On Road and Track
'On Road and Track' is a fascinating bound typescript chronicling Bernard Tuckwell's life in the motor industry and motor sport from 1926 to the early 1940s.
The illustrations in the book include snapshots of his own cars on trials and on holidays, press photos of pre-war Chrysler and Garner vehicles and racing cars at Brooklands and elsewhere. Below is a selection of passages from the book.
New model year, 1930
From the end of July, through August and September, the factory at Kew was very slack and by September all assembly work had ceased. This was mainly to clear out the old models as it was rumoured that the coming season's cars were to be entirely new in design and appearance both to Chrysler and the motoring world in general…
As the boxed parts began to pour in so the call went out for the return of the workers. In a matter of two to three days the shop was going at full strength, the cars were being unpacked in large numbers, assembled, tested, and passed over to the new car department for cleaning and polishing. A certain number of types and body styles were out on one side for exhibition on the stand at Olympia, while the showroom had next choice before the stocks were built up.
A Ghost in the yard, 1934
Having progressed so far, we then turned our attention to the remaining pile of junk and old iron in the yard. In the spring sunshine we delved into it, burning on waste ground all we could, and selling the steel parts to a local dealer. From under all this rubbish we unearthed a Rolls-Royce tourer. Enquiries proved that the car had lain there four or five years at least, untouched, uncared for. We hauled it clear and pushed it into the repair shop. It was a 40/50 Silver Ghost of about 1914 vintage. Our first job was to remove the body, then we set to and cleaned and examined the chassis from back to front. Brakes, rear only, were dismantled relined and adjusted. The engine was not touched except for a tighten up and the fitting of new water hoses. The carburettor, a massive Rolls-Royce built component, was cleaned out, the whole job oiled and greased, electric lamps fitted and wired and new tyres installed after some difficulty finding the old fashioned size. With the Rolls system of magneto ignition all that was needed was an ordinary pocket torch battery to give the necessary spark, we connected a little "Ever Ready", set the controls, gave her two or three swings that produced a puff of smoke from the exhaust and the Ghost was running…It was dispatched to a local coachbuilder to be rigged up as a breakdown turnout, complete with crane.
Honeymoon in Devon, 1937
During the early part of July, I was busy bringing the MG up to "show" finish agin, this meant cleaning the chassis and axles off and repainting, but there was a reason for all this, the MG had a big job on hand. For on July 17th Muriel and I were married at St. George's Hanover Square, and the MG was standing by to whisk us away for a honeymoon in glorious Devon. Of the steep grades and hairpin bends between Hunters Inn and Lynmouth, the MG made light work and took all in its stride. After a fortnight of hill climbing and negotiating impassable Devon lanes, we returned home via Porlock Hill, Glastonbury, Wells and Bath.
Flying bomb attack on Commer factory, 1944
On Friday, June 16th 1944, after a mysterious all night alert, I was in the drawing office at 10.15am situated a little away from the works. We heard the sound of aircraft approaching. Three of us went to the back of the premises and saw what appeared to be a fighter coming in very low through anti-aircraft fire from local guns. The 'plane was obviously coming down and straight for us and now in complete silence. We got down behind what protection was at hand. Then a burst from one of the guns exploded under the port wing, the effect was to turn the craft broadside to us, we came to our feet and only then realised that the plane was pilot-less, in fact a robot. It streaked along the backs of a row of houses towards the works, then began to dive steeply, we dived even steeper as there was a terrific explosion and a huge column of smoke dust and debris rose high into the air. We at once came to our feet and ran to the front as we feared it was a direct hit, but the works were not visible.