Veteran to classic miscellany (I), September 1991

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A reader has sent us some early Duryea literature provided by a cousin in America who after owning a Model-T Ford for 17 years bought a new Ford V8 in 1940, and who had known Charles E Duryea. A postcard reveals that the Duryea which won the Chicago race of 1895 (our Brighton Emancipation Run is also referred to as a “race”) was paraded daily thereafter by Barnum & Bailey’s circus. The Duryea Gem was a three-wheeler with wheel-steering to the single front wheel, a rear-mounted vee-twin 10 hp motorcycle engine and friction-drive by rollers from the crankshaft extension. The brakes were of locomotive or trolley-car type, with steel-grooved pulleys which were forced against steel rims on the wheels, claimed never to burn out. The Gem’s price was 525 dollars, 35 to 40 mph and up to 60 mpg were claimed, weight was 525 lb, and the colour was battleship grey, trimmed in black and heavily varnished — just in case anyone is restoring a Duryea Gem. — WB

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The Club magazines we receive continue to be of special interest. Thus, The LeaFlet for June, organ of the Lea-Francis Club, edited by AH Lupton, who himself runs a car of the right make, had an account by Sir Richard Gaskell about the three Lea-Francis cars and a Unihorse he has owned, discussions about lamps-dipping, needed so much less in vintage days than now, and reports of how the Lea-Francis marque fared in recent VSCC events, etc.

The June issue of The Lagonda, edited by Ken Painter, was remarkable for having a list of every time made by a Lagonda up Prescott at the annual VSCC Meeting (due again this year, on August 4th) from 1947 when one of these cars competed for the first time, to last year. From this 4-1/4 page abundance of figures it transpires that fastest time of all belongs to J Abson (1-1/2-litre Rapier) which in 1970 did 48.16 sec. Best 4-1/2-litre is LG Macdonald’s (52.78 sec), quickest V12 time by Stanley Mann in the Le Mans Replica made from the prototype saloon (54.73 sec). Of the 2-litres, M Leo’s blown Lagonda scores, in 55.62 sec, best by an unblown car being 62.96 sec by Elliott’s low-chassis model, best 16/80 time being 62.07 sec by R Sage. It is curious how most of these times have not been improved upon for many years. That should get the drivers of the Staines cars going this month! — WB

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If you feel like doing some good with your vintage or sports cars for childrens’ charities, the club to contact is the “Sporting Bears” MC, PO Box 259, Sawston, Cambridge, CN2 4JP. — WB

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