THE “LAND’S END”
245 STARTERS IN M.C.C. CLASSIC TRIAL : : NEW HILLS TAKE HEAVY TOLL 78 Premier Awards-58 Silver and 66 Bronze Medal Winners : • • • •
THIS year’s trial was certainly the hardest of the series that the M.C.C. has ever run, though if it had not been for unforeseen delays towards the end it would have been no InOre than a fair test.
As it was, however, the earlier competitors had a good run for their money and voted it a great .success. The less fortunate, who were held up till all hours of the night, can only hope that it will not happen again, and anyone who knows the efficiency of the M.C.C. organisation will be sure that it will not.
The start was from Virginia Water, and this was a great improvement on the cheerless wastes of the Slough Trading Estate, now fortunately no longer available for such events. The weather at the close of Good Friday was enough to depress the most cheerful driver, but conditions steadily improved, and the run down to the West was favoured by excellent weather at the last moment. The first portion of the run was merely a main road tour to breakfast at Dellers Café at Taunton, from which the course followed a more devious and less comfortable route to the first observed hilt Grabhurst was in good condition, the surface being dry, and to those whose discretion restrained their enthusiasm on the bend, caused little trouble. The small cars led the way and the M.G.’s and Austins put up a good show with rare failures, while Hill, on a Triumph
Scorpion was also good.
W. M. B. May’s veteran Aston-Martin failed unexpectedly as did Beare’s Bugatti, the latter as a result of rushing things too much, but he restarted easily enough. The bank seemed to he causing considerable trouble, and the numerous misguided efforts to remove the same accounted for nearly all the failures. The Frazer-NaShes were good and fast, and Symons in one of the raring ” po ” Talbots of last year was speedy and quiet. Other good climbs were made by .Manns and Boyd (Lagondas) and J. V. Hay’s old Morris-Cowley.
Dunkery Beacon followed, and there was a feeling of strangeness in the omission of our old friend Porlock, whose ability to stop the modern motor car is now considered insufficient. Actually, we cannot help feeling that this terror of bygone days could still take a heavy toll if the climb were observed right to the very top at a minimum average speed.
It is 3 miles before level road is reached again, and Dunkery Beacon showed us that 2 miles of good hill is a sore trial for the cooling system of most cars. Many of us hope to put in a bit of continental touring in the course of our motoring existence, and the Alps are much higher than the hills of Somerset, and water is not obtainable all the way up ! However, we digress from the subject of Dunkery Beacon, where, apart from the fact that nearly everything boiled furiously, little happened and there were few failures. Another mile or so however, and things might have been very different. The next hill, Wellshead, was reached by a road which made sure that those who were late would remain late for the present. The worst part of a somewhat twisty climb is a left hand hairpin with an inside boundary of a step of solid rock, anxiety to give this an extra wide berth causing sundry drivers to clout the outer bank. The majority, however, took advantage of the dry state of the hill to make good climbs and passed on, via the check at County Gate, down Countisbury, and up Lynton
This was dry and in good condition, in fact it is distinctly a normal highway for this part of the country. Many cars, however, after getting really hot on the first hills of the trial, can be trusted to augment that tired feeling by oiling up a plug or so in descending Countisbury, with the result that Lynton usually accounts for a bigger proportion of failures in the Lands End, than it does among those who ascend it M the normal way of business or pleasure.
Roberts in an Austin, was among those who started the climb with at least one cylinder not functioning, and more than once descended again to the foot of the hill to try and rectify matters, and eventually conquered the hill at about the third attempt. The small cars were good on the whole however, though one of the Ulster Austins complained violently of its high bottom gear On the upper slopes, and had to be assisted, but naturally this model is not intended for this class of work. Beggar’s Roost attracted the usual crowd, who got all over the road, in the
usual way, and thus made the ascent considerably harder for competitors than it need be. The majority of the failures, and there were plenty of them, were devoid of mystery. Weak motors and bad drivers were the chief providers of work for the towing gang, and it looks as if there are plenty of people who make the occasion of their first excursion from the boulevards of their home town into the lanes of the West Country, to coincide with their first entry in the Lands End. Many of the cars that failed were certainly much more suitable for the former than the latter. We were cheered, however, by examples of the opposite trend of thought, and though Scrogg’s Trojan is hardly the vehicle one would choose for cutting a dash among the beret-clad gang who obstruct many a High Street at weekends, or yet again for impressing the management of some imposing hotel, it is always sure of a hearty reception and rousing cheers as it purrs its relentless way up the Roost. This time heltwas as sure as ever, and his day’s good deed con
sisted of pushing the crowd back against the left-hand bank, and so clearing a space far larger than was visible since the start of the climb, or, for that matter until the finish of it.
Among the smaller cars the Wolseley Hornets stood out as far the most convincing, with H. B. Browning as the best of them.
The earlier Rileys were disappointing, but the later ones made up for this with some excellent ascents, with L. E. Fillmore’s probably the fastest. The Frazer-Nashes were very fast indeed and treated the affair more as a speed event than a trial, with H. J. Aldington the fastest. Hopkins was, however, almost as fast on another Nash, while Berry on the car he ran on the following Monday at Brooklands, was also very good. A tendency to try and economise fuel proved the undoing of Bellamy’s
and Miller’s Frazer-Nashes, which essayed the dirndl with nearly empty tanks.
The Talbot “90,” and the ” 75 ” saloons were excellent and quiet, while fast, if noisy climbs were registered by Evans and Beare on Bugattis and Mitchell’s Vauxhall. The Lagondas were good especially E. J. Boyd’s, while the old Morris Cowleys made some of the beautiful new sports cars look distinctly foolish ! The Fords made the hill look easy, but Giedt’s old 3-litre Bentley proved to be hopelessly overgeared and was towed up. May’s Aston Martin, the B. and P. special, and the very neat little Alta were all fast.
From there to lunch at Launceston was little incident, except for the upsetting, for no apparent reason, of J. N. Berry’s M.G. Midget. Ruses Mill provided little difficulty and there were few failures. The FrazerNashes were fast as usual, and some of the “
specials” entered by various enthusiasts were also good.
The next hill was the cause of all the trouble and Hustyn will long be remembered by the unfortunate late numbers who had to wait while the leading cars proceeded to distribute the watersplash over the whole surface of the hill and so made it extremely difficult. Failures grew more frequent, and the teams of horses requisitioned to deal with the situation had to work hard, and even so -were unable to avoid the long delay which followed. Eventually darkness came to add to the trouble, and some of the waiting drivers considered they had had trial enough, and decamped in search of food and comfort. The last climbs, made three hours late in the dark, were mostly failures, but special mention is due of Strong (Standard), Sexton and Midgeley (Fords), Gennell (Lagonda) and Hay (MorrisCowley) who made clean climbs in the dark. Bluehills Mine is now beginning, in spite 6f its remote position, to attract almost as much crowd as the Roost, and competitors, revived by tea supplied by Mrs. D. M. Healey at Perranporth, arrived to find the hairpin rougher than ever. It was this hairpin which caused all the trouble as usual, not through lack of power, which was rare, but insufficient luck. The Austins, Midgets, and Triumphs were good on the whole, as were the Wolseley Hornets with the exception of Payne’s and Poster’s, which hit the bank. The Frazer-Nashes were very fast and slid neatly round the corner with
ample power in hand. Later the gaps grew bigger owing to the previous delays, and the large cars had to tackle the climb in the darkness. By the time the last finisher had clocked in the officials were thoroughly mystified by the erratic arrivals, and considerable investigation has been necessary to work out the results.