A section devoted o old-car matters
Fragments on forgotten: No. 34 — The Vinot et Deguingand
When Paul Finn, Press Officer of BEN, suggested that I might like to talk to Mr. Gordon Usmar, who resides at Lynwood, Residential and Nursing quarters of the Motor & Cycle Trades Benevolent organisation, I realised that here was material for this feature, because after pioneering activities in the motoring World, Mr. Usmar was one of the partners who imported Vinot-Deguingand cars to this country.
First, an outline of Mr. Usmar’s career. At St. Paul’s School one of his best friends was Tom Thornycroft, so when he left in 1897 he went as a Pupil Apprentice to John I. Thornycroft at Chiswick. Here Usmar was indoctrinated into every aspect of steam engineering, as Thornycroft were then at the height of their considerable fame, making 32-knot torpedo-boats and destroyers. However, the new motor-age was .dawning and at the Sheen House Club he had been given rides round the cycle-track on a Century Tandem. This fired his imagination but although Sir John Thornycroft owned a 7-h.p. two-cylinder Panhard-Levassor Tom and his friend were not allowed near it. So they Searched for a vehicle of their own. It so happened that the manager of the near-by Putney Brewery had bought a Beeston Quad and had had the misfortune to run into a lamppost on his first outing, badly injuring the occupant of the front wicker seat. Usmar bought this Beeston for £10 and repaired it in two long week-ends, after it had been delivered to him in the brewery van which was delivering beer to a pub at the corner of Barnes Common, so became a motorist in 1898, at the age of 17.
He kept the Beeston for two years, sold it for £35, and then bought a used 3 1/2-h.p. De Dion Bouton. As part of his steam training he had joined the Merchant Marines to get his Engineer’s Ticket, and he sailed to New York in 1900 on the first 10,000-ton oil-tanker, the Tuscarora. There was little interest in motors in America, and a very rough voyage home with the decks of the tanker mostly awash decided Usmar against the sea, after they had docked at Purfleet. His knowledge of cars came in useful when the Panhard which the Hon. C. S. Rolls was to drive in the 1,000-Mile Trial of 1900 came to Thornycroft’s for attention, and later when that Company made 7-h.p. two-cylinder and 12-h.p. four-cylinder engines for the New Orleans car, which was built at Twickenham.
Around 1902 Usmar joined the Anglo-American Oil Company, of which his father, who had been closely associated with the formation of the ACGB & I, later to become the RAC, was Managing Director. He was appointed the Pratt’s representative for the whole of Southern England, covering thousands of trouble-free miles in a new 12-h.p. two-cylinder De Dion. Then, in 1904, he became Sales Manager to Huntley Walker, whose Oxford Street premises sold the new six-cylinder Darracq and the 40-h.p. Weigel, the latter a copy of the Itala and a “really good motor car”.
It was in 1906 that Mr. Usmar decided to enter the Motor Trade himself. His father put up the money and he joined two Army men, Capt. Marchant and Capt. Wiggan, in taking over the London agencies for Gladiator, Panhard-Levassor and Vinot-Deguingand. The last-named was usually referred to as a Vinot, as Kent Karslake once put it, “in order to spare English tongues the embarrassment of the second name”. Harvey du Cros, travelling abroad on behalf of his Dunlop Rubber Company, had been instrumental in securing many of these French agencies, and on a visit to the Vinot works in Puteaux Usmar had been very favourably impressed by the engines used in these chain-drive, later shaft-drive, cars; “the best part of them”.
The London Agency’s premises were in Lower Regent Street, next to Elkington’s, and the agency was known as T. J. Harman ,& Co. Soon afterwards Usmar and his a father bought out the other partners for £500 each and ran the business themselves, joining the SMM & T, the BARC, etc. A 90 x 130-mm. Vinot-Deguingand driven by N. Littlejohn had finished third in the 1905 TT, behind Napier’s Arrol-JOhnston and Northey’s Rolls-Royce.
Driving a 95 x I30-mm. Vinot in the 1906 race, which was run on a fuel-consumption formula, Usmar ran out of petrol before reaching the top of the mountain on the last lap, as, incidentally, did Thornycroft. Mr. Usmar had a bad accident during the practice period of the “Four Inch” TT of 1908,overturning at the Snaefell hairpin and being pinned beneath his car.
He entered a Gladiator for the 227-mile Standard Car Race at Brooklands in 1911, and ran the same car in this race the following year, building up such a substantial lead that his pit-staff ceased to give him signals. His mechanic became sick from the heat and the bumps and a quick stop was made for him to have a glass of water. This was Usmar’s undoing. Unnoticed, Haywood’s Singer had crept up and it crossed the line with a lead of two-fifths of a second, after 100-laps’ racing. The only other finisher was a Tureat-Mety, which was 1 1/2-hours in arrears. Also in 1912, Mr. Ustnar entered a 12.2-h.p. 1,693-c.c. Vinot for two 70-m.p.h. handicaps at the Brooklands Easter Meeting. He gave the “limit” Clement-Bayard driven by Bowie-Evans a start but was unplaced, his best lap being at 51.6 m.p.h. In earlier years the 24.8-h.p. Vinot “Dousie”, driven by J.A. Vlasto, had performed at the Track, and Usmar drove Vinot cars in various speed trials and hill-climbs.
In those pre-war years the 12/16-h.p. and 15/20-h.p. Vinots were popular and front 1909 the range ran parallel to that of Gladiator. A 4.2-litre 24-h.p. model was, however, sold only as a Vinot. A vertical-gate gear-change was an unusual feature of the specification. Back in 1905 a 5.8-litre dual-ignition Vinot had been listed but Mr. Usmar remembers the 15/20-h.p. cars as the best of the bunch.
He had his repair works in an old laundry in Hammersmith, but was able to move this into a splendid garage in Great Hill Street, off Albany Street, next to the brewery, which building is still standing. It was possible to acquire this for £3,500 when the financiers folded. Showrooms were maintained at 147, Gt. Portland Street and annual sales ran at some 350 to 400 cars. This called for a staff of about 70, who were taken on an annual outing, to Headley Down cricket ground, in a fleet of hired LGOC ‘buses. Apart from the cars, hundreds of Vinot taxis were sold, the 12-h.p. four-cylinder chassis being very suited to such work, with its excellent gearbox, and when endowed with very good landaulette bodywork. There was a big demand and, following the pattern of the Fiat Cab Co. Vinot made their London taxis available on a hire-purchase basis, owner-drivers buying a cab for £50 down, which resulted in a sixmonths’ waiting list. The prototype cab had to pass the stern test conducted by Inspector Basten on behalf of the Public Carriage Office, New Scotland Yard. Mr. Usmar remembers that the Inspector was suspicious of the “V” that formed part of the Vinot insignia on the radiator, mistaking it at first for a Roman numeral. On being told what it stood for, he complained that advertising wasn’t allowed on taxis„ which I believe remains part of the London taxi regulations to this day, although not enforced when applying to makers’ names. That these Vinot cabs were durable is Shown by the reference in the famous book “Taxi” by Anthony Armstrong of Punch, to cabs of this make being still seen on the ranks, his book having been published in 1930.
When war broke out in 1914 the cabs became a liability, with so many drivers called up, those only partially paid-for having to be stored for the duration. Usmar knew that Government premises in Albany Street were empty and persuaded the authorities to allow him to store 250 taxis therein, rent-free. They even repaired the leaking roof of the building.
After the Armistice nearly 50% of the drivers returned to claim their cabs, other cabs found new owners, and the net profits on the latter deal were used to aid the wives and relatives of drivers who had been disabled or killed in the war.
Mr. Usmar says that after the war the death of the original Vinot designer was a disaster, as the Paris Company then got into the control of financiers and was never the same again. Also, the 33 1/3% McKenna duties imposed on imports meant that his firm, which had always held large quantities of crated spare parts, could now only afford to bring over bare chassis. The bodies now had to he made here; they used Olympia Coachworks, at Hammersmith, who had made the pre-war taxi bodies. But Usmar, who had served during hostilities as a Transport Engineer under General Speight, had had enough and left after three years, setting up as a Consultant at Effingham and becoming the AA Inspection Engineer for Surrey, using an old Vinot for this work.
The Vinot as a make survived until after the mid-1920s. At the 1921 Paris Salon a new model caused quite a sensation. It was the 11/25 1.7-litre four-cylinder, which had very unusual wick-lubricated push-rod o.h. valve gear, with auxiliary springs recessed in caps above the valve cover, the valves themselves being carried in detachable cages. Other unusual aspects were a r.h. ball-gate gear-lever, and the combining of the clutch with the typically-Vinot barrel-shape gearbox, as used on the 15/20 chassis. An adjustable stay between radiator and bulkhead was used to carry the wiring to the front lamps. This ingenious model failed to save the situation and although it and the well-established 15.9-h.p. Vinot, which had acquired overhead valves, were sold for a time from the same Gt. Portland Street premises, and some attractive, tumble-home sporting bodies were fitted, the end was in sight, The fitting of simple, uncompensated front-wheel-brakes to the 12/25 Vinot in 1924 did not stem the demise and very soon the Nanterre works, to which Vinot had moved after the war, were taken over by Donna. The last Deguingand was a rather handsome little 735-c.c, two-stroke designed by the industrious Mon. Violet, which combined a flavour of Sizaire Naudin, Baby Peugeot and DKW-crossed-with-Trojan, respectively about its front suspension, transmission and engine departments.
However, the more ordinary Vinot is not unknown today in VCC circles, a 1914 model having finished second in its class in this year’s IoM rally, and there is an interesting sequel to Gordon Usmar’s long association with the make. He had a fine workshop in the 250-acre grounds of his father-in-law’s estate, at Effingham Manor (now the Golf House), where he worked after leaving Vinot Ltd. While there he heard of a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost engine which had been overhauled for a customer who was unable to meet the £250 bill. Usmar bought this engine, complete with radiator. He then acquired an old Vinot 20/30 chassis from his old Company, which had been damaged in a fire and which they delivered on a lorry. Usmar and the estate’s chauffeur-mechanic worked hard to install the R-R engine but the chassis was not sufficiently long to take it. So the helpful Vinot Foreman sent the works’ van to collect it, and it was lengthened by some 15 in., bracing wires being used to strengthen the extended side-members. This was in 1922/23 and after four months’ hard toil the work was completed, Spicer joints mating the R-R engine to the Vinot 4-speed gearbox. The engine was found to be far too noisy with one silencer, so a second silencer was installed. The matter of a body was settled by putting a box scat on the chassis and driving it to Vinot’s, where a pre-war coupe-de-ville was found for it. This hybrid was then known as “Rouge-et-Noir”. However, Usmar did not like this body and later Park Ward collected the car and substituted a big coupe, also pre-1914, that they had in their depleted post-war works. To increase the car’s range two auxiliary fuel tanks were fitted under the front seats which fed by gravity to the rear 16-gallon tank. A large Autovac unit ensured that an adequate supply of petrol reached the engine. The entire conversion cost £250 and after using it for a couple of years Mr. Usmar sold the car to someone from the Midlands, for £1,200.
He his never set eyes on it since. But if, somewhere, there is a mysterious R-R still running about, or if anyone remembers it or has a photograph of it, this would be much appreciated by this young-looking 94-year-old Motor Industry pioneer.—W.B.
Passing through Cardiff one November evening, I called on the ever-young Charles Sgonina, remembering that this family had been prominent among the speed wizards in Wales in the 1920s. Recently the Humber Register has been debating how many of the Peugeot-crib 1914 TT Humbers were built and which of the surviving cars is which. So I asked Mr. Sgonina about the one his father had bought after the First World War. It was interesting to learn that this had been collected by his sons, not from Humber’s in Coventry as is commonly supposed, but from a trader in London. Moreover, Charles Sgonina thinks it was after the end of the war, not in 1917, that this exciting motor car was purchased.
They set out to drive it back to Cardiff but near Witney a loud rattle developed in the complex engine. A big-end bolt had come adrift and released a rod. They limped into Cheltenham on three cylinders and there effected repairs. Sgonina thinks this was the car with which Tuck won the 100 m.p.h. Short Handicap at that fateful August Bank Holiday Brooklands Meeting on the eve of war, lapping at 92.23 m.p.h. They took it to the Cardiff & Dist. MC’s Rhubina hillclimb in the summer of 1920, where it made f.t.d. Mainly, however, this ex-racing car was used for occasional sorties on the thendeserted Welsh roads, perhaps covering 10,000 miles or so in this manner between the wars, before Neve heard of it and purchased it. Looking back, Sgonina thinks it had a smaller bolster petrol tank than the other team cars and probably Rudge centrelock wheels instead of Dunlop or similar.
Charles had his first motorcycle, a belt-drive Triumph, in 1917 and took up the sport after the war. He became a works rider for Triumph, although he was really an amateur, as although the Sgoninas had an engineering works they were in the motor trade. But the ACU thought otherwise and “promoted” him to the Expert category in 1923. Those were the days of the four-valve Ricardo Triumphs, which pioneered RD I alcohol fuel. Sgonina conducted many tests at Brooklands, Frank Ha!ford, who was also involved with development, writing to him from a Weybridge address, and the machines being collected from Weybridge station. He rode one of these Triumphs in the one-and-only Brooklands’ 500-mile motorcycle race in 1921. It lasted 52 laps, when the engine seized-up so effectively that the big-end rollers came over the bearing-cage. Sgonina was third in the 1921 French GP but had a puncture in the Belgian GP. He was able to fit the butted tube he carried but the engine cooled off as this was done and as it rewarmed to its task a valve broke and dropped into the cylinder, a failing of these fast Triumphs.
Charles Sgonina is equally well-known for his sprint performances, on machines of his own devising. He was refused a special Sunbeam, for the factory did not welcome any opposition for the famous George Dance. But he knew “Pa” Norton and was able to get hold of a TT Norton frame, after Graham Walker had put in a good word for him. Using the Norton crankcase he then designed his own idea of a sprint engine, going to upstairs valves while the factory Nortons were racing with side valves. He used all manner of drives to an overhead camshaft, trying direct two-sprocket drive, an involved triangulated chain-drive, which snaked, then introducing the magneto sprocket as a tensioner, and finally going to a vertical-shaft drive. He began “to win things” after going to overhead valves.
With small tanks his sprint machines were very light, in the region of 220 lb., and the exposed camshaft chain didn’t seem to mind the sand, when he did beach racing. From vertical valves the ingenious Sgonina went to slightly-inclined and then to fully-inclined valves. His experiments paid off and on this 498-c.c. Sgonina Special he won award after award. He also rode his Blackburne-Verus, at sprint courses such as Margam Park, where the Neath & Dist. MCC held an event which started just inside the ornamental gams of the drive, at Catsash hill-climb near Newport, where Sgonina had his first spill, as his back wheel locked up in the wet after he had netted anothed f.t.d., and he went into a 20 m.p.h. corner at about sixty, on the short pull-up that terminated at a T-junction, and at Penarth. I knew the last-named seaside resort as a boy but was unaware that one or two speed-trials were held along its Esplanade; here Sgonina won the three Experts classes, on an AJS. Indeed, he was singularly successful, on his home-brewed bicycles, against the works entries. He used to ride to events but, as he says, “you didn’t always ride home again”, if the inevitable blow-up occurred. He made the fastest sprint speed recorded in Wales in those days. His brother had a go, as well. He had a standard ON, which they turned into a sprint machine by fitting cylinder heads based on those Charles had cast to his own design for his racing motorcycles. They also fitted a very narrow body, sketching it out round the pair of them as they sat huddled together on the workshop floor; as a result it was too restricted for comfort on the road. This GN was used for touring as well as racing; it made f.t.d. at the ACU Avonmouth-Shirehampton i-mile sprint in 1923, at Margam Park, and at Brean Sands near Burnham, where it beat an Alsando. At Pendine WhitMonday Meeting it was first in its class the same year, repeating this success at a later Pendine-sands sprint. A. J. Sgonina followed this up in 1924 by winning all his classes at Margam Park.
Reverting to the TT Humber, it is remembered as needing a radiator rebuild, which Neve has also given it in recent times, and for its clutch, which would lock-up at over 3,000 r.p.m. as the linings expanded, drawing the pedal downwards as this happened. To keep it company there was a big Zust tourer, which formed the subject of a Motor Sport “Veteran Types” article after the war, when Brown owned it, before selling it to Roger Collins.
Charles Sgonina gave up racing when he got married but after his wife died he returned to the game, for relaxation, in the 1950s, driving at Weston-super-Mare and other sprint and racing venues. His cars were a DB2 Aston Martin, followed by the ex-Angela Brown DB3 coupe, the ex-Dalton DB3S, and a DBR. In 1950 he contemplated making his own 1,100-c.c. racing car but never got much beyond designing the front suspension. Later he made up i.r.s. for Maurice Charles’ Jaguar. Today this 75-yearold enthusiast gets satisfactory service from a Fiat 124 1800 coupe.—W.B.
V-E-V Miscellany.— A Rolls-Royce chassis, possibly a 20/25, with its engine suspended above it, has been seen in a scrap-yard at Ingleton. In a colour calendar issued by Trohicar Limited a vintage Jewett touring car has been incorrectly captioned and described as a Jowett, but we do not know whether illustrations have been misplaced or whether the similarity in names of two widely differing cars caused the error. The Railton OC Bulletin for last November reports that the Triangle Skinner Special is being restored in the’ West Country, where the road-going Skinner Union Special awaits restoration and the first of the replica-bodied Light Sports Tourer Railton is on the road. When the Peak Park Joint Planning Board sought to close a breaker’s yard in Derbyshire a vintage car enthusiast was among those who gave evidence against the closure, saying that the supply of parts from this yard for historic cars does a service to the country and to history. Apparently there are many pre-war commercial vehicles and ‘buses in the yard, as well as a 1936 Austin 18 saloon, tractors, stationary engines and the masses of spares. Another yard nearby is reported to have a rough chassis of an ex-Southern National Leyland Lioness. The 750 MC, following the success of its London-Monte Carlo Run last year, plans a London-San Marino Rally this year, from May 15th to May 29th, with about eleven days off the road, and another four taken as a holiday in San Marino in Italy, a round trip of some 2,000 miles. Entries, at £5 per car, confined to pre-1939 Austin 7s (not Big Sevens) belonging to members of Clubs affiliated to the A7CA, closed in November but a reserve list is probably still open. Details from: A. Macdonald, Sec., 750 MC Brooklands Section, 73, Bucklebury, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 4YJ.
At the time of last year’s Scottish Motor Show in Glasgow, Graham Gauld put out some interesting history about this Exhibition, which had achieved its 50th Anniversary. In 1897 two cars had been shown at the Edinburgh Cycle Show, in the Waverley Market, and these car exhibits had increased to five in 1898, to 20 by 1899. The big Glasgow Exhibition of 1901 put an end to a separate Cycle Show. But it was resumed in 1903 and after 1907 bicycles no longer formed part of the Show. It was, however, still held in Waverley Market, which had to be cleared on alternate mornings to accommodate the regular fruit and vegetable stalls!
In 1912 the Show moved to Glasgow but it returned to its former site up to the out break of war. Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall had now been built, opposite the Art Galleries, and it was used for the first post-war Scottish Motor Show in 1920, when music was provided by the band of the Grenadier Guards. This is the spiritual home of this Show, except that after the Kelvin Hall was burned down in 1926 it was accommodated temporarily in the Annandale Hall in Edinburgh until the other was rebuilt. Another war stopped play but the Show reopened in 1949 and has continued bi-annually ever since. It is unique in being a Trade, not a Manufacturers, Show. In vintage times the motoring Press used often to have its first taste of new models announced at Olympia on the journey up from London or the Midlands to Glasgow, a long haul in those days, for the Scottish Show.
A large Calthorpe engine is rumoured to have been found in Wiltshire. As Calthorpe made only small cars after the Armistice, this may well be the power unit from an Edwardian Calthorpe, unless it is a stationary engine. Tony Hutchings, who built that replica of the first-ever racing Austin 7 of 1923, is embarking on re-creating the 1931 “works” racing-car, known as “The Yellow Canary”. He has researched the fate of the 1923 car and finds that apparently it was sold by the Austin Motor Co. to a Mr. Entwhistle late in 1924. It seems that this gentleman ran the car at Southport in 1925, before adding road equip ment and selling it for k34. Which is a very great deal less than is being asked for the replica today! Having noted that the Austin Ten DC regards itself as a driver’s club, we are glad to put on record the fact that one member used his 1936 Light 12/4 Austin for a 1,743-mile Continental tour last summer, embracing Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Germany, which was accomplished without serious trouble.
We seem to have attracted vintage enthusiasts to watching ITV’s drama “Upstairs, Downstairs” with our reference to the Brooklands episode therein. Since then there have been old commercial vehicles, no doubt manned by HCVC members, in the General Strike episode, and VSCC Secretary Peter Hull has reminded us of the mention of a millionaire industrialist trying out a new Lagonda. Peter cleverly notes that the action must have taken place in 1924/25, as the millionaire who is befriending Lady Bellamy has just acquired a private copy of Chaplin’s film “The Gold Rush”, which was released in 1924, and he wonders why the 11.9 or 12/24 Lagonda light car was chosen as a car the millionaire would have been interested in. The 14/60 hadn’t appeared and one wonders whether the script-writer was thinking of the later, big Lagondas but wrongly dating them ? But in subsequent episodes Rolls-Royce Twenty tourer and beetle-back 12/50 Alvis cars have been used convincingly.
An Important Restoration
A reader, who gained his first experience of driving in the grounds of his parents’ house (on Overland 91, Model-T Ford and Willy-Knight cars) and who is now an Alfa Romeo and Fiat addict, has drawn our attention to an important and praiseworthy piece of restoration of a pioneer tank, recently completed by 18 Command workshop, this being the original and oldest Tank Workshop in the World,
The tank that has been rebuilt is a Mk. IV Male Heavy Tank, built by the Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon and Finance Co. in Birmingham in 1917. That was the year of Cambrai, when tanks first proved their worth, with 380 Mk. IVs in action. From early 1916, just after formation of the new Tank Force, until it had its ranges established in the Lulworth and Wareham areas, the Royal Navy had trained personnel in six-pounder gunnery techniques. As a mark of appreciation, in 1919 the Tank Corps Training Centre, at Bovington, presented this Mk. IV tank to HMS Excellent at Whale Island. After a time it lay unused in Portsmouth, but formed part of the defences during WW2!
The Tank Museum having been established after the first World War and splendidly expanded thereafter, but lacking a Mk. IV tank, the Royal Navy decided to present its tank to the Army. It was collected on the workshop Antar and brought back to Bovington. Examination showed that the Navy had kept the running gear in reasonably good order but that the engine, a six-cylinder sleeve-valve 150 x 150 mm. (16-litre) Daimler, and its ancillaries, were in very poor condition, dismantled and with vital parts missing. However, Col. P. H. Hordern, Rtd., the Museum’s Curator, found two other incomplete engines of this type and 18 Command went to work. However, it seemed that lack of spare sleeves would veto the project. It was then that Wellworthy’s, the piston-ring makers, who have assisted with other important engine restorations, generously restored the sleeves, pistons, heads and cylinder blocks free of charge, although this entailed making up special machinery to cope with depositing new linings on the insides of the ancient engine’s cast-iron sleeve valves. By November 1973 the engine was running sweetly and quietly on the test-bay in the Command workshop. The original radiators could not be reproduced but in other respects this Mk. IV tank is now back to its correct specification and colours. A person who served in the workshop in 1916 was able to provide helpful advice; he remarked that in 57 years the place had changed hardly at all. The Museum contributed a magneto, an updraught carburetter, and a couple of six-pounder guns. A test run was made within the workshop. The tank was then demonstrated at the Royal Armoured Corp. Centre Open Day in 1974 and it was driven last year to the Tank Museum for the formal presentation, by Capt. Mansergh, RN, Capt. of HMS Excellent, to the RAC Centre. It was crewed on that occasion by correctly-uniformed members of the workshop, who were issued with cotton-wool for their ears by a QARANC girl dressed in WWI nursing uniform.
Altogether, a splendid effort; and if you want a winter motoring objective the Tank Musuem at Bovington (admission free) is highly recommended—it has been reviewed previously, of course, in Motor Sport.
The Bentley Rep.
In that entertaining book “Those Other Bentley Boys” we learnt about the adventures of the Bentley Rep., in the days when they travelled this country and the Continent servicing and repairing 3-litres, 4 1/2 litres and other Bentleys built in the Cricklewood factory. In the new book “Climax in Coventry”, reviewed elsewhere, Walter Hassan touches briefly on his experiences in that capacity, when he was working for W.O., and reveals the kind of transport provided.
Years ago I assumed that the pre-war Publicity Manager of Rolls-Royce Ltd. and Bentley Motors Ltd. went about his casks in one or other of these fine cars. Sadly, he informed me that it wasn’t so—he was merely provided with a Rover. Nor were Hassan and some of his colleagues provided with 3-litres. In fact, they had vee-twin Royal-Enfield motorcycle combinations, painted blue (why not green?) with the name BENTLEY MOTORS on the sidecars. This seems to be one piece of Bentley history that the BDC has not so far illustrated in its Review. One hopes that a photograph of such a machine survives and will be put on display in the Bentley Museum at the recently-opened W.O. Memorial Club Headquarters at Long Crendon.—W.B.
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