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Alpine Rally - 1959
Lewis & Nash
Courtesy Revs Inst.

The history of rallying small chassis Triumphs is a fascinating story of incremental gains, motor evolution and a fusion of daring driving and brilliant engine development. So exciting were the advances in automotive engineering and so competitive the rivalry between different marquees I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that some enterprising enthusiasts sometimes jumped the gun!

Arguably our wee cars have achieved as much success in the hands of individuals & semi privateers as they did within the official "Works" program.

I had until recently thought that Roy Fidler and John Hopwood's astounding 2nd Place Overall on the 1964 Welsh Rally was where the rallying pedigree of the Triumph Spitfire had begun. That was until I purchased vol. 6 of Frederic Reydellet's "Triumph en Competition". Oh how I rue bunking 4th form French - this mighty tome of Triumph Trivia is a gold mine of erstwhile undiscovered information.

The first two pictures are from April 1963 and are taken on The Tulip Rally. Here we see individuals recognising the nimble maneuverability and improving horse power of the Spitfire to begin campaigning before the works department.

In the GT Category Lloyd & Masters  came 15th & Rooijen & Nijhof  20th.

This of course was also when Works Triumph TR4s took the Team Prize by coming 4th, 6th & 10th in the same Cat. The large number of entries and complex class improvement formula on the Tulip Rally often created some surprising results.  In 1961 The Rally was actually won outright by a works replica privateer team of Geoff Mabbs & Leslie Griffiths driving YRW 266,  a 948cc, 1959 Herald Coupe.

It could be contended that 1959 was indeed the true beginning of several small Triumphs. The year I was born saw motor trader Ian "Tiny" Lewis work closely with Triumph's Ken Richardson to turn one of the first Heralds manufactured into a modest yet instantly successful rally car. Plated TL5 "Tiny" & Tony Nash pushed the little Herald  through 2400 grueling miles to win a Coupe des Alpes and take 3rd in class & 9th overall on the prestigious Alpine Rally.