The popularity of this annual two-day event was assured before it started, with 90 competitors wanting to have a go, cut down to just over 80 for organisational practicality, although there were not enough to run the one-time Saturday driving-tests. So it started, after an obligatory 100-mile run, from the Rhydspence Inn, where free coffee had been laid on, a later promise being two barrels of beer contributed by John Scott’s.
There was anxiety that the Welsh “Indian summer” would render the trials sections too easy but it turned out not to be the case, some competitors finding fresh difficulties and others of them enjoying getting higher up some of the hills than ever they had previously. A7s dominated the entry, there being 20 in all, including three GE Cup Models and Jane Tomlinson’s fleet box-saloon. Of the vintage heavier metal, say over 4-litres, 30/98s were entered by Spollon, Jeddere-Fisher (E-type) which was to win deservedly the Presteigne Trophy, Thomson driving Bendall’s car, Bullett, Ghosh (is its number-plate worth more than this rather special car?), Marsh, Liddell, Garland, Rankin, Lemon, Monro and Jim Whyman in Tony Jones’s car. Against this there were the 4-1/2-litre Bentleys of Tim Llewellyn (the famous Bluebell, now a four-seater with a padlocked box on the back, presumably for spare engines) and Reynolds’s 1928 4-1/2, while Rides had his high-chassis 4-1/2-litre lnvicta tourer.
The Edwardian and older section was suprisingly well supported, with the Presidential Mercedes Sixty, looking well-balanced with its FIVA Rally long-range fuel tank and on 6.00 x 20 rear tyres, Hickling’s 1917 Dodge Four, while Danaher was courageously introducing the 1904 10-litre GB Star to the sixteen trials hills, Pritchett had brought out the 1919 25/50 Talbot all-weather, Teeder was in his 1911 Riley and Harris had produced a big 1914 Type EU 4-1/2-litre Renault chassis with polished brass or copper dashboard petrol and water tanks and a lofty rear seat for his “bouncers” mounted ahead of the spare tyres.
The Saturday sections did not produce much mud but there were incidents of other kinds. Mitchell’s A7 Chummy had oil on its clutch, failing on several sections, Painter had most of the transmission come adrift on his Salmson but rectified this overnight, and even Tim Llewellyn was changing a few plugs on the Bentley.
On Sunday the sun changed to mist and it was evident that Lloyds might be the deciding section. Low’s smart Mulliner-bodied A7 two-seater was doing very well and was “clean” here, so it was very hard that, along with three other A7s, he was disqualified, for having 14mm plugs, implying a non-vintage cylinder head. (Had this not happened, he would have been second overall.) The only cars to “clean” Lloyds thereafter were Hickling’s 1917 Dodge, Rodney Felton in his Brescia Bugatti, who was to prove the overall winner, Jeddere-Fisher in the E-type 30/98 Vauxhall, winner of the long-wheelbase class, who beat all the ohv 30/98s, Harry Spence who looked unperturbed as he took the Lea-Francis Special up confidently, and Tony Carlisle in his Trojan.
You had to get to marker 25 to “clean” Lloyds, a short, slimy, undulating track. Winder’s Humber made it to 22, Evans’ A7 to 20, Jones A7 to 19, Potter in the Pat Stocken Trojan to 17, a benefit for the smaller cars. But the big Talbot, Holbrook’s 12/50 Alvis, Tedder’s Edwardian Riley, Contreras’ Riley 9, Collins’ Alvis Silver Eagle, Hulford’s TG Alvis, Weston’s A7 and Parker’s A7 would not leave the start-line, while there were others who did not get much further. So the fine weather had not made it all that easy! The 1914 Renault soon came to rest and burst its n/s rear tyre into the bargain and young Harcourt-Smith’s recently put-together A7 Reproduction Ulster broke its o/s half-shaft and also had tyre problems before even getting to the Lloyds’ start-line. One of the three GE Cup Model A7s had lost both its mudguards on one side after an incident, Barry Clarke, who had been admonished for presenting his A7 with two gearboxes in tandem and made to remove one of the gear levers, was repairing a leaking core plug on the approach to Lloyds and later retired with a sheared half-shaft key, Hamish Moffatt ran a big-end in the Type 13 Bugatti’s engine, and the front axle of the Marsh’s 1922 Morris Sports was damaged.
Howard’s Model-A had a leaking scuttle petrol tank, Hallam rolled his Anzani Frazer Nash, and the old Renault had an alarming backwards excursion reversing down from Cwmheyope, but fortunately a substantial tree stopped it. It was an eventful “Welsh”, lots ot spectators gathered to watch, those at Lloyds far above a valley through which a two-coach train ran on the single track towards Llangunllo. For the last three sections at Pilleth the farmer had again generously provided free parking for the many spectators’ cars, which included a majestic 35/120 Daimler and John Carter’s magnificent 1911 40/50 Rolls-Royce two-seater, up from Saundersfoot. After which many of the competitors, scorning trailers, set off to drive home, some for long distances, the GB Star, for example, having been driven to and from Suffolk. Felton, the outright winner of the Trial, was setting off nonchalantly for Cheshire in his Brescia Bugatti, which is original apart from a less vulnerable body, Adrian Liddell for Andover in his fast 30/98. How it had all worked out is shown below, and the closeness of the overall points is worth noting!. — W.B
Presteigne Trophy: A. Jeddere-Fisher (30/98 Vauxhall)
Class 1 — 1st Class Awards: A.F. Carlisle (Trojan), H. Spence (Lea-Francis Special),
W. Hall (Amilcar-Riley), J. Evans (A7).
— 2nd Class Awards: M. Harper (MG Midget), W. May (Anzani Frazer Nash),
W. Weeks (A7), A. Bonnet (A7).
— 3rd Class Awards: L. Easter (A7), S. Mann (A7), K. Roach (A7).
Class 2 — 1st Class Awards: A. Jeddere-Fisher (30/98 Vauxhall),
W. Liddell (30/98 Vauxhall), C. Rides (Invicta), R. Hickling (1917 Dodge).
— 2nd Class Awards: R. Collings (1903 Mercedes), T. Llewellyn (Bentley),
D. Marsh (30/98 Vauxhall), P. Garland (30/98 Vauxhall).
— 3rd Class Awards: G. Rankin (30/98 Vauxhall), M. Lemon (30/98 Vauxhall), J. Whyman (30/98 Vauxhall).
Overall placings —
Class 1: 1st Felton (Bugatti) 398 points, [ Low (A7) 396 points — Disqualified];
2nd Spence (Lea-Francis Special) 387 points;
3rd Carlisle (Trojan) 386 points.
Class 2: 1st Jeddere-Fisher (30/98 Vauxhall), 352 points, Liddell (30/98 Vauxhall)
2nd Rides (Invicta) 341 points, Hickling (Dodge)
3rd Collings (1903 Mercedes)