Friday, 17 April 2009
The Loose Stuff
Had this picture of Georges Sizaire for years and thought I ought to share it with you. Sizaire & Naudin is one of those great independent French car makers that grew out of the mad-cap back yard experimental engineering of the late nineteenth century. Georges was born in 1880 and had the fortune of having an older brother called Maurice Hippolyte Sizaire - fantastic name. Louis Naudin was hauled in while Georges was in the army and by 1900 the three were working together on their first car. Voiturette racing of this kind was an obvious marketing weapon and the company had much success over the years, notably winning the 1908 Coupe de l'Auto in the latest development of their long stroke single cylinder "light" cars. The picture above is of Georges at the wheel of a later four cylinder racer accompanied by his trusty mechanic during the 1912 Coupes des Voiture Legere at Dieppe. The race at Dieppe was usually run at a distance of 956 miles, and in that light the reliability of these motors is staggering. I've another picture somewhere in the archive of Naudin at full throttle, dust flying, mechanic hanging on for dear life with a cigarette gripped firmly between his teeth. Shots of Edwardian motor racing always trigger that yearning for unsurfaced roads. We have it far too easy with all this tarmac and concrete to speed about on. It's a shame that nearly all public roads in this country have gone easy, we need to travel to North America (particularly the fire roads in Canada), or the outback of Australia to get any real feel for the loose stuff. I was heartened by news today that some local authority was proposing to leave pot-holes un-mended as a traffic calming measure - bravo. It seems to me that the more we pander to the motorist with fine, smooth, straight roads, not only do we completely trash the countryside but we encourage more Toady driving. Talking of news - when did littering and dog fouling become "minor" offences ? No reference to loose stuff needed here, but frankly any body who can't deal with their own dog's pooh should be rushed straight to the front of the queue ahead of car thieves, muggers and even bad tempered policemen. MORE DUST !