Vintage Postbag, November 1958

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Sir,
While rooting about in my garage I came across an old car badge with” No. 4″ stamped on the back; on the front” Federated Motor Clubs,” and in the centre is ” Yorkshire Automobile Club,” with a coat of arms containing four lions on a red-and-white background. Can you give me any information as to whether the club is still in existence or not and any other interesting matter associated with it?
I am, Yours, etc., Holmbridge. D. CUTTELL.
[Can any reader solve this one? – Ed]

Sir,
I feel readers of MOTOR SPORT might be interested in the enclosed photograph of a truly magnificent Rolls-Royce.

Not much is known about the car except that it was built in 1931 for Maharajab of Pariala, who resided somewhere in India. The various trimmings are apparently gold plated and, incidentally, the outstretched serpent on the off side is the mouthpiece of a bulb horn.
I am, Yours, etc., Acton. C J Winton

Sir,
I recently discovered an old bound volume of Beardmore News dated 1923. This company were builders of Arrol-Johnston, Galloway. Beardmore cars and Beardmore taxis.

My father actually owned the first Beardmore light car ever built. It was developed from a 1.5-litre Austro-Daimler, but the capacity must have been about 1,086 c.c.; my father said it was 9.8 h.p. R.A.C. rating. The capacity increased practically every year, and we had the latest 11.9-h.p. shortly afterwards. This was a very excellent car; it had an overhead camshaft driven by skew gears; these were noisy, so by 1923 the camshaft was chain-driven. Somewhere along the line a car of 1,698 c.c. was produced, but the 1923 model was 1,860 c.c. (12.8 h.p.). This car was quite potent and in the hands of Cyril Paul. the works driver, and A. Francis, who was the designer, they had a lot of competition successes, especially in hill-climbs. Paul won the 2-litre class at Shelsley in that year. Shortly after that the firm produced a 14-h.p. model. This was a side-valve job. However, the firm was already declining, and the production was taken away from the Anniesland works in Glasgow and transferred to the taxi works at Paisley; shortly afterwards only the taxi remained to carry on the name.

With the demise of the Beardmore the family went all over Arrol-Johnston. I went down to Dumfries to the factory with my father to collect the new car. The Campbell-Napier Bluebird was there being rebuilt—I suspect that the company was short of work. The 15.9-h.p.” A. J.” had no acceleration and no brakes; it was built like a battleship, and sluggish was a mild description. Shortly after that Arrol-Johnston and the Aster Car Company amalgamated and produced the very ingenious sleeve-valve Arrol-Aster. It was dead reliable but very slow, as witness the team’s efforts in the T.T.

The Arrol-Johnston was designed by Mr. Pullinger, who was one of the designers of the B.H.P. aero engine (Beardmore-HalfordPullinger). This engine was famous in the First World War.

At some time in the ‘twenties the Beardmore company built a very large luxury car; it was intended to compete with Rolls-Royce and Napier. I think that three cars were built, and I saw one of these when I was paying a visit to the Anniesland factory. I would be interested to hear details of this car and if an example exists anywhere today.

I am, Yours, etc..Rivonia. K. A. HURST.

Sir,
Reading in the March number of MOTOR SPORT an article “Cars I have Owned,” by Air-Commodore H. V. Rowley, I was interested in his enthusiastic reference to a Zenith Gradua motor-cycle which he had owned, fitted with “the famous o.h.v. 90 bore J.A.P. twin,” and thought that perhaps further reference to one of these engines and a photograph might be of interest to some of your readers.

Between 1910 and 1914 my brother owned a Martin motor-cycle built by Harry Martin, fitted with one of these famous 90 mm. by 77.5 mm. engines. That machine was really something, devoid of all frills, solo, single speed, V-belt drive, no clutch; I don’t know how much it weighed but it must have been very light by modern standards. It was fitted with an adjustable engine pulley, a beautiful looking thing about 8 in. in diameter, with which it was possible to get any variation in gearing from about 2.25/4.5 to 1. My brother usually rode with a ratio of about 2.75/2.5 to 1, but carried a spare belt cut the correct length to give about 4,5 to 1 for town work or very hilly districts. I often rode the machine on its high gear and it was remarkably easy to start except in very cold weather. It was quite often ridden on the road with stub exhausts and without mudguards, but was usually fitted with down-pipes from the exhaust ports running into a long straight 2.25-in. tail-pipe, which gave it a wonderful exhaust note which Was not too disturbing. All the same, it is not surprising that he had some clashes with the powers-that-be, who did not see eye to eye with him on the question of noise!

I remember at one time when I was laid up at home after an appendicitis operation he used to visit me on the Martin, and I would always be on the qui viva for his coming, and the welcome sound of the Martin’s exhaust as he roared up our winding drive was indeed music in my ears, but frightened “seven bells” out of our staid middle-aged doctor, who happened to be with me on the occasion of one of these visits; he thought it was dreadful ” and so had for his patient’s nerves ” !

The enclosed photograph with the girl (later to become my brother’s wife) on the carrier shows the aforementioned belt pulley to advantage, also pillion technique of the day for young ladies This was no posed photograph but was taken at our home at Windlesham, Surrey, just. as they were leaving for the centre of London one Sunday afternoon—no spring-frame, no sponge-rubber duel seat; just an oilskin coat folded on the carrier and a strap round say brother’s waist for her to hang on to, and side-saddle ! How he started the machine with her on the back I don’t remember, or whether she scrambled on after, but it must have taken a bit of doing, especially with an armful of flowers and a handbag. Perhaps they were lucky and didn’t have to stop after a coasting start down our drive.

Another incident. I remember him recounting to me : He was siding down the Portsmouth Road near Guildford when he became aware of a car overtaking him and accordingly cracked on more speed but, somewhat to his surprise, could not shake off his pursuer. Slowing down at the outskirts of Guildford, the car pulled alongside and the driver shouted, ” Don’t hurry and your smell’s disgusting” (Castrol R). It. was one Lees of the Cambridge University Motor Club in his very special 26-h.p. Metallurgique two-seater ” Billikin,” well known at hill-climbs at that time.
I am, Yours, etc., Wanganui, N2. S. A. Glanorgs.

Sir,
It occurred to me that you might be interested in the enclosed photograph [Reproduced below.—Ed.). I found the negative when going through some belongings of my late father, Arthur Cox (inventor of the Cox Atmos carburetter). It shows cars at Manley weighbridge weighing in for Shelsley Walsh in, I believe, 1906.

It might interest some of your readers to identify the cars and to explain how, at that early date, a three-letter registration appears [OAY 4—Ed.).

For your information, I have found out from Mr. Leslie Wilson that the first and third cars are Alldays, the second being a Humber. He tells me that the Reg. No. was a trade plate and that, at. that time, these were blue with white letters, and that it was the custom to follow the letter indicating the place of registration with the first and last. letter of the snake of car covered by the plate. Were this to be the practice today many a secret might leak out.
I am, Yours, etc., LAWRENCE COX. Knowle.

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