Veteran-Edwardian-Vintage, May 1965

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A section devoted to old-car matters

An analysis of the V.S.C.C. Pomeroy Trophy Competition

The Pomeroy Memorial Trophy Competition was instituted in 1952 by Laurence Pomeroy in memory of his famous father. The idea was to promote a competition, in this instance open to cars of all ages but of at least 2-1/4-litres capacity, in which, by a series of tests involving steering accuracy, high-speed reliability, top speed, acceleration and fuel consumption, levelled by an ingenious formula evolved by mathematician Pomeroy, the winner would represent broadly the best type of high-speed touring car, well fitted to following in the great traditions of the 30/98 Vauxhall designed by Laurence Pomeroy’s father.

The nature of the contest has changed somewhat down the years. Silverstone now being used for the tests, followed by a road section on the following day, the fuel consumption part has been dropped, and although the Pomeroy Memorial Trophy, a fine Rex Hays’ model of a 1914 G.P. Vauxhall, is still competed for amongst the big cars, there is a class for those of less than 2-1/4-litres. The winners to date have been:–

1952: Peter Binns’ 1924 30/98 Vaughall, which must have delighted Mr. Pomeroy.

1953: J. G. Vessey’s 1927 Lancia Lambda, which, remembering the i.f.s. and advanced gear-change of these cars, was just as satisfactory.

1954: J. G. Sears’ 1914 T.T. Sunbeam, which was stretching the point, although pre-war racing cars were used as high-speed touring cars in the ‘twenties.

1955: R. Benstead-Smith’s 1954 Triumph TR2, which was one up for the sports cars against the tourers and a black year for vintage-car fanatics.

1956: L. S. Richards’ 1932 Alvis Speed 20, which was the sort of car the competition was intended to encourage.

1957: CanceIled – Suez.

1958: C. Barker’s 1930 M.G. 18/80, again, quite in the spirit of the competiticin, although one wonders if Pomeroy visualised an M.G., especially a big M.G., winning his Trophy when it was first presented in 1946?

1959: L. S. Michael’s 1936 4-1/2-itre Lagonda, proof, following the results of 1952, 53, 56 and 58, that the formula was working!

1960: R. C. Symondson’s 1936 3.3-litre Type 57S Bugatti—exactly the type of car Pomeroy wanted his contest to foster.

1961: A. C. Dogett’s 1956 Aston Martin DB—again, an entirely satisfactory outcome.

1962: J. T. Williamson’s 1928 4-1/2-litre Bentley—so it really was working out.

1963: J.G. Sears’ 1914 T.T. Sunbeam, so the old racer has twice beaten the high-speed tourers and sports cars.

1964: H. C. Bergel’s 1926 2.3-litre type 35T Bugatti, which was again a bias towards the racing car, not perhaps quite what Pomeroy’s formula was intended to foster.

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This year a truly excellent mixed entry came in, of 33 cars over 2-1/4-litres and 27 of under 2-1/4-litres, plus a couple of reserves, both in the smaller class. They ranged from Barker’s 1908 Napier of 11,580 c.c. to several 1964 cars. The weather at Silverstone on March 27th was fine, with a stiff breeze, and only eight non-starters were posted. These included Michael Bowler’s 1925 Frazer Nash, its rebuilt ongine having bearing trouble en route, and Winder’s Humber Special, the king-pin clearances of which upset the scrutineers, but Barker’s Napier unfortunately broke a transmission-brake shoe before the first test, and had to withdraw. Perhaps the old shoes found a new drum, made from a tube of centrifugally-cast iron, recently installed, too much for them.

Proceedings opened with high-speed swervery, to test steering and stability. “Jonty” Williamson’s 1927/8 3/4-1/2-litre Bentley was naturally lurid. Barraclough nearly lost his 1924/8 3/4-1/2-litre Bentley, Leo spun his triple-Weber-carbureted V12 Lagonda DP115 coming into the swerves, Symondson’s 1935 4-1/2-litre Bentley Continental indulged in an acceleration slide on the loose surface at the side of the track, and Crozier spun his Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Super. Curtis’ Cooper-Bristol tail-slid from the last corner, Giles’ T.T. Replica Frazer Nash twitched through in typical “Chain Gang” style, and Stretton’s Porsche 356A and Pilkington’s s/c. 1,750-c.c. Alfa Romeo were both fast. Blight made a muddle, in Talbot BGH 23, which was using an Arthur Fox inlet manifold with two d/d. S.U. carburetters. Conway, Jnr., broke the gear-lever of his Type 23 Bugatti.

Quite a number of spectators had turned up by lunchtime, in cars ranging from a very fine open Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost tourer and a 6-cylinder Delage drophead, to an original-looking Singer Junior tourer, tatty big Delage saloon and Talbot 75, etc.

There were two one-hour High-Speed Trials round the Club circuit, with penalties for stopping. In the first Williamson got well away from the varigated field, it being quite a time before le Sage’s Ferrari 250GT, a 1959 car, closed on him. Daniels’ 1930 Le Mans 4-1/2-litre Bentley found Symondson’s Bentley Continental in its path and finally passed inside. Pollard’s 1963 Studebaker Avanti saloon, an ugly car the 4.7-litre engine of which has a supercharger blowing air into the carburetter, began by misfiring seriously, but it improved later. Sir Ralph Millais’ beautiful Le Mans 2.3 blown Alfa Romeo, which has lost a year or two since its appearance in the programmes a few seasons back, was going well, as was Harry Bowler’s 1929 4-1/2-litre Bentley. The 30/98 Vauxhalls sounded rather flat, particularly Milner’s, Grice’s Frazer Nash shed a chain but continued at unabated speed, Blight’s Talbot was losing ground a bit to Bowler (but this wasn’t a race), and McGrath’s radio-equipped Jaguar E-type had both its boot and bonnet lids fly up – the driver dealt with the former himself and a pit-attendant slammed the latter shut as the car slowed to a crawl without actually stopping. Page’s 1937 4-1/4-litre Bentley 2-seater lapped quietly and confidently, as did Cole’s 1934 3-1/4-litre Bentley saloon. Oddie’s 1930 4-1/2-litre Bentley made awful misfiring noises after some 35 minutes had elapsed, and Grice’s 4-1/4-litre Bentley-engined Frazer Nash, on 6.70 x 16 rear tyres, finally shed its steering wheel but was ably directed without this component, until it retired with a chewed-up rotor arm.

In the second High-Speed Trial Gahagan made a race of it in his Volvo, its Firestone tyres screaming on the corners, so that he out-classed Winder’s Rover 2000 and Lines’ I.h.d. Volvo. PVS44. The modern Alfa Romeo Giulias leant on the corners and at one time the TI Super led the TI, followed by the vintage model of Pilkington, which should have delighted Peter Hull!

Morris had the only post-war Frazer Nash, a 1953 Le Mans coupé, yet a F.N.C.C. has been formed because there are so few events for which these cars are eligible! Heath’s “boy’s racer” 12/50 Alvis sported a Brooklands’ silencer, Mann’s Straker Squire got very hot and crawled round to finish, and Portway’s yellow 1922 30/98 Vauxhall retired after about 45 minutes.

Hutchings’ 328 B.M.W. was going splendidly, with purposeful exhaust note. Marsh sensibly kept well to the left in his slow but very choice 1920 25/50 Talbot with Salmons drophead body on a chassis which once served a Byfleet garage as its breakdown truck, a Kuhlwasser Kontroller on radiator filler cap (actually a sort of Motometer) allowing the E.R.A. driver to keep an eye on the temperature. Mrs. Lindsdell’s 1929 O.M. lapped steadily.

With Jaguar C-type, M.G.B, the Le Mans V12 Lagonda, Ferrari 250GT, Cooper-Bristol, E-type and other rapid moderns mixed up with vintage and p.v.t. cars it was all very entertaining. But let us hope that the V.S.C.C. Committee will not be carried away and extend the Club’s activities to cover post-war classic sports cars in all its events: to do so produces a Paddock too reminiscent of just another Club race meeting, in the writer’s humble opinion.

The weather held for the road-section on the Sunday, so that this was a delightful experience for most of the competitors, last year’s mud-bath on a farm having been deleted from the proceedings.

The event is run to the formula of 70 over L x C x Y, where L is inches frorn pedals to rear axle, C is litres, and Y the year of manufacture minus 1900. Apart from reliability in the non-stop one-hour trial and road section, the tests counted. The contest is intended to find the best all-round touring car entered, but some people consider that seating accommodation, m.p.g. and luggage space should also be marked. In the Wiggle-Woggle the three best times were: Sowden (Jaguar), 22.33 sec., Curtis (Cooper-Bristol), 22.87 sec., and Grice (Frazer Nash), 23.21 sec. In the braking test first place was a tie between Hutchings (B.M.W.) and Pollard (Studebaker) in 6.4 sec. Third place was also a tie, between Gahagan (Volvo) and Blight (Talbot) in 6.9 sec. The s.s. and f.s. 1/4-miles were somewhat affected by being slightly uphill from a greasy start. The three best times in the former were Sowden, 14.99 sec., McGrath (Jaguar), 15.41 sec., and Pollard, 16.56 sec., and in the latter, McGrath, 8.82 sec., Pollard, 8.91 sec., and Sowden, 9.14 sec. I hoped to deduce something erudite from all this but except that Hutchings got more marks than anyone ever has, but failed to win the Trophy, and that Blight (Talbot) would have won had he not driven too slowly after missing a marker in the Woggle, there is little to deduce, but Alfa Romeo enthusiasts will agree that the best car won.

Results:

Class 1 (Cars over 2-1/2-litres):

Pomeroy Memorial Trophy: Sir Ralph Millais (1932 2.3 s/c. Le Mans Alfa Romeo).

First Class Awards: B. Sismey (1934 Alvis Speed 20), J. A. F. Blight (1934 Talbot 105).

Second Class Awards: J. T. Williamson (1927/8 3/4-1/2 Bentley). P. A. M. Page (1937 41-1/2 Bentley. G. Daniels (1930 4-1/2 Bentley).

Third Class Awards: H.P. Bowler (1929 4-1/2 Bentley), A. D, Jones (1923 30/98 Vauxhall).

Class 2 (Cars under 2-1/2-litres):

Best Performance Trophy: R. A. Hutchings (1937 328 B.M.W.).

First Class Award: M. H. Morris (1953 Le Mans Frazer Nash).

Second Class Awards: J. M. Read (1935 Lagonda Rapier), F. G. Giles (1932 T.T. Replica Frazer Nash).

Third Class Awards: H. R. Slater (1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint), R. A Pilkington (1931 1750 s/c. Alfa Romeo).

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Discoveries.—A garage established in Sussex in 1931 is about to be sold and contains lots of early parts and accessories, so jumbled as to be difficult to sort out. On the premises there is a rough but complete 12-h.p. Armstrong Siddeley saloon, a 1927 Morris-Oxford saloon, a 5 c.v. Citroën back axle assembly less casing and pinion, a Calcott engine and chassis parts, an early National Benzole petrol pump, Claudel Hobson carburetter from a Mors racing car, etc., etc.

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Vintage miscellany.—The vintage car movement has clearly spread to India, the recent Delhi-Sohna-Palwal-Delhi Vintage Car Rally organised by The Statesman being the second such event, for in 1964 the movement opened with the 115-mile Delhi-Bharatpur Rally. Entries included most of the well-known makes, to a total of 25, The Statesman Trophy going to His Highness the Maharaja of Nabha’s 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost tourer. A very interesting entry was that of a 1921 Farman tourer, still capable of 75 m.p.h. We note that the programme refers in one place to the cars as “crocks” but concedes that “the rally has caught the fancy of the public and has become an important event in the life of Delhi.”

The May issue of Model Cars is a special Mercedes issue and contains a description of John Stubbs’ remarkable 1/8-th-scale working model of the 1913 chain-drive G.P. Mercedes, powered by a Westbury Twin model petrol engine. lci Renault has been carrying a comprehensive history of Renault cars between the wars, by William Boddy, another instalment of which should appear in the May/June issue; copies are available from Renault Ltd. of Acton, at 2s. each. There is to be a Rally of Renault owners at the Acton works on May 30th, from 2 p.m. onwards, when many veteran and Edwardian, and some vintage, Renaults will be present—the Concours d’Elegance is to be judged by the Editor of Motor Sport and others. When Dr. Robert Lillie received his O.B.E, for services to Scottish art he was driven to Buckingham Palace in a bullnose Morris-Oxford by Miss Margaret Thomas, who is a member of the V.S.C.C. and the Bullnose Morris Club.

We have seen near Hereford a much modified Ulster Austin 7 with the long bonnet of the production models, cowled radiator and M.G.-like dashboard which bears plates stating that it is the car with which Marsh and Davis won the 1930 500-Mile Race at Brooklands and in which Davis took long-distance Class H records, although the car bears no resemblance to the original “Blood Orange.” The widow of the late Mr. J. H. Bean has consented to become Patron of the Bean Car Club. Joan Tapley tells us her son and daughter both own Austin 10/4s, respectively a 1934 saloon and a 2-seater.