OUT OF THE PAST, May 1975
OUT OF THE PAST
ONE OF THE rewarding things about editing MOTOR SPORT is the arrival in the office from time to time of unusual snippets of motoring (and flying) items from the past. For instance, the other day Mr. Julian Brownridge of Chatham sent us some faded but fascinating photographs that had just come into his possession, relating to a coachbuilding concern that operated in Kingston-on-Thames in the 1920s.
The business was started by the grandfather of our informant’s present employer, for the manufacture of milk-cans, tea urns and similar items. The First World War found the Company, F. A. Hutchings, working for the War Department and in the post-Armistice period they turned to making bodies for motor vehicles. It is thought that they made these for the nearby AC Company at Thames Ditton and there may be a connection here with the AC Sociable, with oil lamps, owned by the Proprietor’s son. Incidentally, its Reg. No. was AC 3271.
The faded pictures depict a taxi-type body made for what at first appears to be a 15.9 Humber chassis but which I have a hunch might have been a Belgian FN. It seems that much of the body building was done in the street, although there was a workshop with benches and stoves for the apprentices’ soldering-irons. Bodies of streamlined shape were apparently put onto racing cars and often a chassis would be delivered with the driver sitting on a kitchen chair tied to it. The Police took no umbrage whatsoever. Another snap shows what must be a 14-h.p. Sunbeam being given a fine four-door closed body, again while standing in the street. It has artillery wheels and no front brakes, detachable rims and a side-valve engine. Behind it in one picture stands a post-war r.h.d. Model-T Ford tourer. Then there is a finished car, a very smart two-seater with dickey, made for a friend of the Proprietor on what I think is a Tipo 501 Fiat, unless it is an early Ceirano or similar. The Reg. No. of this one is PC 7160 and it wears one studded and one rubber-treaded tyre on its front wheels. Another coupe is shown, on what could be an early Buick chassis. Rather amusing is the shot of a touring body on trestles outside the works, perhaps the same one that is shown on a wire-wheeled Crossley with /-elliptic back springs. Another very faded snap is of
one of those enormous solid-tyred charabancs of those days, with much overhang, a huge hood and tiered steps running past the back wheels. It was taken in Brighton while the Proprietor and his family were on holiday and recognised it as “one of theirs”. Could it be a Dennis
Typical of the many small concerns that thrived in the 1920s, F. A. Ilutchings also did repairs to damaged cars and there are some splendid “before and after” pictures of an Essex saloon (DF 3630) the roof of which had been crushed by a falling chimney stack and which was effectively repaired.
A fascinating flashback to a firm that survived those difficult days to manufacture parts for Hurricane wings for the Ministry of Defence in the last war.—W.B.
V-E-V Odds& Ends.—The Spring issue of Bugantics, journal of the Bugatti OC now edited by Dr. Janet Misson, is as interesting as ever, and contains a discourse on the chaindriven 5-litre “Black Bess”-type Bugattis, by Hugh Conway (one of these is currently being restored by Nigel Arnold-Forster) and some interesting correspondence edited by Conway, that passed between Sir Robert Bird and Ettore Bugatti when Sir Robert owned Bugatti cars. Conway also describes the Bugattis he has owned. A 1936 25/30 Rolls-Royce Windover saloon which had been in continual use by its original owner until around 1965, after which its engine was turned over every day, is likely to change hands soon, due to his death. Similarly, a 1936 Talbot 75 with special Corsica touring body has found a new home, due to the demise of its original owner late last year. For 1975 Robert E. Richer has been elected President of the V,SCC of America, Inc., and A. S. Carroll its Secretary.
The Bullnose Morris Club flourishes, which reminds us that a colour picture of the restored flat-nose 1927 Morris-Cowley belonging to Noel Somerfield appeared in the current issue of Quest, the Duckhams magazine, in which its Editor, Cyril Quantrill, recalls the 1929 Austin 12/4 fabric saloon he bought in 1938 for £12 and sold during the war for £3. In connection with the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, Filtrate Ltd. remind us that their oils were used for this and other early railway and colliery machinery; indeed, they lubricated George Stephenson’s “Rocket”. Their history throws some light on oil supplied as theirs by certain car manufacturers, because Filtrate was sold under the names of Siddeley Filtrate for use in Wolseley-engined Siddeley cars, Extra Heavy Wolseley Filtrate, from 1905, JDS Filtrate for Siddeley-Deasy cars
from 1909 and Armstrong Siddeley Filtrate from 1919. There were also Morris Filtrate containers for the first of these cars, in 1912, Edge’s Puroil in special tins for Napier cars from 1907, which was also actually Filtrate, as was Metol for Metallurgique cars in other special tins, while in 1910 Percival Perry asked for Ford Filtrate and around 1917 there was Fordson Filtrate, later called Farm Filtrate, The March issue of Safety Fast, official chronicle of the MGCC, contained accounts of the early days of that Club by Harold Hastings, John Thornley, and Russell Lowrey, together with a Jubilee Message from its President, George Eyston, OBE, MC, C.Eng.