A section devoted to old-car matters
The V.S.C.C. Presteigne Rally (October 5/6th)
The annual Vintage S.C.C. Presteigne Rally has a tradition dating back to pre-war days and this year the pilgrimage into wild wet Welsh Wales again took place and the old cars were once again given the freedom of Presteigne.
A very big entry had been received, numbering 59 for the Sunday trial alone, which, in conjunction with heavy rain that converted the observed sections either into slimy rock or thick mud, caused record delays.
My intention had been to view the trial from the lofty seat of T. R. Nicholson’s 1928 Lanchester 23 and I was duly ensconsed into the rear compartment of this handsome tourer and buttoned-up behind the rear screen at the Phoenix Hotel at Hartney Wintney, at around 10 a.m. on the Saturday.
Alas, contact with a traffic island before this had caused Nicholson to burst a front tyre and now an ominous lack of precision in the steering told us that the off-side front wheel outer ball race was about to turn its last revolutions. The police having chosen this fine Saturday morning to permit a Wide Load to proceed along the road to Winchester, with the accompanying traffic hold-up, we took to the lanes before Basingstoke and made our way to Hampshire’s capital city via the quiet Candovers.
It was evident that the Lanchester’s owner was far from happy for, apart from increasing evidence that the aforesaid wheel bearing would soon be entirely bereft of balls, the engine was on coil ignition only, the magneto lacking a timing-chain, and, what’s more, most of the sump oil was being pumped onto the road past the magneto mounting.
Under the circumstances speed had to be restricted below the car’s customary cruising speed of 55 m.p.h. and from Winchester, where another rally telegram was despatched, to Newbury we progressed no faster than a rather indifferent furniture van. I was, however, able to appreciate the excellent ride enjoyed by the back-seat occupants, who, in this long-chassis model, sit very much over the cantilever-sprung back axle. This is the more remarkable when you remember that Dr. Lanchester did not believe in fitting shock-absorbers. The four-wheel brakes with their big ribbed, c.i.-lined, alloy drums were obviously, too, extremely effective.
At Newbury Nicholson steered us to the house of Francis Hutton-Stott, who gave his entire Saturday afternoon to helping succour the sick Lanchester, although he had only just returned from Cornwall, where he had bought a rare 1957 Lanchester Sprite saloon with Hobbs automatic transmission, a car which had apparently been for a time in the hands of Rootes and Triumph, who were no doubt interested in its unusual and very good gearbox.
It was not until 6 p.m. that we proceeded, the wheel bearing by no means as new, to our destination. The scuttle-mounted sidelamps of this vintage Lanchester cast a pleasing glow over the shapely radiator and domed filler cap, the white needle of the “oiling” gauge remained upright in spite of the oil loss, and the generous hood kept out the torrential rain that had long since set in, without recourse to side screens. Fuel consumption, however, had fallen below the customary 15-17 m.p.g. due to the binding wheel, which was causing clutch slip uphill, but a garage on the outskirts of Gloucester was able to replenish the 16-gallon tank.
Obviously the stricken Lanchester could not compete in the trial and on Sunday Nicholson and David Manning left Wales to get it to London as best they could, for it had an engagement in Holland the following week-end.
Consequently I was free to act as an impromptu marshal at this very wet event. The first hill was Crug, a steep rocky climb approached by a ford.
After some delay while a marshal’s modern Ford Anglia was assisted upwards, the competitors, led by Bennett’s slab-tailed Alvis 12/50 beetleback, one passenger in the tail-seat, made their ascents or attempts. Borthwick’s 1927 Lancia looked very spartan, Pat Stocken’s Trojan went up strongly, hood up, but Whitehouse’s Ballot, with hood-irons and big rear trunk, looked more appropriate to Bond Street.
Samson’s 1920 E-type 30/98, with Morris Commercial actuators to its hydraulic Vauxhall front brakes, was exceedingly sporting, and Bick’s 1.8-litre M.G., hoodless, had a girl in the stern to add adhesion. Winder’s Humber “racer” climbed well, Harris’ 1930 Austin Seven 2-seater looking very gentile and modern in comparison. Jowetts were out in strength, Phillips driving his 1925 2-seater, Bromley Johnson a 1930 2-seater, and Footit a 1927 2-seater with home-inspired mudguards and his daughter under an umbrella in the dickey.
Moore’s lady navigator wore a white racing helmet in the back of the 1928 Graham-Paige saloon, Arman and friends rode in an elegant vee-screen 14/40 Humber saloon, father Winder’s 1924/8 Humber is an 8/18 Chummy with 9/28 engine, and Buchan’s M.G. a 1929 2 1/2-litre Six. R. G. Winder drove a 1928 Austin Chummy—chummy people, these Winders.
Lea-Francis was represented by Cameron Millar’s 1930 12/50) with the sociable amenity of a roll-up flap to its hood, so that Mrs. Millar, in the dickey, isn’t isolated from her husband, Williams’ resplendent 1927 12/50 coupé, Sawers’ 12/40 saloon with Hyper radiator angle and G. R. Smith’s 1926 9.8 2-seater. I. E. Smith’s Gwynne Eight Chummy had a skeleton metal seat in the tail and two umbrellas in lieu of a hood, McLellan’s 1929 flat-radiator 1 1/2-litre Alfa Romeo coupé refused even to leave the start, Frank Lockhart had a s.v. V-twin engine in his well-known Peugeot-J.A.P., and Griffin cocked-a-snout at Welsh weather by leaving the sun-roof of his 1930 Morris Minor open.
Lilley’s noisy open Lancia Lambda. an 8th-series with 7th-series engine, was losing a big-end, Marsh brought a very vintage-trials-like 1926 Morris Special with Oxford engine in a Cowley chassis that Rowley ran some dozen years ago, Trainer’s all-alloy beetleback Alvis boasted two large S.U.s, whereas Galbraith’s 1926 12/50 was a wide 2-seater, three up on its bench seat. Even less trials-like was Jones’ 12/25 Humber tourer.
Sullivan’s 1927 12/50 was another all-alloy Alvis, its clutch proclaiming. Miller’s 1925 Rolls-Royce saloon got away at a crawl but failed out of sight high up, Leyland’s 1930 16/50 Humber coupé was mistaken by several people for a Snipe, and Kain’s-spartan Type 40 Bugatti was bought in Germany and had been registered so recently that it has only just needed a “Marples’ medical.” Hamish Moffatt was reputed to have taken the valves out of the back tyres of his Brescia Bugatti before the ascent!
Thus the entry that tackled Crug, a hill that got worse with the rain, so that the delay built up to nearly two hours, many failing too low down for the Land-Rover to tow them up, including the 16/50 Humber, Footit’s Jowett, the Bugatti, Smith’s Lea-Francis, Sullivan’s Alvis and Galbraith’s Alvis. As someone said, it was rather what you experienced on a pre-war M.C.C. trial with several hundred entries.
Eventually it was sorted out, however; the remaining pre-lunch sections were vanquished or chalked-up as a defeat and half-a-hundred vintage cars of fascinating shapes and sizes again assembled in Presteigne’s streets.
The first section after lunch, Doleau, was pure mud with a second section and stop and restart test higher up, and many failed, before those cars still in the running left in a damp mist for the dreaded hill, “The Smatcher.” It was at Doleau that Moffatt spoilt his chances by going non-stop in his Bugatti through the restart bit! After which the wheeled-ancients left Presteigne in peace for another year.—W. B.
Road Section and Trial: Presteigne Trophy: R.G. Winder (1928 Austin Seven). First Class Awards: Miss P. Stocken (1924 Trojan), C. A. Winder (1923/8 Humber), H. Moffatt (1923 Bugatti), W. L. T. Winder (1924/8 Humber), B. M. Clarke (1924/9 Austin Seven). Second Class Awards: F. S. Lockhart (1924 Peugeot-J.A.P.), H. P. Bowler (1929 4 1/2-litre Bentley), D. K. Brown (1926 Alvis), A. C. M. Millar (1930 Lea-Francis), R. L. Heath (1929 Alvis). Third Class Awards: W. G. A. Barrow (1930 Frazer Nash), J. Borthwick (1927 Lancia), K. M. Hill (1930 A.J.S.), W. S. May (1926 Fraser Nash), J. K. Milner (1922 30/98 Vauxhall). Light Car Award: Miss Stocken (Trojan).
Road Section, Concours and Tests: First Class Awards: D. T. R. Dighton (1928 Humber), A. W. K. Condon (1923 A.C.), C. J. Bendall (1911 Rolls-Royce). Second Class Awards T. C. Windsor (1920 Rolls-Royce), P. A. Boulton (1926 Sunheam). Third Class Awards: D. Macmillan (1928 Rolls-Royce), K. G. Langley (1928 Swift).
Sunbeams at Sandhurst (Sept. 29th)
The annual S.T.D. Register Sandhurst Rally took place at the Royal Military Academy, consisting of a
The Sunbeams numbered G. Hughes’ yellow drophead Speed 20 coupé, the Hon. Secretary’s Speed 20 saloon, D. Cookson’s 14/40 tourer on very big “boots,” some typical, roomy Sixteen saloons, Moore’s 1921 23.8-h.p. limousine and three entries by A. Forshaw, his 20.9 saloon, his 3-litre Twin-Cam and his very nicely restored Dawn saloon. Poor R. D. Jones had to remove the dumbiron apron and wind-up his 16.9 saloon whenever he wanted to start its engine.
In the garaging test R. Frost reversed his 18.2 sports saloon very neatly and V. Rawlings was very quick at this in his Talbot 90 saloon, the brakes of which were noticeably noisy. Berry really trod on his Talbot’s brakes and amongst those who clobbered markers were Hughes, Brett and W. Bennett in a nicely original, artillery-wheel 1928 Sunbeam 16 tourer. The prizes were presented by the S.T.D. President, Mrs. W. Boddy.—W. B.
Concours d’Elegance: 1st: J. A. Joyce (Sunbeam Speed 20 saloon).
2nd: A. H. Brooking (Talbot 90/105 2-seater).
3rd: A. D. Forshaw (Sunbeam Twin-Cam 2-seater).
Driving Tests: 1st: H. Tennant (Sunbeam Speed 20 coupé), 66 Points.
2nd: P. Moores (Talbot 105 4-seater), A. H Brooking (Talbot 90/105 2-seater), 65 points.
4th: V. Rawlings (Talbot 90 saloon), 63 points.
Newbury & District Agricultural Society’s Rally (Sept. 21st)
Veteran Car Class:
Longest Distance Cup: Lt. Comdr. J. Mills, R.N. (1913 Arrol-Johnston). Devon.
Concours d’Elegance: 1st: P. S. Whaley (1914 Rolls-Royce); 2nd: V. Bridgers (1911 Renault); 3rd: G. Gush (1913 Humberette).
Vintage Car Class:
Longest Distance Clock: R. W. Ryott (1927 Galloway), Loughborough.
Concours d’Elegance: 1st: J. Hipgrave (1928 Riley Nine); 2nd: A. Jeffries (1929 Lea-Francis); 3rd: C. Hughes (1927 Austin 12).
“Early & Late.”—There are various organisations in England catering for the cult of the old Rolls-Royce, and several publications with the same purpose, including one produced commercially. It was not until the other day that we had an opportunity of reading some back issues of Early & Late, the Bulletin of the Rolls-Royce Section of the V.S.C.C. At first these were duplicated, but with the compensation of real photographs stuck in, and appeared at infrequent intervals. Later they were printed, in exactly the same format and on the same excellent art paper as the V.S.C.C. Bulletin proper, and Early & Late now appears quarterly. The quality of the contents and illustrations sets a standard of its own and these bulletins emphasise very strongly the fascination of the pre-1940 Rolls-Royce cars, which the diversity of models and body styles, the numbers still in use, the legends that surround them and their owners’ enthusiasm blend into something which we have to admit is pretty irresistible. Congratulations are due to the Editor, Cdr. J. W. Stead, R.N., for the excellence of these bulletins; any owner of an eligible Rolls-Royce who is not a member is certainly missing something very worthwhile and is recommended to contact the Hon. Sec., E. E. Turner, The Malt House, Bewdley, Worcs., without delay!
The growth of motoring
Coming unexpectedly upon an Edwardian B.S.A. touring car in Radnorshire the other day, I was intrigued to see that its Reg. No. was FO 45. The date of manufacture was variously quoted as 1909, 1911 and 1913. Now my Cluley carries the Reg. No. FO 1399 and was registered early in 1925. Taking 1909 as the date of the 45th car to be registered in the country suggests that the motor car came surprisingly late to this area of Wales, if by 1909, perhaps later, only 45 cars had been registered there. Taking this Cluley as a datum, it appears that thereafter the average number of cars registered annually in this country was in the region of 84, or fewer. Even allowing for the remoteness and the low population or this part of the British Isles, and the fact that of the sixteen years involved, six were war years, this seems a surprisingly small number of cars, although I leave it to the statisticians to say if the average annual registration over the country as a whole of approximately 26,500, puts the Radnorshire figures in perspective, or the reverse. Maybe some erudite historian may care to comment and perhaps tell us which county qualifies for the slowest adoption of the motor vehicle in this country.—W. B.
Model-A.—The Model-A Ford Register has a meeting at 7 p.m. on November 3rd at “The Victoria,” Buckingham Palace Road, London, S.W.1. Non-members interested in these cars are welcome. The Secretary is G. H. Langton, 111, Prince Albert Road, Eastney, Portsmouth.
Plugs.—Some time ago the Editor made a request for old sparking plugs and he now wishes to thank those readers who so nobly responded. The outcome is a fine collection, many of the sparking plugs beautifully clean, some even in their original boxes, while the “Bosch Sparking Plug Encyclopaedia” and magazine articles about vintage plugs were also sent in. The collection, which is to be suitably mounted for display, includes, besides, several unidentified, examples of the following:—Apollo 3JD, A.C. B-11, Goodyear, Benton. Forward, Bern, Magowlaire LM, Platine Oda No. 69, Defiance, Eyquem, Oleo Magnetic, Oleo Marque Deposée, Champion X, Champion with side priming tap, Bluemel, Vallier, Warrior, Magneto AV, Sphinx, S.E.V. 1-25, Rajah, Castle, Lissen BS2 and S5, Bluemel. Mascot, Platomoc, Robert Bosch and 22d, Lodge H51, BR39, BR2, BR8, CV, BR30, AF, BR4, Aero, HVL, CVL, H13, BR7, C3, BR19, and Double Pole, K.L.G. 244, 291, 583, 246, G1, G2, OB, R7, F6, 221 and 268, and, a delighlful contrast, and enormous Bosch 4ig and a tiny Bosch X90T3, that last two contributed by Mrs. Naylor, who, as Miss Shilling, took her B.M.C.R.C. Gold Star at Brooklands on a Norton. Oh. and a box of unused Golden Lodge 2.HLs!
Again, thanks to all those concerned.
World Champion Jim Clark drove a 1901 single-crank compound Burrell traction engine, No. 2426, at Duns during Scottish Week last September.
Recent finds.—A 1910 2-cylinder De Dion engine has been retired from 50 years of log-sawing, many “Bullnose” Morris and model-T Ford spares are reported in Lincolnshire, a 4-cylinder Essex has been found in a barn in Staffordshire, and a derelict steam wagon has been seen in Cheshire. A large Minerva chassis and the remains of a Ford lorry lie behind a garage in Scotland, where a huge Albion/Merryweather is used as a breakdown truck, and a Flint Six is in a W. Wickham scrapyard. A Bedford fire-engine is in a similar yard in Peterborough, a 40/50 RoIls-Royce ambulance stands in a barn on the Isle of Harris and a Reo truck is derelict in a yard near Chester. Letters can be forwarded.
The Star Register has issued a very complete list of all known cars of this and subsidiary makes.
Which Squadron? The Editor was recently presented with a wooden four-bladed aeroplane propeller for his growing “museum” of motoring and aviation antiques. It is believed that this First World War prop. was used on a B.E. 2c. One of its blades lists various names, among them C. Bailey, Pt. C. Bridges, Sgt.; W. Barber (killed); B. Barber, Pt.; T. Courtney, L/C.; G. Clarke, Sgt.; H. Cox, Pt.; A. Critch, R.S.M.; C. Chamberlain, Pt.; J. Drage, Sgt.; E. Giddings, Pt.; T. Hornby, Corp.; H. Howell, Pt.; and those of a number of civilians, such as G. Gilbert. J. A. Greenwood. F. Law and A., I. and B. Last. Can anyone say to which Squadron the propeller belonged?
Odds and ends.—Hamish Moffat now owns three Bugattis, having acquired the 1922 ex-Horridge Indianapolis straight-eight. A P. 1 Rolls-Royce was broken up in Surrey recently—the only consolation being that it had a cracked block and head. The next V.S.C.C. fixture is the Eastern Navigational Rally on November 10th, to be followed by the Northern Trial on November 23rd. The Fiat Register reports having recorded the existence of six 509, four 509S and 37 Tipo 509A, the 8-h .p. overhead camshaft vintage Fiat, but sadly notes in its current Bulletin that three out of four have now disappeared. A 1913 Tipo 56 8 1/2-litre Fiat tourer has been found in America and will go into the Harrah Museum at Reno. Frank Lockhart has acquired from Dunham the 2-litre Rover single-seater that Peter Wilkes and Spencer King raced in the early fifties, for next year’s Historic Racing Car contests.