From November 10th-12th, 221 competitors, starting from London, Kenilworth, Taunton, Cardiff, Norwich, Glasgow and Manchester, drove round the rally route to converge on Hastings for the final driving tests and festivities.
On the Friday, leaving the VW to its own devices in Oxford, we transferred to an Austin-Healey 100M (loud cheers from 50 per cent, of the readership!) and proceeded to the fourth test, at the foot of the famous Bwlch-y-Groes Pass in Wales. After an adequate lunch in Shrewsbury, we met the competitors in Llangollen, the first to appear being P. V. J. Turner’s steadily-driven Vauxhall. E. T. Pritchard’s 2½-litre Riley followed closely, its big reversing lamp noticeable, and Mrs. Lambert’s VW promptly stopped on seeing the Editor of Motor Sport, having, in fact, mistaken him for a time-check! This gay, all-feminine crew were going extremely well in such a modestly-powered car. C. G. Gibbs’ Singer Hunter, E. Parsons’ Jaguar Mk. VII and H. J. Harper’s M.G. Magnette were keeping close company, while the front passenger in D. J. A. Smith’s Morris Minor was “in bed” but enjoying a joke with the rest of the crew.
As we mingled with the competitors en route for Bala, it was pleasing to note that few cars seemed to bear any damage and, after passing forests Where “picnic places” are clearly indicated to obviate fire risks and coming across the bleak moors, how a van sportingly ran with its near-side wheels off the road to let competitors go by.
Just before Bala several competitors missed a very clearly signposted right turn to a route-check and, led by a D.K.W. Sonderklasse, a group were hastily turning round to return, P. H. Channon’s 1½-litre Riley saloon rushing up quite the wrong track and W. G. Edgerton’s Sunbeam sadly weighing up the consequences of not going back, right in Bala itself.
So, passing the Bala check-point as Smith’s Morris Minor left, we approached Bwlch as Healey-meat in a rear-engined sandwich, preceded by rapid Mrs. Lambert in her VW, followed by a Renault 750.
This year, competitors took Bwlch-y-Groes the “proper” way, which apparently misled T. G. Peacock (Turner), who came down late in the proceedings against the rest of the cars!
At the foot of the famous Pass the usual cheerful Welsh marshals had laid out Test 4, the Rev. K. E. Francis in charge as usual, and a hut rigged against the intermittent rain and lit by electric lamps. This test was instructive — drivers had to restart from dead engine within five seconds, stop astride line B, restart without rolling back, and continue round the steep right-hand corner to line C, crossing it within 30 seconds of starting. The surface was wet but firm. The following observations are unofficial and may not necessarily tally with the M.C.C.’s findings.
I. F. Walker’s Ford Prefect was perfectly happy, the VW never faltered, but after a good “take-off,” P. H. Channon’s Riley If spun its wheels and juddered away from the restart, and W. G. Edgerton’s Sunbeam failed to stop astride line B. D. A. Such got hopelessly mixed up and readily agreed to have his Ford Prefect pushed. B. H. Lambert made a very good show, steam coming from the D.K.W.’s front wheels, K. Brierley’s Jowett Javelin was O.K. but had axle judder and nearly stopped before line C, C. Hale’s Sunbeam made a poor showing, not stopping over line B and nearly failing altogether.
A. P. Grant stalled his Porsche’s engine at line B and lost too much time restarting, D. Porter’s Riley Pathfinder ran backwards and suffered from fearful wheelspin, Turner’s Vauxhall dallied a bit but was satisfactory, and B. D. S. Ginn treated his Triumph TR2 like a racer, making a very fine run.
S. C. Ingram’s Riley Pathfinder rolled back, E. T. Pritchard’s Riley continued to blot this make’s record by failing after the restart, Gibb’s Singer Hunter couldn’t restart at all. The test was not easy and, as someone said, you wouldn’t want to tour Wales in the cars seen to fail!
E. Parsons’ Mk. VII Jaguar got some spin but was good, R. J. Smith’s Humber Hawk, with badgery front and back and a slightly dented number-plate, was slow, J. Sprinzel paused awhile but, his TR2’s lamps blazing went very well, and H. J. Harper took it fast in the M.C. Magnetic.
R. A. Larkin’s Standard Ten ran back and gear-crunches were heard, E. J. K. Patten’s Porsche was good if slightly hesitant, but D. W. Balm’s M.G. Magnate ran back before getting to line B and J. C. Smith put up a shocking exhibition of how not to do it in Sunbeam-Talbot, which retaliated by not restarting!
G. F. Rennoldson’s crew laughed happily as the f.w.d. Citroën went well, if a shade hesitantly, I. Mantle’s 1,500-c.c. TF M.G. unhappily stalled its engine at B, restarting very well afterwards, J. P. Blackmore’s Ford Anglia got away slowly but was neat, While P. Bolton’s small Ford was excellent, if slow. J. A. G. Ewer just got his small Ford going, to perform well, L. S. Stross believed in lots of revs, on a very good Jaguar XK140 ran, and although K. N. Lee’s 1,172-c.c. -Ford, like its fellows, lacked power, it got away all right.
It was astonishing how many drivers left all their powerful lamps blazing when using their starters, and D. F. Darken’s Standard Eight needed three tries, then rolled back at B, to fail. H. J. Cook’s Ford Zodiac actually had six lamps ablaze but commenced second go, and performed very well. R. A. Camp’s 2½ Riley was slow but satisfactory, while Mrs. Jackson braked hard for line B, her little Ford being slow but absolutely sure. Mrs. Fraser punished her Sunbeam-Talbot’s battery when she lost marks at A and then rolled back from line B, I. L. Watkins stalled the engine of his TR2 at B but recovered well, and a good, steady job of it was made by de Looper’s Hillman Minx. D. R. Rawson’s Hillman Minx, however, stopped too soon at B and only just restarted. W. Slocombe (Triumph TR2) used blipping throttles to control spin, P. H. Arnold’s Ford Prefect stalled and rolled backwards, K. C. Chambers’ little Ford went well, but J. H. Huntridge stalled his Austin A90 Westminster’s engine at the restart and took time to recover..
The Caldwells, husband and wife, had much more than they required in their TR2, P. J. Anton’s Ford Anglia started very well but stopped and stalled on the steep corner up to line C, W. H. Morgan’s Jaguar was perhaps the best today, going up with reversing lamp alight, while N. B. Jarrett’s Standard Ten burnt rubber! D’O. M. Taylor and missus were excellent in a TR2 but also burnt rubber. In contrast. G. Howard-Sorrell’s Standard Eight rolled back and stalled, R. W. Cookson’s Mercedes-Benz — such is the reputation of Stuttgart that marshals and watching police were agog — rolled back but recovered well, wheels spinning, for a big saloon. A. K. McNaughton’s Sunbeam Mk. III stopped too soon but went away well, both M. B. Wortreek-Howell’s TR2 and S. Keen’s Morgan were outstanding, the former very noisy, Peter Morgan’s Morgan Plus Four equally excellent and neat as well, while A. J. Blair’s Morgan was only a shade less neat, running back a little, and A. L. Yarranton had entirely the right idea, putting out his headlamps for the start, then going as well as anyone. T. Stevenson’s Ford Zephyr didn’t want to start its engine, ran back, and failed.
P. G. Cooper’s Standard Ten, sporting the latest Marchel spotlamp, just restarted, R. K. Hooper’s Sunbeam-Talbot had very little in hand, but W. G. H. Crews’ Morris Minor was amongst the very best. H. E. Rumsey’s TR2 was very good, axle juddering, however, B. Phipps’ Morgan Plus Four needed two tries at restarting but was O.K, Miss Palfrey indulged in immense wheelspin and even changed up in her Morgan, while C. Hull’s TR2 scarcely paused at all on a racing ascent! A. L. Yarrington ceased his Morgan too soon, failing, while W. D. Porter made a mess of it for his XK140, running back and punching the cogs. Very polished was P. C. Wadham’s TR2, T. A. Parkes’ TR2 had spin. C. Griffiths’ Austin-Healey 100 was splendid, L. B. Mayman’s Morris Minor neat, while W. Gunson’s A.C. Ace and C. A. L. Gear’s Ford Zephyr were both outstanding. H. Luke-Dunn’s M.G. was sure. Flt.Lt. Jones stopped his Standard Ten too soon, Flt.-Lt. Rigg’s passengers bounced to control his Zephyr’s wheelspin, and D. M. Williams crunched his Aston Martin DB2/4’s gears, selected the wrong one, and only just got away. W. G. Cawsey’s Renault 750 wouldn’t restart at first, then went unconvincingly, D. M. Nicholson’s Wolseley 4/41 was very slow B to C, while T. T. Kyffin’s DB2/4 seemed too high-geared, being slow.
B. H. Halford did it absolutely beautifully in his TR2, E. W. Williams’ Standard Eight ran back a bit. B. W. Fursdon’s Renault 750 was truly excellent, Dennis Dent’s Jaguar Mk. VII, with blazing lamps, suffered front axle, judder and a nasty noise, A. E. Westbrook’s Austin-Healey rolled back a shade, T. G. Saunders’ Austin A90 spun its wheels, while W. E. Watkins’ Simon stopped after the restart, failing altogether.
M. J. Reid’s TC M.G. was a delight to watch, C. G. Wakefield (Austin A90) should invest in a ZF diff., very neat was S. P. A. Freeman in a TC M.G., M. D. F. Smith indulged in revs., spin, the lot, in a TR2, Miss Ozanne’s Sunbeam Mk. III was amongst the reluctant starters and rolled back, recovering, however, and T. P. Pascoe’s Renault 750 took it slowly, rolling back a shade.
J. Risk in a small Ford made an absolute hash of it. T/Sgt. Rogge’s TF M.G. was untidily driven, while P. Hocquard’s Renault 750 rolled back, stalled, and was then given reverse instead of first gear! J. J. Blackburn’s Ford Zephyr suffered immense spin and judder and J. Watson’s M.G. Magnette ran back. S. Shaw’s Hillman California didn’t like it, but exceedingly neat were J. R. Robinson’s Hillman and J. C. Harrison’s Vanguard station wagon. G. V. Howe’s M.G. Magnette had spin and judder. J. A. Bassett’s Borgward Isabella, looking, enormous for a 1½-litre went splendidly but I. Banks used second gear in his Austin-Healey and no doubt wished for bottom.
R. Crawford’s TR2 was good, if steady, R. W. Dalglish’s TR2 like a racer, roughly handled, C. J. Bendall’s Borgward had a tired battery but went splendidly after it had started, J. P. Booth’s Zephyr juddered away successfully, J. C. Hilton blipped his TR2 through nicely, and C. Tyrer’s Jaguar was fast, wheels spinning wildly. Very good was J. H. Preston’s Sunbeam-Talbot but J. D. Williams rolled back, only just got away and stopped his Sunbeam-Talbot at line C. A. L. Timms likewise stopped at C after a good run in his Borgward, M. C. Reynolds (TR2) chose his path, Anne D.K.W.-mounted, stalled at A but went well afterwards, Mr.. Crossley stalled at B and let her Sunbeam Mk. III roll back, so did G. E. Middleton’s M.G. in spite of help from his passenger in spotting the line, while F. D. Kerr displayed “nerves,” stalling his XK140. G. H. F. Parkes’ Jaguar coupé was neat, A. C. Whatmough’s Sunbeam went off well but with spin, B. J. Warr’s 1,172 Ford, aided by his passenger’s torch, was good but suffered from enormous wheelspin, while Reg. Harris used peak revs, and spin with his Jaguar. Dr. Wade recovered well in a cog-fuffle in his TF M.G., doing very well indeed., W. Barrett’s Hillman was very neat, A. J. Burton’s modern Bentley rolled back badly and J. J. Gore’s Austin-Healey was slow away, with spin.
After which this reporter signs off, handing over to a colleague who was at Hastings. Incidentally, he finds that these discerning competitors entered between them, 36 Fords — bravo Dagenham! 22 Triumph TR2, 21 M.G.s, 16 each of Jaguar and Sunbeam or Sunbeam-Talbot, 14 Standards, 13 Austin-Healeys, 11 Morgans, eight Hillmans, six each of Riley and Austin, five Morris, four each of Aston Martin and Vauxhall, three each of VW, Javelin, D.K.W. and Borgward, two each of Singer, Porsche, Peugeot, Fiat and Dellow, with lone examples of Frazer-Nash, Humber, Citroën, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Turner, Rover, A.C. Ace, Wolseley and Sigma. Thus the Big Five were represented as: B.M.C. 52, Ford and Standard/Triumph 36 each, Rootes 25 and Vauxhall four — an interesting analysis of sales-to-enthusiasts! There were 11 lady entrants (including Pat Moss, who crashed), 14 drivers took their wives, and four their fiancees, girl-friends, sisters, secretaries or what-you-will.
After forty-eight hours of hard driving, competitors drew into Hastings on the Saturday morning, their cars travel-stained and untidy, feeling rather weary but happy as the final tests of this event were being. executed. Time checks were made on the outskirts of the town and cars.came to the promenade for the “Scissors” tests, the last on the programme. The pleasant weather and the restful noises of the sea on the beach were unrealistic in mid-November, but on our arrival the first sounds to be heard were tyre-torturing noises as competitors spun wheels and fought with gear-levers in attempts to save precious seconds.
The final test involved driving between two marker bins, stopping beyond them, reversing, and driving back through again and on to the finishing line. Fastest time of 21.4 sec. went to S. G. Cobham and B. J. Randall in an M.G. TF, with Dr. J. T. Spare and M. H. Meridith second with 21.8 sec. in a Morgan Plus Four. Most popular car to be seen at this event was the Ford Anglia, which stood up well to the forward-reverse treatment, doubtless assisted by the proximity of reverse to first gear in the Ford box; the saloon-car record goes to one of these models.that of R. J. Warr.
Large cars such as the Mk. VII Jaguar saloons had difficulty passing round the marker bins with much rapidity: M. D Einhorn tried hard with his but only recorded 43.0 sec. A. J. Burton took his Mk. VI Bentley saloon round in 33.4 sec., which was smart work; Aston Martins were also on the large side, D. M. Williams (28.2 sec.) making a good attempt accompanied by sporty noises due to a burst silencer, and T. T. Kyffin in a DB2/4 (27.4 sec.) did likewise. M.G.s were well represented in the fast set by M. J. Reid in a TC (2 4.0 sec.) and J. Watson in a Magnette (27.2 sec.), both demonstrating their harder types of suspension compared with the “floaty” types as found on Zephyrs and Veloxes. Zephyrs were very much in evidence; notably the examples driven by S. P. Lewis and C. A. L. Gear, who threw them around with great verve. Other spectacular performances were put up by some of the small Renaults, especially those of S. D. Silverthorne and W. G. Cawsey, whose times were 24.0 and 27.8 sec., respectively, the good steering lock on these cars enabling some “chancey” moves to be undertaken without unhappy results.
Triumph TR2s were another marque seen in great numbers, I. F. C. Sinclair making a fast trip through (23.6) and R. W. Dalglish even more so (22.4 sec.), while B. H. Halford was one of many who contacted a marker bin on his travels. N. C. Reynolds had the right idea about fitted thermos flasks, reversing lamps and suchlike on his TR2, Mrs. Kerr was a useful accessory in Mr. Kerr’s XK140 Jaguar since she pointed out directions, and the most-attractive-headgear award, if presented, would probably have gone to Dr. H. J. Wade and B. H. Gerrard, for wearing white ski hats surmounted with red blobs.
Competitors who were keen enough to clean their cars before participating in the final tests deserve a few words of praise, G. Wood in a Jaguar and R. W. Dalglish in a TR2 being amongst them.
Outright winner of the rally and, incidentally, the pre-war award, was S. P. A. Freeman in a TA M.G., and the ladies’ award went to Miss Angela Palfrey (with Miss Aileen Jervis) in a Morgan Plus Four, concluding the M.C.C. Rally for 1955.