The Pomeroy Memorial Trophy Competition was held on March 22nd/23rd, too late to report last month. With generous impartiality the VSCC opened this event to any car over 2,250 cc and, indeed, announced that the rules, which involved cube and sixth roots, were designed to discover which is the best car, Edwardian, vintage, thoroughbred post-vintage or just plain modern, in relation to the time when it was constructed. With ss and fs, 1/4-mile sprints, a one-hour high-speed run round the Silverstone Club Circuit, a steering test, a 70 mile road run and a fuel consumption test, this novel competition had much of the allure of one of the old General Efficiency Trials, if not quite approaching the kind of Versatility Trial advocated in Motor Sport last month.
Fourteen cars started, ranging from a 1951 Jaguar XK120 to the 1908 Itala. They fared as follows :— ss 1/4-mile; Sears (1914 Sunbeam); fs 1/4-mile ditto; One-Hour Run, tie by all save Armitage (Bentley); Steering test, Binns (1924 Vauxhall): MPG, Grounds (XK120); Regularity, tie, Binns, Nattriss (1933 Alvis), Ewen Itala. Results:– Pomeroy Trophy.—P. Binns (30/98 Vauxhall). Best Edwardian. —Dr Ewen (Itala). Best Non-Vintage.–Richards (1933 2.5 Alvis). Second-Class Awards.—Webb (30/98 Vauxhall), L Pomeroy (1914 Vauxhall).
As the trophy was presented by Pomeroy—whose father was the Vauxhall designer—-to acknowledge free presentation to him of his famous “Prince Henry” Vauxhall, we feel it is no more than just that the moderns were vanquished by—a 30/98 Vauxhall.
The Vintage Motor Cycle Club has adopted our suggestion that it should cater for pre-I931 three-wheelers (which the VSCC cannot do in competitions, for the simple reason that RAC permits do not cover tricars, which come under ACU jurisdiction). Within a short time of its announcement the VMCC had its first tricycle member, with a 1921 Morgan. Major components, including body, must be vintage for a three-wheeler to qualify. Come out—those boys with New Hudsons, Omegas, Scott-Sociables, Harpers, etc, etc and etc ! Hon Secretary : RT Rigby, 64, Alandale Drive, Pinner, Middlesex.
Forward, Brockbank !—From a recent advertisement for a modern car : “When you’re in one you feel something happening . . .”
The 25 Years’ Commemoration MCC Land’s End Trial at Easter was strenuous but enormous fun. The 1927 route and time controls were followed and strictly only pre-1928 vintage light cars were eligible, although three post-1927 cars joined in as well. That an entry of 15 motor-cycles, two combinations and a Morgan (from the VMCC) and 24 light cars (from the VSCC) came in for this vintage event must be deemed excellent, in view of the big mileage involved. The whole thing was conducted in a truly sporting spirit and successful competitors are being asked to pay for their own awards ! Virginia Water just before 6 pm on Good Friday was a hive of activity as the old vehicles were made ready for their 318-mile journey. As this was an historic vintage occasion we will list details of the light. car entries :—
W Richmond (1921 990-cc Morgan). 1921 MAG-engined inc two-speed model. Painted bright yellow.
W Stiles (1919 1,080-cc Stellite). Has towed a caravan successfully in recent years.
J Wrigley (1922 970-cc Talbot)… Beautifully restored 8/18 2-seater. standard except for SU carburetter and well-base wheels.
R Russell (1922 970-cc Talbot). A smart example of 8/18 two-seater; 700 by 80 tyres. Standard except for modern spot-lamp.
P F A Watkins (1926 1,074-cc Talbot). This 10/23 non-started.
C A Whittle (1937 1,460-cc). Example of original Type 505 tourer, a true light car in spite of its size.
KW Garrard (1930 1435-cc Fiat). A well-used specimen of 10/30 saloon.
R Barton (1926 1.550-cc Morris-Cowley).. A standard two-seater. JB Leedal (1923 1.550-cc Morris-Cowley).. Standard two-seater save for modern tyres. Bought by Mr Leedal Snr just before present owner was born !
NB Routledge (1924 1,545-cc Morris-Cowley). Four-seater restored to very healthy condition by present owner, who found it in a barn in Yorkshire. Driven to start from Leeds. Has 1926 fwb front axle.
JAR Grice (1923 907-cc Jowett.). This little two-seater completed a 3,000-mile Continental tour last year and has been very successful in VSCC events. Has a 1924 van-type fwb front axle and oversize, modern rear tyres.
EW Bowen-Jetties (1,496-cc Alvis)… Travelling marshal, as big-port, short-stroke 12/50 not eligible.
PS Lockhart (1923 668-cc Peugeot). Smallest Car in Trial. Has home-built two-seater body and non-standard hydraulic rear brakes.
RC Porter (1923 1.543-cc MG).. The late Cecil Kimber’s original “Old No 1” sport, MG. Gained a “Gold” in 1923 Land’s End. Push-rod ohv Hotchkiss engine, cast-iron pistons.
PY Bogue (1921 1,590-cc Rittman). Doctor’s coupe model. Bought for £3 by a previous owner.
W Boddy (1924 1,420-cc Lagonda). AJ Fisher’s 11.9 coupe; ioe engine. Rear brakes. Engine overhaul completed by owner on eve of Trial.
JG Vessey (1922 1,420-cc Lagonda). This two-seater 11,9 was painted bright magenta by Lagonda at the request of its original owner. Competed with new bearings in engine.
HF Moffatt (1924 1,420-cc Lagonda). 11.9 two-seater.
BR Barnard (1921 Calthorpe). Interesting example of the Sporting Calthorpe four-seater, discovered in a garage at Bromley last year.
J Geary (1926 1,087-cc Salmson)… “Push-pull” model. Non-starter, after all night work on engine.
DFH Wood (1923 1,498-cc Riley). Very hearty 10.8 disc-wheeled Coupe, well known in vintage circle. Original except for modern tyres.
PD Walters (1927 1,057-cc Humber). 9/20 four-seater tourer.
MR Lovell (1929 747-cc Austin).. Stadium two-seater Seven.
JHL Bingham (1926 747-cc Austin). Chummy model, but with four-speed gearbox, modern carburetter and oversize rear tyres.
NM Arnold-Forster (1926 1,527-cc Trojan). This two-stroke, two-speed tourer is used daily. Original except for repaint and on beaded-edge tyres.
Cars or cars of this make competed in 1927 Land’s End Trial.
Into the dusk the procession set off, a nostalgic sight for many holiday-makers. Almost at once the Morgan was in trouble, not to be seen again. The Hillman, too, was having early difficulties, but eventually managed the 106 miles to Launceston. Boddy did not see his Lagonda until a few moments before his departure time, Fisher having worked on it all night installing new bearings and overcoming the inevitable last-minute snags. He was hustled into a car he hadn’t driven before and no less a celebrity than Charles Mortimer arranged for him to be started from the road instead of from the humanity packed starting park.
Most of the competitors found no difficulty about maintaining the 20-mph average, and after breakfast at Taunton set out to climb Porlock in the dark. After the start there was a short timed stretch, which also proved within the capabilities of most. Here the Stellite, which had been making agonising noises throughout the night, stopped high up the hill, and Walters’ Humber blew out all its water-jacket core-plugs and retired. It came home subsequently with tractor sparking plugs screwed into the holes.
Bob Porter had secured the “Old No 1” MG for the event and the Publicity Department of the Nuffield Organisation had issued “handouts” to the Press about how this historic car was being “vetted by MG technicians at Abingdon ready for the trip.” No doubt this is good for the vintage movement but it proved not so good for the MG technicians, for Porter was troubled during the night by a faulty magneto and erratic lighting system (the car has no headlamps, anyway), and he retired subsequently with run big-end bearings on Bodmin Moor. John Wrigley was going well in his very brisk little Talbot, but on the stretch to Perranporth a modern car emerged without warning from a side turning and spun the Talbot round, inflicting damage to body, mudguard and rear wheel. This Wrigley took philosophically, and completed the run. After the descent of Countisbory the aged vehicles were confronted with Lynmouth Hill, where, as at Porlock, a big crowd of obviously vintage-minded spectators had gathered, although the hour was still only 3.55 am. The Calthorpe found a 15-to-1 bottom gear inadequate, but got up in reverse. The tiny Peugeot had insufficient hp, its solid back-axle imposing an additional load on its pony-power, but when it stopped Lockhart’s passenger cheerfully lent man-power. Boddy blotted the Lagonda team’s copybook when a gearbox bearing seized, as the car was going well near the summit, both the other 11.9s ascending successfully. Collins’ 1920 Sunbeam sidecar outfit had “moments” but recovered and reached the summit.
So to the dreaded Beggar’s Roost. Here “Golds” were won or lost irretrievably. And only Routledge’s Morris, which had not required any oil or water throughout, both the Fiats and the Trojan got up, although Bingham’s Austin Seven might have done so if gravity feed had not proved inadequate for supplying a non-vintage carburetter. “Old No 1 MG” just slunk away without attempting the Roost. Boddy failed through lack of power and reversed down and delays began to form. Wood’s Riley failed, sadly, almost at the top.
One more hill remained—the notorious Bluehills Mine, where vintage competitors took the hairpin and lower road. Descending to it tested brakes already sorely tried, and Whittle’s Fiat oiled a plug. But the ascent proved easier than expected, even the Peugeot getting up after shedding its passenger, although Russell’s Talbot stopped.
A truly gallant effort was made by AM Bush with the 1914 Lea-Francis motor-cycle, who pushed up sections he couldn’t climb and generally overcame tremendous difficulties. A stiff unobserved section followed Bluehills and, indeed, the entire route from Porlock onwards was a very severe test for any car, old or new.
But, hills notwithstanding, the 25-year-olds trickled into Land’s End from 2 pm onwards, four to claim “Golds,” others “Silvers,” and the rest of the cars finishing to “Bronze” standard, for this latter involved keeping to a fairly easy time schedule and not necessarily climbing any of the hills. Wrigley, who had done nothing to his Talbert except a routine plug check, almost immediately set off to return to London (!), but Russell’s Talbot was being converted from pump to thermosyphon cooling, the front plate of its water pump having split. The Fiat saloon had a puncture before Perranporth and the earth lead had fallen from its radio, the Peugeot had discarded its fan belt, the Trojan its dynamo lead, the Calthorpe had tried to shed its battery, and the 12/50 Alvis was troubled by burnt plugs, but otherwise most of these amateur-prepared vintage small cars finished intact and honourably. Bogue, however, retired in Cornwall, on discovering a 1914 GWK, which he purchased for a “fiver” ! Routledge’s Morris started for home soon after finishing—it did 992 miles all told that week-end, averaging over 30 mpg and nearly 34 mph apart from the trial.
The MCC is to be warmly congratulated on inviting the VSCC and VMCC to participate in this interesting experiment, which we hope to see repeated in the future. Thanks are also due to AJ Fisher for organising and marshalling the vintage section (for which task he used his 7th Series Lambda saloon and was assisted by his enthusiastic wife), to CND Milner and others who marked the route, and to members of clubs who cheerfully turned out in the small hours to assist motor-bikes.
The Editor writes:– The event followed a pattern of vintage contest I have waited for since 1936, in which year the RAC, less enlightened then in vintage matters, refused me a permit for a “Replica Exeter.” I am indebted to AJ Fisher for lending me his game little Lagonda coupe with which to compete. Although no Lagondas were entered for the 1927 Land’s End I was happy to know that these 11.9s used to be frequent competitors in MCC trials in the hands of Oates, Hammond, Needham and others, and that in the year Fisher’s car left the works at Staines four had done well in the Land’s End, one a coupe like the car I borrowed. Credit also to Tom Lush, who, in spite of the rigours he encountered in the Monte Carlo Rally, came with me, never once lost me, kept me to time throughout, and swung the engine like a barrel-organ some scores of times. To his credit he needed no persuading, sharing with your Editor a love of the odder, more grotesque forms of motoring.
The 1924 Lagonda performed admirably, so that the seizure on Lynton was the more disappointing—it was presumably brought on by the combined effects of climbing Porlock and descending Countisbury in low gear beforehand and did not occur again, so that Fisher was entirely justified in imagining that in actual fact I had tried to change-up too early or, growing bored, had applied the brakes ! That failure apart, the little car went faultlessly, and, once I had grown accustomed to its fierce clutch, its wide gear ratios, its happily vague steering, and sounds as of a juvenile threshing machine at work, I liked it enormously, It pulled both silkily and strongly down to a crawl in top-gear, had no difficulty in maintaining the required speed and gave some 28 mpg for the whole trial, in spite of new bearings. And it brought three people and much luggage home at a 30-mph average from Exeter after the event.—WB.