Veteran Edwardian Vintage
A SECTION DEVOTED TO OLD-CAR MATTERS
THE VSCC CYCLECAR RALLY
Claddesby lIi1, Leicestershire, September 2151
IT WAS AN excellent idea of the Light Car Section of the VSCC to holcl a Cyclecar Rally for those machines which are mostly beyond hope of passing a DoE test and therefore are. never seen on the road. On the day the weather was immaculate, the setting was splendid, and the gathering was voted one of the best VSCC events ever.
Colin Crabbe had put the grounds of Gaddesby Hall at the eyelet:mists’ disposal, a house once, we believe, the scat of the Walker family, of whisky fame, a member of whom had three horses shot from under him at Waterloo. It is reputed to have been the largest house in the county until the upper floors were dismantled. That was the Rally venue and a good start, which set the pattern for the day, was made when, Stafford East having got his 200Mile Race replica ON Akela firing, the engine was immediately stopped so as to allow two horse-riders to pass the Paddock entrance Without disaster. The lady rider„ as she thanked the intrepid driver by raising her crop, remarked “I haven’t heard a noise like that before and neither had my horse!” VSCC members are, above everything, gentlemen.. ..
So, amid sounds Of differing Calibre, the odd vehicles .were parked under the trees along Crabbe’s carriage-drive. White had his pushrod twin-magneto Vitesse ON, stripped as if for a Dancer’s End hill-climb and sounding like it. Cherrett had collected Dudley John’s yellow ON Legere from the Pilkington Museum but Riddle had driven his touring ON, now with its i.o.e. engine, up from London on two gallons of petrol, and he drove it home afterwards. With Mitchell’s 1914 ON, which was suffering from reduced traction due to grass-juice on its belts, there were five Godfrey and Nash products present, which the Morgan 3-wheeler Club Countered by presenting some ten examples of the Malvern breed, from Booth’s immaculate 1913 Runabout to a very lusty 1938 Matchless Super Sports controlled, more or less, by Phelps.
We were puzzled by a so-called ‘ITreplica Morgan, liked Edmond’s blue, discWheeled MAO Family-model which displayed a JCC badge and a Pratts petrol can, we enthused over Week’s Biackburne-engined Brooklands Morgan, and were cheered to See the ex-Harold Beam record-car (104 m.p.h. in 1925) present in chassis form. Alas, the Editorial Family Morgan was absent, it having been found, at the last minute before departure, too wide for a Transit van to swallow. These well-established cycle:ears were backed tip by some astonishing lone efforts. Jeddere
Fisher’s Barron-Ackroyd “El Pamp&o” was in good form, after winning Saturday’s Edwardian-prize. Hewson brought a 1919 Bleriot-Whippet as a static exhibit, its screen folded flat and the cockpit looking highly lethal with exposed chain and belt drives and an enormous grunching-lever. This was equalled by Leedal’s 1921 Richardson, the Beardmore Precision air-cooled vee-twin propellant of which drives via friction discs., with the occupants legs dangling in close proximity to this alarming machinery. This rare specimen from the Leeds area was unfortunately reluctant to run for more than minutes at a time. The 1921 Tamplin was a completely static exhibit, its pristine showroom condition suggesting that maybe it has yet to smell petrol. Incidentally, I suppose I must be the last person to have endured the rigours of occupying the back-seat of a Tamplin tandem for any length of time, in post-war MCC trials, although not in this Blakeney-Edwards’ car. Many people thought Caswell’s 1921 Seal three-,wheeler the best cyclecar present, its 976-c.c. JAP engine hung outside, as if it had set out to be a motorcycle-combination but had then taken pity on its prospective occupants and permitted them both to sit in the sidecar and one of them to steer with a car-type -steering-wheel. It could be that the designer had anticipated the future by some half-acentury and wanted to save the driver the expense of buying a crash-helmet. Certainly he was astute enough to think-up a name standing for “Sociable, Economical And Light”. Dymond’s 1910 AC Sociable was yet another version of tricar, its boot opening to reveal a one-lunger engine of 631 c.c. fanned by two tiny propellers driven by frictiou from the engine’s flywheels. Ignition was presumably by trembler-coil and one noted spare plugs screwed into a side-member of the chassis frame. After lunch Spencer was to be
seen leading his AV Monty:7:1r up the drive on a rope (Peter Hull asked “Does it bite ?”), so here was further education in cyclecar ingenuity. ‘Ellis AV has a frame of planks and the air-cooled JAP vee-twin is on the tail, driving through an epicyclic gear. Alas, this exMontagu Museum contraption was a nonrunner as it had had sufficient intelligence to damage its front axle while being tow-started, riot very difficult, as this axle is suspended centrally on a single leaf spring and turned on its pivot by wire-and-bobbin.
This brave display 1.).1* eyelecars was all the more fascinating for being the first of its kind, thanks to a happy inspiration of Roger RichmOnd’s—well, not quite the first, because the Cycfccar Club had done something of the kind away back in 1912. Had they been present at Gaddesby Hall, those persons Who support thoroughbred and classic cars would, I think, have been in danger of tearing out their hair until they were bald. , . In support of the true cyelecars had come some delectable small motor-cars, such as Savage’s very smart Rover Eight, Mitchell’s nice 1922 Jowett, both t wo,seaters, and Wallis’ 1924 668 c.c. Peugeot with Normandy minicamion body and Phares Besnard “Les Vestales” gas: headlamps. Ron Barker’s Peugeot Quad failed to keen it Company, but, to return’ to pure cyclecars, a chassis of unknown origin, boasting drives from its JAP engine by chain, gearbox and belt, wasmanhandled into place—I know, because I “helped” with its steering while it was being pushed, unaware that this useful component was not coupled ‘Those present had been given ballot papers, to vote for the vehicle which they regarded as the most desirable cyclecar. To help them decide; a series of tests was arranged during the afternoon. After having to locate their own vehicle while blindfold, aided by an assistant blowing the horn, a noisy exercise
which enabled Neil Bruce to take a hilarious photograph from the roof of the Crabbe mansion, under the Union flag that flew from the battlements, there followed much furious winding, flooding, cajoling and cursing, in a quick-start frolic. Gibson horned fastest to his 1928 Super Sports Morgan in the first test; Hales was quickest to fire up and move away, in his Super Sports flat-twin ABC, in the second test. Then came the task of driving round a pylon, into and out of a couple of “garages”, and then stopping astride a finish-line. Having no reverse gears, the Morgan drivers were aided in this test by both male and female reversing mechanism! White’s raucous GN stalled but finished quickly, amid applause, as he and his lady mechanician pushed it to the finish. The smoking Seal had a good steering lock but was also sans reverse gear, the wide-track Morgan had the advantage of a far smaller turning circle than the more sedate models and was very quick, both Jowett and Peugeot, the latter breathing hard through a too-recent Solex, were neat, Gibson got his Morgan jammed against a stable door, and Johns’ GN was another that suffered from a poor lock. Perhaps fortunately, no results were disclosed. Last came a “Grand Prix” round the Crabbe garden paths; White actually got into second-dog during this sprint and thought he had touched a furious 20 m.p.h. Weeks won this, in the 1925 Morgan. As a diversion from the racing the Chief Official set himself on fire, as a result of absent-mindedly putting his pipe in a trousers’ pocket, a happening that seemed entirely unremarkable, on this hilarious and enjoyable occasion.
The ballot directed the Most Desirable Cyclecar Award, a W125 Mercedes-Benz piston donated by Colin Crabbe, to Tony Mitchell’s 1914 GN, with replica body, wireand-hope steering, final-drive by link belts, and copper exhaust-pipes. It was wearing a big wicker umbrella-basket, which made us ponder on whether in 1914 a cyclecarist would have been able to afford both a GN and a gamp. Following the presentation, tea on the stately lawns below the house marked the end of an entirely delightful event, which I hope will be repeated if, as Colin said, there are any surviving cyclecars left after the way they had been driven that afternoon.—W.B. V-E-V Miscellany.—As promised, we investigated that Rolls-Royce rumoured to be semiderelict and therefore possibly for disposal
in N. Wales. To do so we used, if not a vintage car, at least an opened-up Triumph Spitfire. The Rolls-Royce took some locating and wasn’t at home when we found its lair, if you follow. So it can presumably be concluded that it is a runner and not for sale. We hear that Caffyns of Tunbridge Wells suffered an unfortunate fire recently, in which a Bentley and a Rolls-Royce and their 1896 Benz were unhappily destroyed. The VMCC held a satisfactory Saundersfoot Run over the week-end of September 13th/14th. They had an entry of 78, with machines dating back to 1911, and riders frOm Holland, Austria and Denmark. Interesting entries included a 1915 Sunbeam military model that saw service in France during the 1914/18 war, a 1921 flat-twin OEC, an original-condition 1923 Model “Radco” (its makers having no connection with the firm of Radco advertising in the car-park where the start took place), a rare Colonial-model “sloper” BSA dating from 1929 and a 1930 Model-B Aril used as daily transport in Anglesey up to 1955. Others were an ND Triumph formerly used, it is said, in Hereford before the war with a hearse sidecar (or is it a leg-pull?), a Model-18 Norton bought• for 30/in 1953, a Triumph Tiger rescued from a fire five years ago, a 1938 shaftdrive 750 c.c. Nimbus, a 1938 BSA B21 still in regular use, a just-pre-war SS100 13rough Superior bike, with lady passenger from France, and a water-cooled Williamson powered in effect by a Douglas stationary engine. Watching from that very fine scenic route that encircles Lake Brianne, after lunching at a pub where peacocks are bred, the only rider in trouble was Alan Johnson, whose 1936 P & M sidecar outfit stopped in clouds of acrid smoke beside our 1927 14/40 Humber to make a new clutch-release -lever. This was the last P & M to be registered and before restoration it spent some time in a pond—presumably not to cool off its clutch. W. K. Cooper on a BSA “sloper” solo stopped to offer help but the P & M was soon away. Len Ore had a full load on his all-Arid l 1928 Model-E sidecar outfit and Haddock’s 1921 chain-drive SD Triumph made a nifty change-down. A Vincent-FIRD with a mini-wheel for its sidecar was going quickly and Ken Evans vintage AJS had changed into a quiet I,E Velocette noddy-bike. It was enormous fun, on a brilliantly fine afternoon. We regret to have to record that
Jack Sopp, who worked as mechanic to Parry Thomas in Bentley Motors Racing Department and at T & Ti, died last August. A reader seeks information about a 1935 Renton straight-eight, BN(.’: 38, Which at one time had a Riley gearbox incorporated in its transmission and its chassis lowered. A circa-1907 vee-twin Pick motorcycle is being restored in N. Wales. The National Motor Museum supplied some historic motorcycle to the Prevention Routiers for their stand at the Paris Meitor Show. A large sleeve-valve Daimler appears to he derelict in Worcestershire. A re-run of the 1908 New York-Paris Race, but in the opposite direction, is scheduled to be held next year, starting on May 27th. It may last 60 clays.
Following our enquiry as to how many Austin 20s survive, we are informed that Mr. A. J. Smallbone owns the Wyatt Sports Twenty and intends to rebuild it into an exact replica of the .Scriven racing car. There is also the chopped-about two-seater that is sometimes raced in VSCC. events, and in that BBC Tv film, “The Years of Hope”, wasn’t there a touring Austin 20, circa 1921? Whose is this, we wonder? In the Midlands _a war-time or just pre-war V8 Ford van, used by the NCB, has been saved from the breaker’s yard. Multicylinder, journal of the pre-‘SO American AC, carried an article on the American Austin 7 Bantam in its September issue. According to the Daily Telegraph Magazine the Fiat touring car in which D’Anntinzio drove to seize Fiume in 1919 is now in his Vittoriak, together with other military exhibits and the biplane he flew in 1918 through the Alps. No doubt this is well known to the Fiat Register’s historian. It was amusing to find, on the eye of the Cycleear Rally, reported elsewhere, that E. H. Jeynes, writing in the Mode/ Engineer, was recalling a De Dion Quadricycle owned bY his father, who later fitted it with -a larger water-cooled DAW engine. It survived until 1939, although the engine was removed in 1910 and employed to drive a generator at the family house in Worcestershire until 1914. That exciting -vintage racing car, the 1Hitre. six-cylinder supercharged Halford Special, Is being rebuilt and its owner would appreciate any photographs or information. The ParrY Thomas-engined Seriven Special “No No
• Nanette” of about. the same period has also changed hands.