Veteran-Edwardian-vintage, July 1971

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A section devoted to old-car matters

All seems well….
The outlook in the vintage/veteran world seems to be “set-fair”, with races, for historic racing and sports cars being encouraged by the JCB Excavator Championship, as reported in Motor Sport last month, as well as by the VSCC, so that post-war sports cars of historic implication which the latter influential club, wisely we think, declines to cater for, will be seen racing with pre-and post-war historic single-seaters. All to the good, providing the thing does not get out of hand, with too many meetings—it used to be nice to be able to remember who had won all the important races, as one could in the Brooklands days, with the International Trophy, Empire Trophy, Relay Race and “500” as the main fixtures. And as one could until recently, with four VSCC race meetings to a season.

The encouragement of historic sports cars by the Historic Sports Car Club has its merits, however, and stems from spade work by the Frazer Nash CC (not to be confused with the “Chain-Gang” Frazer Nash Section of the VSCC) who, after all, cater for one of the most deserving makes of car in this category.

So far as encouragement of new recruits to the Veteran CC and VSCC is concerned, prices of appropriate cars seem to be coming down, if we disregard some of those quoted as realised at auction sales, which we do not always regard as reliable, although certain journals insist on proclaiming them. In any case the most extraordinary things happen at such sales and, in our opinion, buyers may do better dealing with private advertisers or established specialist traders when shopping for elderly motor vehicles. On this score, we continue to think that one-make club-support only, for non-p.v.t. post-1931 cars, and a date-line set at pre-1941 for all “antique” vehicles is essential if competitive prices of such cars are to prevail, thus enabling the rising generation to afford to project themselves back into the pre-WW II motoring-past.

If such cars have their field of activity increased by acceptance to all Club functions those who live, even grow mighty prosperous, by selling them, will be able to raise their prices. It is solely on this basis that we persist with this dictum, not from any desire to elevate the “status” or value of vintage and p.v.t. vehicles as such, at the expense of those lesser but entirely worthy makes and types which grace the one-make scene and even, in some cases, continue to provide practical everyday transport.

At one time it seemed possible that VSCC historic car races might be enlivened by an official entry from Mercedes-Benz of their Museum’s W125 and W163 GP cars, perhaps driven in a Seaman Trophy race by Lang and other ex-works drivers. They sent them to OuIton Park for Tony Brooks and Peter Collins to demonstrate, the former puzzled by a curious vibration, until he realised that never before had he experienced wheel-spin on a dry road in top gear, and the late Reg Parnell demonstrated one of these W163 Mercedes-Benz at Silverstone, unfortunately in the wet.

Now, however, their racing days have been declared over but Colin Crabbe has his re-built ex-hill-climb W125 Mercedes Benz which we hope to have seen in a race by the time this issue of Motor Sport appears. It would be exciting if it could be joined by a V16 BRM (the Owen Organisation’s car which is on loan to the Montagu Museum presumably being in running order if the proper fuel could be brewed for it?), Dennis Poore’s pre-war 3.8-litre Alfa Romeo, which seems to be in permanent hibernation, and perhaps by a Vanwall, even by an Alfetta from Turin, where they could also find a works driver to handle it! Wishful thinking, maybe, and, as it is, the scene is bright enough….

In view of the interest displayed in historic-car races it is a pity they are so often put on as the last item of a meeting, following a surfeit of other sorts of racing, when the spectators may be restless to go home and will inevitably compare performances with what has gone before. Also, of course, historic cars are not at their best in the rain….

Another matter of some concern to owners of presentable veteran and vintage cars is the increasing number of fetes, jamborees, garden parties, general rallies, horse-shows and the like to which such vehicles are invited, in order to add to the attraction and draw larger crowds, but at which they are sometimes given inadequate protection and their owners very little compensation for the time and trouble occasioned by attending. The old-car hobby must not degenerate into merely providing a laugh for the uninitiated, and while public appearances in the right places do only good to the movement, some owners are now restricting themselves to deserving charity-events.

For the record, recent historic-car races have worked out as follows: At the BARC Silverstone Meeting on May 16th the 5-laps Pre-1940 Handicap saw Bianchi in his Alvis Silver Eagle Special win the Brooklands Society Trophy at 66.26 m.p.h., Russell’s Riley TT Sprite finishing second and Venables-Llewelyn third, after fastest lap at 80.85 m.p.h., in his ERA.

At the Martini Silverstone Meeting on June 5th the Historic race was a huge success and the mixing of the sports and racing cars was definitely a good idea. Neil Corner did rather run away with the race driving the 3-litre Aston Martin DBR4. Chase was given by a gaggle of Jaguar “D”-types initially led by Mike Franey in the Hexagon of Highgate car until that dropped a valve. From then on Martin Morris in his “D”-type and Willie Green in the JCB-owned example took up the cudgels and Green finally spun on the last lap after some Duncan Hamilton-style opposite lock slides. So Morris was second from Nigel Moores’ “D”-type.

Making his comeback was the Hon. Patrick Lindsay in Corner’s rebuilt Maserati 250F, in which he finished fourth ahead of Green, Brian Classick’s Lister-Jaguar coupé, Pilkington’s Talbot-Lago and Peter Waller, who drove superbly in the Alfa Romeo P3. Maserati enthusiasts were particularly well catered for with Cooper’s concours 300s, Fellowes 405S and the later Tipo 60 and 61 birdcages of Bob Owen driven by himself and Brian Joscelyne all sounding crisp.

During the morning lunch break it was great to see Colin Crabbe giving the first public run to the Mereedes-Benz W125 which his firm has restored beautifully over the last few years. Neil Corner had better watch out when this 600-b.h.p. monster gets in its stride.

The next JCB Championship round is on July 10th; the next VSCC race meeting was at Oulton Park on June 19th, unfortunately too late to report in this issue.—W. B.