A section devoted to old car matters
A 1910 Humber
THE other day, in connection with some filming relating to a TV production about the evolution of the motor-car, I was able to drive the 1910 12/20 hp Humber that normally lives in the Herbert Art Gallery and Motor Museum in Coventry, on some private roads in Coombe Park, close to the Motor City. It was easy to see why Humber had such a good reputation in the Edwardian era, for this uncomplicated car must have been comfortable, fast enough for many folks, and not difficult to drive, in those days.
It has a bi-block engine of T-head configuration, the car in question being, it is thought, the one on the 1909 Olympia Motor Show stand. The four-speed gearbox is very easy to use, with a conventional gate, reverse engaged after depressing a button on the top of the long lever, and the gear positions defined by the generous size of the gate. But a long right arm helps, as both gear lever and hand brake are outside the body, and have long travels. There is the expected pedal-applied transmission brake. If patient, down changes can be accomplished without double de-clutching, and the central accelerator would have caused no confusion in 1910.
The roomy touring body, now devoid of weather protection, but no doubt originally endowed with a cape-cart hood, has those accommodating, shaped seats with pleated upholstery and the front compartment occupants sit behind a tall, wood-bound two-piece windscreen. The only “instrument” down by one’s feet is a glass-bowl oil-drip-feed but perhaps this 8 ft 6 in wheelbase Coventry-Humber is a trifle undertyred, on 810 x 90 herringbone Dunlops. The single-spoke leather-rimmed steering wheel is a Humber hallmark, whether for safety, constructional economy, or to reduce vibration, I know not. It controls fairly heavy steering, with castor-action absent when reversing. The car is registered M-2755 and was rebuilt in the Museum workshops circa 1970, Armstrong Siddeley refurbishing the two camshafts. — WB.
V-E-V Odds & Ends.
What has this column in common with the British GP? Well, Prost was the first Frenchman to win this race since 1927, when it was won by Robert Benoist in a Delage. On both these occasions the winning car was on Michelin tyres and when Benoist won Michelin had just begun tyre-production in Britain, at Stoke-on-Trent.
The Rhayader MC held its 19th successive exhibition of veteran and vintage cars and motorcycles at the Royal Welsh Show at Builth Wells. The car champion was judged to be RJ Cash’s Jaguar XK140 coupe, the motorcycle champion MG Jones’s 1959 1,000 cc Ariel Square Four and cyntaf, or first-class, awards went to a 1904 Darracq, and a very smart Austin 10 Cambridge saloon. A 1916 WD Douglas and a 1928 Sunbeam with an unusual 350 cc engine took these awards in the motorcycle category, and we admired a 1923 490 cc Quadrant nicely restored since it was found derelict in a shed in 1968. As usual, the Editorial 12/20 Calthorpe made the journey there and back on its own wheels.
So many awards were distributed among the 800 or so Rolls-Royce and Bentley exhibits at the R-REC’s Paternoster Farm Rally that we cannot list them all, enjoyable as the day was. However, the most elegant car in the show was judged, on a card vote, to have been IA Odds’s 1925 Rolls-Royce Lawton-Goodman brougham and the winning 40/50 hp-class car was WH Woods’s 1911 Robinson tourer.
Our recent comment on the Barnato 8-litre Bentley coupe MT 3464 has brought in a lot of interesting correspondence. RJ Evans of the Manx Motor Museum confirms the chassis to have been a 4-litre and lists some of the owners after Barnato as Major HW Whyte, M Quinney, J Ward, Jack Bond, and later D Turnick in America, and a Mr Perrin recalls twelve to fifteen coats of paint being put on the new two-seater body for Mr Ward by Barkham’s of Sutterton, Lincs, at a charge of £40. He has sent us copies of the Log Books, which show ownership to have been: Bentley Motors, Barnato, Bentley Motors (1930), Barnato (1932), Jack Barclay, and HM Bentley & Partners, up to 1939.
Correction — it was the Austin 7 “Mrs Jo-Jo”, not “Mr Jo-Jo”, which Spero purchased from Boyd-Carpenter.
The 100th year of the automobile will be celebrated in 1986 and Lord Montagu of Beaulieu is launching a Centenary Appeal Fund in this connection, hoping that it will raise £750,000 towards an extension of the National Motor Museum. — WB.