A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
V.S.C.C. Silverstone Races (April 20th)
Both Sir Ralph Millais’ 1934 monoposto Alfa Romeo and Cameron Millar’s 1938 CTF Maserati, recently imported from South Australia and America, respectively, were entered. The former looked very beautiful, and had on its chromiumed rims the imported Dunlop tyres; it was being carefully acclimatised to English racing, new brakes being bedded in and the fuel feed attended to. The Maserati, which two weeklies insist on calling a “CAF” Maserati, didn’t appear, an X-ray having shown up two cracked star-wheels in the differential. Millar drove his 250F, which was suffering from fuel starvation, perhaps because methanol had been left in its tank during the winter. An amusing newcomer was Giles’ A.B.C./G.N. It consists of a 1,400-c.c. flat-twin A.B.C. Super Sports engine with the enclosed push-rods, which was discovered driving a saw-bench, in a 1921 G.N. chassis saved in very rough condition, it having been used as a muck-carrier in Slough. The wheels were rebuilt to take 3.25 x 19 Avon Mk. II tyres, a single-seater body made up, with bolster tank buried in the tail and a cut-down Austin 7 radiator shell, and the engine given two S.U.s on a common inlet pipe. It has the A.B.C. fan, more lethal to straying fingers than even a Vauxhall 2000 camshaft belt, a flat belt from the fan-shaft driving a tachometer. This delectable racing cyclecar weighs 6 cwt. To keep it company Thirlby had the 1921/6 Parker G.N.—J.A.P., now with neat single-seater body and f.w.b. It was, alas, suffering lack of fuel pressure, while Skinner’s Phoenix-G.N. didn’t even get as far as the scrutineering bay before bending its newly welded-up back axle.
Bradley, having got the engine of his straight-8 G.P. Delage sorted out, couldn’t get the clutch to engage and found a constant-mesh pinion broken. A. G. Murray spent a lot of time tuning his E.R.A., but, in spite of an entry of 183, all the practice incidents were taking place in the Paddock and not on the track.
The racing took place before well-filled stands, in hot sunshine. Peters’ S.S. 100 came through to win the first 5-lap handicap, catching Glydon’s Ulster Aston Martin on the last lap, with Woolstenholmes’ 4.3 Alvis third. Poor handicapping marked the next 5-lapper, the A.B.C./G.N. on scratch and Wragg’s heat single-seater Austin 7 building up an enormous lead in three laps, to win by more than half-a-minute. For two laps Sheffield’s-“limit” M.G. D-type, with single carb. and an M-camshaft, was second, but two ladies finally followed Wragg home—Mrs. Pilkington (Alfa Romeo) and Mrs. Scott-Moncrieff (Frazer Nash). Barker’s 1908 Napier was fourth.
The 10-lap Itala Trophy Race was a magnificent dual between Corner’s alloy-wheeled Type 35B Bugatti and Kain’s wire-wheeled car of this type. Kain shed his gearbox plug, putting oil on the course, and wore out his back brakes, to no avail, as Corner won by 0.6 sec., although Kain made fastest lap, at 7.23 m.p.h. Footitt’s A.C./G.N. was third, its owner remarking whimsically that his 1968 tuning consists of using racing plugs! Bradley, after all-night work, had the Delage running but it fell back from third place after seven laps. The others to do the full distance were Moffatt (Bugatti), still on b.e. tyres, and Williamson in the 10½-litre Delage. Joseland’s s.v. Anzani Frazer Nash Terror III, with No. 8 Cozette blower, won on handicap. Clarke’s Austin, passing inside Gilbert’s Bugatti at Woodcote, spun and was involved in a mild shunt. The 15-lap All-Comers Scratch Race was ably won by Boorer’s 1959 Lotus. He led all the way, chased first by Crabbe, whose Maserati 250F broke a fuel pipe after four laps, then by Wilks, whose Lotus made best lap, at 86.4 m.p.h., and held second place on laps 2 and 3, after which the o/s drive shaft joint broke. The race then became a procession, Corner’s Maserati 250F unable to close on Boorer, these two eventually lapping Pukington’s 1953 Cooper-Bristol and Le Sage’s 1958 Lotus, which raced in close for the last eight laps. Of the pre-war cars, Brown’s E.R.A. got up to fourth place in six laps but retired a few laps later; it was Kergon’s E.R.A. which won the pre-war award, at 76.01 m.p.h. Rather a dull race, in fact, Brewer’s Aston Martin and the Maseratis of Millar and Bergel non-starting, Wicks in Millais’ Alfa Romeo taking it easily because of low oil-pressure, and Lindsay doing only a couple of “demonstration” laps in his beautiful Dubonner-i.f.s. monoposto Alfa Romeo, which seemed to have low fuel pressure. Cottam’s Connaught was said to have been supplied with white spirit instead of racing fuel and it wasn’t seen after the first lap.
After Peters had scored his second win, from Rogers’ A.C., in another 5-lap handicap, Footitt took the Melville Trophy and Boyce’s Frazer Nash the Geoghegan Trophy in a 10-lap Class Handicap for vintage sports cars, Sutton’s Ulster Austin running out of fuel when comfortably ahead at half-distance. The remarkable A.C./G.N. clattered round to fastest lap, at 72.54 m.p.h. The only incident concerned Dudley’s LM6 Aston Martin, which slid into the inside of Woodcote corner, but continued. Three more 5-lap handicaps concluded a splendid day’s racing. In the first Glydon’s Aston Martin won by one second from Cobb’s Frazer Nash. Sismey’s “limit” Alvis SB Speed 20 tourer led the next race for three laps but Abson’s Lagonda Rapier came through to take the chequered-flag, followed by Hutchings’ 1947 A.F.M. and Marsh’s commendably-original E.R.A. Finally, Robart’s 4¼-litre Lagonda won, followed home by Glover’s 1927 beetleback 12/50 Alvis, which has twin ram-pipe S.U.s and was on the ragged edge round Woodcote, in holding off Edwards’ Ulster Aston Martin. It was vintage racing at its best.—W. B.
Before the racing there was the traditional one-hour High Speed Trial with two pit-stops (plug and wheel change). Carmichael’s smoky Type 55 Bugatti and Mrs. Cannes’ 12/70 Alvis were the only non-qualifiers but two Rileys retired.
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Those racing included Manson’s “squashed” 12/4 Riley Falcon, a V12 Lagonda, Hughes’ elegant white Railton two-seater and the Laystall Cromard Special with dirt-track Lea-Francis engine.
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Peters’ lead in the Motor Sport B.M.T. contest recalls T. H. Wisdom lapping the outer-circuit at 118 m.p.h. in 1938. But in those days the V.S.C.C. scorned these cars, dubbing them “Soda Squirts.”
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On the road from Stowe to Buckingham we passed a circa 1927 Hillman 14 chassis, driven by a girl. Three days previously a very rough 1928/9 Hillman 14 tourer was seen being towed through Chertsey behind a breakdown crane; what, one wonders, was its ultimate fate?
The Vintage Motor Cycle Club, which recognises motorcycles and three-wheelers made up to 1943, has a membership of over 2,000. Its annual Banbury Run and similar fixtures are extremely popular and its printed monthly magazine is published with notable regularity. The 21st Banbury Run will be held this year, on June 23rd. The Club also encourages grass-track racing, sprint events, trials, etc., for pre-1943 machines, and it is composed of some 32 geographical sections or regions. The Club’s President is W. D. Bell. Sec.: E. E. Thompson, 28, Glover Road, Pinner, Middlesex.
The definition of a veteran and of a vintage car is now well known, so we were intrigued to discover that a popular advertising weekly in which used cars are extensively featured recently listed 12 cars under the heading “Veteran” three of which were in fact vintage cars, the others all post-vintage, and that under the heading “Vintage” out of 74 cars advertised, only 12 were dated as genuine vintage vehicles. Those that were post-1931 included a 1955 VW but one advertisement admittedly dealt with an 1839 Austin Ruby! Under the “Veterans” there was a 1934 Standard which the advertiser said was a “registered veteran.” . . .!
On this subject of definitions, we note that the Pre-50 American Auto Club has decided that the accepted divisions are not really suitable to the kind of cars its members preserve. At its main rally at Shottesbrooke on August 31st/September 1st it will use seven car classes: Antique (up to 1920), Prohibition (1921-1934), Roosevelt (1935-1942), Truman (1943-1950), Show class (1951-1968), Commercials (all years to 1950) and Military (all years to 1950). While this may not meet with approval in all quarters, the Pre-50 Club is generally on the right lines, judging by the well-balanced editorials in its magazine Multicylinder, that for April expressing regret that American cars are tending to get into the wrong hands since the Bonnie and Clyde film.
V.E.V. Miscellany.—The vintage Citroën referred to last month as advertised by a garage for #15 turned out to be a saloon with a big trunk on the back and the “Floating Power” engine mounting, which could not have been registered before 1933. We described the biplane which the Hon. Patrick Lindsay flew in gusty weather to the V.S.C.C. Pomeroy Trophy Meeting at Silverstone as a D.H.; in fact, it was a Stampe. We regret to learn that Don Dear, Proprietor of “The Phoenix” at Hartley Whitney, where the V.S.C.C. has its first Thursday meetings, died at the end of March. The S.T.D. Register has decided to admit Logo Talbots to the membership.
We are glad to note that the 12/50 Alvis Register has taken to task the writer of a piece called “Vintage Blue Chips” which appeared in The Sunday Times last February, and dealt with the rising prices of certain of the older cars. In their March Circular the Alvis Register dismisses this as the essence of codswallop, remarking: “This sort of nonsense, comprised part fact, part fancy, is largely responsible, in our opinion, for the ridiculously inflated values people attach to their cars. Anyone who pays £400 for an upholstery job or £1,000 for an engine rebuild (the figures quoted in The Sunday Times) wants his head examined, however lousy rich he may happen to be. And classifying Alvis and Lagonda above Bugatti in terms of investment (as The Sunday Times did) may be flattering to those of us who are staunch Alvis or Lagonda enthusiasts, as well as giving us, perhaps, a new standing with our Bank Managers, but it can only be true if our cars continue to be sought after and maintained as status symbols or investments, rather than cherished and maintained and USED as the delightful pieces of functional machinery they are.”
A 1939 28-h.p. Austin 8-seater which was for years a well-known taxi in Birmingham is looking for an appreciative home, having been laid up two years ago. It is apparently one of the rare 4-litre cars which was killed off by the war, being in production for only a couple of years; it apparently has an aluminium body. H. R. Owen Ltd. have re-acquired the 1936 3½-litre Bentley Owen sedanca coupé which was originally their demonstration model and which won many important Concours d’Elegance in England and on the Continent before the war. The car has four owners, has its original log-book, and is to be retained permanently by H. R. Owen Ltd. The body was designed by Capt. Owen and used to be offered on the 40/50 Continental Rolls-Royce at £2,675 and on the 25-h.p. R.-R. chassis at £1,725. It featured a separate trunk on the back containing leather suitcases. An exceedingly rare 1928 12/50 supercharged Bond is being restored in Cheshire the history of which is sought. We are informed that the Lomer Farm, Meopham, Fête on June 29th will include classes for veteran to ’30/40s cars, vintage commercial vehicles and motorcycles, etc., with cups for class winners. Details from: J. Carley, “Wrenbury,” Hook Green, Meopham, Kent. A Trojan van was seen scuttling through Chobham the other evening, and a large, unusual Armstrong Siddeley two-seater, possibly a Siddeley Special, was encountered approaching Beaulieu village on the afternoon of April 6th.
It is nice that the classic M.C.C. trials are still run, like the Land’s End at Easter, which originated in 1908, and the Exeter, which was first held in 1910. This year marked the 60th anniversary of the Land’s End and a vintage class was included, taking in some of the traditional hills. It was poorly supported, for apart from eight motorcycles, including a 1919 Triumph, the entries consisted of two 18/80 M.G.s, an Austin 12/4, a Jowett, a Trojan, a 30/98 Vauxhall and two Alvis cars. But in the trial proper another Trojan, a 1931 Riley 9, a Type 65 Austin 7, three H.R.G.s and two M.G. .125 were entered.
There are classes for pre-1931 motorcycles, veteran, Edwardian, vintage and pre-1939 cars, pre-1939 commercial vehicles and steam vehicles in the Fleet Carnival Concours d’Elegance on June 16th. Entries, at 7s. 6d. per class (but free, with 1 cwt. of coal provided, for steamers), close on June 1st; forms from D. Vincent, 18, Kings Road, Fleet, Hampshire.
David Tennant, who died in Spain last month, used to drive an Austro-Daimler in Scottish speed trials and later owned Leyland Eights, including the two-seater restored by Leyland Motors, which was to be seen in the Montagu Motor Museum.
A wooden ignition box, apparently from a veteran De Dion, has come to light in Sheffield. In Derbyshire, a reader is restoring a 1928 Chevrolet farm truck to private car trim; data is wanted. Some early lorry chassis are reported by a reader in Kent to be rotting away in a field. Horsfall & Bickhams of Walkden would like to find a 1901-1913 Horbick, as their company used to build these cars. In Ireland, the daughter of the original owner maintains in original condition a 1925-6 7.5 h.p. Citroën cloverleaf, there are a circa 1920 Morgan three-wheeler and a near-vintage Singer saloon in a Belfast garage and nearby a 1933 B.S.A. saloon is in everyday use by its original owner.