Letters, July 1991
Opinions expressed are those of correspondents and not necessarily those of Motor Sport
Out of touch
I feel your contributor WPK was a little too condescending, and perhaps a trifle out of touch, in his global comments about diesel engined cars in the May edition.
Would we not all prefer to spend every waking hour behind the wheel of a 911 or Type 35, wearing out our local bit of Shelsley or exhausting the Autostrada del sol ? The reality is somewhat different. When paying for day to day motoring out of taxed income, the modern small diesel engine is cheap to run, reliable, and user-friendly, and these days a serious alternative to the petrol engine. Many readers would consider nothing else.
That is, of course, for day to day motoring. Now motoring for serious pleasure, that is another matter entirely!
With reference to “Gopsall Park — Out of the Past” (April 1991), is the statement that Sunbeam found a speed-trial course on Lord Waring’s estate — Gopsall Park was one of the estates of Earl Howe. I saw a motorcycle grass track meeting there in 1950. The house had apparently been demolished and there was evidence of army (or some service) occupation. The local pub (in Twycross) is still called The Curzon Arms.
Since writing the above, however, I have found from Portrait of the Shires (Bernard Newman, 1968) that Gopsall Hall has now disappeared, and with it the connection with the Howe family. During the war it was occupied by the Army and its occupants made such a mess of the place that it was not worthwhile to repair it.
Some years ago there was a notice board indicating occupancy by a Govt Dept but on a recent visit I noticed this has disappeared. I enquired at the local post office (Twycross) and was told that the land is now used for farming.
I have been a regular reader of Motor Sport for many years and over recent months have entirely agreed with DSJ’s comments regarding the hype that is very evident in the motor trade about older cars.
I would, however, take issue with him in his latest article (May 1991) when he includes collectors in his criticisms. I myself am a small collector (4 cars) which I have acquired over the past nine years. They are all MOT’d, taxed, insured and driven regularly by myself and my family ensuring that they do not deteriorate. They give me great pleasure, each in its own way, and I have no intention of selling any. To the best of my knowledge, none are fakes.
On behalf of myself and others lucky enough to have more than one car, please, please, do not upset us again.
I recently acquired a very fine, unique Bentley. I am restoring it, and would like to complete its history. The car is a MK VI Bentley drophead coupe made in 1947 by Vanden Plas to the order of Jack Barclay for HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. It was shipped to Holland in October 1947 and licensed RD 9768. It was sold in 1948 to one H Reichmann. It appeared in Port Huron, Michigan USA with the rear number plate NHP 561M where I purchased it and brought it to Barbados. I have no knowledge of where it has been for all the intervening years, and it has never been registered in the USA. The front plate is DTW.
The man I purchased it from has very limited knowledge only, I purchased it from an Attorney from seized and bankrupt building sale with indications that it had come from New Orleans. The car is B 230 AK and is the one shown on page 234 of Brian Smith’s Vanden Plas book, and also on page 51 of Rodney Steel’s book The Cars from Crewe. I would be most grateful for any information I can get.
St Georges, Barbados.
How to Motor Trade
The article on Motor Trading after the 1914/18 war by WB rather reminded me of similar activities in our own family when my father came home from France where he had been Workshops Officer with the ASC, repairing everything from Despatch Rider’s bikes to tanks. Home again, he kept in touch with a fellow officer who attended the auctions of ex-Govt vehicles at Grove Park, buying suitable vehicles and railing them up to our local goods yard just outside Leeds. By this time I was 14 and my job was to sit in them and steer, while father towed them through the streets with whatever car we happened to have at the moment, to our home, where they had to sit outside in the back street, as the shed contained our Bradbury and sidecar.
Father would check a car over and if it was better than the one we had, he kept it and sold the one we already had. On the other hand, if it was not so good he did it up and sold it and, as WB says, anything that would run under its own power went very quickly.
Having got used to starting handles that you either swung in a clockwise direction or pulled up, as in the case of the Model-T, it was disconcerting to be faced with an engine that had to be cranked in the opposite direction, namely anticlockwise, as with the Napier. There may be others (Yes Humber — ED) but I have not come across them and I have no wish to as it is a very awkward procedure, though it may be OK if you are left-handed.
The main snag about working outside, apart from the weather, was small boys, but father had a way with them. He could put up with a lot but when they became a nuisance he would form them in a line, tell them to join hands, and one at the end to hold a door handle, then he would give the one at the other end a spark plug lead to hold. Then he would start the engine — disappearance of small boys! Or if there was the usual clever clogs who knew it all father would nonchalantly get hold of a plug top while the engine was running and then seize the offender by an car, and that usually had the desired effect.
Father was a pioneer motorist, having started in New Zealand in 1897 by looking after the cars of neighbours and then came to Rover in England. In 1914 he went to join up at the age of 37 but the recruiting sergeant sent him away saying: “Go home Grandpa this is a young man’s war,” but they were glad enough to have him later.
Jack Stewart White,
At the risk of being boring, may I point out that the exact equality (sic) of the speeds of Marriott’s Stanley Steamer and K Lee Guinness’ Darracq over the flying kilometre is not really so remarkable — ref “No Substitute for Litres,” June 1991. The speed of 121.57 mph simply corresponds to a time of 18.4 seconds for a kilometre, 0.1 second presumably representing the limiting resolution of timing methods then in use. Implicity the actual times could have been anywhere between 18.35 and 18.45 seconds ignoring possible imperfections in the timing itself corresponding to a speed range from 121.24 to 121.90 mph. In other words, neither decimal place is in fact warranted and the practice of quoting early speeds to such accuracies is frankly nonsensical. Incidentally, all other speeds quoted in the article, with the sole exception of 112.2mph for 20 chains (of which I am consequently suspicious), similarly correspond to times to the nearest 0.1 second.