SOMETHING UNEXPECTED

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SOMETHING UNEXPECTED

TO SCOTLAND AND BACK IN TWO DAYS IN AN AIRFLOW CHRYSLER EIGHT NEAltLY I ,000 miles distinctly rapid motoring erammeil into a couple of days. . • . t ‘oexpected, certainly, after months and months of fiddling little IHAters following the exchange of tiny, but so valuable, scraps of paper I Yet it happened, through the kindness of Eric Vereker. My only regret is that a sports car eould not be borrowed in the time

? I.V: I I izt i and used for the job in hand. As it was, and I suggest that Vereker was chuckling up his sleeve after reading my reply to 1)otiglas Tubbs’s recent trtmipeting of the Yank . . . as it was, we went in a Chrysler ” Airflow Eight.” Let me say here and now that the journey had to be made N,ery much in the national interest, so not the slightest anxiety was felt about letting so much petrol through the jet. Because of the nature of the run, it obviously isn’t policy to say exactly what the car carried, or quite where she went and NY by, but I haven’t the slightest doubt that I can make all but a few readers envious when I record that in two days we covered nearly _1,000 miles . . . 9041 to be exact. We arrived at the appointed time and place and stowed away our humble ” Seven,” removing the distributor like good citizens. About 11 a.m. the Chrysler got away from ” somewhere near London,” laden with three persons, their luggage and a special load which must have weighed the equivalent of another four mortals. Out at the end of the big tin front was a Vintage S.C.C. badge, for Vereker is an experienced motorist, holding vintage ears in high esteem–he has owned a whole host, the ILE. included, and was dabbling in ell the best big stuff, sports and otherwise, when he started in business on his own way back in 1919, which was an appreciable time after his father’s exploits -with Sizaire Naudins and suchlike in Midland competitions. Soon the Chrysler was on the Great North Road and going nicely along a highway notice

ably devoid of pleasure traffic. It would be indiscreet to quote anything in the neture of a route, but let it be said that at the first fill-up we were well up the map, for the tank holds 15 gallons and the consumption was working out at some 12 m.p.g. Already sonic sanity was seen to underlie this preference for the Yank, in one who

still enthuses over vintage motors. Ir. the first place, her sppeious interior, of the variety:in which you comfortably accommodate three persons on both the bench-type seats, is invaluable for a wartime job demanding the carriage, for huge distances, of many passengers, lots of odds and ends, or hot Ii. Then there is the quite effortless ability to cruise all day at 70 or

morc m.p.h. and posssion of a reserve aceeleration from upwards of sixty. Vereker was not slow to expound the virtues of the Yank, mentioning the good ground clearance, with the ability to go undamaged over the worst unmade I )1;tpe, the low first eost of the car and her need for a minimiun of maintenanee. Ile is qualified to talk on this subjeet, having

run most of the American makes and tried elmost ell. A snack lunch had been disposed of ; fter the refill and a puncture in the near-side front tyre was an occasion for partAing of much-needed tea at an hotel where the Amy, as represented by officers of the old and new schools, loudly and graphically went over details of a recent air-crash. This, incidentally, was the Chrysler’s only involuntary stop and was probably caused by a patch of broken glass which the driver just failed to avoid. Early evening saw us up beyond Scotch Corner, and as the perfect evening drew to a close a decision was made to carry right on to our destination, a very excellent supper being partaken ot at. a big Scotch hotel situated some way oft the main road, along a line gravel drive flanked by masses of rhododendrons. Conversation, as always, was mainly of motoring, although our driver could be mightily entertaining on the matter of film-sets. At midnight it N% as still quite light, and at a rather ungodly hour we rolled into Glasgow to discover, quite by chance, a piano playing in a small hotel which. if not of the sort one goes to from choice. at all events provided a few hours’ sleep and tea and typically Scottish pastry when we woke. It had seemed slightly &iamb(‘ to pass the spot. where the London-bound coach had been all but lost in a snowdrift during the first winter of this war. Equally, it now seemed a fantastic distance that Lush and I negotiated in ohtaining food and

warm drinks for the passengers from a eafe at t w ford. Little time was lost in getting to the lirst job awaiting us, and Sonn NVe were coming through the town where we had slept ; a late breabla‘st was partaken of at the very cafe that had looked after everviuic so well during the aforementioned coach episode. Vereker now ern jillasi-ed the great spaciousness; of the Yank by reclining full-length on the ret)r seat, \lila time inv friend took the car swiftly ;Icross to the f’:!,,t MSt, While I presided over a (-111)1)y-hole hill of maps, a most esseti ti a I part of the equipment these days. Teatime siiw us in 1t:olio:40n and

found me in possession of solve absorbing fa.cts about the car. You sit, for instance. hchind a vast and not pretty faseia-board. hot mercifully the instruments are of normal shape, vitt) ()Ante figures int a Hack background. There are liiiga! loekable eubliv-hofes on each side. that hefore the passenaer haying a circular inspection tiperture. The big speedometer went lip to ” 120,– but sat most of the tinte the 60-70 m.p.h., negotiation of 13cmns Afoot»whaled. In another big dial an ammeter registered a ste:aly +15 amps.. I he oil-gauge almost 11).sq. in., the lwat-n-etr r In’ F., and the fuel gauge dropped towards ” empt y at a rate equivalent to 15 in.pae, »ow that the load was out of the car and a. si ink ini,o; chtike had hven remedied. I W4 Mid not trust the spetabaucler, but patently, we were gelling akin!, very rapidly. with 110 real roll, very little tyre-protest and a notiecable absence of wind-noise. Engine and transmis.sion Were dead quiet, and if the car rose like a ship in a swell over undulations, nevertheless there was no question at any time (and, as I later confirmed) front env seat, of it provf,king enr-sicknehs in one who had started not

entirely in the pink of eondit ion. I took ovnr when We beadvd south, and home. After a mile or so the width, the thick window-pillars and the poor visibility of this outsize in cars had ceased to worry me. Sutton Bank, in Yorkshire, taken easily as army vehicles were deseendina, was a middle gear ascent, top being used quite a bit of the way. Steerinu that was clearly very felt 1)0511 e at

‘Teed and was rendcred collVenichl Ity vivid castor aetion. In Mentioning ttint the i’i.linost till wrist -1,0(„ftion gitvo rise 10 Vereker caused me to snatch at a straw which he promptly inn out of reach by saying t hat. ” t he column, or eourse, adjusts.” So did the wide twitch front seat, very easily and simply. to “..dve au excelleat command rif lite controls. The clutch is not ;t strong point, and the syn chromesh of t In gear-change tit her taught up or didn’t work, Visite sometimes the free-wheel would come int,, operation unasked, when we wanted tit keep to solid trattsmissital. The treadle accelerator

was heavy and tricky I() operate and the brake-pedal was high on’ the floor. Yes. one emild pile op the criticisms ;old, left like this, as, f ruit 1w Vint In /titS of fittings, eheaply done, if you like, but practical ; I do not need to enumerate them here–rm supposvit to be on holiday, anyway. Gettiie, hack to performanee charaeteristics, it could cover the ground and then SOMe. With no time to practise arid with I.ockheeds that drastieally wanted topping-tip and adjusting, I got 47 Miles packed into all hour’s driving, including negotiation of two appreciable to,,vils and many baulks,. Vereker replied with 55.1 miles in the hour and then 55.6 milns iii sixty minutes, thus latter with :t couple of 1,1110 `-.( rir it) 1:Iek tIll 101101 sot doWII two

st ;Idiot’s who were about to go int duty at it night bomber station. Inning the later piece of loggery a late model Buick 2-seater just cotild not draw away, although given every t)pportunity to pass. What the maximum of the Chrysler Airflow is I do not profess to know. The speedometer went Most reintilV to 70 anti on to 80. Several times I saw it at once at ” ” rail it 10 m.p.h. fast it You like before making comparison with expensive British -fast cars. Such comparison is still disturbirig. I certainly think we field well over 60 m.p.h, as our ,..;:ttit. The mileage-recorder, incidentally, appeared to be approximately inic-tWentieth exeesive liteadl mile etwercd. It’ the car co old be correctly positioned it cornered fast with no need of wheel-sawing and no screaming tyres. On slow corners it could be whipped nowt!, given energetic action at the tiller ; the way it could be held in to the near-side tat fast corners astonished me. And Bye slid about far more (at the rear seat= otftnalitY sports ears than I did on the rumble-bench of what a certain friend of mine would have vatted ” a nice vulgar Yank.” Incidentally, one rear shock-absorber was missing, and the front axle was not of the its. variety. I’m not starting an argument –heaven forbid ! I’m merely stating sonic facts. Others :ire that this Chrysler had (toile 20,000 fairly quiet miles when bought, has done nearly 8,000 very hectic ones on warservice since, and took, I believe it %M, 5 pintS Of oil and a few pints of’ water during this trip. It had a horrid grille in front and looked like a minor tank, but, not long ago a charming young thing who entered a big public, garage with Inc enthused over similar vehicles, while she pooli-poolied a dear old Speer! -Si x Bentley. . . . The Chrysler, 1 think 1 recollect hearing, cost about £100 scot i1

The S litres or so of eight-eylinder 1nOtor did everything in top gear (Mbilitteilly, We did get art Austin Seven with three-up from London to Farnborough the evening before on its highest ratio only . . .) and didn’t pink or knock or really make any sound at all. . . . We fell to discussing Amerieans -Vereker recalls them all, 1:issel. Stutz Erskine, Cord and ScrippsBooth includol. There was much of interest on the journey, but a lot of it is unmentionable. Ao tohol Arrol-Johnston tourer was not inisst:7(t, and of fast cars We noted several S.S.. including an open some Lancia Aprilias, 3 black, late-type 0.Al. near St. Neots, an open Iiil it Lagonda towards Carlisle, also a 2-litre 1.agonda, tla• usual Itolls-lientleys and Holls-floycn, a well-preserved huhrtose .Morris-Cow ley 2-seater, two soldiers in a well-loaded M.G., another military turn-out in a Morgan 4/4. a Hailtou and a 3-litre s.v. Talbot saloon. No aceidents were enet andered, nor anything so exciting as the episode which had riddled the Chrysler with machine-gun bullets, the marks of W ‘&11 it still proudly bore. Once, when we were really travelling, a giant lorry and trailer drew across the road, Ian Vereker went up the kerb, on to a grass-verge and momentarily amongst the telegraph-poles with no VIA10 at. all. There Was a alas. linlikelV to be experienced again for many a hong day, of I hat solid s:disinetion that only a really Ii in ,journey can give ; travel across map-square after mapsquare, to return eventually to familiar parts, cafes crow(leti with local motorists, traffic thickeinicr as I mit(1011 is approached. Scores of English scenes, a sense of spaciousness, of this England, England as she is and must always be. . . . This from page 379 unexpected experience was well worth while.. and still seemed so when we awoke, puzzled, at a most unearthly hour and gradually recalled our gwoi fortune in finding a porter still up and about at. the Royal Court Hotel in Sloane Square, at 2 a.m. on the morning of our return. . . . Incidentally, it. is not safe to assume that every big-engined car you see travelling at speed is wasting petrol on pleasure bent ; nor shiadd you scorn the lorrydriver who, in spite of civvieS,” is probably doing as hard a job as any

Tommy.” This refreshing spot of rather unusual motoring certainly ()tiered Our eyes to a number of significant things not apparent before.