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The lady you see smiling from the seat of her car is Violette Cordery – or Violet for short. The car is a 1926 Invicta and it was this marque with which she was closely associated. Her eldest sister, Lucy, was married to Noel Macklin who founded The Invicta Motor Co. After Macklin was wounded in WW1 he employed Violet as his driver and that started a long and successful period of motor sport for our venturesome flapper where she set records behind the wheel of Invictas. In 1920, she entered the South Harting Hill Climb driving a Silver Hawk built by Macklin and it is thought she used this car to win the 1921 Junior Car Club race averaging 49.7 mph. This picture shows her at Brooklands in a GN in the early 1920s where she also raced an Eric Campbell.
In 1926, one year after the launch of the Invicta brand, Cordery led a team of six drivers around Italy's Monza circuit for 10,000 miles at an average speed of 56.47mph. The crew drove a 3-litre Invicta to that record before taking the 15,000 mile record at an average speed of 55.76mph. Later that year, the same car saw Cordery granted the nickname 'The Long Distance Lady' after she piloted it round the Montlhéry track for 5,000 miles averaging 70.7mph in a record attempt supervised by the RAC. In honour of her record-breaking attempts, Violet Cordery became the first female beneficiary of the RAC's Dewar Trophy, which celebrated the highest motoring achievement of the year.
More impressive still, in 1927 Cordery - accompanied by a mechanic, a nurse, and an RAC observer - drove around the world. The team covered 10,266 miles in five months, travelling at an average speed of 24.6mph through Europe, Africa, India, Australia, the United States, and Canada. After their return, Macklin enlarged the engine to 4.5 litres and Cordery embarked on a record breaking attempt at Brooklands. She and her sister Evelyn covered 30,000 miles in 30,000 minutes at an average of 61.57mph (earning her a second Dewar Trophy). Not satisfied with her list of records, Cordery tested her Invictas to near destruction, highlighting their build quality in the process. By 1930, she had driven a 4.5-litre Invicta tourer from London to Monte Carlo and back, at an average speed of 25.6mph. Oh, and she was in third gear all the way. Next up was London to John O'Groats and back in second gear, completed at an average 19.8mph. Finally, Cordery drove her Invicta from London to Edinburgh and back, stuck in first gear, at an average 12.5mph.
Only the circuit officials were able to stop Violet from attempting 25 miles of Brooklands in reverse, as they thought it would be too tough on the car. Instead, she proved the car's worth by completing fifty laps of the RAC's Traffic Route in top gear, at an average speed of 11.9mph. In 1931 Violet married John Stuart Hindmarsh, a racing driver and aviator. They had two daughters, of whom Susan married racing driver Roy Salvadori. Hindmarsh won Le Mans in 1935 and Salvadori won in 1959.
(Text Robin Batchelor, picture courtesy flashbak.com)
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With The Automobile's event exclusively for unrestored cars, the Oily Rag Run, drawing ever nearer, it seems like the perfect time to take a closer look at a truly Oily Rag conservation story. This rare 1935 Ford 22hp coupé was found by owner David Acon in 2012 in the USA. Discovering it was originally an English-market car, he bought the Ford and had it shipped back home. Instead of embarking on a full restoration, he had the mechanical parts rebuilt and renewed, including a full engine rebuild, and carefully conserved the paintwork and interior in their original state.
As expected, there are some age-related scuffs and the moth has been at the seats, but overall the condition is amazingly good. David discovered why when researching the car's history: owned from new by a doctor who died in 1940, the Ford was put into storage by his widow, where it remained until 1962. After the engine was damaged in the harsh winter of 1962-63, it was again taken off the road, where it remained until 2012, meaning this rare survivor has spent more of its life off the road than on it. Read the full story of its discovery and renovation in the latest issue of The Automobile, which is out now.
(photographs by Tom Pilston)
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