A section devoted to old-car matters
VSCC Hawthorn Trophy Meeting (July 30)
By the time this issue is published the Cadwell Park VSCC meeting will be over, so this is a review, not a report. The second VSCC Silverstone races had 180 entries, sunshine, and an excellent attendance. The main 15-lap Hawthorn Trophy scratch contest between the historic racing cars was a tour de force for Simon Phillips, such force that he won by an enormous margin, in the 1953 Cooper-Bristol, which lapped at 85.63 m.p.h. If Simon goes on like this we can see bogus pit-pauses, a la Willie Green, being made compulsory! Gerry Walton had found new form from his Connaught, and finished second, just pipping Marguiles’ 4CL Maserati which cut out early for Woodcote, on the final lap. P. Mann made a gallant bid, passing both these drivers on the inside into this corner on lap 14 but a nonsense at Beckett’s dropped him from second to fourth place. The Monza Lister-Jaguar had broken a piston in practice and Crabbe’s Ferrari 375 was among the many non-runners.
The 8-lap Pre-War Allcomers’ Scratch Race saw the Hon. Patrick Lindsay unchallenged, driving the borrowed Mann ERA to a lap-speed of 83.41 m.p.h., as “Remus” was off-form. Bill Morris jumped the start, so although finishing second on the road in “Romulus”, he was put back to third, behind Marguiles’ 4CL Maserati. Millar’s 8CTF Maserati was erratic, Sumers’ Type 34 absent, as was Elliot-Pyle’s Lea-Francis “Lobster” now with a blown 1939 1.7-litre engine. Moffat was out, too, the ERA having torn off a front brake lining in practice.
The 8-lap Boulogne Trophy Race for vintage racing cars opened excitingly, led by Morley in the Bentley-Napier, with Kain coming up and just slipping inside the giant at Woodcote, in his newly-painted 35B Bugatti, until Morley pulled away. Alas Peter Evans had the Chawner-GN disintegrate and block the track. The red flag was displayed and the race stopped, some drivers, included Morley, being later brought before the Stewards, like errant schoolboys, for not observing it. The emergency services went into prompt action and Evans, although taken to hospital, was fortunately not too badly hurt. When the race was re-started, over 8 laps, Morley again led the first one. But the 24-litre Napier “Lion” engine had overheated during the commotion, a water hose burst, and he was out. This left Kain to win easily, from Footitt in the GN cognac. Johnty Williamson was a courageous third in the 10½-litre V12 Delage, in a close bunch with Hine’s fast Bentley and Russell in the exciting 8-litre Bentley single-seater, these two having disposed of the Delage in the race as it was before it was stopped. Fielding ran the Earl of Moray’s 1930 8C Maserati and Majzub the Pacey-Hassan, but all I can say of them is that it was nice to see these cars circulating. The other longer race was the “Fox & Nicholl” Trophy Handicap, for road-equipped sports cars, won by Grew’s 3-litre Bentley, from Burrell’s 8-litre Royce-Bentley. Apparently Burrell forgot that Drew had a credit lap and eased off too soon. Chris Mann did one of his characteristically determined drives, to take third position from scratch in the Monza Alfa Romeo, lapping at almost 77m.p.h. The Avon-Bentley had a big blow-up going into Woodcote, a rod coming out, and Lees-Milne hit the bank here, bending the LeaF-SS’s front dumb-irons but not himself-as he walked away he observed that anyway he had wanted something to do in the winter! Curtis was deputising for Talbot-master Blight in BGH 22 but it got nowhere-lacking its front number plate, it wasn’t road-equipped, anyway!
Of the other races, the first 5-lap Scratch Race saw Colbourne’s 1.8 Riley lead all the way, to win from Barbet’s Austin 7 and Venables’ MG. Pack’s Riely Big-4-powered Aston Martin took the next race, a 5-lap Handicap, from a 328 BMW driven by the Hon. Finch-Hatton, with Conway, Junr.’s Type 37A Bugatti third, The next Handicap saw Chilcott in R. J. B. Smith’s Frazer Nash lead Edwards’ Ulster Aston Martin home, followed by Liddell’s Straker Squire, which thus took the Edwardian TrNMM’s Prince Henry Vauxhall, Neve’s TT Humber non-starting. The light-cars had their tour in this event, the quickest being Dickie’s M-type MG. Another Handicap was neatly conducted by Bayne-Powell in a blown N-type MG, with Edwards again second, and third place taken by back marker, Holdsworth in his 4.3-litre Alvis, ahead of Whittaker’s astonishing Chrysler. Incidentally, Whittaker’s brother had a very smart 1927 Chrysler 72 roadster in the Paddock. It was good to see the BNC circulating. The Meeting finished with yet another 5-lap Handicap which had Walton in first place in the Connaught, which won him also the “Driver of the Meeting” accolade. ST. John’s Type 51 Bugatti was second, Langton’s Cooper-Bristol third, with the irrepressible Simon Phillips fourth, from scratch. A 5-lap Scratch Race concluded the day, victory going to Rhodes’ 4.3-litre Alvis from Woodley’s Alvis on this litreage, Ronnie Symondson calmly taking third place and the Phillips Trophy in his well-known 3.3-litre two-seater Bugatti. Poor Roger Newton was shunted at Woodcote and fell out of his HRG, the car rolling on very slowly into the barrier, he was fortunate to escape with just a cut hand. Ghosh’s 30/98 opened its bonnet in mid-race, as a sign that it wanted to retire.
It was a Meeting full of incident, and with much “heavy-metal” running, rather reminiscent of Brooklands. Kain, naturally, had increased his lead in the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest. There was a fine Parade of AC cars, from the earliest Sociable in captivity to Cobras and even an ME 3000 coupé-one way of getting modern cars onto the track at a VSCC day! But Robbie Hewitt’s ex-Joyce AC was a most unfortunate absentee. The VSCC even had its own RAF fly-past of Hercules, not to be outdone by other great occasions! – W.B.
Could It Be?
A Motor Sport reader with a long memory, Mr. R. H. Hudson of Batley, has sent us a clipping form the American Hot Rod magazine, because he spotted a note about a car which ran at a 1972 Detroit show of hot-rodding as having the chassis from the Mercedes with which Ralph de Palma won the 1915 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, which was, of course, one of the successful 1914 Grand Prix team. This same reader remembered the article by David Scott-Moncrieff which we published in December 1970, in which he wrote of a 1914 GP Mercedes that was last heard of in Cuba-“the one that goat away”, as he called it. Apparently, this was the ex-de Palma 1914 GP Mercedes, which broke its crankshaft at Ascot Speedway in 1918, when the famous American was still racing it, was repaired and sold, but broke its crank again in 1921. Further repairs were made but the old trouble returned in 1925, at which time, it is interesting to note, Mercedes could still have supplied a new engine for this pre-war racing car, at a cost of 2,600 dollars. It was after this that the old Mercedes vanished. The hot-rod said to be using its chassis in 1972 had a Miller engine and was campaigned by Gaslight Auto Parts of Ohio. A picture shows it to have had a modern body, not unlike the Bu-Merk of Briggs Cunningham; but the rear-shackled front half-elliptic springs just could be those of the 1914 Mercedes-a dumb-iron apron prevents one from seeing it there is the crossmember before the radiator.
It seems that, should Philip Mann ever need a spare chassis frame for his French GP-winning Mercedes he might find one in Ohio! And that if, St. Christopher forbid, he ever blows-up his engine, Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart may still hold a spare, if they have not cannibalised it for their Museum car – W.B.
An Early Chauffeurs’ School
Another reader has sent us a Photostat of an article titled “A School for Chauffeurs” that appeared in the late-lamented Strand Magazine, I would think in 1905/06. Much of the text aims at showing the change-over to motors from horses that was evident in London and how this struck the ex-grooms, footmen and coachmen. But what is very interesting is the reference to a Daimler School that was apparently teaching such persons a new trade, that of driving their owners’ motors. The Rolls-Royce Chauffeurs’ School is well-known and is still operating. It is known that Daimler had a similar institution and according to this unsigned article it was situated in “an excellently-appointed garage near Gray’s Inn Road” and looked after by Mr. Ernest Livet. Besides learning about the new-fangled mechanism, but pupils were given driving instruction, it is said in Hyde Park. When the writer of the article went to see the School in operation the cars, one, tow or even three, assembled by the Achilles Statue. Later he observed “what appeared to be one or two narrow shaves as learners took the corner at Victoria Gate”.
The article is illustrated with obviously posed pictures, taken by a Mr. W. Henderson, depicting several types of Daimlers, from very early examples to what looks like a four-cylinder chain-drive model, the tonneau body of which lifted-up, to disclose the gearbox. Curiously, none of the cars has number-plates! Moreover, the pupils are described as having difficulty in “locating the water-cooled brake-drum”, which isn’t surprising, considering that they are gathered round the front of what looks like a pre-1900 solid-tyred Daimler. Mr Lancaster of the Automobile Club seems to have introduced the Strand Magazine reporter to this Daimler Chauffeurs’ School. I wonder whether Daimler historians have any comments – W.B.
V-E-V Miscelleny. – At this year’s STD Register Wolverhampton Rally, the Rootes Trophy for the oldest car coming the longest distance was won by John Clarkson’s 1924 Talbot 18.// from Cornwall, the runner-up being Hugh Harrison’s 1924 14/40 Sunbeam from Devon. The Perkins Trophy for the most meritorious work on a car carried out during the year was awarded to John Logue, with his twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam, which also won the Pride of Ownership contest from Tony’s Hall’s Talbot 105 and Hugh Garrison’s sunbeam – only the day before the gearbox and back axle had been out of the winning Sunbeam so that stronger clutch springs could be fitted. The D’Arcy Clark Trophy for best under-bonnet condition went to Bruce Dowell’s Sunbeam 25 sports (the fourth time he has won it), followed by Ben Yates’ 20.9 Sunbeam and two 14/40 Sunbeams, with a lady’s 1912 Sunbeam12/16 in the running. The Frank Joyce Cup for the best article in the STD Journal was given to John Vaughan-Shaw. The prizes were presented by Francoise Michard, who had driven from Paris in her 1929 Talbot. The STD Register’s Sandhurst Rally takes place on September 17th, in conjunction with the horse show.
The Armstong Siddeley OC now has more than 650 members, not bad when one remembers that not so long ago these were “the cars that nobody wants”. The Club’s current journal, Sphinx, carries the third part of a detailed history of the Armstrong Siddeley 12s, and a description of the 1912 Stoneleigh and chassis drawings of what appears to have been in an experimental 20/25 Armstrong Siddeley with i.f.s. The latest Austin Seven Clubs’ literature is interesting too. For instance, there is a brief account of other early aviation exploits of the late E.C. Gordon England in the 750 Bulletin, illustrated with a picture of a pre-1914 Marlborough with Gordon England body. The photography having been taken by Mrs. Gordon England, who has a keen photographer and who flew in some of her husband’s pioneer aeroplanes. Then, in the Austin Seven Clubs’ Association’s Magazine of the Austin Seven No. 1977B there is an article on Mulliner-bodies Austin 7s (no conneection with the better-known H. J Mulliner and Arthur Mulliner coachbuilding companies), an interview with S. V. Holbrook who drove works racing Austin 7s in the vintage years, at Brooklands and in the TT, etc., and news that one of the hand-starters fitted to the very earliest Austin 7s has come to light and may be fitted to an existing early Seven. There is also a fine photography of the Austin Seven entrants lined up in the rain before the start of the 1930 BRDC 500 Mile Race at Brooklands, with the winning Ulster of the Earl of March and S.C.H. Davis in the foreground and the Harker Special, which was illustrated in Motor Sport last July, in the line-up. But one misconception must be corrected Cap. Howey of Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway memory raced a Leyland Eight, not the Higham Special, and at the 1927 Sporting Life & Sportsman Meeting at Brooklands, far from “none of the several Sevens having any great success”, J. H. S. Wilson’s Austin was 3rd in the 1,100 c.c. division of Spectator’s Race – as this was the Editor’s first visit to Brooklands on a race day and he holds the trophy in question, this correction was not very difficult to make! A 1929 Talbot 14.45 chassis which had been buried under a pile of rubbish in an orchard since 1961 has been rescued and its rebuild is visualised if an engine and radiator, etc. ca be found for it. Someone else is working on a 1920s cyclecar that has come to light.
From the Alvis OC Bulletin, and with due acknowledgement, we reprint the following about a delightful episode which deserves a wider circulation “On the occasion of the Club’s Hereford gathering an elderly lady was noticed looking at a parked 12.70 Alvis. She said, with a smile, and we quote: ‘I have a great affection for the Alvis’–note THE Alvis. It transpired that she is a Miss Templeman who, when a girl, lived with her