Relaxed Veterans

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Johnny Thomas arranged a relaxing weekend in Wales for the SW Section of the Veteran Car Club over May 31/June 3. No competitions, just drives in impressive scenery, over routes the drivers selected for themselves. Proof that this kind of rally is popular was shown by an excellent turn out. At a Powys County Council welcoming party on the Friday evening a fine line-up of veterans assembled round the lakeside in Llandrindod Wells.

It was possible to inspect the cars while their crews imbibed: — a Renault triple-benched estate brake, another with sedan body and Copper tail pipe, a fine 1911 Austin tourer with Ducellier lamps, a large 1914 Humber tower, lots of T-Fords, a disc-wheeled 1914 Brasier looking quite early-vintage, a 1910 Hotchkiss landaulette exuding quality, 1913 Sunbeam, a typical Daimler of the period, a rare Gregoire two-seater, a Cadillac, its windscreen stoutly strutted, a boatbodied 1912 Delage like the one I bought for £10 during the war, with another for spares, a little Renault on 710 x 90s, a big Star tourer reminiscent of the one Dick Nash started his collection with at Brooklands before the war. The variety was endless, enthralling the few onlookers who turned up to see this “100 Years of the Motor Car” mini-celebration, and especially their children.

The Metropole Hotel was headquarters. There the next morning I noted a rare 22/72 Mercer tourer and a 1913 Hudson Six.

On the Saturday Johnny had suggested that drivers of the larger cars might care to go round the scenic Elan Valley reservoirs route, towards Devil’s Bridge, perhaps taking the narrow-gauge railway to Aberystwyth and then on the B4343 to lunch at the Talbot Hotel in Tregaron, before venturing over the wild mountain road with its steep downhill hairpin, and back via Abergwesyn and Beulah — wonderful scenery, but with a good road surface, as is usual in Wales. (Holiday visitors might like to try this testing route for themselves.) Apart from Haley’s little 1912 Chenard-Walcker that had stopped near Llanyre with suspected magneto problems, no one seemed daunted, even by the miles of outback, as Bob May’s imposing 1914 Rolls-Royce and other big Edwardians swept past. Vintage cars like a Morris Cowley with a petrol leak, 12/60 Alvis, Lagonda, Bentley and 30/98 Vauxhall were also out enioying the run, and a very well-used, sticker-bedecked, be-flagged Austin 20 saloon called Arthur told me that an eminent motoring writer was amongst us.

Some 85 veteran and Edwardian cars took part, and even Shenton’s curved-dash Oldsmobile and Ashby’s 1902 Panhard defied the Staircase, where one or two of the veterans were sensibly let down roped to modern vehicles. Breakdowns were almost nil, the weather mainly wonderful. After dinner on the Sunday, however, those wending their way home on the Monday experienced real Welsh rain. W B

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