It is excellent that the M.C.C continues to hold trials in which ordinary cars can compete with the “specials,” up sensible hills like the long, winding climb of Finale Bridge, the sheer rutty gradient of Simms and the muddy Waterloo with its tricky corners. In icy conditions more appropriate to the Monte Carlo Rally, the 34th Exeter started from London, Launceston and Kenilworth, the cars — with three-wheelers there were 107 entered — leaving in the early hours of January 10th. These cars ranged from “specials” to production models, and included pre-war Austin and Ford saloons and Denver’s vintage Lea-Francis.
Observing at Simms, we found this famous hill in dour mood and only a handful of Dellows or similar “specials” climbed it clean. Amongst so many failures, M. J. Barker’s Wombat just got up, after a prodigious effort, Pearce’s Dellow likewise, and then Le Conteur’s Dellow demonstrated that Simms could be vanquished with no trouble at all. F. P. Barker’s Dellow repeated this performance, but the works Morgan Plus Fours of Goodall and Peter Morgan, the latter taking it at speed, both failed about half way up. Walsh’s VW got a bit higher than these sports cars, Warren’s Dellow went up splendidly, Caldwell’s noisy TR2 failed low down, and after this the half-way failures became monotonous and the motor-cycle riders fell off in every comic manner possible.
Before we left Simms we saw Brown’s VW get above this point of universal failure, to be defeated by ruts higher up, likewise Marsh’s Ausford, while Piper’s Messerschmitt four-wheeler made a sensational onslaught which ended near the top, where the overworked tractor waited to haul the failures up. No Trojans were competing but Group. Capt. Scroggs was marshalling at Simms — did he go up to his Trojan before competitors arrived ?
We next had a look at Waterloo, a very sporting hill near the charming bathing beach at Beer, improved by a new winding section this year, with a very tight corner, through the enthusiasm of a local farmer, whose friends were present to watch the fun. He was very pleased when Hockings’ pre-war Austin Sixteen saloon nearly got to the top, and when two Ford Populars appeared, and delighted when Cock’s pre-war Ford Eight had a go. Snell’s Singer Le Mans failed early and a VW fell into the ditch high up. An unusual car was Denison’s Volvo, which, almost as if he had premeditated our road-test advice, he had brought instead of a Peugeot 403. — W. B.