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The Magazine

Charleston commuter


Chris Leigh-Jones reports from wonderful historic Charleston. Would you know of any better place in the US to use a french vintage car? Chris wrote: "In the past I did the 2 hour daily commute from Littlehampton into London. Luckily my wife convinced me to emigrate and now the commute takes only 22 minutes in the rush hour of Charleston, South Carolina. I drive the Bug perhaps 20 times a year. It has to be a time when it's not going to rain, rain here is torrential but failing that the weather is beautiful most of the year, the commute is 12 miles. If you have a truck behind you then bet to go faster, they can’t see you very well most times or just don’t look. My son gets taken to school in it at the same time." Chris is very modest and honest about the car, "'s made from Ebay in the main and has very many none standard parts on it. Like the steering box came from a Fiat, the chassis is a copy."

Editor: Well Chris, the number of Bugattis with a non-Molsheim frame probably would give a traffic jam longer than the French Quarter where you live is wide. So don't worry too much about that. The great thing with a car like yours is that you won't hesitate to take it out in US rush hour traffic!   

(Photos by Chris Leigh-Jones)

Monday, 22 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Eastbourne revisited

first motor_engineers_eastbourne-3-800

Rick Ford responds to our earlier feature about Eastbourne: "Your story of early motor engineers in Eastbourne was splendid. But let us travel to the west and back in time to perhaps the turn of the Century? The New Forest occupies much of southern Hampshire and on its eastern boundary flow the lower reaches of major chalk streams, the Avon, Test and Itchen. The fly-fishing offered, attracted wealthy residents aplenty. Market towns prospered and in one, Romsey, the brewery supported many, many pubs, the landlords of which often worked in the day for the Brewery! This affluence around Romsey and the appearance of the Motor Car persuaded a young engineer, Mr. Mitchell, to set up a business to service this growing need. He started in the matriarchal home on a tributary stream of the Test, which boasted a mill house adjacent. This became the first workshop of Mitchell Brothers, Romsey. Later a highly successful Vauxhall agent, relocated in yet another ex-mill but much more extensive, in the town.

So here, in the first image, the embryonic workforce labour, in the open, are straightening a very early chassis. A stout baulk of timber and young muscles, their tools, the jig, the empty crates from the delivery of the "Pratts Motor Spirit", no doubt from the railway station, on the handcart. The tricycle fore-car will tease your readers, whilst behind sulks a quality  rear entrance motor car, from very early in the century, perhaps it is the owner of the radiator propped against the mill house door. Note they were already  agents for 'Napier Motors' but I do not recognise the striking poster on the door of a striding figure. Why is the riverside home of Mrs Mitchell flag bedecked at this period?

The business grows rapidly, the open mill yard is now a well built shed. This is on the main London to Bournemouth, unsurfaced road and directly opposite the town entrance to Lord Mountbatten's Broadlands estate. A hire/taxi vehicle is now required and poses on the entrance ramp, AA3942 (foto 2) is (maybe a Buick of 1909/10 ? ) is soon on an errand seen here on 'The Causeway' on the bank of the mighty River Test. No doubt heading for 'Saddler's Mill' where the salmon leap on the way to their upstream spawning grounds. Many years later I also drive to Saddler's Mill to collect a passenger, the resident, Mrs Wellesley-Parkin (her car: RR 20/25  GLZ63  Coupe by Barker)."

(Photo Mrs. Wellesley with her Rolls-Royce 20/25 by Rick Ford)

Sunday, 21 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

What is it? Quiz #379

whatisit 397-470
It is a lovely cyclecar with outspoken radiator, nice cocky wings, interesting frontaxle and 'desirable' beltdrive. The radiator is topped with a figurine which looks like a flamenco dancer, yet that's not very clear and we're also not sure if it's a factory item. The photo is a bit unclear due to the fact that it was printed for use as a postcard. We understand this is the two seater sports version, but we are not sure if we're looking at the 2 or 4 cylinder (Ballot?) version and in fact are hoping to learn more from you. The marque lived only for two years.

You know the drill. We want the name and model designation of the car with any extra information being awarded. Bonus points for any trivial knowledge not readily available from 'the web' or 'the shelf'. In order to have a chance of winning the infamous PreWarCar T-shirt, please check The Rules under 'Read More'. Results will be published next Saturday September 27.

Saturday, 20 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

It's only a fish

Its only a fish.

When I have guests staying from overseas I like to take them to Oxford and all its architecture and museums and shops, but on the way there I turn down a small side street and stop. Out with the camera and take the picture that is always the favourite. A shark in a roof!

It’s known as the Headington Shark and when ‘Kat’ came to stay from Germany, a ride in my Bullnose Morris would have been enough,  but the look on her face as we rounded the corner was priceless. The car was made in 1921 only a few miles away, in Cowley. The shark has become very popular with tourists and the original house owner has now rented the house out to new people to let them answer the constant questions.

(Text and photographs Robin Batchelor)

Friday, 19 September 2014 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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Post War Choice

1953 Panhard Dyna X87 Junior Roadster
One of the most attractive post-war Panhards: 1953 Dyna X87 Junior Roadster...  Go >>