Club News, July 1947
P. H. Lloyd has a 1927 3-litre Bentley, Reg. No. YE 1140, chassis T.N. 1559, which was at one time owned by Wilcox, Segrave’s chief mechanic. He would like to contact Wilcox about this car. Latest Amilcar addict is G. N. S. Taylor, who is restoring a 1927 8.9-h.p. car to good order, up at Cambridge. Ellis has located the original radiator shutters belonging to the famous Aston-Martin “Razor Blade” through Motor Sport, and would be glad to hear what has become of the car’s front axle and fuel tank. He has compiled a new list of known B. & M. Astons, which number about 30.
A most interesting car seen on the road in Surrey recently was a Hatton McEvoy, the lowered sports version of the “Double Six” Daimler built at Derby during the early thirties by the Derby Engineering Co. Densham now has his rebuilt “14/40” Sunbeam on the road. Two early “9.3” Renaults, several late-model Hotchkiss, a very late “14/40” Delage saloon, a Morris Leon Bollée and an Arrol-Johnston saloon are amongst interesting cars noted on the road. Lemon Burton’s Bugatti “Royale” opened the course at the first Prescott meeting. Writing from the Isle of Wight, L. Holdaway mentions that amongst the interesting cars there are a 1907 100-h.p. Itala (it is already known to the V.S.C.C.), a 1903 2-cylinder Alldays-Onions, an early Clement-Bayard, a 1924 Citroen, bullnose Morris, vintage Alvis, Bentley and 2-litre Lagonda (one supercharged), etc. His own car is a 1928 big-port “12/50” Alvis, soon to have twin Solex fitted, and in the same stable is a 1936 Mk.II Aston-Martin 2-seater.
Reprints of the articles on the development of the racing Austin Seven, which appeared recently in Motor Sport , are available from the Austin Motor Company, Ltd. W. Wiseman, whose uncle owns a 1925 “30/08,” has discovered two “23/60” Vauxhalls, one a 1924 “OD” tourer, the other an earlier “D” type saloon, which he hopes to preserve. H. Gellatly is now in Saanichton, British Columbia, and says he has suffered a surprising hallucination, American automobiles having lost their massive proportions while occasional Austin Tens look positively Lilliputian and Austin Sevens just laughable — but, he adds, “What wouldn’t I give for my Type 55 B.M.W.!” Our warmest congratulations to Clive Windsor Richards on his recent marriage to Mrs. J. Longman, widow of S. E. Longman, who rode in the old Sidecar T.T.s. May they enjoy much fast motoring together.
Jim Kentish is restoring to “as new” condition an early “12/50” Alvis tourer to use as tender to his veterans and as regular transport. Exciting rumour is that a car resembling one of the Wolseley “Beetles” has been seen on the road in the Llandudno area — we hope we shall hear more of this. If anyone can give a good home to a well-shod, sound 1914 30-h.p., six-cylinder Napier chassis, with cab, for which £25 is asked we can tell them where to find it — refreshingly enough a garage has it for sale and only intends to dispose of it to a good home — breakers need not apply.
A. P. Kantor, in conjunction with F./Lt. Paul Roban, is building a sports 2-seater, using a Ford Ten engine and tubular steel-unit framework, covered with light-alloy panels. They hope to keep the weight down to 8 cwt. Capt. C. Maple, M.J.I.E., has been enjoying some excellent motoring in a rather mysterious “12/50” big-port beetleback Alvis (re-registered OX 6854 in 1938), which he bought from Meisl last Easter. When he was in Germany Capt. Maple used to leave the usual 350-c.c. o.h.v. motor-cycles standing in Army organised scrambles, riding a 250-c.c. water-cooled D.K.W. — until the piston melted. This has encouraged him to try his hand at a 500-c.c.-class sprint car, possibly using a Scott engine with rotary valves. He says it could show the “push-rod boys” something, and it most certainly would enliven Class I.
A “10/23” Talbot tourer was being motored through Chiswick recently by persons who looked to us very like motoring enthusiasts! In the Hants and Berks M.C. Bulmer remains faithful to Frazer-Nash, but Bateman has exchanged his Riley “Gamecock” for a sports Fiat ” alilla” in dazzling Italian red. Birkett is going to peer within the engine of his 5-litre Bugatti lorry, after he has got his Type 44 Bugatti back on the road. Some interesting references and correspondence have occurred in the Western Daily Press (kindly sent to us by Lt.-Col. MacWatters, D.S.O., T.D.) concerning an experimental Nimrod car designed in 1900 by Walter Welch and built by the Nimrod Cycle Co., of Bristol. It was apparently a “2-cylinder petrol dog-cart,” with 12-h.p. engine, tiller steering, full elliptic suspension, live axle, i.f.s., and solid tyres. It resembles a Hurtu in appearance.
A garage in Windsor has for disposal a s.v. Delage, forerunner of the “14/40,” which was originally purchased off the stand at the 1919 Paris Salon. It has a most beautiful interior, with Bedford cord upholstery, nickel-plated fittings, French-polished fillets, etc., and carriage-type parking lamps. At the same place another “2 LTS ” Ballot saloon has turned up. John Bland tells us that his 1909 Daimler is progressing well, but that new gears will have to be cut for the gearbox. He takes us mildly to task for mentioning a flat-twin Stellite in the last issue, explaining that the Stellite had a four-cylinder engine (and wooden chassis frame!), and was in production from 1914 to about 1919. After that it became known as a Wolseley. From 1922 to 1924 a 7-hp. flat-twin Wolseley was made, on which Bland has worked in the distant past — he described them as “very satisfactory.” Incidentally, whose was the car which has started all this? we saw it turning off A 30 at the railway bridge by Bagshot.
A vast Lincoln was encountered in Hampshire recently. “Tubby” Smith is well again and last month he held an exhibition of his veteran cars at Bagshot, in aid of the War Memorial Fund. Besides his de Dion “Quad” F.N., O.T.A.V., and Locomobile, he showed a very fine Stanley Steamer, a single-cylinder Rover, a 3-wheeled, air-cooled, V-twin tubular frame M.V. built in Milano, a dummy radiator behind its single front wheel, which was sprung on 1/2-elliptics, and a Brown motor-cycle. T. Hickman has a 9 ft. 4 in. “Speed Model” 3-litre Bentley with a 4 1/2-litre engine and 3.3 to 1 “Speed Six” axle ratio. His address is Pride Hill Chambers, Shrewsbury, and he would be glad to hear how to modernise or tune this car.
Picture Post, dated May 24th, contained twelve good pictures of the Jersey race, backed by quite a sound story, while the front cover of this issue was devoted to Reg. Parnell wearing his wreath of victory, and being congratulated by his wife. Those in the pits were described as “the privileged or the cunning, minor officials, nodding acquaintances of the racing great, motoring writers, case-hung Press photographers peering bent-nosed round cameras big and small, and unclassifiable men with interesting haberdashery, suede shoes, impeccable accents and an imposing lack of naivete.” Nothing like seeing ourselves as others see us!
From the Daily Express dated May 23rd “The great secondhand car fantasy is over. Prices are falling and the market, at last, is beginning to crack.”
Not so Good
A motoring correspondent to the News of the World, who should have known better, had a story in that paper on May 25th attacking what he incorrectly describes as veteran cars. Having watched “wheezy old vehicles bravely keeping their place in the procession of cars along the Brighton Road” on Whit-Saturday, this correspondent wondered how many of them would last out until the August holidays, let alone survive another year. He went on to say that over Whitsun “the roads will be cluttered up with a fantastic array of ‘old crocks,’ many of which would not be driven in normal times because they are unsafe.” Now what this news-hawk really saw, nine times out of ten, were cars of 1933-39 vintage, bent, battered and shabby by reason of years of service, war-service included, in the hands of drivers who sometimes bend a wing or graze a door. Veteran cars, and vintage cars for that matter, are nearly always owned by enthusiasts who restore them to decent order and who drive them properly with intent to preserve them from unfair wear or damage. They will not only last to next August and next year, but will be here, after the cheaper 1947 cars are so much scrap
Even the lesser, shabby “old crocks” (once available for £5, not costing over £50 if you are foolish enough to pay it) cannot be accused of increasing the accident figures to any appreciable extent — they are so few and far between and are usually driven very modestly; moreover, they call for sufficient skill in gearchanging and handling generally to ensure that clue-less types leave them well alone.
The News of the World has hit the wrong nail on the head and its correspondent would be better advised to watch the hard-driven, worn-out ten-year-olds. Let him leave the few remaining “veterans” (as he wrongly calls them) to go their way — they do less harm by far than “foolproof” modern cars which are too fast for their suspension and which, when they do go slowly, do so in the centre of the road, the white line too remote to concern their reclining owners, who, however, display an astonishing propensity to dive hither and thither with no sort of warning at all.
From New York we have received a photograph of a dinner given in honour of Wing-Cmdr. Woolf Barnato by the Sports Car Club of America and John Paul Stack, American Representative of the Bentley Drivers’ Club. From the effectively-American hand-out accompanying the picture we learn that amongst those present were Austin Clark, New York Regional Director of the Veteran Motor Car Club of America; Thomas McKean, President of the Antique Motor Car Club of America; Russ Seeli, President of the S.C.C. of A.; Robert Grier, President of the Motor Sports Club of America, and Alec Ultnann, Regional Secretary of the V.M.C.C. of A. After dinner those present drove to Stack’s garage to inspect some fifty vintage cars in process of overhaul, a 1922 “Red Label” Bentley salvaged from a New Jersey junk-yard wearing a blue ribbon round its bonnet for the occasion. In view of all this vintagery, it is rather amusing to find that the purpose of Wing-Cmdr. Barnato’s visit is to demonstrate his 1947 Mk.VI Bentley in America including California.
Has the S.M.M.T. ever thought of the slogan “Britain Can Race It?”
The Bentley Drivers’ Club “Review” is something for which one waits with keen anticipation, and the June issue was no exception. It contained the continued reminiscences of Dr. Benjafield (which we believe are eventually to be reprinted in the form of a book), notes on de-coking a 3-litre, some recollections of F. C. Clement., an article by W. Boddy on what Bentleys did at Brooklands from 1921 to 1925, reports of recent B.D.C. “Noggins ” and other fixtures, and news from various quarters of the globe. So many new members have been elected recently that the grand total is now as high as 513. Hon. secretary: Stanley Sedgwick, “The Cobb,” Stoke Close, Cobham, Surrey.
We of Motor Sport have long held, and sometimes expressed, the view that if motor-racing is ever to become one of the “people’s sports” it must receive the blessing of the great daily newspapers. So it is worth noting that for the Ulster A.C.’s Ulster Trophy Race on August 9th the Daily Mail is offering £250 to the winner of the scratch race, while the Sunday Dispatch is giving £100 to the winner of the handicap event. When papers do this sort of thing they naturally and justifiably want something in return and better publicity for motor-racing results in consequence.
The North London Enthusiasts’ Car Club is very much in gear. A useful journal is issued monthly, which tells of members’ successes in other clubs’ events and gives plenty of news of club cars, etc. This club seems to combine happily social and sporting events, and has much of value to offer those new to the Sport. Details can be obtained from G. Bance, 7, Queen’s Avenue, Muswell Hill, London, N.10.
For the Veterans
A one-day trial for veteran cars is announced by the Bristol M.C. & L.C.C. on August 23rd.
R.A.C. Garden Party
The first of the R.A.C. Jubilee events is to be a Garden Party and Concours d’Elegance at the R.A.C. Country Club, Woodcote Park, Epsom, on Wednesday, July 16th, from 2-6 p.m. Bands, flowers, lawns, bathing beauties, golfers, tennis players and the better automobiles will mingle, and a very good time should be had by all except those misguided souls who associate motoring events with speed and noise. This event is primarily for Associated Club Members of the R.A.C., to commemorate the founding of an Associate Section in 1908, and the Concours is open to them. The latter is divided into six classes, sub-divided for cars made between 1916 [why 1916? — Ed.] and 1939, and from 1940 onwards.
At the annual general meeting of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club it was resolved to do even better things for members in the future — the first year has closed with 126 members and 125 in hand. Various centres will be formed. The President’s Trophy was awarded to C. E. Allen. Officials: President: J. J. Hall; Vice-Presidents: Messrs. Burney, Bennett, Maclachlan, Bradshaw, Boddy, Bourne, Walker and Allen; Committee: Messrs. Bennett, Griffiths, Jenkinson, Quantrill, Wicksteed, Grover, Johnson and Twitchen; Hon. Secretary: M. F. Walker, 170, Woodcock Hill, Kenton, Harrow, Middlesex.
V.S.C.C. Film Show
The V.S.C.C. Firestone film show on June 12th was notable for a big attendance, some fine cars, Willis’ “30/98” Vauxhall and two G.P. Bugattis amongst them, and gave rise to the thought that, at the time a 500-mile racing-car test was happening with Government sanction at Indianapolis, over here they were hacking lumps out of the Byfleet banking.
The 500 Club has issued its second copy of “Iota,” which contains reports of 500-c.c. Class activities, an article on the importance of reading the regulations by S. C. H. Davis, an article on b.h.p. possibilities by Gregor Grant, and Lones’ story of his “Tiger Cat” and “Tiger Kitten,” etc. We shouldn’t be surprised to see a race for Class I cars to the Club’s formula, this year. Hon. Sec.: J. O. H. Siddall, Milford House, Lansdown, Bath.
This month Klemantaski’s camera has caught Yves Giraud-Cabantous in the act of cornering at Chimay. This car won the sports car race. Note how close are the spectators at the road-edge on the outside of the bend.
Having decided to exercise the Edwardian Hispano-Suiza again, we got him out one fine day, drove him home, and the next morning juggled a bit with his selectors, which went on strike as we were searching for a weighbridge. That trouble lined-up, an enjoyable afternoon run to Bournemouth followed, along sleepy back ways as far as New Alresford, and then into Winchester to acquire a circular piece of paper so necessary to one’s peace-of-mind on these outings. There after, little saloons, whose war-touched drivers were proceeding at 30 m.p.h. or less, still mindful of petrol and rubber scarcity, were overhauled in fine style and our only stop was because the driver had spotted a rather shabby Ariel four-seater of about 1924 vintage (the four-cylinder, not the flat-twin version) at a wayside garage. Enquiry revealed that it was in regular use by one of the mechanics.
Bournemouth having curious restrictions, we couldn’t drive along beside the seaside, so we had a meal (encountering as we parked, a Northerner who knew the bore and stroke of an “Alphonse” out of his head and recalled riding in one in 1914), sent our odd telegram to the V.C.C., which caused the post-office girls to increase their giggles, and came home.
A week later we went off to Horndean in a friend’s “12/50” Alvis saloon, enjoying once again the stolid progress, spaciousness and excellent visibility of this kind of vintage car — while progressing ponderously some other friends fairly shot past in an Austin Eighteen saloon. On the way home we caught sight of an early “9/20” Humber saloon in some one’s back garden. This led to a run, one sun-drenched afternoon, to see if we could discover if this car was for sale (we have an incurable weakness for early small cars), an expedition disdainfully referred to by our companion as “searching for a heap.” Actually, the car wasn’t for sale, but we had an interesting time nevertheless. After seeking out old cottages in Odiham we turned away from Alton and spent a few minutes climbing up an embankment to convince ourselves that a bridge over the road now carried nothing more than a grass-grown way along which, until twenty years ago, there ran the Basingstoke-Alton railway. Proceeding, we went to look again at the old speed hill-climb venue at South Harting, pausing on the way to watch an aged Ruston steam traction engine acting as a very willing stationary engine in a roadside field.
Telegraph Hill, South Harting, up which Mays and Joyce drove at speed years ago, and which rather puts modern sprint venues to shame, brought our Austin Seven down to bottom gear and caused it to boil. What impressed us much more, however, was that two distinctive trees and certain gulleys and other landmarks, seen in a photograph wtt had taken with us showing Morgan, Duo and G.N. cyclecars on this hill in 1913, were easily located — 34 years later the pattern of those tree-branches had hardly changed at all… There was something very satisfying in this discovery and, driving home through the back lanes and byways, we enjoyed perfect contentment, secure in the knowledge that with country such as this at hand, and associations with the earlier days of motoring to unearth, one need ask little else of life. (Incidentally, those old cyclecars must have “had something,” for a Morgan apparently got up the gradient, for which we needed bottom gear, on a top ratio of 4 1/2 to 1, while someone’s G.N. went up on a 7 3/4 to 1 ratio, though probably they had a flying start.)
A sweltering Sunday afternoon was devoted to riding round a treasure-hunt course in an Austin Seven Special, which at least kept one cool, and then we were off to “The Daimler” just outside Coventry to collect a Lanchester Ten for test. Going too far along the Coventry by-pass we had to turn round and motor back along a road on which one encounters all manner of 1947 cars — Daimler, Lanchester, Lea-Francis, Triumph, Singer, Standard, Riley, and the like — not to mention lots of Triumph motor-cycles, their testers apparently compelled to wear crash-hats while riding them.
Soon we were really hustling in the Lanchester, happy to find far more cruising speed than we had anticipated, and a remarkably steady ride, allied to that silence and refinement one would expect in a car emanating from one of the oldest companies in the industry, where they used to make the Lanchester Forty and “Double Six” Daimlers years ago. Everyone seemed to be on the road in the June sunshine, but sports cars were again conspicuous by their absence, save for the inevitable Bentleys, an “Ulster” Aston-Martin, and two Frazer-Nashes. Odd examples of individualistic cars there were in fair numbers — bull-nose Morris, a fabric saloon Clyno Nine, a very early Crossley saloon, a “9/15” Rover tourer, a line old Humber 2-seater, of about 1921 vintage and obviously on tour, not to mention two Delage, one in the guise of a utility-bodied “14/40.” That Lanchester took us well across England, including a return jourtiey through the Mersey Tunnel and home through country that was sheer relief after Liverpool, Bridgnorth, Kidderminster (where we had tea with bacon and two eggs a-piece at a farm 1 1/2 miles from the main road down a most exciting cart-track, overlooked by a man who literally lives in a cave), Worcester, Pershore, Evesham, Broadway, Fish Hill (an easy 3rd-gear climb and no temperature rise), Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Chipping Norton, Oxford, Henley and Twyford came up with satisfying rapidity, as another sweltering afternoon merged into evening and thence to night.
Then, one evening, we drove four miles along country roads in a Vauxhall Ten for the purpose of trying the 1929 Trojan “Apollo” saloon. This illustrious motorcar had been bought six months earlier and, apart from once running the engine and investigating the transmission round a yard, we had decided that it could wait until warmer times. Borrowing a battery, we fixed it on the running board, poured vast quantities of water into the humorous gilled-tube radiator (relieved to find none came out underneath) and mixed oil with petrol in a delightful funnel which came with the car, the contents being released into the scuttle tank by pulling a wire in the centre of the funnel. That done, and the big tank dipped with the carefully-calibrated dipper provided, we operated the priming pump that sends puffs of petrol mist into each transfer port, switched on the ignition (which also turns on the petrol — bless the Houndsfield heart) and pulled on the starting handle. The engine commenced, the belt-driven dynamo showed a 6-amp. charge and we were out on the King’s highway. It really is rather delightful. Without using the clutch the right-hand gear-lever is pushed forward to bring in bottom gear, held there by its ratchet if desired, and with an inhuman whirring and groaning you move off. At some 6 or 7 m.p.h. the lever is brought back into neutral, round the corner and forward again to engage top gear. All noise, except for a distant clanking, dies away and you two-stroke along, slowly at first but quickly building up to as much as 30 m.p.h., as indicated on a beautiful Stewart ribbon-speedometer. No fumes were noticeable as a reminder that a sort of stationary engine is doing some 900 r.p.m. immediately beneath one, its huge flywheel so close that it runs in a groove in the seat-base. No fumes, that is, until we overlooked the pistol-grip handbrake and drove with it “on,” when a Ferodo bonfire made its presence very evident. Top gear (4 to 1) suffices for all practical purposes and if the engine knocks you pull up the starting lever to retard the ignition, temporarily ignoring the pleasant little bell that Mr. Houndsfield has arranged shall ring when you forget to fully advance the lever for faster motoring! Otherwise, driving is just a matter of playing skilfully with the mixture lever, its quadrant being finely graduated as a guide, and coping with the slightly odd steering. Add to these attractions the immense amount of room in the thing and the fact that spares and service are readily available for this eighteenyear-old, and “Trojaning” begins to strike you as quite something. It is doubtful whether a better sprung car (from the comfort aspect) has ever been made, and then there is the knowledge that, once mastered, whatever the future may hold you would always qualify as a driver of a Brooke Bond’s tea van.