On February 17th we went to Heston to enjoy the sight of dumb-irons and exposed flywheels and were interested to discover that the Vintage S.C.C. had an entry of 55 for these annual driving tests, or five more than last year. So this event was not affected by petrol rationing. Vintage cars predominated over later thoroughbreds in the ratio 29 : 20. There were very few non-starters but Gahagan’s G.P. Bugatti had trouble en route, being, as they say, hors de combat.
The first test was a run-to-it-and-commence-it affair. Everyone seemed to do this pretty efficiently. We noticed Charles Mortimer in the ex-Pool boat-tail 1925 9/15 Renault which consumes his basic ration, Rogers’ 1923 7-h.p. Jowett with period bulb-horn, Brown’s stark 12/50 Alvis, and Firth’s neat but not quite original 1927 Austin Seven tourer. In a garaging manoeuvre that followed, Mackean’s 1921 A.C. swallowed a tub, Rawlings’ 1930 14/45 Talbot tourer seemed to have a radar set to guide it (or was it an ignition wire protruding from the bonnet?). Ballard (Riley Nine) made a b.u. of it, Mann’s 3-litre Bentley hit a tub, Clutton, whose 30/98 Vauxhall had modern telescopic front shock-absorbers, was extremely neat and rapid. Woolard’s 2-litre Lagonda made more noise than sense of it, Cleaton-Roberts’ 3-litre Bentley wasn’t steered at all skilfully and stalled its engine in protest, and Smith’s cut-about 12/50 Alvis tourer was hampered by a poor lock and bagged a marker-tub, Winder’s Humber went indecently fast for a vintage 8-h.p. Campion’s 12/60 Alvis saloon emphasised the poor lock of these cars and got into difficulties, hitting a tub, but Heard’s 1934 Riley tackled the exercise with abandon, leaning on its tyres. Baker’s 1933 Riley was neat and steady, while Bergin’s 1937 Riley saloon was very slow, with two attempts at getting home.
Saunders’ 1910 Renault seemed to be a sort of Edwardian “special,” with home-made body and, it was said, bits of later Morris and other makes in its construction, but in this test it demonstrated its fantastic steering-lock and the onlookers clapped. We noticed that if a rear tyre punctured you could remove the rim, a facility not extended to the front tyres . . . Michael’s 1936 4½-litre Lagonda was impressive, Harding’s Lancia Aprilia displayed a fine lock and neat judgment, and Crocker’s 1937 Lagonda Rapide was a very commendable motor car.
After lunch there was the Wig-Wog test, which some managed fast, others not so rapidly, but only Wood’s1927 Alvis, Harding’s Aprilia, Scales’ 1935 Aston Martin and Barnett’s Lagonda Rapier were seen to tumble tubs. Aley’s 16/80 Lagonda missed a woggle, Routledge’s 1935 Alvis saloon (all the way from Leeds!) possessed a poor lock and had to reverse, and Bates’ massive 1919 Lancia Kappa coupe with truly enormous flywheel going slowly round underneath, only just fitted the wiggles. Huckstepp drove his 1924 Morris-Oxford coupe, with stylish yellow waist-line, enthusiastically, to the consternation of its large battery-box on a rather insecure runningboard, Mann’s beautiful Bentley had its screen folded flat, Leo’s Lagonda displayed much silver paint and noise, Binns once-Brooklands Riley was fast, Chance’s 1933 Alvis indulged in a flying finish, both Dr. Harris and Heath did it in true “Chain Gang” style, and Bugler’s Lagonda Rapier drophead coupe was out-standingly neat. Knight’s 1927 long-chassis Jowett two-seater almost overshot the brake line but on the whole the vintage cars displayed powerful, if very squeaky, brakes. An exception was Cole’s 1933 Aston Martin, which stopped convincingly and quietly.
Competitors whose cars had knock-off hub caps took the “pit-stop” test, in which a front wheel had to be removed and replaced against the watch. Jones’ 14/40 Vauxhall nearly gave us a heart-attack, when its wheel just got home as the jack collapsed.
After this it was time for these good ancient motor cars, some with drivers is who appeared to have been born in them, to go home. The spectators’ cars were also of interest, numbering a very attractive 23/60 Vauxhall tourer, a square-radiator Clyno saloon, a nice Amilcar, a Fiat 501, an original square-radiator Morris-Cowley saloon owned by a Pyreneean-mountain dog, a Salmson and an Alfa-Romeo which had been cut about, to their detriment, and a Vanguard afflicted with gold-rush to its bumpers. Lincoln drove a good specimen ofr 2-litre O.M. The nicest car present? — perhaps Sanders’ 1928 1½-litre twin-cam s/c. Alfa-Romeo.
Vintage Touring Cars: First-Class Awards: D. R. Firth (Austin Seven), D. K. Brown (12/50 Alvis), M. J. Huckstepp (Morris-Oxford). Second-Class Awards: J. L. Aspland (Lea-Francis), J. R. Rogers (Jowett). Third-Class Awards: V. Rawlings (Talbot), W. S. May (Vauxhall).
Vintage Sports Cars: First-Class Awards: P. J. E. Binns (Riley). Second-Class Awards: C. Clutton (Vauxhall), W. L. T. Winder (Humber). Third-Class Award: G. S. Sanders (Alfa-Romeo).
P.V.T. Touring Cars: First-Class Award: G. Chance (Alvis). Second-Class Award: C. B. L.Harding (Alvis). Third-Class Award: R. F. E. Baker (Riley).
P.V.T. Sports Cars: First-Class Award: Dr. D. P. Harris (Frazer-Nash), J. C. Bugler (Lagonda Rapier). Second-Class Awards: J. W. T. Crocker (Lagonda), M. H. Wilby (Lagonda Rapier). Third-Class Awards: L. S. Michael (Lagonda), D. A. Cole (Aston Martin).
750 M.C. Walsingham Trial
Competitors for this very short-distance trial assembled at Brands Hatch on February 17th for an interesting and very cornpetitive day’s sport. From the outset it was a test of endurance in mud and water for heavy rains of the previous week had saturated the site of the trial, the woods and scrub-land beyond the racing circuit.
Normally the Walsingham Trial is for 750 Formula cars only, but this year, in view of the petrol shortage, the organisers decided to permit any kind of car to compete and all competitors were split into different categories according to the versatility of their mounts.
The sections were quite difficult and not many competitors succeeded in reaching very far up the allotted routes, actual trials cars being required for some of these rather than 1933 standard Austin Seven saloons and low-slung M.G. TAs, but all this made the event more amusing, the mud banks and large puddles on the road leading to the trials area being sufficient to embarrass some of the entrants.
One of the most interesting exhibits ever to appear at a trial surely was a B.M.W. Isetta. This hardy little motor car arrived at all the sections and with a little manual-assistance was able to “have a go” at some of the tricky ascents. Driven by Les Needham, this fascinating machine was forced to give up later in the day because of trouble with its tubeless tyres.
A. C. Smith, driving a standard “Nippy” sports, was able to get round a number of the more difficult sections without too much mud accumulating on the underneath of his car, making an especially good attempt at hill eight using near-maximum revs. in bottom gear. The big hollow and the watersplash at hill three were overcome by quite a number of competitors, which was surprising as they seemed almost impassable at first sight. A. C. Smith was the winner of Class B for Austin Seven open models.
H. P. Wood, another hardy Austin exponent this time in a modified “Seven,” took the Class C first-class award for this type of car. Wood made a steady run at the first hill but unfortunately missed a gear-change because of too high revs. at the start of the second hill, making up for it at the third test, the hollow and watersplash, which he negotiated happily, his luck lasting throughout the day.
One whose luck did not last, however, was R. Stoke in his Wolseley-based SaImson sports tourer. At the 10th test there was a loud and ominous bang as the Salmson negotiated some rough country and the occupants dismounted to inspect the back axle, the casing of which had broken at the front of the differential. Fortunately a tractor came to the reecue and later the unhappy car received a friendly tow to its home.
Brilliant sunshine during the earlier part of the day’s activities helped to make this a most enjoyable trial for all, and the advent of cars other than those for the 750 Formula helped to make the contest a success. The winner of the Walsingham Cup was Major A. M. R. Mallock, who tried very hard and well deserved this award. — I.G.
Winner of the Walsingham Cup: Major A. M. R. Mallock
Class A (Austin Seven saloons): 1st: D. Storch; 2nd: R. Balderstone.
Class B (Austin Sevens — Open): 1st: A. C. Smith; 2nd: F. W. Swtrill.
Class C (Austin Sevens — Modified): 1st: H. P. Wood; 2nd: I. Cornell.
Class D (750 Trials Formula): J. R. Burrell.
Class E (Other Makes): 1st: H. A. Batten; 2nd: F. C. Cole.
The VW.O.C. Annual Dinner
The Volkswagen O.C. held its 1957 dinner in a very pleasant setting at the Cafe Royal. It was a well-supported function, with a presentation of awards to successful competitors by Mrs.Colborne Baber, wife of the club’s President, after dinner. Some very fine silverware was handed over on this occasion, Ross-Watt ably compering this important ceremony. Speeches were restricted to an address by the President and a response by F. Defty, who included an amusing account of how one of his VW pick-ups was stopped by the police for carrying 17 persons in eight seats, its own particular contribution to easing the petrol shortage! Not many of the VW.O.C. seem addicted to water, in their cars or to drink, and a merry party ensued, broken for us when we had to leave early to journey home in a form of transport very dependent on large quarttities of water, B.R. having on this occasion been substituted for VW. — W.B.