Miscellany, June 1997

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A reader is anxious to know whether an Austin 7 Ulster owned by his brother was ever raced at Brooklands by Frank Hallam, the Bimingham motor dealer, before he took to driving Alvis cars, from 1927 onwards. Sadly, Reg Nos of competing cars were not always declared on entry forms , and those of the BARC appear to have been scrapped after each season. (I have those only for 1938/39; if all had survived, what a goldmine of racing technicalities from 1907 onwards would have been available.) But if anyone knows about this A7, please tell us.

* * * *

I hear that the VSCC Silverstone Meeting Bronson’s Riley, of the big blower and noise to match, won a race while it was on fire. Exciting episode, brave driver. There is nothing new under the sun: I am reminded that this happened to Stirling Moss’s father Alfred in his Fronty Ford at Brooklands in 1925. The snag was that the Paddock grandstand caught alight at the same time, a problem for the fire-fighters, especially as they did not then have the 3litre Bentley fire-truck, reputed to be able to reach any part of the Track in 1% minutes.

* * * *

This years Goodwood Festival will include racing cars which were part of the Brooklands scene; Nic Howell is taking his ex-Kensington Moir Straker Squire, now back in its zig-zag black-and-white “dazzle” finish, with exhaust pipe under the car.

* * * *

We hear that the 1903 six-cylinder 8.7-litre racing Spyker, a pioneer 4WD car, is at last receiving the restoration it deserves, in the Dutch National Automobile Museum, which will replace the circular radiator lacking for many years. This car made a sensational exhibit at the 1903 Paris Salon, having been intended for that year’s Gordon Bennett and the notorious Paris-Madrid race, non-starting in both. Its only racing engagements appear to have been the Blackpool speed trials, and a Birmingham hillclimb. It caught fire in transit to Spyker’s London depot in 1910. After some restoration in the 1920s, it went from one Dutch collection to another. It is good to know that this historic six-cylinder car, which preceded the six-cylinder Napiers and had four-wheel-drive and braking on all its wheels, has now been cared for properly in its native country.