The VSCC started its 1996 trials season with the Herefordshire Trial on February 17. A good start, the weather not too cold and the gales subsiding beforehand, for the 104 entries. Hamish Moffatt had been out fixing the “sections”, with enough hills to delete any whose condition on the day made them inadvisable. This left a dozen good but comparatively easy ones, reported as enjoyable. “Royal Bounty”, for instance, was in pleasant rolling parkland and there was a stop-and-restart on muddy but short “Deans Place”, where hounds were baying in a distant forest. The route had to be nominally completed in four hours, leaving plenty of time for those contemplating long hauls home. Moreover, one pub was offering a one-third discount for those in 50-year-old cars and another third off for drivers over 50 years old. . . (So support the Wheatsheal at Fromes Hill; The Verzons with its spacious car parks and bars was, as usual, the start and finish point).
Some had problems. Early on, Boyd’s A7 Special ran a big-end, and Bond’s Morns-Cowley apparently incurred radiator damage as a guard was being fitted. Keith Hill had had a pinion-bearing fail on his Crouch-Helix the day before but was able to locate a 24-hour service for the supply of replacements, so a little night toil had it running again. Seymour Price had the n/s rear wheel spokes break up just after he had cleared Royal Bounty”; he went on to clean all but Herbert’s Hump”. Another who achieved this was Mrs Wellock, in her husband’s 1932 A7 Special with track-rod ahead of the front axle, all the more notable as this was her first trial and they move the car up from Ilminster and back. A few Others did equally well, and 18 cleared every section.
Ben Collings and a full crew in the Mercedes-Maybach had adventures when the n/s chain came off and wrapped itself round the brake drum, bending the substantial torque-rod. Miraculously, out of nowhere came the owner of a workshop with an electric forge, so repairs were effected, a puncture repaired at the vintage garage at Much Marcie, and they thundered on to the finish. Comic relief was provided by a FIAT with its make in large letters on its radiator, a racing body etc, which was soon boiling and had such severe clutch-slip that it scarcely got to the start of “Royal Bounty”, where it soon stopped. Another unusual-looking car was Bumett’s 1929 modified AJS, Barry Clarke had his Austin-GN, Dr Gray had entered the Austin-JAR and the 1923 Bugattis of Jackson and Hudson made a contrast to Parkin’s 1927 Troian. David Marsh had four sturdy “bouncers” in his 30-98, Gray’s A7 Nippy lived up to its name, Ainscough s Frazer Nash sported an L-plate on its “African’s Belly” and a golf umbrella across its radiator, and I could not identify the body on Fort’s A7. Of the six Fords, Miss Jones’s had a two-seater-and-dickey body, Hamilton-Gould’s a rad-muff at the ready and another Ford a bolster tank amidships. So a good, if not too demanding trial, from which some vintage cars departed on trailers but Edwardians like the Overland and screenless Buick were driven away.
Almost at the end we encountered Threlfall’s Ford taking on water from a stream, the gasket for its ribbed aluminium head having blown. Alas, very early on Ian Williamson’s “Cream Cracker” MG had returned to The Verzons on a transporter, after a malfunction. W B
Results:First-Class Awards: J Miller (A7), P Longhurst (Riley), N Pleven (A7), T Gosling (A7), Rachel Basham (A7), Dr Gray (A7-JAP), D Rolfe (MG-Riley), B Clarke (GN-A7), J Flann (A7), H Stringer (A7), R Low (A7), B Faulker (Riley), T Rides (Riley), D Ellison (Riley), R Harcourt-Smith (Alvis), D Bond (Morris), J Diffey (30-98), W Urry (Riley). Second-Class Awards: I Davidson (MG), Sally Collings (Bentley), S Baxter (Chrysler), D Knight (Ford), E Goldsmith (Lea-Francis), P Cassidy (Riley), Annabel Jones (Ford), P Tebbett (Riley) Third-Class Awards: D Merchant (A7), T Pipkin (A7), J Baxter (A7), S Price (A7), Anne Wellock (A7), T Jones (30-98), D Marsh (30-98), I Gough (Riley). Of these, 28 were pre-1931 cars. Finished with zero points: R Rowland (Fiat), D Holden (20-98). Retired: D Boyd (A7), I Williamson (MG), T Squires (A7), R Rouse (A7), D Saxl (Riley),D Davies (Alvis), Non-starters: D Pearce (MG), P Evans (A7).