On January 8/9th the Motor Cycling Club held its 35th Exeter Trial, car and motorcycle competitors starting from Kenilworth, Longford and Launceston on the Friday evening.
They took Pin Hill, near Honiton, as a curtain-raiser, before breakfasting traditionally at Deller’s Cafe, in Exeter, where the faces of most of the competitors and of the manageress seem unchanging down the years.
The remaining “sections” before the finish at Weymouth were Tillerton, Fingle Bridge (which even Patricia Stocken’s Trojan treated with disdain), Simms, Stretes, Harcombe for a test, Waterloo, Meerhay and Knowle Lane.
Simms, up to last year a notorious “stopper,” has since been semi-tarred by the local council – proof that civilisation is forever catching up with us in this over-populated island! As a result the hill had lost its sting, although “specials” which started on the gradient instead of being allowed a run at it, failed frequently just round the bend – these unfortunates included Collingwood (Vauxhall Special), Charlton, whose very weary Ford Buckler got halfway up, Wilson’s Wilson-Ford, and Swithenbank’s Dellow which stopped very low down. Ordinary cars which failed included Masheder’s Singer Gazelle, while it looked touch-and-go for Hobbs’ Renault Dauphine. Davis’ VW pulled away from a slow start and Darrell’s TR2 just made the summit, while Pearce’s Dellow was steady and sure. Most of the others treated Simms as if it didn’t exist, Peter Morgan’s Morgan probably making f.t.d.! Even Loupart’s A35 Countryman had no trouble.
Scorning lunch, we hurried to Waterloo, near the delightful bay at Beer, where the farmer is 100 per cent. keen and his daughters had rigged up a welcome hot-dog stall in an adjacent field. Waterloo was dry but got more difficult as failures low down dug gullies in the second corner.
All three Messerschmitts made fast climbs, a girl bouncing in each back seat, but the Gazelle failed at the second bend, restarted, but stopped again, and Charlton’s Buckler also stopped. The Wombat recovered well, Barker’s Dellow was blipped up, going splendidly, but Bowles’ Morgan four-seater crawled up, carrying three passengers, and this and other four-seater Morgans displayed a lamentable lack of rear-end clearance.
Morley’s smart Fiat 600 had no trouble, Pearce’s Dellow came steadily up this winding muddy hill, the Swithenbank Dellow failed, all the 1.5 Rileys displayed plenty of power, but Cooper’s developed axle judder and stopped near the top, and then Wonnacott made a fine climb in his L.R.G.
Caldwell’s Iady passenger tried to control spin in the TR2, Fixsen’s Dellow came up strongly, Denison’s very smart Volvo had no trouble in spite of wheelspin and axle tramp, Lovett’s r.h.d. Karmann Ghia VW never faltered, Hay’s Lotus 5 made it, and Daniels’ VW and Catton’s Dellow found Waterloo easy.
Peters’ Hillman Husky climbed splendidly, Russell’s old Singer Le Mans was happy in spite of a smoky exhaust, but Westropp’s Ford-engined Morris Minor, Mercer’s pre-Farina M.G. Magnette, the Trojan and Deuce’s Dellow all failed, the last-named perhaps with cockpit trouble. The Magnette massacred its reversing lamp while backing down the hill. Very good was Norris’ series-E Morris, proving that a pre-war car can cope with “Exeter” hills, Denyer’s even older Lea-Francis spun its near-side back wheel, treating the hill with contempt, Crossley Meates’ pre-war B.M.W. had no trouble, Gowlett’s “genuine” Magnette saloon had no trouble, but Hocquard’s A40 failed at the second bend, as did Slone’s VW, which was not on all its cylinders. Cummings’ Talbot 110 scarcely got farther.
Mears’ VW got no farther than the third corner but Lowe’s old Allard saloon came up very fast, Bricknell had no anxiety in his N.H.C. Special, small boy bouncing, and, if slow, T. A. Kempthorne-Lea’s Dellow recovered nicely. Warren wheelspun his Dellow to rest at the second corner, Minter’s Ford failed here, D. A. Kempthorne-Lea’s XK120 even lower down, in spite of zero tyre pressures.
This Jaguar was another car too low for trials work. Symonds’ early Vanguard was hardly more successful, Dives’ Roche revved its Ford engine freely, Fleming’s Primrose was very fast, Tucker-Peake’s noisy Tueker-M.G. blipped up, but Charnaud’s Morgan, surprisingly, stopped low down.
Perhaps the most creditable climb was by Ware’s 1931 Austin Seven saloon, looking original, even to 3.50in. x 19in. tyres! Three very fine ascents were made by Parsons’ Dauphine, Tremayne’s VW and Williams’ B.M.W. A surprisingly effortless ascent was accomplished by Ivey-Mollard’s sober-looking old 1,697-c.c. Mercedes-Benz saloon, which proved the value of i.r.s. in preventing wheelspin. Less effective was Featherstone’s Ford Pilot, which failed near the top. Bennett’s Dellow, with twin duffie-coated occupants, was excellent, another splendid climb in the best tradition of the “Exeter” was made by Hilliard’s early Ford Ten saloon, and in spite of finding the ditch on the outside of the third corner, Tonkin’s VW just made it.
Wilson’s Gordini Dauphine shot up, Davey showed up the capabilities of the Ford New Anglia to great advantage, Moore’s pre-war Wolseley Hornet Special with home-built body never faltered, while Warren tail-slid his Dellow up at speed.
So another “Exeter” ran its course. May there be many more. – W.B.
A CASTROL FILM SHOW
One January evening the military town of Aldershot was invaded towards midnight by an incredible number of vehicles of all kinds, from scooters to sports cars. As the Aldershot authorities have, sensibly provided a large new car park on the site of former army huts and as courteous policemen were present to direct the nocturnal motorists to it, peace and quiet was soon restored.
The reason for this onslaught was a film show which Castrol were giving to the Farnborough District M.C. and other clubs, at the Empire Cinema.
The fare provided included “On the Limit,” dealing with the 1958 Silverstone Production Car Race, with some highly instructive slow-motion shots of cars cornering and several motorcycle films, one of which proved what an array of equipment motor scooters can carry, apart from beautiful girls – when we saw a dog riding in a box-pillion we felt we had seen the lot! – and that scooters, like sports cars, can indulge in long-distance rallies and driving tests. Finally, there was a fine colour film of last year’s Coronation Safari, won by Mercedes-Benz. Clubs wishing to borrow Castrol films should apply to Castrol House, Marylebone Road, London, N.W.1.
A reader, who is the owner of a 1932 Austin 12/6 saloon would like to donate the car to a deserving body rather than send it to the breaker’s yard. It is in running order and has had several replacement pnrts in the last few years, including batteries and crown-wheel and pinion. Letters can be forwarded.
BY WAY OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT
Belatetly but with warm appreciation the Editor thanks Messrs. Borg-Warner, VW, Porsche, Avon, Fiat, Citroën and Renault for Christmas gifts; Dunlop, Daimler, Michelin, Stanley Blake Reece, Bosch, etc., for diaries; and other firms for calendars innumerable. Very many thanks! – W. B.
THE AUSTIN SALOON AND SPORTS CAR CLUB
George (Doc.) Shepherd has been elected President of this Club for 1960. Membership is open to all Austin owners and details are available from the Secretary, A.S. & S.C.C., 3, Stoneleigh Crescent, Epsom, Surrey.
A reader who is rebuilding the Cognac Special wants if possible to trace the car’s history. It has an A.C. engine, Frazer Nash/G.N. chassis, a Hampton radiator, and the body is probably from an Amilcar. It was first registered in 1937. Another reader seeks information about his Morgan Family Four three-wheeler, Reg. No. UL 8723, which has an Austin Seven gearbox to supplement the Morgan two-speed transmission. Letters can be forwarded.
Stanley Schofield Productions Ltd. annnounce that they have appointed Californian Bill Quinn as distributor of their motor racing sound recordings in the U.S.A. He has formed a company, Grand Prix Records Ltd., at 724, North Lake Street, Burbank, California, and no doubt our American readers will find it more satisfactory and convenient to make direct contact with him. – M.C.