The Edwardian in war-time
QUITE one of the most worrying motoring problems since September 2nd, 1939, has been that of first of all making each coupon go as far as possible and then of deciding how best the maximum of enjoyment is to be had during the period in which the car could be motored. That problem is as pressing as ever. Many people, all credit to them, run fast sports cars just as they used to do, forgetting war worries while the pool lasts, but pining all the more when the last “ticket” has been handed in and this altogether desirable driving-enjoyment is finished until the next month. Obsessed with the intention of enjoying continuous motoring at all costs, other enthusiasts use only the most economic of little glass-windowed boxes, in which they motor quite nice mileages, but usually at a loss to discover the “enjoyment” factor. What is the solution to this unhappy situation? There would seem to be two. One is to join the R.A.F. and use unlimited petrol in what one of the aviation weeklies has so horribly described as a “chariot of the glamour boys” (viz., a fighter aeroplane). The other is to discover, restore, tax and claim your ration on an Edwardian motor vehicle. Not one of those historic vehicles for which the Veteran C.C. so ably cares, and which are now mostly, stored in safe-looking places, but a more practical, younger specimen of the pre-1914 breed, such as assembled at Edwardian meets of the Vintage S.C.C. before this war. Long before Cecil Clutton issued his appeal, in 1937, to owners of pre-1914 cars to support the Vintage S.C.C. and enter for forthcoming veteran events, early cars were out and about.
For years after the last war letter-writers to the motoring Press—usually owners of cars of the Renault, de Dion, Rover and Swift variety—extolled the virtues of ancients still in everyday service. Doubtless such persons had never driven a modern vehicle and were blind to the greater convenience of such cars, but their claims of dependability, long service and economy were usually very favourable to the veterans. Nor were these cars confined to serving on farms or carrying some small trader’s chattels about the place.
We seem to recall a 1912 Fiat in fairly recent M.C.C. trials and a pre-1914 Crossley in one of the R.A.C. rallies, in neither case with laughable results. The now famous Lorraine-Dietrich “Vieux Charles Trois” was valued shortly after its Brooklands career had ended at £5 and might well have competed with the moderns in the unlimited class at Brighton had not Dick Nash forestalled the writer in obtaining ownership. About that time Kent Karslake was writing-up various exciting veterans in MOTOR SPORT, which were afterwards to compete in the formula class at Vintage S.C.C. speed events. The Renault which Anthony Mills ran had already taken Marcus Chambers and the writer to Shelsley and back and had opened a Chalfont hill-climb. A Kent newspaper had organised two well supported veteran runs, and journeys of some magnitude incidental to these runs had been made both by Edwardians and by some of the pre-1905 cars. Col. Clutton used his 1909 16-h.p. Fafnir regularly, and when Cecil Clutton decided that rallies and similar events must be put on to encourage the more touring Edwardians the response was excellent. Hampton’s 1913 Bugatti, Mills’s 1911 8 h.p. Renault, the Fafnir, Timmis’s 1910 Mercedes, the 1906 Daimler, Caesar’s 1913 Belsize, Shakespeare’s Enfield-Alldays, Worthington’s 1903 Martini and others competed with every success. In the 12-hour Welsh Rally of 1938 the veterans covered an aggregate mileage of over 3,500 without suffering any severe troubles. Is there not, then, a strong case for ownership of an Edwardian these hard times, when normal motoring fun is either sadly curtailed or non-existent, according to what it used to comprise for you? The car could be used either seriously or as supplementary to the existing car. It would give greater driving amusement per duration of coupon than any other class of car. It would, too, possess an appeal all its own, both by reason of its unusualness and its interesting mechanical and handling features. To find a good example of low horse-power, in running condition, would certainly be an exacting undertaking, but not an impossible one. Fuel consumption should be reasonable, quite apart from the hours-of-operation over number-of-coupons calculation. Actually, perusal of a bound volume of “The Motor” for 1904 indicates that early 6/8 h.p. cars, such as the single-cylinder de Dions and two-cylinder Renaults, should do about 33 m.p.g. Granted the modern “Eight” does 35/40 m.p.g., but on the aforementioned basis the veteran scores over the modern every time, thus:
C x M
where C = coupons per month,
M = m.p.g.,
m =average m.p.h.,
and H = hours of operation.
Taking m as 30 m.p.h. for a modern “Eight” and 20 m.p.h. (optimistic) for the veteran, H becomes, respectively, 6.6 hours and 8.25 hours, or an extra afternoon’s motoring per month.
That the reliability of the better Edwardian, particularly over an annual mileage of under 2,000, need not be questioned the foregoing should have proved. We are rather surprised that Clutton has not publicly stated the wartime case for Edwardian ownership. Perhaps even his ardour is now damped. At least let us, in putting forward this argument in favour of the veteran as a means of achieving motoring relaxation under present-time limitations, quote his editorial from the Vintage S.C.C. “Bulletin” of May, 1939, first remarking that the 1911 9-litre Daimler. Heal’s 1910 10-litre Fiat, a pre-1914 Renault, the Sixty Itala and the Hutton -Stott Lanchester have all been out since the war began.
“The Edwardian touring car, at its best, is a beautifully calculated and executed entity—smooth and effortless in performance for a sympathetic driver, or a clanking bag of nails for in the hands of an ordinary butcher. The slow-turning low-compression engine, aided by a meticulously hand-finished gearbox, does its work in a spacious way that no modern manufacturer could afford to emulate. Road-holding, steering and cornering, too, are altogether outstanding on the pre-1914 cars. . . . In short, to any-one to whom motoring is something more than a matter of sheer speed, Edwardian touring cars can give a fund of pleasure that is not to be had by any other means.”