Out of the past, January 1977

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From time to time we receive readers’ photographs which are very interesting to study and speculate upon In this category are some old prints, reproduced opposite arid on this page, kindly sent to us by Mr. Potter of Hemel Hempstead, who tells us that they came to light along with other papers turned out Many years after the death of his father. by the family lawyers and bankers. In some of these photographs the same early cars are seen in different settings all over the country indicative of their reliability. One of these is a pre-1914 BSA, another, with disc wheels and 3/4-elliptic back springs, may be a Darracq, and there is an earlier tourer with an E-registration, gas lamps, and a prominent and familiar radiator although I cannot place it (no doubt someone will recognise it—see picture 1). From these old touring snaps it is evident that, whereas early motorists often stopped in the middle of the road, even on blind bends, when there. was so little traffic about, the Potter family, of straw-hatted young men, girls in long summer frocks and wide-brimmed hats, and lucky motoring children, were meticulous about parking carefully, usually on the grass verge, as with the Darracq(?) in picture 2. This car was in use after the war, and is probably a 1919 model. as another snap shows it in a country town, with a new Humber 8, seemingly on Trade plates, parked some way off. A much earlier vehicle, which also requires identifying, was a primitive forecar (picture 3).

Of more sporting interest are some scenes taken at 1920s speed events. By a coincidence, there is the single-seater Hillman (picture 4) whose portrait I discovered hanging in a country garage recently. This one is either of George Bedford, or perhaps Leonard Weston, taking part in one of those now-defunct public-road sprints. The car behind is an HE. Then there are a number of snaps of cars, taken I think in the finishing-paddock at Shelsley Walsh. There is the blown AC which Raymond Mays drove there in 1925, its exhaust-outlet heavily lagged and sans bonnet, as it was when it went up the hill (5). Here also is Coe’s 30/98 Vauxhall “Vixen” (6), which won its class at this Shelsley Walsh meeting but overturned shortly afterwards at Brooklands and was very badly damaged. More interesting, however, is the shot of Harvey’s FWD Alvis (picture 7) which also svon its class at this May 1925 Shelsley meeting. Not so much on account of the Alvis, which was frequently photographed in this early FWD guise, but because of the car beside it. This, unless I am mistaken, is C. H. Vidal’s 4-cylinder 63 1/2 x 117 1/2 mm. Vidal, probably the only photograph ever taken of it! It competed in the 1,001-1,500 c.c. Racing Car class and didn’t do too badly, climbing in 68.6s.; the class was won by the Alvis, in 54.2s., but the Vidal looks like a touring light-car (it has “10 h.p.” stencilled on the bonnet), and yet it was quicker than all the runners in the Standard Car class. Can anyone tell us about this mysterious car? Other pictures show a straight-eight racing Ballot, a Brescia Bugatti, and a B & M Aston Martin, at an earlier Shelsley, and Tate’s Sixty Mercedes (8) which ran there in 1913. The loaf of bread stuffed into the n/s front hub of the Mercedes to act as a dust-cap, after the original had been torn off when the car hit the fence during its ascent, can just be seen.

Then there is a picture of an ancient aeroplane (9) being resuscitated, around 1920. It had crashed near the family home in 1914 and Mr. Potter’s father and his brother had apparently “taken charge of it”, for subsequent rebuilding. The tail-fin bore the No. F.7633, if anyone can identify it. A push-rod Norton motorcycle with belt-rim rear brake, outside the garage containing the aforesaid Darracq (?), perhaps a chauffeur’s, is there and I like the shot of the 200 m.p.h. Sunbeam, probably when it was being photographed at Wolverhampton immediately after its triumphant return home. A detail noted here is that the streamlined driver’s head-rest was so long that it was continued along the rear engine-cover. There are early snaps of Donington, showing the finish-banner provided by Dalton & Co. of Belper, purveyors of Silkolene oils, and of the still-existent hairpin bend. Finally, an imposing Daimler is seen outside the mansion of Mr. Potter’s grandfather (10) and a picture, possibly taken at the same house, of an early Alvis Speed Twenty tourer, equally dignified in its way, but from a later age, with concealed hood, knock-off hub-caps, bird mascot and no running hoards (11). We are always keen to see such photographic reminders of a past age.—W.B.

V-E-V Miscellany.—Rolls-Royce Motors Journal of last summer contained an article on R-R armoured cars. A Lycoming-engined Dort is being rebuilt in Australia. The Lago-Talbot Register has produced a printed list of owners which includes details of ten pre-war cars. The Registrar’s address is A. S. Carroll, 170, Wetherill Road, Garden City, New York 11530. The Vauxhall Post-Vintage Register lists three WY Cadets of 1930-33, a VX Cadet, ten 1933-34 ASY models, three 1933-34 Fourteens, one Twenty-eight 1935-38 DY Twelves, 24 1935-38 DX Fourteens, ten 1936-39 type GY-GL 24.97 h.p. cars, five HI-model Tens, and many later Vauxhalls. The Vauxhall OC, 41, Oxleys Cottages, Haynes West End, Bedford MK45 3QT would be glad to hear from owners of such cars who are not yet members. We regret to learn of the death of Victor Bridgen of Alvis, a carrental pioneer who will also be remembered as the owner of a fine Edwardian Renault landaulette. He was 68. Members of the Shuttleworth Trust receive copies of the house-magazine “Prop-Swing” twice annually. The cover of the Autumn 1976 issue carried a photograph of the DH 51 biplane in flight, its Airdisco engine now running again. It is the oldest De Havilland design still Hying anywhere in the World. The Morgan 3-wheeler that a reader was attempting to identify now turns out to have been a Super Aero made in 1930 but not registered until 1945. It had the M-type chassis and a 996 c.c. air-cooled JTOR JAP engine. Another engine is now needed for it. It seems that it was supplied originally to H. Beart, who, of course, was a well-known and successful Morgan racing driver. The November 1976 issue of Citroenian, the journal of the Citroen CC, contained an illustrated article on the Citroen caterpillar-track vehicles. When Swansea took away the Driving Licence Office in Aylesbury’s County Hall recently, 72 years of service were ended, as the Milton-Keynes Express has recorded. This office opened on January 1st, 1904 and local motorists were quick to obtain early Bucks Reg. Nos. It seems that the first number was secured by Mr. Mosley, later Baron Anslow, of Bangors Park, and that number 3 went to Sir Robert Dashwood, of West Wycombe Park and number 10 to the Earl of Buckinghamshire. Leopold de Rothschild apparently arrived with his chauffeur in time to get nos. 34 and 35, after Sir Everard Duncombe of Brickhill Manor had taken no. 25. Lionel Rothschild and his chauffeur left it a bit late, but took nos. 98 and 99, on that first day when 142 of the new licences were issued. In contrast, the month of June 1957 saw 16,900 car licences issued! It is good to learn that the Registers are to be kept in the County Archives, except for the years 1920 and 1921, which were scrapped some years ago, to provide shelf space.

The Cars of Baker Perkins

A reader has sent us a copy of “The History of Baker Perkins” by Augustus Muir (Heifer, 1968) in which some of the early motor manufacturing ventures of this Company are mentioned. F. C. Ihlee, of a German family who had settled in England, had played with motor launches while living at Putney and at Peterborough he tried to interest the engineering company of Baker Perkins in motor cars. Three Ihlee cars were built, the book explains, and Ihlee tried to persuade his fellow Board members to embark on its manufacture. The name Mercial was chosen and £4,000 spent on manufacturing equipment but in 1906 no interest was forthcoming and an attempt was made to sell these vehicles as vans. This, too, was a failure and only the three Mercials were built. It seems that a big Hotchkiss engine was used, Carl Pletscher working on this. Presumably it was built by Baker Perkins under licence, as everything for it is described as having been manufactured at the Westwood Works, apart from the crankshafts and con-rods. A smaller GWK engine is referred to, but this cannot, I think, have had any association with the friction-drive GWK, which did not appear until 1911 and itself used proprietary engines.

During the First World War Baker Perkins made engines for lorries and tanks, and these are said to have been called GWK engines. The present company has associations with Rose Bros. of Gainsborough, makers of the National car and with Job Day, who built the Day-Leeds light cars (see “Fragments of Forgotten Makes”, Motor Sport, October, 1957). It is said that William Rose began his automobile experiments in 1898 and made all the parts of National cars in his Gainsborough factory, right down to the nuts and bolts, selling 50 of these cars before manufacture was abandoned in 1912. A 1902 Rose National four-cylinder engine that was raced at Brooklands in 1908 and afterwards served for 30 years in a works fire-engine, was salvaged in 1947 and preserved by Baker Perkins. The prototype Day-Leeds had a 999 c.c. motorcycle engine and was to have sold for £120. It never reached production and the replacement was a 4-cylinder small car designed by an ex-Armstrong-Whitworth chief engineer. A 5-7 cwt. truck, listed as a “lurry” was also made. Apparently long after production had ceased, Job Day kept one of the cars as a runabout; the policeman in City Square, Leeds, would salute it whenever it appeared and ask jocularly when it was to be scrapped. Another link with the past is contained in the information that the National Co. had its own club, The Rose Motor Club, whose badge had as its emblem an 18/22 h.p. Rose-National touring car. It seems that Mr. Baker had a Stevens-Durvea, of which a photograph exists.

Our informant, who is rebuilding a 1928 Austin Twenty and who owns various old vehicles from motorcycles to a 3-ton WD Bedford truck, tells us that Mr. F. C. Ihlee’s father founded the Jaeger clothing company in 1883, with two brothers-in-law. Mr. Ihlee was Chairman of Jaeger’s, which remained a private company until about ten years ago, apart from his Baker Perkins connection. He bought and restored 18th-century ship models in his private workshop, which after his death were left to the Maritime Museum at Greenwich, to which, with the Admiralty, he had been the principal contributor. He ran a series of Daimler cars, keeping a fleet of two or three at any one time. He also built model locomotives; there is a connection with motor racing here, as Zborowski, Howey, Segrave and Jack Lemon-Burton, etc., had like interests.—W.B.

“Ghost Story”

Sir,

With reference to the article in the October issue of Motor Sport concerning the Silver Ghost of Mr. S. R. Southall, it happens, that Mrs. Graham (now aged eighty-nine) the widow of the late Doctor Graham is my neighbour, having moved to this area from Scotland two or three years ago. I thought it would please you to know that I bought the October issue of Motor Sport, and passed it to Mrs. Graham to read immediately when I saw the article about her vintage car, as she had previously told me all about this well-known vehicle. Mrs. Graham was infinitely delighted to read the article, to see the excellent colour reproductions of the car, and to see that it is still being maintained with the same meticulous care that it enjoyed during its long period of ownership by the late Doctor Graham

Lympsham L. W. CHAPMAN

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