Club news, October 1940




The Sport isn’t entirely dead in the British Isles—indeed, as we write this the boys of the R.A.F. are having quite a bit of sport overhead. And apart from that, the Dublin University Club held a hill-climb at Kitternan not long ago. W. A. McQuillan, driving a special Ford V8, former record holder, made fastest time in 44.04 secs. S. Martin’s 2-litre Bugatti was runner-up and G. P. Colbey’s Frazer-Nash was third. A. Thompson’s T.R.S. climbed in 43.42 secs., but was too late in arriving to be counted. P. D. Gill’s 847 c.c. M.G. took the 1½-litre handicap class and D. O’B. Gill, also with an 847 c.c. M.G., was second. These two were placed the same in the unlimited handicap class for the Walter Johnston Cup, with the T.R.S. third, a Morgan 4/4 being third in the 1½-litre class. The motorcycle hill record fell by one second, but A. P. McArthur’s record of 42.08 with his M.G. was not touched.


It seems that handicap classes in sprint events could do much to increase entries, as so many enthusiasts wish to have a crack at speed contests, which are great fun and invaluable practice, but a bit depressing if you never get a place. The idea has been used at Lewes and Prescott and might well be more widely applied “afterwards.”


Although the Vintage S.C.C. decided to be dormant for the duration, it is pleasing to learn that the Northern Section held a successful social meeting at the end of July, extending from noon until “closing time.” The forerunner of others, we hope.


The July “Bulletin” of the Veteran Motor Car Club of America has reached us through the good offices of A. S. Heal. It is rather startling to realise that at their Southborough meeting various contests were held, rather of a gymkhana character, which involved sudden changes of direction, which one would have thought detrimental to the continued functioning of veteran transmission, tyres and brakes. Apparently the competing cars stood up quite satisfactorily. The first event was the “Teeter Contest,” in which cars had to be driven on to a see-saw and balanced. The sliding-gear class was won by Oliver’s Stutz, with Rand second in Mimi Durant’s 1914 Packard and Jacobs third in a two-cylinder Renault. The class for epicyclic, friction-drive and steam cars was won by Chayne, Buick’s chief engineer, in a Buick, with Monseau second with a Stanley Steamer and Bennett third in a model-F Ford. The sandbag and tray race was won by Fales in a Renaultette, assisted by Mrs. Fales. Fisher and Roe were second in a 1905 Ford, and Robertson and Paradise third in a Renault. An acceleration contest followed, in which Oliver clocked 33.2 secs. for the “Y” course and Libaire’s “22/12” Mercer 33.8 secs. Leathers’s Mercédès was third and Cadwell’s Fiat accelerated imposingly, but lost time selecting reverse. A ring-spearing race came next, won by Monseau’s Stanley steamer with the Rev. Ellis as spearsman. Pierce and Curtis in a Chase truck were second, and Frye and Bradley in a Simplex, third. A timed hill climb up an old-time tarred road followed. Class A saw no runners, but class B was won by a big 1904 Panhard, in 57.4 secs., the Buick second in 63.2 secs. Class C, in which two compulsory stops had to be made, went to Ulmann’s 1909 Mercédès in 54.4 secs., with the Hadley-Rand 1910 Mercédès second. The record was taken by Oliver’s Stutz, in 47.8 secs., with the Durant’s Packard runner-up. Weaver won the Vintage class with a Type 49 Bugatti in 49.2 secs., including two compulsory stops, with Libaire’s “22/72” Mercer second. Dean Fales (“30/98” Vauxhall) and John Leathers (1908 G.P. Mercédès) concluded a fine day’s sport with demonstration non-stop ascents. A 1908 Mercédès, 1914 Packard, 1909 Mercédès, 1922 Mercer, 1910 Mercédès and a 1914 Stutz, accompanied by a more modern M.G., were driven from New York and back for this meeting, a distance of 500 miles—about twice what our vintagents have to do to reach Shelsley Walsh, for example. A slight collision and a fine for speeding were the only incidents, and the average over 250 miles on the run home seems likely to have been higher than 30 m.p.h.

A dinner was held at the Hotel Duane, New York, in April, and a run from New York to Yorktown Heights was held in May; try to imagine veterans amongst the sleek New York traffic! The 1922 Mercer, the 1914 Stutz, 1909 Mercédès, 1910 Mercédès, 1912 Mercédès limousine, the Packard, and a 1912 White took part. The White burst a 37″ x 5″ cover at the destination and had to be left behind, but the others returned without trouble. In a quick-starting and driving contest held after luncheon, the Mercer clocked 51 secs., the Stutz 51.8 secs., and the Rand and Ulmann Mercs. 56 secs. each. This “Bulletin” is nicely produced, with several illustrations and some astonishing “swap columns” (“30/98” for farm, farm to be in as good order as the Vauxhall!) It contains a history of Ford, with pictures of the frontal aspects of nine Ford types, front the model-A of 1904 to the model-T of 1916-20, and a reproduction of a 1905 Ford advertisement, also some period jokes. Cecil Clutton’s list of big pre1914 racing-cars known to exist in this country is published, and comprises the Shuttleworth de Dietrich, Blake Napier, Mills Renault, Clutton Itala, Heal Fiat, Nash Lorraine and Morris Benz. We think Clutton has got some of the vintages wrong ; surely the de Dietrich should be 1903, not 1901, and the G.B. Napier 1903, not 1902? America responds with 1911 ex-G.P. Savannah Fiat, 1908 G.P. Mercédès, 1907 Renault 42, 1909 Isotta-Fraschini, 1908 Burman-Buick, 1906 ex-Vanderbilt Locomobile and 1906 Napier. A spare body, said to have come from the 1912 G.P. Delage, is for disposal. It is splendid to read of the American veteran activities and our keener followers of the cult in this country might well apply for membership as associates. The Veteran C.C. of America, 510, Sears Bldg., Boston, Mass.


Fifteen thousand people are said to have attended a 200 mile Stock Car Race at Ft. Wayne, at the end of July. Late-model, closed stock cars ran, and Bill France (Buick) won in 3 hrs. 35 mins. 45 secs., at 56 m.p.h. for 320 laps of the ⅝ mile track—was he giddy? Twenty-five started and fourteen finished, second place going to Chet Waller (1939 Ford) and third place to Fred Wingate (1940 Mercury). It is said that the race will be an annual fixture.

750 CLUB

The 750 Club is one of the very few clubs to hold war-time meetings attended by members with their cars. At the August meeting at Coulsdon there was a quite excellent air display, which had not been announced as part of the programme! The secretary and his lady arrived on bicycles, but several Austins were present, and also a very fine Frazer-Nash of the Meadows-engined stark variety. A most pleasant tea was enjoyed in spite of the proximity of military “objectives.” We expect this ambitious club to go right ahead after the war.


We hear that Sam Clutton is car-Iess at present, but, apart from doing much restorative work amongst his veterans, is having a very fine 3.3-litre Type 49 Bugatti saloon put into good order in anticipation of some rapid motoring after the war. Short has made a beautiful job of grinding the camshaft. Clutton tells us that these cars suffered power-loss due to exhaust back-pressure and he plans a re-designed silencer system and may possibly apply low-pressure supercharging.

John Ogle, who used to run a very potent Brescia Bugatti in sprint events, is now at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough on technical work not unrelated to aero-engine research; Boddy also spends his daylight hours there. Whincop is flying for British Airways in Lockheed “14s” in West Africa. Mrs. Whincop (née Miss “Abdul” Strain) has in her care his Type 55 Bugatti, Type 43 Bugatti, a Fiat 500 and her sports Austin Seven. She wants to dispose of the Austin, and would like to exchange the Type 55 Buggatti for a Type 51.

Another issue of “Bugantics” is said to be coming along. Stuart Wilton wishes to exchange his late-type 3-litre Bentley, a Fiat 500, and a racing Q-type M.G. with lots of spares, for a modern 10 h.p. drophead coupe in thoroughly sound order. Barry Woodall is in the R.A. and Tony Birch, who was manager to Seaman, is in the R.A.F. A very interesting Frazer-Nash with a low Talbot radiator is in use by a reader who is in the Royal Tank Regiment, a Lancia “Lambda” two-seater is seen in South London driven, sometimes with cut-out open, by its soldier owner, and a British Airways pilot is running the ex-Rothschild Type 55 Bugatti, while we saw the ex-Col. Giles’s Type 57 Bugatti “Teresi” on the road recently.

Michael Lawson is offering for sale the white Meadows-H.R.G. with which he did so well in trials. Another “Brooklands” bodied Austin Seven, and a 1913-14 V-twin Humberette, the latter in use up to about 1929, after which it was stored, are at a breaker’s yard in Isleworth. Eric Giles is using a 5-litre Bugatti saloon for towing an A.F.S. trailer pump, and this car was bought for the job very cheaply indeed. Walter Norton has announced his keenness to start a mobile unit of the Home Guard, formed of private motorists. We have heard of several instances of car owners narrowly escaping injury when their cars have hit or have been hit by debris resulting from enemy bombing— so take heed of the sirens unless on an urgent journey. Smart—a pretty girl of the W.R.A.F. in a Fiat “Mouse” of a suitable blue to match her uniform seen in South Farnborough recently. A reader, N. A. Jenkins, is still running his very well-preserved 1927 DIS Delage.


This motoring, even when of a humble nature, is not an easy thing to dispense with, and although the Austin was laid up for a time and no demands made on the basic or supplementary fuel supplies, it had hastily to be re-taxed when a Government appointment made it desirable to have at hand a ready means of transport between London and “somewhere in Hants.” Sometime before this, the 750 Club meeting was attended in a friend’s Riley, which, leaving just as the “all-clear” sounded after a daylight raid on Croydon Aerodrome, took us right into the damaged area, though very evidently nothing too serious had happened, and apparently nothing at all to the aerodrome. Returning in the half-light that evening, with everyone seemingly thinking of taking cover and depressing rain clouds terminating the day, the war made one shiver, but it must be emphasised that since then, after very much grimmer happenings, one has become entirely perky again, and so has nearly everyone else, not least those whose homes have been more front-line than most. Taxing the car and getting the basic supply of petrol for it these days involves the Londoner in much awkward travel, at any rate if the job has to be done at short notice, but we completed negotiations successfully, in spite of arriving at the licensing premises in. the midst of an air raid through which a Bristol “Bombay” transport flew both low and fast, presumably for home! It was in the middle of a raid that we left for Guildford to hear C. G. Grey, former editor of “The Aeroplane,” address the Heararks Club. His address was brief but well worth listening to, and we appreciated being admitted to a meeting which, strictly speaking, is confined to members of the Observer Corps. Incidentally, Guildford seemed to have as many cars in its steep main street on this sunny afternoon as ever, and have you noticed how sports-cars continue to appear all over the place? It is most encouraging. At the station, after getting the licence for the car, a very smart M.G. Midget driven by a gentleman in shorts occupied the yard, and just before leaving for Guildford the next day a reader, now in the Royal Tank Corps, stopped for fuel at our local garage with a very impressive Frazer-Nash, the small Talbot radiator of which concealed its immediate identity. And as we put the car away that night, after a run down to Godstone, when the crew absolutely refused to be worried by repeated “warnings” and “all clears”—this was before the London A.A. barrage and wide-spread bombing, and admittedly was still foolhardy—we came upon a soldier putting away a Lancia “Lambda” with the rare two-seater body; he apologised for its noisy exhaust, admitting the cut-out to be open. These are mere isolated instances which prove that sports motoring goes on, even in “devastated” London. On the next two days, business journeys of some eighty miles a day were necessary and it was indeed good to have a longish run with a definite objective to make once again, and to be able to offer some assistance in the matter of transport to one’s fellow countrymen. The roads out of London are certainly noticeably deserted in the early hours, if more busy at around office-closing time. Cars go fast, each one seemingly in earnest employment, and one encounters the same persons at practically the same point each day— in our case, a Riley “Sprite” or “Imp” driven fast by a leather-coated sportsman is a case in point. Once, coasting down the Guildford By-pass to conserve the precious fuel, a “30/98” Vauxhall, Anthony Heal’s unless I am much mistaken, thundered past, quite drowning the sirens which had just commenced to wail.

There was a Sunday respite from being bombed when we went to a destination right in the country not far from Eastbourne and had a very pleasant tea with real butter on our scones on the way, coming home cross-country in a raid to visit a friend, in spite of a broken rear spring that was locking a brake on, finally to run into London with the searchlights, Ack-Ack and bombs going at a great pace. On various days thereafter the car proved a boon, and being an Austin, its broken spring was replaced at a very reasonable charge, entirely while we worked.

On one occasion there was even a sort of impromptu trials hill to climb, when traffic was hurriedly diverted from an arterial road during a spot of bomb dropping. Even in a purely utility car on business errands there is very sound enjoyment still to be had, and quite a lot of folk whose occupations take them far afield in fast cars must find the motoring involved a most welcome respite from present troubles. Yet motoring has never been properly encouraged in this country and ordinary drivers get in the most horrible dithers over operating their vehicles. The enthusiast has reason to bless his especial outlook on life no less than his valuable experience of out-of-the-ordinary motoring. Good luck to us all!