That well-known competitor in VSCC events, Tom Threlfall, put me in touch with Cyril Paul — as this gentleman said himself, “not the Cyril Paul who did the real racing,” but the amateur driver who did so well at Brooklands and in trials, with a rare make of light-car, the Windsor. The other Cyril Paul (no relation) was racing at the same time, incidentally.
C. A. Paul remembers the GN cyclecar in the very early days, when he was a junior employee in a Bank at Hendon just before the First World War broke out. The testers from the near-by works of H. R. Godfrey and “Archie” Frazer-Nash used Brampton Grove, in which the Bank was situated, for testing purposes, carrying with them a length of rope, which they would wind round the exposed flywheel of an engine after it had stalled, give a yank, and with luck the recalcitrant GN would restart . . . This made a good opening, because I had been looking at three GNs at a near-by garage, before I interviewed Mr. Paul.
War put an end to Mr. Paul’s banking aspirations. He had joined the Territorial Army, was in camp in August 1914, and never went back. When he returned to this country, after service Overseas with the ASC, as it then was, in the Motor Transport Section, he went into the Motor Trade, with a business in Ealing. One of his customers wanted a high-grade light-car and decided on a Windsor, which Mr. Paul supplied. He became an Agent for these exclusive little cars and decided to use one for the prevailing competition events such as those run by the Motor Cycling Club, etc., and a Brooklands by the Light Car Club, which had just been formed.
The Windsor is an interesting car, about which very little has been researched. It was made in the Windsor Car Works at 236a Lancaster Road, Notting Hill Gate, London, W.11, by James Bartle, having its debut in 1924 and disappearing around 1928. It appears that somehow, when most of the small-output manufacturers were buying proprietary power units, James Bartle managed to make his own, a push-rod overhead-valve unit of notably clean exterior appearance. It had a bore and stroke of 65 x 102 mm. (1,353 c.c.) and was mated to a four-speed gearbox. A neat Rolls-Royce style radiator was used, in conjunction with thermo-syphon cooling, and with two-tone paintwork and flaired mudguards for the more sporting models, the Windsor was a very attractive, eye-catching car. It wasn’t cheap. No chassis price was quoted, the makers preferring to supply complete cars, which at first were priced at from £360 to £465, although towards the end, no doubt to try to sustain sales, these prices fell, finally to £295 for a tourer, £395 for a saloon, and a chassis was eventually offered, in 1927, for £240.
The Windsor was rated at 10.4 h.p. and known as a 10/15. It was very completely equipped and had four-wheel-brakes from the commencement, while the larger bodies could accomodate five persons. The first chassis, with coil ignition (soon changed for a magneto which the engine design had provided for as an option) was ready by 1923 and the Western Irons Works had a hand in the venture. The cylinders were set very close, their walls actually touching, which enabled a compact engine with a two-bearing crankshaft to be used. As I have said, this was very neatly contrived, with a square polished valve-cover, and the ancillaries neatly hidden. It seems to have aped some of the good points of the 12/50 Alvis. The Windsor has been likened to a good Italian design of its period and one historian has called it probably the best-made, all-British vintage light-car.
The Company had a maroon-and-black two-seater and a blue-and-black coupé, as well as a tourer, at the 1923 Olympia Motor Show and one of the first owners, perhaps Mr. Paul’s customer, was very pleased with his, obtaining 58 m.p.h. and just over 35 m.p.g. Among the customers was the Countess of Brecknock, who had a 1924 coupé fitted with an external spot-lamp mounted on the door pillar. The finish of the cars was highly spoken of and at Olympia in 1924 the two-tone theme was emphasised by a black-and-white coupé exhibit, offset by a black two-seater with grey upholstery. All those who used Windsors seem to have spoken well of them, except for minor items not usually related to the mechanical specification.
For 1925 the former splash-lubrication system was changed to pressure-feed, and although Mr. C. S. Windsor, who had been responsible for the car, died that December, soon after being taken ill in his office, the Company did not at first founder, exhibits appearing again at the 1926 Motor Show. Minor improvements such as a rear-mounted petrol tank, etc., were by then incorporated, and a so-called sports-model had been introduced, which Motor Sport road-tested in November 1926.
However, the Windsor vanished from the Show after 1926. There had been some competition appearances of the make quite early on, including a team of three entered for a JCC High Speed Trial at Brooklands. Mr. Paul then began to use a Windsor tourer (complete with tonneau cover, hood bag and two-pane windscreen, and using the larger tyres of the later cars instead of the former 810 x 90 covers, and carrying a second spare wheel), in the MCC long-distance and other trials, accompanied by his wife. He was extremely successful, and in 1929 gained the coveted MCC Triple Award, by winning gold-medals in all three of the main MCC reliability trials — that splendid trophy, a sign-post with three direction fingers pointing to Exeter, Land’s End and Edinburgh, is still amongst Mr. Paul’s possessions, although he confesses that the Windsor would only just climb the rough, stony 200 yards of Beggar’s Roost’s 1-in-4 gradient! In the London-Holyhead Trial Mr. Paul broke the Windsor’s off-side front spring but by lashing a wood block between the front axle and the chassis frame he completed the route, got his Premier Award, and even returned to London without effecting repairs.
That the London-registered Windsor served him well is indicated by the cups he still has, won in events run by the Surbiton MC, the Ealing & District MCC, the Woking MC South-West Centre, and the Junior Car Club, etc. But he has no illusions; when I asked him how many Windsors he sold the answer was “About ten or twelve”, and with w mischievous smile, he added “probably that was most of their output! Spares, though, were never any problem, especially as Mr. Paul’s business was so close to where the Windsor was made.
Before this Mr. Paul had had a two-cylinder air-cooled Humberette, in which large loads of his Army friends would indulge on pub-crawls in 1916. He later shipped a Type 30 Bugatti two-seater over from France, ran a Gwynne Eight for a time, and being in the Trade, was able t use war-surplus Sunbeams and Vauxhalls for holiday tours, etc. But it was with the Windsor that he concentrated his competition driving. When the Light Car Club was formed he was in at the beginning, and he and Mrs. Paul “spent many happy days at Brooklands”, as did so many of us. He knew the Blake brothers, and their 1903 GB Napier and very early Daimler, and he used his Windsor for the Relay Races, etc. Once, having a good Gordon England Austin 7 in the showrooms he tuned it up and used it for a race on the Brooklands Mountain circuit at a Club Meeting, as likely to be quicker. A nostalgic photograph exists of this car — the pointed tail model, rather like a Stadium — on the banking below an M-type MG Midget and a Singer Junior Porlock . . . Mrs. Paul is passengering her husband, wearing a couch hat, as are the girls in the other cars.
It was this association with Brooklands that encouraged Mr. Paul to build a rather special Windsor. He obtained one of the early chassis, which had a wheelbase of 8′ 6″, as distinct from the later chassis with the nine foot-wheelbase that figured in most of the production cars, and on it he put a light touring body from a Gwynne Eight — the four-seater body, not the Gwynne “hip-bath” body. I had one of these four-seater Gwynnes during the war; on that chassis it stuck out too far behind but for the Windsor chassis it was too short, with the result, Mr. Paul recalls, that it didn’t quite meet at the scuttle and always looks as if it was about to fall off!
The Windsor engine was sent to Laystall’s, to be bored out, by 3 mm. as far as is remembered, and its exhaust-valve seats were opened out. A friend was making the Chambers carburetter, which gave a very free air-flow at full throttle, so one of these was used, and the Windsor engine was carefully re-assembled, all the work being done at Mr. Paul’s premises, by a very capable Welsh mechanic. Mr. Paul cannot remember a special camshaft being made, nor was there any pretence at streamlining, apart from substituting two aero screens for the normal one and taking the exhaust out under the car through a cylindrical silencer that complied with Brooklands’ regulations. Although the standard back-axle ratio was really too low, at 4.44 to 1, it was also retained, which made third gear too low, although this probably assisted acceleration. A rev. counter was fitted to keep an eye on engine speed. At first the big-ends used to melt, but by studying the oil-throwers used by Gordon England (although a Brooklands Super-Sports Austin 7 which Paul had never went very well for him) that problem was overcome. The Windsor’s two-bearing crankshaft stood up, and when the fabric universal joints caused the prop shaft to whip at 70 m.p.h. they were replaced with Hardy Spicers. The springs were unsuited to high speed until the inevitable Hartford shock-absorbers had been fitted. Incidentally, the engine was lubricated with Sitex oil, as a small bonus was paid.
The results were very satisfactory. The Windsor lapped Brooklands consistently, under good conditions, at some 85 m.p.h., coming off the bankings at about 95 m.p.h. and it could, I am told, out-accelerate Aldington’s Frazer Nash. Not bad, from a car that normally wouldn’t do more than 55-60 m.p.h. In the 1931 LCC Grand Prix Relay Race, won by the Austin team at 81.77 m.p.h., the Windsor was teamed with Outlaw’s Riley Nine and Masters’ Aston Martin and in spite of the latter running for many laps with oiled plugs, they finished 8th, averaging just under 61 m.p.h. including the sash-changes.
All that happened a long time ago and Mr. Paul, now aged 86 has lost touch with his old Windsor. In recent times he has had good service from Ford Anglias, his present car being an Anglia 105E Estate with a 1300 Cortina engline. His last competition appearance at Brooklands was probably at the 1931 BARC August Meeting, at which he drove an Austin 7 with an Alta cylinder head in a Mountain-circuit handicap.