The thirtieth version of the N.W. London M.C.’s classic “Gloucester” Trial was contested on December 4th and attracted 73 entries and 61 starters. We were able to avail ourselves of the navigator’s seat in one of the twelve Allards entered — E. N. Frost’s mildly-modified, slightly shortened Mercury-engined car, which recently had won the Hunt Trophy and which weighs about 22 cwt., with a conventional two-seater light-alloy body. Incidentally, we carried no ballast. The rain of the preceding night made the hills, each of which was to be tackled twice, decidedly difficult and resulted in Hodgecombe being deleted from the second circuit. The organisation was assisted by Imhof’s broadcasting vans, and many experienced marshals.
We climbed Ham Mill clean but stopped beyond the “Observed Section Ends” notice. Juniper was in a nasty mood and, first car up, we came to rest not far short of the commencement of Section 2. The mud persisted at the Special Tests, making the restart in reverse an anxious business in the first, where we clocked 41.2 secs., but, on a leaf-strewn downhill gradient the brakes worked well, and the time for Test 2 was 4.8 secs. Again the first car up Hodgecombe, we dug a lovely track, but the narrow banks, and possibly momentary loss of throttle, defeated us when we were well up in Section 2. Even the restart proved impossible at the dreaded Nailsworth Ladder and we were moved lower down the hill, only to gain little speed, failing on the first rocky ledge.
On the second circuit we got up Bownham in a concentrated drive, failed earlier on Juniper after mounting the bank, and, not electing to use the run now permitted at the start of Nailsworth, failed here also. Frost, in his fourth car trial, was in no way downhearted and went home in grand spirits, vowing he would do differently next time. The Allard gave no bothers of any sort, its water thermometer never exceeding 180 degrees F., and on the run home it not only displayed the ever-fascinating immense bottom-end acceleration with which all Allards are endowed, but cruised quietly, smoothly and unconcernedly at 8,000 r.p.m. (approximately 60 m.p.h.) on its 4.11 to 1 top gear. On one stretch of road, notwithstanding the wind disturbances caused by the large erect screen, front-wing valances, large headlamps and a number board in front and the twin spare wheels behind, it attained 4,000 r.p.m. in top. A short drive revealed very light steering indeed, excellent, typically Allard cornering, and very powerful brakes, notwithstanding the fact that they are normal Lockheed, not 2LS.
As to how the others fared, you do not see much of other competitors from a participating car, but at Juniper, after Imhof’s blown Allard-Special with remarkable body extension out-rigged beyond the back axle, and Merrick’s blown Ford Ten-engined Dellow Special (one of five Dellows entered) had successfully climbed Juniper, we observed as follows. The Clayton Special failed, the Daniel Special went well into Section 2, and then the Best M.G. with coil-spring i.r.s. went well and Bold all the way to the top. Murkett’s M.G. spun to rest almost into Section 2, Wharton, Champion Trials Driver of the year, also got up, in a fine, determined attack, in spite of visible water-vapour and audible pre-ignition, but Barton’s Morris, girl navigator bouncing hard in the stern, only just made Section 2. Fitzwater’s M.G. and the Buckler Special stopped in Section 1, but Wood’s Austin-Ford, in a very good effort, just got beyond Section 2.
It transpired that Wharton and his wonderful Ford-Austin Special made best performance and won the Gloucester Cup, proving that he was indeed the 1948 Trials Champion. Ham Mill defeated twelve drivers, including three in Allards, and Juniper was vanquished only by Imhof’s special blown Allard, which now resembles a lorry, Merrick’s blown Dellow, the Wharton and the Ford Ten-engined Bold although Parker’s Allard, Onslow-Bartlett’s Mercury with four cwt. of ballast bolted to its back axle, and the H.R.G.s of Buncombe and Newton got into the last section. Onslow-Bartlett and Newton tied for best time in the first special test, in 27.6 sec., Wharton clocking 27.8, and Buncombe 29.6 sec. Wharton then won test two in 3.4 sec., Newton being next in 4.0 sec. Hodgecombe stopped 19, Nailsworth 17. That was on the first circuit.
On the second circuit only Frey’s Allard stopped on Bownham, but this time only Merrick, Bold, Wharton and Newton got up the entire length of Juniper, Uglow’s H.R.G. being the “best failure.” Nailsworth this time failed 35.
Gloucester Challenge Cup (best performance of the day): K. Wharton (Wharton Ford Ten Special).
Thomas Challenge Cup (best performance over 1,500 c.c.): L. S. O. Bartlett (3,917-c.c. Mercury).
Committee Challenge Cup (best supercharged car): R. W. Merrick (Dellow Ford Ten Special).
Gloucester Goblet (three consecutive first-class awards): W. P. Uglow (1,496-c.c. H.R.G.).
First-Class Awards: W. P. Uglow (1,406-c.c. H.R.G.), E. J. Newton (1,496-c.c. H.R.G.), A. G. Imhof (3,917-c.c. Allard S.), J. Readings (Lancia “Lambda”), G. N. Mansell (3,917-c.c. Allard), K. C. Delingpole (1,496-c.c. H.R.G.), L. Parker (4,000-c.c. Allard), J. Buncombe (1,496-c.c. H.R.G.), C. L. Bold (Riley Nine), R. W. Faulkner (3,917-c.c. Mercury).
Second-Class Awards: W. A. Cleave (1,089-c.c. Morris), M. H. Lawson (1,496-c.c. H.R.G.), L. Potter (3,917-c.c. Allard), A. W. Morrish (M.G. Midget S. ), W. E. Penn Dellow Ford Ten), L. J. Oliver (Austin Seven), H. Roberts (3,917-c.c. Allard), D. W. Price (Price Special V8).
Third-Class Awards: V. S. A. Biggs (1,496-c.c.. H.R.G.), M. Wick (4,000-c.c. Allard), C. B. Crump (Austin-Ford Special), R. Barton (Morris Ten), L. J. Tracey (Dellow Ford Ten), R. B. Lowe (Dellow Ford Ten), D. A. Hunt (Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.).
Team Award: Cheltenham M.C. No. 2 — R. W. Merrick, L. J. Tracey, R. B. Lowe (Dellow Fords).