Miscellany, January 2000

The famous ex-Joyce/Aked racing AC, so well known in the 1920s, was due to appear at the AC works near the Track in December, as its owner, R Smith, after much toil, has got it running again, and it keeps his HE company. The previous owner was Robbie Hewitt, who found it long after Aked had ceased to use it for sand racing, and it put up historic speeds when driven by J A Joyce.

The VSCC of America has added selected cars made before 1960 as eligible for its events, plus some later ones if specially approved, as well as pre-war cars. The list includes post-war HRG, Jowett Jupiter, SU-carb Morgans, Peerless GT, Swallow Doretti, Veritas, etc. My hope is that the VSCC will never copy.

Hearing Jackie Stewart, before Johnny Herbert’s fine win in the European GP in a Stewart-Ford, remark on Ford’s support for the new Jaguar F1 team reminded me of how, when Ford backed Lotus, I used to try to get Jenks to describe the F1 cars as Lotus-Fords, mindful of the part Ford played in financing things. But he would describe them as Lotus-Cosworths, to give credit to their splendid engines. I expect he would have written McLaren-limo; rather than call their engines Mercedes-Benz, much as we both admired Mercedes cars.

Marauder cars quite rightly refuse to fade away. There are 12 survivors of these Rover based sportscars devised by Peter Wilks, George Mackie and Spen King. Priced at £1,256 at the launch in 1950, when I inadvertently left , with all the hand-out photos, thinking they were a set, double purchase tax increased this to £2,001, when an XK120 jaguar cost £1,538, which probably killed off this individualistic car.

Among other vintage cars, John Blake has a Montlhery BNC. His son Matthew has found another and seeks its history. Owned by Dick Batho and Peter Banner, and before that raced in VSCC events by John Clissold, it was re-registered MY 3154, and had a Riley 9 motor. It may originally have had a Lombard engine with Cozette blower, instead of the usual SCAP or Ruby. Could it have been the BNC owned by a Mr J B Johnson, which Dr Benjafield and Charles Brackenbury raced in 1929? The Blakes would welcome any further information.

When did Australia have its first steam car, as distinct from earlier steam coaches? Information has reached me about such a car built in 1900 by Percival Albert Robinson, who made it all in his works, wheels included. His father had a foundry and the plans were seemingly those published in The Automotor Journal that year, based on Overman lines, and looking rather like a Locomobile. The steam car was quite successful, and a second one was built in 1901.

Plans for the Millennium Year are forming. The VCC of GB will re-enact the 1900 1000-Mile Trial round Britain on May 18 27 2000, and meanwhile continues to use splendid colour pictures of veterans and historic articles in its excellent Veteran Car Gazette. The VMCC, among a full fixture list, hopes to have 5000 older motorcycles out and about on its Relay Rally, and the Napier Centenary and many other meetings will be held at the historic Brooldands site in 2000.

All pre-BMC Austins are eligible for the Austin Millennium Rally at Gaydon’s Heritage Motor Centre on May 27 29 2000, with up to 1000 cars expected from around the world.

Saltburn is to have a Century of Speed on September 9 and 10,2000, to recall the days when famous drivers and can competed on the sands there; appropriate cars, especially if raced there, are sought Gerald Firkins has promised to run the 1905 ex-Guinness 200hp 22.1-litre V8 LSR Darracq he has been rebuilding for many years, on the Marine parade which will hopefully be closed. If interested, apply to Maurice Jennings on 01642 556 819, evenings.

The new secretary of the Midland AC, following the retirement of Mark Joseland, is Roger Thomas, a well-known competitor with his Westfield and Vision cars. The MAC has plans for a new Club Office nearer to Shelsley Walsh.

Those who do the John O’Groats to Land’s End run may be surprised that in 1999 ten Sentinel steam wagons did this trip successfully, repeating an identical journey in 1976.