In our issue of September 1958 the Continental Correspondent described his experiences during the making of the Shell film of the Alpine Rally. The result of this work was recently shown to the Press at the British premiere of the film, when it was unanimously acclaimed as one of the finest rally films ever to be made.
Filmed in “glorious Technicolour” which is really superb, most of this film was shot from cars travelling along the rally route. This adds enormously to the effect of speed and urgency, which static shots just cannot express.
The Alpine is the nearest thing to a road race, now that the Mile Miglia is no more, as, although average speeds required of competitors are not high, being in the region of 35-40 m.p.h., the route takes in practically every mountain in Europe. Thus, on the Vivione pass, with an average speed of 28 m.p.h. required, it is impossible to average more than 20 m.p.h. on the way up. Therefore the luckless competitor has to average nearer 40 m.p.h. on the way down in order to keep to his time schedule. The shots from this film will convince you why it is highly dangerous to average 40 m.p.h. down a mountain pass. You will need a very strong head for heights as the camera follows Peter Harper’s Sunbeam Rapier or Keith Ballisat’s Triumph TR3 down these passes, with nothing but a broken fence to stop them plunging hundreds of feet down the rock face of the mountain.
The film traces the fortunes of the 55 starters as they drop out one by one. Indeed, in the end only seven drivers gained a Coupe des Alpes, the cars being three Alfa’s, and one each of Sunbeam Rapier, Austin-Healey 100-6, Ford Zephyr and Triumph TR3.
This rally may not be as long as some others but it is certainly a greater test of car and driver than most of them, and a manufacturer whose car gains a Coupe des Alpes can be justifiably proud. — M. L. T.