A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
VCC Mid-Wales Spoke Rally (Sept. 17th-23rd)
This rally, so-called because it took in daily tours spoking out in different directions from Llandrindod Wells, on every day except the Wednesday, which was rest-day, and the last Saturday when driving-tests were held in the new car park, had an entry of six veterans and 23 Edwardians, although two of the latter, a Unic and a Ford, non-started. It was an ambitious event of some 100 miles per day, with some mostly non-motoring interludes en route, but the cars stood up well, although on the Thursday Mitchell’s Alfonso Hispano-Suiza ran No. 3 big-end, as it has done before (it was efficiently re-metalled in Cheltenham and was running again by the Saturday). Love’s 16/20 Wolseley, which had CAV headlamps and a fine high-mounted bulbhorn, was troubled by a reluctant carburetter, and Miss Bendall’s 15/18 Hupmobile had to have front axle ball races replaced, which caused it to miss some of the tests.
The cars were an interesting selection. Oldest was Southall’s 1902 De Dion Bouton, a single-cylinder of 8 h.p. Landless’ 1902 chain-drive 7-h.p. Panhard-Levassor “Henrietta” was equipped only with gas side-lamps. Redder’s tiller-steered 1904 Cadillac had an “A” registration and, thinking in these terms, both the Blackford/Greenal 18/24 Austin “taxi” and Hartley’s 15-h.p. Fiat with similar bodywork had their numbers on the radiator honeycombs. The Austin sported an elaborate exhaust whistle and sight-feed lubricators and it started “on the switch”. The Fiat had a very period roof-rack and tailored covers over its headlamps. Brown was in the closed-car comfort of a 1915 17/24 Dodge which was on Clincher Cord tyres and carried a Pratts’ can. Major Pitt’s 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost tourer was the repository for rashes of badges, of which we counted about 100, had its rear-compartment screen folded down, and carried two Shell Motor Spirit cans. Bill Cook had brought his very fine open Silver Ghost of the same year and Bendall was in his well-known closed Silver Ghost of 1911 vintage. Two extremely smart cars were the 12/16 Wolseley two-seater of Mr. and Mrs. Wakely (which had Shell can and polished wooden boxes on its running-boards, a full-width dash shelf, a Motometer on its radiator cap, exhaust whistle, 815 x 105 tyres, and ¼-elliptic rear springs on tubular hangers, whereas the bigger Wolseley had ½-elliptics) and Cook’s 1914 Singer Ten two-seater with snubbers for its back springs, a Rankonia gas generator, the square-type radiator, and a fuel thirst of 45 m.p.g.
Ryder-Richardson’s 1910 Adler two-seater had an early AA badge, Stepney spare rim, snubbered ¼-elliptic back springs and a transverse silencer with flap over one exit. Calder’s yellow 10/12 Belsize had protective covers over its lamps, a small fuel-filler protruding inside the car, and its petrol can was originally full of Pratts’ High Test. Rowley was using his skiff-bodied 25/50 Talbot, the Smiths’ Clegg-Darracq was on 815 x 105 Dunlops, South was in his 12/16 Sunbeam, the VCC President, Mr. Grossman, drove a 1912 Iris which suffered some magneto trouble, and Gray was driving his big 3.5-h.p. Lancia Theta. P. R. Southall’s 20/30 Fiat landaulette was on 880 x 120 tyres and had CAV lamps. The AA’s 1904 Renault had a warning bell. The organisation was largely in the capable hands of Roger Collins, who was going round the routes in an S.1 Bentley Continental.
On the Sunday we assisted with some of the tests and on the Monday stationed ourselves on a 1-in-6 hill outside Llanidloes, in the magnificent weather which lasted all the week. First to appear was the Austin, which made a slow down-change and ascended slowly. After a long wait Cook’s Rolls-Royce appeared and treated the gradient with disdain, although running on the coil only. Then Southall took a wrong turning, but reversed to set the Fiat at the hill. The 1909 Adler of Firth only just got up and the Belsize, on 810 x 90 tyres, used weaving tactics which, as it was going nicely, did not seem absolutely necessary. On the later long 1-in-8 haul round the reservoir the Hispano-Suiza made a most sporting and noisy ascent, Wakely was nonchalantly smoking a cigarette in the Wolseley, both the BendaIls climbed well, the Clegg-Darracq was going fast, Mrs. Smith in a fine leather coat, but the Fiat was slower and the Dodge, emitting early American noises, slower still, being overtaken by the Lancia.
Later in the week that odd vee-twin Rixton Etna motor-tricycle had joined in unofficially and on the last day a Cunard-bodied 40/50 Napier and a Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce tourer came to watch the tests.
When the results were announced after the concluding dinner at the “Metropole” in Llandrindod Wells on the Saturday it was seen that Andrew Smith had won the anonymously-donated Premier Award, a most commendable achievement, especially with a veteran car, a single-cylinder tiller-steered Oldsmobile, of which his family have two. This achievement was greeted with great enthusiasm and reduced his mother to tears. — W. B.
V-to-C Miscellany, June 1994, June 1994
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