A section devoted to old-car matters
VSCC Driving Tests, Silverstone (December 4th)
Quite why the Vintage SCC chooses to inflict driving tests at bleak Silverstone on its members in December no-one rightly knows. However, there is a snatch of tradition in this, because, before it required annual repairs, winter record attacks were made at Brooklands and the Southport sand-racing season opened in January. Anyway, 70 entries of 64 pre-war cars indicates that the VSCC likes tough treatment.
Before it even started Conway’s Bugatti shed water, Ely’s Riley, on 5.50 x 15 rear tyres, temporarily boiled, Bruce-Whites’ M-type MG came on a trailer, Llewellyn’s Bentley in a bus. For Bruce-White, better known for his Prescott adventures, it was his first such meeting since Heston. The Continental Correspondent, who should have been competing in Robbie Hewitt’s 1934 ex-Cobb 4 1/2-litre TT Lagonda, told me that if I came in a modern car I must have the hood down. So I arrived frozen in an MG-B, only to find no sign of D.S.J. Apparently Robbie Hewitt’s Amilcar had refused to wake from its slumbers that morning, and D.S.J. was administering to it—or was it the Continental Correspondent who overslept? First to go was Allison’s 1935 Monte Carlo Rally blown MG Magnette and soon Hill’s Alvis was tail-sliding, Kain’s Type 44 Bugatti bending its tyres, and the fun was on in earnest.
There were eight tests, mostly taking place all at once, so we concentrated on the Zig-Zag. In this C. A. Mann’s throaty Alfa Romeo just had room to change direction without reversing and was neat, likewise Walker’s Austin, which was quick as well. Selwyn-Smith’s white 328 Frazer Nash-BMW scrabbled neatly round the markers, Llewellyn’s tail-less 8-litre Bentley took it with bursts of power and stopped well at the finish line (it has yet to be converted to dry-sump lubrication to combat oil starvation under braking), and Roberts (Frazer Nash) swopped dogs and indulged in hand-brake retardation. Joseland, conducting Jane Hill’s AJS, did a model run, locking the back wheels to stop, Ann Shoesmith’s 1936 4 1/2-litre Bentley Special displayed lots of noisy acceleration, Andrew’s Riley 9 tourer took to the grass in deference to a big turning circle, Tim Elys’ Riley made a great display, while Upston as usual proved an absolute master at the game, in his Frazer Nash.
Gledhill handled his nice normal Austin Chummy with respect, Baker’s 14/40 Humber all-weather toured along, steaming and emitting characteristic noises, while Bedford, scorning doors on his 1927 Austin 7 metal saloon, went through the zigs and zags on lifting point. Even more “fifty”, to the point of all but overturning in the biggest way ever, was Lyles, in a 1928 Austin 7 fabric saloon with 4.75 x 16 ELP rear tyres. Very heart-stopping! Franklin in his well-known Rover Ten linen saloon crunched in a cog and rolled happily about, Golder’s Riley Lynx, wearing an L-plate, only just stopped at the line, and Goodman conducted a 1904 6.2-litre chain-drive CGV with bogus doorless body by using the grass verge before the pits and pushing on its enormous hand-brake.
Holden served his 1930 slab-tank Riley 9 four-seater freely, Rosten’s 1936 Riley 9 saloon was neatly driven, Griffiths made his usual death-defying run but lost lots of marks by taking his own route (but he got a “first” nevertheless), Mrs. Hill was outstanding, although sliding a long way before stopping, Bell’s all-alloy Alvis 12/50 was noisy and effective, whereas Benfield’s labouring 12/50 trailed a smoke-cloud.
Mrs. Hogg went splendidly in Edward’s Ulster Aston Martin, which made water when braking; she used the handle brake to arrest herself, yet the front wheels it were that locked! Binns in his 1100 HRG was extremely fast, as was Cheston, who turned his 1929 4 1/2-litre Bentley on the hand-brake. Conway’s Type 43 Bugatti—lovely sounds— jibbed momentarily, Gay’s Aston Martin was very neat, but Mitchell, spinning his BMW’s wheels furiously, appeared to miss a cog and stop for a time at the bottom turn-around. Darley’s 1938 Riley and Nice’s Ulster Austin were good, the latter snicking in a lower gear for the faster zigs, Malyan’s Frazer Nash demonstrated low-speed torque and gave up, but Newton (HRG) must have been as fast as anyone. Giles made much use of his Frazer Nash’s outside brake, Blakeney-Edwards’ 2-litre Lagonda had to reverse, Stirling’s Frazer Nash made a fine job of it, and Mann, Junr, seemed to find the Straker-Squire a bit of a brute, including being unable to stop in time. Hare in Nice’s Austin did excellently and Mrs. Allin showed no fear of Bell’s powerful duck’s-back Alvis. Pat Marsh managed his water-leaking 1922 Morris Sports well, undeterred by rwb.
Thus much fun in the murk. Now for the fierce Measham road rally! W. B.
First Class Awards: P. J. E. Binns (1939 2,074-c.c. HRG), F. G. Giles (1931 2,496-c.c. Frazer Nash), P. W. Still (1937 1,496-c.c. Frazer Nash), D. Llewellyn (1926 8,000-c.c. Bentley) and J. A. Griffiths (1930 747-cc. Austin).
Second Class Awards: R. J. Nice (1930 747-c.c. Austin), F. Bruce-White (1929 847-c.c. MG), A. Darley (1938 1,496-c.c. Riley), T. Ely (1934 1,087-c.c. Riley), B. Harding (1928/30 1.496-c.c. Frazer Nash), A. C. Bedford (1927 747-c.c. Austin) and Mrs. K. M. Hill (1930 1,018-c.c. AJS).
Third Class Awards: M. Cann (1937 1,947-c.c. Aston Martin), C. P. Marsh (1922 1,803-c.c. Morris Sports), G. Hare (1930 747-c.c. Austin), Mrs. A. Shoosmith (1936 4,257-c.c. Bentley), G. P. Walker (1929 747-c.c. Austin), M. T. Joseland (1930 1,018-c.c. AJS) and M. Fountain (1933 1,087-c.c. Riley).