Vintage veerings

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56

The VSCC again held its Southport week-end towards the close of last season with John Bolster as the Guest of Honour. On the Sunday morning divers tests of men and machines were arranged and won as follows :—

Easy-starting test:—A Brooke (41/2-litre Bently) 

Width-judging contest:—D Lloyd (3-litre Bentley).

Ten feet wind-on-handle test:—D Loyd (3-litre Bentley).

Under bonnet condition:–(tie) K Lee (Bugatti) and KE Ellis (Renault 45).

First prize, aggregate results:—D Phillips (“12/50” Alvis)

Quiz contest:—(tie) J Bolster and P Wyke.

Whereas 26 cars entered for Southport, 99 nominated for the annual Risley Rally of the VSCC on December 2nd. This time a new venue was used, the undulating approach to which caused apprehension to at least one Type 57 Bugatti driver. The weather was cold but fine and the assemblage of vintage machinery beneath the blue sky flanked by tall pines was a stimulating sight. Norman RoutIedge had brought his 1924 Morris Cowley all the way from Leeds. WD Hart also had a Morris Cowley (a 1924 two-seater) and a girl friend as well, possessions we always wanted when we were young but never achieved, at any rate not both at the same time. Barker was out in his charming if smoky Type 38 two-seater Bugatti, while Archer brought a quite perfect “30/98” Vauxhall Velox, absolutely original, even to kidney-box fwb. Clutterbuck’s Avon Standard bore a tiny plate proclaiming it to be No 3 of this breed—it has the 1,281-cc. engine— and Murray-Austin’s bright red cut-and-shut 1929 Lancia Lambda possessed built-in radiator shutters and a container incorporated in the spare wheel which, people went about saying, held methylated spirit. Julian Jane also had a cut-and-shut Lambda but Murray-Austin’s was the clean one.

The Edwardians and even a veteran joined in, CJ Bendall’s 1911 Rolls-Royce limousine found in good order in Cumberland, being a very fine specimen indeed. The veteran was RG Forster’s 1903 de Dion, which had consumed three inlet valves on the journey to Bisley, but which started first pull up in the Le Mans quick-starting test. Later it stalled during the blindfold frolic, but its driver nobly descended and, groping, found the starting handle—no doubt evidence of breakdowns on black nights! We do not know if DF Gahagan is seriously short-sighted, but certainly he drove his 1926 Type 37 GP Bugatti at speed through the blindfold driving test as if he wasn’t blindfolded at all. Mrs Jeddere Fisher earned applause for her handling of the 1924 “11.9” Lagonda coupe in this test. This car was occupied by the Fishers’ motoring children, with father in front to ensure that they didn’t. turn off the petrol.

The sinister, sandy-surfaced hill used for the hill-test defeated most of the moderns that tried to climb it and a few vintage cars which were asked as well to stop-and-restart on it. Archer’s “30/98” was excellent, the Frazer-Nashes of Leigh and Brown were high geared for restarting but went grandly thereafter, but Butcher’s 1934 Riley Nine and Sanders’ 1933 AC only just got over the summit, and PG Bartlett carrying his number card in his mouth, failed to restart in his 1927 2-litre Lagonda tourer —however, he didn’t swallow his number Card.

Very neat in the wiggle-woggle were N Arnold-Foster (1925 Anzani Frazer-Nash), FH Whitely (1923 Gwynne Eight. With four-speed Wolseley gearbox), RA Kellow (1924 “46/50” Rolls-Royce saloon), CJ Benda (1911 “40/50″ Rolls-Royce motor carriage), Dr Pinkerton (1931 Ulster Austin) and JH Leigh, whose 1983 Frazer-Nash emitted squeaks of alarm from within. Of Stanley Sedgewick (41/2-litre Bentley) in the Le Mans quick-starting test it could be sung : ” You should see my coat tails flying…” We noticed how very readily almost all the cars got going.

Perhaps a walk round the car park at Bisley is more entertaining even than the tests. We were absorbed by such as John Hay’s 1929 3-litre Bentley with stately Harrison saloon body, R Briggs’ very clean Austin Seven Chummy, claimed to be 1928 but “modded” in its illuminators arrangements—these Austin Sevens do run so much more smoothly than contemporary small cars of other makes and may well be termed the most revolutionary event in motoring since the war, although Briggs, and Davies, who brought a 1929 Chummy, would ask ” Which -war? “—and GF Powers 1924 Swift Ten two-seater with artillery rear wheels on oversize tyres in contrast to disc front wheels shod with very beaded edge boots. Croysdill handled a 1925 Austin Twenty, quoted rather vaguely as of “3,000 cc,” and Ahearn ran his sedate 1927 8-litre Invicta tourer which is doubtless a flotilla-leader or something. Capt Castle seemed intent on bursting his immaculate 1926 RollsRoyce Twenty in repeated unofficial onslaughts on the gradient, for which a non-competing “83/18 ” Mercedes tourer also showed a decided weakness. Other interesting spectators’ vehicles included an Edwardian Renault shooting brake (TJ Boughton had a 1912 21/2-litre Renault two-seater but this competed), a Morgan three-wheeler built round a Ford Ten engine, a very clean example of the original Triumph Super Seven tourer and an early Chrysler of de Soto lineage. Sunbeams were represented by Densham’s special “14/40,” wearing a Sunbeam Register badge, Dove’s immaculate Sixteen tourer and a very fine “20/60” coupe. Altogether, a good Bisley.

Mr GE Beharrell, President of the SMMT, on the occasion of his speech at the Society’s annual dinner : “Of every five cars on the roads more than one is over 15 years of age and should have ended its career.” The italics are ours but it is only fair to add that Mr. Beharrel continued, ” . . ironically, the owners of these hardy annuals, suffering under a weight of bills for repair and maintenance, are obliged to pay 25s per unit of horsepower instead of the flat rate of £10.”

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