A section devoted to old-car matters
VSCC Welsh Week-End (October 9/10th)
This annual excursion to Presteigne, in the County of Powys, and observed sections beyond, followed the VSCC’s traditional pattern. But this year the entry-list had expanded noticeably and the growing domination of 30/98 Vauxhalls had necessitated a separate class for these splendid vintage motor cars. No fewer than 14 were entered, from Samson’s 1919 E-type to three Velox OEs, and Wace’s 14/40 Vauxhall was allowed to run with them. Not only that, but another 14/40 and 30/98 took part in Saturday’s Beauty Show and Driving Tests.
In the Tests at Knighton the star-turn (no offence to Jeremy Collins who had returned briefly from Germany to drive his Star Scorpio) was the way in which R. J. Brooks put his enormous disc-wheeled PI RollsRoyce Barker coupe-de-ville through turns and twirls that should have put a heavy premium on its long wheelbase. It performed silently, even under the anchors, rolled but never went adrift, and was as fast in one of the tests as Chris Mann’s Targa Florio Alfa Romeo, even though the latter had oppositelock frequently applied. And Brooks did all this without getting his legs mixed up with his car’s bulb horn or its Barker headlampsdipper lever, or requiring its India Super Non-Skid-shod spare wheel. Hark drove determinedly in his six-light 1930 Lea-Francis saloon, perhaps annoyed by the number of push-Starts it required. Binns was quick in his well-known Riley 9, but Frazer’s 14/40 Vauxhall forgot to stop at the finish-line of one test and in the changing-the-balls act Roger Howard charged a pylon in his Amilcar, effectively putting one ball out of his immediate reach. Opinionopined that Higgins’ very smart 1930 Humber Snipe tourer was a delectable car, after we had got over the surprise that it is vintage; its long gear lever has the reverse button embedded in its knob and the instruments have a mild Yankee style about them. Williams’ 1928 12/50 Alvis had a nice two-seater skiff body, Diffy’s young son chauffeured his mother’s Humber Eight twoseater to the start of the tests, and jeddereFisher, Junior, was there in the 12/24 Lagonda which had just got into the final Control of the 100-mile road-section on time.
That part of the Welsh Week-End alone had netted 31 entries. While they were performing, the 7I-strong entry in the Trial was completing the 200-mile toad-section. Moffatt reported a very wet ride over the Welsh mountains, in his Type 13 Bugatti….
Although the weather relented after the mist had cleared on the Sunday, the ford at the first hill was hub-level deep. Spectating at Llangoch, which winds up and round a very severe bend on open common-land, we saw mainly clean ascents, at all events almost to the top, but Hill’s Triumph Super Seven stopped high up through lack of power. Meek’s Austin Twenty treated it more like a speed hill-climb and Barry Clarke, in an Austin 7 he described as “a perfectly standard Chummy” but which would have passed as a typical 750 MC trials special not so long ago, seemed untroubled by chronic misfiring. Sandy Skinner was in his wooden Austin 7, Longhurst drove a Riley 9 special with 7 in. taken out of the original wheelbase, Taylor’s 12/50 Alvis was trying to boil and had two children in its dickey and a label announcing that it was “In Transit”, and Blake’s 12/50 Alvis carried four persons.
Hamish Moffatt made his usual faultless ascent in the Bugatti, With Sir John Venables-Llewelyn on the passenger’s perch, in spite of Hamish, who had done his sums wrong, having raised instead of lowered the Type 13’s gearbox ratios, in conjunction with a 13/54 axle ratio. Peter Hull was in the hot-seat of Harvey-Hine’s Bentley, and D.S.J. had temporarily forsaken a road-test Ferrari 308 GTB to ride in Tony Jones’ 30/98 Vauxhall. The earlier water-splash seemed to have disarranged a few starting-arrangements, because Hill’s OM . was pushed off and Gutteridge was engaging the Bendixgear Of his Type 40 Bugatti by hand, prior to making a steady onslaught on Llangoch. To these homely sights was added that of R. G. Winder feeding his Chummy Austin Jet petrol on the starting line. Bill May had plenty of oil passing through the engine of his Frazer Nash, which had two spare wheels outrigged behind. Alas, Dennis had withdrawn his 16/50 Humber, as its clutch had insufficient: bite for such steep gradients. A new one, incidentally, was “Railway”, which ran up into ‘a wood, the last hazard before the luncheon beer-swilling.
At the last-but-one Observed Section. a straight run up the middle of a grass field, where the farmer generously provides a big field for spectators’ cars (which included a very nice Aero Morgan and that twin-rear-wheeled RFC Crossley), Tom Threlfall’s Ford Model A Tudor saloon made a very creditable climb, as did Hamilton-Gould’s Super Sports Frazer Nash. Thomas’ 11/22 Wolseley got about halfway, its rear-end bouncing beautifully, and Rosemary Burke, wearing a real ex-Brooklands flying helmet, went much higher up than might have been expected, before her foot slipped off the accelerator of her Morris Minor when she was almost at the top—it sounds a bit like a “blown gasket” story, but I believe her! Although people were offering to get Moffatt a pocket-calculator with which to work out his Bugatti’s gear ratios correctly, he made his usual exciting climb. Wood had a sporting try in the disc-wheeled 1923 10.8 Riley coupe, but it boiled and soon stopped. The Vernon Derby was good, its lady passenger indulging in some curious sideways bouncing. As I left the “heavy brigade”, in the form Of those fine 30/98s, were assembling for a mass assault on this and the last of the Observed Sections and yet another memorable Presteigne was nearly over.—W.B.
The VMCC’s BP-sponsored Saundersfoot Run attained its majority this year, so competitors were encouraged by organiser D. Weekes to start from Gloucester, as was done in 1956, although competition numbers were not put on until Llandovery for the serious 64-mile part of route over roads not much changed from the 1920s except for a better surface. This town makes an excellent rallying-point, with plenty of parking, a wide variety of palatable tbod at modest prices at the Castle Hotel, tolerant Police, and near-by toilet facilities. As the riders trickled in, Phelps had been pedalling the 2 h.p. 1902 ClementGarrard after its automatic inlet valve had stuck open but had not lost much time. We were able to admire Jenner’s immaculate Aero Morgan with s.v. JAP engine, note the shaft-drive of Miss Taylor’s 1921 FN, and ponder the technicalities of Neilson’s 1937 Nimbus from Denmark.
Watching that afternoon at a rural water-splash beneath the railway bridge near Trapp, we saw Codd’s 1927 Sports New Imperial come a cropper and Carwyn Davies and his lady pillion passenger get a wetting when his 1927 TT Triumph skidded and fell over, temporarily damaging the speedometer-drive. Wills stalled the engine of his 1912 singlespeed Bradbury but re-started, Peter Moore blipped his 1930 BSA through, Holman took it fast on his 1933 246 c.c. Velocette, Glynne Owens footed his 1930 Model-B Arid l through, but many kept their feet up, Mason being very neat on a Model-E Arid, whereas Parker had nasty moments on the slippery bed of the ford on his 132 BSA. Johnson coped well with the bouncy ride of his 1921 Baby Triumph, Garland on the MSS Velocette just saved a fall, Pritchard’s 1938 Velocette neatly overtaking him. Francis didn’t like it and his lady pillion rider funked it, getting off the Triumph Speed-Twin to take to the shaky foot-bridge, and Terry had a nasty crossing on his 1950 Arid l Red Hunter, whereas Burcombe’s S7 Sunbeam was quiet and ridden feet on the rests. Coombe’s KN Velocette and Griffiths’ OK Supreme were both very neat, but Greathead’s ModelI 8 Norton found it difficult, to the cheerful consternation of the girl on the back! After the ford there was a steep climb up to the A483, on which Hunt’s 1,140 c.c. Royal Enfield solo had a spot of chain trouble. Johnny Thomas coaxed his big 1926 AJS safely to Saundersfoot in spite of the clutch failing before the start, then the gearbox, leaving him with only top gear. Anyway, nice to see another Sundersfoot, and even a shallow watersplash in this year of the drought – W.B.
V-E-V Odds & Ends.—From the National Traction Engine Club’s beautifully-produced magazine Steaming we learn of an ambitious journey that should have the sympathy of all who understand ancient machinery—Edgar Shone’s 1934 eight-wheeled Sentinel S8 steam-waggon is engaged on a 1,885-mile trip from London to John O’Groats, Land’s End and back to London, burning British coal. Last summer a 10-ton Aveling & Porter steam-roller was driven from Bradford, through the Pennines and Yorkshire Dales, across the bottom of the Lake District, on over undulating roads in West Cumbria and up some severe gradients, to Ravenglass. The NTEC is also proud of the fact that 100(4 of the entries in its 1975 Road Run arrived under their own steam. Perhaps these are thoughts for the vintage-folk who possess trailers to ponder?
The current issue of the Fiat Register’s Bulletin contains a long and enthralling illustrated account of how Peter Harris and his wife covered 3,000 miles on the Vintage CC of Queensland’s 20th Anniversary Run in a 192,3 Fiat 501, the overall out-and-home journey amounting to 5,089 miles in 19 driving days, 1,200 miles over unsealed (gibber-country!) roads, with nothing worse than a broken axle-shaft and burnt-out exhaust valves. Harris owns two Fiat 501 tourers, the second being a 1925 model, which he has driven, respectively, for over 120,000 and about 3,500 miles.
A 1926 Austin Heavy Twelve Clifton tourer won a prize recently and got its picture in the Evening Standard in a contest to discover the oldest car still in daily use. Bought by the present owner’s father, who found that he preferred his pony-and-trap, the Austin has covered 200,000 miles. The runner-up was a 1926 Austin 7 saloon which is used for 35 miles every day for going to work.
New Exhibits at Beaulieu
On the occasion of the opening of the “Birth of a Legend” Exhibition at the National Motor Museum to commemorate the introduction of the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, at which nine Rolls-Royce cars ranging from 1905 to 1939, plus engine and photographic displays, were on show, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu received four historic commercial vehicles presented to the NMM by Tate & Lyle Ltd. These are a 1913 McChurd, a 1915 Model-T Ford, a 6-ton C-type 1922 Foden steam-waggon, and a 1937 Latil tractor with four-wheel-drive and four-wheel-steering. These vehicles were restored by Tate & Lyle and are in running order. One hopes to see at least two of them in future HCVC Brighton Runs.—W.B.
V-E-V Miscellany.—Dunlop are making some 1020 x 120 he. tyres for the DaimlerBenz Museum in Stuttgart, who will be paying for the exceedingly expensive moulds required. This makes it possible for some tyres of this rare size to be supplied for any other cars that may require them; application should be made to Vintage Tyre Supplies Ltd., Jackman Mews, Neastien, London, NW10. Peter Connon has sent us a copy of the brochure he produces each year for the Carlisle Pageant of Motoring, his 1976 subject being mechanical history at Lowther Castle, one-time seat of Lord Lonsdale. It contains some very interesting material, which would be of considerable interest to many other readers; Copies are available, at 35p post-free, total profits going to the RAF Benevolent Fund, from the author at Newtown House, Newtown Road, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA2 7LT. For instance there are articles on the cars owned by the “Yellow Earl”, including pictures of his many Napiers, seven of the 14 cars he owned in 1910 being of this Make, and his later Rolls-Royce and Daimler cars, with a nice anecdote about a fast journey in his yellow Daimler Double-Six, and about the fabulous Lonsdale power-house, alas dismantled by the military during the Second World War, where two National 200 h.p. gasengines, installed in 1925, drove Metro-Vick dynamos that were often run from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following morning. There are pictures of these Lonsdale cars and stationary engines, including one of the 1923 RollsRoyce Twenty with body from one of the Earl of Lonsdale’s 1910 Daimlers. Other articles cover early fire-engines in Carlisle (where two Merryweathers were in use from 1914 and 1919, respectively, and were last heard of in 1947 and 1940, while the Police used in the 1920s Cubitt and Model-T Ford prison-vans), the Cumbria car, and the secret Army tank-testing carried out at I.owther Castle during the last year. There is also a list of the vehicles using EC Registration Nos., from EC1 to EC100, with details, while from the entry list for the Pageant it is apparent that some interesting vehicles took part, although the information about these contains inaccuracies, for Parry Thomas was not associated with the Bayliss-Thomas lightcar, nor was the TT held in Dundrod in 1931. Incidentally, Mr. Connon says he bought his first real car, a 1930 Rolls-Royce 20/25, through an advertisement in Motor Sport; today he uses a Mercedes-Benz 350 SL as everyday transport and owns a 1936 4 1/4-litre Bentley Cockshoot tourer.
The author of this most interesting booklet, Peter Connon, has been told that in 1901 the 5th Earl of Lonsdale, who was a friend of the Kaiser’s, was given a 35 h.p. Mercedes (wrongly described as the first Mercedes car) while attending the German Army Manoeuvres that year, and that it was brought to Lowther, only to be returned to the factory in Germany when His Grace discovered that its brightwork was not real silver, as was that on his horse-drawn carriages. If anyone can confirm this story and say what became of this Mercedes, Mr. Connon would be grateful. Incidentally, he says that mechanic, J. W. Kieser, sent with this car, later became the Earl’s head Chauffeur-Mechanic and that other chauffeurs at Lowther before the First World War were Tony Hirsch, Tubb, Marsh, Batty and Woodhouse, all dressed in brown double-breasted jackets with Lonsdale Yellow collar facings, worn over matching breeches and gaiters, all buttons and badges being of real silver. Each man earned about £2 per week and was expected to be in his quarters by 10.30 each night, unless at work.
The Amilcar/Salnison Rally held in Belgium last September was most successful, with 29 Amilcar entries, probably the biggest assembly of the World’s Amilcar population in running Order ever Seem. There were also 24 Salmsons, 15 of these being post-war cars, one Salmson-GN, a Bignan, a Fiat, a Peugeot and an Alvis. Eight of the Amilcars came from this country, being driven to the event—”no trailers”, says Elaine Drake, in sending us a report. The British Amilcar Register enrolled seven more Continental members and the Amilcars present ranged from Petit Sports to CGs models, from 1921 to 1929. On a 100 km, run in Battle of Waterloo country the only casualties were a C6 that oiled its plugs and a broken propshaft on Roger Howard’s 1928 COs, perhaps overstrained in winning its race at Cadwell Park? This was soon looked after by the hospitable Belgian Amilcar owners; indeed, remarks Elaine, the only inconvenient breakdown was that of the Dover-Ostend Ferry, which delayed the departure of the British contingent for tour hours.
Clever of the 750 MC to have a feature on “Austin 7s in Books” in its Bulletin. The very-much-alive Morgan 3-Wheeler Club’s Bulletin for September contained an article on the D’Yrsan three-wheeler and another about the stork mascot adopted for the Morgan three-wheeler in the 1920s, as well as some excellent pictures of proper Morgans! The Club had a beauty contest and sale of spares after its AGM at Great Malvern at the end of September. For the record, the class winners in this year’s annual Riley Register Coventry Rally were : J. F. Hodson’s 1926 11.9, C. E. Wiles’ 1938 Lynx, M. B. E. Theobald’s 1937 Monaco, C. F. Bradford’s 1929 Brooklands-model which was also the highest placed Special, A. L. Southerden’s Mk. III Monaco and D. F. H. Wood’s 1923 10.8, while J. Woolnough’s 1928 Monaco was judged the best of its type in the general car park and Mrs. Needham (Kestrel), D. Bough (Gamecock/Sprite) and A. Scott (Monaco) won the driving-test classes. A number of post-war RM Rileys turned up to pay homage to their older brethren. Incidentally, the Riley Register is justly proud of a member who is disposing of his one-owner 1936 Riley Adelphi at the age of 88, only because he no longer feels he can keep it in the condition in which he expects this everyday car to be.
Tony Hutchings asks us to make it clear that, as the original constructor of the excellent replica of OK 7095, the original racing Austin 7, he was not responsible for this car being advertised as Sir Henry Austin’s one-time property. June Field, writing in the Financial Times, had some interesting things to say about Charles Sykes (1875-1950), the sculptor who was responsible for the famous Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Ecstasy” mascot. She says that Sykes was born in Yorkshire, studied at Newcastle College of Art and the, Royal Academy of Art, and was painter, designer and commercial artist as well as a sculptor. Apparently he drew some tine advertising prints for De Reszke, depicting happy scenes from the 1920s which were enhanced by smoking the right brand of cigarette! Other works of his are mentioned, such as a bronzed plaster group of three masks, of himself and his two daughters. He won the Diploma for Mascot Design at the 1911 Paris Salon with his R-R “Silver Lady”, the model for which has been held to have been the then Lord Montagu of Beaulieu’s secretary, although a recent letter to the Financial Times claims that, in fact, she was Sykes wife, Jessica Elkington.