Letters from Readers


Indirectly through correspondence in Motor Sport I got a 1931 Straight Eight Lanchester sports saloon (chassis No. 8089) last autumn (in case I should never see again the Sedanca I lent to the Ministry of Aircraft Production for the duration 18 months ago). I licensed it for March and my wife and I used the month's basic on a couple of drives in one week. The car is kept at the garage of a private house in Bournemouth, and when I took it out I found that neither speedometer nor fuel gauge was working. Experience of the former model, however, enabled me to form a fairly accurate idea of the performance.

The car had been got ready for the road for me (but no overhauling done whatever) and I started up at once. After warming up the tick-over was perfect; one could hear – if near enough to hear it at all – each cylinder firing. The general feel – engine, gearbox, steering, suspension, etc. – was exactly like the other one. Owing, however, to less weighty coachwork the acceleration and the pick-up on top from low speeds were slightly better. There was an engine period between, I should guess, 45 and 55 m.p.h., but I think it was only a matter of adjusting the crankshaft vibration damper. In spite of its having been laid up for five months and only run, I believe, a few miles in the last two years, all the controls were in good order, except for the accelerator sticking most embarrassingly at times – oil and use were all that were needed – and the self-starter once. Steering, braking (servo assisted) and road-holding were all excellent, and a most comfortable ride was had.

I must confess that after two years of I.h. synchro-mesh it took a little time to get into the ways of the uncompromising sliding box with its short, rigid right-hand lever, beloved of my heart.

Some of your readers will know the steep climb up on to the Purbeck Hills from Creech Grange, near Wareham – this she did comfortably on third gear.

There is no doubt that the feel of a big, comparatively slow-revving engine of this class has a fascination that nothing else can give. This 11-year-old car combines the qualities Mr. Cecil Clutton describes in his article on a 20-h.p. Rolls Royce with a very satisfactory performance.

Starting with 9 1/2 gallons and doing about 127 miles (according to map) she had an unknown quantity of petrol still in the tank!

I am, Yours etc.,

W. Stuart Best.




The March issue of Motor Sport was a great thrill for me. First, there was Clutton's article on "Racing Car Evolution 1895-1908," in my opinion the most romantic and absorbing period of all. Perhaps Mr. Clutton could be prevailed upon to write articles on some of the individual cars of the period up to 1908. There are, for example, in this country a 1903 60-h.p. Mercédès, 1903 55-h.p. Gordon Bennett Napier, 1904 40-h.p. Mercédès, 1905 T.T. Rolls Royce and 1907 45-h.p. Renault, not to mention a whole host of lesser types, that used to take part with some success in various motor sporting events, such as the speed trials, hill climbs, trials, etc., of that period. Most of these cars are in the hands of members of the Veteran Car Club and are in first-class running order. Secondly, "The Register of the Unique," which should play its part in saving many a genuine antique. Thirdly, the article on the 1910 Vintage Bollee. There must be many more pre-1914 cars that deserve writing about.

At the risk of being heavily "sat upon," I must say I find these veteran and vintage cars so much more interesting than the "merely out-of-date" models so often written about.

I think the car mentioned in Capt. Roy Taylor's "Cars I Have Owned" article, and commented upon by the Editor, will be a Violet-Bogey, not Violet-Bourget or Violette. Three of these cars were entered for the French Cycle-car Grand Prix, run on July 13th, 1913. They were driven respectively by Violet, Pouliez and Antony. Violet led for six laps and eventually finished third, but was disqualified because one of his mudguards came adrift; the car driven by Pouliez finished seventh, and Antony's crashed, due to a failure of the steering gear. These little French cars were said to he capable of over 70 m.p.h., they had twin vertical water-cooled engines (73-mm. bore x 130-mm. stroke – 1,088 c.c., which developed 22 b.h.p. at 2.400 r.p.m.), pressure lubrication, U.H. Gobbi carburetters and friction transmission with single-chain final drive. Thirty-eight light cars and three-wheelers were entered for the race, England, France and Germany being represented. England by Morgan, G.N., Duo, D.E.W., Marlborough, B.S.A., Zenith and Clyno. W.G. McMinnies, in a Morgan, finished first at an average speed of 42 m.p.h.; second was M. Bourbeau in a Bedelia.

Does any Motor Sport reader know what has happened to Tommy Hann's 1911 25-h.p. Lanchester "Hoich-Wayaryeh-Gointoo"? It had a so-called streamline single-seater saloon body and was raced at Brooklands about 1920-21; it was the precursor of "Softly-Catch-Monkey I."

My heartiest congratulations on so successfully keeping Motor Sport going.

I am, Yours etc.,

F.W. Hutton-Stott, Junior.

Donnington Hurst, Newbury.

[We hope to include future articles in the "Veteran Types" series at not too infrequent intervals. The 1903 "Sixty" Mercédès has already been dealt with and Mills's 1907 42-h.p. Renault "Agatha'' has been fairly fully written-up in Motor Sport. And I wrote-up the G.B. Napier in "Brooklands – Track and Air" some eight years ago. Certainly, there is nothing like the pre-1914 cars. The Lanchester "Hoich-Wayaryeh-Gointoo" was actually a tandem 2-seater saloon raced by Hann around 1921-22. It was then converted into the open single-seater " Softly-Catch-Monkey I," which was overturned and set on fire in connection with some filming which happened at Brooklands some time after the car was last raced in 1924. – Ed.]



Congratulations on another excellent issue of Motor Sport and particularly on getting it out by the 3rd of the month. A grand effort, but I can't recall a single issue in the last five years appearing actually on its declared publication date, and if I ever come down on the 1st of the month and find Motor Sport awaiting me I think I shall drop down dead.

F/O. Scafe's article on streamlined bodywork was most interesting, and I agree with his conclusion that after the war most of our fast cars will have something approaching the lines of a tank, but I still hope something different may survive. I have not forgotten the fantastic increase in speed which resulted when Major Gardner's M.G. had its narrow single-seater body replaced by one of the all-enveloping type, but for a road car I do still put a high value on accessibility, and since he has recently acquired a Frazer-Nash I hope F/O. Scafe will agree with me here. What I should like to see for every-day use in town, on the open road, and sometimes right off the beaten track, is something rather like a cleaned up Mark II Aston-Martin. A body of decent lines, but not excessive tail overhang, should incorporate all oddments such as headlights, while the wheels should have fairly generous cycle-type wings; if you can use Dubonnet and so obtain a clean and easily faired axle assembly, so much the better. What I am worried about is, can one thus retain the vintage merits of lightness and accessibility and yet reduce wind resistance to something far below that of my "1,100" H.R.G.? I think it is possible.

Incidentally, the non-existent streamlining of the latter was shown very forcibly when, on a moderately windy day recently, some timed tests were carried out over a level piece of road which is just over a kilometre between timing marks: the speeds obtained in the two directions differed by no less than 12 m.p.h.!

There is one suggestion I should like to make concerning the future policy of Motor Sport. For a long while we have been offered "Cars I Have Owned" articles, and it has been a remarkably interesting and informative series. What I would rather like to see is a parallel series of articles aimed more at the future. In particular, I should like to hear more about the post-war models of which certain manufacturers have already released a few details, and also I think there might be interest in hearing just what sort of machines experienced readers hope to be able to buy after the war.

I am, Yours etc.,

J. Lowrey.

Farnborough, Hants

[An article on the lines suggested in the last paragraph of this letter, by Graham C. Dix, appears in this issue. We hope it will be the forerunner of others. – Ed.]



May I please make two small corrections in connection with recent articles of mine? In my "Racing Car Evolution" article I said that the 1902 Panhard had a transverse front spring containing four leaves, each 75 mm. thick. The "thick" should, of course, be "wide." In my notes on the T.T. Vauxhall engine I stated that one of the contemporary T.T. Sunbeam engines was later fitted with a Nitralloy crank, but this got accidentally printed as vibratory.

About the Veteran Victory Run, I think Mr. Meredith speaks a little wildly in guaranteeing the actions of what he describes as the "up-and-doing section of the public." Whether or not Berlin is the destination of the run, Mr. Meredith should remember that it is being backed by the Austin Motor Company, who, whether in peace or war time, are definitely up-and-doers. I am even inclined to think that their name is likely to carry more weight with the up-and-doing public than Mr. Meredith's.

I am, Yours etc.,

Cecil Clutton.

London, W.11.



Can I once again inflict a letter upon you, praising with faint damns?

I was very interested in the current issue of your paper, but there are one or two points where some of your contributors have gone a bit astray, so I thought I would take it upon myself to point this out.

(1) Page 69: the top car portrayed is an Adler; the bottom one a Horch V-8.

In the bottom paragraph, left-hand column, of this page, F/O. Scafe says that the electron-bodied, improved B.M.W. saloon which ran at Brescia won this race. As a matter of fact, owing to various small troubles, it did not do so. The winner was one of the Le Mans saloon cars.

(2) In Clutton's article he has made some errors in his Bugatti types. The plain-bearing four-cylinder model was the Type 22 and the Brescia had a roller-bearing crankshaft: the Type 30 had roller-bearing mains, but plain big-ends.

The Vauxhall engine was, of course, built for the 1922 T.T., as no race was won in 1921. You may be interested to know the cause of the failure of the two engines, which I think has not been published before. On one car a roller cracked and on the other a piece of the skirt of the piston cracked off and by the greatest ill-fortune just happened to jam between the crank and the rod. If this had happened at another moment this engine would probably have finished well up. Before the race the three engines were run on road and bench to the equivalent of 9,000 miles without the slightest trouble, and I have a letter written by Ricardo to my father before the race saying that this very absence of trouble was the thing which worried him most, as he was sure some silly difficulty would crop up at the last moment. How right he was!

I am, Yours etc.,

Laurence Pomeroy,

London, E.C.1.

[Thank you, Mr. Pomeroy! Only by such knuckle-rapping from erudite readers can the full accuracy of articles be maintained under the present handicaps. Actually, in fairness to Mr. Clutton, he was dealing almost entirely with Straight Eight Bugatti types and did not refer at all to the Type 22 or specify the type of crankshaft with which Ettore endowed the Brescia, nor did he specifically state the type of big-end bearings in the Type 30, although the order of the text did rather suggest this to be an all-roller unit. – Ed.]



I hate to appear as the would-be instructor in matters journalistic, but in the interests of posterity it should be recorded that the streamlined Fiat was 1,100 c.c. not 1,500 c.c., so, of course. the figures quoted are all the more creditable. Secondly, the car captioned as a streamlined Adler is actually the new Horch. This was specially evolved to embody the maximum "autobahnfestigkeit," which connoted a high cruising speed with low engine revolutions, and therefore streamlining. Passenger comfort was studied in some detail and the amenities included a concealed washbowl with hot and told water laid on – actually! Hence the saying, "My kingdom for a Horch!"

I was shocked to read that you never even see proofs. Knowing the perverse habits of printers, it makes me wonder how you ever make the paper read sense at all. 

I am, Yours etc,

Gordon Wilkins.




I have to thank your excellent paper for being able to obtain another gearbox for my Brescia. In your paper under " We hear" you mentioned that there was one at a dump in Manchester; you, however, printed the wrong address, and in case any of your readers may be anticipating a visit to this dump, here is the correct address: Harrison and Chadwick, Reddish Lane, Gorton, Manchester.

I am, Yours etc.,

A. Howard Bateson.




May I first congratulate you on the brilliant idea of depicting various racing cars on your front cover. I do think this is a great idea, and trust you never run out of photographs. I am a keen sports car enthusiast, having owned seven Rileys, including a four-carburetter "Brooklands" model, an Austin Seven "Swallow" sports and an Alvis, and have recently acquired a 2-litre sports Ballot, an o.h.c. model about which I would like any hints or tips from fellow enthusiasts who have a knowledge of these cars.

At present I am running the Austin Seven "Swallow," rebuilding the Alvis "Firefly" (including very extensive modifications to the bodywork) and I intend to use the Ballot as from May 1st next.

Other cars (owned by my father) included a 3-litre Bentley, a two-cylinder Phoenix, a 20-h.p. Saxon and a "20/60" Star saloon.

I am, Yours etc.,

Norman D. Routledge.

7, Elmete Avenue, Scholes, nr. Leeds, Yorks.