Car Club Invitation

I wanted to let you know about adding a new venue to your rallies next year; Holden Vintage & Classic, retailers of classic car and motorcycle spares and accessories, would like to welcome you to swing by the Head Office next time you are in the area. If you let me know when you would like to come, Holden are more than happy to provide tea, coffee and biscuits, as well as giving your members 10% off in their store when you visit.

As you would expect, Holden has ample parking on-site and can easily accommodate rally visits, or act as a timed trial destination. What’s more, they’re based just outside Bromyard, Herefordshire close to famous motoring locations such as Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb and Morgan Motor Co, and located on one of the top 10 driving roads in Britain (according to the Daily Telegraph).

Holden staff are all classic car enthusiasts and experts and will be more than happy to spend time with your members, offering advice and discussing anything classic motoring. What’s more, they also have several restoration projects underway at any one time, including at the moment an original and very rare Sunbeam Tiger, one of only seven ever made, and five remaining in existence. Holden’s ‘Tiger’ model features the 4.2 litre V8 Ford Engine and is from the first year of production; it has been driven by motor racing greats ‘Tiny’ Lewis, Barry Hughes, Maurice Gatsonides and Peter Harper to name but a few. I can arrange for visitors to see the current progress of the restoration as well as any others Holden has underway.

If you would like to add Holden as a stop on one of your rallies or to discuss anything else, please contact me at

Holden is based at Linton Trading Estate, Bromyard, Herefordshire, HR7 4QT

Kind regards

Rebecca Leppard on behalf of Holden Vintage & Classic


Tiger Tales 3……

Now that the Tiger has been stripped of anything remotely mechanical, it is time for distribution of these major parts to the relevant specialist for rebuild. To this end, Jeremy has loaded the heart of the beast onto the van and taken it to Knight Racing Services ( who are going to give it a thorough rebuild.


Loading the engine onto the HVC van

Loading the engine onto the HVC van

Peter Knight consulting his book of words to work out what on earth has just been left in his workshop!

Peter Knight consulting his book of words to work out what on earth has just been left in his workshop!

At the same time, the shell has been given some temporary and really quite fetching colour-coded wheels to allow it to be moved out of the workshop to allow the bodywork to commence.

Shell rolls out of the workshop

Shell rolls out of the workshop

Tiger shell on its winter wheels!

Tiger shell on its winter wheels!

Winterising your Car

Winter wrap up for your Classic Car; courtesy of Holden Vintage and Classic

We’ve had an incredibly mild autumn and for many that has meant some extra weeks driving this year; yet the cold snap is well and truly setting in and is forecast to stay well beyond the New Year. Winter hibernation is a mainstay of classic car driving, and many throw over a protective cover, pull the garage door shut and simply leave it be; but should you be doing anything else? Holden Vintage and Classic have put together their winter wrap up top tips to prepare your car properly, preserve its condition and ensure a trouble-free start next spring!

Click here to view our recommended products.


Austin 7 Gordon England

The Austin has been treated to a well-earned bit of fettling in preparation for the VSCC Lakeland Trial in November. The leaky radiator core has been sent to Hereford Radiators ( to be repaired and pressure tested, and the front axle has been removed and overhauled, including some relined brake shoes, (Copper rivets are not the best of friction materials!) which Jeremy spent a lunchtime sorting out. Other issues, such as a lack of dynamo charge, plus a few other minor mechanical deficiencies need attention.

Pre-Lakes fettling

Pre-Lakes fettling – front axle about to be re-fitted

Tiger Tales……

November 2014

As seen in the previous installment, the Tiger has been delivered to Hardy Hall Restorations, ( so that work can commence.

So far, following thorough inspection and photography, components have been removed in readiness to take major parts such as engine, gearbox and rear axle out of the car, thus allowing a full inspection of the bodyshell and making any work needed on these parts significantly easier!

Issues have been identified already, in that airflow to the radiator is appalling, there is no means for hot air to escape the cramped engine bay, plumbing of the oil cooler system is best described as ‘restrictive to oil flow’ and the wiring needs tidying up.

As can be seen from the selection of images below, the major mechanical lumps have now been removed from the shell (engine and gearbox are ‘dropped’ out of the bottom whilst the shell is lifted), the front sub-frame removed in one piece, complete with its wheels and the rear leaf springs unbolted and the axle rolled clear complete.

More about The Tiger…

Jeremy has bought one of five remaining from the seven originally built Works Competiton Department Rally Tigers…

Jeremy Holden and his Tiger

Description:   Sunbeam Tiger ex-Works Rally Car AHP 294B (1964)

Registration: AHP 294B

Year:               1964

Colour:           Red

Engine size:    4,260 cc

Chassis No.:   9470014

Creating the Sunbeam Tiger

Inspired by the success of Carroll Shelby’s AC Cobra, leading US Rootes Group Dealer Ian Garrad, asked Shelby to turn the humble Sunbeam Alpine Roadster into a muscle car. A few prototypes later, the part-finished car was shipped from its home on the West Coast of America, back to England for input and appraisal by the racing boffins at Rootes. The collaboration resulted in The Tiger, which was launched in 1964, complete with a 4.2 litre Ford V8 engine; this was later switched for a 4.7 litre engine in the Mark Two version of 1967.

The Tiger was quickly earmarked for competition and made its debut at the San Martino di Castrozza Rally in Italy in September 1964. Only seven Works Rally Tigers were ever made, five of which survive to this day.

About Jeremy’s Model

Heralded as the most campaigned of the Works Tigers, this particular car has been driven by Maurice Gatsonides in the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally, as well as by Peter Harper in the 1966 Monte. Jeremy’s car (The AHP 294B) is from the first year of production in 1964 and features the original Ford 4.2 Litre V8 engine. It made its debut at the 1964 Geneva Rally, just three months after it was registered, where ‘Tiny’ Lewis and Barry Hughes took the controls and edged the car to victory. Two other Tigers also took part in the same race.

“AHP 294B” continued its competitive career the following year, tackling the Monte Carlo Rally at the hands of Maurice Gatsonides. Success didn’t follow, however, with the majority of the Paris starters – including Gatsonides – failing to finish; the car eventually became trapped in a snow drift in the Alps.

Unperturbed, Gatsonides took the car to Amsterdam to promote the sale of the road car, while also taking in a spell of endurance racing at the Zandvoort circuit. The Sunbeam performed admirably, shattering Dutch National Records in three, six, 12 and 24 hour categories. It averaged a speed of 75.47mph over the course of 23 hours, despite regularly pulling into the pit lane to be topped up with water. The car so impressed Gatsonides that he christened it “Thunderbus”.

After the successful record attempt at Zandvoort, Thunderbus went on to compete in the 1965 Tulip Rally with Peter Riley and Robin Turvey at the wheel. Unfortunately it ran out of time after being slowed by unseasonal snow when on racing tyres. In an effort to find some grip, Riley attempted one of the special uphill sections in a most bizarre manner, engaging reverse gear and driving the entire stage backwards! Sadly, such heroics were not enough and AHP was scratched from the event.

Later in 1965, now back with the combination of Tiny Lewis and Barry Hughes, AHP was again forced to retire from the Alpine Rally when the car caught fire. A rear brake shoe failed and the resulting debris damaged the hydraulics sending a jet of highly flammable brake fluid onto a hot brake drum with inevitable results. In the ensuing blaze, all the fire extinguishers were used up to quell the flames and the resulting damage is part of the reason why the car was returned to the Competition Department at Rootes and re-shelled with a brand new body later that year.

The Tiger would see much more racing over the following years, but perhaps the most exciting event came in 1967 when Vic Halen, who bought the car from the Rootes Group, entered the Spa-Francorchamps 1000km. Despite facing such sports-car racing legends as the Gulf-JW Automotive team of GT40-based Mirage M1 cars, the Ferrari Factory and factory supported privateer 330P4 and 412P sports prototypes, Factory Porsche 906 & 910 entries, plus a myriad of other famous cars such as Lola and Chapparal, the plucky Sunbeam finished 13th overall and 1st in the GT class.

The car passed through a number of hands before reaching its previous owner. SDuring this time rally legend Rosemary Smith has campaigned AHP 924B at the invitation of the owner and its last outing was during the Manx Classic in the mid-1990s, where it was driven by Classic & Sports Car’s Mick Walsh.

The Specification & Performance

As well as the 4.2 Litre Ford V8 Engine, the car had an original specification Rootes Group Sunbeam Alpine Roadster Body. Following the fire in 1965 however, the car was return to the Works Competition Department and modified to meet the newly-introduced 1966 rallying regulations. The regulations dictated that bonnet bulges and cut-outs to the wings were no longer allowed and a car’s silhouette had to mirror the production model.

With the new regulations in mind the factory carefully prepared two Tigers to a slightly different specification than had been used before. Engine preparation for the cars was close to the usual build, but with a high-lift cam, polished ports, etc. The major change was the fitting of a two-choke Ford modified carburettor and a cast-iron 289 inlet manifold, which replaced the four-barrel carburettor and alloy manifold and reduced engine power output to around 200bhp.

Subsequent testing at the MIRA test track revealed, however, that performance was little affected – when tested in August 1965, AHP (built to the same standard as FRW 667C, and later 668C), was only 0.5 seconds slower to 60mph and 1.5 seconds slower from 60-80mph in top gear than the 1965 Monte Carlo car, ADU 312, had been when tested in February 1965. Where the alterations really showed however, was in the breathing at higher revs. In the 0-90mph time the car was some 4 seconds slower, although what was lost in terms of acceleration appeared to be regained to some extent in flexibility, as the 60-70mph time in 3rd gear was similar.

Regarding the transmission and suspension, the usual 3.77 differential was fitted with a limited slip diff and both the front and rear spring rates were revised, along with the damper settings. As in the previous year’s Monte, the promise of cold and snowy conditions prompted the fitting of a heated windscreen and an alternator to help with the extra power loads, which also included the four extra forward-facing lamps.

A tyre contract with Dunlop had been negotiated and the car ran either with partly studded or fully studded SP44’s or SP41’s depending on the iciness of the sections.

What it’s like now…

Despite lying in dry storage with only light use, the car has remained in running order, although is far from competition ready.  Found still wearing the same Rootes competition bodyshell it had in 1965, it also retains many period competition features including the 2.88:1 limited slip diff, the long-range saddle tank fitted in the boot, quick ratio steering rack, the original works hardtop badged “1966 Marathon de la Route”, period Halda rally instruments and the fly-off handbrake specially made for Peter Harper to aid his cornering technique. Indeed all the interior trim is original, including the driver’s seat which was specially tailored to suit Peter Harper’s long-shanked frame. It is currently being carefully inspected, sympathetically restored where needed and brought up to the required standard for active competition and will appear at the Tour Britannia 2015. Continue reading

Tour Britannia and Tour Ireland Race Series…

The Tour Britannia Race Series is unique in the UK motorsport calendar, combining the thrill of the racetrack with the skill of the rally stage special; not forgetting that there is also the discipline of a regularity event. Established in 2005, Tour Britannia is designed primarily for historic cars with the Competition and Regularity events open to vehicles manufactured up to December 1985. A new invitation-only category was also introduced in 2011 for interesting cars of any age.

Each day of the event see the Competition and invitation cars doing a number of rally special stages based at stately homes and other notable venues. In addition they take part in a race at circuits such as Croft, Oulton Park or Silverstone.

The Organisers issue competitors with an easy to use road book to get from one venue to the next. Quiet, traffic free roads are chosen where possible, but occasionally it is necessary to use a main route to maximise the number of stages visited during the day. Cars in the Regularity Category use the same route but make detours to take in additional road regularity sections each day (run under the jogularity style). They will use the special stages as a ‘regularity’ – the emphasis being not how fast you can go, but how well you can keep to pre-set average speeds!

Competition licences are necessary in the invitation and Competition Categories and the vehicles taking part must comply with the relevant MSA technical regulations for vehicle safety. Those taking part in the Regularity event do not require anything other than a current driving licence.

Tour Britannia is reminiscent of racing and rallying of the Fifties and Sixties and places importance also on the social side of the sport. Competitors can relax after an exhilarating day’s motoring and enjoy the special camaraderie as they swap stories, perhaps over a drink at the bar or over dinner at one of the Tours carefully chosen venues.

Tour Ireland (12-15 May 2015)
For 2015, the really big news is that Tour Ireland will be launched, tackling some sensational closed road special stages, just South of Dublin. From a tour HQ in North Wales, the tour will visit the Great Orme and Anglesey circuit as well as some of the venues that proved so popular on Tour Britannia in August of this year. There will be space for just 30 competition and 15 regularity crews, so there will be tremendous pressure on the number of places available.

For further details visit:

Entry forms are available online now; if you have questions or need more information, or would like to receive the Tour’s monthly newsletter, please contact, either by email to: or by telephone on + 44(0) 1295 268888.

1925 Vauxhall 30-98

October 2014

The last Vauxhall outing of the year resulted in a sick engine, curtailing our day out and limping the car carefully home. A lack of compression was diagnosed in cylinder no 4, which, together with a very oily plug indicated that something was not well. As the weather had turned more autumnal and the local roads now significantly muddier, I felt it was time to tuck it up in the garage and investigate the engine at my leisure. Currently I am in the process of removing the cylinder head to investigate (Not an easy task as it’s a fairly hefty chunk of engine) and will report later on what is found, although initial inspection suggests it’s nothing more serious than the head gasket, as a portion of gasket is visible behind 2 of the pushrods.

Vauxhall engine partly stripped

Vauxhall engine partly stripped in advance of lifting the head off

Great British Company to Tour Britannia!

Our Chairman, Jeremy Holden acquired a coveted and very rare Ex-Works Sunbeam Tiger in March this year; one of only seven Rootes Group Works Rally Tigers ever made. The Tiger, combining the dainty body of the Sunbeam Alpine Roadster with 4.2 litres of Ford V8 shoehorned under the bonnet; was quickly earmarked for international competition in its heyday! Since retirement from active competition, the car has lain mostly unused in dry storage, but has been maintained in running order prior to purchase by Jeremy.

Jeremy Holden and his Tiger

We’re pleased to announce that The Tiger will be making its first public appearance for many years on the Tour Britannia 2015; the UKs only race tour.