Letters from readers


In your November 1943 issue it was remarked that "a lady MT driver at a northern airfield arrives daily in a late-model "Red Label Bentley, and at the same place Rivers Oldmeadow is CGI." These facts are true to-day, but at the time your November issue was published circumstances had rendered them invalid, as the Bentley had become non-operational. Joan (the owner) had been unable entirely to avoid the stern of an unilluminated lorry parked by night on a main road, with results that completely changed the design of the Bentley chassis as approved by WO.

Fortunately for the despondent owner, Sam (genus Clutton) happened to be attached to the same northern airfield at that time, and was quick to organise a means by which the line and form of the "Red Label" was restored to a true likeness to drawing requirements. Since the completion of repairs the car has performed consistently, albeit the owner is convinced that it has a quite different "feel." I wonder if that opinion is purely psychological ? To the owner who has crashed either a motorcycle or a car never feel the same after rebuilding, even though they may be exceptionally good examples of their breed.

At another northern airfield which I have occasionally to visit, one, Davidge-Pitts, is coping with this and that. When last seen, he remarked to me that he was desirous of obtaining a Riley Nine Special Series crankcase bottom-half, and enquiry on his behalf in the Wolverhampton locality led to an interesting revelation. Quite unexpectedly, I found the potent ex-Maclure ifs supercharged Riley chassis standing on four well-shod wheels and in immaculate condition. WF Jakeman has designed, and is building, a racing body to accommodate the new owner, who intends having this satisfying vehicle quite ready for events apres la guerre.

Within a short distance of this discovery I found the ex-John Player ERA for sale. The price is such that the impecunious are advised to waste no time on enquiry. Furthermore, I am told that the front-end suspension fitted on this particular car is apt to cause the driver to be taken for a ride. If that is true, more expense is implied. The purpose which led to these and other disclosures was not forgotten, and a special series bottom-half was found available, to say nothing of two complete Dixon-Riley engines.

In the locality from which these notes are forwarded there are in regular use a 1939 Aston-Martin, a 41/2-litre low-chassis Invicta, and an "18/80" MG (in poor condition), and a covey of small fry from Morris Garages. Additionally, two sets of regulation Brooklands "chimneys" are frequently to be seen in rapid transit, attached to a BMW motor-cycle bearing trade plates, and a rider well acquainted with the racing world. And in Shrewsbury there is often to be seen an exceptionally tidy 2-litre Lagonda running crisply and well.

The present tempo of the war suggests that a modicum of basic fuel may well become available in the coming year. On this bright note I will conclude, excepting to remark that if W Ruck-Keene should read these notes, the writer would be pleased to hear from him. I last saw him in 1939, when together we took a short dice in Peter Whitehead's Alfa-Romeo. Rumour has it that Bill has been broadening his mind with war travel, his itinerary including Finland, Russia, Turkey and, latterly, South Africa. I await confirmation.

I am, Yours, etc.,

FA Kappey,  Wolverhampton.