Monday, 15 March 2010

The 1st Vintage Car Reliability Run

THE 1st VINTAGE CAR RELIABILITY RUN took place on the 14th-15th November 1959


Eddie and Cecile Flawn’s story on the first Vintage Car Run in Rhodesia


Rhodesia gained prominence in many areas of human endeavour, not the least of which was in motor car and motorcycling racing. Older Rhodesians will remember that for some years the names of Rhodesian racing heroes were well known in racing circles around the world. Along with this generation there also arose an interest in vintage vehicles, which in Rhodesia had been fairly well preserved by the country’s prevailing climate. So in mid-1959 three Salisbury men – Basil Cockrane, Brian Watson and Dick Judge – were chatting about old cars during a lunch-hour break. The eventual outcome of their conversation was the first Vintage Run from Salisbury to Umtali and back.


I was fortunate enough to be an early member of the club as the proud owner of a Model A Ford Sports Coupe. In time my wife Cecile and I were to proceed on our honeymoon in this splendid vehicle - a unique experience! But it is not this that I record here. I want to tell you about our participation in the very First Vintage Car Reliability run


Eddie and Cecile Flawn’s story on the first Vintage Car Run in Rhodesia
The first run catered only for Vintage cars (manufactured before 31st December 1930), with Vintage motor-cycles joining in later years, Classic cars are now accepted as there are very few Vintage cars left in Zimbabwe hence the 50th reliability run to Umtali, now Mutare, contained the majority of classic cars as most of the old timers had moved to greener pastures.


The 1959 Vintage Car reliability event, was organised by the Mashonaland Car Club, and sponsored by Shell Rhodesia Ltd. who provided cost of accommodation including meals for the participants, i.e. the driver and co- driver or passenger. Sponsorship also included cost of oils and fuel used for the journey.

The cars were to leave for Umtali from outside the Shell Headquarters on Jameson Avenue where the Vintage Club members arrived at the assembly point. To qualify for the Commemorative Shell Plaque, vehicles had to complete the journey to Umtali and back to Salisbury under their own steam. All cars were given a set time to arrive at the destination stop for each leg of the trip and anyone arriving more than one hour late at marshalled check points at each stopping point would be penalised. There was a leeway allowance of 30 minutes either early or late at these checkpoints when you would not receive any penalty. The Route consisted of undulating good roads which are scenic, travelling through farming areas famous for Virginia tobacco growing and cattle ranching with mountains on the approach to Umtali where the Christmas Pass winding through hills made some of the vehicles struggle to negotiate the steep climbs. 30 cars actually entered the run with only 24 at start as 6 fell by the wayside due to mechanical problems. The oldest car was a 1914 Rolls Royce owned by Guy de Soissons of Salisbury, which completed the course at a steady 45mph.


We entered the run as we were confidant that we could complete it without problems, after having made a Honeymoon trip to Beira and the Eastern Highlands in April of the same year a 700 mile trip. Tony Atwell an Air Force friend accompanied us (for those who did not know him he was an Aircraft Electrician trained at Halton in the RRAF days, he left at the break up of the Federation at the end of 1963 and went to South Africa)He was good company and had a good knowledge of motoring rallies and the sport in general. Mike Wilson (ex No 8 SSU Pilot Training Course) was also on this run his father John Wilson drove the second oldest car the 1917 Franklin Tourer.


The Participants gathered outside Shell House after having had an enjoyable lunch at the Jameson Hotel. The first car was set off at 1.30pm by Clerk of the Course John Younger (who put in a lot of effort in organising this successful event and other annual runs that followed until the last Umtali Shell Sponsored Vintage Car Reliability Run in 1965 as shown in the photo of John and ourselves outside Shell House the same venue as the 1st one on the 14th Nov 1959) Ron East the commentator gave a short history of each car at the start over the two day event (It was a pity that we did not know at the time that the birth date of our car was mid November 1929 that made it exactly 30 years old on that very run and would have been of additional interest in the commentary) .




The run attracted a lot of attention it was unbelievable at the send off that we were given; cheering crowds lined the streets from Shell House for approx. 5miles. Groups of spectators gathered along the route at various points all the way to Umtali and back, we all felt very important. The exiting part of the trip was the long hard climb up Christmas Pass; the then very steep section was especially crowded. We arrived at Duly’s garage on time and proceeded to the Cecil Hotel to book in, freshen up and enjoy the meal and the dance which had been arranged by the organisers of the run.

Final Checkpoint near Rusape
Final Checkpoint near Rusape

Charles Hampton at the time was the Chief Marshal and Scrutineer he was at the final checkpoint before reaching Umtali it was across from the Crocodile Motel near Rusape, (he took over as Clerk of the Course from John Younger from 1966 until the early 1980’s when the Mashonaland Car Club folded up and this event was taken over by the Vintage Car Club of Zimbabwe).

While at dinner we were told that the1917 Franklin only got as far as Marandellas when carburettor trouble caused its withdrawal, we also heard that Mrs. Diana Day had mechanical problems was late getting to Umtali and was disqualified from receiving The Shell Plaque Award.
Sunday Mail Correspondent (Newspaper cutting Sunday 15th November 1959)
First at Umtali Saturday.
Mr. H. Catt, of Salisbury in a 1930 6-½ litre Bentley was the first to arrive at Duly’s Garage, Umtali today in the Salisbury-Umtali vintage car rally. He arrived promptly at 6.30 p.m. He was second away.
Mr. S. Jansky, in a 1928 Fait, arrived next. He was first away, the Fiat made the trip very well.
BELT BROKE Mr. N. G. Mathews and Mr. C. R. Annesley were co-drivers of a 1930 model DeSoto eight cylinder tourer. Five miles from Rusape, the fan belt broke, and the water in the radiator boiled for the rest of the trip.
Mr A. Henderson arrived in his Model A Ford. Three others arrived in another Model A Ford, Which was originally owned by an African in 1939. The leads of the distributor kept “popping off," but otherwise the car behaved well.

Twenty- three-year-old Mr. E. G. Flawn, of Salisbury, arrived in a 1929 Model A Ford. It was the same car in which he and his wife went to Beira for their honeymoon in April. The car cruised comfortably at between 35 and 40 miles an hour. He bought it for £60 in good condition 2 ½ years ago






This cutting is from the Sunday Mail taken outside Meikles Hotel on the 18th April 1959

Sunday morning we all assembled at Duly’s car park for the return trip Tony & I checked the car, topped up with fuel and oil.. We noticed a few participants were working feverishly on their cars to make the journey home, one in particular was the 1927 Model T, the son of Ray Holderness was underneath the car investigating or trying to repair a crankshaft big end bearing that had been knocking on the way up Christmas Pass.

The first car left at 9.30 am, with us following 45 minuets later .We were again cheered on by large crowds .The car went well, we stopped at Rusape and Marondera for petrol and at Macheke Hotel for an enjoyable lunch. The next stop was Jamaica Inn as we were ahead of time. Alec Henderson in his 1930 Ford Model A sedan also stopped there and joined us for drinks, unfortunately when leaving Alec was unable to start his car, it was backfiring through the carburettor it appeared that the ignition or valve timing was out.

We arrived at Shell House on time and joined the spectators who were waiting for the last few cars to arrive. Watching the cars coming in we noticed if my memory serves me right Chris Annesly’s 1930 De Soto“Eight”Tourer was being pushed across the finish line much to the delight of the spectators. (The reason for the breakdown was that the transmission had failed before the finish line. Unfortunately Chris could not be awarded the Shell Plaque as he was disqualified for the car not finishing under its own power).

While we were at Shell House we received the news that Alec in his Model A Sedan was unable to complete the run (we found out later that the engine camshaft gear teeth had stripped and had to be towed back to Salisbury). The following day we read in the Herald newspaper about the contestants who qualified and those who were unsuccessful, this is what was stated in the front page headlines of the article: Stopping at Jamaica Inn for a drink cost Mr. A Henderson the Shell Plaque Award.

Entry List in 1959
Out of the 24 cars that started from Shell house the day before; 22completed
the run to Umtali, and 20 returned to the Salisbury finish line successfully.


Text reads:
Entry List in 1959
Vintage run - starters and places

PREPARATIONS for the Shell-sponsored- Rhodesian Reliability Run- for vintage cars. organised by: the Mashonaland Motor Car. Club, are now complete.


Late entries have brought the total to 30. the first of which leaves Salisbury for Umtali on Saturday at 1.30 from Shell, Jameson Avenue.


Others follow at two minute inteivals.


Here is the complete list of entries, with their competition numbers:—
1 -S. Jansky. 1928 Fiat 520 Tourer
2 H. E. Catt. 1930 Bentley' 6 1/2 Litre
3,1. D. Bull. 1929 Ford "A"
4. R. P. Puzey; 1924 Morris Cowley Bull-aose Two Sealer
5. D. J. Younger, 1929 Dodge D.A
6. Mathews/Anncsley. 1930 De Soto "Eight" Tourer
7, J. G. Thompson. 1927/23 Chevrolet 4 Cylinder
8, T. Stopford. 1930 Austin ? Tourer
9. W. H. Robinson. 1926 Dodge Standard 6
10. R. W.. H. Holderness. 1927 Ford Model "T"
11. B. C. Bakewell. 1926 Chrysler Tourer
12. B. T.Crnkoyic. 1930 Ford Model "A"
13. J. Wilson. 1917 Franklin Tourer
14. A. L. Hendersen. 1930 Ford Model "A"
15. 1. Barclay. 1925 Morris Oxford
16. S. A. Tingle, 1928 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre
17 .G. P.' Casely, 1930 FordModel "A
18. T. McKenna. 1929 Essex Sedan
19. E. L. Lewis Evans. 1929 Marquette
20. E. W. Marshall. 1928 Erskiu Sedan
21. Mrs. Diana Day. 1924 Citroen
22.. G.. L. du Ploiy, 1925 Morris Cowley
23. E. G. Flawn 1929 Ford Model 'A"
24. E. A. Menchip. 1929 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre
25.G. Solsons. 1914 Rolls-Royce
26, 1 J. Levenderis, .1929 Ford Model "A"
27. Q.'". A. H. Beck, .930 Rolls-Royce
28, B.G Watson. .1926 Lancia Lambca Series 7
29. G. Meadows, 1928 Austin
30. K. Holme. 1929 Chevrolet.


Conclusion of the Vintage Car Reliability Runs to Eastern Highlands (the then Umtali)


Alec Henderson�s Ford Model A


Photo above was Alec Henderson’s Ford Model A, it is still in Zimbabwe and is owned by Howard Butler ex Rhod Air Force Engine Fitter LAR Course. Howie experienced the same problem as Alec had on the first run ( that is the engine camshaft gear teeth had stripped ) 30 yrs later on his way back from Inyanga on the Eastern Highlands Run and was towed back to Harare.


The photograph was taken at Donnybrook Racetrack (situated 20 kms from Harare) in 2009; The control tower is visible in the background of photograph of Howie Butler's vehicle. Howie is still very involved in motor racing at Donnybrook. where he was often seen out in his Super Seven sports car, powered by a Toyota engine. He recently had a narrow escape when a driveshaft broke and clipped his Helmut. Howie is still an active member of the Vintage and Classic Club of Zimbabwe. He also owns the De Soto that was used by Cris Annesly on the 1st Vintage Run


Hilton Goodall was the owner of this car, before Howard Butler. Hilton who is now in Australia was one of the original members involved in the setting up of the racing circuit, he was also very active in Vintage cars.


Photobucket
Dave’s Franklin Tourer


The Franklin that did not complete the run is now owned by Dave Rock of Greendale who with the help of Dave Strong at one stage restored it immaculately. It is an American car with a wooden chassis and a six cylinder air cooled engine I was told that the car is actually a 1916 model and the original owner was Dr Leander Starr Jameson's Daughter.


Sam Tingles Bentley


This photograph is of Sam Tingle and his wife Mary with his Bentley and my 1929 Ford Model A, at the Sheridan Hotel, before leaving for the 30th Anniversary of the Vintage Car Reliability run 1989. At that time we were the only two participants left, driving the same vehicles that we both drove on the very first run. We celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the first Vintage Car Run at the Portuguese Club Mutare (Umtali) (Sam was a well known racing car driver in Rhodesian times.) Unfortunately the 40th was Sam’s last run due to ill health.I was told that he and Mary immigrated to South Africa after this run and he passed away in Cape Town.


Sam Tingles Bentley
Sam Tingles 4.5 1928 Bentley


Newspaper Cutting


Eddie and Cecile


A picture of Cecile and myself on the 50th. Anniversary (September 2009) Vintage Car run to the Eastern Highlands, taken in the Vumba near the White Horse Inn. This was the last run. It will no longer be an annual event organised by the Vintage/Classic Car club of Zimbabwe.

FOOTNOTE BY EDDY NORRIS
Eddie and Cecile also recorded their memories of the 50th Run and you may view their recollection here. (Click Here)

You may view these folk celebrating their Golden Anniversary, in April 2009, at this link:-
http://rhodesianforcesreunions.blogspot.com/2010/03/eddie-and-cecelia-flawn-golden.html

For information on Eddie & Cecile’s Ford Model A’s 80th Birthday Celebration
At Cranleigh Park Club November 2009. Please visit this link.

Thanks to Eddie and Cecile for sharing their memories with ORAFs

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8 Comments:

At 3 December 2010 at 05:33 , Blogger micah said...

love vintage!

 
At 14 December 2010 at 08:48 , Blogger Nicole said...

Thanks a lot for the information1 I have learned a lot about vintage cars. My Grandpa is very much into vintage cars. He loves his Alfa Romeo very much. He got it from auto dealerships in Indianapolis. The car was really good. And I immediately feel in love when it got restored and had shiny paint. Indianapolis auto dealerships were no hassle to the old man. He had great time doing business with them.

 
At 24 January 2011 at 06:02 , Blogger Kelly said...

Vintage car still look cool this days! I'm dreaming to have one, but I guess it will be just a dream.
It will be a perfect wedding car.

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At 22 January 2012 at 19:15 , Blogger Redundancy Road Trippers said...

You refer to a Ray Holderness in your article - I have been trying to track down a Mr Holderness who lived in Gwelo in the late 1960's and early 1970's. He drove vintage cars and has an ice factory in town - could this be the same man?
I am trying to find out more about him and what happened to him after 1970/71

 
At 5 October 2012 at 23:32 , Blogger Leisa said...

What a sweet story! No wonder “Felicity” was so important to both of you! Reading the story, I was amazed how the two of you and the other riders made that 400-mile trip! And what made it special is that you made that trip during your honeymoon. But a long trip is nothing, especially if you are with someone you dearly love. And it is pretty cool to be part of something important. You definitely made history!

Leisa Dreps

 
At 19 February 2013 at 15:27 , Blogger Ronnie campbell said...

The history of first ever vintage car is really an interesting one and my knowledge also goes far in car point. Above given article is really an interesting one.

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At 3 September 2013 at 07:26 , Blogger John Curtis said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 29 November 2015 at 11:37 , Blogger Moorabbin Carsales said...

Buying a used car doesn't have to be risky. If you know what you want then it becomes a lot easier.

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