THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
T11-1 E IDA IVTI NG OF 1-11-1E IVA,A
In that period, which, for some reason that never seems to merit explanation, people call the “good old days” trials competitors would be comfortably defeated by gradient alone. But, with increasing efficiency universally implanted into our power units, it ere long became apparent that the well known hills abounding here and there in the British Isles were sadly falling from grace. So trials organisers, ever resourceful, looked again and forthwith served up mud lanes in lieu of hard-surfaced gradients. And cars accordingly changed to cope with this new element in pot hunting. Bottom gears fell to an order that allowed engines to run at peak revs, with the road wheels just ambling round, which was not very useful for negotiating heavy traffic, and encouraged starting in second, which is apt to offend the clutch. Driver and passenger were accommodated right over the axle to aid adhesion, which is one way of making use of surplus avoirdupois, but at the expense of comfort on long main road journeys. Steering became much lower-geared, that it might remain reasonably light with the front wheels running in inch-deep ruts at a few m.p.h., at the expense of real controllability. Streamline tails, brought in by Salmson, Amilcar, Senechal and Vernon-Derby, disappeared, that competition-shod wheels could be conveniently accommodated, but with a sacrifice of luggage space. Folding screens became universal, not in the interests of a few extra” knots” at the upper end of the speed-range, but because no driver can storm a hill with his vision obscured by mud-spattered Triplex. Likewise, wings suffered abbreviation to permit a free escape for slime and to enable competitors to fit the new ” knobblies ” that Mr. Dunlop readily supplied as the most suitable tyre
for the new conditions. By pouring moulten lead into axle casings, or by more scientific methods, differentials, which presumably put up to some extent the purchase price of a car, were locked solid, though still remaining as so much dead-weight. So we come to the present state of things with scores of clubs catering solely for
“Mud-Wallowers,” who turn out in surprising numbers nearly every weekend, to roll (literally) from slime-storming episode to the next slime-storming episode on the pudding-wheels of specially equipped, mud-defeating, motors. Curiously, the more pur-sang motorcars, which one imagines are better suited to other forms of motoring, particularly fast roadwork, than the specials often seem almost as good at this mud wallow
ing as the specials themselves. The Frazer-Nash is an outstanding example ; Anthony’s Aston-Martin, ‘Watson’s Alfa-Romeo, Elgood’s Bentley and Warburton’s 30/98 Vauxhall are others.
Although mud-storming is as popular as ever it is notable that in quite a number of recent, important trials we have seen the banning the ” comp.” covers and a sign of greater interest being taken in stiffer gradients and lengthy timedtests as a means of determining awards. This line of thought must encourage more road-worthy motor-cars. It would seem, indeed, that we have come to the Parting of the Ways.