A Section Devoted to Old Car Matters

FIRST Cassandra of the Daily Mirror and now Nancy Spain in the B.B.C. “Woman’s Hour”—both lauding the old cars. As far as we are concerned, the more the merrier and the better for the vintag movement.

As a matter of fact, Miss Spain’s short talk on ” My Life with Cars” in the Light Programme on May 22nd was not particularly bright. She recalled how her mother learnt to drive on a “1920-ish D-nosed car” and how she was later undaunted by overturning a dull “navy blue family tourer”—can we guess Morris and Austin Twelve, respectively ? She did not have a car of her own until 1940, when she was a Wren driver. Makes were not revealed but this was probably an Austin Seven or a Morris Minor, which a young Naval Officer fitted with a champagne cork when the radiator cap fell off and got lost.

Her partner, Miss Spain told us, had a J2—MG., obviously. This had twin carburetters, “a very sexy thing,” From there onwards Miss Spain’s talk was intended to reveal how she knew all about cars of that age, loved big throaty sports cars with “real leather straps round their stomachs,” whereas she doesn’t know a thing about what goes on under the bonnet of her present all-white monster with electrically-retracted hood. As she talked of a “welded big-end” repair, we wonder . . . But Nancy is forgiven— she referred to the fact that they were “real cars in those days.” If we have heard this before, about motor cars of a rather earlier era, it was nevertheless nice to hear Miss Spain reiterating it to her lady listeners.


The annual Trial of the Light Car Section of the V.S.C.C. is in the nature of a rest-cure, for those who go along to spectate if not for the intrepid drivers who have to cover a 52-mile route and compete in a series of tests. There is something restful about the gathering which takes place in Thame before the Trial starts. Thame has not changed very much with the passage of time, although I fear diesel locomotives have replaced steam for the infrequent two-carriage trains that start from its sleepy country station. The Spread Eagle Hotel, made famous by Fothergill, still spreads its personality and famous sign over the main street of this leisurely, languid town, where there is room aplenty for the assembly of ancient small cars, and the Edwardians that can join in if they wish. Moreover, cars have to check in by noon but are not called upon to start the Trial until 2 p.m., because there is the Concours d’Elegance to judge and drivers and navigators naturally wish to go off to the numerous hotels for a bite and a drink before the ordeal proper. So, all in all, this annual vintage small car fixture is quite a peaceful proceeding.

This year 25 light ears and five Edwardians entered. Not all turned up, however. Kippax’s ex-Arnold-Forster 1921 G.N. discarded a push-rod en route. The driver of the 1913 Swift had reported sick.

The Barry Clarkes brought their 1925 Austin Seven instead of their 1913 Talbot, in spite of running one of its little big-ends the evening before; necessitating a night of toil. Bendall’s 1910 Rolls-Royce non-started. Hughes’ delightful 11.4-h.p. Citroen light camion retired when the air burst through its ancient balloon tyres. A pity, for it had obviously come straight from some French market place, bringing with it a breath of the warm sunny south, and a suggestion of garlic and vino—and its French owner would certainly go on using those tyres for years to come! But there were enough left to form an impressive array, which the locals, including one or two elderly ladies, inspected with respect.

The Jeddere-Fishers had returned from Fiji only the evening before but, such is enthusiasm, they had immediately set about energising their 1914 Lancia Theta for Mrs. Fisher to drive, Arthur Fisher arriving in his recently acquired Type 57 Bugatti. Other onlookers’ vehicles included the inevitable Dennis fire-engine, a very ‘fine Edwardian Mors two-seater (why not a competitor ?), two 30/98s, an all-yellow Fiat 509 saloon, a vast Rolls-Royce and Austin Healy Twelve, the inevitable Bentleys, etc. Someday someone should take a picture from above of Thame looking as if it had reverted really and truly to the nineteen-twenties . . .

The contest involved petrol consumption, condition, ease of starting and proficiency in a timed hill-climb, a hill restart and acceleration test and a brake test. All the cars we saw do the go-stop but stopped entirely safely.

At the hill re-start everyone who arrived seemed to make it except Dunkley’s nicely-original disc-wheeled 1928 Singer Junior tower and Evans’ bright yellow ex-Routledge 1916 Morris Cowley 3-door saloon with four-up, both of which ran a few inches backwards, and Sharp’s 1929 o.h.c. Morris Minor tourer, which had three-up and week-end luggage and insufficient power, stalling its engine. Hooson’s exceedingly smart 1925 A.C. was extremely good, Roger’s incredible 1923 Jowett exceedingly sure, getting off with wheelspin, and Stiles’ tatty fabric saloon Jowett of seven summers later was very sure, likewise spinning its wheels. Milner’s 1926 A.C. was good but slow, likewise Parks’ 1927 Singer Junior saloon of the enormous side-lamps, while Jones’ neat 1929 Austin Seven Chummy smoked but had no trouble. Mrs. Clarke drove well, holding her very smart Austin Seven on the clutch and going off like billy-oh., but the magneto had had to be rebuilt en route. Wood’s 1923 Riley Eleven took the test in its stride, and Alexander’s rare 1929 12-h.p. Armstrong-Siddeley Six fabric saloon with crash (not Wilson) gearbox and its own version of atomic power station on the dash, was unexpectedly brisk, after indulging in quite violent wheelspin. This in spite of a vast rear truck, one purpose of which is to display labels advertising well-known European cities. In contrast, Taylor’s 1926 10/23 Talbot two-seater was slow but sure, Weller’s 1923 Morris-Cowley tourer with wife and baby as back-seat ballast made a model get-away, and Mrs. Fisher resorted to modest wheelspin in proving that an Edwardian Lancia can do anything a vintage light car can do. Barraclough’s 1926 Morris-Cowley was stately and Saunders’ 1910 Renault, with signal-box outside levers managed exceedingly well. Getley’s ex-Wallace 1925 Trojan bad difficulty with the. first hill and retired, and Davis-Winehester’s 1927 Jowett never got to “ou ” hill. But what fun it all is! -W.B.

A Salmson owner, J. G. Dancer, asks those who would be interested in a club for owners of Billancourt Salmsons to write to him at 209. Barnwood Road, Gloucester, giving details of their cars.

Owners of vintage (i.e., 1921-1930) Austin 12/4 cars are asked to write either to R. J. Wyatt, 82, Coleshill Fiats, Pimlico Road, London, S.W.1, or to J. Heaton, 11, Chester Avenue, Duxbury, Chorley, Lancs, if they are interested in forming a club for these fine old cars. A modest subscription of about 5s. is visualised to cover postage, etc., on circulars and we wish this venture success, because there are plenty of good Austin 12/4S in regular use whose owners could benefit from getting together.

It is always nice to discover an agent for a particular car sufficiently interested to restore to good order a vintage model of the same make and use it for advertising purposes. Consequently we were pleased to see, from the May issue of the Citroen C.C. magazine The Citroenian, that Worthing Motors Ltd., Citroen agents, maintain a choice specimen of 7.5-h.p. Citroen 2-seater at their premises in Broadwater Road, Worthing.

They continue to be discovered ! In Scotland three Beardmores, a 2-seater with dickey, a tourer and a landaulette have come to light, together with a very sad 1927 small Humber tourer, a good model-T Ford tourer, and there are rumours of a Standard of the mid-1920s.

In Bridgnorth a 1912-13 Sunbeam 12/16 tourer is in process of renovation by an engineering student. This car was used by the original purchaser until 1932, after which it was driven into a Dutch barn and forgotten. The guttering fell from the roof of the barn, allowing rainwater to cascade onto the off side of the car, to the deterioration of the running-board, etc. Mechanically, however, the car is sound and the body quite restorable.

A reader who shores our dislike of old cars being broken up reports a mechanically-sound 1924 Rolls-Royce Twenty saloon for sale at a garage in Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire, a 1928 Packard Six saloon owned by one garage for 27 years but now for disposal as the proprietor is selling up (this one two miles from Sleaford on A17) and a rather sad but restorable 14/40 Vauxhall 2-seater in a Hammersmith scrap-yard. Will someone save these ?

In conjunction with Folkestone Flower Show on July 19th there will be a rally of vintage, veteran and p.v.t. cars, owned by members and friends of the V.C.C. and V.S.C.C. Details from J. Lott, Fairview, Lyminge, Folkestone.

The County of Wiltshire is believed to harbour a model-T Ford van in full working order, and an Edwardian Jackson light car with de Dion engine. And in Surrey a 1919-20 Talbot Twenty-Five which had served for many years as a garage breakdown crane changed hands recently.

Those who intend to visit Beaulieu Motor Museum this year may like to note that the remaining fixtures there which embrace vintage, veteran or thoroughbred cars are : July 6th—V.C.C. Rally; July 13th—Bentley D.C. Rally; July 20th—Rolls-Royce Rally; Sept. 21st—V.S.C.C. Rally, Oct. 5th—Assn. of Pioneer Motor Cyclists Rally.

There is a move afoot to revive the Association of Bean Owners, which became moribund in 1953, when it had 15 cars on its books, because the founder went abroad. He now knows of 18 Beans and asks owners to contact him—G. V. Ravenscroft, Burwood Yews, Burwood Park, Walton-on-Thames.