V-E-V Miscellany, July 1982, July 1982
We have been informed by the VSCC that for the first time ever an International Meeting of historic cars and motorcycles will take place in the USSR. The venue is Riga, the organisers the Antique Car Club of Latvia, and the date August 27th-29th. The idea is to have a parade on the Saturday through the main streets of Riga, terminating at the road-racing circuit, where the usual Concours d’Elegance, speed-trials and regularity runs will be staged. On the Sunday there is to be a gathering at the stadium for the cars and sightseeing for their occupants, including a ride on Riga’s municipal-tramway, in a vintage tram, the service being 100 years old this year. Those disappointed over cancellation of Pekin-Paris might find this a substitute, travelling by ship to Riga, by ferry to Finland and driving 188 miles along the Olympic Highway, or flying out via Moscow or Leningrad. Details from: Viktors Kulbergs, 226006, Riga, Gagarina 41, USSR.
Those of our more long-standing readers who are feeling a his decrepit may take heart from a lady of 90, living in Somerset, from whom we heard recently. She still enjoys driving her immaculate 1970 Morris 1000. Asked about the cars she had driven, she told us that in 1915 her father, who mass doctor, acquired a Humber Ten tourer after his third horse had been requisitioned for war service. After three driving lessons she began to take the Humber out and has driven ever since. The family Humber was still in use when she married a tea-planter in 1920 and went out to India. However, ill-health caused her to return home several times up to 1925 / 26 and during those years she remembers driving a two-seater Humber that had joined the family, a Trojan, a Maxwell, an Arrol-Johnston, a Vauxhall belonging to friends, and a Rolls-Royce on one occasion. When this lady returned to India for the last time in the mid-1920s, she took with her an Austin 7, in a crate marked on all sides “This Side Up.”! Two days out fr,/pom Madras, the Holds Officer told her they were afraid it had fallen between two tins of biscuits. . . .
However, the Baby Austin was landed safely, but refused to start when it found itself some 7,500 feet up in the Nilgiri Hills of the Madras Presidency. Fortunately, her Indian car-boy Joseph had spotted a box of carburetter jets at a garage in the next village and bringing back a handful he got the Austin going. It was then a great success and the dogs’ favourite car. They also had a Ford at the plantation, presumably a Model-T, but it did not do too well, and failed to climb the hills satisfactorily, so Chevrolets were used instead. These, and the Austin 7, had ground-clearances suited to the “Irish” drains frequently encountered, and the generally poor roads. This keen lady driver recalls the time when a panther leapt right over the can she was driving, and that Joseph the car-boy used to say that the Mem-Sahib “drove very smooth, like a banana . . . .
From that we learned that the Countess of Powis still drives her 1967 Triumph Vitesse at the age of 92, often unaccompanied and with the hood down. Her first car was a brass-radiator Model-T Ford two-seater with gas headlamps, carriage sidelamps, bulb-horn and two spare tyres on the off-side running board, which she used in India, on the North-West Frontier while her first husband was fighting in Mesopotamia with the 14th Lancers, the Indian Army. The Countess has kindly sent us some photographs of later cars she drove, which include a fine five-seat Paige tourer in 1923 and a Fiat 501 tourer in 1925. She has also listed the cars she and Lord Powis bought from the Border Garage while they were at Ponds Castle near Welshpool, these including an Armstrong-Siddeley in 1952, Hillman, an Austin , pick-up, a Standard Vanguard estate, a Standard Companion, a Bedford shooting-brake, a Triumph Herald estate-car, a Triumph Herald and three Jaguars between the years 1952 and 1965.
We heard some time ago that before the war a constant stream of Hollywood filmstars used to visit St. Donut’s Castle near Cowbridge, as guests of Marion Davies, the actress-friend of Randolf Hurst who is said to have purchased the Castle for her but never to have visited it. Miss Davies liked Packards, which may be of interest to Packard Clubs in America and elsewhere and that hers were often seen in Cowbridge and Cardiff, along with the Rolls-Royces and Daimlers of the other actors and actresses. Later, in 1934, Miss Davies was seen driving fast in a Terraplane 8. The Amilcar Register has not only branched out to embrace Salrnsons but its current Newsletter takes in BNC and Vernon-Derby as well. The Register’s new President is H. T. H. Clayton, who before the war got such very good results from the Amilcar Six but who is better remembered for his unexpected trip over the Brooklands banking at the Easter 1938 Meeting, although he was at the wheel of the ex-Ron Horton MG Midget single-seater on that occasion, driving for his friend Fleming. This deserving Register’s secretary is Roger Howard, Flat 3, 28 Buxton Old Road, Disley, Stockport, Cheshire. We apologise to Richard Loveday for wrongly describing the Maserati he drove in the Haggar Allcomers’ Race at the VSCC Silverstone Messing in April as a 4CM / 6CM, although this was but an abbreviation of the description in the programme, wherein this can was listed as having “a 4CM chassis which he (Loveday) has fitted with a 6-cylinder 1 ½-litre 6CM engine”. In fact, the car is a 4CL Maserati once raced apparently by Franco Cortese and imported to England after a long spell in South America.
According to a newsletter of the American Hispano-Suiza Society, there is on display in the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana, a hybrid single-seater racing car, outwardly looking like a track-racing Miller or Ford Special, but powered by an engine using one cylinder block of a vee-eight Hispano Suiza aero-engine (which should give it a swept-volume of about 5 ½-litres), in an Essex chassis frame but with a substantial transverse front spring, perhaps from a Ford V8, this having steering gear from a 1922 Franklin and wheels from a Dayton. The car is said to have won its last race in 1953, presumably at some historic-car meeting. A Deemster light-car seems to have surfaced in the North of England. The Dalesman recently published an article about a man who started a garage business in the Dales at Rimington around the year 1923, using a wooden shed built by a local joiner, who charged £66 for the building, the self-employed garageman doing the boarding-up and putting mike windows. He then commenced doing repairs to cars, motorcycles and farm vehicles, at 2/- (10p) an hour. Farm carts were made, using axles from scrapped cars including Rolls-Royces apparently. Discovering, after having been told by an E. Lanes farmer that he wanted “nowt” for two Model-T Fords, one with a detachable-type body, that other derelict cars could be purchased for as little as 17/6d. (87 ½p), the garage embarked on converting these into motor-mowers, the Austin Twelve being a popular chassis for these conversions. One scrap-yard supplied 51 old cars in a year for this purpose. These conversion were sold for £17, sometimes with a five-gallon drum of oil thrown in for good measure. Tractors were also made, using two gearboxes in an Austin 12 chassis, and later the garage dealt in used Fordsons, and later Fergusons. When it was opened, this same garage drew its petrol from a depot at Chadburn, supplies arriving in a Liberty lorry that was chain-driven, had wooden wheels, and could carry up to 500 gallons. This fuel was sold to motorists at 11p a gallon, from hand-operated pumps. At the time there were few cars in the area but 26 motorcycles in Rimington alone but by the early 1930s, with the financial crisis, the garage could not find customers for the 12 used motorcycles it had in stock. It seems likely that an EHP, thought to be an ex-Brooklands car, may be reappearing at VSCC events.
Bryan Luscott-Evans has been appointed Chairman of the Midland Section of the VSCC. The VSCC Prescott speed hill-climb is due on August 1st. Morgans of all kinds, including vintage three-wheelers, will have their International Concours d’Elegance at Walton Hall, Wellesbourne, Warwicks on July 11th. Entry forms for qualified Morganists from Eric Wilson, 89 Marsh Lane, Solihull, B91 2EP. — W.B.