Vintage Cars At Prescott

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The Vintage Sports Car Club hold its annual Speed Hill-climb at the B.O.C.’s Prescott Hill on May 13th, following its Edwardian and Light Car Rally the previous day. The results of the rally were :-

Vintage Light Cars:

First-Class Awards: Winder (1924/8 Humber) and Miss Stocken (1924 Trajan).

Second-Class Award: Dighton (1928 Humber).

Third-Class Awards: Peerless (1924 Trojan) and Edwards (1922 Fiat).

Edwardians:

First-Class Award: Garrett (1907 Rolls-Royce).

Second Class Awards: Watson (1913 RoIls-Royce) and Cook (1908 Mercedes).

Third Class Award: Skinner (1913 Rolls-Royce).

The hill-climb was a great success, so many vintage entries having been received that only the racing cars of post-vintage entries could be accommodated, sure sign of the good health of the vintage movement. The Edwardian class produced two newcomers, in the form of G.A. Brown’s beautiful 1912 4.7-litre Zust touring car and B.M. Clarke with the ex-Wilcock 1912 25-h.p. Talbot with replica two-seater body. Unfortunately this class was depleted because the Zust suffered a return of the back-axle trouble with which it had lain fallow in Cardiff for many years, Clutton’s 1908 G.P. Itala ran a big-end on the way to Prescott, and on his second run Clarke went off the road in spectacular fashion, plunging down a ravine, when the Talbot’s steering either jammed or failed. The car was wrecked, Clarke having a miraculous escape, being flung out after it overturned. Dr. Rexford-Welch, returning in his 4 1/2-litre Lagonda from the scene, said “He’s lucky to be alive.”

Happily, then, this accident didn’t mar the pleasant scene which is Prescott in May; trees laden with blossom, the bluebell’s out, rooks cawing incessantly overhead and, on this occasion, vintage cars everywhere – we counted four Trojans, one on solid tyres, and noted Peacock’s Gwynne Eight, several Fiat 501s, several Salmsons, a rare Diatto, and a white and very early “square” Hillman Fourteen saloon amongst the many so-covetable vehicles in the packed car parks.

Most of the competing cars were old favourites, including eight Frazer-Nashes, of which Skirrow’s spun on both ascents, many Bentleys, including the lethal weapons of G.H.G. Burton and G.G. McDonald (who ran out of road on his second climb), and the 30/98 Vauxhalls of Coates and Melville. The racing classes were rendered exciting by the presence of Hardy’s Sumner-J.A.P., which shed a chain in spectacular fashion, March’s Nash-A.C., the A.C.-engined Caesar-Special in which Dr. Taylor clocked best vintage time, and five E.R.A.s. of which John Broad’s, using only bottom gear, made f.t.d. in 45.37 sec., and Lord Ebury’s broke a fuel pipe on its second run.

A very attractive vintage light car was Pollitt’s 1920 Calthorpe Sporting two-seater, with the short bulbous tail and a liberally-drilled front axle, even if it was no quicker than the touring Edwardians. It is pleasing to know that this Calthorpe can be added to examples of A.C., A.B.C. and Bayliss-Thomas which exist in original sports-bodied form. Much admired, too, was Shirely’s white and unspoilt 1927 four-seater 36/220 Mercedes-Benz, although it was beaten soundly by the 4 1/2-litre Invictas and Bentleys, while Waine’s shorts-chassis Isotta-Fraschini, all 7.3 litres of it, was notably fast in 55.13 sec. and did consistent climbs. Stubberfield’s Bugatti, arriving from another hill-climb, and Robins’ Bugatti were the only cars with twin rear tyres. Fisher drove an Amilcar Six suffering from severe clutch slip on getaway and Skinner’s 1913. Continental 40/50 Rolls-Royce, with replica touring body in three-ply, managed 70.07 sec. beaten on speed in its class only by Neve’s splendid 1914 T.T. Humber (58.44 sec.).

Things to absorb during this happy afternoon were W/Cmdr. Buckle’s wonderful crash-hat, the neat marque badges on the more normal crash-hats worn by Waine (Isotta-Fraschini) and Ashley (Frazer-Nash), the Bowden ignition control on the gear levers of Thirlby’s and Hipkins’ Frazer-Nashes, and the nice brief wings on Barlow’s 3-litre Bentley. Aspland’s 1929 T.T. Lea-Francis had a No. 8 Cozette blower and roller-bearing engine, both Burton and Eastick believe in drilled hand-brakes on their Bentleys, and S/Ldr. Lisle’s 3-litre Bentley, driven by B. Herbert, appeared on take-off to possess oval back wheels, as did Ainsworth’s 4 1/2-litre Invicta.

Don’t forget the V.S.C.C. racing at Oulton Park on June 23rd, when London-bound enthusiasts can make a vintage weekend of it by looking at the V.M.C.C. Banbury Run on the Sunday. – W.B.

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