Hants & Berks M.C. Versatility Trail (April 25th)

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MOTOR SPORT has long been an advocate of the versatility trial, indeed, was probably the first to suggest such an event. Consequently, we were pleased when the Hants & Berks M.C. decided, three years ago, to hold a trial, which, if not quite so ambitious as the one we proposed, was a very definite and genuine attempt to discover the most versatile car, taking speed, comfort and peak hill-storming on decently-inflated tyres into consideration.

Since then other events have taken on more of a versatility aspect and this year’s R.A.C. Rally was almost entirely a “rally-of-tests” and included the visitation to Prescott by ordinary and trials cars which we had visualised a lot earlier.

The Hants & Berks affair remains an excellent trial for amateur drivers. This year it attracted twenty-three entrants. These were a suitably varied collection. G. B. Hewitt had a TC M.G. with A.A.A. badge, R. J. .Bubear a TA M.G. with twin aero-sereens, J. E. Talbot a Dellow with a 4ED twin-S.U.-carburetted 1 1/2-litre Meadows engine, and J. A. Ambrose had Pat Stark as intrepid navigator-corn-ballast in his M.G.  R. W. Christmas drove an ex “Cream Cracker” blown PB M.G., J. S. Drewett a Mille Miglia Frazer-Nash, J. D. Ackerman an old Austin Eight, B. A. T. Clark a modern Morris Minor tourer with Shorrock supercharger, and G. Pettit his Pettit Special with what seemed to be a 2 1/2-litre Jaguar engine and Bugatti front axle amongst other components. On the other hand, two Sunbeam-Talbot saloons, one at least of which had a special inlet manifold and other power-accoutrements and F. L. Rourke used a coupé Allard with early chassis and spare wheel in a front wing. There were also a Ford Export Anglia and Vauxhall Wyvern with Ford V8 carburetter.

Taking a census of entries, thirteen were received from the organising club, six from the W. Hants & Dorset C.C., two from the Chiltern C.C. and one each from the London & M.G. Clubs.

The Ibsley speed tests were accident-free, but had their effect, the PB M.G.’s blower enlarging a bearing, and the blown Morris Minor starting a bout of clutch slip that dogged it on the hills. Not unexpectedly, the Mille Miglia Frazer-Nash made best performance at Ibsley. The car with the greatest amenities was deemed to be D. J. I. Garstin’s Jowett Javelin.

There followed the trial, embracing eight hills which had to be attempted with 70 per cent of the tyre pressure declared for the speed test. Buckholt Bank was put in as a stopper of trials specials but of the two cars which ascended clean, one was F. Downes’ Sunbeam-Talbot saloon (although it was not this Sunbeam-Talbot which won outright), the other being J. E. Talbot’s Dellow which was blipped comfortably upwards. The beautiful Frazer-Nash came early to rest, the driver explaining that the carburetters were starved at that angle ! Highest trial-marks were scored by the Pettit Special, although it stopped early on Buckholt. Only retirement was J. B. Morley’s Morgan 4/4.

This was an interesting event, but we learn that unless a bigger entry is obtained next year, it will be the last of the series. – W.B.

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