Veteran - Edwardian - Vintage

A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters

V.S.C.C. Driving Tests, Silverstone (December 9th)

Instead of going to Heston, the Vintage S.C.C. used the Club Circuit runway at Silverstone for last year's December Driving Tests Meeting. As a result the affair was a pleasant private gathering, except for a solitary Police Car. There was the usual excellent entry (total 68, consisting of 27 vintage touring cars, 13 vintage standard-sports cars, 8 vintage sports cars, 6 p.v.t. touring cars and 14 p.v.t. standard-sports and just-sports cars, proportions that suggest that, in future, V.S.C.C. competitions might be more frequently confined to purely vintage cars.

Competitors took five tests. The first was an ambitious ZigZag round marker drums, Silverstone and no-public permitting high-speed swervery. Then came something similar but circular, called Round-the-Clock.

We missed both these tests because we like, if possible, to go to V.S.C.C. meetings in a vintage car and in a vintage light car this takes rather longer than in a vintage sports car. But we did get there in time to observe a Garaging test, horribly brutal to vintage axles, and transmissions but more interesting to watch than the Go-Stop test that was going and stopping simultaneously.

C. P. Marsh's 1926 Austin Seven metal saloon looked a bit too low for its tall driver, Sweetland's yellow 1926 Chummy Austin slid on locked back wheels into the various "garages " and Marehant was very ambitious in his 1928 Chummy, producing the best back-wheel wind-up and tramp of any of these cars. Franklin drove his very neat 1929 Rover Ten fabric saloon, very neatly, Reece indulged in shocking gear punching in a 1921 Lagonda light car, D. R. Marsh drove well in a neat 1927 Austin Seven metal saloon, and Harris decided to be different, so came in a pointed-tail 1930 Austin Seven.

Smith in the Gwynne Eight held onto reverse long enough to demolish a pylon, and crunched the other cogs, Benfield, in a very smart 1928 chummy Austin, went right out through one "garage," but Hill in his A.J.S. was both fast and neat. Sawers' 1926 Austin Seven (another metal-panelled saloon—curious how many saloon vintage Sevens were present on this occasion) suffered the usual back-axle judder but he snicked a higher gear home very slickly. Lilley's Jowett showed that a couple of flat ones work as well as four in-line, Miles' 1928 Austin chummy looked racy, sans visible hood, boiled, had clutch slip, yet was fast, while Cartwright drove a £930 Riley Nine 2-seater very well indeed.

Beagle's vivid yellow 1925 Fiat 501 saloon had lost all its oil pressure on the way from London but still took the test, Rogers' Jowett displayed splendid back-wheel leap, and Winder went really fast in a 1928 Austin Chummy in spite of having an inoperative clutch—he also had oversize back tyres. Jones was slow getting out of reverse on the 14/40 Vauxhall's gearbox, Clements crunched in reverse on his 1926 Austin, and then we had the pleasure of seeing a "new" old car in the form of Pritchett's 1927 side-valve Riley Special tourer. Lincoln's O.M. was one of the fruity-exhaust brigade, Bick had an unusual 1927 M.G. Six with a body like a 12/50 Alvis sports saloon, but possibly larger, and Binns made no mistake, if you discount maltreatment of gears, his O.M., clocking 28.8 sec.

Cecil Clutton's Bugatti went into the first "garage" in reverse, which paid off, and he left in his wake grand noises and a fine scent of Castrol-R as he accelerated away in the region of peak revs. Rowley's run was spoilt by clutch slip as his 30/98 Vauxhall tried the impossible in top gear. We see that J. M. Hill's Bugatti hasn't given up smoking.

Bennett's beetle-back Alvis beat by a second Borthwick's very desirable Lancia Lambda, the latter's time equalled on a cautious run by another fine car, Hart's 1923 OE 30/98 Vauxhall. This is the car used in the 'twenties in sprints etc., by Summers. It still retains his extra oil supply to the valve gear and has the latetype 30/98 front "water brakes" with enormous ribbed drums, but converted to Modern hydraulic actuation, the master cylinder being mounted between the front dumb irons and cunningly contrived to operate through parts of the original "kidney-box" mechanism.

A Riley "boy's-racer" making loud noises clocked 27 sec. to justify its appearance, Skirrow (Frazer Nash) hit a drum and stalled momentarily, Brown, with different type wheels front and back on his 1926 12/50 Alvis tourer, did a model run in 27.4 sec., Glydon, adopting Glutton's tactics, got his 3-litre Bentley through in 26.4 sec. plus one penalty, and Waine's 1930 open M.G. Six clocked 26.6 sec. Rowley's aluminium 30/98 was well worth seeing, and he suffered no nonsense about getting reverse into (27 sec.).

The p.v.t.s included a very tatty B.M.W. (after all the V.S.C.C. has said about presenting presentable vintage cars!), sedate Riley saloons with knock-off hub caps, Liston Young's ex-Dobson Balilla Fiat, Perrow's very silent and smooth Rolls-Royce saloon that shared a time of 26.8 sec. with Harris' Frazer Nash which had a wrong dog whistled up by its master. There was also an Aprilia, Merricott's Alvis that scored maximum penalties for demolition, an Alvis that took the wrong route, Charnock's 4.3 Alvis racer which had wheel-spin, Coates who did a fine 25,5 sec. in an odd low-radiator Lagonda hybrid, and an extra entry that drove out through the back of the first "garage."...

All of which turned our thoughts to vintage cars, so, while an extra acceleration-test was taking place, we energised the 1924 Calthorpe and drove home.—W. B.

Results:

Best Overall Performance: R. A. Pilkington (1931 Alfa Romeo).

Vintage Touring Cars: First Class Awards: I. E. Smith (1923 Gwynne Bight), J. Miles (:928 Austin Seven), Second Class Awards: D. G. Marchant (1928 Austin Seven), K. M. Hill (1930 A.J.S.). Third Class Awards: J. A. Reece (1921 Lagonda), J. D. Rogers (1923 Jowett), A. D. Jones (1925 14/40 Vauxhall).

Vintage Standard-Sports Cars: First Class Award: P. J. E. Binns (1927 OM.). Second Class Award: J. W. Rowley (1927 30/98 Vauxhall). Third Class Award: C. Clutton (1928 Bugatti).

Vintage Sports Cars: First Class Award: J. W. Rowley (1922 30/98 Vauxhall). Second Class Awards: G. R. Footitt (1928 Riley), B. Kain (1926 Type 40 Bugatti), S. R. Waine (1930 M.G. Six).

P.V.T. Touring Cars: First Class Award: V. Rawlings (1931 Talbot). Second Class Award: R. A. Hutchings (1936 B.M.W.).

P.V.T. Sports Cars: First Class Award: R. A. Pilkington (1931 Alfa Romeo). Second Class Award: D. P. Harris (1934 Frazer Nash). Third Class Award: D. H. Coates (1934/7 Lagonda).

V.S.C.C. Northern Trial (November 25th, 1960)

Eastern Trophy: R. A. Scates (1935 Aston Martin).

1st Class Awards: D. T. R. Dighton (1928 Humber), F. E. Day (1929 Bentley), J. W. Rowley (1927 Vauxhall), J. G. B. Bronsom (1933 Riley). 2nd Class Awards: C. P. Marsh (1925 Austin), J. D. Rogers (1923 Jowett), H. Clarke (1925 Alvis), G. R. Footitt (1928 Riley), P. M. G. Perrow (1934 Rolls-Royce), J. A. Retter (1936 Riley). 3rd Class Awards: D. W. Jopling (1926 Humber), P. J. E. Binns (1927 O.M.), C. Clutton (1928 Bugatti), G. Liston Young (1935 Fiat).

It is significant, in view of the use of five main bearings in present-day small 4-cylinder engines by Alfa Romeo, B.M.W., Simca, Volvo and others, referred to last month, that the first Austin Twelve, introduced in 1921, had this so-called modern crankshaft arrangement. Its capacity was 1,661 c.c., so it cannot be called anything but a small four, by vintage standards.

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An old picture of what the Dundee Evening Telegraph described as a Weir-Bell, built in Dundee, was discovered behind an overmantle in the Kinloch House Hotel in Blairgowrie. The discoverer's grandfather apparently owned two of these cars, circa 1906.

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Data and parts wanted: Readers' requests include information about the hood construction of a 1922 4-cylinder Buick tourer which is being restored in Burnley, data relating to a Moon discovered in good condition in Lancashire, 5-stud wheels for a 1924 Dodge which is being rebuilt in Sussex after having been laid up for 34 years, its Michelin discs having rusted away, while John Tarring of the Humber Register seeks information of any kind about Humbers to the end of 1918, as he is Writing a book. T. Nicholson likewise wants to contact drivers who took part in British sprint events up to 1925, with another book in mind, and Boddy repeats his request for any C. G. Grey issues of The Aeroplane that are about to be thrown away. Letters can be forwarded.

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We apologise to Mr. W. Wild for wrongly reporting that his 1903 Humberette failed to finish the R.A.C. Brighton Run. This car arrived successfully; it was the Science Museum's Humberette that unfortunately retired.

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Discoveries: In New Zealand a 1907/8 4-cylinder T-head dual-ignition Alldays & Onions has been reassembled from parts sold at an auction sale and scattered over a wide area in 1949. A complete but dismantled Weyburn lifeboat engine is available if anyone wants to preserve one—see Motor Sport for last November, page 932. A 1901 Pick has returned to its birthplace, Stamford, and another, in delapidated condition, has been unearthed in Cornwall. A late-vintage Austro-Daimler, useful for spares, is reported in a breaker's yard. Letters can be forwarded. 

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The owner of a 1929 Austin 12/4 tourer, bought for £20, drove it 6,500 miles between July and October last year, from England to Yugoslavia, accompanied by three other students and luggage. No troubles were experienced other than a burst tyre in Belgium, quickly repaired by the A.A., and a boiling radiator in the French Alps. And J. Whighlord's 1902 Mercedes went on from last summer's Belgian V.C.C. Rally to Barcelona, and back to Lyon to catch the Train-Ferry. The car covered a total of 2,700 miles with no trouble save a puncture, averaging 12 m.p.g. of petrol and 200 m.p.g. of oil.

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The Historic Commercial Vehicle Club had 157 members last year, with some 83 vehicles, apart from those in museums' and works' collections. They hold a meeting on the first Monday of each month at the Elizabeth Room, Victoria Coach Station, non-members being admitted for 2s. The Secretary is Prince Marshall, 60, Denison Close, Hampstead Garden Suburb, N.2.

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The Vintage S.C.C. has provisionally announced its 1962 Fixtures as Jan. 6/7th, Measham Rally; Feb. 11th, Driving Tests (Charterhouse?); March 24/25th, Pomeroy Trophy Trial; April 14th, Silverstone Race Meeting; May 5th, Buxton Rally; May 27th, Beaulieu Rally; June 10th, Light Car Rally; June 23rd. Oulton Park Race Meeting; July 31st, Silverstone Race Meeting; Aug. 18/19th, Prescott Speed Hill-Climb; Sept. 9th, Matiresfield Rally; Oct. 6/7th, Welsh Rally; Nov. 4th, Eastern Rally ; Nov. 24th, Northern Trial.; December 8th, Driving Tests (Silverstone?).

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Philately: The Federal Republic of West Germany has issued two commemorative stamps in honour of the 75th anniversary of the first cars built by Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler. Karl Benz's signature and a picture of his first automobile appear on the Deutsche Bunderspost 20 pfennig stamp and Daimter's signature and a picture of his first 4-wheeler on the to pfennig stamp.

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Two more discoveries.—A circa 1909 Napier Ninety in poor condition and a 1911 Chater-Lea motorcycle came to light recently when their owner, a recluse, died in a Hampshire village.

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A lost art? One of the pictures in "The Cars In My Life," by W. 0. Bentley (see "Book Reviews," page 19), depicts the tail of a 1914 Tourist Trophy D.F.P. and the caption emphasises the high standard of metal-heating expected in those days. This has been in our mind for some time. Sonic extremely fine racing bodies with "airship" tails, reaching the ultimate in Capt. A. G. Miller's little Wolseley "Moth" racers, were in vogue at Brooklands during the 'twenties, but we consider it would be difficult to get such work done today. These bodies were used on many cars and so-could not have been very expensive. Has this form of panel-beating become a lost art ? What have present-day tin-bashers, metal manipulators or body builders to say about it?

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And, on the subject of " W.O.'s " book, what, we wonder, will be the reaction of Cecil Clutton and other staunch vintage Vauxhall enthusiasts to Mr. Bentley's suggestion that a very good car might have resulted from installation of a 30/98 engine in a Bentley chassis ?

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The Bean Register: Six Beans met last month at an old farmhouse at Shurlock Row near Reading—a 1923 12-h.p. 2-seater, a 1924 12-h.p. tourer, a 1925 12-h.p. tourer, a 1925 Long Fourteen saloon de luxe, a 1926 14-h.p. tourer, and a 1928 Short Fourteen saloon de luxe. Two owners came, sans Beans, one walking four miles. Capt. Rex Tapley, the Hon. Sec., knows of at least 20 Bean cars, of which 16 will be motoring by the summer. His address is: Hill Farm Lodge, Shurlock Row, near Reading, Berkshire. A badge incorporating the original radiator mascot has been designed.

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Inter-Register events in 1962: A meeting was held at the house of Mrs. Winifred Boddy, Registrar of the Sunbeam-S.T.D. Register, of Captains of the Inter-Register teams, those of Sunbeam, Humber, Bull-Nose Morris and Austin 12/4 Registers being present by car and of the Fiat Register by telephone. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss policy for 1962 and space out the dates of the fixtures, using the Fiat Register's July driving tests at Melton Mowbrav as a datum. A combined Inter-Register organisation will apply for affiliation to the R.A.C. to meet criticism that in the past these Registers have held non-approved road events.