Motoring to Monte

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Bill Boddy

In the adventurous pioneering days, there was a satisfying challenge, not quite so demanding as competing in the great town-to-town races or the Grands Prix, but more strenuous than the excellent MCC long-distance trials — trying to beat the London-Monte Carlo record. It offered good publicity for the cars used and was a decent feather in the caps of successful drivers.

On the roads as they were before 1915 this was a tough task, and though such attempts were not exactly encouraged, official observers were carried to confirm that the time taken was acceptably accurate. It seems that Charles Jarrott started the ball, or the cars, rolling when he proposed to drive from the Automobile Club in Piccadilly to Monte Carlo in one of the then-new 40hp 7-litre Crossleys in two days, over roads described as ‘in very bad condition’. The time was to include the Channel crossing and getting through Customs. The famous British racing driver set out in April 1906 and took 37H hours, averaging nearly 25mph for the 771mile Boulogne-Monte Carlo section.

The challenge was on! The Hon Charles Rolls immediately accepted it and drove a 1906 TT Rolls-Royce back from Monte to England in 37hr 281/2min. In France, Rolls had been considerably quicker than Jarrott, including getting lost and having a puncture, but he lost 3hr 11min waiting for the steamer, so beat the Crossley by a mere 1Hmin. HR Pope was off next, in the 7H-litre Itala he had driven in the Targa Florio. This was, like the other cars, a four-seater, fully laden. The time was 36hr 5min in spite of much tyre trouble. In 1907, Arthur Earp tried with a six-cylinder Iris, but snow on a pass and lamp failure meant a night in the car, which ruined his attempt. Jarrott then tried again, with a 6.7litre 30/40 Crossley and three passengers and got the time down to 35hr 20min. This SF Edge could not endure, so he sent E A Paul off in a big Napier touring car which, in bad weather but on durable tyres, clocked 33hr 34min.

But you should never reckon without Mercedes! In May 1907 AG Brown’s 6785cc Mercedes 45 knocked 4hr 14min off the record, in spite of observing the speed limit in Cannes.

The French authorities objected to such runs, but Pope, in a 45hp Itala, had a go from Monte Carlo and made London in 29hr 16min, in spite of hitting an errant cart, apparently observing English speed limits and losing two hours in fog. These exploits then seem to have rested until 1913, when James Radley in a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost bettered the record by 3hr 12min with a time of 26hr 4min, delayed by shut level crossings but aided by the AA holding a ship for the sea crossing, when the RAC had refused help.

After the war these publicity dashes were replaced by efforts to beat the renowned Blue Train from the Riviera to its London terminus. In 1930 Dudley Noble beat it by 20min, driving a 16hp Rover Light Six saloon, but only as far as Calais, an average of 48mph in spite of some delay due to fog. However, that year Woolf Bamato went all the way, in his 6H-litre Bentley Gurney Nutting two-door coupe complete with cocktail cabinet, and was in his London house some time before the train pulled into Waterloo station, having beaten it by four hours.

In the same year a private owner, Mr E J P Eugster, took his turn after a golfing holiday. With a friend, he left St Raphael in his Alvis Silver Eagle tourer just after the Blue Train steamed out, in the dark cold night. Soon they were cruising at 55-60mph towards Brignoles. Aix-en-Provence was made on schedule. Ten minutes were gained by Avignon where they changed drivers. Then came rain, the Alvis sliding a little at speed, so the hour’s advantage they had hoped to gain by Lyons was reduced to a 10-minute deficit.

Difficulties finding petrol followed, as well as level crossing delays and slower roads. But five hours later the Alvis was at Avalon where the shivering crew poured in lots of petrol. Dawn at Sens, and with the speedo showing 70, the dirty car speeds on. Fontainebleau by 7am; 300 miles to go. A crossing shut for 20 minutes, another stop for fuel, then the Alvis goes at top speed to Calais, and they are three hours ahead of the famous train. Even amateurs could do it.

But The Autocarhoped “others will not start a series of such runs now that it has been proved that a car can beat the train.” A slightly topical note?

Related articles

Related products