Rumblings, February 1955

A round Britain tour

It is becoming increasingly difficult to think up worthwhile publicity stunts in motoring, but Tommy Wisdom, well-known motoring journalist and racing driver, thought up a good one at the close of last year. He took a VW Microbus, in standard trim save for the addition of fog-lamps and heater, fully laden, for an R.A.C.-observed Round-Britain Tour.

The route was Folkestone-Edinburgh-John o’ Groats-Glasgow. Land’s End-Folkestone, a distance of 2,118 miles. Two ” crews” took part, sharing the driving. Thus, Tommy Wisdom, Louis Klemantaski, Jerry Ames (of Downtons Limited, which firm arranged the tour), J. F. Moon, M. Boyd, D. Steed, L. Webb, the R.A.C. Observer, and mechanic Musson from VW Motors Ltd. took the Microbus from Folkestone to Edinburgh, attended by a VW saloon driven by W. Boddy, Editor of Motor Sport, F.Page and T.Lush. This crew then rested at the North British Hotel in Edinburgh and a fresh “crew,” composed of Messrs. Cameron, Oliver, Lockhart, Lithgow and Bowman, still accompanied by M. Boyd and R.A.C. Observer Webb, carried on to John o’ Groats and down to Glasgow. The VW saloon acting as tender-car, being now in the care of P. Easton of Downtons and D. Watkins.

This difficult section was covered at night and a target average speed of 28 m.p.h. was set for it, although experienced rally drivers thought this might well be impossible even with a sports car in daylight. Winds of gale force were encountered along the rough, narrow roads, yet the little air-cooled 25-b.h.p. Microbus, laden with eight men and their luggage, covered the North Scotland leg with five minutes in hand.

From Glasgow, on the third leg, the original crew took over, less M. Boyd and with the R.A.C. Observer relieved by a colleague, Mr. J. Pinnock.

The Microbus duly arrived back at Folkestone well ahead of schedule after an entirely trouble-free run. For about half the distance it had run on its own, because the VW saloon had become “mislaid.”

Apart from proving that a 1,192-c.c. engine is no handicap to carrying its full load round Britain in winter, the engine of the Microbus was kept running during stops as an additional demonstration of its foolproof cooling. Indeed, it was switched off for only 14 minutes, to enable a pint of Shell X-100 oil to be added to the sump, although one driver inadvertently stalled it for a few moments at some traffic lights.

The VW Microbus averaged a running speed of 32.9 m.p.h., or 28.4 m.p.h. inclusive of stops, and in spite of the load carried and the headwinds encountered, the consumption of Shell premium fuel came out to 26.93 m.p.g. for the 741/2-hour journey. This represents 1/4d.-per-passenger-per-mile, and the total of £2 4s.5d. per passenger compares favourably with the third-class rail fare of £17 13s. 6d. or the coach fare of £12 3s.Od. for an equivalent distance.

The VW Microbus ran on Bosch electrical equipment and Michelin “X’ tyres, which are standard equipment, and costs £999 17s. 6d. inclusive of p.t. and import duty.

This R.A.C.-observed run will focus attention on its many uses, for hotel work, dance band transportation, as a tender to a racing. Car team, etc.

The Dieppe Rally

One can but admire the courage of Mon. Rousseau, who came over to England at the end of December and, at a cocktail party arranged by of all people, the C.T.C., told his audience that, speaking for the organisers, he was fully aware that last year’s Dieppe Rally
was a ghastly failure. He apologised to those competitors who had been affected by ambiguities in the rules governing the 1954 Rally, and promised them that the 1955 Dieppe Rally will be a very different event.

Such honesty deserves its reward, which should be a strong British entry. The Rally will take place on May 21st/22nd, and will include a regularity test, acceleration and braking manoeuvres, a hill-climb and a speed trial with a separate series of awards. There will be 14 classes as well as a general classification, with prizes for each, and ladies’ prizes.

Dieppe is conveniently situated for us and should appeal to English rally drivers. Details are obtainable from Syndicat d’Initiative, Comae du Rallye de Dieppe, 1, Boulevard de la Liberation, Dieppe.

End pieces

Sports-car Championship of the World for 1954 was again won by Ferrari. The Italian National Championship is shared between Farina and Musso.

The B.T.D.A. Trials Gold Star for 1954 was won by R.W.Faulkner, the Rally Gold Star by J.H.Ray, the Rally Silver Star by Dr.J.T.Spare, the Ladies’ Silver Garter Rally Trophy by Miss Mary Walker, the Marcel Becquart International Rally Trophy by J.W.E. Banks, the Autocross Trophy by N.H.Overton, and the Rally Navigators’ Trophy by J.C.Dixon.

Last year’s Trials Champion was G.J.Newman and Hill-Climb Champion was Ken Wharton.

The B.R.D.C. Gold Star was won by Moss, the Richard Seaman Trophy by Hawthorn, the Johnny Wakefield Trophy for fastest Silverstone lap jointly by Moss and Hawthorn, and the E.R.A. Club Trophy jointly by Peter Whitehead and Wharton. The Guild of Motoring Writers voted Moss the Driver of the Year.

The 1954 German Touring Car Champion is H. Meier (D.K.W.) and W. Schluter (D.K.W.) won the European Touring Championship. The Women’s Touring Car Championship of Europe goes to Sheila Van Damm (Sunbeam).

Belgian National Champion of 1954 is Andre Pilette.

VWs are figuring in English competition successes. Four such cars won awards in a recent M.G.C.C. Irish Centre Trial and two others won first-class awards, another a second-class award, in the Tipperary L.C. & M.C.C. two-day Three Sisters Trial last year.

Peter Gammon (Lotus) takes the Performance Cars Trophy for 1954.

The Sexton Trophy for best overall performance in Irish speed events last year was won by J. Kelly.

A French 24-hour race to which British amateur drivers might well give attention is the Bol d’Or at Montlhery, scheduled for May 14th/15th and now organised by A.C. de l’Ile de France. There will be three classes, 750 c.c., 1,500 c.c. and 2,000 c.c., with an outright winner and 500,000 francs prize money. All starters receive a percentage of starting money depending on the distance covered. This time the race will be held over the long Montlhery road circuit. It would be nice to see a 750 M.C. team in the smallest class, perhaps led by the Austin Simplicity Details from the A.S. de l’Automobile Club de I’lle de France, Place Verdome, Paris.

The R.A.C. British International Rally looms up, It is scheduled for March 8th-13th, starting from Hastings and Blackpool and concluding at Hastings. Entries close on February 1st, or on February 14th at higher fees. The route will cover about 2,000 miles and will embrace timed tests at Oulton Park, Cadwell Park, Prescott and Silverstone, other tests in the Lake District, Hastings and Blackpool, and night runs over difficult road stages. Details from the R.A.C. Competitions Dept., Pall Mall, London, S.W.1.

The National 500-c.c. Championship Trophy for last year was won by Les Leston.

The Champion Driver of France for 1954 is Maurice Trintignant.

The Editor received, through the thoughtfulness of a reader, another miniature at Christmas—a 300SL Mercedes-Benz, in chocolate.

On December 10th, at Montlhery, P. Chancel broke six International Class H (750 c.c.) records with a sic. two-cylinder, air-cooled Dyna-Panhard, the new figures being 50 km. at 124.41 m.p.h., 50 miles at 124.98 m.p.h., 100 km. at 125.21 m.p.h., 100 miles at 125.53 m.p.h., 200 kin. at 125.47 m.p.h., and one hour at 125.45 m.p.h.

The Editor and Staff of Motor Sport wish to take this, the first, opportunity to thank the great numbers of readers who sent Christmas cards, calendars and diaries to the office; the Editor also wishes to acknowledge much-appreciated gifts from the Avon, Connaught and David Brown companies.