V - to - C Miscellany, March 1997

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A reader is appealing for spares for a 1924 four-cylinder HE (Reg No XT 6259) which he has been meticulously rebuilding. He tried to buy the car over twenty years ago but was out-bid by £50 for the incomplete remains. He had to wait until 1995 to realise his ambition, for a considerably higher price. The HE was still totally unrestored but had been carefully garaged. Originally it had had the typical three-seater “clog” body. After a major accident in 1927 (or ’28) the Caversham works put on a four-seater sports-tourer replacement, which was still on the chassis but in very poor condition. Also, the engine had been changed for a 14/6 Vauxhall power unit when the original HE engine blew up in 1936. This compounded the original lack of brakes, and the car was soon laid up.

Restoration is proceeding, and it is hoped to have this rare vintage car back on its wheels later this year. A “spares amnesty” has ensured that instead of being scrapped, HE bits and pieces have been sent in from Sussex, Essex, and Wales. And Jenks found a gear-gate. Many parts have had to be manufactured but the aim is to use original ones where possible. To this end the engine from the late Alan Southon’s HE only five numbers earlier than the original will be used, although it lacks cylinder head and block and many small components. At least six four-cylinder HEs survive, and if any others surface or parts are available, letters can be forwarded.

I have long thought that time is more stretchable for some than for others, and as an aside, this rebuilder of the 1924 HE has also built a full-size 3 1/2-ton replica of the narrow-gauge Heywood tank locomotive “Katie”, which worked the Eaton Hill Estate Railway 100 years ago. It took five years to complete. As Paul Stillman, who belies his name, says, “every garden should have one!” So the HE is in competent hands; anyone who can build such a fine replica must be a capable engineer.

Following its successful 1996 National Rally, the STD Register has announced that this year’s event will be held on June 28/29. The video of last year’s rally is available from J Butler, c/o the Register. Its newsletter for January had a clever ‘goodbye’ piece by Stephen Lally about the demolition of the Talbot works at Ladbroke Grove, the first UK purpose-built car factory. Interest was all for the new Rootes housing estate on this rather historic 1904 Site rather than for memories of the Grade II building it had destroyed. However, the dignitaries arrived at the opening of the new estate in two Roesch Talbots and Lally went in his 18/55 Talbot. The handout had got itself into a muddle, saying that a Talbot was the first car to run at 100mph, instead of doing 100 miles in one hour, in 1913.

The Rover Eight Register is being updated and knows of some 20 Eights worldwide that are Probably capable of running. But one is missing! It Is the only one of two of the very rare fixed-head coupes on the flat-twin chassis. I owned one for a Short time and It is now in the Gaydon Collection. The missing coupe is DL 3233, first registered in July 1923. It had the later 100mm-stroke engine, to give a power increase over that of the earlier 88mm engine, as the capacity was thus increased from 998 to 1135cc.

Recognition features would be a dashboard oil gauge and the smaller 26 x 3 wheels and tyres. This distinctive Rover Eight was thought to have been sold from the Sword Collection in Scotland in about 1961/62. It apparently went to Darlington and was given adaptors to take well-base wheels. Len Barber had it in 1972/73 and sold it at Sotheby’s Donington Auction in 1976/77 for about £2000.

The trail then grows cold, although the Rover may have gone into a Liverpool dealer’s hands in 1983, is thought to have been spotted at Manchester’s Classic Car Show and was possibly sold at the 1983 Beaulieu Auction. No definite sighting has been made since 1976/77 when the car was in immaculate condition very original although its b e wheels were incorrect. It must exist somewhere, surely? Can MOTOR SPORT direct the Register in the right direction?

If so, contact Kent Robinson (01256 763285) who, besides his interest in the little Rovers, has obtained a straight-eight Lanchester to keep his 3litre twin-cam Sunbeam company.

Judging by the excellent colour pictures on the hand-outs, there should be a good deal of interest when the London-Sydney Motor Challenge begins in 1998. Entries, limited to 75, are now being accepted: contact Peter Browning or Philip Young at the Classic Rally Association, on 01235 851291 or fax 01235 851292. WB