A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
The VSCC at Madresfield (Sept. 3rd)
What a pleasant event the annual driving test meeting at Madresfield is! Competitors and spectators park on the wide grass verges flanking the long drive leading to Lord Beauchamp’s house and during the afternoon leisurely manoeuvres take place which try to a mild extent the prowess of machinery and drivers. It is a pity that the RAC no longer permits speed trials to happen at this venue but the cars of those who turn up, to meet friends and enjoy vintage cars rather than to indulge in frantic activity, form a fine open-air motor show, ranging this time from an immaculate Sunbeam motorcycle combination to a lengthy Delage.
Under the circumstances detailed reporting isn’t called for. Let us just say that we happened to observe Mrs. Cherrett (1928 1 1/2-litre Alfa Romeo) smoking heavily—we hear she is now driving a BMW, but not for this reason—appreciated the silent functioning of Southall’s 1920 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost tourer with its Pratts cans on the running board—until it put on its brakes—and were pleased to see an Edwardian Arrol-Johnston competing against a 1911 Renault. Watson led off in his 1926 Armstrong Siddeley coupé, so excellently restored that we should never have recognised it as the car we discovered in Margate years ago when salvaging a Rover Eight, had he not reminded us. Baker drove a neat Fiat 509A coupé, the Costigans were out in force, R. C. G. in a handsome Talbot which looked like a 105 tourer but is in fact a 1933 65 on Nokia back tyres, and M. J. with spanners strategically placed to deal with the Autovac of his 1927 Austin 12/4 saloon should it become recalcitrant. Percival and Bullett were in nicely original 1928 12/50 Alvis tourers, followed by Mrs. Thetford in a 12/60 Alvis Special with man-size external handbrake. Not all the Amilcars were indulging in European fraternisation on the South Coast, for Payne’s CGS was present at Madresfield. Buckle was seen to have incredibly new tyres on the front wheels of his Lancia Lambda and we had scarcely recovered from that when there was the shock of seeing President Arnold-Forster break the transmission of his 14/40 Delage—in the slow-running test. In this, Cann’s 15/98 Aston Martin stopped its engine. There was plenty of variety—Mrs. Bell’s nice 10/23 Talbot two-seater, Hardy’s Delage DM, Mrs. Binns driving her husband’s HRG, Hill’s Type 49 Bugatti, the Straker Squire, Shaw’s 1933 Marendaz Special, several 18/80 MGs and Mrs. Arnold-Forster’s game GN. And talking of cyclecars, the star turn was Kenneth Jeddere-Fisher coping with his father’s Baron Lee Ackroyd, née Il Pampero, hand throttle, wire-and-bobbin steering, cantilever front springs, belt drive, and the rest, a brave effort in a driving test frolic and a nice example of how VSCC tradition is handed on from father to sons, K.C.’s brother having driven this fearsome machine at Madresfield last year. — W. B.
Austin Register run
The Vintage Austin Register is having a run on October 15th with, as the Register tells us, “no more serious an intention than to enjoy driving our cars through 35 miles of Hampshire countryside”. Assembly is between 10-11 a.m. at the Le Court Cheshire Home, Liss, and will terminate at a steam collection. It is hoped to be able to offer rides to those residents of the home who are willing and able to participate. All suitable Austins—members or not—will be most welcome.
Tidying up Britain
Young Robin Townsend, who runs the Jarrott Engineering Co. and who has restored a Gwynne Eight and endowed it with a very presentable and sporting replica body, has kindly donated to the Editor’s collection of off-beat motoring literature a most unusual little booklet. It is Called “The Village Pump” and was issued by the Design and Industries Association, apparently in the very curly 1930s, as a guide to better garages. It is full of photographs of 1920s garages and petrol stations, both ugly and improved, pointing the way to better-looking service stations. Pictures of traffic in towns and country roads of long ago are notably fascinating and these pictures of ancient petrol stations are similarly nostalgic, although how the publishers avoided libel actions on behalf of the owners of the uglier ones we cannot conceive.
There is, for instance, a garage on the Yorkshire Moors, a litter of pumps and bins before a shack building, with a big Raleigh sign in the foreground labelled “Typical and tragic”, and a garage in Dunstable littered with signs, Power petrol being prominently advertised. A “Mr. Bibendum” sign hung from a tree outside Stratford-on-Avon is condemned and there is a Midlands filling station still very ugly after a partial clean-up order by the local council although this has not prevented a motorcycle combination and an angular Austin saloon from stopping there. Conversely, Colnbrook station near Petworth is commended but we doubt if you could find it or the adjacent neat signpost today. Two photographs are used to depict how a big sign advising motorists to “Fill Up at the Blue pump with Dominion Motor Spirit and save 2d per gallon” had disfigured a village in Nottingham shire where a Shell sign was also to blame, and T. Armstrong’s Wolston Garage tacked onto a house in a pleasant Warwickshire village and covered with signs for Pratts, Mobiloil, Vacuum Oils, Glico, etc., is shown without a pithy Caption, perhaps because of feared libel action. Then we see Shell-Mex’s reps, casting away ugly signs from the Light Car and Motor Cycle Garage in Theale, Berkshire, along, apparently, with those for BP and Mobiloil! The same garage is then depicted with its “clean face”, a bull-nose Morris-Cowley two-seater, an early Austin Twelve tourer and a Cotton motorcycle supporting it, and finally it is seen painted in a cream and black colour scheme, with a plus-foured gentleman, his dog, and what looks like a sports Marendaz Special on the forecourt. What, we wonder, does this country garage look like now?
Oxford, “the city of culture”, was disgraced by the Summertown Garage, but the treatment of a garage below the Liberal Club in Newbury is commended and Shell praised for having later removed a “Fill Up Here With Shell” sign in Shakespeare’s country, although in Stratford itself huge Redline and BP signs are shown, with the comment “What do American visitors think ?”. Then come the better ones, including a tilling station at Muswell Hill which won the National Gardens Guild Competition, a tidy one at Hamilton in Scotland, and modern garage architecture at Taskers Garage at Dorchester, Dorset, while the Five Way Garage at Norwich was approved. There is an imitation half-timbered garage on the Kingston By-Pass where a Chrysler roadster is a visitor and a Dodge appears to be patronising a “little brick station” at Popham Lane, Hampshire. A tidy layout based on an ordinary bungalow is shown at Mill Brow, Barrow-in-Furness and what is, we think, the Fox and Nicholl garage at Tolworth is described as “well conceived”. The Esher Filling Station got the top accolade in this curious little book. as “perhaps the best-designed filling station in the country”. A sort of pagoda for the pumps was liked at Cheltenham and the book closes with garages in Germany and America. The last picture is of a horrid mess of signs at a garage selling Pratts for 1/2½d. a gallon.
We mention this 6d. booklet from the age of Super Redline and the new Power petrol because some Motor Sport readers may be amused to seek out these old service stations today. And as Mr. Townsend so generously donated it, we would remark that in this present day and age his Company does its best to supply those difficult-to-obtain items for the restoration of the older cars, such as taper pins, Whittle belting, cotter pins, double-pole bulbs, etc.. that we were on about some months ago. — W. B.
V-E-V Odds and Ends.—An Edwardian Sunbeam is reported to languish in an E. Anglian garage but is not for sale. What appears to be either a once-armoured or aeroplane-engined Rolls-Royce (see picture) took part in a recent rally at Wollongong, NSW. A 1922 4½-litre Sizaire-Perwick is being restored in Canberra and is said to have a very light clutch and steering. A reader seeks data on all known Riley Imps. What is thought to be the last Sentinel steam waggon in commercial use is owned by Lloyd Jones Bros. of Llanfair. It is a 1929 DG4 Super engaged in tar-spraying and got its picture in the Denbighshire Free Press. Woodmansterne Ltd., Holywell Industrial Estate, Watford, do a set of colour slides, No. Y50. Y51 and Y52, depicting cars in the National Motor Museum; at the other end of the scale they list moon-shot transparencies, No. MN05. Old cars still turn up—a circa 1906 Rover Eight was auctioned not long ago at a furniture sale in Wolvey, and a 1931 Singer Eight saloon has been unearthed from beneath seed boxes in an old farm shed, where it had languished, a two-owner car, since 1949, with 7,000 miles run. It seems that the Maudslay Motor Co. of Aleester is still in business.
A 1930s Albion GPO van has been Saved in Shropshire. The August 18th issue of Model Engineer contained an interesting article about a model Gnome Monosoupape rotary aero engine which won the Bradbury Winter Memorial Challenge Cup for its builder, J. London, at the last Model Engineer Exhibition. It runs at from 800 to 1,400 r.p.m. and did so throughout most of the “Battle of Britain” day at RAF Leuchars. We have encountered two Austin Ruby saloons advertised at the roadside recently, both being priced at over £200, but not by any means making an early sale! One had no MoT, a non-standard head and the dynamo wasn’t charging . . .