V-to-C Miscellany, September 1986

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A reader, James Stewart of Norwich, has sent us a copy of The Scots Magazine for last May in which there is a colour-illustrated article about the 1913 Sunbeam which was bought for his only son by Lawrie Johnstone of Gelston Castle, Kirkcudbrightshire, the car being first registered on November 12th 1913. When war broke out the young Frederick Johnstone, who had been an Officer in the Eton OTC, volunteered for Service and went to Sandhurst after which he served on the Western Front, winning the MC, but died in 1916 of wounds received at High Wood, having attained the rank of Captain. For a time his bereaved father drove the Sunbeam, but after an accident his wife decided that the car must be destroyed. They tried to burn it but eventually it was buried by estate workers at Drumpark House near lrongrey, where the parents were now living, parts of it being smashed with sledgehammers.

There the Sunbeam lay until it was uncovered by a market gardener in 1971 and later turned into a replica of a 1912 Sunbeam Coupe de L’Auto racing car, from the remains of the original, which had been bought for £15. The story of the rebuild is told in the article. The car was ready for use in vintage events by 1974 but its owner died young and the Sunbeam is now in the Doube Motor Museum, still bearing its 1913 Reg. No SW 258. There is a picture in the magazine of it outside Drumpark House after the rebuild, but that mansion has since been demolished and Gelston Castle, where the car was delivered in 1913, is now a ruin, a reminder of how time passes on. 

In the same magazine is a photograph of the first motor-bus to run between Aberdeen and Newburgh, which looks like a Milnes-Daimler, Reg. No SA 614, circa 1910, which reminds us that in the recently-referred-to book “R.A.F. Kenley” by Peter Flint, there is a picture of a solid-tyred char-a-banc, probably a Daimler, in which 32 occupants, apart from the driver, were taken for an outing from Kenley aerodrome in September 1922.  

Astonishing how varied is today’s motoring sport, on an afternoon when the British GP was being contested at Brands Hatch, we were enjoying a quiet tea-party for twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeams in Buckinghamshire, which involved the latest Ford Sierra SR 4×4 with anti-locking ABS braking in an easy 325 miles rnotoring, and on the way back, going into the Cotswolds, we encountered many immaculate Morgans returning from the Golden Jubilee events for the four-wheelers from Malvern. The Bugatti OC has its Garden Party and Concours d’Elegance at Prescoft on August 10th and on August 23rd/24th a Bugatti weekend linked to the VSCC Cadwell Park Race Meeting near Louth, Lincolnshire, where the Williams Trophy Race, in which Alfa Romeos and other two-seater GP cars will again do battle with the Bugattis, takes place two days after this issue of Motor Sport  is on the bookstalls. T.AS.O. Mathieson is their Guest of Honour at the preceeding dinner at Woodhall Spa. Apart from the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of four-wheeled Morgans, which brought owners from as far afield as Hong Kong and America for a rally at Malvern at which Peter Morgan addressed many visitors in their own language, concluding with “Guten Morgan”, the three-wheelers were invited to join in. Which reminds us that Gerry Carr was there with his 1937 Model-F Morgan which he has owned from new, his firm having remembered this when he wasgiven a silver model of the car, correct even to the DLX 651 number-plates.

The summer issue of The Morris Register Journal contains a report of this Club’s own Brighton Run, advice on overhauling Morris back-axles on pre 1941 cars, etc, and from it we learn that among newly enrolled cars are a lady owner’s rare 1933 Isis saloon that had been laid up since 1939, another 1931 £100 two-seater Minor, and a 1939 CV1,30 Morris Commercial ambulance, last survivor of nearly 100 of these vehicles used by the Middlesex Ambulance Service, but all withdrawn between 1956/1964, which an ambulance driver is restoring. The magazine also continues its “Family Album” of old photographs of Morris cars used in contemporary times, and no doubt editor Harry Edwards will be glad to receive contributions, his task, however, made easier because, with Austin. the Morris was the typical British car of the later pre-war years. We hear that, 50 years ago to the day, when Sydney Allard made his attempt, a member of the Allard OC is intending to storm Ben Nevis, on August 24th, with one or more Allards, supported by a number of different modern 4WD vehicles. — W.B.

***

VSCC Fixtures:

Two days after this issue is on the bookstalls the Cadwell Park race meeting happens, with Motor Sport Trophy points awarded  to pre-war cars, 18 for a win, 13 for a 2nd place, 8 for a 3rd place, the revised scoring at present being: Nick Mason (Bugatti), 65;  Ms. Ricketts (Riley), 44 pts; Jaye (Attenborough), 36 pts; Fry (Radon), 34 pts; Venables (MG), Black and Felton (Alfa Romeo), 31 pts each, etc. The final round will be at Donington on September 21st when the Shuttleworth & Nuffield Trophies Meeting takes place, with many supporting races to watch and a chance to look at the best Racing-Car Museum in the World. Racing starts at about 1.30 pm, admission £5 per adult, paddock transfer £1, but children under 15 free. – W.B. 

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