Club news, November 1942

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We hear….

Lord Avebury, of Jowett Cars, Ltd., is now the owner of the 1924 2-litre ex-Conan Doyle V12 Delage, which was given independent front suspension by L.M. Ballamy some years ago, as described in Motor Sport at the time. Grosscurth hopes to continue collecting interesting and fast cars, but at present uses a Swift Ten. J.V. Bowles, “Ulster” Austin Seven owner, has resorted to a 175-c.c. S.O.S. solo motor-cycle and a 750-c.c. B.M.W. combination. The Meadows Frazer-Nash mentioned last month as in regular use on work of national importance turns out to be the car which Tom Moore and Braidwood of Motor Sport drove in a “Double Twelve”; its owner also has one of the saloon Anzani Frazer-Nashes, of which we believe only two were built.

Harold Pratley ran an o.h.v. J.A.P.-engined Morgan for a time, but, disliking three wheels, was heard to be disposing of it, and still hopes to restore to absolutely original order a three-speed “Chummy” Austin Seven. Before the end of October over 200 applications for entry forms for The Aero Modeller petrol-driven model racing car contest, to which we referred last month, had been received by the Managing Editor, Mr. D.A. Russell, so it looks as if he is to be congratulated on starting something. Cecil Clutton has had round about 90 m.p.h. out of his solo Brough-Superior, which has the 1,000-c.c. 86 x 85-mm. push-rod inclined valve engine designed for racing, which gave 45 b.h.p. on mild dope with 8 to 1 compression ratio, had a 60˚ overlap and tours very nicely on a more moderate compression ratio. A Hampton 4-seater is reported running about near Coventry and may be one of the small six-cylinder examples, as it is described as of “very low build.” There is no end to news of veterans – a 1905 “16/20” Humber in reasonable order is for sale at it breaker’s near Cheltenham for £20 (and three Bentleys are reported also), and a one-cylinder Rover has come to light in Kent and could apparently be bought for £15. Harry Mundy, now a Squadron Leader, recently acquired a 1932 Alvis “Silver Eagle” 4-seater from George Foxlee and, with the aid of John Cooper, towed it from London to the Midlands behind his “Silver Eagle” 2-seater.

W. S. Gibson, another member of the “Scuderia Impecuniosa,” has acquired Leslie Marshall’s “Brooklands” Riley Nine, a party, on 250-c.c. New Imperial and 500-c.c. Rudge motor-cycles, being organised to view it. Cooper’s “12/50” Alvis has been fitted with 1931 front axle and springs to improve steering, stability and stoppage, but, although in regular use, it seldom goes outside a built-up area these days. Capt. Pat Stephenson, another member of this cheery Scuderia, unfortunately has not been heard of since he went to India with the R.A.O.C., but was not officially reported missing at the time of writing. A breaker in Finedon recently sold a Talbot-Darracq-engined “14/40” M.G., known as the Ross-Hammond Special.

Louis Klemantaski was last heard of doing war work in the Midlands, and Stuart Wilton has been seen in a very new-looking Morris Eight.

G.G. Smith has discovered a Rolls Royce-enthusiast in Miami, where he is training under the Empire Air Training Scheme. This gentleman was formerly with Rolls Royce, Ltd., and has several “Phantom III’s,” two “Continental” Twenty-Fives, a “Silver Ghost” and the ex-Barbara Hutton V12.

We very much regret to report that Sub.-Lt. D.B. McLean was killed when the single-seater fighter he was flying experienced fuel starvation last September. McLean wrote a very enthusiastic “Cars I Have Owned” article for us in 1941, and when he visited England last year he made friends with many fellow enthusiasts over here. We quoted from a letter of his only recently and he was due to return to this country very soon. We tender our heartfelt condolences to his parents in New Zealand.

A 16-h.p. 1937 Hansa 4-seater is said to be for sale at Bexley, and Windsor Richards has a “30/98” Vauxhall saloon, less front axle, which might be useful to someone. If any Midlands enthusiast wants to do his bit to save a veteran, what is probably the only Colibri in this country can be had for £7 10s. from York Auto-wreckers, Ltd., of Hull Road, York (York 4006) – and it will definitely be broken up before the end of the year. It has a tiny monobloc two-cylinder water-cooled engine, with some form of coil ignition, outside gear and brake levers, petrol tank under the seat, and a 2-seater body. I.M. Adam, whose letter appears elsewhere, would like to hear of 10-h.p. Enfield spares – actually we think we have found him some – and Ralph Venables is very anxious to obtain an issue of Motor Sport for September, 1941. to complete his set; his address is “The Moors,” Tilford, Farnham, Surrey.

There is a supercharged four-cylinder F.W.D. Alvis 4-seater for sale in Leighton Buzzard at £20 (85, Church Street), and Austin Partridge, who is putting in good work on his 2-seater F.W.D. Alvis, is willing to exchange his blown 4-seater F.W.D. Alvis. with plenty of spares, for a “12/50” Alvis, “12/60” Alvis, Brescia Bugatti, Austin Seven “65” or something similar. He reports using up 18 large reels of tape and 100 yards of cord in stiffening his 2-seater’s front suspension! Boddy would exchange his Lancia “Lambda” for a “12/50” Alvis or something of this kind. Mr. Kipps has bought the Granville Grenfell Straker-Squire. There is 11 late “12/50” Alvis saloon for sale at around £35 in Hampshire, and a rear-engined two-cylinder G.W.K. and a Rhode have come to light in Surrey.

The “Rembrandt” gathering

The very warmest congratulations are due to S.H. Capon and to A. Rivers-Fletcher on the success and enjoyment factor of the Enthusiasts’ Luncheon at the Rembrandt Rooms, Kensington, on September 27th. A. Percy Bradley was in the chair, and he, Raymond Mays, Laurence Pomeroy, Peter Clark, Gordon Wilkins, Major Alan Hess, Capon and F.J. Findon were the speakers – as reported elsewhere in this issue. W. Boddy was unable to be present and sent a telegram from Skipton. Some 150 people sat down to lunch, many of whom had come long distances to attend. J. Lowrey and Holland Birkett arrived from Hampshire, the former in his “Aero” Morgan, the latter in his Austin Seven-engined one-wheel-in-front tricycle, out on its first long run and somewhat retarded by a temperamental coil. Bateson came from Cambridge in his “Aero” Morgan, still using a hand-throttle and pouring in “Wonderweld” in a brave endeavour to retain the cooling fluid. There were also a few motor-cycles. There was a good exhibition of racing pictures and L.M. Ballamy showed two short Monkhouse films and Raymond Mays’s 1930-season colour film.

Bradley told the assembled company that racing is very likely to happen again at Weybridge after the war, which was splendid news. Peter Clark paid a tribute to the motoring Press, to which Eric Findon, of The Light Car, replied. All those who are expected to be at these gatherings who could manage a break from war labours were there. Capon tells us that he hopes to manage another London Zoo meeting soon – perhaps on the first Sunday in November.

300 N.W.

Someone once said that to form sound judgment of a place one should either live in it for years or make a fleeting visit to it. With the latter basis in mind these notes are penned; they refer to a journey to Lancashire, roughly 300 miles N.W. from London, that is. Such a journey, in itself, is a most refreshing business these days, especially when, as in this instance, a spell of leave made it possible to formulate plans a mere couple of hours before the commencement. Incidentally, the car was definitely doing a job of such importance to the war effort that its nature cannot be named nor the exact localities visited disclosed. Long runs like this emphasise the true worth of this motoring and bring out the desire to drive a really sound car in a way the usual restricted motoring in war-time does not. Actually, an elderly Austin Seven saloon was pressed into serviee on this occasion as heing able to do what rail transport could not, and still the run seemed thoroughly worthy of keen anticipation. Early impressions were that London was little less trafficked and no less fashionable than usual, even boasting a crawling police patrol car. The Great North Road was noticeably less crowded, what traffic there was being essentially predominated by lorries. After dark, power fell off beneath our insignificant bonnet and the cause was curious indeed – the exhaust valve of No. 2 cylinder had risen further than even its cam could lift it and there it had stuck. All attempts to re-mate it with its tappet proving unavailing, we proceeded on three cylinders, a mode of progress less trying than might be imagined, save uphill, which augurs well for the post-blitz three-cylinder Austin. York proved full of taxis, irritatingly large and very active throughout the small hours. Worse, it proved so full that even the mighty Royal Station Hotel barred its doors and the car became our couch, relief later being found in the Police Canteen, which very hospitably opens its portals to H.M. Forces – and leaves them open all night. Emerging, torrential rain dispelled any desire to walk along the famous wall.

After breakfast had done something to combat the damp, clinging cold of a September Northern morning, a garage removed the head and released the errant valve with a display of inefficiency surprising even under the circumstances. Fortunately, the arrival of a “327” B.M.W. coupé with “328” engine (on Air Ministry and War Department contract work) did much to alleviate this episode. What a large car and what performance for two modest litres!

Wetherby had lost its glamour of speed trial days and produced only a coachful of happy policemen and a meal we would rather forget. The fascination of motoring long distances later began to exert its full appeal, driving in the clear evening light through meadowland offset by winding rivers – until the amps ran out just beyond Skipton. That town provided accommodation for the night and a new battery next morning, but was depressingly devoid of entertainment and places of sustenance, its “waterfall” in the middle of the town adding lo the general air of dejection. A contrast to Harrogate, where sheep grazed in its smallest enclosures and huge lorries from the North barely moved up the steep hill which modern cars and the smaller commercials take quite stirringly, provided they have a clear run along the straight road at the foot. In that town, too, the London omnibuses did their best to make 200 miles motoring even more mythical than it seemed. Pausing to fill up early the next morning – garages are now far between in the Lake District – a Type 45 B.M.W. went past in the opposite direction. A Rolls-Bentley, two Rolls Royces, a Packard, an Alvis – nothing much else of note had been seen. At the commencement of Lake Windermere traffic fell off altogether and we went miles without meeting another car, until a farming Austin towing a trailer full of dustbins broke the spell. At Ulverston, typically “Saturday afternoon,” we called a halt, put the car temporarily to rest and tramped its steep, cobbled streets in search of food and shelter. In these parts potent motor-cycles abound,and very special examples of Norton, H.R.D., New Imperial and cammy A.J.S. were seen, while Ariel was unquestionably popular amongst more ordinary mounts, with Triumph a good second. One really early s.v. example of the latter make was seen, with a semi-sports sidecar in keeping. Of unusual cars, pride of place goes to a late type Delage coupé motoring fast, while a couple of model-T Ford lorries – a tonner and a Bacio conversion – and an early Hopmobile saloon represented the veterans. A Crossley Regis saloon and a three-wheel Reliant four-cylinder van cornering well were also seen. The local breaker had a 2-litre Lagonda chassis and would sell you a six-cylinder pre-selector Riley Twelve saloon for £20. Barrow, notable for its wide streets, vivid traffic lights, even more vivid vehicle headlamps and Leyland gearless ‘buses, produced a T-type M.G. Midget carrying “Police” boards back and front, and a small saloon, driven by a fair member of the Force, was similarly labelled. We rode by ‘bus to and from Barrow in search of food, gazing at its slums, its shipping and its huge gantries. We tramped around Ulverston and hiked in beautiful scenery where clear streams ran over rocks flanked by bright green meadows and a dye works gave a brilliant blue hue to most of its surrounding village. More potent motor-cycles prevailed. Walking over the cockle-floored beach of Morecambe Bay, the sea far out beyond the mud flats, a cold September sun setting in the mist, the writer glanced out over the flat grassland behind the little Austin. “How different from Cornwall,” he reflected, “300 miles away, I suppose.” “Nearer 500,” retorted his companion. Idle thoughts ceased, random memories of this unexpected break in the war-time routine were banished. We forgot the archways in York, where such touching faith is displayed in traffic control by automatic lamps, the old-world market thoroughfares of that town, the fussy little 0-6-0 locomotive in Ulverston station, which, starting on a gradient, gave such an oblect-lesson in the control of wheelspin by throttle-opening…. We saw ourselves rushing to a garage to fill the tank of a fast car brimful, preparatory to covering those 300 miles for no better reason than the contrast between the N.W. and S.W. coastlines that prompted the journey. Some day that sort of thing will again be possible.