We will start with a story that has nothing whatsoever to do with motor cars, not even old ones. It concerns, instead, very old bicycles. A Weybridge cinema offered free seats to anyone arriving on a pre-1887 bicycle, as they did not know of any such machines and had, indeed, imported an example of about 1880 vintage from Wales for publicity purposes. Just across the road, as it were, lives R. G. J. Nash, who has some seventy bicycles and velocipedes of the requisite age — so for days on end he, his family and his friends were film-goers at Mr. Rank's expense. Rather choice, don't you think?
Who was the young man who was feverishly working on a 2-litre Lagonda tourer on the eve of the British Grand Prix, aided by other earnest types and a motoring girl friend, at a garage in Lewknor that appeared to be a sort of headquarters of vintage Lagonda enthusiasts? And did he get it to go in time? With the accompanying photograph came some interesting remarks by Dennis Axel-Berg about his "30/98" Vauxhall which forms the vintage side of that picture. He writes:
"I thought that you might be interested in the enclosed photograph of my "30/98" Vauxhall posing next to "Bira's" new 1 1/2-litre Maserati; it certainly makes an interesting contrast and I very much doubt if the Maserati will be as hale and hearty after 27 years of life! I completely rebuilt the old girl last year and have incorporated numerous mods., all of which so far have proved their worth; they include a Delage front axle, a Ford model 'B' lorry clutch which has completely solved the numerous troubles that I had with the old one, and also lightens things up considerably, and a Fordson tractor magneto with impulse starter and a Ki-gass which makes starting so simple that it just isn't true. The old C.A.V. dynamo has been discarded in favour of a very efficient instrument taken from a motor boat, and this is now driven by the fan belt, which is infinitely more satisfactory than the infuriating system of whittle beltage that had to cope previously! The brakes really work extraordinarily well and are very smooth into the bargain, and I would like to see Delage brakes on the back end as well; this I think will be included in the next addition of mods. The exhaust system is now external, via a large Brooklands expansion box."
Incidentally, Axel-Berg excuses the car's non-appearance in sprint events. as he is kept exceedingly busy flying aeroplanes of the Avro Anson, D.H. Rapide and Auster sort for the Plymouth and District Aero Club. But he hopes to run the Vauxhall at the V.S.C.C. Prescott meeting on August 27th.
It was good to see a very smart brown and primrose Spyker tourer of about 1904 vintage awaiting its owner outside a house in Stamford Brook Road the other morning.
Fred Ellis took his 1922 Grand Prix twin-o.h.c. 16-valve Aston-Martin out for an airing on the occasion of the British Grand Prix, covering 260 miles at an overall average speed of about 43 m.p.h., and getting — modernists, please note — well over 30 m.p.g. He tells us that he has now converted the engine back to its correct wet-sump lubrication, with the result that plenty of oil now gets where it is required, the exhaust even smoking after a spell of slow running, which some full-throttle work soon cures, and, most interesting this, the water temperature now being down by 10-15 degrees F., presumably due to better "upstairs" lubrication.
It happened the other day in the City. A non-vintage saloon lost a front wheel. Because there was an expanse of tin wing above it this crumpled up with horrifying sounds and expensive disfigurement. Because the car had tiny brake drums it went down with a bump and couldn't be lifted up again with its jack. And because the underneath of this car was endowed with all manner of spiky things like radio aerial, quick-lift jacks, and so on, it dug itself well and truly into the road. Mercifully its comic front cowling didn't fall off. Two majestic City policemen stood guard over the remains.
T. Farthing's "blower 4 1/2" Bentley two-seater made stirring runs at the W. Hants and Dorset C.C. Blandford hill-climb, after getting mixed up in some barbed wire at the top corner in practice. With blower whining and, as someone said, "looking very Le Mans," it clocked 39.2 sec. taking second place in its class behind Carter's blown 2.6-litre Alfa-Romeo. There, now someone will probably write in and tell us it is a 1931 model and therefore not a vintage car!
Extract from an article in Reynolds News on overhauling an old car: After refit ing gearbox and back axle and greasing, make certain that the contact points are clean."
Mr. Sidney A. Horstman, who used to manufacture the Horstman car, recently bought a well-preserved 1923 four-seater of this make in Guildford and drove it home to Bath, being passed only by a sports car and getting, 'tis said, a petrol consumption of 40 m.p.g. An excellent photograph of the car, with the directors, staff and employees who were with the firm when the car was made, appeared in the Bath and Wilts Chronicle and Herald of May 26th — how nice to see a vintage small car properly honoured and respected.
Two S.O.S.s: — S/Ldr. G. R. S. McKay has acquired a 1928 1 1/2-litre Marendaz Special which requires considerable attention and he would like to meet someone who knows these cars. Address: Grove Cottage, Littlebourne, Canterbury, Kent. Then comes a sad tale from Cpl. D. A. Casswell, R.A.F., who, recently married, has been using a 1928 Amilcar with which to get home at weekends, but is now reduced to hiring a seat from British Railways, because, after building up broken gear teeth, the ageing gearbox has disintegrated and exuded the gear-cluster through the sides. The car has now been idle for some months and the owner would doubtless like to hear of spares, or an alternative engine unit. Address: 86, West Street, Leek, Staffs.
Really, it is rather encouraging how news of rare cars comes to hand in the Motor Sport offices. In its day the Vernon-Derby was, we should have thought, less popular than the Samson and Amilcar and perhaps even less-frequently encountered than the Senechal. Yet last January we referred to a 1928 Chapuis-Dornier engined model in Taunton. Another reader wrote from Whitchurch to say he had a similar Vernon-Derby. Since then news has come to hand of a 1930 Ruby-engined car at St. Albans and another Chapuis-Dornier engined version at Fakenham, the latter apparently a car made immediately after the one reported from Whitchurch. The general impression seems to be that the Chapuis-Dornier models are not very satisfactory, although one owner writes of quite good road holding and a satisfactory if crude clutch. Incidentally, there was a Chapuis-Dornier engine and gearbox for sale in Carlisle, but as this information was directed at the aforementioned Amilcar owner and has been duly forwarded, it may no longer be available.