Reminder that 1991 was nearly over came when we drove the reliable Ford Sierra XR 4×4 over slippery roads (which made 4WD and ABS especially appreciated) on the 250-mile journey to the Enstone plateau off the A34, where the VSCC holds its December driving tests.
It was another day of perfect VSCC weather, the chilled sunshine bracing, the 10 tests faced by an entry of 98 pre-1940 cars, less a few non-starters. To give an overall picture of what happened defeats this reporter, who further confused himself by watching the last test first. Anyway it is unfair to comment on a brilliant performance at say, “Lamont’s Labyrinth” or “Go For It!” when the same driver may have made a super cock-up of things at “Bank Charge” you could spend quite a lot of time working out why the tests were so-named! And what was in mind when one test was named Major Disaster.. ? So instead, let’s just glance around this happy winter motoring scene, which is as much a time for socialising and looking at nice motor cars as criticising how the intrepid dicers conduct themselves in the difficult tests. . . We did, however, note that in Test 10 David Marsh was five seconds quicker than his son and that Moffatt, having broken his Bugatti en route, borrowed David’s, whose smart bolster-tank, pear-radiator Brescia is very similar to David Sewell’s car, these two taking the test in sequence. From admiring this pair of Bugs I realised that the place was prolific with A7s which, in fact, formed a whisker over one-third of the entry a pleasing discovery for one who thought-up the idea of the 750 MC over 50 years ago. Recently I have had an enjoyable dose of GNs, and at Enstone Blake had his Vitesse-engined sports model. It was also good to see the Hirons’ 1922 “flat-rad” two-seater out again.
Not to be outdone, an early Morgan three-wheeler was going well (there were dispensations in the tests for them) and on a perfect day for hot-air ballooning Robin Batchelor was grounded, coping with the exacting task of conducting his 1913 Rollo cyclecar, one idiosyncrasy of which is a brake lever, which, when pushed, moves the entire back axle forward to bring it in contact with the anchoring pads. I noted that the 980 cc engine ticked over at almost zero revs, and that the Rollo had the Edwardian class to itself, in the absence of Roger Collings’s Mercedes (which, anyway, is a veteran).
The gathering of interesting motor-cars included Dick’s smart Brooklands-model Riley 9, once the property of Percy Riley’s daughter, Rees’s Montlhéry Midget with supercharged engine and racing roundels on its body. Rodger’s impressive 4.3 Alvis, Baker’s quite sporting openbodied Rolls-Royce 20 and Dowie’s Derby Bentley with a blower to aid the urge. FN and FN-BMW cars were well represented, but Mark Garfitt was marshalling. In spite of some timeconsuming “garaging” to be tackled, most of the competitors had completed the tests by lunchtime and flocked to that pleasant pub, The Crown, where the only problem is parking.
Full results will follow next month. WB
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