The appeal of vintage racing was endorsed on August 4th, when, in spite of torrential rain almost all day at the Prescott speed hillclimb, spectators turned up in their usual numbers. As well they might, for there were some very interesting cars running, out of 150 entries. Pride of place went to the Type 53 4.9-litre 4WD Bugatti which a delighted Uwe Hucke had managed to bring to England, after some help by the VSCC to overcome the objection France has for even temporary export of her historic cars. So here was this unique car in this country again for the first time since Jean Bugatti crashed it in practice at Shelsley Walsh in 1932. Barry Price made a grand task of driving it, on the wet course, where there was no doubt at all of its superior acceleration over other cars afforded by 4WD stability, as it left the start with all wheels spinning. To his credit, Barry managed second-in-class (52.57 sec) in this unusual 300 bhp car, in spite of taking things easily and the big tachometer (with warnings from 4,500 to 6,000 rpm) not functioning. (In fact, one would expect the engine to peak at about 4,000 rpm.)
Another interesting car was the 1929 white lhd 38/250 hp SSK Mercedes-Benz of Berthold Ruckwarth from Germany. He found conditions difficult, raising an arm in disgust as the wheels spun in the wet, the engine making its own protest with a puff of black exhaust smoke, but he had the blower howling between the corners, and was third in his class (56.9 sec). Then instead of the customary big Bentley, Tiin Llewellyn produced a splendid special, said to have cost £750 to build, its 1929 Austin chassis having a flat transverse spring well below the tubular front axle, and a manifold carrying two SU carburetters, and a Scintilla Vertex magneto, protruding from the slim bonnet that conceals a 3½-litre Model A Ford engine. The bevel-box is in the cockpit, scarcely ahead of the seat, and final drive is by exposed side chains. Time=56.9 sec. Then P. R. Wigglesworth, who has remote connections with the person of that name who was in Count Zborowski’s wild “Chitty-Bang-Bang” team years ago, had the blown MG Magnette-powered Richard Bolster GN Special out again for the first time since before the war, using slim-section twin rear tyres and clocking 57.91 sec.
Under the very difficult conditions it was left to Bruce Spollon in ERA RSC to make FTD, in 48.41 sec, Guy Smith’s 3½-litre Alvis-Frazer Nash being just 0.03 sec slower. In the sports-car category the class- winners were: Lee’s fabric-bodied Salmson (58.2 sec), Stretton’s Frazer Nash Super Sports (55.22 sec), Rogers’ Frazer Nash-AC (54.57 sec), and Parker’s Bentley Special with P3 R-R power (57.07 sec on its only run), all these also winning the vintage sections, except in the last class, where this went to Walker in the 3¼-litre Ford-GN, in 53.45 sec. Eight Edwardians and Collings’ irrepressible 1903 Mercedes 60 did battle in their own class, badly hampered by the rain, with Walker’s 1908 GP Panhard- Levassor just beating Clutton in the 1908 GP Itala (59.59 sec to 60.75 sec) and the Mercedes, its ignition now by coil, clocking a magnificent 61.14 sec Harrison had driven the 1907 35/45 hp Renault some 120 miles to the course, to clock 73. 97 sec and Hickling’s Dodge Four managed 72.11 sec, Blake’s imposing Lancia Theta two-seater 74.66 sec, but the winner, on handicap, was Sally Collings in the 1912/13 4.7-litre Brixia-Zust.
In the racing-car classes the winners were: Gray, driving the demanding Hardy Special with skill (51.67 sec), vintage, Eyre’s Rolt- Ulster A7 (55.01 sec); Summers’ neat MG KN (48.68 sec), vintage, S. J. Smith’s Frazer Nash Super Sports (51.61 sec); Spollon’s ERA (48.4lsec), vintage, Footitt’s AC/GN (48.68 sec) and Guy Smith in his Alvis-Frazer Nash (48.44 sec), vintage, Threlfall (McDowell-Ford) in 52.72 sec. But all credit to Bruce Spollon for making FTD in the motor-boating conditions. Other attractions were Tony Brooke lending the Vauxhall-Villiers to Ghosh, who was beaten by 0.89s, by Templeton’s replica TT Vauxhall, two 3-wheeler Morgans taking vintage seconds, Enticknap’s Super Aero in 57.24 sec, Caroline’s racer in 54.17 sec, while Felton’s 1½-litre Maserati was 0.66 sec quicker than Stephens’ ERA R12C (52.85 sec).
The marshals did very well to run off this very wet day’s sport between 11.30 am and 5.45 pm, after which the star-of-meeting, the 4WD Bugatti, left on its very ingenious Citroen CX six-wheeled transporter.-W .B.