A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
Veteran C.C. Hog’s Back – Box Hill Rally (September 21st)
Organised by the S.E. Centre of the V.C.C. this was an excellent event, inasmuch as it was not just a rally, with the cars static on arrival, but a proper competition, consisting of a mileage contest to the Hog’s Back (judged on distance covered, age of car and modifications made to it) and a trial covering 46.4 miles for veterans and 74.8 miles for the Edwardians to set average-speed schedules. An excellent entry of 68, 19 veterans and 49 Edwardians, was watched over by the Clerk of the Course, Bill Cook, who could outpace all of them in his Mercedes-Benz 300SL as they negotiated the pleasant roads of Surrey and Sussex.
Our first thought was whether a Vauxhall Victor was a suitable vehicle in which to attend a V.C.C. rally but we reflected that veteran car events are popular in America where cars of similar vulgarity and considerably greater acreage are seen cheek by jowl with historic cars. So we set off to the Hog’s Back, where we observed the tall radiator cap of W. F. Watson’s 1913 Rolls-Royce tourer, the crossed-guns motif on the radiator of A. T. Osborne’s 1913 B.S.A., the pointed tail sported by M. G. Jackson’s 1913 Swift cyclecar, and the fact that J. V. Scottorn’s modified 1910 Ford is called “Victoria” and Major Miller’s 1908 Swift “Emmy” before going to Lythe Hill to see the fun.
Mawer’s 1904 Oldsmobile arrived well ahead of the others, climbing slowly and turf-turfing round the bend. Ward’s 1902 de Dion Bouton, with canopy, crunched its cogs and you could hear the “plop” of the automatic inlet valve between changes, while the gradient pulled Parkinson’s 1900 Peugeot to a crawl.
Lots happened at once when Reece’s 1905 Spyker overtook the Inchley/Williamson 1904 Riley tricar, while Tulley left the driving seat to sprint vigorously beside his 1904 Speedwell, a passenger leapt from Wilde’s 1904 Tony Huber to assist it upwards, Bennett’s 1904 Panhard-Levassor climbed serenely behind the melee, and then a vast fairground lorry-cum-trailer pulled out and baulked Gregory’s famous Darracq, which re-started easily. Gilbert’s 1907 de Dion Bouton came up well, steering-column shivering, the remarkable Robinson climbed splendidly and Stephens ascended on his own in his 1898 Stephens, its i.f.s. flexing in sympathy with the firing strokes of its 8-h.p. two-cylinder engine. Goddard’s racing 1911 Cottin et Desgouttes, sounding beautiful, came up behind Grossmark’s handsome 1909 30-h.p. Napier, Rowden’s 1908 de Dion nearly stopped, Hames’s little 1910 Renault was slow but very sure, like Wills’s 1911 Ford. Miss Cole’s 1908 Renault baulked Shakspeare’s 1911 Swift. Woolley’s 1897 Daimler was magnificent — its driver even contrived not to catch its protruding hubcaps on passing moderns! — but Eric Thompson and passenger did a lot of pushing of their 1904 Garrard tricar.
In the afternoon we watched the Edwardians tackle the long hill out of Rudgwick. The Cottin et Desgouttes was magnificent, Hampton’s Bugatti “Black Bess” really fast, while Paget’s 1911 Austin thought nothing of the gradient. This was an interesting hill, tempting some drivers to change up, only to find a return to a lower ratio advisable. Wills’ T-Ford was unexpectedly smooth, Cass’ little Delage, with giant Ducellier lamps, slow, and Hames’ Renault was overtaken by Watson’s Rolls-Royce, from which an almost imperceptible click told of a higher gear being engaged. Gilbert’s 1907 de Dion climbed well, Scottorn’s T-Ford was rapid, the big Napier passed a little Renault, as did Wilcock’s Clement-Talbot, but the belt-driven 1908 O.T.A.V. cyclecar was very slow. Mrs. Oakden’s 1911 Rover 12 was noticeably sure, Habgood’s 1914 Star imposing, Lloyd’s 1914 Rover 12 smart and Twallin’s 1915 Sunbeam emitted a typical Sunbeam “waffle.” Tulley was unconcernedly smoking his pipe as his T-Ford brought him safely up and Cole’s 1915 Bedford-Buick sported typically-American side curtains and spare rim. Footnote: In darkest Sussex children still call them “old crocks!”
Class A: 1st: H. O. S. Briduitt (1904 de Dion Bouton) and E. J. Wilde (1904 Tony Huber), tie. 2nd: C. W. Ward (1902 de Dion Bouton).
Class B: 1st: Mrs. C. A. Oakden (1911 Rover). 2nd: T. J. Farrington (1913 Argyll).
Timed Run: Class 1: R. J. Stevens (1898 Stephens).
Class II: P. J. Wellingham (1902 de Dion Bouton).
Class III: M. W. Boller (1908 Renault).
Class IV: S. F. Coudle (1911 Swift).