Two Historic Oddities

One of the pleasures of being able to go through the Motor Sport post is the rare pictures and items of information which readers from time to time send in, and the small but significant scraps of information which sometimes throw light into the darkest recesses of ancient motoring history. For instance, when grappling with the fate of some of the pre-1914 racing Peugeots, I happened to refer to an article in a Rolls-Royce E.C. Bulletin in which Comdr. Hugh Keller recalled collecting for Paddon Bros. a G.P. Peugeot bought from Tyron, the ex-Napier racing driver. This caused Robert Beaver, who was a well-known 30/98 Vauxhall exponent at Brooklands before the war, to recollect that when he was at Oxford he went with a friend to Henley to see some racing cars which Mr. Tyron had for sale. They went for a trial run in a 1913 G.P. Sunbeam and eventually negotiated a much-regretted sale, for it turned out to be a horrid car, and was passed on to someone who did manage to do a bit more racing with it. The point is that in the same yard was a Peugeot, presumably the one which Paddon Bros. subsequently acquired.

The next day another couple a nostalgic photographs from the past came to hand, again from a reader who found them while sorting out some old papers. The first of these will be of interest to members of the H.C.V.C. It shows an enormous Daimler-Foster tractor, used by the War Office. As our correspondent remarks, Foster of Lincoln were associated with the first tanks, so their connection with the War Office is not unexpected. But what a thing to encounter on war-time roads! The other picture is of more general interest. At first sight the chassis appears to be a Rolls-Royce but the radiator badge belies this assumption, and so do the half-elliptic back springs, because a 40/50 Rolls-Royce of this First World War period would be expected to have cantilever rear suspension. The chassis was obviously used for running up aero-engines with propeller attached, that in the picture probably being a Renault V8. But for what purpose? Even at advanced bases such engines would surely be tested after overhaul on static benches? Yet the armour plate suggests some operation under fire, because if it were used merely to weight down the chassis or to protect the occupants from the propeller slipstream, the slits and covers would presumably have been dispensed with. Even the odd angle at which the aero-engine is mounted presents a conundrum. The vehicle was clearly intended to be moved about, and at night, judging by the extended brackets for its side lamps. Could it have been intended for some specialised purpose, such as acting as a decoy while tanks were moved towards the Front Line, by simulating aeroplane noises, or for following a gas attack, in order to blow the gas forward? The answer evades us, but no doubt a reader will supply one.