Veteran-Edwardian-Vintage, July 1964

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The Rolls-Royce and Bentley Pageant at Goodwood (May 23rd)

Organised jointly by the Bentley D.C., 20 Ghost Club, Midland R.-R. Club, R.-R. Enthusiasts’ Club, and the Rolls-Royce Section of the V.S.C.C. to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Rolls-Royce Company, this was the biggest one- (or two-) make assembly of all time, and completely overwhelming. For the first time in my life I felt unable to write a report that would do proper justice to an occasion. To encounter well over 1,000 Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars in the garden-party atmosphere of the Sussex circuit, under a typically English summer sky, almost every one of these fine cars immaculately turned-out, with owners fashionably attired, the ladies in appropriate attire, was indeed an occasion.

There was every conceivable model of almost every Rolls-Royce and every Bentley ever made – from 1904 to 1964, Silver Ghosts, New Phantoms, Phantom IIs, Phantom IIIs, Twenties, 20/25s, 25/30s, Wraiths, Silver Wraiths, Silver Dawns, Silver Clouds, Phantom IVs (the rare Royalty-only straight-eight), and Phantom Vs, 3-litres, 6-1/2-litres, 4-1/2-litres blown and unblown, Speed Sixes, 8-litres; 4-litres, 3-1/2-litres, 4-1/2-litres, Mk. Vs, Mk. VIs, R-types, Continentals, S-series, Le Mans-team cars, even the prototype 3-3/4-litre that preceded the first Derby-built “Silent Sports Car.” Indeed, I have it on good authority that there were approximately 185 vintage, 94 Derby and 276 Crewe-built Bentleys and about 700 Rolls-Royces present on this auspicious occasion, or some 1,255 in all. Stanley Sedgwick controlled it all with efficient precision and Mr. and Mrs. W. O. Bentley were there to see this great pageantry of fine cars.

Not having a Rolls-Royce to go in, I made the journey to Goodwood in something of the same silence, luxury and speed in a Jaguar 3.8S, arriving just in time to see a big Minerva gatecrash the sacred enclosures. After walking through the Paddock and seeing this fantastic and awe-inspiring assembly of British automobiles, I realised why the General Election had been postponed! The Prime Minister would surely have been heartened to see so many staunch Conservatives there assembled….

Every kind of Rolls-Royce was there, including the Silver Ghost armoured-car “Wedding Bells II ” from the R.A.C. Tank Museum at Bovington, which was “re-worked” in October 1947 (in fact, these vehicles saw active service in North Africa and Iraq as late as 1941), Jack Barclay’s pick-up truck, a van, and a period shooting-brake on a 1924 Ghost chassis.

Indeed, it seems possible that some 1,300 cars were present – Rolls-Royces must surely have been mass-produced in their hey-day! Some of the earliest cars came on Rolls-Royce’s scruffy India-shod Commer transporter (with maker’s name-plate removed), and MuIliner’s Austin truck. There was even an American-registered model-T Ford, to provide a sense of contrast….

To refer to even a quarter of this immense assembly individually is impossible, but pride in Britain was fostered as the great 40/50s and 8-litres glided silently round Goodwood, and Rolls-Royce Ltd. reaped invaluable publicity. The commentary exactly fitted the occasion, as individual stables, mixed stables and representative models paraded, culminating in a Grand Parade which started only 23 minutes late. The Duke of Richmond and Gordon mingled with the enthusiastic onlookers as the concours d’Elegance prize-winners received their prizes.

For me, the most intriguing car present was Cranfield’s flat-radiator 1922 Indianapolis Bentley, now with meticulous replica racing body and massive outside exhaust plumbing, the outside gear-lever with gear-gate inside the chassis frame, 710 x 90 tyres, reverse stop, etc. the effect only faintly spoilt by vintage S.U. fuel pumps and a battery in the tail. (Or was this an Indianapolis requirement?)

The special parade of Le Mans Bentleys was also nostalgic. They comprised Pasco’s 1926 Gallop/Thistlethwayte 3-litre, Rose’s 1928 Clement/Benjafield 4-1/2-litre, Rose’s 1928 Wood/J. Dunfee blower-4-1/2 and Price’s 1930 Davis/Dunfee Speed Six, all suitably applauded.

Between demonstrations, Quill and Bedford did aerobatics in Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane (Rolls-Royce Merlin-engined) – and this writer is fully aware that but for these fine aeroplanes we might now all be driving Mercedes-Benz! A Hawker Hart biplane added to the occasion and light ‘planes propelled by Continental engines built under licence by Rolls-Royce Ltd. also performed.

Amongst cars which happened to catch my eye were Bill Cook’s 1937 P3 making a rather crunchy change-up, Brook’s nice 1926 2-seater 20, and Taylor’s 1927 Hooper 20-h.p. with wicker hamper up behind. Wandworth drove an extremely nice 1922 3-litre, Payne’s 1924 all-weather 3-litre was neat, Waller’s 1925 3-litre had the “100-m.p.h.” radiator and Surbiton Bodies boat-tail coachwork, while Brogden’s 1927 3-litre sported racing roundels. Creamer’s 1930 4-1/2-litre Bentley had a Tickford roof, Keeler’s 1927 Vanden Plas 6-1/2-litre was very fine, Pitts drove his well-known 2,-seater ex-Birkin blower-4-1/2, Parkinson a really massive open Gurney Nutting 8-litre. Lt.-Col. Jacobs’ similar car had aero rear screens, and it was surprising to see this type of screen on Wilyman’s 1934 3-1/2-litre Bentley. Gooda’s 1963 Bentley Continental was belaboured by many badges – but to refer to them all is utterly inipossible. What, I wonder, was the total value of all these Cricklewood, Derby and Crewe products?

The entry list was commendably comprehensive and Shell-Mex. & BP Ltd. had on sale a line souvenir programme, price 5s., which reminds me that next autumn we are due for a spate of fresh Rolls-Royce literature, with Foulis, Batsford and Cassell on this lucrative band-wagon, a fierce competition between rival publishing houses.

Certainly seeing all these fine cars together “in the metal” was a truly unique and unforgettable occasion. Even the weather complied, rain only starting to fall as we got towards S. Harting on the homeward journey….

Award Winners:

Rolls-Royce Concours d’Elegance: The Booths High and Dry Trophy awarded to Best Silver Ghost: 1921 Barker double cabriolet (H. Fergusson-Wood). The Shell-Mex & B.P. Trophy awarded to the Pre-War Phantom: 1932 H. J. Mulliner 2-seater (H. R. Wilkins). The Caffyns Trophy awarded to the Best Pre-War “Small” Rolls-Royce: 1938 Thrupp and Maberly saloon (S. R. Terry). The Triplex Trophy awarded to the Best Post-War Rolls-Royce: 1964 James Young saloon (J. Barclay Ltd.).

Bentley Concours d’Elegance: The Jack Barclay Trophy awarded to the Best Vintage Bentley: 1929 4-3/4-litre Salmon saloon (S. W. Creamer). The Wadhams Trophy awarded to the Best Derby-built Bentley: 1938 Vesters Neirinx tourer (Major I. M. Floor). The Pinchin Johnson Trophy awarded to the Best Post-War Bentley: 1964 Park Ward/Mulliner drophead (R.S. Mead Ltd.).

Stable Entrants: The Avon India Rubber Company Trophy: Rolls-Royce (one owner): 1906 30-h.p. 6-cylinder, 1927 Phantom I, 1938 Phantom III (S. E. Sears). The Lucas Trophy: Bentley (one owner): 1925 3-litre, 1934 3/4-litre, 1964 S3 (J. D. Smith). The General Accident, Fire & Life Assurance Trophy: Composite (Rolls-Royce and Bentley) (one owner): 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, 1930 8-litre Bentley, 1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III.

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The Model-T Ford London-Brighton Run (May 24th)

On the day following the Rolls-Royce Anniversary Pageant at Goodwood, it was the turn of 73 model-T Fords to drive from Battersea to Brighton, via the sea-front to the Sports Arena, at the invitation of the Ford Motor Company.

I had been offered a chance to drive a model-T fire-engine but declined for a number of reasons – nobody told me it was crewed by beautiful girls in brass helmets and Bermuda shorts! Instead, we made the journey in the road-test Jaguar, although the Cortina GT would have been more appropriate.

Brighton’s fine Sports Arena is. an ideal venue for this popular annual outing and organisation went smoothly in the able care of Jimmy Graham, Ford’s Export Press Officer. The Fords were already arriving when we reached this rendezvous. Collins’ 1923 yellow tourer bore wording proclaiming a square new Ford deal from Hanger’s, Morris came in a very nice black 1925 tourer, there were several coupés with a central door on each side, such as Stevens’ 1920 model and John Bolster’s tasteful 1923 Ford. Baxter’s 1926 2-seater had a nickel radiator, the 1912 shooting-brake, one of four model-T’s brought by M. Beaumont, had exposed front seats, while Nunn’s 1914 tourer was labelled “Josephine” and had a notice on its spare wheel to say it was from Staines and still going strong. Bamford goes in for varnished wheels and lots of brass on his 1912 2-seater, Outridge’s 1911 coupé has a special radiator and is very ornate, and Chasteauneuf’s 1912 model sported a non-original single dickey-seat. Fairhurst’s 1912 model-T had a replica touring body, the square rig of which recalled those working-classes of the poem, “who came in Fords, whose features they resembled, and laughed like anything to see, the Lords and Ladies there assembled.”

One 1913 tourer was iriven by a lady all the way from Ilchester, I noticed wood-worm in the steering-wheel rim of Pitchford’s 1919 model, and Ross and Knight came in taxi-like model-T’s, the former with non-standard radiator. Not every Ford was in pristine condition but they are all lovable – even Hammond’s 1911 tourer.

Just as the 1922 Indianapolis Bentley stole the Goodwood show in my estimation, so the most exciting Ford at Brighton was Bradshaw’s 1917 Indianapolis single-seater, with single o.h.c. 16-valve Speedway head, the camshaft driven by a vertical shaft at the front of the engine, which has light-alloy pistons and magneto ignition firing two plugs per cylinder. This Ford was raced at Southport sands and on Blackpool front by the present owner’s grandfather, Parry Thomas apparently blew the engine up on Brooklands when contemplating whether to race it, and the engine has scarcely been used since Thomas had it rebuilt. The radiator, however, has been replaced by one from a vintage Wolseley Ten, alas with rubber filler-cap.

None of the model-Ts failed to get to Brighton, although one was “booked” by the police for a licensing irregularity, to which the Mayor of Brighton referred with obvious regret when making his speech at the prize-giving. The Concours d’Elegance, if that is the correct term, was judged by myself, with the very necessary aid of two model-T experts, recalled from retirement from the Ford Company for the purpose. We took into account age, originality and cleanliness, coming down heavily on magnetos and non-standard carburetters. The commercial vehicle class was a close thing between the white “Blackpool Van Transport Ltd.” van and Brewster’s van which bore the inscription on its immaculate sides: “FORD—The Universal Car. Standard 7-cwt. Van.” which should dispel any doubts the Model-T Register once had as to whether 7-cwt. or 8-cwt. was the correct designation for this model!

It was altogether a splendid occasion, with a fashion show for the ladies, a Punch and Judy show and donkey rides for the children, and lots to eat and drink. During the afternoon Ford were able to excuse the absence of their Chief Press Officer, as he was in Africa, where the Safari-Winning Cortina had been declared “The Car of the Year.” Just as a model-T gate-crashed amongst the Rolls-Royces at Goodwood, so a Twenty Royce was seen in the car park at Brighton, dwarfed by a Lincoln Continental. Again, the weather favoured the flivvers, torrential rain holding off until the cups had been presented.

Results :

Brass-radiator Class:

1st: Mary Hawkins (1913 model, from Ilchester),

2nd: T. C. Bamford (1912 model, from Stretton, Staffs),

3rd: J. S. Huggins (1915 model, from Botley Oxon).

Black and Nickel-radiator Class:

1st: A. Brown (1916 model, from Hendon),

2nd: A. G. Coster (1926 model, from Bognor),

3rd: E. W. R. Stevens (1920 model, from Buckfastleigh)

Commercials Class:

1st: V. E. Brewster (1922 7-cwt. van, from Tunbridge Wells),

2nd: P. Haworth (1921 7-cwt. van, from Blackpool),

3rd: T. Tinning (onc-tonner truck, from Carlisle).

Consolation prizes were awarded to Bradshaw’s racing model-T, the oldest driver, the youngest driver, the least-serviced vehicle, the driver booked by the police, and to Max Beaumont of the Model-T Register. The Old Motor Trophy was won by J. Keeley’s 1923 commercial, from Reading. Judges: V. Koehret R. Blackburn and W. Boddy.

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Vintage miscellany:

Arthur Jeddere-Fisher, whose Lancia Theta coupé is a frequent competitor at V.S.C.C. meetings, has another 1915 Lancia, a bare chassis, on which he intends to build a replica Savannah-race bolster-tank body. He is urgently in need of data about the Lancias in this race, conflicting reports giving victory to Billy Knipper and Hillman, although there seems no doubt that a Lancia car won this race.

A recent Maxwell House Coffee competition quoted the value of a 1923 Austin Seven tourer with a mileage of 16,000 as between £370 and £390. We thought £120 excessive for one of these cars and, even allowing for its early vintage, would have put the top price as £250. A rear-braked Mors tourer has turned up in Guernsey. The front axle of a Chrysler 75 and what appears to be a Sunbeam Sixteen chassis lie amongst the nettles beside a Hampshire country lane. A 4-cylinder Ariel light car, bought new at the 1924 Motor Show, is still in use in Berkshire in the hands of its original lady owner. John Williamson hopes it won’t be too long before the ex-Cobb, ex-Clutton 10-1/2-litre V12 Delage is racing again. A model-A Ford saloon attended the model-T Ford Battersea-Brighton Run and opinions were expressed that this annual event should be opened to these later vintage Fords in 1965. Whose was the early Armstrong Siddeley saloon, an 18 h.p. or even a 30 h.p., seen going towards London, near Redhill, on H.C.V.C. Brighton Run Sunday? A pre-war privately-built light aeroplane, with Bristol Cherub engine, is still stored in a barn, somewhere in the south of England. When the rally for old cars takes place at Caerphilly on July 11th it is to be hoped some of the entrants will be driven up Caerphilly hill, because this was a famous venue in the age of public-road speed events. Another Gwynne 8, a 1924 drophead coupé, has come to light and is being rebuilt.

* * *

“Prison-bars”:

Whereas most of us who attended the memorable Rolls-Royce and Bentley Pageant at Goodwood in May saw only stars, one expert observer dismissed the party by remarking that the champagne bottles in the litter-baskets were to him symbolic of a tasteless capitalism which is pervading the echelons of latter-day R.-R. owners, while the overflow field between the pits and the chicane reminded him of a rather superior breaker’s yard. Oh well!

* * *

Discoveries:

A 1930 11.9-h.p. o.h.c. Wolseley fabric saloon bodily in poor condition, but original, will be scrapped unless someone takes pity on it. It languishes in Surrey. We hear of two acetylene headlamps, one from a 1907 Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce, in a Hampshire hotel, which the proprietor would part with reluctantly to someone needing them for a suitable car.

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The Next V.S.C.C. Silverstone Meeting

The second of the 1964 Vintage S.C.C. Silverstone Race Meetings takes place on July 25th and those attending the circuit that day will see, hear and smell motor racing of a kind which only vintage and historic racing cars can produce. Racing commences at 12,30 p.m. and will feature the 12-lap Boulogne Trophy Race for vintage racing cars, 5-lap and 12-lap All-Comers’ Scratch Races, a 3-lap Edwardian Handicap, the Inter-Team Relay Race and 5-lap handicaps. Entries close on July 4th. Non-members wishing to attend must obtain tickets, available on receipt of a s.a.e., from T. W. Carson, 3, Kingsclere House Stables, Kingsclere, Newbury, Berkshire (Tel.: Kingsclere 323). Car park 10s., payable at the gate.

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V.S.C.C. Phoenix Evening (June 4th)

There was the usual big gathering for this social, beer-consuming assembly, with sports cars represented by Bentley, Lagonda, Frazer Nash, Alvis, and the famous Talbot GO 53. Also in evidence were D. S. Jenkinson’s pure white 328 B.M.W., a pleasant Morris-Oxford 2-seater, a towering yellow Trojan tourer, a nicely-original Ceirano tourer whose body-stylist had clearly admired a Lambda, and a heavily-disguised 8/18 Talbot. Monica Whincop brought her rebuilt Singer-H.R.G., smart in its Bugatti blue paint, with its owner in marching attire, another H.R.G. was in the car park, Saabs rushed about raucously and Gahagan’s sporty Morgan-J.A.P. 3-wheeler was so enraged to discover that it isn’t eligible for V.S.C.C. membership that it rushed away and smote the nearest p.v.t.

We also noticed an open Hillman Minx with bonnet straps and fold-flat screen, a Singer Le Mans, a Morris Minor 2-seater with quick-action radiator cap and stoneguards on its headlamps, a Ruby Austin Seven and a Land-Rover – but perhaps they belonged to members of the Old Car Club?

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V.S.C.C. Light Car Rally (June 7th)

This annual event, organised by John Milner and Barry Clark, has become a navigational rally in deference to R.A.C. stipulations rather than a trial, although it did commence with a starting-and-stopping test on private ground within the Wilton Carpet Factory, before the road section, which embraced excellent scenery, commenced. Before this test Hicks’ smart 1915/19 Stellite “Pride of Kent” had been quietly ticking over, twittering to itself, and the assembled light cars that John Stanford despises made a fascinating array, almost all of them extremely well turned out, a distinct improvement on last year.

The rarest example present was Tennant’s 1924 Ariel Four occasional four-seater, the absence of bonnet louvres improving its appearance, its engine, which is rather like that used for the later Swift Cadet, being fed by a small Smiths carburetter. Holton brought a very smart 8/18 Humber 2-seater, Woodburn his sports Gwynne 8 with water heating its inlet manifold (there is alternative exhaust-warmth almost for the asking), its 70 m.p.h. performance enhanced by a dose-ratio gearbox, and Smiths 1929 La Licorne d.h. coupé rode on impressive “Super Ballon” tyres. There were a whole lot of Austin 7 Chummies, Cardy’s having brass radiator and lamps, excused because his “proper” one had broken its crankshaft the day before. In view of the heavy showers, McCowen was wise to use a 1929 Mulliner fabric coupé-bodied Austin 7.

The test, watched by the Club Secretary himself, saw the spidery Ariel need much handle-twirling, Cardy’s Austin get away to a typical rattle of the starter-motor, both cars very neatly driven, the Gwynne fast, sporty and very neatly handled and Bell’s 1924 Talbot 10/23 2-seater, top competitor in the Concours d’Elegance judged by Nigel Arnold-Forster, start with a half-turn of its handle.

After this marshalling duties intervened and we spent the afternoon in a friendly wood, observing Parks get himself thoroughly lost in the tangle of lanes, his much-badged Singer Junior saloon departing apparently in search of static water, while Jarrett’s 1927 Riley 11.9 Chatsworth saloon became completely mislaid. Incidentally, a 1913 A.C. 2-seater was encountered near Salisbury, on another rally.

Altogether, a very enjoyable, harmless exercise, although, as last year, torrential showers spoilt the homeway runs of many of these intrepid lightcarists.

Results:

Lady Rachel Trophy: I. R. Cardy (1927 Austin 7).

First Class Awards: D. T. R. Dighton (1928 Humber 9/20); C. P. Marsh (1926 Austin).

Second Class Awards: P. R. C. Tennant (1924 Ariel); J. M. Hayward (1927 Fiat 503B).

Third Class Awards: D. K. Woodburn (1925 Gwynne Sports); M. C. Sumpster (1926 Jowett).

Concours (equal best): T. R. Kane (1922 Morris Cowley) and D. R. Bel (1924 Talbot 10/23).

Navigation Route (best): I. R. Cardy (1927 Austin 7).

Driving Test (fastest time): C. P. Marsh (1926 Austin 7).

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The Fifth Standard Register Rally (May 23rd/24th)

On May 23rd the Standard Register staged its Rally on the banks of the Avon, in Charlecote Park, Warwickshire, by kind permission of the National Trust. The Sunny afternoon saw a total of thirty competitors attending the Concours d’Elegance, and amongst the first arrivals was the 1928 8.9-h.p. “Fulham” fabric saloon owned by Cyril Robinson of Harrogate, who had driven 161 miles to reach the start, but this was not enough to vanquish John Johnson from Scarborough, who, with 214 miles, gained the Distance Award for the fourth year in succession.

As is customary at these events, members were soon comparing each other’s car and the differences, sometimes very minor, which distinguish the development of the various models through the years.

The two judges for the Concours d’Elegance were C. J. Scott, Curator of the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, and D. C. Field, Research Historian of the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain. They scrutinised the Edwardian and Vintage cars first, and there were four or five outstanding vehicles, including the 1914 9.5-h.p. “Rhyl” 2-seater entered by Keith Mitchell of Nottingham and driven by Arthur Brook, which only narrowly failed to gain an award. The first prize in this section went to John Butterworth with his 1913 9.5-h.p. “Rhyl” for the second year in succession.

The best car regardless of class came from the Best-Vintage Section and was an immaculate 1935 Standard 16-h.p. saloon entered by Gilbert Davies of Cardiff, which was driven by Colin Heard

Twenty-six cars faced the starter at Bridgetown Service Station at Stratford-upon-Avon on the following Sunday morning for the Cotswold Road Run, and the first car away at 9.30 a.m. was John Butterworth’s 1913 model. The others followed at one-minute intervals and headed southwards to the first tests at Compton Scorpion. The first encounter was with the width-judging test, and here all the competitors lost marks save David Newbury with the 1929 9.9-h.p Tourist Coupé.

The second test was “reversing to a box” and this was presided over by R. A. Davy, whose generosity in marking permitted five competitors to leave with a clean sheet, amongst them Dr. Marshman, driving Edward Fould’s 1930 9.9-h.p. “Selby” tourer, who was very neat.

The first of the observed sections followed and all competitors climbed the 1-in-7 gradient with varying degrees of energy according to their date of manufacture. By the time the second observed section had been reached, above Ilmington, one or two were boiling, including the 1921 11.6-h.p. “SLO” model from Cambridge which, despite this, was going strongly. Richard Levin’s 1933 9-h.p. saloon, which was presented to him by Mrs. Blomfield, of Essex, in memory of her husband, was driven by M. Webb. There followed a long navigational section, interrupted only by the half-way check near Chipping Camden, before cars passed through Winchcombe and tackled Belas Knap, which was radio-controlled throughout the observed section by members of the Cheltenham Branch of the Territorial Army, using “Ferret” scout cars. By this time one or two cars had lost time due to navigational blunders, but most were still going strongly, with the exception of Ronald Vivian from Nuneaton in the 1929 9.9-11.p. “Teignmouth” Special fabric saloon, who paused for coolant water at the summit, on his way to winning the Wooden Spoon. The overall winner of the Road Run was K. J. Brookes of Hornchurch, driving his 1926 “Stratford” tourer.

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Oldest Ford:

The oldest 4-cylinder Ford car in the United Kingdom and one of the rarest Fords in existence – there are believed to be only three of its kind in Europe -is now back at the Science Museum, South Kensington. The car, a Model-N Ford, has just been given a “brand new” look by Ford Main Dealers, Norman Reeves of Uxbridge, who presented the car to the Museum in 1947. Charlie Cadby, who has been with this firm for the past 18 years, was entrusted with the job of restoration. Working from old catalogues and blueprints he fitted a new hood to the car, reworked the front axle and completely overhauled the engine. As a finishing touch, sixteen coats of paint were applied to the bodywork and the “N” is now resplendent in bottle green. The car will be displayed in the Museum’s £1 m. new centre block which will be opened next year. Mr. Philip Sumner, Head of the Museum’s Traffic Department, hopes to enter the “N” for veteran car rallies so that it will be seen by a still wider public. [Good! – Ed.].