A section devoted to old-car matters
World-Wide Bentley Day
It was typical of Stanley Sedgwick, President of the Bentley DC. Recognising that May 23rd of this year was the 40th Anniversary of the first run of the then-newlyformed BDC he not only beseeched all members to take their Bentleys out on the road that day but told them he would sit-in by his telephone in Cobham, Surrey, to receive messages from them from all over the World (no reverse charges accepted!).
I felt something should be done about such an ambitious and ingenious scheme, although I am no Bentley boy. What I did was to ask Johnnie Thomas, owner of a line Speed Six, to co-operate. Although he was due to compete in the International VIVA Rally soon afterwards, he readily agreed to get his Bentley rolling on Welsh roads on Anniversary Day. All I had to do was to drive to the “Metropole” in Llandrindod Wells and await events. Soon after mid-day a deep rumbling told us he had arrived in the car park. Hastening there, we were confronted by his great motor car, a 1929 61-litre Speed Six. It had commenced life with a Weymanntype close-coupled fabric saloon body by Victor Broom of Camden Town, but after some vicissitudes, including a time when it was given an ingenious but ugly two-seater body by a former owner, and being involved in a crash, Johnnie Thomas built for it its present very fine replica of a VDP long-distance fabric-covered touring body with detachable rear trunk, front and rear screens, and a hinged rear deck for access to the tonneau. R. L. Dean joined us, too, but, as his 1930 Speed Six was off the road, in his l.h.d. 328 BMW, appropriately, as I had driven over in the modern 520i BMW.
After lunch we drove in sunshine and tranquillity to my house, the Speed Six effortless with “two-five” showing on its tachometer, for tea and to ring Stanley Sedgwick, from beyond the Welsh border. We were the first to do so, not from pomposity but because I had overlooked the fact that this gigantic ‘phone-in wasn’t scheduled to start until 16.00 hour’s. No matter, it was well received, with news of some 70 Bentleys assembled outside Stanley’s residence. And the Speed Six took part, its exhaust note rumbling into the telephone. Bentley honour in Wales was upheld, and later the great car began its evening run back to Carmarthenshire.—W.B.
THE VSCC has announced that it hopes to have a special display of Riley Nines at its ShelSley Walsh hill-climb on July 10th because it is convinced tnat 50 years ago a Riley Monaco made its debut at this famous venue. But did it ? The Riley Register bases this assumption on a statement which appeared originally in the late Tom Rolt’s book, “The Horseless Carriage”, wherein he wrote that he considered the most important landmark in automobile history during the 1920s to be the appearance, “at the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb in the summer of 1926”, of the prototype Riley Nine Monaco saloon. This statement has since appeared in Dr. Birmingham’s Riley history. But it seems that Rolt may have been mistaken in the year of the Monaco’s hillclimb debut.
It is strange that the debut of such an advanced and interesting new British car should have gone unnoticed by The Autocar, in its reports of the 1926 Shelsley Walsh fixtures. Presumably the car did not Make a demonstration run, for this must surely have earned a mention in such a well-informed journal? It may be that Rolf, who apparently went in his father’s 12/50 Alvis to this event for the first time in 1926, saw a prototype Nine run up the hill to the park at the summit, perhaps driven by an official, because I do not think spectators were allowed such a privilege —in later years even those with Press passes were forbidden by Secretary Leslie Wilson to so much as walk up the course before the event commenced.
The reason why I think this unlikely is that when the great little Nine made its debut at Olympia that year it did so as a tourer. The Continental-looking Monaco fabric saloon did not appear at the Motor Show until a year later and the car which the first private owner took through the 1927 Land’s End Trial at Easter 1927, and the one lent to The Autocar early in 1927 for road-test, were both tourers —with artillery wheels, incidentally. By the time of the Shelsley Walsh Amateur hillclimb in July 1927 a Monaco saloon did make its appearance there, in the hands of A. J. Phippen, his car being described as one of the new fabric saloons. This was four months before the Monaco’s debutat Olympia, so the car would almost certainly be a prototype. But had it appeared at this popular speed event in saloon form a year earlier, assuredly it must have occasioned even more comment? So I suspect that Rolt saw it, not in 1926, but in Phippen’s hands at the first Shelsley Walsh hill-climb of 1927. Alas, the car did not make a very good showing, because it apparently had lubrication problems beforehand and ran a bearing as it ascended the famous hill. It is perhaps significant that it does not seem to have reappeared at the bigger Shelsley meeting later that. year, because we do know that between the end of 1925 and the 1926 Motor Show modifications were found necessary to the Nine’s prototype engine.
By 1928, of course, there was nothing mysterious about the Riley Nine and at Shelsley it appeared in “Brooklands” (or TT) form, and Monaco saloons driven by D. Burcher and Lionel Martin dominated the Formula contest; the “Brooklands” models gave best to two Salmsons in the I,100-c.c. sports-car class. Harking back to Phippen, he probably had associations with the Riley factory, or else was a very keen private owner, to have got hold of a Monaco so early in 1927. He had also driven a Riley described as the latest open model at Shelsley in 1926, but in the 1 1/2-litre class, this being a 10.8-h.p. sidevalve car. The bearing failure he experienced with the Monaco the following year is not unknown to other Riley Nine owners of course, myself included!
Whether I am right or wrong about this Shelsley Walsh debut of the Monaco saloon, there is no doubt that this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the famous Nine, even if a Monaco did not appear on the hill until 1927. So if the VSCC does have a display of these cars there it will not be so wide of the mark after all. And as Shelsley on a fine day is a very pleasant venue, with a history longer even than Brooklands can claim, vintage enthusiasts should in any case remember to aim for Martley, west of Worcester, on the 10th of this month.—W.B.
John Rowley’s 1913 Th. Schneider is well known in this country and now we learn that another chassis of this make, sans bodywork but with a big side-valve engine, thought to be of 1911-17 age or thereabouts, has come to light in West Germany. Curiously, the speedometer still on the dash has German markings; it is hoped to put a replica body on this interesting chassis. Still they turn up—like the 1926 Type 40 Bugatti chassis, now with a triple-SU MG six-cylinder engine, that has been found in a field in North Wales. It has apparently lain there since restoration intentions of 1958 diminished. The chassis no. is quoted as 589, if the 130C is interested. Robin Townsend has purchased the ex-Barry Clarke, Ridley, Newens 25-h.p. Talbot which was apparently a works hillclimb car and would like to have its history unravelled, if anyone can help. It is Registered D 25 and its chassis number is 4772. Although it now has replica four-seater bodywork, it is thought to have been a single-seater at one time. Letters can be forwarded.
A member of the MG Car Club of NSW has recently acquired two Q-type racing MGs, one of which is the ex-Harvey Noble Brooklands Class H lap-record holder. The respective chassis numbers arc QA0256 and QA0257 and urgent information is sought about the original condition of these cars, down to colour of engines, bodies and upholstery. Letters can be forwarded. The new General Secretary of the Alvis OC is M. J. Cummins, Woodrow House, Woodrow, Chaddesley Corbett, Near Kidderminster, Worcs. Support from British Leyland and Esso looks like enhancing the attractions of the already-successful 750 MC National Austin Seven Motor Museum at Beaulieu on July 4th. Reduced entry fees, extra classes, and tickets that cover admission on the Saturday as well as the Sunday, are some of the 1976 benefits applying to this enormous gathering of the immortal Seven in its many forms. Spectator tickets are available in advance at concession rates, 75p per adult, 30p per child, for two-day admission, from K. A. Cooke, 26 Whormerley Road, Stevenage, Herts., SG1 1SR.
What is believed to be the first all-wooden, replica boat-tailed body to be built since the war has been constructed for a Phantom II Rolls-Royce chassis by W. B. Carter of the Buckden Marina; even the mudguards are made of wood, as are the float-shaped running boards, the result being very handsome. Cars expected in the 1,000-mile BP Oil-sponsored Alvis OC Tour, now taking place around Britain and due to finish at Droitwich Spa on June 5th, range from a 1923 Alvis 12/50 to a 1967 TE21. A reader tells us that the names “Napier” and “Talbot” still readable on a wall in Tonbridge were painted thereon, circa 1906, by H. E. Hall, & Co., who were agents for these and other cars. Our informant’s father owned the Company, which was founded in 1898 and went out of business in 1933, and he says he was at Brooklands when he was eight years old, watching his father win the First 26 h.p. Race. . . Another reader wonders whether Ricardo Burzzi, mentioned by a correspondent as coming to the Austin Motor Co. in 1929 from Lancia’s, was responsible for Lancia styling in the Lambda days; he would welcome any further information.
A 1924 23/60 Vauxhall is being restored in Wiltshire and its owner needs a radiator badge to replace the original, lost when the car ran under a lorry and the header tank was crushed. Again, letters can be forwarded. In Gloucestershire, another Calthorpe has come to light. It is a 1927 10.4 h.p. model with tourer body, last taxed in 1924, a oneowner car that has apparently run only 21,000 miles, having added a few of these during the last war. Its new owner seeks data and the car needs side and rear lamps and side-curtains. It is pleasing to know that the person who sent us the photograph of early cars in Bangor, reproduced last month, has a 1955 Citroen Light 15 in which he covers 12,000 miles a year on official business, working in his spare time to keep the car, which has done 159,000 miles, in good order. The Rolls-Royce EC has its annual Concours d’Elegance and Rally at Englefield Park, near Reading on July 25th. The Spring issue of the Brooklands Society Gazette contained an interesting article about the 750 c.c. Ridley Special. The Morgan 3-Wheeler Club continues to flourish, with some 580 members and its excellent Bulletin appearing monthly. Morgans were in action at the Norfolk Park, Sheffield Speed Hill-Climb, on June 12th. A chain-drive chassis, on solid tyres, that seems to have been a car converted into a truck, has been found derelict on an Australian farm. It is known as an MAD but whether it has any association with the Paris components firm of those initials, favoured in the 1920s by Parry Thomas, is not known.
A reader has sent us colour pictures of a 7.5 Citroen used by the proprietor of Johnnie Bull’s Klaxon café in Ibiza for daily trips to the market and as a kerb-side advertisement for his Klaxon bar. C. M. Booth has opened a Collection of Historic Vehicles at Rolvenden in Kent, which includes seven different Morgan three-wheelers, as well as a 1904 Humber Olympia forecar and other vehicle The Morgan collection comprises a 1913 JAP-engincd Runabout, 1922 MAG-engined Grand Prix, a 1927 Anzani-engined Aero, ii 1927 JAP-engined Family Model, a 1927 Standard Model, and a 1935 Matchless-powered Super Sports. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but closing I pan. on Wednesdays and most Sundays, admission costs 20p, accompanied children 10p. The Automobile Club De France informs us that medallions have been struck to commemorate French motoring pioneers, from Cugnot to M. Berliet, by various artists, and including one of Louis Coatalen (1879-1962). Details from : 11, Quai de Conti, 75006 Paris. The PostVintage Humber Club’s new Secretary is : D. Edgar, The Warehouse, Serpinetine Road, Southsea, Hants. The Club has 150 members and issues its magazine Old Faithful bi-monthly.
Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina, January 24th. After the unfortunate Ferrari/Matra accident in the 1,000-kilometre race at Buenos Aires the Italian team withdrew completely from the Formula One race…
Recollections of air and track
I have been much enjoying reading High Speed Diary — The Life and Times of Reginald Ellis Tongue (Dove Publishing, Bute, ISBN 0 9534142 5 6, £18.95). Reggie Tongue took part in…
Rally Review, July 1981
Acropolis Rally Simple societies of centuries past had simple rules; if you did wrong, you got the club. Civilisation has brought less rigid punishments since those early times, and has…