The Coupe des Alpes



The Coupe des Alpes

/T is a very good sign that British manufacturers are taking a greater interest in continental trials, as an event like the Coupe des Alpes is absolutely unrivalled for testing out cars, not only of the sports variety, but also touring cars.

A car which will function satisfactorily for long periods on the main roads of this country will not always behave so well under the arduous conditions of a continental tour, while a successful performance in such an event as this, should carry considerable weight in the overseas market.

In this Alpine event the sports car certainly has a great advantage as its high power weight ratio enables it to keep up the very high average speed required by the regulations with much greater ease than its heavier and less powerful brethren.

The best examples of this were the Invicta driven by Donald Healey who has already won fame in many events of this type, and who won the Monte Carlo Rally on a similar car, and the ” 105″ Talbot driven by H. E. Symons, who put up a wonderful show, both drivers coming through without loss of marks, a feat accomplished by only seven competitors altogether. Continental cars in general are brought up, as it were, under more C

strenuous conditions than our own, and the result is that their normal saloon or touring car is in reality closely allied in performance to a sports car.

After all, a sports car does not merely consist of a pretty streamlined body though that is sometimes very attractive. Its real test is the way in which it performs over bad climbs and rough country, and here appearances are apt to be deceptive.

The Rileys were unfortunate and did not repeat their previous successes on this occasion. They lost one car of the team due to mechanical trouble, and the team award in the 1100 c.c. class went to the team. of Praga Piccolos. They showed great enterprise, however, in supporting the event in force, and gained much valuable information. It is to be hoped that other British makers will follow their example next year.

British cars to do well with solo efforts were W. F. Bradley’s Armstrong Siddeley, and Lord de Clifford’s M.G. Midget, while a Standard Ensign entered by an Austrian driver also did very well. The chief troubles encountered were due in the main to inadequate cooling or lubrication or the effect of one on the other. Brakes and gears came in for a hard time, but


stood up well on the whole and it was in the actual engine that most failures were recorded.

To the ordinary motorist, who is used to the hills of this country, and who is somewhat agreeably surprised when, on a west-country tour, his car surmounts Porlock Hill without boiling, the length of the Alpine passes would come as a rude shock, and would probably be even more of a shock to his car.

In the Coupe des Alpes the climbs must not only be made non-stop, but they mast be made at a certain minimum, and fairly stiff, average speed to avoid loss of marks. Thus it comes about that a climb like the Stelvio Pass involves some threequarters of an hour of full throttle hard collar work, mainly on low gear. The timed section did not commence till the cars were already beginning to get well warmed up, and lasted for about half an hour according to the car’s speed. The route of the trial included the Col St. Michel, the Cols d’Allos, de Gets, de Morgirts, de Billon and de Jame. Although not the longest, the Galibier Pass caused a great deal of mechanical trouble, probably resulting to some extent from the previous gruelling the engines had suffered up till then. It was on this climb that the Riley hopes were

dashed when C. Riley’s engine ran a big end and had to retire from the event, thus breaking up their team.

Here Healey scored an individual success in making fastest time of the day, beating a supercharged Alfa by 8 secs, on his 4f litre Invicta.

The trial embraced every variation of weather from sunshine to thunderstorms, and the survivors have every reason to be proud of their performance.