Veteran Edwardian Vintage, September 1975

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A section devoted to old car matters
VSCC Prescott (August 10th)

It was hot work at Prescott but the hill was in fine fettle for fast runs. Again, Alan Cottam in the A-type Connaught proved unbeatable. He broke his own post-war historic course record with a very polished climb in 42.84 sec., smilingly making his ascent-of-honour at the end of the afternoon smoking his pipe and wearing a soft hat. Simon Phillips was as fast as expected in his Cooper-Bristol but he could make no impression on Cottam, his time being 44.04 sec. Fastest pre-war time was made by John Venables-Llewelyn in the ex-Gerard 2-litre ERA but he did not break his own class record, his time coming out at 44.38 sec. In that class Footitt managed second place and first-vintage in the Cognac Special, (46.18 sec.), third place going to Black’s Alfa Romeo (47.58 sec.). Hamish Moffatt cleaned up the 1½-litre racing class in his ERA in 44.54 sec. breaking Merrick’s class record. Merrick was second, after having replaced the gearbox, following practice problems, in Sandy Murray’s R1A, on a dramatic run, which occupied 44.78 sec. Third place was obtained by Bill Morris in “Hanuman”, in 45.43 sec., so this was an ERA walk-over.

Guy Smith used his Alvis-powered Frazer Nash Special to good effect to win the big racing-car class, stirring up those dogs which are not prohibited at Prescott (45.55 sec.), second place here going to Bill Summers in the Winder Special Lea-Francis with SS Jaguar engine (48.43 sec.). The up-to-1,100 c.c. racing car category was a victory for that very professional turn-out, Dowson driving the Lightweight Special, which did a neat climb in 45.71 sec. to break the old class record standing to this car, since last year, to the accompaniment of splendid sounds echoing about the hill. Second place went to Gray in the vee-twin Hardy Special, a very commendable effort, especially as his 46.86 sec. broke the vintage class record held by this fearsome racing cyclecar since 1962, when it was driven by its creator. Giles, in the GN “Salome”, took second vintage. It was excellent to find five Edwardian/Veteran cars out this time. Roger Collings had the 1903 Sixty Mercedes in stripped Gordon Bennett form (60.3 sec.), Mann used his roadgoing 1914 Grand Prix-winning Mercedes to clock 58.22 sec., Williamson tamed the 1908 12-litre GP Itala to a climb of 56.61 sec., Rowley made them all look a bit constipated, as his 5.6-litre Th.-Schneider went up in 55.69 sec., and Neve’s evergreen 1914 TT Humber somehow improved from 72.98 sec. on its first run to 57.93 on its second, so was awarded the class on handicap.

The respective sports-car classes were won by Nice’s blown Ulster Austin (54.09 sec.), Stephenson’s Meadows Frazer Nash (50.96 sec.), Jones’ 2½-litre Riley Special (47.73 sec.) and Cyril Mann’s Monza Alfa Romeo (47.61 sec.). In the last-named over-3,000 c.c. class the ex-Scuderia Ferrari Alfa had been strongly challenged by Barry Clarke’s Ford-powered GN, which just avoided having its second-speed chain come off a sprocket, and which did best vintage time in 48.37 sec., faster than Mann during the first onslaughts.

The girls, perhaps attracted by prospects of Prescott under perfect conditions, were out in force, Betty Haig in her 328 BMW, beaten by Oddie’s 328, Mrs. Black in her husband’s splendid replica Spyder Touring 2.3 Alfa Romeo, Mrs. Drake in her Amilcar, Mrs. Skinner in a nice, used-every-day Brescia Bugatti, and Mrs. Cherrett upholding the Alfa Romeo entry—fastest lady, Mrs. Black, 51.93 sec.

There were few incidents on this warm afternoon, but Woodley’s HW-Alta stopped before the Esses on its first ascent. Whale nearly spun his Frazer Nash at Orchard, Gunn’s Q-type MG used a very wide line here, the so-called “Cordon Rouge” replica Bugatti indulged in fearsome slides, and Conway Jnr., on a fine ascent, had the Type 37A Bugatti’s back axle hopping madly. The Hewitt ex-Joyce AC didn’t run (perhaps as it needs a Riley engine) but joined a static display of AC cars, three of which were vintage road cars. There were also on view ten Wolseley Hornets, of which a 1930 Abbey tourer had a dumb-iron-mounted Arnott supercharger.—W.B.

Silver Jubilee of the 20/Ghost Club

As we celebrate MOTOR SPORT’s Golden Jubilee we are pleased to congratulate the Rolls-Royce 20/Ghost Club on its Silver Jubilee. To mark its first 25 years the Club produced a very attractive book, a copy of which its Hon. Sec., H. B. Poulter, has kindly sent us. It was on sale at the Kensington Gardens Concours d’Elegance last June but whether any remain is a moot point; copies were sold in aid of the Lord Mayor Treloar Trust. The colour-cover depicts the famous 1907 Silver Ghost, AX 201, photographed with a modern Camargue. Most of the Trade firms who specialise in R-R cars—Frank Dale & Stepsons, Coys of Kensington, Paddon Brothers, Jack Barclay, Appleyard Rippon, etc.—took space, often using fine and appropriate colour-plates. The book contains articles on the first Silver Ghost, Antique Car Collecting, Tyre Development, Post-War R-R models, R-R Development from 1905 to 1975, Model Cars, the Development of Pre-War Coachwork, the Alpine Eagle R-R, Pre-War R-R Testing, Motor Car Auctions, etc., by various experts. There is an item on collecting R-R literature, from which I am glad to note that I possess an original 1905 R-R catalogue, not the 1970 reprint. Stanley Sears, Master of the 20/Ghost Club, writes about how he became interested in the make, before he began to collect Rolls-Royce cars. His mother had a 1932 P2 Arthur Mulliner close-coupled touring saloon and Sears himself bought the Company’s 1931 Continental P2. His favourite remains the 1936 Phantom III, out of the 13 Rolls-Royce and Rolls-Bentley cars he and his mother have owned, not overlooking his Continental R-type Bentley. He claims 100 m.p.h. for his first R-R, a 1931 Continental Phantom II with Park Ward sports-saloon bodywork, the same speed for the 1936 P3 Barker close-coupled saloon, and 120 m.p.h. from his R-type Bentley Continental. This is interesting, in view of the top speed of 91.84 m.p.h. which The Autocar obtained from a P3 limousine in 1936.

This little book has one of the finest colour plates I have seen for a long time, of a Phantom II with body by Binder of Paris against a superb background.—W.B.