A section devoted to old-car matters
V.S.C.C. Silverstone meeting (July 26th)
IN spite of some heavy rain which diminished the number of spectators excellent racing was seen at the second Vintage S.C.C. Race Meeting of this season, at Silverstone.
The first race, one of many five-lap Handicaps, was led for four laps by Routledge’s Morris-Oxford but on the run-in to the finish Binns’ well-known Riley Nine took the lead. Third place went to Butcher’s 1929 Austin Seven but McElligott’s 1927 Austin Seven “Chummy,” in spite of Ford back wheels, was lapped by the leaders.
Routledge’s Morris-Oxford was an interesting newcomer. He has built an excellent replica of No. 1 M.G., as companion to his well-known Morris-Cowley. The chassis is 1927, with 1/2-elliptic back springs, and the engine from a 1925 car with contemporary alloy head, twin 1 3/4 in. ex-Alvis S.U. carburetters on the near-side, feeding through the water jacket, four separate exhaust pipes and a compression-ratio in the region of 7 to 1. The pointed-tail body has staggered seats and to emphasise his Morris enthusiasm Routledge wore a crash helmet with an ox emblem.
The next five-lap Handicap was won by Fowler’s 1933 Aston Martin. He got past the leaders after three laps, winning from Michael’s tail-light ex-Fox and Nichol 4 1/2-litre lowered Lagonda and Bill Mason’s smart 4 1/2-litre Bentley tourer, winning in heavy rain. Beasley’s Meadows-H.R.G. boiled and sounded very sad. Interesting was Gibson’s Frazer-Nash with Vitesse Boulogne body and Lea-Francis engine.
The third event was a class Scratch Race, over five laps. It was mainly a high-speed procession, drivers working hard, with Burton’s de Dion-axle 4 1/2-litre Bentley leading from McDonald’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley and Laurence’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley a short way behind. Mayhew’s Riley Nine tried to shed its bonnet and Dawson’s 12/50 Alvis had the distinction of a 17-year-old driver. The class winners were: Mayhew’s Riley, Brown’s Meadows Frazer-Nash, Bradley’s 3-litre Bentley and, of course, Burton’s winning Bentley.
Another five-lap Handicap was interesting, Cottam’s 1934 Riley Imp leading all the way, but Mason’s Bentley coming up strongly on the last lap to take second place from Cragg’s 12/50 Alvis. Gahagan had a nervous battle with the steering wheel of his G.P. Bugatti, to no great effect, and Quartermaine’s well known 30/98 Vauxhall, with E-type chassis and OE engine, easily vanquished Ormrod’s low chassis 4 1/2-litre Invicta. The i.f.s. Frazer-Nash “Patience” made a reappearance, in the hands of Michelsen.
So to the big event of the afternoon, the 19 lap 50 kilometre All Corners’ Scratch Race. This was quite magnificent racing, most of the drivers trying really hard and the sight and sound of a field representative of the best in motor racing of the pre-war era being powerfully nostalgic.
It was almost a foregone conclusion that Moss would win in the E.R.A. “Remus” and this he did, leading all the way to average 70.76 m.p.h. over a track wet for the first half of the race. Moss’ best lap was at a rousing 74.6 m.p.h.
For four laps Burton’s Bentley held second place, then Carson on Wilkinson’s E.R.A., got by and on the next lap Schellenberg passed the 4 1/2-litre modernised Bentley in the famous 8-litre ex-Barnato-Hassan Bentley “The Whale.” This once almost brakeless giant provided the highlight of the race, Cresta Run exponent Schellenberg working really hard and making full use of the car’s new-found braking power, to keep third place until, on lap 11, Waller, who had been increasing the speed of his E.R.A. as the course dried, came by into this position. A lap later Waller was second.
The order was now Moss, Waller, Carson, Schellenberg, Burton and McDonald with, a discreet distance behind, another fierce race taking place between Rowley in the fabulous 1924 V12 G.P. Delage, Mudd’s Monza Alfa-Romeo, Mallalieu’s Type 51 Bugatti and Lockhart’s K3 M.G. Magnette. After 12 laps the flying Moss lapped Rowley and the race continued fast and furious. Schellenberg closed on Carson and then, on the last lap but one, Carson came into Woodcote Corner with throttle stuck open, spun, and slid head-on into a Dunlop banner, escaping injury but slightly, altering the shape of the ex-Shawe-Taylor E.R.A. Thus Schellenberg, who enjoyed his brave race enormously, was placed third, ahead of Burton but behind the two blue E.R.A.s. The Bugattis of Neve and Sibbald had troubles and Brewer’s R2B E.R.A. blew up. Douglas Hull lost the 2-litre E.R.A. on the first lap after spinning out of Copse almost to Maggotts. He hit the outside bank backwards, literally folding up the rear end of the E.R.A., being miraculously lucky to escape serious personal injury. Sympathy goes out to Jeddere-Fisher, who had had to return home in his Type 57 Bugatti because his family was ill and who arrived back at Silverstone to drive the E.R.A. in the last race only to be told that no E.R.A. remained for him to drive. Moreover, his exotic Edwardian racing cycle car “El Pampero,” with i.o.e. air-cooled vee-twin M.A.G. engine and Chater-Lea gearbox in a tubular frame with cantilever springs and belt final drive, was unready for the Light Car Handicap. Reverting to the All Corners’ Handicap, Schellenberg richly deserved his victory in the vintage category, at a speed of 67.97 m.p.h. The big Bentley, watched by Crozier, a former owner, lapped at 71.64 m.p.h.
The Vintage Light Car Handicap provided comic relief, although the competitors, quite rightly, took it seriously. Five cars, Howell’s rear-engined Trojan saloon (rumour has it that he bought a pair of these unusual carriages for £20), Abraham’s o.h.c. Singer Junior tourer, Naylor’s 10/23 Talbot two-seater, Barry Clarke’s commendably original 1925 Austin Seven (its differential professionally warmed up on the jack before the start) and Rogers’ well-known 1923 Jowett all received a token lap start. But it was Clarke who won, lapping Mills’ slow Fiat 509 two-seater, with Routledge’s fast Morris-Cowley tourer a flying second (it lapped at 50.87 m.p.h.), from Milner’s dignified 1926 A.C. two-seater. It was nice to see Henderson’s smart and authentic 1924 sports Bayliss-Thomas in action. Smith’s twin-Solex Gwynne Eight hip-bath ran badly.
The meeting concluded with two more five-lap Handicaps, results of which are appended. Mudd’s Monza Alfa-Romeo won the first at an impressive speed, in an exciting finish, from Michael’s Lagonda and Mallalieu’s Bugatti. In the last scratch race Moss lapped at exactly the same speed as he had done in the big race, “Remus” winning from Wallet’s E.R.A. and that splendid Schellenberg 8-litre Bentley. The commentators kept up the usual conversational cross-talk throughout the day but all the facts purveyed were, alas, not entirely accurate.—W. B.
Trojans at exercise
The Trojan Owners’ club held a social gathering on July 20th at which Trojans could be exercised. This started from a remote hostelry near Lambourn and climbed onto the downs over country suitable only for Trojans—and, fortunately, VWs! Six Trojans took part. Group/Capt. Seroggs drove his familiar three-door tourer, now with normal engine. Pat Stocken and her sister arrived in their earlier Utility model, in which they had just completed a trouble-free 1,500-mile Scottish tour. L. B. Lewis and his daughter came in a 1928 tourer which Mr. Lewis has owned since it was new. A very smart blue Utility, ex-Arnold-Forster, was driven by its new owner, the Club Rally Secretary propelled his well-known tourer, and R. lrreson brought a smart Trojan van formerly used locally by a firm of dry-cleaners. Incidentally, we were pleased to learn that this van had been bought for £7 10s., so that our recent estimate of a tenner as the fit and proper sum to pay for a working Trojan is upheld. One member was present but in the wrong car, a Meadows-engined Lea-Francis tourer. Let it be recorded that although none of the Trojans managed a top-gear climb of a hill en route for the picnic, three of them were driven by ladies in the subsequent wiggle-woggle test, which just shows how easy these queer animals are to master.—W. B.
When it was announced that a firm in America was in production with a two-thirds full size replica of the 1901 Oldsmobile the position did not seem particularly serious. Although endowed with a single-cylinder engine this copy of a veteran car appeared to be aimed at the lucky children of rich parents.
Now, however, comes news of two full size working replicas of well-known veteran vehicles which are apparently selling well in America. Dyer Products Co. of Canton, Ohio, sell for rather less than the equivalent of £365 a reproduction of the 1903 Surrey, complete with tiller steering, wooden wheels, polished brass headlamps, and bulb horn. The vehicle is propelled by a kick-started 4 8-h.p. engine and is said to be capable of 35 m.p.h. and 65 m.p.g. It weighs 550 lb. and is 7 3/4 feet long. One is startled to learn that these brass headlamps incorporate sealed beams, and that direction indicators are standard equipment! The idea behind this bogus veteran is billed as a publicity delivery vehicle or a static display piece for the showroom. Those who wish to build the imitation Surrey can buy a kit of parts priced at £295.
Another imitation veteran is a full size 1901 Oldsmobile replica made by Air Products Corporation of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This weighs 425 lb., has wire wheels and, also, an electric starter and choice of three colours! The price is about £400.
It is to be hoped sincerely that this trend will not prove infectious and come to England. Certainly the V.C.C. would never recognise these imitations as the real thing and we hope all American veteran car organisations will also ban them out of hand. If there are firms here who feel the urge to build something cute, we suggest powered children’s replicas of famous cars, for which there should surely be quite a brisk demand.—W. B.
September fixtures of interest to readers of these columns include the V.S.C.C. Madresfield Rally on September 14th, and the V.S.C.C. Rally and Driving Tests at Beaulieu on September 21st. On September 13th there will be classes for veteran, Edwardian and vintage cars at the Malvern U.D C. Concours d’Elegance and tests in Victoria Park, Malvern, while classes for vintage cars are included in the Peterborough M.C. Silverstone Race Meeting (Sept. 20th), Mid-Cheshire M.C. Oulton Park M.C. International Race Meeting (Sept 20th) and the Bagley & District L.C.C. Chateau Impney Speed Trial (Sept. 28th).
Near Manchester a 1926 Fiat 501B with small cabriolet body, the handles of the window-winders formed as lion’s heads(!), has come to light, apparently in poor condition and in need of paint and loving care.
Our criticism of the excessively high prices which are being asked for used ears, which formed the subject of an Editorial in MOTOR SPORT last July, was borne out by a recent auction sale in Harrogate. At this sale a 1904 de Dion was sold for £950, a 1910 Rover for £750, while a 1910 Rover failed to reach its reserve when bidding closed at £575. Not all the old vehicles went for these exorbitant sums—a vintage M.G. went for £45, an Overland Whippet van for £7 10s. and some vintage motor-cycles for less than £5. But it is evident that the excessively high prices which some of the veterans fetched at this astonishing sale were paid by dealers who bought with the intention of shipping the cars to America. We are interested to learn that the accessories, which sold for equally absurd prices, were announced by a gentleman wearing a Veteran C.C. blazer. More than ever before should those who genuinely like old vehicles be on their guard. The only way to keep values to a sane level is to refuse to pay fancy prices, for any vehicle, of any age.
During the old-car frolics at Le Mans the Bentley D.C. was presented with a D.F.P. radiator, W. O. Bentley’s first competition ventures being with this make of car.
The National Book League intends to hold an exhibition of rare and current motoring books, including models and prints, at its Stallybrass Galleries in London from October 22nd until the end of November.
Current “discoveries” include a bullnose Morris in a barn near Bristol and, in Durham, a Rolls-Royce “Silver Ghost” chassis, less head and block, together with some Rolls-Royce engine and gearbox parts, a complete but shabby Morris-Cowley coupé, less instruments, which are broken, and some early spares, including radiators and engines, believed to be de Dion Bouton. Buying prospects not known but letters can be forwarded to our informants.
The usual class for vintage racing cars will be included in the Brighton Speed Trials on September 6th.
How nice to see H. R. Godfrey, accompanied by his one-time engineer, L. A. Cushman, at the wheel of his 1921 G.N. cyclecar at the August social of the V.S.C.C. at Hartley Wintney!
Best vintage time at the Trengwainton Hill-Climb (August 3rd) was made by M. H. Morris’ Bentley. The Edwardian Race at Brands Hatch on August Bank Holiday was won, at 49.37 m.p.h. by Lord Montagu’s 1914 “Prince Henry” Vauxhall, from Sears’ 1914 T.T. Sunbeam and Bolster’s 1911 Rolls-Royce.
According to the Evening Citizen a 1920 model-T Ford lorry which is frequently seen in Paisley carrying sectional buildings may soon be pensioned off by its owner, Mr. G. Baird. It still starts on a half-turn of the handle, gives 25 m.p.g. at 20 m.p.h. and has had to be towed only twice in its life.
Apparenty a vintage Dodge saloon and a Minerva hearse, circa 1922, are for disposal by a Devon garage which has owned them since they were new.
In Conway, a reader reports, there is a vintage Austin 6-cylinder saloon, while near there a 55-h.p. Leyland Type FEV4 fire-engine stands beside a disused building.
An Edwardian Fiat is languishing at the Fiat works at Wembley.
A small veteran has been seen in a shed in the Isle of Wight and a Bugatti, a G.N. and another old car exist in the garage of a London house, but none of these is for sale. And in Gloucestershire there is a sports two-seater Riley Redwing in the hands of its original owner.
A vintage 11.4 Standard tourer, stored since 1952, has come to light in Norfolk and will be restored by an enthusiast.
I recently had the good fortune to acquire a 1926 Rover tourer: a large bath-like machine of considerable dignity. An attempt is now being made to restore her to the state to which she ought to be accustomed. Unfortunately, the original (I believe brass) radiator shell has been replaced by a once chrome-plated plus black-painted disaster which, though Rover, is quite unfit to adorn our front end.
Can you suggest where I might start looking for an original shell? I have written to the Rover Company, who were most courteous but unable to help. Any clue would be most gratefully received. I am, Yours, etc.,
[Letters can be forwarded.—ED.]
One or two readers have referred to the G.W.K. car and, as another former Maidenhead resident, I am cheered to find there are people who think kindly of this make. It was the most successful friction-driven (or disc-driven) car of any and sold fairly widely in its day, but finally succumbed with the increasing weight of light cars which was unavoidable with the demand for saloon bodies.
Unfortunately, some drivers, hearing that the G.W.K. was extremely simple to drive, never bothered to understand the technique, which, briefly, was never to allow the friction discs to slip. When you watched your expert friend depart in his G.W.K. you would notice barely any revving up of the engine and the “clutch” would be engaged quite abruptly. There would be no jerk or judder but you might catch sight of the tubular cross-member joining the rear 1/4-elliptics bowing politely to you as the car moved away. The design provided for increased pressure between the discs in the lower ratios and there was an additional hand control enabling the driver to check slip if it occurred on an exceptionally steep gradient. Today many people find it hard to bring themselves to believe that this device worked at all reliably, but it did and in the nineteentwenties there were owners of G.W.K.s who were most enthusiastic about the make.
In 1926, when I was awaiting my turn to begin an apprenticeship with a firm of general engineers, a wily headmaster saw an opportunity to get rid of one of his more troublesome pupils a few months earlier than he had thought possible. I was sent along with an introduction to the secretary of G.W.K. Ltd., and was duly engaged as Office Boy. Though I have always been mad on cars this has proved to be my only connection with the motor industry! I must have been the worst office boy they ever had for I was far too interested in the cars. To be asked to take a message to the foreman of the body shop meant a walk through the entire works, and how one could linger on the way! Letters for the Service Manager took one through the machine shops and the repairs department. Many duties were so fascinating it seemed a crime to hurry over them. One might take a cup of tea into the Works Manager and gaze entranced at the latest Cox Atmos carburetter lying on his desk, or, maybe, venture into that holy of holies, the Drawing Office, and slyly peep at those inner mysteries.
I remember on one occasion being sent to search for some early correspondence filed away in a basement cellar. Ah, treasure trove! There below ground were catalogues and instruction books of all manner of strange makes, many of them rarities even in those days—but, alas, a furious Managing Director could be heard stampeding up above and I had to emerge hastily without having located the missing letters. At this time the owner of the works seems to have been a Dutch gentleman closely connected with the Imperia car in Belgium, and an effort was made to begin the assembly of the 11/24-h.p. slide-valve model at Maidenhead. The name of the firm was changed from G.W.K. Ltd. to Imperia Motors Ltd. Can anyone tell me if any of these cars still exist with the Maidenhead and not the Liege radiator badge? At the 1926 Motor Show the two makes shared one stand. There was a single G.W.K. saloon car and an exhibition model of the disc-drive unit, and, I think, two Imperias, a saloon and a very pretty coupé having Vandenplas coachwork, and also a sectioned Imperia engine showing its slide valves. My impression of these cars is that they must have had almost unlimited revs, and could go about as fast in third gear as in top. Certainly the first time an Imperia engine was bench tested at Maidenhead the office workers looked at one another with surprise and alarm, and wondered whether it was safe to remain at their posts. Anyway, I didn’t stay at mine much longer but went, to begin my apprenticeship at Slough, to the profound relief of all at Cordwalles Works.
The enclosed photograph shows one entrance and parts of the old G.W.K. factory, a spacious and well-laid-out premises planned for the production of cars, now the home of an odd assortment of firms from marmalade making to metal spraying, the whole place being known to modern cars as Maidenhead Industrial Estate; but I am sure the older inhabitants will always think of it as “the G.W.K. works.”
Many car enthusiasts will share my sorrow for the fate that has overtaken these buildings. In times past four different makes have been produced here, namely, the G.W.K., the Imperia, and later the Burney Streamline car and the Marendaz Special. Were I a millionaire I think I should try and expel these makers of ice-cream lollies and marmalade. ,etc., and restore these extensive works to their original purpose of car manufacture. But, come to think of it, is there something unhealthy about the Thames Valley for the car-producing business? True, we still have M.G. at Abingdon and A.C. at Thames Ditton, but, besides the Maidenhead tragedy, gone are H.E. of Reading, Squire of Henley, Lagonda of Staines and A.B.C. of Walton. Ah, well! Those were the days!
I am, Yours, etc.,
L. C. Stead.
Your recent references to the G.W.K. friction-drive car of long ago reminds me of my very first car, a G.W.K., bought secondhand about 1919, probably a 1913 or ’14 model … after a succession of motorbikes, starting with an Alldays and Onions, circa 1908.
The G.W.K. was a two-seater, with sloping-top rear-boot, secured by wing-nuts, that could be removed entirely, thus exposing the whole engine compartment, tank, friction-drive, etc., behind the seats. It had detachable wire wheels (not knock-off); rear brakes only; beam front axle; rack-and-pinion steering; wide, low radiator at front, 1/2-in. pipes to engine; no water-pump that I can remember; vertical-twin engine athwart the car, starting-handle at near side—section of running-board lifted to allow operation; huge heavy flywheel, face of which formed the driving disc, with hole in centre for neutral; engine, to memory, about 4-in. bore by 4 1/2-in. stroke, quite hefty capacity, and with the typical tuff-tuff-pause-tuff-tuff “beat” and exhaust, s.v. and magneto ignition; semi-elliptic springing, no “shockers.”
The driving disc was about the same diameter as flywheel, sliding on double-keyed shaft, swivel-ball-bearing at rear, same at front, in fork connected to “clutch-pedal” so that depression of latter moved shaft away from flywheel and disconnected the drive; shaft spring-loaded onto flywheel. The disc-rim was originally fitted with fibre ring, but I changed this for a later and much better ring, laminated, of cork. About 150 small bolts and nuts secured this ring, passing through it and the rim-flanges, each ring-laminate being split to allow assembly over the shaft. Rear of shaft connected by short prop.-shaft to pot-joint at back axle. The disc moved along shaft by fork and rod extending into cockpit at driver’s right hand, with notched plate giving positions for about five speeds and neutral—but the drive was really infinitely variable between top and neutral according to position of lever on rod, irrespective of notches. However, if lever left between notches it would creep forward to next notch, gradually raising the gear. Most owners (like myself) attached a wire or light chain to the “clutch-pedal” so that it could be pulled-up to increase pressure between driving and driven discs, if—as usual on hills in low gear— the drive started to slip. To remove the flats that appeared fairly frequently on driven disc, one jacked up one rear wheel and got someone to turn it, while one “shaved” the disc-ring with a wood-chisel held against the frame-top. There was an oil-tank on the offside running-board, with hand-pump for driver to inject oil into the engine at suitable intervals, and an outside hand-brake lever. There was a door on passenger’s side only, wood-framed inclinable windscreen, side and rear oil-lamps, and bulb-horn.
Despite considerable “rumble” from the drive, all in all, it was quite a good little car. Maximum speed was about 35 m.p.h., but I well remember a thrilling 40 downhill to narrow bridge, and wondering if I could possibly get over it at that terrific speed! My wife and I toured all the West Country and most of Scotland while I had this car, at a steady 25 m.p.h. or so. It was followed by a 16-valve Brescia Bugatti, Coventry Premier, Bradshaw, 9/50 Grand Sport Amilcar, various Rileys including six-cylinder Alpine, and Jaguars of all sorts.
I am, Yours, etc.,
J. G. Douglas, M.I.P.E.
I have recently had the good fortune to purchase a 1926 Clyno Royal Model 2, which I believe was a two-seater with a dickey seat. Unfortunately the rear of the original body has been altered to an estate wagon type, and I am wondering if any reader can possibly give me any advice for the restoration of the body to its original condition.
The history of this car may be of interest to readers. The car remained in its original state until 1932, when it was apparently stored and forgotten until 1947; it was then described as an agricultural goods lorry and brought back into service. It subsequently changed hands several times, until it became the property of a local garage owner, and it had then acquired its estate wagon body. The car was being used for towing in various broken-down modern junk, and had also covered quite a good area of country carrying a family, with full camping equipment. Its previous owner informs me that the car does 42 1/2 miles to the gallon on “long runs” and will easily reach 60 m.p.h.
It appears to be in very good mechanical order, proof of this being that when I inspected this car it had one of its four plugs missing, but, in spite of this, the engine fired first time.
If this is a sample of Clyno workmanship, however did the company fade away?
I am, Yours, etc.,
H. E. Dodd.
I am sorry I have delayed this letter so long—time does fly when things are not done at once.
I was most interested in The Gibbons car in “Fragments on Forgotten Makes” for May. It must have been during 1922, when I was very young, that the son of our next door neighbour, a skilled fitter—the sort of man who built his own machine tools for his own workshop—decided he would build himself a car. He bought plywood and ash for framing and a set of wheels, axles and an engine.
I have no need to describe the finished product, it has been covered exactly on page 285 of your May issue, and the photograph gave me quite a start.
The only other detail I can remember is that the steering wheel was heart-shaped to allow the driver’s legs to pass underneath.
I cannot get details from my friend as he, I regret to say, is long since dead.
I am, Yours, etc.,
C. H. Eliott.
Prompted by Mr. D. B. Haigh’s letter concerning the rare make of car, Autocrat, and an advertisement in the August issue offering the only surviving Autocrat for sale, I thought that perhaps Mr. Haigh would be interested to know that an Autocrat in first-class running order exists locally.
Let me state, first of all, that the car (which is owned by a garage) is not for sale. I have inquired about buying it but the owner will not sell. I have examined the car very carefully and the details are as follows:
The date of manufacture is 1921, and the car is a four-seat, two-door tourer, painted yellow, and powered by an 11.9-h.p. Dorman engine driving through a four-speed-and-reverse “crash” gearbox. The car appears to be most original except for the fact that at some time it has been fitted with f.w.b. Electric lighting and starting were fitted when new, the lighting system being C.A.V. The car is complete except for the fact that there are no hood or screens.
The car has been standing in the garage showrooms for some months and is now rather dusty, but requires little work to put it back on the road again. I was told by a mechanic, who had driven the car, that it went really well, and stopped well too, thanks to the f.w.b.! I was most impressed with the solid build of the car and also by the quality of all the fittings and instruments. There is no trace of rust either under the wings or on the chassis—it seems to be as solid as the day it was made.
It was, I understand, found in a local scrap yard and finally bought by its present owner for a very reasonable figure. I hope that the few details given above may be of interest to Mr. Haigh and anyone else who remembers this make of car.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Peter J Bloor.
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