Seldom has the traditional forecourt of the Phoenix Hotel at Hartley Wintney, adjacent to the Great West Road, been so full of vintage machinery as it was on the first Thursday of last month.
V.S.C.C. members had turned out in force to meet Tim and Margery Carson of the secretarial side and fellow members. Members from as far afield as America, Canada and Africa mingled with “local” characters, of whom one came literally only yards to attend. Of the cars, Frazer-Nash, Alvis and Vauxhall were prominent, the latter represented by no fewer than five 30/98s, one of them Carson’s, and a 14/40. A solid-tyred Trojan with a couple of spare (but still solid-tyred) wheels in its tonneau dominated the skyline, and a very fine 4 1/2-litre Bentley team-car rumbled its war-cry in the yard. A “square-rigged” Austin Heavy Twelve saloon was being continually commenced on the winder, Ronald Barker was recounting how the Beaulieu Museum has purchased his Gobron-Brillie fire-engine and other stories, and David Thirlby was happily announcing that the “Chain-Gang” section of the club is to have its own magazine, a thing which should have happened long, long ago. Cecil Clutton was present, and Francis Hutton-Stott had driven over in a very handsome short-chassis 1928 Lanchester Twenty-one tourer endowed with a more sporting body than is expected on this fine chassis. He proudly displayed its typical Lanchester features of water-level glass in the radiator, typical domed filler-cap above, long outside handle-brake topped by a substantial knob, which moves sideways to release the ratchet, the plan of the gear-gate tastefully pointed on the fully-stocked instrument panel (to remind the car’s late owner, an elderly lady, where the gears were) and the neat o.h.c. engine finished in mottled aluminium, with fuses neatly labelled on the lid of the accessible fuse-box. Hutton-Stott also showed us photographs of a 1919 Lanchester Forty saloon which he has just acquired, in splendid condition after years in storage; the first of the post-war Forties, it has a very handsome closed body with curved sides, a faintly boat-like stern and doors adjacent to the back seat only, typical of specialist coachbuilding in the early nineteen-twenties.
The most unusual car present was undoubtedly the Eldredges’ Fronty-Ford, which has a model-T Ford engine with o.h. valves turned back-to-front to provide front-wheel-drive through half-shafts with exposed fabric universal joints. Front suspension is by cantilever leaf-springs, the back axle is merely a beam to carry the wheels but retains its final-drive casing, the broad curved radiator is said to have come from an Ansaldo aeroplane and the body is very stark. To remind us that it has had, or hopes to have, adventures, a shovel is part of the equipment. The Eldredges have come over from the States to search for windmills; no doubt they were as shocked as we were to note “subtopia” encroaching on Phoenix Green.
On this June evening outside and in the packed bar of the “Phoenix” one felt that the Vintage Sports Car Club is healthy and very much alive. – W. B.
A B.B.C. Blunder
Because we have great respect for the amount of time the B.B.C. has devoted in recent years to excellent commentaries on motor racing, we were all the more disappointed at the bungle they made in the Light Programme on June 8th. The commentary on the Senior T.T. motor-cycle race, led by Graham Walker, which millions of people, including a big proportion of non-motor-cyclists, eagerly await every year, was scheduled at 10.25-11 a.m. and 11.15-11.40 a.m., breaking then for the State Visit to Sweden and the Test Match commentary, until the closing stages of the race were to come on the air from 1.15-1.38 p.m. The commentary from Sweden was postponed until 12.40 p.m., washing out the last of the three T.T. commentaries. Rain had washed out play in the Test Match, so we were taken back to the Isle of Man from 11.45 approximately until 12 noon. But, from 12 noon until the commencement of the commentary on the Royal visit the B.B.C. decided to cut off Graham Walker, at a most exciting point in the Senior T.T. when so much depended on whether Lomas (Guzzi) stopped to refuel or not and when he was nearing the pits, to substitute a story called “Trout and Tiddlers.”
As sportsmen were tuned in at that time, expecting either motorcycle racing or cricket, couldn’t the T.T. have been given preference to a short story which was unbilled and which could have been read on a more appropriate occasion? – W.B.
Thames Estuary A.C. Speed Trial, Snetterton (June 3rd)
Fastest Time of the Day: A. Stacey (Lotus climax) 43.58 sec.
Fastest Saloon Car: R.G. Playford (Jaguar XK120) 50.20
Fastest Sports Car: J.R. Rudd (Frazer-Nash) 47.36
Fastest Sports or Saloon Car, and trim: M.C. Stacey (Lotus Climax) 45.16
Fastest Racing Car: E. Lewis (Lotus Climax) 45.57
Special Award for Fastest Time by a Lady: Mrs. E. Price (H.R.G.) 56.14