miscellany, September 1997

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Last month I commended F P Morley for his Colerne class win with the Bentley-Napier, representing the renaissance of the aero-engined movement. Morley then won his race at VSCC Donington, where Frank Lockhart, in his 70s, made fastest lap in his race in the repainted Rover Special. At VSCC Silverstone Morley was fourth in the exciting race for pre-1941 Bentleys, won so convincingly by Ben Collings from Bob Burrell and Tim Llewellyn. The BentleyNapier, however, made fastest lap, at 79.37mph. When I said Coleme happens only once a year I was thinking of the VSCC event; the Bristol clubs are also allowed to sprint there.

The June issue of the Jowett CC’sJowetteer ran an interesting piece by Cyril Wirtstanley, about his time with ERA Ltd from 1949 onwards, when the company was owned by Leslie Johnson, and Prof Dr Eberan von Eberhorst of racing Auto-Union fame was among the interesting characters working there on the Jupiter and G-type ERA chassis — with notably unscientific stress calculations, before the Professor left to join Aston Martin.

The standard register’s rally in August reminded me that I took part in one of these Standard Register events with a 1929 Teignmouth fabric saloon which I had bought in 1960. Jenks came with me to collect it, in a snowstorm, and insisted we go home via Birdlip hill. In those days one did not always complete a car’s paperwork before acquiring it, and I was not anxious to attract attention until this was done. On the famous hill gents in city suits were trying to get stranded modems to make the slippery climb, but on a steady throttle the old Standard sailed up. I used it for a few VSCC frolics, but the brakes and back axle were never the same afterwards. Has CH 8516 survived, I wonder?

Sir Terrence Conran has opened the Bluebird Gastrodome in the King’s Road, Chelsea, socalled as it is on the site of the garage associated with Sir Malcolm Campbell’s LSR cars in the ’20s and ’30s. Among the 400 guests at the opening lunch were the Earl and Countess of March and Lord Montagu with his daughter, the Hon Mary Montagu.

Blue Diamond services of Langport, Somerset, are restoring the Stafford Special for Peter Colbome-Baber, whose father introduced me to the qualities of the VW Beetle. The car was built in 1938 by Rodney Stafford, using a supercharged 1.5-litre 4ED Meadows engine, a homebrewed chassis and Marendaz Special axles.

Later R R Jackson breathed more poke into it, and a Rover front axle with large Riley brakes was substituted. It was raced at Lewes and Brooklands, etc, before John Grice installed a 3.5-litre Hotchkiss power-unit. It will be nice to see it out again in its original builder’s concept.

The Railton OC is compiling a census of known Railtons, the list to date covering c800 out of a production run of about 1470. Nigel Plane, Editor of the Club’s Bulletin, asks anyone who can to help with information on cars they have owned or broken, details of coachwork, Reg No, colour, where car was last known, notes of garages known to have sold Railtons, coachbuilders’ records, etc. Mr Plane’s address is: Willowhurst, Nursery Lane, Spurstow, Tarporley, Cheshire CW6 9TF.