A Section Devoted to Old Car Matters
The V.S.C.C. at Prescott (August 24th)
The annual Prescott Speed Hill-Climb of the Vintage S.C.C., this year open to post-vintage-thoroughbred as well as vintage cars, was almost, but not quite, washed away on August 24th, the scene being mud, more mud, raincoats, umbrellas and haphazard car parking, as well as early cars.
In the class for sports cars up to 1,100 c.c. Jack French’s Austin Seven ” Simplicity” went extremely well, winning on a single ascent in 56.57 sec. from Meyhew’s slidy Riley Nine (60.03 sec.) just before rain really wetted the course. But we cannot really think of ” Simplicity” as a genuine vintage car – i.f.s. and downdraught carburation were not heard of in 1930 for Austin Sevens. The two p.v.t.s couldn’t get anywhere near French, Waine’s 1928/34 Riley Nine with nice pointed-tail alloy body taking 59.88 sec., Cottam’s noisy Riley Imp 66.38 sec.
The 1.5-litre vintage sports-car class was won commendably by Grice’s 1921/30 Anzani-G.N. with twin S.U.s, its time of 54.68 sec. standing for some time as fastest yet. Ashley’s Meadows Frazer-Nash, tail-sliding Prescotes acuter corners under power, was second in 56.0 sec., third place going to Geoghegan’s Meadows Frazer-Nash in 56.39 sec. The p.v.t. section was again disgraced, Gibson’s 1927/39 Frazer-Nash needing 58.37 sec., Parsons’ 1933 Frazer-Nash 60.91 sec. and Michelsen’s 1926/34 Frazer-Nash ” Patience ” 61.75 sec. The up-to-3,000 c.c. class was a victory for Vaughan’s 1928 A.C.-Nash in 56.76 sec., from Noble’s just-vintage six-cylinder Alvis (61.23 sec.) and McNaughton’s non-vintage-looking twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam (62.22 sec.). Miss Taylor made fastest time by a lady in her 100-m.p.h. 3-litre short-chassis Bentley two-seater (68.82 sec.), which wasn’t very difficult because the only other lady competitor, Mrs. Jeddere Fisher, was confined to the 1913 Lancia Theta coupe (85.52 sec.). In this class p.v.t. justified itself, Berry’s twin-cam 2.3 blown Bugatti clocking 54.42 sec. and Richard’s 2.4-litre Riley Special 56.03 sec.
The big sports car category was full of 100-m.p.h. low-chassis Invictas, both pre- and post-vintage, of which Shutler’s famous 1933 coupe was fastest in 55.66 sec., a splendid effort. The vintage class was won by Morris’ 6.5-litre Bentley (57.63 sec,) after a locking front brake had caused it to touch the bank on its first run. Second came Pounds’ oversize 4.5-litre Bentley (58.09 sec.). Symondson, in his immaculate Type 57S Bugatti beat Shutler in the p.v.t. section on his second run, clocking a splendid 55.25 sec. Third was Mudd’s Monza Alfa-Roineo, using second gear because wheel-spin was uncontrollable in bottom. Unfortunately, on its second run it ran out of road at the first corner, Mudd hurting his chest-a case of Mudd off, not mud on, the course!
The Edwardians had a poor time in the wet, none reaching handicap times. Notable were Neale’s truly magnificent, very quiet ex-Dr. Taylor 1912 London-Edinburgh Rolls-Royce (74.24 sec.= +3.74 sec.), followed by Clutton, umbrella at the ready in the tonneau of the G.P. Itala (60.28 sec. = +3.28 sec.), victory thus going to the Itala, which Clutton afterwards drove home. Mrs. Fisher drove her big Lancia impeccably, Lord Montagu was neat in his ” Prince Henry” Vauxhall, and Brown’s 1913 5.7-litre Zust thundered up, sounding over-geared, however, and perhaps restricted by its small carburetter-the respective times were 85.52. 70.27 and 80.52 sec. Best sight of all was Jeddere Fisher ascending the hill in his 1914 racing-style cyclecar ” Il Pampero,” a long, slender, yellow and silver contraption on carrier-bicycle tyres. It has a quite unwanted ” radiator ” cowl, and a tall dummy filler cap, for filling a small petrol tank, the engine being an air-cooled V-twin t.o.e. M.A.G. with Zenith carburetter and a magneto alleged to have been borrowed from the local cricket club’s lawn-mower. This engine is installed in a steel-tube frame, driving by chain to a Chater-Lea gearbox, final drive being by side belts and suspension by cantilever springs, while there is genuine wire-and-bobbin steering.
After some inflammatory moments before practising Fisher ascending, first in 112.8 sec., then in 101.16 sec. and the splendid sight (and sound) was entirely reminiscent of sprint motoring long ago.
The 1,100 c.c. racing class was poorly, supported, Binns’ previous time with his ex-Brooklands Riley Nine in the sports-car class sufficing to beat Barnard’s Riley Special in the vintage section and Grant’s 1934 850 c.c. M.G. (60.3 sec.) being far faster than McArthur’s ex-Malcolm Campbell R-type M.G. in the opposite category.
The Hardy Special alone contested the 1.5-litre class but this exciting car was driven very bravely, to Jock 55.24 sec., the machinery-filled tail coming to heel surprisingly effectively after the corners. The last class in the programme was that for racing cars from 1.5/3-litres and here Dr. Taylor drove with great restraint and skill in the wet to make f.t.d. in the Caesar-Special, his first run in 52.15 sec., which he later reduced to a courageous 50.63 sec., a vintage car thus carrying top honours. Second fastest was Douglas Hull in a Manxed 2-litre E.R.A., reminder of his Silverstone crash, as was a jerry-can in use as the fuel tank. He clocked 51.88 sec., then 51.45 sec, Fisher, in the same car, spinning on his first run, then recording 55.69 sec., which must have seemed amply quick after “Il Parnero.” Third quickest here was Wall’s Type 51 Bugatti, which like Hull, and Mallalieu in another Type 51 Bugatti, was aided by twin-rear-wheels to clock 52.35 sec. Second vintage was the bearded Nicholson in the Rabelro Special, like Dr. Taylor’s car A.C.-engined and chain-driven, Perkins’ Type 35C G.P. Bugatti being a close third, in 55.34 sec. Lt.-Col. Vaughan broke his ” Shelsley ” Frazer-Nash single-seater and was slow in the Wolseley-engined Becke Powerplus. which seemed to have a fierce clutch, but four carburetters assisted Raven’s ex-Bear 3-litre Bugatti to get below 60 sec., which small rear wheels did not do for Sibbald’s 1.5-litre G.P. Bugatti.
In the mire that was the car park some delectable cars were seen, including a 14/45 Rover two-seater, a big Star tourer, a nice Fiat 501 coupe and a fine fabric-bodied Talbot 90 sports tourer, while Howell’s rear-engined Trojan saloon had travelled there from London.- W. B.