The annual VSCC Prescott hill-climb was held on August 12th in hot weather and attracted a record crowd of spectators. The 12/50 Alvis Register had a birthday party in the public enclosure which was attended by 79 appropriate Alvis cars, not counting those which were competing. Fastest time of the afternoon was made by Roberts in the ex-Wilks Lotus 16, who came within 0.3 sec. of Cottam’s Connaught record.
Tim Ely’s well-known Riley took the Up to 1,100-c.c. Sports Car class, second place going to Jack French, who still knows how to make Austin 7s perform, as he was driving an Ulster-bodied car with oversize tyres and twin SUs. Eyre’s also-oversize-wheeled Ulster Austin was third, these two being 1st and 2nd in the vintage category. Rather remarkably, Clark’s HRG, braking hard into Orchard, took the 1,101-1,501-c.c. Sports Car class vanquishing ten Frazer Nashes and other notable makes, which will bring jubilation to the Herg. camp! McEwen’s Riley was second, Stirling’s Frazer Nash third. The vintage section was won by Poynter’s Lea-Francis, Harding’s Meadows Frazer Nash which indulged in some fine tail slides, being second. Perhaps the Chain Gang does better in colder climes. There was interesting competition in the 1,501-3,000-c.c. Sports Car class. The Chain Gang were able to breathe again after Stephenson had ascended, because his BMW-powered Frazer Nash was not only quickest but shattered Footitt’s AC/GN record by 0.67 sec. Phillips’ 328 BMW, coming very rapidly into Orchard, was next fastest, followed by Rogers’ Frazer Nash which has not only an AC Six engine to propel it but a blower as well. As it qualifies as a 1929 car it was first in the vintage class, beating Cherrett in the well-handled blown 1750 Alfa Romeo and Comber in the D12 Irish GP 1.5-litre Alfa Romeo, its supercharger whining. When it came to the Sports Cars over 3,000-c.c. Hamish Morton in his now-famous 19.5 cwt. 3/4.5 1928 Bentley looked as if it meant business, which it did, because it broke both its own 1971 vintage class record and took away Winder’s general class record, with a great climb in 46.94 sec. this was too quick for the pvt cars, of which Black’s Monza Alfa Romeo was second (47.87 sec.). Even Winder’s fast LeaF/SS had to be content with a third (48.28 sec.). Morton obviously won the vintage category – the Commentator called him “a very good motor manufacturer” – and second place here was secured by Conway’s Type 43 Bugatti, handled with real skill.
There were seven Edwardian cars running, to surprise and please the onlookers, although the Th. Schneider was out with a broken prop-shaft. All was gratification, for at long last Cecil Clutton broke the class record of the 1910 Fiat which has occupied the books since 1948. He has tried hard to do this and now succeeded, not once but twice, his best run in 53.5 sec. being a clear 1.05 sec. faster than the old figure. Back in the Paddock the 1908 GP Italia steamed with pleasure but a sedative was wisely poured into its vast radiator. This rather overshadowed Barker’s smooth run, using lots of road, in the same-age, one-litre-smaller Napier, in 55.52 sec. Savage’s 1911 sporting De Dion got the handicap prize.
Freddie Giles went as you might expect, in his HRD/GN “The Beetle”, to net the Up to 1,100c.c. Racing Car category, after losing all chains but bottom on his first run. Dowson Junr. struggled gamely to match this with the blown 748-cc. Lightweight Special, taking momentarily to the inside bank at Orchard on his slower run, but was 0.63 sec. in arrears. Third, and 1st vintage, went to the noisy Hardy-Special. The 1,101-1,500-c.c. class suffered from non-runners. The ERAs of Merrick and Kergon were absent, likewise Moffatt’s, which had a displaced valve seat. Jenkinson had hoped to run the mechanically-complicated and very historic ex-Joyce 16-valve AC single-seater but its bronze head was porous. Marsh made up for these disappointments with a tail-out climb in his ERA, in 46.12 sec. R. Smith, in the Joseland blown Anzani Frazer Nash, had a mighty dice to clock best vintage time, in 48.06 sec.
The fireworks came in the Racing Cars over 3,000c.c. class, in which Roberts set the aforesaid ftd and Venables-LIewelyn’s 1.5-litre ERA was second (43.42 sec.), 0.17 sec. faster than Martin Morris’ 2-litre ERA, in spite of the good lines Morris took at the corners. Venables-Llewelyn also handsomely beat Douglas Hull’s long-standing pre-war record established by the Martin Morris car. Footitt broke the vintage record held by Stubberfield’s Bugatti since 1957, getting the Cognac Special, alias AC/GN, up in 45.44 sec. or 0.19 sec. above record, second-best vintage being Preston’s 2.3 Bugatti. Altogether an excellent meeting, especially as much Cordon Rouge champagne, conveyed to the thirsty in a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, was in evidence. W.B.
The finest replica car present was Willoughby’s 1920 AC with beautifully-made, long-tailed 200-mile Race body. It ascended in stately style in a time of 64.2 sec. Michael Bowler had as his classic car the ex-Tyrer 1940 Mille Miglia BMW. This extremely smart car was rather slow (52.14 sec.), with a gear change between Orchard and Pardon. Russ-Turner’s very big 4.5-litre Bentley was mis-firing on its first run and Horton’s Type 43 Bugatti nearly stopped, the blower release-valve blowing off. Both later recovered. Bird’s early Alvis Speed 20 had its Speed 25 engine exposed, to display four separate exhaust pipes. Marsh’s Alvis did a bit of ditching low down the hill. Goddard drove his immaculate ex-Shuttleworth Type 51 Bugatti. That odd-looking 1929 Lancia with prototype Astura V8 engine which ran in the Mille Miglia that year was again in evidence. The only accident befell Gray’s Austin 7 which rolled at the Esses without injury to its driver. Nigel Arnold-Forster’s Delage went on fire momentarily when its triple carburettors flooded. Nutter’s 8-litre Bentley, with about-face, bored-out 6-litre cylinder block and a proper four-seater body did a good climb in 53.38 sec. but Pancheri’s 4-litre Bentley was a nonstarter, presumably not having recovered from its petrol-tank puncturing prang at Woodcote at the VSCC Silverstone Meeting.