There are few more pleasant places for VSCC driving tests than the drive of Madresfield Court on a hot September afternoon and at the annual frolics there, this year on September 6th, there seemed to be more spectators’ cars than competitors, and these exceeded 50, of which six, and a Model-A Ford coupe, doubled-up for the beauty contest. Having flunked the long journey to the venue in a vintage light-car, we went to the opposite extreme and arrived, four-up in that most modern of sports-cars, a Mazda RX-7. We were in time to see the first test, which involved some reversing (which makes us pray for ancient back-axles). Some, like Beebee in the Austin Chummy, Bullett’s Chummy, the other Bullett’s GN, Stretton’s Frazer Nash, Shaw’s 13/70 Marendaz Special, Christy’s Austin Nippy, Beebee’s Hyper Lea-Francis and Tom Threlfall. who contrived to engage reverse while in forward (fortunately slow) motion, in the BSA, had it well buttoned-up. Unfortunately, Clark’s Type 40 Bugatti came to rest in mid-test, he fiddled under the bonnet, then retired, and Walker took it cautiously in his 3-litre Bentley, Gaudesden’s Sunbeam tourer performed to the accompaniment of the traditional froth-blowing sounds. Nighton’s 9/20 Humber tourer was very smart, Mellish’s sporting Crossley went well and sounded nice, and Hancock’s 1925 Daimler looked splendid and went admirably. with hardly any pursuing smoke. This put the three Rolls-Royces very much on their best behaviour — Macmillan’s 1928 Twenty exhibiting quick gear-shifts and appropriately locking its back wheels under braking, Price’s black 1936 25/30 hp saloon being distinctly funeral-like, and Mitchell’s 1927 Twenty estate-bodied Royce continuing to give us expected hush.
Nichols was trying hard in his Riley Kestrel, screen and sun-roof open against the heat of the day, stopping neatly, Sturgess’ Chummy Austin had severe rear-axle judder when reversing. Dunn’s Chummy, with stayed cycle-type front wings, was neat, Wood again demonstrated the indestructibility of Riley gearboxes and was quick for a side-valve 1923 10.8, Rouse’s Alvis SA Speed 20 saloon hit a marker in reversing and stopped at the finish, the Humber Special made a medley of noises and was fast after the torque had taken hold, Neale accelerated well in his Frazer Nash. and Ghosh’s 30/98 juddered to rest, stalled, recovered, and eased to a bouncy finish, wearing a Union Jack to indicate that this is not a Vauxhall made in Russelsheim.
It was nice to see two Edwardians and a veteran competing — Roseman’s 1905 8 hp De dion Bouton 3-seater that jumped eagerly away from the start, Walker’s 1913 40/50 hp Rolls-Royce tourer that lifted-off quietly, and Tim Llewellyn driving Collings’ 1903 Mercedes, that leapt away but later lost a moment while he got first gear in. So to the last test, which had an element of the former speed-trials in it, except that drivers had to stop quickly afterwards. and not leave the road, under dire penalties imposed by the RAC. No-one did, in spite of fast runs, although the BSA needed five bites from its rear anchors, and the big Mercedes graunched to a halt. — WB.
No less a person than FRW “Loftie” England, late of Jaguar Cars, has weighed in with some further information about the “Royal Mishap” item we published recently. He remembers HM The Queen’s car breaking down in Albemarle Street in London from his time as a Daimler apprentice at the Company’s London Service Station at Hendon, and says the car would have been a 30 hp Daimler Double-Six small landaulette with occasional seats. England says that both HM King George V and HM Queen Mary had Daimlers of this kind, which they used for shopping and other private purposes, the King’s, which was the property of the Daimler Company, being finished in the Royal maroon colours and the Queen’s in dark green. The former car is now in the Sandringham Museum. “Loftie” thinks the Invicta owner offered to drive the Queen home, ie to Buckingham Palace. The cause of the mishap is attributed to an engine seizure, probably due to the Daimler having been started frequently in the Royal Mews garage on the primer-jet which, with short road journeys, would result in inadequate lubrication. The reference to Lord Porchester’s children having a Red Bug buckboard to play with, as illustrated in “Ermine Tales” by the Earl of Carnarvon, has caused an Aldershot reader to remind us that this was presumably an Auto-Red-Bug made by Automotive Standards of North Bergen, New Jersey from 1923 to 1928 and sold for 325 dollars. The motive power was a 12-volt electric motor beneath the seat. The buckboard used by racing-driver Ernest Eldridge was, our correspondent points out, probably a Briggs & Stratton Flyer, the model-D 1920 version of which had a 2 hp 12.2 cu-in fifth-wheel petrol unit as its means of propulsion and sold for 125 dollars, and he tells us that both makes of buckboard are to be seen in the Harrah Collection at Reno, superbly restored.
Returning yet again to that mysterious Coupe de L’Auto Peugeot from which Louis Coatalen copied his 1914 racing Sunbeam engines and which then disappeared, whether or not it went to Rolls-Royce at Derby for a time, it seems pretty certain that it was at Sunbeam’s after the war, being overhauled for Claude Tryon, who was apparently the Earl of Dudley’s agent. It seems almost certain that this was the Peugeot which Comdr Hugh Keller collected for Paddon Bros around 1925 from Weybridge (Sunbeam’s Brooklands depot?), as Keller recalls that Paddon’s had instructions to sell the car for Tryon, and he thinks it went then to Viscount Ridley. Verisimilitude is lent to this possible train of events by the friendship of Phil Paddon with Coatalen (from whom he once purchased an Indianapolis Sunbeam) and his wife Iris, and with Charles Jarrott who is said to have handled the car on behalf of Rolls-Royce, while Claude Tryon was also a friend of Paddon’s. The odd factor is that the old Peugeot was apparently never raced again, especially as Viscount Ridley, if indeed he acquired it, was well known for his interest therein. We may yet have more to add, and would be interested to hear from anyone who remembers the car. John End, whose Wolseley Moth replica is so well known, has acquired some very interesting facets of Wolseley Motors’ history, including photographs of a single-seater, disc-wheeled Wolseley with 16/20 hp engine with which the Company had intended to try for the World’s One-Hour record at over 100 mph in 1913, if Percy Lambert and the Talbot 25 had not got there first, after which G Day, of Wolseley’s experimental department, bought the car and put a two-seater body on it. And what of the “boy’s racer” Wolseley Ten which frequented the Brooklands Paddock around 1923 (Reg No FX 5411) with crude outside exhaust pipe and aero-screens but full mudguards and running-boards (see photograph)?
We have been sent some photographs depicting the career of Signor Antoni Ponno, who lives, we are informed, on the Adriatic coast some 30 miles from Pescara. It seems that this gentleman started his motoring career with a Fiat 501S and then had a Brescia Bugatti, followed by a GP Bugatti. He raced these Bugattis in events near Perugia, as the pictures prove, running the Brescia on Lampo petrol, according to the name on the two-gallon can. After this Ponno appears to have had a six-cylinder OM, what looks like a 22/90 hp Alfa Romeo, the doorless four-seater body on which is believed to be one of five built by Ferrari, and in 1930 a special 2-litre Ansaldo.
David Llewellyn is the lucky new owner of the ex-Bill Lake 1902 Paris-Vienna Mors, which was the subject of a colour feature in Motor Sport for February 1974. Anthony Blight, besides his interest in Talbot-Lagos, has his “flat-tank” Sunbeam motorcycles, one of which he rode at Colerne, and he is building a Replica PL 4 Talbot and rehabilitating BGH 21 to keep the four “GO” Talbots and BGH 22 and 23 company. The grapevine suggests that after many years in storage the ex-Duke of Grafton 1916 Indianapolis Sunbeam is being rebuilt and that the 1905 200 h.p. vee-eight Darracq is likely to be resuscitated in time for the Golden Jubilee of the VCC. The Fiat Register celebrated its Silver Jubilee last month. We are delighted to hear that not long after his heart operation John Bolster took his 1911 40/50 hp Rolls-Royce to VCC and R-REC events and was at the British Grand Prix to meet old friends. — WB.