A section devoted to old-car matters
On the M.C.C "Land's End" in a 9/20 Humber
In 1952 the Motor Cycling Club included a vintage class in the Land's End Trial and repeated this gesture in 1958, and again last Easter. Because the writer believes that if pains are taken over restoring vintage cars to contemporary condition it is but logical to have replicas of contemporary events in which they can compete, he wished to associate himself with these vintage "Land's Ends". He drove a 1924 11.9 Lagonda in the 1952 event and navigated last year in a 1929 Hillman Fourteen. This Easter he rode as passenger in T. Nicholson's 1926 9/20 Humber tourer.
This time vintage entries were rather disappointing, in number if not in quality. There were but 15 cars and four vintage motor-cycles. This meagre entry consisted of Whitehouse's attractive 1926 2-litre Ballot saloon, Cheshire's special-bodied 1926 12/50 short-stroke Alvis, Miss Stoeken's 1924 Trojan with plain-bearing engine, Allaway's nice 1928 Swift Ten tourer, Ballard's 1929 Riley Nine fabric tourer, Marshall's 1927 Austin Seven, Wason's 1928 Sunbeam Sixteen tourer, Stiles' 1929 9/28 Humber saloon, Bettridge's 1930 12/40 Lea-Francis, Bradshaw's similar car, Pearce's eye-catching 1924 11.9 A.C. Anzani two-seater and Collins' 1930 12/60 Alvis coupé. In addition, Burgess had substituted a vast Packard saloon with a big trunk roped to its luggage grid in place of his model-A Ford, Huxham was acting as a travelling marshal in his open 4-1/2-litre Bentley, and there was the aforesaid Humber into which the writer stowed himself a few minutes before it was due to start from the "Peggy Bedford" at Longford.
Besides these vintage motorists who were prepared to undertake this long adventurous Easter pilgrimage, four vintage motorcyclists turned out. They were Chapman, riding a 1930 Royal Enfield, Cresswell on his belt-drive s.v. 346 c.c. Raleigh, Birch, whose 1926 Scott relied on acetylene lighting, and Filsell's 1926 O.K.Supreme with s.v. 293 c.c. J.A.P. engine.
As we progressed steadily towards the first check at Silbury, the Humber's back-axle whining merrily and its prop-shaft vibrating alarmingly on the over-run, Nicholson explained that the almost total lack of oil-pressure was of no concern because the gauge is tapped from the o.h. valve gear supply and that although a front brake axle was fitted these brakes were not coupled up, so that we were relying on contracting back brakes and transmission brake.
Soon clouds rolled over the moon, rain descended, and near Marlborough a halt was called to erect the hood.
It was still dark as we made a successful ascent of Porlock and failed on Lynmouth, the O.K.-Supreme nearly ramming us on the latter hill where a gear jumping out made its rider swerve. Thereafter there was a strong smell of burning clutch lining every time we passed this intrepid motor-cyclist and eventually he was forced to lock the clutch up solid.
It was still dark as we waited to attack Station Lane, and we felt sorry for Lynton's residents as the 125 cc. Moto Rumi scooters ran up their engines. This hill was stopping most of the vintage entry and again the Humber's passengers had tiring walk to the summit. The moon was out again by now, softening the break of day, as we ran into Bode for a second breakfast, the first having been taken in Taunton at the impossible hour of 2.30 a.m. Before this we had attempted a new, rather muddy hill, Twitchen, where the Humber refused to get away through initial wheelspin.
Then on towards Perranporth, sometimes running behind the Edwardian girth of Wason's Sunbeam tourer, sometimes overtaken by an efficient-sounding 12/40 Lea-Francis, for a successful onslaught of the dreaded Bluehills Mine, Nicholson just getting round the notorious hairpin. Here the Ballot failed, the Raleigh bicycle got up splendidly, Cheshire's Alvis managed it in a haze of blue smoke, the Scott's rider was careful but successful, Huxham ran his Bentley up the bank and stopped, the Trojan went up strongly, likewise Allaway's Swift, to his surprise, while Ballard 's Riley Nine climbed fast.
After this there was time to waste before signing off at Nets quay where "Jackie" Masters was outside the St. Rumon's Hotel to greet us. On this cold Easter Saturday afternoon we retired to sleep, eat and sleep at a rather unsatisfactory hotel on the heights of Pentire.
We came home again on that dismal wet Easter Sunday, the Humber averaging some 35 m.p.g., consuming just over half-a-pint of oil in more than 600 very hard miles and giving no trouble, although the brakes were adjusted twice -- vindication of the vintage light car! Incidentally, in the holiday traffic on wet roads we never once found the rear-wheel braking inadequate, which makes it questionable whether taxpayers' money will be well spent on the pending compulsory examinations of the older vehicles. -- W. B
Official Opening of the Montagu Motor Museum
On a really pleasant day last month, April 5th, Lord Brabazon of Tara opened at Beaulieu the extension to the Montagu Motor Museum and unveiled a memorial to Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn.
This really was a big social occasion for believers in the older motor vehicles. Before the ceremony Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, instigator of this splendid museum, introduced his fiancée, Miss Belinda Crossley, to some 850 guests, who included Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss, after which we took champagne and refreshments in a vast marquee on the smooth lawn beside Palace House. Telegrams of congratulation reached Lord Montagu from most of the prominent European museums.
The contents of the Montagu Motor Museum are far too comprehensive to attempt to list them here and in any case they are all described in an official catalogue obtainable from the Museum authorities; suffice it to remark that those of our readers who have not yet been to Beaulieu will be pleased to find that the exhibits are by no means confined to very early typically "museum" pieces. Amongst the cars, motor cycles and commercial vehicles housed there. are many popular vintage models, while the stigma a museum holds for many of us (God bless the V.S.C.C. and V.C.C.!) is largely negatived by the fact that the exhibits, many of which are on loan, go out frequently on trials, races and other active missions. The cars, ranging from the 1895 Knight car to such exciting recent racing cars as Fangio's 2-1/2-litre W196 G.P. Mercedes Benz of 1954/5, the prototype F2 Lotus, a D-type Jaguar and a V16 B.R.M., include such historic racing and record-breaking cars as the 1908 G.P. Austin, the 1912 G.P. Lorraine-Dietrich, a 1912 "Coupe de l'Auto" Sunbeam, the 1919 350-h.p. V12 Sunbeam, the 1927 twin-engined 200 m.p.h. Sunbeam, the famous 231 m.p.h. Golden Arrow, a 1924 G.P. Sunbeam, etc. Certainly a feast for enthusiast's eyes!
But on April 5th it was the old cars of normal enthusiasts, which had travelled to Beaulieu to support Lord Montagu's far-sighted venture, which caught the imagination. As the glorious day rolled by, one of almost every sort of vintage car seemed to arrive at Palace House and when the special enclosure set aside for them was full to overflowing with these roadworthy old cars and motor-cycles they were parked in rows outside, from two eye-catching G.P. Bugattis to an early Morgan three-wheeler. In the enclosure we noticed, amongst the rarer cars present, two Ariel light cars, one a flat-twin, the other a "four," that Angus-Sanderson, an air-cooled A.B.C., a rare post-1918 Buick two-seater with odd pedals and detachable rims, a Standard Nine worm-drive fabric saloon, a P4B Delaunay-Belleville landaulette glitteringly restored, an Armstrong Siddeley 14 Cotswold tourer (possibly our recent articles brought this one out ?), a rear-braked Rolls-Royce Twenty tourer, an early Star, a 20/60 Sunbeam coupé, various Talbots -- first into the museum buildings had been Talbot designer Georges Roesch -- an early Singer Ten light car and, very rare, P. Roberts' big four-cylinder Cottin & Desgoutte tourer. There was also a yellow and black Austin Six bearing a stupid "Hydramatic" slogan on its radiator and, as if to prove a point, Hyde East's Railton saloon.
It was an imposing, pleasing, happy assembly, emphasising what fun vintage motoring is. Some of the better cars paraded for the inevitable Southern Television, this cavalcade including such representative cars as 30/98 Vauxhall, 4-1/2-litre Bentley, Clutton's Type 46 Bugatti, model-T Ford van, bull-nose Morris, 12/50 Alvis, Trojan, Overland Whippet, Edwardian Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, that exotic Dubonnet wooden-hulled Hispano-Suiza, Hayward's 1927 Fiat 503 tourer in which the Editor of Motor Sport rode, Fidgeon's 14/40 Sunbeam tourer in which the Editor's wife rode, 11.4 Humber and a early Austin Seven, the entire procession headed by an 1899 Star. An amusing episode occurred when a T.V. assistant gave every driver instructions about what to do if his or her car broke down, although the total distance was under a mile! We only regret we missed Clutton's retort to this unwarranted pessimism. After which the extended Montagu Motor Museum can be considered well and truly open -- if you have not yet been there an early visit is recommended. -- W. B.
The Fiat Register is holding a Concorso di Eleganza at the American Air Force Base at Bushey Park, Herts., on May 10th. Various one-make clubs and Registers have been invited to enter, also the Light Car section of the V.S.C.C., and any owner of a pre-1940 Italian car. If entries warrant, a special class for American-owned cars will be included. Details from D. C. Manning, 5, Barnfield, Malden, Surrey.
Another Concours d'Elegance will he held on June 14th in connection with the annual Fleet Carnival, with classes for veteran, vintage, p.v.t. and post-1939 cars, with a special class for members of the S.T.D. Register. Judging commences at 2.30 p.m. Entry forms from Councillor Mrs. Winifred Boddy, Carmel, Wood Lane, Fleet, Hampshire.
Last Easter old cars, their occupants wearing period costume, took part in a parade in Hyde Park at the behest of the British Travel and Holidays Association.
Correction. In connection with a recent paragraph relating to the Salmson Register we referred to the Grand Sport Salmson and a correspondent has done likewise. In fact, the correct designation is Grand Prix Salmson, Grand Sport applying to a contemporary Amilcar model. Incidentally, the Editor of Motor Sport has been made an Hon. Associate member of the Salmson Register.
V.S.C.C. fixtures for May comprise the Brixton Road Rally on May 2nd, the Ulster Spring Rally on May 16th and the Beaulieu Rally on May 31st.
Veteran and vintage car owners are invited to take part in the Bransgore (Hants) Village Fete on June 13th (there is also a traction-engine class) and in the Bere Regis (Dorset) Rally on the same date, the latter involving a seven-mile parade after 2 p.m. and a small competition. Details, respectively, from Miss Tuck, Church Cottage, Bransgore and T. W. Jesty, Manor House, Bere Regis.
A special park for vintage cars will be included at the Horsham and Crawley Road Safety Rally on May 30th.
The Vintage Austin Twelve-Four Register has decided to cater for owners of post-1930 12/4 cars by allowing them to enrol as associates. They will receive all the benefits of full membership but exclusion from competitive events.
On the subject of old-car discoveries, a 1928 Rover two-seater, laid up in 1934 and thought to have run only 28,000 miles, is reported to exist in a scrap dealers in Wales, and a 1923 Dodge 15-cwt. truck is owned by some college students in Swansea. Then we hear of a rather weather-beaten Morris-Cowley standing beside A158 between Brookmans Park and Essendon, and a Swift tourer has turned up in Norfolk.
In the West country we hear of an early Morris Commercial one-ton van and a Leyland lorry lying in breakers' yards, while in Knutsford, Cheshire, a reader mentions having seen a large Fiat, with racing numbers on the side, on flat tyres in one of the garages. We think, however, that this Fiat will turn out to be a 1910 Standard tourer seen recently in this town.
Request for information. A reader who is attempting to restore a Reading Standard motor-cycle, Reg. No. XA 7120, would like to purchase another of these machines complete and to contact past and present owners.
At Leytonstone there are rumours of an early Jowett tourer and a Calcott chassis in a scrap yard.
In Rome recently an Edwardian Metz and a little vintage Temperino were displayed in a showroom window.
A reader offers a 1921 model-T Ford handbook to anyone who would appreciate it, while in or near Edinburgh a 1922/3 23/60 Vauxhall tourer is reported as lying derelict, but this car may since have been saved.
Still they turn up! In a private garage in London three cars were unearthed recently after having been carefully stored for over twenty years. One is a 1922 G.N. Legere, the aluminium body of which has suffered from corrosion but whose engine was started without difficulty by the new owner, in spite of the fact that the car had been standing since 1927. Another is a 1928 straight-eight Bugatti which had been collected from France in 1925 and had apparently proved "too fast for owner" as it had run only 3,900 miles and was still in the original primer. The third car is an Essex which had been used last in 1935 and has run a mere 7,000 miles. The new owner hopes to re-store the Bugatti and G.N. but would dispose of the Essex to someone who would rebuild it.
The Friends of Queen Mary's Hospital for Children at Carshalton, Surrey, is including classes for veteran, Edwardian and vintage cars at its annual fete on May 30th. There will also be classes for pre- and post-war modern cars costing under and over £400 and under and over £700, respectively. The event will be a simple Concours d'Elegance in the beautiful 100-acre grounds, with special prizes for elegantly-clad occupants (not period costume) which is in the best tradition of the old Concours d'Elegance. A parade either to or around the grounds is contemplated and the cars will pass the wards to give pleasure to physically-handicapped children. Details from C. A. Cryer, 56, Milton Ave., Sutton, Surrey.
Two more old cars have survived which might be worth following up. They are a 1929 Buick coupé and a 1926 Morris-Oxford chassis, which have come to rest in Essex. Finally, we hear of a vintage Humber tourer, which is not necessarily for sale, lying derelict in the same county.
The annual Veteran and Vintage Rally of the Sunbeam M.C.C., open to any driver of a vintage or earlier car, motor-cycle or tricar, will this year be held on June 14th. The event appears somewhat less attractive than previously, because the former, run by a route of the entrant's choosing, followed by a time-trial, is replaced by a compulsory 30-mile run starting from Ripley, Reading or Stonebridge Park to the finish at Burnham Beeches, the other section of the contest being concerned with a questionnaire on veteran vehicles, road safety, etc. But prizes are plentiful and entry fees modest and an entry of over 100 vintage motor-cycles and cars is expected. Entries close on May 26th, at 15s. per car, third-party insurance being available for an additional 7s. 6d, Details from R. K. Lees, 10, Fontenay Road, S.W.12.
An interesting illustrated description of the Baguley Company, which manufactures miniature pleasure-park and industrial locomotives, but from 1902 to 1920 made cars (at first called Ryknield), appeared in English Electric for February 1959, but the Baguley cyclecar of the later nineteen-twenties isn't mentioned.
In writing up two pioneer chauffeurs recently, The Midland Daily Tribune illustrated a rare car which one of them used to drive, in the form of a 1909 Climax.
Pleasing sight in a Hampshire village -- a vintage Austin Twelve tourer and a vintage Austin Seven saloon, parked together and having the same owner -- obviously a Longbridge enthusiast!
I had been feeling somewhat under the weather following a long winter -- the effects of 'flu, catarrh, the common-cold, they said but in my bones I felt it might he a touch of white-elephantitis, a horrid disease to have with petrol tax at 2s. 6d. per gallon and no relief in the recent Tory Budget.
My dictionary -- bought while I was away in the Far North during the Second World War, when a Concise Oxford wasn't available for bribery or money -- explains a white-elephant as "a gift that gives the recipient more bother than it is worth." It also includes such motoring terms as "blower" and "supercharger" amongst words in the English language, but that is by the way. Now, in my time, I have been given quite a few motor cars and none has been "more bother than it was worth," least of all a 1913 Hispano-Suiza generously passed on to me by Forrest Lycett and which I have never ceased to regret disposing of when gearbox repairs became too costly to contemplate. So these motor cars couldn't have been white-elephants.
But there are cars to which the term white-elephant does apply, although they are unlikely to be "gifts" these days, when the price of' everything is inflated, and although in general they may prove to be "more trouble than they are worth," sometimes they can be fun. At all events, that is how I regarded an announcement that a 1936 sleeve-valve straight-eight Minerva limousine in perfect working order was awaiting a new owner. I set off to investigate. I found this rather sombre-looking post-vintage thoroughbred white-elephant easily enough. Indeed, it was surrounded by lots of other white-elephants including a G.P. Bugatti with smaller back than front brakes and a Rolls-Royce Phantom lll which carried a notice on its windscreen announcing that built new today it would be worth £25,000 (Motor Sport gave the figure last month as nearer £14,000), that its history was available as a sheaf of papers in the dealer's office, and that it had had one titled owner since new in which case I felt his chauffeur might have been just a little more conscientious in respect of exterior maintenance!
The Minerva, too, had apparently pushed itself gently off rather solid scratchy obstructions with its mudguards, and delight at discovering genuine Minerva headlamps was offset by finding the windscreen frame so rusted that one could all but push a finger through it. In any case, I was informed that the car had been sold and 'was going up to Scotland' (to the Sword collection ?), so nothing more could be done about that white-elephant.
So I am still suffering from white-elephantitis and doubt if I shall be cured until I have driven something like a Siddeley Special, Renault 45, Daimler 28/85 or Packard limousine, preferably privately owned. If being a motoring journalist were lucrative I would dearly like to run-such a car as family transport on stately occasions. But it isn't, and such vehicles need a vast garage, preferably centrally-heated, while their petrol consumption is inevitably of the single-figure m.p.g. order.
In thinking of these great cars of a past age as white-elephants, I am reminded that the same term has been applied to those stately houses in Kensington Palace Gardens, the best of them now occupied by the Soviet Embassy. Yet I am certain that this would not be the term applied by estate agents, who have a happy knack of describing even a decaying council house with porous roof as a desirable residence. It all depends, I suppose, on the point of view.
Motor dealers will continue to advertise ancient heaps of vast acreage as highly-desirable possessions but the sad fact is that the rising cost of living, the savage petrol tax, aided and abetted by neglect and anno domini have rendered redundant most of these many-litred carriages intended originally for chauffeur-propulsion. Yet to refer to such cars as white-elephants in a derogatory sense is unkind, just as it is unkind to apply the term to fine mansions which today are habitable only by embassies and the Coal Board but which, in a more prosperous age, were far more dignified than the pathetic "conversions" and close-packed duelling-boxes in their concrete forests that now pass as Englishmen's homes. If any of the better automotive white-elephants remain I hope to ferret them out, -- W.B
V.S.C.C. Pomeroy Trophy Contest (March 21st/22nd.)
Pomeroy Trophy: L. S. Michael (1936 4-1/2-litre Lagonda).
Special Award: R. Barker (1954 Peugeot 203)
Firs-Class Awards: C. Clutton (1928 Bugatti); J. P. Goodacre (1937 B.M.W.); L. Pomeroy (1959 Austin-Healey)
Second-Class Awards: Sir R. Millais (1930 Alfa Romeo); D.F.H. Wood (1957 Riley).
Third-Class Awards: L.R. Durdin (1925 Vauxhall); J. Berrisford (1925 Alvis).