This month’s “Nostalgic” feature is based on some extremely interesting papers sent to us by Mr. M.H. Peard, of South Croydon, a keen Volkswagen owner.
The first is a reprint front a 1911 issue of the now defunct Car Illustrated, describing the 15 h.p. Star. (Incidentally, Mr. Peard remarks that he remembers this excellent magazine, but that it was very expensive for a schoolboy to buy!)
A Star of this kind was subsequently purchased by a great uncle of Mr. Peard’s, which proves that Press write-ups do sell motor cars; then as now, for we have proof of a considerable number of sales attributable to the road-test reports in Motor Sport.
This 15 h.p. Star which George Oliver Peard purchased in December, 1911 had a torpedo body, as shown in the Star catalogue, “but with back seat to accommodate three persons comfortably, giving plenty of leg room and sides high enough to shield from wind.” This special Star cost £365 and various extras ordered, which included a German-silver radiator, double folding screen, black cape-cart hood, Star detachable wood wheels, a Stewart speedometer, Dunlop leather-tread steel-studded non-skid tyres on the back wheels, ditto on spare wheel, an M.O.C.O. exhaust whistle, two Lucas rear lamp oxidised head-lamps, Lucas oil side-lamps, a Dependance Landalite and the number plates, brought the total to over £432.
This Star must have been a smart car, for it was finished dark blue. With the beading round the top of the body painted, upholstery to match, and metal parts nickel-finished, while metal shields and aluminium matting were fitted.
Incidentally, this invoice was written out in long-hand (by someone who couldn’t spell “aluminium”) and a printed chassis specification attached, as was then the custom.
The next document kindly sent to us by Mr. Peard is a similar invoice, but now type-written, concerning a 20/30 h.p. standard Peugeot ordered in January, 1914, by an elderly cousin, a Miss Dunn of Bideford. This Peugeot was specified as having to do 55 m.p.h. and to have a good steering lock. The chassis, a 4-cylinder long-wheelbase model with wooden wheels and four plain tyres, cost £530. It was provided with a Million Guiet (“or body by a coachbuilder of similar repute”) 5-seater torpedo body painted royal blue with black mouldings and fine white lines, black domed wings, dark blue leather upholstery stuffed with hair and slightly darker than paintwork, pile carpet to be fixed on the back of the driver’s seat, and aluminium (still spelt with two “Is”!) fluted matting on the footboards. Miss. Dunn specified a scuttle petrol tank, a rear seat the same shape as her Star seat, slam door handles on the inside only and tool storage under front and back seats. What a dignified age!
All this, and a double-folding Beatonson screen, Pantasote “oneman” extension cape-cart hood with side curtains, Lucas bulb horn, Bleriot horn, Stewart model C speedometer “reading up to 75 m.p.h., with trip,” the usual three non-skid tyres, one as a spare, complete nickel finish, dissolved acetylene lighting, two Lucas 11-in. projector headlamps, two Lucas No. 621 oil side-lamps, a Dependance rear lamp, number plates and registration (Devon C.C.—£1), brought this up to £745 1s. 3d.
Mr. Peard recalls that the Peugeot fulfilled its speed requirement, getting up to 55 m.p.h. on the speedometer along the straight in the New Forest in 1914, after a bit of an effort by the chauffeur.
Next we find a letter to Miss Dunn from Lorraine-Dietrich, of Great Marlborough Street, London, dated January, 1914, advising her of a delay in delivery of the new 20/30 h.p. Lorraine-Dietrich. The writer, for Charles Jarrott & Letts, Ltd., explained that the factory had been experimenting for eight or nine months, but the new chassis had not been seen in London but that one was expected at the end of the month. This, they explained, was sold, but a demonstration could be managed if Miss Dunn did not “object to trying a chassis, which would be fitted with a fairly comfortable testing body and weighted accordingly.” Perhaps this did not appeal to Miss Dunn, because she returned to Devon from Guildford and ordered her Peugeot.
The last document relates to the Benz, which Miss Dunn owned after her Peugeot, a car Mr. Peard recalls as “very fast for its day, generally proceeding with the cut-out open, which was most effective in clearing all and sundry out of its way.” The document in question is a bill for repairs from Heard Brothers. Ltd. of Bideford, which totals the startling sum of £218 for an extensive engine and chassis overhaul, which was paid in August, 1920.
The item “rewiring magneto, cleaning and adjusting, same,” will be familiar to today’s vintage-car enthusiasts; it is interesting that Messrs. Heard were able to bench-test the engine before re-installing it in the chassis. It seems possible that a slight accident necessitated this overhaul, as a dumb-iron was straightened and a new door fitted to the body, etc. This Benz seems to have had a dickey seat and its post-Armistice repairs included conversion of wooden wheels to dual Warland rims carrying 815 by 105 tyres, new K.L.G. plugs, a new Goodyear tyre, etc. A delightfully “period” touch is rendered to this old account by the entry: “To fitting test body to chassis, testing car, removing test body, refitting Benz body, etc., and rubbing down, painting and varnishing car to your requirements.”
Long rest the memory of Miss Dunn of Bideford, who chose such interesting cars, ordering them carefully and paying generously for their proper maintenance. – W.B.