A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
THE V.S.C.C. PRESTEIGNE WEEK-END (Oct 1st-2nd)
As popular as ever was this expedition over the Welsh border by the vintagents, of whom 65 entered for the Trial, with an additional 27 in for the Concours d’Elegance and driving tests, five of the latter entry driving Edwardians.
A wet morning took the bloom off the Concours d’Elegance entry, but telegrams poured into Presteigne to show that the distance part of the event was under way. As the cars converged on the ancient Welsh town, to fill its main street outside the Radnorshire Arms with sound and colour, the old Station Yard was the scene of the beauty show, originality of a high order also being demanded by the Judges.
Condon’s 1923 A.C.-Anzani, wearing 710 x 90 tyres on its disc wheels, Macmillan’s 1928 Barker-bodied Rolls-Royce Twenty, R. Buttle’s 1928 1 1/2-litre Alfa Romeo coupe, J. G. Mellor’s 1930 18/80 M.G. two-seater, Hardy’s 1914 1.8-litre Arrol-Johnston and Medcalf’s 1926 3-litre Bentley Vanden Plas four-seater set a very high standard. The last-named was raced at Brooklands, its owner said, by S. C. H. Davis and Clark and its engine used at Le Mans. It now has P100 headlamps, strut-type dampers, horizontal S.U.s and the Speed Six coil conversion, but is in daily use, as is Turton’s much rougher 1928 3-litre Bentley.
The Arrol-Johnston was on 760 x 90 Dunlops, has full-elliptic rear springing, and was on its spare Bosch magneto as the correct Eisemann was having a fit of the sulks. This rare Edwardian had come 116 miles to Presteigne. Payne’s sporting Amilcar had one odd Wipac plug amongst the K.L.G.s and its C. H. Duval body looked extremely rakish in Concours company. Jones had taken the precaution of fitting a petrol filter to his Duesenberg-Roamer after missing the Madresfield Rally because dirt in the tank prevented fuel from reaching the Zenith carburetter which serves in lieu of the original Stromberg, and J. R. Price presented a very original 1926 E4/40 Vauxhall tourer, complete with tow bar. K. A. Price had a 1930 flat-rad. MorrisOxford tourer, also commendably original, but perhaps the least. modified cars in the Concours were Langton’s 1904 Rolls-Royce, Macmillan’s Rolls-Royce, the aforesaid Vauxhall, and, in particular, Condon’s A.C. In contrast, McDonald’s 12/50 Alvis was a curious mixture of 1930 single-S.U. carburetter chassis and replica duck’s-back body.
Gresham had forsaken his pre-Kaiser-War Rolls-Royce for the ex-Routledge “racing” Morris-Oxford, now with single-carburetter engine, Highlield’s 1924 D1 Delage had an immaculate engine but modified mudguards and bodywork. Bane’s 14/40 Delage, once owned by Dr. Ewen, possessed a most unusual downward-cowled fog lamp on its tie-bar. At the last moment a 1929 wood-wheeled Chrysler two-seater arrived, an odd affair with bonnet extended to meet a mock-radiator which had been pushed forward several inches.
While the Judges were critically surveying the Concours entry rather mild driving-tests were conducting themselves in the yard of a near-by factory. In the road-cum-Sunday’s-trial section of the rally Nottingham arrived with his 14/40 Vauxhall two-seater making a fearful noise, although he seemed in no way eager to switch off its engine. He put repairs in hand that evening, at the local Esso garage. There was little news of adventures on the way, although Box’s Jowett was having a wheel changed in the High Street and Hill’s O.M., which had broken a half-shaft, en route arrived just after the final check had closed—which coincided with opening time….
At 10 a.m. on the Sunday the trial competitors were started from Presteigne by Tony Bird. A thunderstorm during the night had “improved” the observed sections but the weather was now sunny and serene. Alas, Nottingham’s Vauxhall was a non-starter. The rest set off for the morning’s hills, which included Crug and the acctivities over the elusive common at Llan-goch. On the way to the latter we encountered a chap taking a census of passing vehicles on one of the remotest of Welsh lanes; he had been told to ignore unusual vehicles, which was just as well, for while we were talking to him a Chain Gang ‘Nash and a Lancia Lambda went rapidly by!
One of the best conquests of Llan-goch was made by Croome’s 1928 Trojan, after its errant final-drive chain had been replaced. Jones lost his 30.98 Vauxhall’s spare wheel and Moffatt, after a meteoric start, appeared to have serious trouble, his Brescia Bugatti being seen no more. Last year it was the clutch. This time something further back in the transmission appeared to have been over-stressed. Barry Clarke lost a tooth from the crown-wheel of his 1929 Austin 7, and Laxton’s 1927 Chummy Austin cracked its chassis.
Before returning to the Radnorshire Arms for their liquid lunches, the competitors had to tackle a timed downhill brake test on a steep gradient. Rowley’s 30/98 Vauxhall experienced much back-axle tramp, Laxton did it unconcernedly, May elected to change-up in his ‘Nash before applying the anchors, Jones, four-up, braked late and stopped serenely, but Phillips’ rear-braked 1925 Jowett two-seater slid towards the bank. However, critical spectators could have formed nothing but the highest opinion of vintage brakes. Which was just as well, for a cow occupied the hill lower down….
Back in Presteigne, that Esso garage was a hive of activity. Mitchell had the radiator off his 1912 Alphonso Hispano-Suiza, the ex-Cuthell car with very rakish wooden mudguards. It had overheated and opened up-during a hold-up on one of the sections, during which the Hispano had run backwards into McEwan’s Riley. May had lost all the compression from his S.U.-carburetted ‘Nash and was changing the gasket with an eggiciency born of experience and the accessibility of the Anzani engine. Lock contented himself with a plug-change on his Chummy Austin….
The afternoon was devoted to an uphill acceleration test on Discoed I and a muddy observed ascent in two sections on Discoed II, before The Smatcher was attempted. Observing at Discoed II. which looked sticky, proved that it was really quite conquerable, even to those who needed help to reach the start line. McEwan’s 1928 Riley 9 fabric saloon, original even to a single Solex at one end of its inlet manifold, a car found recently near Llondrindod Wells, had no trouble, Millar’s 2-carburetter two-tone 12/40 Lea-Francis went up strongly, Lock, with blue Chummy and beard, started slowly, his navigator standing up to bounce, and Laxton, with yellow Chummy and pipe, a magneto-ignition 3-speed car with the inevitable oversize rear tyres, went up slowly but surely. Maltby’s 1928 Lancia Lambda had no trouble, although a plaque on its facia reminded the driver that the guarantee would expire if he exceeded 25, 46 or 53 m.p.h. in the indirect gears. . . .
Milner’s 30/98 accelerated strongly, Phillips’ Jowett made a fine climb, Marchant’s rough Austin Chummy with S.U. carburetter smoked and revved hard, Jones 30/98 raced up, as did Rowley’s 30/98. Southall’s 30/98, likewise four-up, upheld Vauxhall superiority.
The only Edwardian, Mitchell’s Hispano-Suiza, performed splendidly, in spite of b.e. tyres, aided by modern S.U. and electric petrol pump. Pat Stocken, her 1924 Trojan on normal gear ratios, rocker-tocked up with the traditional oil-smoke trail, Stretton’s Frazer Nash weaved its swift way to the top, Sloan’s. 1924 19.6 Crossley all-weather with wooden mudguards, looking under-tyred, did the first section splendidly, but Bromley-Johnson’s 1930 Jowett two-seater seemed to stop higher up. C. Winder’s Humber “racer” emitted the “R” odour, May’s ‘Nash, repaired, was quick, Buthell’s Alvis Silver Eagle only just got grip for starting, Cardy’s Austin Chummy made its usual faultless performance, Howler’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley two-seater, his wife navigating, was nonchalant, whereas Kain’s Type 44 Bugatti two-seater was slow but certain. Mrs. Ure took her Lancia Lambda up crabwise and not very fast, R. Winder’s Austin Chummy only just made it. but Miss Wood’s 1930 Austin 7 tourer vanished round the bend to the anguished cry of “Bounce!.”
ArnoId-Forster’s ‘Nash raced up, the three passengers in Bennett-Howell’s 1927 Austin 12 tourer stood up to rock it on its way, Bunch almost failed in his beetle-back Alvis Silver Eagle, but Charity’s. ‘Nash had no trouble. Nor did Dr. Harris, although he took it easily in his ‘Nash. Most of the drivers treated the hill with scorn, three people bouncing in unison in the hold of Danaher’s commodious 1929 Austin 12 tourer, Heath’s Alvis going fast, Fletcher’s sporting Alvis 12/50 tourer going well, the nearest to failure being Contrevas’ 1927 Fiat 509 tourer, the spare wheel of which lacked a tyre.
It was one of the best Welsh Rallies yet, held in autumnal sunshifie.
FARNBOROUGH RAG WEEK VINTAGE MEETING
An experiment which may become an annual fixture, this event was held in a spacious barrack square in blazing sunshine and deserved more support. It was run to strict V.S.C.C. classification, in Concours d’Elegance and Pride of Ownership classes, but was ignored by steam vehicles and fire-engines. Perhaps the “rag” suggestion frightened them away; in fact, the event was organised efficiently and in all seriousness, with but a sparse public attendance. The organiser was C. G. Jenkins.
The judges, K. Eckersly and W. Boddy for the car classes, had a tough assignment. They gave the Vintage Concours prize to J. Timmis’ 1929 16/50 Humber tourer, which was not entirel blemishless, but was a dignified open car in original order except for a brassy rear-view mirror and short length of plastic petrol pipe. Very close to it indeed was R. J. Punter’s 1920 11.9 Lagonda two-seater, with big brass headlamps on its mudguards, exposed o.h, inlet valve gear, that astonishing oil pump drive and its dash newly leather-covered. Then Collins’ much-travelled 1921 11.9 Star posed a problem, solved only when the Judges observed some water stains on its radiator and its occupants sun-bathing when they could have been polishing. M. Panthin’s 1925 Morris-Oxford two-seater was very presentable indeed, but brass lamp-rims clashed with the nickel radiator. As a Pride-of-Ownership contender J. Gardner’s 1925 flat-radiator Morris-Oxford was very much in the running, but he admitted having recently bought it with its headlamps and header tank in dazzling naked brass. When this has been painted over it should he a certain prize-winner. Incidentally, it had proprietary ribbed alloy casings clipped over both back brake drums, as squeal-killers. Perhaps the most eye-catching vintage-car present was the scarred Liddell Horner 1926 Rolls-Royce P.1 Barker two-seater.
In the p.v.t. category it was impossible to fault Bill Cook’s great 1930/31 8-litre Bentley, in spite of its smaller-than-standard Dunlop racing tyres, strut-type shock-absorbers and non-standard two-seater body. There were only two Edwardian cars; so E. D. Longworth’s gleaming 1916 Perry just had it from E. D. Lee’s 1909 Renault. In the Pride of Ownership class it was an exceedingly close thing, but M. V. Paine’s nearly original and exceedingly clean 1935 Austin Nippy scored, although a 1939 Daimler Charlesworth 24-h.p. saloon, a 1931 Morris Minor two-seater, a 1933 20/25 Rolls-Royce Barker coupe and G. L. Walker’s 1929 Austin 7 tourer were all extremely meritorious, and Dr. Wright’s blown 1750 Alfa Romeo well in the running. A pity the latter has the wrong carburetter and Baker & Co.’s Vauxhall Hurlingham odd hub-caps, eared on the back wheels, and a suspect bulb horn. Anyway, Walker’s was judged the most meritorious Austin 7 after Paine’s, having been rebuilt from a wreck within the year. and an early Austin 7 Chummy took the distance award (75 miles). The Baker & Co. 1935 Bedford truck was easily best of the three commercial vehicles present, but a Buick hearse complete with coffin-bearers (the coffin contained cleaning materials, not their lunch) and a scruffy Dodge Bros. van on wooden-spoked wheels added to the interest. Americanism was also represented by a rare but rough Chrysler with Carlton convertible body, which had an S.C. carburetter and modern Lucas coil.
Surprising that so many of the V.M.C.C..entrants, especially of combinations, elected to bring their machines on trailers. In the absence of the Rag Queen the prizes were presented by the Editor of Motor Sporti. He was a very inadequate substitute!
S.T.D. REGISTER SANDHURST RALLY (Sept. 25th)
This annual gathering attracted 35 entries, of which eleven were Talbots. (This time the gate-crasher was a well-turned-out vintage Overland platform lorry.) The oldest cars present were Moores’ well-known 1921 24-h.p. Sunbeam limousine and Messenger’s 1921 25/50 Talbot tourer acquired recently from Marsh. Capt. Welsh came in a commendably original twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam, supported by Foreshaw’s twin-cam 3-litre, Frank Joyce, to whom a presentation was made by the President, Mrs. Winifred Boddy, on his retirement from the Secretaryship, drove up from Gloucestershire in his 1933 Sunbeam Speed 20 and Ron Carter, also awarded for his services as Captain of the Inter-Register events, from Devon that morning in his 1935 Sunbeam 25. The engine of Dowell’s sporting non-original 1928 Sunbeam 25 was positively glittering, Grammer’s 1928 Sunbeam 16 saloon had the faintly archaic lines of these pleasant cars, and of the Talbots, a white 90 sports/tourer and a compact 105 saloon were notable, while Georges Roesch himself was seen to drive Moores’ 1936 Talbot 110 saloon back from Sandhurst to the hotel. Ken Fidgen, the new Secretary, also proved a highly competent driver, as the results show.
Pride of Ownership Contest :
1st : A. J. Ward (1930 Talbot 90 tourer).
2nd : P. Moores (1921 Sunbeam 24 limousine).
3rd : D. Newman (1929 Sunbeam 16 saloon).
Driving Tests :
1st: K. Fidgen (1923 Sunbeam 14 Tourer).
2nd: J. C. Grammer (1928 Sunbeam 16 saloon).
3rd: 1 N. J. Ferrier (1925 Talbot 10/23 two-seater).
D’Arcy Clarke Award (most meritorious restoration) :
R. Dowell (1928 Sunbeam 25 sportstourer).
V.E.V. Miscellany.—Rob Peacey, whose H.P. three-wheelers we referred to last month, lives in Cheltenham and is still keen on cyclecars—he has a Citroin 2 c.v. Some time ago we remarked that we hoped that the correct make of car would he used in the film the B.B.C. was making of the life of the dancer Isadora Duncan. It was shown on B.B.C. 1 on September 22nd and Isadora was seen being strangled when her scarf caught in the n/s back wheel of a—Bugatti. Congratulations to Ken Russell, who made the film. The July-August issue of The Bulb Horn, journal of the V.M.C.C. of America, contained a 12-page article on the career a the well-known automobile artist, Peter Helck. A Nottingham coal miner won the 1929 4 1/2-litre Bentley (GF 9492) which Mobil gave as a prize during last August. A 1919 J.A.P.-engined Tamplin cyclecar has turned up in Somerset and is to be restored. An enormous Deutz marine engine has been seen lying apparently derelict on an Irish beach. A 20 h.p. Ruston Hornsby, circa 1921/22, is being rebuilt, also in Somerset, and data is required, as it is for a 1933 Model-B Ford saloon which a Ford agent in Devon is renovating. Letters can be forwarded.
David “Bunty” Scott-Moncrieff tells us that he has bought the 2.3-litre O.M. driven by Oats at Phoenix Park in 1931. He also has a small Panhard-Levassor limousine with completely silent engine but the traditional noisy indirect gears, although the bodywork is not yet in the condition, as Bunty puts it,”it was in when it used to precede its own cloud of blue smoke into the Place Vendome on a Sunday morning, presumably carrying some gorgeous actress from the Comedie Francais to meet one of the Rothschilds for lunch at the Ritz.” Averil Scott-Monerieff now does her fine-weather motoring in a 1930 Meadows Frazer Nash.
Charles Watkins, aged 82, one of the first pilots to fly in Wales, and whose 1916 monoplane is in a hanger at St. Athan’s, hopes soon to resume flying. The history is requested of a Rolls-Royce P.1 Hooper limousine, upholstered in authentic snakeskin, Reg. No. GC 2354, chassis 52 XJ, engine WK 45, to facilitate restoration. George Eyston has qualified as a seaplane pilot, with the Tiger Club’s D.H. Tiger Moth float-‘plane. The Southern Jowett C.C. celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Jowett in Bradford recently. One of Luton Airport’s fire-engines is a circa 1935 petrol-engined Leyland with dual ignition, in splendid order.
Apology.—In our Castle Combe report we remarked that Millar’s Masetati and Arnold-Forster’s Delage 11 had both been involved in previous accidents. This is true of the Maserati, last year in practice at Oulton Park, but not of the Delage, which was out of action for some considerable time, but for an extensive rebuild, not because of a crash. Also in the same report, owing to bad copy we unfortunately stated that Balmer’s Cooper-Bristol was driven by Bulmer. In the Beaulieu party report lunch was said to have been taken on the Downs, whereas, of course, Lord Montagu entertained his guests in the well-known Domus Restaurant.
TIMES DO NOT CHANGE!
“The crime wave which commenced shortly after the war does not appear to have abated to any considerable extent, and it is certain that the number of untried criminals, many of them murderers, is well above the average, yet the authorities turn out hundreds of police for the special duty of pulling up and prosecuting motorists for the most absurd and trivial offences. The unconvicted murderer must figuratively sit behind the hedge and laugh up his sleeve. It is quite simple for motorists in a body to make their voices heard against this absurd practice, but after all it is a matter in which every citizen is concerned. Everyone more or less contributes to the upkeep of the police force, and if the primary duty of the man in blue, which is to protect the person and the property of every citizen, is not performed, then householders as a body should ask in a very forcible way why their money is being wasted, and why they and their property are left unprotected against many lawless individuals who are at present about. Judging by the amount of attention that motorists are now being given by the police, it would appear that the authorities consider this section of the public to be a most lawless one, and a greater mistake has never been made.”— From an Editorial in The Light Car & Cyclecar dated May 29th, 1920.
PUBLICITY FOR VINTAGE CARS
It was something of a pleasant surprise to find The Sunday Times Magazine devoting a colour section to “The Old Car Game” in their issue of October 9th. The author bravely tried to assess present prices in a well-balanced account of the situation. The £350 quoted for a good 12/50 Alvis is £100 higher than the 12/50 Register likes its members to pay, but values, at the lower extremes, of £100 for a 12/50 Alvis, £50 for a Chummy Austin 7, £15 for a Lancia Aprilia (badly rotted), £80 for a Speed 20 Alvis, £250 for a Frazer Nash, £50 for a vintage Humber, £150 for a 2-litre Lagonda or Lancia Lambda, £80 for a flat-rad. Morris, £50 for a Riley 9 saloon, £50 (to £2,000) for a Rolls-Royce P.1 and £80 for a 30/23 Talbot will encourage the impecunious. The feature was mainly free from errors, although the drawing of a Talbot looked like a Crossley, the original Austin 7 engine was smaller than 750 c.c., the Alfa Romeo is a 1750 not 12/50, and it was a bit optimistic to say that “many members of the V.S.C.C. use their cars as regular transport,” although some do.