V-E-V Miscellany, October 1984, October 1984
V-E-V Miscellany.—Geoffrey St John pitted his Type 51 GP Bugatti against Vic Norman’s Starnpe biplane at Kemble not long ago, in a duel over a as 1/4-mile. The Bugatti beat the aeroplane. Chatting the other day with Commander Dunhill, ex-RNVR, he told us how for part of his Electrical Engineering apprenticeship at Faraday House, he served some of his time at the Sunbeam Motor Co’s Service Station, then at Acton, next door to the premises of W. & G. Du Cros, of WG yellow taxi fame, later on the corner of Victoria Road and Sunbeam Road, the latter still in existence. He remembers, circa 1928/29, decarbonising twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeams, which involved undoing 48 sump nuts, dropping the sump, removing all six con-rods and pistons, then hanging a small lamp bulb through the plug holes and scraping off the carbon with a long sharp-ended rod while underneath the engine. Apart from carbon in one’s eyes,
after about five minutes the bulb would be inadvertently struck, and go out! Transferring to the test section, he remembers fast runs along the Western Avenue. . . . The fortunate Dunhill was then sent to France, to see how the Paris Metro operated. By chopping from his pass the part which said on no account was he to drive the trains, he did just that, with much enjoyment. He then spent some time in England with Jack Smith & Co, the well-known Deluge agents, whose service station was next to that of Lendrum & Hartman, the Buick people. When Smith took on the Hispano Suiza and Hotchkiss concessions, Dunhill was sent to Paris and spent a memorable year in the Hispano Suiza factory, again going out on test runs. These might last for as much as 100 miles per car, and instead of crude test-seats, the chassis were given old Wcymann fabric bodies, easily lifted on and off, making such
testing a refined affair, especially as lunch would be taken in the course of it . . • if the great eoachbuilders whose bodies were used by Hispano Suiz.a were encountered and Marc Birkigt was frequently seen in the works, regarded, naturally, no a god. Incidentally. Darrin. of Fernandez and Darrin, was an American, and the H-S salesnmn a tall Prince of a Polish Royal family, from whom Dunhill was able to buy for £20 a 1921 Kelner-couck 38 hp HisPoc, Suiza, one of two languishing in a corner (.)f. the factory in 1930/31 . It proved a splendid car, never failing to start, very reliable, and well-braked. Commander Dunhill has owned all manner (if cars, from Ulster Austin 7 to his present Fiat 127, including. Donnet-Zedal and a number of Alfasuds, Borgward Izabellas,. etc. He and his wife well remember Brooklands and Goodwood in their hey-day, and he used to help with the speed-trials al Gosport, where he still lives — W.B.