Holiday, Busman’s, Editor, for the Use of
(Resumed from last month’s issue.)
Tnis ” holiday,” which is taken with steering wheels instead of buckets and bathing trunks, continued at the end of July with a journey to Bourne to discuss ILR.M. matters with Raymond Mays. On this occasion I had the use of a 21-litre Lagonda drophead. I have waited 11 long time to sample the newest
Lagonda and impatience must be tempered by remarking that it is an experience worth waiting for. So successful has the 21-litre, twin-cam, six-cylinder engine been in the DB II Aston-Martin, after David Brown wisely substituted it for the earlier push-rod four-cylinder, that we are apt to overlook the fact that W. 0. Bentley evolved this tine power unit expressly for the post-war Lagonda. He also endowed this car with
independent suspension at the back as well as at the front (see MOTOR Svelter, Apr11, 1950), and altogether conceived one of the most individualistic of Modern cars. The morning of my appointment with Mr. Mays found me in that hive of pedestrian activity, Feltham Iligh Street, waiting the arrival of the photographer at the pleasure of British Railways. Having
collected him we drove round what was once Hanworth Air Park but is now devoted to the production of hay, so that only Mr. David Brown’s Dove is brave enough to land there, to where they produce the present-day Lagonda cars. While Mr. Roberts Went to fetch the Press 21-litre I was shown a V12 that had been overhauled and rebodied for a wealthy client, and was told that over 160 V12 Lagondas are known to be still on the road—perhaps all this was to decoy me from asking awkward questions about a very American-looking prototype Lagonda of which TUSTIOUSS are afloat
Anyhow, the 21-litre, looking very “expensive ” in an unobtrusive way, turned up, Mr. Roberts showed me how to drive it, and off we went, hastily, photographer and Morgan Plus Four following, as we wished to leave the latter car at a convenient place ‘twixt London and Lincolnshire against the time when ” holiday ” became ” work ” again and I should have to get home from the (Alice round about midnight.
This provides an opportunity to say that, within the limitations of a ” car new to owner ” and a Plus Four not entirely run-in, our brief hurry from Feltham to Potter’s Bar, where we garaged the Morgan, suggested that while a Plus Four can out-accelerate a Lagonda, the latter is the easier to propel quickly through congested places. Both in the Lagonda, we headed up A 1 as fast as possible, for the pace we made determined whether or not we would 1:111.Ve time for a lunch-stop. Fortunately, (it dignified Lagonda proved more than adept at hurrying,—it soon became evident that here is a CIIT in which averages of the mile-a-minute order along our narrow, lorry-infested arterial routes are accomplished without effort, merely in the ordinary course of enjoyable fast driving. Ask me why and I would attribute this facility for easy speed to excellent visibility, extremely good steering, and the willing acceleration from 70 to 90 m.p.h. The engine feels unburstable and certainly is the ” steel hand in velvet glove” of this very fine motor car. Indeed, what I rather casually thought would turn out to be a
docile 85-m.p.h. carriage wafted us Bourne-wards like a disguised DB II. The engine revved-up in instant response to the accelerator and had that same beautiful, hard exhaust note when accelerating as has the Aston-Martin. Steering and steering-column gear-shift, too, were reminiscent of the Lagonda’s sporting relative. And the way we covered the ground was a revelation. With no appreciable wind-noise (more, we discovered later, with the head down than up) and no mechanical intrusions, only the. speedometer told of the swift progress.
Here I must confess to habitually going to an indicated 60 m.p.h. in second, and 79 m.p.h. in third gear, until the photographer said there were little red lines at 20, 40 and 70 m.p.h., respectively. So smooth and willing is the engine, so entirely quiet the gearbox, that, in the rather astonishing absence of a rev.counter, I had been letting ” nature take its course.” The only sign that I had been ” in the red” was a 90°C. radiator temperature after long spells of wide throttle, and this, we found subsequently, was because about a gallon of water was missing from the cooling system. When We had had this attended to the thermometer never went above 80°C. Oil-pressure sat at around 50 lb./sq. in., falling to half this pressure at idling speed. The steering and handling qualities are interesting, and to them we owed a very pleasant lunch at the Norman Cross Hotel, before resuming, past the brick kilns and trough congested Peterborough, to the town where B.R.M.s are built.. The steering is heavy, inasmuch as you pull all the time against strong castoraction, but in consequence there is no lost motion at all. It is high-geared (2i turns, lock-to-lock, and with a small diameter wheel) anti very smooth when the car has to be taken quickly from one direction to another. Moreover, this is more ” live” steering than is usually found on modern ears, so that you can ” feel” with your front wheels. Nothing is quite perfect and it has to be confessed
that the suspension layout does not obviate a certain oversteer. Equally, it must be made plain that this oversteer is not pronounced and that what happens on tight corners in no way detracts from the pleasure of taking less-acute bends, or tucking the Lagonda quickly in and out between loitering lesser fry In such circumstances the absolute accuracy of the steering and the manner in which the back wheels ” follow through” contributes materially to the easy manner in which the car copes with such ohstruetions—and many cars regarded at other times as fast appear to loiter when you are Lagonda-mounted 1 The aforementioned excellent visibility sets seal to the sense of security you feel at the wheel of this car. The brakes were rather disappointing. They were adequate for general retardation but faded noticeably when applied hard from speeds in the region of 85 m.p.h. This was confirmed when Raymond Mays and Ken Richardson drove round Folkinghain, the B.R.M. teat-circuit, but before that we knew this fading tendency was present and I found myself allowing for it. when sudden stops from high speeds had to be anticipated. Moreover, the pedal action was somewhat heavy and a bit harsh, although neither the brakes, nor the tyres on corners, did anything undignified in the way of emitting sounds of stress. The hand-brake is a rather humble affair amongst the otherwise beautifullyappointed interior—this Lagonda has deep leather seats with loose covers, heater, H.M.V. radio, screen-squirts, and beautifully appointed facia and switches, etc. The bonnet opens sensibly, the batteries are particularly
amessible, but the rear-view mirror is inadequate with the head up. As la.tils such a beautifully-appointed Thiele the suspension kills discomfort, the ride remaining level and pitch-free
over the worst surfaces in spite of modern supple action, while the value of i.r.s. is evident when you occupy the back seats. There is a certain frolit -eta’ tremor and a shake alanut the laud); panels, some of which is transtagu,,,I to tit,. steering wheel, which just siflosteps the (go. from the luxury class. Possibly the more rigid
saloon would be immune from this failing. The steering-column geara-haoge, too, while one of the best of its kind and
pleasant, to handle, is no substitute for a good remote-control lever or the splendid right-hand change of Rolls-Royce and Bentley ears. I suppose, were you buying purely a luxury vehicle, whether you went to Conduit Street or 1-fanworth would depend on whether you had 1:4,500 or £3,500 to spend. But as a very refined
road-car that goes very fast unobtrusively, so that for everyday driving I class it as preferable to a DB II, the Lagonda is a very etanmenulable proposition indeed. And it is fast ! Coining home we took the A 14 road through Illintingulon, which has several stretches where very high speeds are safe and whieh carries practically no trallie in comparison with A 1, so that. I fluid myself wondering why more drivers do not use this excellent route, continuing along A 10, to London from the North. Many times the speedo meter went to its limit indication of 100 m.p.h. and 95 plus was common
place, 80-90 m.p.h. held for miles on end. The only pause we permitted ourselves in such exhilarating progress was for the purpose of photographing one of a pair of Fowler steam ploughing engines. This, silhouetted against the skyline, in a field above a quarry, black smoke belching from its funnel and its flywheel and piston rods at maximum revs., Winding in the winch, was too great an opportunity for any ithotographer to miss. Allowing for that contagious disease ” specdome( er flutter,” the Lagonda is clearly a very fast car, especially as, should :1 clock to 70 111.1).11. become necessary. the top-gear acceleration back to the nineties is very potent, or, if speed drops below 70, a lightning dive to third brings you In ii rapidly to top and your accustomed 80 plus. Raymond Mays expressed himself as impressed icy the perforneu The high gearing (13.6, 9.15, 6.20 and 4.56 to I, with (5.00-16 tyres) naturally stifles lower-end pick-up to some extent., but the Lagonda was seldom allowed to run slowly for any length of time ! Read
furled, the wind makes sounds at 70 m.p.h.
rather like a jet aircraft at 370, but inside the car our hair remained unrullled. We covered a total of 551 miles in the car, at a petrol consumption of 16.2 m.p.g. Yes, the Lagonda is a very fine vehicle, and when I climbed again into the Morgan it seemed somewhat crude and
noisy (the hood was up) in comparison. It certainly conies in the springless” category after trying a car like the Lagonda. Such comparison is unfair, for an excellent performance is achieved with
a perfectly straighlThrward, durable Vanguard engine, in the Plus Four, for about one-fifth the price of the Lagonda.
This last thought, then, is really further emphasis of what a very refined. fast Car the Lagonda is, and no criticism at tull of the purely sporting Plus Four.
Writing of Morgans, a few days later I had occasion to visit the factory at Malvern Link, going down via Reading, along A 417 to Faringdon and Leehlade, and on along A 40 from Burford to Cheltenham and tluence to Tewkesbury, tart returning along the excellent and generally-empty A 417 right from Cirencester to whereit terminates at, Streatley after passing along Post Way and Ickuwild Way.
I always enjoy a visit to Morgan’s, because in contrast to the great Midlands factories there is so much variety there and their products do !calk like motor cars. They are turning out really large numbers of Plus Fours, and, glancing at the labels on cars awaiting delivery, I Saw names of places as far apart as the U.S.A., Brazil, Australia and Edinburgh. Clearly, the recipe of a big engine in a light. car is proving popular. Very few alterations have been made since the prototype appeared, but neat bumpers are now fitted to those ears going to countries where bumpers are deemed a necessity. The latest Vanguard engine has a four-branch in place of a siamesed inlet manifold, and an ingenious quick-starting aid in the form of .a thermostatically-operated flap which deflects more exhaust heat on the hot-spot from cold than when the engine is warm. Finally, Morgan have made a small modification which strengthens the clutch-withdrawal mechanism. A number of current three-wheelers, both Sports and Family, and various sorts
of just-olusoleseent ” ” was seen about the factory, including a shortened trials ” 4/4.” Three of the older threewheelers were in for servicing, the oldest, a 1929 two-speed water-Nailed .1.A.1′. Aero, leaving while I was there. But what impressed me most was the imposing number of Plus Fours in course of construction. The :Murcia Seonr car is still not fully rim-ill, but. I noticed that, without exceeding 60 m.p.h. or using any sort. of speed in t he lower gears, our overfill average for t larun home, including a few brief stops to consult a map and con5i(lem’alule eallgeStion in the towns, was 39.2 m.p.h., which gives some idea of the effectiveness of the brakes, roadholding and acceleration. Driving like this, the petrol consumption is approximately 28 m.p.g. !
After this came an Austin A40 Sports. I was to collect it. at Silverstone, which 1(11(1, as ” the shades of night were falling fast “after the A.M.O.C. meeting. Getting there had entailed .a ride to Oxford in that delightful friend of so many impecunious Austin fans, a rough Ruby, continuing from Oxford in a smooth, brisk but billowy Vauxhall Velox. The A40 Sports is a sleek little vehicle externally, in outlier time American conception. Climbing in, with one desire, to -get home as rapidly as possible, I appreciated the comfort of the separate front seats and the splendid visibility with both front wings in full view each side of the short bonnet, although the pillars of the sloping screen to sonic extent spoil the sideways glance. The Brackley-Oxford route produced many long straights along which, once the car had got. going, the
speedometer needle climbed from 60 to 70 m.p.h., oil pressure serene at 45 lb./ sq. in.. water temperature at 130°F.
A sudden shower of rain (luring the preceding afternoon had served to demonstrate the mastery of Heal and the 1924 G.P. Sunbeam on a wet course but had made us erect hastily the Austin’s top. I must confess that in this rig the noises of flapping hood, loose windows, odd rattles and plenty of roar from the willing little engine were rather unattractive, and I may as well say here and now that the suspension was softer than 1 had expeeted. The latter gives rise to some up-and-down motion, roll on corners, and nose-dipping when the brakes go on. Certainly this self-styled sports model does not. handle so well as, for example, the non-sporting Morris Minor and Morris Oxford. Allowing for the stipple springing, however, the oversteer is not so pronounced as expected and I derived considerable enjiuynient from taking twisty roads fast. The ride, too, if not entirely flat, is most comfortable, enabling high speeds to be maintained over rough roads over which, in certain other sports cars the prudent driver lifts his foot.
The earn-type steering is reasonably high-geared (2A turns, lock-to-lock), heavy for manoeuvering but light on the move, and there is normal castor action, no return motion and only slight column judder. There was a trace of binding somewhere, noticeable when parking. The N.cry accuracy of the steering, however; offset the flexibility of the suspension, and if you didn’t mind a bit. of tyre-protest and wallowing. negotiating bends and traffic round:11.1ms was jolly good fun. Dealing wit 11 the other important faetor in handling, brakes, the 2.LS Girling hydraulics are absolutely first class ; fade-free, silent, progressive and, in power, like a giant’s hand arresting the car. The pull-out hand-brake is exeellently placed for the driver’s left hand, and it holds the car adequately ! The gear-lever is long and :t bit willowy butt well placed and superior to a st (-eyingcolumn control, inferior to a remote-lever, and the change—the box is typically Austin in sound and feel–neither pleasing nor displeasing. The clutch is Austinsevenish. There is, I regret to say, a certain ” tinny ” aspect about the car-in the way the doors shut, the cubby-hole lid, and the construction of the facia with its ” dried-milk ” control knobs. Continuing with the “antis.” there is no shelf, either under the facia or behind the back seat, the door pockets are too low-set for easy access, the trailing doors do not, allow full ease of exit, and the luggage boot, although of very generous dimensions, shares the tools, spare wheel and a petrol tube with your suitcases. The whole car tends to shudder On bad roads, accentuating the aforementioned rattles, but this is a common failing of convertible bodies and was noticed on the far monexpensive Lagi mida. ziltliough i cm
a lesser ilegrec. Titvrc reasoutable aceonintedation for the back-seat occuomits, hoed down, but very restricted head room rum them wit 11 it up. As to pereeruu mance. this lostin A40 Sports compares pretty closely with the Super Sports ” 12,50 Alvis ut 23 years ago. Its o.h.v. engine develops 46 b.h.p. at 4,400 r.p.m., 50 at 5,000 r.p.m., Oct a
7.2 to 1 compression-ratio, and gives away nearly 300 e.e. to the Alvis, which poked out 50 b.h.p. at 4,500 r.p.m. on a compression ratio of about to The Alois pulled higher gears, 4,77 to 1 top with vast wheels, to the Austin’s 5.14 to 1 top gear and 5.25-16 Dunlops. Of the two. the Alois was probably. about 1 eat. lighter. The Austin’s acceleration is not. particularly brilliant until the engine is really in its stride and I satisfied myself that from rest to about 50 m.p.h. a rather special ” 1250 ” Alois is slightly faster, so a standard one would probably deadheat.. The A. MI acre(‘ valve crash at an indicated 35 m.p.h. in second gear and just before 55 m.p.h. on the speedo meter in third gear. It made a deal of engine noise in accelerating, St) that at 40 m.p.h. it seemed time to leave the 7.58 to 1 third gear for tlw highest ratio. In top gear a cruising speed of 55-60
(indicated) could be reached quickly and maintained indefinitely and, given a mile or so to pile on sonic more revs., the needle moved on. to slum 75 m.p.h.. Driven thus., the little 06 by 89-nun. 1,200-e.c. unit showed no signs of distress. It did not pink excessively, did not fume or run-on, and, if it liked to let you know it was working hard, it certainly felt entirely dependable and unburstable. Economy is another of its virtues. I was able to cheek only on one gallon, but this took me 31 wide-throttle miles.
Thus, with the 81-gallon tank you have a useful range of some 270 miles.. The filler cap is small and a bit awkward. but lacks. Incidentally, the inlatilt Lucas headlamps give an excellent, light but the foal; dipper is a thought. inaccessible. Rude friends were quick to point out that the car had been supplied without. its attendant Skymaster (a skit on the splendid performance of that excellent K.Is.M. aeroplane which recently flew round the world in 21 slays in spite or having to wait for the A40 Sports it accompanied) ! For ray part, I believe in the dependability built into Austin:s a England and, if I was disappointed in some aspects of this A40 Sports, and if
it seems rather high-priced in relation to some other vehieles—it Costs 1.95 More than a ” TD ” M.G., £55 more than a Morgan Plus Four, for instancereadily admit that. were one to he given to inc 1 Sill niki be a very delighted man indeed, for the body-style, with its alternate snug or sun-catching settings, appeals to me, and the car’s ability o and particularly to st op I nake it a decidedly pleasant vehade in the qr icktransport. eta egory. Next please ‘f-The No. 1 M.G.. now owned and beautifolly restored by the
Nuffield Organisation. felt. very privileged when Geoffrey Ashton said I could collect this fl 2e vintage sports car from the Dorking Moror Company, where it had been on show, and drive it about for two or three days. What. a truly fascinating motor car “Old Number One ” M.G. is ! t a Oxford in 1923.,4, largely or standard Morris part s, in its stark simplivity it is the epitome of vintage ideals. Whether
seen from I lirectly leini-on, in lid vie W or from astern, it never fails otilease Inc. Somehow a ” Bull-nose ” :Morris radiator looks well on this slim car and the high tail gives an air of efficiency which, in my eyes, many low-swept modern tails do not. The mudguards over the 710 by 90shod wire wheels are mere bits of angle, very abbreviated. especially at the back. The bright red body has staggered-type lawket seats upholstered in high-grade leather, which also pads the cockpit sides, and between the back dumb-irons is hung a Mann exposed petrol tank. From the driving seat this forerunner of the long and ghly successful line of M.C. sports models is equally enthralling. Ths steering wheel is a plain, thiek-rimmed t liree-spolse affair, devoid of control levers, as found on any Morris or Clyno of the period, for then, as now, certain proprietary parts were used by the big ma to fact urers. It nestles under a gel scut t whieh sweeps up to prateet passenger more than driver, so that the near-side wing is invisible. The short 1)011110 , with its three pairs of
neat louvres, blends cheekily with the highly-polished Morris radiator, whose badge says, simply, “The Morris Garages, Oxford.” The dashboard is a polished aluminium panel carrying ” real ” dials—an oil gauge, which mostly said nothing but sometimes emalesesaided to indicate a couple of lb., (mother oil gauge serving as a fiwl pressure gauge when a swivel pump mounted behind and under the Ilan rat gear-lever was plied, a 3-in. Smiths rev.-counter whose isitCe is calibrated normally up to 4,50o r. p.m., very much niore isely from there iii multiples of 5(8) to 6,0131, a Smiths ring-type lamp-switeh-cum-ammeter as found on 3-litre Ilentleys, 30-m.p.h. 3-in. Smiths speedometer, a substantial
pull-out magneto switch :sod t lash lamps. A Bowden lever on (It,inside of the scuttle operates advance and retard and, although the engine never (lid anything so vulgar as to ” pink,” it likes mostly full advance for its Lucas magneto. Behind this lever is a hornpush. The pedals are plain Morris. with is sriaill r.h. aceelerat or, the hand brake is 4111 external awl man-sized affair and the gear-lever nest les almost horizontally in I tie first and op gear positions, when it effeetively impedes operation of the air pump I There is also a Weak-Melt ” control for t he horizi intal S.1′. carburetter, a central mirror: flanking I by spei’donicler, and an ” M.G. Super Sports ” badge, and that. is all. Tlic late Cceil Kimber did not trouble with a starter and only fitted scuttle side-lamps, in spite of indulging in ‘M.(‘.C. trials. with t heir night seetions„.1 spare wheel is carried in each side of the scuttle. There is, of course, no hood or windscreen. to this very ” q-seater ” laxly, but a radiator cap ” !milometer ”tells you if you boil. A silver-painted three branch exhaust system, with a small cylindrical silencer at the end of its pipe, runs along the near side. This exciting M.G. has a push-rod o.h.v. head, polished ports. cast-iron pistons and balanced crankshaft and the speed e lahried is 82 m.p.h. My local weigh
bridge gave its weight as 151 cwt. A distinctly stark motor car !
“This,” I said, ” is going to be fun,” nor was I mistaken. We drove fast from the MOTOR SPORT offices to Dorking in a willing Austin A40 Sports and soon had ” Old Number One ” emitting a healthy vintage roar. That first day I contented myself with letting the photographer take pictures on the Box Hill Zig-Zag—as MOTOR SPORT’S photographer had been wont to do when this M.G. was an exciting newcomer in the world of sports ears—and driving home to get the feel of things.
But I had plans for the morrow.
Alas, that night a tropical thunderstorm woke us, and gone next day was the sunny weather. It was in a drizzle, on one of the muggiest days in July, that I set off again for Dorking.
My wife, having three children and tonsilitis, could not accompany me, but a friend of hers proved game for the expedition, exposure to the elements notwithstanding. The plot was to go over a route which the staff of the Light Car and Cyclecar used in 1020/21 for conducting road-tests of the light cars and cyclecars submitted to them, and also to try the M.G. up some of the gradients Merron SPORT itself featured in its roadtests during 1926.
Naturally, many of the tracks used by our contemporary (then .a weekly) thirty years ago have today either become impassable or have been improved so rimeh as to make them useless as testa of power or suspension. Moreover; I did not wish to harm in any way this beautifully-restored and historic car. But sonic of the terrain at all events Seemed much as Richard Twelvetrees must have found it when he sampled Salmsons, Amikars, A.C.s, and Senechals for this paper 25 years ago, so this we made our playground. As a matter of fact, after my drive home the previous afternoon I felt tempted to cut out these hills and enjoy a long main road run, so charming is “Old Number One” to conduct. He
steers impeccably, changing direction with mere flexing of the driver’s wrists, for his steering asks rather less than 1-i turns lock-to-lock. Overand understeer were not understood when he was born. I would say, however, that the grand-daddy of all M.G. declines to do either, just going where he is pointed and coming back again as you turn the wheel—no castor action—afterwards. What fine steering it is I No lost motion, no return motion, heavy hut very accurate, a joy to experience. The brakes ?-welloidequate (especially the hand brake, which would hold you on anything) but not powerful. Which gives rise to the reflection that present-day drivers miss the sensation of stopping, because they just STOP. In the M.G. I recaptured the satisfaction of judging aright the cut-off point when obstructions came in sight, after which the exhaust roar died and the car heaved and weaved a little under the spell of, not so much stopping as slowing down . . . Abingdon, I have said, claims 82 Irma. Barre Lyndon in ” Combat,” telling of how Kimber drove the car to the start of its first event, the 1925 Land’s End, in which it gained a ” gold ” under difficulties, writes of 75 m.p.h. I wouldn’t know, because I didn’t want to break anything. I imagine we reached a good sixty at times. But it is the car’s manner of going, rather than the speed, that intrigues. This M.G. impresses one as being very taut. The Steering is firm, the chassis does not flex and goes round corners in a fashion hest conveyed by the hackneyed expression. ” on rails ” and somehow the accompanying sound, a blend of crisp exhaust and mechanical chatter so that it is difficult to define which is which, is also taut. Aceeleration is brisk rather than brilliant hut the revs, go on rising surprisingly for an 11.9-h.p. unit with sober o.h.v. head and heavy pistons. 1 changed up when vibration came up the. steering column, but I felt I could have gone a good deal higher had the rev.counter been working to tell me what was
what. I imagine I was about flat out in top when the same tingling was felt in my fingers, but I’ve a hunch someone has prevented the accelerator from going right down, and very sensible, too, when people like myself are allowed to rush about on an historic machine which, were it mine, no one else would be allowed to drive ! Indeed, the revs, rose so readily that the -gear-ehange was too slow—the three-speed box is obviously wide-ratioed (maxima, 18 in first, 35 in second)–but the cogs, felt via the extremely rigid gear-lever, seemed so substantial that I permitted a crunchchange up when this seemed expedient ; 50 m.p.h. came up quickly and was a comfortable cruising pace. Incidentally, the light wet-plate clutch and the small diameter four-shoe-per-drum brakes gave no clue to having been designed 27 or 28 years ago even when abused in the hill country.
To reach this bill country we turned left off the Dorking-Reigate arterial past Betchworth Station and ascended Pebblecoombe’s 1 in 5. Without rushing things the M.G. took this in its stride in second, the revs, only falling off a few hundred yards from the summit, when a drop to first instantly restored them and we took the sharp left-hand turn at the top with confidence. Then on, down Box Hill, the brakes more than adequate, after which we paused at the Burford Bridge Hotel, famous scene of J.C.C. rallies, circa 1919. My passenger went within to see if any photographic evidence of those gatherings remains, while I nursed an engine devoid of starter and handthrottle. She returned, reporting only ” horses and royalty.”
We then crossed the great twin-track Dorking-Leatherhead highway and ascended Rtinmore Common, the M.G. calling rather early for second after a slow start (lorries) but taking second again early after a drop to bottom for the hairpin. (To re-cap, the previous day it had made light of the Box Hill Zig-Zag in top, using second only for the hairpins.) From Ranmore we followed the undulating road to a right-turn that took us eventually to a hairpin and down White Hill and Dunlop Hill, over that woodpaved railway bridge that was certainly there in 1920 and across the main Guildford-Dorking road, to Abinger and Leith Hill. Bottom gear was called for once only on this stretch, just after Home Farm.
Out of respect for the M.G., and notio. that the Lord of the Manor herea! has closed many tracks to motor refrained from attempting the
lane up to theLeith Hill Tower. we took lunch at the hotel and 1 wards I was made to climb to the
on foot. Although my left arm aimed from changing gear with that unyielding lever and maintaining pressure in the tank with the metal-handled pump, and our car sting from tite unhroken rush of wind, this foot-slog.iing was a far more exhausting business than driving the M.G. ! Here it seems opportune to remark that if the ride is firm it is also quite comfortable, the 1-elliptic springs, long, flat and overslung at. the rear, aided by American Gabriel snubbers at the front, friction shock-absorbers at the back,
escapades and despite the absence of it fan beltiad the radiator, the needle’ of the ruotometer never moved more than a few degrees, while we used very little petrol.
Retracing our route, we got onto the Guildford road, but forked right in Shere to aseend Coombe Bottom, using first for the hairpin, butt finishing, if not exactly strongly, in seeond, to the astonishment of a group of plunm girl hikers who were resting al: the summit.
After that we drove happily home and next day I returned this grand little car with reverence to a Morris agent ill Reading. It is a line ambassador for the M.G. Car Company and it. is a. great tribute to their enthusiasm that they have not. only restored the car but send it out. for quite frequent airings. I have dealt at. some length on its qualities because it is such an excellent vintage maeltine and beeause, even today, in this age or ” indepoision,” some of you might care to at. least contemplate constructing a sports car from old. Morris parts, thus following in the path of Iiiralier, Keen. Criekmay mut NVellsiced. A crazy idea ? If von had driven No. 1 M.G., as I did, you wouldn’t think so.
Fate ordained that a few minutes after returaing the car I encountered another, much later sports M.G., of rather Il011descript type. On its front it wore a large badge proelaiming its owner a member of the ” Lead Foot Club.” Air, well .