Your contributor happily admits to having been a teenage veteran car enthusiast. Over 60 years ago, a school chum of his, aware of the burgeoning passion of this now-SAHB Member, was travelling with his parents and sister in their car, destined for a holiday in the West Country. This would have been in 1955, give or take a year, and the family were heading south down the A46 Stroud to Bath road. In a rural road-side scrapyard was spotted the remains of an early car: they stopped, took a couple of box-Brownie photographs and then continued on their way.
Developed and printed in the bathroom, these photographs were passed to your contributor, who, needless to say, has them yet. He was much too young at 14 to consider acquiring any motor car, that being unthinkable at the time, but such was his interest that towards the end of 1956, he joined the Veteran Car Club. Thenceforth the VCC’s quarterly Gazettes were eagerly awaited and treasured, and back issues keenly sought. His motoring library was already under way!
For several years around that period, the Gazette ran a regular featured headed ‘For Your Information’: this carried a miscellany of notes about discoveries of early cars or parts, useful tips and sources of materials, and suchlike. Then, in one of these earlier issues of the Gazette (Winter, 1955), he saw noted in this column an entry reading: ‘Yet another Member has reported the two vehicles in the scrap yard near the Cross Hands Hotel, Old Sodbury, Glos. These are a Clement-Talbot, circa 1907, and a De Dion Bouton, definitely 1911 despite its single cylinder. Both are in the last stages of decay and the ransom demanded is £100 each!”
For comparison with the figure sought, Gazettes of the time offered a restored 1909 FN for ‘nearest £300’, and a 1904 Humber Olympia tandem ‘Dated and restored; a good go-er at £160’. But someone must have paid the ransom, or near, as later I remember hearing that the De Dion had been rescued and restored; likewise – hopefully – the Clement-Talbot, which my pal did not mention and so presumably did not see.
Michael Edwards, fellow SAHB Member and author of two recent definitive books on De Dion Bouton cars, feels confident that this car was a Type CP of 90 x 150mm, 942cc: the first model with a leather-faced metal plate clutch, and also the penultimate ‘single’ from Puteaux.