Mystery Car!

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The pictures on this page were sent to us by the Head Librarian of the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, in the hope that someone can tell him more about them. The heading picture was taken outside the garage in Beaminster, Dorset, run by Albert and Cecil (Tommy) Hann, so the Derby registrations of all three vehicles are a mystery. I believe the Hann brothers were builders who later set up in the motor business, so perhaps this little cavalcade has something to do with this. The Pratts Perfection Spirit, Vacuum Motor Oils and Avon Tyres signs in the background date the photograph as pre-1914 or the early 1920s. The leading car is thought to be a Flanders, the one behind it a Motobloc, and the ‘bus is probably a Wolseley-Siddeley. Incidentally, this garage still exists, as Malcolm Cheyne’s body-repair and paint-shop, and is not much changed. One of the kerbside petrol pumps was only recently dismantled and the pipe carrying fuel to it from the garage can still be seen on the wall of the yard in which the car depicted below was photographed 60 years ago.

This is the mystery car! Tommy Hann was one of the more picturesque of the Brooklands drivers and, apart from the odd cars he raced there, he was known to have constructed a number of Hann Specials, see Motor Sport, Vol. LVI, pages 321/2. This would seem to be one of them. It bears the name “Hanna” on its bonnet. which would apply to a 35 hp car built by Hann in 1918. Careful study of the second car in the heading picture suggests that this may have formed the basis for the bizarre sports-model. A visit earlier this year to Beaminster failed to elicit any further information and if anyone can help I would be very interested. Hann, of course, raced three unusual cars at Brooklands from 1922 onwards, as described in some detail in my ‘History of the Track’, and I understand that the last one, a supercharged Mercedes with a cistern-like petrol tank, was broken up soon after Hann’s death, circa 1934.

Another interesting photograph in the archives of the NMM shows a 2-litre Marlborough Grand Sports outside this Beaminster garage. Hann became associated with this rare sports car when he occupied the André sheds at Brooklands, around 1923/4. I had long wondered whether more than one of these 75 mph cars, with its six-cylinder Coventry-Climax engine, was ever built, and whether it ever went outside the confines of the Track, apart from the solitary chassis that got to Olympia in 1924. But now there is evidence that at least one, registered in Essex, was driven as far as Beaminster, perhaps used by Hann for commuting between his brother’s garage and Brooklands? — WB.