On the cold but dry afternoon on May 5 the VSCC held its annual speedtrials at the Shenstone & DCC’s Curborough course near Lichfield. More a continuous driving test than a traditional speed-trial, it nevertheless brings out the vintage racing-cars, with 900 yards over which to extend them, when they are not reined-in for the corners of the loop.
Moreover, there was a chance for the lesser blood, with only one ERA, Spollon’s R8C present. Unfortunately, the Halford Special did not continue its Silverstone promise, going home on its trailer before the meeting started, although it had practised, as its clutch was refusing to function and the gears could not therefore be engaged. Among the Edwardians, Adnams was suffering from a malfunction of his water-works, or rather his Talbot was, although a cure was effective and its incontinence reduced in time for it to run well. Another car which was afflicted with this complaint was the Harker Special, which is so nice to see running again.
Malyan’s Ulster Frazer Nash departed for a brief run on the road outside the course and for no apparent reason, unless she is jealous of vintage cars, was hit up the back by a lady-driver of a modern car, to the severe detriment of the ‘Nash’s tail. Barry Clarke had threatened to drive a big Alvis but was a non-starter due to one arm being in a sling no doubt something to do with swinging a hotted-up A7 engine. Another non-runner was Roger Collings’ 1903 Mercedes, which had valve trouble, so he substituted his Bentley.
Specials had a field day, or should I say a Paddock day, with Guyatt campaigning his Talbot 75 with 110 engine from a wrecked one, now sporting three long exhaust stubs, a six-branch exhaust manifold merging into two pipes, headlamp covers, and a cowled radiator. Then Mrs Shoosmith was driving her 1924/28 4398cc Bentley, Sudjic his slab-tank 1925/38 Sunbeam, and various Alvis Specials were present. Chris Gordon had good runs in the Silver Hawk, Leyland was there in his highly-polished push-rod-ohv GN, outshining even Benfield’s 1924 “200” Alvis, and Greenwood and rebuilder Vaughan Davis were exercising the Bentley-Jackson. Among all these varied cars, Baxter’s Chrysler was notably smart and Webster’s FWD Alvis had a simple four-seater body. Rivers-Fletcher was sharing his old Alvis Speed 20 with Mrs Monro, Neil Murray had the Aston Martin “Green Pea” out again, and Caroline his very quick 2-speeder 1929 Morgan three-wheeler. And thinking of brave drivers, Miss Crevatt inserted herself into a stunted “Grannie”, A7 chassis powered by a misfiring side-valve JAP air-cooled engine, one seat, and a very odd gear-shifter enclosed in a very long tunnel. Bentley Specials were represented by the super-charged Avon-Bentley on purposeful 700 x 18 rear tyres and the 8-litre Bentley-Royce P111 V12.
FTD was made by Guy Smith’s Alvis-Frazer Nash single-seater, in 37.93 sec. Mahany’s 1939 Singer-engined HRG won the 1500cc sports-car class, in which the best vintage car was Freddie Giles’s Anzani Frazer Nash. Of the over 1500cc sports cars, Spiers’ 4.3 Alvis was the winner, Mrs Shoosmith’s Bentley making best vintage time. Drewitt’s hybrid 1-1/2-litre Riley took its class, fastest vintage car here being the Frazer Nash Martyr, driven by Mrs S Walker. Summerfield’s Avon-Bentley took the big sports-car class, poor vintage support being headed by M. Walker’s Ford-propelled GN. The 1908 GP Panhard was quickest Edwardian, in the hands of both the Walkers, T and JM, in that order.
The racing classes were won by Brian Grey’s Hardy Special, Caroline’s Morgan, Bruce Spollon (on his lonesome in class 8, in the ERA) and, of course, FTD-star Smith, the vintage takers being, respectively Lake’s Amilcar-Riley, the Morgan and another loner, Leston’s dirt track Lovell Elkhart. — WB