There are sonme similarities with building a modern kit car. Although the editors would suggest that building a special in the early post war period required skill and determination and particularly the ability to innovate and overcome shortages and dedicated facilities.
The editors strongly recommend subscribers read the period special building manuals to full appreciate the effort involved. The evidence that many specials started with the best of intentions were not completed. Many builders underestimated the complexity and skill they would require.
Often too they proved more expensive than originally thought. To successfully build a special most of the following were required: Trials also provided publicity and we will note that some of the early one of specials entered production. The courses invariably consisted of a tightly defined route involving steep gradients, hills accents. Descents, adverse cambers, slippery slime mud fording streams and rivers, protruding trees roots, rocks, tricky unpredictable surfaces , tight spaces, tortious bends with minimal turning space have to be tackled without stopping.
The hill climbing aspect involved attacking a severe gradient. Marking and scoring were strict and points could be lost for infringements including knocking down markers or by leaving the course.
And the route often entails fording rivers and traversing large tracts of mud sometimes eight to ten inches deep. Competitors who start singly, are each given a detailed route which thy must follow without deviation. The organizers favourite surface are deep mud, loose sand or shingle, wet grass or chalk [particularly when combined a steep.
Gradient] and narrow rutted paths, barely wide enough to take a car and often crossed by tree roots. These sections, unless taken at the right speed and angle, will stop the car in its tracks. Every car must cover each Observed section non-stop [the undriven wheels must not cease to revolve] and marshals are posted along each section to signal the failure to the officials There are two basically similar systems for scoring, in the first the competitor is awarded a number of points at the start and has deductions made for each failure.
In the second, he starts with no marks at all and is awarded points on each success. The more difficult hills are divided into sections, marks being awarded for each section covered. A fully operational differential is compulsory. Solid axles or variable slip differentials give an unfair advantage in that they allow one wheel to grip even on slippery surfaces.
Four wheel drive is barred. Body design and types and sizes of tyres are also controlled. Passengers whose seating arrangements are also subject to these regulations, ride in the car [ no standing on the rear bumper to give extra weight in the rear]. When a car comes to a halt, engine roaring, wheels spinning wildly, passenger bouncing energetically to get the last ounce of tyre grip, special marshals record the stopping point and helpers push it to firmer ground.
This is tough, satisfying sport in which an efficient car, warm clothes, a heavy but nimble passenger and a distinct sense of humour are almost equally to be desired. The editors believe that the first post war trial event was held on the 10thSeptember G in various degrees of tune and modification.
The Motor Club and Trials Organizations. The Motor Club was and has remained the main organizer, and competition body for amateur motor sport. It to this organization that Chapman turned for advice and occasional inspiration when he became interested in motor sport as a young man. He would raise through the committee ranks [becoming president at one point] but retained a connection with the enthusiast for much of his career.
The Motor Club had a long association with the Austin Seven as we have noted and it was this model that chapman took as the basis for his first car and entry into motor sport. In period the premier event was considered to be the Annual R. Trials Championship in conjunction with the Championship Trial [run by the Trial clubs on behalf of the R. Television Coverage The popularity of the sport was reflected in TV coverage as early as IV was competing for the South and helped win the event.
Spectators would be able to invoke the sights sounds and smells of the quintessential British landscape whilst being treated to the spectacle of spinning wheels , hot smoking tyres searching for grip , cars almost skating on slippery slime. In the autumn cars might have been glimpsed through gloam and they mud stormed through the loam or warm cracked mud on exposed frost laden mornings. Driving required not so much power as weight in the right place over the driven wheels.
Driver skill was paramount regarding throttle control and the placement of rubber for grip. The sport visually would capture the many thrills but equal disappointments. If nothing else it was healthy and inexpensive. Regulation and Mechanical Specification The regulations determined the mechanical specification of the cars.
The cars receive enormous punishment but must remain light. The desired traction encouraged low center of gravity and preferably a concentration over the rear wheels. Engines were invariably highly tuned to produce considerable torque and power at low revs. Suspension Suspension was frequently highly original, but conventional back axles proved pragmatic and cost effective option, often located with coil spring dampers and Panhard rod.
To achieve maximum traction tyres were run at extremely low pressures. Security bolts were vital as without them inner tubes would be ripped out. Good brakes were essential as was the ability to control individual wheels in the search for grip. In addition to the foot break an external break was adopted.
In the search for low eight cars often forfeited weather equipment, headlamps, dynamos, water pumps and conventional seats. Over period of time, both the nature of the competition, and of courses produced cars which were more specialized and less road orientated and dual use. With an attempt to shift weight rearwards some cars suffered poor handling some dangerously so.
Form and function —The Trials Canon. The distinctive appearance of the trials car was dictated first by the regulations and then by practical necessity. The cars were required to be dual use initially, they had to compete in arduous conditions and due to the frequent inevitable damage required to be easily and inexpensively repairable.
The functional requirements included: Trials Cars The early years of the sport encouraged a large number of specials constructed by the owner. Colin Chapman and his first special is a fairly typical example. Gradually the sport became more specialized and two manufactures in particular tended to dominate. These were Dellow and Cannon. In this chapter we will attempt to explain these and a few others in a little more detail.
He is thought to have held a Ford dealership and was an enthusiastic trails competitor. He undertook extensive modification suitable for trails. Further examples were built with engines varying from Ford V8 to Lincoln V Ken Dellingpole and Ron Lowe who were business partners set up a tuning company They were also agents for H.
The Dellow were fist built at Alverchurch then Oldbury in the Midlands between and It possibly arrived a little late on the scene but none the less enjoyed considerable competition and commercial success. Dellow are essentially dual use vechicles. Capable of being used on the road and in various forms of competition including circuit racing and hill climbs. Lionel Evans of Rad Panels, Kidderminster undertook to form the bodies.
The Dellow followed a typical trials canon in that it was small, light with an external 15 gall. Fuel tank and twin spare wheels [i. We can use this figure in connection with the economic situation to explain the culture and necessity of self-building specials. Some evidence suggests approximately cars were built. It has been suggested that sixty cars were built in the first year of production.
Possibly combined with the idealism to increase the take up of motor sport he spotted a commercial opportunity. After the war he and his brother inherited some Engineering companies with an aeronautical connection. C possibly he built is first special in which he won several hundred awards. He believed there was a market for kits [see Economic conditions above] He therefore started To offer a space frame chassis at moderate cost in the UK.
From c to c This model was often referred to as the Mk. These particular kits used the Ford 10 components that we have alluded to. Many of the cars completed were dual use with the potential to compete in trials. Bucklers were based in Berkshire at both Crowthorne and Reading. This possessed a sturdy space frame and utilized E93A mechanical components. In total Buckler suggested in period he would expect a customer to be able to build a Mk.
He produced what he called the Type 53 in and this was dedicated trials car [Reg No OCT being quite well known] He also produced a chassis range for the proprietary Ford Special shells including the DD2 for the Microplas and Convair bodies. Buckler had a reputation for quality and had some aero -engineering involvement.
In particular their close ratio gearboxes were widely adopted and used by Lotus. Like Chapman Derek Buckler is believed to have died at a relatively young age  Derek Butler was a generous and flexible engineer and organizer, He helped people fulfill their dreams and also adapted his chassis to customer needs possibly suffering financially in the process.
He supported and contributed to the Series alongside that of the Formula. The cc side valve special seems to be closely based on the Lotus Mk. VI and seem to share a similar specification [Ford engines, gearbox, axles and aluminum bodywork] and performance.
Both seem to share the same track and wheel base. There appears to be differences in the chassis but this is not significant the most notable difference regards the front suspension; the Gregory uses a transvers leaf spring and hydraulic dampers.