately, I can’t remember his name.

The engine is remarkably compact and narrow and of very clean mechanical appearance, and has the inscription “Hampton Straight-8” on the rocker cover.

I believe the engine to be push-rod o.h.v. and pretty well orthodox. According to the owner, the car will do about 70 to 75 m.p.h. and is most reliable. It has a rather unusual appearance, as the radiator is the highest point of the body, which slopes slightly downwards towards the rear end. It is a 4-seater tourer, and altogether a very intriguing car. You will probably be interested in a few details of the cars and doings of enthusiasts in these parts, so here are a few notes.

A friend is still working on rebuilding an “Ulster” Austin 7, bought two years ago after a bad smash. This car was blown, but came to us less blower, and great difficulty has been experienced in raking up a suitable induction manifold. We have been using a Ford 10 down-draught carburetter and I think the last effort finished only last week-end, will be successful.

This car unfortunately has a slightly damaged front axle beam, so if you should know of an “Ulster” front axle for sale, you might forward particulars of same. Another friend has a beautiful “30/98” Vauxhall with just an aluminium 2-seater shell body and lowered radiator; this car lacks only a near side rear spring and is being carefully rebuilt. The same enthusiast runs a 1934 “Speed Twenty” Alvis on business.

I am running a 1931 “12/50” Alvis 4-seater tourer. This is a wonderful motor in every way and spent the first seven years of its life as a police car!. I would very much like to hear of the two necessary stubs to convert this to twin S.U. curbs., or, alternatively, a suitable manifold for a horizontal S.U.

In its present form the car has a maximum of just over 70 with the rather heavy Cross & Ellis touring body and the hood erected, but opportunities for speeds above 40 m.p.h. are very rare, and I consider myself lucky to be able to run a “proper” motor for my business as a radio engineer.

I hardly need to tell you that Motor Sport is most eagerly awaited each month, and from the 1st of every month onwards I am a nuisance to the local bookseller, as I call every day until he says: “Yes, thank God, here you are!”

With that I will close, wishing you and all Motor Sport staff all the luck you deserve for the grand job you are doing for enthusiasts everywhere.

I am, Yours etc.,

Roger H. Webb. Kenilworth, Warwickshire.


Messrs. Riddle and May have certainly started something!

The “10/30” Alvis had a side-valve engine with non-detachable head; 4-cyl. 65 x 110 mm., 1,460 c.c., pleaseworthy gear ratios, as was customary in those happy days – 4, 5.5, 7.5 and 12 to 1; weight about 14 cwt. complete. A real motor car worth reviving in all its axled unashamedness, with only detail modifications and not more than a couple of cwt. extra. (I would say the same of the 1921 Aston-1,486 c.c. ; ratios of 3,73, 4.87, 6.9 and 13.2 to 1; 15 cwt.— in the words of the Elder Pliny Or Younger Pomeroy, or someone: “Varium et inutabile semper femina,” but a good car will always give you a ride.)

Then followed the “11/40” Alvis— not by any means mythical – 68 x 110 mm., 1,598 c.c,’ made in 1922 alongside the “10/30,” from which it differed only in engine size.

Next, the more solid and less exciting “12/40” (69 x 110 mm., 1,645 c.c.), whose cylinder block was interchangeable with some of the “12/50’s,” with interesting results to the fabric universals, but a “12/50” performance while they lasted. Now can anyone give me details (bore, stroke, ratios, weight), of Hawker’s Special car, built in 1918, which had a V12 225-b.p. Sunbeam aero engine (side valves, with valve caps!) in a 35 h.p. Mercedes chassis? Also the 1920 Parnacott, a 1.5-litre 2-cylinder?

I am, Yours etc.,

“Josephus.” Bebington, Cheshire.


I know that you will be interested to hear that I have purchased the “30/98” Vauxhall which was referred to in Motor Sport quite recently—the one at Auld’s Garage, Doncaster.

During a trial run on the North Road a speedometer 70 in third was registered quite easily: needless to say, I purchased the vehicle on the spot, since it appears to be in quite decent shape.

Details are as follows: chassis O.E.185, engine 308, Reg. No., FJ 3349. The chassis mounts a very nice 2-seater body, and modifications include a Bentley front axle and brakes, Marelli servo operation, two S.U.s—carbs. and pumps, 30-gallon slab tank, and rebuilt wheels mounting absolutely unused 6.0″ x 19″ tyres.

Proceeding by train, I stopped at York and visited the unique Colibri sitting in the open at York Autowreckers—what a name! The chief auto-wrecker is also unique; he is an enthusiast of the first order.

We had a long chat, and he states emphatically that the Colibri is not for sale; he has just presented it to a local museum.

The car possesses one or two interesting features : the quadrant-operated gearbox is integral with the engine crankcase, but is partly exposed; that is, the flywheel runs in a semi-circular trough and the extension continues in this form to take the gears and associated shafting.

The engine, a vertical side-valve mono-bloc twin, is orthodox, as is the remainder of the transmission aft of the gearbox. The advance and retard arrangement is ingenious and must be extremely rare.

The magneto, mounted on the near side of the engine, is driven, via a train of gears, by a shaft which has a brass sleeve on it incorporating a “quick thread.” This sleeve is spring-loaded and can be pushed along against the spring, when the “quick thread” will, of course, rotate it relative to the shaft. The full extent of this movement gives something like 12 degrees in terms of ignition timing. The method of arriving at this motion is immense, an enormous ball-topped lever mounted on the steering column initiates it. I spent a quarter of an hour trying to change gear with it; this lever is fully 3 ft. long! A series of levers and connecting links transmits the motion of this lever to the mag. driving shaft and sleeve. V. positive control.

The other contents of the yard are not not without interest, and include a quite nice Talbot “85,” an elderly Martinsyde, and an Ivy 2-stroke motor-cycle. There is also a large sleeve-valve Daimler with “giant” beaded-edge tyres of rare dimensions.

The piece de resistance was, however, carefully stored in a shed and is the owner’s pride—an 1899 Western Steamer in first-class order. The only snag is the fact that the front tyres are very small section “tubeless”–28″ x 2.5″., and are perished. Registration No. DN 8 (a York No.). The lay-out is very similar to the Locomobile—the dogcart theme, with fuel tanks under the floor boards and the steam generator and machinery under the seat amidships. The fuel used is petrol and the boiler is of the water-tube type. There is a horizontal tubular condenser at the rear (a more recent modification?)

The chassis is formed of four tubes, the corners being braced with small diameter tubing.

These tubes are all beautifully lined— pedal cycle style. Similarly, the coachwork is panelled.

The steering tiller, unlike that of the Locomobile, is disposed centrally, and the steering arms are operated through two rods (no track rod).

A swinging triangular member pivoted at its apex on the mid-point of the front axle tube, pulls and pushes these two rods under the influence of the tiller.

The owner praises the car’s reliability and stressed its cross-country performance and extreme silence.

I must apologise for these garbled descriptions, but I was only at the yard for 20 minutes, and anyway haven’t time to think out intelligent descriptions.

Incidentally, I am now on the track of a Sorpollit.

I am, Yours etc.,

H. Heath, Major, R.A. Windsor.


I’ve just received my May, 1942, issue and in spite of the heat in this antiroom of hell I had to sit down and write a counterblast to Hutton Stott’s remarks re “merely out-of-date models so often written about.” What is this mania for ancient barouches? It seems to show the same mentality that makes a man go crazy at finding an ancient postage stamp, preferably with some flaw created during manufacture. Why should some unlovely and impractical piece of machinery be coveted simply because it was made a heck of a long time ago? (I ask you, Editor why do you, for instance, .go round looking for these fantastic immediate post last-war motors ? You know they were hastily designed, often shoddily built and always chronically unreliable. Why dig them up ? [Hardly true of every Veteran!—Ed.

On the other hand, these “merely out-of-date” models (by which I understand semi-vintage sports cars) really do have something—speed, if one’s prepared to take some trouble, good road-holding, and an indefinable thing called “feel,” which you can only obtain in modern sports cars if you’re prepared to hand out a large bag of gold. [We quite agree. Hutton-Stott probably had in mind 1910-14 veterans and not 1920-30 vintage sports cars of the better sort.—Ed.]

Another thing is the attractive lines of sports cars during the period 1928-36; none of this heretical streamlining or pansying-up of dashboards and seating accommodation. I realise I’m laying myself right open in abhoring streamlining, as that’s just as illogical as collecting ancient motors ; still, that’s a personal prejudice and doesn’t, affect the argument. Money is the chief bugbear and most enthusiasts have to possess a car which, although being of sufficient interest to merit time being spent on it, has to at least have seats and some sort of hood for daily use (enthusiast that I am, I’m no misogynist, and the popsies just don’t seem to go for cars with one aero screen—for the driver and no hood !)

To revert to appearances, the Edwardians can put up no claims in this direction, as they’re neither car nor carriage, but a bastard conglomeration of both. Immediate pre-war mid post-war cars get away from the influence of the horse carriage, but having made the break don’t know quite what they ought to look like, apart from certain racing cars of the period, whose designers seemed to have some sort of clue. From then on we get my idea of a golden age, when every worthwhile manufacturer (and quite a few others) was producing genuine fierce and fast cars that looked like cars and nothing else.

After 1936 (as the Hun radio was fond of announcing) British youth seemed to go soft and demanded radio, cabinheating, automatic gear change, and other abominations suitable only for the halt and lame ; with the result that one now has difficulty in differentiating between a car radiator and a wireless loudspeaker, its hack end from a “streamlined” washing machine. Congratulations on keeping Motor Sport going. All these personal reminiscences you’re publishing are the real thing. Keep it up.

I am, Yours etc.,

A. G. S. Anderson, F/0. Aden, Arabia.

[Each man to his choice! some people like early small cars because of their uncertainty and many, often not too harmful, unique features. So far as the popsie problem is concerned, there are three solutions: (a) Give up real motoring and run a saloon; (b) give up popsies; or (c) buy a Type 57S Bugatti Electron coupe.—Ed.]


I was very interested to read Mr. Ian McHardy’s letter on the Cord, particularly so as I was only recently discussing these cars with an American officer who had apparently some experience.

While admitting that they were well equipped and had a certain attractiveness, he told me that they were known throughout the States as nothing more than a packet of trouble, and that one could never rely on completing a journey without something going wrong.

A further disadvantage was that repairs could only be carried out at a Cord service station.

As a result, after 12 months, these cars could he bought at a quarter or less of their original cost, surely a very drastic depreciation!

As for their subsequent appearance on another chassis, he described this as “just a pile of junk” made even more absurd-looking due to the use of a normal type chassis, and the consequent considerable increase in overall height. The Riley Amilcar, to which I referred in my “Cars I Have Owned,” has progressed a little, but I have now decided that the rear axle is not worthy of the amount of work expended on the front end. I wonder if any of your readers has an axle that would make a suitable replacement, such as possibly a Hornet special or M.G. of not lower than 5 to 1 ratio ? The limiting factor is the distance between the springs of 3′ 0,1/2″; knock-on type hubs are required. If anyone can oblige it will help me considerably.

I am also looking for a car up to 1,500 c.c. of the vintage or semi-vintage type, preferably one that has some racing history, condition, within reason, immaterial, for use for road work after the war.

If any reader has such a car I should be delighted to hear about it.

May I congratulate you on the excellent standard which you are contriving to maintain in Motor Sport under such difficult conditions.

I look forward to getting my copy with the greatest impatience.

I am, Yours etc.,

L. J. Roy Taylor, Major. “Painscott,” Burton Heath, Shrewsbury.