Vintage Postbag, September 1957




I am most intrigued by the two letters which have appeared in your magazine lately about the smaller vintage Rovers, and while not purporting to be an expert on the subject, would offer this additional information.

The 4-cylinder water-cooled Rover superseded the air-cooled twin in 1924 or 1925, though the name of the successor is unknown to me. From the contemporary Times motoring report, it appears to have been styled the Rover Eight. The 1926 model’s engine was rated at 8.9 h.p. and had a bore and stroke of 60 and 95 mm. respectively, o.h.v., pressure-fed lubrication, and four-wheel brakes. It was known as the Nippy Nine. In 1927 or maybe 1928, the engine was enlarged and rated 9.8. thereafter being known as the Nippy Ten. It was this basic engine which continued until about 1932, when the firm changed its policy somewhat, and started to manufacture the series of better quality cars, for which it is now famous.

As to dating the car in the photo provided by Mr. Sweet-Escott, I can only say that such a model was made in 1926 and 1927, for I have seen it illustrated in the catalogues for those years. It could not be a 1928 or later model, since in that year the car acquired artillery wheels, and, incidentally, “snubbers” became a standard fitting.

Mr. Weller’s car is a little more difficult. In all the pictures I have seen, the bonnet louvres are vertical, but his are horizontal. Also, most four-seater tourers had four doors. They did however make, in 1927, a four-seater tourer “semi-sports” which had two doors, whereas in 1926 there were but four models, the two-seater sports, four-seater four-door tourer, a saloon, and the two-seater-cum-dickey like mine, shown in the accompanying photo. If his car is rightly called a Ten, it could not be earlier than 1927, and the fact that it has but two doors lends credence to the theory that it was made in or after 1927.

Both your correspondents will be interested to know that I have owned my Nippy Nine since October last, when I bought it from a person on the staff of Rovers. It is sufficiently reliable to undertake a round trip of 30 miles each day to and from my place of work. It does 30-35 m.p.g., is more comfortable than many modern vehicles, starts better than a Morris Minor and warms up far quicker, and possesses a turn of speed which surprises many other road users. There are about 12 similar Rovers in the V.S.C.C. though I have personal knowledge of but one, a four-seater open tourer of 1926 vintage owned by a friend of mine who lives in South London. I have heard of no surviving examples of the sports model mentioned by Mr. Sweet-Escott, which is a pity, since many garages remember the pretty Strawberry-and-Cream painted Rover sports.

I trust that such information as I have been able to provide will be of interest to your two contributors, and I should be delighted to take either for a ride in my car.

I am, Yours, etc., Peter R. Green. Hassocks



Mr. R. W. Welton has his dates wrong. The Rover Ten pictured with his letter is in fact a 1926 Rover Nine (not to be confused with the Nippy Nine made in 1925). The Rover Ten proper was not listed till 1927 (10/25).

Sorry, but I’ve owned more Rover Eights, Nippy Nines, Nines and Tens than anyone in London!

I am, Yours, etc., W. H. Barnes. London, S.E.26.



Mr. Welton in your July issue asks for details of the Rover 9 h.p. This car had an 8.9 h.p. push-rod overhead-valve engine developing 20 h.p. The head and cylinder blocks were of cast iron and detachable, mounted on an aluminium crankcase with a three-speed aluminiurn-cased gearbox joined to it with an aluminium clutch casing containing a single dry plate clutch. The drive was by open propeller shaft to an underslung worm-drive back axle of the floating type. Ignition was by magneto with Zenith carburation and Rotax electrics. The chassis had four-wheel brakes, rod operated, with semi-elliptic front springs and quarter elliptic rear springs damped by Andre “snubbers.” Tyres were 4.75 by 19 on wellbase rims. Steering was by worm and sector wheel with two turns from lock to lock. Bodies fitted were a two-seater, a sports two-seater, a four-seater and a saloon. In 1928 the engine was enlarged slightly to 9.8 h.p. and continued until replaced by the pre-war freewheel 10 and 12 h.p. which gained such an enviable reputation.

As to performance, may I quote my own example which was a two-seater sports as shown in the picture? Bought secondhand in June 1932 this 1927 model was immediately rebored (iron pistons with three rings) and thereafter cost nothing at all except the replacement, at £8 10s., including labour, of the rear-axle worm wheel. Costing £33 it was sold for £13 10s. in March 1934, having covered 21.000 miles in my hands at an overall m.p.g. of 36, varying between 32 and 38. Maximum speed in good conditions was just about 60 but the all-day cruising speed was anywhere between 50 and 55 without any trouble. The roadholding was excellent and the brakes wonderful. The sole trouble was a somewhat heavy oil consumption at 1,000-1,200 per gall., driven hard. I used frequently to travel from Reading to Bristol in 1¾ hours and from Bristol to Leeds in 5½ hours. Altogether this was a really fine little car in every way and I was later most sorry to have parted with it for a Riley Biarritz saloon, which did not come up to expectations.

I am, Yours. etc., A. H. Woodland. London, N.W.3.



I am wondering if the Rover referred to in your June issue by Mr. Sweet-Escott had the registration No. KM 5570?

If so it was my very first car which I collected ex-works in March 1926.

As I sold it in Cambridge in 1929 it may well have passed into the possession of an embryo school-master.

It was certainly one of the prettiest cars on the road and, apart from an insatiable appetite for blowing cylinder-head gaskets, was extremely reliable. Its maximum was well over 60 m.p.h., there being no need to look at the speedometer when reaching the mile-a-minute mark as at that speed the floor-boards invariably rose and struck one smartly on the elbow.

I am, Yours, etc., John Turner. London, S.W.11.



As a proud possessor and owner/driver of one of these unique cars — a 25/50 h.p. Sizaire-Berwick, which I purchased at the London Motor Show in 1921, maintaining the traditional high standard of craftsmanship and high quality coachwork for a period of 16 years, I have much pleasure in informing you that I read in your July issue your stimulating article with great interest and happy reminiscences!

I can wholeheartedly endorse and confirm your outstanding and factual statements, as during the whole period of possession, my model — an open tourer — fulfilled the high reputation which was accorded to the Sizaire-Berwick cars.

It was a car of dignity, beauty and power, replete with every conceivable refinement and a cleverly designed dashboard of a wide range of instruments translucently lighted at night, together with novel adjustments which gave the Sizaire-Berwick the title of “The Aristocrat of the Road,” and always attracted great admiration and curiosity!

Further, I found it to be a delightful car to drive with ease and flexibility — finger-tip control — with the highly appreciated air lever device excellently fitted and a pleasure to control, on the adjustable patented steering column, which made motoring a joy at an easy cruising speed of 30 m.p.h. at 1,000 r.p.rn., clearly recorded on the speedometer and in close harmony, thus leaving the remaining 1,200 r.p.m. in reserve for instantaneous response. This smoothness of running was achieved with an economical consumption of 18 m.p.g.!

” As quiet as a Lamb and    

As strong as a Lion.”

was the apt description of the amazing characteristics. Moreover, after a full day’s motoring the engine was as cool on returning to the garage as on departing at the outset of the journey. Truly a great friend to treasure and a pure delight to drive, with ease and comfort, with such perfection and reliability of performance.

What a tragedy when the Sizaire-Berwick Co. went into voluntary liquidation before the last World War, thus reducing to “no value” the “Unconditional Guarantee” which expressed a remarkable bond of complete confidence by the makers to the car owner. What a vintage car!

Then alas, at the outbreak of war came “the end of the journey” for my Sizaire-Berwick — I patriotically offered the car, at a nominal price, to the Civil Defence and the authorities, after certifying that the engine was in excellent running order and coachwork in splendid condition, were reluctantly compelled to decline the offer owing entirely to the difficulty of obtaining quickly, during the War, spare parts. So in response to the urgent appeal of the Government for essential metals such as aluminium, etc., the “supreme sacrifice” was made by giving the intrinsic valuable high-quality aluminium steel, etc., of the remarkable Sizaire-Berwick, for war purposes after break-up), to help to defeat the enemy ! A sad closing of the life of a faithful friend, leaving, nevertheless, treasured memories of reminiscent joy! With every good wish for the prosperity of your most interesting magazine.

I am, Yours, etc., C. H. C. Manchester.



Your correspondent Mr. Vivian would probably be interested to know that there is a genuine 1922 American-made Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce in the possession of Messrs. T. Howe, Funeral Furnishers, Newcastle-on-Tyne. This car has a cast iron gearbox casing and also crankcase bottom half, Reg. No. OU?.

I am, Yours, etc., W. M. Meredith. West Hartlepool. 



Readers may recall my letter in the February issue regarding my 1928 18/50 h.p. Star saloon. The car is now restored and I enclose a photograph (see below — Ed.) which may be of interest.

I am very pleased with the performance in every respect, being typical of a late vintage six-cylinder touring car, the comfortable cruising speed being about 45 m.p.h., with about 20 m.p.h. in reserve.

Acceleration is somewhat better than most comparable cars, although the car weighs a ton and a half. Fuel consumption is about 20-22 m.p.g., which is what one expects from a car of this type.

I am, Yours, etc., J. R. Grey. Wootton Bassett.



With reference to your query about the Colebri car within a small ad. of the “Colebri Lighters,” a fellow-draughtsman of mine who spent this last week-end in York for the tri-centenary celebrations, visited the Castle Museum in which, amongst other veteran cars, including a fire-engine complete with hand pump, there rests a car of this make.

I am, Yours, etc., F. Adcock. Mansfield.

[True, we discovered this car during the war and later saw it in the York Museum. — Ed.]



I am one of your keenest readers and eagerly look forward to receiving my Motor Sport every month. I know therefore that you will he interested to learn that I recently obtained a 64-page catalogue issued by Argyll Motors Ltd. in 1906, fully describing all their models for that year.

The catalogue, which, apart from slight discolouration round the edges of the pages, is in mint condition, contains photographs of all the Argyll cars of that year and sectional diagrams of all their working parts, giving enough information to enable any purchaser to carry out all his own repairs without bothering about a garage at all. There is also an illustrated description of the Argyll factory and its equipment and a page showing a considerable number of successes in hill-climbs and reliability trials for these cars.

The prices of these cars varied from £350 for the 10-12 h.p. 2-cylinder tonneau to £900 for the 26-30 h.p. saloon and double landaulette, and all cars were covered by a three-months’ guarantee. There are many testimonials from the press and private owners showing that, in its day, the Argyll must have been a remarkable car, in spite of its metal-to-metal clutch and brakes.

I know that Argyll Motors started producing cars in 1900 and that there are still several in existence although I have never had the opportunity of seeing one. I should, however, be very grateful if any reader can give me more information about these grand old cars, including the year when production ceased.

I am, Yours, etc., James Johnston. Dunfermline. 



About 30 years ago my father’s chauffeur owned a light car called a Short-Ashby. So far as I can remember this car had a twin-cylinder air-cooled engine and an unpainted aluminium body. It was a lightweight open two-seater with a dickey seat, and I believe there were only a few of them made by a small garage in Northamptonshire.

I recollect that this car had a warning bell which was similar to a bicycle bell but about three times the size.

I would like to learn if any of your readers can give me any information about this car.

I am, Yours, etc., P. M. Rambaut.

[It also had friction-drive. — Ed.]



I think that this must be a record but I should be interested to know if any of your readers can beat it. My uncle, Mr. Charles Pearce of 15, Craven Road, Newbury, Berkshire, has been working with the same firm of motor engineers for 66 years.

I am, Yours, etc., K. W. Chaplin. Bognor-Regis.



I recently had the good fortune to visit Bruges whilst a rally of veteran and vintage cars was in progress. Although there were not a great many entrants I must say what few there were does call for comment. I should be pleased to hear from you regarding the following.

Have any of your readers ever heard of or seen the following — a Fondu, d’Aoust, Bellanger, La Paris or a Wanderer? I do realise the latter is known in this country, but nevertheless it is a rare bird. The specimen on show was a two-seater tourer, tandem fashion, but much more roomy and better accommodating than the usual tandem types such as Bedelia. The Fondu is, I was informed by the proud owner, absolutely unique. It is a saloon of considerable dimensions, mainly of wood, and was built in 1901 in a town not many miles from Bruxelles. Apparently quite a few were made, but this, as far as one knows, is the only example extant.

I did notice that the springing at the rear was by cantilever and elliptic.

The d’Aoust was a sporty two-seater; the Bellanger and La Paris both the usual Edwardian type of saloons. Unfortunately I was unable to obtain any information regarding these three as the owners were missing, no doubt in the local bar! The La Paris, according to what I could discern, was made at Levallois, a suburb I believe of Paris.

There were the usual de Dions, Renaults, a Benz, a Delahaye, a Delage (a real beauty — two-seater with dickey, 10 h.p. I think, definitely pre-1914), Fords, a model T and a very early model, some years before the T came into existence. The only English representative was a Rolls of the early 20s, sedate and dignified, above all its competitors.

Trusting you find this of interest.

I am, Yours, etc., Burleigh Watson Miller. Kettering.

[A big d’Aoust ran at the Opening Race Meeting at Montlhery Track in 1924 — can anyone tell me about that one? — Ed.]



The letters of Messrs. Peatty (May) and Piggott and Lindblad (June) persuaded me to visit the Arsenal museum here, and I am pleased to say that the “Sarajevo” car is on show. It is in fact a Graf & Stift, Reg. No. A111-118, advertised as being a 28/32 h.p. 4-cyl. 115 by 140 mm. Double Phaeton. It is painted dark green and the bullet holes are much in evidence. Restoration work on this museum has only recently been completed and the car has been on show for little more than six weeks.

It was pleasant to see a real motor car again, even if it meant visiting a museum. One sometimes catches a glimpse of a vintage Fiat or a Dixie but the general impression here is one of garish new models. The Viennese, like the Cairo taxi drivers, suffer from the delusion that the horn button is somehow connected to the brakes!

I am, Yours, etc., R. M. Cross. Vienna.



I am glad that you mentioned in your last issue that my lorry was scruffy, having notices on it including my baby’s photo, etc.

In my opinion the point of owning a vehicle, apart from the obvious utility of it is that of a fresh projection of one’s own personality. My objection to modern vehicles is that they are incapable of adaptation in this direction, except for pathetic attempts with bug deflectors, chrome exhausts and anti-car sickness chains. It is also a question of taste as to what scruffiness implies. I have used my lorry continually for four years, including three or four hectic trips to Beaulieu to sort out the rally with Lord Montagu. You mentioned that you borrowed a commercial vehicle to go to the rally in, I am sure that I could have got one from Lord Montagu for the occasion had I so desired, and in immaculate condition, too.

When I conceived the idea of a lorry club it was to fill a much neglected gap in the vintage motoring world, not to have an exclusive club for perfectly restored lorries which come to rallies, on trailers, all wrapped up in polythene. Of course this type of vehicle is just as welcome. My personal idea of vintage motoring is to use them all the time, not be followed everywhere by a Land Rover and trailer. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however, including, dear Editor, you.

This is being typed on a Great War typewriter so please excuse scruffy typing.

I am, Yours, etc., Anthony Gray.

[I am in entire agreement about using vintage vehicles daily and these being as important as impeccably-restored examples. Cars in showroom condition can look unnatural on the road or in a car park; I believe the same reasoning inspires model-railway enthusiasts to shake soot over newly-acquired rolling stock, because on a real railway you very seldom see gleaming new trucks and vans.

What I do criticise Mr. Gray for is installing “funnies” on an otherwise perfectly legitimate vintage commercial vehicle. There are better resting places for babies’ photographs, old fireplaces, bits of brass railing, etc., than strewn around a vintage delivery van. —  Ed.]