The 1913 Theophile Schneider GP
Following your article in MOTOR SPORT September, pages 1000/1001 relating to The Edwardian Race at OuIton Park, I note your attempt to put the record straight as they say, but perhaps your attempts have served to confuse matters even more so, but there we are. Your love of one of the cars perhaps prevented you from informing us that this neither had its original body nor front axle and indeed perhaps many other items of non-original equipment which you may not wish to declare.
To correct the misleading statements covering my car, will you please print this letter in its entirety so that your readers are not fooled.
My research on the car to date is as follows:
The car was purchased by A EdgeII Baxter from George Newman of Boston Road in 1924 who claimed that Captain Duff lapped Brooklands in it at 98 mph (his reference to a 1914 Rocket Schneider is this car — see VSCC Bulletins Vol VII No 2, May 1984, page 14 and Vol VII No 3, September 1938, page 11).
The car was kept at Baxters factory and when the receiver was called into his Company, the car remained there and eventually finished up in the scrapyard which was next door to his factory. What happened to the car next is not clear, but in the Sixties Ted Wooley found the remains of it being used as an emergency power unit at a mill in Wellingborough. This was the engine, gearbox, radiator, front axle and steering which were still in the chassis that had been cut off at the rear of the gearbox subframe and the whole then bolted to a massive iron frame.
Ted Wooley managed to locate Baxter's daughter who remembered, and confirmed, that her father had owned it soon after the Kaiser War. Wooley searched for the remainder of the Schneider but was unable to find any further parts.
Another chassis was obtained as a result of meeting the Mayor of Besançon together with a rear axle of 1918/20 manufacture and they were sent with the new chassis to Rubery Owen who mated them up. A body was then manufactured as per the original.
The chassis number is 14122 and all the engine numbers, including the original racing pistons and other internals of the engine, relate to 22. Following considerable research by Ted Wooley, John Rowley and Dennis Field, the VCC then issued a Certificate of Dating, numbered 1274, on the 16 December 1971. Which of the GP cars this is I do not know, but it has been said that it is Gabriel's car.
I am of the opinion, and so are others, that this is more of a GP racer than you may wish to acknowledge, so your remarks which indicate that the car is two mated parts is somewhat misleading.
To appease Mr Firth I publish his letter in full, as requested, but it merely repeats what I wrote about this car in MOTOR SPORT, in January 1976, after going out in it with the late John Rowley, and consulting with the late Ted Wooley who built it up.
My Brooklands records show no sign of John Duff or anyone else racing a GP Th Schneider there from 1921 to 1924 although A Bovier did so in 1914 (best lap 85.43 mph). WB