THE thriving section of the Vintage SCC which encourages pre-1931 lightweights was almost coerced into staging a one-day replica of the 1924 RAC Six Days Small Car Trial (won by Chinnery’s Gwynne Eight) but as the Mobil Economy Run had usurped a tiny portion of the proposed 150-mile route in wild wet Wales a substitute was arranged by Jeremy Collings and Keith and Jane Hill.
On the Saturday morning those vintage light-carists who proposed to compete were bidden to fill their fuel tanks to the brim and their starting mileage was taken on trust. They rallied to a Welsh garage where their tanks were topped up and the mileage recordings taken by marshals, to give a fuel consumption figure. Notably economical were Tuckey’s Swift Ten coupe, at over 36 m.p.g., and Weeks in Collings’ 1921 Star, at over 33, which is better than the contemporary catalogue claims. Competitors then went a bit cross-country, looking for answers to conundrums along the by-ways, before taking four timed tests on private ground, heavy with Welsh loam.
The restart-without-rolling-back test on a steep gradient merely proved the efficiency of vintage hand-brakes, but a circle-in-a-field called for good traction on mud, where the astonishing low-speed torque of the Star’s long-stroke 2-litre engine offset its beaded-edge tyres. After this a timed wheel change saw some improvised jacks pressed into service, Collings’ 1913 Brixia Zust posing a problem as it had a spare tyre but no spare wheel. The full crew of Diffey’s 9/20 Humber tourer, those in the tonneau in reversed caps and goggles, all the baggage tied on the luggage grid in typically vintage touring style, did a good job, which the Humber wasted by being a very reluctant starter, on the compulsory hand-wind.
By now the muddy and damp competitors, their numbers diminished because Jarrett’s s.v. Riley had thrown a rod in its garage that morning (he turned up to marshal) but augmented by Arnold-Forster’s Frazer Nash (until told it wasn’t a light car), had only one further test, that of braking on a down-grade. Other non-starters were Pam Arnold-Forster’s GN, which was awaiting new cylinder heads, and Riddle’s GN. The remainder of the entry survived to clock in at Llandrindod Wells, as RAC Small Car Trial drivers had done 46years ago.
The next morning some of them elected to follow an unwashed but game just-vintage Sunbeam heavy-car on a scenic tour, which involved climbing out of Rhayader by the mountain road (Unsuitable for Motor Coaches), the Swift scarcely living up to its name, but everyone completing a route which embraced sonic of the Elan Valley dams and artificial lakes and a tough by-ways route back to Cross Gates via Abbeycwmhir, after which the intrepid light-carists, who included several Austin 7 drivers (Coates’ Chummy most commendably rebuilt from a pile of parts), Templeton’s bull-nose Morris-Cowley two-seater, Condon’s handsome AC, and Still’s artillery-wheeled Riley Nine tourer, dispersed until next year. The only “casualty” was an approaching Mini which took fright at the sight of the cavalcade coming down a mountain and quite unnecessarily tried to commit suicide under the Sunbeam’s radiator, but thought better of it and was immediately lifted back onto the road by the crew of the Humber.
When the results were worked out the only Edwardian, the 4.7-litre Brixia-Zust, which calmly did the tests and almost as quickly returned to Cardiff, close to where it used to run in pre-War hill-climbs, was seen to have made the best showing.—W. B.
Results : Trophy for Best Performance : R. A. Collings (1912 Brixia Zust). First Class Award: J. A. Griffiths (1930 Austin 7 Chummy). Second Class Award: A. Templeton (1925 Morris Cowley). Third Class Award: P. Daley (1926 9/20 Humber).