Club News, September 1945

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We hear

Major Souter has purchased Boddy ‘s “14/75” open sports Alvis, and hopes to race his 2-litre Bugatti as a sports car when sports-car racing is resumed. Chapman is running a “Red Label” 3-litre Bentley and a 1936 Riley “Sprite” saloon. A 1924 “14/40” Delage was sold last month in Sutton-under-Whitecliffe, in the shadow of Sutton Bank. Major A. L. Galloway has a 1924 Rolls-Royce “Silver Ghost” out in Ceylon which he is reconditioning, fitting 7.00-in. by 21-in. tyres, .h.c. “Specialloid” pistons, twin S.U. downdraught carburetters, K.E. 965 exhaust valves and multi-valve springs. He proposes to have one engine converted thus for high-speed leave touring on the Continent, normally using a standard engine, and he would like experienced persons’ views on this scheme, and on the possibility of obtaining a speed of 85-90 m.p.h., cruising at 65-75 m.p.h., using a very light, low body, with lowered steering column.

W. Jackson has disposed of his “Ulster” Austin Seven and runs a 1931 TJ Alvis “12/50” — he needs new front mudguards and a dynamo with Simms-coupled magneto, if anyone can oblige. Walker, of Airspeeds, is using a delightful old 4-cylinder A.C. and owns an ex-Partridge f.w.d. Alvis for light entertainment. Birkett has bought a Type 38 Bugatti Jarvis-bodied 4,seater for use next winter as a touring car, and J. D. Edisbury is using a works-reconditioned 12.8 f.w.d. Citroen saloon, which he describes as definitely a good example of type agricole sportif. Edward Hyde has found a 328 B.M.W. which suits him — a car with only 10,000 miles on the clock and with three S. U. carburetters in place of the usual Solex or Zenith, bought from Wm. Arnolds, of Manchester. Sqdn. Ldr. R. H. Bardens has acquired several “Grand Sport” Arnilcars for the purpose of building up one good one, a task he is undertaking for sentimental reasons.

Edmund Williams, the T.T. rider, is thinking of selling his blown “Ulster” Austin Seven which he ran at Shelsley and Prescott, and of building a “special.” Amongst the early small cars at Bromyard are a 1914 Hillman, 1925 solid-tyred Trojan, 1925 “Chummy” Austin Seven, and a flat-twin Stellite-Wolseley. Is there a coming cult in Trojan motoring? We know of several people who covet them, Boddy included. Apologies to H. G. Symonds, Hornsted and R. F. Oats, for wrongly spelling their names. And to old-school Bentley folks for a recent reference to removing the head of one of these cars — head and block are in one, of course.

W. L. Jennings, 212, Victoria Road, Thorpe Bay, badly needs a French-built G.P. Salmson, any date or condition, and also a 1926-7-type long-tailed metal body for one of these cars. There is a 4-litre Bentley for sale at Stratford. At Alcester a 1906 V-twin Riley has been found in a bed of nettles, but having been there for 30 years, it is in a very poor state. Routledge is rebuilding a 1933 open A.C., which he intends to use with a rather special three-carburetter engine. His Firefly-engined “Speed Twenty” Alvis coupé is still his regular business car. Lt. Norman Riddle, R.N.V.R., has a Type 40 Bugatti awaiting rebuild, and is using a 1934 Talbot 105 2-seater. Lt. Dick Straddon has a ‘Type 37 Bugatti,and his brother an “International” Aston-Martin.

B.0.C.

The Bugatti Owners’ Club was scheduled to hold a social event at Bagshot on August 25th, the Prescott films — a 1 1/2-hour show — being put on after tea. The club confidently hopes to run meetings at Prescott next year — the R.A.C. permitting. Hon. secretary, E. L. Giles, 2, Queen Street, Mayfair, W.1.

The Value Of The Sport!

It is very pleasing to find proper recognition of the value of the Sport to the war effort in the S.M.M.T.-sponsored book ” Drive for Freedom.” Two other instances of this can be quoted. Sqdn. Ldr. C. N. S. Pringle, one-time secretary of the C.U.A.C., has his personal Jeep in the Far East. This he modified as only an enthusiast for the Sport could. Lord Louis Mountbatten noted these alterations and promptly sent along his own Jeep for similar modification. Robert de Rovin, Ltd. of Paris, have announced a single-cylinder, o.h.v., 1 1/2-h.p. 3-speed car to cost £125, and carry two persons at up to 44 m.p.h. This is an answer to the economic problem prevailing in Europe, and there is little doubt that de Rovin’s experiences at Montlhèry in 1927, when his J.A.P.-engined de Rovin took records in the 500-c.c. class, have contributed to this new car.

December “Rembrandt”

The 14th and last meeting in the wartime enthusiasts series so ably run by Rivers-Fletcher, is due to happen at the “Rembrandt” not on September 16th as originally planned, but on December 2nd. The fixture list is already becoming crowded for September, so this must be regarded as a good thing.

V.S.C.C. First Post War Rally

This event will take place at “The Pantiles,” on the London-Basingstoke road, at Bagshot, on September 15th.Members are asked to arrive by 2.30 p.m., and a general meeting, to hear the president’s statement and reports by the acting secretary, treasurer and competitions secretary, will follow. Club officers for 1945 will be elected, and there will be tea at 4.30 p.m. Tickets, at 4s. each, must be bought by September 10th. Wives and lady friends will be welcome.

At a recent committee meeting it was decided that all members who had paid subscriptions in 1939 should continue membership up to the end of 1945. The club is now open to receive applications for membership from owners of vintage sports cars. The entry fee is 5s. and the subscription to the end of 1946, 15s. 0d. If the club is run on former lines, this represents about the best value in the club world. A large number of new members is hoped for, and the acting hon. secretary wants to hear from old members, as to their whereabouts and the cars they own. Write to A. S. Heal, Red Hill Cottage, Denham, Bucks.

Badges

We have never enthused over the practice made by certain competition drivers and others of fitting so many club badges to their cars as to give a Christmas-tree effect. To display, the badges of one’s more favoured clubs, however, is another matter, especially when one’s personal car has, perforce, to be a humble vehicle, when display of a badge picks it out effectively from the common run of such cars. So we hope that badges, within reason, will begin to appear again, and that club secretaries will take steps to replenish depleted supplies as soon as production can be resumed.

N. L. E . C.C.

The July meeting of the N. London Enthusiasts Car Club was devoted to talks by members on their experiences. Rivers-Fletcher recounted how he rode as mechanic with Malcolm Campbell in the 1 1/2-litre Delage in the 1928 J.C.C. Junior G.P. Philip Turner described last-minute preparation of E.R.A.s for racing. B. G. Limbrey recalled the 3-cylinder Lafayette and Bleriot-Whippet, and S. J. Humphries the detail work he has put into one of his cars. The club held an evening social run last month and hope to have a talk on trials this month. Meetings now take place on Wednesday evenings. Hon. secretary, G. Bance, 15, King’s Avenue, Muswell Hill, London, N.10.

Cover Picture

This month’s cover picture shows Ian Connell driving his E.R.A. at the Crystal Palace, during the 1937 London Grand Prix, in which race he finished second behind “Bira’s” E.R.A., at 53.02 m.p.h. Alas, whether we shall ever see any more racing over this circuit is very dubious.

750 Club

A gymkhana is scheduled for early this month, at a field near Oxted, in Surrey. At a meeting on July 29th, the committee came up for re-election, and now comprises: S. H. Capon as secretary, Bill Merrilees as treasurer, Birkett as captain and Bulletin editor, Chiles as competition secretary, Ballamy as chairman, Sqdn. Ldr. Gibson, Frost and F/Lt. Mallock. Boddy and Tubbs were not re-elected. The club’s aims are now quoted as being to foster enthusiasm for 750-c.c. cars, the Austin Seven in particular. Full members must run cars of up to 750 c.c., but associate members can own any size car. The subscription is 5s. up to next March, when a new club year commences, and higher rate will be charged for the full year. Hon. secretary, S. H. Capon, 159, Upper Tulse Hill, London, S.W.2.

Veteran Car Club

The Veteran Car Club has decided to organise a rally for veteran cars now that “basic” fuel is available. We hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be dutifully appreciative of the extra revenue which this taxation of veterans will produce. The scheme is to rally to the “Ely,” at Hartford Bridge on September 29th, by kind consent of C. A. Smith, who is a keen owner of many veteran cars. There will be no competitive event, but every veteran arriving under its own power by 1 p.m. will be given a special plaque to commemorate this initial post-war rally. Cars will be divided into two classes, (a) those built not later than December 31st, 1904, and (b) those built not later than December 31st, 1915, presumably for use when discussing the arrivals. The entry fee is 5s. per car, and entries, to F. W. Hutton-Stott, Junr., Speen Place, Newbury, Berks, must be received not later than September 18th. Members in modern cars will be very welcome. The venue is 32 miles from London on A30. This is splendid news and should round off a very full month of most interesting fixtures.

The luncheon at the Waldorf Hotel was very well attended, and was followed by a film show. G. James Allday, the chairman, announced a rally for this month, and said that the Brighton Run would be resumed in 1946, when it will form part of the celebrations commemorating the jubilee of the Motor Industry. Capt. Phillips, of the R.A.C., assured the V.C.C. of all possible assistance, and said that we must concentrate on getting rid of restrictions. George Lanchester presented the club with a beautiful photograph of the second Lanchester car to be built, taking part in the 1,000 mile trial of 1900. Geoffrey Smith suggested that a cable be sent to the V.C.C. of America, as they took a keen interest in the British club. Cecil Clutton spoke of the club’s new policy of recognising cars built down to 1914 and enlarged on the need for restoring some of the more outstanding Edwardian touring cars. Amongst those present were: Lt. Cdr. Graham-White, George Reynolds, Air Marshal Sir James Robb, Chief of Fighter Command, Sam Wright, H. Egerton, F. S. Bennett, Mrs. S. F. Edge, R. Waddy, St. John Nixon, J. W. Stocks, etc. Boddy sent a telegram expressing regret at his non-attendance.

Good Show Sir

As a result of the Cockfosters Rally, Rivers-Fletcher has been able to hand the sum of £322 18s. 8d. to the Victoria Hospital, Barnet.

Stop Press

H. L. Benn hopes to again run his 1924 Austin Seven in competition; he also has the ex-Aylward Aston-Martin. A. S. Heal has sold his 1926 “14/40” Sunbeam to Seth Smith, and is running a 1926 F-series twin o.h.c. 3-litre Sunbeam, the Claudel Hobson carburetters of which have been attended to by John Wyer, so that it now gives 16 m.p.g. of “Pool.” Norman Smith, with the B.L.A., has a f.w.d. Citroen and a D.I.S.S. Delage in safe storage and craves a 3-litre Bentley or a Bugatti. F/Lt. Hannah seeks a differential drive pinion for a 1926 4-cylinder Star owned by a New Zealand friend. Has anyone any suggestions? F./Lt. Woodhead has acquired a 3-carburetter Alvis “Silver Eagle” open 4-seater. Lush has bought a very early “Chummy” Austin Seven, which did a very long journey quite satisfactorily after eight years in storage. Birkett is building an Austin Seven “Special,” composed of a “Ruby” chassis, “Ulster” engine, L.M.B. front axle and 2-seater body. F/Lt. Mallock is contemplating a P-type M.G., and J. S. French has one of these cars and also an Austin Seven saloon. The Mercédès-Benz which featured in these notes last month was a “38/250,” not a “30/250.”

History

Late in June the R.A.C. relented and stated that it was now prepared to issue permits for Closed Invitation events of a suitable nature. This is historic news. The first event held under this ruling was apparently the Bristol M.C. and L.C.C. Naish Hill Climb on August 18th, followed by Sunbac’s Evening Trial on September 12th. Many rallies and gymkhanas are due this month. Things really are beginning! But we must wait patiently until 1946 for a really full fixture list and real racing and, meanwhile, the Editor asks for continued support in the matter of contributions to Motor Sport.

General Notes

The special Austin Seven 2-seater the recalcitrant doings of which concluded these notes last month, had to be tested on behalf of its owner. So one weekday evening we occupied the passenger’s seat, cold evening air streaming past unbroken by a screen, as we were driven spiritedly along 20 miles of the very beautiful Skipton road to Bolton Abbey. The plot was to try a track, rising very steeply, and reputed very rough, over Pock Stones Moor. Alas, misfiring set in before the start and became steadily worse, so that after the initial climb we could go no further, and clouds gathering and the light nearly gone, it seemed that we might, indeed, have to face a night on this barren hillside. At last the little car, still very sick, descended to civilisation and eventually dragged itself home, in time for a meal at midnight.

Next there was a chance to accompany a friend in a perfectly standard 1980 Riley Nine “Monaco” saloon on a business trip to London. Hardly had we arranged to go than Holland Birkett wired to say he wanted our company on a trip to Manchester from Fleet, in Hampshire, in his 1923 Type 30 Bugatti, to tow back the ex-Kaye Don Type 54. So we anticipated gleefully some 1,000 miles’ motoring.

The Riley left Harrogate fairly early and, the crew aboard, cruised purposefully down A1 to the south. The North Road was joined over the bridge at Wetherby. Over the only traffic lights, towns apart, where the York-Leeds road crosses A1 near Bramharn, and we were through Aberford, with a large church on the right. An ugly coal-mine came up and receded, we went right where the telegraph poles go confusingly left along the road to Selby and passed the stretch of road before Ferrybridge, with permanently-flooded ground away below on the right. So to Doncaster, with its racecourse now a German prisoner-of-war camp and its aerodrome on the opposite side of the road. On through Barnby Moor, quite a nice village, and into Retford, the approach to which is attractive, where we went right in the town and on into open country, forking right before Tuxford for Newark. We took the bridge over the railway by Crow Park Station, and so down the tree-lined straight to the level-crossing outside Newark. To leave this town, of course, we turned right. A large, disused aerodrome loomed up, road work was in progress, and one day a fine wide road will happen hereabouts. So uphill and downhill into Grantham, where the narrow main street and three sets of traffic lights lower the average. Straight on at the last lot of lights, we climbed a hill flanked with surface air-raid shelters to the higher ground, overlooking patchwork fields backed by the railway, further on. 100 miles came up on the trip, the Riley still purposefully at 40 m.p.h. Past an extensive stone-walled estate left fork for Stamford, past an aerodrome, and we were taking that straight where overtaking is prohibited; the final sign, end of prohibition, must have cheered the souls of countless American soldiers! Someone had swung the 30 m.p.h. limit sign round outside Great Costerton. Uphill to so-narrow Stamford, we climbed the hill out of the town, set in a cutting, passed a park on the left and a disused aerodrome on our right, and took that cutting with more no-passing restrictions. Over an ugly bridge over the river, and we came to the level-crossing, which is the first to be encountered if you are coming up from London. That curious last-war memorial looms up on the right before Stilton, and near Sawtry a veteran Sizaire-Naudin is noticed derelict beside a small garage. A deserted American airfield comes up, the road grows twisty, a cutting for a new road is noted on our left, and then A1 goes right and we go on for Huntingdon, past an American Army camp extending for miles.

Woodford duly appeared, passengers were dropped, and we went on through London to Fleet, ready for a 200-mile run in the Type 30 Bugatti on the morrow. Incidentally, cars of interest noted included a V12 Lagonda; a 4-seater Rover Speed Twenty; a big Daimler, possibly a V12; a very early “14/45” Rover saloon; two R.A.F. men in an M-type M.G. inspecting a sports 3-wheeler Morgan in Huntingdon ; an Alvis “Firefly” lorry, many big Yanks and a “40/50″Rolls; a 1928 or thereabouts Jowett 2-seater with lamps on scuttle, the whole very nicely preserved; two of the original saloon Austin Sevens; a grand 6 1/2-litre Bentley saloon for sale at Motor Stocks, Ltd., in London; a white open 3-litre Invicta, at Gladfield Lawrence’s on the North Circular; a 4-seater “18/80” M.G. Six in London and another at Sunbury; a Star hearse, and two Star saloons.

Next day, not too late, we were off for the North again in the Type 30, cruising steadily and easily at some 55 m.p.h. The car handled as a Bugatti should, had very powerful brakes, emitted magnificent sounds on the indirects in towns, while on the straights the rev.-counter would creep up beyond the driver’s self-imposed limit of 3,000 – “three-two,” “three-three,” “three-four “- 64, 65, 66 m.p.h.

Meanwhile there was ample oil pressure, the water temperature remained low, and, when the flat belt was replaced over the pulleys, the dynamo gave a most healthy charge. It was all most inspiring, and most fascinating. Birkett seems to have a happy knack of keeping off main roads and yet still getting to his destination without much extra mileage. On this occasion we went via Reading to Henley, along that picturesque route we last took one very cold morning in our Gwynne Eight, to visit Forrest Lycett and sample his 8-litre Bentley. Near Henley we looked in at a firm with the delightful name of Bodgers, Ltd., and saw a very decent example of blown “Hyper” Lea-Francis 2-seater and a Delahaye saloon, not, we gathered, for sale. Then on through Banbury and dear old Oxford and after a hasty snack at a Woolworth’s, of all places, up to Rugby, Hinckley, Donington, and so to Derby and Belper, a route reviving many memories, first of happy race-day visits to Donington Park, later of grim duty calls at Rolls-Royce, Ltd., in the earlier part of the war. A Bugatti never runs quite without trouble it seems, but, unless a serious blow-up occurs, this adds to the fun. On this run a leaky water tap was partially cured after we had fed and, nearing Donington, the plugs were removed for examination and the mixture weakened in the twin S.U.s — soon to be replaced by ex-“Lambda” Zenith triple diffusers. From Belper there was a gloriously fast run through most interesting scenery to Matlock, and so to Buxton and over the Peak by the famous and impressive Snake to the dreary, tram-infested outskirts of Manchester. Just as we entered Urmston the sky broke and the hood had to be hastily erected, the downpour well and truly upholding Manchester’s reputation.

The prospect of returning with the Type 54 seemed dismal enough on our damp arrival. The chassis was in very many pieces, beds were at a premium and no labour was available. However, eventually excellent accommodation was fixed up, appropriately enough at Brooklands Crescent, near a Brooklands station, and after dinner the various bits were sorted out and things looked brighter.

Next day it was a question of toiling almost unceasingly in sunshine and shower outside a lock-up which seemed to be in grave danger of being walled-in by some high-speed builders who were extending the Higher Road Garage. Gradually the Type 54 went together. Lush assembled the front axle and steering, your Editor grappled with mating the back axle halves, the axle going up with no drive, for towing purposes. Over all, Birkett presided. True, time was snatched for a brief ride in an interesting Lancia “Atena” with a 3-seater clover-leaf body off a 1925 Darracq, a car with much promise and a very distinctive exhaust note, but temporarily spoilt by bad wheel wobble. And, later, there was a prodigious dice in West’s Singer Bantam coupe, which is apparently standard save for stiffer rear springs and some weight taken from the flywheel of the two-bearing engine — standard, that is, except for a pre-selector gearbox from a Rapier, which handled beautifully and “made” what is a very lively little car, in contrast to the rather funny-feeling steering.

Late that afternoon the Type 54 looked like a car again, and it was possible to clean down the bonnet and body, the former badly carved-up when the Villiers engine was installed. Late that night the car, very large and impressive, was put to bed on a hoist in the main garage and, a hard day’s toil over, we were free to celebrate at Molyneux’s until the small hours.

Next morning, which reference to a calendar showed to be Saturday, we were ready. The 54 was hitched to the 30 by a stout tow-bar, Lush went off to buy some cycle clips in view of the absence of flooring in the “ricer,” Birkett advanced the Scintilla magneto and cleaned all eight oil jets on the 30, a Press photographer arrived and did his stuff, and we were off. Out through traffic-infested Altrincham and Tarporley, and so on to Whitchurch, the Type 30 proved adept at towing, and we got along rapidly enough. A stop to tighten the towing connections and a café adjacent quickly served us with an excellent lunch. After which we proceeded via Wem (near that delightful village, Wig Wig) and Shrewsbury (where the public lavatory is an old house with oak-beamed ceiling!), to Much Wenlock, where a farm provided water after the long uphill grind. At Bridgnotth wet roads were encountered, spray from the unshielded wheels of the 54 flying higher than the car, drenching the unfortunate Lush. Rain began at Kidderminster and was falling heavily as our passage aroused mixed comments and expressions in busy Worcester. The run thereafter was rendered an exceedingly damp business by reason of a cloudburst. At one point we actually ran into a solid sheet of rain from dry roads, an old man literally rushing into his cottage as the storm arrived. So soaked were we — screen flat in the 30, Lush sans all protection — that in Broadway we stopped in heavy rain and thought it had turned out a fine evening! Fish Hill was taken in style, and the rain did cease eventually. Chipping Norton and Woodstock came and went, and then, entering Oxford, the tow-bar snapped, fortunately as we were entering roundabout at very low speed. Watched by a very interested small boy, we replaced bar with clothes-line, a garage proprietor (who ran a “20/25” Rolls) later kindly presenting us with a steel rope against all eventualities. The brakes, rigged to the 54’s rear wheels only, were more effective than expected, so we came on without further incident via Henley and Theale and cross-country to Fleet — the 2s. 9d. clothes-line breaking at the very gates! It was a grand bit of motoring and even Lush, in his sodden state, had no complaints.

Looking back, we recalled some more interesting encounters. There was a Vernon-Derby 2-seater; a sports Lea-Francis; a very old Humber saloon at the top of Fish Hill (probably a “15.9”) ; another early Rover; a 1928 Swift Ten saloon; several nicely-kept vintage Sunbeams and early Morris; a 3-litre Bentley; an Aston-Martin whose driver waved to us in Oxford; two worm-drive Standard Nine saloons; four “Chummy” Austin Sevens and an Avon Standard 2-seater. And, at Higher Road Garage, we encountered a very well-preserved 1926 “12/22” Lagonda saloon, which has had one owner since new and has only stopped once, with a punctured float — a nice tribute to early small cars in general and to the Staines products in particular.

On the Sunday we rose rather late, but eventually got under way in the Riley. Having to pick up a passenger at Hendon Central Station, we went first of all up the Great West Road and then along the North Circular. After that, as we could not stand any more of A1, we went via the Watford By-pass to Aylesbury, stopping to peer at a large breaker’s on the way, wherein could be seen Lagonda, A.C., Isotta-Fraschini, rear-engined Trojan, etc. Then on, on another cross-country route, via Bicester, Banbury, Stratford-on-Avon, to Alcester, and thence to Worcester and Evesham to inspect some old cars at Bromyard. In Worcester a “14/40” Delage went by in style, Dr. Ewen’s car we believe, and later we noted another worm-drive Standard Nine and four more “Chummy” Austin Sevens, one being a 1930-31 type. Late that evening we retraced our steps and came via Bromsgrove into Birmingham, two early Morgans, one an “Aero,” and a white “30/98” Vauxhall 4-seater outside T. A. Gray & Co.’s garage, attracting attention. Birmingham’s lack of signposts and vague marking of its never-ending ring road has to be experienced to be believed — actually, give it a wide berth! We did find our way out of the maze at last and came on by Towcester, Buxton and Derby to Mansfield, Worksop and Doncaster (where we inspected an Aster saloon by headlamp beam), and so to Wetherby and off A1 to make Harrogate by 4.30 a.m. on the Monday morning.

After all this, pottering on ” basic ” in the Austin Seven seemed the thing to do. Even so, this took us to Sutton-under-Whitecliffe, past the broken bridge at Boroughbridge, in search of an elusive 1924 Delage. All we saw there was a Morgan, but we did take our small box up Sutton Bank, last stormed in style in a Chrysler, needing 1st gear for the 1 in 4 bit. There was also a trip to York in company with French’s rapid. Austin “Ruby” saloon — it left us well behind — to see a 1906 Colebri 2-seater in the Castle Museum, which we once saw in sorry state in Mr. Tye’s yard, now very resplendent, it having been rebuilt and painted by members of an R.A.F. M.T. group — a good show.