Club News, June 1949



We Hear
During April an 1899 Weston steam car made a last triumphant journey through York to the museum, to which it has been presented by K. Tye. The car is in really beautiful condition and its last journey was well written-up in the local Press. Incidentally, the police sportingly gave sanction for it to run sans trade number plates, so as to improve its appearance before the Press cameras. But, as one of our readers observes, it seems a pity to put such a good example of an old car in a museum when it is still in working order, although it will at least be well looked after and entertain many people. The V.S.C.C. has cancelled its proposed Le Mans Rally. In a Brighton breaker’s yard a 1909 Armstrong-Whitworth landaulette, in good order and apparently in use as a taxi until recently, seeks a home. E. E. Rippe points out that the high landing speed of to-day’s jet-propelled aircraft necessitates completely revised braking systems and wonders when similar multi-disc, hydraulically-operated brakes are due to appear on fast cars.

Following the letter we published last February concerning Mr. Aird’s 1932 3-litre Lagonda “Selector Special,” C. Hayward writes to say that he, too, has a Lagonda which differs from the usual “Selector Special,” being rated at 19.28 h.p., and having a push-rod engine with two S.U. carburetters. Can anyone give the history of this particular Lagonda? Mr. Hayward’s car is still capable of a genuine 80 m.p.h., and will average nearly 20 m.p.g. Then Neville Lodge is wondering whether a “Twenty” Rolls-Royce engine could be installed in a “16/80” Lagonda, a conversion he has heard of as possible in the case of the 3-litre Lagonda. An early Rolls-Royce, chassis No. 66YB, languishes at a London breaker’s yard.

After expressing regret at the apparent lack of enthusiasm for the sport in Oxford, G. D. Fisher wonders if any of the air-cooled S.A.R.A. cars are still running. When he was at Talbots from 1926 to 1930 there were quite a few around and our correspondent describes them as a “very mighty little motor.”

D. L. L. Alexandra has acquired the Ford V8-engined F.M. Special, which was illustrated in our March, 1949 issue. It still has a Ford V8 engine. A friend of Robert Thwaites has acquired the 4 1/2-litre Invicta once owned by Donald Healey and is busy removing surplus avoirdupois, including the trafficators. Incidentally, Mr. Thwaites is keen to see a gathering of enthusiasts in Cornwall and offers to lend his support to a scheme of Mr. Pritchard’s that we have referred to previously. Mr. Thwaites can be contacted at Woodbine Cottage, Tallack’s Creek, Devoran, Cornwall. He has recently exchanged his Riley “Kestrel” for an open Alvis “Firefly.” Keith V. Lewis now owns the ex-Potter Lea-Francis which W. Green drove in the 1928 T.T. and would like to contact previous owners of the car.

J. C. Wilkins and G. E. Lant have acquired the ex-Humphries Q-type M.G. for use in sprint events. In Spain Simon K. Hansen is experimenting with two Weber carburetters on his H.R.G. The response to the offer of a free Wolseley Hornet engine and gearbox for the taking away, published last month, resulted in a surprising response. There appears to be a lively interest in these cars. C. C. Williams. refers to a car he has had for two years and overhauled, improving the roadholding by fitting oversize rear tyres, Hartford rear shock-absorbers and a modified offside front spring rear-anchorage. The body has been considerably modified, the original heavy seats being replaced by light tubular seats, and a run from Newquay to Watford in 7 h. 20 rn., including stops for petrol and a brief rest, is mentioned. One recently experienced snag is that top gear jumps out of engagement — any suggestions? Then James Fletcher recently bought the 1934 “Meredith Trinity Special” Wolseley Hornet only to have a rod break on Easter Monday, so he was hoping to “win” the spare engine. He formerly ran a “J2” M.G., but explains that a five-year-old daughter calls for more seating accommodation. The table mats with reproductions of Gordon Crosby paintings thereon are finding their way into the homes of enthusiasts. The historic racing scenes are well portrayed and are unaffected by heat, while the reverse side of each mat contains a description of the race depicted.. Prices range from £2 12s. 6d. for a set of six, available from Beard’s of 70, The Promenade, Cheltenham.

Floyd Grinnell, of the Sports Car Club of America, has completely rebuilt a 1936 “NA” M.G. Magnette, although only the exhaust manifold and bonnet louvres have been altered. He says this. M.G. causes much interest in the States as most of the cars of this make in America are late model “TCs.” Grinnell thinks there are only seven “NA” Magnettes, but he also knows of a blown “K3,” reputed to be the ex-Seaman car. He is also rebuilding a Type 30A Bugatti and intends to replace the coupé body with an open two-seater.

With diffidence we suggest that there may be railway-enthusiasts amongst our readers, but those who have veered so far vintage-wards as to enjoy looking for any form of early transport relics during their wanderings may be glad to know that three books on now-defunct light railways, with photographs of overgrown platforms, crossing-gates and similar remains, are available from E. C. Griffiths, 28, Downing Street, Farnham, Surrey. They deal with the West Sussex, Basingstoke & Alton, and Bishop’s Castle lines, and cost 4s. 6d.,. 3s. 6d. and 5s. 6d., respectively, and there is the consolation that competition from road travel put paid to such railways! An Arab engine, believed to have been raced, is reported in safe storage.

Harold Pearson, thanking us for our kind remarks about his Morris Eight tourer at Lulsgate, sends some interesting data on this successful car. The car is a 1936 model and, apart from a set of inner valve springs, all the “mods.” incorporated can be bought over the counter from any Morris dealer, as follows: – 1939 Morris Eight pistons, to raise compression-ratio, alloy head from 1946-7 Morris Eight van, four-speed gearbox from 1939 Morris Eight, crownwheel and pinion from ditto, dynamo and voltage regulator from ditto. In addition, a big-capacity 6-volt Lucas coil is used, wings and running-boards were removed for racing, and a little benzole is added to the fuel. Another reader, referring to last month’s “Rumblings” on power/ weight ratios, writes of his Austin Seven Special which had 1-in. diameter Wolseley Hornet inlet valves, a 6.5 to 1 compression-ratio and tappets contoured to give the same effect as high-lift cams. The chassis was lengthened and lowered and the engine dropped behind the front axle, while the radiator was set in front of the axle. Special back springs were used, together with a Wolseley Hornet steering box, column and steering wheel. With an aluminium body the weight came out at 7 cwt., 32 lb., with battery and lamps. The car held the road like a leech and a timed 74.6 m.p.h. was achieved, but con.-rods broke, so a Ford Eight engine was substituted for the Austin unit.

Mr. Fowler reports that his early Westwood light car (not Westbrook as we inadvertently called it) is now running and “is still able to beat all but the faster auto-cycles!” The V.S.C.C. “Bulletin” for May was as enjoyable as ever and contained a good write-up of Densham’s Edwardian Calcott — the older small cars are getting in the news these days. As a result of announcements published in these columns, the Cornwall Vintage Car Club has been formed, open to enthusiasts in that county. It is proposed to meet on the first Friday in each month at 8 p.m. at the “Red Lion,” Truro, from July onwards. The Acting Secretary is .J. W. H. Pritchard, Towan House, Fore Street, Newquay.

For The Library
Many motoring enthusiasts collect motoring books and some seek rare works to intersperse with the classics. But we wonder whether collectors realise that in some of the early works on motor engineering which various publishers brought out in several volumes, or even in fortnightly or monthly parts, are to be found interesting pictures of vintage and veteran cars, even of racing cars, and useful servicing data and technical information about “period” cars and components for which instruction manuals and catalogues are indeed few and far between. One series of such books that were given to us recently appeal by reason of photographs of vintage cars in their natural surroundings.” One of these shows the exit from Blackwall Tunnel, enhanced in this instance because an early Bean tourer is emerging from it, but at once reminding us of how hopelessly lost we once became soon after emerging from this self-same exit during a rather hectic journey from Essex to Hampshire by way of Kent, when we were fuddle-headed on account of an all-night run down from Bo’ness in another car.

Incidentally, someone called at our offices recently and showed us a large number of current photographs taken of vintage cars wherever he had encountered them — in other words, in their “natural surroundings,” such as a stately “Silver Ghost” Rolls-Royce saloon in Hyde Park or a 3-litre Bentley parked in Pall Pall, etc. Coupled with the ever-present excitement of discovering suitable material, this aspect of motoring photography may well appeal to those who habitually wear cameras round their necks. Again we decided that such photographs have something which conventional publicity “shots” of cars against a plain background or posed in impossibly attractive settings and as like as not draped with languorous females, have not.

To revert to those old technical motoring books in which the full-page plates or other illustrations are of just this kind of thing, some which come to mind, and which are still to be located by diligent search of the secondhand book-shops, include “Modern Motors,” by H. T. Rutter (Virtue and Co.), “Modern Motor Cars,” by Arthur W. Judge (Caxton Publishing Co.),” Cars and Motor-Cycles” (Pitman), and “The Book of the Motor Car,” by Rankin Kennedy (Caxton). All appear to have been published in the mid-nineteen twenties.

North London Enthusiasts’ c.c.
Members of this Club and of other invited clubs heard an interesting lecture on April 21st, when Lt.-Col. A. T. Goldie Gardner spoke on his record attempts, and showed slides depicting some of those efforts and the cars used, as well as incidents during record attempts by other people. He described his own experiences and imparted advice as to how to set about the task of record breaking. In answer to a questioner, the b.h.p. figures for the various classes in which he has broken records with his present car are: 1,100-c.c., 200 b.h.p.; 1,104-c.c., 205 b.h.p.; 750-c.c., 130 to 140 b.h.p., but considerably more could have been extracted; 500-c.c., 70 odd b.h.p.

The Italian autostrada which he visited in 1946 proved unsuitable for record-breaking because it had two rather nasty curves in it, which would cause a record car to skate right off. This is one respect in which record-breaking differed from racing; he admitted that record-breaking taught one nothing about braking and roadholding. However, he felt it was the finest way of showing the world what British cars can do.

He stressed the need for aerodynamic form, both internal and external, including underpanning. An instance of internal streamlining was the fairing-in of the front wheels inside as well as outside. For record attempts, the measured distance has to have a gradient less than 1 degree, and there have to be 1,000 metres either end with the same limitation as to gradient.

A telegram of congratulations was sent to the Austin Motor Company from the meeting, on the fine achievement by the A90 at Indianapolis. For this, Leonard Lord wired back his thanks, and expressed his appreciation.

Aston-Martin Owner’s Club
We have received a copy of the official magazine of the Aston-Martin Owners’ Club, which is nicely printed and illustrated. The issue in question contains a long article by St. John Horsfall on how the new Aston-Martin won last year’s Spa race, a Register of Bamford and Martin Aston-Martins, a page of Klernantaski photographs, data on adjusting twin S.U. carburetters, specifications and servicing data applicable to 1929 to 1934 models, a lubrication chart and much club gossip. The Club is active and we gather that members are entering in numbers for the Bugatti Owners’ Club Silverstone Race Meeting on June 18th.

Hon. Sec., Dudley Coram, 554, Limpsfield Road, Warlingham, Surrey.

V. M -C .C.
The Vintage Motor-Cycle Club is as active as ever and its Sheldon (Birmingham) to Banbury Run on June 26th is to be all complete with a souvenir programme with foreword by “Ixion,” while the police of two counties have given their blessing. Ivan Wickstead, riding Len Cole’s Douglas, made f.t.d. at Maple Cross Hill Climb, and Anthony Bonnett’s S.S.100 Brough-Superior clocked 23.9 seconds at Hendre Park. New members continue to roll in, the latest batch owning such desirable machines as 1913 Rudge, 1929 Scott Flyer, 1928 long-stroke Sunbeam, 1923 A.J.S., 1928 Brough-Superior, 1925 James and 1930 Rudge. If you desire to take part in this least expensive of motoring pastimes but haven’t a pre1931 bicycle the V.M.-C.C. will gladly help you to locate such a property. Hon. Sec.: R. A. Beecroft, 65A, Wembley Park Drive, Wembley, Middlesex.

Lagonda Register
Never before have vintage enthusiasts been so well catered for in the matter of detailed data about the cars in which they are particularly interested. Organisations exist which compile and issue “registers” of Bentley, Alvis, Aston-Martin, Lea-Francis, Delage and Lagonda cars, with particular emphasis on who owns such vehicles and how to service them. The Lagonda register is a truly ambitious effort on these lines, containing painstaking results-lists of races, rallies and trials in which Lagondas have figured, compiled by D. H. Coates, data on how to identify different vintages of the 2 1/2-litre Lagonda, servicing data, notes on the history and specifications of different Lagonda models, S.U. and Zenith carburetter tuning notes, a list of owners’ registration numbers, and a list of members with addresses and details of cars they own. The whole thing is well produced on art paper and those interested should contact P. A. Densham, Damers Farm, Martin, Fordingbridge, Hampshire.

The Morgan Three-Wheeler Club
Arrangements are in full swing for the event at Colwall on June 18th 19th. Apart from a concours and driving-skill contests, a 1/2-mile speed trial will be held, divided into classes for different types of Morgan. Those who are keen to see Morgans of various ages in action should make a note of this event — note also, however, that only members and friends will be admitted and an admission card must be obtained from a Group Organiser. Camping facilities are available. The entry list has closed. The Club issues a monthly duplicated magazine and recently elected ten new members. Secretary: G. Evans, 19, Chestnut Walk, Worcester.

The Veteran Car Club has organised a pleasant event for its members at Whitsun, consisting of a rally to Norwich, to commemorate the A.C. of G.B. and I. rally to the same town held at VVhitsun, 1898. The Club enterprisingly circulated a reproduction of the Autocar’s report of the 1898 event with its regulations for this year’s Eastern Rally. Apart from prizes for the rally event, an eight-mile safety-first drive and a gymkhana will be held on Whit-Monday, while the competing veteran and Edwardian cars will be on view to the public at Eaton Park, Norwich, from 12 noon until 2 p.m. The Lord Mayor of Norwich will declare the Monday events open, while the Norwich Accident Prevention Committee has presented some valuable prizes and free lunch and tea, garages in the town have generously offered free accommodation, the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club has invited members to its headquarters for its Regatta and is to put on a 7s. 6d. cruise in a motor launch, and altogether this should be a very fine event. Rally competitors may arrive at 118-120, Princes Road by 12 noon on the Sunday or at Eaton Park by the same time on the Monday. We mention these facts as many readers will undoubtedly wish to spectate. Entries have closed.

Club Activities
It is always pleasant to learn of public bodies sanctioning motoring events. The Cleethorpes and Grimsby Corporations are wholeheartedly co-operating with the vintage and veteran rally, trial and concours which the Grimsby M.C., with the aid of the V.C.C., V.S.C.C. and V.M.C.C., is holding on June 11th. Motor-cycle classes are pre-1901, 1901-1910, 1911-1920 and 1921-1980, and car and three-wheeler classes pre-1901, 1901-1904, 1905-1908, 1909-1914, 1915-1920 and 1921-1980. Entries have closed. Look for the competitors on Cleethorpes Promenade at 2 p.m. Local traders have contributed to the prizes.

The newly-formed W. Sussex Drivers’ Club welcomes new members. This is essentially a beginner’s club, confined to those resident in W. Sussex. Betty Haig, Twitten. Orchard, Nutbourne Common, near Pulborough, Sussex, can supply details. The W. Essex C.C. continues to issue its printed magazine, “Wheelspin.” New members welcomed, at 10s. entrance fee and £1 is. annual subscription. Many prominent drivers — Johnson, Bowles, Brandon, Way, Stirling Moss — belong. Details from J. F. Bareham, 26, Southview Drive, S. Woodford, E.18. Tel.: Wanstead 1751.