Vintage Prescott

Sunday, August 3rd

In contrast to the last three years, the VSCC’s annual pilgrimage to the Cotswolds for their Prescott Hillclimb was blessed with good weather, resulting in some fine climbs and a number of new records for the short course. The very full entry list encompassed cars from 1903 to 1939 (or 1957 if one includes the solitary post-war competitor) from 747 cc to nearly 13-litres and was divided into ten classes, four for sports-cars, four for racing-cars, one for pre-1919 cars and one for post-war historics.

Proceedings started with the sports cars, beginning with the under 1,100 cc class, where Martin Eyre managed to break the record, set in 1971 by Jack French, by 0.2 sec to win the class from Brian Weeks’ Aero Morgan, which appeared to be none the worse for a roll at Oulton Park earlier in the season. Tony Jones had the vintage section of the 1,500 cc class sewn-up with his Frazer Nash “Patience”, with a personal best time of 50.7 sec, but this was not enough to break the record set by John Grice in 1957. John Murch was running a very pretty 1921 Anzani engined AC tourer, and Wolf Zeuner drove his Type 37 Bugatti, suitably road equippped for this occasion. Roger Howard, whose Type 37A lacked the mandatory headlamps, found himself transferred to the racing class, leaving the field open to Tom Threlfall’s Lancia to secure best vintage time among the up to three litre cars, the class being won overall by Chris Jones’ very effective Riley special.

Alfa Romeos should have dominated the unlimited capacity class, but Bruce Spollon managed to squeeze his 41/4 Bentley special into second place between the Alfas of Rodney Felton and Keith Duly. A free weekend in the HilIclimb Championship enabled Joy Rainey to take the wheel of her father’s supercharged 8c 2.6-litre Alfa Romeo, while Rainey senior took a turn with Joy’s six-cylinder car, to record a faster time. The vintage section of this class went to “Rusty” Russ-Turner with his two-seater “blower” Bentley.

The Edwardian Class was magnificent. Nigel Arnold-Foster at last had dry conditions and smashed the class record: it had long been realised that his 5-litre Bugatti should be able to better the time set by Sam Clutton with the Itala in 1973, but poor weather at this meeting over the past few years had prevented this achievement. Nick Ridley brought the 1905 Gordon Bennett Star to make its debut in VSCC competition and made a fine showing, although the gearing on this 10-litre car is totally unsuitable for Prescott, and it was quite painful to watch Nick coaxing the giant away from the line. In contrast, the other two over 10-litre cars, Sam Glutton and the 1908 Itala and John Walker with his 1908 Panhard romped away, rear tyres smoking. Roger Collings was at the wheel of John Rowley’s TT Schneider, thus releasing his well known 1903 Mercedes 60 for his son, Craig, to drive, while daughter, Mandy, had the 1913 Ziist Tourer with which to make her first competitive appearance, having passed her driving test only a couple of months previously. Michael Ware won the handicap section of the class with the National Motor Museum’s Coupe de l’Auto Sunbeam. To end the class, making brave attempts in the face of their multi-listed brethren, were two Edwardian Light Cars — a De Dion of 1911 driven by John Harrison and Richard Penman’s 1911 Super, a weird fore-and-aft two seater, driven by apparently very floppy side belts.

And so to the racing cars where Brian Gray’s Hardy Special just managed to keep ahead of Chris Damson’s Lightweight Special in the small capacity class, but was not up to record breaking form following an engine disaster earlier in the season. Bill Morris reduced the record in the 1,500 cc class by 0.4 sec with ERA “Hanuman.”, after making quite the most impressive start of the day. Competition in the large capacity class was very hot, Hamish Moffatt breaking the existing Vintage record by a whisker on his first run in his Type 35B Bugatti, only to have Ron Footitt with the Cognac Special reduce this time by half a second later in the afternoon to win the class.

There was but one competitor in the post-war Historic Racing Car Class — Martyn Chapman with the Monza Lister Jaguar although another post-war car had been entered. With no competition Martyn had no trouble in achieving the fastest time of the day. It is a great pity that the post-war fraternity have lost interest in Prescott — a few years ago, the competition in this class was extremely interesting, and provided some spectacular climbs. — PHJW.

V-E-V Odds and ends.

Another issue of the Armstrong Siddeley OC’s magazine Sphinx has appeared. It carries a splendid photograph of a big Armstrong Siddeley tourer, almost certainly a 30 hp taken before 1925 and showing a chauffeur behind the wheel. American tourists in the back and an untidily furled hood, the car being used by Harrods for their hire-service. The National Automobielmuseum Leidschendam, remembering that when the Chevalier Rene de Kos wanted a lightweight sporting car around 1912 he ordered a body from Jean Henn Labourdette, the result being the skiff styling, the first such body being of mahogany without doors and with sweeping mudguards, decided in the 1970s to construct a replica of this body on a 1912 Panhard et Levassor chassis they had in store. M Labourdette, who had made other skiff-stype bodies, was then still alive, he died in 1972 aged 84, and encouraged the idea. The body has since been completed and the Museum refers to it as the Skiff Labourdette II. It follows the original of such bodies and is red-brown with green leather upholstery and black bonnet and wings. The Museum is reopening at Raamsdonksveer in 1981, where this Panhard with the replica body will be on show. A 1936 Talbot Corsica-bodied tourer has completed a 3,500-mile round trip, in the hands of its owner D Lambert, in aid of the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Fund, which benefited to the tune of £2,000. The car was driven from Bergen to Alta Fjord and back through Finland. Sweden and Norway. The only trouble being a blocked carburetter from scale dislodged from the petrol tank. The Roesch Talbot gave 24 mpg over the strenuous 15 days’ journey. The present Talbot Company provided a modern Talbot Horizon as an unneeded tender car. An article about life-long family ownership of Jowett cars, commencing with a 1923 model by the late Rev Howard Bell, appears in the Jowett CC’s Newsletter for last June and the Amilcar Register is publishing the Amilcar reminiscences of Harold Powell in its Newsletter.

The National Traction Engine Club’s beautifully-produced journal Steaming continues to publish articles of historical interest to steam-minded persons and lists of approved traction-engine rallies, the former including, in the current issue, the first part of the Club’s Silver Jubile Lecture on “John Fowler and the Company he Founded”. The Secretary is GR Beck, 127 Greensted Road, Loughton, Essex, IG10 3DJ. Vauxhall Motors tested their 1909 Vauxhall with a fifth-wheel at MIRA before the recent VCC Jubilee Rally. Shoreham Airport had a 70th anniversary air-display in July, which prompted The West Sussex Gazette to publish some nostalgic 1930’s photographs of aviation there. The airfield apparently dates back to the day in 1910 when Harold Piffard. a Lancing College boy, made a short hop that July on his home-built biplane in the meadows below the College, on the west side of the river Adur, winning a bet he had with the landlord of the “Sussex Pad”. The new Shoreham Airport was founded in June, 1936. Among the vintage aeroplanes performing at this year’s display was a Robinson Redwing, said to be featured in a forthcoming TV serial.

The class winners in the Riley Register Coventry Rally were J Guest’s 1929 Monaco, J Holder’s 1933 Lynx, D Davidson’s 1933 Merlin, I Hall’s 1936 Sprite and P Reed’s 1935 Special in the Concours d’Elegance, while the Clifford Stanley class was won by Barbara and Leslie Davis’ 1932 Ascot and the Burville Trophy most original car, went to D Daly’s 1937 Lynx-Sprite, the Muller Trophy (best novice) to J Holder’s 1933 Lynx, the Gibson Trophy best Monaco (not in Concours) to G Revell’s 1932 car, the Theobald Trophy to GM Cole’s 1929 tourer and the RM Trophy to R Hanson’s 1935 11/2-litre. The driving tests were won by M Dyekieff’s 1932 Monaco and best lady was Mrs Irwin 1933 Monaco. The MG CC has issued its 1980 Triple-M Register Year Book; details from I Davidson, 1 Hawthorn Cottage. Orchards, Munstead Heath, Godalming, Surrey. Derek Stoneham has been appointed PR to Montagu Ventures Ltd which embraces the NMM and last year had over 700,000 visitors and an annual turnover of some 3 million. A 1916 Peerless lorry is being restored in Cornwall, after being buried in sand for 28 years. What sounds like a small side-valve vintage Renault engine once used to drive farm machinery, cooled by a Talbot-Darracq radiator, was for sale in Hampshire. The Singer Owner for June, official magazine of the Singer CC, had a reprint of an article by the late Tommy Wisdom about Singers in the 1934 Le Mans race. Eighteen Railtons lined up at the Railton OC National Rally, 14 of which were open or convertible cars. — WB.

Was it a Vauxhall

The revival of the TV series about the abdication of His Majesty King Edward VIII in 1936, has reminded me to ask if anyone knows whether the Producer was right on the ball in having the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin. driven to Fort Belvedere to meet His Majesty lig Rang in a Vauxhall, which looks like a twelve or fourteen saloon. I recall that in his memoires inn Duke of Windsor refered to Baldwin arriving in an ugly little black motor-car, or words to that effect. Ever since I have wondered whether anyone could tell us its make. The newsreels should confirm it and maybe the Producer of the abdication film noted them, and Baldwin’s car was in fact a small Vauxhall? — WB.