Veteran Edwardian Vintage, June 1975


Names on Racing Cars

WE SAW recently the present trend for carrying advertising on racing cars swing back on those who use motor racing as their publicity media, when the BBC threatened to abandon their TV coverage of the International Trophy Meeting at Silverstone if the Durex-sponsored Lola T400 ran in the Shellsport European Formula 5000 race. They felt that seeing the name of the London Rubber Co.’s product on a car might give offence, or seem unacceptable to certain members of the public. A solution was found when the name was covered over on Scott’s car. Ironically, it won easily and the product would therefore otherwise have been very much in the camera’s eye.

Those who side with Mary Whitehouse will agree with the BBC’s request. Others will say that in this permissive age there was no need to fuss. But before we heard of this situation it had crossed our mind that, Television apart, such a thing would not have been permitted at Brooklands, for we were reminded of a story the late Col. Clive Gallop once told us, about Count Zborowski’s 21-litre Mercedes-Maybach. It seems that when he entered it for racing at the Track in 1921 the wild Count thought it would be fun to call the monster car after a then-well-known laxative. However, this did not meet with the approval of the Clerk-of-the-Course, Col. Lindsay Lloyd, who, like Queen Victoria, was not amused. He is said to have pointed out to Zborowski that ladies attended the racing at Brooklands and that he could not allow such a name to appear in the programme.

To which Zborowski is alleged to have said to his friends that he would change the name to “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang”. This the autocratic Lindsay Lloyd accepted, believing it to he a connotation of the sounds a multi-litred engine makes from its carburetters and exhaust pipe. But, the tale goes, the Count and his supporters knew the name to derive from part of a rude verse in a decidedly lewd song that had been popular in RFC and RAF messes during the war. If this was so, they had certainly pulled one on the strict and correct Clerk-of-the-Course, and I was secretly amused when, years later, the name was applied to children’s books and to the famous children’s film.

However, I have never met anyone who has confirmed that there was such a song, apart from Gallop, who helped the Count to build and run “Chitty”, and as one of the mad crowd at Higham he may have been pulling our legs. So if anyone remembers it I would appreciate confirmation! I am over 18 years of age and if you post the song to me in a plain sealed envelope it should be all right….

Dubious names apart, the Brooklands authorities of a later date would have been sticky about allowing a Lotus to run as a John Player Special. In those days, if you wanted to enter a car under something different from the manufacturer’s name you had to give a convincing reason. For instance, in 1935 the BARC enquired of Lagonda Ltd., whether there was any objection to Roy Eccles running his Rapier as an Eccles Special and conversely they raised their official eyebrows over Specials carrying makers’ names. Cuthbert having to obtain the permission of the Racing Committee to call his car a Cuthbert-Riley – they made it plain they would have preferred “Cuthbert-Special”. And when a certain well-known Brooklands driver built a racing car on the basis of a famous 40/50 luxury chassis, its makers were so horrified as to what it might do to their reputation that they insisted that some other name should disguise the entry; the car raced, in fact, as an Auto Speed Special.

These days, big business has taken over and the niceties of racing have gone by the board. W.B.

VCC in Norfolk

THE next main event of the Veteran Car Club is the Norfolk Broads Rally, on June l4th / 15th. Entries have closed, but those wishing to see veteran cars in action should note that they arrive at Broad Tours car-park, Wroxham on the Saturday morning, drive to the Post House Hotel, Norwich, that afternoon, through the Broads, start at 10 p.m. for a night run of some 16 miles, and on the Sunday, at Chapel Fields Gardens, Norwich, from 9.30 to 10.45 a.m., when they leave for lunch at the Grange Motel, Brome, on the A140.

Out of the Past

WE HAVE been sent an interesting report, from a 1904 journal, about the first meet of the Ladies’ Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, which took place in 1904. It consisted of an assembly one Thursday (the weaker sex didn’t work in those days, if they were able to afford cars!) at the open space of Carlton House Terrace, opposite Waterloo Place in London, after which these emancipated women drove to Ranelagh, the noted polo and ballooning ground. First, however, these 1904 automobilists travelled to Hyde Park by way of the Mall, Birdcage Walk and Constitution Hill and when they got to the Royal Park they completed a lap of it.

They were headed by their President, the Duchess of Sutherland, and those following her included Lady Brassey in an electric brougham, Lady Carbutt in a car of unspecified make, Lady Colville on a 6 1/2 h.p, De Dion Bouton, Mrs. Bonner who used a 10 h.p. Panhard-Levassor, the wife of the great S. F. Edge, driving a 12 h.p. Napier, naturally, the Hon. Mrs. Tatton Egerton with a fearsome 50/60 h.p. Panhard-Levassor which may well have been a racing-car, and Lady Kinhouli in a 14 h.p. Chenard-Walcker. Then there were Mrs. Gerald Leigh, who may have been riding in the aforesaid car, Lady Londesborough in a 40 h.p. Panhard, another electric car conveying Mrs. Arthur Paget, the Hon. Mary Portman in a 16 h.p. Clement, Lady Gertrude Rawson with a little 10 h.p. Peugeot, Lady Viola Talbot in a 12 h.p. Clement-Talbot, Miss Wilson’s 10 h.p. Panhard, and Lady Cecil Scott-Montagu using a 22 h.p. Daimler.

Moreover, several members who might otherwise have been present had left for Homburg and the Gordon Bennett race, their idea being to sail from Harwich to the Hook of Holland and take three days and nights on the 330-mile journey. In later years we had active trials participation by the Women’s Automobile and Sports Association (WASA) and in recent times a Ladies MC was formed, while the girls still race actively. Nevertheless, this parade of over 70 years ago shows that many ladies were able to cope with primitive machinery—unless they all had chauffeurs.


The Shuttleworth Trust

THOSE who enjoy the sight of early aeroplanes flying intermingled with museum exhibits and historic vehicles may like to note that the remaining fixtures of the Shuttleworth Trust, Biggleswade, for this year include a transport parade on June 15th, a flying competition for model aeroplanes on June 22nd, a special flying day to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the DH60 Moth and the subsidy to the Light Aeroplane Clubs, an RAF flying day on July 27th when Lancaster, Hurricane, Spitfire, Meteor and Vampire aircraft will support the Shuttleworth military aeroplanes and a Barnstormers’ Day on August 24th which will include a hot-air balloon. Then on August 25th (Bank Holiday) there will be a flying day featuring the Wallis autogyro, and an Army Flying Day on September 28th with aeroplanes from 1910 taking part; Army aviation support and again a hot-air balloon. Finally, the last flying day is scheduled for October 26th from 14.00 hours. Normally the gates open at 11.00 hours and flying commences at 14.30 hours. Admission costs £3 per car on flying days, or 50p per pedestrian or cyclist, 25p if a child, free if you are under five. You may care to choose a suitable day to match your veteran, vintage or p.v.t. car. Details from Old Warden Aerodrome, Biggleswade, Beds. (076-727-288).—W.B.

V-E-VMiscellany—Not long ago a dismantled magneto-ignition Austin 7 Chummy was discovered in a Welsh town and is to be rebuilt to original condition. In Swaziland a reader who has the remains of a three-door BSA touring car, which sounds like a pre-1914 model (engine No. 13817-13), requires information and pictures of these cars, to enable restoration to proceed. A rally of vintage and veteran cars, motorcycles, commercial vehicles and pre-war agricultural machinery is due to take place at Hayling Island seafront; S. Hayling, on June 15th. Late entries, up to June 12th, to M. Edwards, 5, North Street, Bedhampton; Havant. Something similar, with traction engines as well, is due to happen at Lamberts Castle, near Marchwood on the Lyme Regis/Crewkerne road, on July 19/20th, and a charity rally of vintage transport at Horsham Park, on August 25th.

The Spring issue of The journal of the Morris Register contained a comprehensive article on the Skinner Specials and included some good pictures of, and data about, that single-seater side-valve Morris Minor which we referred to in our April Editorial and which in 1931/32 enabled Morris Motors to advertise “£100-100 m.p.h.-100 m.p.g.”. We have received from California details of a supercharged FWD Alvis with chopped-about Carbodies two-seater body which, our correspondent says, was, and probably still is, in Tokio. It is thought to be a 1928 car and may be one of the “missing” racing Alvis cars of this type. The RREC Bulletin carried recently the terrible story of a member who took his Rolls-Royce Park Ward saloon to a specialist coachworks for restoration, only to have the concern sell the car without permission, sending the unfortunate owner a “dud” cheque. So if anyone finds AXN 641, R-R car No. GSY 7, they might let us know.

A vintage and veteran rally that deserves support is that to be held at Lynwood, Sunninghill, near Ascot, on June 28th, as it aids BEN, the Motor and Cycle Trades Benevolent Fund and is held in the grounds of their old people’s homes. Cars will drive from No. 3 race-course car-park, Ascot, assembling at 11.00 hours and starting at 12 noon, to Lynwood, where Raymond Mays will later present awards and other well-known personalities will attend. There is a class for historic commercial vehicles and an autojumble stand. Entries, no fee, to Paul Finn, BEN, Lynwood, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks., SL5 OAJ by June 21st. On the same day the vintage Shelsley Walsh speed hill-climb takes place in Worcestershire. The Pre-War Austin 7 Club has a rally, including makes other than Sevens, at Woolaton Park, Nottingham, on June 15th.

Killed last year by the fuel crisis, the 15th Annual Castrol-Datsun International Veteran and Vintage Rally took place this year, after permission had been obtained to use the dates allocated to the W. German Club. Starting last March, the rally at first followed the beautiful “garden route” from Durban to Cape Town, and in all it covered some 1,250 miles. From England came the Smiths’ 1911 Rover and a 1922 Morris. The oldest runner was a 1908 Ems and the co-sponsors ran a 1935 Datsun. Avril Scott-Moncrieff drove her husband’s OM while “Bunty” rode on an ostrich. A twin-cam Squire came from Cape Town, and a New Hudson motorcycle was well-placed. We are obliged to Laurie Bond of Rhodesia for these notes.

In a N. Wales garage an Isotta-Fraschini Casstagna saloon is laid up, but apparently not for sale. The Austin Ten DC has its 10th National Rally at Burford, Oxon., on July 12th/ 13th and expects over 100 Austins to attend, not all of them 10/4s, as this Club caters for pre-war models of from 10 to 28 h.p. Midland Alvis Day this year is on July 6th. The owner of 1933 K2 MG Magnette GS 4113 chassis No. K2008 wants to discover the history of this car and to correspond with other K2 owners. Letters can be forwarded. The old controversy as to whether three or four 1914 TT Humbers were built is exciting the Humber Register, following reference in a recent magazine of one in use in the 1930s, registered in Southampton. We think, however, that it will turn out to be the Wallbank car, after its Brooklands days were over.

VSCC Oulton Park Racing— June 14th

THE second race meeting of the Vintage SCC will start at 1.15 hours, at OuIton Park, Cheshire, on June 14th. This is the Richard Seaman Memorial Trophies Meeting, at which two 16-lap scratch races, for pre-1940 racing cars and for vintage racing cars should provide the anticipated combination of pleasure, thrills and nostalgia. There will also be a 20-lap scratch contest for historic racing cars, which includes the post-war brigade—very quick, but how many will last the 33-miles? There will be supporting 5-lap races, one it is hoped for Chain-Gang GNs and Frazer Nashes, if 24 can be mustered. Before the racing the Cheshire Life beauty show should attract some fabulous pre-war cars. Nothing remains unchanged for long these days, and the circuit is shorter than before, by 1.1-miles, which, however, means that the races will be run more expeditiously, with fewer gaps while the cars come round. This will be the second round of the 1975 MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest, which Peter Morley leads with the aero-engined Bentley-Napier, which will require even more bravery and skill to keep in front of the Bugatti and AC-GN opposition round Oulton! Entries have closed.

Non-VSCC members are welcome as spectators and tickets are available from Cheshire Car circuits or at the gates. Remember, too, Shelsley Walsh, on June 28th, when the VSCC will co-promote a hill-climb with the Midland AC.

Special Mission

WHAT WAS the Editor doing in Ramsey the other day, when all that he knows about it is that it is pretty much in the centre of the Isle of Ely, is adjacent to a golf-course and a National Trust property, and close to Forty Foor Bridge? The explanation covers a quaint set of circumstances. Nearly 25 years ago I was told of an Arab engine which might be for sale, probably as a result of references to Parry Thomas and Reid Railton in MOTOR SPORT. Checking on its location proved difficult, because the person who knew about it, a one-time racing mechanic to F. T. Hatton, the Douglas rider from 1922 to 1925, before he worked on dirt-track bikes, was elusive. However, at last I had a letter from a friend of this mechanic, which told me where the engine was. The writing was difficult to read and I assumed it to be in Romsey. We used to fly abroad from there, in the days of the Bristol Air Ferries but never had time to investigate. So the letter got put away.

Last year it turned up as I was sorting out old correspondence. I read it again and thought maybe the place where this engine had gone to ground was Romsey in Hampshire. Having to visit Winchester on business and with time in hand, I drove to Romsey Police Station, to make enquiries. I showed them the letter and amusement lit up their faces. They are probably experts in handwriting, because they told me I was a long way off-track, both in time (the letter is dated 1949) and distance. “You want Ramsey, Hunts”, I was informed. So when a recent business journey made it possible, I decided to try to track the engine down, especially as I knew of someone who had recently bought a sports Arab and might be in need of it. The one I was after had apparently been owned before the war by Group-Capt. H. H. A. Ironside and was said by the aforesaid mechanic to have done a flying-mile at 104 m.p.h. ( I think on Skegness sands) with an old-fashioned carburetter and a Morris-Cowley exhaust manifold, in a 30/98 Vauxhall chassis. Clearly it was a typical Arab engine, with single oh-camshaft, leaf valve springs, and a long timing chain. It was thought to have been bored out to 2-litres.

In pursuit of it I left Chelmsford one misty April morning in the comfort of the BMW, fortunately negotiating Cambridge in the opposite direction to the 9 o’clock snarl-up, to come at last to the black unhedged fields of the Lincolnshire flatlands (no coasting!), until, after further seemingly endless miles, I emerged onto a winding green plain and later noticed triple ornamental lamps, a fine clock-tower, and a flowering of Rolls-Royces outside Adams & Oliver, in Warboys, and arrived eventually at Ramsey, which instead of the remote village I had expected proved to be a sizeable town. A traffic diversion provided a last frustration, before I set about my enquiries. To whet the appetite, at a garage where I checked I was confronted by a 6 1/2-litre Bentley in process of restoration, its 24 exposed valves reminding me of a pre-1914 racing engine and its tall radiator protruding from the back seat.

This enquiry took me to a lane where the engine was said to have been interred in an outbuilding. The house should have been No. 1 but that smart residence looked unlikely. Fortunately, the postman was making his morning rounds (this one in a van, but previously I had noted that they still have cycling postmen in this far-away county) and he told me that new houses had been built in the one-time fields, so that No. 4 Was the old No. 1. The owner was out, of course, but there was a shed behind the house. Next, I found the garage (its name had changed, though) where I was told they might help. Asking for the oldest inhabitant I was sent round the back, past the inevitable side-valve Ford Popular and some rare caged birds, to find “Phil”. He was in a shed instructing an apprentice in the art of woodworking on a mechanical fret-saw. The person who would remember more about the engine, he said, lived in the town; he remembered it himself, but not what became of it. Off again, looking for a clock-tower, which turned out to be far more self-effacing than that in Warboys, and directed subsequently by some window-cleaners. When I located the address, naturally the old gentleman I was seeking had gone out ten minutes beforehand!

No more time could be spared, so I shall write to him. What is the betting, though, that the thing was scrapped years ago? My motoring that day exceeded 350 miles, including crossing England from Lincolnshire and penetrating into Wales, but the only subsequent old-vehicle sightings were a well preserved Morris Eight tourer parked in a field gateway in Kirton, an immaculate early Austin 10/4 saloon in a showroom in Stamford, and an obviously newly-painted side-valve forward-control Ford Ten van outside a Worcester garage, perhaps awaiting the HCVC Brighton Run, It made an Arab seem very remote!—W.B.