Dunlop test fleets

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We have referred previously to the Sunbeam and Alvis racing cars used in vintage times by the Dunlop Rubber Co. Ltd. for testing their tyres. Now Mr. Ian Norris, of Fort Dunlop, has sent us two old photographs of test fleets maintained in those days by Dunlop. They appear to have been in use about the time when the three-square-stud tread replaced the famous herringbone tread at Fort Dunlop—I remember that those splendid model tyres which Dunlop made for the Meccano system changed their tread pattern at the same time.

The older fleet, posed for the camera, has two solo motorcycles, a motorcycle combination and two drop-bars bicycles, their riders in knee breeches, in the front row. In the next row are three bull-nose Morris cars, two probably Oxfords, both tourers, and a Cowley two-seater, all four-wheel-braked, backed up by a flat-radiator Morris-Cowley tourer, which dates the picture as 1927 or probably a bit later. In the row behind, a Sunbeam tourer, probably a 25, keeps company with one of those early sv Humber two-seaters having its headlamps faired into the front mudguards, a Model-A Ford tourer and another tourer hidden from view.

Besides these, there are two Daimlers, both vee-windscreen closed models, one quite an early example, circa 1923, the other a later model, a Hillman 14 saloon, a flat-radiator Morris saloon and a Vauxhall tourer which is probably a 25 h.p. or a 23/60, used, one supposes, to test beaded-edge tyres which Dunlop must still have been supplying as replacements. Then there are the commercials—a Morris Commercial truck, full of tyres, a Leyland canvas-topped truck and a Guy of similar type. The drivers of these vehicles are standing beside them in a variety of clothing and in the background a man holds a hose—his task was to wash the fleet, I suspect, rather than to lubricate a skid-pan. Some, but not all, the vehicles have AA badges and the registration letters differ, probably because the cars were supplied by agents.

The other picture, taken in 1928, shows presumably the same cycles and motorcycles but a single line of cars consisting of a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost saloon (VC993), this having both RAC and AA badges and a cloth-capped driver, the Sunbeam tourer, a Wolseley saloon, presumably a 21/60, a Model-A Ford saloon, two flat-nose Morris tourers, and a smaller Wolseley saloon, probably a 13/32. The commercials now comprise the Morris Commercial, a Dennis and Leyland Cub with van bodies which may be converted ‘buses, both with forward drive cabs, a Chevrolet canvas-topped truck, a Leyland ditto and what I think is a Thornycroft, with similar body to that on the Chevrolet. Interesting!—W. B.