One of the nice things about owning interesting old cars, is that they tend to have had very interesting previous owners. SS 4067 / JUR 730 is no exception. After Noel published the first part of this story on his website, and mentioned it on the Lancia Motor Club’s on line forum, it stirred a number of people’s memories. Colin Marr recalled, “The registered owner in 1961 was T. Breen Ltd of High Rd Whetstone, London N20. This was Terry Breen who was the owner of the most amazing breakers yard at that address. Terry specialised in, and was an authority on Lambdas and Bentleys- he was a well-known source of parts and expertise. I guess the Aprilia was his personal car. This hallowed ground is now an M&S Supermarket!”
Colin then noted that another owner had been Cedric Bristow, a current Aprilia owner, and a past owner of other Aprilias. He also remembered Graham Baker as a “regular visitor to the monthly meetings at the Chequers in Hendon, organised by John Maltby”.
Ben Courage (who had been to visit us in OZ a week or two before), knew Cedric and rang him to let him know things were happening with his old car. Ben then passed Cedric’s contact details to myself and in due course I was able to have a long chat with Cedric about my car and absorb some of his many Aprilia anecdotes.
Cedric bought the car in Bracknell during June 1965 (for £140.00) from Peter Richardson who had opted to buy a new Simca to replace the Aprilia. A week or so after Cedric took possession, Peter contacted Cedric to pass on something to do with the car, and lamented that he regretted selling the car, as the Simca did not compare well to the Lancia.
The following year someone wrote a letter to a London newspaper mentioning Stainless Stephen and noting that he had died a year or two before. This elicited a letter in reply from the allegedly deceased comedian (Arthur Clifford Baynes), who I imagine would have been sorely tempted to reprise the famous Mark Twain quote “the reports of my death are an exaggeration”. After this, Cedric took the opportunity to write to him and quizzed him about his old Lancia. Arthur was delighted to hear his the car was in good hands and wrote him a letter with a number of anecdotes from his time of ownership. He stated that he had owned 34 cars in his time, but unreservedly put the Lancia at the top of the list. (see letter and transcript below)
As my conversation with Cedric progressed, I was delighted to hear that he not only had photos from his time with car, but also one from Arthur. Other pearls of information included the fact that the car was once fitted with a four band period valve radio, with an aerial running under the car adjacent to the exhaust system (the cable is still there). Also of great interest was that Cedric, in company with Harry Manning & Ken Cousins, had assembled the car after Graham’s passing to make the car saleable.
Arthur C. Baynes & Stainless Stephen. circa 1946
The car during Cedric Bristow’s time circa 1966
Cedric in 2010 with his current Aprilia - the blue one.
(The red one is the infamous Ben Courage car)
Dear Cedric Bristow
Thank you for your very interesting letter. Yes, SS 4067 was bought by me from Kevill Davis & March (Berkely St W1) in Nov 1938 for £355. I gave in exchange a Rover 16 Sports- for which they allowed me £225. The registration number dates from 1932, when I bought an Armstrong Siddeley 6 cylinder 12HP. Sir John Siddeley (Later Lord Kenilworth (?)) personally arranged for the number.
I ran the Lancia right through the war, except when I was away in Burma, Egypt etc entertaining the troops. She was very well maintained chiefly at Alperton, and had at least 4 new sets of rear couplings (a weak point). MPG 30+. I once got 40 MPG on a run from Sheffield to Kings Lynn (Freewheeling down all the hills).
I’ve had 34 cars, but unreservedly put the Lancia top of the list. She would cruise at 70, maximum around 80. With little traffic on the roads I averaged over 40mph. In 1946 she was fitted with new pistons & silencer. Alec Parkes of Brent Parkes Whetstone N20 bought her in 1947 after 70,000 miles- for £500, and I switched to a Citroen Light 15.
As you are such a genuine enthusiast, I thought you might like the enclosed photograph. Am currently running a Triumph 2000, but I have a sneaking fancy for either a Peugeot 204 or Simca 1500. Just had my third prang in 650,000 miles of motoring.
Arthur. C. Baynes
Chapter Three. Previous Owners
THE TALES OF STAINLESS STEPHEN’S LANCIA APRILIA