Bill Boddy

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Cobb’s records finally beaten

The February issue of The Bentley DC’s Review contains an interesting article by Graham Moss about his successful attacks at Millbrook on a number of British Class A records, nine of which had been set by John Cobb at Brooklands in his 1923 10.5-litre Delage in 1929-30, and one by his Napier-Railton — rather sad to see these broken, but progress is progress, I suppose.

Moss built a 27-litre Rolls-Royce Meteor-engined Bentley Special to a commendably vintage concept, even to using a few of the items which Reid Railton had incorporated in the Cobb car, which it outwardly resembles. Thunderbolt produces 750bhp at the back wheels. He describes what it was like to build the car, his feelings before the record attempt and the very tense but triumphant outcome. It is an enthralling story.

The new British (now National) records were the 5km (standing and flying start), 10km, 50km, 100km, 200km, five-mile, 50-mile, 100-mile and one-hour, lapping at 135mph. Two miles from the end a tyre shredded, but Thunderbolt was far enough ahead to be restarted and get the final record.

Moss now hopes to try for faster records on Italy’s 12-mile Nardo banked track.

Off-road vehicles

New Labour extracts all the cash it can from car users, with masses of speed cameras, new parking fines, the charge for entering London and the rising price of petrol. The DVLA is helping by scaring drivers from using unlicensed vehicles. Obviously this is essential because untaxed vehides are often uninsured, with possibly dire results for those involved in accidents.

SORN licences for off-the-road cars are meant to eliminate unlicensed vehicles from the roads — although not if the criminally minded choose pre-1998 cars. Every vehicle owner is now on a computerised register so, says the DVLA, automatic action is taken if this shows that no SORN or road licence has been obtained. Given this new power, what does the DVLA do? It issues a leaflet telling us, almost gleefully, that if off-road SORN coverage is not renewed, a road licence has to be displayed. Anyone using SORN on a public road risks a £5,000 fine and two years’ imprisonment

It used to be legal for a taxed vehicle to tow an untaxed one. No more, so unless you have a trailer, or your family are willing to push it to an MoT garage, you are presumably expected to cease using it, for even getting it to a crusher sans the essential disc seems hardly worth risking.

When I put the simple question to the DVLA, “When can a car on a SORN disc be used on the road (i.e. to get an MoT)?” I was told I must write to them if I wanted the answer!