Vintage postbag, November 1964

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Touché!

Sir,

Thanks indeed for giving us a little space, even though you haven’t been very charitable towards us. I suppose one must accept the fact that adverse publicity is perhaps better than no publicity at all!

The McLaughton Buick (your description, not mine) would be rare indeed-the only One, in fact!

What perturbs me, and no doubt may well cause some eyebrow lifting among many of your readers, is your totally irrelevant and quite unnecessary remark about Burt’s Eyston-Chrysler being untaxed. The first reaction most people will have, I imagine, is simply what does it have to do with you?-and how is this relevant in simply reporting a Concours d’Elegance? Second one is, the car need not be taxed since it was standing on private property—or could you prove the car was not towed or trailered to the event? Third reaction is simply, the car was taxed under the provisions of the Road Traffic Act, since it was covered by currently-taxed General Trade Plates.

In the same issue of your magazine you deplore the Hitlerites, as you aptly describe that small minority of people who will inform on their fellow motorists; but in view of your own public remarks on the above, can you honestly say you subscribe to this, without having your tongue in –cheek?

Hounsdon. Harry C. G. Shell,

Hon. Sec., Classic American Auto Club of G.B.

[It is very true that while you may please all the readers some of the time and some of the readers all the time, it is impossible to please all the readers all the time! I remarked that the Eyston-bodied Chrysler wasn’t taxed as this seemed a reasonable explanation for its rather sad condition. A car not in regular use, perhaps newly dug out of retirement, has every excuse to be less pristine than one which has had a Road Fund Licence purchased for it.—ED.]

* * *

Sir,

I am most annoyed to find that someone as disinterested in American cars as Mr. W. Boddy should report on the 2nd American Car Rally at Beaulieu; it appears that his sole object in attending was to remark on the vices and forget the virtues of the cars there.

Of course, I admit it must be difficult to write about motor cars all the time without treading on someone’s toes, in this case mine—why “Disreputable McLaughlin Buick”? To my knowledge the only McLaughlin Buick competing was mine, and to make my appearance at Beaulieu on September 13th, 1964, meant a round trip of nearly 500 miles—and at 10 m.p.g. that’s no joke (would that he the reason why they are inexpensive to buy?), only to see your car referred to as “disreputable” is enough to annoy anyone.

Many hours of sweat and labour had gone into cleaning that body (coachbuilt by Thrupp and Maberly) and into polishing the P.100 headlamps. However, I enjoyed the rally very much, regardless of the adverse remarks expressed by the reporter, and this will not deter me from enjoying future, and present, issues of Motor Sport.

Liverpool. R. Maguire.

* * *

Broken Bulldog

Sir,

This morning my husband received his copy of Motor Sport with his usual enthusiasm, but was rather staggered to read your remarks with regard to the accident with the Bulldog which happened when he was flying at Farnborough on September 13th. It is quite obvious that you and your reader have completely the wrong impression, and have things out of perspective as usual.

Firstly, my husband is a very experienced pilot, having 21 years’ flying behind him, and for a good many of these he has been a test pilot, which, as you should realise, requires skill and knowledge of aircraft.

I can assure you and your reader that the Bulldog was greatly loved by my husband, and he was the very last person to take risks or do it damage in any way. He has given a great many people pleasure with the many flying displays, and also given great deal of time, too.

As for his joking, perhaps your reader would be interested to know that my husband was in a state of shock, which persisted for days, and he was in great pain, and still is even now. I really can’t think how some people can be so stupid.

Incidentally, perhaps you might be interested to know that the accident was caused by an engine failure, and not by pilot error.

Also, if it hadn’t been for the flying skill on my husband’s part, a great many people would not be alive today. In fact, this was my husband’s only concern, and the very first words to me were: “I did get the aircraft back onto the airfield.” He, of course, realised the dreadful consequences of landing amongst the spectators, and his own life at the time wasn’t considered.

I might add that I watched these dreadful scenes myself, and still feel horrified whenever I think of them.

As you must realise, I feel very angry that you should have printed such rubbish; perhaps in future you will check a little and maybe discover the truth.

I wonder if, today, a rather rare and perhaps precious piece of machinery is worth more than a human life; it seems to me some people seem to think it does.

Bristol. Beryl Williamson.

[Mrs. Williamson’s indignation is misplaced. We published nothing derogatory about her husband’s experience as a pilot. We merely remarked that to write off such an historic aeroplane is no laughing matter—and Mr. Williamson was reported, over the p.a. and in the daily Press, as sitting up in bed laughing soon after the prang, which seemed disrespectful to the departed Bulldog.

We know more about steering wheels than joy-sticks, but quite why the machine was looping over the crowd when there is so much space at Farnborough, and quite why a dead-stick landing wasn’t possible on one of the runways, from which we watched the Brabazon take off and land some years ago, we must leave to someone more knowledgeable in these matters, perhaps our good friends in the Tiger Club to explain to us.

To a layman it smacked of looping too low for the benefit of the rubbernecks. And while we approve of old aeroplanes taking occasional exercise instead of hibernating in museums or the corners of dark hangars, there is a difference between flying moderately for the benefit of nostalgic aviation enthusiasts and turning the thing inside out to thrill the public. Mrs. Beryl Williamson surely rather commits herself by admitting that her husband’s only thought was that he missed hitting anyone in the spectators’ enclosures; having pulled that off a tear should have been shed for the aeroplane, which was the point, the only point, we set out to make.

However, with so many marriages on the rocks and 30,000 divorces taking place every year, Mr. Williamson clearly has nothing to worry about with a wife who is so ready to defend him, with a logic that is so very feminine.—ED.]

* * *

The “O.C.C.” Replies

Sir,

With reference to your paragraph concerning the ” O.C.C.” at Hartley Wintney, I would like, on behalf of my friend and myself, to offer our apologies for “pinching the spaces nearest the bar” at the V.S.C.C. meeting in question. However, we do object strongly to the rather pointed comments about the as you put it, attending.

We, like all the people that go to the meetings, are enthusiasts, and just because our resources do not allow more splendid motor cars than, quote, “Scruffy Singer sports cars,” there is no need to mock us.

We all know it’s not vintage, nor is it at all rare, but I still feel it’s good enough for an evening at Hartley Wintney.

Lastly, when next referring to my car, please give it the full title “Le Mans,” after all the forerunner did earn it.

“Enthusiastic teenager.”

[It is the non-vintage and sometimes non-original aspects of the cars, not their condition, to which we referred.—ED.]

The G.P. Delage Cars

Sir,

I enjoyed reading Mr. W. B. Scott’s comments re the four 1½-litre Delage racing cars and would like to make some additions which—I am sorry to say—will bring more confusion in connection with the ownership of these machines after they left the factory. Frankly, Louis Chiron was not the possessor of car number three in 1928 and also not in 1929. He was in these years under contract with Ettore Bugatti and when, in 1929, “Le Patron” refused to supply him with a car for Indianapolis, the old enemy Louis Delage was only too willing to supply Chiron with a 1.5-litre machine, which then was still in the factory and which was for this event officially entered by Delage.

So far I know, this was the only race Chiron ever drove for Delage in this car and, needless to say, Ettore Bugatti was not very pleased when his top driver returned after gaining seventh position at Indy. As to Robert Senechal, he drove such a Delage for the first time at San Sebastian in 1926, when Bourlier could not—as a result of the heat generated by the engine and exhaust position— carry on arid had to be superseded by another driver. Senechal was then closely connected with the Chenard & Walcker factory where they produced his Senechal cars and became in later years a leading man in the A.C.F., and I am going so far as to say, that he too never owned the Delage, which was actually in the factory until Earl Howe bought it after he pranged his own car at Monza in 1932. Senechal drove in these years as a semi-professional for Chenard & Walcker (also on his own R. Senechal 1,100 c.c. racing cars), Excelsior (Belgium) and owned a 1,500 c.c. 37A Bugatti and it was during this Bugatti period (1930/1931) that he got the loan of the Delage from the Courbcvoie factory… mainly for a few G.P. events. If he would have owned the Delage, he surely would not have driven the much slower 37A and a borrowed 35B in all other races.

As to the fourth, the De Rovin, car, I wonder if this Delage was not originally the No. 1. Robert Benoist car, which was severely damaged in the 1927 G.P. de Provence when careless organisers arranged the other cars on the start although Benoist was still out on the Circuit on a tour de recognaissance. Benoist could not avoid running into Albert Divo (Talbot) and damaged his Delage and the Talbot. In my humble opinion, the factory sold in 1928 two cars only; both to Campbell. The No. 3. car and the now-rebuilt No. 4. car stayed in the factory.

This point of view is strengthened by the fact, that one was, in 1928, on loan to the Italian Aymini, who finished seventh in the Kings Price at Roma; and also in the 1930 Circuit Pont a Marcq when two 1½-litre Delages, disguised as sports cars and driven by factory driver Ogez and by R. Senechal, finished first and second. Both Ogez and Senechal drove on other occasions—including the Tour de France—also big Delage sports cars; a proof that Senechal was no “independent” but drove for the factory on a semi-official basis.

Like Robert Senechal, Roul de Rovin was also a semi-professional driver who, when not driving in sporting events, was the boss of a motorcycle and cyclecar factory. He gained many successes on his own 500 c.c. and 1,000 c.c. J.A.P.-engined cyclecars but did not compete in bigger classes until the late ‘twenties, when he drove on a few occasions Bugattis and the 1.5 Delage, which I am sure, was just on loan from the factory for the 1929 Monaco G.P… soon afterwards he drove, like Robert Senechal, Bugattis in the French G.P.

My view that the 1½-litre Delage Nos. 3 and 4 were not actually owned by Messrs. Chiron, Senechal and De Rovin is strengthened by the fact that each of them drove the car only on very few occasions and all had during the period concerned Bugattis in most races in which they competed. It is also difficult to believe that they bought expensive racing cars which had great chances to win most races (like the 1½-litre Delage) and left it unused in the garage while competing’ with less suitable cars!

As to the older 2-litre Delages, I remember that one driven by the German driver Albert Broschek, crashed at San Sebastian in 1929.

Mr. Scott is, of course, correct by stating that the 1927 version of the 1½-litre had the exhaust pipe on the left side and in addition I would like to say that it also had the Roots supercharger repositioned which was now high up between the front of the engine and the back of the radiator. It had a better protection of the driver from the engine heat and a new brake arrangement… entirely different from the one used in 1926. In addition, the Cozette carburetters were now fitted directly on the superchargers and for the 1927 French G.P. the cars got five-speed gearboxes.

I am sorry that I had to complicate matters re the two remaining Delage and wonder if we could not get the final gun from the men who were directly involved with Delage affairs and who are still with us, i.e. Louis Chiron, Albert Divo or Mestivier.

Hemel Hempstead. E. Tragatsch

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