V-to-C Miscellany, August 1996, August 1996

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I n 1903 the Hon Charles Rolls, driving an 80hp Mors, won the Ballyfinnane hill-climb in County Kerry, taking home a silver cup. Ninety years later a retired Police Chief did some research and was able to locate the 1200-yard venue for this event, a steep narrow road almost unchanged since it was used for the 1903 climb. He was able to hold a small commemoration gathering there, when a plaque was unveiled at the roadside. It is hoped that perhaps a more ambitious assembly might be staged there next year, for drivers of appropriate cars, up to the Edwardian period. It is thought that the cup presented to C S Rolls may still exist. The original event marked the end of the Irish Automobile Fortnight. A Humber having broken down, Rolls contested the final with Sir A Macdonald’s Daimler, the Mors winning with a climb in 1min 1.8sec.

The Lea-Francis OC held its annual rally on June 1/2, at Coventry and then at the usual Stanford Park Hall venue. It marked the 50th anniversary of the Lea-Francis 14hp saloon, the first batch of which was shipped to Copenhagen in January 1946. That evening Barrie Price gave a talk in the bar of the Chance Hotel, Coventry, which he recalled as a meeting place for motor industry shop and works managers in former times. The Sunday assembly had the expected fine attendance of Lea-Francis products of all kinds. A 1933 P-type 14/40 was out for the first time in 30 years, and Hypers came from as far away as Bognor and Wimbourne. Alan Lupton won the treasure hunt, the Concours d’Elegance went to a 1931 Ace of Spades, and the Gymkhana was won by a 1929 12/40 — well, by its driver. The L T Delaney Trophy for best annual performance was awarded to John Warden (1928 Hyper) and there was even time to visit some of the former Coventry factory sites, not withstanding that the 1896-to-1937 Lower Ford Street works has been demolished.

Correction: Donald Parker did not spin his R-R Bentley at Loton Park; it non-started, having broken down en route.