Veteran Edwardian vintage

A section devoted to od-car matters

V.S.C.C. driving tests, Fawley (May 21st)

Following a Concours d'Elegance in the rally field of the Montagu Motor Museum, won by Wrapson's 1939 Rolls-Royce Wraith saloon with "fast-back" lines, the tests were held at Fawley by permission of Esso. The star entry was First's 1930 2-litre Amilcar straight-eight d.h. coupé from Prague. It had arrived via France and Devon after some tyre trouble and two rebuildings of the differential, on the Continent and again at Burton-on-Trent. But there it was, a large neat car with Bosch headlamps and a smooth-running eight-cylinder engine. The tyre trouble wag caused by too-narrow rims but the Amilcar had made it, on three 6.00 x 18 Barum Bus tyres, a Continental, and a Michelin spare. Unfortunately, Goodwin's similar CS8 Amilcar did not materialise to meet it; if it had we should have seen two of only three straight-eight Amilcars to survive (the third being in Germany) together in this country.

Most of the competing cars were old friends. Day's 1937 4 1/2-litre Bentley converted into a lightweight sports car had an oil-cooler, and those curious bob-weights on its front brake gear thought to release the shoes should the axle wind up, these also being in full view on Page's 1939 4 1/4-litre Bentley stark, slab-tanked tourer. Another stark Derby-Bentley was Cole's 1935 3 1/2-litre. Invictas were out in force, from Jenkins' original 1926 3-litre tourer with rivets along its long bonnet to Hutton's 1928 high-chassis 4 1/2-litre which seemed undecided whether to be a chauffeur-driven saloon or a fabric-tailed racer. Skipp's unusual 3-litre was wearing an original and now very rare Invicta mascot. There were also two-low-chassis 100 m.p.h. Invictas on wide tyres. Tarring brought an alloy-bodied Anzani Frazer Nash.

Three tests took place simultaneously, rather like the action in a pre-war Crystal Palace circus, but concentrating on the Figure of Eight, I observed some very fast runs on the tarmac surface. Even Denne's unassuming 1913 Sunbeam was quick, in spite of a creaking front hub, MacMillan made his Rolls-Royce's tyres howl, Condon submitted his Empire-model A.C. to a stern test of its king-pin bushes. This car is on b.e. tyres, in spite of which there is negative clearance between those and the front mudguards, as if to discourage the prevailing tendency to equip ancient motor cars with enormous "boots," a thing taken to absurdity in the case of Harper's 1928 Chummy Austin 7, which had original-size front wheels and tiny castors at the back. This made it very stable but very funny, which is perhaps why an A30 had taken fright and rammed it, with, unfortunately, detrimental results to the alloy body.

Milner selected reverse in error for starting his A.C. but recovered instantly and made a good run, Wadsworth drove his r.w.b. Bentley fast, Welch's immaculate 1924 Wolseley A9 tourer ground away to display a fine steering lock, Wild's 1929 14.4 h.p. Armstrong Siddeley tourer, another immaculate car, actually spun its inside back wheel at the turns, to make an astonishingly rapid run, its driver afforded good visibility through a big one-pane screen, and Mrs. Hill was as neat as ever in the A.J.S., which, however, seemed to lack acceleration above about 30 m.p.h. Wrapson's R-R did it in complete silence, Rush's scruffy Riley Lynx smoked and looked to have been on fire at some time, Hill flung the A.J.S. about, losing rubber and fuel, Lincoln's fabric-bodied 16/65 O.M. went well, House in his smart International Aston Martin was hampered by a poor lock, Ridley drove the lofty Prince Henry Vauxhall steadily in 2nd gear, sliding to a stop, Hancock managed tail slides in his 16/65 O.M. with its outside handbrake, Arnold-Forster in his silver Frazer Nash was trying all the way as usual, the Franklin's pair of splendidly turned out Rover 10/25s were neat and quick. Anson made the tyres of his 9/20 Humber protest, Miss Cobb very nearly hit the guard rail in her pre-selector Riley Lynx, Hutton gave a very spirited demonstration in his Invicta but Giles used the wrong ratio and wasted the effort of a fine handbrake turn in his T.T. Replica Frazer Nash, although this did not prevent him winning the Montagu Trophy. Cardy's enviable Alvis squealed off, Butt's 1930 Austin 7 saloon rolled, Mrs. Hogg was neat and fast in Edwards' Ulster Aston Martin, Pack's 3-litre Bentley was the noisiest car there, Hirst's Railton, which one hopes he is going to paint, was extremely fast, as was Pilkington's 1750 Zagato Alfa Romeo, which spat back. Maskell's 328 B.M.W. looked nicely original, Bolton removed rubber from the tyres of his brightly shining Lancia Augusta. Jones worked hard for his tea (beer?) in his 30/98 Vauxhall, Barry Clarke's Ulster Austin smelt of "R" and Fuller showed how very effective a lightly-bodied 4 1/4-litre Bentley can be, and what good brakes they have. There were minor items of interest, like the drilled gear lever of Harding's Frazer Nash and the diamond mirror and tail lamp of Ely's Riley Ulster Imp. It was, in fact, a typical V.S.C.C. meeting and if some of the competing cars were rather down at heel, this is a reflection on the inflation of prices which is affecting vintage motoring these days. Most of the officials came in modern vehicles but Monica Whincop was present and correct in her blue H.R.G. – W. B.

Rally of Coventry-built cars (May 20th)

The eighth National Standard Register – open to pre-1940 Coventry built cars – was held at the Earl of Aylesford's Packington Park Estate at Meriden, Warwickshire, on Saturday, May 20th. Almost 50% of the entry consisted of Standard cars built between 1907 and 1938, the oldest being the Standard Register's own Roi des Belges 30-h.p. model, bearing the appropriate registration number SMC 1. Other makes to be particularly well represented were Triumph and Riley. Amongst the Standard derivatives were numerous Avon-bodied models, models, and a fine 1933 S.S.I 16-h.p. four-seater open tourer entered by Lt.-Col. D. O'Rourke. A later S.S. model (of the early "Jaguar era") was the splendidly turned-out 1937 S.S. Jaguar 100 two-seater of G. E. Davies, which carried off two of the Major awards.

Being a Coventry-orientated event, Daimlers were naturally present, too. A. H. Acock's 1910 15-11.p. two-seater won its class in the Concours d'Elegance, and the Daimler Company's own 1911 tourer (restored by Daimler apprentices and now on loan to the Herbert Motor Museum, Coventry) took third place. Both of these cars are fitted with Daimler "Knight" sleeve-valve engines, as is the 1912 Siddeley-Deasy 18/24-h.p. tourer (also entered by the Herbert Museum) which took second place in its class in the driving tests. Outstanding in the concours was G. R. Middleton's magnificently restored 1936 Riley Sprite.

Concours judges were Mr. D. C. Field (Research Historian, Veteran Car Club), Mr. C. J. Scott (Curator, Herbert Museum), and Mr. F. K. Mitchell and Mr. J. A. Butterworth (both Of the V.C.C. and Standard Register).

Traction engines all at sea

Beaulieu's annual Traction Engine Rally took place over the Whitsun holiday. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm accompanied by torrential rain water-logged the rally field. When I looked in on the Sunday there were engines becalmed, like Sir Francis Chichester on parts of his epic voyage, at the far end of the once-grassy arena while others had stopped on the first bit of hard-standing available to them and a big Burrell showman's engine was manoeuvring on to the pathway leading to the children's go-kart track. One late-model Sentinel van was well and truly bogged down, in spite of wattle-fencing beneath its back wheels, and the public, who were arriving in considerable numbers, unless equipped with gumboots, could not venture very far into the muddy arena.

So there was nothing much to report, except for several engines bravely in steam, including Jack Hampshire's solid-tyred Foden wagon from the Isle of Wight, which had an ingenious auxiliary lighting set in its cab, consisting of a two-cylinder Stuart Turner model steam engine driving a motorcycle dynamo and obtaining its steam from the Foden's boiler. Clever! – W. B.

Historic car racing

At the A.M.O.C. Martini Trophy Meeting at Silverstone on May 20th the Historic Racing Cars' event round the outer circuit produced another excellent race. Colin Crabbe (Maserati) and Peter Brewer (Aston Martin) again engaged in a spirited duel, but this time Crabbe kept ahead, until, on lap 6 of this 15-lap race, Charles Lucas, from the back of the grid, fulfilled expectations and stormed into the lead, his Maserati 250F setting a new class lap-record of no less than 101.12 m.p.h. He won at 97.41 m.p.h. from Crabbe and Brewer. The pre-war class went to Day's E.R.A. and in the main race the placemen were followed home by Lindsay, and Bergel (Maserati) and Le Sage (Lotus).

V.E.V. Miscellany – It would be a nice gesture if the Gulf petrol station in Ashburnam Road, were to present the Morris Eight they are displaying in a mickey-taking "give it more zip with Gulf" theme to the Morris Eight Club, when they have finished with it.

More of the older cars have been seen on the road lately. On the day after Bank Holiday a smart post-war Armstrong Siddeley 234 was seen motoring slowly in a rainstorm near Guildford; a late-model Morris Minor two-seater, circa 1931/2, was encountered on the Guildford By-pass; a vintage 9/20 Humber tourer was seen hurrying along later on the journey; and a clean pre-war Morris 12/4 saloon was noticed near Sutton. Unfortunately, during the holiday a meticulously restored Nippy Austin 7, which would have been at Beaulieu on July 2nd, was run into by a modern car and wrecked. The remains of a Mendip light car have been found in a Buckinghamshire hedgerow.