VSCC Driving Tests

Having held driving-tests at Enstone in December, the Vintage Sports Car Club decided it would like some more in January. It held them at Barton Stacey Camp near Andover. Notwithstanding the weather, 74 entries came in, number one rightly being given to Tanner’s impressive 1902 9 1/4-litre racing Mors, although it was a long way from Paris or Vienna. Alas, it retired.

Setting off to watch, we were cheered by the sight of an A7 Chummy outside a house in Kingston, but dismayed to pass Birrane’s 3-litre Bentley, bonnet up, beside the M3. He was to have shared it with VSCC President Roger Collings, who instead had to take part in Hamish Monro’s splendid Bentley of the same year and size.

The Singer contingent was out in force, lining up Cornelius’ disc-wheeled Junior tourer, Wright’s 1937 Le Mans, and Bird’s Le Mans Replica AVC 482, the ex-Sammy Davis car crashed in the TT.

David Marsh had brought a “cranker-upper” for his Brescia Bugatti. Smith’s Riley Lynx with crash gearbox (not that he did!) had interesting additional controls in the cockpit, and Allday’s smart Lynn had the possible advantage of a self-change gearbox, but perhaps its smoking-habit had made it rather sedate. Davies’ fabric-bodied 12/50 Alvis got lost in the opening test, Howard drove an original-looking M-type MG, Thomas was going fast in his Marshall blown PA MG, and Bevington was out in the 1930 M-type MG (now with four-speed gearbox), which has small wheels and a slightly-modified tail, a legacy of an inversion in it when he was younger!

Barry Clarke was in his Ruby-powered Frazer Nash-GN, and Riddle in his GN, with the all-push-rod vee-twin engine. Biro had a 1926 Austin 12/4 tourer whose running-boards were used for carrying a fire-extinguisher, a Pratts petrol tin, a tool box and foot-scrapers. Large Edwardians were represented by Bruce Dowell’s 1918 Sunbeam cabriolet, in original paint and Raahauge’s fine 1915 5300cc Buick.

Beckett had the ex-George Gahagan Ulster A7 with ingenious external exhaust system. A recalcitrant magneto was being fixed on Miss Threlfall’s Frazer Nash while dad was in his Ford Tudor and mum in the BSA, whose 80mph speedometer must please rubber-necking small boys.

Type 44 Bugatti, twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam, and SS100 were there, but only one 30/98 — they find DTs beneath their dignity, perhaps? There was even a 13/70 Marendaz Special, and Garfitt was going well as usual in his Frazer Nash-BMW. Jane Tomlinson drove Clarke’s stark 1914 Singer Ten racer.

It was nice to meet Tim Carson, VSCC President Emeritus, and ex-Secretary Peter Hull at this most suitable DT venue. WB