Club News, January 1947

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We Hear
Competition Cars, Ltd., have in their possession a what sounds like the old “flat-iron” Thomas-Special which at one time took diesel records. It now has the straight-eight engine reinstalled and, while the heavy steel body and frame will be kept for sentimental reasons, the new owners intend to fit a streamlined body of light alloy and to carry out certain other “mods.” The Thomas will then be raced next season by T. P. Bayliss.

Up in Leeds, Goodman is busy trying to assemble a steam car from masses of parts, a task rendered more difficult because the chassis is what he describes as “non-standard.” He is also working on an R.L.S.S. “22/90” Alfa-Romeo of about 1927 vintage. It is very good news that Forrest Lycett is only waiting for a more ready supply of petrol and a resumption of the sale of Discol to get his famous 8-litre Bentley on the road again. At the last Brighton Speed Trials only four of the racing cars bettered the time for the s.s. kilometre which Lycett established when taking Class B records. It was also very nice to see R. G. J. Nash again, on his 1900 Peugeot in the Brighton Run. He tells us he is going to set up a motoring museum and open it to the public, which someone should have done years ago. His own well-known veterans, both cars and aeroplanes, will be on view and he will be glad to hear from anyone who will contribute photographs, data, drawings, accessories and vehicles at reasonable fees, particularly of the 1800-1918 period. Incidentally, the game little Peugeot took three persons through the “Brighton” on “Pool” petrol, giving no trouble at all and ascending all the hills.

Vaughan Oliver is having the ex-Betty Haig A.C. reconditioned for next year’s events. He mentions, in passing, that the Malden and D.M.C., founded in 1927, is getting back on its feet and will be glad to hear from prospective members. T. H. Leigh has a 1927 Frazer-Nash, No. PH 3522, engine No. S.S.4879, chassis N. 1135, and wishes to contact any previous owners; while Lt. J. M. Icke, Royal Marines, runs an “8/18” Talbot fitted with a “10/23” engine, and would like to hear of any more of these cars, or spares. A Napier, described as a 1921 20-h.p., 4-cylinder tourer, will soon be going to a Biddenden breaker if someone does not save it..

Up at Beaconsfield, Louis Giron has got a very useful workshop and is busy, mostly on Bugattis, in his own inimitable style. Kenneth Neve has acquired that fine, ex-Hughes “30/98” Vauxhall, thus fulfilling, he says, an ambition of ten years’ standing. It has climbed Prescott in 54 sec., Shelsley in 48 sec., and lapped Brooklands at 108 m.p.h., yet is decently docile, and an easy starter — not only on the button, but away from the traffic lights, we presume! By the way, Neve traced the ex-Wallbank„ 1914 T.T. Humber to a Durham breakers, where it was a total loss, so his car is now the only known representative of the type. David Howard is trying to start a boys’ motor-racing club. Walker still gets good service from his elderly A.C. Anzani and would like to hear from anyone who can give him hints on tuning the engine, while Gold has changed his Riley Nine for an unblown 1,750-c.c. Alfa-Romeo saloon. A really early, flat-radiator Alfa-Romeo coupé, probably a push-rod “15/50,” was encountered recently on the Southend road. Percival Marshall, Ltd., 23, Great Queen Street, W.C.2, have introduced a plans service for model car builders, these covering such cars as B-type E.R.A., “T.T. Replica” Frazer-Nash, o,h.c. racing Austin Seven, Lancia “Aprilia,” etc. These are accurate four-view drawings of the real cars and cost 2s. 9d. each, post free. The December issue of the Model Car News contained an article on “Cars Worth Modelling,” covering the 1914 G.P. Mercédès and many other interesting articles. “Bira” recently made a replica of himself in his E.R.A. from butter supplied from his wife’s Jersey cow and had it exhibited at the Bodmin Show. The International Model Aircraft Co., Ltd., has introduced little rubber-driven plastic toy racing cars, at 2s. 6d. each.

It seems that some worth-while British cars are brewing for 1948. We have an idea Morris may introduce a really nice little aerodynamic saloon, that the M.G. company have a compact 1 1/2-litre saloon with coil-spring i.f.s. and rack and pinion steering in hand, and that Vauxhall’s intend to lower appreciably the bonnet line of their “Ten.” These are only telepathic findings, as yet. But the new 2 1/2-litre Riley is an accomplished fact.

Williams is having a new body made for the ex-Hunter Alta he raced last year. Samuelson is preparing the 1914 6 1/2-litre Peugeot which he drove at Lewes before the war, for future Edwardian competitions, and he has also acquired the 1914 T.T. Sunbeam with 4-seater body (the Guinness car) from Breen. He uses a venerable 1925 Renault for agricultural duties. George Hill has found the remains of another Sunbeam Mabley, that. queer, wooden-framed two-track 4-wheeler, and hopes to be able to rebuild it, although it is in a sorry state. The number of Brighton-age veterans discovered during the war, when there wasn’t much petrol and everybody was very busy, suggests that still more are likely to come to light in the future.

Granville Grenfell and his wife did a Swiss tour last year on two motor-cycles. If anyone wants a 1926 21-h.p. Lanchester Saloon, we know of a very good example, maintained by two chauffeurs, which was the property of the late Lord Somers. It seeks a kind home.

We have very little space in which to report the Dunlop war film, “Far Horizons,” but two words will suffice: “See it!” What is the most sensational thing we have heard, this month or any other time?—Why, that there is a 3-litre Grand Prix Mercédès at R. C. Rowland’s garage in Byfleet!

Club bulletins are attaining a very high standard nowadays, and their arrival is awaited with keen anticipation. That of the New Zealand Sports Car Club for last September contains a long account of a special “Speed Six” Bentley, believed to be New Zealand’s fastest car; a “Cars I Have Owned”; a description of Tolley’s first lap of Brooklands on Lacey’s 350-c.c. Grindlay Peerless J.A.P., with 16 1/2-to-1 compression-ratio, giving 42 b.h.p. at 7,200 r.p.m. — at 103 m.p.h. (the run home was in a saloon Frazer-Nash, Staniland driving!); and an account of the Club’s night trial. The last-named event was won by Forlong’s Austin “12/4,” with Tooley’s Armstrong-Siddeley and Watson’s Singer “Le Mans” tying for second place. New members’ cars include a Frazer-Nash, a straight-eight Sunbeam, an “18/80” M.G., and P-type M.G. The Bulletin cover photograph is especially interesting, showing Ken Hemus’ 1921 T.T. straight-eight Sunbeam, sister car to Heal’s in this country, now with simple touring body.

Hon. secretary: T. Wickham, Box 406, Wellington, New Zealand.

The Northern Sports Car Club of New Zealand recently held its “Boot Cup” winter trial. Seventeen cars started, from Auckland, and five sections were included in the 60-mile route. 30 m.p.h. had to be averaged through the city and the metal roads of Waitakere Ranges, which four cars managed to do. Roycroft’s Riley excelled on the first hill, where Hemus’ T.T. Sunbeam, not surprisingly, failed. This car finally broke an oil pipe and retired, and Gilroy’s Austin also dropped out, with a split fuel tank. Most of the sections were easy except the last, which was cut out. The trial was won largely on correct route-finding and timekeeping, O’Callahan’s Ford Ten beating Roycroft’s Riley Nine, with Tappenden’s Pontiac 3rd, Rundle’s Morris Eight 4th, and Watson’s Singer 5th.

With terms such as “streamliner,” “D-wagen,” “midgeteer” and the like coming into use in connection with the Sport, we shall soon all need motoring Sport dictionaries . . .

Charles Mortimer and his wife were recently filmed in a motor-racing capacity for a news-reel. The “hand-out” implies that Charles, although preferring the cockpit of his Alta, is quite willing to lend a hand at the kitchen-sink. Now, Charles, this puts the more humble “special”-builder and enthusiast in a spot. If you, sir, with your taste in “Speed Six” Bentleys and your present Rolls-Royce, will deign to do the wiping-up, how will the “Austin Sevenists” ever convince their wives that, while they do not in the least mind washing-up, making the beds, dusting the mantelshelf, beating the carpets and cleaning the windows, not to mention feeding and changing baby, there is a little work to do in the garage . . .?

The Motor Sport Library scheme continues. When the Editor moved from Yorkshire to the South the thing became a bit chaotic, but instruction books covering most sports cars, vintage and modern, and many ordinary cars, have been safely preserved, and books can be loaned for three weeks to anyone sending us a really large, adequately-stamped envelope. If a book applied for is not received by return, that is because someone else has borrowed it. They may even have lost it, in which case you will not get it at all, and no correspondence can be entered into about it. But we do our best to send out all books applied for, and a 4d. stamp, on the average, covers postage. Space-cramp precludes publication of a list of the books we hold. If anyone should have returned a book to us and has not done so, will you please remember that another enthusiast may be in need of it. Contributions, especially of rare instruction books, are still most welcome. So far as a further “Register of the Unique” is concerned, it is unlikely that there will be sufficient space to include one this year, but we shall be glad to refer to unusual or interesting cars for sale, even queer small cars, especially at modest prices. By sending details on a postcard you can assist those searching for cheap beginners’ cars, or held up for spares, etc., and the need is certainly great — but this is not a free advertising scheme for disposing of your own car !

Oh, Dear!
A reader has found the following in an old book of “ruthless rhymes”:—

“I collided with some trippers
In my swift de Dion Bouton,
Squashed them out as flat as kippers,
Left them aussi mort que mouton.
What a nuisance trippers are,
I must now repaint the car.”

Popular Veterans
The V.C.C. must have felt very pleased at the reception the veterans got on Brighton Sunday. We gather that the news-reel rather made fun of the cars, but, on the contrary, Punch, of November 27th last, had an excellent humorous description of the Run, complimentary to the cars. Apparently Punch’s reporter rode on a 1900 Benz, while their artist, Brockbank, went in a 1903 Clement-Talbot. Together they did an excellent account of the Run, all the more pleasing because it appeared in the last place in which we expected to find the veterans eulogised.

B. D.C.
The Bentley Drivers’ Club “Review” for December keeps up this publication’s very high standard. Apart from breezy reports of this Club’s very lively meetings, there is some early racing history by Dr. Benjafield, and some excellent photographs. Eighty-seven new members were elected last quarter and the score is now 339 Bentley-minded souls with 142 3-litres, a 4-litre, 104 4 1/2-litres, 15 “blower” 4 1/2s, 11 “Big Sixes,” 14 “Speed Sixes,” 15 8-litres, seven 3-litres with 4 1/2-litre engines, a 4-litre endowed with 4 1/2 litres, eight 3 1/2-litres and 11 4 1/4-litres, between them. If you are a Bentley owner and a non-member you are missing a very great deal and we recommend you to write at once to S. Sedgwick, “The Cobb,” Stoke Close, Cobham, Surrey.

In the office of the Sales Director of the Healey Motor Co., Ltd. is a framed “Pop” cartoon from the Daily Sketch. And with good reason, for it shows “Pop” entering a railway carriage, placing his suitcase on the rack and taking from it a large placard. This placard reads: “I Don’t Think Much of the Government, Rationing or Picasso. I Like the New 2.4-litre Healey Car. Wake me up at Exeter.” This “Pop” places in front of him and presumably sleeps uninterrupted throughout the journey. Naturally, we assumed that either the publicity man at Healey’s had a “pull” with the artist or that a huge sum had been paid for this mention. Neither is correct. “Pop’s” creator had obviously looked through the Daily Sketch for topical headlines and found the Healey car prominently written-up as a Good Thing, for its sponsors had let Kay Petre take one out on test. Their co-operation with the Daily Sketch’s motoring correspondent was thus to lead to publicity which other manufacturers must have regarded with awe and envy. Verb. sap.


Excellent news! Dunlops announce that from time to time old-size tyres are being put into their production programme (21 by 5.25 in., 21 by 6.00 in. and 21 by 7.00 in., also metric sizes, are mentioned) and made in small numbers; also that enquiries for racing tyres should be addressed to N. W. H. Freeman at the Albany Street depot.

The Bugatti Owners. Club held its 11th Annual Dinner and Dance at Grosvenor House, Park Lane. on December 7th. An excellent dinner was followed by the presentation of awards for the 1939 and 1946 seasons by Earl Howe, K. W. Bear being the popular warner of the Victor Ludorum Trophy. We cannot say whether the dancing or a gramophone record of racing-car noises at Prescott (which was played during the evening) was the more popular with the Bugattisti. But it is worth announcing that the Antone Co., of Ewell, sell this double-sided 10-in, record at 7s. 6d., for those who would bring the E.R.A. into the drawing-room, at least orally. These sound-effects were excellent and must have bemused those who, as the saying is, had dined well but not wisely. We have often thought that running commentaries of racing events should have been put on to gramophone records and present this idea free of charge to the recording firms, with emphasis on the fact that Tony Curtis has done it first — although the Antone effort is almost all car-noise at the expense of commentary. Nevertheless, we are certain this record will be listened to again and again by true believers.

Incianapolis 500-Mile Race
Because there are so few suitable blown 1 1/2-litre racing cars available in the United States, the 1947 500-Mile Motor Sweepstakes at Indianapolis will again be run under the old formula to permit 3-litre blown cars to compete. Thereafter, the Indianapolis authorities will comply with the new formula, in so far as piston displacement is concerned, but the fuel restriction will not be enforced.

Entries for the 1947 race from experienced British drivers with suitable 3-litre blown, or 4 1/2-litre unblown, cars will be welcomed, and travelling expenses from port to port will be guaranteed by the organisers.

It is understood that there is a ready market for blown 3-litre cars in the United States, when they are extensively used on dirt tracks, and British entrants of cars of this size, who so desire, should have little difficulty in disposing of them at a satisfactory price. This should be preferable to shipping them back to this country, as there will be few opportunities to race them in future European events.

The Contest Board of the American Automobile Association urges that European contestants should arrive at Indianapolis not less than one week before the race so that they may have ample opportunity to familiarise themselves with the track (which is not quite so easy at it looks), if for no other reason than their own safety.

Cover Picture
Exciting new British high-performance cars are beginning to appear and many of them have already been subjected to searching long-distance tests on the Continent, notably the H.R.G., Allard, Healey and 90-h.p. Riley. The new Bristol has also been thoroughly tested in this manner and the photograph on the cover shows the car in Milan, where heavy rain was falling. The picture was taken on the occasion of the latest of several visits to the Continent. This test covered several thousand miles, in Belgium, France. Italy and Switzerland, and over the Autostrada averages of over 80 m.p.h. were easily attained. With the Bristol are H. J. Aldington and D. H. Murray, who conducted the test, accompanied by Count Lurani and Signor Phillipano.

General Notes
A long-run undertaken almost on the spur of the moment gains something by the lack of planning beforehand, and so it was when someone, finding a blank Sunday in the calendar, said, “Let’s do a long run.” And someone else, “I’ve never seen Cheddar Gorge.” We decided there were worse things to do than occupy the back of the Austin, so by midday we were on the way. The familiar route to the West Country was taken for a while, with a welcome lunch at Andover. Then we motored on, across Salisbury Plain, past Stonehenge, spoiled by the wire fencing round it and the request to “pay at the hut opposite,” so that we searched, instead, for the two separate memorials to early military aviators, which flank the road hereabouts. Cheddar came up and was an inspiring sight on this autumn afternoon, although we should prefer to see it alone, in mid-winter, when the stream of tripperish traffic would have gone. Nor do we particularly wish to “do” the caves again. However, the journey became more fun as we progressed, for after a brief glimpse of the sea from Weston-super-Mare’s uninspiring front, we sought a better piece of coastline and, in the dark, got into lonely, winding lanes, finally “fetching-up” at it bird sanctuary at Brean Down, still closed for the purposes of war. In Weston again, we had a meal, the driver discovered in a car park a “12/60” Alvis saloon he had once owned, and we set off for home. The long evening run was somehow very satisfactory, odd places reminding us of pre-war trials coming up on those signposts that we consulted frequently by torchlight as we made our way cross-country.

Then there was the Allard to test, enough to blow away all the war-time cobwebs in the first few miles. We took that car fast cross-country up to Bletchley on a warm, overcast afternoon which seemed timeless, perhaps because the car covered so much ground so effortlessly. We came through parts of Buckinghamshire we once knew well, but had forgotten, and returned to Hampshire by way of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, comfortably between lunch and dinner.

On another occasion, in the security of a Vauxhall Ten, we went, of all places, to Vauxhall Motors, Ltd., at Luton, to see their veteran and vintage cars, then on to Dunstable to inspect the newest E.R.A., finally deciding, on the spur of the moment, to press on to Warwick and drop in on Mr. Wyatt, of Healey’s. Everything went according to plan, and that car did get along very nicely, and with a degree of refinement praiseworthy in a Ten.

Came the Brighton Run, which, for us, commenced early on the Saturday morning, when we set off in a Hillman Minx with uncertain steering qualities to tow Kentish’s 1902 de Dion to London, followed by the willing, if somewhat tired, Austin Seven. Stowing the car in Swiney and Hill’s garage — we hadn’t met Hill since the days when he had been with Humphrey Symons — we ate a snack lunch at an adjacent café and set off, with the trailer, for Brighton. The early part of the route was well known to us, along tram-lined roads until we swung left on to Purley Way, passing those pleasing signposts which indicate Thornton Heath in one direction, “Ladies” in another. At Bolney we encountered Leslie Allard still working on his veteran Napier, and a queer small 4-seater of the early ninteen twenties (possibly a Meteorite; will someone please confirm?) hurried past in the London direction. Leaving the Hillman and trailer in the garage of Brighton’s Grand Hotel, we came back to London by train, an excellent 60 min. run in electrified cleanliness, only marred by having to pay 1s. 6d. for the privilege of occupying the restaurant car, and another 1s. 3d. for a minute toast-and-biscuit tea. That, we hoped, was that — until tomorrow. But a ‘phone call reported the Austin’s sick rear axle as getting worse and the car not a reliable tender for the de Dion. So we contrived to borrow the Vauxhall Ten and set off at 9.30 p.m. to collect it from Hornchurch. Now Hornchurch always reminds us (you will have to forgive us) of a passage by Cecil Lewis in “Sagittarius Rising.” Lewis, on leave from the R.F.C., had been in London, at a party which he describes at sufficient length for us to believe that be enjoyed himself, with a partner of his own choosing. Later . . . “The old two-cylinder Renault which, from a sense of war-time economy, seemed to run on one cylinder most of the time, chugged and bucked its way down the Mile End Road. The seats were hard and slippery, and the cab too small for me either to lie on the floor or loll on the seat. It was a sort of purgatory, but I was oblivious of everything. At last dawn came up, ghostly over the hopfields, and seven o’clock found me paying the taxi-driver eight pounds at the Bekesbourne sheds. The sun was up, the day glorious, cloud-free. We took off, wheeled, formed flights, and turned south. Two hours later we were lunching, back in the Mess, at Elstree Blanche.” Well, we also went out via the West End, through Holborn and up the miserable Mile End Road. But we found no particular adventure, bar patchy fog in which we got lost once or twice on the Southend Arterial, and were back in bed in the Kensington Palace Hotel by 1.15 a.m. On the Sunday.

How we fared on the “Brighton” was recounted last month. Suffice it to say that we are now dry once again(!), that the Vauxhall brought us home manfully after the Mayoral Tea (although the petrol gauge registered “empty” for miles, and it wasn’t until later that we discovered that the spare can on which we relied held paraffin) and that we returned the car next day and got back from Hornchurch in the Austin, in spite of its axle noises and a punctured spare tyre, although so pessimistic were our friends that we were quite relieved to reach home — actually, the little car is still running.

Next excitement was testing the “T.C.” M.G.Midget, an excellent car and one in it was grand fun to drive spiritedly alone winding country lanes. Our experience of this M.G. also embraced a great deal of motoring in London traffic, and the test was interrupted to allow someone else to sample it, what time had an eventful night run down into Sussex in another car, getting lost in the wilds after leaving the deserted main street of Billingshurst and seeing a “Danger-Floods” notice in the nick of time by the light of the Notex.