A Coronation Occasion
The Veteran Car Club's Hyde Park-to-Windsor Rally (June 7th)
THE V.C.C. Coronation Rally was indeed a memorable occasion, An entry of 220 vehicles was secured, ranging from E. S. Berry's 1895 4-h.p. Lutzmann Victoria to five cars built, during the Great War, in 1915. This was the largest assembly of veteran motor cars ever gathered together and the setting in which this remarkable concourse was displayed, after a simple rally and an early Sunday-morning regularity run from Hyde Park, could not have been more fitting. The Royal Family allowed the Long Drive in Windsor Park to be used, for the first time in history for a public event of any sort, and in this line stretch of lawn-flanked straight road the cars lined up, to be inspected by the citizens of Windsor with a reverence unequalled at any previous V.C.C. meeting, During the morning tender cars made almost as long a line at the far end of Long Drive as did the veterans themselves.
Practically all the cars arrived safely, although a number of competitors experienced punctures in London. The scene at Long Drive, as the public thronged around the old cars, Windsor Castle overlooking the animated line in the fitful June sunshine, is one of which any country in the world would be proud and many envy. At 11.30 a.m, the long procession drove off through the historic town of Windsor to Home Park, to be welcomed by His Worship the Mayor of Windsor, and by Lt.-General Lord Freyberg, V.C., G.C.M.G., K.C.B., K.B.E., D.S.O., LL.D., D.C.L., Deputy Constable and Lt. Governor of Windsor Castle. The Mayor presented every driver to arrive with a commemorative plaque, which was a pleasant gesture typical of a V.C.C. event.
For the Parade we rode in D. Denne's rakish 1911 four-cylinder 11-h.p. Humber with replica two-seater sports body, ably driven by his son, J. A. Denne, as Mr. Denne, Snr., was driving his 1913 12/16 Sunbeam. This Humber proved to be a very lady-like car, with smooth clutch and controls, for all its sprightliness and maximum speed of around 50 m.p.h.
Arrived at Home Park the cars were parked very effectively on the well-kept lawns, in two groups, each car facing outwards in these roped-off enclosures, so that the public, who flocked to see them in appreciative numbers, could get close up and read their displayed specification cards, etc., without doing them unwitting damage by leaning on frail leather mudshields and the like.
This arrangement could hardly have been bettered, especially as ample apace was available within each enclosure for driving the cars if any members felt disposed so to do. A loudspeaker was in operation, toilet tents, a mobile bar and so on were on hand and someone, we suspect Miss Nagle, deserves credit for this wonderful way of displaying the beautifully-kept cars under the awe-inspiring shadow of the Castle and the grey June sky. Boys from Eton College and visitors from overseas lent pleasant variety amongst the keen gathering of spectators, some of whom came to refresh faded memories, others to see what motor cars were like in days long before they were born.
The entry was divided into four classes - Pre-1901, which had the splendid support of 20 vehicles; 1901-1904 inclusive, with 74 supporters, the mainstay of purely veteran-car events; 1905-1910 with 61 entries, and 1911-1916 with 32 representatives.
Amongst the older vehicles were some interesting newcomers, or else cars seldom if ever seen previously in the club's events in the South. These included Sandford's 1903 Cadillac. Pither's de Dion Bouton, the President's 1904 Alldays & Onions, Bridcutt's 1904 de Dion, and Reece's 1904 Sinpar with single-cylinder Anzani engine and rack-and-pinion steering, a car which, reputed to be a racing voiturette, saw Kent Karslake probing it earnestly. Karslake, incidentally, had made the journey in Lord Charnwood's 1911 Coupe de l'Auto - winning Delage accompanied by his daughter, and reported the racer as very pleasant, if somewhat hampered by the heavy traffic. Another newcomer would have been Trussell's 1904 Reo runabout, but we do not think it arrived. Of the later vehicles quite a number of fresh cars enlivened the gathering for old stagers to V.C.C. events. Thus Robinson brought his 1905 16/20 Argyll, Seaton a 1905 10/12 Humber, Stanley Sears' 1905 Rolls-Royce Twenty with T.T. Replica body was a source of envy and, better, inspiration, while "Bunny" Tubbs' opposed-piston 40/60 Gobron-Brillié tourer, which saw the light of day the year Brooklands Track was opened, made one of its rare appearances.
Sub.-Lt. Garrett, R.N., had a "new" 1907 short-stroke 40/50 Rolls-Royce, Hunt a 1907 8-h.p. Rover not seen before, Milnes a Belsize and Cole a 1908 de Dion fresh to these events. The President displayed his 1908 15-h.p. Delaunay-Belleville landaulette for the first time, its circular bonnet continued inwards in the form of the dash, and with a beautiful "chauffeur's companion" with indications for "right," "stop right," "slow," "turn," "home," "fast," "stop left" and "left" as part of its appurtenances. We felt the "home" signal a particularly pleasing thought, for when we came upon this fine carriage, its quick-action radiator filler-cap just like that of the writer's 1926 model, the afternoon was far advanced. A 1908 18-h.p. Vauxhall from Luton was another absorbing car, with a sporting white bolster fuel tank secured with elastic. Mr. Allday had also put in his huge 1911 50-h.p. Mercédès tourer, which he elected to drive, notwithstanding the fact that it disgraced itself by dropping considerable quantities of oil and water in the Long Drive.
No doubt many present saw the cars as a pageant of motoring history and were able to pick out the highlights and the less worthy designs of each era. For ourselves we sought more homely things, seeing the cars as the ordinary motoring enthusiast amongst the onlookers saw them. For instance, the new Lodge plugs topped by "umbrella" terminals and the vast brass water pump of Mann's 1908 25/30 Vinot et Deguingand intrigued, and we liked Dr. Fellows' 1909 A.C. box van with the twin cooling fans for its single-cylinder engine.
It was nice to find that Major Pitt, besides bringing his "Alphonso" Hispano-Suiza, had saved the imposingly high and silent Colonial Napier from a Kent garage. Listening to it leaving, one young lady observed: "I likes cars in which yer can't hear nothing," adding to her escort, "Not like yer bike !"
We noticed depressingly high fuel consumptions quoted on the display cards of even the smallest cars, confirming our impression that early light cars seldom achieve more than about 30 m.p.g. For instance, 30 was the figure claimed by Parsonage for his Rippon-bodied 1909 8-h.p. Renault twin.
Milligan's o.h.c. Maudslay was claimed capable of 50 m.p.h. Dymond had the 1910 8-h.p. Rover found by Humphries and rebuilt by him and we were glad to learn that its rare Knight sleeve-valve engine is now whole again following a "blow-up." Model-T Fords were, happily, liberally represented, and Whiteway's 1909 tourer ran quite quietly. Very choice was Sub.-Lt. Brander's 1911 A.C. Sociable with its original hood. Alan Skerman's 1911 Renault sported a Stentophone exhaust whistle which could be lined up with the end of the exhaust pipe by pulling a cord. Barton spent some of the pre-luncheon period fitting a dynamo to his 1913 30/35 Napier, probably in contemplation of the long run home to Devon that evening. Peter Hampton's unbelievable Baby Peugeot coupé can be said to have "stolen the show" so far as the lay public were concerned.
Stradling came in the 1913 16/20 Pipe which Parry Thomas endowed with his Thomas electrical transmission, giving 12 forward speeds. Evidence of it was there, in a second steering wheel for selecting ratios, so neatly installed that Pipe themselves could have done it, and a very thick lead running into the bowels of the machinery from the battery on the running-board.
The small cars were very nicely represented. Mrs. North's yellow 1914 Calthorpe Minor coupé called "The Yellow Cab" had a box of Rotax electrical mysteries on its dash, Claybourn's very beautiful 1914 rear-engined two-cylinder, chain-drive Crouch possessed tiers of controls, not a single instrument, full-elliptic front springs, and does 25 m.p.g. The two Perrys of Burman and Humphries stood side by side, both 1914 models, but the former a twin, the latter, called "Ann Teak," a four-cylinder 11.9 and obvious forerunner of the Bean.
Emmett arrived from Herefordshire in a very choice 1915 G.W.K., a gate-latch serving as a reverse-stop on a "gear" quadrant marked by a row of brass buttons for easy ratio selection. This little car does 40 m.p.g.
Willis had a 1914 four-cylinder Stellite, the last to be made, but still with wooden chassis and quadrant change, the reverse-stop in this case being an immense bolt. The 1914 almost-identical Morris-Oxfords of Miss Hill and J. C. G. Hill stood side by side - obviously Miss Nagle had taken great pains to display the cars to the best advantage.
The model-T Ford owners mostly get 30 m.p.g. and under the flat-rate tax these are popular cars. Tourers, a 1912 left-hand-drive saloon and Ward's rakish 1913 yellow two-seater were present. Davis' 1914 tourer had coil-spring front snubbers and a picture of itself as found, before restoration, in one of its headlamps, while Bert Coffin's 1915 tourer had an exciting Gabriel exhaust horn on its off-side running-board valance.
The fluted front mudguards of Steel's 1905 Alldays & Onions were admired, the varnished wooden axles and coil springing of Hughes' 1910 single-cylinder chain-drive Brush attracted much comment, Shakspeare's 1911 7-h.p. Swift claimed 60 m.p.h. and 60 m.p.g., in spite of its large umbrella basket, while much speculation revolved round whether the sporting two-seater body on Hardy's lovely little 1910 14-h.p. Metallurgique with its triangular side and rear lamps was original or replica. The pedal rubbers were RollsRoyce. The 16/20 and 12/16 Wolseley-Siddeleys of Brown and Crips announced their identity in period lettering along the bonnet sides and the Kings' 1913 Alldays-Midget was seen to have cantilever springing all round and a hand throttle coupled to the foot control. Another exhaust whistle was found on the aforementioned Calthorpe Minor - a grand little car, the 1908 two-cylinder Renaults of Shillan and Ward both had small bolster tanks, the latter's secured by imposing brass straps, and Thomas' 1903 Humberette possessed a one-spoke steering wheel.
Really, there was no end to the interesting detail that could be discovered after the historic pageant as a whole had been appreciated.
The working out of results, involving high-pressure mathematics in the Mayor's Parlour, delayed the prizegiving by half an hour, but this merely served to show what excellent speech-makers are the Mayors of Windsor (England) and Windsor (Ontario). Both were present and ably filled in the embarrassing period of waiting. We were very sorry that Mrs. Shuttleworth, who had given the premier Award and came a long way in an A90 to present it, was first left to stand about, then to wait until nearly 6 p.m. before she knew who had won it, only to find the recipient had left for home. Kay Kendall, star of the film "Genevieve," who took the delay far less happily than Mrs. Shuttleworth, or so it seemed, was able, when the time came, to present her trophy - such is justice ! Never mind, many of us were quite delighted to see Mrs. Shuttleworth again and find her looking so well and cheerful.
At last, the trophies presented, this great gathering of old motor cars disbanded, congested Windsor patiently giving them prior passage. For part of our journey home we ran behind J. G. Sears in the 1904 18/28 Mercédès. The Plus Four's speedometer was at 60 m.p.h. as it followed this fine veteran along the slightly downhill stretch from Bagshot to Frimley; the Mercédès chains rattling a defiant answer to a certain old gentleman's recent suggestion that such cars should be shut up in museums. If you missed this V.C.C. Coronation Rally you were indeed foolish - or unlucky. The next best thing you can do is to attend the Harrogate Rally on July 4th/5th, or, if you live in the South, the Hastings Rally and Speed Trials on July 11th. - W.B.
The official car park filled with many imposing Bentleys, property of B.D.C. members who, with another Club, did some very efficient marshalling.
We espied, too, a yellow Swift tourer and an immaculate 501 Fiat tourer, both circa 1925.
Some eligible cars not entered seemed to gate-crash the arena, like a certain sleeve-valve Daimler landaulette, whereas the ex-Clutton Fafnir knew its place.
The Mayor of Windsor (England) is obviously a modernist, telling of his flight in a helicopter and referring to his Morris-Oxford, whereas the Mayor of Windsor (Ontario) wasn't aware whether or not they have old cars in Canada, but has decided to see that some are found, "as they attract lots of attention." The Mayor of Windsor (England) came down that morning in the Queen Alexandra 1906 Renault. which runs on 920 by 120 tyres, which may be why he described it as "just like being in a modern car "! This Renault now belongs to John Hampton. The other Royal car was a 1900 Daimler built for King Edward VII, which Daimler's brought on a vast truck. It looks to have been modified.
Some veterans came on weird and wonderful trailers behind modern cars - a pity ? A very feminine hat and umbrella in the back of Reece's Spyker kept the crowds hanging round it hoping to see Kay Kendall, but if they were hers she apparently left for London without them - actually we believe that she rode down on Reeves' Darracq and that Dinah Sheridan, who should have been in the Spyker, was unable to come - or perhaps she was translating her part in "Genevieve" to reality !
Shottleworth Memorial Trophy (best combined performance). - Air Chief Marshal Sir A. Coryton, K.C.B. (1902 8-h.p. de Dion Bouton).
Genevieve Trophy (best performance by car used in film).-H. T. Clarke (1904 6-h.p. de Dion Bouton).
Rally (time/distance/age) :
Class A.- 1st : Major Gardiner (1902 10-hp. Wolseley). 2nd : N. T. Beardsell (1904 6 1/2-h.p. Humberette). 3rd : G. I. Hodgkinson (1904 8.h.p. de Dion Benton).
Class B.-1st : C. B. North (1907 12/14 Singer). 2nd : Sub.-Lt. Garrett, R.N. (1907 40/50 Rolls-Royce). 3rd : D. E. Milnes (1908 14/16 Belsize).
Regularity Run :
Class 1. - 1st: H. G. Chalklen (1899 3 1/2-h.p. Star). 2nd : Major Brewing (1900 3 1/2-h.p. New Orleans). 3rd : H. E. Wood (1899 3 1/2-h.p. Benz).
Class 2. - 1st : R. L. Bennett (1904 15-h.p. Panhard-Levessor). 2nd : Air Chief Marshal Sir A. Coryton (1902 de Dion Bouton). 3rd : P. C. Waring (1904 20/30 Renault).
Class 3. - 1st C. A. Shillan (1908 9-h.p. Renault). 2nd : H. R. Timmis (1910 15/20 Mercédès). 3rd: G. E. Milligan (1910 17-h.p. Maudslay).
Class 4. - 1st S. J. Humphries. (1914 11.9-h.p. Perry). 2nd : T. R. Lloyd (1914 12-h.p. Rover). 3rd Mrs. North (1914 10-h.p. Calthorpe Minor).
"Genevieve." (J. Arthur Rank (Pinewood Studios) production, distributed by General Film Distributors Ltd. 7,765ft. Approx. 86 min. "U." Technicolor. Screenplay by William Rose. Produced by Henry Cornelius.)
This is a lighthearted Technicolor comedy of the Brighton Run, members of the V.C.C. having loaned cars for background scenes in Hyde Park and Brighton. The two principal cars are also owned by V.C,C. members - a 1904 Darracq and a 1904 Spyker.
The V.C.C. achieves considerable publicity from "Genevieve" and, while cinema audiences can be guaranteed to "die of laughter," we feel that Mr. St. J. Nixon (who recently took the V.C.C. to task for encouraging the public to laugh at historic cars) may die less happily if he sees it.
Be that as it may, this is a good comedy, well filmed. Whether any veteran cars have had as much trouble in 100 miles as Alan McKim's Darracq has in the film - engine trouble, steering failure, punctures, fire, loss of a mudguard, etc. - is perhaps more a matter for the Société A. Darracq of Suresnes than for the film critic.
McKim, skilfully played by John Gregson, is also delayed by natural causes (when Wendy, his wife, played quite convincingly by Dinah Sheridan, requires to "spend a penny," an episode which Henry Cornelius would hardly have dared exploit in the year when the aforesaid Darracq was a new vehicle !) There are two very convincing mobile policemen (Geoffrey Keen and Harold Siddons) who also impede both veterans in their post-Brighton race to London, which is, of course, won by the Darracq. Arthur Wontner takes the part of an old toff who recalls owning a Darracq just like McKim's and whom most veteran car owners meet sooner or later in real life.
The brilliant performance by John Gregson is rivalled only by that of Kenneth Moore as Ambrose Claverhouse, pompous driver of the Spyker, and by Kay Kendall as Rosalind Peters, his latest girl friend. If any criticism is necessary it is of cameras which still permit artillery wheels to revolve backwards as cars go forward, of Brighton Run scenes so patently filmed in the late summer instead of November, and that Dinah Sheridan calls veteran cars "vintage" but, V.C.C. be praised, not "old crocks." Perhaps, however, Dinah had looked closely at the leading cars in the film and was not quite sure if they were entirely 100 per cent. veteran !
Other cars in the film include Allard, early Morris Minor and modern Austin. "Genevieve," taken as a lighthearted comedy fitting to Coronation Year, should do the veteran car movement no harm and could enhance it in the eyes of that section of the public which always laughs at veteran vehicles, but kindly.
Jack Atack, of the J. Arthur Rank Organisation, drops a mild brick in describing "Genevieve" as the story of two veteran car addicts "who, in the jet age, continue to drive about in mechanical bone-shakers that were old fashioned before Orville Wright took to flying at Kittyhawk"- for the Wright brothers first flew only a year before the Darracq and Spyker which "star" in the film saw the light of day. - W. B.
" 'Daily Mail' Motoring Guide, 1953." Edited by Courtenay Edwards. (157 pp. 4 3/4" in. by 7 1/4 in. Associated Newspapers Ltd., Northcliffe House, E.C.4. 2s.)
This useful guide makes its annual appearance and covers almost every aspect of motoring, albeit briefly. Cars, accessories, caravans, touring items, all are included. The Sports Section has an article on racing in 1953, an illustrated guide to drivers, an article on trials, rallies and hill-climbs, some data on circuits, calendar, list of clubs and 1952 race results.
"Fiat - A Fifty Years' Record." Edited by Arnoldo Mondadori. (303 pp. 7 1/4 in. by 10 1/4 in. Fiat (England) Ltd.)
This presentation book is undeniably beautifully produced, with some exquisite plates in colour. Three editions, in Italian, French and English have been published. They tell in detail the history of the great Fiat organisation, with respect to politics, finance and personalities. Primarily the book is dedicated to Giovanni Agnelli, the genius who laid the foundation of the Fiat company and was the principal figure in its development.
Students of history will treasure this beautiful book and will learn much from it of industrial conditions in Italy from 1884 onwards. Something of Fiat's success in the great motor races prior to 1914 is seen - but those who wish to learn about the better-known Fiat cars, from the 501 onwards, must, alas, look elsewhere; nor are these cars found amongst the illustrations.
A well-illustrated booklet, "National Summer," forms a diary of Coronation events of all kinds. It is valid to the end of September and copies are available free of charge on application to National Benzole Co., Ltd., Wellington House, Buckingham Gate, S.W.1.
PARTING OF THE WAYS
We wish to inform you that we are no longer associated with Messrs. Lotus Engineering Co. Ltd., or with Mr. A. C. B. Chapman.
We will be racing again this year but with a Ford Ten-engined car. This is due to make its first appearance at the Eight Clubs Meeting on June 6th.
We are, Yours, etc.,
MICHAEL & NIGEL ALLEN.