Six hours for lunch

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No, not for the meal. This was the time it took me to drive to and from Silverstone for the Automotive Products’ party to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this flourishing industrial complex. An important part of it was a Cavalcade, over two laps of the GP circuit, of cars in which AP products have figured down the past five decades. A fine parade of 55 vehicles, ranging from a Rickman Metisse police motorcycle to a 1971 Bond Bug driven by Miss AP, duly took place. If some of the cars included were, one felt, hardly worth recalling, presumably AP considered that, whatever the shortcomings, the parts they had supplied were not a contributory factor! Mostly these were Borg & Beck clutches, Lockheed brakes, steering parts, Purolator filters, etc., and knowing what a tough job the clutch has in today’s traffic and how much punishment brakes and steering joints take from road grit, mud and salt, all credit to AP for making these parts so well. The Leamington Spa Company also makes that clever 4-speed automatic transmission which renders Minis suitable cars for morons. …

I drove from Wales to Silverstone, via such delectable places as Kington, Leominster, Worcester, Pershore, Evesham, Chipping Campden, Shipston-on-Stour, close to which a glider had come down in a ploughed field, Banbury (which isn’t delectable, at rush-hour time) and Brackley, in that new American car, the Chrysler Avenger GL. I wish to revise my earlier, rather hastily-formed, lukewarm opinion of this latest Hillman model. With an excellent gearbox, light steering, convenient controls, comfortable seats and a willingness it seems to have inherited from the Imp, the Avenger is an excellent family car, with good low-speed torque and acceptable performance in 1,495-c.c. form, while even on Dunlop Gold Seal C41s it contrives to cling to the road and it gives a thrifty 31.9 m.p.g.—so I hope our performance specialist will soon be telling you about honed-up Avengers.

Having parked this likeable Hillman (an appropriate car, with its Borg & Beck clutch!), I was able to enjoy the AP Cavalcade—the aeroplane-pack lunch, eaten against the deafening background noise of the saloon-racers practising, was a less memorable experience. First, “Lofty” England drove round in a smart XK120, to commemorate the 21st race anniversary of this famous sports-car. I must not embarrass the advertising chaps by publicising Jaguar in these pages, but I found myself wondering why this XKI20 was busy demonstrating itself to all those keen types who were at Silverstone if, as the company tells us, Jaguar do not generally sell cars to the sort of enthusiastic drivers who read Motor Sport. . . . ?

The Cavalcade which followed was most comprehensive. There were the obvious vintage cars, like two Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost tourers (and what AP parts, pray, did a 1920 Ghost use ?), a 1921 Morris-Cowley two-seater, BLMC’s 1923 Austin 7 (we can forgive it a push-start but why doesn’t someone clean its chassis ?), a 1927 fabric-bodied Anzani Frazer Nash and a 1929 Riley 9 tourer, the last-named entered not by an individual but by the Riley Register, which was a nice gesture. There was a rare 1924 Singer 10/26 tourer and I was glad to see two Triumphs, because this make pioneered Lockheed hydraulic brakes on British cars. The 1925 Fifteen saloon had its pedals labelled “Clutch” and “Brake” but, by the time the 1929 Seven was made, Triumph had apparently decided that drivers should have learned not to cross their legs or lift them up to peep at the pedals in moments of stress, because these helpful inscriptions do not appear on the smaller car. . . . The star-turn was Mrs. K. M. Horstmann, driving her 1922 Horstmann tourer, the closest link present between person and car, even if Syd Enever did drive Mr. Sash’s MG-B.

Other interesting cars were a 1933 six-cylinder Marendaz Special, Singer Le Mans, V12 Lagonda, Bean 14, Armstrong Siddeley Hurricane d.h., 20/90 British Salmson two-seater, SS 100, Lea-Francis 14, K1 Allard, and a Morgan 4/4 with blown I,098-c.c. Coventry-Climax engine. Then they had found good examples of 21/60 Wolseley, Austin Ten Cambridge, Healey Elliot, J-type Vauxhall 14, Standard Vanguard I, Riley RMA, Jowett Javelin, Hillman Minx Manumatic, 3-1/2-litre Bentley, Sunbeam Mk. III, Aston Martin DB2, Bristol 405, etc., all with AP associations, right down to the moderns, ending up with a 1970 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. Had this been a beauty show the judges would have had a very difficult task awarding the accolades (but I did notice the quite immaculate 1932 Hillman Minx of Mr. Adams). Rover was represented by a 1933 Ten coupe and a 2000. Humber by “Monty’s” 27-h.p. Staff Car (which may, alas, have been lost to this country after the forthcoming auction sale) and Mr. Hilton’s 1931 16/50, which does have a Borg & Beck clutch, albeit one made in Michigan, not in Leamington. I had a pleasant post-luncheon ride round in this comfortable saloon, in this altogether most commendable Cavalcade, which was supported by a fine colour programme. So I would like to say thank-you to this £50-million, 11,000-workforce company for so appropriately commemorating its well-deserved Golden Jubilee. It had also laid on some BRSCC FF, F5000 and saloon-car racing for those of its guests who had either never seen a motor race or who were avid followers of this class of racing. As neither applied to me I drove home after the Cavalcade was over.—W.B.

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