A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
The outstanding vintage-car fixture this month is the V.S.C.C. Silverstone Race Meeting (the second this year organised by this club) which takes place on June 15th, starting at 12.30 p.m. The meeting will include a 50-kilometre All-Comers' Scratch Race for vintage and historic racing cars, a 5-lap Inter-Section Handicap, a 3-lap Edwardian-car race and the usual supporting races.There are no High-Speed Trials this time. Entries have closed. Admission is free but tickets must be obtained in advance, from any V.S.C.C. member or from T. W. Carson, Brook Cottage, Bishop's Green, Newbury, Berkshire, on receipt of a s.a.e. Car parking costs 5s. The first V.S.C.C. Silverstone of 1957 attracted a record crowd in spite of an Icelandic gale. It cannot be quite so cold in June, so make a note of this vintage day in your diary or on the back of that envelope, "date" your non-vintage girl-friends, and see if you can break the former spectator record. The V.S.C.C. will be pleased and you should enjoy it all enormously, even if you spend the day just looking at the cars in the public car-parks (or at other chaps' non-vintage girl-friends).
A big incentive for old-car enthusiasts to be at Le Mans this year will be the special events which are to precede the famous 24-Hour Race. At 6 p.m. on pre-race Friday, June 21st, a parade of cars which have made history on the Sarthe circuit will be held. From 7 p.m. the same day two 50th Anniversary Races will be held, each of one hour's duration. The first will be for cars built prior to 1913, the second for cars of the 1913-1923 period. High-speed trial procedure will be used for determining awards but high speed will he encouraged past the pits. Afterwards competing cars and veterans back to 1900 will form a pageant behind the pits.
This all sounds enormously interesting, if only because old cars seem in their element in France and the Sarthe is steeped in motor racing history. It will be intriguing to see what French veteran and vintage cars compete and many appropriate cars exist in England, especially if sports cars of the Le Mans type, as distinct from cars that actually competed there, are acceptable. Bentley, Aston Martin, Lagonda, Austin, M.G., Riley, Lea-Francis, etc., should most certainly be represented. Apparently 43 entries had been notified before the end of April but anyone interested can learn more from the V.S.C.C.
The V.S.C.C. is due to judge a vintage and p.v.t. Concours d'Elegance on the village green at Holyport, near Maidenhead, at 4 p.m. on June 1st.So if you feel in need of a look at good machinery, you know where to go this afternoon . . .
In conjunction with the Rempstone Traction Engine Rally at Rempstone, near Loughborough, Leics. an exhibition of vintage and veteran cars and motor-cycles is promised. The date is June 29th, you can enter free (and will be given free lunch tickets), and details are available from C. G. Duce, Brook Street, Wymeswold, Loughborough, Leics.
The Veteran C.C. has a non-competitive rally to Hatfield this month, on June 8th, and its S.W. Section rally to Poole, Dorset, on June 29th. Details from the V.C.C., 46, North Row, London, W.1.
It is announced that an ambitious old-car parade and Concours d'Elegance, the latter for large money prizes, is being held on June 29th in conjunction with Leeds and District Sports and Gala Day at Roundhay Park. Details can be had from D. Keech, "Treen," Allerton Park, Leeds, 7.
A very interesting heirloom from the past has been sent to us by Mr. A. Kennerley of Woodhall Spa which must appeal to those accustomed to attend present-day auction sales. It is none other than the catalogue of the second of the Anglesey Castle sales held on August 3rd and 4th, 1904, concerned with horses, carriages, harness and motor cars. Issued by W. Dew & Son of Bangor, this catalogue cost 1s. even in those days. And evidently this was some sale, for seven carriage horses and 17 carriages, not including a rubber-tyred Leverson bath-chair had to be disposed of. These carriages comprised a Jones high dogcart, a Jones luggage cart, a Muhlbacher ralli car, a tilbury and a park-gig by the same Parisian coachbuilder, a Forder hansom cab, a shooting car, a Jones pair-horse waggonette, a Muhlbacher large brake ("very costly"), a Holland & Holland grand pair or four-horse brake (yellow, lined in blue), a "most expensive" pair-horse rubber-tyred landau and a pair-horse landau (these two by the noted Muhlbacher), an lval & Large brougham, two more broughams (tyre pump missing from one), a Muhlbacher victoria and another victoria with "extra inner tube").
So Anglesey Castle was well provided with transport up to the summer of 1904. However, I observe that six of the seven horses are described as "aged." So it wasn't surprising that motor cars had also been employed. They formed, as set out for sale in the catalogue, a remarkable assortment.
There was a Sunbeam Mabley with 2¾-h.p. de Dion engine, with water-cooled combustion chamber, for which 4 to 20 m.p.h was claimed. It is described as "an exceedingly handy little car, which can easily be stored in a small place" -- just what is needed today! Next on the list -- Lot 268 -- was a 6-h.p. Locomobile dos-a-dos steam car. Nothing much is given away about its mechanism but the auctioneer did his best: "Large petrol and water tanks, large boiler and burner, special side draught for burner, heavy frame and running gear, large piping and connections." We trust bidding was not discouraged by the special side draught! This Locomobile had a wheelbase of 4 ft. 10 in, and yet it seated four persons. Two American rubber tyres for it were sold separately.
Then there was a 10-h.p. 5-seater air-cooled Lanchester brougham tonneau, able to do from 5 to 30 m.p.h. Extras, calling for separate bids, for this car included 870 by 90 tyres, a 2½-cwt. pulley block and two iron beams "for raising the brougham top" (!) and "eight friction blocks."
Another splendid car in the sale was a 16-h.p. water-cooled 98 by 130mm. Panhard-Centaur tonneau with canopy top. It had a 4-speed and reverse gearbox and, from the extras, it can be deduced that it was chain-driven and possessed h.t. ignition. This Panhard was described as "magnificent" but obviously the plum of the stable was a 1903 28-h.p. Mors with Lamplugh Pullman decorated by Maple of Paris and finished in dark blue with red lining, the wheels being primrose, lined in black. The 4-cylinder T-head engine had l.t. magneto ignition and developed 35 to 40-b.h.p. A specially lengthened frame with 11 ft. wheelbase was employed and in the gears this Mors would, it was claimed, achieve 8. 16, 24 and 32 m.p.h. It ran on 920 by 120 Michelin tyres.
This was the only dated car in the sale and a two-page account of it, in small type, was reprinted from The Car. The auctioneer differed with this, making the wheelbase 6 in. longer and the top speed 7 m.p.h. higher, so perhaps motor journals of that day were not infallible. Apparently this Mors had coachwork designed by M. Graham White, which won a gold medal at the 1903 Paris Salon. Four persons could sit inside in "revolving arm chairs," two more could be accommodated outside and there was electric light, an indicator to the driver, a heater, mahogany side cupboard, folding card-table, plate-glass windows, with spring sun-blinds, upholstery being in dark red morocco leather. The ceiling was decorated in Louis XV style! The influence of Mercedes was seen in the statement: "Mercedes cooler (fan drive)" and apparently the firing in each cylinder could be tested independently "by releasing the spring contact rods forming the circuit to the sparking plugs, each cylinder being hinged to a rod forming positive conduct trom the magneto " -- if you follow!
Where, one wonders, is the Marquis of Anglesey's special Mors today, and was the similar car under construction for the Countess of Carrie ever completed?
Besides these petrol and steam carriages, an electric brougham and an electric phaeton were offered. Neither was in running order -- could they still be there?-- W.B.
A reader who picked up a silver dollar at Goodwood on the occasion of the Anglo-American vintage/veteran contest would like to contact the owner. A letter will be forwarded.
From the excellent Alvis 12/50 Register Circular comes pleasing evidence of the longevity of vintage cars. A member's 1927 TG Alvis two-seater, owned by him since new, had covered 258,200 miles at the time of writing and "it seems to need a major overhaul about every 70,000 miles -- between overhauls it runs with only owner-attention," Incidentally, 7.832 gallons of petrol have been consumed, equal to 33 m.p.g.
In Darlington a Sunbeam Speed Twenty is available as a gift to anyone arriving with a tow-trolley or a new back-axle for it. Letters will be forwarded.
Valuable proof of the safety-factor of vintage cars, which might well be brought to the attention of the Minister of Transport before he squanders more of the National exchequer on compulsory checks on old cars is the fact that a modern 100 m.p.h. sports car crashed recently due to breakage of its cast-iron front hub. Vintage cars often have forged steel hubs, verb sap!
Three different makes of motor-cycle, all of vintage persuasion, are referred to in "The Selected Letters of T. E. Lawrence," edited by David Garnett (World Books,1938/41). They are a Triumph ridden by Lawrence in Cairo, his various Brough-Superiors and a twin N.U.T. Against the last-named, rather delightfully, there is reference to a footnote, which explains that N.U.T. refers to a "Motor bicycle." We are reminded from this book that Lawrence had several Brough-Superiors, including a 1926 S.S.110, and that he rode one as a combination. On one of these Broughs he averaged no less than 44½ m.p.h. for the 250-mile out-and-home journey Wimborne-Hounslow-Wimborne, and got 108 m.p.h. on the road. He had several accidents, writing off one machine, and was killed in 1935 on a Brough given to him anonymously by Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Shaw. In this book Lawrence mentions the firm of Henry Meadows: "They are an interesting firm; not many flies on them."
Nigel Arnold-Forster tells us he is contemplating relinquishing his Trojans in order to concentrate on his vintage G.N. and Frazer-Nash. For his wife, a Volkswagen.
The Second Anglo-American Vintage Rally, the first such contest to take place in America, was won by the American team. They lost only 619 points, whereas the British team lost a total of 3,074 points. Our cars showed up well in respect of good brakes and proved notably reliable but the U.S. vintage and Edwardian machinery was far faster.
Amongst the troubles experienced were a broken piston in the model-A Ford, a broken back axle on the Mercer, a cracked hub on the 1913 Talbot, misfiring on Breen's Bentley, flat batteries on Hutton-Stott's Lanchester, loss of a rim-bolt from the Chalmers, but happily all seem to have recovered except for the 1911 9.8-litre Simplex, the engine of which, alas, disintegrated. Best American vintage and Edwardian performances were made, respectively, by Dr. Woodward's 1929 6.8-litre Studebaker and S. E. Baily's 1914 9.9-litre Simplex. Our respective bests were by A. T. Pugh's 1927 1½-litre Frazer-Nash and L. Pomeroy's 1914 4-litre Prince Henry Vauxhall.