V-E-V Miscellany, July 1981, July 1981

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Brooklands had such a large following in its hey-day that it is difficult to appreciate how many people drove there. Very often the name of a driver crops up who is not mentioned in my History of the Track but this does not necessarily mean that a false claim has been made. There were a great many who drove in the High Speed Trials organised at Brooklands by the MCC and the JCC, or in the lesser race-meetings there, who thus do not figure in a history of the main racing. For instance, in The Times obituary to John Priestman Doncaster, CBE, Keeper of Entomology at the British Museum, who died at the age of 73 in April, it is mentioned that he had many interests, one of which was motoring and that he took part in Club racing at Brooklands. Can anyone enlarge on this?

Lindsay Eccles, former Bugatti racing driver, is now the High Sheriff of West Glamorgan. A correspondent recalls that in the 1920s the Standard Motor Co. sent aluminium wedges to its dealers, so that they could place these under the front springs of the then current 11.4 h.p. Standards to prevent incipient wheel-wobble developing, and that the first 14/40 Vauxhalls had very noisy timing-gears, even when the engines were only ticking-over, and this in spite of an aluminium centre-pinion. The cure was to fit centre pinions made of composite material, but as our correspondent says, one wonders how this shortcoming escaped the design and test departments of Vauxhall Motors. . . .

A 1921 Charron-Laycock, restored by apprentices at Laycock Engineering in Millhouses, Sheffield, is displayed in the works’ foyer and is given a run periodically to keep it in good order, according to a Sheffield newspaper. The Trolan OC is having a drive for new members, pointing out that it is open to anyone who sees the point of cars and vans with underfloor engines having four cylinders but only two sparking-plugs, epicycle gearboxes you can use as a brake, and no differential. Full membership costs £3 a year and new members are offered a “bumper bundle” of facsimile vintage literature, including a 1924 sales-brochure for the Trojan Solid Tyred Car, and even a free ride in one of these odd vehicles! Carl Tantum, Chalet Hill, Bordon, Hants, will send more details, in exchange for a s.a.e. On the subject of Trojans, rumour has it that a pair of solid-tyred Trojan wheels are available at reasonable price to an owner of such a car from Richardson’s Coal Yard, Norwich Road, Fakenham, Norfolk.

The Veteran Car Club Gazette devoted most of its March/April issue to appreciations of its late President, S.C.H. Davis, our most versatile racing-driving/motoring journalist, and its Editor is to be congratulated on finding some new photographs of this much-loved character. He has added, too, to the cars we referred to in our Obituary to “Sammy” as driven by him in trials: a La Licorne in the 1913 London-Gloucester, what is said to have been a Wolseley Ten in the 1913 Oxford-York Trials (although it looks to me like some other small-car, and the o.h.c. Wolseley Ten did not appear until after the war) and a Frazer Nash in the 1926 MCC Land’s End Trial, and I omitted a Sirron and Trojan. This VCC Memorial Issue contains no less than 43 tributes to “Sammy” from well-known people, which is exactly as it should be. There is a photograph purporting to be of Davis coming down the Brooklands’ Test Hill in a Carden cyclecar, others of him having runs round the loM TT circuit as passenger in a Brescia Bugatti and a 1922 Hillman, taking records at Brooklands in 1921 in an AC, and helping to do this with Aston-Martin and Wolseley Fifteen cars, and even one of the type of Seabrook armoured-lorry that “Sammy” commanded during WW1, apart from other photographs seen before. The Gazette’s Editor is to be commended for discovering these rare pictures, and even more so for identifying Davis in some of them. Although Davis is captioned as being the person in a flying-helmet standing by Instone’s big 45 h.p. Daimler that won the 1907 Gottlieb Daimler Memorial Plate at the very first Brooklands race-meeting, “Sammy” himself said that it was young Tommy Robinson, from the Daimler running-sheds, who was the riding-mechanic on that occasion. Nor can I trace Davis ever having driven a solid-tyred Trojan in an MCC Land’s End Trial, as one picture suggests. (I would not have raised such matters in this context, except that the VCC Gazette’s Editor has written that Motor Sport “could be said to be one of the most influential journals in the world of motoring and motor sport,” so I assume he wants us to get it right!). But what a very good effort, this very special tribute to the one-and-only S.C.H. Davis.

Following the article on Dick and Bill Summers in the February issue, I had a visit from Geoffrey Boston, younger son of G.S. Boston and a nephew of Sir Richard Summers. He showed me the splendid photograph-albums his father had compiled, of very long Continental tours undertaken in vintage cars, and the separate albums he devoted to Grand Prix races, such as that at Tours, won by Segrave’s Sunbeam, Lyon, won by Alfa Romeo, and Montlhery, won by Delage, which he had attended. Mr. Boston, Senior was a leather merchant, who had bought Sir Geoffrey Summers’ house. He raced Triumph and other motorcycles, had a post-war GN, and then two or three 30/98 Vauxhalls, which he raced at Southport and elsewhere and with which the Continental tours were done, and one of the first Chryslers to be imported, until they were replaced by a D8 Deluge, leading on to a Humber Snipe. In 1925 one of the 30/98s was sent back to Vauxhall Motors Ltd. for several months, to be fitted with a more practical open touring body, in which the occupants sat “in” rather than “on” the car, the radiator and bonnet being higher than standard and the scuttle extended back over a walnut dashboard carrying luminous-dial instruments. The steering-column was extended to suit and the floor and pneumatically-upholstered seats were lowered and a single door was used, to keep the body-frame stiff. With that Continental motoring in mind the petrol tank was enlarged, and it had two gallons of petrol in reserve to obviate carrying a can on the running board, its filler being extended clear of luggage carried on the grid. It is thought that this personally-designed 30/98 influenced the works when later production cars were introduced.

It is good to know that this enthusiastic motorist’s son has inherited his father’s interests, having owned, among others, a Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn, “Dick” Summers first T-type Bentley, bought in 1971, after “too many Minis”, and he was driving a VW Golf when he called on me. H. Tjepkema from Holland is keen to trace the history of his 1934 Aston Martin Mk. II. It left the works in October 1934 and was first registered BXO 401 in June the following year, being supplied to its first owner, W. Carr. It was crashed in 1936, being rebuilt on a new chassis by Dowley and Warner of Walton. Any further history would be welcomed. Letters will be forwarded. — W.B.

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