Veteran-Edwardian-Vintage, October 1962

A section devoted to old-car matters

On with the census

The colleague who thought up and conducted the recently concluded Moror Sport Readers’ Survey apparently cannot have too much of this sort of thing, for, having buttoned up his part of the affair, he handed to me 186 forms that dealt, he said, with vintage cars, suggesting that I might like to analyse them in this section.

The census disease is infectious and I found myself unable to discard these references to the older cars owned by Motor Sport‘s readers, although the majority of the questions answered originally by Mr. F. Farnesbarnes of Bloggsville are hardly applicable, and those that are, were answered, I hope, by more intelligent persons, for it takes intelligence to appreciate a vintage car.

Anyway, there I was with these 186 forms, which covered cars of the pre-war period, back to 1909, and a steam-roller. By hardening my heart and discarding those dealing with P.V.T.s, and other 1931-39 machinery, even such worthies as 1931/32 Alvis cars which the 12/50 Alvis Register regards as vintage because the design was unchanged in those years from pre-1931 specification, I was able to eliminate 61 forms. I was still left with details, often very prolific if not very much to whatever points a census is supposed to arrive at, covering 125 cars built prior to 1931, and one steam-roller.

The makes owned work out as :—

Bentley 35
Rolls Royce 20
Riley 11
Alvis 7
Morris-Cowley 5
Alfa Romeo 4
Bugatti 4
Talbot 4
A.C. 3
Lea Francis 3
Austin, Sunbeam, Lancia, Morris-Oxford, Morris Minor, O.M., Frazer-Nash, 2 each
Belsize, B.N.C., Crossley, Humber, Essex, Turcat Méry, Invicta, Ballot, Angus Sanderson, Unic, Hupmobile, Clyno, Delage, Fiat, de Dion Bouton and Aveling & Porter, 1 each.

The rest of the Readers’ Survey was split up last month into the different models as well as makes but these were given in a very higgledy-piggledy order of percentages. I propose to spare my arteries and skip this in the case of the pre-1931 cars; clearly, it would be far more worthwhile to analyse the makes and models in the V.S.C.C. Members’ List.

Motor Sport‘s vintage-car owners, when confronted by the question: “Would You Buy this Model Again?” mostly said they would—but can’t, because there aren’t any, as it were. Their enthusiasm, however, was vvarmingly evident, with answers such as “Hope to keep indefinitely!” (a 1928 Riley 9 tourer), “I wish I could” (1923 12/50 Alvis “beetleback”), ditto (1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost), “Like a shot!” (1930 Rolls-Royce PII), “Yes, but won’t need to!” (1929 Rolls-Royce P1I), “Without hesitation” (1909 A.C. Sociable) and “Of course!” (1927 3-litre Bentley). Only nine said “No.” The remainder didn’t reply.

Antique Dealers, Proprietors of Used-Car Lots and Vendors of Vintagery who have become rich as a result of Motor Sport’s enthusiasm for old cars, and who presumably wish to get richer in the future, cannot do better than commit to memory the cars specified in reply to the question ” What will be your next car?” They were : Bentley-7, VW-3, Alfa Romeo-2, Hispano Suiza-2, Alvis-2, Rolls-Royce-2, Bugatti Royale-1, Peugeot-1, Morris-Oxford-1, XK150-1, 30/98-1, Lotus 7-1, Lagonda-1, Morris 1000 van-1, Morgan 4/4-1, 1½-litre short chassis Aston Martin-1, Volvo-1, Triumph-1, Fiat 600-1, and Herald-Climax-1 (Jack owes us a drink!). One owner of a 1928 Riley Monaco said “Another Riley,” but added …. not an Elf.”

It seems customary when doing a Readers’ Survey to include panels of quotes, and not wishing to be out of step I have done this, from forms returned by the Rolls-Royce and Bentley fraternity. I should have liked to include some m.p.g. or g.p.m. figures for fuel and oil, and quote statistics about tyre-life but my colleagues who dealt with the 1946-62 part of this Motor Sport Readers’ Survey saved themselves the trouble, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t too. But, seriously, the preferences for petrols and oils for these old warriors make a highly interesting study, especially for Oil Barons. Again, of the oils, Castro! comes out easily the most popular, as befits a masterpiece—it is specified even for the steamroller. The actual preferences, where stated, were :—

Esso 15
Shell 14
Cleveland 10 
Jet 7
B.P. 7
National Benzole 7
Regent 6
Power 4
Mobilgas 2

Castrol 76
B.P. 14
Shell 3
Mobiloil 3
Esso 2
1 each: C.S.M.A., Silkolene, Veedol, Newton, Snowdrift, Germ, Duckhams and Oilgum

[N.B.: By no means all vintage-car owners use the lowest-octane grades. Two cars arc diesel-engined. Where more than one petrol or oil was specified the first choice is given – Ed.]

Serious defects?-
 “Sir!!” (1913 “Silver Ghost”),
Instruments- “No bother” (1927 Doctor’s coupé).
Instruments- “New speedometer cable at 210,000 miles” (1927 21,6 h.p.).
Engine- “Little-ends remettalled at approx. 210,000 miles” (1927 21.6 h.p.).
Engine- “Complete overhaul needed after 34 years” (1921 “Silver Ghost”).
Clutch- “Relined at 68,000 miles” (1929 21.6 h.p.).
Brakes- “Superb. Adjusted every four years” (1929 21.6 h.p.).
Brakes- “97% efficiency in 10-year test after 74,000 miles (1929 Twenty).
Brakes- “Had to re-line servo motor at 180,000 miles” (1927 21 h.p.).
Gearbox- “Sound but noisy 2nd gear at 200,000 miles” (1927 21.6 h.p.).

“Dropped a valve on M6” (1924/28 3/4½-litre).
Engine- “Piston failure-over-revving in 1956” (1928 3-litre).
Serious defects?- “Speedo cable broke at 89,000 miles” (1928 3-litre).
Final Drive- “Silent, absolutely” (1926 3-litre).
Final Drive- “Whines a bit-so would I after 40 years” (1923 3-litre).
Bodywork- “Bastard body fitted by University Motors in 1937/38. Now falling apart at the seams.” (1924 3-litre).
Bodywork- “Original paint getting shabby” (1927 3-litre).
Gearbox- “Noisy but perfectly efficient. Always goes in 1st” (1926 3-litre).
Instruments- “Rev.-counter has just failed after probably 300,000 miles” (1925 3-litre).
Instruments- “Original 8-day clock still keeps perfect time” (1927 3-litre).
Clutch- “Relined after 130,000 miles” (1928 4½-litre V.d.P.).


Swifts at Beaulieu

On September 9th we went swiftly to the Montagu Motor Museum in an Ogle Mini Cooper to see how many Swifts would turn up for the first Swift Rally, promoted by Lord Montagu, well-known sponsor of “lost causes.” Eleven of these Coventry-built cars had been entered, including a 1904 model and three Edwardian cyelecars. But, in spite of excellent weather, only seven Swifts assembled in the Rally Paddock, of which one 1929 model-31P Ten, realising it was scruffy if serviceable, did not enter for the Concours de Condition.

So the judges—Michael Sedgwick, Capt. Tapley and the Editor of Motor Sport—had a fairly easy task judging the remaining half-dozen cars. Certain Swift traits were seen—wooden bonnet boards prevailing right up to the end of the vintage era and later, protruding upholstery for the back seat of the tourers until 1928 but not afterwards, ¼-elliptic rear springs up to 1929 and magnetos even on post-vintage Tens.

First Prize went to J. B. Allaway’s very fine 1926 model-C 14/40 tourer, which on condition and originality scored 75 points in spite of having blue wings to match the body instead of black. The Veteran Award (73 points) was won by V. Rawlings’ painstakingly rebuilt 1914 twin-cylinder cyclecar, which will be in even more original order next time. At present it has a Singer front axle and rather too sporting mudguards. But its success was well deserved, as it had been driven down from Kenilworth the day before. Third Prize (65 points) went to R. C. Warne’s 1930 Ten saloon, which has a big trunk on the back and a one-nipple greasing system claimed to have been fitted to only one other Swift. Only one point in arrears was Paul’s 1928 model-3P Ten, the other Swifts present being a 1931 Ten drophead and a 1928 model-2P’ tourer. Unfortunately, none of the Swifts of the early ‘twenties or the disc-wheeled 10 h.p. model of the mid-twenties were present. The prizes were presented by Miss Dee Gardiner, the top South African mannequin and J. B. Allaway was elected Hon. Secretary of the newly-formed Swift Car Club. His address is : Challon, Shortheath Lane, Sulhampstead, Reading, Berkshire.-W. B,


No, not the sort that petty thieves, hardened criminals and motorists do better to avoid, but the kind you write when there isn’t time or inclination to send a letter. A reader brought to the office for our inspection a fascinating collection of early postcards, in a small period album, one to a page, almost all of which illustrate early motor vehicles. The collection opens with a picture of Dubois & Cie, Ingr E.P.C. of Rue de Tocqueville, Paris, with a Buick in the foreground, for which this garage was an agent. The date probably 1914—and even then, one notes, this garage was “Ouvert toute la nuit.”

To mention each individual p.c. is impossible, but I like the one showing a Bedelia cyclecar in a tunnel of the grande chartreuse, Grenoble, the 30-h.p. 3½ ton chain-drive Saurer cammion belonging to Moet & Chandon, carrying eight barrels on solid tyres, cars negotiating the floods in the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1910, and, much more modern, a Peugeot ‘bus carrying eight ladies, driver and guide on a tour of Lourdes. There are also the two identical pre-1914 Vinot station ‘buses of the Hydro mimerde des Fumades.

Inability to identify makes stops me from referring to more of these p.c.s, but a fine sight is that of early cars parked on the pavement under the trees at Cannes, and there is a later colour picture of a Darracq, two Chenard-Walckers, a Morris-Leon-Bollee and what looks like a sports 3-litre Bentley but is probably a Voisin, outside the Restaurant de la Forte at Le Touquet in mid-vintage times. Would that I could identify all the cars lined up in a picture taken outside the Hotel du Parc, Chantilly, about the same time— though I recognise Buick, Renault, Amilcar, and perhaps Vermorel and Mathis? There is a Sauter charabanc about to climb the Col de Porte on the Route de la Grande-Chartreuse, and vintage 11-h.p. Peugeot and big Piccard-Pictet resting in the shade on the Col. de la Schlucht at 1,159 feet. There is veteran de Dion, like Bob Porter’s, at Brolles, a small car, possibly an E.H.P., in Vivonne, a Mors at les Bains and a very early de Dion-engined vehicle that Dennis Field should see, outside the Hotel Lion d’or at Conchy-les-Pots. Circuit d’Auvergne competitors are shown at the Place de Jaude, but pre-I914 p.c.s of Piccadilly Circus and of Victoria Street show but one motor vehicle—a ‘bus—in the former. Some taxis and a small motor van are seen, however, crossing Marble Arch, and a colour p.c. of the Bank finds a steamwagon of E, W. Rudd amongst the route 15 and 58 (Hendon-Shoreditch) ‘buses. Vintage and veteran cars obviously figure prominently on postcards—a hint for other collectors.—W. B.

Vintage Morgan 3-wheeler enthusiasts will be interested to learn, if they have not already seen it, that R. S. Richmond of Parkstone had a letter in the V.M.C.C. Journal defending the 2-speeders. He covered 2,000 miles abroad this summer in his 1925 Aero Blackburne, in which he has crossed the six highest European passes and 22 others over 4,000 ft. in the past two years. He is also part-owner of a 1928 standard model 2-speeder and, while in France, saw a d’Yrsan.

What a splendid job the Bugatti O.C. Makes of its magazine, Bugantics, which hasn’t changed in character down the years— we have a complete set from 1929 filed away somewhere, including the first duplicated copy—but is full of good things. The Spring number which arrived last month contains, for instance, some very informative mechanical data in an article by S. S. Treascillian about Bugattis He Has Owned, notes on how to restore a Type 57, comments on the 1908 lsotta Fraschini, experiences in rebuilding a Type 38, etc. The new Secretary is Godfrey Eaton, 77, Longlands Road, Sidcup, Kent, and the B.O.C. is worth joining for Bugantics alone, for even if owning a Bugatti today hasn’t quite the allure that it had before the war, Bugantics, by its unchanging style and supply of fresh technical data about the marque, does its best to minimise this fact— whereas, for some unaccountable reason, the V.S.C.C. is wondering whether to alter the long-established format of its equally appreciated Bulletin, which has so far also remained the same as in pre-war days.

An aero-engined Mercedes is running on the road in Timaru, New Zealand. Apparently it dates from circa 1914 and has a 24-litre 6-cylinder engine and 4-seater open touring bodywork, according to the excellent Beaded Wheels, journal of the Vintage Car Clubs of N.Z. It would be interesting to know who originally built this hybrid and whether it was done in N.Z. or imported. Future issues of Beaded Wheels will include a history of motor racing at Muri Wai Beach from 1921-1928, the era of the “heavy metal.”

Low running costs. A reader refutes the recent A.A. estimate of £6 as the weekly cost of running a car. He runs a 4½-litre Bentley, a 3-litre Bentley, and a 14.9-h.p. Morris Oxford Six in the summer, the Morris only during the winter, doing his own repairs and using 4s. 2d. 5 gallon petrol, S.A.E. 40 oil at £2 for 5 gallons and insures all three cars for £18 per annum, special rates. His weekly pocket money of £5 covers all running costs.

From Goodyear Public Relations comes the remarkable story of a 1930 Chrysler 66 2-door saloon which has been purchased in New Zealand with a mileage of only 244. Apparently the original owner died two months after buying it. Since then it had spent its time in a garage, standing for 23 years on the original Canadian-made Goodyear 28 X 5.50 balloon tyres. These reinflated with no sign of hardening and are proving entirely satisfactory, not even the valve cores requiring replacement. Even more remarkable, the spare Goodyear was still almost fully inflated after this long retirement. The Goodyear floor mats, radiator hose and fan belt were also in first-class order and the only piece a new equipment needed to get this as-new Chrysler on the road was a battery.