Veteran-Edwardian-Vintage, September 1979

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A Section Devoted To Old Car Matters

The cars of Major-General Sir Evelyn Fanshawe

We have received the following very interesting communication from Mr. J. G. S. Norman, MIMechE, MR AeS, AMBIM, FIAgrE:–

Sir,

I enclose copies of some photographs which belonged to the late Major General Sir Evelyn Fanshawe. Sir Evelyn was a keen motorist, and won a gold medal in a pre-1914 Six Days’ Trial. He served in the RFC flying Bristol Fighters in the Middle East, and was a famous horseman as well. To the end of his life, he was a good and considerate driver of horse-box and Range Rover. He was a close friend of Count Louis Zborowski, and the photograph shows, a big car, possibly with Zborowski at the wheel, although the driver is clean-shaven. I would guess that the house is Higham.

The reproduction lacks the clarity of the original. In the original, one can read “Palmer Cord Tyre” on the front tyre, as well as what looks like “Dunlop” on the rim of the front wheel, near the tyre valve. The wheels look as though they may be wooden-spoked, fitted with discs; this ties in with the spare covers, as opposed to spare wheels.

Note the searchlight, with perhaps its acetylene generator, below the gear and brake levers, three bulb horns, Klaxon, and siren, the enormous engine sump (or under-shield), the AA badge on the radiator, which has a dangerous-looking peak projecting from it, and the radiator cap carrying what looks like a running nursery maid as a mascot.

The Morris-Cowley was clearly snapped outside some Colonial Government office, probably in India. Note the wheel discs, fox mascot, and the bull-dog passenger.

Can anyone identify the open tourer in the third photo? It appears to date from about 1920, with electric headlights, oil sidelights, and rear-wheel brakes only. The scene is, again, probably India, so the car is probably of a make popular there – possibly a Napier or an American such as a Buick?

Guilsborough

John Norman

[I think the big car in the photograph kindly sent to us by Mr. Norman must be the Ninety Mercedes with Gordon Watney body which the young Count Zborowski bought after his mother died in 1911. I am aware that he bought a huge rotary-valve Italy, gave a big Rolland-Pilain to the local Fire Brigade after a somewhat timid fireman had called at Higham to explain that their horse-drawn engine was too slow to reach distant conflagrations (Zborowski had a suitable body put on the chassis by the local coachbuilders, to the eternal gratitude of the Brigade), and that he owned a FWB 1914-period Isotto-Franschini. We can discount the Rolland-Pilain, because it had a De Dion back axle and wouldn’t have been chain-driven, and of the other two, I think the Mercedes fits better – Ed.]

A Car for a Fiver

The other day I was looking through a pile of 1930s copies of The Aeroplane to see what the famous Editor of this paper had to say about the oil situation, in case this had any bearing on our present petrol-famine. I found, however, that C. G. Grey was too erudite for me to follow closely and that as Britain has in the intervening 45 years given away most of her Overseas possessions, his arguments were no longer entirely valid. At the bottom of this pile of old aeronautical papers there happened to be a single copy of a Show-Time 1932 issue of The Autocar. I soon found that I was turning to the small advertisement therein, as a means of wasting time on this hot summer afternoon.

It was not long before I discovered something I had forgotten, namely that people, even firms, thought it worth taking advertising space in those days relating to astonishingly cheap cars. It might be amusing to analyse how many used cars were on offer, make by make, of which was the lowest price at which you could buy one under each such heading. The afternoon being too sleep-inducing for such researches, I contented myself with checking which was the least expensive car to merit paying for an announcement about it. Surprisingly, I did not have to look long before I found advertised a 1925 Talbot Darracq 12 for 5 guineas and then a 1923 Vulcan for the proverbial “fiver”. The former, described as “in very good condition”, was being sold by Roland Smith’s of Hampstead (from whom I acquired a Zenith Gradua, sans driving-belt, for 25/-) the Vulcan, an all-weather, by Speechley’s of Acton. The ads. must have cost each vendor about 7/- (35p). I also noticed a 1904 Brighton Run Minerva offered by Rex Judd of Edgware for £10, and a six-cylinder Calthorpe with “large racing FWB, close-ratio gearbox, and a special sports 4-seater body”, for which 70 m.p.h. was claimed – a model I thought previously had never gone into production – for sale in Putney for £25. But enough . . . ! – W.B.

V-E-V Miscellany

The NE Section of the Morris Register is holding its annual Donington Rally over the week-end of September 1st/2nd, with driving-tests on the Saturday and a Concours d’Elegance and a gymkhana on the Sunday. The Austin/Morris Trophy will be competed for and many other attractions are promised. The Railton OC is one of the smaller such clubs (its membership is 155) that makes up in enthusiasm for a restricted membership and does much to keep the cars it caters for on the road. I am glad to see that it is fighting the abnormal price-rise in the old-car field by exposing some dubious “bargains” in its Bulletin. It was pleasing to find that at the Open Day at the Parkside works of Rolls-Royce Ltd. at Coventry recently the Armstrong Siddeley OC was invited to display cars which had been manufactured at Parkside before R-R took over, and the lavish programme contained a history of the Deasy, Siddeley and Armstrong Siddeley products, with perhaps the main emphasis on the aero-engines, as well as the many Hawker-Siddeley and Rolls-Royce products made there. The pre-war cars on display included a 1925 14 h.p. Armstrong Siddeley doctor’s coupé, a 1931 Twelve, a 1936 Fourteen and a 1938 Seventeen, backed up by representative post-war Armstrong Siddeleys. This information was sent to us by Mr. Dave Blackburn, who has restored a 1931 Twelve salon, the six-cylinder Light Economy model, to original condition and paint finish, except for those few items modernised to meet MoT requirements, but retaining its single, engine-driven screen-wiper. The Club has a membership of more than 700 and was able to buy the remaining spares for its members’ car from Rolls-Royce Ltd. in 1972. The annual Vauxhall gathering took place at Vauxhall Motors’ sports ground at Luton in June, the assembly ranging from a 1921 30/98 to 1950s models. The Pre-’50 American AC reports a 1938 Cadillac Sixty Special and a 1937 Oldsmobile coupé to be on the market; incidentally, this is another Club that takes care to warn against paying excessive prices for duff machinery. The Pre-War Austin Seven Club has been researching the Austins built by L. M. has been researching the Austins build by L. M. Williams before the war, for its Newsletter.

Sir John Richmond has sent us details of two cars which were auctioned at Coldham Hall, Bury St. Edmunds in May 1918. These were a 1913 11.9 h.p. Humber and a 12/18 h.p. Brasier with brown coachwork by E. & H. Hora Ltd., upholstered in maroon leather, the interesting item being that the Humber had gas headlamps but electric side lamps at this late date. At the AGM of the Trojan OC the retiring Chairman, Derrick Graham, was re-elected and Alistair Hacking continues as Secretary. The Club’s Chairman, Peter Reading, asks anyone owning a Trojan of any age or type to please register it with him. A copy of the list will be sent to all who comply, he says, and he promises that they will not be pressed to join the Club; his address is “Madgwick”, 55, Madaline Road, Petersfield, Hampshire. A Berkshire reader who requests any information or photographs relating to a 1904 two-cylinder De Dion Bouton-engined Cottereau (letters can be forwarded) remarks that a pristine 1912 six-cylinder Pope-Harford stands in the foyer of the AAA Headquarters at West Hartford, Connecticut, Alas, it seems that this Model-28 60 h.p. roadster never leaves its dais, not even for the odd rally.

It is pleasing that a reader who remembers as a child the solid-tyred, open-top, double-decker Type TS3 Tilling-Stevens ‘buses operated by Southdown between Portsmouth and Bognor circa 1922 [as I do these ‘buses on the No. 57 route in London – Ed.], received useful information about this make from Chrysler UK, to whom his enquiry has been forwarded by the Post Office. This make originated when Thomas Tilling Ltd., London’s oldest ‘bus operator, which had started in the then-village of Peckham in 1847, were forced to buy motor-buses when their horse-trams were threatened on the profitable West End-to-Peckham route by the new electric trams. Wishing to keep on as many of their old employees as possible, it became necessary for their horse drivers to handle the new vehicles. Their difficulty was changing gear and so Thomas Tilling looked to petrol-electric transmission, which obviated the gearbox, or, indeed, any mechanical connection between engine and back-axle. Apart from being easy to drive, such vehicles were smooth-running and there was no danger of wear in or breakdown from the vulnerable gearbox. Several American chassis, dated from about 1903, used the system, as did Daimler and B. T. H. Wolseley, around 1906-7, all to no avail. [Parry-Thomas also designed his own petrol-electric vehicles – Ed.] Then a Mr. W. A. Stevens was introduced to Richard Tilling, and grandson of the founder of the business, now in charge, at the 1906 Commercial Vehicle Show. Stevens’ Company, Percy Frost-Smith of Maidstone, had converted his own car to petrol-electric transmission in 1905. He was appointed Chief Engineer to the ‘bus company, and his first project was to so-modify a Hallford chassis in 1908; he also converted four Dennis chassis, two of which went to India, two to Holland, and he built some battery-powered Milnes-Daimlers. In 1911 Thomas Tilling asked him to build petrol-electric chassis exclusively for them, on which they would put their own bodies. These soon replaced all their horse-buses and their other makes of petrol ‘buses and remained in service up to 1930. By 1915 Tilling-Stevens Ltd. took over and Types TTBI and TTB2 gear-driven chassis were also listed. The Company made its own engines, etc. However, it is the petrol-electric vehicles by which the Maidstone Company is best remembered, that rugged chassis which provided a generator for other purposes besides driving it, its radiator protected by vertical bars, a vehicle that became very popular with Travelling Showmen, for obvious reasons. Incidentally, in 1926 the House of Lords decided that for taxation purposes a Tilling-Stevens should pay the lower rate of Duty prevailing for all-electric vehicles, another attraction for those acquiring used specimens. Mr Stevens left the Company in 1917 but remained faithful to his chosen transmission, which he had tried to his chosen transmission, which he had tried for trams in 1913 and for trolley-buses in the mid-1920s. Tilling-Stevens began to run down production by 1929, but made isolated vehicles for the War Office from 1936 to 1941, apparently with a Cotal gearbox between engine and generator, but it is thought, with a conventional 5-speed gearbox and no “electrikery” on the last of these chassis. – W.B.

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