V-E-V odds & ends, May 1983

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Last month we referred to Club magazines which reflect the healthy state of the specialist and one-make organisations. In this category is The Leaflet, bulletin of the Lea-Francis OC, the latest issue of which carries a piece about the Lea-Francis associations of the Holmesdale Garage in S. Norwood, with a reminder that the Club will have its 21st Stamford Hall meeting on June 5th. The Armstrong Siddeley OC’s Sphinx newsletter had pictures of Lord Kenilworth’s recent wedding at which members’ cars officiated and whereas once this make had to be almost given away in pre-war form, one notices that today less than £500 will buy a complete Armstrong Siddeley requiring some renovation.

The story of a 1935 Jowett 7 h.p. Kestrel saloon that has done an estimated 218,000 from new, 148,000 in the hands of its present owner, and 63,000 by the first owner, enlivens the current issue of the Jowetteer magazine of the Jowett CC. Rather significant that when Roger Collings’ 1903 Mercedes Sixty vanquished many more modern cars in the recent VSCC Wessex Trial it was not using the differential-lock that Mercedes fitted, to enable owners to get home should one’s driving-chain break.

We hear that Bob Chamberlain of Toorak, who has completed that great recreation of the famous 1904 Napier “Samson”, and who is delving deeply into its history, hopes to have the car here for the June 26th Brooklands Re-Union. He says that in Australia they have a classification for part-replica cars but that he now realises that the VCC of GB requires proof that certain basic parts of a car, including engine, gearbox, chassis, and axles, were made before 1905 for a vehicle to be eligible for its major events, whereas, of course, only one L48 racing Napier was built and it was broken-up for scrap. Mr. Chamberlain says he was interested in Anthony Heal’s letter in Motor Sport asking why “Samson” was given a big fuel tank and lamps at one period. Bob says he has about six different pictures of L48 in this form, taken at Brooklands with F. Edge in the driving-seat, Arthur MacDonald as mechanic, but that as small-section tyres and non-detachable wheels are fitted, the additions could not have been intended for long-duration record attempts. He thinks that although Edge did use the car on the road, that this was just another of his eye-catching stunts, the photographs being “gag-shots” in American parlance. Bob says he built his accurate replica of L48 because this was the World’s first successful six-cylinder racing-car and thus “a significant piece of automotive history”. It is claimed that it held the Brooklands lap-record from 1908 to 1914 but, in fact, this honour belonged to its rival, the Fiat “Mephistopheles” that won the 1908 Match Race, which, driven by Felice Mozzaro, lapped at 107.98 or 121.64 m.p.h. depending on whether you believe the hand-timing or the electric timing, a speed not bettered officially until K. Lee Guinness’ V12 Sunbeam did 123.39 m.p.h. in 1922.

Another reader has sent on a photograph of a vee-radiator Benz tourer alleged to have been stored throughout the 1914/18 war, then registered and used until it was scrapped in the 1920/30s. He wonders if anyone recalls it — Reg. No. XB 5926? The Monte Carlo Rally refuses to lie down! The Spring issue of The Journal of the Morris Register contained a reprint from the yearbook of the Anglo-Norse Vehicle Society of an article about how a Morris Eight Tourer was driven through the 1937 Rally from Stavanger by a Norwegian crew of two. They could not recall where they finished, after getting lost out of Lyon, but the car was driven and shipped back to Norway afterwards and has since been discovered and is being restored. Its Rally preparation consisted of slightly raising the compression-ratio, grooving the tyres by hand and fitting larger headlamps, fog-lamps and a windscreen demister. Apparently Cowley was disinterested and refused to lend a spare half-shaft and petrol pump. But they made it, in spite of the fog calling for non-stop driving and no stops for food for much of the European route. Among some publicity photographs issued about the beauties of the Devil’s Bridge area in Wales we spotted one of a number of cars outside the hotel there, taken in the mid-1920s, the one that is recognisable being a Standard 11.9 or 14 h.p. tourer — hood up, of course. . . . — W.B.

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