A Section Devoted to Old-car Matters
It is getting near enough to the return match of our Vintage Sports Car Club against the Veteran Car Club of America to wish British participants the greatest possible success. There is no need to wish them an enjoyable vacation because this is assured. The V.S.C.C. team is due to sail from Liverpool on April 13th in the Parthia, disembarking on April 21st for a night at the Waldorf Astoria, New York, after which the competition gets off to a 7 a.m. start the next morning. It continues for eight days, embracing track events, hill-climbs and tests, on a route via Reading, Hartford, Manchester, Portsmouth, Boston, Thompson, New London, Mystic and Long Island, back to New York, with some museum visits and sight-seeing en route. The Waldorf Astoria is regained on April 29th, when we hope sincerely that all the machinery will still be working. After a couple of days of sight-seeing British vintagents return on the Scythia, home to petrol-rationing and savage taxation. The V.C.C. of A. is meeting the expenses of our team during its stay and Esso are to provide free petrol.
Each team will comprise five vintage and five Edwardian cars. The V.S.C.C. is fielding the 1908 Hatton in the care of Cecil Clutton, mechanic-ed by Ronald Barker, a car which is a four-cylinder Napier with T.T. and Brooklands honours. It belongs to Francis Hutton-Stott, has been restored to original appearance, and, we must hope, has been cured of the maladies which beset it in the past. Clutton captains the V.S.C.C. team. and must dress to defeat the elements!
Three Edwardians which are sure to go over in immaculate condition and perform outstandingly are Jimmy Skinner’s 1910 “Silver Ghost” Rolls-Royce tourer, Francis Hutton-Stott’s 1913 38-h.p. Lanchester tourer and Laurence Pomeroy’s 1914 “Prince Henry” Vauxhall. This section is completed by B. H. Clarke’s 1913 s.v. 25-h.p. Talbot, which we hope has been restored to full health since its Prescott calamity last year. It has a non-original two-seater body. America intends to meet this Edwardian onslaught with Sam Baily’s big 1912 Simplex, E. Roy’s 1909 Simplex. F. HalIer’s 1909 Chalmers, T. Kilbornes exciting 1912 Pierce-Arrow and a 1913 Lozier.
The British vintage team is to consist of W. P. S. Melville, who races a hairy o.h.v. 30/98, but who is taking a 1920 s.v. E-type 30/98 Vauxhall provided by J. C. Sword, the Belgray old-car collector, J. Clarke’s very beautifully restored 1925 Alvis 12/50 two-seater, A. T. Pugh’s 1928 Anzani Frazer-Nash, Sqd.-Ldr. Miller’s 1927 twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam tourer, which is in original order, and T. P. Breen’s 1929 4½-litre Bentley tourer which became so excited at Goodwood on the occasion of the 1954 Anglo-American match that it swallowed a piston — better luck this time. The Frazer-Nash, Sunbeam and Bentley are fast cars. Opposing this team the V.C.C. of A. puts up H. A. Clark, Jnr., in a 1916 Pierce-Arrow, R. Buckley’s 1922 Mercer raceabout, R. Grier’s model-A Ford, B. Smith’s 1929 Du Pont and a 1929 Studebaker. Our guess is that we shall have a tougher job to win the Edwardian than the vintage section of this fascinating Anglo-American contest. Whatever befalls, we offer the intrepid motorists bon voyage on behalf of our readers. As we fumble with our last few petrol coupons our thoughts will be with you! — W. B.
This time this feature centres round part of an old encyclopaedia of sport kindly sent to us by J. A. Levy of Stamford Hill. This was published in 1910 and under the heading “Automobilism” there is a detailed history of motoring, commencing with the steam road-vehicle era of 1825-1840 and continuing through the now familiar Daimler and Benz developments to “modern times.” We are reminded that automobile derives from the Greek word “auto,” meaning self, and the Latin “mobilis,” or moving, and that France had a motor paper, La Locomotion Automobile, before The Autocar was founded in this country in 1895. The A.C. de France was founded in that year. There are some interesting details of how the Light Locomotives Act of 1896 was brought into being. Apparently The Engineer and The Autocar organised a petition to Parliament (it is said “to allow light locomotives to run on the road” but, in reality, they sought to abolish the necessity for a pedestrian to walk in front of a vehicle, thus restricting its speed to a few m.p.h.), and Sir David Solomans was instrumental in a deputation waiting on the Local Government Board and later Lord Harris brought his Light Locomotives Bill before the Lords in support of that deputation. This passed its second reading in April and, in June, Henry Chaplin, President of the Local Government Board and a member of the Cabinet, moved and carried the second reading in the Commons. Thus this important Act came into force but the history with which we are dealing makes the usual error in saying it “freed motorists from the red-flag man,” whereas he was abolished by an earlier Act of 1878. An obviously posed picture in support of their error shows the Hon. C. S. Rolls driving an 1896 3¾-h.p. Peugeot preceded by a uniformed man bearing a neat flag!
The early races are described and the successful cars of those days illustrated, like the 1897 6-h.p. Panhard with wheel-steering, the 1900 20-h.p. Panhard and the first 12-h.p. Panhard to run in England (1900), claimed also to be the first car “fitted with tube and electric ignition.”
In 1901, we learn, the Automobile Club organised a demonstration for the purpose of educating county councils about the motor car, for they were about to press for a universal 10-m.p.h. speed limit. This apparently had the effect a causing the County Councils’ Association to pass a resolution to the effect that, providing cars carried numbers and their drivers were licensed, it wouldn’t ask for a speed limit — what a pity the R.A.C. cannot influence the political scene in the motorist’s favour in 1957. It is nice to place on record that a committee of parliamentary motorists, consisting of Lord Montagu, the Hon. Arthur Stanley and Sir Henry Norman, etc., was formed to uphold motorists’ interests as the new Act of 1903 was being considered. This passed the Lords without a speed-limit clause but the Commons objected and the 20-m.p.h. limit came into being. It is worth noting, however, that “the 57 members of the Automobile Committee made a fight which was probably unprecedented in the case of a measure of this kind.” Indeed, the debate occupied from noon one Friday to between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m, on the Saturday, a continuous sitting of 18 hours, “during which the leading motorist champions were hardly absent from their seats for one moment.” Alas, 300 opposed 57 and although the new Act of 1903 expired in three years, the 20-m.p.h. speed limit lived on, incredible as it may seem, for rnore than twenty years. The writer we are following (Alex. J. M. Gray) wisely observed that an anti-motor Press campaign did untold harm to the 10,000 or 15,000 converts to the new form of locomotion, until, after 1905-6 advertising revenue from the motor industry increased greatly and, with this increase, “prejudice gradually vanished “!
Next we return to an account of the important races and it seems that although the eliminating trials for the 1903 Gordon Bennett race were held on the Duke of Portland’s Welbeck estate, Lord Montagu had to pilot a special Bill through the Commons to sanction racing on British roads.
By 1904 racing in America — there is a picture of W. K. Vanderbilt’s Mercedes and another of Ziegler’s Acme racing at the Isle of Hope — and on the Riviera is deemed worthy of inclusion. The photographer whose art graces the pages of this old encyclopaedia shows us Berny on an Hispano-Suiza and Tangazi on a Lancia raising the dust at Mont Ventoux. We are reminded that the Ladies’ A.C. was formed in 1904 and by 1910 had nearly 500 members. Also in that year a M. Bellamy of Paris, possibly the aviator who tried unsuccessfully to fly at Weybridge in 1907, was rumoured to have built a 165-h.p. eight-cylinder car geared to do 115 m.p.h., and in America a 100-h.p. eight-cylinder Buffum car was announced, but apparently they were sort of pioneer V16 B.R.M.s. However, a giant Dobelli with four 8½ in. by 18½ in. cylinders, reputed to give 180 h.p. and requiring a specially large Longuernare carburetter, did get itself shown at Friswell’s in Albany Street.
As the aforesaid Motor Car Act was due to come up for possible revision in 1906 a Royal Commission on Motor Cars was formed in the summer of 1905, the Chairman being Lord Selby, former Speaker of the House of Commons. This Commission took evidence from all interested parties and even sent Commissioners abroad to study conditions and eventually, while recommending raised taxation on cars, pressed for abolition of the speed limit. Alas, the Liberal Government which had replaced the Union party in January 1906 was full of social reforms and they decided to extend the existing Act for another year, as year after year it continued to be extended. Incidentally, the report gave the number of cars and motor-cycles in use in December 1904 as 24,201 and 27,348, respectively (total, 51,549), whereas by May 1906 the figures were 44,098 and 42,438, respectively (total, 86,536).
The dust nuisance came to a head and the new tarmac (said to have been invented and patented by E. Purnell Hooky, County Surveyor of Notts) came into use, notably on the Madeira Drive at Brighton, while an experimental area was laid opposite the Savoy Hotel and found to outlast macadam tarred two or three times, after which, in August 1909, the entire Thames Embankment was so laid — and from its present surface seems never to have been repaired since! Each car paid an annual tax of £1 1s. and in 1909 the Budget levied £750,000 from motorists “towards highway and local expenses.” To illustrate the dust a car raised from untarred roads a picture is shown which is of far more interest because it shows the front-drive engine-across-chassis Christie in action than for the dust-cloud it also depicts.
In 1905, this encyclopaedia of long ago reminds us, the A.A. was formed “To protect and advance the legitimate interests of motorists, and in particular to assist in the enforcement of the laws affecting the highways and the users thereof” — judging by its present apathy it must now regard motoring as illegitimate. In those days it rushed ahead of the R.A.C., with over 14,000 members to the. R.A.C.’s 5,500.
Many of the illustrations accompanying this history are of racing on Brooklands and of the Track and Mr. and Mrs. Locke King who built it, it is said: ” . . . this colossal venture for the benefit of automobilism has earned them the thanks and gratitude of all the motoring world.” The historical section concludes with the following pleasing statement: “Having given the chief racing events in the motoring world, and thus demonstrated the great advancement made in the modern motor car, we will now give a few instances to show how the holding of these race meetings has tended to improve the construction and reliability of the car. Just as horse-racing has tended to the production of an animal capable of galloping at great speed, strong in limb, light in weight, and with great staying powers, so has the manufacturer of a car, in endeavouring to beat his competitors, turned his attention to the production of vehicles capable not only of high speed, but of great reliability.” Coming from 1910 back to 1957 I can add, “And so say all of us.” — W. B.
A member of the Fiat Register, A. J. Bradford of Much Wenlock, is restoring a 1922 Varley Woods tourer.
During a petrol-shortage clean-up, a Surrey garage disposed of a number of Ford spares, believed to have included several engines and axles, one thought to be from a Model-T. If anyone is interested, we can supply the address of the metal-dealer who bought them.
Ernest Dougill died recently in the Isle of Wight, aged 76. He assisted his father and brothers in building the Frick car and in 1910 he founded the Byfleet Automobile Engineering Co. He was one of the oldest members of the 19th-century Motorists Association.
If members of the Bull-Nose Morris Club are not eating large quantities of Quaker Oats they jolly well should be, for a bull-nose Morris was nicely featured in a Quaker Oats advertisement in the Radio Times of February 1st.
Anyone interested in a Swift Ten in a breaker’s in the Tunbridge Wells area can obtain details by writing to Mr. R. M. Balderstone, c/o Motor Sport.
Giving evidence in a recent accident case a witness said: “The accident caused £40 worth of damage to my car. It was not a heavy collision, but being a modern car it just ‘concertinaed up.'”
A reader living in St. Albans knows the whereabouts of a 1918 F.W.D. truck, in running order.
Vintage motor-cycling flourishes. The V.M.C.C. is going strong, and on March 19th the Sunbeam Club is holding ita usual Pioneer Run, for which an entry of some 200 pre-1915 motor-cycles has been received. This run commences at 9. a.m., from Tattenham Corner, Epsom Downs and finishes in Brighton, where a parade will be held at about 3 p.m. Really early machines such as an 1897 Beeston tricycle and an 1899 Dechamps tricycle are expected to compete.
Referring to your article on my 1907 Metallurgique car in your January issue, may I correct one or two minor inaccuracies that seem to have crept in and might cause some confusion to interested readers.
(1) I have been running on 935 by 135 tyres, giving 84 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m. It is this size that is now unfortunately unobtainable and I have had to fit 880 by 120 tyres, being the only size obtainable to fit without rebuilding the wheels. These are somewhat small section for the car but not too much so, and give the 81 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m. you mention.
(2) Even 21-litres of engine do not require 22 gallons of water for cooling! The cooling system takes 12 gallons. The figure 22 would refer to the capacity of the petrol tank. It does not hold 25 gallons.
(3) Mintex (British Belting & Asbestos Ltd.) have been very helpful and have supplied me with some special linings to try on the highly-stressed transmission brakes. It is these I shall be using this season (if there is one!).
I get 11 to 12 m.p.g. (hard driving) from La Metallurgique. This surprising economy no doubt being due to the fact that although she breathes so deeply, she breathes seldom!
Incidentally, I have weighed the cast-iron pistons. Complete with rings and gudgeon-pin they weigh 13 lb. 5 oz. each! The connecting-rods weigh 12 lb. each. That makes a reciprocating weight of 1 cwt. 40 lb. (less 2 oz.), which would help to explain why she runs out of revs. around 1,300 r.p.m.
I am, Yours, etc., Douglas Fitzpatrick. Sheringham.
We were delighted to read your article on Mr. Douglas Fitzpatrick’s Metallurgique in the January edition of Motor Sport. Our delight was somewhat impaired however by the fact that coachwork carried out by us on this magnificent vehicle was erroneously attributed to another concern.
Your respect for Mr. Fitzpatrick will no doubt be increased by our relating that he, having never driven the monster before, and after a push-start over the brink of Putney Vale, drove off to Norfolk in full control!
We are, Yours, etc., for Panelcraft, H. S. Fry. Putney.
It appears to be a popular pastime for people to write to your very excellent magazine, praising such exotic vehicles as vintage Bentleys, Bugattis and Rolls-Royces. I am afraid I am unable to compete with quite such high figures as are quoted for these motor cars, but in my humble stable I have a 1930 Gordon England Austin Seven. I can, however, I think, claim to have one of the most difficult, self willed cars ever constructed. Steering is by trial and error, braking by faith and cables, gear-changing by brute force and experience.
0-30 m.p.h.: 3-4 min. with favourable wind.
0-50 m.p.h.: figures not available.
I do not think there exists another car so hard to drive, so hard to understand in all its ways and such tremendous fun. Reliable? I recently completed a 1,500-mile tour of Scotland without a single mechanical or structural fault occurring, except a once-blocked slow-running jet. O.K.?
Vive l’ Austin!
I am, Yours, etc., “A Schoolboy.” Henley.
With reference to the photograph of a Diatto on page 12 of the January issue, it is not original. I met its owner last year and he informed me the engine is a Wolseley Twenty-five!
I am, Yours, etc., Neville P. Hooley. Attenborough.
The car shown in the photograph in “Vintage Postbag” last month is, I think, a Horbick. These cars were made by a firm of textile machinery manufacturers, from the turn of the century until 1909. The company was then faced with the problem of expanding car production or closing down this department.
I am, Yours, etc., R. J. Light. Tetbury.
Perhaps the following may be of interest to some of your readers. In the little village of Winchcombe, just outside Cheltenham, a hardware firm by the name of Giles have in use a Ford lorry which cannot be any later in date than 1920. Outside the firm’s garage in the Back Lane, Winchcombe, is the complete chassis and body of one of these old-timers. Scattered around it are torque-tubes and back axles, complete with brake back-plates and a lot of artillery wheels complete with covers. As well as these components there are other exotic-looking bits and pieces. The chassis and body are in very good condition externally.
I am, Yours, etc., A. P. Powell. Cheltenham
[This sounds like the Ford lorry illustrated in Motor Sport in August 1955. — Ed.]
I was most interested to read of the 1920 Storey car catalogue that Mr Worthington Williams sent to you. I would however like to query the h.p. ratings mentioned.
I am aware that some manufacturers named their models with a number only vaguely indicating the rating (e.g., the Sunbeam Twenty was 18.2 h.p.), but as one of the Storey ratings includes a decimal point it seems safe to presume some accuracy.
First, the ratings given do not agree with engine dimensions — a 75 by 130 is 13.9, not 14.3, and an 85 by 132 is 17.9, not 20. Secondly, my records do not show a 14.3 Storey. There was a 20-h.p. Storey but that was a later 90 by 150 model.
Possibly the Editor has misread the catalogue (and his proof readers overlooked the error!). A much more interesting possibility is a misprint in the catalogue — though I doubt if this would increase its value to anything approaching that of a mere misprinted (or unperforated) postage stamp! Perhaps the gentlemen who manufactured the Storey car could be persuaded to reminisce a little — and at the same time solve the problem of the missing horsepowers.
The 75 by 130 13.9 and the 85 by 132 17.9 were, according to my records, the first Storeys made, but from 1921 to 1925 there were three models, a 10.4 65 by 100, a 15.9 80 by 140 and a 20 90 by 150. During 1926/9 three models were offered, two being four-cylinders (9.8 and 13.9) and the other a 17.7-h.p. six-cylinder.
I do not know if any Storeys were built after 1929 but the Editor’s memory is correct about the works being in Clapham Park — it was in Thornton Road.
Referring now to the letter from Mr. Jones asking for details of his Roamer — this is another rare car. There was a Roamer in 1917 which was a high-price luxury car but this was, I believe, of British manufacture. The agents were R. A. Rottermel of Poland Street, W.1 (who were also agents for the Halladay car).
However, the American Roamer that Mr. Jones has unearthed would be imported during the period 1921 to 1924. It had a 25.3.h.p. engine of 4 in. by 6 in. and remained virtually unchanged during these years. I do not know of any other Roamer cars in Britain but there are four six-cylinder models in America and I will supply the owners’ addresses if Mr. Jones will contact me.
I have never seen either a Roamer or a Storey but of course this is nothing to be ashamed of as there were, according to my reckoning, some 600 or so different makes offered on the British market between 1913 and 1930!
Thank you for a most interesting journal about which I have but one complaint—it should be a weekly!
I am, Yours, etc., Kenneth Ball. Patcham.
[We have checked the ratings and cylinder dimensions in the Storey catalogue that was loaned to us and find we quoted them as printed therein. — Ed.]
Your account of the Tank Museum at Bovington brings back memories of a D. & M. course there in 1928, when our driving instruction included at least one of the vehicles mentioned. Due to an accident, I missed the first lesson, which was on an Albion six-tonner fitted with solid tyres, having no hood or windscreen, and with the driving seat about twelve feet off the ground—or so it seemed.
I started on a 1916 Rolls-Royce armoured car. These were fine cars capable of 60 m.p.h., probably the best-looking armoured cars ever built and much liked by the men who used them. The driving seat was a squab on the floor with a leather-strap back rest. You looked through a long, rather narrow, slit and the bonnet seemed to be a mile long. Because of this, I nearly hit a Trojan van in the first few minutes, and the gears were a complete mystery to me.
The next car we drove was one of the delightful Crossley tenders with metal-to-metal brakes and a tendency to gas the passengers in the back — petrol was conveyed from the rear tank to the carburetter by exhaust-gas pressure.
The last in the wheeled series was the fantastic Peerless armoured car. This consisted of a most inartistic pile of armour plate on a Peerless lorry chassis, running on “solids” of course. On top of the pile was perched a pair of small cylindrical turrets from which Lewis guns could be fired on the erring populace during the Irish Troubles, in which many of these cars took part. These cars did 12 m.p.h. in top, if you could get into top, and were supposed to be capable of being driven backwards from a sort of troglodytes cave in the rear.
We finished our course on Vickers medium tanks, which were standard equipment in the tank battalions at that time and for many years afterwards.
I never really learnt to drive on this course, but did so by purchasing a 1924 Wolseley Ten in 1929. I found no difficulty at all and that very bad car was the first of twenty-two ancient vehicles, not including eight motor-cycles, which I have owned since, some of them even worse than the Wolseley. Number twenty-two is a Lancia Dilambda, which began to pit its wits against mine in November.
I am, Yours, etc., R. H. Walton. Harbottle.
In reply to Mr. Hilton’s reference to the 8-litre Bentley, the following is taken from page one of Brochure 35 issued by Bentley Motors in February 1931.
“It is worth noting that the 8-litre Bentley will very comfortably do more than 100 m.p.h. on the flat. I may be wrong (though I doubt it) when I suggest that this is the fastest standard car in the world, but that is only a side issue compared to the fact that when the 240 horses who are stabled under this long and graceful bonnet are unleashed the wind and tyres make more noise than all the rest of the car put together. Never in my life have I known a vehicle in which such a prodigious performance was linked with such unobtrusive quietness. — Captain W. Gordon Aston, The Tatler, December 31st, 1930.”
May I say that it was not uncommon in those days for the purchaser of a Bentley car to request and pay for a timed speed test. I have a photograph of an 8-litre with Vanden Plas drophead body — owned at that time by a peer — which reached 110 m.p.h. As to m.p.g., we would have reckoned the lower figure as nearer correct. If Mr. Hilton can obtain a copy of The Autocar dated September 4th. 1954, he will find a very refreshing article on the 8-litre with some performance data.
I suggest that if Mr. R. A. Clarke. or Mr. Tom Williams (ex-chief of Road Test), could be persuaded to stretch their memories we might get a very good story with true facts.
I am, Yours, etc., Eric Medina. St. Albans.