Miscellany, July 1998

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At the Brooklands Society’s annual reunion on June 28 at the Old Track, this year’s theme will be the return of the lap-record-holding 24-litre Napier-Railton to the Museum and it is intended to run this famous car on the runway during an afternoon demonstration, when other vintage cars will try the Test Hill and part of the Members’ Banking. Details from B Reynolds on 01737 765 401. Not to be outdone, the VSCC demonstrated the legendary Alfa Romeo Bimotore and an ex-Nuvolari Alfa Romeo 8CM at the recent Donington race meeting…

* * *

In the anti-private-car climate of the present Government I came upon a quotation by pioneer motoring writer Gordon Wilkins (now 85, a staff member of The Motor pre-war and afterwards editor of The Autocar until 1953), made back in 1943 which is topical today: “I am too young to remember a time when people in England could go motoring for pleasure. If, in 1939, there were citizens willing to shoulder the burdens, pains and penalties of car ownership, the exorbitant capital outlay, the astronomic taxation, maintenance and insurance costs, and the daily harrying by the police, they did not do it just to pass the time. They did it because despite the drawbacks the use of a motor car is essential to a man if he is to lead a moderately civilised life.” As true, or more so, now as it was 59 years ago…

* * *

The top-class magazine of the Lagonda Club usually contains fine pictures and interesting material. The Spring issue was no exception, with Dan Hagan’s piece on the Le Mans 1929 2-litre Lagonda which covered some 250,000 miles between the mid 1930s and 1968, describing its race mods. For those who do not have the erudite Davy & May Lagonda book, there is also a recollection of the 1923 Lagonda Lark biplane tested on Hartford Bridge Flats (there’s a picture to prove it) and a fine photograph of the Robbie Hewitt Brooklands Memorial Trophy, awarded last year to John Dexter. Ken Painter edits The Lagonda and the Club Secretary is Colin Bulger, 01252 845 451.

* * *

Those who have to use London Cabs may be interested in their history. In the past, two excellent books on the subject were available, and now Veloce have a new one, relating more recent developments from the 1930s but with also some evocative chapters and pictures of the older cabs, Unic, Beardmore, Citroen, etc, although I am not convinced that a Napier and Renault depicted were ever cabs. But very interesting, this Malcolm Bobbitt book at £14.99. It is called Taxi!

* * *

The date of the STD Register’s Inter-Register event at Brooklands has been changed; it is now scheduled for July 18.

* * *

Jeremy Oates is making a reproduction of the 1921 11.9hp Lagonda which lapped Brooklands at 86.62mph and finished 13th in the 1921 JCC ‘200’. If completed this will be no replica, as most parts will be from the correct period, so well within the VSCC’s stipulation for Specials. The original car was raced by Major W Oates. Jeremy is appealing for more original bits to save making a few new ones, and for photographing etc. His number is 01730 825 561.

* * *

The red ex-Kaye Don 4.9 T54 Bugatti displayed at the VSCC’s new HQ was a reminder that Earl Howe had a blue T54 in which he lapped Brooklands in 1932 at 128.69 mph, in a season when Don’s car was a frequent non-starter. Howe confirmed his versatility by winning on the same day a ‘Mountain’ handicap in his T51 Bugatti, untouched since he had driven it at Monaco, from Straight’s Maserati.

* * *

Jacques Savoye, the French rally driver and importer of Singer cars form 1934, has died, aged 92. He finished eighth overall at Le Mans in 1938, with a Singer Nine.

 * * *

A reader in Queensland has found a T-head Austin engine and close to it a cruciform chassis. This appears to be from an Austin truck of 1910-14 vintage made in the Longbridge factory.

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