V-E-V miscellany, January 1985, January 1985

A commemoration run was held last year between Pretoria and Johannesburg to commemorate the first 3,500 km Nairobi-Johannesburg rally, which was won by F. Engelbrecht driving a 1936 Hudson Terraplane. Now aged 78, he drove a Terraplane van on the commemorative run and recalled that after his 1936 success Terraplanes were sold out in Johannesburg and Witwatersrand. A reader in Arizona is anxious to find out what happened to a 1937 Corsica-bodied Squire he once owned, and last licensed in 1957. Registration number BOB 34, chassis number SC 1063, engine number 1096, this Squire was last seen in Ravenscourt Park, London and any information as to its subsequent movements would be appreciated. Help is sought by a South African reader of over 20 years standing about the identity of a Type 55 Bugatti he purchased recently from Mr Comey in America, who in turn bought it in Paris in 1953. From Hugh Conway’s records it has been established that this is the car delivered to King Leopold of Belgium in June 1932. Nothing is known about this Bugatti prior to 1953, but as it has fixed cycle-type mudguards and very substantial side steps or running-boards; the present owner, Chris Woolley, wonders if it could be the car that Jean Bugatti entered for the 1932 Mille Miglia for Varzi to drive.

It is interesting that in last November’s Veteran Car Run to Brighton there were a few entries appearing in this event for the first time. Among them was a 1904 Autocar from California, a 1902 4½ hp Clement, a 1904 Humber, Kenneth Stein’s 12 hp Napier from the USA, and three Panhard-Levassors, so those who regularly turn out to spectate still have “new” veterans to study. The VCC itself entered a 1904 40 hp Berliet. People change their cars for various reasons. Hugh Keller recalls that he was able to purchase his 10/23 Talbot saloon in 1926 because the previous owner disliked catching his overcoat in the window-winding handles and exchanged it for a 12/40 Darracq. Keller improved the Talbot in various ways, fitting Marchal headlamps, an additional spare wheel, a divided windscreen, PB radiator shutters and thermometer, polished mahogany firewall, and a Freshlock steering-damper to cure wheel wobble. The mudguards were reshaped and the front seat recovered in Connolly blue leather, the body being recovered in Mulliner’s special fabric, the colour scheme of light and darker grey matching that of Phil Paddon’s Rolls-Royce, by whom Keller was employed. When bought this Talbot had only done a small mileage but when Keller gave it to his sister as an additional wedding present in 1936 it had covered some 100,000 miles. (She exchanged it just prior to WW2 for an Austin Ten and was allowed £15 for it, still in very fine condition.) Keller remembers driving it to Cannes in 1932, where his sister had won the Cannes Gold Medal for golf in 1914 but they found the fortnight’s subscription astronomical, so they turned round and played tennis at Juan les Pins instead… Later Keller had a 12/40 Darracq Weymann saloon of his own, preceded by a 15/40 Darracq. His well-known Rolls-Royce has been sold and the new owner is having it refurbished by Ristes of Nottingham, although knowing the car, not much need be done I think.

We hear that the dh coupe body from the well-known 4½-litre Invicta used after the war in competition events by Sir David Gamble and then owned for 30 years by John Buckley is likely to be fitted to a Model-A 4½-litre Invicta, to replace its present saloon body. The coupe body on the ex-Gamble Invicta has been replaced with a standard Carbodies touring body. At that Midlands’ auction of Meadows-engined cars, a long-chassis 4½-litre Invicta with Lancefield saloon body was purchased by Jeremy Wood, who owns a 1½-litre Invicta. This car was owned for four years by its original owner before being purchased by the collector, Harry Ellard, whose cars were the subject of the auction-sale, and had been in storage from 1938 until this year. The engine started first time after being idle for 45 years. R. H. S. Castle, Financial Director of the Country Gentleman’s Association, has been recalling the cars owned by his great-grandfather Robert Castle, in the Association’s magazine Country. According to his article in the November 1984 issue, that gentleman bought a Benz Vein in 1896, when he was over 60. He did not drive himself, leaving that to his son, on drives in the then-country around Kilburn, and later employed a chauffeur named Phillips. Cars that followed the Benz Vein were a Benz Parsifal, circa 1903, and an early Wolseley with the beehive radiator. The family remained faithful to the Wolseley make, one model or another being owned, including Mr Castle’s father’s Wolseley 25 and a Wolseley Eighteen carefully preserved during WW2 and on joining the CGA Mr Castle’s company-car was a Wolseley. In 1911 the father had bought an AC Sociable three-wheeler, followed by one of the first AC light-cars that took the family for frequent outings into Hertfordshire.

A newspaper piece reminds us that Baron Philippe de Rothschild, driving as Philippe, in a Bugatti, finished second to Chiron in the 1929 German GP. He had an early Unic tourer at one time, with gas headlamps, changed for an Hispano Suiza in which he claimed to have done Paris-Nice in 12 hours on the roads as they were in the 1920s. He won the GP de Bourgogne in the Bugatti and was second in a Spanish GP after delays fixing the steering. He also claims to have invented the suction and later the electric windscreen wiper, so that he could motor his girl-friend in a closed car… — W.B.