Three Stages in the Life of an Edwardian Racing Car

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Perhaps the most enjoyable of all vintage car events is the annual V.S.C.C. Welsh Rally, which this year occupied the week-end of October 4th-5th, and attracted the excellent entry of seven Edwardians and 57 vintage cars.

On the Saturday, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., competitors converge on the Welsh border town of Presteigne, sending telegrams to prove that they have covered the maximum required mileage in that time, which ranges from 200 miles for a 1930 car with front-wheel brakes to lesser distances for older cars and/or vehicles endowed merely with back wheel braking, which is a fair and excellent idea.

This year we rode with T. Nicholson in his 1927 9/20 Humber, about which some comments appear in our report on the V.S.C.C. Beaulieu Rally.

Driving from Staines to Presteigne via Petersfield, Salisbury and Stow-on-the-Wold took in some splendid open country and almost convinced the Editor that England is not quite all bricks, mortar and concrete! A few miles from our destination a blue V.S.C.C. arrow showed that a diversion was necessary because the main road was flooded and several people had to press on to arrive on time. The little Humber had no difficulty but the unfortunate Hamish Moffat had to dry out the magneto of his nice O.M. tourer after attempting to negotiate the floods and then ran out of petrol, forfeiting maximum marks. One who just clocked in on time was Milner, who left his 1926 A.C. in the middle of the road with his lady passenger unsuccessfully trying to engage a gear, while he ran to the control.

On the Sunday, which was very wet, some entrants took the Regularity Run followed by the Concours d’Elegance, others the Trial. The main street of Presteigne was lined with fascinating cars, w:t.t the police aiding and abetting, drivers and their crews having been accommodated for the night in every available hotel and house, the local doctor leaving his Hinman Minx in the open so that the Humber could be garaged under cover—such is the atmosphere and enthusiasm of this excursion into Wales.

The competing cars certainly constituted a fine assembly. The Edwardians were represented by Langton’s 1910 two-cylinder Rolls-Royce, Pomeroy’s ” Prince ‘leafy” Vauxhall, Stothert’s beautiful white 1911 Rolls.Royce “Silver Ghost” tourer, Mrs. Oakden’s Rover, Mrs. Fisher’s big Lancia, Bendall’s 1910 Rolls Royce tourer and Smith’s 1910 two-seater Straker-Squire.

Of the vintage machinery there were three Trojans, the twin-cam three-litre Sunbeams of Millar, Court and McNaughtan, Power’s very neat Bean tourer with its distinctive doors, Mrs. Harwick’s 20/60 Vauxhall which belies its General Motors’ ancestry with polished alloy cover plates on its clean engine and a radiator which was surely surplus stock front the 14/40 spares, while Urlwin brought his 1923 Sunbeam Fourteen touter, Mann his splendid 3-litre Bentley. Two ” new ” cars caught the eye, one being Wauchope’s 1921 Morris Sports, a very rare model with the pointed-tail alloy two-seater body and angular mudguards with leather valances, a car discovered in Ludlow and surely the only one left ? Alas, it had filled sump, gearbox and back axle with flood water on the way down. The other ” new ” old car was C. L. Smith’s 1924 B.S.A. light car, found in Birmingham and restored, alas with horrid modern pressed-steel disc wheels and large tyres. But this car, with its air-cooled Hotchkiss V-twin engine of the type used many years later for the B.S.A. 3-wheeler, and underslung-worm back axle, proved adept at hill-storming and fast cornering at no mean speed.

Parnplin brought a 1927 flat-radiator 14/40 M.G., the “Chain Gang” was represented by Winder and Harris, and Rogers’ 1923 short-chassis 7/17 Jowett two-seater was matched by Davis Winchester’s similar 1927 model, on large-section tyres.

Rolls-Royce was well represented, notably by Power’s fine 1924 all-weather Twenty, and Pettit’s 1923 bull-nose Morris-Cowley tourer was notably smart. Whitehouse had brought his boat-decked two-seater 2RT Ballot with tyres carried horizontally behind the tail and C. Barker’s 1930 18/100 Mk. III M.G., which no one knows whether to call ” Tiger ” or “Tigress,” sparkled in what sun there was. Pleasing to the eye was Marston’s 1930 Talbot Ninety sports-tourer.

The trial proved tough, our Humber jibbing at all except the first hill, as power diminished rapidly towards zero as the revs. fell. In the afternoon the dreaded Smatcher was a ” section ” held in considerable awe, but Harry Bowler, the Club’s President, made a rousing ascent of this steep, twisting gradient at the wheel of his 1929 4.5-litre Bentley, Pat Stocken climbed sedately to the top in her 1924 Trojan with female navigator, the B.S.A. got past the first corner, causing mirth as it came to rest rocking violently from side to side as the occupants bounced, and Davis Winchester’s little Jowett —he has had 16 of them—climbed the second section clean, as did Rogers’ Jowett.

After which all that remained was the long trek home, which the Humber took in its stride, covering altogether over 500 miles in the two days without a moment’s anxiety, which doesn’t seem bad for a 31-year-old small car.—W. B.

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