Continental Lost Causes at Beaulieu

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To mark the publication of Vol. I of his European “Lost Causes” book, reviewed on page 628, Lord Montagu held another gathering of defunct makes, in front of Palace House on May 18th. There should have been 17, six of them applicable to the book’s subject, but some defaulted. The Museum put in its big Itala, a 1906 T-head Prosper-Lambert from Nanterre, and its 1925 Austro-Daimler tourer. Burton brought a very rare and presentable 1927 2-litre Itala d.h. coupé, there were two O.M.s. examples of Edwardian De Dion Bouton and Clement-Bayard and veteran Tony Huber, a vintage Delage, an Amilcar Grand Sport with doors to its body, and Sam Clutton’s big Type 46 Bugatti saloon. There was also a huge and scruffy Minerva ambulance with peeling paint, which made the Type 46 beside it look small and was more of a lost hope than a Lost Cause, its engine being a poppet-valve Daimler straight-eight. Two of the more recent Lost Causes were represented by a 1958 Facel Vega and a 1965 Panhard.

As it was European Lost Causes Sunday I intended going down in a foreign, if modern, car, but Dudley Gahagan put me in the stern-sheets of a handsome 1924 Type 53 14/20 Mors, a splendid vintage tourer which cruises silently at 50 m.p.h., propelled by an exceedingly neat 3½-litre Minerva-Knight sleeve-valve engine of 90 x 140 mm., and which will do 65 m.p.h. or more without apparent effort, helped by a 3.5 axle ratio. It has stopping power which is more than a match for this performance, provided by four big brake drums, Perrot-operated and Dewandre servo-assisted. There was the faintest vibration from the prop.-shaft to the Citroën bevel back axle, the use of this final drive foreshadowing the takeover which spelled the death-knell of this great make, and a faint squeal from the Mors patent band clutch. The ride, sitting over sturdy ½-elliptic back springs, is most comfortable, and as the body has occasional seats which fold into the floor it can carry up to eight persons. The blue badge takes the outline of the famous radiator it adorns and there are Ducellier lamps and switchboard, the latter inscribed with some fascinating instructions in the French language. Refinements include eccentric adjustment, controlled by a lever, of the flat belt driving the fan and a luggage trunk with a flap giving access to the petrol filler. These days this Mors runs on 500 x 20 Dunlops and breathes through a 36VHG Zenith, but the original Solex is available. So I had an interesting run down, the Opel Commodore GS acting as tender. To round off this European motoring I drove back in a B.M.W. 1800TI.—W. B.