Like Ninepins

With more use being made of the banked track at Millbrook for record bids, old targets established at Brooklands before the war are falling like ninepins. Some of these figures which have been long on the record-book have been bettered in recent times by vintage-type cars. But recently the splendid performance of two specially-prepared Rover Metros, running on lead-free Gulf petrol, has erased many more. These Metro GTi 16v cars really did motor, for 120.52 mph for the UK Class-F one-hour record is not to be sneezed at! In 1934 it took an 8-litre single-seater Panhard-Levassor to break the World’s one-hour record, driven by George Eyston at Montlhéry, at 133.01 mph. The big car needed considerable strength to handle, as its steering had been set up for straightline sprints. Eyston had to go into training beforehand, but I do not suppose he had quite the 80 persons to help him that the Rover Group laid on at Millbrook. Moreover, this Metro Class-F record is only 1.22mph slower than Parry Thomas’ absolute British record with the 7.2-litre Leyland-Thomas at Brooklands in 1926.

The Metro’s UK Class-F 24-hour record at 121.33 mph is also highly creditable, a target never before established in this category and a new absolute British record for this duration. The old Brooklands figures which have been eclipsed include the Class-F five and ten-mile records which Segrave held with the single-seater Talbot in 1925, and improved on by 13.75 and 14.35 mph respectively, Staniland’s Bugatti 50- and 100-mile records, bettered by 0.85 and 4.53 mph and Staniland’s equivalent kilometre records, all made in 1928. Then Eyston loses his 1932 200-kilometre and mile records, with a Riley, Scott and Baumer their 500- and 1000-kilometre records set up in 1930 with one of those fabulous GP straight-eight Delage cars, and Cushman and Harvey the 500- and 1000-mile records made the year before with an eight cylinder FWD Alvis.

Then the once-impressive British Class-F hour record which Eyston took in a straight-eight supercharged Bugatti back in 1927 has fallen to the Metro by 4.97 mph and the three, six and twelve hour class records belonging to the aforesaid GP Delage have gone, together with the Alvis 12-hour figure. Moreover, that rather classic record in this 1101 to 1500cc division, the 2000 kilometre set up back in 1922, has likewise fallen to a Metro. It was the occasion when both AC and Aston-Martin set off at dawn on May 24th and the side-valve Aston ‘Bunny’ went on and on after AC had completed their runs, records having fallen almost alternately to both cars. To the surprise of the AC personnel Kensington Moir, SCH Davis and Clive Gallop were after truly long-distance honours; now that great run which had lasted from 4.30am to 9.20pm and established the first World’s light-car records, has been bettered by a modern Metro, by no less than 44.44 mph.

Well, it’s progress! More modern cars which these two Metros also trounced are Ford and Mini Marcos. One’s respect for the new Rover Metro is thereby enhanced. WB.