Veteran - Edwardian - Vintage, January 1977

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A section devoted old-car matters

VSCC Silverstone Driving Tests (Dec. 4th)

Insane it may be, but it’s great fun! I refer to the annual driving-skill frolics of the Vintage SCC, held this year in bright sunshine but bitter cold, on the Club circuit, which has ample space for all the usual sortings-out of men and machines, like accelerating, braking, driving backwards into “garages”, swerving round-and-round markers, etc. It is difficult to describe such multiple goings-on and maybe unfair when one so seldom does it oneself. So let’s concentrate on the cars. There were 51 entries, with four drivers sharing a car, divided into three classes. The Hillman Register was staging a revival, with two cars present, Hayward’s well used 1929 Fourteen and Baker’s very authentic-looking 1929 Husky, which did the tests with its radiator fully-muffed, against the cold. Perhaps the letters “H-H” on the lid of the latter’s external tool-box might have reminded some onlookers that it is not a Lagonda-substitute, but the Olympic Balloon tyres were new to me. Elder brought a rare 1928 Austin Six with Sanderson & Holmes’ shooting-brake body, built originally for Col. Radcliffe, of Bass breweries. In the hands now of only its fourth owner, it is thought, to have done less than 50,000 miles and looks it, although I think the radiator-shell should be nickel, not brass. Apparently this Austin answers to the name of “Blodwyn” and was once used for carrying donkeys…

Nice had his nice unmodified Austin Ulster, Ghosh his 30/98 Vauxhall with HispanoSuiza front axle, boxed chassis, drilled pedals, and R-R r.h. gear-lever and steering-column controls. Which reminds me that Secretary Peter Hull had arrived in a Rolls-Royce saloon. Austin Chummics seemed to be the most popular “dicing machinery” but MGs were out in some force, Rushton’s M-type with correct metal body, Bowles with an earlier-M wearing a non-authentic body and outside handbrake and exhaust, and, reminder of the changes that have overtaken the VSCC, Cranage brought a neat MG TB. Edwards wasn’t content with just one Ulster Aston Martin; he had brought another, on a trailer, but brake trouble kept it there. Garfitt’s Frazer Nash-BMW came to the stop-at-line after the wiggle-thing, when it, too, required urgent attention in this department. Pack was acting as Bulletin reporter as well as driving his Aston Martin Special with verve, aided by power from its twin-SU 2 1/2-litre Riley engine, Scholes had a Riley 12/6 Kestrel saloon with correct roof for a 1933 car, which should mean something or other to Riley historians, and Ellison was driving his new Riley 12/4 Special. Knill-Jones, Fountain, and Majzub had vintage Riley Nines, respectively a Special with a long “Dixon-ised” tail, an abbreviated fabric-bodied Special, and a nice Brooklands model. Incidentally, all the Touring Class entries were vintage, except for two Edwardians, a 1910 Adler and a 1914 Stellite—nice to see these latter out for winter d.ts. Gay’s Aston Martin blew smoke rings from its exhaust pipe while its driver smoked his pipe, Merriott wore Dunlop racing overalls in his Speed-20 Alvis, Newton’s HRG turned tight round the markers in the wiggle-woggle, whereas Conway, in his so-desirable Type 43A Bugatti, and Mrs. Thetford in her Alvis, took wide sweeps, and Dods in his pleasing triple-carb AC Special tried a handbrake turn that didn’t quite come off. In this test Cann’s 2-litre Aston Martin almost scrubbed itself to a standstill, Holloway’s 1936 41-litre Bentley Special really squealed its tyres and made fine sounds both on drive and over-run, Bullett wound-up the engine of his 1928 Chummy Austin and leapt away, for some three, even two-wheel, cornering, and Tony Jones was driving well in his 1929 Chummy. But how it all worked out is best seen from the results.—W.B.

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