A section devoted to old-car matters
V.S.C.C. Beaulieu rally (May 27th)
Rain did its best to wash out this annual event but vintage cars are not easily set afloat and the morning Concours d’Elegance, won by G. Dunn’s 1923 10/23 Talbot tourer, and the afternoon driving evolutions at disused Beaulieu Aerodrome, duly took place. There were few “new” old cars, if we exclude Read’s 1923 15.9 S.V. Wolseley tourer, looking much earlier and in fine fettle except for an evident tendency to shear its wheel studs, and Moore’s 1928 Graham-Paige fabric saloon, with smooth-running Chrysler-like engine, a cover plate inscribed “Made in U.S.A.” where the starting handle inserts, and splendid front shock-absorbers consisting of straps emerging from drums mounted in-line with the front axle. There was some evidence that V.S.C.C. members are turning to vintage Yanks, for amongst machinery brought by onlookers was a De Soto 2-seater and a partially-restored 1929 Buick, saved from local duty as a salvage crane. Both were yellow-hued.
While on the subject of spectators’ cars, these included a just-vintage Armstrong Siddeley Twenty saloon, and a much-admired 1927/8 Austin Seven fabric saloon (Gordon England ?).
Most exciting of the driving tests, which embraced exercises to investigate garaging, acceleration, braking and manoeuvrability, was the wiggle-woggle. In this Albon nearly overturned his 1927 Austin Seven, one of four nice Chummies present, the aforesaid Graham-Paige with disc wheels and dummy hood-sticks went nicely, Philip Mann drove his latest toy, in the form of the ex-Ken Hutchison G.P. Type 37 Bugatti with decidedly sketchy front wings, very competently, and Barker was really motoring in his delectable Lancia Dilambda cabriolet de ville.
Drake drove a rare 1932 Sunbeam 25 landaulette, Barry Clarke his wife’s shopping 12/50 Alvis Sportsman’s saloon mit roof-rack and later a 1929 Austin Seven saloon that displayed daylight under its oversize tyres, Lethbridge-Meyers had a neat 1929 Riley Nine fabric saloon, and Foster a 1932 Riley Nine Gamecock 2-seater. Two ladies, Mrs. Teague and Mrs. Cardy, drove Austin Seven Chummies, Millar managed his long 3-litre twin-cam Sunbeam well, as did Bowyer another lengthy vehicle, in the form of a 1924 Lancia Lambda. Bill Mason, back from camerawork on a W125 G.P. Mercedes-Benz driven by Lang at Solitude, was really trying in his Bentley, Leo’s 1930 2-litre Lagonda was the noisiest car present, in contrast to the gentle ‘ phutter-phutter ” of Lilley’s 1927 Jowett 2-seater, Wood went fast in his 4.5-litre low-chassis 100-m.p.h. Invicta, but Jeffries lost time engaging bottom cog of his 12/50 Lea-Francis 2-seater in the acceleration test. Walker’s stark 1930 Avon Standard indulged in a temporary electrical bonfire. It was good to see an original looking 1929 “Brooklands” Riley Nine in the hands of Pack, who is gradually restoring it. So, dripping wet between Martini and Methuen cocktail parties, it was back to Beaulieu, to discover that Dudley Gahagan in his 1926 Type 37 Bugatti had won the Montagu Trophy for best performance in both Concours and tests.—W.B
The Ashtead Square Rackets Club is holding a display of vintage and veteran vehicles at their Club premises on July 21st, at 2.30 p.m. Those who would like to take part are asked to write to C. D. Harbour, 39, Skinners Lane, Ashtead, Surrey.
Isolated items out of history
Dedham Grove near Colchester, Essex, was the home of Sir Hamilton and Lady Lang up to 1913. In a large coachhouse-garage there were three cars, a 1906 24/32-h.p. Germain (LC 6439) with a coupe-de-ville body, a 1909 14/16-h.p. Belsize open tourer, painted light green with a lot of brasswork, including two massive self-contained acetylene headlamps (LB 9948), and an early Panhard rear-entrance 4-seater (T 60). The Belsize was expertly driven by Miss Queenie Lang, while the Panhard was handled equally well by Mr. Walter Lang. All three cars were well maintained. The Rev. Cosmo Gordon Lang, at the time he was Bishop of Stepney, would sometimes visit the family in the Vale of Dedham and enjoy the pleasures of motoring.
After 1913 the Germain became the property of the Marriage family of Alresford Hall, near Colchester. During this time it suffered a broken crankshaft and the well-known firm of Laystall made a replacement. It finally became a builder’s truck in Marks Tey, Essex. Perhaps someone remembers it in this form and where it actually finished up ?
Besides the Germain the Wilson Marriage family owned a beautiful 6-cylinder Napier cream colour open tourer. They were very proud of this car, and a small 2-cylinder de Dion was used by their traveller. This firm enjoyed a reputation for keeping their employees. Maybe someone remembers the Napier ?
In Ipswich in 1908 the New Orleans car was being assembled under licence by Messrs. Turners, at Wolseley’s Gate. The firm is still in business in Ipswich. About this time Messrs. E.H. Bentall, Agricultural Engineers, of Heybridge, Maldon, Essex, were making two 2-cylinder cars, one of nearly square dimensions, and one over-square; the last-named showed remarkable pulling power on the very steep Maldon Hill. When the makers decided to make a 4-cylinder car, they informed all their customers of the intention and improvement in the hoped for performance.
One satisfied and sentimental owner of a 2-cylinder Bentall (as he described himself) asked the company to give him a price for adding two more cylinders to his existing car. One of the Bentall employees, a Mr. Frederick Lewin, asked the Directors to give the car another name, far removed from farming machinery. He failed to impress his employers and the name Bentall remained. The last Bentall I remember was an open tourer owned by Mr. Ernest Bibby of Ardleigh Tavern, Essex, who used it for hire work (F 2114).
The village bakery of John Eley & Son of Dedham ran a 1906 16/20 Humber tourer (F 2937). The coach-building concern of Joseph Cole of Stratford-St.-Mary built a van body to take the place of the touring body to enable them to deliver the bread and other provisions in the surrounding villages during the week. It only took 3/4-of-an-hour to change the bodies over, with ropes and pulleys and the undoing of about six bolts, and the van was once again a pleasure car. It had a very easy gear-change, anti-clockwise engine, and gave its owners and associates, and employees, a lot of pleasure when summer days were longest, on the dusty flint roads in Essex (pre-1914). It was supplied by Bloomfield Bros., Braintree (Agents for Bayard cars).—J. Harvey.
The Montagu Motor Museum is open every day, Sundays included, from 10.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Car parking is free.