Veteran to classic

Sweet memories

On the perfect September 2 Saturday, Fords from BL Wilkes’ 1910 tourer to MH Lord’s 1926 roadster went from the weekend HQ at Milton Common to take coffee at Perry’s, the Aylesbury Ford dealer (an historic name!), then to the lunch stop on the impressively long drives of Waddesdon Manor on the Rothschild estate which is set in impeccable surroundings. Here, in the splendid forecourt, 33 Model-Ts assembled, almost every known type apart from a jitney-bus. There had been only three ft on-starters.

The commercials were immaculate; had I had to judge them on external finish, lining and lettering, it would have been an impossible task! The 7 cwt vans of RC Florio (“FN Peacock & Co., Balham, Automobile Engineers” etc., vied with Tuckett’s (“Brazil’s, Sausages and Pies, Amersham”) and GD Rowatt’s (“Contractors for Removal, Hornsea”) one-tonners.

Of the cars, 19 were brass-age, the remainder “black radiator”, except that some of these had nickle-plated rads. The “any colour so long as it is black” period was in evidence, as were many body styles. T.Chesters had his rare 1912 Town Car, D. Jossaume a 1923 Hackney, C. Martin, D. Stauffacher and J. Bonnet their landaulettes. C. Lawson was in his 1920 Tudor Sedan, with two doors centrally located, one on each side, and the most sporting turnout was the 1915 Speedster of J. Trent, with small bolster tank ahead of a metal luggage-box, two bucket seats, an unpainted bonnet, but a standard engine. E. Whiteway’s 1912 tourer was made in the USA but assembled in Manchester with an English body, cost £170.

Gas and oil lamps seemed to predominate and T-extras could be spotted, like different types of front snubbers, the flimsy front bumper on that Sedan, and the Ford Edmunds & Jones Model 466 gas headlamps on the Town Car. J. Baxter’s late-model tourer had detachable rims and the Speedster carried two Pratt’s petrol cans …

After lunch at the Manor they emerged onto the A41 (where as a teenager I walked the still-existent grass verges, taking car-censuses, and where at the village garage, now Waddesden Tyre Service, a veteran De Dion then lay under a pile of rubbish) bound for Quainton Railway Centre. Then it was back to the HQ hotel, up a winding 1 in 10 hill after passing the back entrance to the Manor, where in those early 1930s a pre-war Singer Ten would emerge, taking servants to the station, although I expect the winder of the Rothschild clocks, who came from Aylesbury in his 1914 9.5 hp Standard, used the front entrance for this important task. Waddesden seems to live in the past, even its bowling club was founded in 1925 …

Over 15 million Model Ts were produced. 62 years after the last one was made, Britain has a small but fascinating share of them. WB