An Old Friend

Rediscovered an old friend at the Goodwood Revival meeting. Cooper MG NKC195 lined up for the Stirling Moss 80th birthday tribute and I confirmed with owner George Cooper that it belonged to Frank D Dundas, for whom I navigated many times on his local South of Scotland Car Club and my local Lanarkshire Car Club rallies in the 1950s. Most memorably we scored third in class on the 1955 Scottish Rally in Frank’s Morgan Plus 4, one of the first with the Triumph TR2 engine. I only did one event in the Cooper, as replacement for his regular navigator Jimmy Bogie, one of a rallying family still to the fore. The Cooper had minimal weather protection; it wasn’t suitable for the “plot and bash” events of the time. It was all right for the bash, but a bit inconvenient for plotting. It had a hood of sorts, and a proper windscreen not the aero screens it has now, but OS maps blew about a lot.

After Frank started rallying the Morgan PSM 508, the Cooper was consigned to the roof of his Dumfries agricultural building. I never knew at the time that Stirling Moss had driven it.

I came across the Cooper at service area on the M5 some years ago. It had been splendidly restored and repainted blue instead of bronze (maybe it was green). I had to look up Doug Nye’s Cooper Cars (Osprey 1983) for more detail. Cooper had been making 500cc racing single seaters, then in 1948-1949 John Cooper put a Vauxhall Ten engine into the front of a chassis, engineered much like one of the racers. It had box-section longerons and independent transverse leaf springing front and back.

Encouraged perhaps by George Phillips’s 1949 Le Mans MG, Cooper built another, like the Vauxhall, with an MG TC engine developed by Barwell Engineering to give 75bhp, against the standard car’s 55bhp. This became the works racing car and was driven by John Cooper to a second place at Goodwood in May 1950. In June, Nye says, Moss was available to drive the car at Goodwood, “but it proved fractious and he was only fifth. John took over – actually wearing Stirling’s helmet – in a five-lap handicap and finished second, setting fastest lap at 73.56mph. In the final members’ meeting of the year he at last achieved that elusive win, averaging 71.74mph for the five laps and topping 100mph along Lavant Straight.”

John Bolster road-tested the car afterwards, deciding the suspension was on the hard side but the ride still good on bad surfaces. “In cornering the machine really excels.” JV Bolster was almost as much of a hero as Stirling Moss. In the 1950s I had admired them both at a distance. Getting to know them later only enhanced the respect. Boisterous Bolster, melodramatic Moss. National Treasures and they both drove this astonishing little car, Frank Dundas’s Cooper MG and he either didn’t tell me or he didn’t know. Most likely he thought it didn’t much matter.

What a treat to see it at Goodwood and re-live a piece of history. That’s George Cooper and his lady wife Carol: " secretary, without her I would not be able to go anywhere," in the picture above. The one on the left in the vintage dress is number one Dymock daughter Charlotte. Frank Dundas, generous, engaging, warm-hearted to a Dumfries fault and a gifted driver, would have enjoyed the occasion.



The Goodwood Revival meeting this weekend 18-20 September is a highlight of the motor racing and social calendar. Nostalgia, they say, isn’t what it used to be but judging by the way people dress for the occasion, turn up in old cars, old aeroplanes, motorcycles and steam buses it’s here to stay. The waiting list for the Goodwood Road Racing Club may be shorter now than it was in 2007, when this feature appeared in The Business magazine, but the appeal of the event remains undiminished. Buzz Aldrin, Mr Bean, and celebrations of Stirling Moss’s 80th birthday will all feature.

From: The Business July 2007 by Eric Dymock

Key ingredient of the Goodwood Road Racing Club is to offer something money can’t buy. Conducted tours of the Ferrari racing department at Maranello can’t be bought without buying a Ferrari. You can’t just buy a paddock pass for the Goodwood Revival Meeting or be eligible for the Kinrara or March Enclosures. You may not drive on track days, or get invitations to the Summer Ball and Christmas party at Goodwood House but you can as a member of the GRRC, so it’s small wonder that membership is capped at 5000 with a waiting list of 2000. Since 94 out of a hundred members renew annually, it could be two or three years before you get in.

Goodwood’s rolling acres are reinterpreting the traditional sporting estate. No longer the exclusive realm of the nobility and gentry, new sorts of corporate and individual members are invited. The Earl of March, who took over management of the 12,000 acres on the Sussex downs from his father, the tenth Duke of Richmond, in 1994 lives in the spectacular Regency house surrounded by priceless paintings, furniture, porcelain and tapestry. Charles March is down to earth about his heritage, presiding over a culture of style, design, fashion and luxury. Every combustible litre is commercial: “I suppose we’re most famous for the sports – horse racing, motor racing, golf, flying, shooting and cricket. They were all started by keen amateurs at Goodwood, the Duke or the children of the Duke.”

The third Duke brought horse racing in 1802. He provided a course on a field known as The Harroway for fellow officers of the Sussex Militia. The Earl of Egremont had turned them out of Petworth Park, and the Duke was so pleased with the military’s two days’ racing that he organised a three day meeting under Jockey Club rules. Racing has continued ever since almost without a break.

Glorious Goodwood is a 205 year-old horse racing hallmark. Golf came later. “You join for about £150 and then buy the golf credits you want. It means people can come from far afield without paying massive green fees. It’s an effort to make golf more modern, get rid of stuffy clubhouse routine. We have no dress code. We appeal to younger golfers. It was all started by the seventh Duke’s three children. Widowed for the second time he told them to stop hanging around the house. One daughter was only thirteen and got James Braid to build them a golf course. Originally it was just their own, then it became a member’s course.”

Motor racing came with the ninth Duke. A car enthusiast, the Earl of March Frederick Charles Gordon-Lennox joined Bentley Motors as an apprentice, drove his first big race in 1929, and as works driver for Austin together with SCH Davis won the BRDC 500 Miles at Brooklands. He raced his own team of MGs to win the Brooklands Double-Twelve, Britain’s answer to the Le Mans 24 Hours, run in two parts because residents of woody Weybridge couldn’t bear the noise of racing at night. In the 1930s Freddie Richmond flew aircraft of his own design from a field near Goodwood House, gaining an Aviator’s Certificate from the Royal Aero Club. The field became RAF Westhampnett, a satellite of the Battle of Britain station at nearby Tangmere, and Douglas Bader took off on his final wartime sortie from its grass runway.

Following the loss of Brooklands after the War, Freddie Richmond now Duke of Richmond and Gordon sanctioned motor racing on the airfield perimeter track. It became second in importance only to Silverstone until 1966, when it was summarily closed. Bringing it up to date would have been costly, although it was said that Freddie didn’t much like the nouveaux riches infiltrating motor sport. In just under twenty years Goodwood was instrumental in the careers of Mike Hawthorn and Jackie Stewart, although it effectively ended that of Stirling Moss in 1962. After it closed, the picturesque circuit remained in a motor sporting time warp until the 1990s, when Freddie’s grandson gave up being society photographer Charles Settrington, and as the newest Lord March, set about fulfilling his vision of a modern sporting estate.

“There are traditional estate-type activities, house, property, farm, forestry, then there’s aviation. We’ve got an engineering business and a flying school. There’s a retail business that sells clothing to our various members and in celebration of our events, and a farm shop selling our meat.”

The 52 year old Charles, Earl of March and Kinrara, has some Charles II in his dna, a result of the liason between the King and Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth. The inheritance might be responsible for Lord March’s Cavalier charm and Hugh Grant good looks. His enthusiasm for the Goodwood brand’s motor racing highlights, the Festival of Speed in June and the Goodwood Revival Meeting in September, is infectious. This is motor sport with upper class style, the Festival sprinting the latest and greatest, fastest and oldest on a little hill-climb track between the manicured lawns of Goodwood House. At the Revival Meeting on the old immaculate racing circuit you are asked to turn up dressed pre-1966. Nearly everybody does. It is like a film set with 130,000 extras.

Lord March communicates close attention to detail to 400 people on the estate. It runs to piling the infield corn carefully in neat lean-to stooks, tied with baler twine, not spun by a baler and wrapped in plastic.

Attendance at the Festival of Speed is fixed at 150,000. That not only keeps it, as Brooklands used to be, “The Right Crowd and No Crowding”, but also the tickets are pre-sold as an insurance against the weather. Pay-at-the-gate punters might look out on a wet weekend and stay at home. If they’ve already paid for their tickets they’re more likely to attend the £5 million event, eat in the smart marquees, drink the Champagne and come back next year.

Charles March is doubly astute. Last year he launched a grander version of the Goodwood Road Racing Club conferring the delights of Goodwood on a corporate clientele. Not only has he 150,000 and 130,000 happy punters turning up at Goodwood for the Festival and Revival meetings, contributing roughly a third towards the £5 million (the other thirds come in sponsorship and concessions like catering). But he also has the 5000 members of the GRRC who although they only pay £120 subscription, cheerfully chip in for the foreign jaunts to Ferrari and Spa, and £240 for the Kinrara and £280 for the March Enclosures. There is a pay restaurant and bar, or a hamper service if you prefer.

GRRC and other sporting members to share the delights of The Kennels, the James Wyatt Grade 1 listed clubhouse built for the Charlton Hunt, restored with library, dining room, and clubrooms. Shooters, aviators, drivers, riders or players can join as full corporate sporting members. Goodwood already has six, with a box for guests at the horse racing and their own sponsored and named race, as well as a flight in a De Havilland Rapide for a day’s racing at Deauville. Full sporting members can have 20 VIP guests at the Goodwood Revival with their own celebrity racing driver, an exclusive shoot for 8 guns, a day’s golf for 72, and exclusive use of Goodwood’s historic cricket pitch. You can have an English picnic for 50 with the refuge of Goodwood House if it rains.

Frankfurt Motor Show


Dithering about electric cars, a rash of unlikely concepts, GM in trouble in America, Ferdinand Piëch making a stir in Germany; as the Frankfurt Motor Show of 2009 gets under way it turns out it was much the same 16 years ago. Columns in The Sunday Times of 12 September 1993 show that Mercedes-Benz was about to make a small car but had not yet toppled one on to its roof – not in public anyway. BMW was planning a small car too. It showed the 344cm (135.4in) long, 164cm (64.5in) wide Z13 with a 1.1 litre 4-cylinder engine producing 82bhp but never made it. It was about the size of an Issigonis Mini but prettier. Instead it waited until it had bought Rover and made a slightly bigger Mini 365cm (143.7in) x 193m (75.9in) with 1.4 litre and 88bhp (or 210bhp for the brave). BMW thought it would sell the Z13 for $35,000 or about £15,000 and roughly what the Mini sells for now. Honda was on the right lines with another pretty car, the Civic Coupe, with which I was so impressed I ran one for a year. Smooth, swift and economical it was, and totally reliable. The concept cars all came and just as speedily went. The one in the picture was a later creation of Giugiaro’s.
Sunday Times: Motoring, Concept cars at Frankfurt Motor Show 1993, Eric Dymock

Testimony to the importance of the Frankfurt show as a shop window came from the Japanese manufacturers who chose it as a launching platform for cars such as the Mazda Xedos 9 a flagship affiliate to the year-old Xedos 9, the 1994 Mitsubishi Space Wagon and Space Runner, and a new edition of the Lexus.

The Japanese also selected Frankfurt to display their latest concept cars instead of next month's Tokyo motor show to which they will be shipped as soon as Frankfurt closes its doors.

Daihatsu's arch-shaped electric hybrid follows the logical pattern for an electric car, until battery technology catches up with petrol as a convenient means of storing energy. The Dash 21 uses its own power plant to generate electricity. A 660cc three-cylinder petrol engine at the front starts up when the batteries stored under the floor run low.

The nickel metal hydride batteries have a better performance than lead acid batteries, and Daihatsu believes that they would last the life of the car. The enormous cost of battery replacement - a penalty equivalent to heavy fuel consumption on an ordinary car - has inhibited the development of electric propulsion.

Burning a lean mixture of petrol and air would make the Dash 21 very economical, and with a top speed of 75mph and a range of 280 miles, it looks like a realisable production possibility. Some restyling might be necessary.

The ESR (Ecological Science Research) Mitsubishi also pursues the hybrid route. Electric motors provide the motive power and the batteries are charged by a novel petrol engine which runs at a constant speed. A four cylinder of 1.5 litres, its even speed enables ultra-low exhaust emissions and a thermal efficiency, which Mitsubishi claims is superior to a diesel.

Nissan shows two concept designs in Frankfurt, the AP (Attractive Performer) - X and AQ (Ambition with Quality the Japanese have a way with names) - X. AP-X has a lightweight V-6 engine and a new kind of stepless automatic transmission. AQ-X is a rather disagreeable-looking four door saloon which has a smooth front and a flat underbody to achieve good airflow.

Ford has gone for a bulbous look in its Sub-B compact, which has a two-stroke engine serving as a reminder that a fleet of two-stroke Fiestas has been undergoing a user-evaluation programme. The tall narrow configuration, Ford says, is the best one for giving the occupants most space. The Sub-B is more compact than a Fiesta, with a sliding door on the right which gives access to the rear seats.

The rear-mounted 1.2 litre engine develops 82bhp and would give the Sub-B a fuel consumption of well over 50mpg.
Sunday Times: Motoring, 1993 Frankfurt Motor Show Report, Eric Dymock

Most of the new cars were previewed weeks before the sprawling halls of the Frankfurt Motor Show opened on Friday. The aluminium Audi, the Mercedes-Benz C-class, the revised Volkswagen Passat and Golf estate were all presented in advance. The Mercedes and BMW small-car prototypes, due for production in the mid 1990s, are already familiar. Mercedes-Benz revealed that it intends to make the car in substantial numbers and is still discussing the possibility of establishing a separate identity for it while keeping it firmly within the Mercedes-Benz family.

General Motors revealed the engaging shapes of concept cars based on the Vauxhall Corsa. Officially shown to gauge public reaction, they had a maturity that suggests they are closer to production than GM is willing to admit. Indifferent sales of the Opel Corsa in Germany probably hastened their appearance to stimulate interest.

Called the Tigra, Roadster and Scamp, they looked too well finished to be mere flights of the design department's fancy, and seem likely to be in production within the year. The Tigra is well proportioned and good looking despite its short wheelbase and since the Corsa is brisk and handles well, so the Tigra ought to have a performance to match its appearance. The open-topped and recreational derivatives also look the part, and will fill market niches in a segment where a good deal of the opposition is staid.

The Tigra's big glass canopy carries the stamp of the accomplished design studio set up at Opel by Wayne Cherry before he was taken back to Detroit to revive GM's lacklustre home products. The Roadster is a pert two seater that promises fun at an affordable price. It may not be a sports car, - it has leather-trimmed seats and stowage space for a cool box - but with close-ratio gears, power steering, and anti-lock brakes it promises to be lively.

The engine is GM's latest ECOTEC 1.6 litre 16-valve unit giving 109 bhp, which provides a top speed of about 120 mph, and acceleration to 60 mph within the 10second benchmark that distinguishes the lively from the leisurely.

The same level of performance is promised by another handsome newcomer, the Civic coupe made in Honda's American factory at East Liberty, Ohio. Cleanly styled, beautifully made and coming to Britain in February at less than £10,000 with a 1.5 litre engine, it is similar in size to the Vauxhall Calibra, Nissan 200SX, or Rover 200 coupe but a good deal cheaper. It will also be cheaper to insure and run.

There will be two trim levels, the ESi has power steering, central locking, four-speaker radio-cassette player and tinted glass. The LSi adds a sun roof, electric windows and a wide range of optional equipment including leather upholstery, alloy wheels and air conditioning.

The German motor industry is desperately anxious to regain its customary self-confidence. Sales are down 20 per cent on last year and some of the exhibition halls had unlet space. Frankfurt was a gossipy place for the 55th IAA motor show, full of rumours about the running war of words being waged between Volkswagen and Opel over the Piëch and Lopez affair. German industry opinion is about evenly divided on whether Piëch can survive when Lopez goes.

The Fiat Punto and the Toyota Supra, already on sale, were on public show for the first time, together with the latest Porsche 911 which, although it looks much like all the 350,000 other 911s made in the last 30 years, has been altered a great deal. Yet another new suspension will help with its out-of-balance rear-engined handling.

Porsche AG will manufacture the Audi Avant RS2, which made its debut at Frankfurt. An estate car based on the Audi 80, it has a turbocharged 2.2 litre engine giving 315bhp and a top speed of about 162mph. With acceleration to 60mph in 5.8 seconds, the RS2 is aimed at sports car drivers who have had to give up two-seaters. Production starts next year and only 2,000 are planned for 1994 and 1995.

America used to export large numbers of cars to Europe, in the days before General Motors and Ford established their own plants, much as Nissan and Toyota have now. Chrysler has rediscovered a commitment to export to Europe, stressed by chairman Bob Lutz, at the unveiling of the new Neon. This took place in a Frankfurt exhibition hall made up to look like a rather tacky pin-ball table, and in a noisy introduction Lutz revealed a Ford Mondeo clone, which will not go on sale in the UK. Chrysler's commitment to Europe apparently does not extend to cars with right hand drive.

British exhibitors had their tails up following an apparent rush of sales in August, although Geoffrey Whalen, President of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, cautioned against a euphoric view of the UK market. “Our manufacturing industry depends heavily on sales in Europe, and our economic recovery is bound up in Europe's economic recovery”.

Rover alone is inceasing sales in a declining European market - thirteen per cent up, it will sell more cars this year than Mercedes-Benz and only a few hundred fewer than BMW. Land Rover has had such a strong response in Germany to a special edition Discovery with chrome accessories, fancy wheels, and finished in British racing green, that it has had to make a fresh batch.