Peter Harper

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One of Britain’s best all-round drivers died at the end of August, aged 81. Well known for his exploits on rallies such as the Monte Carlo, Coupe des Alpes, Tulip, Acropolis, Safari and RAC, Peter was also a regular saloon car winner on the track and competed in the Mille Miglia and at Le Mans.

His appearances were almost always in Rootes cars, and Sunbeams in particular. In Rapiers he gained a formidable array of class and outright wins in the late 1950s and early ’60s, including a victory on the ’58 RAC Rally. He also drove a V8 Sunbeam Tiger to fifth place on the blizzard-strewn Monte of ’65, and should by rights have won the Coupe des Alpes that year: his Tiger was disqualified for having undersized exhaust valves!

He drove a Ford Falcon on the 1964 Monte and was second on the Tour de France that year in an Alan Mann Ford Mustang. On this event he was able to show his versatility to the maximum, on circuits, hillclimbs and rally sections in fog and rain — he was always at his best when the conditions were worst.

He contested his first rally in Portugal back in 1949 and made his first attempt on the Monte in ’50 in a Hillman Minx. In the late ’60s, he drove Imps in rallies and finally drove an Alan Frazer Imp in rallycross, winning the 1969 World of Sport championship.

Despite failing eyesight, Peter attended the Ecurie Cod Fillet reunion last October and was reunited with many ex-Rootes team-mates.

He is survived by his wife Priscilla, children Carolyn and David, and four grandchildren, to all of whom we extend our sympathy. JDFD