A Weekend of vintage Welsh

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A major happening in the crowded VSCC calendar is the weekend spent trialing up the stiffer Welsh fields and by-ways, a fixture dating back to 1939, when the winner was Clive Windsor-Richards, driving a dope-fed 30/98, second another racing-driver, Joan Richmond in her Lancia Lambda, an A7 third. They were tough then, the cars including a 1901 Benz whose driver sent a final telegram to Presteigne asking for “candles, snow-plough, petrol, oil and patience”. And the Concours d’Elegance encompassed a Centric-supercharged P1 Rolls-Royce. . .

This year, in contrast to 1992, rain fell copiously prior to the Saturday of October 9, so the hills were expected to be “stoppers”. But in the event they proved easier than anticipated. The first were in WorseII Wood near Old Radnor, where 16 drivers got top marks, whereas at Lower Hanter only J Diffey’s 1929 A7 took the maximum, with Low’s A7 but a mark less.

Here there were diversions, such as noting that Jane Walker had left her husband, but no further than to navigate in Hamilton-Gould’s Ford saloon while Ian conducted his Gwynne 8. American autos had turned out in fair numbers and one wondered if the 3/4-elliptic rear suspenders of the more aged ones were good, or less good, on trials hills. . .

Forest Fach and Cwm-y-Gerwyn were easy for most but at Fron Wen Lilley’s 907cc flat-twin two-seater Jowett was the suprise star-climber, to “20”, where Rides’ 4 1/2-litre Invicta Special scored only one mark. It was then back to the Radnorshire Arms for imbibement generously poured by Sotheby’s.

A look around before the competitors tackled 13 sections on the Sunday showed that Thorpe was in his lhd hoodless 1919 Buick tourer, that Rankin had his full crew of”bouncers” in his nice 30/98 Vauxhall, that Father Diffey was in his replica-bodied 12/50 TG Alvis Sports tourer, and that Gosling had full all-weather equipment on his 1928 Alvis tourer against the brief rain shower — how does the VSCC control the weather?

Sunday was a perfect day and again it ended at the three Pilleth hills, where the land owner very generously opens a vast field as a free car-park for the many onlookers. Lower Litton had caused little anxiety, except to Walker’s G8 which was indulging in a clutch-stop problem, to Ritchie’s Riley 9 that missed it out altogether and later jibbed at other hills, and to King (Morris Minor) and A Marsh (A7) who both failed to score anything.

Stringer’s A7 was best up Cwmgilla, but the rest of the sections did not inflict much marks-deduction for the more capable cars. Likewise, the Pilleths were in forgiving mood. Here the public gathers to access this odd sport. Roger Collings’ 19-litres of Mercedes aero-motor was hidden on its arrival by interested spectators. Road tyres did not help but the biggest car on the Welsh Trial was doing well, especially on eleven of the hills, but it hardly got away on Pilleth 2.

Marchant’s A7 Chummy, screen up, scuttled off fast up Pilleth 3 and was “clean” on two of these, but Rankin got the 30/98 very sideways on Pilleth 3 and crabbed to a standstill at “14”, Roger Collings got to “9” where the surface was getting difficult but Ben Collings in the long-bonneted 4 1/2-litre vintage Bentley cleaned it.

There was still much to see. The Edwardian Renault attoned for spartan bodywork with a pair of Bleriot gas headlamps, the 1917 Nordenfelt was motoring about strongly, in spite of a “sudden” clutch, the lady route-finder in Ainscough’s Alvis beetleback wore a white helmet of the kind once favoured by the crews of SS100s, Riley’s Ford saloon displayed headlamp covers and a ballast box on the front, and had an excellent tickover. Barnett’s A7 Special sported racing bonnet-straps, Welch’s A7 Chummy aero-screens and strip mudguards, against which the Chummy of Seymour and Liz Price looked quite normal. We were treated to two four-seater Chryslers, the back tyres deflated to almost zero on one of them; both cleaned Pilleth 3 and they finished the event only six points apart.

While all this was happening 34 other cars had been out on Sunday’s road navigation event. They included an early Hudson Super Six saloon and a later version, an exciting twin-cam 2LS Ballot (see p1247), and the 1911 Marion.

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Results

TRIAL: Harry Bowler Trophy (Best performance): tie between J Diffey (1929 A7) and P Blakeney-Edwards (1929 Frazer Nash), 316 points each. Presteigne Trophy: R Harcourt-Smith (1929 Alvis), 291 points. First Class Awards: R Thwaites (Chrysler), B Collings (Bentley), R Odell (Riley). Second-Class Awards: P Longhurst (Riley), H Moffat (Bugatti), Jane Tomlinson (GN-A7), R Welch (A7), F Firth (1906 Nordenfelt), L Baxter (Chrysler), J Urry (Riley). Third-Class Awards: R Low (A7), J Blake (GN), M Blake (Frazer Nash), F Giles (Frazer Nash), J Ghosh (30/98), T Threlfall (Ford), D Marsh (30/98). ROAD RUN: Jubilee Mug: P Cole (Riley), lost 6 marks. First-Class Awards: D Baker (Rolls-Royce), Second Class Awards: M Barber (Sunbeam), F Hyland (Alvis), I Rendall (1911 Marion), K Stimson (Riley). Third-Class Awards: S Skilbeck (Vauxhall), K Burnett (Alvis), R Britcher (Alvis), Best Novice: D Cree (A7).