VSCC December Driving Tests

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IT IS a thankless task to attempt to describe a driving-test meeting, especially when it involves ten elaborate evolutions, with more than 70 drivers undertaking them. But any VSCC event is a social occasion, which was especially true of these pre-Christmas DTs. This year they were performed, not at Enstone, but at near-by Barford St, Michael, not far from Oxford. As at the Knighton driving-frolics, the star of the meeting was an American car, not the Willys-Knight of the former event, but R. K. Hickling and his taming of a 1914 Metz 25 tourer. He explained that it was such an odd car that he just had to buv it. Apparently it was imported 18 months ago, but never run. Hickling was very bravely, in view of its decidedly unusual controls, driving it for the first time and he made a by no means poor showing in the tests. The Metz has a 3.1-litre side-valve engine based on the S-type Ford, and the friction transmission, which has an enormous friction disc and driving wheel, provides seven speeds, selected by a central lever working in a notched quadrant. Final drive happens on the near-side of the back axle, by an enclosed chain, the axle sprocket of which incorporates a differential, and an expanding and a contracting brake, using the single drum.

This is a left-hand-drive Yank, and the foot controls comprise a nght-hand clutch pedal and a brake pedal, both with ratchets, and a left-hand pedal which must be the forerunner of the foot-operated parking-brake. The equipment includes a “gown-rail” on the back of the front seat and a roll-up back panel to the hood. The dashboard carries a Stewart ribbon-type speedometer and a Gray & Davis ammeter, very clearly marked “Charge” and ‘Discharge”. This Metz has full-elliptic springing all round, supplemented by coil damper-springs at the back, a tubular front axle, and it runs on wooden wheels shod with 32″ x 3.5″, tyres supplied by the Genrig Tyre Co. The steering gear involves a completely exposed toothed-quadrant and pinion. Crude, but Hickling had clearly won the machine’s respect . . .

Hardly had I recovered from that, than I saw Britwell arriving in his 1926 Type-IS De Dion Bouton two-seater (he also has another of these rare cars), which went very effectively after a punctured front tyre had been dealt with. It is a car which is redolent of some little-changed French backwater and rare to a degree from its dashboard electrical panel by Victrex, to its cantilever rear springs.

Tony Jones’ 30/98 Vauxhall had been joined by Frisby’s 1917/18 D-type Vauxhall, an “alloy-and-yeller” tourer on substantial tyres. Besides this Edwardian and the Met, three others of this and the veteran period were present. Creed-Miles had a 1904 Humber Olympic Tandem, Rosoman a 1905 Type-Z De Dion Bouton, and Roger Collings seemed to be enjoying overcoming adversity with a borrowed 1904 10/12 h.p. twin-cylinder Beeston-Humber, which had taken four hours to arrive from Chipping Norton and needed an automatic inlet-valve’s cotter replaced again, before taking the first test, at the conclusion of which, the intrepid driver not only applied the lever-brake but professionally threw the gears out of engagement . . .

Many familiar competing cars were naturally present, competing in various classes (3) and categories (4), which may have been why we saw Barry Clarke ensconced in a 1929 Austin 7 metal saloon, opposed by Rouse’s Singer Junior saloon of the same date. Roger Howard’s Type 37A Bugatti was, as ever, very covetable, Peter Hull had appropriately borrowed a 12/50 Alvis tourer in which to become a Competing-Secretary, and Mazzotti had produced his sedate but interesting 1923 16/50 Benz DS tourer. Tim Llewellyn was there to liven things up with the 8.3-litre Bentley, the Threlfalls’ BSA twin had its “radiator” covered with an Admiralty Chart, against any mishaps of navigation and the chill wind, and Fountain drove a smart Riley Sprite. Piers-Hall’s alloy Ulster Austin slid under braking at the end of the “Madresfield Madness” test but before I become pathetic and attempt to describe such tests, let us hastily parson to the results. — W. B

Results

First Class Awards: C. P. Marsh (1925 Austin 7), R. M. Parker (1924 Austin 7), R. C. Howard (1927 Bugatti Type 37A), R. C. Smith (1933 MG J2), C. Gunn (1929 Austin 7), D. J. Densbam (1929 Austin 7).

Second Class Awards: D. G. Laxton (1924 Austin 7), B. M. Clarke (1929 Austin 7), M. Cann (1937 Aston Martin), M. R. Garfitt (1937 Frazer Nash-BMW 319).

Third Class Awards: M. U. Hirst (1930 Morris Minor), E. W. Sturgess (1927 Austin 7), D. R. Marsh (1925 Austin 7), P. L. Glover (1924 Alvis 12/50), J. R. Hill (1938 Morgan 4 4 ), A. P. Costigan (1930 Vernon Derby), M. Piers-Hall (1929 Austin 7), G. T. Neale (1934 Frazer Nash).

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