A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
The vintage car movement and its associated derivatives has never been in better or more active fettle and it would be quite impossible to estimate how many people derive pleasure and entertainment from the numerous rallies and other fixtures that occupy every summer week-end and represent such a typically English form of motoring entertainment. Few of the older cars would remain usable were it not for the Dunlop Tyre Company and its commendable foresight in retaining moulds for making obsolete sizes of tyres. This service rendered to the veteran and vintage world by Dunlop is something on which no adequate thanks can be bestowed. In America Firestone operate a similar service and one gathers that Germans in need of tyres in obsolete sizes can get help from Continental.
Now, in addition to continuing to supply new tyres in pre-war sizes, Dunlop have issued an extremely useful booklet explaining what this service is about. “Veteran and Vintage Tyres” not only lists the tyres and tubes still being manufactured by Dunlop and the sizes which are interchangeable with those no longer available, but illustrates the difference between wired-on, straight-sided and beaded-edge tyres, and deals with the dimensions, reference numbers, rim standards, and pressures for given loads of veteran and vintage tyres ranging from 7.0.0 x 17 to 7.00 x 21 and 30 x 3 /2, to 895 x 135 (not forgetting 32 x 41, the sole surviving straight-sided tyre).
There is also an interesting historical explanation about tyre evolution and illustrations of Dunlop tread-patterns from the early chevron and triple-stud to the F4 and B5. This exceedingly useful reference work concludes with a code of rim bands to suit rims from 2.50 x 20 to 5 x 21. It will be indispensable to most old-car owners and is available free, if any copies are still available, on receipt of a 6d. stamp and mention of Motor Sport, to the agents for Dunlop tyres of this sort, Vintage Tyre Supplies Ltd., 30, Dalston Gardens, Honeypot Lane, Stanmore, Middlesex. —
The V.S.C.C. Edwardian Light Car Rally (June 12th)
This gentle but popular annual event took place this year over roads of North Wiltshire, after competitors had assembled at Mr. and Mrs. Arnold-Forster’s residence. R.A.C. regulations no longer permit simple hill-restarts and sprints to be included, although it is difficult to see what harm these could do on quiet country roads. So the event is merely a navigational exercise, for which four hours were allowed for the 40-mile route.
This time the entry of 29 vintage light cars and half-a-dozen Edwardians was of a much higher overall standard of presentation than in recent years. While the Concours d’Elegance was taking place in the period setting of Salthrop House we noted that Riddle was using four push-rods on his G.N., admired Savage’s very nice Rover 8 2-seater, observed once again the 4-bladed metal fan that assists the cooling on Cameron’s flat-twin A.B.C., which has but two aero-screens as protection for its occupant, and coveted Dr. Barnard’s extremely smart r.w.b. Fiat 501 2-seater.
Quite a number of the competitors were driving r.w.b. cars, such as Diffey and Capt. Leach in their 1926 Humber 9/20 tourers and Kane in his 1922 Morris-Oxford 2-seater, although Anson’s 1927 Humber 9/20 tourer had expanding front brakes to supplement its exposed contracting back brakes.
Humbers were out in force, Dighton’s 1928 9/20 tourer being present, while Contreras was working on his Fiat 509b tourer, Giles was lucky in being in a 1927 Austin 7 metal saloon, for the day began with heavy rain, but Parks and the Cardys had Chummies. Cellophane bags protected the lamps of Caudle’s 1912 Buick and Saunders’ 1913 model-T Ford tourer made a nice contrast with Lt.-Col. Gresham’s 1912 Rolls-Royce.
The rain gave over, and off they went. At the first Control, where a British Legion Rally was coming from the opposite direction—did they tell the R.A.C. about their rally, I wonder! —Barry Clark arrived well ahead of anyone else in his sporting 1913 Talbot 25, brakes squealing. Next to appear along the gated, tree-lined road was Woodburn in his sports Gwynne 8, then Abrahams in his disc-wheeled Singer Junior, small boy alone in the back, and Jarrett’s “rorty” side-valve Riley saloon, lady navigator also using the back seat. The brakes of Dighton’s Humber made themselves heard, Mrs. Curdy, navigating her Austin, with three children in the back, leapt out to secure the bonnet, and just before we left the V.S.C.C,. President, Ron Barker, came into view in his 1908 Napier, just as if we had transported ourselves back into the Edwardian era.—W. B.
The Lady Rachel Trophy : D. Woodburn (1925 Gwynne)
Edwardian Class ;
First Class Awards : B.M. Clark (1913 Talbot), and S.F. Caudle (1912 Buick).
Light Car Class ;
First Class Awards : D.K. Woodburn (1925 Gwynne), Dr. R.O. Barnard (1922 Fiat), and Dr. I.R. Cardy (1925 Austin)
Second Class Awards : E.J. Riddle (1921 G.N.), and J.K. Milner (1926 A.C.)
Third Class Awards : D.R. Bell (1924 Talbot ), and D.T.R. Dighton (1928 Humber)
Isn’t accuracy important?
Man, in his many pursuits, sooner or later makes mistakes— it seems that his ingenuity is about to be outwitted by rats, which are apparently multiplying rapidly and resisting all known poisons. When we commit the inevitable error we usually correct it, for the sake of recent and future historians. When a weekly contemporary published an article on old cars which it called “Some Vintage Pops” we noticed that the author had made some mistakes, like crediting the Triumph Super Seven with a separate gearbox, whereas this was always in unit with the engine, expressing surprise at its smooth running but omitting reference to its 3-bearing crankshaft, being astonished that it had front brakes (in 1927 !) but omitting to observe they were hydraulically-operated, ascribing to this car a massive chassis frame and gearlever it did not possess, giving the wrong body to a Standard Nine, an incorrect caption to a picture of an Austin Ten, etc. Innocently we wrote a letter of correction, to help historians. Back came a reply from an Assistant Editor of “Britain’s Best Motoring Magazine,” as they style themselves, saying this wasn’t a serious vintage history just a bit of old chat and light relief. But surely in technical journals, even light-hearted contributors should get the facts right or suffer corrections if they don’t ?
“If motors teach us anything, we ought to learn from them that June is no month to be anywhere but in the heart of the country. They tell me the height of the season is now. Even 30 miles to the westward of Ascot our roads, morning and evening, are alive with cars full of very hot-looking people, Wrapped up in veils and dust-coats, all seemingly anxious, and on the outward journey absorbed in fear that the blocks of cars, when they approach the race-course, will never let them get near to it. I did not go to Ascot this year. If I had gone, I should have travelled by train. To drive one’s good car there from London seems to me as unpleasurable as to make the journey on horseback. Cars in London are all right, the traffic keeps moving and ever strikes an average. Cars in the country are in their proper sphere. But cars from London to a place where 10,000 others are heading are nothing but tribulation and disappointment. Once upon a time when motors were few in the land, they were joys unspeakable, but now the time has come to realise fully that the use of them for getting to overcrowded pleasure grounds from London has become “napoo.”—,Owen John writing in The Autocar of July 3rd, 1920.
A 1924/5 Arrol-Johnston has been found and is to be restored after spending 37 years in the garage into which it was driven by its former owner. A 1931 A.J.S. saloon exists in Australia, probably the only one there is in running order, and a reader has found a 1934 8-h.p. Matford (the French Ford, and seeks information on it). In Scotland a Mobile Police Force borrows a 30/98 Vauxhall for part of its training. A number of early cars, including a 1906 racing car, are reported to have turned up “somewhere in England” in the V.C.C. magazine.
A reader who is restoring a Vernon-Derby would like to hear from past and present owners of these cars. A straight-8 Renault, laid up since 1953, is rumoured to be for sale. There was proof that prices are dropping drastically, at the Woburn Used-Car Fair, where a 1923 Morgan 3-wheeler made £44, a model-B Ford 30 and a Trojan van £32.
Future V.S.C.C. fixtures
This month the Vintage S.C.C. holds driving tests at Blackbushe Airport on July 2nd and its second Silverstone Race Meeting of the season on July 30th. The latter will count towards the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest and there is to be a special parade of Edwardians. It is anticipated that Cameron Millar’s 250F Maserati and Peter Moore’s single-seater s.v. Austin 7, absent from Oulton Park, will run at Silverstone. Details from I W. Carson, 3, Kingsclere House Stables, Kingsclere, Newbury, Berkshire.
Austins at Beaulieu
This year the 750 M.C. Rally of the Austin Sevens takes place in the Montagu Motor Museum grounds on July 10th—so if you have one of these little cars, any year from 1921 to 1939, or enjoy seeing them in quantity……
Back to their birthplaces
Two Registers are going back this month to the birthplaces of the cars they cater for. The Riley Register has its Coventry Rally on July 2nd/3rd, while on July 3rd the S.T.D. Register holds its annual Wolverhampton Rally and parade. Pre-Routes’ Sunbeams having been made in this town.
Another Brooklands Re-Union
Hot sunshine, as is traditional, sealed the success of this year’s Brooklands Re-Union, when the British Aircraft Corporation thoughtfully opened the old Motor Course to those who had associations with it before the war. So, on June 11th, the Brooklands Road once again saw exciting cars arriving, to turn in at the old Fork entrance, for their owners’ conducted tour of the Track, with Bill Boddv and Dudley Gahagan as their hosts. The pre-war vehicles, which included Roger Richmond’s ex-Robin Jackson Morgan, its big vee-twin engine making nostalgic background music, Russ-Turner’s ex-Birkin blower Bentley lap-record holder, several more vintage Bentleys, including Merten’s 1928 4 1/2-litre with 430,000 miles behind it. Monica Whincop’s H.R.G., a big Buick saloon from Byfleet, Frazer-Nash, Alvis, and other cars which could, some of which were, visitors in contemporary times, led the long crocodile through the grounds. Following the Land-Rover of the Security Police, who themselves remember much Brooklands history, their Chief having ridden one or the last vehicles to use the Track, a racing Norton, after war had again broken out. Gahagan towed an ex-Bellevue Garage M.G. Magnette behind his Volvo, Derrington his Brooklands Salmson behind his old-type M.G. Magnette saloon.
To list all the celebrities and enthusiasts who responded to this call to keep the memory of Brooklands alive would take too much spare—but Jack Duller said to hell with haymaking and drove up in his Volvo from his Devon farm, staying two nights at the “Hand & Spear,” and W.B. Scott was driven down from Norfolk, remaining till midnight. Mr. and Mrs. Peter Cavanagh, of B.B.C. fame, were amongst the keenest gatherers of nostalgia, the Thomson & Taylor mechanics, Birkin’s riding-mechanic, and Lycetes mechanic, were there, so was Noel Pope, the motorcycle lap-record holder, and Garland, who as a youth manned the Salmson pits during the 200-Mile Race.
Betty Haig came in a Lotus Elan with her former navigator, Miss Lambert (now Mrs. MacPherson), drivers like C.T.W. Penn. D.I.T. Smith, E. Sawers, P.V.G. Selby, H.O. Symonds, L. Ballarny, R.C. Fleming, R.A. Kellow, H.C. Spero, C.R. Whitcroft, R.O. Wilson-Kitchen, P. Courtney, D. Dent, M. Meo, W. Porter, G.P. Harvey-Noble, Jack Bartlett, Guy Templer, and many others, were recalling the old days, Duller even discovering the plot of nettles in which he landed when he crashed in the 2.3 Bugatti—and breaking his homeward journey to see again the Duesenberg in which he got his 130-m.p.h. badge. Paul Wyand, who filmed there, was reliving the good old days.
There were ex-spectators, marshals, officials—including C.S. Watkinson, one-time Assistant to Percy Bradley and Secretary of the B.M.C.R,C.—B.A.R.C. staff, like Mr. Lovelock, who tended the buildings on the estate, and the Dicker brothers, one of them famous as the sign-writer who painted-on the racing numbers, and even someone. G.H. Stone, who rode in the bicycleraces at the Track, while Mrs. Skinner, wife of the late Mr Kenneth Skinner, who was the -Secretary of the B.A.R.C. from 1907-1939, was driven round in Felicity Buddy’s VW. Sir E.D.W. Verner, Bt., drove around in his Alfa Romeo, L.A. Cushman brought his wife, who went as passenger at times in the racing G.N.s, an Alvis had shed its front mudguards for the occasion. Julian Jane, Brian Finglass, S.E. Harman, Brian Pickford, F.D. Nichols, W. Porter, Harold Pratley, taking a picture of the first joy-ride flight booking-office in the World, and many, many more, strolled about in the sunshine, discussed memories in the shadow of the Test Hill, the Members’ Bridge and the old restaurants, paid homage to the big Vickers-Armstrongs’ memorial to Brooklands, looked at the density of old sheds and hangars on the aerodrome, before indulging in a mass-start down the runway and out of the Track, for tea and a film-show at the “Hand & Spear.” During the evening Gahagan presented a big aerial picture of Brooklands to the Manageress, Miss Carlisle, which those present signed and which is to hang in the bar of this hotel of many motor-racing memories. They saw, too, one well preserved piece of the home banking, which rumour says the B.A.C. will never destroy, because the ashes of the late Capt. Duncan-Davis. and the late Freddie Dixon were scattered there.
That Brooklands is not forgotten was evident by the big slogan— BRING BACK BROOK LANDS—which someone had painted on the home banking; that it takes a lot of effacing was brought home when Peter Cavanagh spotted the words “For Speed…” still visible on the safety-kerb atop the Members’ banking, part of a slogan reading “For Speed and Comfort drive a Ford V8” which was there before the war.
Finally, one by one the visitors departed and the party broke up, as they left Weybridge, where Victorian mansions still rub shoulders with ghastly modern flats, and where one garage houses a great 1912 Lorraine-Dietrich well known at the track, another an enormous 1908 Napier, to the everyday affairs of 1966.—W.B.
N.B.—So much interest was shown that one wonders whether the time has come to form a Brooklands Society, with a quarterly or bi-annual magazine to keep alive memories of the Track and in which to recount hitherto untold tales of the fraternity who raced there. Would those interested please drop me a line ?—W.B.