Veteran to classic

VCC “Six Days”

The Midland Section of the Veteran Car Club was rewarded with more than 80 entries for its commendable week-long reenactment of the 1904 Hereford Small Car Trials. Commencing on the correct day, outside the same hotel, the Green Dragon, on August 29, the out-and-home run involved ascending and descending Dinmore Hill.

Before this we found Eastmead cheerfully working on the ignition distributor of his 1900 Stephens and the oldest car, the 1894 Santler, returning after finding the gradient too steep. Otherwise no-one was troubled, Clarke on the 1903 Napoleon changing up and Southall’s Lagonda forecar, Carter’s Sunbeam and Pickard’s De Dion going well. Only Brown’s De Dion stopped momentarily, in the lay-by.

Young children and dogs were enjoying the ride in some cars, Middleton’s Locomobile sported a vertical chimney behind, and the five occupants of Edwards’ 18/20 Hotchkiss were rivalled by a Renault with six, sitting in three separate pews.

On the Monday Fromes Hill had to be climbed, and it was the temporary downfall of Johnnie Thomas riding the Etna trike, Brown’s 41/2hp De Dion which a modern towed up, and Garner’s 30hp Daimler. Yet the 1898 Panhard from Botswana came up strongly, and the “turf-turfing” Knox changed up, like many others at the summit, including Pickard with the De Dion’s steering-pillar lever. Joan Zimbler’s Wolseley had no problems but Chris Thomas ran most of the may up beside his 21/4hp Phoenix, until the moment came to leap into the saddle, Southall’s big Fiat stopped near the top, and Williams drove his 1913 Morris Oxford up in reverse. Ryder-Richardson rang his Oldsmobile’s bell.

Heilbron was among those needing to zig-zag up in his gear-howling Panhard and Bill Cooke’s Peugeot accepted a bit of a push, but on the whole this now-main-road hill was tackled well. After lunch at Knight’s Cider there was the long hill over Bringsty Common to be climbed and another near Bromyard, where the Knox had to shed its passenger. Although still adhering to the original route, Wednesday’s run included the country roads from Ledbury via Bishop’s Frome to Bromyard, after the cars had been shown to the people of St Michael’s Hospice.

On this section the Progress went well, though overtaken by Collings’ accompanying Mercedes 60, and the long hill failed to bother Martin Luther’s 1903 Mercedes, while the second Progress rattled up. Morgue’s yellow 1911 Belsize came to rest while changing up while Lawson’s 1902 Panhard was slow but very sure. Even Halsall’s 6hp 1898 Panhard managed to change into high speed.

On the following two days the weather was at times unkind, but on Saturday it relented when the competitors penetrated into Wales. Twenty of the known entrants failed to appear at the furthest point, outside Presteign, though some had non-started anyway.

The two Phoenix trikes did not do the loop from Kington and back, nor did the Locomobile steamer appear, and at the lunch-stop there Southall’s 20/30hp Fiat lacked fuel-pressure because a washer had given out on its feed pump. Otherwise breakdowns were few, and most of those who had started this ambitious event set off, as in 1904, on a parade through Hereford.

Local newspaper support had brought out the onlookers, and if the EEC does turn against the old-car movement these good people would no doubt come to our support and sign a truly massive petition! The VCC and hardworking event secretary Nick Moor are to be congratulated. WB