Some Cars in War-Time
S. H. Statham reminds us that, war or no war, you can’t quench enthusiasm for the Sport.—Ed.
IF taken merely as a matter of miles, my motoring during the war has not been appreciably less than what it was in peace-time. This motoring has, however, been practically all of what one describes as “of an official nature,” and not by any means the type of thing one would bother to describe in print, except that these have been times, and there have been cars, that have just made the difference between everyday routine and something that philosophers are pleased to call “the good life.” Let me make it clear that it is not my intention to try to compete with those who may tell a tale of long drives from El Alamein to Italy, or of driving a Jeep on the Imphal Plateau. No, this is an account of making the best of things in this country under war conditions, and enjoying driving and working on a number of interesting cars. .The early part of the war I spent in the dock area of London, as my work was connected with the design and organisation of various defence measures. The car I was using for this work was a very sober but very serviceable Austin ” Big Seven.” This car saw noble. service during the whole of the blitz on the East End of London, often being driven more as a tractor than a car, over hills of smoking rubble and broken glass. As a great admirer of the Austin Seven in all its many forms, I have always felt that when it made its final bow as the “Big Seven” the weak points of the earlier designs were at last removed. The Girling ‘brakes really would pull the car up dead without throwing it all over the road. The tendency of all other Austin Sevens had always been to oversteer, but here again this fault was corrected on the ” I3ig Seven.” Moreover, a fault that must have irritated thousands of owners of Sevens was at last rectified. This was the constant rattling from the fixed starting handle, a noise that had heralded the approach of the Austin Seven ever since its introduction. The long-stroke engine which the maker’s catalogue gave as developing 23 h.p. would certainly push the little
car along when required. I am sorry to dwell on such a standard type in such an exacting journal as MOTOR SPORT, but I do feel that when the “Big Seven” has aged a little more, and examples begin to find their way to the breaker’s, the impecunious ” Special ” builder will find that the chaSsis and engine will form a better basis for an Austin “Special ” than many of the other Seven models. The slightlyinclined tulip vales, for example, are one of the more ” sporting ” features of the design. I believe, too, that I am right in saying that the works did enter a team of these cars in one or two trials before the war, in which they were driven by Hadley :hid company, so it has some competition tradition ! The main disadvantage of such a ” Special ” would be that the car would come into the up-to1,100-c.c. class, as the long stroke of the “Big Seven” engine brings the cubic capacity to something over 900 c.c. About the middle of 1941 I was moved from the London area to the coast of
South Wales in connection with the invasion that threatened at that time. Some little time before this move took place I had bought a J2 M.G., under rather amusing circumstances. I do not suppose that any car has had more hard words written about it than the J2, and also I am not what one might call a M.G. “fan,” in spite of having owned and experienced a number of cars of this make. It happened, however, that I was invited to a friend’s wedding, where, shortly before the happy pair departed, I noticed • a rather heated discuSsion in progress between the bridegroom and best man. This continued in undertones until “the happy pair” left the house, when, as the bridal chariot drove away, the best man, instead of the usual good wishes, called out, “Anyway, what in the hell did you do with the gear lever ?” The bridegroom’s reply was carried away on the wind. On asking the best man the reason for this last-minute enquiry, I learnt that as the owner of a J2 M.G., he had lent his friend the car for a few weeks before the wedding. The reception being the first meeting the two had had since the loan, the owner now wished to collect the car. However, during the reception he had learnt in easy stages from the bridegroom all the things that had happened to the car while it had been on loan. As these incidents included a number of items, such as two big-ends run, a halfpint bottle of acid broken on top of the bonnet, and the gear-lever broken off short at the gate, one could hardly blame the owner of the car if he felt a little irate. When the time came to leave I walked round to the garage where the J2 was housed, and the car certainly presented a sorry spectacle, as it looked more like the result of a local salvage drive than a car. The owner’s anger now having turned to acute depression, he turned to me and said, “Just look at it, whatever value is she to me now ?” In reply, more to console him than anything else, I made him an offer for the car, which, to my surprise and horror, he accepted, and thus I became the owner of an M.G. .1.2. When I had been in Wales for a few weeks I found that the work I had to do involved a considerable amount of driving, and wondered what chance there might be of using a more interesting car than the Austin. My brother was using the 1,100c.c. Alta. we owned for leave runs, etc., when in the Army, so I decided to have the J2 sent to me from home to see if I could do anything with it. Having rented a garage near my billet I started extensive reconstruction work, mainly with the object of having something to do in my spare time. A preliminary examination of the engine and chassis revealed that the car was not in such bad condition as its external appearance ind leated. The engine played the “Anvil Chorus” rather
tunefully when running at under 1,500 r.p.m., but I traced this to the fact that the pistons had been replaced in the wrong order when the two big-ends had been remetalled. I renewed the vertical camshaft drive, together with bearings and sleeve, and also the camshaft bevel gears. To cure the usual oil leak from the camshaft drive down into the dynamo, I bored out and cut a return oil drain to allow the oil that seeped down the bearing housing to run back into the oil flow. I have found this the only means of curing this trouble on the older M.G.s—and provided that the head is replaced carefully, and the dynamo flexible coupling reassembled in line.
After a really good clean inside and out, plus a respray and new hood (this latter very necessary in Wales !), I put the car on the road. I was given permission to run it on an 0.H.M.S. licence, more on the strength that it was only 8 h.p. than anything else. Thus I started to cover the first of what turned out to be many thousands of miles on that car. I will admit that I drove very sedately at first, as I had in the back of my mind the many things that contributors to the “Cars I Ha,ve Owned ” series have experienced with J2s. Also, I remembered the tales my friend John MaeLagan, of ” Scuderia Chemvamo,” had told me of the crankshafts he had broken when he had owned a similar model to mine. Familiarity breeds contempt, however, and I soon found that I was taking the revs, up, and, in fact, getting quite dashing. One evening I opened up to pass a corporation dust-cart liberally adorned with clinging dustmen. My maximum was 55, and I lost it ! Some days the car would go perfectly, and other times, just when I needed power, she would not pull, or she would just fail to exceed 55 m.p.h. Needless to say, I tried everything I knew to trace the fault. I checked the carburetter and ignition. The wiring was checked by every known electrical device in the hope of tracing an obscure short. Plugs and jet needles were changed as often as if the car was the most temperamental of all Grand Prix machines. The annoying part was that when the car was stationary she would rev, right up without a spit or a flutter, and even after going to considerable trouble ‘to obtain a test on a Stromberg tester, the readings given were all that could be expected from a car of that size and type. Enough, though, for the moment of this irritating motor car. Following one of my several moves round Wales, I was billeted near an aerodrome, where I met that great enthusiast, Pat Yates. Seeing me struggling one evening with the J2 he introduced himself, and our conversation soon turned to the Sport. He had known most of the cars and racing people in Southern England before the war, and had himself owned and experienced many interesting cars. When I met him he was deporting himself in a highly-polished 2i-litre S.S. “Jaguar.” His heart, however, was with the Molsheim product. He just dreamed, talked, and thought Bugatti. In fact, a really advanced case. The result was
that no car would satisfy him for any length of time, and in the first few weeks I knew him he changed the S.S. for a Riley “Kestrel,” and then this in turn for a J2 M.G. with the long wings.
Not long after the change to the J2, Pat burst in on me one day, asked if he could use my ‘phone, picked it up, and got through to a haulage contractor in Cardiff. Before I could open my mouth he had bought a 3-litre Bentley. As he replaced the receiver with a smile of satisfaction on his face, he explained that, while in Cardiff the previous day, he had unearthed the car, and now, as both he and I seemed to be settled for a while, it might be good fun rebuilding the old car.
A ‘phone call some days later from the local railway station informed us that “an old racing car was waiting collection.” As Pat was flying, I could see I had a solo job on my hands, so after arranging for a lorry to meet me at the goods siding, I departed with a light heart and a large collection of tools.
Now, I imagine there are not many readers of MOTOR SPORT who have not, at some time or other, experienced the horrors of collecting a car from a railway siding. Whether they have had to compete with half an American armoured division for a turn on the unloading ramp is, however, another thing. On presenting myself, complete with wagon number, to an aged railw0 official, I was greeted with a mocking laugh, and a statement to the effect that if I had come half an hour earlier I might have been lucky, but now the wagon I wanted was over on track nine, in the middle of “that lot.” With a wave of his hand he indicated that “that lot” was a great sea of mixed railway rolling stock, containing everything from coal to Sherman tanks. I will not describe the miserable hours I spent at that siding watching the wagon I wanted being shunted up and down the tracks, but it was certainly a trying time. One moment one would see the elusive wagon rumble by on the track next to the unloading ramp and one’s spirits would rise, only to drop again as the next couple of shuffles sent it nearly out of sight to stand alone and stationary for another half an hour. Eventually, with the cooperation of the American Array, the wagon reached the unloading ramp, where by now a large number of troops and railway men had gathered to see the important car that had caused so much excitement. They were certainly not disappointed. As I pushed open the doors of the wagon, a gasp went up from the company, and with good cause, for there, resting in the wagon, with her radiator towards the door, was one of the most impressive-looking 3-litre Bentleys I have seen. To start with, compared with the Jeeps and ” utilities ” that surrounded us, she seemed so big. That, of course, was merely a matter of comparison, but as the whole of the car was in polished aluminium, and liberally adorned with lamps, stone-guards, horns, etc., she was an inspiring sight among the drab vehicles of war. The intensive work that was carried out on the Bentley revealed that although the car was of 1924 vintage, and of” Blue Label” origin, a great deal of modification must have been undertaken by former owners. The engine was fitted with twin
S.U.s bolted to a specially made-up manifold, and when the head was removed, dome-topped, high-compression pistons were revealed. This last feature explained the arm-breaking tendencies of the starting handle. Electric S.U. petrol pumps were also fitted. The chassis, too, had obviously received a lot of attention. This was of the “Red Label” short-chassis type, with 4-wheel brakes, and fitted with low-pressure oversize tyres all round. Twin shock-absorbers, one set hydraulic, one Hartfords, were fitted, which proved more than adequate when on the road. As already mentioned, the body was polished aluminium. The cycle-type wings which usually spoil a Bentley, in this case did not look out of place with the short chassis. The radiator was the pattern with the built-in stone-guard.
Apart from a general overhaul, including a considerable amount of rewiring, only the starboard M.L. magneto needed any extensive attention. As all our efforts refused to produce a spark from this component, it was sent away and completely rewound, a job that, under war-time conditions, and with no priority, took twice as long as all the other work on the car. A nasty clank in the propeller shaft was traced to wear in the bolt holes at the flexible coupling, but a little brazing and redrilling was all that was required to rectify that fault. A little careful welding on some of the flywheel teeth, coupled with a lot of hard filing, brought the self-starter back into action, but even so, a tow was necessary to bring the old car to life after lying idle for so long.
It may be that in the past I have been unfortunate in my association with 3-litre Bentleys, for although I have • admired their solid roadholding qualities, all the cars I have driven, or been driven in, have always left me with a feeling of lumbering power, and the necessity of having a long, clear road to creep up into the early 70’s. This reaction, of course, may have been brought on by the fact that I am unashamedly biassed towards the “30/98 ” Vauxhall as a vintage motor car, but all the same I think I have been unlucky in not having driven any of the better 8-litres.
The Yates-Bentley, however, certainly changed my views. It was obvious from the hard thump of the engine that we had more power than was usual on this model, and our first run when leave petrol was available confirmed this in no small measure. The steering was definitely heavy, and the springing with the double shockers unnecessarily hard, but the flood of solid power which really flung the car forward, gave us one of the most exhilarating drives I have yet experienced. Knowing the havoc that maximum speeds quoted in print can create, I should refrain from writing of m.p.h., but I do think I should record that on one glorious occasion 92 m.p.h. came up on the clock, with very favourable conditions—and something other than pump fuel in the tank. As most “Blue Labels,” in spite of modification, usually find between 75 to 80 their genuine maximum, most people will agree that this particular model is a pretty good example. Most enthusiasts might be content to enjoy motoring in the Bentley manner
when it could be carried out with such a car as described above, but then they would not have been bitten by the Bugatti bug, the effect of which can only be cured by owning one of the most temperamental cars for some time ; and even then the symptoms are sure to reoccur after a lapse of time. It was, therefore, with no surprise that one day in early spring I found Pat deeply engrossed in the study of the Bugatti Owners’ Club handbook. It needed but just a spark to turn him from the Bentley. This was provided a few days later when one of our far-flung spies reported that he had seen a “small racing-car with a funny little horseshoe-shaped radiator” in a works up in one of the Welsh valleys. It was, I will admit, more than a coincidence that made an official journey to that particular part the very next day ! An exhilarating run in my J2—it was one of its good days—brought us to a remote part of one of the most obscure mining valleys. Enquiries at a rather derelictlooking works led us to a building that turned out to be the works garage, which at first appeared to contain nothing more exciting than laid-up Austin Twelves. A low shape,. however, covered with a filthy tarpaulin, looked more interesting. And so it was. Beneath the dust-laden ,covering was a Full G.P. i+-litre Type 87 Bugatti, together with a number of spares.
Following this discovery Pat at once started a chain of enquiries in order to find the owner of the car, and after a few weeks of hectic letter-writing, he was traced, and the car purchased. Collection was quickly arranged with the help of a friendly haulage contractor, and in due course the Bugatti joined the Bentley and the two M.G.s. Further letter-writing to previous owners and taxation offices revealed the car was reputed originally to have been driven by Chiron (but what Bugatti isn’t !), and was the car owned and driven by R. Carey at Shelsley Walsh and in other sprint events. She had been tuned entirely for sprint work, and had at one time run with four Amal motor-cycle carburetters and a full-length, 4-pipe external exhaust system. At the beginning of the war, however, preparatory to laying up, which eventually landed the car in the works where we found her, the engine had been stripped and entirely rebuilt. The original Bugatti exhaust had been refitted, together with twin Solex carburetters instead of the standard single Solex. Ignition was by a Scintilla ” Vertex ” magneto driven from the rear of the camshaft and at right angles to it. Unlike most Bugattis the car would not start on a pull-up of the handle, in fact, it was soon pretty obvious that something was out of adjustment in the engine, as it would not run at less than 2,000 r.p.m. Fortunately, the trouble was soon traced to the carburetter butterflies, which were not properly synchronised. Most writers when describing a Bugatti usually say “the steering and roadholding were all one expects from a Bugatti,” etc. At first this particular car fell far short of such a description. In fact, it felt positively horrible. A careful examination of the front suspension revealed a distinct curve in the track rod, which I imagine must have been produced by careless jacking. This was straightened and no
further trouble was experienced. It was then possible to enjoy to the full that incomparable Bugatti feeling.
When far from one’s base it is not easy to scatter sports cars all over other people’s property, and therefore we very reluctantly decided that the Bentley would have to be sold. Pat, being very busy on flying duties at that time, left the advertising, etc., to me.
I always claim that I have never sold a car but made a friend, and this case was no exception. From an even remoter part of Wales than my war-time abode, I received a charming letter from a gentleman who expressed surprise that there was another enthusiast in that part of the world, as he imagined he was the only “mad one.” A drive down to his home to negotiate the sale was worked in on an official run.
It is gratifying to remember that it was on that journey that I finally traced the irritating trouble to which my J2 had been subject for so long. My friend, Sir Clive Edwards, came with me for the run, and no doubt it was due to his encouragement that I was using rather more revs, than might be considered wise on an ageing J2. Anyway, on one of those long Carmarthenshire hills I had my foot hard down in third gear, when the most expensive-sounding clatter emerged from the engine. I pulled up at once, and looked back along the road expecting to see a trail of oil and the contents of the crankcase. ‘ It was with great relief that the noise was found to have been caused by the front dumb-iron cover coming adrift and dragging along under the sump.
On opening the bonnet to see if any damage had been done, I noticed the slightest trace of petrol just drying out on the rear carburetter. As obviously I was getting flooding when under way with a full throttle opening, but not when the car was stationary, it appeared that there must be some slight trouble in the float mechanism which was only brought on when the car was under way, and under full throttle. Later, a careful check failed to reveal anything wrong with the float chambers, and I was just about to replace them, once more depressed by the fact that the trouble seemed to have beaten me again, when I decided to take the float out of the other carburetter to see if I could see any difference between the two. Both seemed identical, but a chance thought made me decide to weigh the two chambers, and it was then I found that one was slightly heavier than the other. A replacement of the heavier one cured the trouble for good. That I had never been able to counteract the richness by adjustment on the slide I can only account for by the fact that probably the vibration of the car when on the road was just sufficient to cause the heavier chamber to sink slightly under certain conditions. But to return to the Bentley. My correspondent turned out to be that veteran motor-cycle and car enthusiast, Dr. Alec Lindsay. It was satisfying to know that the old 3-litre was going to a good home. Living in a charming part of Carmarthenshire, the last place one would expect to find a collection of sports machinery, Lindsay’s stable consisted at that time of a Lancia “Augusta,” a 3litre open 2-seater ” Blue Label ” Bentley, an old 2-litre Lagonda, and a 1i-litre S.S. “Jaguar.” Added to these he had six or seven motor-cycles ranging from an Ariel Square Four to an old F.N., and the old Norton he rode in the T.T.s of the early twenties. The stories he can tell of the races and trials he had ridden in, and the number of different cars he has owned would fill a book. His experiences as medical officer to the R.A.C. for the record attempts at Pendine alone warrant a high place in motoring history. I only hope that one day he will find time to at least send a contribution to the “Cars I Have Owned” series. [It would be very welcome.—En.] When the doctor took the Bentley over he decided to rebuild it entirely, and working with advice from Mr. McKenzie, he finally combined parts from his existing “Blue Label” to produce a really first-rate car. The engine in the Yates-Bentley was No. 853, and Lindsay’s engine No. 1682. An engine being so late in the 3-litre range contained all the improvements that were made on the model through the period of production. This engine, together with the differential, which was the four-star type, compared with the two-star type of the older car, was reconditioned and put in the short chassis. The steering gear and front axle were also changed over, as the earlier 3-litres were slightly higher geared on the steering than the later models which had the low-pressure tyres. This was a great improvement, as the car had always been very heavy to handle when backing and turning, etc. Although it meant sacrificing the built-in stoneguard, Dr. Lindsay also decided to change radiators on the two cars, as his “Blue Label” had the larger header tank, which is a definite aid to cooling when running in traffic or negotiating a Carmarthenshire town on market day. When these alterations had been made the car was run for a short while, but subsequently further improvements were made. The twin S.U.s and manifold from the high-compression engine had been retained when the engines were changed, but after the change over petrol consumption was not all that it might be. As the carburetters were found to be only 35 mm. they were changed for a pair of the older type of 42-mm. S.U.s, with the barrel-type pistons set at an angle. The electric pumps were replaced by an autovae and an improvement of 3 m.p.g. resulted. Kigass was also fitted by the industrious doctor, but this is not really necessary, as the car starts very easily in all weathers. The result of all this labour is an exceptionally fine Bentley. The car has not the thumping power as with the old high-compression engine, but a sweeter running or more reliable car could not be found anywhere. [We published a picture of this car in our issue of last February.—En.]
During this period I spent a lot of time making journeys round South Wales and Anglesey, and used a number of different cars for these runs, varying from a Lincoln V12 to my wife’s 1929 Morris-Oxford. It is amusing to remember how the owner of the Lincoln used to tell of how he could drive over the gorse Shoe Pass in” high” when extolling the virtues of American cars, and then to remember how my father-in-law took the old Morris out and went over in top three up and with a load of luggage.
Another car I have driven a great deal during the past two years is my fatherin-law’s Hillman Fourteen. The 1938 model had one great weakness, the gearbox in which the thrust race washer used to break up every 15,000 miles, and either a new washer or a new gearbox was required. It just depended where and when it broke. This car, in my opinion however, is the best of its kind that has ever been made, and is the type of car that British manufacturers should aim” at producing after the war. I think we have no hope of competing with the Americans with a cheap large horse-power car, but the British motoring public should be weaned away from the Morris Eight/Ford Eight complex to a car of the size and power of the Hillman Fourteen. A speedometer reading of 80 m.p.h. is easily obtained, as the Editor of MOTOR SPORT found when road-testing a secondhand example in 1941. The independent front suspension is as good as most types, and the general finish is all that is required for utility motoring.
I cannot claim to have had more than just a taste of the joys of the H.R.G., but I had one short run in Clive Edwards’s ii-litre model with the Singer engine. This is the ex-works car, GPE 607, that ran in the Three-Hour Sports Car race. A very good motor car, that should be even better if Clive carries out the modifications he has in mind for after the war. It should be borne in mind that during the period of which I have been writing, I had been experiencing with Pat Yates all the joys and worries that go with a Type 37 Bugatti. In one of his wilder moments Pat decided to use the Bugatti for his R.A.F. duties. As this meant driving up to the ‘drome, a distance of about 4i miles, at all hours of the day and night in order to keep to a flying rota, I think it will be agreed that even as an avid Bugatti enthusiast he was carrying things a little far. With unrelenting energy, wings, lamps, and other road equipment were fitted to the car. Eventually, technically at least, she was ready for the road. It was soon found, however, that we were on to too much of a good thing, as sometimes a whole afternoon would be spent getting the car running on four cylinders, and more often than not just as long a period getting her running at all. The journey to the ‘drome was usually made in the M.G. In spite of all that has been said by some writers about the unreliability of the Type 87, in this case I am not blaming the • car, or the design, as this particular model was quite definitely a sprint car. It was asking rather a lot to expect to use it as a utility car, even when its various inconveniences were countered by a short exhilarating drive. The car could not be enjoyed to the full even on these short runs, as only very little throttle could be used, the engine requiring a long period of warming up before anything like full throttle could be given. With the shortage of petrol and the car’s thirst for this desirable liquid, such warming up was more than an embarrassment
Thus handicapped, it was obvious that another change would soon take place in the Yates’ stable, and therefore I was not surprised when one day I heard that the Bugatti and M.G. were to go in partexchange for a li-litie Squire. When the deal was finally completed, Pat collected the car in London and drove it on side lights down to West Wales in the blackout. Such is true enthusiasm. This particular, car was the one illustrated in the centre spread in the December, 1943, MOTOR SPORT, and is therefore familiar to most readers. A superblooking vehicle completely reconditioned externally, including re-spraying and rechrorniuming. The Squire has been written up several times during the war in various motoring journals, so I will not describe it in detail, apart from saying this was one of the earlier models fitted with the Iflitre twin-cam Anzani engine with a Zoller blower. As with others who have had experience with this make of car, we experienced somewhat of a shock when we first heard the engine running, as at low speed it sounded like an ageing agricultural vehicle. This was caused by the design of the rocker arms and tappets. I believe that on sonic of the last models made this fault was cured ; if so, it must have made a big difference to the appeal of the car from the sales angle. Actually, when on the road at any speed over about 35 m.p.h. the noise settled down to a muffled roar, and was carried away with the wind. When roadtested by MOTOR SPORT the Squire WAS timed at over the 100 mark, but I am unable to say that this was our experience, as a speedometer 90 was the best that could be obtained. This, however, I think, can be accounted for by the fact that the car tested by MOTOR SPORT was
probably only just run-in in 1030, and that the Yates car, in spite of its showroom condition, had done a good thousand miles by the end of 1943. In connection with the Squire it is a useful argument to have at the back of one’s mind if one is supporting the use of blowers on smallcapacity road-cars, to note that with careful driving on a fairly good road (I am thinking of the road between Swansea and Cardiff) it was possible to get 28 m.p.g.
I seem to have covered most of the cars that I have owned, driven, or messed about with during the war years, but before concluding this article there are some other interesting cars that I have encountered that should be included to complete the story. First, there was the 1906 Daimler and the “Silver Ghost” ‘Rolls-Royce I came across when in Llandudno. I think the former had already been unearthed, as I later saw a letter referring to it in the Motor. Whether it or the Rolls has been bought by an enthusiast I do not know. Then there were the two Singers I discovered buried under piles of debris during blitz clearance work in Swansea. These two cars were fitted with light detachable aluminium bodies of the Le Mans pattern (tank at the back, etc.), and seemed to have been used for racing or trials at one time, as numbers could be seen under the paint and dirt on the bodies and radiators. The garage proprietor to whom they belonged was eventually traced, and he said he thought the cars were two of the Red, White and Blue Singer team which ran in trials and sports events in 1933-4. He also said be thought they were fitted with straight-cut crown wheels and pinions, and that a maximum near the century had been possible at one time. Unfortunately, the owner adopted a rather ” dog-in-the-manger ” attitude with the cars, and it was not possible to save them.
Another Bugatti I discovered was an old Type 22 in a breaker’s yard in the Gower Peninsula. This car had more or less “had it,” as it was nearly in pieces and seized solid. It might be useful to someone for spares, and I will be only too glad to pass on the address of the yard to anyone who is interested. In this same yard there is a 1917 Clement Talbot, also disintegrating fast, but which still might be saved.
There have been others, but not of any real interest. At the moment, following an unsuccessful search for a fairly respectable Frazer-Nash, I am running a very sleek, but undet-powered and over-bodied, Triumph ” Gloria Vitesse.” A pleasant car–yes, but containing all that was bad and good in pre-war British motor-car design. Good fittings, nice body, good quality upholstery, Lockheed .brakes, free wheel, automatic chassis lubrication, and many other features. But, then, what’s the good of all that if one has no real performance, which one hasn’t simply because it’s asking too much to expect a 10.8-h.p. engine to push along a car of the size and weight of many a 16 or even 20-h.p.
But why complain when there are still so many interesting cars to be (I-liven, or rediscovered ? What could be more intriguing than following a chain of clues, as I am at the time of writing, which I hope will lead me to a 1903 Panhard, reputed to have been laid up for 30 years in a disused foundry ?
Book Reviews, April 1961, April 1961
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