Miscellany, September 2003

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I am pleased to hear that the ex-Demaus Arab, which I drove many years ago, is now in the good hands of Mr JD Bolton, re-registered in the IoM as MN 7903. After a passage through some auction houses it is now used regularly, after new clutch springs and replacement of the exhaust manifold, which gave out spectacularly while chasing a 30/98 Vauxhall at Jurby aerodrome. It keeps company with Mr Bolton’s Railton Fairmile II and his 1929 Brooklands-type Riley, WD 3648, the Arab having been purchased in 1992, the Riley in 1999, all three cars having Reid Railton associations. The Riley is now in good order. It is thought to have been raced in the 1950s/1960s by Geoffrey McArdie, with a new body after wartime damage; it was red then but later blue. It has lengthened valves, necessitating offset rocker boxes. The first registered owner was a MR WL Morgan of Rugby in ’32. Mr Bolton would like to know what it did between ’29 and ’32.

* * *

After the Silverstone course invasion, as well as discussing changes in the technical aspects of F1 cars, it would seem to me very important that penetrating pedestrian-warning horns be compulsory on GP cars.

* * *

Vintage and older motorcycles have their place alongside the cars and are well catered for by the Vintage Motor Cycle Club and the Sunbeam MCC. So it seems permissable to ask a question on behalf of someone who last year bought a 1914/15 vee-twin Campion motorcycle which was complete in 1969 when owned by Jack Williams, but is now minus engine, gearbox, petrol tank, etc. The present owner would like to know of previous owners, and sources of spares.

* * *

Some time ago I mentioned those clockwork P2 Alfa Romeos which were rather expensive at 35/- when current, and which must now be quite rare. I have since found a photograph of six of Donald Campbell’s friends at his school forming a triumphal arch for him after Malcolm Campbell had raised the LSR to 206.95mph at Daytona with the Napier ‘Bluebird’ in 1928. Two of the boys are holding tinplate ‘Bluebirds’ and Donald has his, but four of the cars are those covetable Alfas. So an affluent school, apparently! These P2 miniatures had race number 2 on them. Why, I wonder? Presumably to recall Campari’s Alfa victory over Delage in the 1924 French GP at Lyon.

* * *

The Bugatti Trust, founded by the late Hugh Conway in 1987, has developed considerably since then, preserving and making available for study all aspects of the Bugatti family. Situated at Prescott, the Bugatti OC’s hillclimb near Cheltenham, the museum contains not only a wealth of Bugatti car engineering and drawings, but examples of furniture and pottery, etc., by Ettore’s son Carlo and sculpture by his brother Rembrandt. Admission is free, 10.30-15.30 Monday to Friday. The curator is Robert Day, the Secretary Mrs Julie Bate (tel: 01242 677201).

* * *

Robin Smith tells me that after 48 years and 4500 hours restoration he has been able to drive again the ex-Bryan Burton/Dan Margulies Talbot 105 they drove in VSCC events.

* * *

In 1949 Bruce Spollon advertised for sale in Motor Sport the ex-Paul Joseph 30/98 Vauxhall. His girlfriend was in the advert wearing a sweater on which she had embroidered the names of racing cars Bruce had driven, with that of the Triangle Special across her chest, as he was racing this car at the time. The 30/98 has now been reacquired by the Spollons and, 54 years later, Bruce’s wife June still has the same sweater. Lady and car are reported as not much changed since the well-known VSCC driver first bought the Vauxhall.

* * *

At the time when our VSCC was created, in 1934, it seemed that the enthusiasm for older cars was peculiarly British. Since then enthusiasm for vintage and historic cars has spread right across the world. This blinding glimpse of the obvious is an excuse to record how, for instance, the VSCC of Australia operates very much as does our own VSCC. It has its monthly magazine, and its events resemble ours, with racing, speed events and trials, over distances which seem long to us. The Club is mourning its founder, Lyndon Duckett, whose cars ranged from an Austin 7 to the 1909 Semmering 18-litre hillclimb Mercedes. In case you are emigrating, or want the VSCC of A’s magazine, the membership secretary is Tony Donnan, 12 Beauville Avenue, Murrumbeena 3163, Australia. The Club’s story is told in the book Racers and Rascals, from Rod Amos (e-mail: [email protected]).