Editor: Jaap Horst
1955 "The Vintage and Thoroughbred car" article
Provided by Mike Hyatt' Mike Hyatt from Middlesex sent the article from 1955, but he also sent the following letter:
I am writing to you, to let you know how very much I enjoy BUGATTI REVUE and THE BUGATTI PAGE. So much so that I have photocopied them and bound them into years in A4 display books. This is just in case they should go off line and be lost in cyber space.
You will see I have enclosed some pages from THE VINTAGE AND THOROUGHBRED CAR magazine that dates from Feb. 1955 and is well endowed with BUGATTI lore. You might like to include it in a future edition.
So how did I become a Bugattifreak? I'm afraid I have to blame my Father
Throughout the war years he and his business partner had a contract with the Ministry of Supply to supply sand and gravel from their pits in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire to R.A.F stations in East Anglia for aprons, runways and perimeter roads. Like many people throughout the war years he had very little time off. However at weekends I used to sit on his knee and he would educate me on many motor racing subjects using his massive collection of MOTOR SPORT and SPEED magazines.
When the war ended he sold his share in the sand and gravel business and our house in Bedford was sold and we moved to house on Hunters Lane, Leavesden, which is North East of Watford in Hertfordshire.
Our house was just 50 yards away from the start of the runway at Leavesden aerodrome, at that time operated by de Havilland Aircraft Company and where Merlin engine MOSQUITO aircraft took off and landed all day during daylight hours.
Given the sale of the house in Bedford, the sale of the sand and gravel business not to mention the five lorries and two cars my father had quite a fair amount of capital to invest into his next venture which was a half share in MARSHALLS GARAGE in St Albans RD, North Watford where St Albans Road meets up with The North Orbital Road at Garston. Even in those days it was a very sizable plot and stretched back to where the bus garage now stands but on the opposite side of the road.
MARSHALLS GARAGE was operated by one JAMES MARSHALL and his wife both of whom were sports and racing car enthusiasts. Mrs Marshalls two cars being The LEYLAND EIGHT and her T.T. REP Frazer Nash that she took the wheels off, and had it jacked up in the garage at home so that her husband JAMES couldn't sell it. lncidentally I always knew him as Jimmy Marshall. Jimmy Marshalls cars always being, not one, not two but never less than five Bugatti cars that lived alternately in the five car showroom or/and in the ten car workshop.
My dear old Father always took me to work with him on a Saturday morning to give my Mother a break from me and I a break from her. lt can't have been easy for living with a six year old George Easton, Malcolm Campbell, Dick Seaman or Earl Howe.
Every Saturday morning when I went to Marshalls Garage I was allowed to sit in the cars and for just a few glorious hours became a famous racing driver. This would have been circa 1946,47,48,49. Whilst at Jimmy Marshals' over the years I met quite a few real drivers who were friends of my father or Jimmy Marshall.cars always being, not one, not two but never less than five Bugatti cars that lived alternately in the five car showroom or/and in the ten car workshopMy dear old Father always took me to work with him on a Saturday morning to give my Mother a break from me and I a break from her. lt can't have been easy for living with a six year old George Easton, Malcolm Campbell, Dick Seaman or Earl Howe. Every Saturday morning when I went to Marshalls Garage I was allowed to sit in the cars and for just a few glorious hours became a famous racing driver- This would have been circa 1946,47,48,49. Whilst at Jimmy Marshals' over the years I met quite a few real drivers who were friends of my father or jimmy Marshall.
Peter Monkhouse and Ian Connell of MONACO ENGINEERING who were based at the bottom of Watford High Street just by Bushy arches were quite regular visitors and Jimmy Marshall, my Father, Monkhouse and Connell all used to pile into the Monkhouse Woolsley 25 and go to Jack Lemon Burton's premises to buy stock or just to see what he had in stock.
Another regular visitor was Reg Parnell, who would frequently visit us when visiting Rose his elder sister, who was married to Jack Lemon Burton. Whilst Reg was always buying GP Delage or E.R.A. cars and or spares, he often bought from his base in Derby a complete Bugatti dismantled and in boxes that he bought for Lemon Burton, However more often than not he didn't have the space so he would bring them to Marshalls.
In Marshals' garage the workshop was run by an ex Brixton Road mechanic that I only ever knew as Johnny, what his other name was I never knew. All I really remember about him is that he always wore a beret. l'm quite sure he was English.
It would be nice to say that I remember the cars I pretended to race but to be honest I thought I would never be able to drive because my feet wouldn't reach the pedals.
Sadly there are no photographs of Marshalls of Watford but from records I do know Jimmy Marshall kept a James Young type 57 in the showroom for years and years. Other cars that I know passed through hís premises being the type 55 AUL that Jim Berry ran for many years with a much modified body . He also had a type 43 grand sport that my Father sold to Ben Wyatt, GJ53, the type 51 OMP7
The Ex George Easton type 39a unregistered the Ex Seaman type 37a NPE 73.
Please bare in mind this is only what I have gleaned from Bugatti books and I don't know for sure if these cars were for sale, just in for servicing, or repair. I know space was at a premium and my Father told me plans were afoot for an additional ten car showroom.
Jimmy or James as he now called himself drove an XK120 at LE MANS in 1950 and decided to move to the U.S.A . Sadly my Father couldn't afford to buy him out otherwise I would have at least two or three bugs of my own. Thank goodness for the model Bugatti car.
Between 1946 and 1950 my Father took me to numerous sprints and hill climbs including Elstree
speed trials, Brighton speed trials, Stanmer Park Hill climb, Poole speed trials Prescott hill climb,
Tewin Water speed trials and Westbrook Hay hill climb. By now I was 11 years of age and from
Westbrook Hay onwards I was taken to meetings with Peter & Kay Stubberfield who were friends of
my Father. Peter owned a Bugatti type 35B and a type 50 that he used as a tow car. However
whenever I went with them they used their elderly Bedford coach. They didn't have any children of
their own but did have a super boxer dog called Bruce who used to spend forever sitting in the
driver's seat of the Bug. The Stubberfield's were so very, very kind to me, especially as I was so
young. Apart from Westbrook Hay, they also took me to Shelsley Walsh, Prescott and Brighton
Speed trials. At Brighton they had a competitors viewing enclosure right on the starting line. I shall
never forget how very proud I felt, when Kay
took me in there to watch Peters class run. I saw Peter
and Kay quite a few times when I worked for LOLA CARS in 1960 whilst waiting for gear clusters from
Mike Hewland. After that I did not see the Stubberfìelds again until I met them at a Prescott event.
Peter was kind enough to sign my proposal form for membership to the Bugatti Owners Club.
Thank you Peter, thank you Kay, for so many happy memories.