A RECORD LAND’S END TRIAL
A huge entry dealt with satisfactorily by good organisation. Barton Steep
and Hustyn the chief difficulties. 135 Premier Awards out of 343 starters. Tni o entlinsiasf sports .car owners was never so great as it is now. No less than 366 drivers: signified their intention of competing in the 22nd
London to Lands End Trial, organised by the M.C.C. at Easter, and of these 343 actually started.
Virginia Water was the starting point, and from 10 p.m. on Friday night until 5.22 a.m. on Saturday morning a steady stream of motor cycles, three-wheelers and cars (the latter in far the greatest nuinbers) were dispatched at intervals of one minute. A clear night encouraged competitors with the prospect of a troublefree run to Taunton, the breakfast stop, and the only drawback was the rather low temperature which was the inevitable accompaniment of an early Easter.
Not a few drivers, however, were caught out by a secret check at Andover, while many were not quite sure of their time and half-suspected that their later performances on the hills would be to no avail. The scheduled check at Deptford caused little trouble.
After an hour and a half of rest at Taunton the serious work was begun, and 28 miles further on came the first hill, Grabhurst. This bill presents two difficulties, a sharp left-hand corner at the top which is dangerous to fast climbers, and a possibility of dazzle from the sun rising over the brow. It was the former -which caused the failures this year, and A. S. R. Payne and A. H. Bartley were both driving their V8 Fords too fast to negotiate the corner. Other failures we noticed were G. H. C. Goodban (M.G. Six), R. J. T. Marston (Sunbeam), R.. J. W. Appleton (Riley), who hit the rock a tremendous clout and damaged his steering, F. F. M. Ryde (Wolseley Hornet), and R. W. G. Collins (Morris Cunard Special). Lynmouth Hill is still observed, but m s the majority of small family saloon can quite easily cope with its hairpin and long gradient nowadays. M. P. Ten
bosch (Hillman Aero Minx) came to rest, as did S. G. A. Crowhurst (Riley). The sharp hairpin bend at the top was not observed this year, although it served in 1933 as a useful test of driving skill and steering lock.
Station Hill is deceptive. It is steep— about 1 in 4—but is free from corners, and therefore looks fairly easy. The
surface is a snag, however, for it consists of loose tarmacadam, and this brought 22 cars to a palpitating standstill. Two drivers experienced mechanical trouble, K. 1). Evans running a big-end on his J2 Midget, and J. F. Parker’s Lancia discarding its propellor shaft on the way up—a mere detail.
Fast cars get a chance to show their speed here, and honours were fairly evenly divided among Ford V8’s, Frazer Na.shes, Singers and M.G.’s. We were particularly impressed with J. C. Elwes’s new P type Midget, a sturdy little car which looked very comfortable.
Beggar’s Roost IS not what it was. Even up to a couple of years ago this famous hill could be depended upon to stop a good many cars, but this time the surface was good and the ” hump ” at the top not so much in evidence, Actually we only counted 20 failures, and the good climbs were so frequent that it is almost invidious to single out individual performances for praise. No one can accuse us of favouritism, however, if we mention A. G. Bainton, who made quite the fastest and. most impressive climb of the day with a 2.3 litre Bugatti. Among the failures were N. A. Prince and K. W. Mahony (Austins), G. A. Ladwig (Jowett), A. L. Mason (M.G. Midget), H. I. A. Thomas and D. B. Burrage (Morris Minors), S. G. E. Tett (Riley), C. V. Glass (Singer). The next obstacle was a new one, namely the stop and restart test on Barton Steep. The procedure was that cars had to climb the hill from a standing start, stopping on a line placed on the steepest 1 in 41 section, get away in the space of 4 seconds and continue non-stop to the summit. This caused a lot of difficulty, and no fewer thani97 competitors were
penalised. Cars with high low-gears were at a disadvantage, as was found by W. M. Couper, R. J. Richardson and K. W. Mahony on Austins, C. F. Widman, N. A. Watkins, H. C. Hunter, J. L. Higgins, and J. H. Wrohan, driving Frazer Nashes, M. P. Teuboseh (Hillman Minx), and ‘,a whole lot of M.G. Midgets, among them being such a seasoned warrior as J. A. Bastock. The Singers as a whole were excellent, as were the V8 Fords with the exception of E. F. Tompkinson. Fifty miles of winding 1..evon lanes brought the field to Darracott-erstwhile Gooseham. The task here was a formidable one, for the starting line was placed at the very foat of the gradient, again necessitating a fairly low bottom-gear. Some of the best climbs were made by the Ford V8’s, H. C. Hunter’s 6 cylinder Frazer Nash, A. Mays’ fully laden 30/98 Vauxhall, R. Yager (Talbot), B. Alan Hill (Standard), and D. G. Evans (M.G. Midget). Among the failures were M. May, G. May and C. G. Talbot (onAlvisea), 3. L. Higgins (Frazer Nash), D. H. C. Hull (Lancia), A. ” E. Moss (Marendaz Special), G. M. MacGregor, 0. S. Sanders and I. F. Connell (M.0. Magnas), 0. A. Fitt; H. Metchim, P. M. Walters, B. A. Roy, j. A. Bastock and A. Cairns (M.G. Midget), S. H. Roe, H. J. Frewing,
S. 0. E. Tett, and R. B. T. Watson (Rileya), T. E. W. Durrans, and A. G. Shepherd (Singers), J. R. Edwards (S.S.I.) and A. H. Crubb, H. W. Wells, and S. 3. Skinner (Triumphs).
The lunch stop at Launceston was a quick affair for many competitors who had been delayed at 1. arracatt, and they had perforce to rush on to Hustyn. Here the surface was bad, owing to the Water dripping on ta it from the cars after they had passed through the water-splash at the foot.
. Again the Fords were good, as were the Frazer Noshes-all but the Big Shot ” Aldy,” who disdained such precautions as a reduced tyre pressure and consequently stopped with wheelspin. The Singers were good, only 3 out of 41 corning to a standstill. M.G.’s, too, were fast and sure, and so were some of the Wolseley Hornet Specials, notably that driven by N. A. Bracey. The new speed model “10/12 ” Standard, in the hands of B. Alan Hill, made an impressive
A tractor, out of sight at the top of the hill, hauled the failures quickly out of the way, having to deal with about 100 cars altogether.
Tea was dispensed to all competitors at Perranporth at Healey’s Garage, Mrs. Healey earning the gratitude of everyone by her unfailing Cheerfnl-nuess. Thns refreshed the drivers were faced with the last big hill, Bluehills Mine, where a festive air was given to the proceedings by the presence of a large crowd and foodstuff stalls of all descriptions,
Bluthills Mine is really a driving test, for the left-hand bend demands a combination of goad lock and driving skill. A number of cars rammed the wall heartily, among them being G. Dracups’ Alvis, 0. May (Alvis), T. H. Winterborn (AlviS), F. E. Elgood (Bentley), C. V. Mass (Singer), W. ‘I’. Booth (Frazer Nash). Neat performances were made by drivers of some of the large cars, notably P. D. Walker (Talbot ’95 ‘), H. A. Nash (Talbot ’90 ‘), G. M. 1. enton (Ford), and E. Urlwin-Smith (Invicta).
Then the weary competitors had an easy run of 35 miles to the finish at Lands’ End, albeit the sudden corners on the road from Penzance occasionally caught heavy-lidded drivers unawares.
No account of this 1934 Lands End Trial, the biggest –event of its kind in the history of reliability trials, would be complete without a word of praise to the organising Club, the M.C.C. and their willing band of helpers. Their efforts were magnificent.