A section devoted to old-car matters
Another reason for visiting Mr. Lowndes (see page 1179, last month) was to look at the splendid collection of car mascots amassed originally by his late father. They total 109, all maker’s mascots, not those of accessory makers or from personal sources. It is impossible to describe them all, so I will take a quick look at those that impressed me. Incidentally, many of these carefully preserved mascots were photographed for the book “Motoring Mascots of the World” by William C Williams (Motorbooks International) which was reviewed in Motor Sport last April. Looking at them in the metal is to appreciate the very high quality of the better of these car manufacturers’ mascots, and the surprising wealth of detail some of them display. These are art-forms, some later degenerating into art-noveau. The great thing about the Lowndes’ collection is that it is almost entirely original; very few of the mascots in it have been repaired and apart from a Bugatti Royale Elephant, almost none are replicas, or even modern reproductions.
So what did I admire particularly? An Alvis Silver Eagle mascot showing signs that these were originally silver-plated, and an early Pierce-Arrow bowman with helmet and much fine detail, this later becoming a pot-metal mascot with the bowman’s helmet and other aspects deleted. The Bianchi mascot of an Eagle swallowing a poisonous snake’ was interesting, as this was apparently based on Milanese heraldry, hence the similarity to that of the Alfa Romeo badge. In contrast, Lorraine-Dietrich preferred to parody an eagle ….
Very rare is the Will St Clair pewter goose – wings up, indicating post 1923. The magnificent Cadillac Herald is there, in highly-polished pewter, a silver wedding present from Mr Williams, and as you examine these collective heirlooms from motoring’s past it seems apparent that the better American makes found competition through fine mascots, Lincoln against Cadillac against Packard, for example. This was also, perhaps, a means of identity in a country of similar-looking automobiles.
The mascot from the Invicta “Black Prince” is there, with the knight’s shield carrying the correct coat-of-arms for Canterbury Cathedral. Very interesting is the Riley skier mascot, from Frank Lowndes’ Riley days, still with the flimsy skis and ski-sticks intact, a rare item indeed, looking very “1930-ish”‘. Arrol-Johnston had the thistle in bronze but this was reproduced in mere aluminium for the less-expensive Galloway car – both mascots are in the collection. One can also see here the change in style of Minerva mascots and I was shown a Roesch Talbot sail, the uncommon Standard’s Roman Standard above a motormeter, and the great Lincoln Greyhound mascot, made as an integral part of the big radiator filler-cap and with even the hound’s paws fully detailed.
So we went through them – Cadillac Heron, the Pierce-Arrow arrow and wheel with the car’s front end inset, and Chevrolet’s elaborate mascot, dated October 1927, of Lindberg’s Ryan trans-Atlantic monoplane, “Spirit of St. Louis.” The Falcon-Knight mascot incorporated a very solid cross-bar for releasing the radiator filler-cap, called by the irreverant the “dog’s bone”, and it was fascinating to see that whereas Dodge Bros had a wheel-motif at the base of their American mascots, this was not used on Dodge cars sold in Britain. Nor did I know until then that the beak of the Humber Snipe Mascot is of rubber to comply with some safety law, was kept pointing straight ahead by a tiny hidden spring!
They were almost all there, Trojan, Buick, who displayed very high mascot standards, the Apperson jack-rabbit, Bayliss Thomas and Ford radiator-scripts, a JCC badge and mascots from Bentley, Rolls-Royce, SS, Austin, Rover, Bean and others too numerous to list, the detailed Vulcan and Ballot mascots, the Vauxhall Wyvern, Voisin’s aluminium-winged bird, Guy’s Indian’s head (“Feathers in our Cap”), the naked Packard Adonis, the Briscoe Crown, Moon’s crescent-moon, and of course a Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Ecstasy,” two different-sized Mercedes Benz triple-pointed stars, Farman’s Icarus, Wanderer’s harp, the Peugeot Lion, etc.
Very rare is a dashboard plate issued by Parry Thomas & Chamberlain Ltd, of Great Portland Street, for the very brief time that the great Welsh racing driver traded with this gentleman; one wonders on what car it penetrated into Wales? There is a similarly-interesting dash-plaque issued by Freddie Dixon, and numbered 99 to show he chose the car, which was fitted to a Riley Sprite (BTB963) that Frank Lowndes bought from Blakes of Liverpool. All this may seem very elementary to rabid collectors of motoring art, but to me it was quite fascinating ….
This collection of genuine car-manufacturers’ mascots is so refreshingly different from the fake or copy mascots which non scrupulous people now try to pass off as the originals. The Lowndes’ collection was formed before such fakes came to be marketed. – WB.
Cars at the Royal Welsh
Not only did Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Toyota, Saab and Volvo have large displays at this year’s Royal Welsh Show at Builth Wells, but the usual display of historic vehicles, organised by the Rhayader MC, again gave us another aspect of such motoring in Wales. Missing were a Rochet motor-tricycle, that seems to think the RAC Brighton Run is·a race, and the same owner’s 1915 Rolls-Royce Alpine Eagle. But the pre-1931 class had a somewhat modified 1901 Locomobile steamer, John Carter’s, 1908/9 20/30 hp Fiat with Rothschild touring body and a little outrider-seat, night motoring being done behind L’ Autoroche headlamps (“Lots of brass, old boy”), Reg Worthing’s locally registered 1915 Model-T Ford tourer, the Auto Palace’s 1925 Austin 12 Windsor saloon (when will they replate its radiator and get rid of those brass sidelamps?), a red Type 40 Bugatti which was made the object of motoring big-headedness by the programme telling us that it is “the record-holder at Prescott,” which the commentator repeated(!), a 1928 Morris-Oxford two-seater with trunk up behind, a nice Brecon-registered 1925 aluminium-bonneted 3-litre Bentley, Seymour Price’s unfinished Austin 7 and the Editorial 1924 Calthorpe, which was very surprised to find that it had become a “Champion” (award winner) overnight ….
The Post-Vintage class was dominated by a splendid 8-litre Bentley saloon, said to be an ex-Bentley Motors’ demonstration car, a neat 1932 Morris 8 side-valve coupe, a very presentable 1932 Singer Nine saloon, David Filsell’s Austin Ruby, notably clean Austin 10/4 and Cambridge saloons, a 1955 Daimler Conquest Century dh coupe with power-operated hood, these exhibits being supplemented by a good array of old motorcycles. A large crowd watched the Parade round the Show ring, after which the Ford’s 65-year-old radiator boiled and the big Fiat, which had covered some 900 miles the previous week-end, shed a rear wheel-rim.-WB.