Vintage Postbag, November 1969
I read with interest your article concerning Chic cars. Although I have no knowledge of the Australian Chic I can perhaps add a little about the Bond-built car.
During a visit to England Mr. Clarence Chick, Managing Director of Chic Cars Ltd., ordered a chassis from F. W. Bond and Co., this being constructed in late 1923 and weighing some 17 cwt. Only one chassis was built, which was shipped to Australia where a body was fitted.
The chassis frame was by Rubery Owen, springs by Woodheads, lights and electrics by C.A.V., and the engine a 15-30-h.p. Meadows with Zenith carburetter.
The animal mascot mentioned in the article was not of Brighouse origin.
Production of the “Down Under” version began, I believe, towards the end of 1924.
Whilst on the subject of Bond-built cars, I would be pleased to give a 70º Proof present to anyone who can lend me photographs of my 1928 Bond sports, registration number YW 9887, showing original bodywork.
Appleton, Cheshire. E. J. Sawyer.
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The Fiat Tipo 519
I was very interested to read of your observations on the Tipo 519 Fiat 40 after your recent “A Quick Look at Fiat” in the October issue. I owned one of these models in New Zealand in 1955, and it was certainly a most impressive piece of machinery. The long-stroke engine block rose completely uncluttered above the auxiliaries which were all concealed beneath neat alloy covers. This included the carburetter which fed to a manifold that divided inside the block and then extended right up to the detachable cylinder head, each branch then serving three cylinders each by rather unequal distribution. Clearly r.p.m. was not the main function of the power unit, and the low-speed torque meant that most driving could be done in third and top, the gearbox ratios being the usual widely-spaced alp-climbing ones of Italian cars of the time.
The braking arrangements differed somewhat from your description, there being hydraulic rams in the gearbox to operate the four-wheel brakes. The drums were steel-lined aluminium and enormous, as you say, and the front brakes were operated through the hollow king-pins. The hydraulic arrangements were, of course, a servo, and this I found either to be very efficiently on or completely off, there being little “feel” in the brake pedal. I imagine that if I had persisted I may have got the brake adjustment more progressive, but as I was an impecunious probationary teacher at the time, I had enough trouble getting the car on the road, having received it more or less in bits after war-time storage.
Low-speed lack of braking was a problem, as with any gearbox-driven servo. The rear brakes were mechanically connected to the hand-brake, a massive affair in the centre alongside the central ball-type gear-change lever. The brake pedal operated the front brakes by mechanical link, but below 5 m.p.h., when the servo faded, mere foot pressure had little effect, and it was rather nerve-wracking to drive in slow-moving columns of traffic. If the servo had been vacuum operated as you suggest, surely it would be independent of the vehicle’s speed?
The steering wheel was nearly vertical and so large that one looked through the spokes. The reduction gear was fixed to the enormous cast alloy bulkhead, and a vertical shall operated a “drop-arm” that worked in a horizontal plane on to the drag-link. The body was unpainted aluminium with four closely coupled seats and two doors, and the real leather “all-weather” hood was best left up as it was most unsightly when folded back.
This model of Fiat now seems pretty rare, although only last year one was advertised for £500. It is probably the one that was owned by the celebrated engine designer, Green, who died not so long ago at a very venerable age. Incidentally, two of his prize-winning aero-engines are preserved in the Science Museum in Kensington, and the whole collection of engines there well repays serious study. One soon finds oneself mentally installing some of these beautiful pieces of machinery in imaginary motor-cars! I would be most gratified to hear from anyone who now owns a Fiat 519.
S. Croydon. R. A. Stevenson.
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Reading your interesting article on Sunbeams at Wolverhampton in your last issue of Motor Sport, I note that you mention that Mr. Moores has the only side-valve 24-h.p. model left in running order apart from Mr. True’s car in Washington D.C. This is incorrect as there exists another side-valve 24-h.p. standard tourer in Kent, circa 1919, which is in excellent condition. However, I am not at liberty to disclose its whereabouts.
The standard tourers were quite immense on the 24-h.p.. chassis with splined Sankey wheels. Whereas Mr. Edward True’s car has the more desirable aluminium four-seater sports body, this is a rare car indeed.
Recently I have learned from a colleague in India that yet another 24-h.p. model, the same as Mr. True’s, has been found in India. This was supplied new to H. H. The Maharajah of Patiala and co-habited with an early 30/98 Vauxhall.
It would appear, therefore, that at least four side-valve 24-h.p. models exist. I am sure that the “Dreadnought” will be pleased about this.
Harrow-on-the-hill. K. Gates
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A Vintage Special
I was very interested to read W. B.’s article in the August issue referring to vintage specials.
At present I am rebuilding a car which the log book describes as a Morris/Riley, and was first registered in 1929 (No. LG 2533).
The car can only be described as a vintage special, and I am anxious that it will be recognised as such by the V.S.C.C.
Although the car is unquestionably a hybrid built for competition, the attention to detail and general finish are hard to discern from a factory-built car.
I would be indebted to any readers who can recognise the car (and the intrepid past owner) from the photograph, and furnish me with any details of its history.
Minety, Wilts. R.H.E. Manners.
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That Austin V12 Engine
Like your correspondent Mr. T. J. Henry I am a former Austin Apprentice, and whilst I remember very well a big narrow-angle V12-cylinder engine that stood in a part of the Service Department Stores for a long time during the ‘twenties, this unit had vertical overhead valves operated by tubular steel push-rods via hollow steel rockers.
Upon this mechanical detail my memory is quite clear, just as it is that the only overhead camshaft engines that I ever saw at Longbridge were the Sunbeam Arab 1, upon which I worked for some time, and the Wolseley-built Hispano Suizas that were fitted to the SE5 biplanes that Austins turned out during the 1914/18 war period.
Nor did I hear the term “Pa” Austin, although once when talking to me, his Private Secretary, Mr. R. Howitt, referred to him affectionately as the “Great White Chief”. To us he was “The Old Man”.
Elsewhere in your October issue it is suggested that you people in Wilson’s Trades-Union-dominated Welfare State would like to exchange Governments with us. With our rate of Income Tax, and freedom from Stamp Duty on cheques, Death Duties, and Capital Gains Tax, and our retention of corporal punishment for certain offences: not on your Nellie!
Onchan, Isle of Man. R. W. (Bob) Burgess.