Vintage Postbag, October 1968

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Mystery of the T.T. Humbers

Sir,
I was interested to read the letter from F. R. Waly regarding the fate of one of the 1914 T.T. Humbers.

According to my records all three cars appeared after the war:—

(1) Kenneth Neve has the Burgess car.
(2) Wallbank raced Sam Wrights’ car at Brooklands in the late 1920s.
(3) Rampon blew up the W. G. Tuck car at the Faster meeting at Brooklands in 1921; this car was later and unsuccessfully fitted with a Sunbeam Arab aeroplane engine.

So Mr. Waly’s friend’s car, which must have been the Sam Wright or W. G. Tuck car as Burgess retained his own car until late 1919, found its way back to this country either during or after the war.

I am very puzzled also by the statement that the car was bought after the race and taken to France in the late summer of 1914. Again my records show that Burgess retained his own car until 1919 and that the other two cars were up for sale in November 1914 and that they were still not sold in June 1915.

Was it really a 1914 T.T. Humber? If so, were four cars built for the race? I have never seen any evidence of a fourth car.

Byfleet. John C. Tarring.
* * *

Departures from Standard

Sir,
In your report of the V.S.C.C. Prescott Hill-Climb in the September issue„ you refer to Barry Clarke’s Austin 7 as an Austin Special. The question of specials is of particular interest within the V.S.C.C. at present and your description of Barry’s car has caused me to think about this particular case.

Barry invited me to be second driver of his car, which he described to me as a 1929 Austin Ulster, at all the V.S.C.C. race meetings this year. I know very little about Austin 7s, particularly the ones used for racing, but, having found that I can often lap faster than the others, I have been comparing the cars and looking for obvious modifications to Barry’s that might give it better performance. I have noticed that it has cable brakes, whereas several of the others have hydraulic systems; that it has a single carburetter, whereas several of the others have two and some are supercharged. I happen to know that it has a two-bearing, non-pressure feed crankshaft and that some people think the pressure feed type is preferable. It runs on racing tyres, but so do some of the others. The commentator at Prescott thought it had independent front suspension but in fact it has an ordinary beam axle. Perhaps he was misled by the chromium-plated friction shock-absorber arms.

In short, it appears to my innocent but inquisitive eyes that Barry’s Austin is one of the least modified and least deserving of the adjective “special” and that some of the modifications to the other examples may be doing them very little good.

Wimborne. J. K. Milner.

[Apparently there are more special than standard Austin 7s racing in V.S.C.C. events, and we are glad Mr. Milner has made his point on behalf of Mr. Clarke—Ed.]
* * *

Early Registration Numbers

Sir,
I read Mr. Howlett’s letter regarding apparent discrepancy in the registration numbers on his father’s 1904 Wolseley and his A.C. Tricar. When number plates first became legal—I think it was in 1904—the plates were retained by the owner when parting with the car or motorcycle, and used again on any subsequent purchase. Later, of course, the number plates had to remain on the vehicle when disposed of. This may possibly account for Mr. Howlett’s query.

I read Dr. Howlett’s Diary of his 1907 Tour on the Wolseley with great interest, and learnt that he competed in the M.C.C. 1912 “Edinburgh” on the A.C. Tricar. I was in the same Run and obtained a gold medal on a Rex sidecar outfit.

Chagford. Walter A. Jacobs.
* * *

Another Dennis “Toast Rack”

Sir,
I thought you might be interested to hear some news regarding the sister vehicle of Dennis “Toast Rack” which you published in your June issue.

This particular Dennis, of 1928 vintage, was found some eight years ago on the East Coast, in a very decrepit condition. It was restored to its present pristine condition by a coach operator in Great Yarmouth, who used her up until last year. Recently a coach operator from Queensferry, N. Wales, purchased this interesting vehicle and I accompanied him and two other persons to Great Yarmouth, from where the Dennis was driven the 246 miles to its new home.

After the “Toast Rack” has been painted in her new owner’s livery it is hoped to drive her to Llandudno and then up the Orme, her old working ground.

Llanbedr. M. C. Jones.
* * *
A Mystery Solved

Sir,
Re your enquiry concerning the photograph at the foot of page 801 in the September issues of Motor Sport.

There is a picture of this vehicle, with the same background, in B. T. White’s “British Armoured Vehicles” (Ian Allan, 1964). He says of this vehicle:

“A Sizaire-Berwick 20 h.p. chassis was used for an interesting experiment at the R.N.A.S. Armoured Car Division Headquarters at Wormwood Scrubs in the summer of 1915. This was built as an armoured car intended for operation in desert conditions, and a 110 h.p. Sunbeam aero engine was mounted at the rear, driving a four-bladed propeller, to provide propulsion over soft sand. This chassis was supplied by the F. W. Berwick Company, who also fitted the aero engine, but the armour was made by the Admiralty. One Vickers-Maxim machine gun was mounted beside the driver, and able to fire forwards only. This vehicle, known as “Wind Waggon”, was never used in action, one probable reason being that the aero engine left very little space for the crew, armament or equipment.”

Yeovil. R. C. Bignold.

[We thank Mr. Bignold and the very many other readers, including a boy of 13, for this explanation. Information has also come in about the Daimler-Foster tractor. Motor Sport usually comes up with the answer on obscure historical matters.—Ed.]
* * *

S.T.D.—An Explanation

Sir,
We would like to add an explanation to your report on the V.S.C.C. Prescott Hill-Climb in the September Motor Sport, when you stated that Batt’s Eccles-Replica blown Rapier was overgeared and made s.t.d. in 81.05 sec.

The car is not, in fact, overgeared, but we were using third gear in order to keep the revs. on the newly-rebuilt engine down and so try and stave off, unsuccessfully as it happened, a mechanical calamity. The reason for s.t.d. was the fact that the second half of the climb from the Esses upwards, was done with a broken piston and liner! Fastest practice time with the car was 55.77 sec. without really trying and we feel sure that, had the calamity not struck on the first run, we would have been pretty near the class winner’s time of 52.45 sec. In fact, had the engine not been so new, a second gear climb of the hill would have been quite startling! All conjecture, of course, but we hope for better luck next year.

London, N.W.6. Tony Wood and John Batt.