Vintage Veerings

The accompanying photograph is of more than usual interest for two reasons. In the first place, it shows a very fine example of Super Sports “duck’s-back” “12/50” Alvis in almost original and beautifully-preserved form. In the second place, apart from being one of the very few unblemished examples of these classic vintage cars still in existence, this one has an interesting history. It is the car which appeared in the Ealing Studios’ film “Another Shore,” starring Robert Beatty, Moira Lister and Stanley Holloway, and in that film it appeared to be pranged good and proper several times. Actually it wasn’t damaged, because the film people have a happy knack of making a quick “cut” before the accident and removing a wheel or two, replacing the radiator and wings with specially battered replicas, throwing in a pool of oil and a steam-pipe from which issues a jet of water vapour, and then turning on the cameras again.

So this delectable Alvis survived although rumoured really to have met its end during further filming in Ireland. Roy Gough, who sends us its picture and story, eventually discovered it under a piece of sacking in a corner of the studios, and his friend, Ted Laxton, bought it and is partially rebuilding it. He had ideas about cycle wings, etc., at one time, but Gough has shown him the light and when the old Alvis takes the road again, it is hoped next Spring, it should be externally in almost original condition, authentic to the 1923 period.

It will be recalled that Alvis introduced this model in mid-1928, and with its polished aluminium, body and wings it took the sporting world by storm, especially at the then modest price of £550. 80 m.p.h. was claimed to be within easy reach and, although an outside exhaust system was used, the big-port head was not adopted until later, being, in fact, evolved for the 200-Mile-Race cars of that year.

When Alvis won the 1923 200-Mile Race this model received a distinct sales-boost, although the victorious racing car did not resemble the Super Sports quite so closely as Alvis might have wished the world to believe!

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Something rather delightful has befallen R. J. Barton. Having craved a veteran car for some years, a recent article in Motor Sport spurred him on and he walked into the first garage he came to. Yes, they could sell him a veteran. He bought it straight away—a 1994 single-cylinder three-speed Wolseley of about 6 h.p., in grand condition. It is a two-seater with wheel steering and was bought from the nephew of the original owner. The engine has an automatic inlet valve and spray carburetter aided by a model-T Ford coil, started at the third swing and ran quietly and sweetly.

Perhaps the fact that Mr. Barton in Denbigh explains his easy discovery of what is now a very rare age of car to locate. At all events, he is looking for tyres for his “new” car and would like to hear from other owners of Wolseleys of this kind. His address is: Glan-y-Wern, Denbigh, North Wales.

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The cult of the vintage car is showing no sign of waning but the other day we fell to wondering how many “vintagents” are so avidly keen that they do all their motoring in early cars. So often the enthusiast has a vintage car which is the apple of his eye and he keeps it in pristine condition externally and mechanically, yet for shopping, taking the children to school and for short business journeys he thinks nothing of inserting himself into a centrally-heated modern saloon. The man who drives an Edwardian racer with verve and abandon in a race or hill-climb doesn’t always arrive at the venue in it or in a car of like age. How nice, for example, if after putting your “Alphonso” Hispano to bed after such an event and concentrating on wining and dining eventually, you were to bid your friends good-night and climb into a G.N. for the journey home! We will add the hope that the moon is now riding in the heavens.

Of course, if you did this you might as well go the whole hog and insist on motoring behind gas or oil lamps, or it the best only with the aid of period C.A.V. equipment always being on beaded-edge tyres, using only a bulb-horn, scorning the modern jack and “antifreeze,” and so on. Safety glass might defeat such a rabid type, because the law now insists that your screen be made of it—quite why it is so anxious that you should go uncut after you have had your accident is something of a puzzle, especially as insisting on a life insurance policy being taken out with every driving licence seems just as logical. But perhaps it would be better to remove the glass altogether, and certainly front-wheel brakes would be generally despised and deemed permissible only on Isotta-Fraschinis and the like—because contrary to general opinion, the law does not insist on your front wheels being braked, providing you have a second string with which to anchor when your first-line set of rear brakes ceases to arrest you. The whole idea behind this paragraph is an extravagant one, yet most Veteran Car Club Members adhere to it, so why not vintage car enthusiasts? Costin Densham, of Wade Engineering, Ltd., after listening patiently the other day to your Editor making this very suggestion, caused something of a shock when he remarked “I really do it myself. At least, my 1913 Caleott and 1912 ’12/16′ Sunbeam were for a long time my regular means of business transport.” He uses something more modern to-day, but blames it on his co-directors! Any other claimants?

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“It is an exceedingly awkward and dangerous occurrence when a car runs backwards down a hill, through, perhaps, a chain breaking, or the driver missing the gear in changing speed. This may possibly happen before the novice has ever thought of learning to drive backwards, and the lesson under this nerve-shattering circumstance probably results in his having a big repair bill to face, to say nothing of doctor’s bills.”—From the Badminton Library “Motors,” published in 1902.