Vintage Postbag, September 1968

The Hodgson

It was interesting to read Mr. John S. Hodgson’s letter enquiring about the Hodgson, as I believe I was the first private owner to run one of these cars.

They were originally built by Mr. Barry Hodgson at Moortown Garage, Leeds, and were assembled with proprietary components in conjunction with a 1,496 c.c. side-valve Anzani engine, the bodywork being hand-made to individual requirements.

I took delivery of my Hodgson, an aluminium bodied two-seater, in June, 1922, and ran it for almost two years. It was used daily for business and pleasure and at weekends was entered for numerous hill-climbs, sprints and sand-races in the north of England, with a fair amount of success. In 1923, Harry Hodgson and I took our cars over to Boulogne for what I think was called the “Grand Semaine Automobile”, and we both did well in the sprints there.

Harry Hodgson was a very skilful tuner and, with the help of his head mechanic, A. V. Wright, many owners were successful in northern events in the middle 1920s.

Not many Hodgsons were made, but in their day they were sports cars really worthy of the name.

Cromer. Martin B. Lax.
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The Fate of a 1914 T.T. Humber

I can tell you what happened to one of the 1914 T.T. Humbers. After the race it was bought by a friend of mine up at Cambridge with me, C. A. Morell-Miller. He took it touring in France late in the summer. When war broke out the French commandeered it for carrying urgent army messages, and he came home to join up, and that was the last he saw of the car.

As far as I remember the only additions to the racing car were mudguards and, I think, side-lamps.

Sevenoaks. F. R. Waley.
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The “Babs” Controversy

I have been reading with interest the echoes of the late Parry Thomas, for I am old enough to remember the widespread sorrow at the time of his death.

It is remarkable, however, that nobody seems to have mentioned the memorial to Thomas which exists in the form of a cot, bearing the name “Babs”, in the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London, W.C.1. My daughter is a nurse there, and knows the “Babs” cot. The Matron has kindly looked up the archives for me, to find that the cot was so named in 1927, from a generous bequest by Thomas, and was “founded in perpetuity” by The Autocar in memory of the great man.

It is sad that due to the National Health Service endowments of this kind are not now possible, but the Matron points out that should any money accrue from the “Babs” controversy, it would be easy to find a worthy fund, and she would be happy to make suggestions. Her closing remarks bring a quite theatrical touch. On going along to see the cot and to read the inscription again, the Matron found the little patient using the cot playing with—a sports car! Could anything be more appropriate? I wonder if it could have been a Leyland Eight?

Manchester. David W. Matheson.
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“Where have all the Peugeots gone?”

In “Where have all the Peugeots Gone?” the picture of “Laura”, C. G. Brocklebanks’ car, brings back memories. The mechanic standing by the car in helmet and goggles is my cousin, Jack James.

I was taken to Brooklands, and saw the car race with Eldridge’s big Fiat and the Vauxhall “Rouge-et-Noir” of Humphrey Cook. The Fiat caught fire; the Vauxhall won. I remember how hot the tyres were after the race. (I was only a nipper then.) The new Aston Martin cars made, or were supposed to have made, their debut on that day.

“Laura” the Peugeot was garaged for a while at my uncle’s garage in Little Grosvenor Mews, and I remember how pleased Mr. Brocklebank and my cousin were with the new streamlined tail.

If you are starting a “pro-motorist’ campaign against this continuous and ridiculous anti-everything regime, please publish in Motor Sport in BIG LETTERS: my idea. is, leave speed decisions to the man behind the wheel; but hit very hard on dangerous driving.

Poole. J. L. Redding.
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A 14/40 Lea-Francis

In your report of the V.S.C.C. race meeting at Oulton Park this year you mention Portway’s Lea-Francis car, which you say is reputed to have been intended for Brooklands. The car has been on the records of this club for some time, with a vague but sufficiently well-substantiated history, but the Oulton Park meeting was the first time I have been able to examine it closely. In view of its history, which I will detail, and the results of my examination and consultation with other members of this club, we had better scotch the Brooklands story right away! I say this purely in the interests of accuracy—the present owner does not claim anything for the car or to know anything of its history.

The car started life as a T-type 14/40, erected on 16.11.28, chassis number 15066. It had a Cross and Ellis body, probably a fabric saloon. It first came to my notice in modern times wearing a rather odd two-seater sports body, which was presumably put on the car around 1952 at the time of a very major rebuild, as the car was then re-registered as RPK 500. The rebuild seems to have consisted of assembling all the mechanical parts of the original car into a chassis frame from some other vehicle whose identity I cannot establish. Certainly it was not a Leaf! The car eventually passed into the hands of one David Baldock, who again rebuilt it, leaving the chassis as for the first rebuild and fitting the present rather pleasant light racing bodywork.

The car ran in this form at Bodiam hill-climb in 1964. I know nothing of it after that until it turned up the other day at Oulton Park. It was then suggested by several people that it might be one of the first supercharged cars raced by the works and known to them as Lobsters. This suggestion arose because of the quarter elliptic rear springs, but these have been cleverly contrived with the addition of radius arms to mount the rear axle from the original T-type, which was formerly mounted on semi-elliptics in the original chassis.

Incidentally, if anyone has any knowledge of these early blown cars, or photos of them, I would be glad if he would get in touch with me, as we have a member who is collecting data to build a replica for V.S.C.C. racing. Their chassis numbers were 9161-9163, and there are rumours that one still exists along with the prototype four-cylinder single o.h.c. replacement intended to follow the Meadows-engined 12/40 but never produced. These two cars are alleged to belong to a Mr. Wagstaffe, who lives in the Loughborough or Leicester area. If he or anyone who knows him reads this I would like them to get in touch with me, as I would like detailed information on both of these cars for my records.

Sutton Coldfield. Peter Pringle,
Chairman, Lea-Francis O.C.