Vintage week-end

(August 13/14th)

AUGUST 13/14th was a vintage week-end for me. On the Saturday I drove to Silverstone in the comfort and luxury of a 3-litre Rover Mk. III coupe (of which, more in the next issue) to see the Austin Healey/M.G./Mini Seven Clubs’ B.M.C. Sports Car Parade, and some very exciting racing. Accepting a lift across the track with John Eason-Gibson (who also favours the 3-litre Rover), I was soon in the thick of this nostalgic Parade, ranging from S. C. H. Davis in Mike Byre’s “Blood Orange” Ulster Austin (which went onto three cylinders with excitement), to Andrew Hedges in a works-prepared M.G.-B.

Kay Petre did not turn up to drive Moores’ Replica s.v. Austin single-seater but Victoria Worsley drove the M.G. Car Company’s very smart M-type M.G., wearing a white leather helmet and recalling her earlier Worsley-Harris-Special and sports Jowett. Comdr. Whitcroft looked very happy in the Riley 9 in which he won the 1932 T.T., but J. H. T. Smith was in trouble with the M.G. K3 Magnette single-seater he drove from 1934-39.

Gibson, in tartan helmet, handled Rolph’s 1933 Riley M.P.H., not a “Brooklands” as expected, and Harvey-Noble, wearing resplendent slippers, seemed entirely at home in Beer’s 1934/7 Q-type M.G. Midget single-seater in which he took the Brooklands Class H lap-record at 122 m.p.h. in 1937. Dorothy Stanley-Turner, wearing her Brooklands B.R.D.C. overalls and looking scarcely a day older than when she drove the 1937 M.G. PB Midget, now owned by Tony Mills, at Le Mans and at the Track, etc., obviously thoroughly enjoyed her drive. She had the screen erect but certainly did not deserve the novices’ “X” the car was displaying! Eva Simpson had Hill’s 1934 M.G. PA, former trials-drivers Nash and Welch shared Beer’s 1934 M.G. NE Magnette, Geoff Coles presented his own beautifully restored 1933 M.G. J4, and post-war B.M.C. cars were in the hands of such competent if technically scarcely youthful drivers as Ashton Rigby, Tom Wisdom, Charles Mortimer, Dick Jacobs, George Phillips, Betty Haig, Lance Macklin, Nancy Mitchell, Ted Lund, John Gott, etc., etc.

It was a splendid idea, but if it had been held later in the day more spectators could have enjoyed it. Perhaps next year ?

Them, on the Sunday, it was down to Prescott in the 1930 Sunbeam Sixteen for the V.S.C.C. Hill-Climb, where, in perfect conditions, Cottam made f.t.d. and set a new V.S.C.C. course record in his Connaught in 43.46 sec., Black’s 2.6 Monza Alfa Romeo broke Symondson’s sports-car record in 48.29 sec., the Bugatti 57S being 1.3 sec. slower, and Barry Clarke’s Ulster Austin bettered French’s long-standing up-to-1,100-c.c. sportscar record held by “Simplicity,” with a time of 51.3 sec.

Douglas Hull in Brewer’s twin-rear-wheeled E.R.A. R4D was no match for Cottam, but Waller, after spinning on his first ascent, took the 1½-litre racing class for E.R.A., in 46.18 sec., Kain’s Bugatti 35B was in its usual winning form, heading the vintage racers, Moores’ immaculate 1934/66 blown s.v. Austin 7 won its class (50.74 sec.) from the o.h.c. Lightweight Special Wragg’s “imitation-works” Austin 7 single-seater, having no vintage opposition when the Hardy Special failed to complete its runs.

Unfortunately the 1908 Itala ran its bearings en route when the spring-belt that stirs its lubricant broke, so nothing was done about the Edwardian record, but Barker’s Napier won this class on handicap, climbing in 57.44 sec. Third f.t.d. was made by Wilks’ Cooper-Bristol (46.34 sec.). Summers, in the first Tipo B monoposto Alfa Romeo to run at Prescott for many years, did 47.03 sec., but Wall, in the ex-Stubberfield single-seater Bugatti which holdsthe vintage record (45.63 sec.), couldn’t better 49.51, being beaten by Taylor’s Caesar Special (48.58 see.), second to Kain in this category. Other class winners were Burke’s Lea-Francis-engined Frazer Nash (52.08 sec.)„ Skirrow’s vintage ‘Nash (53.06), Simpson’s vintage A.C.-powered ‘Nash (50.51), beating all the 328 B.M.W.s, and the A.C.-G.N., Williamson’s 4½-litre Bentley (55.02) which easily shook off Conway’s Type 43 Bugatti, and Wild’s Bugatti which was alone in the 1½-litre vintage racing class (51.9). 

Prescott Ponderings

If second-slowest time to Hardy’s 1914 Arrol Johnston (81.96) was made by Payne’s Amilcar (73.22), how nice to see a vintage car on proper small-section tyres. You should see the width of most of the others-7.00 x 21 on the back of a 1918 Delage, for instance! Moffat’s unblown G.P. Bugatti did a good 48.6, on new b.e. tyres, costing some £40 a set. St. John’s Bugatti bent its axle in practice. Rowley’s ex-Clarke 1913 Talbot 25 with replica skiff body was present but a non-starter. Summers towed his Tipo B behind a 1938 twin-blower 2.9 Alfa Romeo sports car! Mrs. Arnold-Forster had their third-best Anzani engine and 7.5-to-1 ratio in the Anzanl-Wash, according to the commentators. Other girl drivers were Mrs. Cattermull (Silver Eagle beetle-back Alvis), Ann Shoosmith (Bentley) and Betty Haig (B.M.W.), fastest in 56.56. Chambers drove a green 1925 Type 23 Bugatti with Powerplus blower from Horton’s M.G. Magnette, Triumph i.f.s. and a central gear-lever.