BUICK POSTSCRIPT

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[The following notes and photographs relating to his long association with Buick and Lendrum Hamnan by the late Mr. Russell Johns arrived too late for inclusion in “Buick Bygones” (tee pages 1560-1562) but art of such interest that we are glad to include them. — Ed.]

The manager responsible for reorganising and maintaining the efficiency of the works from 1924 to 1939 was Mr. M. G. Armstrong. He had been recruited by Capt. Hartman from The Buick Co. of Boston USA and proved to be a most able and popular manager. He was assisted by Mr. Ted Taylor, his under-manager, who had previously been employed by General Motors. A very popular Canadian, Mr. R. H. Berryman, headed the Reception Department; he had served in the First World Was with observation balloons so was quickly in to barrage balloons in the first years of the last war. He was later instrumental in getting production started in the Volkswagen works in Wolfsburg after the war. Other prominent employees at that time included Mr. Whitelock, who was head of the Production Department, Mr. Randall, head of the Spare Parts Department, which had 20 bays at the Willesden depot and employed 22 people to look after the Buick, La Salle and Cadillac spares, and Mr. S. Baker, the works accountant.

Lendown & Hartman’s Service Station and Production Department covered 114,000 sq. ft. and employed more than 200 personnel. The Company issued a cartoon-type map showing that the New Car Production Department (meaning car preparation department) was at 63 Minerva Road, Willesden, close to the service station at Old Oak Lane, where over 12,000 cars a year were handled in the 1930s. As has been said, full facilities were available, including a Devilbliss cellulose-spraying installation for respraying six cars at a time, and an oil and grease section containing five pits. Incidentally, Lendrum & Hartman’s operated their own new-car delivery service and Mr. Berryman’s staff were instructed to show anyone interested over the Buick Service Department without prior appointment. A stylish Bedford breakdown truck was kept in readiness there. The show rooms were at Buick House, Albemarle Street, W1 — telegraphic address “Buickgen, Piccy, London”.

Reverting to life at the Royal Mews. With five chauffeurs the vehicle fleet, which included a 36-seater Leyland staff coach, was kept very busy. The drivers, having had an easy time during the reign of King George V, did not like the “taxi-like” routine of the new regime.

At that period a job at the Royal Mews included free accommodation, an annual suit of clothes, an overcoat every two years and underwear supplied, also a flat with heat, light and hot water. After ten years service you became pensionable, at a time when pensions in the motor trade were almost non-existent.

I drove the Duke of Windsor on the several occasions when he returned to the UK, using a car loaned by Capt. Hartman.

Incidentally, the Russian Trade Delegation’s car was a hybrid, having a 1934/5 Buick engine but using a Packard rear axle and luggage grid.

 

And Another Thing . . .

HAVING discussed in this month’s V-E-V pages the supercharging arrangements of the 4-litre V12 Sunbeam racing-car, that versatile Wolverhampton design which not only broke the Land Speed Record but was used subsequently for long and short-distance track racing, road-racing, sprints, record-attacks and in later years for VSCC racing, I have been thinking more about the technical details of these successful Sunbeams. When D.S.J. featured them in his “Racing Car Development” article last month he said they comprised “two Grand Prix cylinder blocks on a single crankcase”. Other writers have said the same thing, but if L.C. Cresswell’s drawings of the 2-litre six-cylinder GP Sunbeam which were prepared at the time when Lawrence Pomeroy was writing his “Grand Prix Car” volumes and contemporary descriptions are correct, the 1924 2-litre GP Sunbeams had two blocks of three cylinders, whereas the 4-litre V12 Sunbeams had three blocks of paired cylinders on each side, as can be seen in photographs of this V12 engine. In both cases the bore and stroke were the same, i.e. 67 mm. x 94 mm.

Admittedly this is one of those very minor points of no importance to anyone but historians, and D.S.J. agrees that Coatalen and his engineers would have been unlikely to have literally used 2-litre GP components when building the V12 racing-cars. Only historians get irritated when they are not sure of such details. But in this case the Museums can come to their aid, because there is a 2-litre GP Sunbeam in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and the ex-Neil Corner 4-litre V12 Sunbeams as rebuilt for Sir Malcolm Campbell, resides in the Midland Motor Museum at Bridgnorth. — W.B.

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