"Preserving the past for the future"
Patrons: Lord Rootes, T. D. Rootes and W. B. Rootes
Registered Charity - no. 1108882
Silverstone 60th Anniversary Event
THE ROOTES ARCHIVE CENTRE
WESTCOTT VENTURE PARK,
BUCKS HP18 0XB, UK
To mark the 60th anniversary of the Rootes and Chrysler Competition Department founded by Norman Garrad in 1948, the ARCC gathered a never-before seen collection of ex-Works race and rally cars at the Silverstone Classic Festival on 25th - 27th July, along with many of their drivers, mechanics and former employees of the Competition Department who were also guests at a celebration dinner held at the Quality Hotel, Northampton on the Saturday evening. Naturally representatives of the Rootes Archive Centre Trust were also there.
The organisers of the Silverstone Festival and the sponsors of the "best club exhibit", the professional car-care company Farecla, were so impressed with the number and quality of the cars on display that they created a runners-up prize specially to reward the ARCC. This was presented by Benita and Alex Hawkins, second and third generations of the family who still own and run Farecla, to James Spencer and Gordon Jarvis, ARCC Secretary and Treasurer respectively who are both also trustees, and who had put in all the hard work to make the ARCC display possible.
The line-up of works cars included four Sunbeam Talbot 90s and Alpines from the 1950s, Sunbeam Tiger, Sunbeam Rapier, three 1960s Le Mans Sunbeam Alpines, two Hillman Imps, three London-Sydney Marathon Hillman Hunters, two Talbot-Sunbeam Lotus cars from the 1970s-80s, an Avenger estate support vehicle and two Peugeots from the 1990s. A varied line-up of club members' cars from a 1930s Hillman to a 1985 Talbot Horizon complemented the display of Works Team cars and underlined the huge variety of Rootes, Chrysler and Peugeot production. Even the weather was perfect, as the Festival enjoyed by far the hottest and sunniest weekend of the 2008 summer.
The oldest car present was MWK 17, the 1953 Sunbeam Talbot 90 driven by Stirling Moss in the Monte and Ronnie Adams and John Pearman in the RAC Rally. Re-discovered a few years ago in a barn (yes, really) the car has been meticulously restored by Peter Lancaster and this was its first show appearance. Sunbeam Alpines of the 1950s were well represented by the cars driven by Stirling Moss and Peter Collins in the 1954 Alpine Rally and now owned by Leon Gibbs and Peter Shimmell of STAR. Chris Derbyshire's ex-Peter Harper 1955 Monte Carlo Sunbeam Mark III made the fourth of this group. The later incarnation of the Alpine was celebrated by three veterans of the Le Mans 24-hour race which have never appeared together before: Robin Blundon's Harrington Alpine in which Peter Harper and Peter Procter won the Index of Thermal Efficiency in 1961 and the two special-bodied Alpines crewed by Harper/ Procter and Ballisat/ Lewis in the 1963 24-hour race, now owned by Keith Hampson and Justin Harrington. Another unique trio was the three 1968 London-Sydney Marathon Hillman Hunters on display: Andrew Cowan's car in which he won the event 40 years ago, Tony King's car which was the "recce" vehicle and Gordon Jarvis' replica which shows the livery and fitments as used on the final Australian leg of the marathon. Imps were represented by Paul Burch and Clark Dawson's brace of Rallye Imps as driven by Rosemary Smith and Colin Malkin, Sunbeam Tigers by Graham Rood's ex-Peter Harper car that came third in the 1966 Tulip Rally (other Works Tigers were on show on the Sunbeam Tiger OC's own club stand) and Sunbeam Rapiers by the racing Rapier driven by Peter Harper and Ricardo Rodriguez at Silverstone and Riverside, California, in 1960and now owned and campaigned by Arthur Smith-Fitchett. Mark Timson's Avenger estate is a faithful replica of the "service barges" used by the Competition Department under Des O'Dell, which supported the Sunbeam Lotuses now owned by John Leahy and Julian Burch. Coming right up to the end of the Competition Department in its Peugeot Motorsport era, the youngest cars on show were two cars driven by the late Richard Burns, a Peugeot 309 GTi 16 and a 206 WRC, from the Richard Burns collection and brought along by Martin Spurrell.
Among former competition drivers present during the weekend and at the dinner were Andrew Cowan, Peter Procter, Alan Curry and Robin Eyre-Maunsell, along with mechanics and former Rootes, Chrysler and Peugeot employees who worked in the Competition Department.
This was the first time that ARCC and most of the member clubs had attended the Silverstone Classic Festival and the organisers made a point of asking us to come again next year - although it will be hard to top this year's display! If you missed the line-up, however, don't worry because ARCC is repeating it on a major stand for which the member clubs have pooled their efforts, at the NEC Classic Car Show. To make it even more exciting, some other Works cars that were not able to attend Silverstone will join the display at the NEC in November.