A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
V.S.C.C. Prescott Hill-Climb (August 11th)
In a year of excessive wet, the Vintage S.C.C. was lucky, Prescott being bathed in warm but not too-hot sunshine. In spite of ideal conditions, only two class records fell, to Clarke’s Austin Special and Smith’s Alvis-engined Frazer Nash, and although Cottam made f.t.d. in the 1953 2-litre Connaught he was 0.95 sec. slower than when he achieved this two years ago. Barry Clarke in his Austin Special had no difficulty in winning both the Vintage and General sections of the 1,100-c.c. Sports Car Class, knocking 0.1 sec. off his own record and being far quicker than Ely’s pre-selector Riley Ulster Imp, which was runner-up. Nice’s much more standard-looking Ulster Austin was third, 3.77 sec. slower than the Clarke car. Pamela Arnold-Forster’s G.N. announced on its registration plates that it was “NU” although It was built in 1921. (Incidentally, last month’s caption to the picture of the G.N.’s n/s front tyre and tube departing from the rim at Oulton Park, which read “Just Like a Story Book”, puzzled its owner. We were thinking of the old song, “Just Like in a Story Book I am half-afraid to Look, lest I Turn Around and Find You Gone”. At Prescott the tyres had been blown up some more and Pam able to look them squarely in the beads, knowing they would not stealthily depart!)
Boyce upheld vintage honour in the well-supported 1,100-1,500-c.c. Sports Car category, winning both sections in his Frazer Nash, in which Skirrow’s Frazer Nash secured second place. Davis’ Meadows ‘Nash smoked and needed a lower dog between Orchard and Pardon, and Cobb’s ‘Nash, with its neatly-installed twin-cam British Salmson engine, lost a chain and stopped just beyond the latter corner. Joseland in Footitt’s astonishing A.C./G.N. creation wiped up the 1,501-3,000-c.c. Sports Car Class and fastest vintage time (48.14 sec.), leaving second place to Rogers’ 1938 A.C., though you couldn’t have found either of these sports cars in the pre-war catalogues!
Out of a very big field, Symondson took the big Sports-Car Class supremely, tyres Smoking out of Orchard, in the Type 57S Bugatti which is his road car and which he has driven up Prescott since 1938. Black’s Monza Alfa Romeo sounded flat and was 0.43 sec. slower, but was quicker than Barr’s much-modified 4.3 Alvis. Williamson’s Bentley, which was thrown at the corners and displayed brute-force acceleration out of them, took the vintage prize from Merrett, who brought Clutton’s Type 43 Bugatti fast into the cornets. Interesting cars included Samson’s 1919 30/98 Vauxhall with boat-tail body, which only just anchored in time before taking Orchard, Gray’s original-looking OE Velox 30/98, Nutter’s ex-saloon Speed Six Bentley which lacked pick-up, and Villar in the ex-Templar blown 2.6 Alfa Romeo imported from the U.S.A. President Barker’s 1939 Lancia Astura with special all-enveloping bodywork and a racing pedigree was quicker than it appeared, beating Cole’s silent 3½-litre Bentley Special, Charnock had his 4.3 Alvis Special out again, and Blight took Talbot BGH 23 up in 2nd gear at 5,000 r.p.m. on a 4.6 axle ratio and doughnut tyres but couldn’t quite beat the Bugatti, Alfa Romeo and Alvis opposition. On handicap Neale’s quiet Rolls-Royce won the Edwardian Class in 64.6 sec. but the 1908 Itala driven by Clutton made fastest time (55.86 sec.).
The first Racing-Car Class, for cars of up to 1,100 c.c., was disappointing, the H.M. Special fiat-twin splitting its gearbox casing on the line and Batt’s Eccles-Replica blown Rapier being over-geared and making s.t.d. in 81.05 sec., leaving the vintage Hardy Special to dominate the class from Ely’s sports Riley. There was the expected E.R.A. battle in the 1½-litre Racing-Car Class, Merrick’s R1A going too wide at Orchard on the first run, but making no mistakes on the second, to win from Waller’s R9B which preferred a diagonal path through the lower corners and was blipped through the Esses, 0.29 sec. dividing them, and Merrick making best pre-war time in 45.03 sec. Third place went to Kergon in the ear-splitting and powerful “Hanuman”, in 46.0 sec. The Vintage category was a gift for Joseland’s expertly-driven s.v. Anzani-powered “Terror III” (50.79 sec.).
The 3-litre Racing-Car Class was enlivened by Wood going straight on at Orchard on his first run, the Semmence regaining the road via the grass bank, and by Wall using twin rear tyres on the first runs, single rears on wire wheels in the second half, which both he and Moffatt found better for the single-seater 2.3 Bugatti. Cottam’s Connaught scored here, Pilkington’s Cooper-Bristol being 0.61 sec slower. Third place was taken by Summers in Corner’s beautiful monoposto 2.9 Alfa Romeo, after he had mastered Pardon (45.65 sec.). Moffatt tied up the Vintage section in 47.15 sec., being 0.36 sec. too fast for Kain, whose Bugatti made up for having Jaguar rear wheels by the replica Ettore-type thermometer on its radiator cap. There remained the big Racing-Car Class. In spite of a hairy time rounding Orchard on one run, Smith was quickest, in his 3½-litre Alvis-powered Frazer Nash, breaking his last-year’s record by 9.26 sec. in this 1934/37 car. Williamson in the Bentley could hardly fail to take the Vintage category, as he was the only runner.
So ended a most enjoyable day, devoid of accidents and the Paddock full of human and mechanical interest. Of the latter, there was the ingenious hand-brake rig on Dr. Taylor’s Caesar Special, Mrs. Wood in the competing Invicta which tows the Semmence’s trailer, Bowler out again in his Anzani ‘Nash, Still’s Riley M.P.H. with 4-cylinder engine, Draper’s twin-cam single-plug fabric-bodied Salmson, and Falk’s Type 55 Bugatti with E.N.V. pre-selector gearbox.
Times quoted are, of course, for the original short course.—W. B.
V.E.V. Odds and Ends.—By a slip of the hand we ascribed the Tec-Mec Maserati which ran at the V.S.C.C. Oulton Park Meeting to David Kergon. In fact, it was driven on that occasion by Tony Merrick and is owned by Tom Wheatcroft, who collects Formula One cars of all ages. Apologies! Lord Montagu and Anthony Bird are embarking on a complete steam-car history, from 1769 to date, and request any relevant data and pictures. The latest issue of the National Traction Engine Club’s journal Steaming contains pictures which prove that as late as 1946 a Leyland steam wagon and a 1920 Atkinson steam tractor were in use in Liverpool and that a year later the Wandsworth & D. Gas Co. were still using a Sentinel tipper. Michael Costigan is compiling a register of Austin 7 vans; his address is 204, Ashgate Road, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. The restorer of a 1936 Adler Trumpt Junior wants to contact other owners. The owner of a 1923 Stoneleigh chummy wants to correspond with anyone who remembers these small cars.