Club News, September 1938




The next, and much looked-forward-to, Open Hill Climb at Prescott takes place on September 25th, a Sunday. Entries close on September 15th, a £2 per entry for sports and veteran cars, and £3 for racing cars. The sports-car classes are la-litre, lir to 3-litre, and over 3-litre, and the racing car classes 750 c.c., 11-litre, 2-litre, and over 2-litre. The pre-1915 -class will be decided on the Clutton formula.

Practice takes place on the Saturday preceding and on the Sunday morning. There is a prize of £50 for fastest time of the day, a prize of 10 for second fastest time, a prize of £10 for fastest =blown time and. -1,10 for the most rapid sportscar, as well as other money prizes—or entrants may have cups if they prefer. The cars will have two runs if time permits and will be electrically timed over the difficult 880-yard course. The meeting -commences at 2 p.m.

Full details from :—E. L. Giles, 2, Queen Street, Mayfair, W.1.


Last month the Essex Ford Owners’ Club held an ambitious Rally terminating at Southend and coinciding with Carnival week—not that we saw much evidence of carnival while we were there, save for the presence of several so-called beauty queens begging pennies for the hospitals. Pickers of such queens would, we feel, do well to study form at motoring meetings.

Five clubs were invited to compete and starting controls instituted at South-end, East Ham, Birmingham, Southampton and Nottingham. Actually, only forty-three entries came in and only three controls were used. The event was well run on the whole, but London starters had to be content with an unilluminated yard from which to leave, as the local garage had not been informed of the event and Boddy, acting as starter, was bewailing the lack of information supplied to him by the organisers. After starting competitors had to complete a 250-mile route to the usual schedule, but with one control en route and no official pauses. On arrival at Southend they were checked in and, had some two hours to waste before the first test, .because the police had, very properly, objected to the braking test on the =enclosed and unguarded promenade. The first test consisted of accelerating uphill, reversing into a bay, and continuing uphill—quite a good test of both car and driver. The course was well situated, and plenty of police marshalled it, one of whom was almost written off by Hutchison’s front wing. Best time of all was made by G. E. Matthews’s S.S. 100 in 30.5 secs., with Hutchison’s V8 Allard Special second in 33.9 secs. and Miss Travers’s Morris Ten third in 35.8 secs. The next tests were of the circus type and no great test of the cars themselves. The course was well roped off, but the crowd was allowed right up to the ropes and was endangered by rear overhang as cars reversed, to say nothing of what could have happened had a driver selected the wrong gear in error. Where was the R.A.C. steward ? B. W. Fursdon did 40 secs. in the first test with his Wolseley saloon, J. G. Wiggins being second in 49 secs. with a Ford Ten and A. F. Gardner (Standard Ten), E. D. Davis (S.S.) and D. T. Willis (Ford Ten) all got through in 50 secs. Gordon’s S.S. 100 suffered from clutch slip and Hutchison had a tyre die on him. In the next test, marshalled by gentlemen in straw and other peculiar hats, Fursdon again made best time, in 43.25 secs., touching no pylons and losing no marks in consequence. Saunders’s M.G. took 45.4 secs. and G. Fender’s Ford Ten 46 secs. Fender won the Premier Award and Matthews the Hospital Cup. Open cars had to have erect hoods during the tests, a good

ruling. Westwood revved his saloon Balilla Fiat furiously and thoroughly amused the crowd—we wonder how the special body, built incidentally by a coachbuilder at a cost of about £.10, passed the scrutineers, for the regulations called for catalogue bodies and no additions. If the organisers repeat the Rally next year we hope there will be rather more efficient detail organisation and that unweighted cardboard cylinders will not again be used as pylons for the hill test— Allard acceleration blows ’em over


The club had a special enclosure at Donington for members’ use on T.T. day. Additional fixtures are planned, and the club’s Boxing Day Trial is likely to be the last trial in the London area run under the old comp.-cover regime.

Hon. Secretary : S. H. Allard, 5, Mill brooke Court, Putney, S. W.15.


The second speed trials organised by The Herts County Auto and Aexo Club will take place at Beechwood, New Markyate, on Sunday, September 18th. The event is open to members of the following clubs, Herts County, Berkhamsted, Bugatti Owners, Harrow and M.G. Car Club. The course is the same as for the first speed trials, a quarter-mile standing

start. Regulations and particulars are available from D. Russell, Grasmere, The Avenue, Bushey, Herts.


On September 17th a rally for pre1905 cars will be held, terminating at the Town Hall Car Park, Petersfield, at 12 noon. Afterwards there will be a brief reliability trial over a twentyseven mile route, including an observed ascent of Boredean Hill, Langrish, for two-speed veterans, while later and faster cars will be set a forty-one mile route and observed on Finchdean and South Harting hills—the latter once a famous speed venue. Most London enthusiasts are well acquainted with the Petersfield area, which is a congested trials centre, and they should make a point of aiming eyes and Leicas at the old cars if they cannot be at the B.R.D.C. Brooklands meeting. Hon. Secretary : Capt. J. H. Wylie, 38, West Cromwell Road, Earls Court, S.1V.5.


Although seventy-three members have failed to renew their subscriptions since the E.R.A. club was founded, membership is over 150 souls—if every real supporter of British racing would join the membership should exceed 10,000. The rate from now until the end of the year, for twelve months, is 15/-, and 5/entrance fee. Mayne is now running a1-litre Aston-Martin with the 2-litre experimental motor installed and Secretary S. H. Green went over to Le Mans with his 3-litre Bentley and helped in Arthur Dobson’s pit. The August issue of the club publication ” Hearsay ” contains some interesting matter, including a translation from a German motoring paper of an article on the E.R.A. and the E.R.A. club, a note on the Fairfield memorial, a report of the French Grand Prix, the Secretary’s article, a road test of a 1933 ex-Mille Miglia Alfa-Romeo which does 110 nr,p.h. in road trim, a very comprehensive history of every E.R.A. constructed to date, and a correspondence column, also a list of recent E.R.A. successes.

The club will have an enclosure at Darlington on October 1st and will endeavour to arrange transport for carless members.

Hon. Secretary : S. H. Green, 591, London Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey.


“CHILTERN HILLS” TRIAL SEPTEMBER 24th, 1938 This event will commence from the Mill Stream, Amersham, at 3.15 p.m:, and will be open to members who are on the Club’s register before September 3rd, entries closing on September 15th. There will be six observed sections, with three special tests. Standard tyres only are

permitted, but superchargers are allowed. The entry fee will be 5/and 51 per cent. of the entry will receive awards.

The route will not be divulged until the start of the event and starting times will be balloted for, while numbers of a smaller size than usual will be used, which will be handed out at the start and handed in at the finish. Full regulations will be available on August 22nd, and the event is the first in which points will be allotted towards the members’ championship cup.

The Club’s reduced subscription of 6/comes into force on September 1st, all members joining on or after that date for the remaining six months of the Club year paying this reduced rate for the first six months. They are, however, entitled to enter all events organised by the Club and are fully eligible for the Championship Cup. All those interested are asked to communicate with the Hon. Secretary, King’s Arms Hotel, Amersham, Bucks.


The month of July was enlivened by many journeys in a 1922 Rhode, including a trip to Brooklands for further motoring with Forrest Lyeett in the 8-litre Bentley. There was also a run in the old car to Stokenchurc.h to retrieve an A.B.C., the homeward run stamping us as all but car-wreckers, save that the driver of the forward car wore a quite respectable leather flying hat and goggles to combat the effects of driving without a screen. On one long hill the outfit paused for water and in consequence nearly caused the downfall of an outsize in Scanamells, which, grappling with a transformer, had to stop for on-coming traffic. But we arrived at the home garage in triumph, the Rhode only asking for bottom gear twice on the journey. Peter RobertsonRoger, returning from a game of tennis with Michael May, stopped his FrazerNash-B.M.W. to speed us on our way, enthusiast that he is, after one of our several halts.

Old small cars unashamedly amuse the writer and the Rhode is more than usually fascinating not only because it does not perform so badly, but because its exhaust note is quite of ” 80/98 ” calibre and, in conjunction with the clatter of the overhead cam-gear, the motor’s music is akin to something in the pre-war racing category. On August Bank Holiday Sunday we were so unwise as to venture to Southampton in search of an equally aged H.E., after spending most of the previous night watching a friend rectify the timing errors made in the course of expending a fit of energy in decoking the engine of the Rhode. All went well until some dirt from the tank obstructed the fuel flow. That was soon dealt with, and it is really surprising bow much dirt a Cox-Atmos gas-factory will tolerate before it goes on strike. In future we shall probably attach a rubber pipe to the tank vent and clear obstructions by puffing down it at the appropriate moment, which will not be half as bad as the milk bottle on ‘s Lancia Lambda, which receives water from the header tank pumped thereto by a cracked block, the water being restored when the bottle is full by the simple process of inverting it during a convenient traffic stop I We paused to investigate a breaker’s yard near Winchester, a weakness of ours, and found therein a rather desirable Chenard-Walcker. And we pondered on the functions of a very mysterious and massive road-making machine parked opposite. Then, in Winchester, we oiled a plug. Later on, we oiled another plug. Later still the carburetter banged. The cause, investigated in the broad, dignified approach road into Southampton, was the loss of two inlet valve rockers. They were quite unharmed, and were quickly replaced, and we came home in great style. But how many engines could discard valve rockers with such complete impunity ? A box of good split pins will cure the trouble, too. I may add that the road home, at 9 p.m. on a hot Bank Holiday Sunday, although notable for many examples of suicide driving, was not at all

congested until Esher. Nor did we see a single accident all day. And by going home via Kingston and ignoring the By-Pass we had no real delays, a process repeated with almost as good results on Bank Holiday evening itself, coming back from Brooklands. Yet you know what your paper told you about holiday road congestion and massacre. . . One weekday evening the Rhode conveyed us over a certain bridge spanning the Thames to an obscure yard beside a public house, wherein was discovered a 1912 left-hand drive Baby Peugeot which had been bought in Monte Carlo and driven home by an enthusiast just for fun—some of us do see fun in such

undertakings !—and an engineless D’Yrsan three-wheeler. A further visit revealed that the Ruby fixed head 750 c.c. engine for the three-wheeler was still available and led to a meeting with a group of enthusiasts, all readers of this paper, who use a 1923 Gwynne Eight for towing racing motor-cycles about on a trailer, and who knew of lots of other funny cars, so that we went post haste to a previously undiscovered breaker’s in search of a single-seater Baby Peugeot only to find the yard shut, though a post-war De Dion Bouton, a Rhode rear-axle and a Balilla Fiat engine from a crashed car ; one of the works machines with left-hand drive. Another search, in Byfleet, for a 1911 G.W.K. merely led us to a big garage wherein we enthused over an early twocylinder Renault, an A.B.C. motor-cycle, a twin-gearbox Ulster Austin Seven, and a really beautiful B.M.W. motorcycle. • The Southend Rally resulted in quite a good run in the old Rhode, minus screen, with liberal sprays of water thrown over us very frequently on the over-run, and pre-ignition and loss of one inlet rocker on the return run. Just prior to our breakdown we were intrigued to come across a really small boy, in racing breeches, pushing an ancient and fully stripped motor-cycle along the main road. Thinking that we had possibly chanced on an ex-Brooklands machine we cast anchor, and before the lad had reached us a passer-by volunteered the

information that these youngsters build. up their own dirt-track machines and practise cinder-shifting at the Dagenham greyhound course, where proper dirttrack practice is also conducted. Cheered. by this exhibition of real enthusiasm, albeit for the wrong sort of speed work, we turned back, to discover that our racing bicyclist had not yet left school,. that his mount was a very nicely converted A. J .S.-J .A.P., and that he was. disappointed to find the course barred to him; because a real rider had been fatally injured there some time previously. But he gave a very spirited show on the private path leading to the course and we intend to go to watch these youngsters practise in the locality one Sunday morning—a good-hearted sportsman might do worse than assist some of them to run at a small grass-track meeting, by offering ‘entry fees and transportation. Such is one’s love of this motoring that we left that same evening for a brief holiday in Cornwall, in a very dilapidated special sports Austin Seven possessed of 1935 engine and transmission in a 1926 frame. We say dilapidated deservedly, for later it was found that th body was. held by two bolts only, with the delightful result that if the passenger vacated the car the engine speeded up on account of body flexion altering the throttle opening ! Nevertheless, excellent time was made until we stopped near Shaftesbury for forty winks because the driver saw first a traction engine and then a house, fortunately both of ghostly qualities, blocking his path. When we awoke it was broad daylight and break-: fast seemed very desirable. Leaving London, we had been overjoyed by the sight of a magnificent special-bodied. two-seater 30198 Vauxhall, with most inspiring asbestos-lagged outside exhaust. It drew up alongside the Austin at some traffic lights and thereafter proceeded to show us its dust, after its very expert young lady driver had sportingly proclaimed our outfit to be ” tres sportife.” An amusing incident on the run down occurred crossing Salisbury Plain, when, coming over a hill crest, scores of searchlights suddenly sprang up and swept the sky, presumably because the Austin’s rather stirring exhaust note had stirred up the sound-detectors into. thinking we were a hostile aircraft— by cutting out we found we could snuff the beams, which manoeuvred vigorously

again as we opened up. Just after Hartley Row a quite unannounced and. unlit ramp on the main A80 road was negotiated at speed, an unpleasant surprise for the highway authorities to. spring on an innocent motorist.

Incidentally, it is a reflection on sports. motoring that we were equipped for, and placid at the thought of, this 260-mile run. by night, which gave us an extra day’s holiday, because ordinary motorists so seldom travel thus to save time, and indeed, have probably lost very few nights’ sleep in their lives in many cases. The trials driver certainly knows what he and his passengers can stand in this. direction and how well his motor-car is. suited to the task.

Naturally, the Land’s End hills had. to be attempted, as our headquarters. at a farm at St. Columb found them excitingly near at hand. We found that Bluehills Mine, using the old hairpin, as the new extension is closed by the M.C.C., was easy meat, the bend being entered in third at 20 m.p.h., second going in right on the corner and the climb being completed at about 15 m.p.h. in third. Crackington was dry, and an easy second gear ascent, and Hustyn stopped us twice, the bold rear covers spinning on a wet ledge, but at the third attempt we picked a new course and were successful, using first gear throughout. New Mill was a very easy third gear climb, using second for the final hairpin. Incidentally, these hills may be tried without likelihood of inconvenience or annoyance to local inhabitants and are good practice, if easy during the summer months. Certain other gradients, cautiously labelled

Impossible for Vehicles,” failed to defeat the Austin, and we found rather a good trials hill of this kind at Truro. Later, a visit was paid to a local scrap yard, where we found a 1927 Grand Sports Amilcar in generally good condition, save that it lacked a dynamo, priced at i9 and a very clean and complete late type twin o.h. camshaft G.P. Salmson, priced at L10 10s. There was also another Salzman two-seater of horrid appearance at E,8 10s. and a most curious animal in the form of an Austin Seven frame having the steering column set well out behind the rear axle, the device being uced by the breaker for transporting heavy objects, as a kind of pneumatic-tyred, four-wheel, wheel-steering wheel-barrow—–it made us wonder whether we were truly sober. The breaker runs a Ford V8 saloon, and his son a very well kept M.G. Magna, but we were intrigued by the vintage element, to the extent of begging a run in the Amilcar. In appearance the little longtailed two-seater was thoroughly exciting and, if dud, plugs never let the revs. go beyond about 2,800 r.p.m., we thoroughly appreciated the wonderful driving position, the accurate and really highgeared steering, the generally solid feel and stability of the car, its very willing and rapid gear-change, and excellent

action of the brakes, while the instruments were easily visible and the teeming rain that arrived as soon as we started blew very nicely round the aero screens. For L9 someone is going to get a packet of fun and certainly the designers of these early French sports-cars could teach modern designers quite a deal.

On the way over we had been interested in a disused reinforced concrete building in a state of considerable decay, standing gaunt and isolated in an obscure field. We now learnt that a party of German engineers had come over about 1922-3, erected the building, installed two huge Diesel engines and a lot of mysterious machinery that none of the locals could understand, and had done experimental work said to be connected with a secret china-clay process. Three years later they left very promptly, without any explanation, taking all their machinery with them, and removing roofing and windows from the buildings before they left. The thing is still talked of in the village and the twisted girders testify to the hurried removal of the equipment. On frequent runs in lazy sunshine into Watergate Bay and Newquay, the sea deep blue, interrupted by line upon line of pure white breakers, the coastline shades varying with each passing cloud, we were astonished at the very poor standard of driving, both in car parks and on the winding narrow roads, especially on the part of those in large wagtail motor-cars. One motor-cyclist, ‘with pillion passenger, even used his leg for signalling purposes. Using a car thus for holiday motoring leads one to reflect on the sheer joy that sports-car ownership provides, though it is doubtful if this point would have been fully agreed upon by the two young ladies whose elderly Salmson coupe ran out of fuel on a nasty corner on a steep hill. Although one’s ‘thoughts dwell at the moment on holidays, there are numerous long runs to future fixtures to look forward. to Running up to Shelsley or Donington in the autumn, a nip in the air which whistles round one’s helmet, it is easy to see the

changes that nature has wrought since the same journey was made in the early spring or under a burning summer sky. Then, when Shelsley and Donington are over until next season, there is the last Brooklands meeting, the final run in failing light and one’s thoughts turning to to-morrow’s trial during the run home through the winter night. These trials are such great fun, when one rises in the early a.m. of a Sunday morning with all the other members of the household snug in. bed, to commence the motor in a bleak garage swept by an icy rain. Then you recall brief flips up to town on sunny evenings that made even the straggling bridges over the Thames look picturesque, and when even the run along the Embankment, with its wide side walks and that curious open-air restaurant, one of the few places in London where one can eat in the open, did not seem too depressing from behind the folded screen of an open car. Memories like this are apt to intrude as one negotiates London’s shining crowded streets on a winter’s night at a time when the calendar offers little of respite even in the way of trials, though even then sports-car driving ability and car stability are worth while to one’s peace of mind. Meanwhile, we can look forward to another long trek back from Donington, passengers contentedly discussing another big race, the driver turning up the taps to make the most of the light which is rapidly failing, letting night fall over a rural countryside that reeks of England in autumn. Yes, motoring is an all the year round pastime, and one of the best.