Twenty-six drivers contested the 1957 Championship up rather tame mud-hills at Draycott-down-the-Drain (was it?) on December 11th. They drove trials specials which have become virtually standardised—all had Ford Ten engines except the Bassinet and J.C.B. which used s.v. J.A.P. air-cooled power units from James vans, and the Austin Seven of Davis. Twin 45 deg. S.U. carburetters were usual, but the S.C.S., Cannon’s Cannon and P.A.B. had full d.d. S.U.s, the last-named with cockpit air-intake. Aquaplane Superheads were popular but the P.A.B. and Exspence relied on normal alloy heads and Harrison’s Cannon, the P.A.B., Cannon’s Cannon, the Cranford, Cannon Nine, the T.M.S.1 and Ackernley’s Ford had iron heads, Tony Marsh’s T.M.S.1 being the only blown car competing. It had a Marshall cabin-blower driven by twin belts and fed from a single S.U., and used disc wheels.
Most of the competitors favoured non-divided Ford front axles, some precariously drilled for lightness, while in some cases a single strut-type shock-absorber was located centrally. However, the Cranford had wishbone and transverse leaf-spring i.f.s.
In the vital matter of tyres almost everyone had Goodyears on the driving wheels, while 3.50 by 19 Michelin tyres were popular at the front, although the Cannon Nine. preferred Goodyear here also, and Cannon’s Cannon sported Dunlop Racing front tyres.
Apart from the aforesaid cockpit air-intake and sundry water-proof covers over ignition components, the only precautions against water-splashes seemed to be the cockpit-located coil on the Austin, which also had four Amals, alloy head, 4-speed Austin Seven gearbox, two tiny aero-screens and a “gilled-tube” radiator, a similar radiator being used on Cannon’s Cannon, which had four separate exhaust pipes, as did the S.C.S. Tubular frames are as popular for trials specials as for sports and racing cars, but several Austin Seven frames were seen and the Cranford has a channel-section chassis and rack-and-pinion steering. The P.A.B. was using friction front shock-absorbers, the Cannon Nine had a drum-type water header tank above the engine, and the Paul a speedometer mounted on the floor. The P.A.B. was nicely turned out and the Cranford even looked like a motor car!
These specials had to tackle 12 “sections,” with a timed climb to sort out ties. It is remarkable how some cars fail on one hill only to do well on another. Ackernley’s Ford, for instance, was the only failure. and low down at that, on the second section, bit did well a little later on. Marsh looked like winning on sheer power allied to a high degree of driving skill and his speed up the 11th hill was worth coming miles to see—his charming passenger seemed quite unconcerned as the T.M.S.1 stormed up, tail sliding outwards towards a nasty drop. The Squamigerous retired with a damaged gearbox. In the end, the Championship went to E. Harrison’s Harford.
The Land Rovers used as official cars did service that would put some trials specials to shame—one was employed to winch out a hogged-down Ford Zephyr which had ventured unwisely, where only a Renault 750 got through. — W. B.