The Second Cyclecar Rally

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Following the first successful cyclecar rally held in 1975, a second such event took place at the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden Aerodrome on September 3rd, a lovely sunny day, at the same time as the VSCC Light Car Section held its driving tests. The latter part of the event attracted a large entry of light cars and no less than eight Edwardians, so that the addition of twenty-four cyclecars provided a very period atmosphere, enhanced by the occasional biplane taking off from the aerodrome, and an evening ascent by a hot-air balloon. Almost every imaginable configuration of cylinders could be seen and heard, from a 5oo c.c. flat-twin up to the straight eight of a spectating Grand Prix Bugatti, which in such company looked unusually modern and conventional. Amongst the cyclecars Morgans predominated, as one would expect from the most successful cyclecar of all; almost every V-twin-engined model was represented, including a fine pair of 1913 Runabouts, examples of Family, Aero, Super Aero and Super Sports, and the organiser’s four-wheeled Aero, fitted with a GN rear axle. It was rather nice that during the day the news filtered through that the VSCC now has the blessing of both the RAC and the ACU to admit vintage three-wheelers to full Club membership, so that for the first time in over fifty years Morgans will be seen once again in regular competition with their four-wheeled contemporaries. An attractive and appropriate trophy, comprising a framed photograph of a 1913 racing Carden at Brooklands, had been presented by the National Motor Museum, and was won on a card vote for the “Most’ Desirable Cyclecar of the Day” by Pat Mather’s 1920 Baughan, a fascinating 11-seat four-wheeler powered by a V-twin JAP engine which boasted a functioning self-starter. Runner-up was a single-cylinder tandem-seat four-wheeler of unknown make, whose wooden front axle was complemented by a trackrod of the same material. Like many such cars of the period it was obviously built up from proprietary parts, but the detail work on the body was of an unusually high standard, the wooden framing being strengthened by crossbracing of bicycle spokes in tension. The actual motoring during the day was confined to a couple of driving tests during the morning, and for those brave and legal enough, a two-mile drive to the pub in Old Warden at lunchtime. ‘This heavy schedule was tackled manfully by Mike Bullett, who had entered his 1918 AV Monocar. the fact that this splendid device, complete with centre-pivot wire and bobbin steering, had passed the MoT test earlier in the year must give heart to all true cyclecarists, not to mention the gentleman in last month’s MOTOR SPORT who was having trouble with his Hillman Avenger’s rear lamp glasses. Stripped to the waist, Mike and his son spent the entire morning sprinting round Old Warden trying to Persuade it to run properly on both cylinders, this being one of the later advanced models fitted with a JAP V-twin engine. In great triumph, and to loud applause, they finally reached the pub. although on the return journey the AV got away from them in the course of a push-start, narrowly missing the Steward of the Meeting’s car, and finishing up in the hedge, fortunately without damage.

Other entries included a pair of GNs, Arthur Jeddere-Fisher’s “El Parnpero”, its MAG engine sounding very healthy; Tom Threlfall’s rare 1924 Hotchkiss V-twin-engined BSA four wheeler, Paul Cooper’s fascinating Sim Violet, 1.ucy Harrison’s 1910 AC Sociable in delightfully original unrestored order, and examples of Bleriot Whippet, Rover, Singer and a 1914 vertical-twin Swift. In spite of the good entry, there were some notable omissions from the list of makes represented. It is hoped to run another Cyclecar Rally in two or three years’ time, when perhaps we might see examples of Bedelia, Scott Sociable. BSA three-wheeler and GWK, not to mention some of the more exotic French and American cyclecars.

Roger Richmond.

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