The Junior Car Club continues to issue its “Gazette” quarterly, and from the April-June issue some interesting news items come to hand. We learn, for instance, that Noel Rees holds an appointment with Hawker Aircraft, Ltd., and has a son in the R.A.F., and that Derek Loader is a Flight Lieut., R.A.F. Miss P.M. Lambert is in the F.A.N.Y., Fotheringham-Parker is a Lieut. in the R.A.S.C., and the Duke of Richmond and Gordon has become an R.A.F. Pilot Officer. Humphrey Cook holds an appointment in the Admiralty, the Rt. Hon. the Earl Howe is a Commodore, R.N.R., and D.J. Scannell is in the R.A.F. T. Bushell-King is an R.A.F. Sqdn. Ldr. and Miss M.M. Webb recently married L.G. Eckett. We regret that the following J.C.C. members are reported missing or killed on active service: P/O. R.W.V. Smith, Lieut. M.J. Major, R.N., and Major Peaty. An interesting article on the first 200 Mile Race, held at, Brooklands on October 22nd, 1921, appears in this issue of the “Gazette,” and the starters are worth repeating. They were:– G.N. 1; A.V., 1; Deemster, 1; Baby Peugeot, 1; Morgan, 1; Singer, 1; Coventry Premier, 1; Bleriot Whippet, 1; Temperino, 1; Salmson, 1; Aston-Martin, 4; Marlborough, 2; A.B.C., 1; Lagonda, 2; Hillman, 1; Alvis, 2; Horstmann, 3; Enfield-Allday, 1; Charron-Laycock, 2; Bugatti, 2; Talbot-Darracq, 3. What a field! Segrave on a Talbot-Darracq came in to win at 88.82 m.p.h. from Guinness and Campbell on sister cars, and “Archie” Nash’s G.N. won the 1,100-c.c. class from Lombard’s Salmson. Segrave, Guinness, Nash and Phillips (Deemster) ran right through without a stop.
The Club continues to hold Council luncheons, and at the end of 1941 had a surplus on subseriptions from London members alone of £30 10s. 8d. and investments remaining at the pre-war total of £4,780 0s. 9d.
Secretary: H.J. Morgan, 14. Lime Grove, Ruislip, Middlesex (Pinner 3693).
The Lea-Francis Owners’ Club
The club for Lea-Francis owners is developing well, there being about 40 members to date. A “Bulletin” is issued which contains members’ names and addresses, notes on their cars, lists of spare parts available amongst them, and technical notes, the last-named being devoted to the different types of Lea-Francis gearboxes in the second issue of the “Bulletin.” This is an altogether admirable idea, which the Bugatti Owners’ Club did so much to further in peace time with its excellent issues of “Bugantics.” Amongst notable cars owned by members is W.H. EIlis’s supercharged “Hyper” 4-seater, C.H Wagstaff’s 1928 ex-track car, also blown, and the same owner’s four-cylinder prototype of the “Ace-of-Spades” Six. A further issue of the “Bulletin” is due now. The subscription rate is 10/6 per annum for ordinary members and 5/- for Service members.
Hon. Sec.: Leonard Potter, Oatwood House, Wilmslow Road, Cheadle, Cheshire (Gatley 2934)
Leonard Potter, Secretary of the Lea-Francis owners’ Club, owns two T.T. Lea-Francis, a Lancia “Atena,” a 4 1/2-litre Bentley, a 1908 sleeve-valve 39-h.p. Minerva tourer (late the property of Lord Egerton), a 500-c.c. Sunbeam, a 500-c.c. Rudge “Ulster,” a push-bicycle and a pair of roller skates. As he says, he only lacks a “Spitfire” – and a drop of petrol. J.C. Wrigley has three Lea-Francis cars, a 3-litre Bentley, a bull-nose Morris-Cowley and a Swift, and can claim to be an exponent of the veteran cult, having a 1913 13-h.p. Benz in storage. It is sad to learn that G.L. Baker, who competed very frequently at Brooklands in outer-circuit, events with a sports Minerva, and also with a Graham Paige, passed away recently. MacLagen, who recently bought Kenneth Neve’s, G.N. Special with two dirt-track Douglas engines, has also acquired Breen’s touring G.N. and Statham’s Austin Seven, the last-named having a works “Ulster” engine with 10 to 1 compression ratio, Alvis remote control gear change and a lowered chassis. The Austin went North on a 5-ton Thornycroft and the G.N. was taken up in similar state. It seems that a Cottin Desgouttes, probably the sports job which L.G. Hornsted renovated some years ago, after it had run at Brooklands, is receiving new pistons and linered cylinders at a small garage at Harrogate. A 1 1/2-litre 4-seater Bugatti has been seen in this town.
The Bentley described in this column last month as being probably a 4-litre, turns out to be a 6 1/2 or 8-litre fabric close-coupled coupé, rusty but all complete, even to tyres, and equipped with an interior heater. It could presumably be bought for a small sum; you will find it, unless too late, at a garage at Windlesharn, on the Sunningdale-Camberley road. A Swift Ten chassis at breaker’s price is reported in Leeds, and we believe that the remains of a rear-engined cycle-car lie at Hull; all the parts of an experimental chassis of the latter make, with forward-placed M.A.G. engine and three-speed gearbox, are for sale in Taplow. Birkett is very industriously contriving an Austin Seven-engined Reliant passenger three-wheeler, with a view to having a really economical conveyance which he and his wife can use for their veterinary surgeon practice. An enthusiast in the Midlands has acquired a “Red Label” 3-litre Bentley which has twin rear wheels and is reputed to have been in course of preparation for Shelsley Walsh; it is to be methodically rebuilt. The big-port “12/50” Alvis at Epsom has been acquired by a London enthusiast who is using a twin-carburetter “12/60” Alvis 2-seater for long-distance official journeys. Interesting motor-cycles seen on the road recently have included an Austin Seven-engined, twin rear wheel Brough-Superior combination and an early three-speed Scott combination belonging to the British Two-Stroke Club. Mrs. Cowell, wife of Bob Cowell, the Alta exponent and now P/O., R.A.F., has christened her daughter Anne Elizabeth.
Sports cars seen in use since the end of the basic era include four in two days at a certain aerodrome – a Meadows-Frazer-Nash, a, 328 B.M.W., Type 37 Bugatti and a short-chassis 2-seater Aston-Martin – and, on the road, a 3-litre Bentley. Geoffrey Robson, who recently wrote-up the Lancia “Lambda” so effectively, while keeping his old coupé “Lambda,” has recently purchased a very beautifully preserved 8th Series tourer, which has only done 38,000 miles since new. He was able to run it for a month before laying it up for the duration, and one run of 27 miles over very twisty roads, including nearly 5 miles of town, took 36 minutes – incidentally, with no back shockers and without exceeding about 63 m.p.h. He lives in a caravan and various “12/50” Alvis, an E.S.2 Norton and a sports Austin Seven are frequent visitors. B.H. Davies, who Wrote on light car matters in The Autocar in the early nineteen-twenties as “Runabout,” has had many of his early records destroyed in an air raid. We regret to record the death of P/O. Peter Sadd, owner of a Type 30 Bugatti, on active service. An Erskine-engined Marendaz-Special is believed to be available in London for £30. A.S. Heal has acquired a 3-litre Sunbeam fabric saloon, with the intention of rebuilding it after the war as a touring car that will be in keeping with his racing stable. The Bainton-Special has turned up in Chalfont. The 3.3-litre G.P. Bugatti which graced a recent 750 Club meeting belongs to J.C. Lawrence and not, as stated, to Harmer. Gilbert, who is now with M.A.P., has sold his well-known H.R.G. and is running a Standard Eight saloon, and Dick Caesar has been getting about his business in an old Standard van, but is renovating a “12/60” Alvis to use on these journeys.
Two unblown 4 1/2-litre Le Mans Bentleys have come to light. One is Marcus Chambers’s car, now in the care of Joan Passini, and the other is in the possession of Ian Metcalfe and carries imposing engravings of past successes on the radiator. Incidentally, at the former stable are also a “Dilambda” Lancia, Eighth Series Lancia “Lambda,” several 3-litre Bentleys, a lowered “30/98 ” O.E. Vauxhall, a Type 30 Bugatti 2-seater, Bugatti chassis and the remains of an early touring G.N. Scott-Moncrieff now motors economically in a 1929 Humber Nine and Garry Adam’s uses a Morgan three-wheeler. In Birmingham, Chris Southall has a 1911 A.C. Sociable in commission as everyday transport and thinks nothing of 30-mile jaunts in it. David Gandhi has a 1931 Meadows-Frazer-Nash for sale at around £80, or he would exchange it for a “Brooklands” Riley Nine, and Miss Worthington is contemplating selling her twin o.h.c. Anzani Frazer-Nash. George Browne has acquired the single-seater Buick from Metcalfe, swopping a blown Mercédès-Benz coupé for it. Further light is thrown on the car at Southampton that was thought to be an Aster; it turns out to be an early Century, priced at £50. The Tamplin at the same address is for sale at £10. An immaculate 8-h.p. Talbot-Darracq of about 1923 vintage has been seen in a Weybridge showroom, but is not for sale. At Byfleet, Rowland has the ex-Soames racing Morgan and the ex-Hunter Alta. Robertson-Rodger’s blower 4 1/2-litre Bentley is coming along nicely under Shortt’s expert ministrations, dry-sump lubrication and special cooling and exhaust arrangements being planned in addition to the modifications we mentioned some time ago. Peter is now flying for A.T.A. and has had some rapid long-distance motoring in his B.M.W. in consequence. Michael May has recently added a 1,000-c.c. H.R.G. “Rapide” to his stable and has bettered 100 m.p.h. on it. An early Frazer-Nash and a V-twin engine have been seen in a Weybridge garage and Orlebar has a 1909 55-h.p. Mercédès for disposal at around the £20 figure. Rodney Clarke has left A.T.A. and is running a “pub.” at Horndean.
By dint of a run or two undertaken before the end of the “basic” era and by going about on three wheels since, there is still a little that can be talked about in these notes. For example, the Lancia did a number of brief local journeys before the end of July, clearing up things which would afterwards involve breaking the law and then, on the very last evening when such things were possible, following a fast duty journey in hot sunshine in the Lancia, we remembered that an Austin Seven saloon must needs be got out of storage and returned to its rightful owner in Kent. With a minimum of delay an “eleven-hundred” H.R.G. was got out, the Austin roped to it, a few items of equipment that might be needed on such an undertaking thrown in, and the Lancia’s petrol turned off – and we were away. For a last “free” expedition it was reasonably satisfactory. Out through the village, stopping to change a duff front tyre at a local garage where bits of aeroplanes adorn the rafters and where once a Frazer-Nash lay derelict, we waited while a goods train of seemingly interminable length was shunted back-and-fore over a level crossing, and then took the winding road to Guildford. Little of incident occurred, save the unexpected entanglement of the tow rope with the steering arrangements at a sharp lefthand bend and the knowledge that the front brakes of the Austin were still sticking on after each application of the handle, judging by the number of times the H.R.G. needed third gear, with its accompanying business-like exhaust note. The sprawling garage by the pond, where lives a 1909 Singer shooting brake, came and went, and soon the two ears were parked in the car-park at Guildford and we were walking up the steep High Street in search of sustenance. Thereafter we proceeded, quite without incident, through some truly beautiful scenery, turning right off the main road and climbing up to Newland’s Corner and thence through Dorking, Reigate – where a cinema car park was full of cars, for the last time for many a moon – and Redhill, to Godstone. By this time failing light, a falling petrol gauge and a very stiff neck, coupled with a tendency to sleepily observe the rear parts of the Herg, the back of its driver’s head and the passenger’s bright scarf and then to grab wildly for the handbrake, bade us stop the party before disaster overtook us. For old times sake we sought “The White House” and partook of a snack and there was some satisfaction in contemplating the long run back into Hampshire, when, a couple of years earlier, we should have only had to make for London, this being a run we frequently undertook at that time, black-out or no black-out, for relaxation from A.R.P. ardours. This time, with only about half-an-hour’s daylight remaining, we did not try the trials hill up beside the house or dally at the summit to admire the view out over Surrey and Sussex. Instead, the Austin was put to bed at the “Clayton Arms,” where the veterans used to congregate before assaying Tilburston, and the homeward journey commenced. Soon the sidelights were needed, banks of cloud merging with the hills until it was difficult to define one from the other, and then darkness came down and we motored behind an effective masked headlamp, thoughts idly reviewing a hundred of such runs, when more exciting objectives were sought and the constant menace of a falling petrol gauge was quite unknown.
Came August Bank Holiday and as strong a desire to motor as ever. On the Sunday a motor-cycle dirt-track meeting had to be seen, involving a journey to Hoddesdon and, although we could have gone on four wheels without wrongfully using the petrol allocated to us, it was both more amusing and more economical to accept a seat in a Morgan three-wheeler with Anzani-made, o.h.v. Summit engine. When the rain eased up we made a start and had the roads almost entirely to ourselves. In London – and we elected to drive right through the West End – there was some evidence of the holiday spirit, but the roads were still so empty that we had no compunction about parking wherever we wished, a proceeding that at one time would have disorganised the ‘bus stops and inevitably incurred the wrath of London’s wonderful policemen.
After a snack luncheon at one of the help-yourself-and-pay-at-the-end-of-the-line establishments we pushed on. Weak carburation made it inadvisable to employ much throttle, and we seldom exceeded a modest 30 m.p.h. However, we had plenty of time in hand and on damp tramlines the passenger was quite content not to exceed this speed, albeit the “Moggy” slid but once and that in braking for some traffic lamps. After an entertaining but not especially exciting taste of cinder shifting on wood-alcohol fuel we were joined by an R.A.F.V.R. .friend in a Ford Eight-engined Morgan, and the two three-wheelers ran line ahead into the town to seek tea. The opportunity of an “old/new” photograph was too good to miss, after which we went our respective ways, coming, into London along the road down which – seemingly centuries ago now – we had once had an initial and exhilarating run in a blown T.T. Austin Seven, immediately after taking delivery. The Bank Holiday crowds displayed an especial interest in the Morgan, especially when the tail was lifted casually into the kerb after parking, a front wheel padlocked as proof against any particularly optimistic paratroop and – finding that food was unattainable, the “Corner Houses,” in particular, being crammed with members of the Chosen Race – the engine wound up from the side by a handle inserted under the tail. Right through the West End again and along the Bayswater Road, the food problem solved itself nicely when we remembered the “Linden” restaurant at Notting Hill Gate, run by the Nockolds brothers. It is the same as ever, although apparently shutting now at 8 o’clock, at all events on a Sunday, and from certain posters on the walls we suspect that the Nockolds are now politically-minded, in a pleasingly anti-Nazi manner. Next we decided to visit an enthusiast and see his cars, only to discover that a Londoner is the worst possible person to approach for directions when you are lost and that London mews have a curious habit of being re-named and their former name given to a similar place very differently located. So after some unprofitable milling round we recalled our absence of lighting and came home, the Morgan still running as well as ever, as ardent cycle-carists would wish. On the morrow, there still being a little petrol left, we decided to go, after lunch, cross-country, on by-roads and down lanes that is, to a breaker’s yard in search of useful spares. Setting off over empty roads with a light rain falling in spite of the presence of a watery sun, we might well have been back in a past age. The vee-twin rapped out its war song and the whisper of chains came from behind the just-adequate seat, while on the dash oil drips fell steadily behind the glass sight tube of a drip-feed set at 45˚. We almost expected to encounter a two-stroke Carden or a rear-engined A.V. monocar, or to have to speed up to keep pace with a belt-driven Bleriot Whippet. Even the local motor ‘bus had broken down to lend strength to the illusion. Actually, the picture was not really complete, for the driver observed that the roads would have been much worse in the early twenties – the Morgan is actually a 1928 model – and the girl cyclists encountered round every bend would certainly have surprised us 20 years ago. But it was an enthralling thought while it lasted. As it was, the whole crew of a 4-seater Morgan three-wheeler gleefully thumbed us as they passed us, the first car encountered for miles, and we fell to discussing our own tricycle, debating how practical it would be on crowded roads, the owner inclining to the view that the brakes might be inadequate, albeit the car was presumably used before the war; the real Morgan boys seem to motor fast enough under any conditions, and there is unquestionable fascination about the whole thing, especially at a tax rate of 27/6 a quarter.
We found another dog and sprocket for the Morgan at the breakers, where the proprietor arrived in an exceedingly smart trap, but the price was steep and we went on rather sadly to Henley, to find the old Squire works devoid of motoring interest. Tea in that town, following a glimpse of the river, reminded us that it was Bank Holiday, as did torrential rain. When it eased up we uncovered the engine and seats of the Morgan and scuttled for home. A brief spell at the wheel was most interesting. Stability is quite reassuring and would probably be even better if there were a shock absorber to prevent the rear wheel from hopping sideways on rough going. The steering answers the helm very well and, kept down to 30-35 m.p.h., the engine felt and sounded rather like that of an elderly Jowett driven recently, although undoubtedly there is more life. Once one has got used to the long travel of the right-hand gear lever and lifting it over a notch in the quadrant before moving it, the alteration of ratio from high speed to low or vice versa is quite fascinating and the dogs engage surprisingly sweetly. The foot brake did little, and it was necessary to haul on the long central brake lever to get any quick retardation, so that, at the innumerable minor cross-roads on our route, I qualified for an L-plaque and was, even so, grateful for the foot throttle conversion. Nevertheless, Morganing is growing on me and I must confess I should appreciate a run in an 80-m.p.h. version of the device handled by an experienced exponent. Even now our motoring was not over for, calling on a friend to see a rather more ambitious three-wheeler in the making, we were whisked into a sports 4-seater Austin Seven, holding on to all manner of veterinary equipment, and motored rapidly over main roads and, after feverish demolition of some fencing, nearly as rapidly over a decidedly “trials” course at the edge of a wheat field, to attend on an injured dog. What time the British Public showed undisguised disgust at the sight of a sports car, screen folded flat, Motoring in a basicless age. Life, then, is still tolerable.