Rumblings, January 2006

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Last month’s note about a change of venue for a New Year’s Day meeting at the Royal Oak Inn at Much Marcie near Ledbury applies to the VSCC, and not to the BMW OC. My apologies to both clubs.

Thumbing through the pages of Norman Birkett by H Montgomery Hyde (Hamish Hamilton, 1964) before reading it, I came upon the initials ‘WB’. Not me: they referred to Woolf Barnato, racing driver and future Bentley Boy. It was about a case heard in the Chancery Court in London about a claim over two wills involving the family’s mining business in Africa. Barnato was represented by Norman Birkett, KC, against Barnato’s two cousins, Jack and Solly Joel. The year was 1924. Birkett won: his brief was for 1000 guineas. Barnato was so pleased that he sent Birkett a gold cigarette case inscribed with those initials.

The early history is sought of a supercharged single-seater Austin 7 which has been languishing in a shed in County Antrim for some 20 years. It has the Ulster engine and is thought to have been built in 1937 for a driver who had raced on Southport sands. Its story from 1954 to 1974 is known and it was seen at a Sotheby’s auction in 1980, but the interim history is missing. Letters can be forwarded.

An enquiry has come from a Wolseley Hornet enthusiast who owned the ex-Baird/McEvoy Special RE4 05, the ex-Hutchings Corsica-bodied JJ 87 of the 1933 LCC Relay Race winning team (which I saw in action) that took him over 25 years searching to track down, and the Hornet which Booker Taurus developed, now MY 2, which he regards as having “the greatest provenance of all genuine Hornets”. He would like to know whether the s/c Hornet used in competition by Sir James Walker was broken up after the war and its engine put into a Bugatti and then into a Swallow Doretti. Jenks was helpful in finding photographs of JJ 87 showing it leaving Corsica’s apparently with Forrest Lycett’s brother at the wheel: but did this Hornet end up in a Sussex breaker’s yard endowed with a Standard power unit? It went to the late Nigel Musslewhite before our enquirer retrieved it for restoration. He thinks that EVA Booker developed the car after the war for Taurus Engineering, and that he went to Australia. Over to our readers or the Hornet Special Club.