PH CARPOOL: 1907 WOLSELEY-SIDDELEY 'WOLSIT' COPPA
Hero of last week's Goodwood sprint, Ken Prichard Jones and his Wolseley bring some (very) old-school charm to PH Carpool
PH met Ken last week at the GRRC Easter Monday Sprint, where he earned hero points aplenty for running his 10-litre Wolseley in appalling conditions. His time over the first 64ft from the start was only a few tenths slower than we managed in the Lotus Evora S (thank 400lb ft of torque at 700rpm for that!) and the general display of true grit in a 100mph car with only hand-pulled brakes on the rear wheels to slow it deserved, we thought, closer examination.
The car's history deserves a little extra mention too: ordered in July 1907 and built, with two others, to compete in the Coppo Florio (an eight-lap race on a 38-mile course) in September of that year the cars were tested at the newly opened Brooklands before being driven in convoy to Brescia. This car crashed out in some style, going through a fence, over a bridge and onto a railway line, driver Jo Durlacher surviving the crash having managed a 60.7mph average over the first lap - 4mph off the pace of the eventual winner in a Isotta-Fraschini and impressive for an untested car. And it's not slowed down since!
Ken Prichard Jones
1907 Wolseley-Siddeley Coppa Florio works team racing car
The car's previous owners include the Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company Limited, Sir John Frescheville Ramsden and family, Arthur Thomas (Wolseley expert), Dick Baddiley and myself. I am embarrassed to list the cars I have owned but they include (in period) 1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7, 1974 Jensen Interceptor III, 1976 and 1978 Reliant Scimitar GTE, 1983 Audi Quattro and a lot more of various makes.
I now run a 15-year old Toyota RAV4 as a daily driver, which is the most reliable car I have ever owned. It is, also, a hoot to drive with 2.5 turns lock to lock and four-wheel drive. I have competed in it in the Pomeroy Trophy twice. On one occasion it was wet and the marshals were, apparently, taking bets whether I would, eventually, corner Luffield on one wheel. I don't think I managed that but it was close! I should also add to the list of cars my first three, which were a 1938 Morris 8 two-seater tourer which cost £15.00, a 1952 Triumph TR2 and a 1964 Turner 1,650cc Cosworth which I managed to buy, in one university vacation, by working as a lifeguard at the local pool during the day and in the Smedleys frozen pea factory on the night shift. As you can imagine, not much academic work was done but the Turner, which did 0-60 in less than seven seconds and over 120mph, was a rocket sled in 1967. That is why I bought my current Turner a few years ago.
I have been fascinated by early racing cars since I was 10 years old. When my family responsibilities permitted, I bought a 1910 Lancia racing car, followed by this Wolseley-Siddeley. I am in awe of the men who drove these cars in races of 300 miles or more. The physical demands are immense.
What I wish I'd known:
The time taken to have almost every replacement part specially made. A small breakage can delete an entire season.
Things I love:
Whilst the car is very valuable, it is greeted by the public with interest and enthusiasm, which makes every event a joy. I also get a great buzz from driving it even just down the road. Competing in it makes me think of the exciting era when the motor car was new and the development of it was rapid, rather like computers today.
Things I hate:
Getting flat spots on the very expensive rear tyres under emergency braking on the road. This can happen quite a lot.
Don't ask! It does eight miles to the gallon on the road and about 1.5 miles to the gallon on the track. Tyres are £200 each. Oil changes take three gallons.
Events the car has featured in include the 2002 Gordon Bennett Centenary in Bastoigne, Belgium, the 1904 Kaiserpreis Centenary in Germany, the Brooklands Centenary in 2007 and related celebrations at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival that year and various VSCC Edwardian races, sprints and hillclimbs.
This is an heirloom car. That said, hopefully, I will be able to enjoy it for many years to come.
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