Veteran - Edwardian - vintage, October 1963

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A section devoted to old-car matters

The American Car Rally at Beaulieu (September 8th)

Occasionally there are attractions in the rally field adjacent to the Montagu Motor Museum, such as the “Lost Causes” assembly. This year Lord Montagu decided to call upon pre-1943 American and Anglo-American cars to prove that they are not extinct in England and that some of them are more individualistic than those Durants, Dorts, Dodges, Chevrolets and Fords of the early-twenties, which all bore such a close resemblance—although even these had points of individuality for the knowledgeable.

A wet Sunday morning did not deter most of the 65 entrants from congregating in the muddy, soggy field, although, as we ate our sandwiches and watched a “Seven Up” Kamer lorry bog itself down in front of us, perhaps jealous that it wasn’t a Dodge or Reo or something, it all looked very dismal. Perhaps, we thought, it was as well that Ford’s Public Affair’s Department had been unable to find us a suitable Ford to enter and we had been obliged to come in the Morris 1100….

After lunch the sun came out and the very interesting cavalcade was seen to better advantage. Quite prodigious was the commentary by Michael Sedgwick, the Museum Curator, who talked nonstop for some 1 1/2 hours, giving not only notes on individual entries but a concise history of the American Motor Industry. Even so, he was unable to talk about the Railtons before it was time to announce the results!

The judges were Kaye Don, famous racing driver, who naturally arrived in an eye catching Pontiac Parisienne (he is agent for the make), Harry Schell of the Classic C.C. of G.B., and M. Lambert, of the Amilcar Register, but an expert on Cord and other transatlantic automobiles.

Not that there were any Cords present, but Vintage Car Services had their 1936 model-851 Auburn Speedster present, an exciting-looking Firestone-shod 2-seater in good order. Said to have been imported for Marlene Dietrich and then owned by an Air Commodore, it has four flexible outside exhaust pipes clamped onto the s.v. engine, a mediocre-looking centrifugal blower, 3-speed gearbox and a plate on the dash certifying that Ab Jenkins was timed in it at 100.6 m.p.h.

The oldest but one competing car was F. Smith’s 1904 tiller-steered curved-dash Oldsmobile which arrived on its trailer to win the Pioneer Class, surely the easiest win ever, for it only ran a few yards. The only opposition came from R. G. J. Nash’s 1901 Columbia Electric phaeton, and that came only from the adjacent Montagu Motor Museum.

The next class went to Friarcliff Motors’ very smart 1918 Ford model-T 7 cwt van, which arrived boiling faintly and emitting smoke clouds. These cars had a class to themselves, and opposition came from S. J. Baker’s 1919 tourer and Finch’s very scruffy 1923 boy’s racer.”

The model-A Ford Class was won justifiably by D. C. Thomas very clean and original AF 2-seater, which has those brass strips between distributor and plugs. Two drop-heads and a 2-door 1931-AF saloon represented cars for which a separate Register now exists—it has already issued two bulletins and reckons £40 enough to pay for a good-working model-A. More strength to it!

The Class for all vintage Yanks bar Ford had a better entry. P. E. Macey brought three very nice Essex Super Sixes, two 4-door, 4-light “coaches,” one with wire, the other with wooden wheels, and a wooden-wheeled drop-head, all of 1929 vintage. Very notable was C. A. Piggott’s 1928 white Buick tourer with blue mudguards, curtain-style side screens, wire wheels, bulb horn and contracting front-brakes. The 1920 Stanley steamer came from the Museum, there were a Big Six and a Mulliner fabric saloon Graham-Paiges, a very clean and typically-American 1929 Stutz Black Hawk saloon with external sun vizor and side-mounted spare wheels as favoured in the States, and a 1929 straight-eight Marmon Roosevelt straight-eight Town Sedan with a V.S.C.C. and an A.A.C. of A. flanking its A.A. badge. The bulkhead was done in aluminium paint and this was in evidence on some engines but as American machinery is nothing to look at compared to British and European vintage cars, perhaps it doesn’t matter. Extremely impressive was a Cord-styled s. v. straight-eight Chrysler Imperial saloon with large rear luggage platform, bearing Amilcar Register, C.C.C. of A., V.S.C.C. and Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg badges, etc., but its engine was dirty. The Stutz took first place.

Model B and V8 Fords had a class to themselves, in which J. E. Mallett’s narrow-nosed 1939/40 Mercury with Ford de-luxe convertible coupé body scored over the V8, two of which had very ugly bodies, and two model-Bs.

The best-supported class was that for Classic and Special Interest Americans, Fords again excepted. Although 1942 was the end-date, nothing later than 1939 appeared. The entry in this category comprised the aforesaid Auburn Speedster, eight Buicks, seven Packards, two V12 Lincoln Zephyrs, three Chryslers and a Plymouth, two Hudsons and an Essex, and lone-examples of Pontiac and Studebaker but, curiously, not a single Cadillac. None of the Buicks was the actual Mrs. Simpson car, about which Sedgwick quoted a schoolboy verse, but we understand this is being restored for exhibition in the Brighton Motor Museum. Three, however, were of similar type, all o.h.v. straight-eights, W. Nuttall’s 35 h.p., 5-litre limousine, series NA (implying “knee-action” or i.f.s.) with racing-style top water pipe. R. T. Barritt had a 1935 Buick series NA Type 50 Viceroy sedan, B. W. Redgrave a 1936 Roadmaster 7-passenger sedan, while L. Mersh brought a white 1936 series DA phaeton with what the commentator described as “vertical waterfall” front styling. N. Roscoe’s 1938 Buick was a short-wheelbase Century convertible coupé. Several of the Buicks were Canadian-built McLaughtan models, the 1936 version with square instruments, but the Century having arc-type speedometer dial in a square frame but a circular clock. P. Cox’s 1935 Buick was a Type 50 drophead.

P. Beardall’s scruffy 1933 Chrysler had a Plymouth engine, Cripps’ 1934 4.2-litre s.v. straight-eight i.f.s. Hudson was the big sister of the Terraplane and is in regular use, all the Packards were Super Eights, no Type 120s being present, of which Page’s 1937 limousine had a circle-type roof radio aerial, Hydes’ 1937 touring sedan, badge and lamp laden, was outstandingly smart, and all the Packards were extremely regal looking vehicles, less flamboyant than most of the big Americans.

K. C. Stone’s 1939 Buick sedan, on Trade Plates, had a jockey riding a horse on its scuttle and some of the Packards had birds as radiator mascots, with beaks conveniently curved round to overcome the legal point about no sharp protruding points facing forward. C. Brown’s 1938 Studebaker Commander Six sported curious Whiteway headlamps recessed between radiator and wings. B. Muckle had the hood of his vast 1937 Chrysler in the coupe de ville position. E. Sutton’s 1934/5 Plymouth had a Airglide convertible body. Out of this diverse and imposing assembly first prize went to a Packard that wasn’t in the programme.

One class remained, that for Anglo-American Custom-bodied cars. Seven Railtons contested it, of which P. Barker’s 1934 sports-tourer was the only open car, against a rough but rare 1938 Brough Superior Alpine sports model. The prize went to J. H. Nunn’s 1934 Railton sport sedan. The prizes, when they could be found, were presented by the American Consul in Southampton.

This unique gathering of American cars ranging from 1901 to 1940 seemed to appeal to the onlookers, and will undoubtedly arouse interest in such cars. It could also inflate the prices of what have, up to now, been comparatively neglected and therefore inexpensive pre-war cars, unless purchasers are sensible and refuse to pay fancy sums.—W. B.

American rally asides

The commentator compared the 6-cylinder Stutz Black Hawk with the contemporary Wolverhampton Sunbeams.

***

The Marmon Roosevelt was described as probably the first straight-eight to sell for under 1,000 dollars.

***

Perhaps the smartest Ford V8 was P. Tucker’s 1934 drophead coupé, a V8-40, with Whitewall tyres. Ugliest was W. Pearman’s 1933 V8-40 with old touring body.

***

M. Anderson’s 1932 model BF Ford cabriolet bore a plaque, inscribed “The Annie Tate.” Why?

***
R. M. Hoare’s 1930 La Salle roadster, nearest to a Cadillac on the field, was a fearsome shade of blue and carried a searchlight on each side. It was once owned by a Maharajah and used for big game hunting but was found in Devon.

***

M.G.s have octagon badges; Essex Super Sixes have hexagons!

***

Very nice was the sole Overland tourer present, with single lower leaves below its splayed transverse front springing, and high-set magneto.

***

In the car park were a 1928 Little Marmon straight-eight saloon, a 1930/31 Essex Challenger “coach” and a fine Packard Super Eight. Asked what a Packard has that a Rolls-Royce hasn’t, the driver of the last-named replied without hesitation: “Better suspension, less direct steering and more acceleration,” adding, “I should know, I’ve had five R.-R.s.”

***

Both Graham-Paiges had the “twin-top” gearbox.

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