Club news, July 1940

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750 CLUB

The 750 Club held a picnic run starting from Kingsdown, Kent, on June 9th. They deserve credit for putting over one of the very few socials of this war involving the use of cars, and after hostilities cease some ambitious fixtures may be expected. Eight cars turned up, comprising Secretary Hunter’s tuned Arrow four-seater, to which he will soon fit a Ford Eight front axle to obtain better anchorage and stability; a special, rather spartan two-seater; Birkett’s “Ulster,” which was claimed to have done 75 m.p.h. on the way down; Frost’s very smart black “Ulster, ” now supercharged; Mrs. Birkett’s quite definitely tuned 1933 saloon; Capt. Noon’s “Nippy”; Butler’s 1932 saloon with E.L.P, rear tyres, and Boddy, in a “Ruby” saloon. After the picnic, a short run and a brief, impromptu acceleration test followed by a hill climb were held, before tea was taken. Hon. Secretary: P. H. Hunter, 39, Warland Road, S.E.18.

CLUB BADGES IN WAR TIME

Under stress of war conditions cars are apt to be quickly disposed of, and consequently we would remind club-members to remove and either destroy or put into safe keeping any club badges normally worn. In the past, cases have been known of cars changing hands, and even appearing in breaker’s yards with club badges still in place. Only a short time ago we had a conversation with the owner of a big sports car which displayed many of the more important badges, and, good fellow though this owner was, we felt pretty certain he was not a member of the clubs whose badges his car carried. This sort of thing is very unfair to the clubs concerned, so please take steps to prevent such a happening, even if you have to dispose of your car under rushed circumstances.

WE HEAR

We hear that plenty of fast motoring on official duties goes on down Gloucestershire way. J. C. Pitt is running the more sober of his two M.G.s, his father a 2-litre M.G., and a “J2” M.G.; a “TA” M.G., a 2-litre Aston-Martin, a Meadows H.R.G., a Frazer-Nash, a blown 2-litre Lagonda, and an SS. 100 are amongst the fast cars in daily use in this part of the World, mostly by R.A.F. officers.

Robin Hanson and one of the Pacey-Hassan crowd are down that way. Worcester is reported to have a 4½-litre Bentley on A.F.S. duties, Jimmy Fielding is running a Railton, and so is John Cobb’s brother. Joe Fry seems to be using an S.S.1, the Delahaye having burst its plumbing during last winter’s icy spell, and the Freikaiserwagen is likely to be more potent than ever when it reappears. Philip Flower is busy learning to play the piano-accordion, and his brother, who used to passenger him on trials, is doing government work. Midge Wilby is said to be looking after R.A.O.C. vehicles, and both Eason-Gibson and R. L. Walkerley are in the R.A.S.C. Peter Clark now has the 3-litre Alfa-Romeo of about 1921 vintage mentioned in H. L. Biggs’a article last month. Richard Bolster is training as a Fighter Pilot, Clutton has just bought Andrew Lietch’s E-type 30/98 Vauxhall for rebuilding in a stark guise. Hornsted, of Benz fame, is in the R.A.O.C.

GENERAL NOTES

These times you must count yourself lucky to be able to get in reasonable runs on three consecutive Sundays, so there is reason for rejoicing. A motorcycle scramble in the Red Roads area had to be seen and at the last minute the comfort of the Austin saloon was gladly forsaken for a lift in an open Riley, even though the heavens had just opened and torrential rain was falling. Two handkerchiefs tied about the neck, and the ancient Burberry donned, and the writer began to enjoy life intensely, even though sitting on the passenger’s knees set him well above the protection of the screen, and already we were very wet when a stop was necessary to attend to the electric fuel pump. But it was good fun, fast along the Kingston By-Pass, so that the raindrops literally stung, with a pool of water seeping through to one’s very skin in awkward places, ere we were held up by the Sunningdale level crossing. However, if you are reasonably fit, you suffer nothing worse than discomfort from such a drenching, and the keenness displayed at the scene of the event was true compensation. A really good crowd, amongst which the Army, especially the Tank Corps, intermingled, had turned out, in a really imposing muster of cars and motorcycles. The sight of the riders passing in the most incredibly narrow places up acute hills and riding at real speed through mud-patches and water-splashes re-kindled admiration for the two-wheeler brigade, and it was impossible not to notice how keen their followers amongst the fair sex are, the girls braving the elements to watch, instead of concealing themselves beneath hoods and roof as you expect them to do under such unpleasant circumstances at car meetings. After it was all over, and not before we had admired the quite “Monte Carlo” efficiency of the wireless Army Ford V8 of the present era, we went away to have tea, the good lady in charge eventually asking us to leave as she had to go to church—this was the day of National Prayer. Another heavy rainstorm now came on, through which the gentleman in the open B.M.W. outside would presumably have slept unmoved, had his friends not decided to be gallant and emerge to awaken him. After consultation of the map, we discovered some very pleasant woodland near Shere, and with the sun now lengthening the evening, the Riley was left to its own devices, in a cutting at the top of a quite appreciable hill up which an elderly Alvis saloon was reduced to a crawl, while we walked. Doubtless this spot will be visited again when happier times return, for there is a useful café, open up to 10 p.m., right off the beaten track. In one field we came upon a most mysterious well, by which a stationary gas-engine on a concrete mounting was cunningly mated to what was once a tractor’s rear-axle, for the purpose of driving overhead shafting. In the end we just got home in time to put the Austin’s lights on before darkness fell, and drive it a matter of a mile to its own garage—incidentally, how the Defence Regulations remind one of worries apart from war, as when we came upon abnormal play in the distributor drive on replacing the rotor arm . . . .

The following Sunday a dire catastrophe almost occurred, when a borrowed .alarum dock failed to do its stuff at 6 a.m., so that it became necessary to step almost literally straight from bed into the car for a rapid run out through the East of London, via Epping Forest, to Saffron Walden, where the driver had an appointment at 8.30. We were at Victoria at 6.45, and managed the run with ample time in hand. This part of the world being new territory to the writer the walking was much appreciated along some excellent field paths, though every time roads were regained the absence of signposts came as a grim reminder of other things, which the continued drone of unseen aircraft hardly let us forget. Two veterans were spied in scrapyards, one apparently a Napier lorry of the last war—possibly a converted tourer—with imposing Cape cart hood; the other, close to a London main road, of unidentifiable make, though there was a strong suggestion of Yank about it, and the radiator smacked of Berliet, but I doubt if they built as light as this. The run back was as rapid as utility performance and absence of real anchorage would allow, as we had to be back again the other side of London at 6 p.m.

The third of these satisfying, consecutive Sundays was occupied attending the 750 Club’s picnic at Kingsdown, which involved a quick run out from the heart of the Metropolis. After a gathering in the real old style, complete with racing exhaust note supplied by Birkett’s “Ulster,” we took tea at the “Pilgrim’s Rest,” beside the main road, along which (Continued on page iii of cover) Army traffic was plentifully mixed with ordinary stuff. We left in time to roam awhile in the country before returning to London, where we met at a small party a splendid lad just back from Dunkirk, who said how heartily sorry he was to have to leave behind his 3 ton Army Dennis—she was blown up with many other vehicles in a field, but he let the engine run until it seized first.

These wanderings made the old days seemed ever dearer and raised a hopeful prospect of future motoring, when the miles will again be unrestricted. But as it is, we motor slowly to conserve fuel, only going fast around corners, as enthusiasts should. It seems significant that a motor-cycle scramble can be reported to have taken place on Army ground, and that another was due at Pirbright on June 23rd. In peace time definite permission was necessary to run events over this property, so obviously such permission must be doubly sought in these times. That it was granted is a very nice answer to those editors of daily papers who suggest that it is wrong and even criminal to use the basic fuel ration for anything but serious business travel. Indeed, the holding of such war-time motor-cycle competitions, often with Army entrants, may point to a happier regard for the Sport in official circles when the war is won. In the meantime at a suburban tennis club, the lawns are motor-mowed on rationed fuel; this very serious regard of ours for sport is just the thing which will help us so much in Going To It to crush the Nazi domination. Let the enemy and the neutral states take heart from the amount of motoring that is still happening in this happy land.