THAT IDEAL STABLE
Being Mostly a Flight of Fancy
TIII.: Fount of the basic petrol ration pruvidcs an excuse for speculation as to what would constitute the ideal st;Ible, were finance no impediment. Let its. then, set out the various purposes to ‘‘ h ich the enthusiast will put his or her ca rs. We can make up a simple table as follows :—
(a) General domestic purposes.
(b) Fast road motoring.
(c) Sprint competition or amateur racing.
(e) Veteran motoring.
(f) Hacking. Although this is really an exercise in forgetting for a while the sordid limits of individual possibility, the mind, it may be, can barely comprehend personal ownership of six ears. It is, however, my duty to add that the categories (a) to (f) seem to me hardly all embracing. I would further sub-divide, as follows : (b) into vintage and modern manner of going ; (c) quite easily, into Shelsley ” special ” and something more M.G.-ish for the actual racing, and, of course, (e) into veteran and Edwardian eras, because post-war Edwardian contests are likely to embrace mileages too great to be undertaken happily in pre-1905 automobiles, yet only in such cars can you go down to Brighton each November. Let us now set down some actual cars against our self-estahlished classes and see how the thing looks
(a) Lancia ” Aprilia.”
(b) ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall, 328 B.M.W.
(c) G.N. “Special,” M.G. Midget or M a gnettc .
(d) Blown P.11. M.G. or Allard Special.
(e) Something pre-’03 in going order, and a 1912 10; i 2-h.p. Edwardian, sound in limb and tyre.
Morris Eight, late-type Austin Seven, D.1:.’W., etc. There is, to my way of thinking, quite
a nice stable. All we need now is our own petrol pump, a row of neat lock-ups in a large private yard and a couple or more of sk lilt .(.1, full-time mechanics, and the period up to, the next war should be quite well worth living. Even our really affluent readers may be a bit jaundiced by now, and they will doubtless be endeavouring to tone the thing down a bit. For example, they may argue that the B.M.W. will suit quite nicely for trials as well as for progressing rapidly from A to 13, and that they can very well use this car also, or other members of the family can, for hacking, thereby cutting out the need for the modest eight-horse. In economic vein they may well argue that if they race at all seriously they will not have time for competitions for antiques, and that the M.G. class of racing car can be used for sprints, obviating building and coaxing into rapid mobility a sprint ” special.” We now find we have narrowed the ideal stable down to a Lancia ” Aprilia,” for economic general duties at no mean hustle ; a husky ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall for fun motoring in fresh air and Harris tweeds ; a 328 B.M.W. with which to (1)
motor effectively along main roads when a :to 98 ” seems a bit too much, to try one’s skill in trials and to go to the post in ; and some sort of effective small racing cars for actively following the Sport at Donington, Shelsley Walsh, Prescott, and such places. That, then, is rather a nice ideal stable, don’t you think ? We will leave it with the proviso that in post-war Britain probably no one will be able to afford anything approaching it and that, if they can, it probably. won’t materialise, for the simple reason that people usually buy the cars they like and decide how to employ the resultant stable afterwards, instead of, logically, first setting down their requirements and then buying cars to suit them. It is mutth more to the point, having relieved ourselves of that pleasant flight of fancy, to consider what sort of ears you and I are going to own and motor in post-war. The most important thing, to my mind, is to first concentrate on one car and get it into good trim, so that it starts easily, is adequately tyred, has efficient electrics and is dependable generally. That is the way to be able to motor anywhere (within the limits of rationing) at any time to any place and, with the cost of motoring as it is, that strikes me as a very important requirement, be the vehicle merely a humble Austin Seven’ saloon. The enthusiast will do some simple arithmetic to see what li.p. car he can afford, the R.A.C. rating having a direct bearing on expenses under the headings of tax, insurance, and fuel consumption over a given mileage, and will buy the most suitable car he can find. Maybe a ” Nippy ” or ” Ulster ” Austin Seven, an open Riley Nine, one of the better M.G.s, or a vintage ” 12/50″ Alvis or 3-litre Bentley. His next job should surely be to get this car into really sound order, and even if business or domestic requirements call for a closed
car, the same thing applies. . After this task has been completed there is time to consider the second or additional strings. As taxation makes no concessions to people desiring to run
more than one car, the initial problem is whether to acquire a second car to use at the same time as the first (i.e., an open car if the first purchase was a saloon, or vice versa), whether to buy something of exciting -demeanour which will only be in use for part-yearly periods (such as a fast road car used during the summer only and worked on all winter, or a trials car taxed in the winter alone) or something like a veteran or a ” special “that is quite interesting, anyway, and can be towed to meetings or taxed for a mere month at a time.
Very few enthusiasts, least of all those unfortunate or misguided folk who live in towns, have facilities for decently keeping more than two cars. So it seems very necessary to decide, before doing anything rash, whether you want to follow any particular branch of the Sport or whether you prefer to own two cars which will always be ready to perform ordinary duties efficiently, without going to extremes in any one direction. To illustrate what I mean, consider the owner who has a saloon for business purposes and seeks another car. He will doubtless buy a 2-seater or a 4-seater, probably of the same make. If he decides to participate in trials he will . find that low gear-ratios, altered weight distribution, and “unfair wear and tear” will reduce the usefulness of this second car for fast road work. He would, in short, have done better to have sacrificed ordinary motoring in an open car and have concentrated on a sound saloon and a good trials car. If he decides to take part in sprint events or club races at Donington, then in the same way he will never feel so happy in the open car under ordinary conditions, because “hotting up” will invariably have altered its character, road use will “take the edge off” from the competition aspect, equipment essential on the track may be an embarrassment on the road, and so on. Yet again, if our enthusiast decides to motor in an Edwardian, restore a veteran or other unusual car, or rebuild an exracing car, etc., he will find time and money being devoted to this end detracting from his original aim, which was to have two cars in his stable both in good nick and always ready for the road. Of course, veterans apart, an Allard gives you everything ; but I am thinking of an expenditure of noo-aoo or less.
The moral of this somewhat confused thinking is simply—enjoy your post-war motoring by all means, but buy your cars to a pre-determined plan, rather than haphazardly as bargains are found— especially if you are a ” two-car ” man. I have emphasised before, incidentally, the advantages of owning two cars of the same make—not necessarily of the same type—when economy is the keynote. This applies even more now that tyres and spares are in short supply, necessitating waiting a long time for replacements. However you plan your motoring I wish you tens of thousands of enjoyable miles—and I hope to hear to what plan you are working.—W.B.