Some ten years ago in a mild attack of nostalgia I bought a partially dismantled 1958 Triumph TR3A. (I owned one back in the fifties, and have always had fond memories of it.) I restored the car to a reasonable standard and have used it during the summer months since then. About two years ago using one of the excellent facilities of the TR Register I carried out a check on the original specification of the car. This additionally produced the information that it had been supplied, not to a dealer, but to the British Army Rally Team. This information set me off on a trail of research which to date has produced a fair amount of the competition history of the three cars in the team, VVC288, VVC289 and VVC290, the latter being my car. The cars were campaigned fairly extensively in International rallies during 1958 and 59; thereafter the TR became less popular in this field. To date the only member of the team that I have been able to contact has been Major Robin Holmes and I am indebted to him for the loan of photographs and other memorabilia, for example a Yugoslavian insurance cover note. Apparently he and Captain Steve Papworth entered VVC290 in the 1959 Jadranski Ralley but at the last moment had to withdraw due to lack of insurance cover; the organising club wired back ‘You come we insure’ and this certificate was awaiting them at the border. In the course of the rally they suffered two punctures and with only one spare the delay excluded them from any hope of an award. How different from today with helicopter-controlled service vans and teams of mechanics changing major components in a few minutes.
However, the Major had his share of glory the previous year (1958) when co driving with Lt Col Crosby; they won the 2-litre class of the Liege/Rome/Liege. One tends to forget the distances covered in events of this nature at that time; it subsequently was well-named La Marathon de la Route. Over three thousand miles between 9pm Thursday and 9pm Sunday.
My next project is to restore the car to its original colour and specification, re-fitting the hardtop and original engine, which at present has a broken crankshaft.
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