Buckler Footnote

M.L.’s article in September on Buckler history prompts the following memories, because I knew Derek Buckler fairly well. I went as his passenger on the MCC Exeter Trials of 1949 and 1950, for instance. On the first of these we were in an unblown Ford Ten-engined Buckler Special, equipped with a windscreen but not much else with which to ward-off the gale-lashed hailstorms. Buckler got a 1st Class Award arid I drove home from Salisbury afterwards at an average speed of over 50 mph, the Petrol thirst over the entire event being 34½ mPg. I mention this to show that Derek drove in many events himself, again taking ale with him in the 1950 Exeter Trial, in a Ford Ten-powered Buckler Special blown at about 4 lb/sq in with a Shorrocks supercharger. This time the body was more civilised, with doors, and a hood of sorts, but no real luggage space. “Pool” petrol had to be used and the engine boiled on the longer “sections” but all were cleaned except Simms, where a farm tractor towed us to the top, Derek taking a 2nd Class Award this time.

M.L. has remarked on Buckler’s tenacity and on the morning after the trial he returned to Simms to see if we could conquer it, but again we failed, from the MCC starting-point. That evening, perhaps trying to keep up with a Type 326-engined BMW 45, Derek “lost it” on a slippery bend, damaging the car sufficiently for it to be abandoned, which entailed for me a perhaps even more satisfactory, but very uncomfortable, ride home in the back of Bulmer’s chain-drive TT Replica Frazer Nash. On the score of Buckler driving in competitions, I remember going with him through an MCC One-Hour High Speed Trial at Silverstone, wearing an ancient ACV crash-hat (one of those kept for hiring-out to BMCRC riders who had forgotten their “hats” at Brooklands before the war) too “soft” to be permitted today… These Bucklers were certainly capable of round 70 mph on the road.

I remember Derek Buckler telling me that before he was allowed to buy Ford engines for his space-frame chassis the Ford Motor Company’s engineers came to inspect it. One problem of selling such kits was that if customers wrote for details Derek was afraid to send them drawings of his chassis in case they took note of the different size and spacings of the tubes used and then cobbled-up one of their own; but if he didn’t send such plans, they were unlikely to order . . . Oh, and there is a rather amusing facet to the Bucklers win, mentioned by ML., in the 1954 Cheltenham MC’s National Road Fuel Economy Run, with 86.6 mpg, I had entered a 375 cc Citroen 2cv with Birkett as co-driver and had had some difficulty in stopping him from regarding the thing as a miniature GP until I told him it had been my intention to share any prize money with him — at which his foot immediately eased-up on the accelerator! Anyway, we were doing well when the Stewards asked us if we would object to another competitor, Buckler, breaking the seals on his bonnet, which was forbidden by the rules, as this was the only way in which he could cure overheating problems with his high-compression, loosely assembled, watercooled Ford Ten engine. We would have been cads to refuse, so the well-streamlined Buckler won, at 91.023 mpg and the air-cooled Citroen was second, at 83.7 mpg in spite of our hectic opening run…. —W.B.