At this time of the year, when most of us are in spirit if not in fact, at the London Motor Show it is appropriate to scan the broad pages of a copy of Country Life dated November 8th, 1919, kindly sent to us by Mr. Keart of London, W.12. Appropriate because this was a special Motor Number of this well-known journal, which, as usual, we find to be far thicker then than today and priced at 1s. 6d.
The Motor Show supplement opens, after an article,”My Enemy — a Great Trout,” with a colour advertisernent for the new 29.5-h.p. Armstrong Siddeley six-cylinder, of which it was claimed “you cannot buy a better car.” Certainly at £1,000 for a saloon double-phaeton (a curious description, as late as 1919) it was good value. The makers claimed that this post-Armistice model embodied experience gained during four years of aircraft engine production “aggregating over 2,000,000 horse-power.” Backing this advertisement is one for Barker & Co. (Coach Builders) Ltd., who claimed that in 1710, when Queen Anne reigned over England, they were the Royal Coachbuilders and illustrated a 40/50 Rolls-Royce Barker enclosed cabriolet to depict their modern achievements.
A leading article, clumsily entitled “The Hub of the Automobile World after Six Years” compared the pre-war with the 1919 Motor Show. There is a familiar ring about a statement which reads “The man who earned £2 a week before the war is almost certainly earning at least £4 a week now. In the old days it would have taken him a hundred weeks to earn the money with which a £200 car might have been purchased. If the price of that car has now gone up to £360, it now only requires 80 weeks’ wages to equal the price.” Yes, a familiar ring if you substitute £10 and £20 for £2 and £4 although somehow we doubt if people in 1914 ran cars on £104 a year — nor must we overlook the fact that as late as 1930 a certain Euston Road motor factor started counter-assistants at 15s. a week!
Humber, to publicise a rather spartan 15.9 tourer, and Sizaire-Berwick, took full-page advertisements in colour. Curiously, in view of the coming slump, the 1919 Show featured such luxury vehicles as the 30-h.p. Armstrong-Siddeley, British Ensign, 25/30 Crossley, 45-h.p. Daimler, Lanchester Forty, 25/50 Sizaire-Berwick, 40/50 Napier, 20/25 Straker-Squire, V8 Talbot-Darracq, Vauxhall 25, 24-h.p. Sunbeam, and 40/50 Rolls-Royce. Of these, four had o.h.c. engines, an aero-engine legacy.
There is a very odd picture of a 14-h.p. Hurtu with hood extended over the dickey-seat, another o.h.c. engine in the Wolseley 15, a Calthorpe with rounded-tail sports body like that which I was delighted to see at Prescott last year, while Clincher tyres had a topical advertisement showing a fur-clad lady looking rather dubiously at a young man who obviously expects her to go for a drive in the moonlight in his Clincher-shod Austin Twenty tourer, there being no longer any fear of “Zepps” or “Gothas.” M. Bibendum is there in a less-portly form than he has since developed.
One speculates on why Ernest W. Beston, Esq., of Fernwood Grange, near Birmingham, had instructed his engineers to take a whole page in which to try to dispose of his car, a 1916 s.v. Lanchester Forty, delivered in September, 1916 and not provided with its Flewitt touring body until February, 1917, in which he had travelled a mere 3,000 miles, for £2,000. Presumably he sold it — Hutton-Stott will be after it if it still languishes at Fernwood Grange!
Cars apart, there is interest in looking at the price of property 38 years ago. In this issue of Country Life we find a 14-bedroom house, with 51-ft. long hall, squash court, stabling for ten hunters, double garage, hard and grass tennis courts, two sets of model farm buildings, three good cottages, a laundry, and rose gardens, fountains, etc., in 160 acres, all for £12,000 freehold. This was quite near Silverstone and one wonders what has happened to it today! Anyone seeking a small shooting estate in Sussex featuring a 16-bedroom residence with electric light and central heating, standing in 560 acres, surrounded by a further 2,000 rentable acres, could obtain this in 1919 for £33,000, or a 10-bedroom house two miles from the Sussex coast with stabling and 2½ acres for £2,600. Happy days? — W.B.
The V-Belt Journal for September devoted an illustrated article to A. Aldridge’s 1927 Anzani Frazer-Nash, which uses Taper-Lock bushes to retain its chain sprockets on the back axle. These Taper-Lock bushes are made by J. H. Fenner & Co. Ltd., V.-Belt House, 454, Chester Road, Manchester, and other members of the “Chain Gang” may care to investigate them.
In the Sunday Express some weeks ago appeared the following
“Gerry Albertini and his bride, the former Mrs. Laurel Heath, flew from Lydd to the South of France for their honeymoon yesterday.
With them went Gerry’s dark green Bentley. Mrs. Albertini owns a 22 ft.-Iong Hispano Suiza which she has arranged to be shipped out to her at Cap d’Antibes.
‘Next to Gerry,’ she told me over a drink yesterday,’ I love the car best of all ‘.” Ownership of an Hispano-Suiza ensures frequent newspaper publicity and not long afterwards we read in the same paper:
“Mayfair playboy Gerald Albertini has a new car which does three miles to the gallon. It is a 1924 Hispano-Suiza which cost only £100. The body, which is in the shape of a boat, is of solid mahogany.
When he bought it the car was in poor condition. Albertini spent about £1,700 on renovation. “Nothing left over for some new carburetter jets, presumably!
Latest to discover that the source of old vehicles shows no sign of drying up is Rob Walker, who found a Rolls-Royce, a 1913 15/20 Mercedes landaulette and a Fiat which had been in retirement in a country house garage since 1922. The Mercedes tubes blew up when air was re-introduced to them but the Bosch magneto still produced a powerful spark.
Prices vary. A 1900 Benz dogcart is advertised in the current V.C.C. Gazette for £800 but in the September 12/50 Alvis Register Circular two 12/50s are offered each for £50.