Out of the Past, January 1984

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I mentioned recently some venerable ladies who have been driving for longer than most of us. One such lady is Lady Olwen Carey Evans of Criccieth, a daughter of David Lloyd George, who began in 1916. Being curious as to the sequence of cars Used, I wrote to her and she has kindly replied, saying that long before 1916 she was allowed to try her hands on what was a high two-seater controlled by a “lap-handle” instead of a steering wheel. This could have been anything from an AC Sociable to an Edwardian Lanchester. Her father’s chauffeur, Dyer, provided “several good hints” and taught her to drive.

After this she lists the cars she remembers as Vulcan, Napier, a Peugeot used in India, where she also drove an Overland, MG, Delage, Armstrong Siddeley, Sunbeam, Ford, Morris-Oxford, Allard, Lincoln, Rover, Singer Gazelle, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.

Now aged 91, and having successfully Passed her IAM Test in 1963, she still drives frequently, her current car being a Volkswagen Golf. — W.B.

V-E-V Miscellany.—On February 4th next the National Motor Museum is showing a rare motor racing film during its third “Archive Special” at the National Film Theatre on London’s South Bank. It is Hugh Hudson’s 1970 / ’71 film about Fangio’s career, said to have been shown in the UK but once before, when the 750 MC discovered it in the vaults and used it in 1975. Other films on the evening in question will include showings of Thust II, the Mini celebrating its 25th Anniversary, but also some historic films, like one recently restored for the NMM Archive about the 1907 French Grand Prix, a 1910 promotional film made for a Reading garage, and Ford’s instructional film called “Your Driving Test”, although we fear this was made long after Model-T times . . . The showing will commence at 8 pm and admission tickets cost £3 each, from the Box Office, National Film Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 8T, an sae being requested.

Arising from the item we published about the origins of Chris Booth’s ex-Harris Morgan three-wheeler, Laurie Weeks writes to say that he thinks Booth is trying to determine whether his Morgan was built or only modified by Robin Jackson, bearing in mind the similarities between it and Weeks’ own ex-Horton / Jackson Morgan Blackburne, Reg. No. OM 4000. But there should be no question about the Booth car being genuine, and not a replica, Weeks thinks. Oxfordshire County Council is launching a “Group of Friends” to help provide public access to Nuffield Place, Oxfordshire, the former home of the late Viscount Lord Nuffield, of Morris car fame. The house dates back to 1914 and is set in four acres of ground, and was bought by Lord Nuffield in 1933. Today many of his personal possessions remain intact, much as they were at the time of his death in 1963, including his then new HMV radiogram with steel needles, etc. Mr James Bateman, Oxfordshire’s Director of Museum Services, regards Nuffield Place as a National treasure and is working for its public access, which can be secured for a £350,000 endowment, toward which the present owners, Nuffield College, will contribute a £200,000 interest-free loan, providing the County Council will maintain the house. This seems a highly laudable cause, details of which are obtainable from J. A. Baseman, Fletcher’s House, Woodstock, Oxford OX7 1FS. It seems the greatest tragedy that Brooklands Motor Course has not been treated with the same respect.

The “Fragments on Forgotten Makes” article about Jackson cars has caused a lot of interest. Now Ken Woodhead, of Blenheim, New Zealand, writes to say that he has a 1908 four-cylinder Jackson with 10 hp Amatoutz-Raval engine (made at Besancon, France), which in 1929 was sold in Christchurch, NZ, driven to North Canterbury, and there converted into a farm trailer, so that a replica dog-cart body is now having to be made for the car, as part of its restoration. Mr Woodhead has never heard of this make of engine being used by Jackson’s and wonders if his car is earlier than 1908; he would appreciate any information and says our article has already told him more than he knew of this make. He lists six Jacksons known still to exist, including the 1909 single-cylinder dog-cart in Birmingham City Museum, which he measured before constructing his replica body, three in Australia, and one each in Ireland, Holland, and South Africa, and his own, of course, in New Zealand. A 1903 Eagle runabout was among a six-car display at the opening of Power Hall, a new section of the Greater Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, last year. It has close connections with the area, its origins going back to the Jackson / Edwards partnership which to this day lends its name to a garage in Manchester Road, West Timperley. In 1885 Jackson established a cycle business in Mayor’s Road, and as this expanded he moved to Oakfield Road, Altrincham, forming Century Engineering in 1899 with Arthur Finch, from which emanated the Century Tandems and later the Eagle three-wheelers. The 1903 example of the latter is thought to be the only one of its kind to have survived; it was in use up to WW2 and is being restored in Derby. The GPO used similar models from 1904 for carrying mail. On the subject of early three-wheelers, the Mr Woodhead aforementioned, who also has a 1915 Humber, sent us a clipping about a very odd Jackson made in a batch of 50, apparently, for use over the rutted tracks of the Costa Rica, the single front wheel, on long half-elliptic springs, steering, unlike on the more normal single-rear-wheeled Jackson tricars.

Someone working on a family tree has come upon a photograph of a group of brickmakers with a consignment of bricks destined for delivery to Brooklands Motor Course, presumably when this was under construction in 1906/7 and what the lady concerned would like to know is whether these brickmakers could have been Mr William Ellis or the architect, Mr Levi Harlington AnseII, both of whom were related to her? As there was a picture of the Brooklands finishing straight under construction, found with the bricks picture, there could well be a motoring connotation here. A reader who is trying to complete the history of his 1937 SS100 asks for any available information on the car, DYL 469, which was apparently rallied and raced by Charles Truett with a factory-prepared engine having hc pistons and a bronze head, between 1937 and the end of 1939, appearing at Brooklands, Donington and the Crystal Palace with drilled chassis, running sometimes stripped, at other times with cycle-type wings. Mr Truett joined up immediately war was declared and the SS was laid up, and he then sold it in 1946 to a Croydon garage, from whom Alvin “Spike” Rhiando, that colourful dirt-track driver and 500 cc competitor, obtained it. It was sold again in 1948 and the owner would like to find “Spike” Rhiando so as to fill in details of his usage of the car, which is now in fine condition and the history of which is fully documented from 1948 to the present owner’s acquisition in 1977. Letters can be forwarded. Rumour says that Lord Derby’s 1934 FWD Cord has been found in a Derbyshire barn and is to be restored but we would question the Sheffield Weekly Gazette’s statement that only one Cord remains in this country over to James Leasor) or that, when new, this one was capable of 135 mph.

In last month’s “Motor Sport to the Rescue” piece it would have been more accurate to have described the museum from which the Alta racing car was stolen as the Peter Black Collection in Keighley, instead of the Black Museum as in some reports on the case, and for the record the Alta did have its engine, albeit badly in need of overhaul. A reader who has been researching the subject of British sand racing for the past five years, and who would appreciate any information, hopes to organise a get-together of appropriate cars and personalities at Southport sands next mar. Letters can be forwarded. We hear that Selfridges, in connection with its 75th Anniversary next year, hopes to find and restore one of its former delivery-vans, either horse-drawn or petrol, a commendable ambition when one Company we could name seems intent on historical destruction! — W . B.