In the MCC Trials a Triple Award is given to those who win Premier awards in the Exeter, Land’s End and Edinburgh events. These took the form of little granite signposts with three arms inscribed with the names of the three trials and the distances from London. In 1933 Brian Twist, MA, a member of The Autocar editorial staff, decided to try to win one.
Before that Twist had driven a supercharged Amilcar Six at Brooklands, winning only his second race, the 1930 Junior Long Handicap, and coming second at the 1931 Opening BARC Meeting. Then in the BRDC 500-Mile Race, with R C Porter, he finished fifth.
For the Exeter, Twist used his own Standard Little Nine Avon-bodied two-seater, which had been modified with raised compression ratio, polished ports, a Vertex magneto, larger sump, a Tecalemit oil-cooler and lighter mudguards, work done by G W Oliver of Bruton Garages and Boon & Porter, the Amilcar people. This gave a Brooklands’ lap-speed of 63.44mph. The Exeter Trial was no problem, but it was fearfully wet.
For the Land’s End, Twist was able to borrow a six-cylinder Standard Avon sports four-seater with plenty of power to climb all the Observed Sections clean, but it only just got round the Lynmouth hairpin nonstop. So there was just the Edinburgh to go, including much main-road motoring. For this one of the then-new SS1 tourers was loaned, very comfortable, and capable on the hills. So Brian got his Triple Award.
He also produced the only acceleration figures I remember seeing for a Type 37 GP Bugatti and a Monza Alfa Romeo. R J W Appleton’s 1926 Bugatti was not exactly a standard T37, having twin Solex carburettors, Scintilla magneto instead of coil ignition, special conrods, and 1928-type full pressure lubrication. It had won three second places and two thirds at Brooklands, lapping at 96.8mph.
When Twist tried it, with cycle-type mudguards and aero-screens but no lamps, it did 0-60mph in 14.6sec, 0-80mph in 30.2sec. 10-30 in bottom gear took 4.4sec, and in second gear 6.0sec. Top pace was about 93mph, and 6000rpm was used in bottom gear. Fuel thirst was quoted as 7-10 mpg on the road, on petrol-benzole. From 30mph, the Bugatti stopped in 30ft and from 80mph in some 253ft. The owner was hoping for £225.
The Alfa Romeo, as raced successfully by Raymond Sommer, now belonged to A P Hamilton, who had never driven it before he and Twist set off in fog for Brooklands, running on pump fuel with one percent oil for the supercharger and the long range equivalent of cool racing plugs. In this trim they did not oil up in London traffic and, once warm, the Monza would start with a half-turn of the handle.
With wings on and much wheelspin, the Brooklands’ standing-start quarter-mile took 17sec, the half-mile 27sec. The next day, in the dry, and stripped, the Alfa improved to 16sec and 26sec, and Twist was able to achieve his ambition of lapping in a real racing car, at 124mph. The true maximum was estimated as about 140mph, with 41 in first, 71 in second, and 103mph in third gear, with the 3.77:1 axle ratio.
In 1934, Brian Twist achieved another ambition, that of competing in a Brooklands’ race, and in none other than the old 10.5-litre V12 Delage. He did a lap at 124.40mph.