Veteran-Edwardian-Vintage, July 1969

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V.S.C.C. Fixtures

Owing to premature printing schedules it has been impossible to publish a report of the Vintage S.G.C. Oulton Park Race Meeting in this issue of Motor Sport, although this popular event took place on June 21st. This absence of a report must not be allowed to cause confusion over V.S.C.C. fixtures. The next one it the Silverstone Race Meeting, on July 26th, commencing at 12.30 p.m. with the usual one-hour High Speed Trial. This will be followed by such important races as the 15-lap Hawthorn Trophy (Historic racing cars), the Pre-War Allcomers’ Scratch Race over eight laps, confined to racing cars of appropriate antiquity, and the 10-lap Boulogne Trophy (Vintage racing cars). There will also be the traditional 5-lap handicaps and a special Parade of Bentley cars, points will be scored towards the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy but a report cannot appear until our September issue. The public is welcome to attend, making payment at the gate, as for the April meeting.

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That T.T. Humber Problem

A little more has come in concerning the problem, posed in these columns some time back, as to whether three or four 1914 T.T. Humber racing cars were built. Through the thoughtfulness of Lt.-Col. C. H. D. Berthon of the Bentley D.C. we have been able to study some more photographs of the cars which ran in the race, which show Reg. Nos. (or Trade number-plates) on some of the cars, when they were, presumably, driven from Coventry to the Isle of Man before the race. These pictures were given to the B.D.C. Review by Wally Saunders, who adds a reminder that his father built the cars under Burgess, who went to Humber’s from the Iris Company, where he had apparently been co-designer with Geoffrey De Havilland’s brother. Apart from Burgess and Saunders, Witchell and Clement also moved on from Humber’s to the Bentley Company. If anything the mystery deepens, because although Wally Saunders refers to his father helping to build the three T.T. Humbers, the number-plates on them range from DU 4833 to DU 4837, which could imply, if a batch of numbers was taken out for these cars, that five were built!

The present “state of play” is summarised in the following table :

Driver in TT – Race No. – Subsequent fate of car – Reg No. (or Trade plate No.) in I.o.M. – Re-registered
Burgess – 2 – Humber’s Sgonina, Neve; still raced – DU 4833 – L 4770.
Tuck – 13 – Rampon raced it at Brooklands and later installed a Sunbeam aero-engine – DU 4834 – XA 1047.
Wright –  20 – Wallbank raced it at Brooklands. Broken up? – DU 4837 – ?

DU was a Coventry number, valid from 1903 to 1919. However, Neve’s car was re-registered after the war, in Glamorgan, obviously by Sgonina, and likewise Rampon’s, in London, which may suggest that the DU plates were indeed Humber’s Trade plates although this this is doubtful. Incidentally, Mr. Saunders says the reserve drivers for the T.T. were his father and Frank Daynell.

It may be remembered that this discussion was sparked off by a letter from a reader referring to a picture of a. T.T. Humber in France during the 1914/18 war, which suggested a fourth team car, as all the others were thought never to have left England after the race. This picture could not be found when we sought to publish it. However, Col. L. A. Liddell has been most helpful in finding a cutting of such a picture, from Lord Montagu’s Veteran & Vintage Magazine; which could well be the one first referred to, as this was said to have been sent to the Montagu Motor Museum. We have written to the M.M.M. Library, asking where the picture published in Veteran & Vintage Magazine emanated from and from whence arose the caption saying this Humber was believed to have been commandeered by the French Army for carrying dispatches during the war; to date no reply is to hand. It is impossible to tell whether this photograph was taken in France or in the I.o.M. But it certainly shows a T.T. Humber. The car has mudguards, running-boards, oil side-lamps and a Klaxon horn. It appears to have a starting handle behind the dumb-iron tie-bar, not extending forwards as on Tuck’s car. Whether the team cars were road equipped for the journey to the race I do not know, although Burgess used an o/s front mudguard on the course. Where now?
W. B.

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Midland Festival of Steam

This big steam occasion, with some 30 traction engines in the arena from 2.30 p.m. each day and a great many veteran and vintage vehicles supporting them, takes place at the County Show Ground, Stafford on July 19th and 20th. Fairs, Trade Shows, the Foden works band, etc., are additional attractions, and the takings go to the N. Staffs. & Cheshire Traction Engine Club and the Cohort Reading Room Rebuilding Committee. Admission costs 4s. (children 2s.) on the Saturday, 5s. (children 2s. 6d.) on the Sunday; car parking is free.

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V.E.V. Miscellany.—A Nottingham reader reports a rough circa-1934 six-cylinder M.G. in a barn, together with some M.G. spares. A mechanic who worked on Segrave’s 200-m.p.h. Sunbeam and who lives in Womhourne was mentioned in the Wolverhampton Express & Star recently. A splendid Pioneer Air Transport mural graces one wall if the new Terminal 1 Building at London Airport. It depicts very realistically the aeroplanes used on the first cross-Channel services, against a background of hangars and customs’ sheds, etc. Jerry Shaw, seen in the mural with one foot on the wheel of a D.H. biplane, was recently photographed by it; he was the first pilot of a recognised British International charter flight, that from London to Paris on July 15th, 1919. We were dismayed to hear that the Hon. Jock Leith, well-known pre-war racing driver, was killed in a road accident in Scotland some time ago. A garage in Lanarkshire is restoring a 9/20 Humber saloon. The owner of a village garage who died recently was riding mechanic at Brooklands to Lancaster, who raced a 16-valve Bugatti which subsequently went to New Zealand. It is said that when an estate on the Ayrshire coast was broken up a model-T Ford came to light, only to be fired for scrap metal.

Just over a year ago H. R. Owen Ltd. re-acquired a 1936 3½-litre Bentley with a sedanca body designed by Capt. Owen, which was their demonstration car before the war. They stated in their house journal that it was to be retained by them permanently, and this so appealed to us that we published a picture of the car. Now rumour says that this Bentley has been sold to an American customer for £6,000! A reader living in Middlesex is anxious to trace the history of his 1911 Regal Underslung, Reg. No. LA 6900, which won its class at the Essex County A.C. Bottledown hill-climb of 8-7-11, and is thought to have been raced at Brooklands. The rods and pistons have been drilled and the owner praises the typically Edwardian-American engine with its two 4½ in.-long main bearings and a barrel c.i. crankcase about 1/8 in. thick, which he thinks is as light as an equivalent alloy crankcase. The 3.2-litre s.v. fixed-head engine runs up to 2,000 r.p.m. and this long hung car, with gearbox in the back axle, of Stutz origin, could exceed 70 m.p.h. when in good order. Letters can be forwarded.

Still they come to light! A 1928 Buick Light Six has been partially restored after having been in storage from 1946 to 1968. The car is the 24-h.p. o.h.v. model with Fisher body. A breaker in Turton has saved a small flat-radiator 1925 Mathis saloon, which seems in good condition but requires a new fabric body, and is debating whether to sell or rebuild it, while out in Johannesburg, a 1902 Covert is still seen in charity shows, etc. It is believed to be one of seven made by B. V. Covert, of Lockport. New York, and has a single-cylinder engine and two-speed gearbox. The present owner acquired it from his father in 1927. It once held the “record” from Cape Town to Ceres in 3½ days; but later did this run in nine hours after the roads had been tarred, and in 1954 did a 3,000-mile tour of South Africa, taking five months.

A circa 1928 Morris-Oxford tourer which had lain behind a garage in Llangammarch Wells until in a rather weather-beaten condition was removed last month on a lorry, to Newmarket, presumably for restoration.

A New Zealand reader, replying to a recent query about the correct fluid to use in the jacking system of a 1936 Brough Superior, says that he has rebuilt the Jackall system on his 1938 MG VA tourer and has discovered that post-war systems used mineral oil, but that vegetable oil is essential for pre-war Jackall systems, if the rubber seals are not to be damaged. This correspondent uses Girling Crimson brake fluid and says that if seals, ball valves, etc. are spot-on, the jacks work perfectly.