On April 16th the Vintage S.C.C. held its first Silverstone Meeting of the season, the Paddock and car-parks full of exotic motor cars, including some exceedingly elegant Hispano-Suizas, Pomeroy’s 1914 Prince Henry Vauxhall, and Dr. Crabtree’s rare 18/55 Coatalen Talbot. A Vintage One-Hour High-Speed Trial attracted 36 entries divided into four classes. Qualifiers were Winder’s 1923 Humber four-carburetter Special, in spite of losing a lap at the start and running a big-end, Binns’ Brooklands Riley Nine with modern small lamps and telescopic shock-absorbers, Sim’s manx-tailed Riley Nine and Robertson’s Riley Nine fabric saloon in the 1,100-c.c. class (27 laps); Vaughan’s Anzani Frazer-Nash, Wickham’s big-port, short-stroke 12/50 Alvis “beetleback,” Hadley’s f.w.d. Alvis four-seater, Rayner’s very nice T.T. Hyper unblown Lea-Francis two-seater, Routledge’s 1924 Morris-Cowley, which he drove mainly one-handed (it is bright blue this year), Roberts’ 1928 2-litre Lagonda four-seater, Good’s ex-Follett 12/60 Alvis Special, its driver fumbling between his knees for the cogs, Webb’s Brescia Bugatti Jarvis two-seater and Marr’s Aston Martin International in the 1,101-2,000.c.c. class (29 laps); Heal’s 3-litre twin cam Sunbeam and Noble’s Alvis in the 2001-3,000-c.c. class (31 laps); and Cox’s 30/98 Vauxhall and Cleaton-Roberta’ 4 1/2-litre Bentley in the over-3,000-cc. class (33 laps). Taylor’s Austin Seven Special, which isn’t vintage at all, having a Ford d/d. carburetter, four-speed gearbox, castors for wheels and even the Nippy front spring, overturned at Becketts and Cochrane’s 1922 8/18 Talbot shed a front wheel. Passengers, forbidden, appeared in several cars, including the Austin. Too slow, but very dignified, was Austin’s 1923 Humber coupe with mahogany toolbox and trumpet electric horn on the off-side running-board.
The racing opened with a 5-lap mixed handicap, which Easdale’s 1930 blown 1,750 Alfa-Romeo snatched on the last lap from Leo’s blown 2-litre Lagonda of the same year and Nunn’s 1932 Frazer-Nash. Speed 63.35 m.p.h., and fastest lap by Pitts in Broad’s E.R.A., at 70.08 m.p.h. Another of these 5-lap handicaps followed, which Vaughan’s beautiful Anzani Frazer-Nash “1 1/2-seater” led for the last four laps, winning comfortably, at 58.52 m.p.h., from Skirrow’s 1930 Frazer-Nash and Mulholland’s neat 1931 Frazer-Nash—how the “Chain Gang” thrives ! Fastest lap, at 60.8 m.p.h., was shared by Skirrow and Ashley’s Frazer-Nash. Morin Scott unleashed his new, white 45-hp. Hispano-Suiza two-seater with locking back brakes, nearly ramming Smith’s Frazer-Nash at Woodcote and Cooke played wild-boy in a Lagonda Rapier.
The big race of the afternoon was the 10-lap Itala Trophy Race, which brought out the following splendid collection of vintage racing cars—Attwood’s Razor-Blade 16-valve Aston Martin, Clutton s 1908 G.P. Itala, Green’s Amilcar Six, Sears’ 1914 G.P. Opel, Eminson’s Type 37A G.P. Bugatti, Binns’ Brooklands Riley Nine, Williamson’s Bentley, Allen’s 1922 G.P. long-tailed Sunbeam, Brewer’s Type 37A Bugatti, Tozer’s Arnilcar Six, Byrom’s Type 35B G.P. Bugatti and Smith in Sir Ralph Millais’ blown 4-litre V12 Sunbeam “Tiger “—and the Hispauo-Suiza and a huge Issotta-Fraschini which thought they were vintage racing cars; actually the latter was the ex-Bolster two-seater with four HV5 S.U. carburetters and sealed-off radiator. Alas, Basil Davenport’s truly delightful G.N. Vitesse, the Vitesse V-twin engine with twin Solex carburetters, twin M.L. magnetos, chain-driven o.h. camshaft two-valve heads (one of them bronze), J.A.P. rods, and replica 200-Mile-Race body, had a broken crankshaft, and Rowley’s ex-Conan Doyle six-carburetter, 2-litre V12 Delage, with L.M.B. transverse leaf-spring i.f.s., had water in its cylinders. Byrom led all the way, winning impeccably, as he had done in 1952 and 1953, at 68.96 m.p.h. The V12 Sunbeam, although suffering from water internally, was second on the first lap, but Smith spun it at Woodcote, dropping to fourth place, later to fifth. Williamson in his sports Bentley chased Byrom at a discreet distance, Tozer’s little Amilcar went splendidly in third place and Binns was fourth. Fastest lap was established by Byrom, at 69.79 m.p.h. The Hispano-Sniza retired on lap two, Thirlby’s Parker-G.N.-J.A.P. on lap three. Alas, the 1922 G.P. Sunbeam caught fire at the pits and, extinguishers having to be brought from Woodcote Corner, was somewhat damaged.
A 16-lap handicap for vintage sports cars followed, Binns’ Riley winning at 64.55 m.p.h. from a 3-lap start, Heap’s Riley Nine second, Brown’s Frazer-Nash third, and Williamson’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley making fastest lap at 69.79 m.p.h., equalling Byrom’s in the preceding race.
The Edwardians supported their 3-lap handicap to the number of seven entries, but Sears’ Opel non-started. Gunn’s beautifully turned-out 1914 1,743-c.c. Humber tourer used its 2 min. 54 sec. start to good purpose, winning at 38.49 m.p.h. (motor-racing is dangerous !) from Williamson’ now in the Itala, and Neve’s 1914 T.T. Humber. Sears, on scratch in the 1914 T.T. Humber, had the consolation of fastest lap, at a rousing 63.5 m.p.h. It was good to see Hill’s Alfonso Hispano-Suisa in action again; it was later driven by Densham. Firkin’s Darracq, using its screen as an air-brake, was last.
The 10-lap “All-Comers’ ” Scratch Race promised well. After three laps a trio of E.R.A.s disposed of Byrom’s Bugatti and Broad battled with Wilkinson (E.R.A. R8) to win at 73.17 m.p.h., making fastest lap at 76.56 m.p.h., with T.T. Carson (Tim’s son) third in the ex-Lewis E.R.A. (R9). J.M. Crowther finished fourth in the Powys-Lybbe 2.9 monoposto Alfa-Romeo, followed by Tozer’s Amilcar and Cox in the rapid ex-Nurse Riley Nine, while the cornering of Arnold-Forster’s G.N. Special, until it shed its bonnet, was a sight to behold.
Two more 5-lap “mixed” handicaps followed, the first won by Parker’s Frazer-Nash “Patience” (polished in the Paddock by some highly-polished young ladies!) at 64.42 m.p.h. (also best lap, 67.14 m.p.h.) from Walker’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley and Attwood’s very brisk single-seater Aston Martin, Arnold-Forster again splendid to see until the G.N.’s air pressure deflated, while Morley’s 3-litre Bentley two-seater was well in the picture until the last lap, and we admired Gibson-Jarvie’s neat Brooklands Riley Nine. The second of these races went to T.T. Carson’s E.R.A. at 73.61 m.p.hi and, starting 5 sec. later, Wilkinson chased hard, his E.R.A. returning fastest lap of the meeting, at 76.79 m.p.h. Michael was third in the smart ex-Howarth 4 1/2-litre Lagonda. D. McKenzie drove the ex-Hall T.T. 4 1/2-litre Bentley with dignity, Hartridge spun Green’s Amilcar Six at Woodcote on the first lap and retired, the Isotta-Fraschini proved it wasn’t a racing car by crawling in on the same lap, and to add to this initial excitement the bonnet-less, long Nash-A.C. (A.C. Six engine) of R.R.C. March shed a chain, while a lap later Parkes’ Frazer-Nash nearly shed its near-side front mudguard. Mason was running again, after replacing a broken rocker in his well-known 4 1/2-litre Bentley, but Westley’s ex-Hillwood blown M.G. lasted only a lap.
Light relief was afforded by the 3-lap Vintage Light Car Handicap, with an excellent entry of 22. Winder drove his normal Humber 8/18, which this time towed his racing 9/28 Humber Special to the course (Bravo !—no trailer). The field included the Trojan, two air-cooled Rover Eights, a Hampton, two Anzani A.C.s, a fast Fiat 501, Mrs. Wrigley in her husband’s 8/18 Talbot, a Fiat 509 saloon, a Gwynne Eight “hip-bath,” the Routledge Morris-Cowley, a 10/25 Rover, and a 1921 Morris-Cowley which soon retired with a magneto malady. Through them all came Johnson’s 1922 back-braked Morris-Cowley (1 min. 23 sec.) to win at 44.07 m.p.h. from Firkin’s 1927 Austin Seven Chummy (0 min. 48 sec.), which amused the spectators by suffering from furious front-wheel tramp round Woodcote, and Wheeler’s tuned 1922 8/18 Talbot (scratch), which demonstrated understeer as no car has before ! Winder’s scratch 1924 9/28 Humber put up best lap, at 51.86 m.p.h., excellent for a light car over 30 years old.
The meeting ended with the 5-lap Motor Sport Handicap, seven starting, and Nunn’s 1932 Frazer-Nash, with straight front axle, led all the way to win at 57.69 m.p.h., Lox’s Riley Nine coming through to second place, just ahead of Walker’s 44-litre Bentley, the Riley making fastest lap, at 67.14 m.p.h. Unfortunate to be unplaced was Bennett’s Ulster Austin Seven, the placings to date in the Motor Sport contest being :
P.J. Nunn; (Frazer-Nash) … 6 points
H.W. Cox (Riley) … … … … 5 points
G.T. Walker (Bentley) … … 4 points
J.V. Skirrow (Frazer- Nash) 3 points
M. Vaughan (Frazer- Nash) 2 points
H.R. Heap (Riley) … … … . 1 point
These drivers, in these cars, are eligible for the Motor Sport race at the M.C.C. Silverstone Meeting on July 2nd.
Thus ended an excellent opening to the V.S.C.C. racing season— we feel sure it would have done Lord Lucas a power of good had he been present ! * * *
On the Sunday the annual Vintage Light Car Rally took place, this year in beautiful weather. Intended to decide the best vintage light car and crew for touring purposes, competitors had to take a number of tests in the by-ways of rural Buckinghamshire based on those used in the old J.C.C. General Efficiency Trial. There was an excellent entry of 22, and with a 1914 Humber and a 1924 Fiat 501 two-seater non-starting, the runners consisted of two bull-nose Morris-Cowleys; four Humber light cars; a Fiat 509 saloon; a 12/22 Lea-Francis; a Clyne; two 12/24 Lagondas, one a saloon; a 9.5 Swift; an 8.3 Renault; an Autocrat coupe; two 7/17 flat-twin short-chassis Jowetts; two air-cooled flat-twin Rover Eights; a Hampton and a 12/24 Wolseley. A downhill brake test underlined the safety of these old cars, those which overshot doing so through an injudicious speed of approach, while on a 1 in 7 hill we noticed Butlin’s Rover twin climbing slightly faster than Rogers’ Jowett.—W. B.
1st; F. Lockhart (1923 Rover Eight) … … .. 88 marks
2nd; N. Routledge (1924 Morris-Cowley) … 82 marks
3rd; D. Dighton (1928 9/20 Humber) … … . 79 marks