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Do old rally cars ever die?

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#1 Cortmk1

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 13:57

It is now 8 years today since my good friend and mentor, (Arthur) Frank Pierson left this earth to join many of his friends and fellow competitors in the final Parc Ferme. I had known Frank since 1968 when he first started serious club rallying in a four door Mk1 Cortina GT registration number ARF 170D. He did many local club events before taking part in the Motoring News championship and then the 1969 Welsh International coming 7th overall and winning best First International award. Later in 1969, the car was re-shelled into a two door GT shell and morphed into a Lotus Cortina with even more success in the MN championship winning the Cambrian and finishing 4th position at the end of 19 events. The car still lives on owned by Frank's nephew but is now back into a four door shell.

In 1970, Frank built himself a Twin Cam Escort from a damaged bodyshell (and using a lot of the mechanics from his Cortina Mk1), becoming a very distinctive and successful car with the registration number TNT242J. This was rallied throughout the 1970 to 1975 Motoring News championships and also the Welsh and RAC Internationals and this took its toll on the bodyshell and a replacement 'big wing shell' built into the car around 1973. In 1975, Frank forsook road rallies and concentrated on stage events with considerable success winning the Welsh Stage Championship three years in succession (1976/77/78) and coming third overall in the 1978 Esso/BTRDA series. 'TNT' was now on its third bodyshell, an accident damaged and repaired Mk2 Escort shell, and this lasted Frank until he retired from competitive motoring in 1980. Sadly, the car was left neglected for many years standing outside in the weather until 2001, but by this time, the shell was scrap due to severe corrosion and yet another second hand bodyshell procured. The car was 50% rebuilt car when Frank sadly passed away but hopefully it will live again and the restoration is being continued by Frank's son.

So my question to TNF members is do you know of any monocoque car from the mid 1960's through to the late 1970's that competed regularly in Motoring News, stage and International type events that still retains its original bodyshell from new today, as from my own personal experience, I doubt many do?


#2 BRG

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 15:18

A good question. 


But a problem may be whether anyone ever kept a record of the re-shelling of a car.  I expect Boreham did  but I don't know if they ever revealed that publicly or to the purchasers of ex-works cars.  Likewise BMC, Rootes and the other rallying manufacturers and teams.   Chassis plates can be transferred over and who would be the wiser?  And indeed, does it make the car less 'original'? 


In a way, it is just he famous registration plate that you are buying if you pay out to acquire LVX942J or whatever.  there isn't even a definitive specification for a lot of rally cars as they may well have been updated and modified in period by the original team.  

#3 RS2000

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 21:35

Mine did!

1978 car, converted 1981/2 to rally car by me. Did 9 Internationals including finishing 2 RACs. Same shell, less a couple of pairs of doors, 3 front wings (all 3 co-driver's side of course...) and a roof. Many lesser forest events then sold in 2008 and had remarkable results with 2 further owners on Roger Albert Clark Rallies and BHRC rallies. Around today when I last looked.


I believe Frank Pierson's first TNT242J was a "cut and shut" from two damaged shells but done wholly professionally so stronger than new - giving lie to some of the nonsense written about such "repairs". One of Chris Sclater's ex works Escorts was similarly repaired from a van front I'm told.

I always admired Frank's budget efforts and results and was sorry to hear when he left us just after I moved from the south to the county..  

#4 Dick Dastardly

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Posted 02 April 2021 - 16:12

We have a genuine 1966 Cooper S.....don't think it did any rallying until 1982, when my Dad borrowed it for the RAC Lombard Golden 50 Rally and he subsequently bought it after that event. It has done many historic rallies since then, both road and stage inc 3 Classic Marathons, numerous Rally of The Tests, several Britannia Rallies in the 90s [the historic rally that ran alongside the Network Q] plus numerous weekend and 1-day events. Won the 1994 Classic Illuminations Rally outright. Still the original shell etc but over the past 4 years has undergone a total strip down, dipped and rebuild ready for when rallying resumes.