Vintage Postbag, June 1964

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The Standard V8 Project

Sir,

Mr. R. E. Lewis wants to obtain details of the Standard V8 project after it had passed into the hands of E.R.A. In fact it never passed into the hands of E.R.A.; in 1939 a new car, the Raymond Mays Special, using a Standard V8 engine, was produced at Bourne, adjacent to Raymond Mays’ home, alongside the E.R.A. racing cars, where the present Owen Organisation B.R.M.s are made. The Company was called Shelsley Motors Ltd. and the Directors were L. Prideaux-Brune, Raymond Mays, Peter Berthon and Philip Merton.

As far as I can remember only five cars were built, and the power units were based on the V8 Standard engine, a good deal of the rest of the car was of Standard origin, but the engine was considerably modified, the 2.6-litre unit developing 85 b.h.p. New i.f.s. was designed by Peter Berthon. Three R.E.A.L. bodied sports 4-seaters ran in the R.A.C. Rally, driven by Raymond Mays, S. C. H. Davis and C. M. Anthony. A fourth car carried a very attractive drophead coupé body, and this was owned and driven by L. Prideaux-Brune. All the cars performed quite well.

The fifth car, produced after the Rally, had another drophead coupé body of ordinary Standard design, and I think it was sold to Gordon Clegg of “Dorcas” fame. The open Rally cars were quite interesting and had extremely good road-holding. I drove the “Sammy Davis” car at Brooklands; it had brisk, but not outstanding, acceleration; and clocked 100 m.p.h. on the higher of the two available back-axle ratios.

Where are these cars now?

A. F. Rivers-Fletcher,

Group Public Relations Officer,

London, W.1. The Owen Organisation.

* * *

O.M. Memories

Sir,

I was particularly interested to read the informative account on the O.M. in your April issue.

The first car I ever drove was an O.M., and that as recently as 1952. It was a 1925 model, I think 1½-litre 4-cylinder side-valve, Reg. No. YO 1021. I well remember the thrill of mastering the gearbox on that fabulous old monster, and then the sadness when it was sold to a travelling circus for a sum well beyond my means.

The same owner also had a 1931 O.M. This was a supercharged 6-cylinder s.v. model, Reg. No. APL 114. Whilst at the tender age of 15 I had no idea of the honour bestowed upon me. I was allowed to polish the engine of this car, and I can recall my amazement at the absence of a cooling fan, and the information that the engine was “oil cooled.”

Both cars were garaged at Freshwater, I.o.W., and although I have attempted to find the whereabouts of APL 114 I have unfortunately drawn a blank.

I would much appreciate it if any reader could advise me if either of these two cars are still in existence.

Lichfield. R. F. Stimson.

* * *

The Rover Nine Sports

Sir,

I was interested to see the letter from Mr. Granville-Jolly in the May edition, concerning the Rover Nine sports.

I own a 1926 model with polished aluminium body—duck’s-back with single dickey seat and disappearing hood. This is fitted with 4-wheel brakes (surely this was standard), four shoes in each rear drum, and a self-starter. However, I have it on good authority that the dynamo never produced more than 5 amps.—which probably accounts for the fixed starting handle. The engine is very neatly laid out, with no external drives, no fan, and cooling by water pump.

The reason for the clutch slip mentioned is probably that no locking device is fitted to the adjusting nuts, which tend to undo themselves. This is easily cured by fitting split pins, or—if one prefers to be intrepid—it is a simple matter to get underneath, plunge one’s hand through the open bellhousing (more thoughtful design?) and do the nuts up every 200 miles or so.

I am told that the model had a reputation for blowing cylinder-head gaskets but have not experienced this trouble myself.

One final point. I would like to thank the Rover Company for their wonderful spares service—a rocker for this 38-year-old vehicle arriving by express post on the day following a visit to my local Rover Agent.

Ilford. Leslie Bayliss.

* * *

O.M Competition Successes

Sir,

The competition history of the O.M. did interest me greatly. Therefore I would like to supply some further details about the efforts of O.M. in Continental races.

1924: The 24 hours’ Monza race (so-called Night Grand Prix)—6th general classification and 1st 1½-litre class: T. and M. Danieli; 9th general classification and 2nd 1½-litre class: Levi/Castellari.

1925: Milan Fair Cup (Monza), Category III-2nd: T. Danieli; 3rd: Borsani; 4th: M. Daniell.

1926: Monza Touring Grand Prix (24 hours), 2-litre class—1st: Dosio/Foresti.

Then I would like to correct the result of the San Sebastian 12-hour race. Minoia/Morandi finished third behind the famous “tank” Chenard-Walckers of Leonard/Manso de Zuniaga and Lagache/Pisart; Balastrero/Danieli finished eighth.

As regard the German Grand Prix on the old and dangerous Avus, Minoia with his mechanic Cavalari really started in this race. During the first and second lap he was second behind Rosenberger driving the 8-cylinder 2-litre Mercedes. Rain started and he retired. Incidentally, this first German Grand Prix, won by Caracciola, was marred by a holocaust of crashes. Already Caratsch laid the foundation for his fame as a “Regenfahrer.”

1929: In the record of this year, the second place in the 1,000Mile Race of Morandi/Rosa has to he taken into account.

Bloemendaal. J. C. Korthals Altes.

* * *

More About the Roamer

Sir,

With reference to the article in the September 1963 issue on the Roamer, I am enclosing a photograph which may be of some interest to you.

The photograph is a copy of one taken about 1928-29. The only information I have been able to obtain is that the owner was a Mr. E. H. Stripling, of Near Swanley, Kent. Also that the colour was grey but later changed to maroon.

Sidcup. B. Ringshall.

* * *

A Stoneleigh Restoration in Holland

Sir,

It was a surprise for me that in your last issue the name Stoneleigh was mentioned.

Perhaps you are interested to know that I have just finished the restoration of such a 1922 Stoneleigh utility car, “designed and produced under the supervision of Armstrong Siddeley Motors.” This vintage light car has a nice technical design.

The crankcase of the 90º V-twin air-cooled engine (998 c.c.) has two substantial arms which carry the engine on the frame side member and also serve as a frame cross member. The body braces the frame together at the rear. The steering-box is mounted above the centre of the crankcase and has a vertical segment shaft housed in a boss on the crank case itself, so that lubrication is effected therefrom. Tyres: 28 x 3, on disc wheels.

I wonder if any other Stoneleigh has survived; except the 1924 one that’s in the City of Coventry Museum?

Overveen. TH. Van Wyk.

* * *

History of a Bugatti

Sir,

I should like to correct your statement in the report of the V.S.C.C. Silverstone meeting in the May Motor Sport, that my Bugatti is the ex-Fielding model. It was in fact raced by Charles Brackenbury from 1930-1933 and won a Gold Star in 1933 at Brooklands with a best lap at 106.19 m.p.h. The engine has the crankshaft webs cut down, con-rods lightened and machined all over, a big port cylinder block, c.r. of 8.8 to 1, two plugs per cylinder with two Scintilla magnetos. (This conversion appears on several T37 Bugattis.) I wonder who carried it out?—and twin Solex carburettors. It also used to have an ugly outside exhaust system which I have removed and replaced with the standard layout.

I wonder if you have any photographs of this car at Brooklands and if you could tell me what happened to Charles Brackenbury? I understand he drove Aston Martins for a time after the war.

Derby. Frank Gilbert.

[Apologies for a tentative guess—that’s what comes of listening to commentaries! We will check on our Brooklands files; alas, that colourful personality Charles Brackenbury died a few years ago.—Ed.]

* * *

The Kelvin

Sir,

With reference to letter from Mr. David Roberts in your May issue, manufacture of the Kelvin car was given up in 1906 and any unsold at that time were disposed of soon afterwards. I do not think there can be a single example in existence to-day. The name Kelvin is so identified with the internal combustion engine in this country that I am sure anyone knowing of an old car would likely have contacted the Company long ago. The pity is that we did not think of preserving one, but posterity was a long way ahead in 1906!

I well remember the white car referred to and for which the Bergius Co. supplied the chassis only. The body, a small limousine like a modern taxi, was supplied by a local coach-builder. It was in use in Glasgow as a private town carriage for a number of years and in no sense for advertisement. I think it was in use in London as a taxi cab during or shortly after the First World War; whether it survived that experience I cannot say.

The fishing boat engines referred to were 2-cylinder versions of the 4-cylinder car engine, starting on petrol (then 8d. a gallon) and running on paraffin.

East Kilbride. David Willocks.

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