The 1954 Alpine Rally
This toughest of road competitions took place at a time which made it inopportune to carry a report in last month’s Motor Sport. We now have pleasure in placing on record that British drivers and cars put up splendid performances. Warm congratulations are due to Stirling Moss and John Cutts (Sunbeam-Alpine), who gained their Alpine Gold Cup, for three successive Alpine Cup performances. The Frazer-Nash of O’Hara Moore and Gott arid the Aston Martin DB2 of Burton and Burke were class winners, as was a foreign-entered Jaguar XK120. Sheila van Damm and Anne Ball took the Ladies’ Prize with a Sunbeam-Alpine, and the coveted Team Award went to the Triumph TR2 team (Gatsonides. Kat and Richardson).
A splendid performance was established by the little Denzel, based on VW components, Renault, D.K.W., Porsche were class winners, Peugeot fielded the best French team, and Alpine Cups were secured by Renault (two), Peugeot (two), D.K.W., Frazer-Nash, Triumph, Aston Martin, Salmson and Sunbeam-Alpine cars.
The best performance of all was put up by a D.K.W. driven by Meier and Luba, reward for the initiative of Continental designers in producing unconventional small cars (in this case a three-cylinder two-stroke with front-drive, free-wheel transmission), while British factories continue to build cars of the same type as they have since pre-war days — point is thus lent to a comprehensive 700-mile road-test report on the D.K.W. Sonderklasse which appears in this issue of Motor Sport.
The severity of this event, even when the weather humoured competitors this year, is portrayed in 37 finishers out of 82 starters, eleven only winning Alpine Cups, and in such unusual happenings as elimination of an A.C. Ace through a coil-bracket breaking, loss of a wheel by a Dyna-Panhard, oil-filter leakage on a Fraser-Nash, a seized gearbox on a Daimler, loss of a wheel on another Daimler, the same defect on a Sunbeam-Alpine, spring breakage on a Jaguar, a fan which cut through a Simca’s water-hose, valve failure on a Renault, seizure of a Panhard’s engine, disintegration of the rear hub of a Triumph TR2, fuel-boiling slowing an A.C. Ace, loss of brakes on a Mk. VII Jaguar and at the front of a Fiat 1,100TV, steering failure on an Austin-Healey, and the usual accidents, resulting in retirement. Moss’ Sunbeam-Alpine was in trouble with a gearbox minus its lower gears and one of the team-winning Triumphs broke a spring, while the class-winning Frazer-Nash had early anxieties with its de Dion back axle and broke a front wing-stay.
Note, too, that in the speed test on the Munich-Salzburg autobahn, where a Jaguar clocked 106.5 m.p.h. and the Fraser-Nash 101.2 m.p.h., the Denzel just exceeding the century, neither of the TF M.G.s, only Moss’ Sunbeam-Alpine and none of the “Le Mans-modified” Austin-Healeys could attain their schedule speeds, although a Daimler Conquest and the special Peugeot 203 saloons were successful, and Renault, Panhard, Densel, Porsche, Frazer-Nash, Aston Martin and Jaguar clocked best times in their respective classes.
The XXI R.A.C. Tourist Trophy Race for sports cars will be held on the Dundrod road circuit in Northern Ireland on September 11th.
It is to be hoped that a truly International entry will be obtained this year, thus ensuring the future of this classics race, the first of which was run in 1905.
Ulster enthusiasts, who are determined that the T.T. shall remain in Ulster and be run on a true road circuit, have provided a guarantee against any financial loss which promotion of this year’s race may entail. Organisation is, and rightly, in the hands of the Ulster A.C. There will be no works Austin-Healey or Mercédès-Benz entries, but Porsche, Osca, D.B., Gordini and Maserati are expected to provide Continental opposition. They are likely to meet Lotus, Kieft, H.W.M.-Jaguar, Type D works Jaguar, Ecurie Ecosse C-type Jaguar, Frazer-Nash and works Aston Martin teams, etc. The race will be on a handicap basis, and this year the smaller cars are thought to have an excellent chance.
According to a contemporary, the Hampstead Junior Road Safety Council encourages school-children to spend their holidays reporting any motorist they see whom they consider is breaking the law.
What has been happening in this sad, misguided country, since we won World War II? The cost of living increases, taxation climbs, our beautiful countryside is made tawdry with cheap buildings, dangerous stone kerbs and unnecessary new traffic roundabouts and islands are constructed while a proper road programme is brushed aside, motorists are grossly over-taxed and hedged around with every conceivable regulation — and now, this!
Fight such things with all the power at your command, chaps, as your fathers before you fought for freedom in World War I.