"Shropshire Star" VCC Rally

Cold, wet weather marked this two-day event for pre-1914 cars. After making their own way to Bridgnorth for the distance contest, competitors had a two-day rally route, mainly over easy roads that took them round the Wrekin in Shropshire. At the start we noted that Pittaway’s 1903 Phoenix Trimo had front brakes, and pedals for light human assistance up the hills. The oldest car was Wilkins’ 1901 Decauville, with a fourtrumpet horn to give warning of its approach. Ridley had brought his 7¼-litre poppet-valve chain-drive Daimler, a very sporting car quite devoid of weather protection, from Ipswich. As it has 920 x 120 back tyres and 875 x 105s on its front wheels the tonneau was well stocked with spare Dunlops. Hawley’s 1911 Rolls-Royce had a curtained back parlour, Warland Dual rims and a gallon can of Brass° was on board to aid the smartening up process.

The Turner Mfg. Co. of Wolverhampton brought their 1904 Turner-Miesse steam-car on a trailer accompanied by much historical data; unfortunately it retired after the lunch break as pressure to the burners could not be maintained. Some cars showed evidence either of having journeyed a long way already or not having been cleaned recently, such as Major Pitt’s 1912 Rolls-Royce tourer from Kent, which had an Andre steering-damper and an outcrop of badge disease, and CampbellLambert’s 1913 Napier Doctor’s coupe, the front-wheel flap of which suggested that it, too, needed a damper on its steering gear. Estler’s 1913 Darracq, with Dietz Majestic headlamps, even had a dented radiator. Griffin’s 1911 Napier two-seater was on 5.50-6.00 x 20 Dunlops and, like the aforesaid Daimler, lit its way at night with Rushmore Searchlights.

Rain was soon falling as the 46 runners set off for the historic town of Ironbridge. Observing them at the downhill hairpin corner half-a-mile from the station, before they crossed the river (but not by the famous iron bridge) it was good to see that none of these back-braked vehicles had any nasty moments. A 1907 Renault Landaulette arrived first, having safely negotiated some pipe-laying obstructions further up the hill. Mrs. Windsor’s 1905 Rover emitted a fine single-cylinder beat as it accelerated away, the Phoenix, two up, cut the corner, the road being clear, Landless’ smart 1.h.d. Clement-Bayard came up fast and cornered neatly, Bourne on the 1910 Cadillac and Lawson on the 1905 Star dropped into a lower gear, Griffin’s Napier was cheekily passed before the hairpin by a Spridget, Smith’s big 1914 Cadillac was very slow but Fowler’s Belsize swept round, its exhaust smoking, like that of Harding’s 1913 Sunbeam tourer. Most of the cars had hoods but among those exposed to the now relentless rain were the three occupants of Clarke’s Panhard and those on Painter’s 1902 Clement.

At Ironbridge the Morris-Oxford and the big Leon-Bollee of Eastmead seemed to have missed the route. We noticed that KingfordBannell’s 1915 Willys-Overland has a gated central gear-change and Elkins’ 1915 Studebaker a gated r.h. change, ball gates coming later on American cars. After being cranked over, Ridley’s Daimler started on the switch and set off at its 40 m.p.h. cruising pace but the Decauville had to be helped up the slight gradient out of the car park. Morgan’s huge 1909 Thornycroft was on a mixture of Goodyear and Dunlop tyres and its Rushmore lamps are fed from a generator made by the Rushmore Dynamo Works. The LeonBolide had its Dunlop herringbones on as Ted Woolley says they should be fitted and Chambers’ Delaunay-Belleville had its two spare tyres neatly enclosed in a lace-up bag. Long’s “Prince Henry” Vauxhall was out again, looking very smart.

The afternoon run was an easy one to Shrewsbury and on the Sunday they ran from there to Telford, for a Concours d’Elegance.