Vintage Postbag, July 1968

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“Where Have All the Peugeots Gone?”

Sir,

Your article on the Peugeots ends up with Mrs. Menzies’ car having made its last appearance at Shelsley-Walsh. I can add a senile reminiscence to this.

This car was bought by Ewart Walter at the time when both of us were impecunious sub-lieutenants (E) at the Royal Naval Engineering College, Keyham. He drove this on the road round about the district to the surprise and joy of all and I was his mechanic often.

Eventually he entered this at the speed trials on the Southport sands, I think in 1925, but there must be records to confirm this. I was his mechanic and the apotheosis of the car was in the 10-mile race so that the mechanic spent his time in the spacious cockpit maintaining air pressure and also pumping up oil. Ewart Walter had a deadpan face, and after a short time there was a frightful noise in the transmission caused by an annular ring on the flywheel, added to make weight for some obscure reason, coming adrift, so I shouted “transmission” at him and he looked more deadpan still. Shortly before the end of the race, which he won, there was a frightful noise from the engine, so I shouted “bearings” and his face then looked as though it had been carved from granite.

At this meeting we met George Pemberton, of Pembertons-every-Tuesday Motor Auction, in Atkinson Street, Manchester, and Henry Hollingdrake, both of whom became our firm friends, but both, alas, now dead.

Since the car was discovered to have run all its bearings and broken two pistons in spite a crossing the line at well over 100 m.p.h., Ewart could not afford to keep it. So George Pemberton bought it with a view to racing at Southport sands. The engine was totally overhauled but when started it ran its bearings again. Finally, it was fitted with phosphor bronze bearings; then I believe the crankcase broke. It is now evident (hindsight, perhaps!) that the only part of the car which had not been renewed was the oil pump, and after many year of hard work this had worn out, and insufficient pressure was available.

Ewart Walter was killed at Brooklands before the last war, but it is possible that some of the personnel at the motor auction, which believe still exists, might know this car’s final destination.

Hitchin. C. R. A. Grant (Managing Director),

Barnet Instruments Limited.

* * *

The Wolseley Ten—and “Babs”

Sir,

E. H. Rogers is right and you are wrong, in spite of your “three different sources”! My mother bought a new Wolseley Ten for £325 in 1922, which had a B.L.I.C. magneto and not coil ignition, as you suggest.

Incidentally, my mother only bought this car because it had a self-starter; as she was recovering from breaking her ribs and was forbidden to crank her 40 hp. Mercedes. She broke her ribs by being run over when the hand-brake ratchet of the Mercedes let go suddenly as she was re-lighting one of the lamps on a hill.

Regarding the “Babs” controversy, I think you will find that the accident was caused by a rear axle radius-arm folding up and letting the chain fly free. I have a photograph which appears to confirm this.

Edenbridge. John V. Bolster.

* * *

The Sunbeam “Cub”

Sir,

Your issue of June confirms the horrifying and incredible rumour that the Rootes Group has given the 1924 G.P. Sunbeam to Prince Rainier of Monaco, for what they describe as “good reasons”.

The public is entitled to demand to know what these are. It would need a remarkably “good reason” to export one of Britain’s most historic racing cars. When Anthony Heal passed this and the 1922 T.T. car over to Rootes I am certain he did so with the idea that they should he safely preserved for posterity in this country, not frittered away on foreign princes.

The Rootes Group may, for all I know, have good reasons for not being particularly proud of its own history, but, if so, it is no “good reason” for trying to bury the history of the Sunbeam Company, which did so much to enhance British prestige.

London, S.W.1. Cecil Clutton.

* * *

What Is It?

Sir,

I wonder if anyone could help me to identify an unusual chassis? The chassis was used in a “special” which was registered in 1934 with the number BPK40 and is described in the log book as a Martin Special experimental car. The chassis, or at least the axles, appear to be much older than this. Some details are as follows:—

1. Chassis No.: Ex.3.

2. Wheelbase: Approximately 10 ft. 1 in.

3. Width of axles (to outer face of brake drums): Front, 4 ft. 5 in.; rear 4 ft. 4 in.

4. Diameter of brake drums: Front, 15 in.; rear, 14 in.

5. All hubs have 112 splines.

6. The front axle is a solid forging, circular in section.

7. Brakes are rod-operated (Perrot).

While in the form of a special, it had open sports bodywork and radiators from various makes of car, and was at one time fitted with a 20.9 h.p. vintage Sunbeam engine and gearbox.

Any information would be most appreciated.

Rayleigh. John T. G. Tregenza.

* * *

Pre-War Monte Carlo Rallies

Sir,

I enjoyed reading Betty Haig’s article on Amy Johnson (January issue), but there are one or two points which, I think, need correction. First, Miss Haig implies that a Lago Talbot won the 1938 Monte Carlo Rally. This, in fact, was won by Bakker-Sucht, assisted by Karel Tow and K. S. Bosendregt, in a Ford V8 coupé. Miss Haig might have been thinking of René le Begue, whose Talbot would have been the winner but for a protest.

Secondly, I don’t think that it was during the early days of the Rally when M. Lamberjack competed in his Sourer oil-engined charabanc—but as late as 1935 or ’36.

Stockport. David L. Gandhi.

* * *

Dennis “Toastrack”

Sir,

I was very pleased to see a photograph of our 1929 Dennis “Toastrack” bus in the latest edition of Motor Sport. There is, however, a mistake in the caption which has arisen from ambiguity in the H.C.V.C. programme. The vehicle is, in fact, still owned by the Engineering Faculty Society of Southampton University. I was merely the entrant for the event. I would be very grateful if you could find room to publish this correction in the July issue as there may be many ex-students who remember the Toastrack and may be worried that it has been sold.

You may be interested to know that it is being taken on a 5½-week tour of Europe on July 14th. We hope to cross the Alps to Italy and pray that it will go trouble free. It does some 4,000 miles a year in this country (mostly on pub crawls—only one driver for 20 people to beat the breathalyser) without any major trouble.

Thank you for publishing the photograph—we feel very honoured.

Southampton. M. R. Clarke.

* * *

The Hodgson

Sir,

My father remembers, in his younger days, having regularly seen in our locality a car which he believes bore our name. He is certain that it was called the Hodgson. It was a stark two-seater sports model with an open duck-tailed aluminium body and gear lever and brake on the outside. I am naturally intrigued and would appreciate it if you or any other readers could give me any information about this rare (if existent) vehicle.

Thank you also for a most excellent magazine, especially for the sections dealing with the older vehicles and for the impartial road-tests.

Leeds. John S. Hodgson.

[Quite correct. The Hodgson was a sports car of the mid-nineteen-twenties, and at least one appeared in sand races in those days. They were made by Hodgson Motors, 25 Whitehall Road, Leeds, during 1924. Now we wait hopefully to hear from someone who owned or drove one.—Ed.]

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