A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
B.A.R.C. Historic Car Race, Thruxton (June 3rd)
10 laps—Sunny and Dry
Following tradition, the British A.R.C. held a Whitsun historic car race, as it used to do at Goodwood, at the new Thruxton circuit. A good entry of historic and pre-war cars came in, which included two Maserati 250Fs and four E.R.A.s.
The Hon. Patrick Lindsay led all the way in his black Maserati, pursued by Balmer’s Cooper-Bristol, with Merrick upholding pre-war reputations by holding third place and setting a new class lap-record of 83.48 m.p.h. in R1A before retiring with lack of oil pressure a lap from the finish. Then Balmer made the error of coming into the pits a lap too soon, losing his second place to Lockhart’s Rover Special, Bergel’s Maserati being third, followed in by Adams’ Alta and the luckless Balmer.
Lindsay averaged 84.97 m.p.h. and set a new historic car lap-record of 87.26 m.p.h. Blight, in his Talbot 105, its engine a bit “warmer” than before, took the Pre-War section of the race, although doing only nine laps, at 72.78 m.p.h. Second here was Boyce’s Meadows Frazer-Nash, with Readey’s Riley T.T. Sprite in third place. They were lucky with the weather, because not far away there were thunderstorms and torrential rain.
1st: The Hon. P. Lindsay (Maserati 250F) .. .. 84.97 m.p.h.
2nd: F. Lockhart (Rover Special).
3rd: R. Bergel (Maserati 250F)
Make A Note—Silverstone On July 20th
Although this issue of Motor Sport closed for press before we could include any comments on the V.S.C.C. Oulton Park race meeting of June 22nd, do not overlook the fact that this has happened and that therefore the Club’s third race meeting of the season takes place at Silverstone on July 20th. This is certain to provide good value for those who enjoy seeing and hearing the older cars in action. The programme, which commences at 12.30 p.m., includes the Boulogne Trophy Race over 10 laps for vintage racing cars, the 15-lap Hawthorn Trophy Race for historic racing cars, which this time one hopes will include Cameron Millar’s 8CTF Maserati, and the 8-lap Pre-War All-Comers’ Scratch Race.
Good fare indeed, supplemented by the usual 5-lap Handicaps and Group Handicaps, and a special parade of Lancia cars organised by the Lancia M.C. Entries have closed but spectators should remember this date—Silverstone, July 20th. During the meeting more points will be gained towards the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy and cash prizes.
After all the alarms and excursions it seems that Rootes’ 1924 Sunbeam “Cub” is to return to England instead of ending up in Monaco.
I have no use for replicas of historic cars, taking the view that they are either commercial gimmicks or that the effort put into building them would be far better spent restoring the real object. There is also the feeling that only a half-hearted enthusiast would want a veteran car which he can start on the button, and that some of the elusive atmosphere of vintage motoring, which makes it such a worthwhile and fascinating pursuit, is lost if there is a modern engine under a pseudo-vintage bonnet, and modern gearbox, steering and brakes.
What film companies do, for their own special purposes, is their affair. So when Cubby Broccoli decided to make a film of Ian Fleming’s children’s fantasies which were called “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, and asked Ford to build him suitable replica cars, I suppose you cannot blame Alan Mann Racing for what they produced. But let it be quite clear that the film is not about the real Chitty Bang Bang of Brooklands’ fame and that these replica old cars bear no resemblance to Count Zborowski’s now-legendary cars, one of which still exists in original trim.
Perhaps this is understandable, because, although Zborowski did have a high-speed excursion off the Home banking and into a swamp in Chitty 1, his cars were not required to leap off ramps on the South Downs, run on Cobble stones for six weeks in Bavaria, cross beaches, rush into the sea, be driven up and down flights of stone steps at a mock castle at Pinewood, or even sprout wings for flying and a hoverskirt for crossing water. Alan Mann’s are!
“Modern welding techniques make the ladder-frame chassis stronger,” I quote the Ford Motor Company, “than the originals could ever have been”; but those originals seem to have stood up pretty well to Brooklands’ racing and to suffice for present-day vintage races. The brass lamps for these fake Chittys may have been made by “one of only three men capable of constructing them”. The fact remains that these cars are fakes, horrid fakes, with Zodiac V6 engines, automatic transmissions, a Cortina back axle for the countershaft of the fake chain-drive supplementary, electric cooling fans, hydraulic brakes, alternators, and even self-starters. How Zborowski and Gallop would have laughed—or wept!
We are told that the special Goodyear 21 in. tyres are made from the latest racing compounds, which, according to Frank Gardner, “Gives the car road-holding the original did not enjoy”! Glossing over that, it is disappointing to find that Ford has got some of its facts wrong about the original Chitty Bang Bang. They tell us that ready to race Zborowski’s Maybach-engined car weighed “over five tons”. Absolute rubbish! I suggest that it weighed probably under two tons. Even Malcolm Campbell’s much more substantial Napier Lion-engined “Bluebird” weighed only three tons, while “Babs” tripped the weighbridge at 35 cwt. Ford say that the original wheels would have been constructed of wood. Absolute rubbish! All three Chittys had wire wheels.
Alan Mann made six of these fakes, four tourers and two “sleek racing models”. From the pictures I have seen, none looks remotely like any of the real Chittys. And, as Frank Gardner was photographed driving them while wearing a “bone-dome” crash-helmet, they do not look as if they are taking part in a period race, either.
For film purposes, these are obviously excellent properties. But do not go to see the film under the impression you will discover what the real Chitty-Bang-Bangs were like! That one of these fake Chittys is to be permitted to do a lap of honour at Brands Hatch on the day of the British Grand Prix is a sad reflection on the gimmicky state of modern motor racing—fortunately on the same day proper vintage and historic cars can be seen racing at Silverstone. That bids ranging from £7,000 to £10,000 per car have been offered, according to Ford, for these fakes shows just how insane you can get.—W. B.
The current issue (Vol. 12, No. 1) of Steaming, official organ of the National Traction Engine Club, is a special 122-page Showman’s Engine issue, beautifully produced and copiously illustrated. It contains many nostalgic articles, lists many engines with numbers, names and other data, and includes pull-out drawings of such engines, invaluable to model-makers and others, specifications, a pull-out photograph of Codona’s Carnival at Aberdeen in 1929, with trams in the background, an account of how electric scenic railways were driven, and details of forthcoming rallies, etc. Copies are available to non-members, for 20s. Apply to J. Crawley, Field House, Turvey, Beds., mentioning Motor Sport.
V.E.V. Odds and Ends.—A circa-1904 Rochet-Schneider with a 4-cylinder hi-block engine of 100 x 140 mm., which “died” in France in 1923, has been brought to England for restoration with V.S.C.C. events in mind. The owner seeks any information about this model in particular and Rochet-Schneiders and the associated make of Martini in general—letters can he forwarded. The March-April issue of Bulb Horn, the journal of the Veteran M.C.C. of America, contained an article by Alec Ulmann about a 1903 Sixty Mercedes, thought possibly to have been one of the ill-fated Gordon Bennett cars resurrected from the fire at Cannstadt in which the cars were damaged before the race, or even one of the borrowed cars which competed in the G.B. that year. Apparently this particular Mercedes was used regularly in America from 1905 to 1915, fitted with a narrow, doorless, aluminium four-seater body. It was then stored in a locked room high up in an office block in Manhattan, but by 1964, after more than a year’s painstaking work, it was splendidly restored, as colour pictures in Bulb Horn testify.
We are sorry to learn that Comdr. H. G. Dobbs, the pre-war Riley driver, died recently in Southampton, aged 62. L. T. C. Rolt is writing a history for Taskers, who have a fine private museum of their products at Andover, which includes a 1924 Tasker steam-wagon. A 1935 Alvis Silver Eagle chassis, with spare cylinder block, a 1937 Alvis Silver Crest with rare d.h. coupé body, with nearly a year before its next M.o.T. test, and a 1935 Alvis Silver Eagle saloon in daily use, were offered for sale recently, respectively for £40, £50, £60 and £75, which goes to show that it is still possible to enjoy p.v.t. motoring without spending more than £100.
Brian Morgan is about to commence another restoration task, on a little-remembered V12 Lagonda with streamlined saloon body, which was to have been a rival for the Bentley Cornich but completion of which, by W. O. Bentley, was interrupted by the outbreak of war In 1939. He writes a very interesting account of it in the Spring issue of The Lagonda, beautifully printed journal of the Lagonda Club. We are somewhat shaken to see that the Thirty-Forty M.C. is trying to interest its members in such 1930-40s objects as books, gramo-phones, hatpins, postcards, furniture, crockery, cutlery, needlework, vases, stamps, cushions, etc., apart from motor cars!
In September the 30/98 Vauxhall Register will again be the guests of Vauxhall Motors Ltd. at Luton. A reader requires a handbook or workshop manual for a 1929 type NLC 4½-litre Invicta. This car was dismantled when war came and the parts stored in 1914/18 ammo. boxes, to prevent it falling into the hands of the enemy! Restoration is now proceeding but data is needed on tolerances and clearances, etc. The body is a 4-door Connaught saloon. A 1925 Armstrong Siddeley minus the rear part of the body is for sale in Hampshire.
V.E.V. Miscellany.—Having commented recently about how unusual cars relieve the drabness of modern motoring, it should be recorded that we saw a Manxed M-type M.G. Midget and a pre-war straight-eight Daimler proceeding towards London from Oxford in a rainstorm late in May, and on our return to the Metropolis from Wales followed a post-war black and white Alvis TA21 saloon, going fast and riding the bumps on supple suspension, into Ledbury. A flat-nose Morris saloon was unearthed recently from a shed near Colchester. A Daimler Double-Six 50 Charlesworth limousine, built originally for a managing director of the company, with silver-plated fittings, is to be rebuilt from near-derelict condition in due course.
An A.J.S. ‘bus chassis, circa 1930, lies behind a Worcestershire garage and could probably be purchased for about £25. A 1922 T.T. Crossley Bugatti with later racing body has come to light in South Africa. A 1930-33 Dennis fire engine was being put up for sale by the National Coal Board. A 1926 Super Sport’s A.B.C. car changed hands recently in Surrey. We learn with dismay that the Rev. Martin Atkinson, President of the Trojan O.C., has been killed in a road accident.
A Rolls-Royce Twenty 3-speed engine and gearbox unit, converted for S.U. carburetters, is available in Hampshire.