Vintage Postbag, September 1964

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The British Car

Sir,

In the August issue you state that the British car is not listed in “Doyle,” but it is in fact to be found on page 43 of the latest edition, which I edited last year. It is one of the many makes which I discovered from the John Pollitt files, and I believe it was advertised in the Motor Car Journal during 1906-07. Unfortunately I have not got the files with me over here, or I could have given you more information about the formation of the company, etc.

Guernsey.                                                                                                                                          G. N. GEORGANO.

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Mystery Solved

Sir,

The Bullnosed Morris at present for sale at Exmouth for an exhorbitant sum is a car constructed for use in trials in the ‘twenties and ‘thirties by the proprietor of a motorcycle business in Exeter called Leighton Steer. I first saw this car during the war when it was stored in his showroom. He told me that he had acquired a Derby that had been entered for the 1923 200-Mile Race but that it did not run because it failed the silencer test. [This would be Weymouth’s car.—Ed.] He used the car for a few years but found the brakes unsatisfactory and had dismantled the car, transferring the body to a bullnosed Morris chassis to make a trials car, and retaining the engine in his workshop. At some time the timing case had been stolen from the engine out of the Derby and he had dropped his plans to use the engine in another chassis. What is for sale now is a vintage trials bullnosed Morris and the remains of a 200-Mile Race-entered car, rejected by the scrutineers.

I trust you will carry on your campaign against the astronomical prices some people are asking for vintage cars. In Dorset there is a 1927 Morris commercial lorry in very good order for sale for £1,000!!

If you are still interested in Raymond Mays V8s, the Berkshire police were using an open 4-seater one in 1947/8.

Exeter.                                                                                                                                                    E. J. D. DREW.

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A Return to O.M. History

Sir,

The article in the April issue of MOTOR SPORT and Mr. Linsdell’s letter in the May edition were of great interest to me as a former O.M. owner. However, one or two minor errors and confusions in the text and captions to the photographs attracted my attention, and the following comments may be of value to others interested in the competition history of these fine cars, and their eventual fate. My facts and figures are from contemporary issues of The Autocar—of course, even reports written at the time may contain errors or mis-statements, and therefore cross reference with information from other sources is always desirable.

My interest is in the Mille Miglia type cars in the main, but I would confirm that the photograph on page 270 is indeed of the 1929 Double Twelve team, and was used in R. A. G. Carburettors’ advertisements. The drivers were Oats/Clarke, Wilkinson/Ashby and Dickie/Parker, and they finished 16th, 17th and 21st – apparently only one car of the team used an o.h.v. engine. In the 1929 B.A.R.C. Six-Hours’ race Oats is given as finishing fifth, not sixth, at a speed of 66.22 m.p.h., being third in the 2-litre class. Turning to the Irish races of 1930 in which the works team of three 2.3-litre S.V. supercharged Mille Miglia cars were entered, in the two-day Irish Grand Prix in July, the entry list showed four cars—the works team (drivers—Fronteras, Minoia and Ramponi) plus Oats in a 2-litre supercharged O.M. In the Sunday race Fronteras crashed, not Minoia who retired due to having had cold water put in the hot engine of his car at a pit stop. Ramponi finished 17th, Oats 23rd overall (11th in the Saturday race). For the T.T. in August two 2-litre cars were entered—one for Oats and another for an unnamed driver, together with the three Italian team cars (drivers—Fronteras (reserve driver Morandi), Ramponi and Minoia (reserve for the latter two, Conti)). In the race only Oats’ car of the 2-litre entries started, but, as mentioned by Mr. Linsdell, Oats was ill, so Fronteras drove it. This was the white O.M. shown in the photograph bearing the race number 15 for this event. As stated in the article, only two of the works cars started (race numbers 17 and 18), Ramponi having crashed one car in practice. The latter finished 25th in the event, Minoia finished 17th and Fronteras finished unplaced in the 2-litre.

It is misleading to state under the heading 1931, “the main attention of the Rawlence team for this year was directed towards Ireland and the T.T.”, for in fact there were no O.M. entries for this race that year; indeed, only one O.M. appeared in Ireland in 1931, this being the car illustrated, GJ 24, which ran in the 3rd Irish Grand Prix at Phoenix Park. The photograph shows it bearing its race number, 7, in company with Field’s Invicta, number 3.

It was a late entry, and the text is wrong to state it won its class; in fact it retired after bearing trouble. It probably ran with the 2.3-litre s.v. engine as at present fitted, not an o.h.v. unit.

Regarding the history of various individual cars mentioned by Mr. Linsdell, a year or so ago I came across a reference to the ex-Widengren 8-cylinder G.P. car in an old copy of a magazine, I think it was an issue of The J.C.C. Gazette dated circa 1949. This said this car was now in the possession of Mr. Peter Burroughs, whose address was 507, C.T.C. Buildings, Plein Street, Cape Town. Perhaps vintage enthusiasts in the Republic might make inquiries in this direction?

The car mentioned as being in Serge Pozzoli’s museum at Montlhéry is the 2-litre o.h.v. 2-seater, registration number CJH 222, which I once owned. I doubt it was Oats’ 1930 T.T. and Irish Grand Prix car, in fact it was originally registered as GJ 99, and a continuation log book I saw stated it was then a “sportman’s coupé.” During 1936 it was re-bodied by Monaco Motors at Watford and re-registered. The series of registration number “GJ” was issued by London County Council from May to July 1930, therefore both this car and GJ 24 (see above) were on the road before the first race in Ireland in which Oats’ 2-litre and the Italian team cars appeared. Contemporary pictures of the Italian cars show they bore Italian registration numbers, so it is reasonably certain GJ 24 was not a team car.

BXW 404, which has unfortunately disappeared from view, was once owned by Scott-Moncrieff and is quoted by him in his book as being a 1935 2.3-litre supercharged car. It was certainly fitted with an o.h.v. head when I last saw it, which rather disproves Mr. Dunkeley’s remarks as quoted in Mr. Linsdell’s letter.

GN 8762, illustrated in the March 1956 issue of MOTOR SPORT, is possibly still in existence; it is likely it is the ex-Ramponi 1930 T.T. practice car, the bodywork seems identical to the team cars. Three O.M.s are in the Turin Museum, one 2.2-litre s.v. Superba tourer and two 1½-litre s.v. tourers.

London, N.10.                                                                                                                                      J. J. HALL.

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