Veteran to classic -- around and about
We learn with regret that Higham, more recently called Highland Court, the house at Bridge, near Canterbury, that was once the residence of Count Louis Zborowski, after having served as a hospital for many years, is now being turned into a 120 bedroom hotel, involving the demolition of those outbuildings, it seems, in which the Chitty-Bang-Bangs and the Higham Special were built in the 1920s.
We hear that the ex-Liddell Brooklands Straker-Squire is now in Cornwall, the appreciative new owner having sold a three-litre Bentley to make room for it. Also the ex-Lycett 1914 Alfonso Hispano Suiza once owned by WB, having returned from France in a sorry state in 1987, has been restored by Michael Sapsford and is ready for a new lease of life down in Surrey.
In the first three days of November Las Vegas hosts one of America's largest car auctions, with over 500 lots due to come under the hammer.
Since the first in 1987, The Auction has specialised in pre-war cars, a tradition it continues this year with a large collection of pre-war Mercedes forming the major part.
Alongside them will be 15 Ferraris, seven Duesenbergs and numerous Cadillacs, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Packards, Cords and Lincolns from different collections. There will be post-war cars too, and up to 50 will be displayed in a special exposition sale running alongside the auction.
A reader having enquired if anyone remembers the Knavesmire speed-trials, AB Demaus has sent the accompanying photograph of Capt Gray's Rhode and Trubie Moore's Frazer Nash at the 1925 York & DMC event there. He can supply similar photographs from the Demaus Collection.
According to the Lennox Herald, which devoted half a page to it recently, the historic and impressive one-time Argyll motor factory in Alexandria, Glasgow, continues to deteriorate seriously, while Dumbarton DC decides whether or not to purchase it and spend £40,000 on badly needed repairs. -- WB
Following last month's query, Geoff Roe comments on what has happened to the "Bira"-sculpted memorial to Pat Fairfield which used to be at Silverstone.
He has sent us a photograph of Earl Howe unveiling this memorial at Donington Park before the war, and tells us that it has since returned there, located beside Starkey's Bridge between the old and new circuits, close to where the cars used to storm the bridge arch on the former course.
Obituary: Leslie Ballamy
That cheerful, inventive personality, Leslie M Ballamy, died at his drawing board, as creative as ever, at the age of 87. He became famous before the war for his LMB independent front suspension systems, for fitting to A7s, small Fords and Ford V8s, amongst others. This was achieved by the seemingly simple expedient of cutting the axle in half and putting pivots in the centre, with suitable locating rods for the wheels. The idea became popular, and Ballamy's customers included people like Sir Malcolm Campbell, Dick Seaman and Whitney Straight, to whose Ford V8s Leslie would also fit Columbia two-speed back axles.
To demonstrate this engineering Ballamy entered many MCC trials, and when supercharging of family cars was the rage he fitted many cars with proprietary blowers, including his Ford Ten Special, LMB Ford Popular saloon and a trials Ford V8. He also built the successful LMB V8 Special for H G Symmonds, and did Rivers Fletcher's HWM-Jaguar conversion.
LMB also put his ifs on a T37 Bugatti, a two-litre GP Delage and a three-litre Bentley. He enjoyed MCC trials and BOC speed hillclimbs, competing in the latter at first with an A7 with papier-maché body (a good use for old weekly motoring papers!) in which I used to be a youthful passenger, seen in one photograph crouching down to reduce wind-drag, at some 40mph, such was our enthusiasm -- not in fear, as one recent caption has suggested! Leslie ran his works at Clapham in a happy atmosphere and would take his staff, from the youngest to the ex-Wolseley draughtsman Luff-Smith (from the days of the Wolseley Beetle racing cars), as passengers on trials.
During the war and afterwards LMB went on inventing things such as sewing machines for army greatcoats, a carpet-making machine and a golf trainer. He swam almost every day, and it is good that he was active to the end, sad as it is to record the passing of another enthusiast from the old days. Just lately Ballamy turned to vintage cars, running a Model B Ford saloon, with LMB suspension of course, and had brought his Chrysler 66 to this year's Brooklands Reunion shortly before his death.
I have happy recollections of coming back from an Edinburgh trial in the blown Ford V8 after it had run a big-end bearing, all the way to London like that and to Brooklands the next day for the Bank Holiday racing, in which Seaman was driving the Bugatti, and of having the greatest difficulty in stopping Leslie from disqualifying us by driving on and off the pavement going up Lynmouth Hill in an MCC Land's End to show the onlookers how good was his simple suspension. Any kerb was meat and drink to the inventor of the LMB ifs. Happy times, and another motoring character is sadly gone, whose like we are not going to see again. -- WB