Veteran-Edwardian-Vintage, November 1969
A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
VSCC Presteigne Rally (October 4th/5th)
This popular annual assault on Wales by the Vintage SCC, based on the Radnor Arms at Presteigne, was oversubscribed, attracting 65 cars for the Sunday Trial, which is preceded by a 200-mile road section, and 28 for the more gentle beauty show and driving frolics on the Saturday; this in spite of p.v.t. entries not being permitted.
The road part to Presteigne seems to have been mainly uneventful, although Pam Arnold-Forster’s GN was propelled for the latter part of the distance, not by its vee-twin engine but by the strength of Lt. Col. Weeks, the luckless navigator, a bevel having lost interest in revolving with the propeller shaft. Fortunately, repairs were completed before the morrow’s trial.
It was nice that more “new” vintage cars were out and about than has been the case for some time. Pat Marsh was giving his replica 1921 sports Morris its first outing, this being a very nice reproduction of the rare model, with one of which a Mr. J. A. Cooper used to compete in contemporary sporting events, particularly MCC long-distance trials. It has a fascinating aluminium pointed-tail body, but on this maiden voyage was ejecting oil from its back axle. In the concours affair King produced an exceedingly clean 1929 Th. Schneider tourer which departed so hastily we could not photograph it, and Buttle and imposing 1925 Minerva 22/24 sleeve-valve carriage with vee-screen, two-door cabriolet body by Woodall Nicholson. Thomas’ 1927 11/22 Wolseley tourer was seen to have front-wheel brakes in conjunction with ¼-elliptic front springs, but the makers had taken the precaution of putting an extra leaf above each one. Rowley was driving his third 30/98 Vauxhall, the recently re-bodied Wensum car with the “Gold Star” ex-Tubbs Munday engine, the programme containing five 30/98s carrying 19 people between between them.
Another “new” non-competing vintage car was a very stark, screenless Frazer Nash-GN Special with aluminium racing staggered-seat body, Brooklands silencer and four-cylinder British Anzani engine which had ventured all the way from Northampton, being rebuilt at the roadside requisite. It has been built literally in the garden by a great enthusiast, “Ganger” Hartley.
The Concours-de-whatever produced some very dirty and some exquisitely clean motor cars, but so immaculate was Pringle’s 1929 closed Hyper Lea-Francis that its Motor Show stand seemed a surprising omission. McEwen’s 1930 12/50 Lea-Francis two-seater was another spotless motor car. Pilgrim’s 1930 Austin 7 metal saloon had anti-bounce auxiliary coil springs at the rear and Edwardianism was represented by Holland’s 1913 Standard landaulette, which emitted horrid clutch-gripping noises during the driving tests, throughout which it displayed an olive branch of peace growing from its luggage grid.
The tests were done mainly at very low speed in a factory yard, Berry’s Phantom Rolls-Royce finding the available space inadequate, so that it knocked over probably more markers than anyone has done since markers were invented.
Dry weather had made the trials hills fairly easy, although Heyope was too slippery io be included. So the event was decided up Trekkers, Bleddfa, Lloyds, Llangoch, the long Devil’s Elbow with a very difficult re-start at the top, and Forest Wood, with a grande finale at Smatcher, where there was also a re-start. The thing was really decided at the Knucklass special test, where Harry Bowler, navigated by Ronald Barker, two past-Presidents in the former’s well-known 4½-litre Bentley two-seater, accelerating strongly in bottom gear, pulled off a long-standing ambition of Harry’s, of winning the Presteigne Trophy.
A feature of the trial was Cecil Clutton driving Tony Jones’ 1929 Chummy Austin 7, for this made a sharp contrast to the 12-litre Itala, and Cecil has not been particularly tolerant of little cars in the past. But he drove with great verve, alas finding the Devil’s Elbow re-start too much for 747 c.c. The same applied to Gray’s 1925 Chummy Austin, Pat Stocken had no trouble, with two fewer cylinders and two fewer strokes in her 1925 Trojan. Buckle’s Lancia Lambda failed early on the easy substitute hill for Heyope, maybe because it had a full complement of passengers, and Hancock’s OM was in trouble over the Devil’s Elbow re-start.
Dr. Andrews might be expected to advocate no-smoking, but his fabric-bodied Riley Nine tourer chose to ignore any such advice. W. L. T. Winder went up the main gradient on this Welsh common fast in the Humber, spare wheel and steering column on the wobble, C. A. Winder drove his Riley Nine Special of which the year 1928 presumably applied to the registration number. Kant was untroubled in the Bugatti, but Fletcher’s nice Alvis tourer broke a half-shaft trying to re-start and this was a test which several 12/50 Alvis drivers found beyond their powers or that of their engines.
It was nice to see Laxton’s 1921 i.o.e. vee-twin GN out again, but it had less power tor hill-climbing than Pam Arnold-Forster’s, which went up last, front wheels locked over with no effect or directional control.
Barry Clarke, passengered by Sandy Skinner, in the Ulster Austin, vied with Moffatt (Bugatti) for f.t.d. up Devil’s Elbow, Rowley’s Vauxhall treated these Sunday morning off-the-road frolics with confident disdain, and Bowman’s early Meadows Frazer Nash, which had come to Wales by way of Stonehenge, just managed the re-start. Dr. Harris picked his way carefully in his Frazer Nash, Hare drove his nice aluminium Anzani Frazer Nash, and Clifton’s big Austin “racer” just managed the first re-start test.
In the afternoon Haines somehow contrived to roll his 12/50 Alvis, without too much damage, and at Smatcher, where the usual incredibly large crowd of spectators had gathered, Mrs. Arnold-Forster’s GN drew cheers, Kearney’s Austin Chummy laughter as it curtsied under braking, T. Harris’s Ulster Austin had a tow rope thoughtfully attached to its front axle in case it stopped in a water splash, Harding’s Frazer Nash accelerated well through the first corners, but Boyd’s Frazer Nash pinked away. Bill May was asking for a passenger to ride in his Anzani Frazer Nash, the 1926 car, not the Gough-engined one which served him so surprisingly well in last summer’s Bolzano Raid, but, being a p.v.t., isn’t eligible for the Presteigne Trial. Glover had the luxury of a charming girl driver to bring his 12/50 Alvis up to the start and ascended with a passenger in the tail, Harper’s Austin Chummy made raucous noises from its transmission to the consternation of the girl passenger, Moffatt raced up, brave lady by his side, and that was the VSCC Presteigne Rally until next year.—W. B.
STD at Sandhurst
This year’s Sandhurst Rally of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq Register took place at the Royal Military Academy by permission of Major-General P. T. Tower, CB, DSO, MBE, the various tests being a full-scale military exercise for Cadets of the RMA Motor Sports Club, under Major J. Hemsley, which also prepared the programme and gave the prizes.
The expeditiously carried out tests embraced garaging, acceleration, steering and breaking exercises and a wiggle-woggle. They entailed quite high speeds, and caused the uprooting of one RMA shrub, when Mrs. Rawlings, in her husband’s 1929 Talbot 14/45 tourer, approached the first chicane too fast and went straight-on. She recovered quickly and completed this and the other tests very competently. Several girls drove with commendable skill, including Miss Bridger in a 1932 18.2 Sunbeam saloon. Perhaps the most covetable car present was Group Capt. Wyndham Welch’s 1928 twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam, which he has painstakingly restored to original condition, as described in the Register journal. But Peter Moores’ 1921 24-h.p. Sunbeam limousine was as immaculate as ever, bodily and mechanically, but had generously opted-out of the beauty show. Unfortunately Geoffrey Hughes’ 1932 Sunbeam Speed 20, which carried No. 13, suffered from fuel starvation, but otherwise the sun shone for these old Sunbeams and on the many Talbots present, their designer, Georges Roesch, riding in I. H. Foulkes’ exceedingly smart 1933 Talbot 90 tourer.
V.E.V. Miscellany.—The Belfast Telegraph had a feature recently on the £25,000 collection of cars maintained at Shane’s Castle, Ronaldstown, by Lord O’Neill, which includes a P.II Rolls-Royce, a 100-m.p.h. Low-chassis Invicta, a Le Mans Lagonda and a Mercedes-Benz SSK, besides more modern cars. The collection is described as the largest singe privately-owned one in Ulster. Concrete for last August contained an illustrated article on the Mouchel Hennebique bridge that formed part of the Brooklands Motor Course, concluding with the sad statement that, following the damage this structure sustained during the exceptional floods of 1968 the British Aircraft Corporation had decided to demolish it. A very interesting 4C super-charged Maserati sports two-seater, which was owned in 1938 by Count Lurani, has turned up in Singapore. It appears to have beeh sold in Singapore prior to the outbreak of war and although the Tecnauto independent front suspension is original, as appears to be most of the rest of the car, the original wings have been changed for locally-made ones and the headlamps for those from a Citröen.
A supercharged front-wheel-drive Alvis with a lightweight body, which is believed to have run only 11,000 miles, has been recently brought back from America, where it is thought to have been sold as a new car to Hudson-Essex, who were investigating its front-drive mechanism. We regret to report the death of John Tallfourd Wood, the “W” of GWK, at the age of 85. Mr Wood designed the GWK friction-drive small cars. One obituary calls him a motor-racing pioneer and it is true that a GWK held for a time the Light Car and Cyclecar Cup for holding the 1,500-c.c.-class hour record at Brooklands, where a single-seater version was raced. A vintage Armstrong Siddeley tourer was found in a burnt-out house in Norfolk recently.