V-to-C Miscellany, September 1995, September 1995

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Another reader, seeing my article on the Ford V8, wrote from Gibraltar to say that in 1958 he was told of an Armstrong Siddeley Sportsman’s coupe that was for sale in Hove. (The tip-off came from James Boothby of JBM Motors, which may spark off more memories.) Investigation showed that someone had installed a “32-stud” V8 Mercury engine in this rather pretty car, the 3-speed Ford gearbox linked crudely to the AS open prop-shaft. Normally, of course, the Ford’s output-shaft had the torque-tube bearing to support it, but it had been connected to the AS’s Hardy-Spicer universal-joint without this support.

The solution was to obtain another Ford gearbox from a truck and fit it, quite a good move, says our correspondent, because he then had a higher ratio third gear in the 4-speed box than that of second gear in the old box: but the noise from the straight-tooth gears was very vintage… This car, which had cost £80, gave much fun. I wonder what became of it?

Sadly, it seems certain that the original Lotus factory and offices in Tottenham Lane, Hornsey, in North London will be demolished unless the rescue move being set up by Club Lotus and other Lotus Groups comes to anything. They have appealed to the owners, Harcross Timber & Building Supplies Ltd, to save these historic premises, where Colin and Hazel Chapman founded Lotus Engineering Ltd in 1952, where Graham Hill worked, and where many famous Lotus racing and sports cars were built. It was here that so many renowned racing personalities met, to launch the racing programme that resulted in worldwide British prestige at so many important circuits. In 1992 Club Lotus erected a commemorative plaque on the wall of the building.

Anyone who can assist in the factory’s preservation, perhaps to be sold for a small Lotus Museum should contact Graham Arnold at Club Lotus, on 01362 69144.

Motor Panel’s Coventry Shakespeare Run will start from Coombe Abbey at 10am and return there by 2pm on September 3. The hand-out suggests that this may be the greatest motoring event in the Midlands, with over 400 V-to-C entries, that 1000 Jaguars are expected to turn up, that the Lanchester OC’s Centenary event will join in, that Coventry-built vehicles will gather round Lady Godiva’s statue, and that you will be able to inspect the new MG-F and Jaguar X1220 and take photographs as the run goes from the Council House, with the Lord Mayor in attendance to Broadgate. You have been warned…

Remembering the time when number plates could be transferred from one car to another by paying a small fee to the licensing authorities, it is an astonishing fact that the DVLA is holding an auction sale of 699 previously unissued numbers in Bath on September 18/19. More so as it expects bids to start at £1000 and rise to some £3900 for “6 DD”, for instance. Even a catalogue costs £7. I would prefer to save my money and remain automotively anonymous… The NMM announces that it has at last obtained sponsorship, from Turner & Newall, and will therefore now proceed with its Period Garage exhibit, for which bits and bobs have been collected from derelict garages for some time. Other NMM announcements are that it is to receive sponsorship from Scania for the extension of its ‘bus and coach element, that the 1906 20/30hp Renault, which was Lord Montagu’s first purchase for his museum venture, has been sold at a Christie’s auction, as it duplicates the smaller Renault left to the NMM in a will, and that the 1895 Knight which has been on display at Beaulieu but is owned by the Science Museum is now to be shown at Farnham’s Lion and Lamb Yard, at the Farnham Herald’s premises, (this being the town where this earliest of British motor vehicles was made) for two months hence. Speakers at the NMM “Friend’s” evening will be K McAlpine and Tony Brooks on October 14, Raymond Baxter and Gordon Wilkins on October 28. Admission costs £5.

The 30th National Rally of the Austin 10/4 Club in the Cotswolds last July had over 200 entries. Rare Austins were a 1937 12hp Tickford coupe, a 1934 12/6 Kempton sports saloon and the sports Twenty of lohn Pearce. The 10/4s were naturally out in force, the 1932 model that started this Club included, backed up by two Twenty tourers and a imposing 20/6 fabric saloon. The Oxford UMDC and the HRCR will run the 24th Targa Rusticana on September 2/3, as a typical Welsh rally for Classic and Historic cars. It will be based on the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells, and will take in Epynt and the Royal Welsh Showground at Builth Wells on a notably scenic route, of 180 miles day/night, plus tests. Details from Paul and Sonia Chavasse, 70 High Street, Milton, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4E1. Tel 01235 832140, or 0171 374 3060. Marshalls needed. W B

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