Hillman Imp Sport – registration JDD 716 D.
After the demise of the Ford Prefect I wanted something newer and was offered an Imp Sport by one of my neighbours. Actually it was 2 cars, a damaged Imp Sport and a standard Imp but in good condition. Obviously all the Imp Sport bits got transferred to the good standard bodyshell.
I built this up in a wet and very draughty garage opposite to the Royal William pub near Painswick. The garage space was good because it was free and was also used by some other motor club friends Dave Tigwell and Pete Raine who kept their 1275GT Mini Clubman rally car there. Pete lived nearby and I think he knew the owner hence the no-cost deal.
The Imp was great fun to drive, lots of revs and a super gearbox. I ran it for a couple of years in 1975-6 and did at least 7 proper rallies and a number of motor club 12 car navigational excersises.
With Pete Raine navigating on the Welsh Mermaid Rally in January 1975.
Looks like the Imp had still not been painted yet!
1975 International Welsh Rally
A friend from 143 Motor Club called Bob Major also ran a quick Imp and we agreed to do the 1975 Welsh together. His car was much better than mine so the plan was to use that but then his dad became ill and Bob never had time to finish getting it ready. Mine had to be pressed into service but there was only time to swap Bob's excellent Cibie Biode headlamps and his uprated dynamo onto my car.
Our start number was 211 so that was over three and a half hours later than the top teams. We ran into trouble quite early on when the new dynamo started to play up. We changed it for the spare but the fault remained, suggesting that the fault was really in the control box. We found a kind garage man somewhere in mid-Wales who left his tea to find us a replacement in his stores which keep us going.
In those days the rally ran from Saturday morning till Sunday evening without a break and by the morning we were completely exhausted. There had been a fuel problem during the night and some marshalls had given us petrol but we must have picked up some dirt with it because the car ground to a halt on a road section near Trawsfynydd in North Wales.
1975 Welsh International with Bob Major.
Our service crew ( Chris Riley & ?? ) arrived and cleaned out the carbs and off we went as good as new - but out of the rally.
On reflection I think this was a good thing because I am sure we would have had an accident due to tiredness if we had continued.
The last stage of the rally was a series of actual races on Llandow Race Circuit. You only had to start the race to qualify as a finisher. I had to get a special Race Licence especially for this so I was determined to get my moneys worth and lined up on the grid to have a go. Also in my heat was Pete Raine in the Mini 1275 GT and I was hoping to beat him.
Sadly it was not to be as the car went onto 3 cylinders towards the end. It had dropped a valve at about 7500rpm and destroyed most of the engine. We found an exhaust valve down on the sumpguard, so you can imagine the rest. All I was able to salvage were the carburettors, the rest was scrap.
Bill Baker at Chosen Engineering in Churchdown did me a new modified head, bored-out block with new pistons, reground crank with bearings, full balance etc etc to build a proper motor and the Imp was reborn. All his work including parts only came to £77.44. Hard to believe these days, but I still have the invoice to prove it!.
Some more Imp pictures from 1975