The Austin Ten DC held its 10th National Rally over a week-end, in the pleasant and highly convenient setting of the Wild Life Park at Burford. Having been present at its first rally I was asked to present the prizes on this occasion. After a diversion to look in on the Bromyard Gala at Stoke Lacy (a village forever associated with H. F. S. Morgan of 3-wheeler fame and the Father who encouraged him) where vintage cars, motorcycles and traction-engines were to assemble (I was too early, for only an Austin 12/4 and a Roesch Talbot had presented themselves, although the Austin 7 contingent was beginning to arrive as we left and masses of oil-engines were already in furious action). I got to the rally field at Burford to find such an unbroken array of Longbridge talent that it was embarrassing to be in a modern car.
It is to the credit of Elaine Whiney and her organisers that nothing but appropriate Austins had until then penetrated the very big Rally field. There were around 150 such cars, a fitting tribute to the virility of this Club, as well as a reminder of the days when this country was truly great and these Austins personified the English way of life. There they were, in great variety, the Ivers, Lichfields, Cliftons, Sherbournes, Burnhams, Ascots, Etons and the rest, bringing back nostalgia for an England of long ago, on this hot July Sunday; supercilious camels and galloping rhinos in the background hardly dispelled this pleasant illusion.
The Club caters for all pre-war Austins up to 28 h.p. but it is to its credit that cars are expected to be tested, taxed, insured and in use; trailering is definitely not encouraged. This is a driver’s Club, they remind you.
The entry list numbered 24 chrome-radiator 10/4s from 1932 to 1934, of which 13 were saloons, six were cabriolets, three had 2-seater bodywork, one tourer and one van. The cowled-radiator 10/4 class had 30 entries listed, of which 20 were 1934-36 Lichfield saloons. Other categories catered for 1936-39 Cambridge Tens (10 of these, plus a Conway), the bigger Austins from 1931-39, and Associate Members’ pre-1950 non-classified Austins, which included the very smart 1926 Chummy Seven driven by the Secretary. As I have said, only appropriate Austins were allowed in the rally field, until I arrived in a Volvo and in self-defence parked by the British Leyland PA van. Except that every one-make rally has its gate-crashers, on this occasion a blue Model-A Ford 2-seater (with the correct means of conveying h.t. current from distributor to plugs) and a rare Vale Special. Walking round, I noted a 1945 Austin K4 5-tonner coal truck complete with coal bags, a 10/4 van in the Club insignia, Snelgrove’s disc-wheeled Lichfield, Ross’ yellow 12/4 Ascot and a display of head gaskets before Perry’s 1932 12 h.p. Burnham. I was pleased to see Open Road 12/4 2-seaters and a 12/6 Ascot, and remarked the near-vintage lines of an artillery-wheeled 1931 Burnham. Johnson’s 10/4 cabriolet carried externally and rather precariously a two-gallon petrol tin (he will now write in to say it has never fallen off, I shouldn’t wonder). A 1935 Lichfield required jump-leads to make it start, there was a 12/4 platform lorry with canvas sides, and plenty of tourers, including Misslebrook’s very smart Open Road 10/4. One 10/4 was reported to have been bought for 5p or was it 1/-, and another to be in daily use after 240,000 miles.
Rare Austins numbered Schofield’s 1935 Arrow 10/4 2-seater, Partridge’s 1936 Ripley sports-tourer, both immaculate, a 16/6 Martin Walter 2-seater, a 1932 12 hp. Gordon coupé, and a 1933 12 h.p. Berkeley-Tickford.—W.B.
[Results were promised, but had not arrived when we closed for Press two weeks hence.—ED.]