Club News, January 1946

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We Hear
A Chiswick garage is using a 1926 7.5 Citroen for driving lessons and towing jobs. R. S. Shapley has disposed of his Type 35C Bugatti and now owns an 8th Series open Lancia “Lambda” and an R-type M.G. Lieut. Cameron acquired Boddy’s Lancia “Lambda.” Alas, John Gordon’s G.N. chassis went for scrap while he was in Italy — this, too, like the G.N. which Boddy found, was stored in a Leeds basement — any more about ?

At the R.A.E. Enemy Aircraft Exhibition which concluded last November we are told that many motoring personalities were seen and the car park contained a well-kept Hampton drophead coupé and at least two cars displaying British Racing Mechanics’ Club badges.

Owen Finch seeks a crankshaft for his ex-Samuelson 750-c.c. M.G., having sportingly let his own go to the owner of a C-type M.G., who needed one. Harold Biggs contemplates selling his Model 18 Special Ford V8 coupé and his 3-bearing Austin Seven and buying a modern, open fast car. Ken Gilling is using an early open 4-seater Riley Nine while his M.G. is being rebuilt following a crash. A provincial paper was very bright over the Bristol speed trials, having a heading calling attention to runs at over 200 m.p.h.! These Press fellows …. !! Ken Hutchison is as keen as ever on the Sport, contrary to recent rumours, and Adlards Motors are reconditioning the original Allard, CLK5, for him. An exciting-looking new model has been seen in Kenilworth, with excellent getaway, open body, substantial i.f.s. and a quite unidentifiable radiator. Our guess is something sensational by Standards. R. D. S. Swann, who seeks a “12/50” Alvis or similar car, reports that Marshal Graziani’s personal car in Cirenaica, a 2 1/2-litre 6-cylinder twin-o.h.c. Alfa-Romeo, was in his hands for six months when he was in Benghazi in 1944. This interesting car had independent suspension all round, by fore-and-aft torsion bars at the back and coil springs at the front using twin-wishbones, and carried open 5-seater bodywork with two large drinking-water tanks in the rear quarters, one each side of the petrol tank. The car was apparently stripped down by Swann’s predecessor, with the aid of three P.O.W. mechanics, one of whom had been ten years with Alfas. The car was thought to be a 1940-41 model and several times reached its 140 k.p.h. (nearly 88 m.p.h.) on the Benghazi-Barce Road. The number “30.3.40” was cast in the side of the crankcase.

Keith Inman has a 1925 “14/40” Mk. IV M.G., which was considerably hotted-up by a previous owner and timed over the 1/2-mile at 72 m.p.h. He is contemplating fitting a Marshall low-pressure supercharger and a compressed-air braking system and would be glad of an instruction manual, and also to hear from others who own or have owned side-valve M.G.s. Fuel consumption with the old two-jet Solex is 30-35 m.p.g. P. M. Fiddian seeks information as to replacing the original engine and gearbox of his 1930 M-type M.G. Midget with a J2 unit. Wilsons Lorries, Ltd., makers of scale-model lorry kits, hope to offer sports car kits in the near future. D. Murray Wilson, one of the directors, runs a 1925 “Chummy” Austin Seven and a Terraplane as his personal cars. F. Harrison, ex-dirt track motor-cyclist, runs a Vale-Special, and is hoping to install a V-twin Blackburn engine or two Austin Seven engines in a G.N. chassis. Philip Turner has acquired a 1923 4-cylinder A.C., which had one previous owner and was carefully stored in Ireland up to 1944, but, unfortunately, the worm-drive axle gave up on the run back from the Filton speed trials last year. The 1924 200 Mile Race Alvis, out in Australia, has been fitted, alas, with a Terraplane engine. Arising out of the D.K.W. controversy, we hear that Laurence Pomeroy covered approximately 50,000 miles in his two D.K.W. cars during the war and was so pleased with them that he has acquired a third, this being a metal-bodied 4-seater de luxe coupé. Pomeroy hopes this car will supplement his “Prince Henry” Vauxhall for the next few years.

D. H. Gahagan is running his Type 37 Bugatti between Bicester and Guildford at week-ends, sometimes changing over to his “Manx” spring-heel Norton. Adlards Motors, Ltd., are busy — they have been preparing the ex-Hutchison V12 Allard for a Bristol enthusiast, have modified Silcock’s V12 and have fitted Lockheed brakes and a 91A crankshaft to Leonard Potter’s ex-Hutchison light-trials Allard. The last-named car has the engine bored-out to Mercury size and now sports an ex-Bugatti René Thomas steering wheel. The V.C.C. has purchased a very early single-cylinder Wolseley and two De Dions from a Leeds breaker, under their Acquisition Scheme. Lt. Marcus Chambers is preparing the ex-Peter Clark single-seater Austin Seven for sprint work, adding a blower. He plans to run in the unblown 750-c.c. class also.

Harry Souter is out of the Army and is having his Bugatti converted into a 2-seater for sports car racing, the work being in the care of Papworth. Inman Hunter commenced his journey home to this country from Australia per Avro “Lancastrian” on December 4th. Interesting cars he recalls from his journeyings include the car he mistook for a Maserati, which turned out to be a V8 engined Bugatti; a s.v. Aston-Martin, No. 1323; a Stanley steamer, Kissel, 1923 Marmon, “Double Twelve” Studebaker, a Benz, Chenard-Walcker, Skoda, Bayliss-Thomas, etc. A bad fire in Sydney unfortunately resulted in the loss of N.S.W.’s only Q-type racing M.G. Doc Bond had sold his to someone in Melbourne. New South Wales racing cars, however, include 2.9 monoposto Alfa-Romeo, Type 37 Bugatti, 328 B.M.W., 3 1/2-litre Delahaye, two N.E. M.G. Magnettes, also Bugatti, Alvis and Kleinig-Special, powered respectively by V8 Ford, Terraplane Six and Hudson engines.

Vintage S.C.C. OF A.
The Australian vintagents really do go the pace. Their monthly, The Vintage Car, is excellent, and the August, 1945, issue contained a supplement and data on the “30/98” Vauxhall (507 E-type and 308 O.E. models are said to have been made from 1914-1928, the O.E.s being numbered 1-55 in 1923, 56-111 in 1924, 112-166 in 1925, 167-221 in 1926, 222-276 in 1927 and 277-308 in 1928), an article by Peter Clark on his Type 40 Bugatti and all the news. Three new members and two associates were elected in August, and at the hill-climb, which formed part of the N.S.W.C.C. trial, Kleinig’s Hudson-Special made fastest time. American-engined vintage cars are rightly frowned upon, but if a spare engine of original type does not exist in Australia, there is some excuse. A flying 1/4-mile sprint and a s.s. 1/8-mile event were scheduled for last September, with an A.G.M. on September 26th. The bulletin is somehow reminiscent Motor Sport — but, then, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

N. L. E. C. C.
The North London E.C.C. held a very successful dinner and dance at the Elstree Way Hotel on November 21st last. Amongst those present were Mr. and Mrs. Findon Philip Turner, Godfrey Imhof, etc. At the end of the evening tribute was paid to the part the ladies play in humouring the queer antics of the enthusiast and providing food for him and his fellows after a long drive or extended spell in the workshop.

The Morgan 3-Wheeler Club
The Morgan 3-Wheeler Club is doing all it can to maintain interest in Morgan motoring, and it has “groups” covering all parts of the country. A regular memorandum is issued.

Bentley Drivers’ Club
The Bentley Drivers’ Club did a very brilliant thing when they obtained permission from the Air Ministry for their members to enter Brooklands on December 15th last, so that they could see for themselves the state of the track — but, after all arrangements were completed, the Air Ministry withdrew their sanction. However, lunch was taken at the White Lion Hotel, Cobham. Incidentally, membership is open to owners of Bentley cars manufactured by Rolls-Royce, Ltd., as well as to those owning products of the old Bentley Company. Hon. secretary, Stanley Sedgwiek, “The Cobb,” Stoke Close, Cobham, Surrey.

M.C.C.
Most regrettably the “Exeter” trial has been cancelled, due to petrol rationing remaining unchanged, but there is some hope of a “Land’s End” at Easter or Whitsun — knowing the workings of bureaucracy, we ourselves are not very optimistic.

C. U. A. C.

It is very good news, and one of the brighter signs of the times, that an attempt is being made to re-form the Cambridge University Automobile Club. Those who were members up to 1943 are known, but what is needed is someone to act as hon. secretary and sufficient support from enthusiasts in residence to justify restarting this old-established body. Will those interested, and anyone able to act as hon. secretary, please write to F. J. Dykes, 21, West Road, Cambridge, the club’s president — this request comes from Mark Ward, who was secretary in 1941-42. We wish the C.U.A.C. well; it certainly should be re-formed.

E. C. C. OF G.B.
This body held a 20-mile, 20 m.p.h. average-speed trial last October. Results: 1st, Capt. Normanton (Morris Eight); 2nd, J. Hudson (P.A.; 3rd, P. Davidson (Riley Nine “Lynx “). A dinner-dance is scheduled for the New Year.

Bicester Garrison M.C.
This club announces that the intended sprint event at Finmere airfield had to be abandoned because the Air Ministry refused to give a definite answer as to whether or not the proposed course could be used — how typical! An attempt will be made to re-open the issue in time for an event next spring.

Sunbac And M.M.E.C. Trial
A combined trial was held last year. Results: Best performance of the day: C. L. Bold (Riley Nine). Best performances in each of three driving tests: Butler (V8 Butler-Special), Milburn (M.G.) and Wharton (Ford “Utility”). C. A. N. May drove a Morgan 4/4 and Gilson a Ford Ten.

Scottish Racing Drivers’ Club
This is a newly-proposed body. A council meeting to explain future activities was due to happen in Glasgow on December 5th.

V.C.C.
G. James Allday, who in 1941 mooted a veteran car run to Berlin as soon as possible after war ceased, has sent out a letter to Veteran Car Club members, stating that the Brighton Run could not happen last year — we congratulate Mr. Allday on sending his signed letters through the post for 1d., but must register surprise that one so keen on the Berlin run should accept so calmly the impossibility of holding the Brighton Run last year. Actually, of course, the Veteran Car Club is not to blame for the continued deferment of this event, and we all look forward to the promised Half-Century Commemoration Run to Brighton this year.

The Eastwood Trial
The Bristol M.C. and L.C.C. has been by far the most active club since hostilities ceased. Their Eastwood Trial attracted 22 competitors. Results: Best performance, C. C. Evans (M.G. Magnette); runner-up, A. W. Morrish (P.A. M.G. sic.); 3rd place, T. G. Butler and J. Bendle (J.2 M.G.$). Touring class: 1st, W. V. Kethro (M.G. Magnette).

W. Hants And Dorset C.C.
This club announces that it hopes to hold the Poole Park speed trials on August 1st next — which is good news indeed. We recall the starting line still visible when we walked through the park during the war. Hon. secretary, C. B. K. Milnes, Oak House, Queen’s Road, Ferndown, Dorset.

Cover Picture
At this time of the year thoughts to the Monte Carlo Rally, perhaps greatest of all motoring adventures. we hope that it will be revived next January? The cover shows Healey’s little Triumph arriving victorious at Monaco in the 1934 event — thereby considerably increasing British prestige.

The little 1,232-c.c. Triumph won the 1 1/2-litre class and was third in the General Classification, starting from Athens. Note the oversize tyres and extended mudguards.

N.Z. Sports Car Club
The Bulletin now appears as a monthly, the cover of the issue for August featuring a photograph of “Brooklands” Riley in action.

Register of the Unique
Owing to the very early closing date for going to press with this issue it is not possible to publish the Register of the the Unique this month. It will appear in the February issue — so, if you come across anything of interest in breakers’ yards and similar places which would appeal to enthusiasts, please send the details to W. Boddy, at 5, Alexandra Road, Harrogate, Yorks. The more queer finds the better!

General Notes
One Saturday we left the office, lunched, changed and carried ourselves backwards 20 years by entering a very early specimen of “Chummy” Austin Seven, in order to climb up to a friend’s house on the outskirts of the town. Here the object of interest — and, to small boys, wonderment — was a “trials special,” consisting of a stripped but standard 3-speed Austin Seven chassis carrying very sketchy mudguards, two bucket seats and a 2-gallon petrol tin pressurised by means of a tyre pump. Climbing up beside the driver, we progressed astonishingly rapidly on this strange Austin, the illusion of great speed being increased by the queer flexings of the exposed chassis, the complete lack of protection from the raw November wind and the absence of bodywork. Followed by the “Chummy,” we went out towards Skipton, through magnificently wild country, ere we turned off and motored over a river bridge and along remote lanes to our objective — a rough track over Pock Stones Moor. An ideal testing ground, we thought. The driver of the other Austin changed places with us, and the “special” set off up the steep initial ascent, vanishing from view. After some time it reappeared and the “Chummy” was taken up. This out of sight, we again boarded the “special” for a truly rough climb at high speed. Thereafter the two Austins wound their way over the narrow track, dodging rock outcrops, swerving this way and that in negotiating foot-deep ruts, now in bottom gear, now in second. A halt was called to investigate the swollen ford and to throw the “Chummy’s” bonnet in the back of the car. The light was fading rapidly and the “special” had no lamps. If a crossing proved impossible, the long return the way we had come would he most unpalatable; perhaps, in the dark, impossible. Slowly the “Chummy” lowered itself down the slope, sank into the water and, with engine pulling strongly, was out and away, climbing up the far track, dimly discernible in the gathering dusk. It was our turn, and the “special” made equally light work of the job. Thereafter followed a pleasingly brisk run over better tracks to real roads again. Here we drove the “Chummy” to enable its owner to again sample the other car, and an enjoyable afternoon’s sport concluded just after dark — warmth, comfort and good food appreciated all the more on account of it.

At the crack of dawn next morning we were up and off to the same house as on the previous afternoon, for the “special” was to be towed down to Gloucester behind a Hillman “Minx” saloon. He who had bravely volunteered to steer it donned a waterproof Sidcot, and we were off. The Great North Road was taken for a while, then we branched right just beyond Bawtry, and thereafter two incidents of note occurred — a “Ruby” Austin saloon was encountered in a ditch, surrounded by police cars and two very charming girls were seen struggling with a punctured tyre. Even the latter spectacle did not stop the Hillman, but we ceased shortly afterwards with a “flat” of our own on the rear-side front wheel, much guile being called for in persuading the bent-tin jack to raise the car. Soon after we had recommenced our journey a halt was called for fuel, at a garage on a cross-roads, and we discovered the owner to be John Crossley, so we admired his immaculate 328 B.M.W. and his racing photographs, heard of what a contrast he had had in a recently-disposed-of 3-litre Bentley, and learned that he also owns a 2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo, a worry in connection therewith being the fearful things that happen if the mixture weakens.

Food in Warwick, and we went on and on, through Stratford-on-Avon and Cheltenham, eventually to arrive in the dusk at Gloucester. Now, two of us were due that evening at Builth Wells, in Wales, to collect and drive back to Harrogate that night in a 1927 “Chummy” Austin Seven. But introducing the “special,” unloading the Hillman and restowing our battery and luggage, and eating a huge tea after the “towee” had thawed out before an equally huge fire in an old farmhouse, absorbed much time, so that it was dark and foggy ere the Hillman set out again, and the run therefore foreboded adventure. Maps had been studied and the F/Lt. who was driving had duly “briefed” his crew, but all that we could see from the back seat was the black, black night, and we were reduced to discussing the ideal car in which to set out to marshal night trials and the like.

After a seemingly unending run, the Hillman stopped and the driver said, “This is Builth.” A policeman, the police station and a railway station then informed us that we should never find the village of Glascym in the dark. It was 11 p.m. and all the hotels were either full or shut. At last one took pity on us — after a fearfully cold night we discovered we were the only guests in the place! And subsequently we learned that the Hillman had punctured again and then lost itself, to arrive at its destination, an R.A.F. airfield near Bath, at 5 a.m. next day.

Soon after that hour we had our own troubles, for no ‘bus or train went to our elusive village and a Morris Ten taxi was taken, its little, white-haired Welsh driver going flat out in a mist up the mountain road, telling us of accidents and narrow escapes the while and hauling himself up by the steering wheel at corners so as to better see out of the car. At last, stopping abruptly in a village composed, apparently, of about two or three houses, we had a warm welcome from a vicar and his wife, a second breakfast of many eggs, and the “Chummy” was brought out and commenced. The vicar proved a great enthusiast, particularly addicted to motor-cycles, owning a fine Sunbeam combination and a big-twin Matchless, but recently using a s.v. Anzani A.C. as well as the Austin.

The run back to base, already hours behind schedule, was something of a scramble. We had a battery, but no lamps, and it was 1 p.m. when we left. The brakes were conspicuous by their absence and the descent to Builth to collect our luggage from an astonished hotel was hectic in the extreme. Incidentally, while waiting for our taxi that morning we came upon a rather curiously-bodied 3-litre Bentley in the local garage and learned that Kidstone, Clement and. Harcourt Wood had lived locally, Wood doing the run down from London in the old days in 41/2 hours or so. Two other fine Bentleys had been noted on the Sunday, one a 4 1/2-litre coupé; also a mysterious car on trade plates, obviously a new car on test, in Kenilworth.

To resume, we commenced a feverish run back to base, the Austin pouring out smoke, so that the driving compartment was all but uninhabitable, the brakes virtually absent, the steering distinctly queer, but the little magne-ignition engine as game as ever. Wales was left behind; in Leominster we stopped to try to buy a “12/40” Lea-Francis saloon that was not for sale, and as we began to worry about fuel and daylight, Bromyard came up. Finally, quite lightless and in the dark we crawled furtively, if noisily, about Worcester, looking for a garage. Here we abandoned ship and came on to Birmingham in a single-decker ‘bus, which, even compared to the Austin, was so full of exhaust fumes as to be a disgrace to the owners. A café, a cinema and another café in Birmingham, and we faced the all-night train journey back to Harrogate.

A bare week later there was a business trip to London and back in the Austin Seven saloon, satisfactory, inasmuch as we left at 4 p.m. and were in South London and indoors by 1 a,m, on the Sunday, stopping for a puncture and to clean out the fuel pump and also to buy fuel and to eat. And the engine had only fired for the first time after a major overhaul immediately before the start. At Newark a hapless R.A.F. boy on a solo James was enquiring his best route to Ilford. We pushed him off and soon overtook him carrying a pillion R.A.F. hitch-hiker, but in Grantham they were pushing the bicycle in. From London there was a drive into Kent with fog on, of all things, a house-hunting expedition, two garages on the Hastings Road yielding up an old Swift Ten saloon and one of the first Hillman 14 saloons. Heartily fed up with “A2,” we returned via “A5” to Leicester, where Mrs. Corah very kindly allowed us to inspect the Coupe de l’Auto Delage which Bablot drove to victory in the 1911 race — it occupies a proud place in garages filled with two Packards, a Vauxhall and an Austin Ten, and a coloured Gordon Crosby impression of the old car in full flight hangs in one of these garages. By now we were very late and scurried on in undistinguished utility along the straight bit, by-passing Ollerton to rejoin the Great North Road at Bawtry.