V to C: Odds & Ends

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The Journal of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club, now in its 40th year and with over 5,200 members, was full of pictures of machines competing in its varied events, including grass-track racing in the old style, and those of motorcycles at this year’s Brooklands reunion including “Titch”Allen replica of the supercharged Triumph with which Wicksteed took the 500 cc lap-record. Lemeup’s 1926 1,000 cc Brough Superior, Gridson’s 980 cc 1927 Coventry-Eagle, and Doggett’s 1930 Cotton, the last-named a reminder of the machine of this make on which a friend once took me on the pillion on hectic rides, including, of course, to Brooklands where for (25p.) he was able to lap all day, coming in long after the black-and-yellow BARC A7 had been out wanting to close the Track. And there is a picture of Moore’s Zenith Gradua, which reminds me that this was the first machine I ever owned, shared with a friend, but never run seriously because we couldn’t afford a proper rubber-belt for it.

***

Looking through Historic Commercial News, magazine of the HCVC, it was impressive to note how generous the organisers of rallies for such vehicles are, and not only for static shows either, because some of these events involve road runs to the venue. For instance, 49 awards are listed in the results of the Tyne Tees fourth annual Run, including one for the vehicle coming the longest distance under its own power which was a Mk 7 Beardmore taxi, while the prizes listed for the “Southsea Spectacular” number 18, the best pre-war car a 1932 Austin 12/4 and the oldest vehicle coming under its own power being a 1925 Morris one-tonner tipper lorry. And on the front cover of the magazine is a fine picture of the 1918 RFC Crossley that saw service in the 1914-18 war and was used as a char-a-banc from about 1920, and is now a replica of the vans used by Joseph Lucas Ltd. in the vintage years, a rebuild ably carried out by Michael Bonfield, the Club’s Chairman and secretary.

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There are rumours of an old car, thought to be an Edwardian Sunbeam, buried in a plot of land soon to be sold in Norfolk. The location is available from a reader if anyone is interested.

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A considerable time ago we mentioned that the Cheshire County Council had issued an interesting illustrated history of early motoring in that county, which included Cheshire registration numbers, accident statistics, and details of early motoring offences recorded by the local Constabulary; recently the few remaining copies were being disposed of, at £1.50 post-free, from Chester County Hall, but as the supply was, we hear, down to about four copies by the end of July, it is probably now too late to apply.

***

In connection with the annual Llandrindod Wells Victorian Festival Week (a reminder that this is still a spa-town providing the cure) this year a 1936 A7 with a replica GPO van body acquired in 1981 and restored and built in the Post Office workshops at Bomber Road, Preston, was displayed outside the main Post Office, to recall the days before the Post Office went over to Morris vehicles: before that it used Model-T Fords (it now has Bedford diesel vans running in the area) — and it is to the credit of those concerned that the description of this A7 made it clear it is not an original GPO van.

***

Although it may not be a ‘Classic’, it is pleasing to learn that the actual 375 cc Citroën 2cv which was road-tested by Motor Sport  in 1954, being taken over the route of the RAC Welsh six-Day Small-Car Trials, the report occupying 5-1/2 pages, is still in use and is undergoing full restoration.

***

A photograph in the October issue of Aeroplane Monthly of a Boulton & Paul Bourges 1A biplane being looped over Hendon by the test-pilot Frank Courtney is interesting, because in our report of an interview with the late Harry Varley, who helped to design the 3-litre Bentley, published in Motor Sport in February 1985, we referred to Varley remembering seeing such an aeroplane being looped over the factory in Norwich, such manoeuvres by comparatively large and staid bombers being quite rare.

***

The vintage-car award in the S. Lincs Vehicle Preservation Society’s Rutland Railway Museum Rally went to P Starey’s 1929 20/25 hp Rolls-Royce, the post-vintage award to C. Todd’s 1936 Morris 8, the best pre-war motorcycle being judged to be T. Fry’s 1924 Brough Superior.

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We hear that at the Singer National Day no fewer than eight Singer Juniors were on show, including two Porlock sports models, the vintage tankard going to J. Layland’s Junior.

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Congratulations to the Alvis OC, which in one issue of its Bulletin was able to announce 73 new members, some with more than one Alvis and 18 being pre-war models, ranging from a 1933 Special, Speed 20 and 4.3-litre.

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The recent article on the Ulster Austin as we have said, caused more interest than we had expected and among those who began their careers with these cars were V L. Seyd, W E Harker and many more and we regret to learn that W. E. Harker, eldest son of Surg.-Capt Harker OBE, died recently in Derby at the age of 80. After his Ulster A7 Harker, who was a Rolls-Royce engineer, built the well-remembered Harker Speclal, using at first two A7 cylinder blocks on a common crankcase to form an 1,500 cc vee-eight engine, which was later given MG ohc valve-gear, and with which he took short-distance class records at Brooklands.  Incidentally, in that A7 article we said quoting from official A7 history, that Goodacre won an Italian 1,000-mile race with an Ulster in 1931 but there could hardly have been two Mille Miglias in one year, so presumably what he did was to finish 2nd in the 1,100 cc class in that classic road race, the first 750 cc car home. And my apologies to Mr Geer whose twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam I described as an ex-blower car whereas it has the Cozette supercharger still in operation.

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We hear that there exists in Austria a 19/100 sports Austro-Daimler, bodied like the car with which Hans von Stuck broke the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb record in 1930, good to look at but mechanically a fake, and that an old Napier racing car has arrived in this country from America, for expert restoration.

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A Speed Six Bentley completed recently the journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 15 hours 27 min without any problems.

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The BDC has its annual dinner-dance on October 18th with, it is hoped, a 6-litre vintage Bentley, a 3-litre Derby Bentley and an S1 Continental Bentley in the ballroom.

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Watford College will be organising a day or evening course on vintage body restoration — just what the Editor requires!

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Richard Chapman tells us that in the photograph we published last month of the Myles Rothwell racing cyclecar the driver is the late Victor Stafford, and could one of the people behind the car be Bert Denly? And wasn’t the little car crashed at Brooklands in 1935 not by a journalist, but by a mechanic who took it for an illegitimate run on the track?

***

Someone who is writing a learned treatise on Sunbeam aero-engines has examined the 18.2-litre V12 engine in the 350 hp LSR Sunbeam in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and confirms our theory that the piston-stroke is greater in one bank of cylinders than in the opposite bank, due, of course, to the articulated con rods.

***

 Amusing how odd bits of information from the past come up — we have heard that the wild Dudley Watt, who flew ancient aeroplanes at Brooklands, had a 1912 “Prince Henry” Austro-Daimler which he sold in 1928 to the late Bruce Cooper, who was in the R.A.F. —W.B