Veiled and mysterious

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Sir,

As a schoolboy I spent many holidays at Eastbourne, and I can recollect seeing a veteran car in use in the town, around 1928 to 1930. To the best of my memory the car had a lofty tonneau type body, and wooden-spoked, iron-shod wheels— small diameter at the front, and very much larger diameter at the rear. Final drive was taken to the nearside rear wheel by a massive chain. The clutch was extremely fierce and, on starting, the vehicle would give a pronounced jerk; the nearside rear wheel would run on the stone blocks in the gutter, giving rise to a shower of sparks.

The chauffeur, an elderly man who wore a Cornish fisherman’s type of cap (similar to that favoured by the late Colin Chapman), went to the rear of the vehicle to start it.

The vehicle appeared to be of greater antiquity than the veterans I had observed on the Thames Embankment on the Brighton Runs of those days. I saw it briefly on two occasions parked outside a bank awaiting the owner, who appeared to be an elderly lady, ornately dressed in the fashion of the early 1900s, and very heavily veiled.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, such a vehicle would have attracted considerable attention if it had appeared on London streets, but as the Eastbourne residents passed by without displaying any interest, I assume the vehicle was a common sight. Maybe some Sussex resident has clearer recollections of the vehicle, and its eventual fate?

NR Croft, Brentwood, Essex