A Ford of Forty Years Ago
We heard the other day from Mr. Tom Hannen, who forty years ago last June made an interesting run from Land’s End to John O’ Groats in a then-new Ford Tudor saloon. This 14.9-h.p. Model-A Ford had been supplied by Wilkinson’s of Uxbridge some two months before Mr. Hannen decided to undertake an ingenious run to prove the worth of the much-discussed successor to the immortal Model-T. There had been innumerable journeys previously between the two most distant points in the British Isles, and the End-to-End run had even been accomplished without stopping a car’s engine. What this keen Ford owner proposed to attempt was to make the run without stopping his Ford.
The car was quite standard, except for an extension pipe from the oil filler to enable replenishment to be made while in motion. Mr. Hannen was accompanied by a Stockbroker friend and a representative of Ford Times, which was then an independent magazine. The Ford was laden with 20 two-gallon tins of Glico anti-pinking petrol, a five-gallon drum of Vigzol oil, and plenty of sandwiches and flasks of black coffee. The journey to Penzance, with a breakfast stop at Exeter, was done uneventfully, at an average of over 28 m.p.h. The long haul North began at 9.30 a.m. on a Tuesday, to enable the Midlands to be negotiated at night. Normally a cruising speed of 40 to 45 m.p.h. was held but it was imperative to slow to a crawl when refuelling, as petrol from the can had to be poured into the scuttle filler through the open windscreen and tended to blow into the driver’s eyes. The sump, likewise, could not be replenished at speed, due to crankcase blow-back at high r.p.m. It is an amusing reflection on the light traffic of those days that at times a passenger would get out and run ahead of the car, clearing the road of obstructions.
An accident in Inverness which had blocked the road caused anxiety, but the Ford either just kept moving or was stationary for seconds only—reports differ, on this score. The New Ford, as it was then called, averaged 27.7 m.p.h. for the 889 miles, in spite of the slow running to refuel and to negotiate traffic obstructions without stopping. The last 100 miles were against a strong headwind over hilly roads, but bottom gear was needed only once, for rounding a 1-in-4½ hairpin. Mr. Hannen had been driving for 32 hr. 5 min. without leaving his seat but could have driven further, finishing the run comparatively fresh.
It then remained to get home. This journey was done at an average of approximately 32 m.p.h., no pains being taken over a non-stop run; Shap Fell was climbed in top gear. At times the Ford held nearly 60 m.p.h. and it averaged 38.6 m.p.h. between Lanark and Carlisle. In 5½ days it did 1,940 miles, and for the non-stop portion it gave 31.7 m.p.g. of petrol and 970 rn.p.g. of oil. The tool-roll was not opened, the brakes needed no adjustment and no water was added to the radiator. A Boyce Motometer and a Tapley gradient meter were fitted and the car was on Avon tyres and used Champion plugs.
This feat by a private owner has a splendid period ring about it but doubtless helped in 1928 to convince people that the new Ford with conventional transmission was just the car for them. Incidentally, the A.A. proved useful, too, because empty petrol cans were thrown out to the Scouts at pre-arranged points! In case this Ford has survived, its Reg. No. was MT 5936. Today Mr. Hannen drives a 3.4-litre Jaguar.