Court cases involving cars

If ever anyone takes up the idea of a book on ‘Cars In Court’, which I have suggested at intervals to various legal luminaries, it might well contain two almost forgotten cases.

One is about the owner of a racing Talbot whose wife instructed him in 1923 to buy a more comfortable car. The stockbroker consulted B S Marshall & Co, agent for Bugatti, and Marshall’s sold the man a straighteight Type 30 Bugatti as being fast but docile and comfortable. After two days, the owner thought it quite unsuited for the purpose for which he had ordered it, and refused to accept it. During the subsequent court case, Marshall’s counsel suggested the judge try the car. He agreed.

After his ride, the judge stated that the T30 could not be regarded as a touring car in which one’s wife could ride in comfort. The stockbroker won his case and the appeal. Contrastingly, when a motoring correspondent of The Auto and his wife were driven to Brooklands in a Type 44 Bugatti saloon, the lady was so impressed, after years of her husband’s noisy, temperamental eight-valve and 16-valve Bugattis, she was like the girl at the Zoo who saw a hippopotamus and refused to believe it.

I was reminded of another motor case by a two-page advertisement spread in a 1927 issue of The Motor. One page, headed ‘The Splinterless Glass Co. Ltd and Gordon England Ltd’ stating that the Injunction asked for by the aforesaid glass company had been refused by the Judge and that the case was still subjudice. It continued: “Gordon England Ltd notify purchasers of their cars that for some six months they have fitted their Austin 7 saloons and Cup models with no glass made by the Plaintiff Company but only Safetex glass which is made by a different company.”

The facing page carried a description of how a Miss Matcham had been thrown into the windscreen of a Gordon England A7 which had hit a bank while competing at Brooldands. The screen cracked, but the glass did not break or cut her face.

“Take no risk, fit the reliable, unsplinterable, and cheapest, Safetex glass,” readers were advised by the Brixton glass-maker. One can only guess who had supplied the famous Austin 7 racing driver with the other make of glass.