I was most interested to read of the Gibbons, under the heading of “Fragments on Forgotten Makes,” as I did quite a lot of my youthful motoring on one of these cars.
My late father who was a pioneer motorist (he started with a 4½-h.p. de Dion in 1906) purchased a secondhand Gibbons in 1922. I seem to recall that apart front braking and belt difficulties it was quite a good little car, with what appeared then to he a reasonable performance. The engine was excellent, and due to the very light construction of the bodywork, which was. I believe, three-ply wood, the power-to-weight ratio was very satisfactory.
My father’s car was identical to the one shown in the picture, but is certainly not the same car, as it was fitted with disc wheels, and the Reg. No. was CY 4461.
It was presumably registered in Swansea, but was purchased in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
With an addition to the family, the Gibbons was disposed of to a private owner in Birmingham. This was in the latter part of 1923. I have never seen a Gibbons before, or since.
My father’s next car was another forgotten make, the friction-driven Richardson.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Weston-super-Mare. JOHN ROWLAND-HOBSONS.
I feel sure you will be interested in the enclosed brochures concerning the Gibbons cyclecars. They describe the original Gibbons of 1917 and the last four-seater model of 1929. These leaflets were kindly loaned to me by Mr. Ernest Gibbons who designed and built the car at his works in Station Road, Chadwell Heath. In all twelve cars were built, Mr. Gibbons’ main activities being concerned with Engineers’ pattern-making, although as you will note front the 1929 leaflet they embraced even light aircraft !
Mr. Gibbous greatly enjoyed reading Mr. Hopwood’s reminiscences in MOTOR SPORT, which I was able to bring to his notice.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Wembley. VICTOR JONSSON
[Study of the leaflets referred to shows that the first Gibbons was built in 1914 and had a barrel-like single-seater body on carvel boat lines, a single-tube chassis with similar coil-sprung centre-pivot front axle as on the later two-seater, and a single-cylinder 3½-h.p. engine on the nose, driving by Whittle belt to a countershaft of a two-speed epicyclic gear, and single rubber belt to one back wheel. By the end of 1916 Mr. Gibbons had apparently covered 3,000 miles in this vehicle, at 85-90 m.p.g., with a speed of 45-50 m.p.h. Wheelbase was 6 ft. 6 in., track 2 ft. 9 in. The two-seater with side-mounted flat-twin engine, illustrated in our May issue, then went into production. The four-seater Gibbons of 1923 used a side-slung 10/25 V-twin Blackburne engine. Transmission was by chain, through a Sturmey-Archer gearbox, drive still being on one rear wheel only. Wheelbase was 8 ft. 6 in., track 3 ft. 10 in. and weight 4 cwt. Gas lamps, hood, screen, tools, horn; number plates cost £9 extra on the price of £90 15s. Many other extras were available, and £3 was refunded on the delivery crate !—ED.]
As the owner and user of various vintage light cars in succession. I have always enjoyed your editorial zeal on their behalf. But in the interests of accuracy and common sense I would like to protest against your treatment of Mr. Clutton’s recent broadcast talk about “collecting old cars.”
You write of Mr. Clutton’s opinion that vintage small cars are ‘humdrum, uninteresting and drab little cars, simply not worth preserving.’ ” In the May issue you print the following passage : “He (the editor) then referred to a B.B.C. broadcast by Cecil Clinton in which that gentleman had expressed a very low opinion of vintage small cars. Clutton regarded them as not worth preserving.”
The Veteran and Vintage Magazine has published an unedited transcript Of Mr. Clutton’s talk which I have searched closely in an attempt to trace the source of various quotations from it. Mr. Chitton did in fact say, “Even a year or two ago I should have said quite brutally that I thought such cars simply weren’t worth preserving.” The italics are mine, but Mr. Clutton’s use of a past conditional is surely clear enough without them. He goes on to say that the growth of the light car section of the V.S.C.C. has caused him to modify his opinion.
The light car controversy is of course splendid fun, and apparently gifted with robust perennial qualities. But I imagine that not even the most rabid light car enthusiast would claim, for instance, that a 1929 Singer is a better car than a 30/98 Vauxhall or a Frazer-Nash : for his purpose it may be more suitable but that is not quite the same thing. Now if we go one step further we reach the daring position that some cars are in fact “better” than others—and that the Vauxhall and Nash are probably among them. Having agreed this, it is surely reasonable to advise—considerations of time and money being equal—that people give preference to the best where possible. Now this is just what Mr. Clutton does do—to take his specific example he suggests that four of the more undistinguished vintage vehicles would provide a less rewarding outlet for an enthusiast’s mechanical energies than a single really fine vintage sports car. Mr. Clutton’s standards are based on sportsmanship and good taste : they are personal standards for all that. Criticism of his broadcast seems particularly unnecessary in that it never fell into the very common error of neglecting this essential reservation. But he did not, even on the grounds of personal taste, deprecate the running, and loving restoration of, one ordinary vintage light car by those who cannot or do not wish to afford “better.” (I beg that the many sensible people who find that two vintage light cars solve their transport problems in an economic and amusing manner —one on and one in the wash, as it were—will not immediately take up their pens in umbrage. I am sure no reasonable person would suggest they commute in a Bugatti instead—even those who do commute in Bugattis.)
May I quote one other phrase of Mr. Clutton’s in its context ? Speaking of youthful newcomers to the field he says, “all they are likely to be able to afford at first is an early vintage light car of slight technical interest and inconspicuous power.” The italicised phrase seems to have roused instant fury in the breasts of wealthy (or fortunate) possessors of the more interesting, powerful or esoteric sorts of light car—regardless of the fact that Mr. Clutton did not say that all light cars have this uninteresting character. The phrase was applied to, and is surely a just description of, the average kind of light cat to be picked up by people of limited resources for a modest sum of money. It cannot be read as an indictment of the interesting Belsize-Bradshaw which you illustrated in the April issue—and if the owner (as I doubt) thinks it was, and jumps at the chance of offering me this car at a sum around £30 or £40, I shall of course jump even faster and expect to profit considerably by resale at a vastly inflated price.
We ourselves find our present Austin Seven a cheap, amusing and often useful little car. But I mean no disparagement of its wayward charm when I say that if I had four of the damn things I would sell at least three of them and buy (or try to buy) a Frazer-Nash instead. Surely one can enjoy a motor car without thinking it is ” worth ” anything except the satisfaction derived from it or, at need, the money it will fetch on the market. But newcomers to the field would do well to consider Mr. Clutton’s warning : the derelict in the barn may easily cost far more money to restore than can ever be recovered despite its early vintage, unless it is what is generally considered ” desirable” by those who should know.
I am, Yours. etc.,
Wilton. B. M. CLARKE.
I was very pleased to see a photo of a Hillman Fourteen in your May issue. I owned a 1930 saloon from 1950 to 1955. I purchased it from a local farmer for £7 10s., for it needed new back axle parts, tyres, and batteries, but the leather seats were almost like new. After two months’ work, and one or two other items renewed, i.e., brake and clutch linings, she ran very satisfactorily, cruising on suitable roads up to 50 m.p.h., quite happily. Once any badly worn parts were replaced, the car, with a moderate amount of maintenance, seemed indestructible. When those new tyres became almost smooth, I sold it to sample a Talbot 65.
At that time I saw three similar Hillmans run by owners in the district, one I believe was a Straight-Eight. Also I saw what appeared to be a 1927 model in St. Albans and I have seen a 1930 model in Calcutta, and a 1931 model in Malta.
Incidentally, I have a surplus Hillman crown wheel which some reader may be interested in, and the ex-Gypsy Major-type B.T.H. magneto makes a very superior replacement for the M.L. without modifications.
I very much enjoy your magazine, and would like to read more about well-built cars like Hillmans.
I am, Yours. etc.,
Calcutta, India H. E. HALL.
Like so many others who are interested in motoring from an historical as well as a present-day point of view, I get the greatest possible enjoyment from MOTOR SPORT; in fact, my newsagent is led a dog’s life until I get it each month. Digging through my miscellaneous motoring pieces I came across what must be an interesting badge. It is in good white metal, the shield is blue enamel, the large “C” in yellow and the remainder of the wording on the shield in red. The back of the badge bears the engraved name—Claude Gouldesbrough. It would be very interesting to know a little of the history of that person—perhaps somebody could throw some light on it.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Plymouth. A. RUSSELL LOWREY.
[What do our astute sleuths of motoring history know about this ?—ED.]
I am the enthusiastic owner of a 1912 Talbot 12/16 car and I am endeavouring to collect as much technical and other information as possible on pre-1916 Talbots, built at Barlby Road, Ladbroke Grove, W.10.
May I appeal through the courtesy of your columns to any ex-employees of Clement-Talbot Ltd., or other persons having any connection with these fine old cars, who may in any way have any information of technical interest or otherwise, to contact me in order that this information may be made available to all owners of veteran Talbots ? The whereabouts of any production blue-prints, instruction manuals, etc., would be of the utmost help.
My own 1912 car is a 2.4-litre and fitted with a two-seater touring body. Maximum speed is still over 60 m.p.h. with a petrol consumption of around 20 m.p.g.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Worthing F. M. WILCOCK
[Letters can be forwarded.—ED.]
The subject of supercharged sports Stars having cropped up again, I enclose a photo of a 1926 12/50 Star which I owned in Belfast a short while ago.
A splendid machine in every way, built like a bus (and somewhat similar to drive), it had a straight-through silencer (probably not original) and an exhaust cut-out (definitely original, and a great asset when engaged in a duel of wits with a TR2).
Also, and this is what prompted my letter, it had a dial (with a pipe at the back going nowhere in particular) on the dashboard calibrated in psi. and inscribed “boost,” and an obvious mounting for something at the front of the crankcase. Whatever this something had been was obviously driven from the camshaft, and the whole set up suggests a supercharger. Add this to the fact that the car was well known in Ireland as a winner of many sprints and hill-climbs in its time and we get, perhaps, another supercharged sports Star ?
The vehicle is now owned by a friend of mine living in North London and if anyone would like further details of this “miniature Bentley ” I shall be only too glad to supply them.
I am. Yours, etc.,
Bredgar. C. M. WOOD.
Whilst looking through a back issue of your very informative magazine, I noticed a letter and answer in the correspondence pages mentioning a few cars which I would like some details of. The cars were (1) Elizalde and (2) a 24-cylinder Pierce Arrow. The former, I believe, was of Spanish origin. The latter was the property of the late Wallace Beery.
The same letter dealt with the largest cars ever built and offered to the public. Barring the 1908 Benz (four cylinders, 185 by 200 mm., 21 litres) and cars of that type, I think the 1918-20 Fageol was the largest, at least as regards engine cubic capacity. This car, called by some the “millionaires’ special,” had a 130-h.p. Hall Scott aeroplane motor of 13,582 c.c. An interesting feature of this car was its chassis. It consisted of one within the other, the inner one was bottle-shaped and carried the engine, transmission and de Dion-type rear end. The outer carried the body. Connection between the two was flexible. The idea was that if the car met with an accident the engine was not so much affected as with a conventional chassis. The trouble was, of course, this arrangement represented a lot of unsprung weight, which becomes hard to handle at any high speed. The car had quite good lines with a radiator not unlike a Delage.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Wellington, N.Z. C. R. OLSEN.
I was very interested in the letter by Mr. P. K. Shaw and his reference to G.W.K. cars. Although I am unable to help him find one, I remember them very well.
When I was a boy I lived just outside Maidenhead and G.W.K. cars were road-tested on a circuit that took them peat my house. It was always a great thrill for me to talk to the drivers of these cars when they stopped nearby to make adjustments.
The G.W.K. cars at that time had a water-cooled twin-cylinder s.v. engine with friction drive mounted in the rear, although more orthodox methods of construction were used in later years. I believe the letters G.W.K. were painted in gold on a blue oval mounted on a wide and rather low radiator.
I am always on the lookout for these cars at vintage events but I have never seen one. Cars have always been one of my main interests and as the G.W.K. was very likely the first car I ever saw they are not easily forgotten !
I am, Yours. etc.,
Bromley. R. G. EVANS.
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