A V.S.C.C. Occasion

Author

W.B.

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To celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the Vintage Sports Car Club a rally was arranged at Goodwood circuit on September 10th, and a truly memorable and picturesque occasion this proved to be. A total of 253 veteran, Edwardian and vintage vehicles (the actual sub-divisions were 16 veteran cars, 55 Edwardian cars, 168 vintage cars, and 14 Edwardian and vintage motor-cycles) took part in a mass Concours d’Elegance, their presence in the Paddock stalls making a positively breath-taking spectacle for old car enthusiasts to examine, while thirteen teams each of two cars competed in a series of driving tests for one-make honours, in which the Bentley team — D. M. Armstrong’s 1928 4½-litre and B. Mountfort’s 1924/30 4½-litre — scored top marks. For the delectation of the large number of spectators who filled the main grandstands and lined the rails facing the Paddock area, various demonstrations were made by the different groups of pre-1931 cars during the afternoon, and this culminated in a grand parade, by makes, of all these cars, thus concluding in a manner dramatic beyond the power of my pen to describe a truly memorable day in the September sunshine.

As a large gathering of non-competing vintage cars was present as well, Goodwood certainly offered an extraordinary sight on the occasion of this V.S.C.C. 21st birthday party.

Naturally, when the gates opened the large assembly took some time to marshal through, as the B.A.R.C. staff officials took the entrance fees, which caused a mild traffic jam in the road outside. During this congestion a pork-pie-hatted occupant of a mediocre Hillman Minx shooting-brake wound down his window and shouted out that he had never before seen so many idiots in his life — from that moment onward we felt a special pride in being one of an individualistic and distinguished company!

The previous evening the President, Committee and officers of the V.S.C.C. had held an exclusive wine party at the R.A.C., to which we were welcomed by Cecil Clutton and Anthony Heal. Amongst those present were Kent Karslake, Forrest Lycett, Laurence Pomeroy, Scott-Moncrieff, H. J. Aldington and his daughter, Terrence Breen, John Eason Gibson, Baron Henri Petiet, Roy Pearl, Nevil Lloyd, Cyril Posthumus, Tom Walkerley, D. B. Tubbs, Mr. Hutchinson and his son, and many other celebrities. On the way home in the VW we overtook J. M. Paterson’s 1903 Winton making its steady way Goodwoodwards, oil lamps alight.

The next day we were up early to energise the 1922 Talbot-Darracq in which my wife proposed to travel to Goodwood, via the light-car convoy, driven by Tom Lush. The road through Haslemere and Midhurst seemed dominated by vintage vehicles and once in the Paddock the presence of so many covetable and exotic motor-cars was almost overpowering — moreover, the vintage car owners seemed to have brought along non-vintage lady companions.

There is insufficient space to describe in detail points of interest amongst more than 250 exciting vehicles. But it may go on record, from random observation, that B. M. Brodie’s 1929 Star saloon wore one of those adjustable-for-height Auster front bumpers, D. H. Sayers, 1923 Deemster had a British Anzani engine, R. E. Winn’s clean 1919 Chevrolet tourer had a notice “Rugs under seat” in its back compartment, B. B. Whitehouse’s 2-litre Ballot saloon had the authentic, very fine Ballot mascot of trumpeter standing over a beautifully-detailed marine engine, of the two Essex coaches G. T. Wade’s 1929 model had wire wheels, his 1930 model artillery wheels, S/Ldr. K. H. Wallis’ 1924 Rolls-Royce was disfigured by a queer if exotic coupe de  ville body, and P. B. Moore’s 1930 Chrysler saloon looked later-than-vintage, even to traffic dents in a front wing.

Proceedings opened with a bending episode which, instead of recalling painful schoolday memories, involved the competitors in driving swiftly in and out of a line of oil-drums, swinging round, and doing it all over again. In this exercise J. V. Skirrow was brilliant in his 1930 Frazer-Nash, really trying, and all but contacting the final drum in a power slide, to make f.t.d. in 26.2 sec. But Jack Sears was outstanding, being only 0.2 sec. slower in the 1914 T.T. Sunbeam. Both O. M. Armstrong in his Bentley, tongue out, and G. Crowther in his 1928 Frazer-Nash, sliding his car’s tail round to the accompaniment of a vicious exhaust note, managed 30.0 sec.,T. A. Williamson in Clutton’s 1908 G.P. Itala overslid in turning round but clocked 30.2 sec. Laurence Pomeroy worked hard in his Prince Henry Vauxhall, B. Mountfort was very fast and tidy in his Bentley, but J. H. Ahern was very sedate in his Invicta tourer, his teammate, J. Harris-Reed, in spite of a trilby hat, being over 7’sec. quicker.

This test was followed by the dreaded garaging-cum-acceleration exercise, which was fun because the cars went at it in pairs. Sears was again exceedingly neat, Sir Francis Samuelson spoilt his time by stopping after coming out, both the Bugattis, Eric Giles in Peter Hampton’s 1913 chain-drive “Black Bess,” and Hampton in his delightful 1923/5 Brescia, were exceedingly good, while Mountfort’s Bentley front axle juddered shockingly in reverse. Both Hispano-Suizas were so sedate, yet so very neat, but Harris-Reed was brutal to his reverse cog, and Ahern, Leo in his Lagonda and S. H. Darbishire in his 14/40 Sunbeam touched marker drums while reversing.

These tests concluded, we enjoyed a demonstration of Edwardian and vintage motor-cycles, after which the distinguished guests were served an excellent lunch, during which Laurence Pomeroy, Lord Brabazon of Tara, Cecil Clutton the club’s President, and Forrest Lycett made brief speeches, and it fell to Mr. Lycett to perform the pleasant task of presenting an antique workbox to Marjory Carson, the hard-working Assistant Secretary and wife of Secretary Tim Carson.

Mr. Lycett then re-opened the course with his immortal 8-litre Bentley, after which the 70 or more veteran and Edwardian cars did demonstration laps—incredible is, I think, an appropriate word for this part of the proceedings, which I viewed from the lofty eminence of the comfortable tonneau of A. D. Englefield’s 1904 Clement-Talbot, driven with some verve by Charles Meisl.

The team-cars then went in pairs at a short s.s. acceleration test, the results of which appear at the end of this report.

After this came a mass demonstration by makes of vintage cars, in which AC., Alfa-Romeo, Alvis, Amilcar, Ariel, Austin, Ballot, Bayliss-Thomas sports, Bentley (in force), Bugatti, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Deemster, Delage, Essex, Fiat, Frazer-Nash, G.N., Graham-Paige, Hampton, Hispano-Suiza, Humber, Invicta, Jowett, Lagonda, Lancia Lambda, Lea-Francis, Marquette, Mercedes, “bull-nose” Morris, Napier, O.M., Peugeot, Rolls-Royce, Salrnson, Senechal, Sizaire-Berwick, Star, Sunbeam, Swift, Talbot, Talbot-Darracq, Vauxhall and Wolseley were there to be recognised and admired. A truly representative parade, although I am at a loss to account for the unfortunate dearth of Aston Martins.

In a unique parade of this kind it is quite impossible to even start to mention all that impressed or was admired, but I saw Bunty Scott-Moncrieff swallowed up in a huge two-seater Sizaire-Berwick, Miss Martineau enjoying herself in a deer-stalker hat and G. P. Salmson, David Allen driving his 1922 Grand Prix Sunbeam, and I liked the yellow 1920 2½-litre Peugeot of J. M. Fleming.

Next item on the programme was lappery — most of it very rapid — of celebrities in appropriate cars, a splendid idea rather in tune with my repeated suggestion in Motor Sport for a motorised garden-party.

Baron Henri Petiet, the famous French motor historian, had a fast ride with Williamson in Clutton’s 1908 Itala, with C. Bianchi, Jarrott’s riding mechanic of fifty-two years ago, in the exposed back seat. Lord Brabazon took his old mechanic of the 1908 French Grand Prix, Charles Lane, for some rapid laps in the 1908 G.P. Austin. George Lanchester drove Hutton-Stott’s 38-h.p. Lanchester, Sir Harry Ricardo, designer, circulated in a smart yellow 14/40 Vauxhall two-seater driven by R. P. Creagh-Osborne. Percy Kidner drove with Laurence Pomeroy in the latter’s Prince Henry Vauxhall. Kidnera nd Pomeroy’s father were great Vauxhall men. H. Kensington Moir recalled his youth by going furiously in a 4½-litre Bentley, Georges Roesch drove a smart Talbot that he designed, and Archie Frazer-Nash and H. J. Aldington handled, appropriately, chain-drive Frazer-Nash cars. The Duke of Richmond and Gordon showed us that his driving has lost none of its skill as he got away in Clutton’s E-type 30/98 Vauxhall. Pioneer racing driver Sir Francis Samuelson drove Stanley Sears’ 1914 T.T. Sunbeam as his own was suffering from a malady in its complex lubrication system. Fred Bennett, waving his-grey bowler. in his 1903 Cadillac, was exceedingly popular, but perhaps most nostalgic sight of all was H. R. Godfrey, the “G” of G.N., with his wife, in his own 1919 G.N. cyclecar, which he also drove to and from Goodwood, eschewing the kind offer of G.N. Ltd. to loan him their 1922 G.N. which arrived in a truck. Godfrey, taking no chances with the fateful shellac, had two adjacent 180-deg magnetos for his i.o.e. engine and when these refused to switch off, causing him to appear round lap after lap, his smile was as cheery as ever it was in the days of the 200-Mile Race.

It was grand to see those pioneers and vintage gentlemen performing and nice, too, apart from these mobile celebrities, to see Gerald Rose, Clive Gallop and other celebrities present. Incidentally, Tom Holt did yeoman service as Deputy Clerk of the Course, in his 12/50 Alvis, and enthusiast Paul Frere had come over from the Continent to be one of the “idiots.”

After the Concours d’Elegance had been judged and the winners led by the presidential cars round the circuit, the Grand Parade was released, to eventually ebb away at the close of one of motoring’s most enthralling afternoons.

A nice sight in the background had been the immaculate 1926 model-T Ford termer van brought by Walls Ice Cream for the occasion, and two small bodies in the dickey-seat of my little Talbot-Darracq joined me in calling it a truly outstanding day. — W. B.