V-E-V Miscellany, March 1985, March 1985

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The Secretary of the Autovia CC seeks help in tracing what became of three Autovia V8-engined Specials, the Bentley Special built by Stephen Mond, using a 2-litre V 12 GP Deluge chassis and back-axle and front-axle and brakes from a monoposto Alfa Romeo, a Special which competed in the Brighton Speed Trials in the 1950s, reputedly based on a 1750 Alfa Romeo, and an Autovia Special (HC-8410) sold by a garage in Eastbourne in 1955 and last taxed in 1963, owned by David Green RN. Letters can be forwarded. To mark the 90th anniversary of J. H. Knight’s petrol-driven car being made in Farnham, Surrey, Waverley Borough Council is planning a number of events, which are to include not only recognition of Knight’s pioneering but of the local Abbott coachbuilciing concern, and, at last, of Mike Hawthorn, who is confusingly called a “Railing Hero” in their handout! The highlight of these celebrations will be the unveiling of a Knight plaque on the appropriate building and a cavalcade of vehicles from 1890 to 1980 through Farnham on May 1 1 th, which will include the Science Museum’s Knight car and the ex-Hawthorn 2300 Alfa Romeo from the NMM. Those able to bring vehicles associated with the Hawthorns or Abbotts are asked to contact Farnham Museum (P. Davies or Mrs C. Sacha), 38, West Street, Farnham (0252-29577).

The article on George Abraham has produced many letters, including one from 90-year-old Maurice Greenwood who gained his first medal in the MCC London-Exeter Trial of 1913. He has a photograph taken by Mr Abraham showing his friend W. B. Little riding a Premier motorcycle up Skiddaw. Greenwood and Little both went to Grenoble in 1914 for the FICM Six-Days Trials which the war stopped; they both joined up and Little was made a Lt-Col, and was badly gassed in 1915. Another reader who had just seen a copy of one of Mr Abraham’s books published by Methuen in 1913 picked up Motor Sport and read the article on his exploits. He says that in the book’s introduction, Mr Abraham praised his 10 hp Alldays as a hill-climbing vehicle and it seems that it may have been this car, in which he first conquered Hardknott. This reader also recommends exploring the Lake District between “the last snow and the first tourists” and intends to otplore again this year in his Morgan three-wheeler.

Continuing our theme of why people changed one car for another, Charles Wilson recalls his father owning a number of 3-litre Bentleys. The first was in 1922, a four-seater with its spare wheel on the n/s. This was changed about a year later for another Vickers-bodied 3-litre, which had the spare wheel on the driver’s side and because this caused the driver’s right arm to get muddy it was replaced with very similar 3-litre with Gurney Nutting body (PP-3274?) which did not throw mud about. Mr Wilson drove all these Bentleys when allowed, until he crashed the last one mildly on a wet road, after which he was banned from using them but was given an ohv Anz.ani-engined Aero Morgan which was great fun but used to break rockers at 55 mph or over. He had learned to drive on his father’s 1919 10/15 Fiat (BH-7264) at the age of about fifteen. Mr David Norton of Chard writes to say he and his brother used to own the Type 37A Bugatti (RPF-761) that Brian Finglass used to have, purchased from L. G. Bachelier for £150 in 1936 and kept until 1937. It was a 2-litre GP, sans supercharger, in road trim, in very good condition, and they got an immense amount of fun out of it, driving round the then largely-deserted roads of N. Buckinghamshire, hood down, in leather coats and helmets. The only trouble was reluctant starting in winter after being left idle from Sunday to Saturday, cured by cooking the eight plugs in the oven. This was reputed to be an ex-Campbell Bugatti, which had then gone to Rolls-Royce Ltd for study, run by one of the senior R-R personnel as a fun car, then passed to Bachelier force-ode. After about 18 months with the Notions all the roller bearings Of the crankshaft disintegrated but Bach was able to install a 2.3 engine, for £50 or thereabouts.

With either engine the car is remembered as good for about 95 mph, de-tuned and in road trim, at some 4,500 rpm. Remarkably, when stationed in Ulster in 1942 David Norton looked out of a window in Portstewart and there was RPF-761. The new owner let him drive it to Portrush and back… Today Norton uses a 1938 Alois Speed 25 dhc in the summer, which he has had since 1953, and a 1948 Mk VI Bentley in the winter, bought in 1963; both cars in mint condition and painted in identical colours.

Entry forms for the Yeovtl CC’s Bristol to Weymouth vintage vehicle run, which takes place on June 9th, are now available from Keith McGee, 38 Kenmor Drive, Yeovil, Somerset, BA21 4BQ (Yeovil 746301. Esso sponsor the Run, which last year had 212 entries. The fee is £4 for a motorclycle, £7 for a car, inclusive of two free teas at the Reception. — W.B.

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