A Section Devoted to Old Car Matters
The V.S.C.C. Prescott Speed Hill-Climb (August 23rd)
A good entry was received for this happy annual fixture, which was run off in sweltering weather typical of the 1959 summer. Douglas Hull excelled himself by making f.t.d. and a new Vintage S.C.C. course record in the 2-litre E.R.A. His first climb took 44.95 sec., which he improved to a rousing 44.17 sec. He used twin rear wheels for the job.
Entries were divided into vintage and p.v.t. and best vintage time seemed likely to go to the intrepid Dr. Taylor. However, although he made his customary pedestrian tour of the lower corners, massaging the road surface with his hands, his 47.54 sec. in the stub-exhaust Caesar Special was beaten by Berry’s beautiful 1928 blown 2.3 Bugatti, which clocked 47.05 sec., improving notably on its first run.
After John Morley had opened the meeting by taking President Harry Bowler up in the ex-Birkin blower-4½ Bentley and Carson had followed in his p.v.t. Bentley saloon, French enlivened the 1,100-c.c. sports-car class by spinning completely round at the first corner in the Austin “Simplicity,” which had just had a foreign body removed from its gearbox in the Paddock. French’s next ascent won both this and the 1,100-c.c. racing-car class. The up-to-1,500-c.c. sports-car class was won very convincingly by Ashley, who made a brave ascent in his 1930 Frazer Nash, which a wheel-locking approach to Orchard Corner by Berrisford’s aluminium 12/50 Alvis couldn’t beat. Geoghegan (1928 Frazer Nash) was comparatively cautious and Jones’ 1934 Frazer Nash was a nice car with a slow driver.
In the Edwardian Handicap Clutton was the only driver to improve on his handicap, in spite of leaving some remarkable black marks on the road as the near-side rear wheel of the great Itala locked and unlocked under retardation. Clarke (1913 Talbot) and Skinner (1914 Alpine Eagle 40/50 Rolls-Royce) came close to beating their handicaps, whereas Moores’ very interesting, shining 1914 i.o.e., chain-cum-belt G.N. completed the course only once, the valve gear coming adrift on its initial ascent, taking 104.39 sec., a time which Getley’s covetable 1913 1¾-litre Swift two-seater couldn’t beat!
Clifford’s 1938 blown 1½-litre Alta took the up-to-1,500-c.c. racing-car class, Sibbald’s G.P. Bugatti, 1927 and also blown, the vintage section.
Vaughan’s “Shelsley” single-seater twin-rear-wheeled Frazer Nash sounded very unwell, nor were the E.R.A.s of Hyslop and Cottam a match for the Alta.
Haworth’s thinly-disguised 1928 2-litre G.P. Bugatti took both sections of the 3-litre sports-car class, in which such representative makes as O.M., Bentley, Bugatti, Sunbeam, Lancia Lambda, Frazer Nash and Talbot 105 competed. Betty Haig demonstrated her delightful 1935 Blackburne “Shelsley” Frazer Nash two-seater.
The big sports cars were again representative, with high- and low-chassis 4½-litre Invictas, Bentleys, a 30/98 Vauxhall, etc. Symondson made his Bugatti’s tyres smoke, Gaudin’s Bentley had an exhaust crack like a gun, Charnock’s fine Alvis understeered alarmingiy at Pardon Hairpin, and Michael got off very well and drove neatly in the lowered 4½-litre Lagonda. However, none was a match for Harrison’s short, Alvis-propelled Frazer Nash Special, and Morris can feel pleased that his big 6½-litre Bentley beat the considerable vintage opposition.
The big racing-car class saw Greer ascend slowly in the 2-litre Aston Martin-engined Attenborough Special with Frazer Nash chassis, Worth being slower still in the rebodied 1924 A.C. Six once raced by Rossiter, while even more lethargic was the Semmence of Ridley, with, surely, a new exhaust stack? Raven’s Bugatti (a British Bugatti in contrast to Berry’s French Bugatti, someone remarked) was also off form, and clipped the inside edge of Pardon Hairpin. The sun shone, the cars were of charming variety, many of the prettiest girls wore brief sun-tops. What more could you want ?
Sports Cars up to 1,100 c.c.: J. S. French (Austin Seven) 51.96 sec.
Sports Cars 1,101-1,500 c.c.: R. W. Ashley (Frazer Nash) 51.29 sec.
Sports Cars 1,101-1,500 c.c. — Vintage: R. W. Ashley (Frazer Nash) 51.29 sec.
Sports Cars 1,501-3,000 c.c.: A. K. Howarth (Bugatti) 49.70 sec
Sports Cars 1,501-3,000 c.c. — Vintage: A. K. Howarth (Bugatti) 49.70 sec.
Sports Cars over 3,000 c.c.: D. A. Harrison (Frazer Nash-Alvis) 49.00 sec.
Sports Cars over 3,000 c.c. — Vintage: M. H. Morris (Bentley) 52.75 sec.
Edwardian Handicap: C. Clutton (Itala) Actual time 55.02 sec.
Racing Cars up to 1,100 c.c.: J. S. French (Austin) 51.96 sec.
Racing Cars 1,101-1,500 c.c.: H. S. Clifford (Alta) 49.27 sec.
Racing Cars 1,101-1,500 c.c. — Vintage: E. J. Sibbald (Bugatti) 53.20 sec.
Racing Cars 1,501-3,000 c.c.: D. H. C. Hull (E.R.A.) 44.17 sec.*
Racing Cars 1,501-3,000 c.c. — Vintage: J. Berry (Bugatti) 47.05 sec.
V.S.C.C. Light Car and Edwardian Rally (August 22nd)
First-Class Awards: Clarke (1913 Talbot) and Weeks (Trojan).
Second-Class Award: Nicholson (Humber).
Third-Class Awards: Milner (A.C.) and Leach (Humber).
Lymington Carnival Vintage and Veteran Car Rally (August 26th)
Some unusual cars enlivened this event, including a shabby but original vintage Austin Sixteen saloon with folding rear quarters and a rough but rare side-valve Riley tourer, original save for a Solex in place of a Zenith carburetter. Elegance was present in the form of a D8 Delage drophead and a boat-decked 40/50 Rolls-Royce tourer. The winner was an immaculate 1924 Austin Seven, believed to have the very early 696-c.c. engine — its owner confirmed that it has the 1-in. crankshaft. It was run very close by a 12/25 Humber tourer with original upholstery. The oldest car present was Rootes’ 1904 Sunbeam which had come from the nearby Montagu Motor Museum — it has “Sunbeam” stamped on crankcase and cylinder blocks, whereas most Sunbeams of this period have Berliet engines. At present the ignition system is bogus. The owner of the four-carburettor Aston Martin had worked hard to make a new worm wheel after a calamity in that component; he was rewarded by winning the prizes for the longest journey (from N. London) and for having the car with the cleanest engine. The judges included the Editor of Motor Sport and his wife.
On an August afternoon when racing drivers were rushing round the Crystal Palace circuit the Editor drove to the R.A.E., S. Farnborough, to see a 1914/18 S.E.5a aeroplane put through its paces. This welcome invitation emanated from such an unlikely source as the Ministry of Supply.
We had known for some time that the Shuttleworth Trust possessed an S.E.5a and required a V8 Hispano-Suiza engine for it. As this was one of the best aeroplanes for which the Royal Aircraft Factory (now the R.A.E.) was responsible during the First World War they naturally wished to have one in flying order and so it came about that they arranged to rebuild the Shuttleworth machine, keeping it at Farnborough, although it belongs to the Shuttleworth Trust.
This particular machine was built originally by Wolseley and after the 1918 Armistice was used for a sky-writing enterprise. It eventually found its way to a hangar at Baginton and its skeleton was presented by Armstrong Whitworth to the Shuttleworth Trust. It was found that this S.E.5a had been considerably modified and had nosed-over at some time in its career.
When the R.A.E. decided to completely rebuild it every scrap of data relating to the type was salvaged and apprentices and engineers who had worked originally on these machines set to work. As with veteran-car renovation every item was dismantled. Metal parts sand-blasted and the airframe rebuilt in a large channel-iron jig. Most metal fittings, including the bottom spar tubes, were re-usable but none of the original woodwork was serviceable. After the rebuild had been completed many attempts had to be made before the machine was correctly rigged, although the appropriate R.F.C. instructions were available. The R.A.F. Museum at Henlow provided a Vickers machine gun and W./Cdr. Unwin contributed a compass from his own collection, as a gesture by one who flew in S.E.5s. A charger for the Constantinesco gear may have to be machined from the solid, as only a twin-gun valve has been found.
The Science Museum provided the engine — a Peugeot-built 200-h.p. geared V8 Hispano-Suiza which had once been the subject of a German report after it had been captured — even the report was available with the engine but several tons’ pressure had to be exerted before the pistons could be freed from the cylinder bores of this old war-time engine. Generally, its condition was good, but new ball races and piston rings were necessary and the reduction gears, so often the Achilles heel of these engines, were found to have different pressure angles and to be in a sorry state, requiring regrinding and hardening. A local VW agent cut some of the metric threads about the engine, and Delaney Galley made a new radiator. When tested oil pressure was better than was customary from new engines.
On August 4th, two years and three months after work commenced, Air Commodore Wheeler, Chairman of the Shuttleworth Trust, test flew this sole surviving S.E.5a in operational trim. Apart from overheating, due to a blocked water filter, the old aeroplane flew impeccably.
When it was demonstrated before an appreciative audience on August 22nd, there was the additional pleasure of seeing it started by a model-T Ford Huck’s Starter, rebuilt by the London Aeroplane Club in 1952 — a charming vehicle with trembler coil ignition, overhead-worm back axle and splendid Spencer Moulton 33 by 5 back tyres! The S.E.5a looked perfect. It has the cockpit headrest, fairings behind the cam-boxes and long exhaust pipes of the majority of these famous Folland-designed fighters and, its actual series number unknown, bears D7000, last number to be used by Wolseley when they built these machines. The two-bladed propeller bears the correct coloured rings indicating that it is the proper one for use, respectively, with a 3 : 4 geared engine, a h.c. engine, and the small French propeller hub.
Using 73-octane petrol a starting magneto was used to assist in waking the 200-h.p. Hispano engine to life and Cmdr. Hickson, jet pilot of today, then gave a splendid demonstration, including a loop and roll in his repertoire, after which Air Commodore Wheeler took over and did some impressive fly-pasts for the benefit of trigger-happy camera-fans in the crowd. Both pilots made three approaches before putting the rebuilt S.E.5a neatly back on Farnborough grass.
As this historic aeroplane flew over the equally historic aerodrome, adjacent Hunters and rocket-launching pads were forgotten and we were transported back to that far-away age when the drone of an occasional aeroplane formed a peaceful accompaniment to the eternally blue skies of long summer afternoons, there was the smell of warm turf, the girls wore muslin (rocks and trouble and strife had no place in the World — the period, in fact, when as a schoolboy eager with anticipation, the writer visited a different aerodrome every half-holiday, waiting patiently for aeroplanes similar to this S.E.5a to be brought from the hangars and prepared for flight . . .
Our congratulations to all concerned in this praiseworthy enterprise and thanks to the Ministry of Supply and its Press Section for a decidedly nostalgic afternoon. — W.B.
Footnote: Other pre-1918 aeroplanes have been similarly restored; those who are interested will find two intriguing articles on this subject in Motor Sport dated December, 1950.
For sentimental reasons, does anyone know the present whereabouts of a 1925 Trojan, Registration ES 7829?
We have received an appeal from someone who, having partially restored a 1925 4-litre C5 Voisin, has had the misfortune to break one of the sleeves. If anybody can help with spares, we shall be glad to forward letters.
This time there is a whole selection of clues about old vehicles which should be worth investigation by those who enjoy locating and restoring such cars. In the first place we hear of a well-kept 1930 Jowett in danger of being scrapped, situated in the Midlands, and there is said to be another Voisin at a scrap-yard in Essex that has not been used since before the war. A complete twin-cam Salmson engine is believed to lie in a breaker’s yard near South London, and in a field near Shipston-on-Stour there are reported to be two small traction engines, a Robinson and Avden and a Barrows, and some parts of a Clyno car. From Scotland comes news of three sleeve-valve Willys Knight cars, one without a body, and nearer home we know of two Bullnose Morris chassis which have been serving as light lorries on improvised wooden wheels, but for which the original tyres are said to be available. Continuing, a selection of 1923 Morris Cowley spares exist in West Wales and we are informed of parts available for a 1919 Standard. Returning to Scotland, there is news of a 1922 four-cylinder Humber merely requiring a coat of paint, and from the Torquay area comes news of a derelict Clyno and AF Ford, while farther West we hear of two Morris Commercials and in the Black Country two 1926 Chevrolet lorries and a 1926 model-T Ford lorry. That should be enough to be getting on with; letters can be forwarded to the owners of these vehicles or to those who have informed us of them.
This Month the V.S.C.C. holds its annual Presteigne Rally over the weekend of October 3rd/4th.
At the September V.S.C.C. “Phoenix” evening there was a very full house, with a packed car park. Dominating the scene was an open straight-eight Isotta-Fraschini.
Reverting to derelict ancients we hear of some Trojan vans in the Midlands, of a Reo lorry in the breaker’s yard but not necessarily for sale, and of possible Austin Seven, Bullnose Morris and Hotchkiss spares, together with a side-valve Riley chassis, in Surrey.
Recent correspondence in the “Daily Mirror” relating to who possesses the oldest car in everyday use resulted in the disclosure of a 1904 Orient Buckboard and a 1904 National three-wheeler purchased new, never used, and still stored in Lancashire.
Correction. We are informed that we were incorrect in stating that W. J. Bowyer’s Fiat 509A made best performance in the Humber Register Trial in August and that this award went to Julio Rodrigues driving his Fiat 501 tourer. Mr. Rodrigues acquired this Fiat in Madeira and after refitting it with authentic spares collected from all over the Island he drove this vintage car from Lisbon through Spain and France to Britain in a mere four days.
Over four hundred antique automobiles dating from 1892 to 1929, coming from all over the United States and Canada, competed in the 14th Annual Revival Glidden Tour starting on September 13th at Cincinnati, Ohio. The six-day, 435-mile tour sponsored by the Antique Automobile Club of America visited the Indianapolis Speedway, Indianapolis, Indiana; the Studebaker Packard Plant at South Bend, Indiana; the Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Dearborn and Detroit, Michigan.
Automobiles whose names are but memories today re-created the early days of American motoring by driving thousands of miles to participate in this Annual Revival Glidden Tour. Participating vehicles included Stanley Steamers, one-cylinder curved-dash Oldsmobiles, Stutz Bearcats, Maxwells, Pierce Arrows, high-wheeled Sears and Roebuck’s motorised buggies, Model Ts, and Mercers.
The tour ended at Ford’s Greenfield Village at Dearborn, Michigan, where the day following 300 additional antique automobiles joined the tourists at the Ford Company’s Old Car Festival on the Village Green.