The Veteran & Vintage Clubs' conference

Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, on behalf of the Veteran and Vintage Magazine, instituted a very useful conference of appropriate Club and Register secretaries, following a very good lunch in the excellent setting of The Great Gallery at the R.A.C. on April 8th. Items on the agenda included the Jowett C.C.’s suggestion that a, standard set of rules might be drawn up for use by existing and prospective Clubs. This met with the response that the R.A.C. already issues such rules.

Lord Montagu then spoke of a matter he is raising in the House of Lords, namely, the desirability of the Government scheduling certain historic vehicles which it would be an offence to export, remarking that such a law exists in Italy and to a lesser extent in France. This met mainly with disapproval, as an infringement of the liberty of the citizen, as possibly preventing the exchange of foreign makes with British ones and as unnecessary, except perhaps in the case of museums. But if it applied to only about 50 very old or historic cars (the G.P. Vanwall was cited), it was thought worth investigating. Although not many valuable British heirlooms have gone abroad in recent years, and the last two Silver Ghost Rolls-Royces sold at Sotheby’s stayed in this country, one does recall the 1903 G.B. Napier, a 1914 G.P. Mercedes, a team Bentley, and a big Peugeot, etc., as being no longer seen at our rallies. F. Hutton-Stott said he would like to see about two-thirds of the 40 or so de Dions that take part in the Brighton Run exported, so that Adams-Farwells or suchlike could take their place (laughter).

Mr. Lorch then explained in very persuasive terms the Vintage Car of the Year Show, which Elga Products are sponsoring, with the Final at Beaulieu. It is based on a system of standardised Concours d’Elegance judging, similar to the rules governing the Horse of the Year Show, and although Mr. Lorch overcame objections to the mileage clause by saying that this would not affect results unless mileages of over 10,000 a year by Concours cars were involved, the classification of entries, which will be under- and over-2-litre categories, was fully discussed, without original price, weight, or “social status” being proved acceptable. It occurs to us that whereas an intelligent horse may be proud of being acclaimed the horse of the year, a vintage car will probably be quite indifferent about this. Stanley Sedgwick, President of the B.D.C., was against standard judging cards.

The Wolseley Register pressed for special taxation systems for old cars, under a heading their Mr. Burrows termed P.O.M., for Privileged, Occasional and Monthly, because he said that under the present taxation system old cars paid 11 1/2d.-a-day on an annual basis or 1s. 1d.-a-day on a quarterly licence in spite of only occasional use. Much discussion followed but John Bolster (in a letter), Tim Carson of the V.S.C.C., and others suggested caution in case the M.o.T. responded by requiring all old cars to use restricted licences. Someone made the point that it is insurance for four months, not the tax, which vintage-car users find so costly, or difficult to obtain. But it was suggested that if the flat-rate tax was ever changed for a sliding scale tax based on h.p. or c.c., then old-car owners would have a case, because they could argue that a 1925 3-litre engine, for instance, gives far less power than a modern engine of perhaps half the size. We agree that it is far better for the Government to be left alone, any restrictions it might introduce being fought as they arise, rather than suggesting reasons why a vintage car may be suitable for only restricted use, nice as any Government concession is – we still have the tax-concession on pre-war 6 h.p. and 7 h.p. cars, incidentally.

The Vintage and Veteran Magazine was warmly congratulated on its annual list of One-Make and Vintage Clubs. Anthony Heal then reported on the excellent work of the Historic Clubs’ Joint Committee, which is composed of the V.C.C., V.S.C.C., V.M.C.C., H.C.V.C., N.T.E.C., 30/40 M.C., and the Museums. The V.C.C. has nobly carried the entire cost of this Committee, which was formed last year to represent the interests of its member clubs should an unfavourable method of car-tax become law. This did not happen but the Committee has kept a watchful eye on changes in the Use and Construction Act as they affect old vehicles and Lord Montagu had been able to put the objects of the Committee before the Minister of Transport herself. It seems that the Government is very reasonable in not framing new regulations that would be difficult for owners of historic vehicles to carry out. The sterling worth of this Committee was appreciated perhaps for the first time by some of those present and it was felt that the one-make clubs might give it their support, perhaps by making a small financial contribution to its costs. D. Goode of the Armstrong Siddeley O.C., suggested the formation of a new Committee to represent the small clubs but this was felt to be quite unnecessary, the present Committee being so well constituted and in such good rapport with the M.o.T.

Brian Blackwell, Secretary of the Meeting, delivered a fluent lecture on the merits of cars built between 1930 and 1940 but not recognised by the V.S.C.C. and appealed for their acceptance, under the Class name of either Classic, Traditional or Georgian. Or perhaps something beginning with V, to accord with vintage. This was unfavourably received and when put to the vote only six people wanted such cars to be called Georgians, 16 voted for post-vintage, hut 26 felt that 30/40 was quite adequate. The Editor of Motor Sport said that when he was a comparatively young man the V.S.C.C.. had been formed and the fun was to find a pre-1931 car, very different from prevailing modern cars, so that one could join it. Now he was confused! What constituted an old car? Did a 1966 or 1965 model count? Because if you were to accept 30/40 cars on the same level as vintage cars you would soon get 40/50 and 50/60 classes. Surely, he argued, an antique has to be reasonably old, as well as good, to make the tracking down and restoration of it worthwhile? The one-make clubs cater very well for most of the post-1930 non-p.v.t. cars. Blackwell’s plea that the reason for not recognising the 30/40 cars as the equal of vintage was because they are in the hands of young people who are thought not the right sort of owners, caused Boddy to say that, on the contrary, young people should be encouraged to experience the joy and art of old-car ownership, by restoring and running these 30/40s, but that if as a class they were given fine names, the dealers would be delighted and the Georgian Austin 10/4 or Classic Morris Eight would he doubled in price – thanks to Brian Blackwell. Admittedly they are worthwhile cars, taken in the right spirit and with a sense of proportion, but if they had to be called something beginning with V he could think of various suitable names; as there were a few ladies present, he would refrain from quoting them…. (laughter).

Before this very valuable meeting concluded Stanley Sedgwick and Michael Sedgwiek both moved that it should be convened annually. Lord Montagu said he would try to arrange this. Voting showed that the majority favoured a Saturday after-lunch meeting and it is hoped this will he possible, perhaps with some contribution from the interested clubs towards the cost.