A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
V.S.C.C. Charterhouse driving tests (February 6th)
The driving test meeting of the Vintage S.C.C. at Charterhouse School is extremely enjoyable, for the setting is delightful and the boys, who marshal the tests, very keen. This year their Motor Club premises were open for inspection. a late-model vintage Clyno being in process of restoration and their Riley 9 fabric tourer, displaying a B.A.R.C. badge, running about the grounds.
This year the event attracted 60 entries, divided into 17 vintage and p.v.t. touring cars (14 of them vintage), 33 vintage and p.v.t. standard sports cars, of which 21 were vintage, and one Edwardian. and to vintage and p.v.t. sports cars, of which three were vintage. So vintage cars were in the majority, which gives the lie to the idea that the V.S.C.C. couldn’t exist competitively without the p.v.t.s. There were some absentees, like Clarke’s Talbot, which would have been the only Edwardian, and Sumpster’s 1929 Riley 9 coachbuilt 2-seater with clutch trouble so that it only took the last two tests, while the clutch of Binn’s O.M., a car said to be using wheels from a V16 B.R.M., refused to transmit the drive after reaching the end of the first test.
This first test was a timed Le Mans-start hill-climb, drivers being required to stop between two lines at the finish. Blake’s blue 1927 Chummy Austin 7 tail-slid to a standstill, Buckoke’s throaty p.v.t. Riley saloon just overshot the finish line, but Mrs. Cardy’s blue Chummy 1925 Austin 7 stopped neatly. Condon’s immaculate 1923 A.C. with low-hung headlamps and b.e. tyres came to rest sedately, Erskine’s 1928 Swift was slow, Mrs. Hill’s A.J.S., with its axle repaired once more, performed neatly, while Hannis’ p.v.t. Riley was a long tourer with fold-flat screen, the brakes of which complained loudly.
Johnson’s interesting 1920 Bedford-Buick 2-seater with detachable rims and guttered cantilever back springs had audible valve gear, Leach’s nice rear-braked 9/20 Humber continued uphill rocking gently, while Longhurst’s I.h.d. 1921 11.4 Citroen tourer stopped, too far, in a fine tail-slide. Its driver wore an appropriate beard and beret and the front axle is damped by a pair of Houdaille Amortisseurs. Bell’s 10/23 Talbot 2-seater overshot badly, after coming up fast. Maskell’s tatty fabric saloon 1931 Riley 9 buzzed up and made good use of those effective brakes, while Milner drove his splendid 1926 A.C. neatly, using the cogs carefully, the shapely radiator muffed up against the cold. MacMillan’s Rolls-Royce locked its back wheels, Newton’s 1925 disc-wheeled Swift Ten tourer overshot, and Riddle’s G.N. made a meteoric ascent, arresting itself with furious back-axle tramp. Buckley’s very silent and dignified V12 Lagonda d.h. was a smooth performer. Buckmaster’s very original 1924 Lancia Lambda gave a slight twitch of its front wheels as it came to rest, Mrs. Cherrett handled her 1 1/2 litre Alfa Romeo calmly, and Chinon raged up the hill, stalling the machinery as he stopped his Bugatti—a run surrounded by splendid noises and the scent of burnt “R “…
Cole made a good show in his 3 1/2-litre Bentley saloon, which has a slot roughly cut in the boot-lid so that the spare wheel can peep out, Davis’ beetle-back 12/60 Alvis with fold-flat screen was fast, likewise Gahagan’s Type 37 Bugatti, Giles’ Frazer Nash with lots of spotlamps was quick, and Glover’s covetable all aluminium 1947 12/50 Alvis beetle-back slid to test on locked front wheels. Griffiths was applauded for real sideways anchorage in his fast 1927 O.M., while Dr. Harris actually had his Frazer Nash’s front tyres smoking under cadence braking, on a fast, polished run. Hayes’ India-shod 1930 Aston Martin was perhaps more concours than sporting, Tony Jones’ 30/98 Vauxhall was, as usual, an impressive sight, K.C. Jones’ big p.v.t. Alvis saloon really overshot, both the Lancia Augustus sounded poorly, and noisiest yet was Malyan’s 1928/30 Frazer Nash, which only just cleared the finish line, having braked too hard.
Mrs. May’s Frazer Nash was steaming faintly, Streeter’s very nice 1921 30/98 Vauxhall overshot by a whole car’s length, Walder’s 1935 primrose 2-litre Lagonda had a body that suggested a cutabout 16/80, Swann’ s 1928 3-litre Invicta carried a sensible all aluminium 4-seater body shell of most sporting demeanour, and Whitelegg’s 1930 4.1/2-litre open Bentley was rapid, a front-wheel locking, and displayed a tiny Union Jack. Binns’ fierce ascent ended in oil and rubber smoke with the aforesaid clutch failure, Arnold-Forster’s familiar Anzani Frazer Nash was both fast and extremely neatly driven, Cameron Millar drove a 1921 “Brooklands”-type 12/50 Lea-Francis tourer in the traditional two-colour scheme, Easdale’s 1930 1750 Alfa Romeo was really rapid but just overshot the finish, on locked wheels, and one of the most imposing-looking cars competing was Lake’s immaculate 1930 6 1/2-litre Bentley fabric fixed-head coupe, with shallow windscreen and elephantine boot. Sloan’s frail-looking 1925 Ceirano tourer had “period” tyres and a rolled umbrella in the tonneau, Ely used cadence front braking to stop his alloy-bodied ex-Arthur Dobson Riley T.T. Sprite, and Gardner’s 1935 Riley Special looked to this reporter anything but thoroughbred. Moffatt brought his Brescia Bugatti up in Kop-like style, Roberts had the screen flat on his smart 1934 Frazer Nash and the last car up was Wood’s over-bodied Lagonda Rapier saloon.
There were other tests but Charterhouse is an occasion for wandering about, chatting with one’s friends and looking at interesting spectators’ cars, so apart from seeing Glutton’s dynamo being restored on the Type 23 Bugatti and Riddle attacking the G.N.’s transmission, we only managed to observe part of the zigzag. In this, very fast runs were contrived by Milner, MacMillan, Glutton, Cole, Gahagan, Haynes, Glover, Griffiths and Jones, whose 30/98 exuded a nostalgic whiff of “R,” while Giles was exceedingly neat, Lake managed very well in spite, of his Bentley’s bulk and Moffatt was perhaps the fastest of them all. Buckmaster just touched a marker, but Davis’ Alvis managed to massacre one. Roberts suffered a sudden attack of paralysis due to a slipped disc, but had the presence of mind to stop his Frazer Nash on the hand brake before being assisted away from it. So ended a most enjoyable meeting, in which out of 17 awards twelve won by vintage cars, and amongst these prizewinners were two of the three girls who competed. Non-competing cars ranged from a very smart Vale Special, through 1927 Erskine to a gaudy 1924 12/23 Unic saloon, and there was an unusual-bodied vintage Austin 7 2-seater all the way from Australia. The V.S.C.C. really does provide much enjoyment for a lot of people—roll on Silverstone next month !—W.B.
First-Class Awards : E. Riddle (1921 G.N.), A.D. Jones (1923 30/98 Vauxhall) and H.F. Moffatt (1923 Bugatti).
Second-Class Awards : J.F. Blake (1927 Austin 7), Mrs. Cardy (1925 Austin 7), Mrs. J. Hill (1930 A.J.S.), C. Clutton (1929 Type 43 Bugatti), P.G. Cole (1934 3 1/2-litre Bentley), D.P. Harris (1930 Frazer Nash), K.C. Jones (1937 3 1/2-litre Alvis) and T. Ely (1934 Riley T.T. Sprite).
Third-Class Awards : J.K. Milner (1926 A.C.), D. Macmillan (1928 RollsRoyce), N. Arnold-Forster (1925 Anzani Frazer Nash), T.W.P. Harris (1930 Austin 7), N.J. Streeter (1921 30/98 Vauxhall) and W.J. Roberts (1934 Frazer Nash).