There are some makes of car which were well enough known in their day and yet are for some reason curiously rare today in vintage form. I would instance Star, Lanchester, Rover and Crossley, and as a satisfied Crossley owner I feel that I should put in a word for these excellent and unjustifiably obscure cars. Mine is a 1923 19.6 of the type current 1920-26, and was specifically designed throughout for owner-maintenance, being about as simply built and accessible as possible. The engine is a four-cylinder side-valve of fairly long stroke, the dimensions being 90 by 150 mm., and it pulls a very high axle-ratio (27 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m.) resulting in surprising economy and ability to sustain its admittedly modest cruising speed of 45 m.p.h. without the least appearance of effort.
The same chassis formed the basis of the contemporary sporting 20/70 Crossley, a car of which I have heard nothing but praise, but of which there seems to be no surviving examples; 76 b.h.p. was claimed at 3,200 r.p.m., and the car was also equipped with front brakes in place of the rather archaic foot transmission brake of the 19.6: The Autocar reached 75 mp.h. very easily in December, 1923. It seems from all accounts that a 20/70 Crossley would indeed be an extremely desirable early vintage property.
Finally, may I ask for sympathetic consideration of what I may perhaps be allowed to call the vintage heavy car, although I admire the light cars of the period, I feel that the larger domestic touring cars (say 18 rated h.p. or over) are still capable of giving a great deal of pleasure, despite their lack of pretence to sporting characteristics. They may be acquired fairly cheaply and run at surprisingly moderate cost, particularly next year; and in view of their original fairly high initial price it is reasonable to expect in them to an even greater extent the completeness in appointments, workmanship, and precision of control that to many of us constitute the chief appeals of the vintage car.
I am, Yours, etc., John Stanford. Bury St. Edmunds.
I cannot refrain from telling you a little of the history of my Triumph Super Seven which was the first car a friend and I owned.
Mr. Ashcroft and I discovered this model while advertising for a cheap car soon after our demob in April, 1950. Completely uninitiated in restoring vintage machinery, but our heads full of text book knowledge, we gratefully accepted the offer of the Triumph.
For some years previously I understood that it had faithfully served a builder to carry his impedimenta and also made frequent week-end trips to the coast.
On purchase, the car was only firing on one and a half cylinders and had already been given up as dead by the late owner and left to the elements. The ten-mile trip home at a steady 5 m.p.h. in first gear caused many anxious moments and pints of oil which it was savagely blowing out of the breather at the rate of one pint every five miles.
On reaching home the head was breathlessly removed to reveal, to our horror, three mangled piston rings and pistons, but, miraculously the cylinder walls were still sound. Cords supplied modified Austin Seven pistons and standard rings and the big-ends being sound, new life soon sprang from the little engine.
The hydraulic brakes caused some bother when a rubber piston washer perished, but Lockheeds found a replacement. Otherwise. except for careful maintenance and cleaning and a little magneto trouble, the car remained sound.
After about 200 miles careful running-in, Mr: Ashcroft covered 600 miles on a tour of Wales without a murmur from the willing eight horses.
An unusual feature for the age was the hydraulic brakes mentioned in a previous letter, but in addition the handbrake worked on the transmission. There would appear to be no half measures about the action of this brake, it being either full on or off. Any attempt to apply it while the car was in motion produced a violent jerk or skid. I expect the insurance company were amazed and perhaps dubious about a 1929 car which had a handbrake efficiency of 100 per cent.
The choke control flap had left the Zenith horizontal carburetter many years earlier and there appeared no way of fixing another. The place of this necessary item was taken by a silk stocking and only SILK would produce an unhesitating start. Woollen socks were not acceptable. Sometimes this method of starting caused wet plugs and a consequent refusal to start. At such a moment an audience could be amused by reproaching the car severely for a few moments during which time the plugs had dried and the engine sprang into life apparently in consequence of its rebuff!
One night my young lady christened the car “Aggy” and I have never heard it referred to as anything else since.
I am, Yours, etc., J. C. Peters. Pinner.