Club news, July 1942

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750 Club

They aver that all good things must come to an end, and, now that the basic petrol ration has been withdrawn, we shall get no more car-gathering 750 Club meetings until we have won the war. So that held in warm sunshine at the “Osterley” on June 7th was unusually well attended and universally made the most of. Perhaps the finest car present was that of he of the vivid shirt and Continental dicing hat – to wit, Peter Monkhouse’s Type 55 Bugatti 2-seater. But to accompany it we had Rodney Clarke’s Type 46 5-litre Bugatti saloon, suggesting fast travel down long, straight Continental highways. It was driven to the meeting by Ian Metcalfe and contained also the modest owner, Mrs. Metcalfe and Mrs. Clarke. Between the two Bugattis we had Lawrence’s and Harmer’s borrowed blue 1.7-litre supercharged Alfa-Romeo 2-seater. Incidentally, it was noticeable that the more thirsty motor-cars came on those convenient detachable red number plates…. The motor vendor element was, indeed, rather too prevalent, one car even displaying a price ticket! Then Gordon Woods brought his very latest Frazer-Nash, a blue Blackburne-Six job, spotless internally and externally, and a black Blackburne-engined Frazer-Nash from Maidenhead kept it company. Then vintage cars were nicely represented by a beautifully turned out duck’s back “12/50” big-port Alvis of 1928; a Meadows-engined 4-seater Frazer-Nash, with some of the pots on strike; and Boddy’s Lancia “Lambda.” To revert a bit, the black ‘Nash had a neat radiator roller-blind, two filler caps recessed in the bonnet tops, and twin masked headlamps; the Type 55 Bugatti had its scuttle ventilators open and the exhaust system looked non-standard; and the Type 46 Bugatti was noticed to have a Hartley mask on its dumb-iron spotlamp, another swivelling lamp on the offside front door pillar, and brake coolers on the front wheels differing as between off and near side. Waddy was a welcome visitor, coming in a Fiat “500,” with mystic markings on its screen; Stuart Wilton looked in for a while in his Lancia “Agusta”; H.G. Symonds brought his supercharged Austin Seven; A.T.A. Pilot Phelps his Opel “Cadet,” soon to be supercharged; and “Ulster” Austin Sevens were presented by Frost and Orlebar. Ashwood had his Lea-Francis there, and hopes soon to be “At Home” to enthusiasts at Gloucester Mews, W.2; and Ward’s low-built Riley Nine, Rivers-Fletcher’s Austin Seven, Williams’s “Special” Austin Seven, Tubbs’s D.K.W., Biggs’s Fiat “500,” another D.K.W., a 1 1/2-litre M.G. saloon, an M.G. Midget, a Ford Ten saloon, a “Nippy” Austin Seven, a 2-seater Riley Nine drophead, and Capon’s Riley “Kestrel” saloon completed a varied display of cars. There was also something we expected to be a Hansa or a Peugeot, all black and gold, with a golden spare wheel on a shelf in the tail, only it turned out to be a ruined Hillman “Minx.”

After lunch, Birkett came, with Jenkinson and two other passengers, in his latest motor-car – a 4-seater Austin Seven, with huge comp. rear tyres, built from the bits of 32 Austins, with a “Special” engine with Ford petrol lift, a huge down-draught carburetter, a four-branch exhaust system and a Vertex magneto. The rear fuel tank is suspended on a triangular base, which distributes the load effectively over the chassis frame. A very good time was had by all, and we were pleased to see Ballamy’s family present, also McKenzie, who had come along with Ashwood. Everyone regretted that this was a last full-size party until the peace, but, equally, everyone was determined to get to the Zoo on June 27th.

We hear….

Lots of people are turning to three-wheelers as a means of continuing basic ration motoring. Ralph Venables has acquired a rather fine two-cylinder F.W.D. B.S.A., while Brynner has a Matchless-engined “Family” Morgan and Bateson a £5 Morgan. There is a big-port “12/50” Alvis duck’s-back 2-seater, of about 1928 vintage, for sale at £18 at Epsom. At the same place a 1903 Darracq and a 1902 single-cylinder de Dion repose; both have been fully restored, have competed in Brighton runs, and are not for sale. A 1903-4 9-h.p. single-cylinder Darracq with wagon body has been found in an outhouse of a farm, and the Editor is hot on the scent. Kathleen Taylor is in the L.C.C. Ambulance Service, like Pip Meyrat, and is writing a book. Massey-Riddle has been scouring Midlands breakers’ yards in search of interesting motors, mostly by means of long-distance telephone calls; like Marcus-Chambers, he is in the Air Ministry rescue boat service. A late type B.M.W. saloon, with “cast” wheels, and a 4 1/2-litre Van den Plas open Bentley were seen in Middlesex recently, where an old Lanchester Forty and a Rapier coupé were encountered at an aerodrome. Incidentally, on the same visit we met an enthusiast who had a Calcott 2-seater in use up to the outbreak of war; it is now carefully stored. J.K. Brown has recently acquired a blown “Hyper” Lea-Francis 2-seater, believed from a number just discernible under its green paintwork to be the car which S.C.H Davis drove into second place at Phoenix Park in 1929. The s.v. Aston-Martin, which appears to be the s.v. Anzani-engined Powerplus supercharged car driven by G.E.T. Eyston at Boulogne in 1925-26, has been saved from destruction from the elements, having been purchased from a Berkshire garage by Farmer, who has some “12/50” Alvis bits for disposal.

The sad news has reached us that Bill Black, who at one time ran the business of Sports Spares, known to so many enthusiasts, has been killed while serving in the Navy. B. Blythe, who used to drive a “Ninety” Mercédès before the real revival of veteran cars set in, is now on war-time flying duties in Ireland. He has always been a big-car exponent and up to the outbreak of war had been running a rebuilt Renault “45” in France and later a “88/250” Mercédès-Benz. He was just able to get this car out of France when war was declared and it is now stored. A well-preserved “10/23” Talbot 2-seater has been observed in an outhouse in Surrey. Group Captain Wheeler, who, with Noel, drove an Aston-Martin at Le Mans in 1934, is in his spare moments looking after the late R.O. Shuttleworth’s antique aeroplanes and veteran cars. He is running Shuttleworth’s T-type M.G. Midget, which still displays the late owner’s 120-m.p.h. B.A.R.C. badge and B.R.D.C. badge. Griffin, a Northern enthusiast, has recently purchased the ex-Bachelier, ex-Craig 4.9-litre sports Bugatti.

Lt. H.L. Neal, R.N.V.R., has found a most amazing collection of veterans in the cellars of a Southampton shop, comprising an absolutely unused Lea-Francis V-twin motor cycle, a Sparkbrook lightweight and a Calthorpe motor-cycle. In addition, further research led to discovery of an 1898 Aster wagonette, a complete Tamplin cycle-car, a Calthorpe tourer, an “11.9” Wolseley and an Indian “Scout” motorcycle, besides other very old motor-cycles and even older bicycles. We believe negotiations are not encouraged, but some of these vehicles might come on the market one day. In Yorkshire an aluminium-bodied Wolseley Ten sports 2-seater, one of six “Special” Vickers-Wolseley’s built as sports cars in 1922, is for sale in quite decent order for £10. It is said to have a maximum speed of 57 m.p.h., so appreciation of vintage uniqueness rather than a desire for impressive performance should prompt would-be owners. In this part of the world, also, is a 1929 six-cylinder Carlton-bodied Alfa-Romeo for £20-25, and a somewhat modernised 1926 “Blue Label” Bentley for £75. Also a pre-1914 chassis of unknown make reported to have been imported into this country from France and never given a body or even run on the road, while a 1902 de Dion has come to light, though quite definitely not for sale. One of the most satisfying sights these days is that of vintage and veteran cars doing their bit towards winning the war, so that it is pleasing to be able to mention a pre-1914 “Silver Ghost” Rolls Royce, its brasswork beautifully polished, serving with the M.A.P. as a light lorry and Lanchester “40” and sleeve-valve Daimler cars in use at an aeroplane factory, the former as a transport hack, the latter as an ambulance – incidentally, we have mentioned the Lanchester before.

It is inevitable that this feature must diminish after August, but we appeal to readers to continue to supply us with all the news they can, of work proceeding in the garage or of interesting runs undertaken in the course of business journeys.

Unconscious humour

Extract from a contemporary: – “A 1 1/2-litre supercharged four-cylinder Alta… was timed at 125.7 m.p.h. – whether before or after the blow-up I cannot say.”

General notes

The Lancia has proved a pleasing car on official travellings when time is of value, and it really does go effectively round curves, quite belying its size. Nevertheless, when a cloudburst heralded the advent of Whitsun, it was the Gwynne coupé which took us through the deluge to seek food and shelter, the passenger, having just completed 100 miles on a 1,000-c.c. Ariel Square Four, deeming a roof over one’s head indeed a goodly thing. The next day proved one of limited but delightfully varied motoring, the Gwynne first of all taking us to conclude the holiday arrangements – and how welcome is a short break these days – after which the Ariel and a Norton took us on short local journeys, finishing at a motorcycle scramble on Pirbright Heath. Thereafter the Ariel wafted us to a café to restore energy, and quite late that evening three of us set out on a longish cross-country run in the 1,100-c.c. H.R.G., embracing delightful Surrey and Sussex scenery and ending within scent, if not within sight or sound, of the sea. A short walk as dusk closed in, and so to bed. Bank Holiday itself saw us retracing our steps, negotiating a convoy of giant tanks and speeding up as torrential rain set in. On the run out the previous day quite a few miles had been enlivened by a duel with an Alvis “Speed Twenty” saloon, the H.R.G. having to pull out some 70 m.p.h. to pass, the Alvis sliding wide when leading us into one sweeping lefthand bend, the Herg’s crew extremely enthusiastic, the cigar-smoking driver of the Alvis and his blonde passenger seemingly quite undisturbed. Then, one Sunday, the local garages having pipped us by all closing at 1 p.m., the Lancia was hurried home and one member of the party leaving on a rapid line in push-bicycles to put in some work on his Norton, the other two went in an “Aero” Morgan to a distant town to view another, rarer cycle-car reputed to be for sale. Thereafter there have been seemingly innumerable runs to and fro up the London Road, in order to safely store divers motor vehicles ere the basic is all burnt and towing rendered an impossibility. One of these runs had to be commenced late, more important duties having arisen to interfere with plans, but, once started, quite good progress was made, a three-speed Austin Seven saloon, with special economy carburetter of weird and wonderful aspect and part of a vacuum-cleaner incorporated in its exhaust system, getting along well with a “works” T.T. Austin on tow behind, the riding and roadholding of the latter in marked contrast to that of a standard Austin Seven of similar vintage towed up the same road two days later – the interval, incidentally, being filled in by buying and towing a very special device with twin-carburetter, pump-cooled, coil ignition Gwynne Eight engine, the which appealed at once to a susceptible Editor.