A letter from New South Wales

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[The following news-letter is from R.A.D. Hood, of the Royal Australian Air Force, and is so well endowed with enthusiasm that we present it as a short article.– Ed.]

I have been meaning to write to you for about a year and have only just found the time. I wish to add my congratulations to those of many other readers for keeping Motor Sport going, and I hope that this small contribution may be of use.

My motoring started at the age of eight, when my father taught me to drive an aged Dodge Four around the family sheep station. At the age of 14 I bought a 1914 Triumph motor-cycle, with belt drive, one speed and no clutch. This gave me several years’ amusement and was followed by an Indian that cost 15/-. I still have this, although it is used very little now.

Unfortunately, the war was under way before I left school, so my motoring has been restricted by war-time conditions.

While at the Melbourne University in 1940 I bought an old Lancia, but this was very worn and I sold it almost straight away.

Then a school friend of mine, Nigel Pugh, bought one of the supercharged 750-c.c. Austins that was raced at Brooklands in 1930. Nigel wrote to S.C.H. Davis, of The Autocar, about this car, as the engine is the one from the car that won the 500-Mile Race in 1930, with Davis driving.

After winning the 1930 500-Mile Race at Brooklands and gaining several records there, the car was brought to Australia. It won the Australian Grand Prix in 1931. After this it was sold and the new owner succeeded in crashing it. The wreck was bought by a man named Greene. Pugh bought the car from him and we have since had immense fun with it. Unfortunately, the crankshaft parted company the day I joined the Air Force and so the Austin has been stored for the duration.

When we got the Austin we formed a “Scuderia,” by raking in the Williams family – two brothers, Peter and Ian. The former owned a perfect “12/50” Alvis, with aluminium body, in absolutely original condition, while Ian has a beautiful T.T. Frazer-Nash, circa 1937.

Also in the “Scuderia” is the Duckett “Special,” a 1 1/2-litre G.P. Bugatti chassis with a twin o.h.c. Anzani engine, as fitted to the Squire. The body is Duckett’s own design and the car as a whole is a delight to any enthusiast.

Then there is Bruce Shanks’s “Red Label” 3-litre Bentley.

Finally, we have my Stoewer, bought for £20 (very cheap for Australia) about two months after we acquired the Austin. While it is rather outclassed by the other cars in the “Scuderia” it is definitely vintage and quite sporting. It has a polished aluminium body, with boat tail and disappearing hood, wire wheels with knock-on caps, an outside exhaust and right-hand external brake and gear levers. The engine is a fixed-head, side-valve affair of 18 h.p., with a huge aluminium sump. The electrical equipment is Bosch and the finish of the whole machine is first class. The gearbox has four speeds, but only third and top are really close. Unfortunately, the car is definitely too low geared (about 4.7 to 1 in top). However, the maximum speed is about 70 m.p.h. and the acceleration is quite good. Steering is not at all bad, but the lock is poor. Road-holding is quite good, but would be improved by a set of Hartfords at the back. The brakes are poor – foot on the transmission and hand on the rear wheels.

I would be glad to hear from anyone who knows of the make, as I had never heard of a Stoewer till I bought this one. It was made in about 1925 at Stettin in Germany. [Please address any letters to my home address: Merrang, Hexham, Victoria, Australia.]

Motoring has virtually ceased since the Japanese came into the war and the Stoewer is now carefully stored.

I enclose some photographs of the Austin, Stoewer, Frazer-Nash and Alvis. [One of which we reproduce here. – Ed.] The Alvis has just been replaced by a 1926 “30/98” Vauxhall. The “30/98” has only done about 40,000 miles since new and is perfect throughout.

I forgot to mention that Pugh and I made a “Midget” at school, with motorcycle wheels and a 7.9-h.p. V-twin engine. It was rather a crude affair, but great sport.

The Austin was fitted with an “Ulster” body after the crash; the lamps are merely to satisfy the Law! Also, the member on the tail is not “just for show.”…

So much for our “Scuderia.” There are very few sports cars in Australia, and – horror of horrors – of these many contain Ford V8 engines. Of the few that I have come across in my brief experience perhaps the best known is Alf. Barrett’s Alfa-Romeo. This once belonged to Hamilton in England. Alf is a cousin of my friend Pugh. His brother has a fascinating machine with a home-made box-section chassis. It has four-wheel independent springing – Lancia at the front. The brakes, gearbox and wheels (cut down) are all Lancia and the engine is a 1 1/2-litre T.T. (supercharged) Frazer-Nash. The car has a beautiful streamlined 2-seater body and the performance is terrific – maximum speed being about 110 m.p.h., I believe.

The other day I came across David Hawker, a school friend, who has one of the 3-litre “Alpine” Talbots. I think only six were made. He had a sister car in England, while at Cambridge, and was having the engine fitted to an Atalanta chassis when war broke out and suspended operations. [Surely the car now owned by M E Nixon? – Ed.]

Well, like any enthusiast I could go on indefinitely, but I had better stop before this letter becomes any more disjointed.

By the way, I have also contacted R. Beal-Pritchett, who has written to you occasionally, and I have been out to inspect his “Scuderia.”

All the best wishes for 1942….

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