A section devoted to old-car matters
The VSCC Welsh Week-end (October 2nd/3rd)
The traditional excursion over the Welsh border for those of the Vintage SCC who own vintage cars duly took place last month, in glorious unanticipated sunshine, apart from one short but very heavy rain shower as the competitors were lining up to attempt the last hill before the now non-notorious Smatcher. While the tougher contingent was tackling the 200-mile road section before the trial on the Sunday, familiar old cars were being looked over by the Judges of the beauty show prior to rushing about a factory yard in Presteigne, undergoing a series of driving tests.
Bendall’s 1911 Rolls-Royce town carriage has deteriorated in cleanliness but not in sprightliness, being applauded for some brisk manoeuvres in the tests, and Miss Bendall’s Fiat 501 was bodily glistening but mechanically muddy, interesting items being the heel-rest for its central accelerator and an exhaust pipe peeping coyly through the back of the body. We admired again C. Batte’s Delage tourer with transverse occasional seats, a car promoted some time in its life from s.v. to o.h.v., liked the individuality of Calvert’s 1925 Minerva Woodall & Nicholson’s all-weather, and were reminded that Angela Cherrett’s 1928 twin-cam Alfa Romeo, which has split rims and curious damper pulleys on the extremities of its camshafts, is the one with the genuine Zagato body. Collins was having difficulty retaining castor oil in the engine of his blown Alfa Romeo, Condon’s AC had an under-bonnet oil-can, Edwards’ tatty s.v. Aston Martin “N****r II” had been converted to twin carbs., leaving a gaping hole on the o/s where the original carburetter should have been, and Macmillan had the Cockshoot all-weather roof on his Rolls-Royce open to the welcome sunshine.
Sawers is gradually smartening-up his James Young Alfa Romeo coupé, Tomlin’s ex-taxi Rolls-Royce needed similar attention, Williams’ 1924 Morris-Cowley appeared to be upholstered in smart plastic and carried a stupid Two Wheel Brake triangle on its rear, and a rare just-vintage car was Rogers’ 1930 Hillman 14 metal saloon, with Trans-Atlantic styling and an unhinged bonnet top panel. The star of the beauty show was undoubtedly Daley’s 1910 Garford Studebaker, its racy body correctly restored to a third seat on the tail where a bolster tank had once rested. It was shod with Lincoln Highway front, well-treaded Firestone back tyres and won more marks than Mann’s 1914 GP Mercedes.
The road section was seemingly uneventful, except for the unfortunate Thomas, whose 1927 11/22 Wolseley ran a big-end. He found a cobbler, who found some leather to wrap round the striken journal, and after the piston and rod had been removed, he ventured on the Sunday trial on three cylinders, being awarded the Winder Trophy for his initiative.
The dry weather was expected to have rendered the hills too easy, but you can usually rely on Wales for wetness and sure enough an overnight shower and morning dew worked wonders. Crug was in a mood and many experienced drivers in suitable cars never so much as left the start of Llangoch. These included Barry Clark’s Ulster Austin, Andrews’ Riley 9 tourer, Hare’s delectable 1925 Frazer Nash, Ruffle’s 9/20 Humber, Robinson’s Lea-Francis and Collins’ Alvis with external cooling fan, also Marsh’s 1922 Morris, although it later got away. Oldham, using the biggest back tyres possible on a Chummy Austin, stopped almost immediately, and in spite of letting out air from his back tyres, Wortley’s Chummy failed in the first section. Gould, however, on narrow-section tyres, went up splendidly in his Chummy, Barrett in the Winder Lea-Francis Special opened up carefully and made a good ascent, Batho did a model run in his Amilcar-Riley, Gibson’s Frazer Nash had no trouble, Phillips’ Jowett, on non-original back wheels, steamed but made a very good climb of the grass track, Spence scorned “bouncing” as he blipped his Lea-Francis up, and Gledhill made good use of a careful start to get his Austin up.
The long-wheelbase cars were allowed a run at Llangoch, and most found it easy, although Parker’s Austin 7 fabric saloon soon ran out of power and Buckle, driving Giles’ bull-nose Morris-Cowley because his Lancia Lambda broke its crankshaft in the commendable Lancia MC Italian frolic, stopped at the very top. He said his usual mount has more power—and do Morris-Cowleys have that much wheelbase, to be in Class B? Cardy’s 12/50 beetleback Alvis revved highly, his children resuming the dickey-seat after the non-stop ascent, Danaher’s Austin was intent on FTD, Freddie Giles, having forsaken his Chain Gang equipment for a “new” blue 30/98 Vauxhall, made a quiet, sensible climb, and Blake’s very nice 12/50 Alvis tourer made it look easy, as did Day in his equally nice 4 1/2-litre Bentley two-seater. Tony Jones provided a bit of drama, and proved how instantaneously these racing drivers react, when he started his 30/98 Vauxhall in 3rd gear but kept it rolling while hastily moving the lever into 2nd. Ronald Barker was having a bad day in his I.h.d. Model-B Ford Tudor saloon, with chronic fuel starvation, and Spence’s Alvis was delayed by a broken dynamo drive, whereas Templeton (Alvis) merely got lost. The Presteigne Trophy was won by Hamish Moffatt in his Spartan Brescia Bugatti, on some rather remarkable tyres.—W. B.