Search

Norwich Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 8°C

min temp: 4°C

My First Car: Racy little Hillman Imp was great sport

Allen Symonds racing the Hillman Imp at a dry and dusty Autocross near Weymouth. Picture: Allen Symonds

Allen Symonds racing the Hillman Imp at a dry and dusty Autocross near Weymouth. Picture: Allen Symonds

Allen Symonds

Allen Symonds’s route into motorsport was a 1960s Hillman Imp which sometimes saw him racing again the father of a future Formula One world champion.

My early competition car was a 1960s Hillman Imp bought for about £150.

My friend, Dave, was a mechanic who was keen on motorsport. Between us, it was stripped of everything inside to lighten it – glass windows were replaced with Perspex, the roof cut off and engine cover and bonnet replaced with glass fibre. We then fitted a lightweight bucket seat, roll cage and small leather steering wheel. The engine and suspension were also upgraded.

It took several months of work and we kept costs to a minimum by buying second hand where possible.

During the 1970s I entered events including Weston Speed Trials, an annual event on a closed road alongside the beach. It was a national sprint of 500 metres from a standing start and had entries of about 150 cars of all types from road going to Formula One and about 12 to 15 motorbikes.

Another annual event I enjoyed was Weston Sandocross, three laps of a large circuit marked out on the beach with flags.

My Imp was in the class for rear-engine and rear-wheel drive cars and I was sometimes competing against John Button, the late father of Formula One world champion Jenson Button. He had a very fast Volkswagen Beetle and usually beat me!

I raced in various events for about seven or eight years until it became too expensive to compete against people who were either sponsored or employed by a team with money to keep upgrading the cars.

Tell people about your first car – email your memories with a picture to motoring@archant.co.uk

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Norwich Evening News daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the Evening News
digital edition

Subscribe
Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists