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Homepage. This page: Two old programmes relating to BHMC events held at Madeira Drive in Brighton in July 1951.

Brighton Motor Rally.

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Both of the programmes on this page refer to events held by the Brighton and Hove Motor Club over the weekend of July 7/8 1951. The first, the "Brighton Motor Rally" was a competitive club meeting held on Saturday 7th July, while the second was a Concours D'Elegance held on Sunday 8th.
The centre for Saturday's competition activities was Madeira Drive in Brighton, home to many motoring events over the years, although event number one - a regularity test - was held on the nearby Goodwood motor racing circuit. Four laps would be completed, the first being used as a familiarisation lap, the remaining three being timed to judge the driver's ability to maintain consistent lap times.
The Brighton Motor Rally of 1951
Further tests were designed to tax a driver's competence in handling their machine, test two being the Hairpin Test and three the Obstacle Test. In all six separate tests contributed to the driver's final score, with time penalties applied for any misdemeanour(s) while at the wheel.
Autotesting at Brighton
Cars were split into classes depending on their specification. Smaller cars, from manufacturers such as Fiat, MG, Morris, Austin and Ford dominated the entries in Classes A and B, while Class C (1001cc - 1300cc open) included marques such as a Morgan, various MGs and Riley to name just three. More obscure entries included E.G. Spence's "Spence 5" car, the "R.B.W.", and the "Peasmarsh Special".
Other cars of note included B.C.W. Horton's Frazer Nash, a gaggle of Dellows, A.D.C. Gordon's HRG, a Lea-Francis, Jowetts, a trio of Jaguar XK120s, the Batten special, plus solitary examples of S.S. 90, Allard, Bugatti S (?) and Healey.
Advertisements for local motor garages and emporiums are sprinkled throughout this programme's twenty pages. These included:
  • Mansfields Ltd, Brighton (Vauxhall)
  • Tilleys (Rover and Singer distributors)
  • Vine & Lee, Portslade, Sussex (Repair and sales)
  • Dreadnought Garages, Brighton and Hove (Austin Service)
  • Seymours (Hillman)
  • Brittains (Nuffield Group)
A half-page advertisement from F & E Stoneham, of New Bridge Street in London, advises that their Rolls-Royce "Mobile Bookshop" would also be present, with a full stock of motoring books on board.

The Brighton Concours D'Elegance.

Evidently the BHMC officials liked to keep themselves busy that weekend, as Sunday 8th July saw the Brighton Concours D'Elegance underway, again on Madeira Drive. The cover of this programme features a very interesting car, in the shape of Healey Elliott registration JGO 7. By 1951 this car had already competed in a number of motor races, in the hands of Ken Downing. These outings included races at the nearby Goodwood track. Only 101 examples are believed to have been built of the fixed-head Elliott saloon, and JGO 7 still survives.
Healey Elliott on the cover of the Concours programme
Whereas the motor rally was all about shredding crossplies, with cars being driven on their doorhandles around cones and against the clock, Sunday's Concours was an altogether more refined, if no less competitive, affair. The Mermaid Trophy was presented to the "... most attractive ensemble of car and lady (lady need not be driver or entrant)" which all sounds very civilised, although probably not PC enough for today's world. All competitors would receive a souvenir pennant of the occasion, although only class winners would be awarded the coveted Prix d'Honneur banners.
Judges would score cars on various points, just as they would today. Cleanliness of both interior and exterior were critically appraised, as was the appearance of the car's under-bonnet region. Mechanical condition counted for nothing though, as style and presentation were key. Pleasingly-designed coachwork would also meet with the judges' approval, as would the driving position, overall visibility, passenger comfort and ease of access, and luggage arrangements.
The oldest cars, entered in Class One, were 1902 and 1904 examples of De Dion, joined by J.E. Sears' 1904 Mercedes. Class Two, Vintage Cars, had but three entrants (Austin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce), although further Classes featured healthier numbers.
The Classes were arranged in such a way that owners of affordable, less exotic or valuable, cars stood a chance of a win. Class Five was for Saloon Cars, built on or after January 1946, which had an original purchase price (excluding Purchase Tax) of upto 500 GBP. Entrants in this Class included 1950 Morris Minor, 1950 and 1951 Hillman Minxes, and a 1951 Ford. Class Six catered for Open Cars of the same price and period, with four cars listed - 1950 Austin, 1949 Singer, 1949 MG, and 1951 Singer. Further Classes catered for other cars of a similar period, with higher purchase prices.
No notes have been scribbled in this programme, so who the class winners were I don't know sadly.
The Brighton and Hove Motor Club is still very much in action, and organise the annual Speed Trials on Madeira Drive. In 1948 they were also the instigators of the one-off Brighton Hillclimb.
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