Why Neglect the Early Small Cars?

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Why Neglect the Early Small Cars?

‘I’ israther curious that examples of small cars of the early nineteen

twenties fail to fascinate the enthusiast, although he will willingly restore to pristine order a pre-1905 veteran or give shelter to pre-1914 cars of quite sober h.p. The really early motor vehicle obviously has considerable historic value and is a distinctly refreshing study into the bargain, even if rather too frail and valuable to be exercised in other than the Brighton run or an occasional extra Veteran C.(‘. 1 ixture. The later veterans are more rugged, and often quite practical runners, and a heap of fun was to be bad entering them for the quite frequent competitive events organised by the Vintage S.C.C. and other bodies. However, such ears are usually difficult to find when sought and, when found, a deal of restoration is usually necessary, while, so far, few persons have been brave enough to tax one for regular use. On the other hand, small cars of the early nineteen-twenties have not entirely vanished from amongst us and, when enCountered, they are very often in such condition as to offer reasonable low-speed motoring of an ” everyday ” nature without a complete rebuild being necessary. Why, then, amongst vintage and veteran enthusiasts, is so little interest shown in them ? The reason is probably that they offer nothing of the performance and complete practicability of a good vintage sports car, and none of the quaint adventure which a journey in a car constructed before the last war can embrace. There is a fascination of a rather different sort about these cars. And what of ex-Service enthusiasts, many of whom will be distinctly hard up when they return to ” civvy street “

These small cars have no particular value, yet, as the Editor has satisfied himself with 1922 Rhode, 1923 Jowett, and 1924 and 1925 Gwynne Eights, they can provide much fun and quite sound transport. Sports ears acquired for like sums are usually far more worn out, cost more in fuel, oil and tyres, and are likely to attract far more attention from the police. So let us not scorn these rare and often technically-absorbing examples of the veteran field. Our thoughts were re-directed to this subject recently when Rowland Motors, of Byfleet, took us out in a 1924 Horstraan 4-seater. This car, which has recently come into their hands, has had very little use and is virtually brand new, as the hood, side-screens, paintwork, safety-glass screen and upholstery, all unblemished, testify. The s.v. Anzani engine, of touring type, seems as sound as 1ell ; it is almost inaudible on the tick-over and quite smokeless. The front-wheel brakes have hydraulic operation embracing some quite fantastic external rubber pipe-work, and the 3-speed gearbox is controlled by a ball-gate, r.h. lever rather reminiscent of that on the Sequeville-Ifoyau we discovered last year. The disc wheels carry almost new balloon tyres and have knockoff hubs ; the radiator is the V-fronted, fluted-top, gilled-tube type always used on these cars ; the tubular front axle actually varies its castor action as the I-elliptic springs deflect, and the bonnet divides down the middle to give access

to the engine. The facia carries a thermometer and the cockpit-starter usually fitted is not in evidence in this car, which was apparently built for Mrs. Horstman, and has had only one Owner since. Rowland uses it for business journeys, but really has no room for it, and we believe it could be bought—a virtually new car— for £12 10s. The original tool-kit, incidentally, exists in the near side-door pocket. Curiously, as we were going to see the Horstrnan, quite by chance we came upon another early small car outside a garage in Weybridge–a 2seater A.B.C. with, surprisingly, five almost unmarked 710 x 90 Dunlops. It appeared quite complete, even to hood and safety-glass screen, and had been last taxed in 1942, since when Charles Brackenbury has used it occasionally on Trade plates. It would appear to be an early model, probably 1921, with overhanging boot and the exposed push-rod 1,100-c.c. air-cooled, flat-twin engine. The vertical gear-gate, splash lubrication with facia drip-feed, petrol tank filled through the radiator cap and massive rear axle, were typical A.B.C. features. Such cars could form the nucleus of a stable as interesting as that of any other collection of veterans, and we shall always be glad to hear of similar, well-preserved examples. Where, for instance, are the true cycle-ears, like the belt-drive Tompun we we found in Portsmouth two years ago ? Soon impecunious enthusiasts may have a use for such cars, when sports cars are too expensive. And wouldn’t a postwar Defunct Makes meet be rather pleasing ?