Teun Beresik, the illustrator and vintage car enthusiast...
... whose colourful and entertaining work many of us will be familiar with, very kindly sent me a spare copy of Old Motor, containing a pull-out documenting part of the history of the Hillman.
This issue, published in April 1976, was much clearer than the photocopy I'd been sent by the family of the original owners of the car.
The text was slightly inaccurate as the first owner in 1927 wasn't the farmer who converted the car to a tractor, but the family who owned (and still do) the Howtown Hotel on Ullswater, Cumbria. That detail aside, the photo on the right shows clearly the broken chassis at the spring hanger on the nearside rail, and matches the general condition in which I found the car in a shed in Oxfordshire, 35 years after this article was written.
I think John Smith, from whom I bought the car, had some connection with Prince Marshall and Nick Baldwin, the editors of Old Motor, but I never discovered what.
Incidentally, readers of this blog may recall that under a tarpaulin on the same premises, we found Learned Counsel's Jowett.
Volume 9. No. 4 was full of fascinating stuff. This Rolls Royce Nene powered Viking rang a few bells. Somewhere in my collection is a photo of Pa standing under the wing of an Avro Lancastrian equipped for testing purposes with two Nenes replacing the outer pair of Merlins.
I remember Pa was involved in some engineering capacity, but once again, I never discovered what exactly.
I had a few moments this week to begin forming the shrouds for the disc brakes on the Hillman. I'd specifically put the spare backplates in a safe place - you know the rest - so it was some time later before I could get on with the job. Once welded up, I'll do the cut-outs for the calipers, form a strengthening flange on the edge, sand blast and powder coat. On the car I'll have to strip down each hub assembly and remove the kingpins to get the new back plates on, but it will tidy up the look of the front axle. A dab of paint over the Wilwood logo on the calipers will complete the job.
The annual trip to Ufford went well although it was blinkin' cold. The disc brakes on the Hillman raised a few eyebrows. It's easy to forget that Lanchester patented a mechanical disc brake system in 1902. There's not much that hasn't been done before and the more you learn about the early days of motoring, the more you realise just how much knowledge was accumulated in such a short space of time and that often it was only for want of suitable materials - as in the case of Lanchester's brake pads - that held up or prematurely ended developments. The same applies to early aviation; the Sopwith Symposium papers reveal an extraordinary level of sophistication in the understanding of aerodynamics as early as 1916 and it would be fair to say that not a lot changed until we approached and conquered the sound barrier, 30 or so years later.
The meet attracted everything from the sublime...
... to the splendidly hooligan.
Last week's gaffe went unnoticed. The wire-locking on the Lambda boss plug was deliberately applied in the wrong sense.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.