V-E-V Odds & Ends., January 1986

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In connection with the Madresfield speed-trials article in the November 1985 issue, David Sewell confirms my impression that, in pre-war days, the course was from the road towards the mansion and says that the Brescia Bugatti with which Shortnose made FTD in 1927 and the other Brescia driven by Johnstone were not the College of Automobile Engineering cars, as I suggested. A photograph shows the Shortnose Bugatti to have had the later Brescia radiator, and a cowl over its dumbirons. A reader who has enjoyed our articles on what it was like to work at the Derby Rolls-Royce factory says he began there in 1933 at a wage of 9,64 a week and he remembers E. R. Hall trying out his Bentley before taking delivery slit, in the alleyway between the Experimental Shops and the NO2 shops. He says that in the 1930s R-R had nine Rudge motorcycle engines, and on the single-cylinder test-bed they got 50 bhp plus from this 500 cc power unit!

Cylinder heads, one used, one new, are available in S Carolina, for the 1,000 cc Osca engine, the type with a single oh camshaft, and short horizontal push-rods operating the inlet valves, if anyone requires them. Letters can be forwarded. An observant Norman Riddell points out that the photograph we used last November shows Louis Renault arriving at the finish of the tragic Paris-Madrid race of 1903 that was stopped at Bordeaux, not setting out on this epic drive. The ex-Les Leston Fiat Balilla is being restored in Kent. The Museum of British Road Transport in Coventry has at last found one of the over-head-valve Daimler Double-Six engines, which, when restored, may be usable in their 1935 Royal Daimler that was once HRH Queen Mary’s personal car. Only about nine or ten of these later V12 engines were made as distinct from the sleeve-valve versions, and being underdeveloped, in 1946 the one in the car in question was replaced while the car was still in the service of the Royal Household, with one of the 4-litre six-cylinder Daimler engines that had given excellent service during the war in Daimler armoured scout-cars. Now Jaguar Cars, who helped restore this ex-Queen Mary Daimler, have agreed to rebuild this correct V12 engine for it, which was discovered in Hemel Hempstead and bought with the help of the Science Museum and an anonymous donor. In association with my article on David Harrison’s 1907 Renault “Agatha”, a very Interesting letter has been received from Marcus Chambers, who was responsible for saving this car when few people really appreciated the great Edwardians. He remembers that when he bought it, in about 1935, it was towed from a garage in Waterloo on flat tyres behind a pony-and-cart! Marcus was able to get tyres for it from Scotia’s in Balham, as the size was the same as on the WD Crossley ambulances, which that breaker was still in process of cutting up. The first name in the log-book that came with the Renault was that of Lord Wodehouse, who was by then the Earl of Kimberley: he would have been 24 years old when the car was built. He told Chambers that he lent it to Harris Payne-Whitney and that the New York licence would be found still soldered to the radiator. When the car returned to the UK it was sold to Sir Harold Gilles, who apparently part-exchanged it for a more modern car, the Renault reposing in the concessionaire’s premises for some ten years. (As this depot was in Waterloo one wonders whether it could have been the Rawlence garage, and if so, whether Sir Gilles changed “Agatha” for an OM) Marcus Chambers sold the Renault lust before the war to Anthony Mills who oar, exchanged his little two-cylinder Renault coupe for it Incidentally, Marcus Chambers made his re-acquaintance with “Agatha” a year before I — W.B.

The Ten Best and Ten Worst American Cars

Just over a year ago MOTOR SPORT reported on a feature in the Telegraph Sunday Magazine about which were the ten best and ten worst British cars, lodged by a learned panel, to have been made since the beginning of motoring. We are now able to reveal thanks to clippings sent to us by a reader of MOTOR SPORT, that in America Lite magazine ran a similar feature. Its panel of judges consisted of John A Conde, late curator of transportation at the Henry Ford Museum, Beverly Rae Kimes, the girl who knows all about the intimate history of American automobiles, Davis Lewes, President of the SAH, James Wren, historian of the MVMA, L Scott Bailey of Automobile Quarterly, Roger White of the Smithsonian Institution, Leon Mandel. Editor of AutoWeek and Austin Clark, Junr, Strother MacMinn, Richard Teague of American Motors, and Gordon Boohoo. late of Cord and Duesenberg

They found, as the ten best, the Model-T Ford, the 1901-4 curveddash Oldsmobile. the 1932-33 SJ Duesenberg, the 1911.14 7-head Mercer Raceabout, the 1938 Cord 810. the 1915-18 Pierce-Arrow (“the whisper-quiet Car of Presidents”), the Model-A Ford, the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. the 1930-34 Packard. and the 1930 Cadillac V16. The ten worst were judged to be the Edsel (inevitably!). the Chevrolet Vega (11 rusted in the showrooms”), the 1959 Cadillac (“A styling overkill — a winged Monster”), the 1957-58 Packard with Studebaker body. the 1959 Chevrolet (“All new” said the ads. ‘All bad”, said the panel, as having the ugliest-ever gull-wing rear), the 1957 Nash Ambassador, the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, the 1955 Buick (“the brontosaurus of the Chrome Age”). the 1938 Graham Sharknose. and the 1939 Crosley – W. B.

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