I was saddened to read of John Britten’s passing in your last issue. John was my first real mentor – I was 20 years old and he hired me to sell sports cars under the management of Chris Alford (now a well-known racer and long-time BRDC member, as was John).
Of the many cars John drove, and one not mentioned, was the futuristic Bond Bug. An unlikely contender I know, but from time to time John was commissioned to review new cars for a magazine and I remember three incidents, two of which involved me as a passenger. John was recording his road test commentary into a Dictaphone when he was challenged to a traffic light Grand Prix by some Johnny-come-lately in another car. “I can’t believe I’ve just been burned off by a bloke in a bog-standard Vauxhall Viva!” he recorded. Perhaps angered by this embarrassment, he proceeded to speed along Barnet High Street and saw an opportunity to squeeze up the inside of a Routemaster bus as it started to pull in to a crowded bus stop. With an unaccustomed failure of timing, we ended up sandwiched between the bus and the shelter. I don’t remember what damage was incurred, but there were several heated exchanges between John, the bus driver and some of the waiting passengers. This occasion serves to illustrate John’s ever-competitive nature. The following weekend he rolled the Bond Bug as he attempted a one-point turn along Silverstone’s main straight between races!
Despite this, John was a very successful racer in both Spridgets and Morgans, and his influence was what took me into karting and beyond. My passion for fast cars was most definitely kindled during these years and I will forever remember him with affection.
Colin Newbold, Tunbridge Wells, Kent