A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
V.S.C.C. Silverstone Driving Tests (Dec. 11th)
This event is a sort of annual penance, in which owners of vintage cars brave the barren open spaces of Silverstone circuit in December, thereby proving their indifference to cold and rain and endorsing their enthusiasm. This year 61 entrants, in three classes, submitted to this form of torture, although Philip Mann found business more compelling. Weeke had slipped a disc (whether through lifting a 2 1/2-litre M.G. engine into his Riley or a 2 1/2-litre Riley engine into his M.G. we thereby never discovered), the Moffat/Winder Brescia Bugatti sheared the camshaft driving pin off its crankshaft before the start and Waine’s 328 B.M.W. broke its transmission in the first of the seven tests. In the absence of Clarke’s 1913 Talbot the only Edwardian was Bendall’s lofty 1914. Rolls-Royce; Riley was by far the most popular make.
ln the 160-yard zig-zag, Hill slid his A.J.S. neatly round the markers, Cartwright’s 1930 Riley 9 2-seater with leather hood was sedate, Blake’s Chummy Austin 7 had its all-weather equipment up against a rain shower which fortunately soon passed over, one Riley had its radiator nearly blanked off, so was presumably feeling the cold like the rest of us, and Beresford’s “silver” 120 Alvis sounded odd, carried a “running-in” label and exhibited neat tail slides.
Rowley’s 30/98 Vauxhall spat contemptuously once or twice at the low-speed manoeuvres, Milling’s 30/98 managed well with kidney-box front brakes, Stafford’s Riley opened its driver’s door in mid-zigs, and Sismey’s Alvis slid its tail ambitiously. Pack’s, alloy-bonnet 3-litre Bentley, going well, made itself heard, Page’s Alvis was wild, while May skilfully held a real slide, going last, as usual, in his Frazer Nash. Gurney used the engine power of his 4 1/2-litre Lagonda to bring the tail round, Jones drove forcefully in his big Alvis saloon, and Buckle smoked his customary pipe, while driving his smart Lancia Lambda.
There were two O.M.s entered, Hill’s and Binns’, but we did not see the latter—this marque had a VW ‘bus as support vehicle. Has tourer looked rather self-conseious about its big 21 in. tyres.
Crocker and Seddon both drove the special-bodied outside-exhaust Lagonda Rapier well, but Giles, whose Frazer Nash was understeering noticeably, elected to swop ratios in mid-zag, which didn’t seem to help matters. Fletcher bent the tyres in cornering his 1926 12/50 Alvis tourer on a neat run, Bell’s 1925 3-litre Bentley took it carefully, and Mrs. Hogg drove Edwards’ Michelin shod Ulster Aston Martin at what seemed to be just above oiling-up speed.
Bennett’s rare 1933 outside-piped Marendaz,Special slid about and later snaked a bit in braking at the end of test 5, its driver wearing a white helmet—shades of Mrs. Moss when she drove these cars—Jones was very quick in his 30/98, which, like Rowley’s, was popping-back, but Roberts’ A.C. Six-engined Frazer Nash was slow. Mountfort was trying hard in his 4 1/2-litre Bentley, which had extensively-drilled side-members and front axle and lots of external exhaust pipes. Hefford’s ex-“Bluebelle” Bentley had even more outside exhaust pipes, eight in all, and its driver’s aero-screen flat. Martin was hampered by a Riley 9 which wanted to go straight on when its wheels were on full lock, and Skirrow’s Frazer Nash was another which slid round the markers. Lilley’s 1927 907 c.c. Jowett performed nicely—and I have always felt that to be truly representative a vintage light car should not have more than two cylinders.
After a lunch break there was an acceleration and braking test in which Mrs. Farquhar lost time after overshooting the finish in her 1934 Riley tourer and Mountfort really used his Bentley’s effective front brakes.
Spectators’ cars included a handsome P.1 Rolls-Royce cabriolet with trunk, an Edwardian Buick, several Bentleys including a homely 3-litre saloon, a very handsome ex-Lemon Burton V12 Hispano-Suiza and an Austin 12/4 tourer with cord-bound steering wheel. The sun actually shone on the afternoon’s proceedings !—.W. B.
First Class Awards, B. Sismey (1934 Alvis). J.W. Rowley (1927 Vauxhall). J.V. Skirrow (1930 Frazer Nash) and K. Hill (1930 A.J.S.)
Second Class Awards : D. H. Gahagon (1926 Bugatti), N. Arnold-Forster (1925 Frazer Nash). J.W.T. Crocker (1934 Lagonda Rapier), B. Mountfort (1925 Bentley), S. Bennett (1933 Marendaz), C.P. Marsh (1926 Austin), and W. S. May (1921, Frazer Nash).
Third Class Awards : D. Edwards (1935 Aston Martin), Macmillan (1925 Rolls-Royce), . Bennett (1932 Riley). Mrs. K.M. Hill (1930 A.J.S.), F. Ciles (1931 Frazer Nash) and C. R. Pack (1926 Bentley).