Friday 2 January 1976

1976-78, The Gordons Garage Years Begin

Hillman Avenger   RKX 924 H

In 1972 I had bought a brand new Hillman Avenger 1500 as a road car for the huge sum of £1053.
By 1976 I decided that forest stage rallying was the way to go but thought the Imp was a bit too small and low to survive in the forests.  I sold the Imp to Phil Madely (another 143 Motor Club member) and swapped my nice Avenger road car for a slightly battered Avenger rally car registration RKX924H  from Gordons Garage at Sonehouse who were a Chrysler dealership.  I knew Glenn Gordon the garage owners son from schooldays so already had contacts there.

RKX924H had already had a pretty hard life before I got it but it was a good starting point to learn from. We did at least a dozen proper rallies over the next couple of years, not counting navigational exercises and by the end of 1978 it seemed time to move on,  the pictures below show the old car on its last event.

Last rally planned for the old car was called  the “And Now For Something Completely Different Stages” run by Dursley Motor Club at the end of 1978 using forest tracks in Ebworth Woods near Birdlip.   I had invited  a friend from work called Trevor Panter along as co-driver. He was a pretty serious motor racing type who was interested to see what rallying was all about and what better way than to actually sit in the car. He got more experience than he bargained for when I put us on the roof in the first stage.

The marshalls quickly had us back on the wheels and we finished the stage looking well battered. I was not worried as the shell was going to be scrapped anyway so we continued the rally in enthusiatic fashion finishing last - but having a lot of fun.
It was here I first met Frank Round who helped us straighten the front suspension with a hydraulic body ram. He was to be a more significant part of the story later.

I had bought a bare Avenger shell and planned to re-build it over the winter of 1978/9.
Glenn Gordon was kind enough to allow me use of their garage workshop and facilities after hours so this was big luxury for me. It was warm and dry with all the usual garage facilities like hydraulic lifts. Amazing luxury to me after working mostly outside.
Glenn had previously taken me up to the “works” at Coventry to buy factory tuning bits for the Imp and now we did the same for the new Avenger and I was able to pay him later which was really huge help.  

I took the “new” shell to Autopoint in Gloucester to be seam welded and have the roll cage fitted as this needed to be done professionally. Autopoint was run by Andy Chambers who was a pretty quick driver himself, but most of the work on my shell was done by Roger Coates who co-incidentally used to work at Gordons and had rallied my old car.  Cost to supply and fit the roll cage and seam weld the shell was £150, see the invoice below.

assorted pictures 1976-1978 (sorry for poor quality on some they are taken from small proofs)

Prescot Hill Climb Stage

Cheltenham Racecourse Jump

Sorry I don't know whose proof this is !

Road Rally mid-Wales