THE VETERAN C.C. RALLY AND HILL CLIMB AT TILBURSTOW
The Veteran Car Club, under the able guidance of its hon. secretary, Capt. J. H. Wylie, goes about its business so unobtrusively that it is difficult indeed to believe that it has, in actual fact,
208 members who between them own about 140 genuine, pre-1905 cars. It seems to us that owners of veteran cars may be divided into three distinct groups.
In the first place you have those who quite possibly began their motoring in the really early days and who are, at any rate, extremely interested in the historic aspect of the veterans, so that, having dug one up, they delve deeply Into its history, restore it carefully to good order, and take a delight in running it in the Veteran C.C. competitions, not only because they take a pride in the abilities of these old cars, but because they wish to see how it will run against other veterans, the capabilities of which are known to them almost as if the Intervening thirty or so years were but a very few months. Then there is the enthusiast who knows less of history, preferring to run his veteran in the light of modern knowledge, so that its functioning is additionally fascinating and, although he equally restores his car to good and genuine order, more often than not this class of owner will not be adverse to odd spots of bother that teach him more of the game as the pioneers played it and which serve to emphasise the big changes that have been wrought in thirty years of concentrated engineering effort. Indeed, this second class of owner invariably has that lightly philosophical outlook that is delightfully displayed amongst members of the Vintage S.C.C. running younger but equally temperamental veterans.
Now clearly these owners of veteran cars are amply catered for by the annual Rally and Hill Climb at Tilburstow, the rally-section invoking that sense of achievement and adventure or the means of demonstrating a veteran’s muchprized reliability, while the subsequent climb up the legendary gradient of Tilburstow is fine meat for the historian, who can tell us beforehand how the cars will fare on the formula that takes into account weight, horse-power and age. There is a third class of veteran car owner ; he who likes to dress up to play with his possession and whose chief joy is to display the funny aspect of driving an early motor-car, but such people are not enthusiasts within our definition of the term, and happily the Veteran Car Club seems to have avoided them successfully.
Although April 17th dawned wet and cold, the Veterans arrived just the same at the ” Clayton Arms” at Godstone. When we arrived, without incident, in Belmont-Taylor’s 1904 6 h.p. De Dion Bouton from Lewisham, its owner having had to give up his idea of a journey via Eastbourne for business reasons, Capt. Wylie had parked his 1908 Wolseley and gone out to the hill. C. S. Burney had come to officiate and, very sportingly, to sell programmes, in his 4i-litre Bentley,
and opposite the hotel stood an imposing modern Mayback saloon, a rear-engined Mercedes-Benz saloon and the HuttonStott family 21 h.p. Lanchester, amongst other interesting moderns. In the hotel yard one drifted back into the past. G. H. Eyres’s 1902 12 h.p. 4-cylinder Napier had arrived safely and early from Barnsley, Yorks, via Norwich and Eastbourne, as 4 big pennant testified, a distance of 309 miles. It has electric bulbs in its old lamps, safety glass in its high, wood-framed screen, an electric screen wiper, and its control levers looking conspicuously post-1902 in shining
chrome. A. Thomas’s 1904 10 h.p. Wolseley was recognisable by reason of its gilled-tube radiator all round the bonnet, and its front axle would have pleased us immensely if we had seen it when we were small boys, when Meccano never reproduced front axles as we wanted them. It also had ten imposing drip feeds on the dash. P. W. HuttonStott’s 1902 5 h.p. Wolseley had resplendent polished brass lamps, mirror and hood-sticks, and Belmont-Taylor’s De Dion blew into puddles with its vertical, down-pointing exhaust and looked quite dignified in spite of its canvas awning held up by four spidery supports. Things were temporarily enlivened by the intrusion of a lady driving with much effort a modern and very Robert-like Hillman, help naturally being absent until the female element was espied. Capt. Wylie’s Wolseley departed after lunch to the hill, taking with it an A.A. guide, after having stalled very naughtily right outside the yard. It has big brass lamps, an umbrella basket, competition munber plates, a Father Time mascot, and other de luxe fittings, and an imposing chain transmission. S. E. Sears’s 1904 17.9 Clement-Talbot had come from Bolney via Exeter-366 miles at 23.4 m.p.h. and 20 m.p.g., the only incident
being the intrusion of gearbox oil onto the magneto, and a loose wheel. The bodywork is really beautiful and a tribute to Messrs. Catlyns of Haywards Heath, who re-varnished it.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic people present were the Southall brothers, who are slowly re-conditioning their 1912 model three-speed 8 h.p. De Dion two-seater. They came 152i miles from Birmingham, even carrying a spare exhaust valve, but their only trouble was a sheared ignition control pin, replaced in five minutes, though they had run gently into a lorry going up bill.
The marvellous double-shackled front springs were much admired.
Hutton-Stott had come up from Guildford literally non-stop in 1 hours in the ’03 Lanchester Twelve, which stood displaying its beautiful, nimbly tickover, but poor S. R. Southall broke a crankpin on the Lagonda Tricar and did not -arrive, while the Century Tricar came behind a Ford V8 and Wood’s Leon-BolHe in a lorry.
Very imposing was J. M. Turner’s two-cylinder 6 h.p. Panhard, displaying proudly a big array of badges and plaques and a pennant telling of its journey to Godstone from Ealing via York and Leeds, a journey of 450 miles in the forty-eight hours allowed. ” The Nightingale from Ealing” seemed the likely Rally winner.
Major Allen’s Gillett-Forrest had a crude copy of the Wolseley bee-hive radiator and a dumb”iron ” apron that was surely the forerunner of the sort of front-ends we have to tolerate to-day. M. Estler, very solemn, in sou’wester, “lost the engine” of his 1903 Siddeley on entering the drive, and thereafter covered the car with sheets before going in to lunch. H. J. Wellingham’s 1900 44 h.p. De Dion Bouton carried a fair passenger in a forerunner of the “dickey seat,” and the front wheels of G. P. Bermett’s single-cylinder Cadillac shuddered terribly on the tick-over, while R. E. Dennis, asked by an A.A. scout, “Can you reverse?” replied that he didn’t know. His De Dion, another h.p., had resplendent white-painted tyres. Swiney’s well known 1908 15 h.p. Sunbeam, once destined for a stage career, carried two charming passengers in its tonneau, which they shared with the spare fuel and tyres. E. P. Shaw (1902 9 h.p. Beaufort) was a believer in ample weather protection, although his car boasted a hood, and Allday’s 1898 Benz displayed a fine steering lock and had its front axle braced to the infinitely more solid rear axle. Capt. Colver was repairing belts on his Arnold Motor Carriage, which had shed a rear tyre in 152 miles and spent the night at Godstone, and J. K. Moss was applying elastic bands to the contact-breaking mechanism of his 4-f h.p. 1902 Swift De Mon. In contrast, A. Thomas’s two-cylinder 1904 Wolseley started easily on its half-compression and even presented a tonneau door for the lady passenger’s entry. Major Allen’s 5 h.p. 1901 Foster Wagon puffed forth great steam clouds, the onlookers
one and all keeping fearful eyes on tht pressure gauges, but once in motion’s this remarkably interesting car explained very completely the late Rudyard Kipling’s display of affection for the steamer (in his Story “Steam Tact-its “) though he wrote of another make. Out at the hill poor Colver’s Arnold needed a push, and E. A. Marshall peddled most of the way to aid his’
1898 Beeston tricycle. FotheringhamParker had some exciting moments when he vacated his still-moving Century Triear, and H. J. Wellingham climbed nicely, swinging his 1900 De Dion up in a series of figure-eights. C. P. CowperEssex rode the only motorcycle, in the form of a 1901 B-eeston-Humber, which apparently keeps its carburetter in its petrol tank. The whole meeting was a great success, and, although we were under the impression that timed speed events on public roads are illegal, no one objected and two mobile pace rode about on motor-cycles and were most helpful. We missed the Blakes’ G.B. Napier and the Sixty Merced&s, which the R.A.C. had effectively kept Out by restricting
the meeting to cars under 20 h.p., though this seems a curious move to take in respect of cars licensed and insured for road use.
As it was, R. C. Blake came from Winchester on that imposing and mountainous 1899 M.M.C. Daimler. R. 0. J. Nash was missed too. He is recovering from a had attack of ‘flu, but had hoped to get his 1904 12116 h.p. Gladiator down on a lorry.
Rally was won by 3. M. Turner, who travelled 450 miles (Loudon, Leeds, York and back) on an 1899 6 h.p. Panhard.
Second ; S. Wright (1901 5 h.p. Humber) which covered 372 miles.
Third : G. H. Eyre (1902 12 h.p. Napier) driven from Barnsley.
Class 1 (ears up to 1898) : 1, E. L. Wood (1896 Leon Bollee), time 4m 41s.; 2, 0. J. Allday (1898 Benz), 6m. 15s.
Class 2 (1896-1000): 1, R. C. Blake (M.M.C. Daimler), 6m. 35s.; 2, 3. M. Turner (Panhard), 4ial. 5s.
Class 3 (1901-1.902) : 1, G. H. Eyre (Napier), 2m. 47s.; 2, S. Wright (Humber), 4m. 12s.
Class 4 (1903-1904) : 1, S. E. Sears (17.9 h.p. Clement Talbot), 2m. 5s. ; 2, R. E. Dennis (41 h.p. Dennis with De Dion-Bouton engine), Sin. 21s.
Best time of the day : S. E. Sears (Clement Talbot), 2m 5s.
Length of timed section, 1,100 yards.