A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
The V.S.C.C. February Tests
The Vintage S.C.C. had the excellent entry of 77 cars, 50 of them pre-1931, for its Heston Driving Tests last month. There were, however, very few “new” old cars competing, an exception being A. J. Beagle’s jolly little circa 1915 Singer Ten, complete with exhaust whistle, an item it had in common with P. C. Waring’s very fine 1911 2.8-litre Austin two-seater. This Singer light car had been discovered only a week or so ago and was in the condition in which its former owner put it away in a shed in Essex in 1925. Bird’s 1924 11.4 Standard tourer caught the eye, its body in naked aluminium. Hamish Moffat shared Clutton’s Type 44 Bugatti after a gallant attempt to do the first test with no water in the cylinder block of his Brescia Bugatti, which had cracked en route — applause greeted him as he pushed the Brescia over the line after its engine had petered out half way along the course.
In this “wig-wog” test good runs were made by Lilley (1927 Jowett), Gutherie-Jones (1926 Austin Seven), Clements (1926 Austin Twelve), who was astonishingly quick, Jones (1925 Vauxhall 14/40) who was very rapid, Borthwick (1927 Lancia), Bendall (1912 Austro-Daimler), Platt (1928 4½ Bentley), who belied the size of his very fast, smart car, Smith (Twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam imitation racer), Berridge (1927 Lancia), Pilkington (1931 blown 1750 Alfa Romeo), Heard, very neat in his 1933 Frazer-Nash, and Merriott (1933 Alvis). In general the vintage cars had to reverse less than the p.v.t.’s but Bird, Hill, Junr. (A.J.S.), Milling (Alvis), all clobbered the marker-drums, Barnett’s Lagonda Rapier “racer” collecting a couple. Parks drove his Singer Junior mobile-plaque-carrier and there were some nice vintage Austin Sevens present, including Marsh’s 1926 coachbuilt saloon, Cardy’s neat dark blue 1925 Chummy which emitted the Seven-purr to perfection and Benfield’s smart 1928 Chummy slightly spoilt by brass lamps.
Every vintage car proved able to start easily in the Easy Starting frolic, although the 11.4 Standard, the Singer Ten, Clement’s Austin Twelve, Kain’s Brescia Bugatti and Berridge’s Lancia Lambda had to be wound up, just like the 1911 Austin — the 1912 Austro-Daimler, however, responded to its starter. It was all great fun, although the Heston background of drab sheds, cranes, gasometers, forklift trucks and a cluster of caravans sprouting the inevitable T.V. aerials ill-becomes an assembly of vintage cars — many of which seem to have become shabby themselves, in sympathy? Heston being near the Metropolis, many spectators’ cars were present, including a home-modified 3-carburetter Bentley, a 10/23 Talbot tourer in spotless condition, two fine vee-radiator Crossley’s, one a tourer, and a smart p.v.t. 4-litre Darracq saloon on Trade numbers. — W. B.
B.D.C. Film Show
The Bentley Drivers’ Club has a reputation to maintain which was enhanced by a very pleasant Film Show it gave to members and guests at the Royal Commonwealth Society last month. The film of the evening was “The Elusive Hour,” made by John Tate and Ivor Kramer about the activities of three vintage Bentleys at Montlhéry Track last Easter, which culminated in George McDonald’s 4½-litre covering over 111 miles in the f.s. hour. A modern Aston Martin acted as camera-car and the resultant colour film sets an exceedingly high standard, as to editing, colour and presentation. Two laps of Montlhéry were filmed from the Aston Martin and to see the Bentleys lapping this banked circuit is terribly nostalgic to all who loved Brooklands. One admires the courage of Gerry Crozier who continued to lap at over 120 m.p.h. in Sedgwick’s Speed Six with fuel spraying from a leaking tank round the big car’s exhaust pipe and it is sad to realise that this is probably the last time anyone will see a 6½-litre Bentley lapping a banked track at high speed. Montlhéry, however, is still open for such motoring and if you are near Paris this summer you may care to take a look at it.
It was not only in this splendid film that we saw fast “lappery” of a banked track for in the superb Rolls-Royce colour film “The Magic of a Name” there is a modern Bentley going round the rim of the M.I.R.A. banking. This film, publicising collective Rolls-Royce products, has some grand colour pictures of modern R.-R.-powered airliners and it is staggering to know that one R.-R. jet-engine test plant alone cost the Company some three-million pounds. At the opposite extreme the audience saw B.M.C. minicars in the 1960 Monte Carlo Rally and were no doubt amused that a very battered, but still game, “minibric” was driven by Alec Pitts, former dicer of a blower Bentley.
During the evening the B.D.C. President, Stanley Sedgwick, presented a tankard to “Dunlop Mac” in appreciation of the invaluable work he has done for motoring racing and to mark his retirement, — W. B.
Another Film Show
The Sunbeam Register held a film show at St. Albans last month which consisted of the splendid B.P. film “Guiseppina,” the great Shell film of “The Heroic Days of Motor Racing” and Shell’s “Log Book-1953,” Dunne’s Edwardian 12/16 Sunbeam and Mrs. Boddy’s 1927 Sunbeam being driven by her husband in the Sunbeam M.C.C.’s Vintage and Veteran Rally featuring in the last-named film. The Register is building up its library and would much appreciate any appropriate Sunbeam, Talbot or Darracq literature or data. The next fixture is a night navigation rally on March 18/19th. Hon. Registrar: Mrs. W. Boddy, Carmel, Fleet, Hampshire.
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Looking for new homes or persons willing to restore them are a rebuilt 1929 bullnose Morris Commercial chassis, with three new tyres, in Stafford and a 1931 model-B Ford, in Bristol, said to be in very good order but converted in 1938 into a truck, which was in regular use up to the end of 1959 but is now in danger of being scrapped.
Vintage commercial vehicle enthusiasts should also consider saving a circa 1930 Morris Commercial with cab but sans body in a Takeley breaker’s, and a rare Manchester lorry that was in use after the war and now exists in good condition on a Suffolk farm, its rear axle on a trailer but available if anyone contemplates rebuilding. There are also several commercial and passenger vehicles, including an old Morris Dictator, together with Daimler, Rolls-Royce and Chenard-Walcker vintage cars and a 1923 Excelsior motorcycle at a garage in Essex but these are thought not to be for sale. An Invicta saloon, probably a 1½-litre, of about 1930 vintage is reported to be in a Cambridge breaker’s yard.
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News appeared in a recent issue of the Ford Times of a 1929/30 model-A 14.9-h.p. Ford that lives in Goring-on-Thames, has toured South Africa., France and Scotland and has run 122,121 miles. Laid-up during the war, it was repainted in 1952 and has passed its 10-year test. The write-up refers to its push-rods being replaced with other major parts; presumably tappet rods are meant, as this car has a side-valve engine.
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It was a nice gesture on the part of the Alvis 12/50 Register to hold a small dinner party at “The Phoenix,” Hartley Wintney, last month in honour of Mr. and Mrs. Gunnell., who, in ten months, had motored to England from Bombay via most of Europe in their 1925 Alvis 12/50 tourer, with Australian-built body. Present were Bob Gunnell and his wife Ann, Norman Johnson, the Hon. Registrar and his fiancée, Tony Collins, the Competitions Organiser and his wife Estelle, Derek Preston, the Circulars Editor and his wife Dorothy, Roy Morris, Circulars distributor and his wife Pamela, D. Turner, custodian of the Register Album and W. Boddy, Editor of Motor Sport, the last-named deeply honoured by being the only “outsider” invited. The Gunnells had driven 29,000 miles on their remarkable journey, their 12/50 averaging over 30 m.p.g. and doing the trip on one set of 29 x 5.00 tyres (Goodyears were highly spoken of). When it was obtainable, B.P. oil was favoured. The old car developed troubles, including loss of third gear, but the 12/50 Register, whose technical information service is second to none, and which has 330 members, came to its aid and, on arrival in Coventry, Alvis Ltd. showed genuine interest and proved very helpful.
The menu on this pleasant occasion depicted a surprised Alvis hare regarding a complacent kangaroo, in whose pouch reposed a miscellany of tools and spares. During the evening the Gunnells were presented with a fine drawing of their Alvis by R. Shepherd, which the Australian Alvis Club (Mr. Gunnell is Australian, his wife a New Zealander) had flown to London Airport where it was collected by Johnson and brought to “The Phoenix” in his Alvis 14/75 tourer.
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Vintage Miscellany: A Burney Streamline car, possibly for sale has been found in an outbuilding near Hatfield, an early single-cylinder engine with copper water-jacket, said to be a 1903 Cadillac and used to drive a saw bench, exists in a Hampshire garage, and there is a 9/28 Humber for sale nearby, also a derelict SS1. A large Sunbeam is said to be rotting away at Rouge Bouillion, Jersey, and some parts from an early wooden-wheeled Standard have come to light in Worcester, and a 1921 Austin Twenty, in use up to a couple of years ago, is for disposal in Yorkshire.
Eight students are seeking a cheap Rolls-Royce P.1 hearse or similar vehicle in which to travel to Moscow in August„ while another party of students plan to go to Greece this summer in a vintage 3-litre Lagonda. The Lea-Francis O.C. seeks books for its new lending library, and the Vintage C.C. of New Zealand now has almost 800 members, and 12 branches ancl 200 cars are expected to participate in its Easter Rally at Hastings, H.B., ranging from an 1898 Benz to cars of the late vintage era. An Anzani-engined Deemster has been found in a shed in Scotland, while a 14/28 Morris-Oxford, two 14/45 Talbots and an M-type M.G. are in urgent need of new homes.
The Vintage S.C.C. held its annual film show at the Hammersmith Town Hall on the last day of January. Before a packed hall that defeated the buffet supper arrangements, Shell’s “Heroic Days,” several cartoons, “25 years of the Nurburgring” which recalled the stirring days of the pre-war G.P. Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Unions and films of club racing, including a very good colour film by Roscoe of Silverstone and Oulton Park, were shown — but why were all the films about racing when driving tests and trials also figure in the V.S.C.C. curriculum? The next V.S.C.C. fixture is The Pomeroy Memorial Trophy Competition, which takes place at Silverstone and on the road in the Banbury area, on March 25/26th.
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Letting Off Steam
Interest in steam wagons continues. Mr. J. W. Bamford, of Retford, wonders if any of the wagons owned by his father in years gone by have survived. One of these, apparently a Sentinel, is illustrated above. Another reader, who saw a number of traction engines lying derelict in the Wisbech-King’s Lynn area, believes that steam-lorries are still in use at Aberdeen docks, while two readers have sent pictures of a quite remarkable Sentinel which is still in service for shunting railway trucks at Teignmouth docks. Although this appears to be a very early specimen it was apparently specially built, in about 1921, only two others being made, which were shipped to America. It is on solid tyres and has gas lamps. Then a pneumatic-tyred Sentinel lorry has been seen at a Hampshire Naval Station, driven by a bearded seaman, and we are reminded that as late as 1950 Sentinels supplied about one hundred steam wagons for the Ground Nuts Scheme.