Leitrim Vintage Club Run

On behalf of the members of the L.V.&.H.C I would like to thank all the vintage car, motorcycle & tractor owners who turned up for the recent run on Saturday, May 12.

On behalf of the members of the L.V.&.H.C I would like to thank all the vintage car, motorcycle & tractor owners who turned up for the recent run on Saturday, May 12.

By Danny Costello

We assembled in Rooskey at the Wier Lodge, and set off for our run with cars heading for Ballylegue, Scramogue, and back for lunch to the Wier Lodge. The tractors travelled to Drumsna, Jamestown and back. Thanks to Frank and Geraldine Moran and the staff at the Wier Lodge for their hospitality and great food. also to all the local club members who joined us for the day.

Sunbeams over Leitrim

As a member of the Leitrim Vintage Club I was delighted to meet with the members of the Sunbeam, Talbot, Darracq vintage car club of England as they visited County Leitrim and stayed in Lough Rynn Castle Hotel, Mohill as part of their Irish tour.

The original Sunbeam company was founded by John Marston in 1899 and based in Wolverhampton. Its position in the market was akin to the present day Jaguar.

Sunbeam was one of the premier marques of British car achieving its peak of fame during the 1920s. It first came to prominence following the appointment of Louis Coatalen as chief engineer in 1909 and Coatalen designed cars were soon setting new records of all types at Brooklands race track in Surrey. In 1912 the 3 litre Sunbeams caused a sensation when they came 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Coupe de l’Auto for touring cars run at Dieppe. So good were they, that they achieved 3rd, 4th, and 5th places in the French Grand Prix run concurrently! The cars which came 1st and 2nd achieved their places with engines which were 3 and 5 times the size of the Sunbeams! The almost identical touring model sold very well as a result.

Clement Talbot Ltd was founded in 1903 under the patronage of the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot to import the popular French Clement car into Britain. From 1905, Talbots were also produced in London and the marque was very successful in competition and sales in the years leading up to the Great War in 1914.

Alexandre Darracq originally started business in the nineteenth century as a manufacturer of “Gladiator” bicycles. He sold out this business in 1896 to form Alexandre Darracq et Cie, manufacturers of bicycle components and horseless carriages. After flirtations with electric vehicles and radial engined motor cycles, he finally settled for a “proper” Léon Bollée designed horizontal engined motor car. 1900 saw a change to vertical engines and an expansion of the range to include a 12 hp twin cylinder. A four cylinder 20 hp with pressed steel chassis was introduced for 1902. Darracq was in the forefront of pioneers of mechanical inlet valves, L-head engines, pressed steel chassis and proper location of back axles using torque control arms.

Darracq also joined in racing – they built a 10 litre four cylinder monster for the 750kg formula of 1905 and a 200hp V8 driven by Hémery captured the Land Speed Record at 109.65 mph later in 1905. In 1912 the firm succumbed to the vogue for abolition of the poppet valve with a near disastrous range of rotary valved cars under Henriod patents. In 1913 Alexandre Darracq sold out again, this time to the British financial interests who had previously taken over his British subsidiary. A prime mover in this take over was Owen Clegg, who moved to Paris to become Managing Director of the new company, with a capital of 20 million francs and its head office and works at 32 Quai Général Gallieni in Suresnes, Paris. During the Great War, Darracq went over completely to munitions production: weapons, ammunition and even complete aeroplanes - in greatly expanded premises, of course. The initial post war Darracq was a mildly updated version of the pre-war side valve 4 cylinder 3 litre Type V to be joined by Owen Clegg’s 24cv side valve 4½ litre V8 Type A in 1920. However in 1919, Darracq took over English Talbot and the resulting company merged in 1920 with Sunbeam to form the Sunbeam Talbot Darracq group which quickly came under the strong influence of the personality and ideas of Sunbeam’s Breton director, Louis Coatalen.

Mr Laird from Drumshanbo owned a Darracg and I believe it was the first car registered in county Leitrim in 1903 and recieved the registration number ‘IT 1’. More information on old IT registrations would be appreciated - email leitrimvintageclub@ymail.com or Tel: Danny Costello (097) 6537510.