Miscellany, March 1999

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Trevor Picken, Author of the award-winning book on Hampton cars, who was awarded the SAHC Cugnot Award at Hershey last year, has been able to save from a Cheltenham breakers yard the engine of a 1924 10hp Hampton open tourer, supplied when new to a Mr W T Baggs of Cheltenham.

The MCC’s Exeter Trial on January 8/9 had a total entry of 315 and took in such famous hills as Gatcombe Lane, Waterloo, Stretes, Fingle Bridge and Simms. So, as it has since first held in 1910, it continues to give enjoyment to thousands, including the onlookers. The results list is too long to publish but will appear in the Club journal Triple, edited by Tom Threlfall. The equally famous Land’s End Trial will take place on April 2/3. The 78th such event, the first having taken place in 1908, it will embrace such observed sections as Sugg Lane, Beggars Roost, and Bluehills Mines, finishing at Penzance. Entries have closed but should add up to the usual impressive numbers.

I read somewhere that Tom Sheppard, the 4×4 expert, does not care for fluid couplings on such vehicles, calling them “pots of syrup”. Lovely description, Tom. However I feel obliged to say that although when I first got up to 70 or 80 on a motorway in a new Ford Sierra 4×4 I did wonder what would happen should the transmission chain break, and I expected the fluid drives to expire or leak in due course. Not so! I have since gone masses of miles in many Sierras of this tractable kind, from vee-six to ohc four, the last one used for well over 90,000 miles, and nothing whatsoever has collapsed or given any trouble in the transmission department. So surely a bit of praise is due to Harry Ferguson and Tony Rolt for the development work?

As an ‘octogenerian’ who finds driving easier than walking, I suppose I should have whooped for joy, instead of wondering how to spell Alzheimer’s, when I heard that a school of engineering, funded by the IME, is doing a yearlong design study to make cars meet the needs of older drivers. 70 year-old Stirling Moss has launched this research study. One aspect to be looked at is of access; if you can’t get in to the thing, you can’t drive it. But power steering, light clutch and brakes and so on have already been with us for about as long as it takes for a middle-ager to become an octo…

Contrary to the caption in the January issue of MS, not all Speed Model 3-litre Bentleys, as I well know, had the ugly radiator shell depicted. This was used only for the so-called 100mph 3-litre.