Club news, May 1942

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We hear….

Breen is gradually rebuilding his 3-litre “Red Label” Bentley into a very presentable property indeed. It has a decked 2-seater boat-tail body, in yellow, with touring-type wings, lout it is shortly to be sprayed black; the wheels were off for restoving when we saw it. The carburetters will be replaced by two late-type Zeniths on a 4 1/2-litre manifold to obviate built-in throttles. The whole chassis is in excellent nick and the car did its 82 m.p.h. before it was stripped. Breen’s partner is also on a spot of rebuilding, involving a Fifth Series Lancia “Lambda” tourer. He has got over the disadvantage or the forwardy placed windscreen peculiar to this model and the steering column now telescopes to give easy entry and exit to the driving seat. This firm it is which has the chassis of the “Razor blade” Aston-Martin, which would change hands at around £50. They also have a really beautiful flat-radiator yellow 7 1/2-litre Mercédès tourer with practically new tyres, which they brought, up from Ross-on-Wye, with diver’s adventures, a few years ago. There is a complete spare chassis, too, identical with this car. They have taken over all the “Lambda” Lancia spares from Lancia (England). Ltd., and can supply both new and second-hand parts. K.N. Hutchison is fitting a gas-producer to one of his cars, and there is interest in this sort of thing generally. A 1928-type “12 50” Alvis tourer is reported in fair order, for sale at about £10, at a breaker’s at Barnby Moor on the Great North Road, and a 2-litre Marendaz “Special” was destined to be broken up at a scrap dealers, at Wombwell, Yorks.

The “Scuderia Chemvamo” has acquired a 1913 Studebaker drop-head coupé which has been carefully stowed since about 1915, the total mileage being in the neighbourhood of 1,000. They have also taken over Neve’s G.N. “Special” with two dirt-track Douglas engines, the Morgan front suspension of which is reputed to have pre-dated the Freikaiserwagen. MacLagen got it home during 72 hours’ leave, the 90-mile journey being accomplisheol with a Scammell eight-wheeled 15-tonner, which reminds us that Lowrey has a dirt-track Douglas engine and talks of mating it with an Austin Seven chassis for class I. A nicely preserved V-radiator Crossley tourer has been seen in action in Surrey. Peter Aitken’s Alfa-Aitken was spotted at Sandford’s Garage at Leatherhead recently, still bearing racing numbers. It has, of course, a 2.9-litre Alfa-Romeo engine from the “Bimotore” Alfa-Romeo. The gearbox is a self-change Wilson, controlled by a tiny left-hand lever via Teleflex control, the pedals are widely spaced, the Alfa twin rev.-counters are evident and the little aero screen is a beautifully executed piece of work. Front independent suspension appears too be from the “Bimotore” and flat massive 1/4-elliptic springs are used at the back.

Wike, busy in the R.A.F., mentions that there is a 16-valve “Fronty” Ford in Preston, which has shaft-driven o.h. camshaft and a ”Speedway” cylinder head. It is said to have been timed by “Ebby” at 120 m.p.h. for a flying, half mile, at Blackpool in 1922, driven by Ewart Bradshaw. The final drive is around 2.5 to 1. Wike throws more light on the H.R.G. engine/road-speed controversy by saying that the final drive ratio of his car appears to be non-standard, at 4.0 to 1. He fully endorses Sam Clutton’s praise of the “Twenty” Rolls and reminds us that Manchester has a taxi fleet of them – there were several also in Edinburgh. Capt. Leslie Seyd, whose “Cars I Have Owned” article appeared in the March issue, just missed buying one of the 1,100-c.c. Le Mans Chenard-Walkers from a French solicitor as a result of the war. Lacy and Ogle have, between them, acquired the two F.W.D. Alvis unsupercharged fabric 2-seaters and the load of spares mentioned last month.

There is a 1903 5-h.p. De Dion at a Shoreham garage, but it is not for sale. An alloy cylinder head, a set of Telecontrols and a large-dial rev.-counter with fittings, for “souping-up” a Hudson Eight, are offered by friend Biggs (16, Fyfield Road, Enfield) at £15, or he would sell separately. Harold Pratley, who works on Napier “Sabres” these days, has bought the ex-McCalla 1921 2-litre supercharged G.P. Sunbeam engine unit from Stanley Martin and is hoping it will survive the crossing from Ireland. F.O. Scafe, who wrote on streamlined body work last month, acquired Mrs. Cowell’s Meadows Frazer-Nash at the end of March. He tells us that the streamlined closed V12 Lagonda is at his aerodrome and that Fane’s “328” B.M.W. is a frequent visitor. Peter Clark has sold a Gwynne Eight engine to Fisher, the F.W.D. Tracta exponent, who is converting, it to run on paraffin, as a stationary engine; incidentally, the Editor wants to know if his is the only Gwynne Eight still licensed. A supercharged Atalanta is in use by an Army officer in the Aldershot district; it has a two-valve-per-cylinder engine, with an Arnott supercharger at the side of the engine and permanently engaged. Cyril Peacock’s old Clyno is still giving yeoman service, but he expects to lay it up at the end of June. He thinks he is on the track of another 4-seater Gwynne Eight, like the one he sold to Boddy at the beginning of the war. Incidentally, a letter from Mr. Neville G. Gwynne confirms that the original Gwynne was designed by a Frenchman in Spain. This car was bought by the Chiswick company and largely redesigned, Mr. Gwynne attributes its failure to the 3-seater clover-leaf body, which was too small for public requirements at that time. What appears to be one of the very rare original “10/30” Alvis 2-seaters, rough but in running order, is for sale for £2 in North Wales, and the latest batch of veterans to come up consist of a 1904-5 Rover 8 h.p. in pieces, but with all parts in good order; a very fine 1912 Rolls Royce “Silver Ghost”; and a sound Unic taxi of 1912 vintage. Pollack, who is with A.T.A., has sold his E.R.A., we believe to Robert Arbuthnot, and Amherst Villiers is tuning his Opel “Cadet.” We very much regret to record the death, in a flying accident, of A.T.A. Pilot Bury. He used to drive a Frazer-Nash in trials and was using a very attractive Type 327 B.M.W fixed head coupé. A 1908 single-cylinder Renault is reported to be still running in Bournemouth, and a reader is trying to trace a 16-h.p. chain-drive Napier which he last saw three years ago, when it would still do 60 m.p.h. Grosscurth has unearthed another side-valve Aston-Martin, with clover-leaf body, having only recently bought one of these cars in London, and Ellis is all ready to take over Johnson Fergusson’s car. A friend of Jesty’s is selling his 4-seater Lancia “Lambda” for £20, or £15 without batteries, as no one seems to want to give him any petrol for it, and there is a Type 40 Bugatti for disposal in Torquay, with good tyres, for £25-£30. Will Parnell buy the “Taso” Maserati, we wonder? Powys-Lybbe is due to return to this country soon, from Ireland, and expects to be stationed at a famous Staff College. Nigel Orlebar is toying with the idea of racing on “one-model” lines at a number of C.A.P.A. type circuits after the war, probably with Ford Ten-engined Austin Sevens.

Civil Defense rally

At the beginning of the war we suggested inter-Service and A.R.P. motoring contests, but we were thinking of events in which drivers represented their Service or organisation driving their own cars. Recently a big Rally for Civil Defence drivers took place at the White City Stadium, but they competed in a series of driving-skill tests, using Civil Defence official vehicles. We should say that the tests, which were for the most part taken carefully to avoid undue tyre wear, were good fun and proved that amongst picked personnel there are some very skilful drivers. When we volunteered for national service at the beginning of the war some drivers were enrolled who did not even hold a driving licence and who seemed to regard a family “Fourteen” as a piece of brittle glass…. Curiously enough, no one seems to have troubled to work out this rally in terms of seamen’s lives. Why not repeat the scheme for provincial posts?

750 Club

In very pleasant weather conditions the 750 Club, by dint of hard work on the part of its ever-cheery secretary, S.H. Capon, was “At Home” to fanatics at the “Osterley” on April 12th. So many attended that it is difficult to draw up a list without many omissions, and certainly a grand time was had by all. In the first place, Harmer brought the very beautifully turned out, dark blue, straight eight ex-Shapley G.P. Bugatti on a rope behind a Vauxhall saloon and actually ran it up for a few delirious moments – the earsplitting note of the unsilenced exhaust was heady music to enthusiasts after 2 1/2 barren years and rather made one overlook the wisdom of the observation that there is a time and a place for everything. Biggs had some genuine German Auto-Union and Mercédès-Benz model cars with him, perfectly proportioned, of the 1934-5 racing cars, open and closed, while T.W. Gillard had patiently embellished one of the Scale Model Altas, even to instruments on the dash – he would be glad of more of these models to treat if anyone can oblige (56, Bushmead Avenue, Bedford). Gordon Woods had brought his newly acquired Gough-engined ex-Mrs. Needham Frazer-Nash, and Martin Wells was there in his B.M.W. Cecil Clutton arrived per 1927 o.h.c. Velocette motor-cycle, and Jenkins on a Matchless “Silver Hawk,” and an Excelsior “Manxman” was also present. A short-chassis Lancia “Lambda” from Cambridge and Merten’s rugged 4 1/2-litre Bentley represented the “vintage,” and a Morgan “4/4” and Symonds’s blown “works” trials Austin Seven, with water-piping lagged round its inlet manifold, the more potent moderns. Standard, 1 1/2-litre M.G. and “Ruby” Austin Seven saloons brought clean and decently attired members and enthusiasts like Birkett, and Mallock, Quiggan and Frost came in sports Austin Sevens. Lowrey had come 25 miles or so, three up, in his 1928 Aero Morgan, and Austin “Nippy,” Ford Ten, Fiat “500” and the D.K.W. of Bunny Tubbs were all represented. There was also a Marendaz “Special,” with its name prominent on a box over the cylinder block and much aluminium paint beneath; Ward’s potent lowered Riley Nine; and P/O. Williams’s M.G. 2-seater. It was good to see the Grenfells present, with a Riley Nine saloon, and Nigel Orlebar; Stuart Wilton, anxious to acquire Alvis data, although arriving in his Lancia “Agusta”; Anthony Heal, John Jesty and Rivers-Fletcher were all in earnest conversation over matters motoring. Ian Metcalfe could not turn up in his Mercédès tourer, which, by the way, is not a 1 1/2-litre after all and seems to have a permanently engaged “puffer.” Altogether, an invaluable break. After lunch Chairman Ballamy showed some quite interesting films. Hon. Sec., S.H. Capon, 159, Upper Tulse Hill, S.W.

General notes

After a most satisfying day motoring from Hampshire into Sussex via Surrey and back again ere night fell in a very nice specimen of a two-lunger Aero Morgan, dealt with elsewhere in this issue by a more able pen than mine, one or two official journeys were satisfactorily completed, per Gwynne, and then we went over the same route again, this time on an “1,100” H.R.G. After unsuccessful attempts to start a reluctant Wolseley Hornet “Special” coupé, we got away reasonably early and motored, not slowly, through some very pleasant country to an old farmhouse in whose garage a Meadows Frazer-Nash had reposed for its last night in this locality. Its owner roused, it soon came to life and preceded us up the London road, exhaust note healthy, the faint hum of chains audible, save when the “Herg” put out its own battle-cry when accelerating on the indirects. We stopped at a filling station, when so much “basic” went in that you could almost see its level at the bottom of the tank(!), and here a change of drivers took place. From the passenger’s seat the ‘Nash felt very good indeed, doing its 60 m.p.h. and more with unexpected absence of noise and obviously easily, the acceleration enlivening on the indirects, the front-end typically solid and the whole car riding beautifully. Another change of drivers and we came out on to the arterial stretch by Box Hill, where, the road quite deserted, the two cars ran neck-and-neck at 70 m.p.h., the Frazer-Nash at considerably lower engine r.p.m. than the H.R.G. (the maximum at any time, on the gears, was about 3,300 r.p.m.), and hiking parties on the footpaths beyond the cycle tracks going all happy at the spectacle. A brief pause to admire the Alfa-Aitken at Leatherhead, to the evident wrath of Sandford’s foreman, and we took a cross-country route to Staines, to lunch at an hotel overlooking the river. Thereafter the new owner came and gleefully took the Frazer-Nash away and, to spare the late owner’s feelings, we took her rapidly home in the H.R.G., now four up. A spot of “no-charge” trouble made a veteran hunt on the coast inadvisable, yet the warm sunshine and Sussex countryside forbade too early a return to base. So, a local newspaper in hand, we pottered about seeking early tricycle machinery, going back truly rapidly after tea – the H.R.G.’s average was satisfying close to the restrained maximum indulged in, for its owner is no mean corner-artist. The following week-end saw us sitting on a suitcase in the back of a 3-litre Bentley bound for London, an eminently satisfying way of travelling, even when the maximum seldom exceeds 55 m.p.h., or 2,500 r.p.m., to conserve the fuel. A most conventional week-end, complete even to a short town drive in a “Ruby” Austin Seven saloon, found us restless, and on Easter Monday, around mid-day, an outlet had to be sought. A 1925 short-chassis Jowett 2-seater, all fairly legal, with good battery, fairish tyres of a size that would suit another car and a spare back axle in the dickey, being offered to us for 60/-, we bought it and proceeded to go home in it. At first steering and brakes seemed fearful and the gale made road-holding precarious; but it was not long before we learnt to let the wheel play through the fingers to allow for the effect of front spring fluctuations on the transverse steering drag-link and to treat the contracting rear foot brake with the respect it deserved, grabbing the righ-hand handle brake whenever an emergency seemed about to develop. Then the beauty of the thing became apparent. You tock-tocked along at 35 m.p.h. or so, most comfortably seated, a stubby right-hand gear lever, absolutely asking to be used, controlling a rapid gear change. Visibility was immense, both forward and sideways, and the engine, which really made very little noise, pulled down to astoundingly low speeds on the highest ratio. The 5.00″ x 19″ rear tyres worried bad surfaces, the dynamo put out a truly prodigious charge in spite of a brightly glowing ignition lamp, the Talbot oil gauge showed a steady 10 lb./sq in., which later built up to an equally steady 20 lb./sq. in., and a little experimentation showed that both dash lamps, the separate blackedout sidelamps and the “real” Bosch horn all functioned nicely. The speedometer did not, but then perhaps it had been round too many times. The screen was safety glass, the hood stood up to the wind and we have known many fiercer clutches, although this one was reputed to be packed with brown paper in place of the usual asbestos string, and the pedal-travel was truly “Austin Seven.” Thus, as we progressed along the North Circular, past a great variety of police vehicles, cross-country to the Staines Extension of the Great West Road and through that town, by whose bridge the early light-cars and cycle-cars used to start on the “Exeter” many winters ago, we came to regard this new possession not as a comic but as very decent transportation. The engine, although misfiring occasionally or even going on to one cylinder for some yards, due, one suspected, to dirt in the fuel system (albeit the long inlet pipe is entirely unheated, the central water pipe from the radiator header tank being blanked off), did not cease to run until we were back in the home village, respectably early in the afternoon and on not too desperate an expenditure of petrol. So much faith had we by now in the Jowett that we promptly went out to tea, nearly to Basingstoke, with two more persons on the front seat. During the week the car did a local evening journey and the next Saturday took us out to lunch and was weighed at the local gasworks for 6d. (10 cwt. 3 qr. unladen), after which it went over our measured stretch (which we had last seen from the confined rear seat of an S.S.L) at roughly 38-39 m.p.h. Pre-ignition certainly called for a brief halt thereafter, but it was not long ere we turned left just past “The Phoenix” and proceeded along that road up which we once had a glorious run in the “Sixty” Itala, to seek elusive veterans, a three-cylinder Swift and V-twin Hillman “Dobbin” rumoured to be amongst them, at Odiham. Alas! we were too late to save them, so on to Basingstoke for a business call, thence to Mortimer, where General Lambton’s butler showed us “Master Charles’s” quite perfect Type 37 Grand Prix Bugatti, and on to Theale, where Hanks showed us his beautifully preserved Type 40 Jarvis-bodied Bugatti and a 4 1/2-litre open 4-seater Bentley, to which he has made several modifications for its owner, a keen Officer of Health – this is said to be a really fast “4 1/2” and it has a folding rear screen, apparently because fellow Officers of Health feel the draught when diced about the country in it. Off again to hunt an early racing Darracq in attractive riverside Pangbourne (equally elusive) ere we charged home via Reading and Camberley, with complete success. Some 70 miles motoring and the entire basic ration for April handed to and astonished garage man in the course of it….

However, this excellent and restful progression was to come to a halt, which it did on the way to the 750 Club gathering the very next day, after we had tried to bring the velocity of the Jowett down to that of a horse and trap which we encountered on what was once a main road teeming with motor traffic. The journey was precariously finished on the tail of the afore-mentioned Morgan, which got along at a steady 40 m.p.h. and was equally steady directionally, in spite of the abnormal load. The other member of the crew, braver than the writer, although in “civvies,” came on by “rule-of-thumb,” and after the meeting someone kindly gave us a lift into the Metropolis in a 1 1/2-llitre M.G. saloon, and the faithful, if overworked, four-speed Austin Seven 2-seater was got out and hurried westwards, to tow the Jowett in. A replacement coil was hung on and a few moments’ running resulted, then all was silence. Dusk came down and she was pushed into her bay. But somehow, if a more modern coil will restore her to life, I do not think this remarkable small car will go off the road at any rate until the end of June – so seldom do you get something of an Edwardian’s characteristics allied to such reliability(?), convenience and economy. Nice work, Bradford!