Vintage postbag, March 1985

The Stanley Cup


Thank you for Bill Boddy’s article on the Stanley Cup — even though it ended on a note suggesting a road event could not bear comparison with racing. During initial discussions as to the form the Cup should take, it was felt that there was a sufficient / surfeit of racing opportunities, and a dearth of motoring for fun. Ideas of resurrecting the Alpine Trials or a summer Raid to Europe were somewhat dashed by our senior adviser (who would like to claim anonymity), who said: “To some one-make clubs, the mere thought of getting three cars in one piece to the New Forest would be an achievement worthy of club legend.”

To cater for such divergencies of opinion, it was decided to have an initial event for fun and charity within the UK and, hopefully, its future events would be determined by the wishes of the competitors themselves. A challenge to all one-make clubs is on its way, and it is hoped there is more resolve about than the New Forest comment might suggest!

Isleworth, J. T. Aldington

“The Motor Mountaineer”


In the January issue’s account of Mr Abraham’s hill-climbing adventures, his ascent of Park Rash in 1920 with a Hudson Super Six is suggested as the first successful attempt of that tortuous hillside.

In fact, in March 1915 two light-cars had tackled the climb, namely a 10 hp Singer driven by Eric S. Myers, a Bradford motor dealer, and a much less-frequently-heard-of make, the Batley-built 10 hp JBS, designed by G. K. and E. S. Walker of Mirfield and driven on this occasion by one J. Walker.

At that time Park Rash was considered by many to be the worst public road hill in England (a title to winch there doubtless several other claimants) and although many car drivers had attempted it none appear to have made an earlier clean ascent. In 1914 a Rolls-Royce had managed the climb but only with the aid of men with spades and shovels! Under wintry conditions the little Singer tackled the gradient at speed and swept to the top in most impressive style, particularly bearing in mind the hairpin bends and the wet, rough, loose surface. The latter caught out the JBS, which reached midway then stopped, one wheel spinning and burying itself into the ground. However, once the passenger had alighted, the car slowly but surely reached the top, leaving behind deep furrows in the road. These were probably the first victorious climbs of Park Rash to be publicised. The hill was not surfaced throughout until as recently as 1953.

Stake Fell, mentioned in the write-up of the Speed Model Hillman, had also been successfully climbed by both cars earlier in the day, snow, ice and meltwater adding to the difficulties of the rocky track, and only a frozen snowdrift preventing them from attaining the actual summit, after the steepest sections of the rise had been negotiated without drama.

Liversedge, Steve Dickinson

[My statement about Mr Abraham’s ascent of Park Rush was taken from a contemporary account. — Ed.]

“Motor Ways”


I enjoyed your piece on George D. Abraham. I have a copy of “Motor Ways at Home and Abroad” published by Methuen in 1928. There are 32 photographs by the author, most feature vehicles, mainly tantalisingly taken from the rear. This makes identification somewhat difficult, the Summers’ 40,50 Rolls-Royce appears in Abraham’s Exploits several shots, both with and without disc wheel covers.

Other types identifiable are the Humber, H. E. and Albert mentioned in your article. A mid-twenties open Daimler (RM 3517), a splendid Sunbeam twin-cam 3-litre (UK1560) and M 5520 which appears to be an Edwardian Napier tourer, following sporting bob-tailed two seater on the Buttertubs Pass. The Summers’ 30/98 appears once, storming the very loose surface of Summer Lodge Hill, North Yorkshire, followed by a 4½-litre Bentley in a scene very reminiscent of present-day VSCC Lakeland activities.

The book is well written in the style of the day; cars are never named and seldom mentioned in the text. It would be an interesting exercise to follow the routes of some of these long ago motor travels in an appropriate vehicle.

Abraham comes over as an enthusiastic motorist, very much in favour of the open touring car, although he concedes that the saloon has its uses “for town or business work, or for use between hotels”.

Best wishes for 1985 and many thanks for much reading pleasure; long may it continue!

Daventry, Mike Hill

Abraham’s Exploits


I enjoyed the article “The Motor Mountainer”, on the vintage exploits of George Abraham. You have, however, missed out his between the war exploits with Morgan, these being published in The Motor Cycle and Light Car in 1917, and The Motor Cycle in 1926. In the former exploits a Grand Prix Morgan was described as being the first cyclecar to climb Hamster Pass from Buttermere.

In 1926 the beauty of the Lake District in snow was the aim of the exploits, and Abraham suggested “those who come north in winter will find Lakeland amenable to exploration under snowy conditions” — this despite nearly sliding under a Leyland ‘bus.

Fulwood, Jake Alderson

Empty Modern Road


Owen John was not unique in meeting only two cars in 13 miles on his crosscountry route from Newbury, even in 1923, for we had the same experience on Whit Sunday last when on the same road. We too were going cross-country from Burford to Newbury and were amazed at the almost total lack of traffic and the somnolent villages and on the last 13 miles, from Wantage to Newbury, saw only three cars on the road, although there were one or two outside a pub. It was mid-day and our feeling of unreality was compounded by the innkeeper refusing us a bar snack although we were faced by a silent knot of locals with snacks midway to their mouths. B4494 still seems like a dream.

Farnborough, W. A. Emett

V12 Jaguar v V12 Daimler


I am a keen student of zoology and as a consequence of reading Mr D. W. Berry’s letter in the January Motor Sport, I thought it might be interesting to quantify the performance claimed for this seemingly remarkable cat (Jaguar) in its resistance to being dislodged from the fireside by a Double-Six Daimler. Results obtained from experiments of an empirical nature and conducted with my own cat have proved inconclusive so I have turned to the Double-Six 50 engine of 1926 for a bench mark.

Since there are no engine performance details published (gentlemen had no need to concern themselves with such things), it has been necessary to make certain assumptions in respect of mechanical and volumetric efficiencies in order to calculate a mean effective pressure of 793kN/m2 and from which can be derived an estimated brake torque of 360Nm. This torque figure is only 15% less than that of the V12 Jaguar engine mentioned in Mr Berry’s letter. In fairness, however, it must be said that the Daimler engine produces some 50% less power for a 1.8-litre increase in swept volume over the Jaguar unit. Nevertheless, the torque characteristics are wholly analogous (within the respective limits of crankshaft speed) and given equality of other factors, the top gear tractive efforts available (using Jaguar E-Type ratios) are 3471N and 4050N for the Daimler and Jaguar respectively. This gives the Daimler engine a relative efficiency of 86% which is quite extraordinary.

Put another way, top gear climbing ability for the two engines would be of the order of 19% and 22% so that neither would have any problem in the Scottish hills. I submit that despite the heat transfer gradients which characterised the double-sleeve-valve engine and the adiabatic / volumetric conditions flowing therefrom and which always served to restrict specific outputs, the Daimler Double-Six engine was a truly remarkable technical accomplishment which, after almost 60 years and the accelerated development afforded by a World war, still proudly stands comparison with anything produced subsequently. And as for the cat — well, this phenomenal feline, in order to trounce Pomeroy’s masterpiece fitted in a P-Type 13 ft 7 in Wheelbase 2½ ton limousine chassis (the “worst case” Daimler from a performance point of view), would require a drawbar capacity in excess of 7,000 Newtons in order to maintain its tenancy of the hearthrug. Some moggy!!

Swindon, Wilts, Dermot Elworthy

[This letter arises from my query as to whether a modern Jaguar XJ could emulate the 1927 50 hp Daimler Double-Six in climbing Fish Hill out of Broadway in top gear. — Ed]