At the coalface
Simon Arron Editor 1991-1996 "Who do you think you are, telling me what's going in…
V.S.C.C Silverstone Meeting (April 20th)
Conclusive proof of enthusiasm for vintage-car racing was seen by the very big crowd which braved appalling weather at this meeting, and the enormous entry of 172, which swamped the Paddock. Unfortunately only two Edwardians were present and interesting cars like Sir R. Mallais’ V12 Sunbeam, Rowley’s V12 Delage, Schellenberg’s 6 1/2-litre Bentley and Brooke’s 1922 T.T. Vauxhall defaulted—Brooke must have spent as much on entry fees as on the restoration of this Vauxhall by now, but we despair of ever seeing it. The much-publicised ex-Bira 4 1/2-litre O.S.C.A. of the Historica Martini was present but it might have been better if it hadn’t been—we like Martini, without the historica.
After a very damp One Hour High Speed Trial in which only Winder (Humber Special), Taylor/Pearce (Riley), Underwood (Aston Martin), Mortimer (Riley), Dick (Riley), Williams/GilIies (H.R.G.) and Williamson (Lancia Aprilia) qualified, racing opened with a 5-lap Handicap. Baker’s Appleton Special, said to be boosted at 15 lb. instead of its pre-war 45 lb., nevertheless took the lead at lap 3 and won, at 62.76 m.p.h., from Stephen’s 4.3 Alvis and Husband’s blown Talbot Special.
Still in rain, a fine field lined up for the 1908 G.P. Itala Trophy 10-lap Race. Bradley’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley “tourer” led all the historic racing machinery for 6 laps but Morley’s great 2-seater 8-litre Bentley was wearing him down and took the lead to win at 66.26 m.p.h. Some way back Arnold-Forster’s beautiful Delage II held 3rd place, ahead of Ashley’s Frazer Nash. Rippon’s Bugatti won on handicap, Bergel (Bugatti) held a wild slide at Woodcote without lifting off, but St. John, having put a proper engine in a 2.3 G.P. Bugatti that last year had a Ford V8 engine, broke the gear lever.
Another 5-lap race was a triumph for the handicappers, for Collis’ linered-down 1934 20.9 Sunbeam tourer, geared-up a bit with 21 in. rear tyres, went surprisingly quickly, but only beat Bennett in the ex-Powys-Lybbe 12/50 Alvis by a few lengths, at 50.65 m.p.h. Liston Young’s Balilla Fiat was 3rd, this race counting for the 1963 Inter-Register Trophy, so it was a fine turnup for S.T.D.—the V.S.C.C. having sanctioned the race, was so disinterested they called it an “Inter-Region” contest! Actually the contest produced the fine sight of racing Austin 12/4s and Fiat 501—and one of the 12/4s was much quicker than a “Speed Model” 2-litre Lagonda! Riddle’s 1921 G.N. lost the exhaust pipe from its near-side “pot.”
Ashley really wound-up his 1930 Frazer Nash to win the Merrydown Trophy Race at 66.23 m.p.h. from Footit’s A.C.-G.N. and Meyhew’s Riley 9. The following 5-lap Handicap produced another close finish, Archdale’s 1932 Frazer Nash averaging 63.14 m.p.h. just beating Skipper’s Lagonda Rapier, Weston’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley 3rd.
Much was expected of the 10-lap All-Comers’ Scratch Race. On a wet track Horton ran away from the field in his 1950 AL10 2-litre Connaught and all that the Hon. Patrick Lindsay in the E.R.A. “Remus” could do—and he took Woodcote in fearsome slides, in contrast to the rock-steady Connaught—was of no avail, although on lap six they were side-by-side. Horton won at 68.98 m.p.h. but Lindsay made fastest lap, at 71.12 m.p.h. In spite of stalling it at the start, Waller recovered splendidly, his E.R.A. taillng Brown’s E.R.A. and passing it into 3rd place when Brown spun on the last lap. Salvage’s A3 Connaught retired, Goodacre’s single-seater converted PA M.G. had a nasty sideways slide towards the pits on lap four, and the O.S.C.A. non-started. Morris’ luridly-painted E.R.A. “Hanuman,” now back in England from S. Africa, was a welcome runner. Bradley’s Bentley deservedly took the vintage award—and 5th place.
Lord Montagu was savagely over-handicpped in the next 5-lap Handicap, his 1914 Prince Henry Vauxhall, entered by the Midland Motor Museum (which opens at Measham on May 29th, with a parade that may include “Bloody Mary”) being sent off with two E-type 30/98s. His Lordship was having a bad day, as his Alfa Romeo, after a winter’s rebuild, was found to have worn-out king-pins, but he laughed off such misfortunes. The race was won by Weston’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley, disguised as a modern special. It averaged 60.78 m.p.h. but nearly lost the race when a slide and a missed cog at Woodcote on lap four allowed Poynter to repass his adversary. Poynter’s Lea-Francis was 2nd, Millar’s 3-litre twin-cam ex-Macnaughton Sunbeam another “modernised” vintage car, 3rd. Mayhew’s special-bodied Riley 9 won the Spero Trophy Small Car Race by an enormous margin, at 62.42 m.p.h. Winder’s Riley was 2nd, Miles’ Austin 3rd with only three lengths between them.
Arnold-Forster’s Delage II came through on the last lap to win the next handicap at 65.83 m.p.h., after Barraclough’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley had led all the way. Cook’s 1935 Riley was 3rd. Morin Scott in the O.S.C.A. managed a lap, lost it at Woodcote, and retired. This should be a very formidable car, with less Martini in the fuel. Poynter’s 1928 Lea-Francis, built from scrap parts as a replica of Peacock’s Le Mans car, won the final handicap at 56.75 m.p.h. which should encourage Meadows Lea-Francis enthusiasts, and Pollard’s 1935/6 A.C. pipped Askew’s 1 3/4-litre blown Alfa Romeo by perhaps a quarter of a length to 2nd place. Allen deposited Rosten’s Frazer Nash in the Woodcote ditch after shedding a chain on get-away, the rain returned in torrents, and spectators and drivers at the first V.S.C.C. Race Meeting in 1963 oozed-their way homewards.—W. B.
Comments:—The course-car was a Riley Gamecock. If p.v.t. entries were refused vintage cars would have more room in the Paddock! We did not appreciate a wet, muddy walk, consequent on our car (admittedly a modern TR4) being refused admission when we arrived, Press credentials correct, two hours before the first race. Neve’s 1914 Humber was as fast as a 1935/6 AC. Holland’s G.N .Special has a modern rad. cowl, much chromium, a triple-S.U. A.C. Six engine and an oil-cooler. Gibson drove the ex-Aitken monoposto Frazer Nash. “Hanuman” spun in its second race. Coplan’s Lagonda Rapier had a 9 to 1 c.r.
Alvis enthusiasts should note that the Alvis Owner Club’s annual National Alvis Day at the Crystal Palace will take place on May 19th. This event usually attracts over 300 Alvis cars and ranks as one of the biggest one-make gatherings. There will be a Cavalcade of Alvis models from 1921 to 1963, driving tests and a Concours d’Elegance in three age groups. Details from K. R. Day, 55 Motspur Park, New Malden, Surrey.
The Morgan 3-wheeler Club Sprint will take place at Church Lawford Airfield, near Rugby on May 19th, over tarmac courses of 1/4 and 1/2-mile, electrically timed. The B.S.A. Front Wheel Drive Club, M.C.C., B.M.C.R.C. and the National Sprint Association are invited. Entries close on May 7th; forms from I. M. Clay, 395, Uttoxeter Road, Derby.
Bentley fanatics will find in the always interesting and so beautifully produced Bentley Drivers Club Review for April a comprehensive survey of the production of 3 1/2 and 4 1/2-litre Bentleys between 1934 and 1939, an article on the controversial 4-litre Bentley and photographs of the bodies used on the Bentley raced by E. R. Hall in the 1934, 1935 and 1936 T.T. races, amongst other palatable material.
The 12/50 Alvis Register Bulletin for March contained an extremely interesting breakdown of the cars on their books, from which it is seen that roughly 10% of the total production of approximately 8,250 vintage Alvis cars is still in existence. These include 23 examples of 12/40, 516 of 12/50, plus three racing versions, 134 of 12/60, twelve of 14/75, 69 of Silver Eagle, 22 of the F.W.D. model, and four 19/82s. Only one 10/30 Alvis has survived. The list totals 786 cars, but some may have been broken up since the previous breakdown was compiled in 1954, when the Register listed 537 Alvis cars. This naturally includes cars all over the World, but does not encompass 43 which exist, but without original bodywork, or 14 known to have been dismantled for spares.
By years, 1920 and 1922 have one representative each, 1923 has 16, 1924 has 27, 1925 has 28, 1926 has 57, 1927 has 85, 1928 has the same number, 1929 has 54 (contemporary production had fallen due to the F.W.D. project), 1930 has 74, 1931 claims 205 and 1932, at which year the 12/50 Register sets a limit, has 146; seven cars first registered in 1933 have turned up, however, and are to be admitted. The Bulletin wisely points out that “while statistics can be used to prove, or disprove, almost anything, the figures provide interest, if nothing else.” We agree, and if anyone cares to do a similar breakdown of makes and models in the newly-issued V.S.C.C. Membership List, we will be delighted to publish it.
Amongst notable Alvis cars in the Register are a 1923 12/40 saloon which is the oldest known example of this model, the first 12/50 racing car delivered to a private owner, two 1924 200-Mile Race cars, a 1924 factory demonstrator, at least one 9 ft. 0 1/2-in. wheelbase chassis, a 1925 12/50 still used by its original owner, three 1928 F.W.D. T.T. cars, the prototype 16/95, a “Double Twelve” race Silver Eagle and several “original owner” Alvis cars in regular use after at least 35 years and over 250,000 miles.
Recent discoveries reported by readers embrace a 1930 Morris van in Essex, slightly damaged and urgently in need of rescue, a pair of Deemster wheels with axle and a 5-stud b.e. wheel in Buxted, a model-T Ford truck and a very early Titan tractor with enormously long push-rods still in occasional use in Cheshire, a 1924 Morris-Cowley with lorry body, said to have been owned in the past by Sir John Simeon, for which £50 o.n.o. was being asked in the Isle of Wight, together with the remains of a 1925 bullnose Morris and many spares, and an unidentified vintage commercial in Essex.
Someone has saved a 1922-4 14-h.p. Rover saloon that was about to be scrapped in Northants, and a stage-coach has been seen rotting away in Kent. Someone offers Aero Minx spares, someone else a 1930 Standard Nine chassis in running order. Then there is a 1928 Ruby-engined Vernon-Derby in dismantled condition in Surrey and a 1933 Austin Light 12/4 with Isis back axle looking for a home in Warwickshire. And near Angus we hear of an old Vulcan ‘bus or van, a 20/60 Vauxhall breakdown truck, what sounds like an H.E. chassis, a circa 1925 Daimler, a Rolls-Royce P2 chassis, an early Austin hearse, a 1922 Humber tourer, an A.J.S. and 1926 Austin 12/4 in a scrap yard, a huge Merryweather fire-engine, all laid up or rotting away, and of a 4-cylinder Austin 20 limousine still in use in Stonehaven. A 1924 Sentinel steam wagon, original save for pneumatic tyres, has ended its active life in Liverpool but is being preserved by the firm that owns it.
Letters can be forwarded. A 3-cylinder Rolls-Royce has been restored in the North, another Alfonso Hispano-Suiza has turned up in Australia, making six there in all, and a model-T Ford tourer is on show at Willment’s new premises on the Chertsey Arterial Road.
The Bean Car Club reports the discovery of seven Beans, two of them Bean Commercials, within five weeks. On May 12th they have a Signpost Rally in Berkshire and on June 5th assemble at a local school to demonstrate historical facts of motoring life to the boys, which seems a very sound idea. Hon. Sec.: R. Tapley, Hill Farm Lodge, Shurlock Row, near Reading, Berkshire.
Only suggestion as to the identity of the American car pictured last month is—Chandler.
Apologies to the Vintage Austin Register for not including them as one of the Inter-Register contest participants—now that this organisation caters for vintage Austin Sevens they hope to field a strong entry this year—and for omitting Peter Elias’ 1924 Morgan-Blackburne from the list of surviving vintage Morgan three-wheelers. Incidentally, at its Beaulieu Rally on May 5th the Vintage Austin Register expects to assemble a very large gathering of vintage Austin Sevens.
The important vintage and veteran fixtures for May are the International Bugatti Rally of May 3rd-12th, with the Prescott Speed Hill-Climb on May 5th and the V.C.C./V.S.C.C. International Rally from May 9th-11th with the big assembly at Goodwood on Saturday, and the Historic Commercial Vehicle Brighton Run on May 5th.
The vintage cult starts in Czechoslovakia
From a last year’s edition of Czechoslovak Life (in English!) we learn that last May at Pardubice 17 old cars indulged in a 15-minute race from a Le Mans start, round a street circus, after the organiser, Jan Fait, had sensibly told the participants that the event was intended to be serious, not comic, and they were not to indulge in clowning or dangerous tricks. Apart from 18 old motorcycles the cars included an 1899 Decanville and 1907 8-h.p. Renault from Prague Museum, a 1905 Fafnir, a 1900 Mason Regulator steamer, a 1928 Praga, a 1910 Turikum, a 1912 Praga and a 1907 Opel. The motorcycles were classed over and under 350 c.c., the cars pre-1910 and 1910-1918. The oldest entry was an 1890 Mauer, which retired on the first lap. Other runners included a 1907 Laurin et Klement, 1909 Walter 3-wheeler, 1909 Bugatti and a Buchet. Life devoted four pages, including a pictorial-spread, to the event. We thank the Chester reader who sent the cuttings.—W. B.
V.S.C.C. Pomeroy Trophy (March 23rd/24th)
Pomeroy Trophy: J. G. Sears (1914 T.T. Sunbeam).
Cars up to 2,250 c.c.: Best Performance: C. B. L. Harding (1961 Lotus). First Class Awards: J. V. Skirrow (1930 Frazer Nash), Dr. J. L. Stretton (1954 Porsche), C. A. Winder (1923/8 Humber Special). Second Class Awards: J. M. Read (1935 Lagonda Rapier), J. M. C. Michelson (1951 Frazer Nash), P. E. L. Carmichael (1935 Aston Martin). Third Class Awards: M. McGrath (1960 Morris 850), G. W. Daniels (1958 Triumph TR), G. R. Howe (1954 Morgan Plus Four).
Cars over 2,250 C.C.: First Class Awards: H. C. Bergel (1926 2.3 Bugatti), G. M. Crozier (1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL). Second Class Awards: C. Clutton (1929 Bugatti), M. H. Morris (1931 Talbot). Third Class Awards: F. A. Sowden (1930 8-litre Bentley), A. S. R. Charnock (1932/39 Alvis Special).
Next V.S.C.C. Meeting—Beaulieu Driving Tests on May 26th.
Simon Arron Editor 1991-1996 "Who do you think you are, telling me what's going in…
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