A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
THE V.S.C.C. DRIVING TEST MEETING, CHARTERHOUSE (Feb. 9th)
Charterhouse School was again the scene of V.S.C.C. driving tests last month, where an entry of 62 pre-war cars were able to loosen their bearings in appropriate surroundings – appropriate inasmuch as cars of this kind must have been seen at parents’ days there in days gone by.
A convenient hill leads into the school grounds, up which a timed climb from a dead-engine, doors shut, Le Mans start took place, followed by another with a “stop-astride” finish.
We saw the entire entry in this first test. Beagle’s little 1909 Zedel got off well, to protests from its clutch, Elster’s Singer Junior Porlock, allowed to run as a touring car, made it look easy, but although Fergusson-Wood restarted the flamboyant Jack Barclay 1910 Rolls-Royce on the switch, he appeared to miss a gear-change and stopped momentarily. In contrast, Fuller’s unobtrusive 1933 20/25 Rolls-Royce used its electric starter but spun its rear wheels disdainfully.
Longhurst drove a rare l.h.d. 11.4 Citroën tourer, which had to be cranked-up, but spun its wheels on take-off. May really sprinted to his A.C. but the starter took its time and acceleration was negligible, but Milner’s very smart A.C., wearing its radiator muff, got away much faster. Marsh’s 1926 Austin Seven perpendicular saloon tended to run back, and poor Riddle, after carefully setting the G.N.’s controls, caught the gear lever with his leg twice in jumping in, causing the engine to stall. But the condition of this cyclecar is a credit to its owner.
Coming to the vintage and p.v.t.-standard-sports car class, Arnold-Forster’s Anzani Frazer Nash appeared to have a trigger hand-brake and its radiator shell is aluminium, like the bonnet and body. Bartram’s 1930 Aston Martin looked like something out of the Racing Car Show but was rather slow, and very noisy. Blakeney-Edwards took his coat off in order to cope with his 1928 12/50 Alvis tourer, Brettell’s Austin Seven Nippy spun its wheels, and elegance was the essence of Buckley’s helmet-wing 1938 Lagonda V12 drophead coupé, also displaying plenty of power. Clutton made an impeccable start, to traditional flywheel-ring, in his Type 43 Bugatti, which left behind the right smells, M. J. Cole’s nice wicker-seat Lancia Lambda saloon proved a bit difficult to put into 1st gear but got away with lots of revs, while P. G. Cole’s rather shabby 1934 Bentley saloon was a fast starter.
Fletcher’s 1926 12/50 Alvis rolled back, Collins nonchalantly smoked his pipe as his well-known 1931 Alvis drophead coupé leapt and spun away from the line, Gahagan did his usual pull-up handle start of his Type 37 Bugatti, aided by a good tick-over, but high gearing resulted in a slow ascent. Gostling made athletic work of the “Le Mans” bit, Betty Haig took her smart 328 B.M.W. to astronomical revs, then forgot to stop astride the finishing line, and Condon’s Anzani A.C., on 710 X 90 tyres, was manually started and very leisurely.
Harding did it neatly in his 1933 Marendaz Special, with small front tyres, Dr. Harris leapt smartly into his Frazer Nash; we saw J. M. Hill going uphill in his Bugatti, and then K. M. Hill set up an Olympic Games sprint to his Lea-Francis saloon. Mrs. Hogg’s s.v. Aston Martin “Nigger” lost a lot of time due to a flat battery, but Tony Jones, chocking his 30/98 Vauxhall with a brick, made one of the best starts of this winter morning. Kain, also relying on brick in lieu of hand-brake (they didn’t permit this on the far less severe gradient at the Fork start at Brooklands!), crunched in bottom cog in a fine getaway in his G.P. Bugatti, and Philip Mann, his G.P. Bugatti equipped with rear lamps for road-work, the n/s. one on a special stalk, also wound up his engine and got off easily, Merriott’s big 1933 Alvis looked out of place at a V.S.C.C. event, Mills’ Brooklands-style Riley Nine was all holes, and McLean’s 1929 17/50 Alfa Romeo almost rolled back to Godalming.
Rogers attained the driving seat of his 1930 3-litre Lagonda tourer very quickly indeed, Sawers’ 1930. 17/50 Alfa Romeo coupé, sporting an Alfa key-ring, was emitting water vapour, Walker’s big 1930 Alvis tourer had fabric-covered doors and rolled back a bit, and the aluminium and brass facia of Walpole’s rare 1926 3-litre Invicta coupé would have sparkled in the sun had there been any. By coincidence, the next competitor was Watson’s 2-litre Lagonda, also 1926, also a coupé.
Weightman, in something that had once been a 1926 Salmson, tried to get going by rolling downhill and slamming in reverse gear – it didn’t work! Whitelegge’s fine 1930 4 1/2-litre Bentley left hot rubber behind, Woodburn had to jump over the side of his orange sports Gwynne Eight, which was going well, because it has no o/s. door, Rowley did it immaculately in his 30/98 Vauxhall, while Barry Clarke got down in a sprinter’s crouch after having bolted himself out of his racing Austin Chummy. Comber’s blown 1,500-c.c. Alfa Romeo had a huge aero-screen to compensate for a folded main screen, Edwards’ Ulster Aston Martin spun its Michelin “X”s, and Skipp’s odd-looking 1932 3-litre Invicta was very fast and effortless. Wickham’s 1929 12/50 Alvis failed on the gradient and reversed down, Warne’s 1922 3-litre Bentley boiled like a Stanley and failed to run, and Booth’s 1938 Mercedes-Benz, on Regent Remoulds, looked later even than p.v.t.; alas, he got it over-rich and it wouldn’t restart for quite a time. Wood surely made f.t.d. in his low-chassis 4 1/2-litre Invicta, Moffat, running as a reserve in his copperised Brescia, propped the ignition lever up with a matchstick before a swift getaway, but Winder, in the Humber Special and striped shirt, had to call on his reverse gear to get going forward, if you follow. After a lunch break, a big crowd, attracted by the diversity of the cars, watched a wiggle-woggle and garaging test. In the latter a sorry “Nigger” boiled and had its gears crunched, Mann’s Bugatti misfired and was slow, Jones, taking great handfuls of 30/98, was quick, Kain was very good in spite of his Bugatti’s sudden clutch, Gahagan’s gear-changes were silent and his Bugatti well-placed. Moffat experienced severe back-axle judder in reverse; Clarke cheerfully completed the test pushing his Austin, after it had expired in the first “garage” – not the first time he has had to do this.
Altogether a memorable day, which should make young Carthusians properly vintage-car conscious. – W. B.
Traditionally, the V.S.C.C. gave its marshals their annual dinner (main course – steak-and-kidney pudding) in rather cramped quarters at Ye Olde Butler’s Head in Moorgate on the evening of February 8th.
Although for internal enjoyment only, it can be put on record that the S.T.D., Fiat, 12/50 Alvis, Humber, Vintage Austin and model-T Ford Registers and Bullnose Morris Club will continue their Inter-Register Contest this year. The applicable events are: April 18th, Race at V.S.C.C. Silverstone Meeting; May 7th, Driving Tests at Hayes (S.T.D.); June 14th, Day Rally in N. Essex (Humber); July 19th, Regularity Run in Surrey (Ford); August 23rd, Road Trial in Hampshire (Fiat); September 13th, Pride of Ownership contest, Battersea Park (Austin); October 2nd, Night Rally at Peterborough (Alvis). Last year the 12/50 Alvis Register won, with 35 points, Fiat and S.T.D. tied second (32 points), Austin were fourth (30 points), Humber fifth (14 points), Ford sixth (2 points), and Morris last (1 point).
Date to note: The (car) Brooklands Reunion, open to anyone who went to Brooklands Motor Course between 1906 and 1939 will take place again, in the Weighbridge area, on the last Saturday in June (27th).
Elstree Aero Club have announced the date of their Flying Display as June 6th.
Another Manchester-Blackpool Veteran & Vintage Run is to be organised by Lancashire A.C. in co-operation with Blackpool Corporation’s Safer Motoring Campaign. The date is April 19th, starting at 8.30 a.m., veterans taking a route of 53 miles, Edwardian vehicles one of 65 miles, and vintage cars a run of 95 miles. Regulations from S. H. Whitaker, Meagles Cottage, Elswick, near Preston, Lancs.
Wilfred Andrews, Chairman of the R.A.C., unveiled a plaque at Putney Bridge on February 11th to commemorate the late F. R. Simms, who founded the S.M.M.T. and the A.C. of G.B. & I. (now the R.A.C.), was the first man to demonstrate a motorboat on the Thames, helped to organise the first motor show, took part in the original London-Brighton Run and manufactured Simms-Welbeck cars. Present at the ceremony were their Worships the Mayor and Mayoress of Fulham, the Mayor and Mayoress of Wandsworth, and a daughter of Mr. Simms, those business, founded in 1890, is today the well-known Simms Motor Accessories Company. Mr. Simms, “father of the British Motor Industry,” had his first workshop in the railway arch immediately behind the wall on which the plaque is mounted.
Readers report having found a front axle and wheels off a very early Buick and another from a Humber, at a farm in Leicestershire, and a complete front axle and four wheels with 700 x 90 tyres, from an Amilcar, in the I.O.M. A 1924 Horstmann 2-seater, laid up since 1928, has come to light in Wiltshire. A 1/2-gallon hand-operated petrol pump, erected in 1923, when it was the only source of supply for 20 miles, is being preserved by the proprietor of the Six Hills Garage in Leicestershire, now being demolished for road widening, as a reminder of the early years.
A very early Paige estate fire engine was about to be scrapped in Somerset, a 1927 Salmson with splash-fed twin-cam engine and 3-speed box is to be rebuilt in New South Wales and body drawings and data are requested, and a belt-drive Triumph combination was rumoured to have been found in Surrey. Offered free are a 1938 B.S.A. Scout in Warwickshire and a 1937 Jowett flat-four in Sussex (letters can be forwarded). One of those rare-even-when-current 13.9-h.p. s.v. sports Austin tourers of 31933 has been found, in good condition, in Norfolk.
The model-A Ford Register has traced 72 of these Fords, many still in use and a few one-owner cars. The most popular years are 1930 and 1931, with fifteen each, comprising 20 cars, two vans, seven trucks and a station ‘bus. Oldest are three 1927 models, most recent a 1935 van and truck.
The Bean Car Club has taken the Swift O.C. under its wing and has also formed the Bean C.C. of Australia, with headquarters in Brisbane and Queensland. In this country an ambitious programme of fifteen events is planned for this year, including the first Bristol-Weston-super-Mare vintage car run on April 11th and a Spring Rally at Bracknell Sports Stadium, in conjunction with the model-T and model-A Ford Registers, on May 17th, starting at a.m.
FIAT REGISTER DINNER
The Fiat Register held its annual dinner on February 1st at the Montague Hotel in Kingsway and enjoyed a record attendance. During the evening the Inter-Register Shield was presented by Mrs. Winifred Boddy to Tony Collins, who received it on behalf of the Alvis 12/50 Register, winners of the 1963 Inter-Register Contest, in which the Fiat and S.T.D. Registers tied for second place.
After dinner, at which Italian wine had been generously provided by the Fiat Company, David Manning proposed a vote of thanks to George Liston Young, who has been Secretary of the Fiat Register and Editor of its magazine for ten long years. Liston Young paid tribute to the keen interest which the Fiat Company shows in Register activities. They propose to show special hospitality to members who visit Italy for the International Federation Veteran and Vintage Car Rally at the end of May, in recognition of the Fiat Register’s tenth anniversary, and Fiat of Milan are also interested in Liston Young’s forthcoming attempt to emulate at Goodwood the 1000-mile run by Wren and Froy round the Mountain circuit at Brooklands in 1934 with a sports Fiat Balilla, when they averaged 55.1 m.p.h.
During the evening a fine collection of photographs belonging to R. F. Oats was handed round by the O.M. section. They included pictures of Oats’ Brooklands-bodied O.M. and the later 1 1/2-litre straight-eight O.M. which ran in the 200- and 5oo-Mile Races at Brooklands, etc. William Boddy was especially interested in a fine picture of the Blitzen Benz, with Barlow at the wheel and a courageous Oats seated beside him.