Vintage Postbag, October 1959




I should like to add to the Salmson correspondence by mentioning the Type S4 12/24 h.p. car which was made at the end of the vintage period. This had a twin-cam motor closely resembling that of the 1,100-c.c. cars, but enlarged to 65 by 98 mm., not 65 by 90 mm. as quoted in a recent reference book. The engine had a very solid, fully machined crankshaft carried in three main bearings, plain bearings being used throughout. A bevel gear drove a vertical camshaft drive having a cross-shaft halfway up for the magneto, and each camshaft ran in three bronze bearings with no provision for pressure lubrication. The head had four separate exhaust parts (ports?), but the inlets were fed from a slot in the side of the casting, the inlet manifold being simply a cast alloy plate carrying a small sidedraught carburetter. Cooling was by thermosiphon using a large radiator, and at this early date a bypass oil filter was fitted as standard, a nice gesture even if it was of very little use. Twelve-volt electrics were fitted, and a vast dynamotor lived on the nose of the crank.

The car was a good deal bigger than the 1,100-c.c. machines, and boasted a differential and a four-speed gearbox, but unfortunately third gear was rather a long way from top and the back axle ratio was low. Comfortable and beautifully finished saloon bodies were often fitted, but the weight of these spoilt the performance and the mechanical noise from engine and gearbox was oppressive in a closed car.

On the credit side, the steering was beautifully light and accurate, and powerful four-wheel brakes were fitted. Road-holding was good, the suspension being the usual Salmson arrangement of half-elliptic front springs and quarter-elliptics at the rear, damped by friction shock absorbers. Performance was well ahead of its less mechanically enterprising competitors in the small saloon class, and the Type S4 only suffers if compared, rather unfairly, with the light sporting Salmsons.

It would be most interesting to hear from anyone who ran one of these cars in the past, or who would like some spares for one today.

I am, Yours, etc., A. Skinner. Swindon



Your readers may be interested to hear of a 1927 Morris Oxford Super Sports M.G. two-door saloonette which I have recently purchased. Unfortunately, the car is in a very neglected condition but I hope to restore it in course of time.

The most singular feature is the push-rod o.h.v. conversion with twin French Zenith carburetters. The conversion was fitted to the standard 13.9 h.p. engine in 1931 by the original owner and was made by the Norman Engineering Company, Leamington. The engine has special pistons and crankshaft, the latter made by David Brown Ltd. Other features of interest are Barker dipping headlamps and Clayton vacuum servo brakes, and rear petrol tank.

I believe there are very few remaining o.h.v. conversions of this type, and I would be very pleased to hear of any similar units and saloonettes still in existence. [See photo below. — Ed.]

I am, Yours, etc., David E. Bick. Cheltenham.



I think it might be of interest to you to know that my brother and myself have purchased for the noble sum of £45 a 1927 14.9 Triumph. Its history is as follows. Constructed in 1927, first registered Feb. 1928. Last registered in 1935 at the end of which year it was put up on blocks in an excellent brick-built garage. Its mileage at that time was 4,226. The car belonged to an elderly Professor at Cambridge who was more often than not out of the country. This, I think, accounts for its small mileage. The chauffeur swears that he drove every mile himself. The longest trip was one up to Scotland. The garage hinges had to be treated with penetrating oil and grease in order to open them.

The tyres, although perished, were pumped up nine days ago and are still up. On inspection the interior was seen to be of leather which was completely unmarked, although a trifle hard. A little saddle soap and cream will fix that. The woodwork is without a single scratch. The windows wind up and down continuously whichever way the winding handles are turned, something modern manufacturers could with advantage follow! The doors were built exactly like railway carriage doors in looks and weight and they close with that double snick of very heavy coachwork.

On looking under the bonnet the engine is remarkably clean and, although a side valve, has a light-alloy cylinder head. The plugs are set in this, over the valves and are fired by a magneto. I have been on holiday and my brother has both the handbook and the spare parts book so I am unable to quote exactly, but I am not so far out. A 12-volt battery was connected up, all the lights worked, and the silent starter turned the engine over. We are going to remove the sump, take out the rods and pistons, remove the petrol tank and clean out the Autovac and hope for the best. The brakes are four-wheel brakes still with the red triangle, and are of the hydraulic external contracting type. The handbrake is internal expanding type and works on the transmission. On the 20-mile tow home we had to change a wheel as the worst tyre was showing signs of breaking up. It took us six minutes. It was the first time the spare had been off the carrier, as we had to break the paint seal and one could see the original grease. The maker’s transfers are still on the wheels.

The wheels are of the metal artillery pattern and the tyre size is 31 by 5.25. The engine capacity is 2,169 c.c. There are two horns, bulb and electric, both of which work. The electric one has on it “This horn must only be fitted under the bonnet.” The front axle has on it,”made in the U.S.A.” The brakes are hydraulic Lockheeds.

Generally I think we have a “find” and the car, if not one of the first water is certainly in first rate condition. I would be grateful if you could tell me of any person who could give me any information on the running of this type of car.

Inside, when the driver’s seat is so far back that I can hardly depress the clutch pedal (I am 5 ft. 10 in.), when I get in the back I can only just, by reaching out at that, reach the back of the front seat. The unladen weight is 25 cwt. It has three forward speeds.

I am, Yours, etc., W. R. Cooke. Braintree.



As one of my front-drive Bramham three-wheel cars has still a place in the domain of reality and may join the ranks of the undying or shall we say those of protracted age, the following history of the cars may be of interest.

In July, 1914, a patent was granted to Harry Stanhope, a watchmaker of Leeds, for Front Wheel Drive and in 1916 a company, Stanhope Motors (Leeds) was formed to manufacture a two-seater, three-wheel cyclecar at Greenside Works, Lower Wortley, Leeds.

This car was fitted with an 8-h.p. J.A.P. engine driving through a single-plate friction clutch twin expanding pulleys, which were spring operated and designed to give an automatic variable gear, thence by twin Whittle belts to the patented front wheel. Owing to delay in production and the clutch and gear not proving reliable the company ran into grave financial difficulty.

I was 18½ years old at this time and had held a car driving licence for five years, granted after passing a test by, if my memory serves, The Leeds Hackney Carriage Department. I had also served a three-year apprenticeship to the motor trade, was on the Committee of the Leeds Motor Club and driving a Bugatti in local events. Enough to make a young lad think he could do no wrong, and with my parents’ help I purchased the property and stock-in-trade of the company.

The stock included cars in varying degrees of completion, these were fitted with an improved clutch and manual control of the variable pulleys, and sent out under the Bramham name, but there were one or two that were fitted with gearboxes and the surviving specimen appears, from your photograph, to be one of these cars.

This batch were followed by cars all having chain drive with either two or three speeds. As you will see in the enclosed catalogue there was a conaiderable change in appearance and with the sports, J.A.P. engine they became very lively vehicles.

The occasional four-seater had an aluminium and plywood body built for us by Ralph Cawthorne, who manufactured racing sidecars for Norton and raced them in most of the Yorkshire events.

Four single seaters were built, each with a different type of gear. One was fitted with a racing Anzani engine and a close-ratio four. speed box. The body was a complete streamline shell with engine and transmission fully exposed and a cycle type mudguard turning with the front wheel. On one of these cars I made the fastest run I have ever made from Chapeltown, Leeds to Scarborough.

The cars were later exhibited at the Motor-Cycle Show and then fitted with four-speed and reverse gear with cam face shock absorber, Rudge-Whitworth wire wheels at rear, kickstart and electric lighting. I enclose photograph of the two-seater sports.

I enjoyed making these cars, but our production costs and money spent on experiments were too high and about a year later I decided to swing over to the food business, and a number of my best men went with me and proved invaluable for the installation and maintenance of plant and electrical gear.

I am, Yours, etc., W. K. Bramham. Bridlington.


The Montagu Motor Museum on Safari to Africa

For four months this winter Lord and Lady Montagu of Beaulieu will visit South and Central Africa with several exhibits from the Montagu Motor Museum. Exhibitions of veteran and vintage cars, motor-cycles, and cycles, have been arranged in Cape Town (October 26-31st), in conjunction with the Crankhandle Club; and in Durban (November 16-21st) with the co-operation of the Veteran Car Club of South Africa, of which Lord Montagu is a vice-president. It is hoped that further exhibitions will take place in Johannesburg and Salisbury. The vehicles taken include the 1903 De Dion-Bouton, 1909 8-h.p. Humber, 1920 350-h.p. Sunbeam (World Speed Record Breaker), Viscount Montgomery’s Humber Super Snipe “Old Faithful,” the 1907 T.T. Norton motor-cycle, and two Royal Humber cycles, while the Rex Bays collection of Grand Prix racing car models will also be on display.

In addition to these exhibitions, there will be a series of lectures by Lord Montagu on veteran and vintage cars, in the course of which he will show films of his museum at Beaulieu, which has had close on 200,000 visitors since the new buildings were opened this Spring.

“I am eagerly looking forward to the African visit,” said Lord Montagu. “There is a great and growing interest in the preservation of old vehicles in the African Continent, and it is only right that some of the rarer vehicles in the Montagu Motor Museum should be shown to people overseas. If this tour is successful, it will be followed by visits to other countries in the future.” Lord and Lady Montagu sail at 4 p.m. on October 8th from Southampton, in the R.M.S. Pendennis Castle