A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
VSCC Welsh Week-End (Oct. 6th/7th)
That excellent institution, the VSCC Welsh Rally and Trial, based on the “Radnor Arms” at Presteigne in Radnorshire, was held this year in summer-like weather and went off well, after initial difficulties with broken-down modern vehicles such as Land Rovers and the Secretarial Volvo. This is an event which can form a pleasant family outing, the ladies thinking in terms of the “beauty show” and tests on the Saturday and then supporting their menfolk in the sterner trial, which is combined with the road section, on the Sunday.
The former attracted an entry of 30, the driving nonsenses taking place in the factory car-park of F. W. McConnel Ltd. in Knighton. The most interesting car present was Mellish’s 1914 Army-type Crossley with twin 875 x 105 tyres on each back wheel and much polished brasswork, including the Rotax lighting set. Mrs. Shapland had twin rear-view mirrors on her 10/23 Talbot two-seater, whether for increased road safety or with driving tests in mind isn’t known, and although the other 10/23 Talbot of Mrs. Bell was absent, two ACs turned up, Davies’ 1927 front-braked model and Condon’s 1923 car. Harper had rebuilt the under-bonnet department of his 1924 Morris-Oxford drophead, with blue-hued block and Smiths 5-jet carburetter, but it laid a smoke-blanket in the tests and reverse gear was graunched in. Batte’s boat-bodied 1925 Delage was also laying smoke.
The standard of these Concours d’Elegance entries was mostly far from elegant or even clean, a reflection presumably on the high speculative value of immaculate old cars. Higgins’ 1925 Humber two-seater, although sprightly round the pylons, was rock-bottom for condition. In such company the Crossley, the 3-litre Bentley of March, and Mrs. Drake’s Amilcar (which attracted much attention, the onlookers loving a “racer”) were outstanding. The Cherretts had two nice Alfa Romeos in the running, and Sawers won the tests in his ever-improving Alfa Romeo coupe. Collins drove the Alfa Romeo two-seater which looks like an 8C but is actually a 1750, and drove it very well. There is always a Rolls-Royce rolling in undignified fashion round the markers, Tomlin’s filling this role this time. Mrs. Jeddere-Fisher paused in mid-reverse in the Lancia Theta, the long-chassis fabric-bodied Jowett misjudged an entry, and Heath’s very smart Chevrolet coupe took wide sweeps when changing direction. Mrs. Cherrett hit a marker and also spilt some of the spirit we are supposed to conserve from the Alfa’s tank filler.
The weather was quite warm for the trial, which could be why the Presidential Frazer Nash needed a new gasket in its Anzani engine by lunchtime. Some new hills had been included this year. I.ong-wheelbase cars tackled Rectory and Forest Wood, the latter quite a stopper, short-wheelbase competitors Pentre, which was a long overgrown shale hill approached through a mild water splash. It is a very good hill, suitable for determined Frazer Nashes but no-go for Jowetts! But You’ll Be Lucky was almost impossible. The Llangoch Complex was used again, very few cars so much as getting away from the start of Devil’s Elbow, although Winder’s Frazer Nash, looking as if it was on its way to church, did well, and McEwen’s fabric-bodied Riley Nine tourer, hood up, engine noisy beneath a strapped-down bonnet, got almost to the re-start line. On the brief but steep Lloyds, Rowley’s Wensum 30/98 Vauxhall, three people crammed into the tail, was applauded for a good climb, the concerted bouncing to shouted instructions adopted by the crews of 30/98s helping here, if of little avail on Devil’s Elbow, where Lilley’s Jowett had done well. The Jowett fraternity had hoped to out-number the Austin Seven entry but although they fielded four, and another in the tests, this ambition was not realised. Having done some morning marshalling it is not possible to report happenings elsewhere in detail, but the “Welsh” certainly lived up to its reputation. Smatcher was for once very slippery, so the re-start was a farce. Traditionally 30/98s were much in evidence, even Barry Clarke forsaking light transport for his recently-assembled 1925 Vauxhall on this occasion. Sandy Skinner was delighted to find his hastily-put-together 1924 wooden-bodied, hydraulically-retarded twin-SU Austin 7 capable of getting up the dreaded Pentre and an enjoyable time seems to have been had by all. The award for the most deserving effort went to Hamilton-Gould, who had to rebuild his 1921 Citroen’s gearbox en route hut the 1925 DFP also made a brave appearance. — W.B.