Tuesday 5 February 2019

Dr C.

-SG- Richard has sent us the amusing anecdote which follows about his contacts with the late Dr C!

"I had bought his Flat Tank Norton book and that inspired me to get a vintage OHV Norton. This project turned up in the Bonham’s Stafford auction in 2011 and mine was the winning bid. I had hardly put my bidding number down when George rushed up to me and said “you’ll be needing an oil tank for that … and by the way, I have one in my car outside”. So we trotted off outside and, sure enough, he had one. Well I didn’t have on me the few hundred pounds in cash that he was asking so I asked him to “put my name on it” and we could sort out the details later.

At that time, I was doing NSA sprints on a 500cc methanol JAP engined Levis and I was going regularly to Weston Zoyland down in the West Country. It turned out that George didn’t live too far away from Weston Zoyland and, as the sprint meetings were held on both days at weekends, I went over see George on a Sunday and skipped the 2nd day of sprinting. George showed me around his collection and workshop, we “did the deal” on the oiltank and, as I was also missing engine plates, we traced round an engine plate on a piece of cardboard. George then suggested we go to the pub in his car.

Well, I had no idea he had this Brasier with a huge v8 Hispano Suiza aero engine with each bank poking out each side of the car and external chain drive to the rear wheels. The starting procedure involved me squirting 'easystart' into the intake manifold – with my hand just about touching the massive flywheel, while George cranked it over on the starter. Anyway, it soon fired up and off we set to the pub. George did not drive slowly! It really was a 'Toad-of-Toad Hall' scene. George in his characteristic flat cap hunched over the wheel, a massive brass rev counter in front (this engine peaked at about 2000 rpm), brakes only on the back wheels and the road from George's house barely wide enough for one car. I was hanging on like grim death (you don’t really sit “in” the car, more “on” it) and trying to avoid dangling my left arm over the side to avoid the chain … when another car driven by a young lady appeared at the bottom of the lane. There was no way in the world George was going to stop, even if he could, and this young lady, luckily in a small modern “something”, literally drove off the road and somehow managed to get her car up the verge sufficiently for George to steam past. I’ll never forget the look of fright/surprise on that poor girl's face.

Anyway, after that I got to know George better and visited him a few times for bits and pieces; he was always helpful with his practical knowledge of early Nortons. Something must have rubbed off as I ‘m nearly completion of my 3rd Model 18 restoration!"