On the Sunday of the S.B.A.C. Display, to escape Sudden Aircraft Noises, we went to Beaulieu for the 2nd. American Car Rally, organised by the C.A.A.C. of G.B. We used the Ford Cortina GT, as the nearest thing to an American car, pace Dr. Bayley, that was available.
In quantity, pre-1941 American automobiles are hardly inspiring and it is easy to see why the V.S.C.C. has been slow to adopt them. But things in small demand are inexpensive to acquire, which may be the attraction behind such cars—at the rally there was a Packard for sale, spotless within, its wings daubed with an amateur paint job, an s.v. engine buried surprisingly deeply under its lofty hood.” The price was £60 o.n.o. …
On all sides, nevertheless, the technicalities of American autos were being discussed with a warmth that rivalled that of the Indian Summer which graced proceedings. The entry differed little from last year and as the cars were not numbered they were difficult to identify, nor had the commentary commenced by 2.30 p.m., when we had to leave. But we noted three Packard Super 8s, very large and long and perhaps the finest cars present, a mere Packard Eight, the Firestone-shod Auburn Supercharged roadster which stole the show last time, now in a new coat of white from the Museum paint pots, five model-T Fords, segregated at one corner of the field, three being brass-rads, two the later version, a Hudson Eight with a carburetter like a domestic cistern, which provided transport for a Siamese cat, and a Terraplane saloon. Then there was a Lincoln Zephyr coupe, a very rare, scruffy and untaxed 1937 Chrysler Super Power with the George Eyston saloon body, a very shabby V12 Lincoln Zephyr, a couple of Pontiacs, two more Packards (plus a roadster still on its way, seen later in the Sunday traffic ?), a 6-cylinder Packard 2-seater fully open, perhaps because it was devoid of a hood, four more Chryslers, one of which was adorned with two forward-facing licence-holders containing Chrysler Corporation insignias, half-a-dozen A & B Fords plus a couple of late V8s, a very attenuated 1911 Huomobile Raceabout and an exciting 1912 Buick 2-seater of sporting demeanour with exposed valve gear, long, gaitered, cantilever rear springs, the expected detachable rims and a Long-tubed bulb-horn. A 1915 Bedford Buick contained ladies in period costume, a 1926 Buick “Country Club” roadster was in immaculate condition, as were two Essex Super Sixes, a vintage Pontiac coupe displayed a radiator guard literally of wire-mesh, a Stutz Black Hawk of 1929 vintage on Michelin zig-zags ” was another in true Concours d’Elegance condition, in contrast with the bulk of the entry, and the rare Roamer which has featured in Motor Sport had come all the way from Wales with one overnight stop. A 1917 Overland, a 1928 Buick tourer, a yellow Overland Whippet saloon, a less presentable Essex Super Six, the Judge’s Marmon Roosevelt, an Indian motorcycle on a trailer, one lonely but very presentable Railton, a Ford-B van and a disreputable McLaughton Buick completed the assembly. The problem which owners of such cars face in respect of tyres Was reflected by an imposing Packard Super 8 which was on a combination of Dunlop, India and Firestone covers, while another was on Firestone and Michelin covers and the Eyston Chrysler on a mixture of Dunlop and John Bull retreads. One Packard Super 8, however, possessed a set of India Supers.
The entry, less comprehensive this year, did not encompass a single specimen of the rather endearing Chevrolet ” Stove Bolt Six” or “Cast-Iron Wonder,” which retained c.i. pistons right up to 1953 and employed stove bolts to hold together many of its engine externals, so that, rumour had it, they could be overhauled with nothing more elaborate than a screwdriver, wrench and a big hammer! surprising, because quite a number are still in use.
Plenty to please American car buffs, if hardly to inspire trueblue vintagents. But again one Rolls-Royce gate-crashed to watch.—W. B.