Veteran Edwardian Vintage, June 1961

A section devoted to old-car atters

The VSCC Silverstone race meeting (April 22nd)

Racing vintage cars is more fun for the drivers than the spectators but the latter get a very big share of the satisfaction, and in spite of a continual downpour for the first 1961 VSCC Silverstone Meeting a big crowd filled two of the large grandstands. Moreover, an entry of 166 emphasised the healthy state of vintage motor-racing.

The delight of such racing lies in the variety of the cars. Mostly these were old favourites, although the star attraction was the first post-war appearance of the 21.7-litre Eldridge Fiat, details of which appear in the accompanying panel. This great and historic aero-engined monster has been beautifully restored under the aegis of CE Naylor of Manchester and was ably demonstrated by a brave WA Briggs, who was driving in his first motor race! The long-bonneted red Fiat had 6.00 x 21 Dunlops on its front wheels, one Dunlop and one Palmer Reinforced tyre at the back, was using straight petrol and was tow-started by a smart Ford Zephyr. It only ran in one race, finishing last, but it made the day for many people present and I cannot wait to see it unleashed at Oulton Park on June 24th or, better still, in the Brighton Speed Trials next September, for, lacking Brooklands (and brakes) the old 1907 Fiat needs a straight run to do itself justice. 

Another newcomer was the ex-Allen brothers 1922 Strasbourg GP Sunbeam impeccably restored by PA Mann. It had the correct mud-shield over the off-side front wheel, which was appropriate to the filthy weather conditions, but its 4-cylinder 2-litre 16-valve engine was down on revs. Mr. Mann is in the happy position of coming up every so often with the most delectable old racing cars!

Otherwise, most of the entry were old favourites. Skinner’s Salmson-GN is the ex-Arnold Forster Anzani-GN now with 1930 12/24 Salmson S4 engine installed and hydraulic back brakes from a Mortis Eight. Alas, like the Frazer Nash “Patience,” it understeered so violently in practice that the nearside stub axle broke off. Frank Lockhart drove to the course in his back-braked, very accelerative Peugeot-JAP, which is unchanged from last year except for air-scoops in the bonnet-top, which were hardly an asset in the rain. A scruffy but spacious Terraplane saloon towed the trailer carrying Cook’s Austin Seven, Mudd’s Alfa Romeo was apt to shed oil and Harris had an Austin Seven big-end to replace when Friday’s practice ended.

Saturday commenced with a One-Hour High Speed Trial in which most of the very damp competitors contrived to qualify. Rawlings looked like Gagarin but in a 14/45 Talbot instead of a space ship, three Gwynne Eights were circulating, including Woodburn’s very smooth sports model, Byworth kept the sun-roof of his 1934 (pvt ?) Riley salloon open inspite of the deluge, and Bowles’ 6-cylinder Continental-engined Marendez finished i9n spite of saging oil-pressure. Collingringe drove a facinating 1929 Powerplus-blown Riley Nine with racing body, CJ Blyth a twin-SU Boyd-Carpenter-bodied 1930 Austin Seven with Cambridge alloy head, but several of the cars looked neither vintage nor pvt.

The first 54-lap Handicap proved an easy race for Crocker’s 1937 41/2-litre Lagonda, but Brogden’s 1925 3-litre Bentley might have won had it not spun at Woodeote on the last lap. As it was, Minchin’s 1934 Aston Martin was second, Reed’s 4-litre Lagonda third, Bishops’ 1936 Aston Martin making fastest lap (64.75 mph).

The 5-lap Edwardian Handicap followed and while we never get all the giants out together, the field numbered eight, from which Neve’s 1914 TT Humber soon excused itself. Philip Mann had a lap start in his immaculate but sedate Hillman/Coatalen and for three laps kept his lead, while Sam Clutton went about disposing of Williamson’s 90 Merc, the Sixty Itala lapping at 58.83 mph in the process. Meanwhile Barry Clarke’s 1913 Talbot Twenty-five went as a good Edwardian tourer should, winning comfortably from the Itala and Mercedes. The Fiat “Mephistopheles” was last, having no firm anchorage, but how fine it looked and how glad everyone was to see it alive again! Lord Montagu’s 1912 Coupe de l’Auto Sunbeam sheared a key in the transmission and didn’t reach the start.

The Spero Trophy Race is an excellent idea to encourage the smaller vintage racing cars (up to 750 cc s/c, 1100 cc un-s/c), and eight of these splashed round for 10 laps, Meyhew’s modern looking Riley by far the fastest. McArdle’s Riley was second in spite of a spin, Harris’ Austin third. Abrahams now has twin carburetters and a 3-pipe exhaust on his Singer Junior Special but it retired early, perhaps because its driver’s vizor had fallen off. Lockhart was a noble fourth on rear-wheel-brakes and two cylinders, ahead of Batho’s very attractive twin-SU Amilcar-Riley.

The next 5-lap Handicap caused great excitement in the Boddy camp as it counted as an Inter-Register Contest, an idea of the Fiat Register, although the programme said absolutely nothing of this. Peter Moores drove his Talbot 105 through the field from the 5-sec mark with his usual brilliance to win at 56.31 mph and 4 mpg, catching Winders’ 1926 8/20 Humber comfortably before the finish. Buchan’s 11/2-litre Alfa Romeo was third, Danaher’s slightly astonished 1929 Austin Twelve tourer, hood erect, fourth, Mays’ Humber Special fifth and Rawlings’ 14/45 Talbot 105 sixth. Moores lapped at 58.24 mph, in sober fact not quite so fast as the 1908 Itala two races earlier. Wall and Green drove original Chummy Austins.

So to the big race of the still very wet afternoon, the 10-lap Itala Trophy Race for Vintage Racing Cars, of which 16 lined up, the only slightly suspect customer being Mudd’s Monza Alfa Romeo, which was there, I gather, because Ramponi says it was screwed together in 1930. Berry led all the way in his beautiful blown 2.3 Buggatti, the sound of tearing calico emerging through the spray. Bradley’s 4-seater, 41/2-litre Bentley was overtaken by a sliding McDonald in his well-known 41/2-litre Bentley on lap three, and these three ran away from Bergel’s 2.3 Bugatti, Tozer’s Amilcar Six and Eckersley’s 2-litre GP Bugatti. All drove ably under motor-boating conditions. This time Halkyard took Clifton’s 90 Merc, which goes very well for a standard Edwardian; it was rewarded for its wetting by winning the Handicap.

Another 5-lapper saw St John’s Frazer Nash win from Mays’ little low aluminium Humber, Still’s Frazer Nash third—one of the joys of a VSCC Meeting is the number of decent Chain Gangsters at large. Lockhart’s Peugeot-JAP beat Miss Fowles’ SS100 away and came in fourth.

The ERAs came out of winter hibernation for the 10-hp Allcomers’ Race but for six laps it was Margulies who led, in the ex-Spero 1934 2.9-litre Maserati, turning on lots of power out of the corners. Then the proud straight-eight machinery tired and the irrepressible Douglas Hull rocketed into the lead in the 2-litre ERA and by lap nine the Maserati finally faded away, the casing of its ZF differential having broken, giving second place to Clifford’s Alta, the recently-married Syd Day having to be content with third place in the ERA. McDonald chalked up the Vintage Award.

The meeting concluded with three more 5-lap Handicaps. Bradley led all the way to win the first, from Cooper’s very purposeful blown 8-litre Bentley (see Motor Sport, September 1960), Morris 61/2 Bentley just holding off Quartermaine’s 30/98 Vauxhall in this dice of the heavies. Meyhew’s Riley was best 1,100, Ashley’s quick Frazer Nash best 11/2-litre, Footites GNAC winner of the 11/2-3-litre section.

The sound of ERAs again enlivened the next race, but Sumner drove so well in the splendid AC-GN (Do you know what its radiator is from ?) that he won at an excellent 60.73 mph, from Spence’s Frazer Nash and Reed’s stately touring 41/2 Lagonda. Hull was nowhere and let Husband’s very fast 1934 Talbot Special, which now has a blown engine, make fastest lap at 66.69 mph, which was bettered only by Berry’s 68.75 mph in the Bala Trophy Race.

Although the Bentleys were out in force, the final race was a victory for Quartermaine’s 30/98, to the joy of Laurence Pomeroy and his family who were watching from the Press Box. Moffart’s Brescia Bugatti took a well-deserved second place, Harwood’s Frazer Nash being third. Unfortunately on the last lap Douglas drove Durdin’s 30/98 into the Woodcote ditch, where last year it removed its front axle. Car and driver escaped much damage, but less fortunate was RJ Cooper, whose beautiful blown 8-litre Bentley followed the Vauxhall in, head-on, pushing the front axle under the crankcase and hospitalising this keen driver.—WB.

Vintage Miscellany.

This year the VMCC Banbury Run for pre-1931 motor-cycles takes place on June 25th, starting and finishing from Shenington Airfield, six miles from Banbury, zero hour 10.30 am, and the VSCC Light Car Trial will be held on June 11th in the Salisbury area.

A vintage 3-litre Bentley belonging to a member of the BDC figured in the “The World Around Us” in the ITV “For Schools” programme recently.

We hear that up in the Montrose area there exist a 1923 aircooled vee-twin BSA four-wheeler, in regular use, a veteran Cadillac that is still used occasionally, a 1926 Morris Commercial lorry, the wreck of a circa 1911 Delaunay-Belleville, an Argyll radiator and engine used as a stationary power unit, and a 1925 model-T Ford sedan in a local Ford agents. Our correspondent says none of these is for sale and he won’t forward letters to the owners. Tantalising.

Good show ! Blackpool Corporation has brought out again four old trams, of the 1898-1905 era, retired by 1935, restored them and put them back into service.

We hear that a circa-1920 Foden steam lorry on solid rubber tyres languishes with some vintage petrol lorries, two HE tourers in poor condition and half-a-dozen motorcycles in a disused quarry in Cheshire, and that a 1919 or earlier GM lorry, used as a breakdown truck. with Ford engine, is in need of someone to restore it. It is in the Midlands and has wooden artillery wheels, etc. 

This year’s membership list of the VSCC of Australia shows their vintage-car members to possess between them three Alvis, three Lancias, three Rolls-Royces, three 14/40 Vauxhalls, two each of 3-litre Bentley, 30/98 Vauxhall, Delage, Chrysler, Star, Riley Twelve, Edwardian Vauxhall and Morris-Cowley, and lone examples of Riley Nine, 509 Fiat, Amilcar, Minerva, Chenard-Walcker, SCAT, Benz, Delahaye, Austin Seven, Metallurgique, Argyll, Sunbeam, Type 40 Bugatti, Lea-Francis, 24/100 Mercedes and Majola.

The Montagu Motor Museum Library

On April 28th guests of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu attended a pleasant luncheon party at the Dormus to celebrate the opening of the Museum’s Library, housed in former servants’ quarters of Palace House. An interesting variety of cars brought members of the motoring Press to Lord Montagu’s party. The Editor of The Autocar had pressed along all the way from Epsom in a painstakingly restored 1909 cab-like Austin with central driving seat. A well-known Fleet Street journalist came in an SP250 Daimler, and Boddy’s well-laden Fiat Giardinieri was only just outpaced between Lyndhurst and Beaulieu by DB Tubbs’ Austin 850.

In a speech of welcome Lord Montagu remarked that he hopes that this year will see Beaulieu’s millionth visitor. On May 17th the complementary Museum at Brighton was opened and while a frequent interchange of exhibits will be made between the two Museums, the tendency will be to exhibit veteran cars at Brighton and the more sporting vehicles at Beaulieu. Incidentally, a new Catalogue of the Beaulieu Exhibits is now available, for 3s post free, from the Museum. Various improved amenities for visitors have been made at Beaulieu, which have necessitated leaving the opening of the proposed new speed trial course until next year. It will run up past the old Brooklands entrance gates where, by then, Beaulieu wine should be coming from the vineyards.

The Museum’s National Transport Library has received financial help from Jaguar, BP, Leyland, Castrol and the AA. Already it embraces a fine collection of bound Motor Sports, Autocars, Motors, Car Illustrated, Autosports, Motor Cycles, etc, etc, many historic books, 1,000 catalogues and 1,000 instruction books. The Librarian, LG Firmin, will be on duty during office hours to handle inquiries, arrange photostatic copies of the Museum’s books, take orders for photographs from the negatives of WJ Brunell and others, and admit research workers and students. Lord Montagu referred to financial help that. will be extended to serious research writers and to the new Montagu Motor Books, of which “Lost Causes” is No 1, “The History of Montlhery” is No 2, and his history of Jaguar will be the third in a series of which three books a year on historic motoring subjects are visualised.

We were then introduced to Lord Montagu’s new heir, the Hon Ralph Montagu, and the assembled journalists having drunk the baby’s health, they departed to inspect the many fascinating volumes in Beaulieu’s new Library.

One finger or two? Following last month’s reference to ancient typewriters we note that the Editor of the Humber Register Magazine uses an 1892 Blickensderfer. Any other’s ? At this rate someone will want to form a vintage and veteran writing appliances society! The Editor of Motor Sport, however, admits sadly that in spite of its fearsome appearance his accountancy-type Underwood is probably merely a pvt.

News of recent “discoveries.” An Armstrong Siddeley d/h, probably a Twenty, rotting away in Newport Pagnell, and the Standard Register has discovered the remains of a 1913 9.5 Standard 2-seater, what is left of a 1912 Rover landaulette, some bits of a flat-twin Rover Eight, five “rather far gone” model-T Fords, Edwardian Studebaker, a huge pre-1914 Wolseley lorry, with an elder tree growing through it but possibly restorable, an AA lorry, some dozen ancient motorcycles and the remnants of a horse-drawn hearse, all in Worcestershire, while it knows of a restorable 1919 9.5 SLS 2-seater Standard in Birmingham and has 86 Standards on its books.

Information and technical data is sought by readers about (a) the ex-Kay Petre sv-Austin Seven works racing engine, (b) 7-stud wire wheels that would fit a 1932 Packard 2-seater in course of restoration, and (c) who originally owned the 1925 Daimler KA 1234, engine No. 45350, chassis No. 23235, now owned by someone in Chorlton. Letters can be forwarded. The Royal College of Science MC need a 1908-1922 Gwynne 3-stage turbine pump for their well-known 1916 Dennis fire engine, and the Editor would like any pre-war copies of The Aeroplane and Commercial Motor that might otherwise go-on the bonfire. There is also a request for a vintage chassis, if anyone has one they have given up rebuilding, and someone else seeks vintage radiators, in reasonable shape and nominal price, collection could be arranged in both cases. Another reader offers 12/35 Swift and Chrysler 60 instruction books and, finally, for this month, there is a 1927 AJS 350-cc motorcycle for sale for about a “fiver” in Wales, an Avon Standard is rotting in a Surrey car park, and an early Overland with tipping truck body exists in Lancashire.

The Fleet Carnival Rally takes place on June 28th (entries close, June 11th), with Concours d’Elegance classes for vehicles of all types from veteran, Edwardian and vintage cars, lorries, steam traction engines and taxis to modern cars and scooters, with a prize for the most elegant lady and car. Entry fee 5s per class. Forms from Mrs. W Boddy, Carmel, Wood Lane, Fleet, Hampshire.

Vintage cars at Oulton Park

The high-light of the vintage season is surely the VSCC at Oulton Park, when, to the attraction of the sight, sound, smell and variety of historic racing cars is added the picturesque setting and sporting course of the Cheshire circuit.

This year the meeting takes place on June 24th, practice from 10 am, to 11.45 am, racing proper commencing at 1 pm. The meeting is open to the public and the main race, the 23-lap Seaman Memorial Race for vintage sports and racing and historic racing cars, will be supported by a Frazer Nash Handicap, All-Corners’ Race, a Scratch Sports-Car Race and a series of 5-lap Handicaps, The 300-hp. Fiat (see page 494) should be one of the attractions and as gentle relief from the racing will be provided by a cavalcade of cars, by makes, from the entry for the Concours d’Elegance. There is also to be a parade of one-time racing drivers like Kay Petre, SCH Davis, Kaye Don, etc., in appropriate cars, which should set the cameras clicking. Details from TV Carson, 3, Kingsclere House Stables, Kingsclere, Berkshire.