Cologne ranger

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Fifteen minutes of fame

Ford Taunus 20 MRS: Safari Rally – APRIL 4-8, 1969

The bulky Taunus may have lacked the nimbleness of its rally rivals but, as John Davenport explains, Ford Germany recognised its potential for the rougher events

Prior to the advent of the bespoke rally car, manufacturers had to make do with mildly altered versions of their road machines. Not all of these were a success, but just occasionally one of them fitted the bill so well that it proved to be the proverbial dark horse. Such was the case with the Ford’s Taunus 20 MRS, which made its name with a sole rally victory in the gruelling East African Safari event of 1969.

The Blue Oval’s Cologne-based competitions department first appeared with the Taunus on the 1968 London-to-Sydney Rally. It entered two of them as part of the massive Ford works effort that stretched from British Lotus Cortina Mk2s through to Australian V8 Falcons. The 20 MRS was a sort of halfway house in that it had a 2.6-litre V6 but, like the other two main Ford contenders, it was conventional in every other respect: it inhaled through carburettors, drove the rear wheels through a four-speed gearbox, and was suspended by MacPherson struts at the front and leaf springs at the rear. It was a big, heavy car, but it was simple and rugged.

The Taunus of Dieter Glemser/Martin Braungart was lying in equal fourth place as the event passed through Afghanistan before the drive between the camshaft and the distributor broke and they were out. But the sister car of Simo Lampinen/Gilbert Staepelaere rose up to second overall by Bombay, just 9min behind the leading Lotus Cortina. Across most of Australia these two cars – and the Citroën DS21 of Lucien Bianchi – swapped the lead. Then the Cortina broke its axle and dropped way back. A win looked to be on for the Taunus but then, on the last day, Staepelaere skidded, hit a gatepost and broke the front suspension. They got it fixed, but it took more than two hours to do so.

So the Taunus had shown promise in terms of durability, if not outright speed, and when the main Ford dealer in East Africa, Hughes Motor Company, approached Jochen Neerpasch, Ford’s competitions director in Cologne, it did not take much to arrange a deal to send two cars out for the 1969 Safari Rally. They were accompanied by Neerpasch himself, one mechanic and a pile of parts; the importer laid on the entire service organisation. Neerpasch brought one European crew with him – Bengt Söderström and Gunnar Palm – while Hughes nominated Kenyans Robin Hillyar and Jock Aird.

Hillyar and Aird worked for Hughes, but had started their rally career together behind the wheel of a Datsun. They had been offered a Datsun for the 1968 Safari, but by then they were becoming rather high profile and Hughes suggested that it was worth more than their jobs to drive for the Japanese company. They entered a Lotus Cortina instead and, like many others, got bogged down in the horrendously muddy conditions.

In contrast, the 1969 event was pretty dry and so Hillyar/Aird benefited greatly in the early sections from having drawn number one and running first on the road. Even so, Jack Simonian took the lead (in a Datsun) until he tried to move Uganda with it! The Lotus Cortina of Vic Preston Snr took over at the front, but on the twisty, European-like sections along the Congo border, Söderström swept ahead. By Kampala, the order was Taunus, Lotus, Taunus, and then there was a half-hour gap to Joginder Singh’s Volvo 142S. The ‘Cologne Taxis’ had had their problems, however.

Hillyar: “We kept breaking the rear dampers. The only difference was that, since we could not drive like Bengt, we weren’t breaking so many. The Taunus wasn’t a lump. In fact, it was actually quite nice to drive. But you couldn’t throw it around and get away with things as you could in the Cortina.”

Leaving Kampala to return to Kenya, Söderström was outfumbled by Singh at the border and it was the Volvo that led on the road as the rally headed into the notorious Rift Valley sections of Tot and Tambach. While they had been resting in Kampala, Neerpasch had told his crews that they should not race one another and that any prize money won would be split. However, in the dust kicked up by the Volvo, all this was forgotten very quickly. Hillyar: “Bengt must have had a puncture and changed a wheel. We were the next car and the old wheel was right in the middle of the road. I would like to think that they had not left it for us…”

In his attempts to get past the Volvo and have a clear road, Söderström pushed his Taunus hard. He was still in the lead on points but, around the back of Mount Kenya, the axle casing broke and he was out. At Malindi on the coast, Preston had a 9min lead over Hillyar, with Singh 65min behind. But the Taunus now had a new problem.

Hillyar: “The clutch was slipping and there was no time to change it We had a chat with Neerpasch and decided that we would just drive slowly back to Nairobi. We even told Vic [Preston] what we were going to do.” The tired Cortina driver didn’t believe them, though, and pressed on – and crashed into a bridge between Malindi and Mombasa!

Hillyar and Aird now had the task of driving slowly back to Nairobi to win – but only if they could get there. It nearly all came to an end when, near Machakos, only an hour or so from Nairobi, they hit – of all things – a Morris Oxford taxi.

Hillyar: “I was driving with the window open listening for what could have been a puncture. If I’d been concentrating, I could probably have missed the taxi. As it was we met almost head-on.”

Within just 15min, on the side of the road and unaided, Aird and Hillyar had removed the radiator, reconnected the throttle, levered the wing off the tyre and got the car running. Hillyar: “We had never worked so hard in our lives. Joginder came past and reported at the next control that we were out. He was quite surprised to find us at the finish.”

Their problems were not over even then. The scrutineers discovered that the inlet valves on the Taunus were too large for the dimension given on the original homologation form. It took Neerpasch 36 hours and a forest of telex tape to get the confirmation from the FIA in Paris that the new dimensions had been lodged and accepted by them.

So the Taunus 20 MRS won a famous victory. But it was not quite its last. Braungart took one of the rally cars to a meeting at Niederstetten and entered it in the DTM race there. The object was to take points away from a chap driving a big Opel and thus let the Escorts secure the title. The Taunus dutifully took its last win and retired gracefully.

You may also like

Related products