STD Register Rally, Wolverhampton (June 14th)
A smaller one-make, or rather three-make, gathering, took place when the STD Register, catering for Wolverhampton Sunbeam, Roesch Talbot, Lago Talbot and Darracq cars, returned to Sunbeam’s birthplace for the 19th time. Most of the cars which attended were well known to the Register and the idea of inviting other Wolverhampton makes attracted only one lone Star. albeit an interesting one, for it was Marsh’s 1908 12-h.p. model complete with original jack and Dunlop puncture repair outfit. The equally-oldest car present was Wilson’s 1908 Model-R Darracq twin–cylinder Double Phaeton, abandoned in 1924, discovered in 1952, restored by 1965. The oldest Sunbeam was Walker’s 1919 Sixteen tourer, which has never missed this rally and which regular attenders have seen improve in condition as the years rolled on.
Either the hot weather, the incentive of the Age/Distance contest (which this year was measured in straight lines between telegram points, which prompted driving over fast roads where speed could mount up, whereas we would have thought winding secondary routes more appropriate to these cars or a combination of both, brought mechanical trouble. Harper, bringing his tatty Sunbeam 16 fabric saloon from Scotland had a chunk fall out of the water pump 20 miles from Glasgow, but a helpful Morris Minor driver stopped, repaired the gap with welding wire and the Sunbeam arrived at Wolverhampton, consuming 60 gallons of water en route. The body is of Scottish manufacture and is to be re-covered. Hughes had the water-pump spindle of his Sunbeam Speed 20 shear and arrived by ‘bus from Smethwick, Durnford had been delayed when his Sunbeam Sports 25 was found to be suffering from loose balls in its Marles steering-box (it is one of six assembled by Rootes after the Sunbeam collapse) and Welsh never even started, having found the sump of his immaculate 1926 twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam full of water. Another unfortunate was Neate, winner of last year’s age/distance prize, who had stayed at home in Honiton rebuilding the engine of his 1925 14/40 Sunbeam because it refused to fire on all him cylinders.
Others were more fortunate, Hobbs’ fine 1926 Sunbeam 20/60 Doctor’s fixed-head coupe making its first long journey, from Hastings, successfully after a five-year rebuild, Smith’s 1929 Talbot 14/55 coupe being on its first outing after two years of restoration, and Moores winning the distance thing by using relays of drivers to shuttle his ex-Show model 1936 Talbot 110 Freestone & Webb saloon between his home and places like Leeds, Sheffield, etc., so that it notched up some 650 miles. Moores was also supporting the event with his lofty 1921 Sunbeam limousine and his splendidly rebuilt ex-Esplen Talbot 90 Brooklands model, white when raced, now green fabric, and was inviting the ladies to try and effect an elegant entry into the doorless body…
After lunch at the rebuilt Castlecroft Hotel the long cavalcade of Sunbeams was given the traditional efficient police escort past the old Moorfields factory to West Park, to be critically examined by the public and the Judges. Five of the cars were fabric-bodied, Alexander’s Sunbeam 14/40 sports model was present, which Coatalen had caused to be endowed with a special fully-machined crank, h.c. pistons and a big-bore carburetter. Collis’ 1927 Sunbeam Twenty tourer was said to be tuned and displayed a crushed front mudguard, A. Rawlings’ Talbot, a 1928 coupe, was the oldest Talbot, rebuilt over twelve years in between raising a family and building a house, Slade had a rare Page & Hunt-bodied 1928 Sunbeam 16 d.h. coupe, with “railway” door handles, Craven’s 16.9 coupe sported cycle front wings, Durnford’s 20.9 coupe has original dual ignition and oil-cooler, Frost’s well-used 18.2 coupe had a child’s crash-pad on its dash, and there were such contrasts in Sunbeams as a 1934 saloon exported new to S. Africa but brought back to England in 1948, this one, like Plant’s Talbot 75 and V. Rawlings’ Talbot 75 being in regular use, and Cooper’s 1931 20 saloon with two owners only and its original toolkit and James’ 1931 20 saloon which had one owner up to 1968.
Back at the Castlecroft, Mrs. Boddy presented the prizes, the Perkins Memorial Trophy going to H. Harrison for his creditable restoration of a 1924 Sunbeam 14/40 tourer which had been derelict since before the war. Peter Moores, as recounted, took the Rootes Trophy, and pride of ownership awards went to Harrison, Moores, Wiggins for his 10/23 Talbot tourer, Wilson, Smith, Mrs. Acock (1911 Darracq, secured in scrap condition in 1954), Hobbs and Slade. At the Park two Sunbeam motorcycles had joined in, a 1939 B25 and a 1924 Long-stroke, and someone came on a Sunbeam Ladies’ bicycle, all, of course, with the “little oil-bath”.
As we drove home, our 1930 Sunbeam greenhouse compelled to take the long climb over Clee Hill due to the inadequacy of sign-posting to the direct road to Ludlow in hilly Bridgnorth, we reflected on the healthy state of the one-make organisations, for that same day hundreds of Rolls-Royces were assembled at Blenheim and one Sunbeam owner was absent from Wolverhampton because he had an Avon Standard to take to the pre-war Standard/Triumph rally at Woburn. Next month Rileys return to Coventry on July 4th/5th, and Austin 7s to Beaulieu on the 5th, there is the Austin Ten/Four rally at Beaulieu on the 18th/19th, 30/98 Vauxhalls are to parade at the VSCC Silverstone meeting and we hear a possible Jaguar gathering at the British Grand Prix. And so on. And why not, for goodness sake? – W.B.