VINTAGE VEER INGS
THElast B.A.R.C. Goodwood Meeting provided a few noteworthy vintage cameos. Leslie Johnson finished second in the Fourth September Handicap at the wheel of Forrest Lycett’s3-litre Bentley, catching such modern machinery as a Connaught, special Alvis Speed Twenty, a blown Alta and so on, and easily disposing of a ” Silverstone ‘• Healey which Went off from the same handicap mark. Then Philip Turner arrived to officiate in the B.A.R.C’s efficiently run Press room in a friend’s beautifully preserved Lancia Lambda fabric saloon. And just outside the course on the way home we observed a keen type furling the hood of a smart ” 11.4 ” Citroen tourer, the rain having
finally ceased. * * *
Undoubtedly the majority of users of vintage ears are comparative newcomers to motoring, who didn’t experience the pastime in the era when their presentoars were scintillating now models in the showroom, windows. Yet it is a mistake not to try to learn something of the period of motoring appropriate to the vintage car you drive, however much satisfaction you derive from owning an old car for its own sake and from the interest and surprise it occasions amongst 1950 pedestrians. Veteran Car Club members usually display a lively interest in what road conditions and Other motoring backgrounds were like in the heyday of their ears and of how make and model fitted into the contemporary picture. The research which is necessary to date accurately a veteran car naturally prompts„ such interest.
However, vintage owners can usually check up on the original specifications, road-test figures, and readers’ experiences of their. particular make and model in the contemporary motoring journals, for, although these arc now all but impossible to obtain, libraries, club or otherwise, can sometimes help and some publishers and also the Patents Office Library can sometimes supply photostat repriiits of (lie pageS of such journals, for a fee in the reglim of Is, -2g. a page. The tit( ire I enaciolts will also make efforts to meet personalities who knew and were associated with their cars when they were in current use, usually with exceedingly worthwhile results.
However, fewer -enthusiasts select their vintage ears to fit in with the particular period of vintage-era motoring from which they derive the greatest satisfaction. Yet this approach is worth contemplation.
For example, the vintage years can be regarded as covering three rather welldefined periods; i.e., 1920-23, 1924-27, 1928,-30. In the first, front brakes are either unheard of, or a novelty. Closed bridles spell ponderous ears and drivers are dexterous at raising hoods arid dropping side-screens into their sockets. Clothing
plays its prominent part and purists must insist on beaded-edge tyres and bulb horns. Sporting types had their heroes in Rene Thomas, K. Lee Guinness, Count Zborowski and Raymond Mays, and went to Brwklands to see the.350.h.p. V 12 Sunbeam battle with ” Chitty Bang Bang I ” and to South Harting, Aston-Clinton, Sutton Bank and Holme Moss on week-ends when the B.A.R.C. was dormant. Cyclecars and traction cogines might be Met round any bend on the dustladen, punotare-prOmoting English roads, and embyro manufacturers paid drivers to take primitive light cars ii trough strenuous trials as far afield as Wales and Scotland. For this era, you should seek an K-type 80/98 ” Vauxhall, really early ” Brescia ” Bugatti or an equally early G.N [I didn’t say you’d find one The years roll on and hill-climbs are banned on public roads, emphasising the convenience of Brooklands, where Parry Thomas with his Leylands is the idol of the sporting public, who otherwise have only Shelsley Walsh. To be in the swim you must have front-wheel brakes (safeguarding your back parts by a red triangle or a ” Keep off my tail plaque) and overhead valves. Saloons had begun to sprout on small chassis, the Austin Seven was no longer a joke but firmly established, and the more normal, middle-class-as-itwere motorists sought. good performance and competed in speed events such as the.M.C.C. and J.C:C. High-Speed Trials or even B.A.R.C. races. Petrol came out of pumps instead of (as in the .early-twenties) khaki two-gallon cans (which had their origin in official petrol storage legislation dating back to 1900). Complicated, multicylinder, Supercharged, low-slung Grand Prix cars had arrived, and been seen at Brooklands in the 200-Mile Race and R.A.C. British Grand Prix, making most of t he rating ears that ran in the short handicap events look rather out-dated
and sports-like. Trials were more friendly affairs, small French sports cars provided fun for beret-clad youth amongst the slimier hills of Surrey, and at Le Mans Bentley ” wore the green ” in no uncertain fashion. To re-live the atmosphere of those Limes you need a 3-litre Bentley, ” 12/50″ Alois or twin-eam Salmon. The scene changes again and motor Sport is on its feet. Entries in the M.C.C. Exeter, Lands End and Edinburgh trials run into hundreds, in spite of increased reliability removing any very serious chance of competitors falling by the wayside. Crowds drive to Brooldands to see sports cars race for durations of six to twenty-four hours. The small car was a serious rival to larger vehicles, lowergeared, with four speeds to enable it to carry full four-seater saloon bodywork. Sports ears had become really fast, 00 m.p.h. being nothing unheard of from ordinary bread-and-butter cars. Rearwheel brakes and high-pressure tyres were already the mark of age. antiquated rather than ” vintage.” The Sideot and hehnet were still seen at the flying clubs, but on the roads comfort was the pre dominant note—balloon tyres, built-in jacks, pneumatic upholstery, dual screen wipers, dipping lamps … Crowded roads, traffic lights, Belisha beacons, a foretaste of . . . the present-day. To re-enact this period almost any good vintage saloon of those times seems wholly appropriate. You see the line of thought ? Sorry to
preach. . . * * * Early light cars. Our last-month’s remarks seem to have been justified, for interest in pre-1920 ‘small ears grows apace. Whether or not the V.S.C.C. decides to further this fascinating “lost cause,” it seems probable that next year John Morgan will put on a B.A.R.C. event for them, as befitting a club that has developed from the Junior Car Club, and was originally the Cycleear Club. Re Continued on page 500
ntembering how, years ago, the .1.C.C. used to put on all manner of tests at Brooklands designed to catch out contemporary small ears, John couldn’t do better Guin stage his throw back to the age of motoring gallantry ” let GoodWood, where things like driving tests and flying laps could be conveniently laid-oo. There is -a most useful hill nearby —the left-1mnd turn on’ the main road that leads to the motor course via the (ksodw,cttel horse-race g rounds–which would be a stiff test for any vintage light cars ( hat entrants might have procured for the ()evasion, with or without a re-start or time s(!etion somewhere on the gradient. It could also be the scene of a down-hill brake-test on the return run. How do you feel about it, John ? ” The Birmingham Post, I see, has just illustrated the winning designs Of a competition for a car body design (fourdoor sal(son). The winner looks to me more repellently bulbous than anything I have ever seen on the road so far. Net what I like at all. But then I ant getting a shade middle-aged in my car tastes, liking old 4i-litre Bentleys and such. where at least you don’t have to hunt round to find out where the water goes in. In these new jobs I am never really certain what I have done ; I push a button underneat h a fancy grille out the dashboard, and what moos out is either
central heating or the Perhap3. it doesn’t really matter which it is, but I feel a little silly.”-” Astragat,” writing in the Architects’ Journal of September 28th.