VSCC December Driving Tests

As last year, the winter Driving Tests of the Vintage SCC took place at Barford St. John, with 68 entries attempting ten tests, proving that Englishmen are as mad as dogs. At the American base cars ranging from 1904 (the Colling’s Darracq) to 1937 cavorted on the vast, bleak expanse of airfield, overlooked by some truly-imposing aerials that I wouldn’t care to stand under during a thunderstorm. As I have said before, you cannot really report on DTs, so let us just observe that Di Threlfall was being warned to stop beating her husband, in the BSA in the tests it transpired, Barry Clarke had been conducting his 1914 Singer Ten with such abandon in one of the earlier frolics that it had discarded a b.e. boot from one of its wheels, and that Julian Ghosh had brought out for the first time yet another 30/98, this one a 1924 Vauxhall (OE 101), used by the first American astronaut in space, and shipped back from the States, after he had been killed when flying a Starfighter jet. I remarked to Julian on the size of the front brake drums, of the kind used on the last of the 30/98s and those rare sleeve-valve Vauxhalls it seemed, only to be told there were no brake shoes in them? The race-number roundels and the exhaust. system made this 30,8 look very ex-Brooklands. Michael Elsom shared the brute, and was wilder than its owner.

Trouble struck some of the competitors. Batchelor’s 1925 Morris-Cowley tourer, out for the first time for about a year, having many fits of the stalls, A. C. Hull’s Talbot-Simmins two-seater, which displayed Two-Wheel-Brake triangles on the back and carried a very substantial tow-rope, expiring, and Hickling’s incredible 1915 Metz taking one look at me, just as its driver had remarked that I wouldn’t need to give it a push this year, and immediately becoming a reluctant commencer. All was well in the end, but this isn’t the easiest of automobiles to use for such events. Next oldest to the smoky Darracq was Rosoman’s 1905 8 h.p. Z-type De Dion Bouton three-seater, an appropriate mount for the new Competition Secretary of the VSCC Light Car Section, and oldest of the vintage entry was Livesley’s lively little C4 Amilcar. It was nice to see Peter Hull conducting a very smart 12/50 Alvis tourer which, its owner told me, cruises at 60 m.p.h. at 30 m.p.g. and will do 75 m.p.h. Briscoe was brisk in the Dagenham Dragonfly GN — well, I assume the engine was made in Dagenham. Cann sheltered from the icy wind behind one aero screen on his 15/98 Aston Martin, Hescroff had the screen flat on his 16/80 AC, Lees’ flat-nose Morris-Cowley two-seater made the typical Morris exhaust note, from a small-bore exhaust-pipe, and D. B. Smith was enjoying some splendid tail-slides round the markers in his Frazer Nash, whereas Brettell preferred to go more slowly in his ‘Nash and pick the correct route, and Hall used a blip-and-slide technique with his Riley Sprite. The other De Dion Bouton. Britwell’s IS-type, cocked a snoot at the Talbot Simmins by carrying 4WB warning-triangles. What a lot of rot these DT frolics make me write… Let’s hope the Canon-shots hit their target (auto focus by light beam, see?) and that the results will tell the real story. — W.B.

First Class Awards: C. P. Marsh (1925 Austin 7), A. D. Jones (1929 Austin 7), P. L. Glover (1927 Alvis 12/50SD), I. D. Hall (1936 Riley Sprite), R. J. Nice (1930 Austin 7), N. H. S. Lees (1935/38 Riley Special),  R. G. Winder (1930 Austin 7)
Edwardian Class:
B. M. Clarke (1913 Singer 10)
Light Car Class:
R. W. Batchelor (1925 Morris-Cowley)
Touring and Saloon:
A. Rawlins (1929 Talbot 14/45)