A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
The Vintage S.C.C. Prescott Speed Hill-Climb (August 25th)
1926 Bugatti Vanquishes 1936 E.R.A.
The annual hill-climb, when the V.S.C.C. borrows Prescott Hill from the B.O.C., was confined this year to Edwardian, vintage and historic cars. A pleasantly competitive and compact meeting resulted, at which scarcely a driver put a wheel wrong, if we overlook the quite harmless inversion by Jack French, who trod on the wrong pedal of his famous Austin Seven in the wrong place.
Alas, a well-balanced entry attracted but a small "gate," probably because a gale was blowing, for all the world as if T. H. White's Master had commenced his global threat.
Amongst sports-cars up to 1,100 c.c. French was seconds ahead of his rivals, doing 54.35 sec. to 60.07 sec. by Bader's 1929 "Brooklands" Riley Nine, and Winder's somewhat hybrid 1924 Humber was nearly 14 sec. slower than the Austin. In this class Turney's 1929 Riley Nine was dressed up as a p.v.s. It was beaten by Lisle's 1927 Amilcar, a much nicer car.
Grice was the hero of the up to 1,500 c.c. class, his 1921/30 G.N. making 49.91 sec., whereas Ashley's 1930 Frazer-Nash needed 53.34 sec. and Geoghegan's 1928 Frazer-Nash, in spite of a good start, 53.95 sec. It was a "chain gang" triumph in spite of Alvis, Bugatti, Lea-Francis and Aston-Martin opposition. Tom Rolt made a rare appearance in his green 12/50 duck's-back Alvis, which as an unmodified 1924 model has the short-stroke engine, smallport head, cone clutch, outside exhaust system and no front brakes. Dewhurst drove an unbelievably abbreviated Brescia Bugatti unbelievably slowly although ultimately s.t.d., which someone has to do, was clocked by Goodwin's 1927 3-litre Bentley in 71.53 sec., if you leave out the Edwardians -- even then, only Bendall's 1913 12/15 Sunbeam was slower!
D. Allen's A.C.-Nash scored in the category up to 3-litres, against what on paper seemed strong opposition. He did 54.08 sec., R. P. Bradley's Bentley 56.16 sec., and Noble's Silver Eagle Alvis 57.88 sec. McNaughton's re-bodied twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam was a mixed-up sort of car in performance as well as appearance and Marsh's Lancia Lambda seemed to be worn out, judging by the smoke from its bonnet. The big sports-car class was enlivened by the heroic efforts of Pat Melville to beat five Bentleys with his 30/98 Vauxhall -- not the 30/98 he took to America as the commentator told us. He clocked a rousing 52.14 sec. and was beaten only by Burton's famous Bentley (50.00 sec.). Amongst the Bentleys Sue Taylor made a charming picture -- in view for 67.18 sec. -- in a 1927 100 m.p.h. spare-Le-Mans-team-car-old-boy, 3-litre. Morris momentarily locked wheels in his elegant 1930 6½-litre.
Fitzpatrick's Metallurgique making one of its non-appearances, four Edwardians contested Class 7, Clutton going quickest in the Itala, Barry Clarke winning on handicap in his 1913 25/50 Talbot (that people will call a Pearley or Lambert Talbot), while Bendall's Sunbeam is beautifully balanced for neat cornering and Neve's T.T. Humber has a fine deep exhaust note but drips oil. The Itala wanted only 57.15 sec. and was thus faster than anything in the 1,100-c.c. racing-car class, which Wood's 1923 Riley won in 57.75 sec. This is a very interesting car, one of three built by the works for sand-racing. It has a drilled chassis, s.v. Redwing engine with tulip valves, drilled con.-rods, slipper pistons, double valve springs and alloy head, a racing body and is modernised only by the addition of vintage Morris front brakes. Wood brought it on a trailer behind his vintage Riley Eleven coupe -- a fine vintage turnout. Climbing in second gear the Riley even beat Gaskell's blown Lagonda Rapier, which seemed to be suffering from fuel starvation but made a great deal of sound, endorsing the proverb, "Empty pots make the most noise!"
The 2-litre racing class was won by W. F. Moss in the E.R.A. "Remus," which for a while held f.t.d. until Stubberfield in the next class tried again. Brewer drove the ex-Good E.R.A., Hull the ex-Carson E.R.A. for Jeddere-Fisher still in Fiji, Taylor was as usual terrific in the Caesar-Special and Richardson slow, missing a dog-swop on his first run in Vaughan's ex-Fane single-seater Frazer-Nash. Moss took the class with 46.29 sec. from Taylor (47.8 sec.).
The E.R.A.s had aroused those spectators not much in sympathy with slow vintage ascents and they remained with their eyes open to see Stubberfield make f.t.d. in 45.63 sec. in his twin-rear-wheeled 1926 G.P. Bugatti. This won him the up to 3-litre racing-car class from Perkins' Bugatti (47.86 sec.). The over 3-litre category was Melville's, in 53.35 sec. -- W. B.
The car parks at this meeting repay a prowl. This time we noticed a 1926 Hillman Fourteen saloon, a Star saloon aping a 20/60 Sunbeam, a rare Diatto tourer with its vintage running boards serving as a picnic table, Pomeroy's Prince Henry Vauxhall and a s.v. Riley tourer.
The hill was opened by J. Astley's splendid 1920 G.N., which has the rare V-twin push-rod o.h.v. Vitesse engine, safety-clips on its hubs (reminder of G.N. wheel-shedding episodes!), twin magnetos and a single big brass Lucas headlamp in front of its V-shape dummy radiator.
Waine drove Rowley's fabulous 1924 V12 G.P. Delage but it was suffering from icing-up (in August!) and in spite of great willingness to spin its wheels, clocked only 53.63 sec.
Tubbs calls the Edwardians Teddy-cars!
Apparently Clarke runs his 1913 Talbot on Pratt's Mixture, judging by the tin on its running board.
Nigel Arnold-Forster's Anzani Frazer-Nash, all polished aluminium, was perhaps the best turned out car present (57.95 sec.). Nor is it spoilt by oversize tyres.
French's Austin had negative-camber front wheels and Batho's fabric Riley Nine tourer had a racing-type disc for its competition number.
Winder's 1923 Humber hybrid seemed to dislike carrying an L-plate (64.34 sec.), misfiring its way up.
This was the third August Sunday on which we had found comparatively clear roads on journeys of around 200 miles, made without deliberately selecting back routes -- certain proof that there is still a lot of pleasure motoring to be had on English roads!
Vintage S.C.C. Edwardian and Light Car Trial (Aug. 24th)
This took place the day before Prescott, in the Cheltenham area, with the following results:—
Light Cars:-- 1st Class Award: D. R. Frith (1927 Austin Seven), 2nd Class Award: D. Dighton (1928 Humber). 3rd Class Award: J. K. Milner 1926 A.C.).
Edwardians:--1st Class Award: W. Bradley (1912 Mors). 2nd Class Award: B. M. Clarke (1913 Talbot).
Grand Prix des Ancetres (August 25th)
Before the recent sports-car race took place on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the newly-formed Veteran Car Club of Belgium organised a Rally and Time Trial. During the morning a remarkable number of vintage and veteran cars arrived, some on lorries, some on trailers, but a large number under their own power; in fact, some of the cloverleaf Citroens looked as if they had just dropped in while on their way about their normal business.
To English eyes this gathering produced an interesting variety of obscure makes, and there was a goodly assortment of sports and touring cars. Among the rare makes were a four-seater Scania-Vabis of 1914, a very sporting C.I.M.E. constructed in 1924 from many specialist components, a big four-seater Vermorel of 1922, and a rare Premier built in Nurnburg in 1910. The sporting was represented by a line of Amilcars, ranging from an early sports with ¼-elliptic front springs [the Petit Sport -- Ed.], to quite a late one, looking like a production version of the racing six-cylinder, but fitted with normal s.v. engine; a Type 43 Bugatti, a hairy 1925 F.N., and a stark 1910 Imperia. In addition there were numerous other cars, more well known, such as Citroens, Fords, Mercedes-Benz and so on.
Having assembled in front of the pits, the cars were sent off on a regularity test round the Spa circuit, cutting out the steep climb of l'Eau Rouge, and using instead, the old circuit from pre-war days, with its tight hairpin and not so steep hill climb. The cars were divided into three categories, "Ancetres" up to December 31st, 1904; veterans, up to 1916 and vintage cars up to 1926. The first group had to complete one lap, the second group two laps and the third group three laps, and needless to say an awful number were penalised for going too fast, a dice round the wonderful Spa circuit in any car just inviting speed. -- D. S. J.
It is quite astonishing how old cars continue to come to light. A 1913 12/16 Sunbeam tourer has just been found, in running order, after being stored in Leeds since 1930. And that Coupe de l'Auto racing Sunbeam of about the same age, which used to stand in the public enclosure at Brooklands until it vanished after about 1925, is rumoured to be hale and hearty somewhere in London!
Bearing on the correspondence about vintage Rover cars, a modified 9/15 Rover was seen recently in Hampshire, converted into sporting guise, but in the vintage tradition.
News from the Fiat Register:-- A member, Lt. D. A. C. Berridge, drove his 1926 Tipa 501B Fiat out to Naples to rejoin his unit by ship. Fiats made a great fuss of him when he called to see them. I. Ransley-Clements, another member, is repainting a well-preserved Tipo 514S Fiat, a rare model which is apparently circa 1931, in original condition except for a later carburetter and which out-accelerates his fiancee's 1956 Standard Ten up to 65 m.p.h.
Who were the two enthusiasts who drove a vintage Alfa-Romeo to the Monza Grand Prix? Writing of this make, Jesse Alexander recently bought a vintage twin-cam 1½-litre Alfa-Romeo saloon for £10, which his wife employs as a shopping hack.
The Automobile Museum at Turin
Anyone interested in historic cars who passes through Turin without paying a visit to the Automobile Museum is denying himself a rare treat. At present the museum is housed at the huge sports stadium at 123, Via Sebastopoli, in a long semi-circular hall under the stadium seats, near the Lido; the latter is also worth visiting, but for a different reason! The Museum authorities are to be warmly congratulated not only on having collected together some very historic early vehicles and one of the finest collections of racing cars in the world, but because they have extended their exhibits to embrace the more imposing vehicles of the Edwardian and vintage period. Britons making the pilgrimage cannot help feeling that, after Turin, the S. Kensington collection is sadly inadequate and the Montagu Museum cramped for space. It is good to know that the Turin Museum will soon be housed in a splendid new three-storey building. As laid out at present, however, it is altogether delightful, especially as the cars are in fine condition, without being so glossy as to promote suspicion as to their authenticity.
The racing cars at the time of our visit comprised a little, very short, very smart Temperino of the sort on which Alberto Ascari served his racing apprenticeship, a Chiribiri which served the same purpose for Nuvolari and Jack Scales, a 1914 G.P. Fiat with imposing overhead-camshaft engine, primitive front brakes and lots of pipe work adorning its squat tail-petrol-tank, a P2 Alfa-Romeo with the 1930 mods, a 2½-litre Maserati of circa 1930, the remarkable 12-cylinder front-wheel-drive racing Itala, the fantastic Trossi radial-engined G.P. car, the air-cooled front-wheel-drive Nardi used for record-breaking but looking like a Shelsley Special of the nineteen-thirties, a track-racing Fiat with sharp polished "nose" to its pointed radiator, the tiny record-breaking Nibbio, a rather sad G.P. Bugatti and -- wait for it -- a recent Formula Two Ferrari, a beautiful Type 159 Alfa-Romeo and Fangio's medium-chassis W196 Mercedes-Benz with inboard front brakes. By any standard, a pretty formidable assembly! Moreover, a monoposto P3 divided-prop.-shaft Alfa-Romeo and a 1922 G.P. Fiat are to be added when the new building is ready. Amongst many scale models is a large one of a 1912 Coupe de l'Auto Sunbeam and a smaller model of one of Sir Malcolm Campbell's Land Speed Record "Bluebirds."
The very early exhibits include a pre-1900 de Dion, a 1900 Peugeot Bebe which the Curator is in process of rebuilding, a 1904 12-h.p. Marchand, a White steam car, enormous steam-carriages, and a 7/10th-full-size replica of the Cugnot steam-car.
Amongst the Edwardian exhibits are vast tourers and landaulettes which look as if they could be taken straight out and driven in a V.S.C.C. competition -- where they would unquestionably create an enormous stir! A V8 de Dion chassis, an Aquila Italiana, a 40/50 Rolls-Royce, a 1909 28/40 Itala, vast Fiats of all kinds, huge examples of Zust and Storero, a gigantic 1912 Itala and the actual "Paris-Pekin" Itala are but a selection. There is an excellent belt-drive Bedelia cyclecar, one of the first Diattos, a model-T Ford chassis, big Isotta-Fraschini and Vinot-Deguingand, etc. The vintage exhibits include Fiat and Lancia sections, the former embracing an immaculate Tipo 501 tourer, a Tipo 525, an experimental saloon disguised by a Lancia radiator grille and a car with "FIAM" on its badge, presumably being a Fiat made in Milan. There is a modern V8 Fiat, a Ballila saloon, circa 1933, of which less-well-preserved specimens are still encountered on Italian roads, and a splendid 1904 racer of "Paris-Madrid" persuasion.
Very attractive is a sports V-radiator S.P.A., a make taken over by Fiat and the equivalent of our vintage Bentleys. The Lancias include a Trikappa, a 1929 Dilambda, a 1922 sectioned Series II Lambda, a 1929 8th-Series Lambda tourer, Astura and other models. Here they have included a fine sports Nazzaro. Alfa-Romeo is represented by some fine sports cars. A 1906 Darracq built in Milan is soon to be presented to the Museum. Modern cars are included only if they have accomplished something outstanding, like the "Kon-Tiki" Fiat 1900 and a Cape-record Jeep. There are the usual models and many early aeroplane engines, photographs and paintings, etc.
If you decide this Museum is worth a visit -- there is no charge -- make a day of it and take a shooting stick, for each exhibit merits long and detailed study. -- W. B.
R.A.C. Diamond Jubilee Cavalcade (September 1st)
It was a happy thought on the part of the R.A.C. to stage a giant cavalcade of ancient and modern cars from Battersea Park, London, of Festival Gardens fame, to the organisers' own Country Club at Epsom. The Motor Industry and enthusiastic private owners co-operated to the extent of bringing 196 vehicles, ranging from E. D. Woolley's 1897 Daimler to modern models. The public seemed thoroughly to enjoy the Cavalcade, turning out in satisfactory numbers to watch it, and a special Souvenir Programme ("The Age of The Motor Car," R.A.C., 2s. 6d.) was prepared about the run, much of the material, which included colour plates, being provided by the Editor of Motor Sport. B.M.C. brought their historic vehicles on transporters but, in contrast, Jim Wallace drove his 1922 7-h.p. Wolseley up from Worcestershire and back in the day! Motor-cycles were represented by a 1904 Ariel, 1904 Quadrant, 1910 Bradbury, 1912 A.J.S., 1912 P. & M, 1914 Douglas, 1914 Matchless, etc., and many of the old favourites amongst veteran, Edwardian and vintage cars made the journey. An interesting newcomer was Miss Tullock's 1920 Autoglider motor scooter.
Sunbeam M.C.C. 11th Veteran and Vintage Rally (Sept. 8th)
Held this year at Eastbourne, this event attracted 75 car and motor-Cycle entries.
Twitchen Trophy: G. T. Huxtable (1914 Motosacoche m/c.).
F. A. McNab Memorial Bowl: G. W. Goodall (1901 Royal Enfield m/c.).
Blockely Bowl: F. D. Forster (1925 Levis m/c.).
V.M.C.C. Cup: S. R. Blundy (1926 Scott m/c.).
V.S.C.C. Cup: R. Toomer (1930 Sunbeam Sixteen).
S.M.C.C. Cup: W. Searl (1914 Sparkbrook m/c.).
V.C.C. Cup: R. C. Tulley (1914 Model-T Ford).
Team Award: Messrs. M. Searl (1914 Levis m/c.), W. Searl (1914 Sparkbrook m/c.) and W. Moore (1915 Douglas m/c.).
V.S.C.C. Goodwood Rally and Races (Sept. 14th)
On a pleasant Saturday morning in autumn what more pleasing sight could there be than a collection of vintage cars gently threading their way down through the undulating County of Hampshire to Goodwood.
There were only two races during the day, namely a 10-lap vintage sports-car event and a 10-lap race for vintage and historic racing cars. The first resulted in a win for George Burton in his immortal and much-modified 4½-litre Bentley, with David Allen's A.C.-engined Frazer-Nash in second place. Nigel Arnold-Foster drove very well in his 1925 'Nash but came up against heavy metal in Major Bailey's Bentley 6½, which pulled into third place.
The vintage and historic racing-car run was another epic event for W. F. Moss in the heroic E.R.A. "Remus." From a fine array of other E.R.A.s, Maseratis, Amilcars, a Bentley and an Alvis, the E.R.A. held the lead from the start. Hull's E.R.A., emitting the most splendid screams from its supercharger as it went past, delighted all spectators. Moss' speed was 74.17 m.p.h., contrasting with Burton's 74.80 m.p.h. with the Bentley in the previous event. Terry Carson in another E.R.A. finished in second place.
In between the races, however, came the grand event of the day -- the cavalcade of the vintage cars. The paddock was very crowded with both vintage machinery and admiring humans both ancient and modern. Amongst the rare "birds" were Tennent's little 1924 Ariel, Campion's somewhat stark and tattered Calthorpe, a positively indecently large Isotta-Fraschini driven by T. C. Lyons. and some very fine and some tired early Jowett twins. The Rolls-Royce contingent were well represented with a variety of impeccable small models, except for a sad 40/50 in poor state and with a strictly non-U Lucas windtone horn mounted on the wing -- the owner shall be nameless. O.M.s were also nicely turned out but the Humbers were generally rough.
The tour of the circuit began sedately with Milner's A.C. leading, but after a few laps the Bentleys "bumbled" past at the head of the column and each group kept its own formation. The Rolls-Royces swept by with commendable silence but a set of four Austin Seven Chummies in line abreast, all in different colours, brought forth cheers, or maybe tears, from all and sundry. Austin Heavy Twelves followed, there being a saloon, a four-seater tourer and a two-seater model. B. C. Peerless in his G.B.-plated Trojan purred by, seemingly oblivious to the coarse noises made by other vintage cars! Later on the Alfas started speeding up, until a dice resulted in which the Amilcars were doing very nicely, thank you! The finalists for the concours were the Isotta-Fraschini of Lucas (the ultimate winner), Mann's Bentley, Capt. Axford's Napier, Johnson's Alvis, and Skinner's Rolls-Royce, which was placed second. -- I. G.
Beaulieu Driving Tests (Sept. 15th)
Next day at Beaulieu Abbey the vintage cars had a short acceleration and braking test. Starters had difficulty getting away from the line on the gravel road and, although heavy, "top hat" clearance Rolls-Royces spun sideways, the sight of Laurence Pomeroy, bouncing up and down in his famous Prince Henry Vauxhall, produced some hearty laughter from onlookers. K. N. Pollard was one of the troubled competitors who had to cope with a puncture before making his run on the test road. Winner of the Montagu Cup was J. D. Rogers in his beautiful 1923 907-c.c. Jowett twin. -- I. G.