Salvage claims 250,000

At this stage of the war one cannot think ill of the Ministry of Works for announcing its intention of breaking up a quarter of a million cars for salvage within the next eighteen months. But it is difficult to stifle regret. If this latest salvage drive means that the majority of breakers’ yards will be all but barren by the end of 1944, the enthusiast must face the realisation that the end of an age is in sight – an age when good cars could be maintained, others discovered and put again into commission, and “specials” constructed, with a minimum of expenditure by those possessed of engineering ability and the patience to ferret out the cars and parts they required. This is all the more disturbing in a country where, apart from financial considerations, the appreciation of good motor-cars takes two different and well-defined forms. On the one hand, we have the non-vintage enthusiast, for whom all will be well when petrol and rubber are again unrationed. On the other hand, we have a not inconsiderable body of people who truly believe that motor-cars to their taste have not been made since around the year A.D. 1931. To the latter class of enthusiast this new salvage drive may very well represent an end to many of his dearest activities. Existing vintage cars will take on an enhanced value until the spares problem mitigates against them. Many who intended to run such cars – probably they cannot afford high performance in any other form – after the war will find themselves frustrated, for the present time is not conducive to locating and buying such cars as a speculation.

We may hope that after the salvage drive not all breakers’ premises will have been cleared, or, better, that Hitler will be howling for help ere the plan is completed! Even so, one shudders at the inevitable loss of rare types, “one-off” jobs and, particularly of veterans that would, otherwise, very probably have taken the road again with the coming of peace. We urge those who can do so to save such cars from destruction while there is yet time – the war effort will obviously not suffer in any way if the 250,000 cars needed comprise entirely mass-production models; but post-war motoring will be less rich for every irreplaceable car broken for scrap. Cannot the Veteran Car Club prevail upon Authority and be allowed to cast a sympathetic eye over the ill-fated automobiles assembled at the Crystal Palace grounds, with a view to picking out and whisking away certain of the real motor-cars that must inevitably be amongst the horde? We have reason to believe that this might not be so difficult as it may appear.

Cannot Captain Wylie and his committee go further and prevail upon those vendors who think that every veteran lying rotting in their yards is a potential Brighton-Run competitor, and worth untold gold in consequence, to sell now to enthusiasts rather than be obliged to take a scrap-assessment from official sources. If these steps could be taken this salvage drive might be rendered less devastating to our interests and kinder to this country’s stock of historic and irreplaceable motor-cars – of which mechanically-minded officialdom should be proud, but probably isn’t. Even so, many lone examples of unique early designs, many brave cars hand-assembled by master craftsmen, and a whole host of spares useful to vintage and modern car owners alike will, we fear, be sacrificed in finding material with which to complete the disruption of Nazi Germany. To the impecunious enthusiast, the end of an age, maybe…