A Section devoted to old-car matters
The Itala Trophy
Silverstone, April 21st
Since this event was run off at Silverstone the VSCC Donington Meeting has happened (see elsewhere), so only a brief report is called for. The entry was down by 14 on 1978, totalling 152, and spectators did not seem quite so numerous. Morley’s 24-litre Bentley-Napier was the largest car racing. It has been lightened by some 2½ cwt. by deleting all extraneous electrics, which necessitates a push-start. The front springs are now somewhat lighter too, but the original back-axle torque-chain on the near-side is retained. The well-used Firestone back tyres were again in use and the radiator is now set further back, enhancing the giant’s appearance. Peter was saying he really needs a higher axle-ratio than 2.4 to 1, because the Napier Lion engine goes so quickly to 2,800 r.p.m., which is 400 r.p.m. over the recommended limit.
In the High-Speed Trial Elder delighted us by circulating fast and securely in an immaculate 1922 Morgan Standard-Popular 3-wheeler, even if he failed to qualify by six laps. He then drove the runabout home, or anyway out of the Paddock — stout work! He is the first to take advantage of the admission of 3-wheelers into this form of racing; in spite of which, there seems a growing tendency to favour four-wheeled Morgans, following Roger Richmond’s lead. For example, Stuart Gordon had brought from Scotland such a device, comprising a yellow 1931/2 water-cooled o.h.v. JAP-engined Morgan now with two back wheels, each shod with a 5.00 x 15 tyre, on a solid back axle with single, central chain-drive. Spencer had his 12/50 Alvis out again, which he has endowed with dry-sump lubrication, using a rectangular oil-tank under the near-side chassis side-member.
Before the Meeting we had a fine display of nostalgic aerobatics by Doug. Bianchi, in the Supermarine Spitfire that the Hon. Patrick Lindsay (who owns it) had flown in from Booker to Silverstone. In the Itala Trophy 10-lap scratch race the Bentley-Napier led for four laps before losing the power of one bank of cylinders. This enabled Llewellyn’s blue 8.3-litre Bentley to go ahead, pursued by Moffatt in Wall’s Type 35B Bugatti until a broken air-line cut its fuel supply. The Bentley-Napier recovered somewhat towards the end, and closed to within 0.9 sec. of the winning Bentley at the finish. Llewellyn averaged 76.62 m.p.h., with the luckless Moffatt lapping fastest, at 78.33 m.p.h. Stewart’s 4½-litre Bentley was third, and the indomitable Straker Squire, well known to MOTOR SPORT readers, vanquished the Alvis Aston-Martin and Riley opposition to again win the Lanchester Trophy. Neve’s 1914 TT Humber non-started.
Morley came out again for the 10-lap Pre-War Allcomers’ scratch race but was penalised for quick-starting, otherwise he would have been placed 5th. As it was Bill Morris in the ERA R12B “Hanuman” ran comfortably away from Lindsay, who was driving his ERA R5B “Remus”, having taken Donald Day’s entry, and they finished 8.2 sec. apart, Morris averaging 79.62 m.p.h. Brian Classic was a poor third in ERA R2A, Peter Mann having lost his opportunity of this place by spinning at Woodcote a lap from the end, after a fastest-lap at 81.76 m.p.h. Summers’ Maserati 6C was discovered to have trouble with its front wheels as it was pushed out, Hampson’s ERA was without a crankshaft, Gahagan’s K3 MG had a split blower-drive casing, Millar’s 8CTF Maserati needed a tow-start, got away late and was never impressive, Majzub’s Appleton Special retired, and Margulies’ 4 CL Maserati (his rare San Remo 4CLT non-started) and Colborne’s 4CM Maserati were never in the picture.
Passing to the Allcomers’ 10-lap scratch race, Bruce Halford was never challenged, winning in his Lotus 16 at 87.26 m.p.h. and doing fastest lap of the day, at 89.20 m.p.h. He was followed home 27.5 sec. later by Chapman in the Monza Lister-Jaguar, with third place going to Macpherson’s Cooper-Bristol, a drive that won him the Crompton “Driver-of-the-Day” Award. He passed Pilkington’s Talbot-Lago and Chris Mann’s 250F Maserati in the closing stages of the race.
There were the usual supporting 5-lap handicap and scratch races, the winners of which are given below. Hine in a 4½-litre Lagonda led in the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Contest with 31 points at the close of play but the aggregate points to date are given in the report on the VSCC Donington Meeting. –W.B.
Itala Trophy Race:
1. D. W. Llewellyn (1926/30 8,300 c.c. Bentley) 76.62 m.p.h.
2. F. P. Morley (1929 24,000 c.c. Bentley-Napier)
3. R. M. Stewart (1922/28 3/4½-litre Bentley).
1. W. R. G. Morris (1936 ERA R12B), 79.62 m.p.h.
2. The Hon. P. Lindsay (1936 ERA R5B).
3. B. Classic (1934 ERA R2A).
1. B. H. Halford (1959/60 2,475 c.c. Lotus 16), 87.26 m.p.h.
2. G. J. Chapman (1957 3,781 c.c. Monza Lister-Jaguar).
3. it. J. S. Macpherson (1953 1.971 c.c. Cooper-Bristol).
First 5-lap Handicap:
A. C. Smith (1936 MG PB). 55.35 m.p.h.
Second 5-lap Handicap:
D. R. Hine (1937 Lagonda LG45), 65.85 m.p.h.
Fourth 5-lap Handicap:
K. J. Booty (1929 Riley 9), 59.58 m.p.h.
Fourth 5-lap Handicap:
B. Summerfield (1930/36 Avon-Bentley), 70.03 m.p.h.
5-lap Scratch Race:
R. J. B. Smith (1932 Frazer Nash Nurburg), 69.79 m.p.h.
Fastest lap of the Meeting:
Halford (Lotus), 89.20 m.p.h.
For the first time the VSCC divided the cars in the programme into their recognised classifications of Standard, Modified, Special or
Hybrid. “Standard” implies a car is virtually unaltered since it was first built, not a standard model in the catalogue sense. If the number of Mods., Hybrids and Specials is a tribute to the industry of the Club’s members, it was rather startling to find that the only cars listed as Standard at the April races to have been an Austin 65, the winning PB MG, Farquhar’s ex-Dixon Brooklands-model Riley 9, the racing Alvises of Wicksteed (who was cornering fast enough to just about lift a front wheel) and Benfield, the sand-racing s.v. Riley, the 1924 GP Aston-Martin, the T.T. Humber which wasn’t there, Middleton’s 4½-litre Bentley that raced with erect windscreen, one Alfa Romeo, two of the ERAs, Millar’s Maserati, three Aston Martins, Pilkington’s Lago-Talbot, an absent Type A Connaught, an HRG, an Alvis Speed-20, a Super Sports Frazer Nash and that’s it, out of this big entry!
Among all the miserable Maseratis. Black did well to get his 8CM home 7th in the AI!comers’ Race. But where were all the Bugattis?
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“Rusty” Russ-Turner was racing his two-seater Birkin blower-4½ replica, a car confused with his single-seater Birkin Bentley in the IPC Bentley book, incidentally. It needed a large Bedford transporter to convey it home.
Booty’s winning long-tailed Riley 9 wore both pre-war BARC and Brooklands Aero Club badges. Tedham’s Austin 7 is based on the modified Chummy run at Le Mans in 1933 by Metchim/Masters and about which there has been considerable comment in MOTOR SPORT recently. It was nice to see Tim and Marjory Carson among long-term VSCC personalities in the Paddock. — W.B.
Another Rolls-Royce Item
Many people must remember how, fifty years ago, HM King George V was taken from Buckingham Palace to Bognor to convalesce after his illness, the journey being accomplished successfully by a Daimler ambulance. It was a 1924/5 model and was accompanied by four or five Daimler motor-carriages. The ambulance ran at about 27 m.p.h., except over bad surfaces, when speed was decreased to about 10 m.p.h. HM the Queen drove ahead of the ambulance, which her Daimler passed at the Merton Spur of the Kingston By-Pass road, having come via Wandsworth and Mitcham, so as to receive the King at Craigweil House, Bognor. The whole journey passed without a hitch and was regarded as something of a triumph for motor transport in 1929. The aged Daimler ambulance had extra batteries to supply a heater and weighed some three tons but, although at one point it slowed to a crawl while the Royal invalid received nourishment, and probably never exceeded 30 m.p.h., it covered the 64 miles in almost exactly 2 hr. 50 min. The Queen’s Daimler left just after the ambulance but got to Bognor and was in places driven “at a good speed”, taking about 2 hr. 20 min. for the journey.
What is not so generally remembered is that a Rolls-Royce back-up ambulance was also used. It was a 40/50 of about 1912/13 vintage, even to artillery wheels with, apparently, detachable rims. It would be interesting to know who supplied this and what became of it. — W.B.
Nuvolari and Brooklands
My attention was drawn by Eoin Young to the nonsense the Renault PR office, presumably in Paris, made of Nuvolari and Brooklands in a recent hand-out. This statement said that, in what would have been the mid-1920s, the great Italian driver was timed at 143 m.p.h. on Brooklands, in a Hispano-engined Gordini-Special. This is such utter twaddle that I need say no more about it. It caused Eoin Young to become interested in whether Nuvolari had ever competed at Brooklands. He referred to my “Brooklands bible”, as he generously calls it, a new revised edition of which is due to appear soon, I am told, which, he says, carries only one mention of this greatest of all racing drivers, in regard to a race in which he was entered but didn’t start.
In fact, my book refers twice to this happening to Nuvolari. In 1932 he was entered by the Scudcria Ferrari to drive a 2.3-litre Alfa Romeo in the BRDC 500 Mile Race, but neither this car, No. 38, nor No. 39, a sister Alfa Romeo for Baconi Borzacchioni, appeared. In 1933 the Earl of Howe entered his Type 51 Bugatti, painted green with silver and green wheels, but with his racing colours as a waist-line, for the Mountain Championship race at the October BARC Meeting. He was down in the programme as both entrant and driver but an arm injury could have caused him to withdraw so there was great excitement when Nuvolari practised in the car. “The History of Brooklands Motor Course” carries a rare picture of him doing this, in helmet, goggles, and an overcoat. Alas, after this it was said that urgent business had called him to Paris that evening and he never re-appeared. It was Piero Taruffi who then took over the Bugatti.
Things went badly for Taruffi because, after Rose-Richards’ Bugatti had hit Sir Malcolm Campbell’s 4-litre Sunbeam and rendered it immobile on the Members’ banking, so many flags were waved and so many people invaded the course, that Taruffi, who was leading, slowed down, either because he was a gentleman or because he thought the race was about to be stopped. It wasn’t so he opened up again. Whitney Straight’s 2½-litre Maserati and Mays had passed him, and then Raymond Mays’ white (actually cream) Riley stopped right in his path, after a spin. Taruffi actually came to a standstill, it was reported.
However, he then drove so well that he finished in second place, two seconds behind Straight. What is more, he lapped only fractionally (1⅕ sec. or 0.87 m.p.h.) below Straight’s lap-record for the circuit. The signalling muddle had caused him to lap at only 60 m.p.h. for that fateful circuit against Straight’s 71.39 m.p.h. on that lap. If this had not happened Taruffi would unquestionably have won, as his s.s. lap was done at 68.15 m.p.h., compared to Straight’s 64.60 m.p.h. What is more, he not only lapped as fast as Straight’s twin-rear-tyred Maserati but the Bugatti’s best lap was fractionally faster.
Taruffi wasn’t down to drive in any other races, so it has to be assumed that, being at Brooklands at that time, he took a last-minute opportunity to do so. It is probable that he and Nuvolari were over here for the London Motor Show. The million-dollar question is why Nuvolari stood down. He may have had urgent business to attend to in France, perhaps in connection with the London or Paris Motor Shows or even with Ettore Bugatti, for he was looking for a change of mount at about this time. It could have been that he disliked the short, artificial Brooklands’ Mountain circuit. It could hardly be that Howe’s Bugatti did not come up to expectations, in view of the way it performed for Taruffi. It might have been that Nuvolari, at the height of his fame, was unable to come to an acceptable financial arrangement with the Brooklands authorities (the first prize was £40).
Now I suppose we shall never know. This was presumably the only time Nuvolari came to this country, as distinct from Ireland, to race; it would be interesting to know where he stayed and what car he was driving at Weybridge in, if it wasn’t one of the Earl Howe’s. It wasn’t the rain, which caused the October Meeting to be postponed for a week that deterred him, because he practised on the Thursday before the postponed fixture. — W.B.
Nothing New. …
I seem to remember a stunt being performed not all that long ago, at Brands Hatch, wherein cars were drained of all the oil in their sumps and then set to lap the circuit to advertise the “oiliness” of a well-known make of engine oil. Well, there is practically nothing new under the sun and stars. I was reminded of this when Mr. G. T. Davies of ROC Lubricants Ltd., of Salford, kindly remembered my interest in everything to do with the old Brooklands Track and sent me a little booklet which his Company, formerly trading as Germ Lubricants Ltd., had issued to advertise a similar feat performed with Germ oil before the war.
The title of this little booklet is “The Brooklands Trial” by an Eye-Witness. The cover picture is of two Austin Saloons, Reg. Nos. respectively AOJ 844 and AOJ 845, which were used for this Germ Oils’ publicity run, photographed standing side-by-side on the Track with the Members’ bridge in the background. This particular booklet seems to have been issued to Greaves Cotton & Co. Ltd. of Bombay, or actually to its Madras depot. There must have been some clever PR stuff involved, because the back cover is of a picture showing trucks with drums of Germ oil at Bombay docks; they appear to be Bedford and Morris-Commercial vehicles. The stunt itself, which was supervised by Prof. A. M. Low, was to take these two new Austins, which were late-model Ten/Fours, run them in for rather more than 500 miles, then drain their sumps, while hot, remove their oil-filters, and see how far they would run on Brooklands lubricated only by the remaining oil-films. The point was that one car had been run-in on standard-grade Germ, the other on another make of “first-grade motor-oil”, They were towed onto the Track,. started on the starter-motors, and the test commenced.
“Eye-Witness” scrambled into “an old Riley” which was to lead the procession at a speed of 30 m.p.h. and an observation car followed each of the oil-less Austins. A photograph shows the Riley to have been a Kestrel saloon, possibly the property of Hugh McConnell, the BARC Scrutineer, who might have been associated with such a project. One of the supporting cars can be seen to have been a 12/50 Alvis saloon. The first Austin to stop, on the “other-maker’s oil”, did so after 9.6 miles. The Austin which had been run-in on Germ might have gone further if the gradient on to the Members’ banking hadn’t impeded it; it had done 16.0 miles when it came to rest. The cars were towed back for Prof. Low to examine their engines; it was said that new engines would be fitted to enable the cars to resume normal duties.
Before this, Germ oil had been subjected to similar tests in Java and in South Africa, the Ford used in the latter test running oil-less for 41 miles out of Cape Town before seizing-up, and that included climbing the Sir Lowry Pass, a test observed by the East African AA. I am told that the same Germ lubricants, now known as ROC oil, are still used in large quantities but by Industry rather than in the automotive field. Those members of the Austin Ten OC who run similar Austin Tens to those which figured in this Brooklands test may care to know this and those especially keen on the old Track may even wish to try to obtain supplies for the cars they now run. — W.B.
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V-E-V Miscellany. — A 1923 Gwynne Eight fire-engine which had been laid-up since 1965, after working, it was said, on one of HM the Queen’s estates on the Isle of Wight, was acquired by a Cardiff motor-dealer last year for an antique dealer, who has sold it to a Texan millionaire for an undisclosed sum. It was said to have done 40,000 miles and to be complete with its six-foot ladders and hoses; a gas-mask was found behind the driver’s seat. A reader whose father used to fly FE2bs takes us to task for saying these wartime aeroplanes were Rolls-Royce-powered. Apparently they had 120 and 160 h.p. Beardmore engines; it was the FE2d that had the R-R engine. The remains of an air-cooled Franklin have been found on a Caribbean island and could be acquired for a nominal price by anyone who would meet the transport costs of removing it. If anyone requires a Moss gearbox from a 1936-1970 Morgan reconditioned we have the address of someone who has undertaken such work for the Morgan Motor Co. Letters can be forwarded. A return visit for those who organised a vintage run in Normandy last year for members of the Brighton & Hove MC will take place on June 2nd-3rd, in association with Brighton’s Resort Services Department, The Mayor of Brighton will start the Run from the Royal Pavilion at 9 a.m., and the route will be over the Sussex Downs to Copthorn, for lunch at Effingham Park Conference Centre, which has its own vintage-car collection. Cars will then return to Eastbourne, and on the Sunday the traditional Concours d’Elegance will take place on Madeira Drive, Brighton. A 1923 Palladium is expected to take part, a car we have not seen in action for some years. If the correspondent who required data on a 1911 Siddeley-Deasy will give us his address, we have letters to forward to him. From the Journal of the Pre-’50 American AC we learn that a member is restoring a Packard Super-Eight, that in Scotland a Model-T Ford is being restored by a member who has a 1924 Chrysler, and that in Holland another member of this Club has unearthed a rare 1934 Ford V8 pick-up, which he intends to restore after finishing the 1929 Ford Model-A Tudor saloon on which he is now working, a car said to have been used regularly by its original owner until he reached the age of 86. There is also news of a 1935 Plymouth five-window coupe imported from the USA to the Bristol area. This year’s Peter Black Memorial Rally for up-to-1940 cars is scheduled for June 10th, run by the Shipley & DMC. The start and finish will be in Keighley, details from: N. Kershaw, 12, Regent Drive, Skipton, N. Yorkshire, BD23 1AY. Late entries up to June 9th. A 1913 Girling three-wheeler has been put back on the road in New Zealand. Some further details are to hand about the modified ABC two-seater we illustrated last month. It was apparently a 1922 model converted to water-cooling in 1926 by Henry Blake of Fakenham, who increased the capacity to 1,500 c.c. and also converted the braking system to hydraulic operation. Apart from the special body, the radiator is said to have been that from the 1914 DFP raced at Brooklands by Birkin. The ABC had run some 64,611 miles. Mr. Blake also kept a 1934 Talbot 65. — W.B.
Harry Edwards — Criminologist
Harry Edwards is the very capable Editor of the Morris Register Journal and the Historian of that enthusiastic and well-organised Club. But until I had read the Spring 1979 issue of the aforesaid Journal, I did not realise that Harry is also a very able criminologist. He has proved that this is so by a very capable article therein, about the murder case of 1927, in which PC Gutteridge was shot dead by a car thief. The reason for this story appearing in the Morris Register’s magazine is that the murderer used a stolen flat-radiator 11.9 h.p. Morris-Cowley tourer which was bought by a Billericay Doctor in October 1926. It was registered TW 6120 and fitted with Barker lever-operated dipping headlamps. The car was stolen from the Doctor’s garage on the night of September 26th, 1927 and when it was apprehended by PC Gutteridge on a lonely road at Howe Green, as it was being driven by a roundabout route to London, the policeman was shot and killed. The Morris was abandoned in Brixton but it wasn’t until January 1928 that the murderer was found and brought to trial.
Harry Edwards has recounted the events of the case in a most fascinating manner, with emphasis on the deserted roads of those times, when individual cars would be recognised by their engine note, etc., and the general motoring atmosphere ot the ‘twenties. Not only that but on behalf of the Morris Register he has photographed the place where the Doctor’s house stood, the place on the old B175 road where the murder took place, the cottage from whence the first help was obtained and the Constable’s grave at Brentwood, and from the Essex Constabulary he has obtained excellent pictures of the Morris-Cowley, one of which shows slight damage inflicted when the escaping driver ran into a tree in the fog.
Some interesting items of motoring interest emerge from this case. One is the accurate record of daily mileages kept by the Doctor. Then, before the thieves were disturbed, they are reported as having intended to steal a Raleigh car. As Edwards points out, the Raleigh three-wheeler didn’t go into production for another six years, so one wonders if this was a mis-typescript in the case proceedings for a Riley? Among the cars obtained by the accused was another rare make, an Angus-Sanderson, those stolen including a Vauxhall and a Singer from Tooting and a Buick from Haringey. The Morris was presumably returned to the Doctor but is thought to have been broken-up some time before 1939. Why the Constable should have been so brutally dealt with, when the thieves could presumably have driven on, is a mystery within the mystery his murder caused for some time.
Harry Edwards has not only written-up the case admirably but in an earlier issue of the Morris Register journal he covered the Rouse murder, in which a Morris Minor saloon was burned out. Edwards has discovered that the first vehicle on the macabre scene was a Morris Minor van. All this makes me wonder whether anyone will write a book about cars in murder cases, or at least one about Court cases for which cars, including racing cars, have been responsible. One book about a murder case prominently featuring a car is “The Burning of Evelyn Foster” by Jonathon Goodman (David & Charles, 1977) reviewed in MOTOR SPORT when it was published — the car being a Hudson Super Six. Those who wish to read Harry Edwards’ article will have to join the Morris Register and to obtain full benefit from this they should also purchase a pre-1941 Morris car. Incidentally, Mr. Edwards would no doubt appreciate family pictures of Morris cars taken before the war, for use in the Register’s admirable magazine. His address is: Wellwood Farm, Lower Stock Road, West Hanningford, Near Chelmsford, Essex CM2 8UY.
The Avon Tyre Museum
The Avon Tyre Museum at Melksham, Wiltshire, is now open. Those interested in this aspect of motoring will find there tyres, promotional literature, old advertisements, newspaper clippings, photographs and tyre-sections, to quote the Avon Company. The Museum was opened by Tony Mitchard, Chairman of Avon, and the exhibits were set up by Service Manager Derek Trigg and his team. The Curator is a retired employee, Harold Plant. The exhibits are not confined to Avon products. Indeed, the oldest is a single-tube bicycle tyre made in Manchester in the 1880s. The purpose of the Avon Museum is to show the rapid changes made in the tyre and vehicle industries along the years. Avon is associated with Kaye Don’s win for Lea-Francis in the first Ulster TT, and with later Aston Martin racing appearances, as well as with motorcycle racing. I look forward to visiting this new Museum, if only to see if it has a picture of the 11-litre Wolseley Viper racing car which at one time is said to have been used, probably by Kaye Don, for testing Avon tyres. — W.B.
Further to the item published last month under this heading, we have heard from “Babs” keeper, Owen Wyn-Owen, that he is of the opinion that the gearbox in this famous ex-Parry Thomas LSR car is that which was in the car originally, when it was Count Zborowski’s Higham-Special, and not a gearbox designed for the car by Thomas. This means that it would be the ancient 200-h.p. Benz gearbox that Clive Gallop, who planned the layout of the Higham-Special in 1923, used for expediency. Gallop’s story of how the first Benz gearbox he installed broke-up as the car was being reversed out of Zborowski’s Higham workshop and how he was dispatched to Mannheim to obtain the last available spare gearbox, confirms that a Benz box figured in the original specification. It seems that when Rod Banks referred to Peter Hooker Ltd. making a new clutch and gearbox for “Babs” he may have been mistaken, unless the latter were internals for the old Benz box. Thomas certainly used his own clutch for “Babs”, the engine being moved back 3⅜ in. in the chassis, which was perhaps possible because of this more compact new clutch.
The fact that when Wyn-Owen examined the gearbox in the long-wheelbase 200-h.p. Benz four-seater in the Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry, albeit only from beneath the car, it appeared to differ from that in “Babs” can probably be explained by the fact that at one time the gearbox in this Benz also broke up, I think after it had been raced at Southport, and thus the original box may no longer be in the car. I recall that it was for the purpose of providing this particular Benz with a replacement gearbox that Chitty-Bang-Bang I was towed North from Brooklands, with the idea of using its box in the Benz, circa 1935. The chassis of Chitty was destroyed in thus removing the Mercedes gearbox, and although I believe the box was afterwards found unsuitable for the Benz, this all points to some changes having been made in the transmission of the Benz at this time.
Incidentally, apart from “Babs”, Wyn-Owen is restoring his other, nicely-contrasting, cars, such as a Morgan 3-wheeler and a recently-acquired 1929 Austin 7 Gordon England Stadium two-seater. — W.B.
Those who appreciate how well the Irish celebrate motoring anniversaries will be interested to know that the Irish Motor Racing Club is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Dublin Grand Prix, which falls on the week-end of September 15/16th. The main race at the meeting will be for Formula Atlantic cars but it is hoped to include two for historic cars, which those concerned say “always look at home among the trees and gas-lamp standards at the unique Phoenix Park circuit”. It is also expected that personalities associated with the pre-war Irish GPs will be invited. The person to contact is Brian Palfrey, at 170, Woodlawn Park, Firhouse Road, Dublin but while the Irish postal strike is on letters may be addressed to Brendan Lynch, 17, Hereford Road, Acton, London W3.
Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars
From The Bulb Horn, journal of the VMCC of America, comes an article by Alec Ulman on this subject, this time wholly in favour of this essentially British undertaking. He writes of the 1919-1920 expedition run under the code-name “Norperforce”. While much of this is already well-documented, some interesting items arise. For instance, a diagram shows the ingenious manner in which the spokes of the twin rear wheels used on Rolls-Royce armoured cars were laced and some advertising matter refers to back axles failing on what were obviously Model-T Fords, used as tenders and fitted with Vickers machine-guns. Thirteen axles failed on twelve Fords, and in one case a spare axle was flown out by the RAF, on this journey from Jerusalem to Baghdad, under Lt-Col. C. D. V. Cary-Barnard, CGM, DSO, commanding No. 2 Group, Tank Corps. He quoted a cruising-speed of over 45 m.p.h. from these old Ghosts which weighed close on four tons each with their armour-plate and equipment, which sounds more realistic than the desert cruising-speeds of 70 m.p.h. quoted by Lawrence of Arabia, especially as these armoured cars had lowered gear ratios.
These by-then-elderly 40/50 h.p. Rolls-Royces did have some troubles, one being abandoned but they made the outward journey in 28 days, the return in 18, in spite of the Fords delaying them with a broken back axle and the reverse gear of another jamming after a hasty retreat, Ulman is right to recall the splendid service they gave on these “Norperforce” expeditions, the second of which came into being early in 1919 under the overall command of Brig. General Bateman-Champion. Incidentally, I note that one very well-informed motor-book reviewer has said, after reading the Lloyd Rolls-Royce trilogy, that he is confident “that there is really no more left to tell in the Rolls-Royce story up to 1945”, except for a simple explanation of R-R aero-engine development. I think he may be in for a surprise later this month. — W.B.
V-E-V Odds & Ends. — A reader has sent us a brochure about Watson lorries, for whom the agents during the 1920s were Prossers of Glasgow, who are today BLMC dealers. These 3½-4½-ton lorries were made at Newcastle-on-Tyne by Henry Watson & Sons Ltd., and seem to have been of conventional type, although the 115 x 140 mm. 5.8-litre four-cylinder engine had a five-bearing crankshaft stamped from the solid in 55-ton steel and the side valves were of tulip shape. There were two wheelbase lengths, 13 ft. and 14 ft. 6 in.. the latter for charabanc bodies. Fuel thirst was quoted as 7½ m.p.g. and apparently a Watson passed its War Office test, which included carrying four tons up a 1 in 4 gradient, as many were supplied to the War Department. The Railton OC has been exposing in its Bulletin some of the high prices asked for used cars of this make, such as a 1946 drophead coupe offered in Texas at a price more than twice as high as when it last changed hands in this country, a poorly-rebodied two-seater that was once a long-wheelbase Stratton saloon priced at more than four times the cost of acquiring a Railton chassis and putting a decent body on it, and a Series III Fairmile for sale in the USA for well over five times the price asked here for a 1936 two-door Ranalah. The Club now has 148 members, has issued a new list of members and their cars and has some Brough-Superiors among recently-enlisted recruits, also a Railton Berkeley tourer once owned by Lee Guinness. Another member’s Ranalah tourer tows a period caravan.
In the article last month on straight-eights a Clyno was wrongly captioned as a Hampton but a straight-eight Hampton was being rebuilt in the Bristol area 17 years ago and we wonder where it is now? A reader has sent us a copy of an article written by the celebrated John Prioleau of the Daily Mail in the vintage years, in which he describes his visit to the Packard factory in America at a time when they were making “the 38 h.p. and 48 h.p. six-cylinder cars”, at the rate of about 3,000 a year, in monastic calm. Prioleau refers to the tolerances at “half-of-one-thousandth-of-an-inch” adhered to at the Packard factory, or twice the accuracy he had observed at mass-production plants, and he said each Packard took something over two months to build. American machine-tools predominated but they did use a British balance for weighing pistons and con.-rods. Interesting, but on the whole a superficial article. The Daimler & Lanchester OC’s 15th National Rally takes place at Knebworth House on June 10th, entering the grounds of Knebworth House from the A1(M), Stevenage turn off. — W.B.