Superior Experience

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Superior Experience

READING the Deputy Editor’s article on Brough Superiors in last month’s issue has reminded me of the time when I had a sixcylinder Brough Superior saloon to test for MOTOR SPORT. It was over a December week-end in 1936, the car being lent by Keville Davies & March of Berkeley Street, whom George Brough most have persuaded to become agents. I have cause to remember the occasion, because this Brough (Reg No CYL 232), like today’s Rolls-Royce Press cars, was uninsured. It cost me £30 to cover it comprehensively for the three days, a considerable sum in those days, which never recovered. I set off with a girl-friend to cover the Gloucester trial, intending to drive down through the night; the run was far from uneventful!

There was no spare can of petrol on board, because a quick look at the instruction-book before starting out told of a reserve-tap. Just beyond Bicester, at 3 ant, the engine stopped. The girl regarded me with a jaundiced eye — they were mostly like that in those times — but I reassured her about the reserve supply, enough to get US to where supplies were available. Alas, no sign of the tap could be found — later I was to discover that it was hidden beneath a little trap-door in the luggage-boot floor! There was no option but to sleep in the car, but in the early am the driver of a milk lorry woke Us, with the excuse that he thought we might have passed out due to the cold. Told why we had stopped, he produced some Petrol in the lid of a milk-churn — I wonder whether anyone noticed an unusual taste with their morning tea? Able to resume, the Brough Superior had not gone far before the clutch pedal went to the floor and stopped there. This necessitated a stop in Chipping Norton, where an obliging garage (it is still there) fixed the trouble, charging only 16/6d (821/2P) for some 31/2 hours’ work by two

mechanics, including bringing out some more petrol to the Brough, which had run out again. . . (It may amuse the Amilcar Register to know that they had just sold one of those cars for — £4). It was after midday when we left, with no hope of seeing the trial, but we decided to try one of the “observed sections”, called Kineton. Of course, the Brough Superior got stuck and had to be pulled up by a horse, the hire of which cost 2/6d. (121/2p).

As the girl-friend had, perhaps, not had the entertainment she had expected she left the country shortly afterwards to join her parents abroad. . .) and it had begun to snow, I was told to return to London as quickly as possible. A patch of black ice beyond Oxford was nearly our undoing, but seeing the Ford 8 ahead of as overturn in the ditch, braking was avoided. . . Further on, came an amusing co-incidence. We were flagged down by a motorcyclist, who had come off his machine on the ice. He was given a lift to London and we enquired what he had been riding. “A Brough Superior”, he replied, “and what make of car is this?” “A Brough Superior”, we told him. He fell silent, no doubt thinking he was the victim of concussion. . . .

On the Monday I took some performance figures at Brtmeklands, hampered by the winter repairs to the Track. Re-reading the 3./a-page report I wrote one finds in places, that ML’s poor opinion of George Brough as an engineer is vindicated, although my summing up of the car was notably favourable. I see he says that what competition success Brough Superior motorcycles enjoyed was largely in minor events. As a Brooklands advocate I cannot resist remarking that the solo and sidecar Brooklands’ lap-records, respectively at 123.58 mph and 106.60 mph, are held by this make, but that had little, I concede, to do with George Brough. — W.B. V-E-V Miscellany. — A Type 37 Bugatti is being completely rebuilt in Herefordshire along with a Bugatti Special consisting of a

Type 57 with its chassis shortened to the wheelbase of a Type 57S, supercharged with a new Rootcs blower, the original engine having been destroyed in a fire, and with a smart open body modified from that once adorning an Imperia. In Africa the owner of a Talbot 105 and a CGS Amilcar has found the remains of a circa-1910 15 hp Austin with separate cylinders, which is being rebuilt.

A law-student reader drew our attention to the Law report about a successful appeal by the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club in 1932 against a writ for damages, assessed by the Jury in the case at £988, by Christopher Hall, who was injured in the accident involving two of the Talbots in the 1930 JCC “Double-Twelve” hour race, when, after colliding in the finishing straight as they positioned for taking the left-hand bend onto the Railway straight, one of them went into the crowd. An unhappy affair, of which I kept gory pictures out of my Brooklands history, but looked at from a distance it has certain interesting facts. The reversed judgement in favour of the BARC, which covered the JCC’s liability, was based on the fact that the Club took every reasonable precaution to protect the paying spectators at what was known to be a dangerous sport, and could not have foreseen that in a freak collision a car would go over railings of a kind that had previously been seen to be adequate to deflect cars colliding directly with them. Brooklands was exonerated, both in 1930 and after a similar accident involving onlookers in the 1938 JCC International Trophy Race. In the 1930 “Double-Twelve” accident Hall who was involved had gone down in his Alvis with some friends (and in view of the date it seems very likely that he had a 12/50); it was said in evidence that Hall, a student at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, “was interested in the racing qualities of that make of car”, so one can assume that, before he was mown down, he would have been especially interested in the progress of the Alvis Silver Eagle team of Harvey / Cushman, Paul / Purdy and the Hon. Mrs Victor Bruce and her husband. The Appeal rested very much on what happened at other sports of a nature to put spectators at an infrequent risk, cricket, football, hockey, golf and flying displays, even a theatre when a pistol was fired, being cited. Lord Howe and S. C. H. Davis gave evidence in favour of the BARC and very much in its favour was the fact that never previously since the Track opened in 1907 had a spectator been more than very mildly injured, and that only when a lady who should not have been ten the course had a foot run over by a motorcycle returning to the Paddock. The appeal was heard by Scrutton, Greet and Slesser, LJJ, the BARC being represented in the case they lost, which was heard by McCardie, J. before a special jury, by Schiller. KC and Doughty. KC. It makes good material, should anyone

wish to adopt my idea of a book on “Cars in Court”! Incidentally, the Solicitors for the BARC were Messrs. William Charles Crocker, whose son James Crocker was a recent VSCC President, rides modern motorcycles and races a Lagonda Rapier. It seems that his father was not a keen driver but that in the early 1920s he owned a Standard, his first car, replaced shortly afterwards by a late Edwardian Austin that had been built for racing driver Percy Lambert, who had been killed at Brooklands in the 100-in-the-hour Talbot in 1913. In the late 1920s the Crocker family used a big Minerva saloon driven by their chauffeur Chips (whose successor prompted James Crocker’s interest in cars), and a twoseater Chrysler with dickie seat and wooden wheels, while James’s elder sister had an A7 with aluminium wheel discs and boat-type ventilators on the scuttle of its open body. Ian Dussek is working on a history of the HRG, to be published with aid from the Michael Sedgwick Trust, and Anthony Blight is busy with a comprehensive book on pre-war sports-car racing down the years, with especial reference to Continental cars of circa 1935-1939 period, apart from which he has a part-share in Ian Poison’s racing Delahaye, which is expected to be ready next year, having been in pieces since 1952. It is the ex-Michael Paris/Eugene Chaubord car, which was then sold to Australian John Snow. It still has its pre-war 3.8-litre engine and as it weighs 18 cwt or so, it could prove competitive. . . The Austin Ten DC, which caters for 1931-1939 cars of this make if of 10 hp to 28 hp rating, will have its National Rally at Wellington Country Park, near Reading, Berkshire, on July 27th:28th when an impressively large gathering of these essentially British cars should be seen. The Club recently elected 17 new members with cars ranging from a 1935 10,1 Lichfield last used 36 years ago at a genuine 46,499 miles, to a “concours” 1934 1014 to one that was taken on in completely-dismantled state. We note that the Essex section of this active Club has a run to Kentwell Hall, onetime home of racing driver Dick Seaman, on July 7th. The late Roland King-Farkas’ left £25,000 to the Brooklands Society, which will hold its AGM at the “Hand & Spear”. Brooklands Road, Weybridgc, on the evening of July 10th. For those who like two-wheelers the Vintage MCC has its 25th annual Tour of Birmingham on July 21st and its London Run on August 11th. among other events, and is to be congratulated on having issued a 71page magazine in May, and we are reminded that complimentary with Motor-100 for cars there is to be a Festival of 1.000 Bikes at Brands Hatch on September 1st. The Bull nose Morris Club Summer Rally over the weekend of July 20th/23rd is based on the Saxon Cross Motel, Sandbach. Its current magazine has an article by the Earl of Cardigan about the journey he made in 1927 from Cowley to Constantinople in a 15.9 hp

Morris-Oxford, reproduced from The Morris Owner of that year. In the May issue we referred to the Young Special having turned up, a car entered for a 1935 Brooklands race in which it non-started, stating that the engine used in its chain-drive Frazer Nash chassis, which was endowed with a rather fine, black single-seater body, could not be identified. Since then Chris Chilcroft, who was interested in the chassis, has done some research and reckons that this engine is a 11/2-litre Hooker-Thomas, dating back to circa 1923 or earlier, as used by Parry Thomas in the 200 Mile Race Marlborough Thomas and his own single-seater Thomas Special, which in 1925 won a 100 mile Brooklands’ race at 98.23 mph. This must surely have been the last time one of these engines was put into a racing car. We learn that the 16,50 hp Rover advertised as an experimental car with a twin-cam engine has, in fact, the single oh-camshaft and cross-pushrod valve gear as used on all these engines. — W.B.

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