A section devoted to old car matters
On March 22nd the Trojan O.C. organised a trial in Surrey before holding its A.G.M. and Dinner at the Aerodrome Hotel, Croydon. The trial, contested by eight vintage Trojans including one van, started from the Trojan factory at Purley Way, over which Tiger Moths from Croydon aerodrome—another lost cause—appropriately flew. The Editor of Motor Sport rode in Group Capt. Scroggs’ Trojan, now with an 8-to-1 compression-ratio, although the cheapest petrol was still being used! This Trojan, and another driven very ably by Miss Woodhouse (it was said, on the same Trade Plates that she used 50 years ago, when, during her long association with Trojan Ltd., she demonstrated the then-new rear-engined model) were the only competitors to climb the notorious Goat Track between the zig-zag at Box Hill.
At dinner the Guest of Honour was Miss Woodhouse, who kept the assembled company amused with numerous Trojan reminiscences. She remarked that she had thoroughly enjoyed her drive that afternoon, her first in a Trojan for some 25 years, the smell of burnt oil below and the uncertainty of when it would stop and when start again being especially nostalgic. In fact, she had had to hold in bottom gear with one hand while steering up the Goat Track with the other, no easy feat even for considerably younger drivers. Miss Woodhouse recalled that around 1925 the works’ hack was Trojan No. 4, which possessed two accelerator pedals that had to be depressed together in order to keep both cylinders firing, was painted mauve, and differed altogether from other Trojans, to her embarrassment when driving it.
She later demonstrated and sold many Trojans, her family being closely connected with the designer, the late Leslie Hounsfield. She recalled a clergyman who, emerged from a waterlogged road in a Trojan, the registration letters of which were ARC, was greeted by the local garage hand with. “I see you’ve come in the Ark, sir”—to which the cleric replied promptly, “Yea, and through the flood, too.”
She referred to a Trojan van in the form of a tea-pot, supplied to the order of a tea-blender, which, on its delivery journey through London, disgraced itself by impaling City bowlers on its spout, out of which, incidentally, the exhaust gases were led. Trojan, she suggested, pioneered rear engines, and sliding doors and the diesel engine for small commercial vehicles.
The Editor of Motor Sport, replying to Group Capt. Scroggs’ toast of “The Guests,” thanked the Trojan O.C. for its hospitality which, in his case, included a convincing demonstration of how well a Trojan will climb hills! He then referred to a B.B.C. broadcast by Cecil Clutton in which that gentleman had expressed a very low opinion of vintage small cars. Clutton regarded them as not worth preserving. “He is quite wrong,” said Boddy, who went on to suggest that the expensive vintage car favoured by Clutton could neither benefit from the notably inexpensive spares available to T.O.C. members nor beat Scroggs’ Trojan in climbing Simms Hill, for instance, during an Exeter Trial. Boddy concluded by calling on those present to continue to care for their unusual cars so that, uphill if not on the level, they will continue to prove Clutton’s remarks to be wrong.
In subsequent discussion it was revealed that several Trojans are on the market. In case anyone is prompted by the article in last month’s Motor Sport to buy such a vehicle it should be remarked that before the war Trojans could be acquired for 30s., so that today the top price for a really sound Trojan would seem to be not more than £10.
The Vintage section of the M.C.C. Land’s End Trial
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the “Land’s End” the M.C.C. this year invited vintage and veteran cars and motor-cycles, entered by members of the V.S.C.C. and V.M.C.C., to compete in its Easter Trial.
Naturally this could not be missed, and the Editor of Motor Sport thus found himself, on the evening of Good Friday, navigator in R. C. Hiller’s 1929 Hillman Fourteen coupé. The drive through the night from London to the breakfast stop at Taunton was uneventful, the Hillman riding comfortably in spite of a complete absence of shock-absorbers on this particular car. The Fountains d.h. coupé body, rebuilt to original specification, provides protection from the elements and possesses a polished wood dashboard in the finest vintage tradition, an additional refinement being that with the instrument lights alight, both cubby-holes are also illuminated.
The 4-cylinder 2-litre side-valve engine provided an easy cruising speed of 40/45 m.p.h. to the accompaniment of a sibilant hiss from tho original Zenith carburetter. The only departure from standard for the “Land’s End” was a slight increase in compression-ratio and packing washers under the clutch springs. The Hillman Fourteen is an interesting, if neglected, vintage touring car. The arrangement of the minor controls on the steering-wheel hub is typically vintage and the details of the front-brake gear are of interest.
That one never ceases to learn about cars was emphasised by the discovery that the Hillman’s front hubs can be greased conveniently through nipples inset in the hub caps and that an auxiliary lever behind the r.h. gear and brake levers does not, as one supposed, dip the headlamps but, in fact, when in working order, opens the sprung lid of the dickey seat—a refinement the owner must have appreciated as he drew up to offer a lift to ladies who might not have been able to lift open the heavy upholstered cover of the “rumble seat” unaided.
At Taunton it was possible to examine the remainder of the vintage entry. Apart from the motor-cycle stalwarts, some of whom rode belt-driven bicycles behind dim acetylene lamps, the cars were an imposing array. Wright had his aluminium-bodied Powerplus-powered 1924 Frazer-Nash, Dr. Harris his well-known 1926 Meadows Frazer-Nash. Whowell drove a closed 1927 Rolls-Royce Twenty. Cheshire’s 1926 short-stroke 12/50 Alvis sported an aluminium open four-seater body. Box’s 1927 Austin Seven Chummy retained its original shape and 3-speed gearbox but was spoilt by later pressed-steel wheels. Bryant’s 1927 Austin Seven and Marshall’s 1924 Austin Seven looked to be commendably original “Chummy” tourers. Stiles drove his 1930 Jowett “Black Prince” fabric saloon, Roberts a very nice 1926 Morris-Oxford two-seater, Huckstepp 1924 coupé Morris-Oxford. Bettridge’s 1930 Lea-Francis was a Meadows-engined wide two-seater, Huxham had a very smart, original and imposing 1928 4-1/2-litre open Bentley (with a cone of steel plate attached to its off-side front hub cap with which to fend off the wall at Bluehills Mine hairpin!), while Rosselli’s 1929 Lagonda was one of the classic open 2-litres. Filsell’s 1929 Fiat 509 fabric saloon was indulging in piston-ring maladies and lacked hill-storming power, but Ballard’s 1930 Riley Nine tourer was running well and economically.
Saunders competed in his 1926 30/98 Vauxhall, splendidly original even to Dunlop triple-stud front tyres, and Lilley’s 1930 12/50 Alvis tourer possessed enormous Zeiss headlamps of startling complexity. Very fine were Wood’s immaculate 1910 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost tourer and, contrastingly, but also immaculate, Winn’s 1919 2.8-litre Chevrolet. Miss Stocken drove her blue 1924 Trojan, which was giving generator trouble—but, naturally, she carried a spare one. Nicholson’s 1926 9/20 Humber tourer had got no further than Reading, where it retired with diverse electrical troubles, l.t. and h.t., but Hayward’s 1928 Bayliss-Thomas was present, bearing evidence of having seen a great many Land’s End Trials. Mann had a 1926 open 3-litre Bentley that was a credit to this illustrious marque and Whitehouse and Howell were comfortably ensconced in saloons, the former in his familiar 2-litre Ballot, the latter in a seemingly unsuitable but, in fact, effective 1930 Type 16 5.3-litre Bugatti, like a scaleed-down “Royale.”
Fortified by breakfast at midnight and by the discovery that the Hillman was doing nearly 30 m.p.g., we set off for the hills. Porlock didn’t trouble us, neither did Lynmouth. Station Lane we ascended strongly until, with a startling bang, the engine stopped, luckily beyond the observed section. It restarted satisfactorily but appeared to be suffering from mysterious intermittent patrol starvation. This we grappled with for many miles, the fault making any attempt at Beggar’s Roost impossible. This notorious hill defeated most of the entries. Sensibly, the Edwardian Rolls-Royce, which climbed everything else, didn’t try it, but the 4-1/2-litre Bentleys, the big Bugatti saloon and both Frazer-Nashes got up.
Eventually our trouble was traced to a defective rotor in the M.L. magneto, which, cured, gave no further trouble, apart from difficult starting. Old Bluehills Mine, the last observed section, is a reasonably easy climb even for vintage cars—if they can get round the bottom hairpin. Like most of the entry the Hillman required a reverse. Preston’s handsome 1927 12/50 Alvis long-stroke tourer made it non-stop with a very good climb, Hayward put one front wheel up the bank but his Bayliss-Thomas kept going to make a splendid ascent, and Stiles’ unobtrusive Jowett saloon earned applause for its nonchalant cornering and climb. Miss Stocken’s Trojan had no trouble at all. Both Bryant’s little Austin Seven and Ballard’s Riley Nine tackled Bluehills splendidly— vindication for vintage light cars! Cheshire got the inside wheels of his Alvin up the bank at the hairpin and failed, but Whowell’s Rolls-Royce proved that a properly-designed big vintage car can succeed.
So the Anniversary entry in the 1958 Land’s End Trial wended its way to Newquay, a town deserted by holiday-makers on account of the Arctic weather. When results came through it was seen that the only cars to gain First Class Awards were the two “chain gang” Frazer-Nashes. The M.C.C. has said that a vintage section will be included in its events only at appropriate anniversaries but so enjoyable was this revival of the older “Land’s Ends” that many people are hoping the V.S.C.C. and V.M.C.C, will manage to permode “Jackie” Masters to invite them again next Easter.
On the Sunday the Hillman brought us back the 250 miles from Cornwall to Berkshire at a surprisingly satisfactory average speed and in that comfort and security exclusive to a car of this vintage, not the least of its charm being a fuel-range in the region of 350 miles, a convenience some modern manufacturers might well incorporate in their 1958 cars!—W. B.
The Historic Commercial Vehicle Club, which claims over 56 members will hold its first rally at the Leyland works, Leyland, Lancs., over the week-end of May 31st/June 1st. Tests and a Concours d’Elegance will be held.
The Sunbeam M.C.C. will hold its 12th annual Veteran and Vintage motor-cycle and car rally on June 15th. This event, judged on mileage over the competitors’ own route covered on the Sunday morning, allied to age of driver and vehicle, is open to all comers. The finish and rallying point will be based on Beaulieu Motor Museum, where a vintage and veteran quiz will be open to the public after the event. Entries close on May 27th, at 10s. for a solo. 12s. 6d. for a sidecar or tricycle, 15s. for a car, while entrants can have a fortnight’s third-party insurance cover for an extra 5s. or 7s. 6d. There will be a Concours d’Elegance, weather permitting. on the afternoon of the rally, judged by the spectators! Altogether this sounds an excellent event. Regulations from: S. W. White. 16, Whitfield Gardens, Mitcham, Surrey.