A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
The V.S.C.C. Welsh Week-end (October 5th/6th)
This traditional fixture ran true to form, with 93 entries, of which 26 were content to tackle the Saturday driving tests and Concours d’Etat and 67 braved the 200-mile run to Presteigne on the Saturday and the trial on the Sunday. As usual, crowds turned out to watch. As usual the local Police were most helpful. As usual the event was centred on the “Radnorshire Arms”, but one heard that the long-established jollifications there were cut short by the new Proprietor and that the V.S.C.C. party had to cross the road for the hospitality it sought and which it has some right to expect.
There was another slightly dampening aspect, namely the resurfacing of the dreaded last-section, The Smatcher, which, with the dry weather Wales has enjoyed this summer, made the trial unusually easy. But with competing cars ranging from 7/17 Jowett to 30/98 Vauxhalls and fine weather, there couldn’t be many dull moments, and the grouping of the Llangoch observed-section, with restarts, on the hillside common above Knucklass, is such that the grown-ups, children and dogs who turn out to watch can see easily without impeding traffic, marshals or competitors, which isn’t quite the case at The Smatcher.
The Concours-whatever-it-is, held in the old Station Yard in Presteigne, was judged on presentability of engine, chassis, bodywork and equipment, and originality, with fairly severe penalties for replica coachwork. Almost completely original cars were Condon’s A.C., Macmillan’s Rolls-Royce saloon, and Cameron’s 14/40 Humber saloon. There were some fabulously “non-concours” entries, such as a tatty and dirty Vintage Bentley Park Ward tourer, whose owner wasn’t sure whether it was a 3-litre or a 4½-litre, a sad Type 40 Bugatti, although this was externally smart, which the Bentley certainly wasn’t, an unkempt but regularly-used Hampton and a rusty Chrysler. Evert one of the Alfa Romeos scored only 4 out of 20 for condition. The best joke of all, however, was Tim Ely’s latest Riley, with someone’s home-brewed commercial-traveller’s body on a 1930 Riley 9 Chassis, part-painted, with rubbing-down instructions pencilled on a front mudguard. It scored absolutely nothing but, such is the nature of these competitions, maybe it should have had top marks! It was destined for the driving-tests, as a Brooklands Nine gear-change implied.
Of four Edwardians, only Rowley’s Talbot arrived, and C. Bane’s 14/40 Delage was absent, its petrol tank having collapsed. Hardy brought a very long DM Delage with open body, which had once been a d.h. coupé. Helping to judge the beauty-show precluded watching the driving tests, in the usual factory backyard, but apparently the width-calculating was difficult. . . .
There was little drama about the road section to Presteigne, except that Mitchell, his 1912 Hispano-Suiza turning inflammatory, came in a Chummy Austin 7, passengered by Sandy Skinner, and got in some two minutes after the control had closed, Barry Clarke was late in his standard Ulster Austin, because it ran all its big-ends, so another engine had to be installed, and T. W. P. Harris’ Austin 7 retired with a blown gasket.
The Concours-shall-we-say-d’Elegance results showed Macmillan’s 1928 Rolls-Royce to have scored highest marks, or two more than Malyan’s 1927 Alfa Romeo, which got one more than Buttle’s 1928 Alfa Romeo and McDonald’s 1930 Wilkinson-bodied 12/50 Alvis—close stuff! Some of the cars were then stored in the “Radnorshire Arms” garage, which was built, appropriately, in 1923.
So to the Trial. Even before fording a frighteningly deep water-splash Giles’ 1926 Morris-Cowley had halted; it later recovered but didn’t have enough potter on the hills. An L-plate didn’t daunt Hawkins’ 1930 Riley 9 tourer, which has a more spacious body, more flowing mudguards, than most of its kind. Before tackling Llangoch I Bernard Kain did things under the bonnet of his Type 44 Bugatti. At this section Weeks’ 1924 Delage tourer resolutely refused to respond to its driver’s desire to re-start; it had a tin of non-bloom cellulose-thinners on one running-board, balanced by a tin of Super B.P. oil on the other side.
Winder’s blue Ulster Austin lacked any suspicion of power but displayed two rear numbers, one legal, one illegal. Bell sadly punished the spinning tyres of his 1924 12/50 Alvis at the Llangoch II restart but it paid off, because he eventually crawled away in clouds of smoke, to appreciative hand-claps. Father Winder looked determined, and successfully re-started his 8/18 Humber, his passenger bouncing fit to bust, Heath’s 1929 Alvis performed very well. but Phillips’ little Jowett steamed, and refused. Kahl stalled his engine at the second re-start, recovered, and stormed away.
Much burning rubber proclaimed the ascent of Jones’ interesting artillery-wheeled 1930 Alvis Silver Eagle two-seater. Hamish Moffat in his 1923 Bugatti was having a field-day, Sismey’s Alvis was climbing everything, but Richmond, in Moffat’s very pretty Crossley-Bugatti with pear-shaped radiator, flared wings and skiff body, screen flat. smoked and crunched cogs. Dr. Harris in his smart 1926 Frazer Nash got away very easily indeed, better even than Moffat. President Barker, with ex-President Rowley sitting in the back of his own 1927 30/98 Vauxhall, got nearly to the summit of Llangoch I and re-started slowly on Llangoch II. Knight’s O.M. had no trouble here but Charity’s alloy-bonneted 1926/30 Frazer Nash was another which got away very slowly, while Mitchell’s Austin 7, which was misbehaving, had to be pushed.
Robson’s Lancia Lambda was very slow away, at the Llangoch II re-start, but Batho put up a splendid performance in the Riley-Amilcar, which the previous day had been using only 543½ effective c.c. Lock had a nicely-original-looking 1929 Chummy Austin 7, Bowman’s 1930 Frazer Nash had an oil-cooler and alloy bonnet, Clarke raced at it, on oversize back tyres, Ure’s Lancia Lambda possessed a big, fruity exhaust. May went up very well indeed in his 1926 Frazer Nash family-transporter (the fuel tank of which had suffered when the car had somewhere run back into a Welsh boulder), as did Arnold-Forster who had deflated his ‘Nash’s back tyres. Blake made it look very easy, in his nice 1926 Alvis, Harper’s 1928 Chummy Austin 7 pleased the photographers by shooting fountains of water from its radiator as it braked for the re-start, Elster’s Lea-Francis failed, as did Marshall’s 18/80 M.G., but Sloan’s odd and lofty Crossley inched up and away, the whole car bouncing, such was the ferocity of its passengers.
Amongst those who couldn’t re-start at Llangoch II without assistance were Hill’s O.M. and Moore’s fabric-bodied 1930 Riley 9 and Bumell’s brass-radiator Alvis Special, while Weeks at first stalled the engine of his Humber Special. In contrast, Stretton found it very easy, in his 1929 Frazer Nash and Jones even easier, at almost zero revs., in his 1930 4½-litre Bentley tourer, the exhaust pipe of which touched the ground. Marsh’s Morris “racer” dug-in and had to be helped, Allin’s 1924 12/50 Alvis tourer, an all-alloy car even to its mudguards, failed, and so did Still’s interesting 1927 Riley 9 metal tourer with tall radiator and artillery wheels. Giles’ Morris arrived, revved hard, but didn’t get away, and another failure here was Danaher’s 1920 Chummy Austin 7. Tony Jones, after inspecting the problems that lay ahead, made no mistakes, in his 30/98 Vauxhall with Miss Rowley in the front passenger’s seat. The upper hills were difficult but after many failures on one of them, Harry Bowler got up clean, making his customary impeccable big-car ascent, in his 1929 4½-litre Bentley.
Before these sections there had been a downhill brake test and now, before lunch, there was an acceleration test to do, on a slight down gradient. As this was a Welsh week-end, I had gone to it in a Welsh car and the Gilbern was timed here at 6.6 sec., when cars like Hill’s Alvis Silver Eagle Were taking about 8.8 sec.—which may mean something or other to someone or other.
After the lunch break in Presteigne there was the stop and re-start test on Discoed, another hill which has suffered (in the V.S.C.C. context) from being re-surfaced. Then came The Smatcher. As explained, it was very easy this year, although competitors were directed onto the rough part of the loop by means of stakes. Why, Doc Harris contrived to climb it with one toggle missing from his Frazer Nash’s clutch. So that was it but doubtless it will all happen again in 1969 and afford as much pleasure to a lot of people as it has done since the institution of the Welsh Trial in 1939.
Spectators’ cars are invariably worth a glance and this time we noticed a 12/24 Lagonda all-weather, a bright yellow 14/45 Talbot coupé which the locals were using to pose their offspring against for photographs, two Lagonda Rapiers, a 4½-litre Lagonda, Roger Collings’ open 4½-litre Bentley, an S.S.100 and many more, not forgetting two vintage motorcycles, a B.S.A. and a P. & M. Panther, at the foot of The Smatcher.—W. B.
V.E.V. Odds and Ends.—Another Ruston-Hornsby is being rebuilt and rebodied in Hampshire. This has Ruston’s own engine and the gearbox hung between the rear of the prop.-shaft and the crude-looking back axle. An 1898 Benz is in hiding somewhere in Wales, where a 1904 two-cylinder Humber was bought not so long ago for £30. Dunlop claim that of the 815 World and International Class records established up to 1939, Dunlop tyres were used for 647 of them, or for 79.38%. Of these, Dunlop supplied tyres, they claim, for 82.94% of successful World record attacks and for 78.09% of successful International Class records. The Armstrong Siddeley O.C. has been through a bad period and to sort out its depleted finances had to institute an “honours fund”. Note that the Secretary, who looks like pulling it round, is P. E. Gaunt, 31, Horncastle Road, Moston, Manchester. Last month’s article on the Gordon England “Brooklands” Super Sports Austin 7s has reminded Ken Ballamy that he used to tune one of these cars and use it in Club competitions in 1928. The October issue of the Three-Wheeler Morgan Club’s Bulletin contains text and pictures which are a pleasing reminder of the fact that these cyclecars are still very active in racing. It also contains a reminder that inexpensive vintage cars still turn up, for a member acquired a circa-1925 Aero Morgan for £15 in Devon some time ago. The Secretary of this active Club is: R. S. Richmond, 15, Penn Hill Avenue, Parkstone, Dorset.
In view of the stupid parody which the Ford hand-outs and an article in Motor have made of the Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bangs, which were successfully raced at Brooklands by the late Count Zborowski, we hope that genuine enthusiasts will boycott the proposal to use pre-1914 cars to convey celebrities to the Odeon, Leicester Square, on the occasion of the World premiere of the film of that name, which United Artists hope to organise in December. It will at least be interesting to see who allow their Edwardians to be used, and who do not!
Scott Brown Trophy Race
For the record, the Scott Brown Memorial Trophy Race at Snetterton last September, which was for Historic Racing Cars, was won by Neil Corner in his Aston Martin DBR4, at 87.66 m.p.h., from Wilks’ Lotus 16 and Brewer’s Aston Martin DBR4. Corner made fastest lap, at over 91 m.p.h., and Colin Crabbe too the pre-war award in his 8CM Maserati.
V.E.V. Miscellany.—A 1934 Alpine Team Talbot 105 has been stored in pieces in the Midlands for some years and is looking for someone who would assemble it. The Editor was able to save a pre-war partially completed Special recently, in the form of a twin-cam Lagonda Rapier engine in a B.M.W. chassis. A twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam with a rare Gordon England coupé body is still in the hands of its original owner, but is no longer used. The owner of a 1934 long-chassis Aston Martin, Reg. No. UG 8090, would like to trace its history. The car was stored in a damp shed for nearly 13 years but is now being completely rebuilt. The Spring 1968 edition of The Marble Archer, quarterly magazine of the Schweppes Group, featured transport used by the Company, from horse-drawn vehicles and steam waggons to modern vans. Particularly interesting is a picture of the 1931 Austin Seven vans which Chivers used, as these were fitted with double back axles, making them into six-wheeled Austin 7s, an item which had escaped the notice even of R. J. Wyatt, the Austin historian. When clearing out old archives, Hadfield’s publicity department found some old films, one of which is an advertising film about the Bean car. A 2-h.p. Amanco stationary engine has been saved in Scotland and data is sought. The whereabouts have been conveyed to us of a Stutz with truck body, a Morris 25 saloon sans front axle, and a circa 1921 Leyland Titan ‘bus less engine. Letters can be forwarded.
A replica Hawker Hart biplane has been built as a labour of love by all ranks at St. Athan’s R.A.F. Base, using original plans, blueprints and photographs, and a Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine supplied by Rolls-Royce. It was completed in time for the Open Day last September and was attended by a replica 1914 Rolls-Royce armoured car, similar to those well known to the Warrant-Officer of the Base’s M.T. section during the early days of the war. A beautifully-kept vintage Morris-Cowley ice-cream van appeared every morning on the front at Westward Ho this year, and the reader who sent us its picture says the ice-cream, too, was very good! The Rally which J. A. Driskell used to drive in competitions before the war, attired all in blue to match the car’s paintwork, appears to be in the Myreton Motor Museum in East Lothian. A one-owner 1932 Austin 16/6 saloon with hide upholstery, window blinds and picnic tables is for sale in Essex, the second owner, who bought it as a companion for his vintage Austin 7 fabric saloon, having broken a leg and consequently being unable to complete the re-paint job.
Vintage Marine Engines
Correspondence to Motor Sport, as we have observed previously, makes extremely interesting reading, and presents a formidable problem in picking a reasonable cross-section of readers’ views for publication out of the hundreds of letters received (the fact that only two pages of letters appear this month is due to printing schedules, not to any drying-up of the flood!). The recent picture of a disguised new car resulted in a record number of letters telling us that a reader’s camera had caught a Jaguar XJ6. Another record correspondence resulted from our queries about that armoured First-World-War Sizaire-Berwick and Daimler-Foster tractor, which proves that we have many able historians amongst our readers.
And now the article last month about racing on the Thames has produced some interesting information from Mr. E. L. Burke, of Widnes, about engines used in the 1926 Duke of York Trophy Races. The Sunbeam marine engines, one of which is salted-away by Cameron Millar, were 4-cylinder 65 x 112-mm. eight-valve, twin-cam units weighing 400 lb. with supercharger and running at 4,000 r.p.m. They had dry-sump lubrication, with drip-feed to the blower, using pharmaceutical castor oil, or, failing that, Castrol R. The fuel was 50/50 benzole/petrol, with the addition of 1 or 2% mineral oil.
Two motoring enthusiasts, Harcourt Smith and Hugh Trevis, ran “Bulldog”, with Brooke’s own 1,480 c.c. supercharged 4-cylinder engine, which developed 90b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m. Twin o.h. camshafts were driven by a vertical shaft and bevel and skew gears from the back of the 120-ton steel Vibrac crankshaft, which carried the Ferodo-lined cone clutch and 2-to-1 reduction gear to the propeller. Plain bearings were dry-sump lubricated and oil was taken up the drilled camshafts to the tappets. A Zenith carburetter fed the Roots blower, whereas the four Sunbeam engines had Solex carburetters.—W. B.