Veteran-Edwardian-Vintage, January 1970

A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters

VSCC Driving Tests, Silverstone (December 6th)

IN THEIR traditional masochistic manner the Vintage SCC held driving tests at bleak Silverstone in December—it wasn’t actually snowing but the sun wasn’t exactly shining, either. But Englishmen, particularly vintagents, are mad, so an entry of 61 was obtained. The tests numbered eight, with names like Channels, Rounders, Directional Uncertainty, Garagiste, Expanding Rings or Alfa’s Benefit, Pirouette, Round The Clock and Zig Zag, from which it will be apparent that the ears were required to execute just the sort of manoeuvres that they seldom or never had to do when they were in current production. But the idea is really a social gathering with some driving thrown in to keep at least the drivers warm . . .

It would be trite to describe the tests in detail, even if the writer had been sufficiently warm to observe them intelligently, but the cars caught the eye. There was Baker’s 1927 Amilcar, unhappily with sleet in the sparks, and Upson’s unpainted Frazer Nash indulging in some fine tail slides. Keith Hill was motoring his well-known Alvis Silver Eagle to good purpose but Heath paused for some time to select reverse in his Alvis Special, of which there is more in front than behind, including a Klaxon, and a Brooklands’ “can” on the side. Many of the cars exhibited nicely legal stoplamps as they stopped astride lines and Kain in his Bugatti and Copson in his fabric Riley Nine tourer were carrying twin spare wheels, maybe to aid wheel grip. The latter is a sporty car with one aero screen in use, naked exhaust plumbing and piping round its doors.

Glover’s effective Alvis beetle-back was there, Bendall’s 30/98 Vauxhall was emulating more recent racers in having larger tyres at the back than up front, and of course he was smoking a cigar, Roberts had his two-door 12/50 Alvis saloon, Arnam a blue 14/40 Humber saloon, and a Meadows HRG had been substituted for the Clark/Winder 2.2-litre Leaf Alfa. This HRG, as everyone should know, derives its initials from Halford, Robins, Godfrey, who built ’em.

Two Ulster Austins appeared together, Barry Clarke’s looking nicely original, on proper-size tyres (it is his trials version, but arrived on a trailer just like a racer) driven by Mrs. Drake in her first competition, and Gray’s, which is a racing version with some things Ulsters never had when they were raced before the war. Another interesting Austin 7 was Hamilton-Gould’s 1925 sports two-seater, once a Chummy but now wearing a pointed-tail fabric body of professional but unknown ancestry. It has the early type rear hubs and carried a furled umbrella in lieu of a hood.

Riley Nines were out in numbers. Costigan had his 1933 Lincock coupe, Golder his 1936 Lynx tourer, Fountain a metal-bodied 1933 two-seater which may once have been a d/h coupé and Dodds a 1928 fabric tourer. Edwards drove his immaculate Ulster Aston Martin, brought to the start lines by Mrs. Hogg, who also drove (what luxury!), Sadler his short-chassis 1933 Le Mans Aston Martin, he being one of many who drove with windscreen flat, and Cann had a 1937 2-litre Speed Model of this make.

Reverting to Rileys, Darley, in one of the last Sprites to be built, carried a spare half-shaft on the luggage grid, and Stafford had a four-seater which was once a Gamecock, while Cartwright’s was a 1930 metal two-seater. North drove a 1928 Lea-Francis which was in two-tone, bright parts contrasting with its paintwork and it must anticipate fog, judging by the size of its auxiliary lamps. Naturally lots of chain-propelled Frazer Nashes were present, en route to their annual dinner, from Giles’ Anzani with big SU to multi-cylinder versions, Tony Jones having borrowed Bill May’s Anzani Nash to have the benefit of a solid back axle in the tests, only to have some of the dogs die in the middle of the third one. May had his Gough’ Nash. Conway had his Type 43 Bugatti, Vessey an open 7th-series Lancia Lambda, Malyan his white 22/90 Alfa Romeo and Rippon his Brescia Bugatti. Father Hill furled the hood of his OM before dicing, King competed in a very nice original 1931 2-litre Lagonda with the underhead camshafts, Haines had his Alvis Special and Dr. Harris a Frazer Nash with BMC registration, but I don’t think Longbridge or Cowley would have known how to make it. It was, in short, a fine, if chilly open-air museum of interesting and covetable motor-cars.

The morning was devoted to them rushing backwards and forwards and round and round pylons. There was a smoke screen (it was Edward’s’ Aston Martin) and a noise like a distant Grand Prix car on full song (this was Dodds’ Riley in low cog). Eventually it was all resolved as under.—W.B.

First Class Awards: B. M. Clarke (Austin), J. A. Griffiths (Austin). A. Darley (Riley), and A. W. Rippon (Bugatti).

Second Class Awards: R. J. Clark (HRG), G. A. Winder (HRG), R. M. J. Andrews (Riley). R. A. Pilkington (Alfa Romeo), J. Sadler (Aston Martin), V. P. Stafford (Riley), R. J. Nice (Austin), and M. Cann (Aston Martin).

Third Class Awards: M. Eyre (Austin), K. M. Hill (Alvis), B. Harding (Frazer Nash), A. P. Costigan (RiIey), J. V. Skirrow (Fraser Nash), B. Sismey (Alvis), J. Vessey (Lancia), and W. S. May (Fraser Nash).

V-E-V Odds and Ends.—The ABC Car Register is now run by Wildon Cameron, 39, Westfield, Ashtead, Surrey. He is anxious to hear from ABC owners and to discover what has become of the ABC-engined Westall Special which ran in post-war speed trials. The Bentley DC has appointed Sir Anthony Stamer, Bt., as Executive Director following the retirement of Lt.-Col. Darell Berthon, who, taking over the Secretaryship in 1948, remains an Hon. Member and a Vice-President of the BDC. A farewell luncheon was held for Lt.-Col. Berthon on December 20th. Incidentally, membership of the BDC was 750 in 1948; it is now 2,300.

Commemoration runs are on the increase—the Rolls-Royce EC is planning a Great Alpine Trial Commemoration for 1973. This Club’s popular Blenheim Rally takes place this year, on June 14th. The Ferrari OC has issued the first number of its official journal Ferrari, which is to appear quarterly. This first issue, actually Vol. 1, No. 4 following privately-issued copies, at first appears to have devoted most of its photostat pages to Alfa Romeo but this is because it contains the first part of an article on the Scuderia Ferrari 1930 to 1937, by Peter Hull.