Veteran Edwardian Vintage, January 1973

A section devoted to old-car matters VSCC Silverstone driving tests

(December 2nd)

So many cars were seen going towards Silverstone that we thought a race meeting was imminent. Actually, the traditional VSCC driving frolics were about to take place, as usual in unrelenting rain. But as Mather said of his 1930 20/25 Rolls-Royce Windover swept-back saloon, “This one is too big to bring on a trailer”!

There were eight fiendish tests, including one before the pits which involved much to-ing and fro-ing. Still (Frazer Nash) knew exactly how to do it, sliding the pylons in fine fashion and he also excelled in another test we watched, hut the grass before the grandstands claimed Stoyel’s Frazer Nash, which slid so far onto it that it got bogged down. Winder went like a racer in the Lea-Francis-SS with its organ exhaust pipes., but complained that it was getting slower as the day wore on but that it would recover after lunch! French Sounded like a racer in Eyre’s over-tyred Austin Ulster and Kirby had his Austin Speedy out again, the first production model of this rare line. Unfortunately King’s 18/80 MG shed a tooth from its replacement Moss crown wheel which had only been in the axle for a week and Pack’s rapid Aston Martin with 1938 Riley Sixteen engine broke a halfshaft. Jenkinson went into a marker with the TT Lagoncla, which shed its front number plate in disgust, and Mitchell’s 1913 GN got up to such a pace that it shed a tyre. Conway’s Type 43 Bugatti was in excellent form, Mrs. Binns drove the HRG smoothly but at one stage was heard to be engaging reverse with the vocal assistance of her husband, and although Hamilton-Gould was seen to bowl over a marker, his 1925 Austin 7 was unexpectedly stable through the swerves.

The Straker-Squire netted a pylon, Fagan’s Austin 12/4 stopped astride a stop line satisfactorily, except that the line was beside instead of under the car, Baker (Humber) had his pipe going and Selwyn-Smith’s 328 BMW and Parker’s Riley were fast, the latter a 1932 Nine with later radiator core, no instruments, hydraulic brakes, only one seat, the preselector box and wearing a Flanders’ poppy. Hill’s Alviswas making odd noises, Mrs. Drake was cautious in her Amilcar, which went very well indeed with Barry Clark at the wheel—he denied having put his Ulster Austin engine into it—and the Marshs’ Sports Replica Morris slid beyond a stop-line, r.w.b. not being at their best in the wet. However, Farquhar did the same in his 4-w-b ex-Dixon Riley but was fortunate, because his time was missed and he did it properly on his second run. (Here a note of warm praise for the cold, wet marshals, who had many difficulties to contend with, the least of which was pencils which got too water-logged to write down the times.). Mrs. Thetford’s odd-looking 1931 Alvis was hand-cranked, after which she gamely Struggled with it, Rosemary Burke drove a very nice-looking 1929 MG M-type, wearing a flying helmet (sensible girl), for all the world as if she were in a “Double-Twelve”, and Drake’s Railton was almost inaudible but clouted a pylon. Marshal braked his 18/80 MG on its outside handbrake, Hayward drove a 12/60 Alvis drop-head nicely, Newton was neat and quick in his HRG, Nice used the gears on his Ulster Austin and did a small sideways slide at one stop-line, Frillie Giles seemed off-form (was the F-N dinner on his conscience?) when we watched him, Weaver’s Riley Gamecock had no screen and squealy brakes, and Bill Morris had what was left of the hood erect, on his Frazer Nash. The best spectating car was a big Crossley tourer with its r.h. handbrake peeping coyly beneath the driver’s door.


First Class Awards M. J. Cost wan (1929 Austin 7), C. A. Winder (1929/38 Lea-Francis/SS-100 Special), P. W. Still (1937 1.1/2-litre Frazer Nash). A. N. Farquhar (1930 Riley 9) and C. R. Newton (1938 1.1/2-litre HRG).

Second Class Awards M. T. Joseland (1930 AJS), P. Selwyn-Smith (1939 328 BMW), R. M. J. Andrews (1928 Brooklands Riley 9), R. J. Nice (1930 Ulster Austin 7) and C. P. Marsh (1922 Morris Sports).

Third Class Awards M. C. Elder (1938 1.1/2 -litre Riley). M. Eyre (1929 Ulster Austin 7), D. R. Marsh (1922 Morris Sports), C. Hamilton-Gould (1925 Austin 7), and N. Arnold Forster (Frazer Nash).