VSCC December DTs

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It has been said that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon-day sun. The sun shone for the VSCC Winter Driving Test Meeting at Enstone aerodrome near Oxford on December 3rd but it was not of that intensity! However, Englishmen, in the guise of enthusiastic “vintagents”, were out in force, some 73 of them if we include the ladies, for 10 tests of new ingenuity, such as driving onto planks and nudging but not toppling bollards, all very cheerfully and efficiently marshalled.

The competing cars, all pre-1939, made an interesting assembly. The Alvis contingent was out in force, including Hayes and Glover’s beetle-back 12/50s, Sparrowhawk’s trim cycle-mudguarded 12/70 two-seater, and Scandrett’s smart 1931 12/50 drophead. Lea-Francis was represented by Harle’s P-type, Lupton’s concealed-hood 1938 Sports coupe, and Smith’s 12/40. The now-well-known 1914 Type 25 Metz, ably handled by Baker as well as by Hickling, its owner, was rivalled in control-complexity by the 1911 31/2-litre Type 45 Overland, a bolster-tank two-seater with ¾-elliptic back springs, contracting rear-wheel brakes, big brass Overland electric headlamps, and no instruments of any kind. Its left-hand pedal engages top gear, the centre pedal low or reverse, the right-hand pedal the brakes. Unfortunately it was suffering from a binding transmission and the engine died on Lees in mid-test, depriving Miss Mill of her try.

Dearden-Briggs had a delectable, entirely “French”, doorkss four-seater C4 -Ami’car on 800 x 70 tyres — maybe the coachbuilders had run out of hinges? — any problems with frozen legs in winter having been solved by fitting flaps of hood material over the apertures. Lee’s Salmson likewise represented the French mode. Gray’s 1904 28/32 hp Mercedes in racing trim, the type I was on about last month, had Collings’ Sixty Mercedes for company, Roger having time to read the test instruction while on the move. Miss Moores had an Austin 7, which reminds me that Butler drove his 1930 A7 with a lucky bear on its windscreen and a child’s seat in the back, thus using this Chummy as Sir Herbert had intended. Pat Marsh drove the ex-Tom Ploughman 30/98 which in 1952 at Mondhery covered 107.9 miles in the hour and which has been rebodied but mechanically unaltered in the last twelve months. His brother’s Brescia Bugatti came on its trailer. Tom and Di Threlfall shared the little BSA as usual and at an open-air EGM Tom’s period as Club President was duly extended, on a unanimous show of hands.

I have said previously that DTs are not for serious reporting. So let’s just remark that on being confronted with the nudging test Tony Jones’ Chummy A7 had a fit of the stalls, that Jane Arnold-Forster in her wooden Seven missed prodding one bollard, that Ann Shoosmith was throwing her big-booted ex-team 4½-litre Bentley about with much spirit, curbing it with the outside hand-brake, that Dillies attacked his bollards with the open driver’s door of his Riley 9 Kestrel saloon, and that Roesch Talbots were operated by Rawlings (14/45), Brisby in Allison Moores’ 90, and King in a 105, and that, at the risk of upsetting at least one reader, I cannot resist saying that Reg Nice handled his Ulster Austin nicely . . . Miss Gunn was driving her A7 briskly, the first test perturbed Fountain’s fabric-bodied Riley 9 Special so much that it boiled, and the oldest entry, Rosoman’s 982 cc Z-type 1911 De Dion was game, but very pedestrian in reverse. But enough is enough! The appended results will cover the highlights of a good day’s sport. — W.B.

VSCC Driving Test Results:

Class I

First class awards

D. J. Lee (1927 Salmson AS) R. Hale (1930 Lea Francis) I. Lock (1927 Austin 7)

Light Award:

Mrs. D. M. Threlfall (1924 BSA)

Edwardian section:

R. A Collings (1903, Mercedes 60 HP)

Touring class award: A. Rawlings (1929, Talbot 14/15)

Saloon class award: B. A. Giles (1936, Riley 9 Kestrel)

Class 2:

First class awards:

F. Giles (1931, Frazer Nmh TT Replica) I. J. Hall (1936Riley Sprite) G. M. Hare (1925, Fraser Nash Tourer).