THROUGH THE EXPERTS’ TRIAL IN K. N. HUTCHISON’S NEW V8 ALLARD SPECIAL
WHEN K. N. Hutchison, well known trials driver in the now famous Allard-Special ” Tailwaggers ” team, rang up and asked me to ride with him through the Experts’ Trial I accepted readily, for two very sound reasons. In the first place it is extremely instructive to ride through a classic trial beside someone who has an unrivalled reputation as a skilful slime
stormer. Secondly, I was anxious to gain experience of the latest AllardSpecial, a car which is the Allard answer to next season’s plain-tyre enforcement, and as yet in decidedly experimental trim, having left the coachbuilders only a few days before the event. It is true that “Hutch.” explained, rather hurriedly, I thought, as if trying to seem more than usually matter of fact, that this new car had no screen before the passenger, not even a scuttle cowl, nor had it a hood, while if I required a change of clothes I must needs pack a very small parcel, luggage accommodation being at a distinct premium. Mrs. Hutchison, who regularly rides on her husband’s left, had, it was only too evident, given the new ” Tailwagger ‘ one rapid, thorough glance and firmly announced that she would go to the trial but not on it—in the security of the
Banton. saloon. I like to pose as an enthusiast, so, bar praying for fine days when I thought of it, I made no bones about this lack of protection—borrowing a decent flying hat and a pair of waterproof goggles was far more to the point. The new car, it should be explained, is based on Sydney Allard’s highly successful, not to say potent, original V8 Allard-Special, now meritoriously motored in competition by Guy Warburton. In dimensions and specification it is the catalogue 1.450 Allard. Actually, the engine, at present a VS, is set further back than ever before, while weight has been saved wherever possible by judicious simplification, so that it is a mere 174cwt., or some 3 cwt. lighter than War burton’s car. The engine has Vertex magneto ignition, raised compression ratio, and special water off-takes and exhaust system. This tail is a rePlica of that used for the G.P. ” 2.3 ” Bugatti bodies and accommodates a big fuel tank well clear of the axle. Not only does it contribute towards one of the bestbalanced starkest-looking cars ever constructed, but it must be of considerable help at high knots—and ” Hutch.” intends to do much sprint work in 1039, probably with a V12 Lincoln engine slipped in. In addition, the pointed tail makes it possible for the passenger to drape the right arm behind the driver— essential on a trials hill in the narrow cockpit—without experiencing cramped muscles. The body-builders, Messrs. Whittingham and Mitchell, really do deserve great credit for turning out an intensely attractive body in the space of a fortnight. The construction is of very light gauge aluminium, and in spite of the great length of bonnet and its dispensation of heavy cross-stays there is not a trace of flexion or ripple over the
roughest surfaces—and you certainly encounter rough stuff in Exmoor. The spare wheel-mounting problem is nicely met by a very rigid bracket on the near side and the use of fixed bonnet-sides, the engine being perfectly accessible through the medium of the opening top bonnet-panels, mounted with hinge off-set. These Allards are certainly the .outstanding version of the modern style of truly potent sports-car. And few oldschool motors look as stark, as does the latest of the breed. After lunch with ” Hutch.” and his Siamese cats at his London flat I was taken swiftly and easily West. The Allard demands no special plugs and masses of ” in-case ” extras. It is flexible down to a crawl in top, yet accelerates like a racing-car. It is very Stable and rides solidly, yet without much pitching and tossing at touring
gaits. As to speed, ” Hutch.” wasn’t hurrying, but seventy was comfortable cruising. Incidentally, the normal Ford combined dial, incorporating Oil-gauge, water thermometer, oil thermometer and ammeter, is the only dial on the dash and, as ” Hutch.” drily observed, you do not need a bevy of confusing needles when Dagenham can dish all the necessary readings up in one.
The flip down was exhilarating, but uneventful, save for the breakage of the near side main wing stay—did I say the car is experimental, as yet ?—and consequent fusing of all lights, a matter efficiently coped with from the emergency aspect by Hutchison and from the repair aspect of a Langport garage proprietor who used to ride Cotton and Sunbeam motor-cycles and Aston-Martin and other cars in trials some years ago. The ragged October sunset over the Plain, fiery sunrays reflected in our long bonnet, was an incident not readily to be forgotten. At the Beach Hotel at l?linehead we found Guy Warburton, cheery as ever, with Mrs. Warburton simply exuding enthusiasm, awaiting us, anxious to compare this latest Allard with the original cat which it resembles. Late that night Michael Soames came in on the V12 Allard-Special which Sydney Allard was to handle, and the Allard team for the
morrow was complete. Until then, sherry, table-tennis and more sherry and a spot more table-tennis . . . . Our luck, mine especially, was ” in,” for the day dawned dry. Dunster was full of good trials motors and their literally expert pilots, with a D.K.W. as official car. Of the trial I could write reams but, the Experts, being held at the close of the month, this is in the nature of a stoppress report, so the limitations of space must curb my enthusiasm. Well-blistered hands, from clinging grimly to handgrip and tank-filler on all observed and many mrObserved sections, will in any case make it a relief to lay aside the pen. Truly, there were times when one came very near to parting company with the car and it was difficult enough to retain the flimsy route-card, Hutchison’s gogglecase and our bottle (containing water, not beer, though a legend was soon about that we ran on spirit other than petrol I The Allard boiled a deal, possibly because twin headlamps sit coyly inside the radiator cowl and wind does queer things over big surfaces). About the route . . . Care at the first brake test gave a time. of 6* secs., confirmed by Lionel Martin from his bush. In the next timed test Allard-urge came into play very nicely, but our wheels (standard Ford discs. comp. shod all round, as for the run down), spun dangerously up Kersham. Ditch Lane, where Allard inverted last year, is ghastly, but ” Hutch.” picked a praiseworthy way and we got up bruised but not battered. Here Warburton did yeoman work with some steering wheel spokes loose in his hand. Congratulations to Mrs. Allard, too, for her contempt of Colley—which is the hill’s better known name. Incidentally, you really can get purchase on the metal floorboards of “Hutch’s” motor, which in other cars so often you wish to do, but cannot. ” Hutch.” was measured for his seating position. Our wing stay hereafter demanded frequent attention and string proved stouter than steel. ‘Widlake was in curious condition and our Waterloo, for we ceased momentarily, all the more disappointing as the Allard at once built away well. Clousham was very rough going but did not worry the V8 or rear axle departments. The Penny combe triangle test demonstrated real Allard , acceleration after initial spin from the final hazard was stifled, Cowcastle was muddy and Picked Stones, where Potheringham Parker’s Ford coupe was nicely stuck, was extremely rock-strewn and had a nasty drop at one section. Moreover, it was approached by an unbelievably deep splash in the observed section. All of which the Allard regarded as its natural habitat. Stokemill, unused before, very long, with deep mould. trapped between high banks, proved the finest hill of all, and up we got triumphantly only by dint of thirty willing horses (plus those the R.A.C. doesn’t count), immense and exhausting bouncing, and Hutchison’s right-footwork. It was truly magnificent going. All praise to Mid-Surrey ! Yeovale One gave no bother and Vcovale Two was child’s play save for the disrespect for one’s personal beauty of the bushes and young trees bordering the track. We now had only to finish, which No. 27 did well ahead of most of the others. The sections between hills were horrid in the extreme, but, back on sane going, the Allard showed again its other aspect, that of a thoroughly fierce, beautifully controllable road-motor, possessed of splendid top-gear pulling powers and devouring hills with an enthralling patter of comps. and hiss of air through the intake. The Experts is a first-class trial and will be extremely interesting under next year’s ruling. To ride through it beside Hutchison is a
valuable experience. And, in spite of bruises and blisters, I would do it again if the opportunity arose, for here is a driver who drives with his head, although his hands do a mighty lot of the work. I am happy to conclude that the AllardSpecial team netted the Team Prize.