Obituary - Mr. G. R. N. Minchin

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Having mentioned elsewhere that Mr. Minchin was seriously ill, we are deeply sorry to learn, as we close for press, that he has died, in S. Africa, where he went to live after his retirement some years ago. Mr. Minchin held an important position with Peto & Radford and the Chloride Battery Company in the 1920s and 1930s and was closely associated, in this capacity, with Rolls-Royce Ltd. He knew most of the great personalities of the motoring firmament in those days, such as the Paddon brothers, the racing drivers, etc. In 1920 he had a rather special 40/50 Rolls-Royce and by 1950 had owned 13 motorcycles and 154 different cars. Of these, his favourites were his 1913 26/60 Metallurgique, the 1920 Rolls-Royce, a 1929 Rolls-Royce Twenty, a 1936 4 1/4-litre Bentley, and his 1939 321 Frazer Nash-BMW. In 1930 his great friend, Sir Henry Royce, suggested to Minchin that he wouldn’t be able to write a thriller. The result was “N7”, containing a fine description of that famous French road, as it then was, and with the solution to the mystery, resting in the positioning of the controls of a Rolls-Royce car that figured prominently in the story. In 1951 came Minchin’s “Under My Bonnet”, a book of intriguing motoring anecdotes, which is still excellent fireside-reading, if you can get hold of a copy.

Before moving out of England for good, Minchin had the greatest difficulty in finding anyone who would appreciate his complete collection of The Autocar from 1895 onwards, and his complete set of Flight. Only by persuasion was the Librarian at Rolls-Royce Ltd. made it accept the former, and I believe the latter went to Farnborough. When I expressed surprise, Mr. Minchin told me “It’s quite true. I wish you had told me you were interested. You could have had the lot, for nothing. But it would have taken you several journeys with a van to get them all home.” I wish I had known …!

Mr. Minchin was educated at Tonbridge and Cambridge. His father was Prof. George Minchin, MA, FRS, Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Royal Indian Engineering College at Coopers Hill, in Surrey. Arrangements were made in 1903 to close Coopers Hill by 1906, and Minchin recalled how the then-President, General Sir Alexander Taylor, VC, was white with anger and remarked “I will tell you one thing. The day we dose Coopers Hill you will see the beginning of the decline of British rule and prestige in India.” We now know how right he was. Minchin-the-son became interested in cars, in the days when it was all new and exciting. We shall never experience that, or see his like, again. -W.B.

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Those who are enjoying a Fiesta my like to know that Edouard Seidler’s book “Let’s Call It Fiesta”, describing the birth and launging of Ford’s new hatchback small-car, is now available as a paperback, for £3.95. The publishers are PSI, Barr Hill, Cambridge.
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The Chloride Group has asked us to say that Bardic electro-torches, from which the Editor has had such good service, are still made. the 2-cell BM44S torch costs £4.95, the 3-cell BM66S is priced at £5.25, plus VAT.

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