VSCC Welsh Weekend

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The VSCC’s now traditional Welsh weekend took place in mostly heavy weather, on October 15th/ 16th. It is a habit that dates back to 1939, when adventurous vintagents sought a trip over the border; Presteigne was the target then as now, because the Secretary happened to know the publican at the “Radnorshire Arms” and this was thought far enough to go, anyway. The ploy has since been elaborated on, although the demise of the Telegram (used formerly to announce turning points on the road section, often in cryptic messages) has simplified matters.

Competitors, this year numbering 23 for the driving tests and 71 for the trial, are now trusted to have driven 100 miles within 24 hours, before signing-on. Studying the driving test rules, it seemed as if the ideal car would be a really old, long-wheelbase, back-braked saloon able to average slightly better than 4 mph! The rain was unrelenting on the Saturday which reminds me of a Conversation I once had with Cecil Cluttont “You live in Wales? Does it rain much?” “Yes.” “Well, that’s what Wales is for, isn’t it?” You cannot report such frolics seriously, anyway. Suffice it to say that the occasion was unique, inasmuch as only one Austin 7 had entered and was a non-appearer (whereas 18 A7s were entered for the two-day trial). Reeve had to rely on friends to push his Area Morgan backwards when it was time to reverse, Malvern apparently never having heard of driving tests in tricar times. A welcome entry was Demaus’ 1926 Arab, of which, more next month.

Two new hills figured in the Sunday trial, the easy Impton Wood and the muddy, twisty section called The Cut. The fun concluded at the three Pilleths, where successful ascents of Pilleth One were mainly those by the lighter cars, although Threlfall’s Ford rushed up as if V8-powered, Hirst’s Alvis made it look easy, May’s Frazer Nash led some successful “Chain Gang” onslaughts and Lee’s Salmson, its magneto protected with a carrier bag, made it to the top, as did Fenner’s Riley 9 and Christian’s 12 / 50 Alvin, which went up fast. Barry Clarke’s Austin 7 with replica Hughes sports body probably made fed and it was nice to see Meeks’ 1921 Austin 20 again and a surprise to see Jelley in an open aluminium-bodied 1929 Austin 16 / 6, which failed almost immediately on this section. Then Collings’ remarkable 1903 Mercedes showed that it was superior, even for this task, to the 30 / 98s and, come to that, his son’s 41/2-litre Bentley, etc. The only “casualties” noted were Felton’s Brescia Bugatti which ran a big-end before getting to Presteigne and Winder’s A7 which suffered thus during the trial and also broke a halfshaft. — W.B.