RUMBLINGS, May 1945

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RUMBLINGS

Enthusiasts everywhere are showing concern for the future of the Sport and clearly some of the issues to be faced concern the general public. The Preaching use of remote hills and “green lanes” the Gospel for trials, the closing of public roads for racing, even the attainment of a useful “gate ” at sprint meetings, etc., is dependent upon the ordinary motorist and the non-car-owning members of the community seeing some decent reason why competition motoring should happen. Politicians appear quite ready to overlook the immense importance, one might say the obvious indispensability, of mechanisation in modern self-protection—although, curiously, the military leaders see the need to offer motoring. recreation to R.A.F. air crews, merchant seamen and army officers returning from overseas service, by the issue of a petrol ration. Before these politicians canker the public mind, wouldn’t it be a very good thing if we could tell the public something of why competition motoring has a place in the scheme of things ? Just at present Aunt Matilda, reading of the advance of our mechanised forces, is not sure whether she should have been so very disturbed when a small trial ran up a hill past her cottage one Sunday. The vicar secretly wishes he hadn’t told the lads who came to compete in a speed trial on the local building estate one Saturday that they were “young hooligans,” for he has since seen their kind shot down in the Battle of Britain. While these, and more influential persons, feel this way, it is opportune to further their good feeling. The best way to do this, and at the same time secure the fanatical support of the rising generation, would seem to be by means of lectures. Not the sort of lecture given by a famous racing driver to a group of knowledgeable enthusiasts, but something directed at the layman and Mrs. Layman. When Raymond Mays spoke before the E.C.C. of G.B. in Manchester the other day he commenced with some references to the political importance of motor-racing. If he had been speaking to a lay audience instead of to enthusiasts he could easily have elaborated this theme, and also have shown how very far removed from ” hooligans ” are racing drivers, and how very reasonably organised is the smallest speed trial, thanks to the godfatherly eye of the R.A.C. Such an address could have been made enthralling to ordinary listeners by non-technical reference to Mays’s racing experiences. Modern youth, now so conveniently massed by the A.T.C.,

Youth Movements, etc., would attend such lectures eagerly and, if the takings went to a local charity, the “old fogies” would also stand to be converted. Raymond Mays is very anxious to do everything in his power to help the Sport, so we commend this suggestion to him, and to Capt. George Eyston (who recently addressed the R.A.E.), Major S. C. H. Davis, Lord March and others who have lectured on motor-racing in the past, not always to ” converted ” audiences. If young Service personnel, who were regarded as ” hooligans ” before the war because they liked noisy, fast cars, were to appear at these lectures, so much more easily would our preaching get over. It is rather a disturbing thought that if Brooklands and Montlhery are never repaired, much recordbreaking, as we knew it, may never

Records happen again. At the end of 1928 there were still standing very many International class records, and quite a number of long-distance world’s records, made at Montlhery. And there were 81 International class records established at Brooklands. Speeds will continue to rise, but not everyone, even a manufacturer, can afford to transport car and equipe to Utah or Daytona. Just another reason why Brooklands and Montlhery should be rebuilt. In a list of motoring classics Anthony Armstrong’s book ” Taxi ! ” is, quite rightly, included. It was published in 1930, but we have only Taxi ! just read it. Armstrong (he was ” A.A.” of Punch) writes in a most entertaining manner, and more, when he comes to technicalities you realise at once that he must himself be a knowledgeable motorist. MOTOR SPORT is read by motoring historians so, for them alone, we will just mention a few taxi-facts gleaned from this book. London’s first horseless cabs were electrically driven from 25 accumulators, and appeared in August, 1897. Tyre trouble caused their withdrawal in 1899, but the S. Kensington Science Museum preserves an example. A Prunel hansom appeared in 1904, but it was not until 1906 that London really had successful motor cabs. Twenty-four 10-h.p. 2-cylinder Unics appeared that year, to be followed by 200 more Unics, 250 Darracqs and, in 1907, by plans for 1,000 2-cylinder Renaults, owned by various companies. In 1907, too, the Fiat Motor Cab Co. made its debut, and the first Belsize cabs appeared. The number of London taxis increased from 19 at the end of 1905 to 728 at the end of 1907, and 2,805 by the end of 1908. Armstrong states that in 1930, Renault, Panhard, Vinot, Charron, Argyll, Fiat, Napier, Unic, Beardmore, Belsize, Hayes, Morris, Citroen and W. & G. cabs could still be seen in London, the last seven makes on almost any big rank. Alas, they have almost all vanished to-day, except for

Morris, although the press of cabs entering any London terminus at a rush hour makes those who patiently await the return of ” basic ” petrol squirm within. Reverting to past history, Darracq and Wolseley had already disappeared by 1930, but one of the 2cylinder Renaults, then over 20 years old, was still in service. In May of that year a new model Unic had appeared, and Armstrong deals faithfully with the then new Morris ” Commercial” and Citroen “Luxury” cabs which appeared in January, 1929, and with the Beardmore ” Hyper,” the first London taxi to have f.w.b., which came out in April, 1929. • At the end of 1929 some 300 Morris, 250 Beardmore and 80 Citroen cabs were on the streets, and Ford and Austin taxis appeared in June, 1930. This entertaining book also mentions the 60 4-cylinder Peugeot ” Quadrillette ” single-seater taxis which ran about Paris in 1924, to vanish in 1925 (they were based on the private-car chassis which superseded the Baby Peugeot, with Lhead engine and worm drive), and the 8-wheeler D.K.W. 5-seater taxis seen in Berlin in 1929 (the engine drove the single front wheel by chain, and 35 m.p.h. was claimed, these taxis costing £158). Armstrong awards the prize for the worst driving to the Malay drivers of Singapore, with the Italian taximan next ; he nobly defends the Parisian taxi-driver. Of the English, one of the Paris drivers is alleged to have retorted : “They march at a slowness, my God, at a slowness ; they have it always in the head to avoid the collision, they conduct the carriage as if pedestrians were worth the trouble and, see you, monsieur, thing formidable, they never horn ! ” The French cabs made history on September 7th, 1914. By order of General Gallieni, Governor of Paris, every cab in the city was suddenly commandeered. On the ranks, outside cafes, in the streets, when fares were requested to get out “pour la France,” every cab was taken. The drivers were told to fill up and report to a certain rendezvous, where soldiers of the 7th Division were picked up and taken along the dark road from Gagny to Nanteuil, to reinforce General Maunoury’s tired VIth Army, which was engaged in an uneven contest with Von Kluck, The Germans retreated, and Paris

was saved—by humble taxi transport ! Many 2cylinder Renault cabs must have been used. In London these were known as “scooters,” and when a new police test was instituted at the end of 1923, some were reconditioned with 4-cylinder engines, but many were scrapped or sold for a few pounds for “agricultural purposes.” In 1929 100 were sold to Russia ; over here, one of these cars was converted, by an obvious veteran-enthusiast, into a touring car. The number of old 2-cylinder Renaults still found in breakers’ yards is explained by the taxi-associations of this car.

We have received “The Modern Steam Car and its Background” from Floyd Clymer. It should appeal to those who still enthuse over steam. Steam This book contains a history of steam History power from the earliest times through

the experiments of Savery, Newcomen and Watt to the present, a history of steam cars (mostly Stanley), a description of a modern American Steam-Automobile Co.’s steam car and a chapter on the operation and care of modern steam cars. Clymer reproduces many early steamer advertisements and cuttings, and the book runs to 160 pages and carries 100 illustrations. An interesting fact, (nil crgi ng from a reprint of an article out of our Motor Cycling, is that no fewer than 101 steam motor-cycles were registered in this country in 1943. Clymer’s latest costs two dollars. He generously states that he is willing to trust MOTOR SPORT readers who wish to order this book —and his other publications such as booklets on the T-Ford and 1921 G.P. Duesenberg—to pay for them after the war, as transfer of money to the U.S.A. is none too easy at present. The address is : Clymer Motors, 2125 W. Pico Street, Los Angeles, 6, California.

Luigi Fagioli, whose obituary notice was reported in the motoring Press some months ago, including this paper, is now stated to be alive and well, and living at Gubbio !

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