Veteran – Edwardian – Vintage

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A section devoted to old-car matters

The V.S.C.C. Silverstone Race Meeting (April 23rd)

As in 1959, so in 1960, the first race meeting of the season organised by the Vintage Sports Car Club was attended by a significantly large crowd, proving irrefutably that spectators enjoy the variety to be seen in races for the older motor cars. On this occasion a special car park had been set aside for cars approved of by Jenkinson and Boddy and as they had set out very early that morning in a truly spartan 1924 G.P. Sunbeam they decided to let only the more sporting vintage and p.v.t. cars into this park – before racing started 100 such cars – Bentleys, Lagondas, Frazer Nashes, Aston Martins, 30/98 Vauxhalls, Delage, O.M., etc., etc., had been so assembled, a “condition of entry” being that hoods had to be furled. The arrangement was much appreciated, both by the proud owners of sports cars so favoured and by the spectators, who could examine interesting vintage cars conveniently, without having to wander through a wide expanse of car parks. Several owners of notably clean, but very sober, vintage cars were turned away but only because of space limitations – if the V.S.C.C. Committee agree to provide a larger park at their July Silverstone Meeting it will be possible to include all reasonable vintage machinery, such as a rare Triumph Fifteen saloon and a wire-wheeled 1929 Standard Nine with unusual fabric saloon body which attended the meeting on April 23rd.

The Meeting opened with the usual One Hour High Speed Trial for vintage and p.v.t. cars, with compulsory pit-stops included. Then, after a short interval, racing commenced, Morley’s 8-litre Bentley two-seater, which arrived on a six-wheeler lorry, winning the first five-lap Handicap from Hardman’s Riley Special which won last year’s Motor Sport Silverstone Trophy, and Michael’s well-known low-chassis 4-1/2-litre Lagonda. Day’s E.R.A., from scratch, just failed to come into the picture but took Pocklington’s 1936 helmet-winged Riley on the finishing line.

A fine field of Edwardians next took their part in the special Handicap, Lord Montagu, making his debut in the great red 1907 17-1/2-litre “Isle of Wight” Itala, which started effectively on the switch, although it couldn’t be hurried unduly as the detachable rims are apt to fly off, while Clutton was likewise being cautious in the 1908 G.P. Itala for fear of shedding tyres. For three of the five laps Cyril Mann’s 1908 Hillman Coatalen tourer, also making its racing debut in modern times led, but the wily Heal was losing no time in the Montagu Museum 1912 coupé de l’Auto Sunbeam and in the end he scored a well-deserved victory from another Museum car, the 1913 “Prince Henry” Vauxhall driven by Ron Barker, third place going to Williamson, at the wheel of Clifton’s noisy and impressive chain-drive Ninety Mercedes.

A very mixed bag, including Woodburn’s “new” 1925 genuine sports Gwynne Eight, and Fone’s 1931 closed Rolls-Royce 20/25 contested the next five-lap Handicap, which saw Wallis’ neat blue 1928 Austin Seven tourer lead for four laps, pursued by similar “Chummies” driven by Green (1928) and Dallas (1926). both of which were afflicted with violent front-wheel judder round the corners. On the last lap Frank Lockhart’s Peugeot-J.A.P. won in almost a photo-finish from Astle’s 1927 Alvis, de Villiers’ 1931 Austin Seven occupying third place. Believe it or not, a Harper Bean competed. while neither Winder’s splendid 1925 Frazer Nash nor Batho’s Riley Nine tourer lasted beyond four laps.

The big race of the afternoon, the 1908 G.P. Itala Trophy Race for Vintage Racing Cars, was then contested over 17 miles. Berry’s blown 2.3 Bugatti got away well and led for two laps before Schellenberg thrust his gigantic ex-Hassan 8-litre Bentley single-seater to the front. Thereafter this car and its intrepid driver were the outstanding feature of the race, Schellenberg simply throwing the monster round the corners and turning on the power while the back wheels were still sliding sideways – what a driver, what a car – and how nice that it is run as a single-seater, virtually as it appeared in Brooklands’ days! Berry’s Bugatti held second place until dire things happened under the bonnet on lap eight and it paused to have a fire extinguished. Bradley’s 4-1/2 Bentley then moved up, with Donne’s blown 1-3/4-litre Alfa Romeo third, which is how they finished, Schellenberg having made fastest lap, at 75.97 m.p.h. The handicap winner was Dudley Gahagan’s road-equipped G.P. Bugatti, which took Dr. Pinkerton’s 1910 Fiat right on the line, the faster Edwardian having lost a cylinder a moment before the finish. Lyne’s Amilcar Six retired and Bergel’s “2.3” G.P. Bugatti shed its exhaust pipe.

So the long programme went on, Jones’ 1936 Riley Nine leading most of the way to win the next five-lap Handicap from Harding’s beetle-back Alvis and Barnett’s Lagonda Rapier, Lockhart overcooking his V-twin Peugeot and G. S. St. John retiring his mixed-vintage Frazer Nash.

Faster cars emerged for the 10-lap All-Comers’ Scratch Race, the Hon. P. Lindsay passing inside Day at Woodcote on lap three, after which a fine scrap developed between the two 1936 E.R.A.s, Lindsay winning comfortably after a lap at 79.74 m.p.h., Day second, a slightly less lurid Schellenberg third. Morin Scott spun his 6CL Maserati at Woodcote and nearly lost it again later in the race. ln the five-lap Vintage Sports Cars Scratch Race Bradley used lots of road to lead all the way in his Bentley, and Quartermaine in his 30/98 Vauxhall held off the rest of the Bentley opposition, finishing second, ahead of Skirrow’s Frazer Nash. Padgett’s 6-1/2 Bentley was unimpressive and Mason’s 4-1/2 Bentley misbehaved, coming home at the end of a tow-rope.

W. F. Moss made a welcome re-appearance as a vintage racer in the following five-lap Handicap, winning in the E.R.A. by a big margin from Husband’s curious Talbot 105 Special (a neat two-seater with telescopic dampers) and Michael’s 4-1/2 Lagonda. Brown’s E.R.A. fractured a rear hub and shed a wheel, the worried marshalls knowing this to be inevitable half a lap earlier, when they picked up the hub cap! Pocklington’s Riley then chalked up a win from Walwyn’s Lagonda Rapier and Mudd’s scratch 2.6 Alfa Romeo and in the last of the ten races Bradley won from Husband and Moss (who in his previous race had made fastest lap of the day, at 80.04 m.p.h.), Morin Scott again losing control of the Maserati, going into the ditch at Woodcote and splitting the Girling sign in two; Murray’s E.R.A. had spun in front of him and was damaged.

During the afternoon the Bentleys paraded in memory of the late Forrest Lycett, Laurence Pomeroy, who arrived in his Ford Zephyr, broadcasting an appreciation of this past-President of the V.S.C.C. and great Bentley exponent. – W. B.

All the winners:

Five-lap Handicap: F. P. Morley (1930 8-litre Bentley) – 66.54 m.p.h.

Edwardian Handicap: A. S. Heal (1912 Sunbeam) – 53.07 m.p.h.

Five-lap Handicap: F. S. Lockhart (1924/9 Peugeot-J.A.P.) – 56.73 m.p.h.

Itala Trophy Race: C. K.W. Schellenberg (1930 8-litre Bentley) – 73.31 m.p.h.

Five-lap Handicap: G. Jones (1936 Riley Nine) – 51.83 m.p.h.

10-lap All-Comers’ Scratch Race: The Hon. P. Lindsay (1936 1-1/2-litre E.R.A.) – 77.25 m.p.h.

Vintage Sports Cars Scratch Race: M. J. Bradley (1925/30 4-1/2-litre Bentley) – 67.78 m.p.h.

Five-lap Handicap: W. F. Moss (1936 1-1/2-litre E.R.A.) – 78.99 m.p.h.

Five-lap Handicap: F. Pocklington (1936 1-1/2-litre Riley) – 61.14 m.p.h

Five-lap Handicap: M. J. Bradley (1925/30 4-1/2-litre Bentley) – 70.08 m.p.h.

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Factory methods in the Vintage era – No. 1: Sunbeam

Motor Sport has divulged something of what goes on in modern motor manufacturer’s factories in recent years – for instance, the Volvo and Saab factories are dealt with in some detail elsewhere in this issue, so it seems logical to do the same for our vintage-minded readers.

Let us commence with the Coatalen-inspired Wolverhampton-built Sunbeam. In 1928 at the big Moorfields factory in Upper Villiers Street, big-end bearings were still white-metalled by hand. Although this process had been mechanised in many other factories, at the Sunbeam works an old craftsman poured the white metal into every big-end by hand, his tools of trade being gas-ring and saucepan.

Sunbeam ordered billets of Vicker’s steel to an absolute specificalion, tested this steel in their own laboratories and from it machined the finished components. In the case of the current Sunbeam Twenty the disc-web crankshaft was machined from such a billet weighing 410 lb. The finished crankshaft turned the scales at 98 lb. and the intervening machining operations occupied 9-1/2 hours.

Sunbeam had their own foundry, where they cast in iron, bronze, aluminium and alloys and made die-castings. They also possessed their own tool-shop for jig-making, employing a Hancock flame cutter capable of cutting through up to 5 in. of solid steel quickly and accurately.

All teeth in the gearboxes were ground accurately on both sides before the box was assembled and mated with its engine, and gearboxes and back-axles were tested for quiet running.

In the engine test-shop every engine was first motored round electrically, without sparking plugs, for a period of six hours. Next, it was run light on coal gas for ten hours. The third spell of engine testing comprised a one-hour run on petrol at 75% full load. After this the engine was dismantled for inspection. The power unit was then re-assembled and run light for 30 min. and then for another 3o minutes at 3,000 r.p.h.. By then a Wolverhampton Sunbeam engine was considered to be fully run-in and a power-curvee was plotted from 400 to 4,000 r.p.m. on a Fronde water-brake, the Sixteen engine being required to develop 43 b.h.p. at 3,000 r.p.m. and over 50 b.h.p. at 4,000 r.p.m. It is understood that many engines exceeded these h.p. figures very considerably and in any case every engine to leave the Moorfield works had been tested for over 18 hours, or the equivalent of some 450 miles’ motoring. Froude roller water-dynamometers and air-fan brakes were also used to record power delivered at the back wheels.

Towards the end of 1928 the Sunbeam Motor Company employed some 3,000 persons and made their own bodywork. The open tourer was on its way out and the bodyshop concentrated on saloons, coachhuilt and Weymann fabric in the.proportion of 40% to 60% respectively. The factory covered nearly 30 acres of floor space, and in the grounds the company had its football and cricket fields, sports ground, canteen, etc.

We do not propose to draw comparison with the methods of manufacturing and testing in use at Wolverhampton 32 years ago with those prevailing in many modern. factories! – W.B.

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There will be a race for vintage and historic racing cars at Goodwood on Whit-Monday.

* * * * *

June is a busy month for those who like to take their vintage cars to fetes and concours d’Elegance. Eltham Village Fete (Kent) on June 6th will include a rally for old cars and traction engines; details from J.J. Lott, Springside House, Lyminge, Folkestone, Kent. On the same day it the Great Yorks Traction Engine Rally veteran-p.v.t. cars will have a special show and parade, about which Mrs. Ogden, Burtee House, Sessay, Thirsk, will dispense information.

Owners of pre-1931 cars are invited to enter for the Bransgore (Hants.) Village Fete on June 11th (write to Miss Tuck, Church Cottage, Bransgore), and Felsted School (Essex) is anxious to have a veteran and vintage car exhibition at its 400th Anniversary Fete on June 18th, and offers expenses and lunch. Details from M. Mann, at the school. On June 19th Fleet (Hants.) will hold a Concours d’Elegance in connection with its Carnival Week, with classes for Edwardian, vintage, p.v.t. and modern cars (entry fee 5/-per class), with a separate prize for the car coming the longest distance. Assembly time is 2 p.m and to give the owners of the cars something to look at while judging takes place there is a ecass for the most elegant lady passenger and car, also for best scooter ensemble. Entries close June 11th, to Mrs. W. Boddy, Carmel, Wood Lane, Fleet, Hants.

* * * * *

V.S.C.C. June Fixtures: Light Car Rally on June 12th in New Forest area, Kildrummy Castle Rally, June 19th, Oulton Park Race Meeting, June 25th.

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There are rumours that an early Brooklands racing light car has been found under a pile of rubbish in Nottinghamshire.

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Don’t forget – the Vintage Motorcycle Club’s Banbury Run takes place on June 26th, starting (at 10.30 a.m.), and finishing at Honeybourne Aerodrome, near Broadway, Worcs.

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If you wish to attend a vintage gathering with a difference there is the Rally of the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club at Beaulieu on June 5th.

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Traction Engine Rallies got off to a good start this year when 31 engines, ranging from an 1899 Wantage to comparatively modern Burrells and Fowlers, were entered for the Andover event, backed up by 39 vintage and veteran cars from a 1900 Daimler to a 1929 Austin Seven. Other such rallies are due this month at Weston Park, Stevenage (6th), Appleford (11th), and at Moreton, Essex, arid Northleach, Glos. (25th).

* * * * *

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the death of The Hon. C. S. Rolls an exhibition is being arranged in Monmouth, where Rolls and his family had close associations. It will be opened by Lord Brabazon of Tara on July 7th and remain open until July 16th. Anyone who can lend suitable material is asked to contact Mr. P. S. Mathew at Monmouth School, Monmouth.

* * * * *

Another aspect of the old car movement that Lord Montagu of Beaulieu is covering, is an Auction Sale for pre-1942 vehicles, which will be held at Beaulieu on July 16th. starting at 12 noon. Details are obtainable from The Administrator, Montagu Motor Museum, Beaulieu, and applications are requested before July 1st.

* * * * *

The Rolls Royce Owners’ Club of America recently flew to Europe in two charter aeroplanes and paid visits to the Rolls-Royce factory at Crewe and to Mr. Stanley Sears’ private collection of Rolls-Royce cars at Bolney.

* * * * *

Owners of old cars as well as modern vehicles are invited to the Denham Beetle Fair to be held in Denham Village, Bucks., on Whit Monday. The Concours d’Elegance will be judged at 4.30 p.m., after which cars will parade through the village. Details from J. R. Binns, St. Teresa’s, Andover Road, Newbury, Berks.

* * * * *

Amongst cars in need of restoration of which we have been recently notified, there is a B.S.A. two-seater and a 1939 Standard Nine near Bath, an early Overland Van circa 1914. in N. Wales and also in Wales a derelict Rolls-Royce saloon. We also hear of a 1926 Hillman 14 tourer for sale, while near Salisbury there is rumoured to exist a Bugatti chassis powered by a large six-cylinder American engine. We also hear of a 1922 Austin 20 and a Humber 8/18 in Gloucestershire and two Humber 8/18 chassis, a Fiat 501 chassis and the remains of early 14/45 Talbot and 7.5 Citroën in Somerset.

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